13 October 2007

Murphy/Tassin Wedding

Holy Matrimony: Murphy & Tassin Wedding
Song of Songs 2.8-16, 8.6-7; 1 Cor 12.31-13.8; Matthew 7.21, 24-29
Fr. Philip N. Powell, OP
Church of the Incarnation, Irving, TX

[Click Podcast Player to listen!]

Paul preaches: “Love is always patient and kind, never jealous, never boastful or conceited, never rude or selfish; love never takes offense, and is not resentful.” The Song of Songs sings, “Love is a flash of fire, a flame of the Lord himself…Love no flood can quench, no torrents drown…love is as strong as Death…” Love, above all, is dangerous! Rains come, gales blow, flood waters rise, lightening strikes, and we are shaken in our bones by the thunder. Love remains. Love remains, more dangerous, more perilous, and never more necessary than right now. Nothing happens without love b/c there is nothing but Love. As the divine passion that took the dark vacuum of nothing and spoke its Word, making all things; as the divine passion that divided day and night, male and female, good and evil, making creation His kingdom; as the divine passion that became Man so that we might share in His life beyond this one—Love is the rock foundation, the indestructible frame, the everlasting Word; Love is the Lord Himself given to us, freely, without cost to us. When we give ourselves to one another in love, we are loved first by God Himself.

What are we without Love? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Paul says, “If I have all the eloquence of men or of angels, but speak without love, I am simply a gong booming or a cymbal clashing.” Song of Songs makes clear that without love we are locked away, mute, crippled, weak; we are jealous, drowned, burned away. Matthew tells us that without the rock of love upon which to build our lives together we are too easily washed away, blown away, fallen. We are nothing…at all. Thanks be to God, then, that we are made to be “ambitious for the higher gifts,” desperate for sweet beauty, the seal of joy on our hearts, the house built against the storms. Paul preaches, “that [we] have faith in all its fullness, to move mountains, but without love, then [we] are nothing at all.” Thanks be to God, then, that when we give ourselves to one another in love, we are loved first by God Himself.

Tara and Jeremy are not here this afternoon to show us how they love one another. They are not here to declare a love that has gone, up until now, unspoken. And we are not here to witness their love—as if we knew nothing about them before now! Tara and Jeremy are here this afternoon to bind themselves together in the sacrament of matrimony, becoming one heart and mind, to show us that God, Who is Love Himself, loves us all first. Once bound together, under vows, Tara and Jeremy become living sacraments, living signs for the rest of us of exactly how and how much God loves us. When Jeremy looks at Tara and sees her beautiful face, hears her sweet voice, and says, “My beloved is mine and I am hers,” we all see the beautiful face and hear the sweet voice of Christ, speaking directly to us. When Tara sets Jeremy’s love for her on her heart as a seal and leans on his strong arm for support, we all know that Christ has set his seal on us and offered to us his strong arm. For them, God’s love is flash of fire and for us all the fire is the Lord Himself.

Rain comes. Flood waters rise. Gales blow. And all the debris of the storm will be hurled against a house built on the rock of love. Let’s not make the mistake of thinking that love is magic. There is no voodoo in the sacrament this afternoon, no spells or charms that make love easy or simple. Tara and Jeremy both know that being bound together in love is dangerous. There are perils to saying Yes to another. Those beautiful faces aren’t always so pretty. Those sweet voices sometimes crack and screech. Even the strongest arm grows weak with use. The everyday living of life, just moving from sleep to sleep, from breakfast to dinner, can be a storm. There will be dark days. Hard moments. Times when today, looking back, might look like a huge mistake! There is no secret to living through these. No romantic magic to hold you up. There is only your love for one another and the sure promise from God that He loves you more.

Tara and Jeremy, today is the day! You become sacraments of Christ’s love for his Church. Remember: patience, kindness, humility, and selflessness; remember that jealousy and resentment kill a gift quicker than a knife through the heart. Remember that you are not trapped in a marriage but freed in love; not locked in your vows but let loose by them. Remember that you are always ambitious for the higher gifts and that there is no higher gift than that you be Christ for one another—teaching one another, healing one another, feeding one another, loving one another, and perhaps, as Christ did for us, even dying for one another. Remember, finally, this: love delights in the truth; it is always ready to forgive, to trust, to hope, and it will endure whatever comes, whatever comes! Because “love does not come to an end.”

12 October 2007

Al Gore: Master of Peace? (Updated)

That thundering crash you heard sometime last night was the credibility of the Nobel Peace Prize dropping through the earth's crust.

Apparently, one contributes to world peace best with junk science, political ambition, sophomoric logical fallacy, and self-referentially incoherent hypocrisy and exaggeration. Throw in some leftist-academic intolerance of dissent and. . .VOILA!. . .you get a Nobel Prize from the Swedes.

Oh, how you have fallen!

Update: I think AL (and the rest of the world) would have been better served had he been awarded an Ig Nobel Prize.

Also, check out Junk Science for a rather humorous take on AL's science of global warming. You could also win $125,o00 if you prove global warming is the product of the human consumption of natural resources. That amount of dough could buy Father a whole lotta books!

Spiritual Warfare: who's the enemy?

Satan in victory?

27th Week OT(F): Joel 1.13-15; 2.1-2 and Luke 11.15-26
Fr. Philip N. Powell, OP
St Albert the Great Priory and Church of the Incarnation

[<---Click Podcast Player to listen!]

We are rushing headlong into God’s Kingdom. The war with Satan is over. He lost. With the advent of our Father’s Christ, the kingdom of God is at hand. We are wasting our time and treasure when we spend our lives fighting the Devil. Why continue to fight a defeated enemy? Spiritual warfare is not a war against evil. Rather it is a war to conquer our hesitation, our reluctance to claim the victory Christ won for us on the Cross. Our sign of victory is the Empty Tomb and the coming of the Holy Spirit. We don’t need weapons or strategies or a martial mindset to defeat Satan. Satan has lost. We are now fighting spiritual war against our own fears, our own faint hearts.

Do we gather? Or do we scatter? If we gather with Christ, we gather victories. If we scatter against him, we scatter his victory.

What is the problem with the notion of “spiritual warfare” when “spiritual warfare” is understood to be a fight against the forces of darkness? There are a number of problems. Here’s just two. First, we have to ask, why fight a defeated enemy? What aren’t we doing while we prepare to fight a war we have already won? Focused on fighting Satan, we fail to expend our spiritual resources on the real problem: human disobedience, the failure to hear the Word, to see the Word and to believe with heart, mind, body, and soul that no word or deed of a mere devil can stand against The Word himself. In other words, we play anxiously with a distraction and give the Devil hope.

Second, fighting the defeated Devil is an act of betrayal against Christ. How so? What exactly do you think Christ accomplished on the Cross? What exactly do you think the Empty Tomb testifies to? If the Devil still has power in your life and you need to fight him, then the Cross was always empty and the tomb littered with some rascally rabbi’s bones. Jesus clearly states to the doubters in the crowd, “…if it is by the finger of God that I drive out demons, then the Kingdom of God has come upon you.” If you believe that Jesus drives out these demons with his Father’s power, then you believe the Kingdom has arrived and continues to manifest until Christ comes again. If you don’t believe that Jesus drives out demons with heavenly power, then it must be case that you believe he does so with the power of Hell. Either we live in the Father’s kingdom or the Devil’s dungeon. Unite the kingdom, or divide it. Gather victory, or scatter it.

Our Holy Fathers John Paul II and Benedict XVI teach us that we have come into the Paschal Mystery of Christ in our baptism. Meaning what? Meaning, when we were baptized, we took the first step along the Way to following behind our Lord in his public ministry, his suffering, death and his resurrection—his final victory over death. In other words, following Christ means doing what Christ did, suffering what Christ suffered, dying as Christ died, and rising with him when he rose. Do you believe that Christ was ever subject to Satan? Or that he is subject to Satan now? Of course not! Death is dead. Sin is powerless. The war is over. And Christ is the victor.

If you don’t believe this, then what are you doing here?

11 October 2007

Books for the Novices (update: BOUGHT!)

As always I am overwhelmed by the generosity of the readers of this blog!

I have received several books this week from used bookstores. . .this means that there was no shipping invoice, so I don't know to whom to send a THANK YOU card! Bee, I know which ones you sent me. . .thanks again.

I've received a few worried inquiries about the nature of some of the books on my PHILOSOPHY & THEOLOGY Wish List. There's lots of Nietzsche and Derrida and other strange characters on the list. Yes, there are. And with good reason. Right now, these guys dominate a lot of what happens in theology programs all over the world. Directly or indirectly, postmodern philosophies have seeped into the ways we "do theology" and there is simply no way to ignore this cold, hard fact. Anyone wanting to engage in serious theological discussion has to be able to refer intelligently to these figures. So, I have to read them. I don't have to like them or think that they are right or even think that they have a lot to offer the Church. But I have to read them. I will write papers on them and take exams on their work. Fortunately, I am not a 23 year old first year grad student, so there is no danger of being "going native" and streaking off into the sharp angles and kitschy montages of PoMo theory. Been there, done that. Got the collage to prove it. As I have said before: please think of my training in Continental philosophy as something like the training the students at Hogwarts go through when they take classes in Defense Against Dark Arts. I'm training to be their Prof. Let's just hope my fate is better planned. . .

So, help me defend against the dark arts of pOmO theory and buy me a few tomes of post-Nietzschean mutterings. Just click here, look for the priority rating, and send them on: PHILOSOPHY & THEOLOGY Wish List.

[Update: the books have been purchased!] While I'm begging for books. . .I'm hoping someone out there has $80 to spare and would be willing to spend it on a book for the novices. I'm teaching a seminar this semester here at U.D. in the history of Christian spirituality. One of the books I use is Jean Danielou's God and the Ways of Knowing. This is a terrific book. Fr. Danielou is probably one of the most lucid writers I've run across in this genre. I would use the book as a text for discussion in the class the novices have with me, Fundamental Theology. We're reading Pope Benedict's book, Jesus of Nazareth in the spring. We have six novices. My shipping address is on the left-hand sidebar.

If you decide you can buy one or more of these for us, please drop me a note in the combox. Thanks in advance for your generosity!

Fr. Philip, OP

10 October 2007

Texas Bishops: NO to Amnesty International

The bishops of Texas have issued a statement on Catholic involvement in Amnesty International:

Texas Bishops Respond to Amnesty International

October 8, 2007

We, the Bishops of Texas are instructing all parish and diocesan staff and other Catholic organizations to no longer support financially nor through publicity, nor participate in joint projects or events sponsored by the organization known as Amnesty International. This instruction is based on Amnesty International’s decision to limit its human rights agenda by promoting abortion as a way to curb violence against women, especially women in developing countries. In promoting abortion, Amnesty divides its own members, many of whom are Catholics, and others who defend the rights of unborn children and jeopardizes its support by people in many nations, cultures and religions who share a consistent commitment to all human rights. Our assessment is that Amnesty International is now violating its original mission to protect human rights worldwide and has lost its moral credibility.

While no human rights organization should turn away from the suffering that women face daily in the form of sexual violence, it should not prioritize a mother’s life above that of her unborn child. It is better to advocate advancing her educational and economic standing in society and resist all forms of violence and stigmatization against her and her child. Abortion is an act of violence against both the child and its mother. Any organization truly committed to women’s rights must put itself in solidarity with women and their unborn children.

Discontinuing participation with Amnesty International does not mean the Catholic Church in Texas will cease to protect human life and promote human dignity in all circumstances. We will continue to oppose the use of the death penalty, unjust incarceration and the crushing effects of dehumanizing poverty in our state. We will continue to stand with refugees, migrants, and other oppressed peoples. But, we will seek to do so in authentic ways, working most closely with organizations who do not oppose the fundamental right to life from conception until natural death.

Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, stated that individuals and Catholic organizations must withdraw their support for Amnesty International if it continues with this new policy, because, in deciding to promote abortion rights, Amnesty International has betrayed its mission. This statement has been supported by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. We, therefore, call upon Amnesty International to act in accord with its noblest principles, reconsider its error, and reverse its policy on abortion. Until then, parishes, diocesan staffs, and other Catholic organizations should no longer work with Amnesty International.

Texas Catholic Conference

Fr. Paul Hinnebusch's Homily Archive

I recently received word from Celine Powers that the homily archive of the Dominican preacher, Fr. Paul Hinnebusch is up and thriving.

If you are a Preacher (of any sort!) you will benefit tremendously from Fr. Hinnebusch's meticulously researched homilies and powerful teachings on following Christ in the modern world. In my own research for homilies, I frequently run across Fr. Hinnebusch's marginalia in texts ranging from popular spirituality to the latest work by the giants of biblical scholarship. The archive includes both texts and mp3 recordings.

The archive is an on-going work of a dedicated group of lay folks here in Irving, TX.

You can find the site here: Suscipe fiat. I would ask that if you have a blog, please link to this site, especially if you are Jeff Miller, Mark Shea, Amy Welborn, Gerald Augustinus, Jimmy Akin, or Tom Kreitzberg--just to name a few of the Big Dogs of Catholic blogdom!

God bless, Fr. Philip, OP

Update: Thanks Tom of Disputations!

09 October 2007

Not a conspiracy, after all...

An update from Fr. Z. on the Mystery of the Misplaced Latin Adverb in the motu proprio:

Here is what we can surmise.

Some days before the official release of the Motu Proprio, the USCCB received a text through the Apostolic Nunciature in Washington D.C. Below, in the comments, you can see I posted a screen shot showing that USCCB’s pdf is dated 6 July. After the official release of the Motu Proprio on 7 July, it was found that the document distributed the the world’s bishops through the Nunciatures had discrepencies. One of those was the one I identified between continenter (in the official release on 7 July and on the Holy See website) and stabiliter (on the USCCB site from the text the Nunciature gave them). So, it seems that the problem actually originates NOT with the USCCB but probably with the way the Holy See sent out the document. When dicasteries want to distribute documents to the world’s bishops, they send through through the Secretariate of State’s diplomatic mail bag. Sometime between the time the text of Summorum Pontificum was sent to the bishops through the Nunciatures and 7 July when the document was released, there were changes made to the text. You might remember that just before 7 July, the Holy Father met with a group of bishops from around the world. It was said at that time that some changes were made.

I think this is what explains the discrepancy.

This is not a conspiracy to undermine the implementation of Summorum Pontificum. If anything, this merely reveals some not insignificant flaws in the communication process between dicasteries of the Holy See, the Nuniciatures and the bishops. In this day of rapid communication, this is deeply disturbing. However, this is a matter of lousy lines of communication, not conspiracy.

See. Told ya so.

08 October 2007

Making it up as we go along. . .(UPDATED)

Holy See – online

USCCB – pdf online

Art. 5, § 1. In paroeciis, ubi coetus fidelium traditioni liturgicae antecedenti adhaerentium continenter exsistit, parochus eorum petitiones ad celebrandam sanctam Missam iuxta ritum Missalis Romani anno 1962 editi, libenter suscipiat.

Art. 5, § 1. In paroeciis, ubi coetus fidelium traditioni liturgicae antecedenti adhaerentium stabiliter existit, parochus eorum petitiones ad celebrandam sanctam Missam iuxta ritum Missalis Romani anno 1962 editi, libenter suscipiat.

Fr. Z. has noted an odd discrepancy between the Vatican's official version of the Holy Father's motu proprio, Summorum pontificum, and the version the USCCB used for its English translation. You can get the grammatical details from Fr. Z., however, suffice it to say here: the difference between the two Latin words is enormous! And this difference explains why a number of American bishops are attempting to limit the celebration of the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite to a "stable" group of parishioners whose interest in the rite pre-dates S.P.

Read Fr. Z.'s explanation of the difference between "continenter" and "stabiliter." Better yet-- ponder his closing question: why is the USCCB using an older version of the official Latin text? As my prior often says, "Pious minds can only speculate. . ."

Updated musings: One of the annoying habits of contemporaty, progressive liturgists is their tendency to trivialize Latin as a useful language for your average Catholic pewsitter. I have often heard, "Nobody speaks Latin anymore. . .dead language." And so, we have pretty much systematically eliminated Latin education from the Church in the last forty years. All in the name of "People Power," popular access, and making the liturgy relevant, we have effectively handed over to an elite segment of the Church's academic corps the power to translate--and thus the power to interpret--Latin documents from Rome. This would count as irony if it didn't happen almost every time an enlightened cadre of self-appointed prophets and revolutionaries destroyed an institution's history and culture in the name of the "People." I don't believe that there is any conspiracy here. The USCCB staff has a strong liberal bias, but they aren't stupid. The real test will be whether or not they adopt the official Vatican version and change their published guidelines to match.

See the original documents: official Vatican document and USCCB's version. You are looking for Article 5.1.

Jesus' Inconvenient Truth

Praedicator primum sibi praedicet!

27th Week OT(M): Jonah 1.1-2, 2.1-2, 11 and Luke 10.25-37
Fr. Philip N. Powell, OP
St Albert the Great Priory, Irving, TX

The Good Samaritan. We all know the story well. Here are the lessons we traditionally draw from the story: 1) because they were too concerned with the laws of purity, the priest and Levite leave the beaten man to his fate, thus violating the law of love; 2) compassion is of the Spirit and therefore not doled out on the basis of race, nationality, creed, or preferred denomination, even a Samaritan is given the spirit of compassion; 3) compassion is not only about immediate assistance to the distressed, but also about their continued care on into what would normally appear to one to be excessive; 4) being a proper neighbor means showing mercy always; and 5) perhaps most importantly for us, the question, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” is answered best by Jesus when he points to the Samaritan’s compassionate care and says, “Go and do likewise.”

Go and do likewise. Let me say out loud what I would be willing to bet most of us are thinking: “I’m not doing that.” Maybe you aren’t being that blunt. Maybe you’re just worried about how difficult a thing it would be to imitate the Samaritan. Or maybe you trying to work it out in our head how you could do what he did without actually getting too involved with the victim himself. I’m willing to bet that some of you are thinking these things b/c every time I read this gospel I think, “I don’t have the time, the money, or the patience to get that involved with someone I don’t even know! And my eternal life depends on this?” I immediately start to think of ways to turn the story into something other than a direct order to serve those most in need. For example, this is some sort of vague tale of angels coming to help men—one of those Feel Good moments when we have to hope on the goodness of the supernatural b/c we can’t trust the natural. But, no matter how hard I try, how hard you try, the story remains…as is.

And I wonder why Jesus tells the story. Of course, he’s instructing the scholar of the law who is worried—as lawyers often are—about his own liability under the Law of Love. The scholar has the philosophy of mercy exactly right. Jesus says, “You have answered correctly…” The more difficult moment, however, comes when he says, “…do this and you will live.” Be merciful and you will have eternal life. Jesus tells this story of compassion b/c he dies on the cross for us all. Everyone. Without a single exception. And he means for us to understand that it is not enough for us to “get” the theology right, to grasp the philosophy correctly. Our merciful intent is a ghost in the brain if it will not animate our hands and hearts. Think: what if Jesus had merely thought about suffering and dying for us. Mused on the idea of saving us. Sat safely under the shade of a fig tree and contemplated the wisdom of offering himself as a victim for our sins. Would we have the Holy Spirit kicking us in the rear, thumping us on the head to go and do likewise? Maybe. But what difference would it make? In fact, how exactly would we be any different than the priest and Levite who see the beaten man and cross the road to avoid him? Caring compassionately for your neighbor is not an abstraction. It is a matter of our salvation. How perfectly inconvenient! What a huge nuance.

Fortunately, we do not have to decide to be merciful all alone. When Jesus says, “Go and do likewise,” he is also saying, “I am with you always.” When he says, “Be merciful and you will live,” he is also saying, “You know what mercy looks like b/c I have been merciful to you.” Indeed, he has rescued us from the pit and now we are freer than ever to help him rescue others. If we have a job description as Christians, it is this: out of the love Christ has shown us, we must love and be merciful.

That is a truly inconvenient truth.

07 October 2007

How Not to be a Gospel Coward

27th Sunday OT: Hab 1.2-3, 2.2-4; 2 Tim 1.6-8, 13-14; Luke 17.5-10
Fr. Philip N. Powell, OP
St Paul
and Church of the Incarnation

[<---Click on the Podcast Player to listen!]

Are you a gospel coward? Is your heart weak and your spirit faint? Do you cringe or flinch or whine at the first sign of opposition? Do you think it always best to find a way around or between or under adversity? Do your hands and arms get rubbery at the thought of conflict, the mere mention of offense? Does your brain turn to mush and your strength drain away when the enemy approaches to confront you? Maybe you are a coward in more subtle ways—surrendering to fashion out of fear of exclusion; giving up the fight because your cause is ill-defined or poorly lead; retreating in the face of superior reason or more extensive experience? Do you abandon your gospel witness? Do you manifest cowardice when what is most needed is courage?

How easy it is for us to be ashamed of our “testimony to our Lord”! Paul admonishes Timothy “not to be ashamed” of the witness he himself makes to the gospel of Christ. Rather than being embarrassed by the prospect of telling others about the Lord’s freely given gift of forgiveness in mercy, Paul urges Timothy to “bear your share of the hardship for the gospel with the strength that comes from God.” We are either ashamed of the gospel, burdened by the adversity its preaching brings, or we are strengthened, en-joyed, made joyful by the “sound words that [we have] heard from [Paul].” The faith and love that are in Christ Jesus are our inheritance, our trust fund of grace and life, the exceedingly rich treasury of gratuitous help that we receive for no other reason than that our Father is Love and loves us always. Paul goes on to order Timothy to “[g]uard this rich trust with the help of the Holy Spirit that dwells with us.” Reminding, testifying, bearing-up-under, strengthening, hearing and seeing, guarding, and preaching—all of these we do now and tomorrow for the sake of Christ and our eternal lives with him. Thankfully, we do not do any of these alone, none without help. Our help is the Holy Spirit who dwells within us and among us.

Brothers and sisters, we have work to do. And there is no room for a coward’s heart in a soul filled with Spirit!

We have work to do. And with this work, we have the Holy Spirit filling us with the power of the Word Made Flesh, the fire of truthful witness, and the assurances of God’s promises written in stone and flesh. The Spirit dwells in me. In you. In us. Calling Timothy “beloved,” Paul reminds Timothy: “Beloved, I remind you to stir into flame the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands.” What is this gift? For the Church, Timothy is a bishop, ordered to apostolic authority by the imposition of Paul’s hands. His gift is the grace of leadership, the gift of standing in front, between what has gone before and what is coming. Timothy is the focal point of salvation history for his local church. He is the crux, the crossroad for what is and what is not authentic testimony, what is and what is not truthful witness. With the Church, Timothy is a man of faith, burning with courage and strength, called to service to the exhaustion of his gifts, and lifted up as one with authority to lead. Timothy is himself a gift to the Church, a grace given to serve us in peril, without profit.

With Timothy’s strength, with Paul’s strength, with all the saints living and dead, and with the unfailing help of the Holy Spirit and the whole Body of Christ, we, cannot fail in preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather one of power and love. Therefore, to be ashamed of our gospel testimony is to be ashamed of Christ himself. Why would we add this hardship to our burden? We have enough work to do in pursuing holiness, in keeping away from sin, in feeding the hungry and clothing the naked and healing the sick. Why would we do any of this and fail to claim the power and love of the Holy Spirit? Why would we do any of this and fail to dig deeply and excessively into the treasury of graces freely given to us specifically for this purpose? Why would we plow the fields of the world and tend the world’s sheep and do so without humility and eagerly welcoming hearts? Why?

Cowardice, that’s why. Fear of hardship. An aversion to difficulty. A distaste for “offending.” We might be called names. We might be ostracized. People will think we are being exclusive or discriminatory or intolerant. If we make any hard claims about the truths of the gospel, we will be seen as aggressive missionaries, or worse—missionaries of aggressive religion! Thus, we must blend in, mingle, disguise ourselves. If we stand up, stand out, or in any way distinguish ourselves as gospel witnesses, we must be claiming exclusive possession of The Truth. We must be preaching One Way, The Only Way to heaven. We must be vile little buggers who lust to see the heathens burn! If we flinch at these accusations, batting a single eye for a single second, and change one word of the gospel out of fear being called bigots, we are, in fact, cowards; cowards deserving the label.

Now, before any of you think I am calling for the reinstitution of the Inquisition or a rallying of the Crusades, let me say: we work as servants. Not inquisitors. Not soldiers. Servants. We serve. That’s what gospel people do. Secularists expect us to come charging out of Mass with swords drawn and torches lit and force them all to the baptismal font and confessional. My suspicion is that this is exactly what they want us to do, thus confirming their own bigotries and prejudices and giving them every excuse to continue their already well-oiled and ever-so-sophisticated persecution of the Church. No, I’m not being an alarmist. Nor am I issuing warnings or dire cautions against the evils of the secular world. The evil we need to be worrying about lives already in the heart of every man and woman who lays claim to the suffering, death, and resurrection of Christ. Our worst enemy is not the state, not the Supreme Court, not the ACLU, and not other religions. Our worst enemy is the weak heart of compromise, the fainting spirit of accommodation and assimilation. Our worst enemy is the Christian heart that believes its soul is impervious to charitable work. Excused from profitable service and witness. This is the restless heart of a Christian that will not search for and will not find its rest in Love. It cannot. Because it suffocates the Spirit in disobedience and fear.

Ask these hard questions this way: is the Lord to be grateful to us b/c we have done what he has commanded us to do? Is he supposed to pat us on the back and send us on permanent retreat b/c we completed the work we vowed to do at baptism? Because we have said “amen” and “thanks be to God” at Mass? Or, are we to say to our Master, “We are unprofitable servants, Lord; we have done what we were obliged to do”? Even better: we have done what we promised to do because you died for us, making us heirs to your kingdom.

We are already well-paid servants. We’ve used all of our vacation days. All of our comp time and sick days. The Christmas bonus has been given and spent. The heavenly 401K has been cashed. The time clock is still ticking and we haven’t yet punched out. If you are going to be a witness to the gospel out there, then know this: our God did not give you a spirit of cowardice but rather a spirit of power and love and self control. His Word has been proclaimed to you and his Word remains forever.

Brothers and sisters, put on your apron. We have work to do!

...and for what do we pray...?

Several of you have sent emails promising to pray for me. And most of you have asked, "What are we praying for, Father?"

I'm not asking that you pray that I will be allowed to attend a specific school or that any particular school accept me.

Please, just pray that God's will be done in this matter, and that I be given the strength in obedience to do the best thing of my province and my growth in holiness.

It couldn't hurt to pay for financial help as well! One easy thing you can do to help me and the province out is to buy me a good philosophy book. . .save us a little money. Check out the Buy Fr. Philip PHILOSOPHY & THEOLOGY Wish List, look for those books marked "Highest" in the priority category,* and send them my way. Books in the UK are outrageously expensive. For example, a new theology text from Ashgate Publishers can run as high as $120.00. Books in Italy aren't that much less expensive. Truly, the US has some of the lowest book prices around. Throw in the used book buying option from Amazon.com and you have the perfect way to further educate an intellectually curious Dominican friar!

Though I have an undergrad degree in philosophy, the graduate level study of philosophy is not my first or second or third choice for advanced studies. I learned just last night that one of my four choices (listed in the post below) will require me to be fluent in Italian; have some reading knowledge of Latin and Greek; and that I be able to read philosophical texts in three of these four: English, French, German, and Spanish. That's five languages for a philosophy degree.

This is WAAAAYYYYYYY overkill.

But one must endure. . .AND be grateful for all prayers offered: my thanks for all the intercessions going on out there!

*I know, I know. How can I have more than one book listed as "highest priority"? The English prof in me finds this ridiculous. However, the poor friar that I am finds it necessary. Go figure.