Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Winning wreaths that never wither

Brother Matthew Desme - still running to win

In his first letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul wrote

Do you not realise that, though all the runners in the stadium take part in the race, only one of them gets the prize? Run like that -- to win.
Every athlete concentrates completely on training, and this is to win a wreath that will wither, whereas ours will never wither.
So that is how I run, not without a clear goal; and how I box, not wasting blows on air.
I punish my body and bring it under control, to avoid any risk that, having acted as herald for others, I myself may be disqualified.

Ever since, the Church has pointed to athletes as models for those seeking to advance in the spiritual life.  Lately, it seems there's a mini-trend of professional athletes leaving sports behind to enter religious life.  Here are the stories of three of these:  Brother Matthew Desme, formerly of the Oakland A's, Eric Mahl, formerly of the NY Jets, and Chase Hilgenbrinck, formerly of the New England Revolution of the MLS.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Blessed are the poor in spirit

"Sermon on the Mount," Cosimo Roselli, 1481 AD

An atheist photographing homeless drug addicts in the Bronx made a discovery which greatly startled him.   The photographer assumed that the endless suffering of the addicts' lives would have convinced them that there is no God.  He found instead they possessed unconquerable religious belief.

The photographer asked one addict how she wanted to be described.  She replied "As who I am. A prostitute, a mother of six, and a child of God."

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

"He took pity on our race, and had mercy on our infirmity, ... unable to bear that death should have the mastery"

Our Lady of Consolation

Why do we celebrate Christmas anyway?   Here is one answer, taken from "On the Incarnation of the Word" by St. Athanasius  (296 AD - 373 AD)

For in speaking of the appearance of the Saviour among us, we must needs speak also of the origin of men, that you may know that the reason of His coming down was because of us, and that our transgression called forth the loving-kindness of the Word, that the Lord should both make haste to help us and appear among men.  For of His becoming Incarnate we were the object, and for our salvation He dealt so lovingly as to appear and be born even in a human body.

…. He took pity on our race, and had mercy on our infirmity . . . and, unable to bear that death should have the mastery. . . He takes unto Himself a body, and that of no different sort from ours. . . . He takes a body of our kind, and not merely so, but from a spotless and stainless virgin, knowing not a man, a body clean and in very truth pure from intercourse of men. For being Himself mighty, and Artificer of everything, He prepares the body in the Virgin as a temple unto Himself, and makes it His very own as an instrument, in it manifested, and in it dwelling.  And thus taking from our bodies one of like nature, because all were under penalty of the corruption of death He gave it over to death in the stead of all, and offered it to the Father— doing this, moreover, of His loving-kindness, to the end that, firstly, all being held to have died in Him, the law involving the ruin of men might be undone (inasmuch as its power was fully spent in the Lord's body, and had no longer holding-ground against men, his peers), and that, secondly, whereas men had turned toward corruption, He might turn them again toward incorruption, and quicken them from death by the appropriation of His body and by the grace of the Resurrection, banishing death from them like straw from the fire.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Metaphor Alert

A spoonful of anal lubricant makes the medicine go down

Obamacare sign up info distributed along with condoms and anal lubricant.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Merry Christmas from Chuck Norris

This is why people say when Chuck Norris does a pushup, he isn't lifting himself up, he's pushing the Earth down.

The Hamlet quotation is a nice touch.  Here is the text:

Some say that ever 'gainst that season comes
Wherein our Saviour's birth is celebrated,
The bird of dawning singeth all night long:
And then, they say, no spirit dares stir abroad;
The nights are wholesome; then no planets strike,
No fairy takes, nor witch hath power to charm,
So hallow'd and so gracious is the time.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Increase your Catholic Wordpower - Incarnation

 "The Newborn Christ,"  George de La Tour, 1645 AD

According to the new Catechism of the Catholic Church (Catholic Church 461) "[t]he Church calls "Incarnation" the fact that the Son of God assumed a human nature in order to accomplish our salvation in it."

Of the Incarnation, Melito of Sardis wrote the following in 170 AD:

"Born as a son, led forth as a lamb, sacrificed as a sheep, buried as a man, he rose from the dead as a God, for he was by nature God and man. He is all things: he judges, and so he is Law; he teaches, and so he is Wisdom; he saves, and so he is Grace; he begets, and so he is Father; he is begotten, and so he is Son; he suffers, and so he is Sacrifice; he is buried, and so he is man; he rises again, and so he is God. This is Jesus Christ, to whom belongs glory for all ages."

Increase your Catholic Wordpower - Incredulity

 "Doubting Thomas, "  Duccio, 1308 AD
Not a case of incredulity, since there's no neglect of, or willful refusal to assent to, revealed truth

According to the new Catholic Catechism (Catholic Church 2089), Incredulity is the neglect of revealed truth or the willful refusal to assent to it.

I suspect "neglect of revealed truth" is far more prevalent than "willful refusal to assent."

"Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he send forth labourers into his 
harvest"  Matthew 9:38

If Johnny Marks had been a Benedictine monk

Not so bouncy, but much more majestic

Which is pretty unlikely, since Marks was Jewish, but his most famous song might've sounded like this:

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Hail, Holy Mary of Guadelupe

Holy Mary of Guadelupe, on Juan Diego's tilma

From the Catholic Encyclopedia (1907 edition) here is an account of the event which occasioned today's feast:

"Its tradition is. . .  "long-standing and constant".  Oral and written, Indian and Spanish, the account is unwavering. To . . .Juan Diego, who was hurrying down Tepeyac hill to hear Mass in Mexico City, on Saturday, 9 December, 1531, the Blessed Virgin appeared and sent him to Bishop Zumárraga to have a temple built where she stood. She was at the same place that evening and Sunday evening to get the bishop's answer. He had not immediately believed the messenger; having cross-questioned him and had him watched, he finally bade him ask a sign of the lady who said she was the mother of the true God. [Juan Diego] agreed so readily to ask any sign desired, that the bishop was impressed and left the sign to the apparition. Juan was occupied all Monday with Bernardino, an uncle, who seemed dying of fever. … [A]t daybreak on Tuesday, 12 December, the grieved nephew was running to the St. James's convent for a priest. To avoid the apparition and untimely message to the bishop, he slipped round where the well chapel now stands. But the Blessed Virgin crossed down to meet him and said: "What road is this thou takest son?" A tender dialogue ensued. Reassuring Juan about his uncle whom at that instant she cured, appearing to him also and calling herself Holy Mary of Guadalupe she bade him go again to the bishop. Without hesitating he joyously asked the sign. She told him to go up to the rocks and gather roses. He knew it was neither the time nor the place for roses, but he went and found them. Gathering many into the lap of his tilma a long cloak or wrapper used by Mexican Indians he came back. The Holy Mother, rearranging the roses, bade him keep them untouched and unseen till he reached the bishop. Having got to the presence of Zumárraga, Juan offered the sign. As he unfolded his cloak the roses fell out, and he was startled to see the bishop and his attendants kneeling before him: the life size figure of the Virgin Mother, just as he had described her, was glowing on the poor tilma." 

I especially like that Holy Mary of Guadelupe addresses lowly Juan Diego as "son." 

RELATED: How amazing is that image on the tilma?  Way too amazing for words. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Increase your Catholic Wordpower: Hope

 Noah's dove, a symbol of hope (St. Mark's Basilica, Venice)

According to the new Catechism of the Catholic Church:

Hope is the theological virtue by which we desire the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness, placing our trust in Christ's promises and relying not on our own strength, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit. (CCC 1817)

St. Alphonsus Liguori, (1696 AD -1787 AD) a lawyer who nevertheless achieved sanctity, thereby inspiring us all with hope, wrote the following of this theological virtue:

As a mother delights in taking her child on her knees, in caressing and feeding him, so does our God delight in treating with love and tenderness those souls who give themselves entirely to Him, and place all their hopes in His goodness and bounty.