Calm during Covid19

image credit: Bernard Allen

Faith begins when we realise we are in need of salvation.
We are not self-sufficient; by ourselves we founder:
we need the Lord, like ancient navigators needed the stars.
  Let us invite Jesus into the boats of our lives.
Let us hand over our fears to him so that he can conquer them.
Like the disciples, we will experience that
with him on board there will be no shipwreck.
Because this is God’s strength:
turning to the good everything that happens to us, even the bad things.
He brings serenity into our storms, because with God life never dies. 
-Pope Francis, from his extraordinary Urbi et Orbi


Lockdown, by Brother Richard

Yes there is fear.
 Yes there is isolation.
 Yes there is panic buying.
 Yes there is sickness.
 Yes there is even death.
But, They say that in Wuhan
after so many years of noise
 You can hear the birds again.
 They say that after just a few weeks of quiet
 The sky is no longer thick with fumes
 But blue and grey and clear.
They say that in the streets of Assisi
 People are singing to each other across the empty squares,
 keeping their windows open so that those who are alone may hear
 the sounds of family around them.
They say that a hotel in the West of Ireland
 Is offering free meals and delivery to the housebound.
Today a young woman I know is busy
 spreading fliers with her number through the neighbourhood
 So that the elders may have someone to call on.
Today Churches, Synagogues, Mosques and Temples
 are preparing to welcome and shelter the homeless, the sick, the weary
All over the world people are slowing down and reflecting
 All over the world people are looking at their neighbours in a new way
 All over the world people are waking up to a new reality
 To how big we really are.
 To how little control we really have.
 To what really matters.
 To Love.
 So we pray and we remember that
 Yes there is fear. But there does not have to be hate.
 Yes there is isolation. But there does not have to be loneliness.
 Yes there is panic buying. But there does not have to be meanness.
 Yes there is sickness. But there does not have to be disease of the soul.
 Yes there is even death. But there can always be a rebirth of love.
 Wake to the choices you make as to how to live now.
 Today, breathe.
 Listen, behind the factory noises of your panic
 The birds are singing again
 The sky is clearing,
 Spring is coming,
 And we are always encompassed by Love.
 Open the windows of your soul
 And though you may not be able to touch
 across the empty square,


The New Bioethicist

Speaking in this interview with Crux magazine:

In a place like Britain, where most people do not identify as Christian, the tools of philosophy-that is to say, natural reason-are especially valuable in helping people make sense of the Church’s teaching on moral issues. Before you begin to talk about the theology of the body, you might first need to talk about the teleology of the body. In order to mention faith, you first have to convince people that reason is not in conflict with it.

In this regard, I have often found the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas particularly valuable, for he recognizes that natural reason can bring us to the “preambles of faith.”

Catholic bioethics has been particularly good, you might say, at identifying moral absolutes. But what we are less good at is dealing with issues where there isn’t a firm red line and where determining the right course of action demands a rigorous exercise of the virtue of prudence. Now, to say that is already to invite some measure of confusion. “Prudence” in our ordinary language tends to suggest caution, but the virtue of prudence, or practical wisdom (phronÄ“sis in Aristotle’s Greek), is really about discerning and acting in accordance with the particulars of a given situation. Sometimes that means caution, at other times a more welcoming approach.

It’s important that Catholic bioethics, and the moral life more generally, is not just about condemning everything.

At the same time, it is important to recognize that as Catholics, prudence cannot be reduced simply to a matter of weighing up consequences - we are not utilitarians or proportionalists! We have a firm foundation, and that is the inviolable dignity of the human person, who is body and soul, and who furthermore is given the possibility of union with God through Jesus Christ. In that way, the Church, and the Academy in particular, has a unique perspective to contribute to wider debates in bioethics. We do not simply study social effects of such technologies, but also seek to understand what it means to be a human person made in God’s image.

It is also a good sign that academics and practitioners are increasingly interested in the application of virtue ethics to contemporary issues in healthcare.

The Pontifical Academy for Life is in a good position to continue bearing witness to the Church’s moral teaching on settled matters to the wider world, even as it probes new areas of bioethical reflection.


Blaze 'n' Blaise

To have these feasts back to back- the blessing of candles on Sunday and then being blessed with candles on Monday- in these days when the sun hasn't been out for awhile and then suddenly it is, just in time for these feasts...

...it really goes to show how much more enjoyable life can be when you live the liturgical year in all its idiosyncratic richness.






How to Fast

This list comes in handy for Jan.22, Jan.24, and Lent:

Fast from complaining
Drink only water – no coffee, soda, etc.
Pray a devotional prayer each hour of the day for a specific intention
Fast from television or internet use – instead, spend that time in prayer or spiritual reading
Be extra cheerful during the day, and smile at everyone you meet
Do extra household chores, or tackle some of the chores that you hate the most
Refrain from eating out or having your favorite meal – instead,
eat a nutritious meal that isn’t your preference

Take a cold or lukewarm shower
Give up music in the car
Get out of bed right away, or get up a half hour earlier than usual



Happy St. Ambrose Day!

Now that we have a little one named for this saint, it gives me more pause than I've ever done for this day in the season of Advent. We usually go right from Nicholas to Lucy, and now we have someone else in the mix.

We could celebrate by making a honey recipe:

or reading an excerpt:

or making something out of beeswax:

or studying his hymns:

or pondering this great quote:

"There is your brother, naked, crying, and you stand there confused over the choice of an attractive floor covering."


Gentle men

Caryll Houselander writes of Peace:

How is it then that peace is so rare, even in our soul?  It may be because we lack the courage without which true peace is unattainable, and with or without which the pseudo-peace we have built up in our imagination is unattainable.... The condition of peace is courage, but the moments in which we most long for it are those when courage seems most difficult.  When all that we want is to loosen our hold, to throw off responsibility, to rest.  We want not a sword, but a lap big enough to bury our head on. 
It is comforting then to realize that the courage peace demands is in fact to relax, to throw all our care into the lap of God.  It means that we must take the risk of trusting God's love, believing Christ's word, loving one another...

This is a sentiment very nearly like the notion that St. Joseph's strength and virility is shown in his gentility and peace.


Lucifer is in the Bible

Satan’s anger saps him the way intestinal worms do in the physical body. His wrath consumes what little remains of his energy. For now, he rages, for he knows his time is short. Soon enough he will collapse, dissipated and consumed, a sad and pathetic creature: How you have fallen O Lucifer, O Daystar … Cast down to Sheol, into the pit! (Isaiah 14:12, 15)



Radiant Sheen

It doesn't get much better than what has been gushed over at Deacon's Bench, so I refer you to that blog for the significance of Fulton's beatification on Dec.21st:


As a blogger who once produced The Fulton Sheen Radio Hour on his college airwaves, I am as big a fan of Sheen as anyone, so I welcome celebrating this memorial for the first time ever this year.

Blessed Fulton Sheen, pray for us!

The fact that this was necessary is what's so lamentable about it.

Update Dec.6:

This article characterizes the Peoria bishop as very non-collaborative, and the NY diocese delay as an opportunity for Sheen to get his due as a national figure, and not merely a Peorian.



Ut se mori

"Life subsists where there is a bond, communion, brotherhood; and it is a life stronger than death when it is built on true relationships and bonds of fidelity. On the contrary, there is no life where there is the pretension of belonging only to oneself and to live as islands: death prevails in such attitudes. It is egoism. If I live for myself, I am sowing death in my heart." -Pope Francis



The sequence in Disney's Fantasia from Night on Bald Mountain to the Ave Maria remains the most beautiful portrayal of this triduum from Halloween to All Saints to All Souls I have ever seen depicted in art.

I envy the Mexicans who never lost sight of the holiness of these three days in their Day of the Dead tradition. The French Catholics in Louisiana retain some of the sacred trappings that ought to distinguish Halloween from the secular perversion that exists today.

Why didn't we do a better job of this in the northern hemisphere? I suspect the weather is to blame. Nobody is thrilled to visit a cemetery generally speaking, nonetheless in bleak and bitter November.

We owe it to Halloween to do it right: to celebrate it as the holy day that is truly is and not the satanic zombie fetish our culture of death has allowed it to become. *Sigh*

Like so many things in our calendar, when you remove the Christ part it loses all its value and becomes an empty sequence of days bereft of meaning, driven by consumerism. It encourages non-Catholic Christians to avoid trick-or-treating because they think Catholics are bizarre and they think Halloween is satanic. It is my least favorite consequence of original sin the prince of this world has wrought: to take a holiday intended to help us ponder mortality and the souls in purgatory and celestial flights of fancy and turn it into a horrow show. Now we are left with generations of Catholics who haven't the slightest notion what Purgatory actually means.

In Heaven, there will be a liturgical cycle finally done properly. I really hope I can get there to see it. Enough of this world and its lame ennui and its agnostic apathy and puritan poo-pooing. I want a Catholic afterlife with all the trimmings!

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