September 26, 2016

Rant Follow Up

I received a couple of bits of salutary feedback on yesterday's post; I won't say 'fraternal correction,' just fraternal thoughts.

Though we can't always agree with or support certain choices of our brothers and sisters in religious life--or in the faith, for that matter--we can try to understand them and of course we are commanded by the Lord to love them. Probably just as many us around my age find some of the choices of our fathers and mothers in religious life hard to understand, so probably they found their spiritual forebears difficult as well. And probably when I get even older there will be younger friars who think I'm crazy and that my priorities are out of order.

To one degree or another, we are all conditioned by our experience and our historical moment in the world and in the Church as she exists in time (the Church Militant, if the traditional term is still retrievable), and this can have a great effect on the particular things we care about as well as our blind spots. I know well enough that there are aspects of the religious life at which I don't excel because of my deficits and the injuries of my own story.

I am proud of my resistance to the abuse of the liturgy and my unwillingness to participate in it. Once or twice I have had the happy occasion to suffer humiliation for it. But this doesn't mean I don't love or perhaps very much respect my brother. I understand that our choices arise in part from the complex places we come from. And I am grateful for all the ways I am sure that the brothers make similar allowances for me in the areas where my religious life is deficient and less than coherent.

September 25, 2016

(Franciscan) Liturgical Abuse Rant

Recently I've had some occasions to think about liturgical abuse.

Some of it, I think, is just pride and vainglory on the part of clergy. I need to do things my way. I need to get my theological or, horribile dictu, political tagline or slogan into the Mass, etc. But like most expressions of clerical vainglory and pride, these are often more laughable than dangerous.

But there's another form of liturgical abuse I've encountered in my Catholic life, in certain religious houses, schools, and parishes. It's the liturgical abuse that derives from the intuition that the liturgy as the Church presents it does not properly express who we are as a community, and therefore has to be adjusted or changed to fit our needs and identity.

Perhaps my experience of life as a Franciscan friar provides an example.

September 1, 2016

All Seraphic Saints Friary

Religious houses are usually named for some heavenly patronage, either a saint or some mystery of the faith. For example, the first friary I ever lived in was the former Holy Cross Friary on Soundview Ave. in the Bronx. Right now I'm taking some vacation while staying at St. Francis of Assisi Friary, the second house to bear that title during my time in my Province of the Capuchins.

Somewhat strangely, the house where I am assigned now, in which resides the fraternity of the Capuchin General Curia, did not seem to have such a patron. It was just 'the General Curia' or, in the habit of religious to call places by their earthly location rather than by their heavenly patron, 'Via Piemonte.'

Well today we have received a letter from the General Minister in which he decrees a remedy for this situation. The house is to be dedicated to All Seraphic Saints, with the corresponding titular feast day of November 29.

August 29, 2016

Twenty-Four Years of Brothers and Sisters

[an old post, updated]

Today is my twenty-fourth anniversary of baptism. I don't think I had any idea what I was getting into that Saturday midday when I walked up out of the basement of Freeman Hall at Connecticut College, made my way out the Williams St. gate and went down to Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Quaker Hill. Perhaps it's part of the mercy of God that I had little idea. In any case, the Holy Spirit knew what he was doing and that's what matters.

As always, this anniversary reminds me to thank God and pray for all the people he has given me along the way, those who have been bearers of the graces God has willed in his generosity towards a lukewarm disciple like myself.

August 12, 2016

The Forms of Charity

This week I've been staying at our place in Yonkers, New York. For reading I took from the library their copy of John of Meerle's Seraphic Spirit and Life, which is a beautiful old book of Capuchin-Franciscan wisdom and spirituality.

I thought I would share this passage on the different expressions of charity:
When therefore charity is directed to God, it called love of God, when towards our neighbor, it is love of one's neighbor; if it shares in the afflictions of others, it is called compassion, when it shares the good fortune of others, it is congratulatory love; if charity is patient in adversity, it is called patience, if it renders good for evil, it is benevolence, if it is not proud and does not exalt itself above others, it is humility, if it yields to authority as is becoming, is is obedience, if it moderates and restricts the requirements of the body it is temperance, if it abhors whatever is licentious, it is chastity; by renouncing the things of this world it becomes the spirit of poverty, by distributing riches to the poor it becomes generosity, by making us wait courageously and without annoyance for a promised good it is longanimity; when making us discern carefully between what is good and what is better, or between bad and worse, it is called prudence, when keeping us from excess in delectation or pleasure it is moderation, when preventing us from being cast down by difficulties it is strength, when we believe what is to be believed it is faith, if we confidently expect what faith promises it is hope. (p. 117-118)

July 27, 2016

Fr. Jacques Hamel

Of course we find ourselves yesterday and today praying for Fr. Jacques, for his eternal rest and in thanksgiving for his vocation and ministry and for the eternal reward of his labors and witness. Nor do we forget to pray for the other hostage who was hurt. And we pray for the men who murdered Fr. Jacques, that they may find the rest that perhaps they didn't know in this life, that they may find  a truer face of the merciful God than perhaps they had known.

Fr. Jacques would have begun the Mass, leading the people in the prayer of the Sacrifice as he had done thousands of times before. Could he have known as he did so on a proverbially plain Tuesday of Ordinary Time that he would be brutally murdered before it was over? And yet everything I've read about him says that he had lived as to prepare for such a moment, in generosity and priestly dedication.

We all have this call before us. In this world, increasing hostile to the God revealed in Jesus Christ, there will be more martyrs in the traditional sense. But all of us who are believers will face some kind of martyrdom, some invitation to suffer, to be limited, cut short or cut out for the sake of the Gospel, whether by those committed to religion that doesn't realize it has been delivered from the blood-drinking gods of human invention by the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ or by those whose secularism becomes intolerant and dogmatic--as it must, for it has nothing to stand on but its self-referential insistence on its own truth, even as it often denies that there is even such a thing as 'truth.'

It is our task to be prepared for this moment, that we also may be found faithful. The Lord himself invites us to witness. The world needs it desperately, for it has no idea how to respond to the violence. It has no idea how to respond because it has lost any place from which to speak or reason, any foundation on which to stand. That foundation, that place to begin, can only be the living God, the self-emptying God revealed in Jesus Christ, and the more the world forgets him, its own Creator, Source, and Ground, the more God himself will look for martyrs.

July 23, 2016

Latin Doubts Changing World Ramble

There are those who like to think that liturgical Latin has been making comeback. Not that it needs to of course; as goes the oft quoted section 36 of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy of Vatican II, Linguae latinae usus, salvo particulari iure, in Ritibus latinis servetur. "Particular law remaining in force, the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites."

Recent experience has made me doubt, however.