31 May 2014

All fairy tale and fable unless. . .

Visitation of Mary
Fr. Philip N. Powell, OP
St Dominic Church, NOLA

Carrying the Word in her body, Mary speaks the Word to the world, praising the work of her Lord in human history, preaching the greatness of our God, our Savior who favors the lowliest of His servants by choosing her to be His mother. She is the Blessed Mother of our Lord Jesus in the flesh and our Mother in the spirit—growing the Christ Child in her womb, giving him birth, and at the foot of the cross, accepting from her crucified Son the commission of mothering his Church to maturity.

Because she heard the Word spoken by the angel, Mary is filled with the Holy Spirit. Because they heard the Word spoken by Mary, Elizabeth and John are filled with the Holy Spirit. And because we have heard the Word spoken by John, Christ’s herald, and by Christ’s apostles and disciples and his prophets and witnesses, we too are filled with Holy Spirit. Blessed are we who believe that what is spoken to us by the Lord will be fulfilled.

Our Blessed Mother’s soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord because she surrendered her life to the Father’s will, surrendered not only her service and her affection but her flesh and blood, giving back to Him everything that He has given to her. She herself is a gift from the Lord who is given the Lord as a gift to give to us. And because of her surrender, because she heard the Word and gave herself to Him, we are free.

If we are to mature spiritually as individuals and as a Body we must hear the Word! Hear the Word spoken in our history, in our tradition, in our worship; hear the Word spoken by those given to us as leaders, teachers, and saints; and hear the Word spoken to us as His children, as His preachers, and as His friends. His Word to us, Christ Himself, is His greatness, His mercy, His strength, His abundance and His generosity. And Mary is how He chose to come to us. When we look to her, we see the Church grown up. When we look to her, we see His Word to us fulfilled, His promise of salvation kept.

All of this, however, is fairy tale and fable if we will not hear the Word spoken, surrender ourselves flesh, blood, and spirit, and bear His Word of Good News, giving birth to his greatness, his mercy, his strength, his abundance and his generosity, giving his gift to those who have not heard, those who have not been spoken to.

All of this is fairy tale and fable if we will not do as his mother did: hear His Word, surrender to His will, bear Him to the world, and, in the end, give Him to the crowd, give Him to the multitudes for their salvation.

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30 May 2014

Before joy comes grief

NB. The Laptop took advantage of my de-caffeinated state this morning to suggest that I upgrade to Windows 8.1. In a fog, I clicked "OK," and then spent an hour waiting for the thing to finish. So. . .a borrowed (and boring) homily from 2012.

UPDATE: I'd forgotten that Dcn John preaches on Friday morning! You and I both were spared this homily.  
6th Week of Easter (F)
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
St. Dominic Church, NOLA

They disciples are confused. . .as they often are. Jesus says something completely befuddling and his poor students are left muttering among themselves, trying to figure out what he's what he means. Since the disciples are often confused by Jesus' cryptic statements and non-answers to their questions, you'd think that they would eventually learn to just smile, nod, and pretend to understand when he comes out with one of his weird parables or mysterious revelations. But they persevere and soldier on toward learning whatever it is that Jesus is trying to teach them. One of the truths that Jesus has been trying (unsuccessfully) to teach his disciples is that all that they need to know to be preachers of the gospel won't be available to them until he has gone to the Father. Only after he has ascended to heaven can the Spirit of Truth, the Holy Spirit, descend upon them and give them the tongues of fire they will need to preach. So, Jesus prophesies, “. . . .you will weep and mourn [at my departure]. . .you will grieve, but your grief will become joy.” Before joy comes grief. 

In his prophecy to the disciples Jesus notes that “while the world rejoices [at my departure]; you will grieve. . .” And it is not too difficult for us to imagine that the Jewish leaders and Roman officials are indeed very relieved to see Jesus die on the cross. First century Judea under Roman occupation was a seething hotbed of violent revolution, religious strife, and political corruption. The last thing any in charge wanted or needed was another messianic figure throwing bombs. However, when Jesus says that “the world” will rejoice at his departure, he isn't talking about the temple and empire only. “The world” is the term used in scripture to mean something like “all that is ruled by darkness,” the realm that has not yet surrendered to God. This darkened parcel of creation is under the influence of the Enemy, and plots behind the scenes to tempt, influence, and corrupt those creatures who have come into the Lord's holy family. If the world sees Jesus as just another prophet sent by God to corral His wayward people, then Jesus' death on the cross could easily be taken as a victory for the Enemy and as an occasion for rejoicing among the damned. While the Enemy rejoices over a temporary victory, the Lord's disciples grieve over an equally temporary defeat. 

Before joy comes grief. “A little while and you will no longer see me, and again a little while later and you will see me.” That “little while” is the time for grieving. Just a little while. Why so short a time for mourning? How long can you mourn the passing of someone who's coming back “in a little while”? Does it even make sense to mourn the loss of someone you know will return? Jesus knows that his passing, his ascension will be taken hard by the disciples. He also knows that every assurance he can give them that he will return to them won't lessen their grief. Even the promise of the coming of the Holy Spirit and the joy of knowing the “truth of all things” will prevent their mourning. They must mourn b/c they will preach to those who mourn. And they must preach against death, permanent death and the grief that follows it like a vulture. And then they must experience the fiery joy of the Holy Spirit b/c they must preach against falsehood, confusion, despair, and dissension. The disciples are confused by Christ's teachings b/c they have yet to receive the Spirit of Truth. They will. And we already have. Our time for mourning is up; our grieving, our frustration and aggravation are done. It is time to preach the joy of the Holy Spirit and the love of Christ Jesus.

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29 May 2014

The Daughters of St. Philip Neri!

I have no idea how I ran across this site. . .however, I'm intrigued! Check it out. . .The Daughters of St. Philip Neri:

“Let us concentrate intensely on Christ’s divine love and let us enter deeply into the wound in His side, into the living font of the wisdom of God made man, so as to drown ourselves in Him and not be able to find again the road which leaves Him.” (St. Philip Neri)

These words capture poignantly the desires and hopes of the Daughters of St. Philip Neri who seek like their Patron (Heart of Fire and Martyr of Charity) to enter and remain hidden close to the heart of Christ so that enflamed by His Spirit of love their lives may become a sacrifice of praise to God. Reflecting on the difficult situation in which Christ’s Church struggles, they resolve to make their humble contribution to renew the life of the Christian faithful and in particular the priesthood through their dedication to Adoration, Reparation, and Spiritual Motherhood for Priests.

The Daughter of St. Philip Neri lives this out in imitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary by embracing the Will of God in joy and in sorrow, health and infirmity, prosperity and want, companionship and solitude, light and obscurity. In a word, she sees in every event of life an opportunity to enter, with the Blessed Virgin Mary, into the sacrifice of Christ the Priest.  In this way, a Daughter of St. Philip Neri can participate in the spiritual fecundity of the Mother of the Redeemer who, by her constant intercession, cares for the gift of life that ever flows from the open Heart of her Son, and cooperates with a mother’s love in the birth and upbringing of Christ’s faithful, her children.
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28 May 2014

Therapeutic Culture Kills the Soul

Like I said. . .our therapeutic/self-esteem culture is creating generations of self-absorbed narcissists: 

Could Rodger's fury at the world for failing to flatter his self-image as a good, civilized guy be a product of the therapy industry, of the therapy world's cultivation of a new tyrannical form of narcissism where individuals demand constant genuflection at the altar of their self-esteem?

Unfortunately, the Church -- especially religious and clergy -- are not immune to the temptations of Feel Good Therapy and the constant demand to have "felt needs" met regardless of costs. 

How quickly do we ship problem priests off to treatment in an expensive facility (i.e., "Priest Spas") rather than a monastery for fasting and prayer? How easily do some religious abandon their vows to the lure of The New Universe Story, or the inticements of Drumming Retreats for the Primitive Male Soul? Or give up on Scripture and the Church to run after divination through the Ennegram?

Dioceses and religious orders need to wake up and smell the failure of these therapeutic traps. They do not attract vocations. They do not demand the kind of hard sacrifice that Christ warned us was necessary to find him along the Way. Why would any young man or woman want to enter a diocese or a religious order to get the same warmed over New Age garbage that they can get at Barnes and Noble for $9.99?
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Much more to tell. . .

6th Week of Easter (W)
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
St. Dominic Church, NOLA
Jesus dumps a lot of Truth on the disciples in his farewell address. There's lots of room in heaven. I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Believe in me and the do the works that I do. Mine is the only name under heaven that can save you. Love me, one another, and keep my commandments. Remain in my word and ask for what you need. The world hates you b/c it hated me first. You are no longer slaves but friends. I am sending you the Advocate will who convict the world of its wickedness. That's a lot of Truth to take in at the dinner table! Then Jesus drops this little bomb on his friends, “I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now.” There's more?! Indeed. Much more. And you cannot bear the weight, the burden of knowing it all at once. How will the disciples learn what Jesus has yet to tell them? He says, “. . .the Spirit of truth [. . .] will guide you to all truth.” And when he speaks, “He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming.” Can we—in 2014—bear up under what the Spirit of Truth has to teach us?

Let's see. While loading us up with the Truth, Jesus sweetened the deal with just as many promises. Not one of those promises included a vow to leave us with a comfortable, middle-class, suburban religion; or a complex, intellectually satisfying system of wisdom; or a workable economic/political agenda for fair wealth distribution. He promises those who follow him persecution, arrest, trial, torture, execution, and the world's unrelenting hatred. He also promises eternal life. . .but that comes after the persecution and death part. I'm reminding us of these unhappy truths b/c the Spirit of Truth, the Advocate, was sent to the apostles so that the Church could be born, born in fire and wind and speaking many tongues all at once. Many tongues, speaking the same truth: repent, turn to God, and receive His mercy. Preaching to the pagans in Athens, Paul, says, “God has overlooked the times of ignorance, but now he demands that all people everywhere repent because he has established a day on which he will judge the world with justice. . .” Can we bear up under the promise that divine judgment is coming? Is this a truth we are ready to hear? Ready or not. . .as they say.

We could spend the next decade dissecting scripture, magisterial documents, and papal teaching, searching for what “divine judgment” really means. Does it mean that each soul faces God's judgment after death? Does it mean the violent apocalypse that our evangelical brethren love to write novels about? But these are questions for leisure moments. Right now – as Pope Francis is fond of reminding us – the Spirit of Truth is revealing Christ's heart to his Church just as he revealed it Paul on the Areopagus in Athens: the era of ignorance has ended and the proclamation of the Father's mercy has been made. The worship of idols—money, power, fame, violence, influence, intellect – these idols and our worship of them cannot bring us to God. The Spirit of Truth reveals even now that we live and move and have our being in God, and to offer our love – itself a gift from God – to the passing things of this world is like tossing an anchor in sand. Loving things feels weighty but there's nothing there to hold the anchor, nothing there to stop us from drifting with the deadly tides. Christ promises eternal life to those who love him and will follow him. To the cross, the grave, and on to feasting table in heaven. He bears our sins; therefore, listen to the Spirit of Truth: repent, receive His mercy, and return to righteousness.

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Birthday Boy thanks to Ms Jenny K. for the books from the Wish List.

Ms K, you wrote: "Happy (belated?) birthday!" The books arrived on Tuesday afternoon; however, remember that Monday was also Memorial Day, so no mail service that day.

Thanks again. . .Fr. Philip

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27 May 2014

Divine Economy, C. Milosz

OECONOMIA DIVINA (From The Rising of the Sun, 1973)

              -- Czesław Miłosz

I did not expect to live in such an unusual moment.
When the God of thunders and of rocky heights,
The Lord of hosts, Kyrios Sabaoth,
Would humble people to the quick,
Allowing them to act whatever way they wished,
Leaving to them conclusions, saying nothing.
It was a spectacle that was indeed unlike
The agelong cycle of royal tragedies.
Roads on concrete pillars, cities of glass and cast iron,
Airfields larger than tribal dominions
Suddenly ran short of their essence and disintegrated
Not in a dream but really, for, subtracted from themselves,
They could only hold on as do things which should not last.
Out of trees, field stones, even lemons on the table,
Materiality escaped and their spectrum
Proved to be a void, a haze on a film.
Dispossessed of its objects, space was swarming.
Everywhere was nowhere and nowhere, everywhere.
Letters in books turned silver-pale, wobbled, and faded
The hand was not able to trace the palm sign, the river sign, or the sign of ibis.
A hullabaloo of many tongues proclaimed the mortality of the language.
A complaint was forbidden as it complained to itself.
People, afflicted with an incomprehensible distress,
Were throwing off their clothes on the piazzas so that nakedness might call
For judgment.
But in vain they were longing after horror, pity, and anger.
Neither work nor leisure
Was justified,
Nor the face, nor the hair nor the loins
Nor any existence.


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Wherever the Spirit sends us. . .

6th Week of Easter (T)
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
St. Dominic Church, NOLA

Have the disciples been listening? Have they truly attended to what Jesus is trying to teach them about who and what they are to become? On many occasions in the three years they have spent with Jesus, the disciples have misunderstood him, ignored him, failed to follow him, and now, as he stands on the verge of leaving them behind, they exhibit a curious lack of curiosity. Jesus says to them, “Now I am going to the one who sent me, and not one of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?'” Do they fail to ask because they do not care? Or, because they already know and don't want their worst fears confirmed? Jesus answers the question for us, “. . .because I told you [that I am leaving], grief has filled your hearts.” His friends know that he is leaving them behind, moving on to Jerusalem and a gruesome death. Though their grief is only natural, it cannot stand against the coming of the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, who convicts the world of sin and convinces the worldliest heart that not even death can triumph over the promise of eternal life through Christ.

Jesus will leave his friends behind. He will go to Jerusalem, suffer at the hands of his enemies, die on the cross, and rise from the grave to live again. He will ascend to the Father, and the Holy Spirit will come to sweep across those who heard his words and witnessed his deeds. All their fear, doubt, worry; all their confusion, questions, insecurities; any hesitation they harbor in preaching the gospel, all of these will be set ablaze, burned away by the coming of the Holy Spirit. Then they will set out to heal, to cast out demons, to speak God's word of mercy to sinners, to suffer and die as Christ himself suffered and died. In the rush to pack and leave for their missions, do they remember the question they forgot to ask to the Lord, “Where are you going?” If they were listening to Jesus while he was among them, they already know how to answer, “Lord, we am going to Jerusalem; we are following you to the cross.”

Two thousand years later, the question still matters. Baptized, confirmed in the Spirit, nourished at the altar, where are you going? Jesus is gone and the Advocate has come. Where are you going? To Jerusalem and your cross? Of course. But there are many hours and many miles between now and then, here and there. If the Spirit has convicted us of our sin and convinced us of the truth, what do we do in the meantime, all those miles in between? We do what Jesus did. We do what the disciples did once the Spirit seized their grieving hearts. Proclaim the truth. Heal the sick. Feed the hungry. Forgive, love, show mercy. Bring peace to worry. Bear good fruit and give it away. Live in joy. Die for your friends. Each time, a step behind our Lord. Each step, a moment longer with him.

Where are we going? Wherever the Spirit sends us. When are we leaving? If we've been listening, we are already well on our way.

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26 May 2014

To open wide the most closely guarded heart

St. Philip Neri
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
St. Dominic Church, NOLA

When we hear God's Word and listen to Him speaking to us, our hearts are opened, and we are filled with the joy of His Holy Spirit. Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth, is our witness to this truth. Hearing Paul preach in Philippi, she attends to the Word. She turns herself toward the Word, reaching out toward the Word, “and the Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what Paul was saying.” What does Lydia hear? She hears the truth revealed – the truth about her sin and the surety of God's mercy to sinners. Lydia and her household are baptized, and she offers Paul and his companions the hospitality of her home. Her invitation is an expression of joy, an act of charity born out of a new found freedom from slavery to sin. We can't miss the progression of events here: Lydia hears the Word; the Lord opens her heart to listen; she listens to the Word; she is convicted and convinced in the truth of the Spirit; and then she is baptized. Her baptism immediately leads her to express her joy, an act of charity. When we hear God's Word and listen to Him speaking to us, our hearts are opened, and we are filled with the joy of His Holy Spirit.
On this feast day of St. Philip Neri, the Apostle of Joy, we cannot miss the intimate connection btw listening to the Word and the presence of joy. When we turn ourselves toward God's Word and our hearts are opened to listen – to attend to His Word – we recognize the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit. Here's a weak analogy to give you an image. Think of a laptop. It's on, but the screen is blank. When you “attend to” the laptop, when you press a key or click the mouse, the laptop “wakes up,” it doesn't turn on b/c it's already on – it animates, it comes alive. Here's another analogy. You crank your car. It's running but not moving. When you “attend to” the car by putting it in gear, the car moves. In a similar way, the Holy Spirit abides – He sleeps, idles – in the baptized. When we “attend to” the Spirit by listening to God's Word, by celebrating the sacraments, by praying, the Spirits wakes; He comes alive and blooms into joy. And joy, St. Thomas tells us, is an effect of charity. Joy is an act of love, a fruit of the Holy Spirit (ST.II-II.28.4).

You may have noticed that in my analogies the laptop had be turned on and the car cranked. IOW, before they are able to “come alive” by our attention, they have to be “on.” Before the Holy Spirit can “come alive” in us, we too must be “on.” How does this happen? In his exhortation, The Joy of the Gospel, Pope Francis teaches us that God always takes the initiative. He loves us first. Francis writes, “God asks everything of us, yet at the same time he offers everything to us” (12). The first gift we receive from God is His love, Himself. This is what “turns us on.” This is what makes it possible for Lydia to hear Paul's preaching. Our relationship with God is always voluntary, always a willed act on your part. We must will to turn toward Him. He makes that willing possible but not compulsory. Jesus tells the disciples that they will be expelled from the synagogues and even killed. Those who commit these evil acts “will do this because they have not known either the Father or me.” They have not heard the Word nor have they turned themselves toward the Lord. Their hearts are closed to the truth of the Spirit. Our task – as enjoyers of the Spirit's abiding presence – is to testify to Christ, to bear witness to the freely offered mercy of the Father to sinners. Our example is Philip Neri. He lived in constant joy, a martyr to the power of the Spirit to open wide the most closely guarded heart.

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Philip Neri and Spiritual Combat

In honor of St. Philip Neri, Fr. George Rutler offers a reflection on spiritual combat:

The feast of St. Philip Neri (1515-1595) falls this Monday, on the same day that the civil calendar memorializes those who gave their lives in the service of our country. Philip was a soldier, too, albeit a soldier of Christ, wearing “the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17). He lived in a decadent time when many who called themselves Christians chose to be pacifists in the spiritual combat against the world, the flesh and the Devil. 


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Coffee Cup Browsing

Amer-Progs' fav Marxist economist used bogus data. Figures. Marxism is bogus from the ground up.

"Sentimentality always leads to the gas chamber." This is why reason must always rule passion.

More on the LCWR's fav self-appointed prophet and New Age phoney-baloney, Barbara Hubbard.

U.N. drops "torture" charge against the Church. Here's an idea: abolish the U.N. Raze the building. Salt the earth. 

Lefty's trying and failing (again) to pin the blame for mass-shooter on the Right.

BTW, all of his guns/ammo were legal. . .in California! And three of his victims were killed with a knife.

Looks like the Brits are finally coming to their anti-E.U. senses

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25 May 2014

Audio for 6th Sunday of Easter

Audio File for: "Was it easier back then?"


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Eliot Rodger: hero of amoral secularism

If you can stomach it, watch this guy's Youtube vids. I haven't heard that kind of psycho-narcissism since I worked in the mental hospital.

Two disturbing things jumped out at me: 1). his entitlement and 2). the hyper-sexualized fixation on his virginity.

Notice how many times he refers to his cars, sunglasses, clothes, etc., always appealing to them as some kind of magical amulets that are supposed to make women fall in love with him. Apparently, his accumulation of expensive stuff entitles him to a girlfriend. Wonder where he got that idea!?

He's a 22 yo virgin. Only in a culture that despises marriage and children can a 22 yo man wail in public about his virginity. Notice that he never mentions marriage or children. . .just sex. Notice how he compares himself with the "brutes" that women seem to prefer over him -- a beta-male with money whining b/c women like alpha-males. 

My guess is that he has been told since birth that he is special: given everything he wants, never disciplined, always pampered, and told that his feelings defined reality. When his bloated self-esteem ran up against the equally bloated self-esteem of the women his age. . .well, just watch the vids, if you can bear it.

Sad. Very sad. 

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