22 July 2011

Bruised, Stretched, & Picked Clean

Mary Magdalene
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
St Albert the Great Priory

If I were to ask you to name the opposite of “being anxious,” you might say “being calm.” Given a little more time to think about it, you might add “peaceful,” “relaxed.” Or you could get theological and say “being faithful,” “trusting.” Mary Magdalene gives us another possibility: being obedient, listening to and acting on the Word of the Lord. Our not-yet-ascended Lord tells Mary to go the disciples and announce that he is going to the Father. In her fervor, she first announces, “I have seen the Lord!” Then, John tells us, she “reported what he told her.” Mary's anxiety over the apparent disappearance of Jesus' body from his tomb is transformed into. . .something else. Is it peace? Relaxation? Trust? How about ecstasy? Mary becomes ecstatic when she reports on her encounter with the Risen Lord. Despite popular images of the ecstatic saint, spiritual union with the divine is not always pleasant. The American poet, Charles Wright, captures both the pain and the purification of ecstasy when he writes: “I want to be bruised by God./I want to be strung up in a strong light and singled out./I want to be stretched, like music wrung from a dropped seed.” Why does he long for this divine interrogation? He says, “I want to be. . .picked clean.” The disciple and the poet both reveal a difficult truth about following Christ: when we announce that we have seen the Lord, when we report on all that he has told us, we will be bruised, stretched, strung up, singled out, and picked clean. 

After Mary makes her ecstatic announcement to the other disciples and reports on all that Jesus told her, the Lord's former students huddle together in fear behind locked doors. They are blasphemers and traitors wanted by both the temple and the empire. It's not until the Christ has ascended and the Holy Spirit is sent that they are given a voice to preach. And once that voice is given, they break their fear and anxiety and flood into the streets, preaching and teaching, speaking in the tongues of those who will listen. And as they bear witness to the mercy and love of the Father over the years, they are stretched, bruised, singled out, and eventually picked clean. They are stripped to the bare bones of their trust in God, announcing as they die, “I have seen the Lord!” 

How will we be bruised and stretched? Probably not in the same way that the disciples were. The obstacles we face in preaching the gospel are similar in nature but different in technique; that is, we face the same kind of worldly obstinacy as the disciples did but the stubbornness we face has a new language, a new game-plan; we face the same kind of idolatry of power, wealth, prestige but all these have adopted new guises, new rules. What hasn't changed is the saving message of God's mercy and love, the simple, straightforward declaration of God's forgiveness and His eternal welcome into His family. When Mary Magdalene shouts out, “I have seen the Lord!” she announces to the world the Father's will that all His children return to Him through His risen and ascended Son. When we repeat her apostolic message, we risk the bruises that all prophets and preachers risk when they speak the truth. Maybe not the firing squad or a prison term but we risk surrendering control, anxiety, willfulness. We risk everything when we take on the commission of living the gospel and telling others about the wonders of divine mercy. The purification of ecstasy is worth the pain it inflicts if we can say, in the end, “I have seen the Lord!” 

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20 July 2011

Grazie, grazie. . .

Just a quick note to say Mille Grazie for the recent activity on the Wish List!

Every book helps keep me current in all thing philosophical, poetical, and theological. . .

God bless, Fr. Philip Neri, OP

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19 July 2011

Commenters at NCR: "joyless people with no hope"?

Methinks that horrible screeching might be the "Spirit of Vatican Two" being exorcised from the Church. . .

IF you have any doubts at all about whether or not the Holy Father's appointment of Archbishop Chaput to Philly is Good Thing. . .read the comments on this article from N.C.R. (Nasty Cynical Rag, as we called it in seminary).  

Here are a few of my favs from the Exemplars of Catholic Tolerance and Diversity:

"The very worst man for the job in Philadelphia. He will bring more of the same, as in cover-ups and evasion. This man has inflicted more damage on priests and lay people in the past decade that we should not be in the least surprised that Ratzinger (Benedict), would select someone such as this to carry on the right wing agenda of the restorationist movement."

"The Vatican and B16 are only carrying out their plan: Wreck the church. Hope any mature Catholic will leave in disgust. Afterwards, hunker down behind the Vatican walls, with all the gold in the coffers, maybe in a century or two everyone will have forgotten what a mess the hierarchs have made of the church."

"The Church just plunges itself deeper and deeper into the abyss. . ."

"The poor people of Philadelphia. They are getting someone with a heart of stone for a leader of their Church. If they're smart, the parishioners will keep their money in their pockets and let that do the talking."

"Heaven help us! Apparently the thinking in Rome was that the problem with Philadelphia was that its bishop wasn't Republican enough."

"He did all the damage he could in Denver. Let him move on to Philadelphia to spread his narrow minded conservatism. And get that red hat ready."

"Now the people of Philadelphia are being punished for the sins, incompetence and arrogance of Rigali.  How long before this archdiocese becomes the home of the ever-diminishing numbers of the "faithful remnant" in a "smaller, purer" church?  Maybe that's what Chaput promised B16 - weed 'em out and gimme a red hat.  Shame, shame, shame."

[NB.  Almost all of these hysterical rants were answered on the site by someone. . .]

Here are a few comments from Archbishop's interview at N.C.R.

"This is just another case of one following another. The entire Church should demand Benedict 16's resignation along with Rigali's.  Not one red penny for the American Church or the Vatican until these bungling autocrats are gone."

"This appointment is such a crass act from a pope who has been a bungler in so many areas of church life. It's another example of what happens when the episcopate becomes little more than a pawn on a papal chessboard and very little more than that."

"An interview chock full of self-serving statements from another papal pet. . .Hats off to the Chinese who are standing up to Rome in much the same way as the English did in the sixteenth century!"

"Benny 16s days should be over too. A nice house in Sardinia, Sicily, or a jail cell at The Hague could be his great opportunity to reflect on the blunders of his papacy (the Unholy Triumvirate of Ratzinger, Sodano, and Bertone) and to do penance for the damage these old autocrats have brought upon the Church."

On the commenters themselves, one brave soul notes, "I'm convinced that the NCR comments section is probably them most negative, unconstructively cynical corner on the whole Internet. Talk about a joyless people with no hope. . ."

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Chaput to Philly!

Just announced on the Vatican's website:

 Il Santo Padre Benedetto XVI ha accettato la rinuncia al governo pastorale dell’arcidiocesi metropolitana di Philadelphia (U.S.A.), presentata dall’Em.mo Card. Justin F. Rigali, in conformit√† al can. 401 § 1 del Codice di Diritto Canonico.

Il Papa ha nominato Arcivescovo Metropolita di Philadelphia (U.S.A.) S.E. Mons. Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., finora Arcivescovo di Denver.


The Holy Father Benedict XVI accepted the resignation from the ministry of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia Metro (USA), presented by His Em. Cardinal Justin F. Rigali, in accordance with can. 401 § 1 of the Code of Canon Law.

The Pope appointed Archbishop of Philadelphia (USA) Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap, currently Archbishop of Denver.

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18 July 2011

Coffee Cup Browsing

Bureaucratic leeches:  between 1975 and 2008, the number of faculty in the CA university system rose by 3.5%.  In the same period, the number of university bureaucrats rose by 221%.  That's where your tuition money is going.  

Anti-Palin meme of the day:  "Undefeated" opens in Orange Co. to an empty theater.  What you don't know--unless you read the fine print--is that the reviewer attended an unadvertised midnight showing on a Thursday. Oh, and there were six people in the theater. 

Director of "Captain America" drops anti-American rhetoric when it becomes clear that his politics are hurting the bottom-line.  He must be one of the "Michael Moore Marxists." 

B.O. charged with war crimes. . .accused of murdering Osama ben Laden.  NB.  B.O. and his globalist ideologues L.U.V. international law, socialist-Euro-judges, etc.  So, I expect B.O. to submit himself for arrest and prosecution forthwith.

Union bullying manual is made public.  Yes, I mean the actual manual published by SEIU.

Jewish publications lauding efforts of the Holy Father to rescue Jews from the Nazis. . .in 1939.

Ahhhhh. . .cute pic of the day.

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