Monday, August 28, 2017


Since my college days (in a Jesuit University) I have had a fascination with the great English poet GERARD MANLEY HOPKINS. I thank my first year literature professor, Father Smith, SJ, for his introduction  Recently I received the book: The Gospel in Gerard Manley Hopkins by Margaret R. Ellsberg.

Gerard Hopkins ranks seventh among the most frequently reprinted English language poets surpassed only by Shakespeare, John Donne, Wm. Blake, Yeats, Dickinson, and Wordsworth. Amazingly enough his mature work consists of only 49 poems. According to Dana Gioia (poet Laureat of California), he was an influence on Dylan Thomas, W.H. Auden, Seamus Hearney and other great poets of our modern time.

While considered one of the major poets of Victorian England, along with Tennyson, Robert Browning, and Matthew Arnold, Gerard Hopkins was almost unknown until 1918 when his book "Poems" was published, as edited by his friend Robert Bridges, then Poet Laureate.

Born in 1844, in the London suburb of Stratford, Essex, Gerard grew up in London’s Hampstead, among a comfortable family talented in word, art, and music. In 1863 he went to Oxford where he did brilliantly, yet anguished over religion. With the counsel of (Bl.) John Henry Newman, he was received into the Roman Catholic Church in October of 1866. After finishing Oxford in 1867, he taught for some months at Bl. Newman’s Oratory School near Birmingham.

Gerard entered the Society of Jesus on September 7, 1868, and did his novitiate in London and his philosophy in Lancashire. After a year of teaching in the Jesuit Juniorate, he began theology at St. Beuno’s College in the north of Wales where, in the winter 1875-76, he wrote the long ode “The Wreck of the Deutschland”, a poem in memory of five Franciscan Nuns, exiles by the Falk Laws, drowned in 1875.

He was ordained in 1877 and in spite of his long studies he managed eleven sonnets.
Wm. Hart McNichols

In October Hopkins left Wales, a place of great inspiration for him, to teach and minister in Derbyshire, London, Oxford, Bedford Leigh, Liverpool, Glasgow, and Stonyhurst, a Jesuit college in Lancashire.

In 1884 Hopkins went to Dublin as Professor of Greek at University College and examiner in the Royal University. But his chronic depression was magnified by bad eyesight, political irritation, spiritual desolation, and exhaustion from grading hundreds of examination papers.

 In 1885-86 he wrote seven sonnets, the “Terrible Sonnets” or “Dark Sonnets,” painful, dark poems with technical perfection.”  Yet at the same time he gave us poems expressing patience and hope in Christ, though his final poem describes a “winter world ” in which his “sweet fire” of poetic inspiration has waned. A few weeks later, on June 8,1889, he died, a victim of typhoid fever. At the end he considered himself a failure, yet his few poems were to change the course for
poetry we have today.

Vincent McDonnel
Hopkins’ poems, first published in 1918, grew into fame after the second edition of 1930. “Hailed as experimental and strikingly modern, they display rich music, novel rhythms, clustered words, craggy strength, and poetic power.”( Joseph J. Feeney, S.J.)

One of my favorite’s- and a lesser known poem- is:

A nun takes the veil

    I have desired to go
       Where springs not fail,
To fields where flies no sharp and sided hail
    And a few lilies blow.

    And I have asked to be
       Where no storms come,
Where the green swell is in the havens dumb,
    And out of the swing of the sea.

Thursday, August 24, 2017


Sometimes we look at the missionary saints of the past and think the days of great missionaries with many conversions is past.  This came from the Vatican news this week. 

For 27 years, FATHER GIORGIO PONTIGGA, a 74-year-old Salesian missionary, has been living in Pugnido, a village of eight thousand inhabitants, about a hundred kilometers from Gambela, Ethiopia.

“When I arrived eleven years ago,” Fr Giorgio recalls, “I found about 40 Catholics. After about a year, I started administering baptisms again. A little at a time, with a relatively calm situation and the many activities created in and around the parish, the life of the Catholic community was revitalized. This year, on Easter night, we have reached the figure of 7,569 baptisms.”

Thanks also to Fr Filippo Perin's arrival three years ago, and the support of Don Bosco Missions, the Salesian parish of Pugnido has developed significantly. Today, in addition to the church and the parish house, there are eleven mud and sheet-metal chapels scattered in the surrounding area. In the remote Ethiopia region, where people live with little more than nothing, what the two Salesians encounter is poverty, pillaging raids and refugee camps, but also the enthusiasm of its young people.

Abba Giorgio spent a lifetime in the oratories between Sesto San Giovanni in the Milano area and Chiari near Brescia; he has rediscovered an enthusiasm and vibrancy in the world of Ethiopia's youth since going as a Salesian 47-year-old, after serving in a school for disabled children and as a Master of Novices, first in Dilla, in the South of the country, then in Pugnido.

“It is they who are the mission's protagonists,” he says. “They have incredible strength and enthusiasm, and they transmit joy and the desire to live. Not just the little ones. Even when they grow up, they often attend our oratory, participate in our masses, live with us. And even when they move elsewhere, they always come back to visit us. These young people are a great hope for the future.”

(Source: Mondo e Missione)

Saturday, August 19, 2017


  The third member of this illustrious family being considered  for canonization is VENERABLE GUADALUPE ORTIZ de LANDAZURI, who was born in Madrid in 1916, on the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. She studied chemical sciences at the Central University in her home city, and was one of only five women in her area. During the Spanish civil war, she comforted her father, who was a military officer, in the hours leading up to his execution (see Blog on Ven. Eduardo).  She forgave those responsible for her father’s death from the first moment. After the war, she finished her university studies and taught physics and chemistry in the Irish School and the Liceo Francés, both in Madrid.

At the beginning of 1944, through a friend, she met the founder of Opus Dei, St Josemaria Escrivá, who taught her that professional work and ordinary life can be the place for encountering Christ. Later she would say: “I had the clear sensation that God was speaking to me through that priest.” That same year she joined Opus Dei.

From then on, Guadalupe committed herself unconditionally to seeking holiness and encouraging people to draw closer to God. In Madrid and later in Bilbao, she dedicated herself especially to the Christian formation of young people.

From 1950 to 1956 she was in Mexico, where she helped to begin Opus Dei’s apostolic work. It was an adventure that she undertook with generosity and great faith. Those who knew her highlight that her priority was fulfilling God’s will and putting herself at the service of others. Moved by Guadalupe’s encouragement, some of her friends helped initiate activities of human and Christian development, including a center for the training and advancement of farm workers in a rural area in the State of Morelos.

In 1956 she moved to Rome, where she assisted St Josemaria in Opus Dei’s government. After two years, due to health reasons, she returned to Spain, where she took up teaching and scientific research again. She finished a doctoral thesis in chemistry with the highest marks, and was one of the pioneers in starting the Center for Studies and Research in Domestic Sciences.

Later she received a medal from the International Committee of the Rayonne et des Fibres Synthétiques, for a research project on textile fibers. At the same time, she continued carrying out the work of Christian formation provided by Opus Dei. All her actions reflected an eagerness to grow in love for God through her work, her friendships, and her example of joy.

After a long battle with heart disease, she died in Pamplona, with a reputation for holiness, on the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in 1975. She was 59 years old.

Ever since, private devotion to Venerable Guadalupe has continued to spread. According to the postulator, people who have prayed to her intercession have received a wide variety of favors: cures, favors relating to pregnancy and giving birth, finding work, achieving a better balance between work and family, resolving economic problems, reconciliations among family members, and friends and co-workers growing closer to God. May she and her whole family bring peace to her homeland and the rest of our world!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017


More about this amazing family.  When I did some research on the people up for canonization tho related to Opus Dei, I was astounded- certainly more that in the Benedictine order!

VENERABLE LAURA BUSCA OTAEGUI was born in 1912 in Zumárraga, in the Basque region of Spain.  She was the wife of Eduardo Ortiz de Landázuri.  On December 11, 1998, she had the joy of being present, in Pamplona, at the opening of the Diocesan Process on the virtues of her husband Eduardo.

Called “Laurita” by those who knew her well, her life was marked by an extraordinary self-giving in caring for her husband and children, and for many other people, drawing strength from her deep piety and love for God. 

In 1935, she obtained a degree in pharmacology from the Central University in Madrid. That same year she met her future husband, Eduardo Ortiz de Landazuri. After they both lived through the civil war years in Spain, they were married on June 17, 1941, at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Arantzazu. Their marriage was a fruitful one, with seven children.

A warm-hearted and understanding person, she sought holiness in the midst of her daily work as the mother of a large family. She asked for admission to Opus Dei in 1953. Following the advice of St Josemaria Escriva, Laura and her husband Eduardo strove to make their family a “bright and cheerful home.”

From the 50’s she suffered from a painful back ailment, which she bore with fortitude and joyful acceptance of God’s will.  She died in Pamplona, with a reputation for holiness, on October 11, 2000. 

After a painful illness borne with extraordinary Christian fortitude, she died in Pamplona, with a reputation for holiness, on October 11, 2000. 

With Eduardo

The Archbishop of Pamplona opened her Cause of Canonization on June 14, 2013. 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017


Korean Madonna & Child- Jang Woo Seong  1949

Korea’s bishops have spoken out "for peace in the Korean peninsula".

In a message sent to AsiaNews to be made public in South Korea on the occasion of the feast day of the ASSUMPTION, which is also Korea’s Independence Day, the bishops slam Pyongyang's missile tests, but also warn of all the "unreasonable provocations" that can increase the tension.

The statement is signed by Mgr Peter Lee Ki-heon, bishop of Uijeongbu and president of the Commission for the Reconciliation of the Korean People of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea (CBCK), and Mgr Lazarus You Heung-sik, bishop of Daejeon and president of the CBCK’s Justice and Peace Commission.

In their statement the bishops ask "neighboring countries" (China, Japan, Russia, United States) to avoid a military escalation, or "unrestrained action," which could only cause the "death of innumerable people, the fatal devastation of both sides, the regression of human history, and deep wounds for the whole of humanity.” Everyone is called to engage in "dialogue for peace" and work for the "coexistence of humanity, which is, in fact, the main purpose of diplomacy and politics".

The statement makes a special exhortation to the bishops’ "fellow Koreans" in the North and South to stop using economic resources in “astronomical" military budgets, and use instead at least some of those resources for the "human and cultural development" of the Korean peninsula.
The bishops call on Christians and the peoples of the world to be "peacemakers". Establishing peace in the Korean peninsula could be the "U-turn" that brings peace to the world.

"Let us walk in the light of the Lord" (Is 2,5)

Finally, we urge all brothers and sisters in the world to be attentive, to pray, to respond with good discernment, and to work together cordially to resolve the crisis of our Peninsula. The Church in Korea will never fail to get involved in the problem in question and engage, more than anything, in constant praying.

Saturday, August 12, 2017


The two times I was in Peru, I attended daily Mass (when in Piura) at the Opus Dei University.  I was always struck by the devotion of the people (most were highly educated). I knew basically nothing about Opus Dei, except their founder had just been canonized. There has always been something of a secretive nature about this world-wide organization. The members seemed to me to be very pius yet called to a life walking with Jesus, not only in their spiritual life but also in their professional life.

Chapel in Piura- Photo to right of St. Josemaria

I recently came across a couple who are being  considered for canonization and the sister of the husband is also in the works for sainthood.  Imagine three from the same clan! All were very involved in Opus Dei.

VENERABLE EDUARDO ORTIZ de LANDAZURI's Cause of Canonization was opened in 1998. He was a prestigious doctor and university teacher in Spain and helped begin the University of Navarra Hospital in Pamplona

During the Spanish Civl War (1936-1939), his father was condemned to death by the anti-Catholic  government. He and his mother and sister spent the night with his father before he faced the firing squad. Later, referring to those days, he said that they had been the most painful days of his life. The event left a deep mark on his soul and was the start of a profound spiritual crisis, the beginning of his inner conversion to God

Eduardo (1910-1985) met his future wife  (Venerable) Laura Busca (next Blog) in 1935, when both were working at the King's Hospital in Madrid. She was one of the first women to study pharmacology at the university in Spain

Due to the war years in Spain, they weren't able to get married until 1941. Eventually they had seven children, and strove to make their family a "bright and cheerful home," as St. Josemaria  (founder of Opus Dei) always urged.

On June 1, 1952, he asked for admission to Opus Dei. His contact with the Work meant the start of a serious struggle for continual improvement in his Christian life following the way opened by the holy life and teachings of  St Josemaria Escriva, a person he came to love greatly.

As he grew in the spiritual life and his relationship with Christ, his professional life grew as well. People always found him serene and cheerful, even when faced with serious difficulties or in moments of tiredness. He worked exceptionally hard, starting each day with prayer and the Mass.

In Opus Dei he learned the value of fostering a unity of life. He came to see that the care of his family, his study and work, his interaction with friends, colleagues and students should all be deeply influenced by his faith. He found in each activity, done carefully and with order, a way to draw closer to God; it was the offering of his life, turning it into true contemplative prayer.

He showed great care for his colleagues and assistants. For his students he was a teacher and guide not only in professional matters but also in personal ones. He was friendly with everyone and tried to make himself always available. But at the same time he was demanding both on himself and on others because he wanted the talents he and they had received to be used for God’s glory.

Patients found him a true friend, for he paid attention to every aspect of their life to help them attain both bodily and spiritual health.

He retired from teaching in 1983 when he was 73 years old and was soon diagnosed with a tumor on the pancreas. Surgery showed the cancer too extensive for recovery.

From the very beginning Eduardo was aware of the seriousness of his illness and he accepted it, uniting himself ever more completely with Christ’s sufferings on the Cross and offering his life for the Church. In the last two years of his life he kept up his professional contacts, eager to bring many souls to God.

On May 1, 1985, he was brought to the University Clinic at Pamplona, where  he had  had cared for so many sick people. He died there May 20, while praying the words: “Lord, increase my faith, increase my hope, increase my love, so that my heart may resemble yours!”

His reputation for sanctity quickly spread after his death, a reputation that many people had appreciated even in his lifetime, and every day more and more people ask him to intercede for them with God.

Thursday, August 10, 2017


Our country fair is around the corner and even though I no longer show livestock (Cotswold sheep & llamas) or have the 4–H groups, we none the less participate in some way. Amazingly enough fairs started many years ago-  thousands in fact.

Old and New Testament references to fairs are mixed with allusions to commerce, trade, the marketplace, festivals, religious feasts and holy days.  Where and when the first fair was held is not known, however, evidence points to the existence of fairs as early as 500 BC.  

From the beginning, fairs were commercial in character, where merchants from distant countries would come together, bringing native wares to trade with one another. While it is not clearly explained in Ezekiel or in other biblical references, it is reasonable to assume that "fair" was the name given to the place at which early trading between foreign merchants was conducted.

Scripture records in the book of Ezekiel: "Tarshish was thy merchant by reason of the multitude of the kinds of riches with silver, iron, tin and lead, they traded in thy fairs." Ezekiel's account of the destruction of Tyre, supposedly written about 588 BC, describes Tyre as an important market and fair center.

It is clear that some sort of religious activity was companion to the commerce. The Latin world "feria" meaning holy day, is probably the root of the word "fair." Each feria was a day when large numbers of people would assemble for worship. Worship in those early days was centered around temples in great cities, including Ninevah, Athens, Rome and Mecca. These cities were also respected as the great commercial centers of the world. Fields adjacent to these temples were staked out for traders. Religious figures were placed about the fields in order to protect the traders and merchants.

During the early Christian era, the church took an active part in sponsoring fairs on feast days, and as a result, fairs came to be a source of revenue for the church. Possibly, our modern church bazaars possess some rudiments of these religious fairs.

This evolution which blended religion and commerce continued over time and moved into western Europe. Periodic gatherings brought together the producers of all types of commodities for the purpose of barter, exchange and sale. Entertainment and other forms of activity were later added to draw people, thus giving us  fairs as we know them today.

In 1765 the first American fair was presented in Windsor, Nova Scotia. Many small fairs were held during the early 1700's in French Canada while under French rule.

Later, Elkanah Watson, a New England patriot and farmer, earned the title, "Father of US agricultural fairs" by organizing the Berkshire Agricultural Society and creating an event known then as a Cattle Show in Pittsfield, Massachusetts in September 1811. It was more than just an exhibit of animals – it was a competition, with prize money ($70) paid for the best exhibits of oxen, cattle, swine and sheep.

Painting of Watson by Cople

Watson worked diligently for many years helping communities organize their own agricultural societies and their respective shows (fairs). By 1819 most counties in New England had organized their own agricultural societies and the movement was spreading into the other states. The nineteenth century closed with almost every state and province having one or more agricultural fair or exhibition.

The core elements of those agricultural exhibitions fairs of the early 1800s  are at the heart of the agricultural fair in North America today.  Today, over 3,200 fairs are held in North America each year. They provide industrial exhibits, demonstrations and competition aimed at the advancement of livestock, horticulture and agriculture with special emphasis placed on educational activities such as 4-H, Future Farmers of America and similar youth development programs. While enjoying these high-minded pursuits, fair visitors are also able to see, hear, touch, smell and taste the richness and variety of what the world has to offer.

Friday, August 4, 2017


On this feast of St John Marie Vianney, patron of priests, I think it appropriate to introduce a priest little known in our area, but not the midwest. 

After College I was associated with the Benedictines of Perpetual Adoration at Clyde, MO, and heard many stories about SERVANT of GOD FATHER LUCAS ETLAN, who is now being considered for canonization.

Born Albert Etlin in Sarnen,Switzerland, the capital of Canton Obwalden in the foothills of the Swiss Alps, where I once stayed a week with the Benedictine nuns. He studied with the Benedictines at the beautiful Benedictine Abbey of Engelberg. While still a student, he met a monk from America who was asking for young men to come to the United States , so in 1886 he left for the US, where he joined the Benedictines in Conception Abbey, Missouri, and took the religious named Lukas.

A talented artist, he painted several of the abbey’s murals. From 1892 until his death he was chaplain to the Benedictine Sisters two miles away from his Abbey. He would daily make the walk, but in the severe winter of 1894 he became lost in a snowstorm. After this he resided at the nuns convent.

His great love for the Eucharist was expressed in a magazine he had the nuns start, “Tabernacle and Purgatory” (today “Spirit & Life”).  He had a great love for the Sacred Heart of Jesus and promoted the devotion, which he hoped would be in every Catholic home. He was instrumental in persuading the Sisters to embrace a more monastic way of life with primacy given to the celebration of the Divine Office and to perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.

Through the journal he collected funds for European relief during World War I and after the war started a relief service, known as Caritas. Within two months he raised almost $25,000 ( a lot of money in those days) and between 1920 & 1927 over two million dollars were sent to monasteries and convents, seminaries & orphanages, ravaged by the war.

He also raised money for scholarships for 2,800 seminarians among whom 3 became cardinals, five archbishops, 20, bishops and 14 abbots.  

On December 16, 1927, Father Lukas offered Mass at the convent in Clyde, and at 8:30 a.m. taught a religion class to the girls of St. Joseph's Academy.  He told the girls (in the spirit of St. Benedict):  We must at all times be ready to die. We should not wish to live even a single day longer than God wills. Should death overtake us in an automobile, also then we should accept it with resignation to the will of God.

Eight hours later, Father Lukas lay dead at the side of the highway in Stanberry, Missouri, the victim of an automobile accident. At the moment of the crash, he was heard to cry out, "O Jesus, Jesus!" When help came, Father Lukas was already dead, with a piece of his rosary held fast in his hand.

Since his death, Father Lukas has obtained numerous graces and favors for those who have recourse to his intercession.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017


Any one who has followed this Blog, knows that I love to promote new Catholic art, from all cultures and all countries. Interestingly enough the intention of prayer for the month of August from the Holy Father is Artists: That artists of our time, through their ingenuity, may help everyone discover the beauty of creation.

St. George - Nikola Saric (Serbia- Germany)

“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament proclaims his handiwork” (Psalm 19: 1). As creation reveals God’s beauty, so humans, made in God’s image and likeness, create works that give glory to God. The great Russian novelist Dostoevsky wrote that “beauty will save the world.” How? At the end of the Second Vatican Council the bishops told artists: “This world in which we live needs beauty in order not to sink into despair. It is beauty, like truth, which brings joy to the human heart and is that precious fruit which resists the wear and tear of time, which unites generations and makes them share things in admiration.” 

Moses- Dr. He Qi- USA
Beauty lifts the heart and brings people together. Pope Francis spoke of “the important and necessary task of artists: to create works of art that bear through the language of beauty a sign, a spark of hope and trust where people seem to give in to indifference and ugliness.” He went on to say: “Architects and painters, sculptors and musicians, filmmakers and writers, photographers and poets, artists of every discipline, are called to make beauty shine, especially where darkness and greyness dominate everyday life; they are custodians of beauty, heralds and witnesses of hope for humanity, as my predecessors have repeated many times. 

I invite them, therefore, to care for beauty, and beauty will heal the many wounds that mark the heart and soul of the men and women of our times.” However, artists can be tempted to create what is fashionable or shocking in order to make money or a name for themselves. They can create works that degrade humanity and foster conflict. We pray that artists use their gifts to heal and to give glory to God.

Mother of God- Olga Kovtun- Ukraine