Saturday, March 29, 2008

Into Great Silence

In an earlier post I mentioned my Good Friday entrance into silence. Not part of my usual routine. Yesterday I was able to watch this rewarding video "Into Great Silence". I was greatly impressed by these holy men and it touched me.

Netflix says this about the movie in its "At a Glance":

A prize winner at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival, director Philip Groening's study of the Grande Chartreuse monastery introduces a world of austere beauty, following the daily activities of the resident monks, whose silence is broken only by prayer and song. With no other sound save the natural rhythms of age-old routines being carried out, the film captures the simplicity -- and profundity -- of lives lived with absolute purpose and presence.

First of all, I would highly recommend watching/experiencing this video. I surely wouldn't be able to live this life - you can't teach an old dog new tricks. But it taught me, along with my Good Friday experience, that I need to bring occasional silence into my life.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Violence is Wrong

Monday, March 24, 2008

Remember Me Passion of The Christ

Remember Me by Josh Groban

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Sermon for Vigil of Easter

A very good Sermon for Vigil of Easter
from What Does The Prayer Really Say? by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf


Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Active Participation

With Easter here, I would like to jot down some of my thoughts on active participation in the Mass. I've noticed many Catholics show up for Mass but they arn't really into it, or halfway so.

Many don't sing, I don't know why this is so. I've been to a lot of churches in my diocese and find the same all over. This is not true everywhere. I had an enriching experience in the Diocese of Rapid City a number of years ago and I was shocked becasue everyone sang. I was shocked because no one left until the final hymn was sung and I didn't even notice children squirming.

It is so rewarding to attend a Mass when there is active participation. Again a number of years ago I attended a quinquennial of the Secular Franciscans and the room resounded with voices during the hymns and responses. How great an experience! Why do I not experience this every Sunday?

When I am receiving the Eucharist I clearly and strongly reply "Amen!" Yet for those in front of me, I can hardly hear them, if at all, mumble their response.

What is going on here? Let's put our heart into it.

The Island

I ran across this article from Inside by Deal W. Hudson, A File for Holy Saturday.

I just finished watching it on Netflix Instant, and highly recommend it.
Here is the article:

A few weeks ago Joseph Susanka recommended a Russian movie of recent vintage, "The Island." His commentary was so compelling I scrounged around the Internet to find a copy, and I'm glad I did. "The Island" ("Ostrov") goes on my short list of movies in which spirituality is actually caught on screen. I waited until early morning on Holy Saturday to watch it, and, as it turns out, the action takes place between Good Friday and Easter, so to speak.

The story is a simply one, about a man's search for redemption after commiting a crime he cannot put behind him. As the film opens we witness the actual crime, then the film cuts ahead thirty years to images of Fr. Anatoly praying for forgiveness.
Now living in a Russian Orthodox monastery, Fr. Anatoly has gained a reputation as a healer, a saint, in spite of the fact that he never washes, acts the fool, and irritates
his brother monks. The last thing Fr. Anatoly wants is to be revered by anyone
-- he is too aware of his sins, especially his one big sin.

The scenes depicting Anatoly's relationship to Father Job, who is jealous of him, and
Father Filaret, his superior, are particularly memorably and probing. Job is jealous of Filaret's admiration of Anatoly, while Filaret charitably excuses Anatoly's excesses before suddenly and painfully discovering the resolute detachment underlying his "foolishness." I didn't know the work of the director, Pavel Lungin, although his films are well-respected and celebrated in the festival circuit. Lungin has lived in France since 1990, but still makes Russian films -- if you read Russian you can learn about his production company here .

You may have heard someone talk about the "greatness of the Russian soul." Once you see this movie you may start talking about it yourself -- I have a good friend, a
Slavophile, who never tires about telling about the Russian soul and its stubborn endurance through seventy years of Communism. (And he wasn't talking about the Russian ballet!)

The setting of this film is the late 70s, when the Cold War was still raging and glasnost was still nearly a decade away. Who of us thought about the spiritual communities in the Soviet empire which were still thriving, still praying endlessly to their sacred icons?

As the story unfolds, it keeps digging deeper and deeper into the mystery of Anatoly's sin. Just when you think this is a wonderful film depicting the spiritual struggles of a true penitent and its effects on his community the story takes an unexpected and overwhelming turn.

I won't say anymore for fear of spoiling a surprising narrative of the kind you rarely
encounter in the movie theater. "The Island" is a film that, over the years, will make its way into the company of "The Passion of St. Joan of Arc," "The Diary of a Country Priest, and "The Passion of the Christ." It's worth seeking out, as Susanka did, get it from Netflix.

Holy Saturday

Another normal day? The usual Saturday routine; grocery store, cleaners, laundry, pay bills, some light housework. But it feels different. There is something missing, an emptiness. Even the Catholic blogs are quiet. Yes, it is Holy Saturday -- we know, we feel something is missing. Christ. We commemorated His death yesterday, and He has not yet risen. There is expectation. Hope. We are reliving the event so long ago, yet today.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Good Friday

When you live alone it is not hard to find some peace and quiet. But I usually have some sort of background noise to keep me company; the TV, radio, or music.

Today was different. No TV or radio or music, although I did indulge in some Triduum chants and some YouTube Catholic reflections.

I was not used to hearing the usual sounds we make all through the day. Walking, hearing myself eat, the refrigerator starting up, my typing, etc. We are not used to silence. But today is a day for it. This is not a normal day.

I had coffee but without sugar, ate a very light breakfast - had to take my pills. Lunch was a cheese sandwich on rye, and dinner was a small salad. I even stayed away from the usual Diet Coke.

I was thinking of going to the Good Friday liturgy at church, but my sorry self had a nap instead. I did make time for the Stations of the Cross on the Internet.

So it was a day of quiet, rest, reflection, and some Bible reading - I'm reading a commentary on Romans. I also spent the day reading various posts from Catholic blogs.

A couple of months ago I started my own iGoogle page and I ran across Google Reader which allows you to get new posts from subscribed blogs. In the past couple of weeks I have subscribed to a number of them - seeing which ones I like - so far I like most of them.

Here is a sampling:
The Anchoress
The Catholic Tube
The Deacons Bench
Fr. Victor Brown’s Catholic Daily Message
The Catholic Knight
Bonfire of the Vanities

So the day, or shall I say evening, continues in quiet. Back to Romans.

Pax et Bonum.

The Room

17-year old Brian Moore had only a short time to write something for a class. The subject was what Heaven was like. "I wowed 'em," he later told his father, Bruce. "It's a killer. It's the bomb. It's the best thing I ever wrote." It also was the last.

Brian's parents had forgotten about the essay when a cousin found it while cleaning out the teenager's locker at Teary Valley High School. Brian had been dead only hours, but his parents desperately wanted every piece of his life near them-notes from classmates and teachers, his homework.

Only two months before, he had handwritten the essay about encountering Jesus in a file room full of cards detailing every moment of the teen's life. But it was only after Brian's death that Beth and Bruce Moore realized that their son had described his view of heaven. "It makes such an impact that people want to share it. You feel like you are there." Mr. Moore said.

Brian Moore died May 27, 1997, the day after Memorial Day. He was driving home from a friend's house when his car went off Bulen-Pierce Road in Pickaway County and struck a utility pole. He emerged from the wreck unharmed but stepped on a downed power line and was electrocuted.

The Moores framed a copy of Brian's essay and hung it among the family portraits in the living room. "I think God used him to make a point. I think we were meant to find it and make something out of it," Mrs. Moore said of the essay. She and her husband want to share their son's vision of life after death. "I'm happy for Brian. I know he's in heaven I know I'll see him."

Brian's Essay: The Room...

In that place between wakefulness and dreams, I found myself in the room. There were no distinguishing features except for the one wall covered with small index card files. They were like the ones in libraries that list titles by author or subject in alphabetical order. But these files, which stretched from floor to ceiling and seemingly endless in either direction, had very different headings. As I drew near the wall of files, the first to catch my attention was one that read "Girls I have liked." I opened it and began flipping through the cards. I quickly shut it, shocked to realize that I recognized the names written on each one. And then without being told, I knew exactly where I was.

This lifeless room with its small files was a crude catalog system for my life. Here were written the actions of my every moment, big and small, in a detail my memory couldn't match. A sense of wonder and curiosity, coupled with horror, stirred within me as I began randomly opening files and exploring their content. Some brought joy and sweet memories; others a sense of shame and regret so intense that I would look over my shoulder to see if anyone was watching.
A file named "Friends" was next to one marked "Friends I have betrayed." The titles ranged from the mundane to the outright weird "Books I Have Read," "Lies I Have Told," "Comfort I have Given," "Jokes I Have Laughed at." Some were almost hilarious in their exactness: "Things I've yelled at my brothers." Others I couldn't laugh at: "Things I Have Done in My Anger", "Things I Have Muttered Under My Breath at My Parents." I never ceased to be surprised by the contents.

Often there were many more cards than I expected. Sometimes fewer than I hoped. I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of the life I had lived. Could it be possible that I had the time in my years to fill each of these thousands or even millions of cards? But each card confirmed this truth.

Each was written in my own handwriting. Each signed with my signature. When I pulled out the file marked "TV Shows I have watched", I realized the files grew to contain their contents. The cards were packed tightly, and yet after two or three yards, I hadn't found the end of the file. I shut it, shamed, not so much by the quality of shows but more by the vast time I knew that file represented.

When I came to a file marked "Lustful Thoughts," I felt a chill run through my body. I pulled the file out only an inch, not willing to test its size and drew out a card. I shuddered at its detailed content. I felt sick to think that such a moment had been recorded. An almost animal rage broke on me. One thought dominated my mind: No one must ever see these cards! No one must ever see this room! I have to destroy them!" In insane frenzy I yanked the file out. Its size didn't matter now. I had to empty it and burn the cards. But as I took it at one end and began pounding it on the floor, I could not dislodge a single card. I became desperate and pulled out a card, only to find it as strong as steel when I tried to tear it.

Defeated and utterly helpless, I returned the file to its slot. Leaning my forehead against the wall, I let out a long, self-pitying sigh.And then I saw it.. The title bore "People I Have Shared the Gospel With."

The handle was brighter than those around it, newer, almost unused. I pulled on its handle and a small box not more than three inches long fell into my hands. I could count the cards it contained on one hand.

And then the tears came. I began to weep. Sobs so deep that they hurt. They started in my stomach and shook through me. I fell on my knees and cried. I cried out of shame, from the overwhelming shame of it all. The rows of file shelves swirled in my tear-filled eyes. No one must ever, ever know of this room. I must lock it up and hide the key. But then as I pushed away the tears, I saw Him.

No, please not Him. Not here. Oh, anyone but Jesus. I watched helplessly as He began to open the files and read the cards. I couldn't bear to watch His response. And in the moments I could bring myself to look at His face, I saw a sorrow deeper than my own.

He seemed to intuitively go to the worst boxes. Why did He have to read every one? Finally He turned and looked at me from across the room. He looked at me with pity in His eyes. But this was a pity that didn't anger me. I dropped my head, covered my face with my hands and began to cry again.

He walked over and put His arm around me. He could have said so many things. But He didn't say a word. He just cried with me.

Then He got up and walked back to the wall of files. Starting at one end of the room, He took out a file and, one by one, began to sign His name over mine on each card. "No!" I shouted rushing to Him. All I could find to say was "No, no," as I pulled the card from Him. His name shouldn't be on these cards. But there it was, written in red so rich, so dark, so alive. The name of Jesus covered mine. It was written with His blood. He gently took the card back. He smiled a sad smile and began to sign the cards. I don't think

I'll ever understand how He did it so quickly, but the next instant it seemed I heard Him close the last file and walk back to my side. He placed His hand on my shoulder and said, "It is finished."

I stood up, and He led me out of the room. There was no lock on its door. There were still cards to be written.

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."-Phil. 4:13 "For God so loved the world that He gave His only son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life."

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Whole Christ

I ran into an interesting article written by J. Murphy-O'Connor in Liber Annuus 1999. It addresses St. Paul and his letters on the body of Christ. Here is how it starts:

One of the fundamental struggles of Paul’s ministry was to make Christ as
central to the lives of his converts as it was to his own. Their resistance is
not difficult to explain because we share it. At heart we are all theists who
pay lip service to the centrality of Christ. What I mean
is clearly illustrated by the fact that we think of our lives as “doing the
will of God” rather than as “following Christ”. We pray and make retreats in
order to “discern the will of God”. We invoke the aid of spiritual directors
to help us achieve clarity in that quest and to ensure that we do not deceive
ourselves. I have never heard a retreat master or a spiritual director
discourage such efforts to penetrate what is assumed to be a mystery by saying
“Imitate Christ”, even though they will admit in theory that Christ is “the
wisdom and the power of God” (1 Cor 1:24), who said, “I am the way, and
the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father but by me” (John 14:6).

Go here to read the rest of the article:

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Friday, March 14, 2008


Hosanna - Catholic Blues

Quotes from Spe Salvi and incorporated the Stations of the Cross.