faustina.jpgWe had a beautiful, solemn liturgy for Divine Mercy Sunday at our cathedral today. I’m grateful. In many places this devotion is ignored.

Some years ago, in my travels, a young monk gave me a sliver of a bone of Sister Faustina before she was canonized by Pope John Paul II. In so many ways I can look back and find the work of mercy in my own life since that fragment of her relic has been on the shelf over my computer.

And yet, how many of us practice the works of mercy that are asked of every Catholic? Few of us actually know the list!

Corporal Works of Mercy:

  • To feed the hungry
  • To give drink to the thirsty
  • To clothe the naked
  • To shelter the homeless
  • To visit the sick
  • To ransom the captive
  • To bury the dead.

The Spiritual Works of Mercy :

  • To instruct the ignorant
  • To counsel the doubtful
  • To admonish sinners
  • To bear wrongs patiently
  • To forgive offenses willingly
  • To comfort the afflicted
  • To pray for the living and the dead.

Some of these are readily observed, others rarely.

It seems to me that political correctness makes us hesitant to “instruct the ignorant” in matters of faith and morals.

Ditto for “admonish the sinners”! If you mention a sin to some people they accuse you of a hate crime. Yet, scripture is clear that we have an obligation to point out ( in love!) major sinful situations. In the most urgent sense, the spiritual works of mercy are more important. They go to the heart of a person’s eternal well being.

Can it be that because we do not instruct the ignorant or admonish the sinners, that we are guilty of permitting our culture to become so toxic to the Christian family? And by unremitting exposure to that toxicity, new souls are floundering every day? How accountable are we for the present culture crisis?

I’m curious about your thoughts on this most merciful work.

Pope from Castel Gondolfo: Pray for Martyrs

pope-and-mosul.jpgWell, not necessarily for martyrs to come. No, the Holy Father has retired to his retreat for a week of rest and prayer for his special intention:

This day, which is usually dedicated to prayer and fasting, falls on the first day after Easter. The pope cheerfully suggested, given the festive atmosphere, not to fast, but to pray: “To remember and pray, but perhaps not to fast, for these our brothers and sisters – bishops, priests, religious men and women, laity – who died in 2007, while carrying out their missionary service, is a duty of gratitude for the entire Church, and an encouragement for each of us to bear witness in an increasingly courageous way to our faith and hope in Him who on the Cross conquered forever the power of hatred and violence with the omnipotence of his love”.

One imagines the fear, turned to courage, that the first disciples must have known. If Jesus was crucified, might they be too if they acknowledge Him? And many were martyred. St. Stephen? Herod beheaded St. James the Greater in Jerusalem.

It is not too different today. To be a witness is to accept the possibility of martyrdom. The slaying of the Chaldean Archbishop just before Easter is a stark reminder.

Please pray for persecuted Christians the world over.

Resurrection of the Flesh

“No doctrine of the Christian Faith is so vehemently and so obstinately opposed as the doctrine of the resurrection of the flesh” ——St. Augustine


But the evidence is there for any who truly seek.

*Worldnetdaily column here

Discovery Channel on authenticity of the Shroud of Turin here

A blessed Easter to all!

Easter Triduum

Lent ends as we enter the great Easter Triduum, Holy Thursday, Good Friday and the Saturday Easter vigil.

Holy Thursday


Historically, rather than being a service of its own, Tenebr√¶ was a method of praying Matins and Lauds on Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday. Matins consisted of three divisions called nocturns, each containing three psalms and three lessons (the lessons for Holy Thursday and Good Friday were from the Lamentations of Jeremiah). Six candles were lighted on the altar, in front of which… (More here)

Then he took the bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, saying,

“This is my body, which will be given for you; do this in memory of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which will be shed for you. (Luke 22:19-20)

Tenebrae Meditation (short)

The Dominican House of Studies /Tenebrae

Francios Mauriac is the great French author of Holy Thursday. The first chapter can be read here .

Good Friday:

The Lord by Romano Guardini.

Msgr. Guardini writes of the Last Supper, “It is the Son of God breaking bread with fallen Man..this is the unfathomable mystery of the last Supper.”

Then, on Good Friday, The Crucifixion, Msgr. Guardini writes,

“The plunge from God towards the void which Man in his revolt had begun, Christ undertook in love. ..No one was ever punished for sin as He was, The Sinless One. No one ever experienced the plunge down the the vacuum of evil as did God’s Son…’My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?’ …He penetrated the absolute nothingness from which the re-creatio of those already created (but falling from the source of true life into nothingness) was to emerge, the new heaven, the new earth.”

Good Friday in art? Look here


Good Friday music?

mater-dolorosa.jpgStabat Mater. There are many recordings that you can download.

Examination of conscience? Guideline here.

Holy Saturday

Notice in the icon of the Mater Dolorosa above that there is a linen cloth draped over the cross. For centuries Catholics knew that a cloth that had been wrapped around the head of Jesus before Joseph of Arimathea was given permission to take the body of the King of the Jews down from the cross. Have you realized there were TWO cloths mentioned in Scripture? One is thought to be the Shroud of Turin. What of the other?”

This is that “other cloth” described in the Gospel of John 20:5-8, ” 5 And when he stooped down, he saw the linen cloths lying: but yet he went not in. 6 Then cometh Simon Peter, following him, and went into the sepulchre: and saw the linen cloths lying, 7 And the napkin that had been about his head, not lying with the linen cloths, but apart, wrapped up into one place. 8 Then that other disciple also went in, who came first to the sepulchre: and he saw and believed.

This second cloth is the Sudarium of Oviedo. After centuries of forgetfulness, a scholarly priest in Rome, Msgr. Ricci, realized that the ancient Cloth of Oviedo must be similar to the Shroud. Studies began in the 1960s, Today we know that these two cloths were wrapped around the same body.lamentation_at_the_tomb.jpg

Thanks to Mark Guscin I have have seen the Cloth of Oveido, the Sudarium of Christ. I wrote about it for Crisis Magazine here.

And for WorldNetDaily, here, and here .

Here is Greek icon of Jesus descending into the “Limbo of the Fathers” (Greek)

“He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell. …” What did Jesus do there? (see Catechism of the Catholic Church # 631-637)


Have a holy and blessed Easter!

Gorbachev a Christian?

“Spiritual Perestroika” is the phrase used to describe the visit of Mikhail Gorbachev to Assisi where he prayed at the tomb of St. Francis. The former head of the Communist block professed his Christian faith. wgorbachev119b.jpg

Hmnnn. One hopes it is an authentic conversion.

Oddly enough, since the death of Pope John Paul II some interesting events have happened–particularly in Europe and Russia. For example, Malta, Poland and Ireland have recently resisted the European Union’s demand for universal abortion throughout the EU. As the Pope who understood the intercession of Our Lady of Fatima, perhaps we ought not be too surprised at this news of Gorbachev ‘s faith.

(Hat tip to Ellen Rice for this news story. )

Note: Garden Photos on Snapshots page–come see!

Gregorian Chant

About this point in Lent I try to move into mostly Gregorian Chant when in want of music. The link above is a Gregorian video that is worth a visit.

Intriguingly, monastic vocations are experiencing renewed interest. I used to think that monasticism was a form of “dropping out.” That sounded REAL tempting to me at several points along my higgledy -piggledy path.


And in truth, I’ve had the enormous blessing of spending time in some of Europe’s most stunning monasteries, like Abbaye Notre Dame du Senanque in France (above) and Abbey Leyre (crypt photo below) in the Navarre region of Spain, among others.

I have heard Gegorian Chant at St. Peter’s Abbey in Solesmes, yet, somehow, up the road from the Abbey there is St. Cecelia’s where the nuns sing chant. It is arresting. Their dulcet voices so ethereal that one is lifted beyond whatever mundane cares cloud the soul.

I know now that monastic vocations are a gift we cannot readily fathom. The prayers and sacrifices made by those who pour out their lives in prayer for the world sustains the rest of us as we go about the business of lay life.

At Abbaye Senanque I met a monk whose pockets were filled with names and notes–plucked from the bulletin board in the Abbaye ‘s gift store where visitors left their worries and pleas for help. With a touching earnestness he showed me their slips of paper, these souls who would live in his care for the week.

In the first week of Lent I read Patrick Fermor’s marvelous small volume, A Time to Keep Silence. Fermor, a writer but not a believer, was in search of inexpensive accommodations in France while he worked on a book. At St. Wandrille de Fontanelle he found more than he imagined. The prose is sublime–you’ll not be disappointed.


Please pray for the cloistered religious whose work is one of the hidden treasures of the Church.

Hilbama’s Military Readiness?

¬†Busy day–so I’m linking to Karen Hall’s SOME HAVE HATS post on Military Readiness.

Worth reading.

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