Friday, March 01, 2013

Sede Vacante 2013 Stamps!

As is traditionally done during periods of sede vacante, the Vatican prints stamps and mints special euro coins to commemorate the occasion. In 2005, a friend of mine from Rome sent me a postcard with a stamp commemorating the 2005 sede vacante after the death of Bl. John Paul II. The stamp above was just released today.


Thursday, February 28, 2013

Sede Vacante 2013

As of 1pm CST (8PM Rome), Pope Benedict XVI is no longer pope, and we have entered the period of sede vacante.

I would personally like to thank Pope Benedict XVI for his leadership, fidelity, and joyful stewardship. I would especially like to thank him for his teaching and dedication to the themes of liturgy and beauty, as well as the complementarity of faith and reason.  These themes have inspired me in my apostolate.

From Fr. George Rutler:
In many glorious ways, Benedict XVI has done just that. With unerring fidelity he has explained the sacred deposit of the Faith to its opponents, both cultured and uncultured, with patient eloquence and stunning insight. Many reforms in the Church’s structure and the purification of abuses were his intense initiatives. Rather like St. Francis of Assisi going to meet with the caliph of Egypt clad only in simplicity, Benedict XVI refused to wear a bullet-proof vest when he went to Turkey, turning the anger of many to respect. A new reverence and beauty in worship has been his gift to the Church through his renewal of the sacred rites, and the provision of an ordinariate for whole groups seeking full communion with the Church “amazed and astonished” many.
(Read entire post. Hat tip to Tea at Trianon)

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Waugh on Ash Wednesday in New Orleans

There is witchcraft in New Orleans! Evidently British author Evelyn Waugh noted some observations in his characteristic wit while on a tour of the United States.  His thoughts were published in the September 19th, 1949 issue of LIFE magazine. Before giving his observations of New Orleans, Waugh spends some time analyzing something quintessential to the history of New Orleans and Southern Louisiana: Catholicism. He notes some trends he found troublesome. I wonder what he would think today. Take a look:
Only three states can be said to have a strong, continuous Catholic tradition -- Louisiana, Maryland and New Mexico. In the first of these the Church has never known persecution or even discouragement and over a length of time that is not an entirely healthy condition. Catholics need to be reminded every few generations that theirs is a challenging creed. In no European country have the faithful been subject to so enervating a toleration as have the inhabitants of New Orleans. It is therefore not surprising that they take their faith easily and sentimentally, with some skepticism among the rich and some superstition among the poor, of the kind that was found in France before the Revolution. It is one of the Devil's devices to persuade people that their religion is so much "in their bones" that they do not have to bother; that it is rather poor taste to talk too much about it...
He then spends some time describing his experience in New Orleans on Ash Wednesday:
There is witchcraft in New Orleans, as there was at the court of Mme. de Montespan. Yet it was there that I saw one of the most moving sights of my tour. Ash Wednesday; warm rain falling in streets unsightly with the draggled survivals of carnival. The Roosevelt Hotel overflowing with crapulous tourists planning their return journeys. How many of them knew anything about Lent? But across the way the Jesuit Church was teeming with life all day long; a continuous, dense crowd of all colors and conditions moving up to the altar rails and returning with their foreheads signed with ash. And the old grim message was being repeated over each penitent: ‘Dust thou art and unto dust thou shalt return.’ One grows parched for that straight style of speech in the desert of modern euphemisms...
The Catholic ethos is sewn into the complicated fabric of Southern Louisiana. It is tangible and very difficult to ignore. It's actually one of the things I love about the region. However, Waugh is right to be concerned about a trivialization of the faith that can take hold once people grow complacent. Interesting. (Oh, and vocab. word for the day: crapulous)

On Beauty

Fr. Robert Barron gives here an excellent elucidation on the power of beauty to speak to the human heart and lead it toward the good and the true.  Fr. Barron ties his discussion to Evelyn Waugh's magnificent novel, Brideshead Revisited.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Can politics solve everything?

In his Wednesday audience address on February 13th, I was excited to see that Pope Benedict XVI cited Dorothy Day, founder of the Catholic Worker Movement, to illustrate how even in the midst of rampant secularization and a myriad of ideological enticements, God can still be found:
The ability to oppose the ideological enticements of her time in order to choose the search for truth and to open herself to the discovery of faith was witnessed by another woman of our time, the American Dorothy Day. She confessed openly in her autobiography to having succumbed to the temptation to solve everything with politics, adhering to the Marxist proposal: “I wanted to be with the protesters, go to jail, write, influence others and leave my dreams to the world. How much ambition and how much searching for myself in all this!”. The journey towards faith in such a secularized environment was particularly difficult, but Grace acts nevertheless, as she pointed out: “It is certain that I felt the need to go to church more often, to kneel, to bow my head in prayer. A blind instinct, one might say, because I was not conscious of praying. But I went, I slipped into the atmosphere of prayer...”. God guided her to a conscious adherence to the Church, in a life dedicated to the underprivileged.
It frustrates me that there are reasonable people, even Catholics, who cannot avoid seeing everything (including their faith) through the lens of their political ideology.  Thou fool.  As Teofilo points out, it is folly to think "that man's fallenness is a myth, and that Utopia is just around the corner if humanity would only will it."

Before he mentioned Day, Benedict referred to diaries of Etty Hillesum to illustrate how God can be found even in the midst of utter horror... in Hillesum's case, the Holocaust:
I am also thinking of Etty Hillesum, a young Dutch girl of Jewish origin who died in Auschwitz. At first far from God, she discovered him looking deep within her and she wrote: “There is a really deep well inside me. And in it dwells God. Sometimes I am there, too. But more often stones and grit block the well, and God is buried beneath. Then he must be dug out again” (Diaries, 97). In her disrupted, restless life she found God in the very midst of the great tragedy of the 20th century: the Shoah. This frail and dissatisfied young woman, transfigured by faith, became a woman full of love and inner peace who was able to declare: “I live in constant intimacy with God”.


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