Tuesday, December 28, 2021

THE SHEPHERDS

 

“And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear.”   Luke 2:8-9

Seeing Shepherds II-  Daniel Bonnell


Sheep herding was considered a noble occupation in the old Testament.

Abraham  (Genesis 13) is  described as having much livestock, herds, and flocks of sheep. Moses (Exodus 3:1)  was a shepherd: “Meanwhile, Moses was shepherding the flock of his father-in-law Jethro.” David  (1Samuel 17) was a shepherd  who took care of his father’s flocks. 

I have sometimes wondered if David wrote some of his psalms (songs) while tending the sheep.  He would have had plenty of time, and certainly the psalms, especially everyone’s favorite (Ps. 23) “the Lord is my Shepherd” could only have been written by someone who understood the sheep.

 The prophets tell of God’s relationship with His chosen people in terms of a shepherd and his flock.

 But by the time Jesus appeared on the scene shepherds were considered to be dishonest and unclean according to the law. They represented  the outcasts and sinners for whom Jesus came.

So is it any wonder that the first recorded people the angels appeared to to tell of the wondrous Birth, were the very people who needed Him the most?

 Jesus later would identify Himself as both  the Good Shepherd (John 10:11).and the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the World  (John 1: 29). 




Saturday, December 25, 2021

CHRISTMAS BLESSINGS

Tsugouharu Foujita – French (d. 1968)


PEACE  AND JOY 

AS HE HAS COME TO SAVE OUR WORLD

 

“O Christ, born for our sake, teach us to walk beside you on the paths of peace.”

Pope Francis, Christmas 2021


Wednesday, December 22, 2021

MARY OUR HOPE

 

As we are into the final week of Advent, we know it- if we listen- as the time of stillness, for quiet, for discernment. This week  should be one in which we prepare ourselves for the mystery of the Incarnation, the miracle of Emmanuel- God-with-us.

As we consider the wonder of Mary in the expectation of her Child, we should  slow down and ponder in our heart what is really happening, knowing that she is our hope of what is to come.  She gives us courage to face the unknown.

 As we anticipate this greatest of feasts, let us unite ourselves to the Virgin Mother, asking  her to teach us the patience and docility needed to bear Christ in our hearts.

Monday, December 20, 2021

BIRDS IN ADVENT


 

Audubon's 122nd Christmas Bird Count  takes place in the Western Hemisphere from Tuesday, December 14, 2021 through Wednesday, January 5, 2022.   We were to do ours this past Saturday, but a storm was predicted so it was moved to Sunday, 4th of Advent. Again I did it with 2 Islanders, Gigi (one of  our Oblates) and her husband Jim, an incredible naturalist. 

Prior to the turn of the 20th century, hunters engaged in a holiday tradition known as the Christmas "Side Hunt." They would choose sides and go afield with their guns. Whoever brought in the biggest pile of feathered (and furred) quarry won.

Conservation was in its beginning stages in that era, and many observers and scientists were becoming concerned about declining bird populations. Beginning on Christmas Day 1900, ornithologist Frank M. Chapman, an early officer in the then-nascent Audubon Society, proposed a new holiday tradition, a "Christmas Bird Census" that would count birds during the holidays rather than hunt them.

That first count was in 1900. Twenty-seven birders conducted counts at 25 sites, tallying about 89 bird species. We have come a long way.

Last year’s Christmas Bird Count was  one for the record books.

The COVID-19 pandemic consumed the world after the end of 2019. Even as summaries were being written for last year’s 120th CBC, it was clear that the coming 2020 season—the 121st CBC—would be drastically affected by all the shutdowns and governmental regulations at all levels that had been put in place in an attempt to control the spread of the virus. For a period, it appeared that, for the safety of participants, Audubon would need to cancel the 121st CBC—potentially resulting in the first time in 120 years that a Christmas Bird Count was not held. But COVID-safe guidelines were developed and approved—and followed by compilers—and the count went on.

Birders covered 2,459 circles during the CBC, with 1,842 counts in the United States, 451 in Canada, and 166 throughout Latin America, the Caribbean, and the Pacific Islands. While the total number of counts is lower than any season since the 114th CBC, it is still remarkable given the challenges we all faced.

Will be interesting to know the results of this year's count as more and more people are out and about.  How did we do on Shaw as we covered our 7 mile long island?

We saw 11 bald eagles (did not top our 2018 record of 15), a pair of marbled murrelets, a coopers hawk, which flew in front of our car, the annual returning green winged teal (down from 20 to 13) one of my favorite ducks, the ring necks (18), and for me the top passerine (denoting birds of a large order distinguished by feet that are adapted for perching, including all song birds), the varied thrush (pictured at left).  All in all a very fun day.





Saturday, December 18, 2021

UNIVERSAL EXPECTATION

Today is the  feast of "OUR LADY of EXPECTATION", which  is also known as  OUR LADY of the O because the Church a has just begun to sing the "O” Antiphons at Vespers. They remind us of the universal longing for the coming of the Savior.

Pope Benedict XVI spoke of her with this title in a prayer: O Mary, Virgin of expectation and Mother of hope, revive the spirit of Advent in your entire Church.

Dominican Br. Thomas Davenport, of the Dominican House of Studies in Washington D.C., explains why his community still marks this Dec. 18 feast: “This feast of Our Lady of the Expectation takes the opportunity to contemplate the great longing and anticipation of Advent, in which ‘all creation is groaning in labor pains,’ through the eyes of her who, above all creatures, longed to see the face of Christ, and whose expectation truly was palpable in every fiber of her body.”

The votive Mass of “Our Lady of Expectation” is theologically enlightening and spiritually enriching for the time of Advent and Christmas.   With the entrance antiphon, the Church prays with the prophet for the coming of the Just One from heaven that the earth may be ready to welcome the Saviour: “Send victory like a dew, you heavens, and let the clouds rain down the just.   Let the earth open for salvation to spring up” (Is 45:8).

In the opening prayer, the Church offers the prayer to God through Mary’s intercession: “O God who wished that your Word would take the flesh from the womb of the Virgin as announced by the Angel and whom we confess to be the true Mother of God, may we be helped by her intercession.”



Even though this is not a universal feast there are many images of Mary in expectation from across the globe.

Images: 

 

Top-  India

Middle left-   Madonna del Parto; Unknown Master, Italian; 1490s; Gallerie dell’Accademia, Venice, Italy

Middle right-  Lisbon, Portugal

Below left - Prague  17th C. Augustian Church

Bottom right- Unknown Master, French 15th C-  National Gallery of Art, Washington DC

Bottom left-  Jen Norton  USA










Friday, December 17, 2021

THE GREAT "O"s

 

Today we start singing the Great ”Os” at Vespers.  Having been taught by the very well educated Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet  in my grammar school years, I am always glad to find some news of them, and this artist is right for the season of Advent.

SISTER ANSGAR HOLMBERG, C.S.J., 87, did a colorful series of the O ANTIPHONS,  which she said she painted for herself not to edify or instruct anyone. She created these seven paintings over the course of three years as a personal way to contemplate Scripture.

December 17 ~ O Wisdom, O holy Word of God, you govern all creation with your strong yet tender care. Come and show your people the way to salvation.

“I didn’t have any rules or laws or requests put upon me, but it was my own expression of where I was at that time as I worked with these. I put my own spin on it, and it went a bit more cosmic."

She studied with Ade Bethune, but her work took on a more colorful folk style as she progressed as an artist. Unlike Ade, she does not create for a liturgical purpose, rather, her art results from her own spiritual journey and life changes.

These O Antiphons, as they are known, were composed in the seventh or eighth century when monks put together texts from the Old Testament which looked forward to the coming of our salvation. They start on December 17 and are sung before the Magnificat  at Vespers seven days before the vigil of Christmas. Each each begin with the exclamation “O” and end with a plea for the Messiah to come.


December 18 ~ O Adonai, sacred One of ancient Israel, who showed yourself to Moses in the burning bush, who gave him the holy way on Sinai mountain; come, stretch out your mighty hand to set us free.

Sister Ansgar joined the St. Jospeh's in 1953 and has been painting since her childhood years. She credits her parochial school teachers for introducing art as a way to understand the church’s liturgical year and spirituality.

I certainly experienced this in my own childhood. Trips to museums were a yearly pilgrimage as well as visits to  lovely churches to study the glass windows.

 Sr. Ansgar recalled. Working as a teacher in Catholic elementary and middle schools, Sr. Ansgar found inspiration from the children she taught and continues to teach through her illustrations in children’s books. 

Now retired, Sr. Ansgar moved to Carondelet Village in 2012 where she lives among her CSJ sisters and neighbors from all walks of life. She says that being an artist is her current vocation, striving to reflect the CSJ call “to love God and neighbor without distinction.”  

December 21 ~ O Dayspring  O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice: come, shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.

She says that her ideas arise from her own spiritual journey and flow from scripture, neighborhood, experiences in other cultures such as Guatemala and Africa, people’s ordinary everyday words and, of course, children. Her art teems with images that reference biblical, historical and world events.

 “I like to illustrate scriptural events and the parables of Jesus and how they relate to our time.” The characters in her paintings reflect her deep commitment to inclusivity of genders, ages, races and cultures. “I want people to see themselves in these pictures.”  



December 20 ~  O Key of David, O royal Power of Israel opening at your will the gate of heaven: come break down the prison walls of death for those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death; and lead your captive people into freedom.


Tuesday, December 14, 2021

NOT FAST ENOUGH

 


Most just indeed it is, O holy Mother of God, that we should unite in that ardent desire thou hadst to see Him, who had been concealed for nine months in thy chaste womb; to know the features of this Son of the heavenly Father, who is also thine; to come to that blissful hour of His birth, which will give glory to God in the highest, and, on earth, peace to men of good-will.

Yes, dear Mother, the time is fast approaching, though not fast enough to satisfy thy desires and ours. Make us redouble our attention to the great mystery; complete our preparation by thy powerful prayers for us, that when the solemn hour has come, may our Jesus find no obstacle to His entrance into our hearts.

                                        Hymns and Carols of Christmas





Image:  Efrain Zanabria contemporary Peruvian artist           

Saturday, December 11, 2021

MARY’S PAINS

 


 

We ask ourselves what we are waiting for. Are we waiting for something, or perhaps for someone? Are we waiting at all, or have we dropped all expectations in disillusionment in a world that moves too fast and  seemingly does not care? 

We ponder the plight of  the soon to be delivered Mary.   Because Our Blessed  Mother endured pregnancy according to the manner in which Eve would have endured it before the fall  she certainly did not suffer the pains of childbirth,  which are a punishment for sin. Her sufferings because of her Child would come at the end of His life-  at the foot of the Cross.

… Most just indeed it is, O Holy Mother of God, that we should unite in that ardent desire thou hadst to see Him, who had been concealed for nine months in thy chaste womb; to know the features of this Son of the heavenly Father, who is also thine; to come to that blissful hour of his Birth, which will give Glory to God in the highest, and, on earth, Peace to men of good will. Yes, dear Mother, the time is fast approaching, though not fast enough to satisfy thy desires and ours. Make us redouble our attention to the great mystery; complete our preparation by thy powerful prayers for us, that when the solemn hour is come, our Jesus may find no obstacle to his entering into our hearts. (Ancient prayer of Liturgy)



Image on right-  St. Anthony' Shrine Boston

Thursday, December 9, 2021

STILL WAITING

 

During these blessed Advent days, we, too, are called to imitate the Israelites by cultivating an attitude of strong hope, patiently waiting as they did, for the arrival of the expected Messiah. The reading and prayers in the liturgy, especially the psalms, encourage us to “relive” Israel’s eager waiting for the Savior, and to do this in peace and joyful expectation. From the depths of our being we pray for Emanuel to come be with us and to save us.

Through our Christian faith we know that the Messiah, the Christ, has already come once and that he will come again, a second time, at the end of time. It is not a coincidence that today both pious Jews and fervent Christians are still awaiting his coming. Indeed we both have much in common. We are both waiting for the same Person!

When he comes, his coming shall be a first time for the Jewish people and second time for the Christians. However, for both Jews and Christians, in fact for all people, this shall be his last and final coming. Thus is our Advent hope and why we find great consolation in our common waiting. Veni, Emmanuel!” Come, Emmanuel!

Br. Victor-Antoine D’Avila Latourrette, OSB    A Monastery Journey to Christmas

Image:  Czech

Sunday, December 5, 2021

WAITING

 


Considering the circumstances Mary found herself in,  we can only  imagine her nine-months as filled with anxiety, especially with the initial doubts of St. Joseph, and yet she must have known awe and wonder.

She must have known the road would not be easy, but with hope and confidence placed her life in the Father's hands.   As she prepared for the birth of Jesus, Mary emptied herself, allowing her body and soul to be filled with the grace and spirit of the Lord. During Advent, we pray for a similar experience, that we might approach the birth of Our Savior with hope and confidence.

Message for Advent  from an old acquaintance, Br. Victor-Antoine D’Avila-Latourrette OSB from his book Monastery Journey to Christmas.

We wait and wait for the Lord. We become very conscious of the waiting. It is an eager waiting, full of anticipation and wonder, for as with the prophets of old, our companions on the road, we long to see his face.

The Lord, of course, is very much aware of this patient waiting, of this deep yearning for him, and he is ever ready to come into our lives and fulfill our deepest desires. Advent waiting is always twofold. 

On our part, we await prayerfully, consciously, and anticipate his coming. On God’s part, he is eager to arrive and find a warm dwelling place in our hearts. The greater our desire and patience in waiting for him, the fuller we shall be filled with his presence.

If we learn to cultivate this inner attitude of waiting for him steadily, faithfully, not only during the Blessed Advent days, but throughout the whole of our lives, we shall likewise be rewarded with the grace, joy, and warmth of his real presence in the innermost of our hearts.

Image- top- German






Thursday, December 2, 2021

THE VIRGIN'S TEARS

 

 


This 14 century fresco was discovered in a convent in Dirbi, Georgia in the late 20th century. The Virgin has just told Joseph about the baby to come. With her right hand raised to her head and wiping her tears, her left hand is pointing to Joseph that he is not the father. It is a mystery we do not usually associate with this happy time.

Dom Prosper Gueranger (b. 1805- d. 1875) speaks of the feast of the Expectation of Mary in the following:

This Feast, which is now kept not only throughout the whole of Spain but in almost all the Churches of the Catholic world, owes its origin to the Bishops of the tenth Council of Toledo in 656. These Prelates having thought that there was an incongruity in the ancient practice of celebrating the feast of the Annunciation on the twenty-fifth of March, inasmuch as this joyful solemnity frequently occurs at the time when the Church is intent upon the Passion of our Lord, and is sometimes obliged to be transferred into Easter Time, with which it is out of harmony for another reason – they decreed that, henceforth, in the Church of Spain there should be kept, eight days before Christmas, a solemn Feast with an Octave, in honour of the Annunciation, and as a preparation for the great solemnity of our Lord’s Nativity.

 In course of time, however, the Church of Spain saw the necessity of returning to the practice of the Church of Rome, and of those of the whole world, which solemnise the twenty-fifth of March as the day of our Lady’s Annunciation and the Incarnation of the Son of God. But such had been, for ages, the devotion of the people for the Feast of the 18th of December, that it was considered requisite to maintain some vestige of it. They discontinued, therefore, to celebrate the Annunciation on this day; but the faithful were requested to consider, with devotion, what must have been the sentiments of the Holy Mother of God during the days immediately preceding her giving Him birth. A new Feast was instituted, under the name of the Expectation of the Blessed Virgins Delivery.

(source:  The Liturgical Year: Advent, by the Very Reverend Dom Prosper Gueranger, Abbot of Solesmes,  translated from the French by the Revered Dom Laurence Shepherd, Monk of the English-Benedictine  Congregation 1870)


Monday, November 29, 2021

EXPECTATION STILLNESS

  


The scriptures tell us that there is a time and season for everything, for each particular event. There is a time of preparing for Christmas, and that is Advent, and then there is a time for Christmas itself. There is no doubt in my mind that the more serious we are about our personal Advent journey, the greater the joy we shall reap during our Christmas celebration.

It is a good practice to make concrete plans on how best to keep our Advent observance. Often, if no plans are made in advance, much of Advent goes unnoticed and wasted. Since Advent is basically a quiet time of waiting for the arrival of the Light at Christmas, it is good to start by trying to become more internally quiet during this rather brief season.

Above all, we must make the most of these moments of stillness by remaining calm, silent, and spending quality time with the Lord. The words from one of the psalms counsel us: Be still, and know that I am God. Monks always strive to preserve a more quiet recollected spirit during these lovely Advent days and thus enjoy the Lord’s intimate company.

There is no reason why others, in a monastery or elsewhere, could not do the same wherever they are. It is a question of resolving to do so and making the effort. The Holy Spirit will do the rest. Come, Holy Spirit.

                                    Br. Victor-Antoine D’Avila-Latourrette, OSB   A Monastery Journey To Christmas


Image:   Madonna del Parto de de la Pieve de Montefiesole, Pontassieve (Italie)

Saturday, November 27, 2021

EXPECTANT MOTHER OF OUR SAVIOR

 


While Americans do not celebrate Advent as do many European countries, we still await the coming of the Christ Child.  We count the days with often a frenetic preparation, yet  in our preparation to get to the Birth, we seem to forget the month and weeks and days before this event. Jesus did not just show up one starry night in a manger.  

He came into this world like any other baby, which meant His Mother had grave concerns dealing with her Newborn, far from her home and family and most probably without supplies a new mother needs.

The feast heightens the anticipation of Christmas and makes the last few days of Advent unique with  opportunities to meditate on what Mary must have been pondering in her heart.

Last Advent we wrote of the Feast of the Expectation of the Blessed Virgin Mary,  a Catholic Feast that was originally celebrated in Spain. It is not on the universal calendar, but is still commemorated on December 18 in some places such as SpainPortugalItaly and Poland, as well as in a few religious orders. The Dominicans honor Mary under the title of "Our Lady of the Expectation”.

This Advent, let us ourselves ponder how we can better prepare in this time of waiting. Let us walk with the Mother of God through her pregnancy and labor, welcoming her Child in a new and deeper way into our hearts.

There are many images portraying this mystery for us to meditate on this Advent, so I will make it the focus of these Blogs.


Monday, November 22, 2021

FOOD FOR THE SOUL- THANKSGIVING

 




 

Just in time for Thanksgiving I came across two  books on food for the soul- as well as the kitchen.

 Table of Plenty: Good Food for Body and Spirit (Stories, Reflections, Recipes)

 Table of Plenty invites readers into experiencing meals as a sacred time. Author Susan Muto grew up in an Italian family, with a stay-at-home mother whose love for cooking permeates this book. Her prose is highly descriptive and evocative; one feels as if one is right there in the kitchen with Muto and her mother as they go about preparing a meal. Rich marinara sauce, zesty eggplant, a simple loaf of bread and a spinach salad: each becomes an opportunity for reflection on experiencing the goodness of God through the food we eat and the company we share.The audio edition of this book can be downloaded via Audible.   Stock #: B36687  it is on sale at  Franciscan Media for $3.00

 

Saints at the Dinner Table  by Amy Hyed

I aimed to create recipes that would appeal to most people, would not require a master's in culinary arts to prepare and that would entertain as well as inform. My hope is that you feel inspired too and that this book serves as a friendly guidebook in your own quest to connect with—and even break bread with (as our Christian tradition calls us to do)—some of our most beloved saints! Prepare the meals with your family and bring the saints alive at your dinner table. —from the Introduction


Do you want to reconnect with family and friends and stimulate mealtime talk? Consider hosting dinners for your nearest and dearest and one of twelve saints who inspired award-winning baker and recipe innovator Amy Heyd. In Saints at the Dinner Table Heyd cooks up a delicious menu of meals that all your loved ones will relish. She dedicates each chapter to a saint who in some way inspired her to create original recipes for a complete meal—from salad to main course to dessert. Heyd combines a brief introduction to each saint, a reflection, an inspired menu, a dinner prayer and questions for meaningful dinner discussion. You won't want to wait to serve Saints at the Dinner Table at family dinner nights, book club discussions, parties with a twist and as a special gift for newlyweds, anniversaries, birthdays and more.  At Amazon  or Franciscan Media

 Of course she had to include St. Hildegard, whose recipes we still  have after 800 years, as well as Sts. Margaret of Scotland, her cousin Elizabeth of Hungary and Isadore the farmer.



Saturday, November 20, 2021

EUCHARIST REVIVAL PATRON

 



BLESSED CARLOS ACUTIS (Blogs June 2020 & July 2018 ) will serve as the patron of the first year of a new three-year Eucharistic Revival project the U.S. bishops approved Nov. 17, a designation that entrusts a critical initiative to the intercession of a popular modern Catholic hero known for spreading devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. Carlos was beatified on Oct. 10, 2020, in Assisi, Italy

 Carlos, an English-born Italian Catholic who died in 2006 at age 15 shortly after being diagnosed with leukemia, used his technical ability as an amateur computer programmer to share information online about Eucharistic miracles. He is the first Catholic from the Millennial generation to be beatified.

 “The more often we receive the Eucharist, the more we will become like Jesus, so that on this earth we will have a foretaste of heaven."

 That same message is at the heart of the bishops’ Eucharist campaign, which was endorsed Nov. 17 during the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ annual fall assembly in Baltimore.

 Set to officially launch with diocesan Eucharistic processions around the country on June 22, 2022 for the feast of Corpus Christi, the effort will include the creation of a new Eucharistic revival website, the development of new teaching materials, special training for diocesan and parish leaders, a traveling team of Eucharistic preachers, and a host of other initiatives.

 The campaign will culminate with a National Eucharist Congress, the first of its kind in the United States in nearly 50 years, to be held July 17-21 in Indianapolis.

 The bishops’ campaign, which many Catholics view as long overdue, comes at a time when devotion to the Eucharist is lagging among those who identify themselves as Catholic, surveys and other indicators show. 

Bl. Carlos once said;  “By standing before the Eucharistic Christ, we become holy.”


Friday, November 19, 2021

THREE AMERICANS MADE VENERABLE

 


On Nov. 17, the U.S. Catholic bishops voted to advance  the  level of causes of beatification and canonization for Servants of God Charlene Marie Richard, Auguste Robert Pelafigue (See Blog Oct. 2016), and Joseph Ira Dutton (Blog April 2016) to Venerable.

Born in 1888, near Lourdes in France, AUGUSTE ROBERT  PELAFIGUE moved as a toddler with his family to Arnaudville, Louisiana.   He  was called "Nonco" (Uncle)  by those close to him, a nickname  he earned  because he was like a good uncle to everyone who came into his (circle) of influence.

That circle of influence was a large one. A teacher, August joined the faculty of the Little Flower School in Arnaudville, LA as the only lay member after teaching in public school. At the same time, he joined The Apostleship of Prayer, an organization with French roots dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. He had a passionate devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Blessed Virgin Mary.

 He devoutly attended daily Mass and served wherever he was needed and, with a rosary looped around his arm,  traversed the highways and byways of his community, spreading devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

CHARLENE MARIE RICHARD was born  on Jan. 13, 1947 and was raised in a Louisiana town of the same name: Richard. Growing up, she cherished her family, her Catholic faith, having a special devotion to St. Therese of Lisieux. She also loved basketball. The second of 10 children, she “played Mass” with her brother, John Dale.

In middle school, the young Cajun girl was diagnosed with terminal leukemia, a cancer of the bone marrow and lymphatic system. She responded to the illness by offering up her pain and suffering for others.

 Every day, the child asked the priest who ministered to her on her deathbed, “Father, who am I to offer my sufferings for today?”

Charlene died 16 days after her diagnosis on Aug. 11, 1959. She was just 12 years old. Bishop Deshotel who officially opened the cause of canonization for her called her the “little Cajun saint”. 

“I ask the approval of the conference in pursuing this cause of this innocent child who has proven to be an inspiration to all of us in our human condition as we carry the cross of illness,” Bishop Deshotel said. 

JOSEPH IRA DUTTON  was  a Civil War veteran who joined St. Damian of Molokai in his ministry to lepers.   Although he never took religious vows, Joseph was known as "Brother Joseph," a "brother to everybody." On Molokai he found real peace and joy. One peer recalled: "Dutton had a divine temper; nothing could ruffle it."  At 83, Joseph wrote: "I am ashamed to think that I am inclined to be jolly. Often think we don't know that our Lord ever laughed, and here my laugh is ready to burst out any minute."

He never left Molokai; he never wanted to. "Seek a vacation?" he asked. "Anything else would be slavery . . . The people here like me, I think, and I am sure I like them." He added: "I would not leave my lepers for all the money the world might have." The one exception was in 1917, when the 74-year-old patriot tried "to buckle on my sword-belt again" and re-enlist. His application was rejected, but he wasn't heart-broken.

Before his death on March 26, 1931, he said: "It has been a happy place — a happy life."  It had been a restless life until he found happiness among the lepers of Molokai. At the time of his death, the Jesuit magazine America noted: "Virtue is never so attractive as when we see it in action. It has a power to believe that we too can rise up above this fallen nature of ours to a fellowship with the saints."


 

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

HUNGARY'S MARTYR


BLESSED ZOLTAN LAJOS MESZLENYI, the second of five children, was born in 1892 in HatvanHungary , into a strong Catholic family. His father was a teacher and a school principal. He attended grammar school in Rimaszombat and began high school at a Protestant institution before moving to Esztergom and finishing at a Benedictine high school in 1909. 

After graduation, his patron the archbishop of Esztergom, Kolos Cardinal Vaszary, OSB, sent him to Rome to continue his education. As a pupil at the Collegium Germanico-Hungaricum, he studied at the Pontifical Gregorian University where he earned a doctorate in philosophy in 1912 and a degree in theology in 1913. He also earned a degree in canon law.

As a citizen of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Italy’s enemy during World War I, he had to leave Rome during that conflict, which forced him to spend studying some time in Innsbruck. It was there on October 28, 1915, that he received holy orders at the hand of His Lordship Franz Egger, the prince bishop of Brixen (then in Austria, now in Italy).

Upon his return to Hungary, he was appointed chaplain at Komárom, but a few months János Cardinal Csernoch called him later to Esztergom, where the primate’s chancellery entrusted him with more important tasks.

 From 1917 to 1937, he held a variety of progressively important curial posts. Then Pius XI appointed him coadjutor bishop of Esztergom. All throughout this time, he continued his studies in canon law and authored a significant book on the subject and taught it, as well as a member of the Peter Pázmány University theology faculty.

 In 1945, Jozsef Cardinal Mindszenty became the new primate of Hungary, and he confirmed Meszlényi in every one of his offices. Many  know of this heroic and holy cardinal who opposed some of history's worst ideological gangsters. The communist state security apparatus arrested Cardinal Mindszenty on December 26, 1948, and convicted him after an obscene show trial.

                                                                            Cardinal Mindszenty

Bishop Meszlényi then became vicar of the archbishop of Esztergom, first because the chapter recognized his rectitude and firmness, and secondly because they refused to elect Nicholas Beresztóczy, the candidate promoted by the communist state. In his inaugural address as vicar, Bishop Meszlényi said, “Christ – because He is the faithful shepherd of the Faith and our Church – out of loyalty, we will not deny Him ever! So help me God.”

 The communist regime could not forgive him being elected over their own candidate. On June 29, 1950, 12 days after his election, the communists arrested Bl. Zoltán and put him in the Kistarcsa internment camp, where he was kept in solitary confinement and tortured.

 So began eight months of cruel captivity, consisting of starvation and lack of heating. Several witnesses claimed the communists forced him to live during the winter with an open window day and night. These hardships were exacerbated by forced labor and violence and unspeakable torture.

 All the while no charges were brought against Bishop  Meszlényi. He was detained without trial. Furthermore the state machinery gave the public no news about the fate of the arrested bishop. It seems to have also subsequently erased by any documentation related to the arrest, if ever there was any.

Because of the torture and lack of medical care, Bishop Meszlényi died sometime between January 11, 1953, and March 4, 1954.

He was buried in an unmarked grave but exhumed in 1966 and his remains transferred to the cathedral in Esztergom.

 His feast is March 4.

 

 

 

 

Saturday, November 13, 2021

THOU SHALL NOT KILL

 


Letter in the San Juan Journal  November 10, 2021 by our good Shaw friend Gabriel Jacobs

There are laws aimed at preventing people from injuring or killing others either by harming their bodies directly with fists or knives or poisons or indirectly by gun. An unmasked and unvaccinated carrier of COVID can have the same effect just as much as those who are armed. Non-vaccinated and non-masked people spread COVID far more than the vaccinated and the masked. Appalling is that the controversy lies along political lines when it is a safety, moral, and legal question. By refusing to mask and vaccinate one is ignoring thou shalt not kill.

THE BICYCLE MARTYR

 

The most recent priest to be beatified (September 26, 2021) , as a martyr from WWII is GIOVANNI  FORNASINI.

Bl. Don Giovanni  was born near Bologna in 1915. He is reported to have been a poor student and, after leaving school, to have worked for a time as a lift boy at Bologna’s Grand Hotel.

 He eventually entered the seminary and was ordained a priest in 1942, at the age of 27. In his homily at his first Mass,  he said: “The Lord has chosen me, rascal among the rascals.”

 Despite beginning his priestly ministry amid the challenges of the Second World War, the blessed gained a reputation as a go-getter. He opened a school for boys at his parish outside Bologna, in the town of Sperticano, and a fellow seminary classmate, Fr. Lino Cattoi, described the young priest as seeming “always to be running.”

 “He was always around trying to free people from their difficulties and to solve their problems. He had no fear. He was a man of great faith and was never shaken.” He travelled on his bicycle to be of help and bring relief to those who were in danger.

When Nazi troops carried out a mass killing of at least 770 Italian civilians in the village of Marzabotto between Sept. 29 and Oct. 5, 1944, he sought to bury the dead.

 After receiving permission from an SS captain, the young priest left on Oct. 13 to bless and bury victims of the Marzabotto massacre, but never returned.

His body was recovered at the site as the war neared its end in April 1945 and an examination revealed that Fr. Giovanni had been brutally beaten before he was killed.

 At his beatification, the Holy Father said:  “A parish priest zealous in charity, he did not abandon his flock during the tragic period of the Second World War, but rather he defended it to the point of bloodshed. May his heroic witness help us to face life’s trials with fortitude.”

 On 19 May 1950, the President of Italy,Luigi Einaudi  conferred upon Don Fornasini posthumously Italy's Gold Medal of Military Valour. The award was presented to his mother, Maria, on 2 June 1951. The citation reads:

In his parish of Sperticano, where all true men fought in the mountains for the freedom of their Fatherland, he was a shining example of Christian charity. Pastor to the old, to the mother, to the bride, to the innocent child, he several times shielded them with his own body against the heinous atrocities of the German SS, saving many lives from death and encouraging all, both the fighters and their families, to heroic resistance. Arrested, miraculously escaping death, he at once and boldly resumed his role as pastor and soldier, first among the ruins and massacres of his destroyed Sperticano, then at San Martino di Caprara; where, however, he was struck down by the ferocity of the enemy. The voice of Faith and of Fatherland, he had dared fiercely to condemn the inhuman German massacres of so many of the weak and of the innocent, thereby calling down upon himself the barbarity of the invader and being slain; he, the Shepherd who had always with the utmost courage protected and guided his flock by his piety and by his example. – San Martino di Caprara, 13 October 1944

 Blessed Giovanni's feast day is October 13