From “The Life of Our Life”

A meditation for Holy Saturday…
From Volume II of the book by Rev. Henry Coleridge. London: Burns and Oates, 1876.

Still there was no provision made for the solemn entombment of our Lord. The disciples were still scattered and in hiding. St. John alone was there, with our Blessed Lady, St. Mary Magdalene, and some others of the holy women. They had no influence to obtain the sacred Body, no strength or means for taking it down from the Cross. But now the power of the Cross, which had worked so wonderfully in the conversion of the penitent thief, began to show itself among the very classes which had been prominent in the plots against our Lord. Joseph of Arimathea, a man of noble birth and high position, who had taken no part in the condemnation of our Lord, though he had kept his faith in Him hidden for fear of excommunication, went courageously to Pilate and asked for the Body of our Lord. Pilate ascertained from the centurion that He was already dead, and then gave Joseph full leave. Another hidden disciple, Nicodemus, came forward with a large quantity of myrrh and aloes for the embalming. The sacred Body was reverently lowered from the Cross and
carefully washed. It rested first in the arms of His Blessed Mother, and then was wrapped in a long clean linen sheet with the aromatic herbs. This was not a regular embalmment, for which there was no time, but it was as much as could be done then, and our Lord had already said that [Mary of Bethany] had anointed His Body for His burial. Joseph had a small garden close at hand, in which he had made a new sepulchre for himself. No one had yet lain in it. It was an excavation in the rock, with a slab inside, on which the sacred Body was now laid. Joseph with the others rolled a huge stone to the mouth of the sepulchre, and then, as the sun was setting and the Sabbath beginning, he went home with the rest. The women lingered the last. Our Blessed Lady was conducted by St. John to the house of the Cenacle, which became, as it seems, the first home of the Church. Some of the other women went into the city and prepared some aromatic spices and unguents before the Sabbath began. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joseph sat down over against the sepulchre and watched it as night fell. They came back again on the following evening, after the Sabbath was over, and saw that all was as it had been left. But in the meanwhile, the priests, who were still full of alarm, begged of Pilate that a guard might be stationed around the spot until the third day came. They had heard of our Lord s prophecy that He would rise again the third day, and so, by the Providence of God, they set to work to secure the truth of the fulfillment of that prophecy against all possible cavil, thinking at the time that they were only preventing the possibility of the Body being removed by His disciples.

My commentary: When Jesus dies, there is no definite place to put the body. Just as there is no definite place that He will be born, there is no definite place that He will be buried, but Providence is at work in each case, and in each cave. He was born in a cave He “did not own” and was buried in a cave He “did not own,” although He really owned the whole universe.

WAOB — We Are One Body Catholic Radio

This station, heard in the Pittsburgh area, is also available to listen to online. It has a unique approach to radio, particularly because it uses “dead air” as meditation time.

A number of priests (including yours truly) do hours of Scripture meditation, which are generally broadcast live at 8 PM and then repeated overnight and sometimes at other times during the day. Each hour generally consists of 4 scripture passages (usually a chapter each) and then some meditations after each one. The brief meditations then leave a minute of silence for the person listening to pray and meditate. These minutes of silence would be seen as terrible blunders at practically all radio stations, but not WAOB. I don’t know any other station that would attempt this. Sometimes the meditations are done by yours truly on Tuesday nights.

Also, there are half hour broadcasts of readings from various Doctors of the Church, with some brief meditations on the writings. I can be heard sometimes reading from the writings of St. Lawrence of Brindisi on Wednesdays at 1 PM Eastern.

National Catholic Sisters Week

Some folks at St. Catherine’s University in St. Paul, MN, came up with the idea of National Catholic Sisters Week. It’s this week. They had some sort of event to celebrate over the weekend. It was strictly LCWR. There’s been no mention on the CMSWR side of such a week or any events.

In honor of this, I thought I would put down some current stats concerning Facebook pages related to Catholic Sisters.

First, Imagine Sisters, which is essentially a CMSWR vocation/information site/Facebook page is, as I am writing this, at 19,999. Any second it will be over the 20,000 mark. ***Update on 3/27/2014: 21,154 up by 1,155

Concerning a few CMSWR communities, let’s look at their Facebook stats:
Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist: 27,163 (update 4/20/14: 38,476)
Franciscan Sisters, T.O.R. of Penance of the Sorrowful Mother: 9,768 (update 4/20/14: 13,698)
Salesian Sisters – Daughters of Mary Help of Christians: 4,570 (update 4/20/14: 4,646)
Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis: 1,600 (update 4/20/14: 1,674)
Nashville Dominicans: 1,388 (update 4/20/14: 1,581)
Disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ: 698 (update 4/20/14: 738)

Now, the LCWR has a Facebook page. It has 4,426 likes. ***Update on 3/27/2014: 4,444 likes up by 18. This type of growth could be called “less than substantial.”
A Nun’s Life (Podcasting, including visits to various LCWR convents): 4,132 likes.
Adrian Dominican Sisters: 1,415
Many communities have likes of less than 1,000.

But… the LCWR has the media giants on their side. Why aren’t they more popular?

Well, if you look further into the events of National Catholic Sisters Week, there was a showing of a movie called Radical Grace. In it, the Vatican Hierarchy is the enemy. They use clips from the media giants which portray the sisters as victims. This helps their point, of course.

The CMSWR sisters don’t consider the Vatican to be the enemy.

But, I think that since the term “National Catholic Sisters Week” is neutral, it really helps the CMSWR communities, even though they aren’t promoting it at all.

Catholic Novels of the 19th Century (free online)

Here’s a list of some of these available.

Alice Sherwin: An Historical Tale in the Days of St. Thomas More by C.J.M.

Rosemary, or Life and Death by Dr. Huntington

Blind Agnese, or, The little spouse of the Blessed Sacrament by Cecilia M. Caddell

The Pearl of Antioch: A Picture of the East at the End of the Fourth Century by Marc Antoine Bayle

Also, The Martyrdom of St. Cecilia, a drama

Life of St. Agnes

St. Agnes has been the subject of great sermons and poetry down through the ages (not to mention a major character in Cardinal Wiseman’s novel Fabiola). An excellent book about here is available online: Life of St. Agnes, Virgin and Martyr by Aloysius Smith.

Here is a little from the introduction:

SAINT AGNESE FUORI LE MURA was in a ferment of excitement on the afternoon of Monday, November 25, 1901. News had reached the abbey that an important discovery might be made at any moment in the adjoining basilica. For many years the inmates of St. Agnes’s Abbey had desired to ascertain the exact spot where the relics of their beloved patroness had been deposited. But two revolutions, the French and the Italian, had utterly ruined the religious, and put
it out of their power to undertake the necessary excavations.

Catholic Germany came to the aid of the Koman Canons Regular. Cardinal Kopp, Prince-Bishop of Breslau, was created in 1893 a cardinal priest of the title of St. Agnes on the Nomentan Way. From the day when his Eminence took possession of his titular Church he graciously evinced a friendly and lively interest in the Order to which its clergy belong. Thanks to the Cardinal s generosity, the Canons were enabled to gratify their pious curiosity in respect to the Roman martyr’s resting-place.

Excavations were begun in October, 1901. The sanctuary of the ancient and beautiful basilica was selected for the field of operations, which were super intended by Monsignor Wilpert and Dom Augustus Bacci, C.R.L. The pavement behind the high altar covering, what is known as the retro sanctos, or vicinity of the saints, was broken through, and a long and careful search was made, with interesting results. At a depth of nearly 5 feet a gallery was discovered running parallel with the altar, containing arcosolia
and intact graves of Christians who had been buried as close as possible to the virgin martyr’s remains. Coins were found of the fourth and fifth centuries, and inscriptions of a great historical and archaeological value were brought to light.

_________________________________

The story of St. Agnes in the book Fabiola takes many liberties, but still ends with her martyrdom and internment in the catacombs that now bear her name. While there have been at least 3 movies made based on the book, only one contains the martyrdom of St. Agnes (as described in the book) and the internment in the catacombs: the first one from 1918 (scenes at the end of the movie).

Over 10 Years???

Can it be that this blog is now over 10 years old? Yes… but how could this be?

Ten years ago I was a brother in the Marians and student at the Dominican House of Studies blogging about the soon to-be-released movie The Passion of the Christ. There was a lot of controversy surrounding it even before it was released in theaters.

But, that’s already 10 years ago…

As an unusual aside (and total non sequitur), 70 years ago today, a radio program starring Groucho Marx called “Pabst Blue Ribbon Town” did a skit about what life might be like 100 years in the future (in other words, 2044). You can listen to said episode here: Groucho Marx on Pabst Blue Ribbon Town.

Mary’s Meals

It’s hard to not want to promote this group. They are doing some incredible work. Yes, to give one decent meal to over 700,000 children a day–children that would otherwise struggle to get that meal, that often suffer from hunger–is quite an accomplishment. It’s a very simple program, yet it makes a huge impact. A number of videos explaining it are online. Here’s a 6 minute introductory video:

Mary’s Meals USA – The Difference A Meal Makes from Mary's Meals on Vimeo.

Here’s an interview on “The Choices We Face” with the founder. This gives lots of information.

Mary’s Meals – Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow from Renewal Ministries on Vimeo.

Here’s the complete movie done by Grassroots Films called “Child 31.” It’s quite powerful, although not as informative as the interview, so I recommend watching the interview first.

Finally, here’s the US website for Mary’s Meals: Mary’s Meals USA.

P.S. If you need some encouragement to learn more about this, perhaps a message from Celine Dion will help:

An old but “Great” commentary

The Great Commentary of Cornelius à Lapide was released in English as a series of books in the 19th century. He was a Flemish Jesuit who lived in from 1567 to 1637. These commentaries can be quite helpful with various passages, keeping in mind there may be some aspects to them that don’t work so well in the 21st century. The commentaries refer to Church Fathers often. I have included links to the commentaries on the Gospels here.

Matthew 1-9
Matthew 10-21
Matthew 22-28, Mark
Luke
John 1-11
John 12-21

“Sisters” and “Light of Love”

I’m writing this mainly because I think there is a need to say something about the state of women’s religious life today, and I though it would be good to comment on two documentaries that came out at almost the same time concerning this.

Each documentary comes out of its corresponding “group.” One called “Sisters” is clearly LCWR oriented. One called “Light of Love” is obviously from a CMSWR perspective. Apparently, the two productions were not aware of each other, but there are some unusually striking similarities. Each interviews five sisters, and each is about an hour long. “Sisters” focuses on each of the sisters in ministry while “Light of Love” tends to show each sister in the context of ministry and community.

If you take away the habits/no habits difference–the most obvious visual one, the biggest difference I saw was the way the sisters talk about God, and in particular about Jesus. Here we have to allow for editing to play its role, but irregardless, the difference is quite noticeable.

I think each film tries to move “toward the center” in perceptions of the LCWR/CMSWR divide, which is quite a deep divide. The LCWR sisters are not portrayed as radical feminists (although they never refer to God as Father, but that would be practically an LCWR heresy) and the CMSWR sisters shown tend to be active rather than contemplative, although a strong spiritual element is clearly present. I was surprised that no contemplative sisters were highlighted in “Light of Love,” but that could be a separate film in the future.

There are a lot of things I could talk about concerning the two films, but I think my main point would be “Where are the youth?” Overwhelmingly, the youth that are interested in religious life are with “Light of Love.” You simply can’t deny the obvious reality. “Sisters” tended to avoid scenes of communal life, perhaps unconsciously. The next generation is clearly CMSWR driven. This is still an unpopular and “inconvenient truth” in certain sectors, but, hey, demographics don’t lie.

By the way, both movies are out on Vimeo. Sisters and Light of Love

Palms by Anna Hanson Dorsey

I would like to recommend the novel Palms by Anna Hanson Dorsey. It’s the story of St. Nemesius of Rome and his daughter Lucilla. The book is based on the account that can be found in the book The Victims of the Mamertine by Augustine O’Reilly. This novel is a moving fictional account, something like Cardinal Wiseman’s Fabiola. It may be slow-moving at points, but it gives an excellent perspective on how the persecuted Church was seen in those days when Valerian was Emperor.

The book Palms is available as a free Google e-book or through archive.org, while Victims of the Mamertine can be found as a text at the link provided to archive.org.

Lucilla is called Claudia through most of the novel because Lucilla was her baptismal name.

LCWR Buzzwords

What are some examples?

“Prayer experiences”
“evolving consciousness”
“global unity”
“generate a force that has transformative power”
“positive energy”
“energizing actions”
“deep integrity”
“expansive sense of self”
“facilitate the connectivity”

In other words, New Age.

Note to sisters: young Catholics don’t talk this way. Note to young Catholics: in case you didn’t notice, this isn’t Catholic stuff.

Certainly not all LCWR sisters are in this scene, but there are some major leaders that are indeed!

Mother Elvira

The thoughts of Mother Elvira (foundress of Comunità Cenacolo) have not been available in English for the most part, but now, a book of some of her catechisis has been printed in an English translation called Sparks of Light: From the heart of Mother Elivra. Here’s a sample:

Since we are so different, every so often I ask myself how God can love every single one of us with a unique, specific, and personal tenderness. He can, because He even knows every cell in our body. He created us and wanted us. He calls us by name, and we must discover who we are in His eyes: risen, new creatures, who have welcomed the love of God in that grandiose space that is our life. He comes, because He is a God who loves to be welcomed. He stands outside the door of our freedom and knocks. Let us not leave Him outside like a beggar; let’s open that door so He can enter!

from “Meeting Jesus is Our Feast Day” in Sparks of Light, pg. 42.

Mary Foreshadowed

Book: Mary Foreshadowed; or, Considerations on the Types and Figures of Our Blessed Lady in the Old Testament
Author: Rev. F. Thaddeus, O.S.F. (Francis Hermans)
R. Washbourne
London, 1885.

This has some great examples and great quotes, including a number from Raymond Jordan (Idiota).

Here is an example in the comparison of Our Lady to Esther:

There are many points of resemblance between Esther and the Blessed Virgin Mary; but we will confine ourselves to the most conspicuous among them.

Esther pleased Assuerus so much that he loved her more than all other women; he took her for his spouse, and made her queen. Similarly, our Blessed Lady was so pleasing to God, that He blessed her above all other women; He chose her to be the Mother of His Beloved Son, and consequently made her Queen of the whole universe. St. Bernardine expresses this thought in the following terms: ‘Mary is the true Esther, whom the King, that is, God, loved above all other women, above all other creatures. He placed the royal crown upon her head, and made her Queen.’ Oh! what an advantage, what a privilege it is for us to have so great, so excellent a Queen! Let us with all our heart dedicate ourselves to the service of this Queen; let us honour her, and love her to the utmost of our power; for, as Richard of St. Lawrence says, she is not like other sovereigns who oppress their subjects with burdens and taxes; our Queen, on the contrary, enriches her servants with graces, merits, and rewards. (pages 216-7)