Saturday, July 19, 2008

World Youth Day 2008

Watching the coverage of World Youth Day in Sydney has me thinking back to World Youth Day 2002 in Toronto. I had the privilege to travel to Toronto with a small group of pilgrims. What an experience that was. What a pilgrimage. I remember sleeping outside overnight with the other pilgrims in anticipation of the papal mass, waking up to rain drops that gave way to a torrent, which lasted until the singing of the Gloria during the papal mass as the sun came out and everybody dried off. I remember spending one of my days there with the group of Eastern Rite (Byzantine) Catholics in what was a very eye-opening experience. I remember arriving late from the airport with my fellow pilgrim from my parish and missing our bus to our sleepsite, having to put our trust in some Toronto natives to guide us through the city on foot, through empty fields and neighborhoods, ultimately delivering us safely to our destination.

The Church is young. And now we learn that the next WYD (which now constitute an ordinary part of the life of the church) will be in Madrid in 2011.
Deliberately Insulting the Most Deeply Felt Sensibilities of Other Human Beings

Jimmy Akin responds to the Prof. P.Z. Myers debacle (and here) as well as Myers' threat to publically desecrate the Most Blessed Sacrament. He responds better than I can. I most certainly do not condone the minority of clowns who have responded to Myers' threat by issuing death threats and other stupid things. They felt provoked, and the human condition being what it is, some folks lose themselves -- as Jimmy points out. It's frustrating that in Myers' view, the attitude offered by these folks all of the sudden represents that of the world's 1 billion Catholics. Nonetheless, Myers is indeed deliberately insulting the most deeply felt sensibilities of other human beings. He may not share our belief that Christ is truly and substantially present in the Eucharistic host, but it's hard not to be concerned when the subject is something so blasphemous that he would do it merely as a provocation. Aside from rightful anger, what is your response?

One thing that I see when I read Myers' blog and the rather stupid comments from the combox peanut gallery -- these folks who hate religion, most particularly the Catholic faith, are human too, not that they can be reasoned with. I say, be provoked to offer prayer and reparation. Thoroughly engage the sacramental life, and witness that to those around you. Be mindful of your sins, and confess them. Do not fail to trust Our Lord in this. Remember how he was mistreated through suffering and death, and how glorious was His resurrection from the dead. Offer yourselves as a living sacrifice.

This is the supreme irony, as we know through the history of the Church. Myers would like this stunt to prove that our beliefs are meaningless and our faith in Christ is silly and stupid. Yet, persecution only strengthens and emboldens the Church. Remember the prayer of Polycarp (ca. 69- ca. 155 AD), bishop of Smyrna, as he was martyred in an ultimately futile attempt to prove the meaninglessness of his faith in Christ:
Lord God Almighty, Father of your beloved and blessed child Jesus Christ, through whom we have received knowledge of you, the God of angels, of powers, and of all creation, and of every race of the upright who live before you. I bless you for making me worthy of this day and hour, that I may receive a share among the number of the martyrs in the cup of your Christ, unto the resurrection of eternal life in both soul and body in the immortality of the Holy Spirit. Among them may I be received before you today as a sacrifice that is rich and acceptable, just as you prepared and revealed in advance and now fulfilled -- the true God who does not lie. For this reason and for all things I praise you, I bless you, I glorify you through the eternal and heavenly high priest Jesus Christ, your beloved child, through whom be glory to you, with him and the Holy Spirit, both now and for the ages to come. Amen.
Tertullian famously acknowledged: Plures efficimur quotiens metimur a vobis; semen est sanguis Christianorum: The more often we are mown down by you, the more in number we grow; the blood of Christians is seed.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

A Byrd Celebration

The New Liturgical Movement blog (NLM) reports that the Church Music Association of America (CMAA) was named as the publisher of the first-ever conference volume for the William Byrd Festival this year. The volume is called A Byrd Celebration, "and it features essays by the world top Byrd experts, writing about all aspects of his life and work."

As readers of my blog may know, I love the music of William Byrd, who was a very well known Catholic composer during the English Renaissance, a time in English history when it was not proper nor healthy to be Catholic, a theme that makes its way into Byrd's Catholic compositions.

NLM links to a recording of Byrd's marvelous music: Sing Joyfully, performed by The Tallis Scholars:

Sing joyfully to God our strength; sing loud unto the God of Jacob! Take the song, bring forth the timbrel, the pleasant harp, and the viol. Blow the trumpet in the new moon, even in the time appointed, and at our feast day. For this is a statute for Israel, and a law of the God of Jacob.
-Psalm 81:1-4
The Doors of Santa Sabina

The Dominican History blog reflects a bit on the ancient Basilica of Santa Sabina in Rome, home of the Order of Preachers (Dominicans):
Santa Sabina lies high on the Aventine Hill, close to the headquarters of the Knights of Malta. It is an early basilica (5th century), with a classical rectangular plan and columns. In 1219, the church was given by Pope Honorius III to Saint Dominic, for his new order, the Order of Preachers.
The post links to a brief Vatican Radio interview with Breda Catherine Ennis speaking on the famous, ancient doors of Santa Sabina.

The closest I've been to Santa Sabina thus far is to the Church of St. Andrew in Pasadena, CA, which is actually modeled after Santa Sabina.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Words of Grace and Peace
God, the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of his Son has reconciled the world to himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins; through the ministry of the Church may God give you pardon and peace, and I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
How awesome, those words, the power of God's grace. Laudetur Iesus Christus
Grace... like a magnifying glass...
Let us try to foster deep down in our hearts a burning desire, an intense eagerness to achieve sanctity, even though we see ourselves full of failings. Do not be afraid: the more one advances in the interior life, the more clearly one sees one's own faults. Grace works in us like a magnifying glass, and even the tiniest speck of dust or an almost invisible grain of sand can appear immensely large, for the soul acquires a divine sensitivity, and even the slightest shadow irritates one's conscience, which finds delight only in the limpid clarity of God. Speak now from the bottom of your heart:
"Lord, I really do want to be a saint. I really do want to be a worthy disciple of yours and to follow you unconditionally."
And now you should make a resolution to renew each day the great ideals which inspire you at this moment.
-St. Josemaría Escrivá, from his sermon The Richness of Ordinary Life.

Monday, July 14, 2008

I am not a number!

Yee-haw! AMC/SciFi has announced that they are producing a "miniseries reboot" of the popular British "allegorical" 1960's TV show The Prisoner.
AMC's reinterpretation of the Cold-War-era show will reflect 21st-century concerns and anxieties: liberty, security and surveillance, AMC said.
Reinterpretation? Well, I guess if it is a reboot, it has to be different, but I have to wonder if it will have the same type of campy nature that the original had as well as the more subtle (yet sometimes more obvious) allegory.

In the original series, the primary character, Number Six, was played by Patrick McGoohan (you'll know him today as Edward the Longshanks from Braveheart). In the new miniseries, Number Six will be played by Jim Caviezel, with Number Two being played by Ian McKellen.

Splendid! But can the top the original opening sequence?

We'll just have to see...

Sunday, July 13, 2008

I have looked upon thee in the sanctuary...

Psalm 63 (RSV)
O God, thou art my God, I seek thee, my soul thirsts for thee; my flesh faints for thee, as in a dry and weary land where no water is.

So I have looked upon thee in the sanctuary, beholding thy power and glory. Because thy steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise thee.

So I will bless thee as long as I live; I will lift up my hands and call on thy name.

My soul is feasted as with marrow and fat, and my mouth praises thee with joyful lips, when I think of thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the watches of the night; for thou hast been my help, and in the shadow of thy wings I sing for joy.

My soul clings to thee; thy right hand upholds me. But those who seek to destroy my life shall go down into the depths of the earth; they shall be given over to the power of the sword, they shall be prey for jackals.

But the king shall rejoice in God; all who swear by him shall glory; for the mouths of liars will be stopped.


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