Saturday, June 28, 2008

Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart

So I finally had an opportunity to visit Houston's marvelous new Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart today. My wife had already seen it twice for various activities. We were there today for the archdiocesan mass for the Feast of St. Josemaría Escrivá. If there are any of y'all who haven't visited it yet, I would encourage you to check it out!

From the co-cathedral website:
A cathedral is the principal church where the bishop presides over a diocese and celebrates worship with and for the Christian community. As such, the diocesan cathedral is the mother Church of the entire diocese. The word cathedral is derived from the fact that this church houses the bishop’s chair - the cathedra - the symbol of the bishop’s teaching authority in the diocese.

The new Co-Cathedral of Galveston-Houston is dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, symbolizing the invitation to experience His love through the mystery of His death and resurrection. To all, His invitation is to enter into a personal relationship with Him, to be nourished with holy presence.

In the architectural design of our new co-cathedral, one can find great meaning and inspiration. The height of the structure is a powerful image of transcendence – a reminder for us to fix our gaze on heaven, where our spirits can rise above their earthly existence and be nourished in the hope of God’s love for humanity. The ascending height of the Co-Cathedral answers our human longing to be in communion with God who from on high showers His love and peace upon us. The anchoring weight of stone and marble signifies God’s imminence, His presence and work here on earth.
I found the cathedral to be quite sublime. Traditional, yet modern. Not quite like the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles :)

Last week, we also had a chance to visit the newly renovated Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament in Sacramento, CA. I found that to be quite impressive.
St. Dominic and the Year of St. Paul

The Holy Father has just now opened the Pauline Year on the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul. The Dominican Nuns over at Moniales OP naturally celebrate the significance of this for all Dominicans based on the history of the Order of Preachers:
The Holy Father's decision to celebrate the 2000th birthday of St. Paul with a Jubilee Year can only be met with joy by Dominicans! Both St. Peter and Paul (can anyone separate them?) played a special part in the founding of the Order of Preachers. As St. Dominic was beginning the Order he had the following vision:
Once when the servant of God, Dominic, was at Rome in the Basilica of St. Peter, where he was praying fervently in God's sight for the preservation and growth of his Order, which the right hand of God had raised up through him, he saw the glorious princes, Peter and Paul, coming toward him in a sudden vision wrought by the power of God. Peter, who was first, seemed to be handing him a staff, and Paul a book. Then they spoke these words: "Go and preach, because you have been chosen by God for this work." And then, in a moment of time, he seemed to see all his children dispersed through the world and going two by two preaching the word of God to the people.
Later, Pope Innocent III when hesitating to give approval to this new Order, had a vision or a dream of St. Dominic holding up the Lateran Basilica (the official Basilica of the Pope). This vision is also attributed to St. Francis and is more commonly known. In any event, statues of these 2 great saints take their place on either side of St. Peter's Square!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

St. Josemaría Escrivá and the Early Church

Mike Aquilina has some good observations, echoed from a post from last year, about the influence of the Fathers of the Early Church on St. Josemaría Escrivá and the spirituality of Opus Dei.
His is a decidedly modern spirit, but he conceived it as a retrieval of the way of the “early Christians” (his preferred term). Opus Dei was, he said, “as old as the Gospel and, like the Gospel, ever new.” He often cited the authority of the Church Fathers. A quick scan of his books online at EscrivaWorks yields many passages from Clement of Alexandria, Ignatius of Antioch, Tertullian, Ambrose, Justin Martyr, Origen, Cyril of Jerusalem, Cyril of Alexandria, Leo the Great, Jerome, lots and lots from John Chrysostom and Gregory the Great, and dozens from Augustine.

These early Christians were not mere ornaments on his pet project. His vocation was itself a return to the sources — the pre-Nicene sources of the life and labor of ordinary, faithful Christians. The journalist John L. Allen, in his book on Opus Dei, described just how radical St. Josemaria’s vision was: “The idea of priests and laity, men and women, all part of one organic whole, sharing the same vocation and carrying out the same apostolic tasks, has not been part of the Catholic tradition, at least since the early centuries.”
Remembering St. Josemaría Escrivá, Founder of Opus Dei

Today we observe the memorial of St. Josemaría Escrivá, a man who has helped me enormously in my everyday spiritual life. He preached a point the world today most certainly needs to hear, a point brought home and emphasized in the teachings of the Second Vatican Council: that the call to holiness is universal and applicable to every human being, you and me. And it is achievable by way of the unfolding of God's grace in the ordinary work of our everyday lives.

From Passionately Loving the World:
On the contrary, you must understand now, more clearly, that God is calling you to serve Him in and from the ordinary, material and secular activities of human life. He waits for us every day, in the laboratory, in the operating theatre, in the army barracks, in the university chair, in the factory, in the workshop, in the fields, in the home and in all the immense panorama of work. Understand this well: there is something holy, something divine, hidden in the most ordinary situations, and it is up to each one of you to discover it.
St. Josemaría Escrivá taught there is something divine in the ordinary human activities of our day, and in the ordinary human connections we make with each other. And grace helps us to see and to live...

From Christ Is Passing By:
Let's not deceive ourselves: in our life we will find vigor and victory and depression and defeat. This has always been true of the earthly pilgrimage of Christians, even of those we venerate on the altars. Don't you remember Peter, Augustine, and Francis? I have never liked biographies of saints which naively -- but also with a lack of sound doctrine -- present their deeds as if they had been confirmed in grace from birth. No. The true life stories of Christian heroes resemble our own experience: they fought and won; they fought and lost. And then, repentant, they returned to the fray.
Pray for us, St. Josemaría Escrivá.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Born at 24 weeks...

I was in California last week, and during our time there, we attended a rally on the steps of the Capitol Building in Sacramento to protest the 33 million in state taxpayer money that is included in the state budget for abortion services. We rallied for this funding to instead be used in a way that actually helps women, children, the poor, the jobless, the homeless, etc.

During the rally, a man spoke with excitement about how, in 1984, his child was born prematurely at 24 weeks (6 months) and survived. His child was only 2.1 lbs and is now 24 years old.

I had read about children being born as early as 20 weeks and surviving, but keep in mind that the law will allow you to terminate the life of your child well beyond 20 or even 24 weeks in the womb. Our definition of "viability" is changing everyday, thanks to advancements in medicine and advancements within the field of fetology.

Are you listening, Barack Obama?
Let your prayer come from a humble heart...

St. Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage, from his treatise On the Lord's Prayer (written 252 AD) from the Office of Readings for Sunday, June 15th:
Let our speech and our petition be kept under discipline when we pray, and let us preserve quietness and modesty – for, remember, we are standing in God’s sight. We must please God’s eyes both with the movements of our body and with the way we use our voices. For just as a shameless man will be noisy with his cries, so it is fitting for the modest to pray in a moderate way.

Furthermore, the Lord has taught us to pray in secret, in hidden and remote places, in our own bed-chambers – and this is most suitable for faith, since it shows us that God is everywhere and hears and sees everything, and in the fulness of his majesty is present even in hidden and secret places, as it is written I am a God close at hand and not a God far off. If a man hides himself in secret places, will I not see him? Do I not fill the whole of heaven and earth?, and, again, The eyes of God are everywhere, they see good and evil alike.

When we meet together with the brethren in one place, and celebrate divine sacrifices with God’s priest, we should remember our modesty and discipline, not to broadcast our prayers at the tops of our voices, nor to throw before God, with undisciplined long-windedness, a petition that would be better made with more modesty: for after all God does not listen to the voice but to the heart, and he who sees our thoughts should not be pestered by our voices, as the Lord proves when he says: Why do you think evil in your hearts? – or again, All the churches shall know that it is I who test your motives and your thoughts.

In the first book of the Kings, Hannah, who is a type of the Church, observes that she prays to God not with loud petitions but silently and modestly within the very recesses of her heart. She spoke with hidden prayer but with manifest faith. She spoke not with her voice but with her heart, because she knew that that is how God hears, and she received what she sought because she asked for it with belief. The divine Scripture asserts this when it says: She spoke in her heart, and her lips moved, and her voice was not audible; and God listened to her. And we read in the Psalms: Speak in your hearts and in your beds, and be pierced. Again, the Holy Spirit teaches the same things through Jeremiah, saying: But it is in the heart that you should be worshipped, O Lord.

Beloved brethren, let the worshipper not forget how the publican prayed with the Pharisee in the temple – not with his eyes boldly raised up to heaven, nor with hands held up in pride; but beating his breast and confessing the sins within, he implored the help of the divine mercy. While the Pharisee was pleased with himself, it was the publican who deserved to be sanctified, since he placed his hope of salvation not in his confidence of innocence – since no-one is innocent – but he prayed, humbly confessing his sins, and he who pardons the humble heard his prayer.


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