Saturday, October 31, 2009

Running with the Blogs

Here is another newborn baby blog, Runs with Angels . . . Lives with Saints

Go check it out!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

On Praying with Mary and the Saints

There is the spoke-and-hub model of the Chrisitan faith, where we each have an individual and personal one-on-one relationship with Jesus. Here, one can indeed pray directly to Jesus, totally unconnected from anyone else.

And then there is the drop of water in the ocean model, where each individual is diffused into the whole, such that each person’s relationship with Jesus is both singular AND communal. Here, one prays, not merely in isolation, but in communion with THE ENTIRETY of the Church, which includes ALL of the faithful, both here on earth AND those in heaven. Here, it is right and just and proper and preferable to invite the saints in heaven to join us in prayer, especially the one person in heaven who was closest, and still is closest, to Jesus by reason of her being His mother.

Besides, if we are one with Him, then His mother is our mother. And it is only fitting that we should love her as He loves her. Fully, totally, completely, as any good and faithful son loves his mom.

Moreover, just as, when you approach her, Mary always directs us to her Son (”do whatever He tells you”), so too did Jesus in the Gospel, whenever one approached Him, He always directed people to the Father. Indeed, He explicitly tells people to pray, not to Him, but pray to our Father in heaven. Thus, any prayers to Jesus are directed by Him to the Father.

Well, why not pray directly to the Father then? Actually, Catholics do. And I understand that we pray the Our Father (”the Lord’s Prayer”) far more than do our everyday Protestant brothers and sisters.

If praying with Mary and the saints, asking them to pray for us to Jesus, rather than praying directly to Jesus is wrong, it stands to reason — by that logic — that praying to Jesus is also wrong, rather than praying directly to the Father.

Of course, such reasoning is silly. It is all good and proper to ask Mary and the saints to pray for us, just as it is good and proper to pray to Jesus, as well as the Father, not to mention the Holy Spirit.

(cross-posted at "Beyond the Rhetoric: Why Not Mary?" at the Archdiocese of Washington Blog)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Sin - Original and Mortal

Original Sin consisted of more, much more, than merely eating the fruit. And that Original Sin of Adam and Eve is the original sin of the individual as well, that is, the preference of self over God, wanting to be a god and able to choose your own morality, your own concept of truth, of right and wrong, really is echoed in, and the origin of, every other individual sin that we commit.

On the other hand, there is the danger of going to the other extreme in the matter of “mortal sin.” All too often it seems that what constitutes a mortal sin is defined in narrower and narrower terms, giving one the impression that it is in only the most extreme of cases, the most serious of serious and grave of grave acts, deeds, etc., such as murder, etc. In so relegating mortal sin to the most extreme of cases, we forget that the most mortal sin of all (death for all mankind) really was not, on the surface, all that serious at all, but consisted of the seemingly innocuous act of eating a piece of fruit. We need to keep that in mind when we try to “justify” so many of our own sins as being “merely” venial sins because we subjectively believe them to not be all that serious.

In any event, it is good that, together with the revelation of God’s Name, the revelation of the Logos in the Gospel of John, and the revelation of God in and about the human body in the Creation accounts, that the fullness of the truth of the Fall is being discovered (or rediscovered) in the modern Church.

(cross-posted at "What is Original Sin?" at the Archdiocese of Washington Blog)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Archdiocese of Washington is Blogging

There is an interesting and informative new blog up at the Archdiocese of Washington. (new, as in, I just discovered it)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Canonization Mass for Saint Damien de Veuster

"Joseph de Veuster, who in the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary received the name of Damien, when he was twenty-three years old, in 1863, left his home in Flanders to proclaim the Gospel on the other side of the world, the Hawaiian Islands. His missionary activity, which gave him so much joy, reaches its summit in charity. Not without fear and repugnance, he chose to go to the Island of Molokai to serve the lepers who were there, abandoned by all; thus he exposed himself to the disease they suffered from. He felt at home with them. The Servant of the Word thus became a suffering servant, a leper with lepers, during the last four years of his life.

"To follow Christ, Father Damien did not only leave his native country, but he also risked his health: therefore he received eternal life, as the Word of Jesus that was proclaimed in the Gospel today says (cf. Mk 10:30).

"On the 20th anniversary of the canonization of another Belgian saint, Brother Mutien-Marie, the Church in Belgium has gathered once again to give thanks to God for one of its sons recognized as an authentic servant of God. We recall, faced with this noble figure, that charity makes unity: it gives birth to it and makes it desirable. In following Saint Paul, Saint Damien leads us to choose the good battle (cf. 1 Tim 1:18), not those that lead to division, but those that gather together. He invites us to open our eyes to the lepers that disfigure the humanity of our brothers and today still calls, more than for our generosity, for the charity of our serving presence."
-- Pope Benedict XVI, October 11, 2009

A Man of True Hope
Saint Damien - Apostle to Lepers

Father Damien was born on earth January 3, 1840, and born into heaven on April 15, 1889. He was a Belgian Catholic missionary of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, and he is revered primarily by Hawaii residents and Christians for having dedicated his life in service to the lepers of Molokai in the Kingdom of Hawaii. Father Damien, born Joseph de Veuster, is the spiritual patron of people with leprosy, outcasts, and those with HIV/AIDS, and of the State of Hawaii.

In 1995, Pope John Paul II beatified him and bestowed the official title of Blessed Damien of Molokai. Today, October 11, 2009, he was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI. The Feast Day for Saint Damien is May 10, the day he arrived at Molokai.

Joseph de Veuster was born in Tremelo, Belgium. His father, a small farmer, sent him to a college at Braine-le-Comte, to prepare for a commercial profession, but Joseph decided to enter the novitiate of the Fathers of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Mary at Louvain in 1860, taking the name of Damien. Three years later, though still in minor orders, he was sent to the mission of the Hawaiian Islands. He arrived on March 19, 1864, and was ordained as a priest in Honolulu two months later, on May 24. Father Damien was later given charge of various districts on the island of Hawaii, helping to build several chapels.

On the island of Molokai, there was a secluded settlement at Kalaupapa, where the government had banished all persons afflicted with leprosy. The Royal Board of Health provided them with a few supplies and food, but little else. Bishop Louis Maigret thought that these wretched people needed a priest to minister to their needs. Because he knew that it meant almost certain death, Bishop Maigret did not want to send anyone "in the name of obedience," so he asked for volunteers. Understanding that they would probably be sacrificing their lives, Damien and three others volunteered to go to Molokai. Damien was the first to go and, at his own request and that of the "lepers," he remained permanently on Molokai.

Father Damien arrived at the settlement on May 10, 1873, as its resident priest. There were then more than 600 inhabitants. He was presented by the bishop as "one who will be a father to you, and who loves you so much that he does not hesitate to become one of you; to live and die with you." A few months after he arrived, Damien wrote to his brother, "I make myself a leper with the lepers to gain all to Jesus Christ."

While Hawaii has been described as a beautiful paradise, the leper colony at Kalaupapa on Molokai was a hell of despair. It has been called a morally deprived, lawless "colony of death" where people were forced to fight each other to survive.

For a long time, Father Damien was the only one to bring them the relief they so greatly needed. He was not only a priest to them, he took on the role of doctor and builder as well. He provided medical treatment, built homes, and dug graves. Working farms were organized, schools were erected, and for the first time, basic laws were enforced. But more than material relief, Father Damien brought hope.

He became a source of consolation and encouragement for the lepers, their pastor, the doctor of their souls and of their bodies, without any distinction of race or religion. He gave a voice to the voiceless, he built a community where the joy of being together and openness to the love of God gave people new reasons for living.

In 1885, after twelve years of service to the afflicted, Father Damien discovered symptoms of having contracted the disease himself when he lost sensation in one of his feet. However, he did not despair; rather, now he was able to identify completely with the people of Molokai. "We lepers," he said to them with love.

Because of his diligent efforts, others began to come to Molokai to give aid to the inhabitants. A Belgian priest, Louis Lambert Conrardy, came and took up pastoral duties. Blessed Mother Marianne Cope, Superior of the Franciscan Sisters of Syracuse, arrived with her sisters and organized a working hospital and homes for boys and girls. Like Damien, Blessed Marianne loved those suffering from leprosy more than she loved her very self. Joseph Dutton, an American Civil War soldier seeking a life of penance, arrived unannounced and took up many of the day-to-day activities of washing sores, dealing with ulcers, doing rudimentary surgery, building, and writing to presidents, princes and medical people for help. James Sinnett was a nurse from Chicago who attended the patients, including nursing Father Damien in the last phases of the disease.

Father Damien died in 1889 at the age of 49. He was originally buried on Molokai, but in 1936, at the request of the Belgian government, his body was moved to Belguim, and he is now buried in Leuven, a city close to the village where he was born. However, upon his beatification, Damien's right hand was returned to Molokai to a joyful reception.

Father Damien would be the first to say that his heroic service and witness was not due to his own personal strength. Rather, he got his strength from God, "It is at the foot of the altar that we find the strength we need in our isolation."