Friday, April 12, 2024

The Power of the Cross by Raniero Cantalamessa

For over forty years, the Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, in his role as Preacher to the Papal Household, has delivered a yearly homily in St. Peter's Basilica during the Good Friday liturgy.

These insightful and moving sermons not only illuminate the mystery of the Lord’s Passion; they are also a precious instrument in view of a New Evangelization in “Spirit and power.” Cardinal Cantalamessa gazes on the cross of Christ in the light of our modern world, and the modern world in the light of Christ's cross.
This proved a powerful daily read during Lent. I am amazed that Father Cantalamessa has such different topics every Good Friday, with each so far providing good food for reflection. I guess that's why he's been the papal preacher to three popes over 40 years!

A secondary advantage to reading these is that they serve as an aide memoir to history itself. Beginning in 1980 and ending with the Good Friday homily from 2022, I was irresistibly pulled back into my own life during those years, as well as the history I have witnessed (even if only through newspapers and television). As Cantalamessa occasionally wove current events into his homilies, I would be jerked back into that time myself. It was salutary in considering how timeless is Christ's sacrifice and how powerful the Cross.

Highly recommended.

Thursday, April 11, 2024

Yucatan Travel Journal

Yucatan Travel Journal
taken by Brian at the blue hour
Brian's photography is superb. Do go check it all out. It's almost painful to try to pick just one to feature.

Our Freedom and Our Nature — Dignitas Infinita on Human Dignity

We must rediscover the fact that our own nature is not an enemy or a prison. It extends a hand to us so that we might cultivate it.

Through our nature, ultimately the Creator himself is the one who extends his hand to us, who invites us to enter into his wise and loving plan for us. He respects our freedom and entrusts our nature to us as a talent that is to be made productive. In the gender ideology, there is a deep rejection of God the Creator. This ideology has real-life theological and spiritual consequences. In opposing it, the Church is not making herself the intransigent, inflexible guardian of a supposed moral order. She is fighting so that each human being may encounter God. The first place where he awaits us is precisely our nature, our profound being that he offers us as a gift.
Cardinal Robert Sarah, The Day is Now Far Spent
I came across the above excerpt in an old quote journal at the same time when I was reading the declaration “Dignitas Infinita” (Infinite Dignity) on Human Dignity. You could hardly come across a better summary of what the declaration discusses.

There are a couple of things where I wish the absolute statement of "no more war" or "no death penalty" could have been balanced by an acknowledgement that some circumstances make it regretfully necessary to impose them in order to defend the innocent. Just war and the death penalty are not intrinsic evils the way the other issues are that are addressed. 

However, overall it is precisely the sort of statement we need in order to clarify that what the Church teaches, she teaches out of love for each person's inherent dignity and freedom. I encourage you to read it for yourself. It is a welcome clarification which will serve as an anchor for the meaning of dignity, human freedom, and what we owe to each other. As we are reminded when we read it:
Even today, in the face of so many violations of human dignity that seriously threaten the future of the human family, the Church encourages the promotion of the dignity of every human person, regardless of their physical, mental, cultural, social, and religious characteristics. The Church does this with hope, confident of the power that flows from the Risen Christ, who has fully revealed the integral dignity of every man and woman. This certainty becomes an appeal in Pope Francis’ words directed to each of us: “I appeal to everyone throughout the world not to forget this dignity which is ours. No one has the right to take it from us.”

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Christ and St. Mary Magdalen at the Tomb

Rembrandt (1606–1669)
Christ and St Mary Magdalen at the Tomb
via Wikipedia
I really felt as if I'd featured enough religious art lately. But in looking around in my favorite spots, I came across Lines and Colors' feature of this painting. I just couldn't resist it for a couple of reasons.

Why did Mary Magdalene mistake Jesus for a gardener? The hat and trowel, of course! And the angels lounging around look like high schoolers on break. What a wonderful way to exercise one's imagination on both scriptural accounts and the actual historical event.

Do click through to see the comments in the original post.

Notes on Mark: Choosing the Disciples

Ordaining of the Twelve Apostles, James Tissot

MARK 1:16-20
Why so many fishermen? It never occurred to me to think about that since everywhere Jesus went the place seemed to be crawling with them. In support of that observation, here is some interesting information about Galilee and fish.
There were many fishermen in Galilee. Josephus, who, for a time, was governor of Galilee, and who is the great historian of the Jews, tells us that in his day three hundred and thirty fishing boats sailed the waters of the lake. Ordinary people in Palestine seldom ate meat, probably not more than once a week. Fish was their staple diet. Usually the fish was salt because there was no means of transporting fresh fish. Fresh fish was one of the greatest of all delicacies in the great cities like Rome. The very names of the towns on the lakeside show how important the fishing business was. Bethsaida means House of Fish; Tarichaea means The Place of Salt Fish and it was there that the fish were preserved for export to Jerusalem and even to Rome itself. The salt fish industry was big business in Galilee.
There are also some very interesting observations about Jesus calling the disciples. I knew a lot of this but it is thought provoking to see these all listed here.
It is naturally of the greatest interest to study the men whom Jesus picked out as his first followers.

(i) We must notice what they were. They were simple folk... they were fishermen. That is to say, they were ordinary people... A man should never think so much of what he is as of what Jesus Christ can make of him.

(ii)We must notice what they were doing when Jesus called them. They were doing their day's work, catching the fish, mending the nets... The man who lives in a world that is full of God cannot escape him.

(iii) We must notice how he called them. Jesus' summons was, "Follow me!" It is not to be thought that on this day he stood before them for the first time. No doubt they had stood in the crowd and listened; no doubt they had stayed to talk long after the rest of the crowd had drifted away... He said, "Follow me!" It all began with a personal reaction to himself; it all began with that tug on the heart which begets the unshakable loyalty.

(iv) Lastly we must note what Jesus offered them. He offered them a task. He called them not to ease but to service... He called them to a task wherein they could win something for themselves only by giving their all to him and to others.
All excerpts in this post are from: The Gospel of Mark (The Daily Bible Series*, rev. ed.) by William Barclay.

* Not a Catholic source and one which can have a wonky theology at times, but Barclay was renowned for his authority on life in ancient times and that information is sound.

Tuesday, April 9, 2024

The Church Seen from the Inside

If from the outside, you liook at the stained-glass windows of an old cathedral, you will only see pieces of dark glass held together by strips of black lead. But if you enter in and view it from inside, against the light, you will see a breathtaking spectacle of colors and shapes. It is the same with the Church. Whoever sees it from the outside, with the eyes of the world, will only see its dark and gloomy side. But from the inside, with the eyes of faith and a sense of belonging, you will see what St. Paul saw, a wonderful bulding in whom the whole structure is joined together, a spotless spouse, a great mystery!
Raniero Cantalamessa, The Power of the Cross
I've read this idea in at least one other place, but it is powerful each time. Cantalamessa puts it beautifully.

Worth a Thousand Words: Lotus Lilies

Lotus Lilies by Charles C. Curran, 1888
This seems unreal doesn't it?

Monday, April 8, 2024

Total Eclipse in Dallas 2024

It was a cloudy day but enough holes happened that we saw most of the eclipse, except for the totality. There was a thick gray cloud over the sun for that 4 minutes, darn it!

However, that didn't matter much because we were enveloped in darkness. The birds completely stopped singing. There was no traffic at all on the busy street that we live near. We saw Venus come out.

It was so fast and so surreal. We are in the midst of an amazing creation, complete with mysteries like eclipses that bring us alive to the universe.

Waiting for the eclipse ... feeling like we're in the 1950s with 3-D glasses

The Totality — it really was like night fell in just a flash.

The view of our house as we looked in from the back yard — it was really dark in there.

We like a festive feel in the back yard so we have Christmas lights a la a Mexican restaurant.
They're on a light sensitive timer — and came on during the totality. It was so dark that 
we couldn't see the fence across the back yard. 

TV You Might've Missed 8 — The Fiery Priest

Nobody messes with Father Kim Hae Il. He's ready to bring the Holy Order to serve justice, one fist at a time.

This is a really fun K-drama action thriller about Father Kim, a priest with big anger management issues. Following the mysterious death of a beloved elderly priest, Father Kim attempts to bring the culprits before law. The journey in taking down the gangsters and corrupt officials in the city is both dramatic and funny. 

We were a bit worried about how the priesthood would be depicted. I'm happy to say that the show represented Catholicism well. We felt there must have been a Catholic adviser or writer. Even when a couple of women rhapsodized about Father Kim's good looks, it never went further than simply noticing and a bit of a crush, which eventually wore off and was never acted on. Father Kim's struggles to overcome his sins are real and we were impressed by the fact that many characters wound up in prayer or looking for divine help with their problems. 

That's not to say that it was spiritually deep or sappy. Most of the show is taken up with the investigation, plot twists, and character development. But it is a thread that is always just below the surface. The last episode blew us away and I even shed a few tears.

This was a really popular show that grew by word of mouth. It features parodies of popular movies and dramas which we obviously didn't get. However, you often could tell when they were happening. The drama was genuinely engaging, the mystery of who killed Father Lee was a great springboard for a lot of other plot points, and we especially enjoyed the Catholic parts.

A fellow reviewer on Letterboxd summed up well:
The depiction of "fiery/mad" priest is really genius. Something I never imagine, yet something that I NEEDED the most. Being a priest means being a leader, not a God. They hold a big community, but they're not a sinless bcs they're human after all. And anger is one of human nature. We should and needed to be angry for the sake of change the world and speak for injustice.

I personally love the endings. Sometimes we misinterpreted the terms of "forgiveness". Forgiveness doesn't mean we could run from our sin, but rather realize ourselves that we're wrong and we must atone it by fighting the evil inside us.
It is certainly a special action show that leads to such a review. And I agree with it.

Streaming/Viewing Notes:

This is streaming free on Kokowa. The show has 40 episodes, but don't panic. They are actually 20 hour-long shows which are broken into two pieces so they could put ads in the middle when it ran in Korea. Evidently, there's a law that you can't run ads except before and after shows. This is how some shows get around that law.

Just fyi, it sags in the middle and we almost stopped watching but decided to give it one more episode to prove its worth. It turns out that was the one where everything suddenly hit high gear and took off.  

Sunday, April 7, 2024

Feast of Divine Mercy

Sunday After Easter Sunday
During the course of Jesus' revelations to Saint Faustina on the Divine Mercy He asked on numerous occasions that a feast day be dedicated to the Divine Mercy and that this feast be celebrated on the Sunday after Easter...

Concerning the Feast of Mercy Jesus said:
Whoever approaches the Fountain of Life on this day will be granted complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. (Diary 300)

I want the image solemnly blessed on the first Sunday after Easter, and I want it to be venerated publicly so that every soul may know about it. (Diary 341)

This Feast emerged from the very depths of My mercy, and it is confirmed in the vast depths of my tender mercies. (Diary 420)

On one occasion, I heard these words: My daughter, tell the whole world about My Inconceivable mercy. I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and shelter for all souls, and especially for poor sinners. On that day the very depths of My tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of My mercy. The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment.* [our emphasis] On that day all the divine floodgates through which grace flow are opened. Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet. My mercy is so great that no mind, be it of man or of angel, will be able to fathom it throughout all eternity. Everything that exists has come forth from the very depths of My most tender mercy. Every soul in its relation to Me will I contemplate My love and mercy throughout eternity. The Feast of Mercy emerged from My very depths of tenderness. It is My desire that it be solemnly celebrated on the first Sunday after Easter. Mankind will not have peace until it turns to the Fount of My Mercy. (Diary 699)

Yes, the first Sunday after Easter is the Feast of Mercy, but there must also be deeds of mercy, which are to arise out of love for Me. You are to show mercy to our neighbors always and everywhere. You must not shrink from this or try to absolve yourself from it. (Diary 742)

I want to grant complete pardon to the souls that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion on the Feast of My mercy. (Diary 1109)
As you can see the Lord's desire for the Feast includes the solemn, public veneration of the Image of Divine Mercy by the Church, as well as personal acts of veneration and mercy. The great promise for the individual soul is that a devotional act of sacramental penance and Communion will obtain for that soul the plenitude of the divine mercy on the Feast.

Saturday, April 6, 2024

Divine Mercy Novena: Day 9

Easter Saturday
"Today bring to Me
the Souls who have become Lukewarm...
...and immerse them in the abyss of My mercy. These souls wound My Heart most painfully. My soul suffered the most dreadful loathing in the Garden of Olives because of lukewarm souls. They were the reason I cried out: 'Father, take this cup away from Me, if it be Your will.' For them, the last hope of salvation is to run to My mercy."
Most compassionate Jesus, You are Compassion Itself. I bring lukewarm souls into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart. In this fire of Your pure love, let these tepid souls who, like corpses, filled You with such deep loathing, be once again set aflame. O Most Compassionate Jesus, exercise the omnipotence of Your mercy and draw them into the very ardor of Your love, and bestow upon them the gift of holy love, for nothing is beyond Your power.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon lukewarm souls who are nonetheless enfolded in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. Father of Mercy, I beg You by the bitter Passion of Your Son and by His three-hour agony on the Cross: Let them, too, glorify the abyss of Your mercy. Amen.
The Chaplet of Divine Mercy may also be offered each day
for the day's intention, but is not strictly necessary to the Novena.