Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Nice reflection

Here is a reflection from Dr. John Cavadini, our Theology Department chairman, in his journal about the recent beatification of Basil Moreau, CSC. It is dated September 16th:


We arrived at the parish church of Notre-Dame de Sainte-Croix, Our Lady of Holy Cross, at about 3:30 pm, a half hour before a service of evening prayer in thanksgiving for the life and legacy of Father Moreau. The church was already packed with people, praying and singing. Everything was jubilant, with daylight streaming in through the windows, sprays of dahlias and zinnias from local gardens, and the candles and votive lights in the sanctuary and at the tomb of Fr. Moreau. The service was conducted in French and English, alternating, for the benefit of the participants who had come from the United States and Canada, Africa, Asia, Latin America, as well as from the parish itself and from around France.

“The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed which a man took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown, it is the greatest of shrubs; and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.”

The service opened with this reading from the Gospel of Matthew. The commentary in the service book mentioned “the tiny seed, planted in Le Mans,” that had “grown and become a tree which is an image of a family.” And yet my mind had been going back and forth between the vibrant, crowded ceremony and the seeming indifference, as far as I could tell, of the rest of the city of Le Mans, which seemed to go about its business with scant notice or even curiosity regarding Fr. Basil Anthony Moreau. Perhaps tomorrow, at the beatification ceremony in the stadium outside of town, it will seem different. But in the city there were no celebratory signs or flags, and the crowd in the church, though it filled its relatively small nave, did not flow out onto the plaza.

I found myself looking for the large “tree,” but the more I looked, the more the parable from Matthew seemed to present the “tiny seed,” “the smallest of all seeds,” instead. That, I took as an image of holiness, of the sanctity we celebrate in a beatification ceremony. For someone like myself, always seeking the verification, the external and glorious, self-evident fruit that will obviate the awkward need for faith, the parable served as a reminder that the essence of holiness is always hidden, always invisible, and always presented to faith and never, fully, to exterior inspection.

To read the story of Basil Anthony Moreau is to read the story of a “tiny seed,” a movement of the will, of love, sown deeply in a field of suffering that never seemed to abate, the kind of suffering that comes when vision collides with institution, when love seems ambiguously incarnated in a nexus of ambition, of competition for notice and privilege, of a desire for an instant and obvious big tree that can be claimed as one's own.

The “tiny seed” of holiness must have seemed completely invisible in the field of abandonment and disillusion in which it ultimately found itself hidden, at the end of Moreau's life. That it did not become gnarled into a twisted shrub of bitterness is the miracle of holiness, which is hidden, and yet which sends forth a “tree,” capacious and welcoming, which those looking for a home, for a “nest,” can find. This large tree is the tree of the Cross, of love and compassion undefeated by rejection, misunderstanding, or anything else–Love itself, in which alone are there branches suitable for a true home worthy of living creatures.

This tree of compassion, the Cross, is, as the motto of Holy Cross reminded us in the service, our “true hope.” If we are placing our hope in the verification of the large edifice of acclaim and prestige, the seed of holiness will always seem invisible to our vision. If we are true to the vision of the founder of Holy Cross, our hope is in the coherence of vision and grows into a gracious and welcoming tree of compassion and love to which all the birds of the air, in a world full of suffering, will gladly flock.

“Moved by his life given over to Christ, let us give thanks to the Lord for such marvelous deeds” (from the hymn, “Hommage a notre Fondateur,” sung during the service.)

Prof. John Cavadini
University of Notre Dame

Two Special Blesseds

Blessed Stanislaw Papczynski

I must say that I am doubly happy--not only was Basil Moreau beatified, but so was a new Pole--Fr. Stanislaw Papczynski, the founder of the Congregation of Marian Clerics (who run the Shrine of Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, MA.


After praying the Angelus on Sunday, the Pope mentioned the beatification in Poland of Father Stanislaus Papczynski.

Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone celebrated the Mass of the beatification, and the Holy Father sent his greeting to the faithful gathered there, saying Father Papczynski was "a priest who was exemplary in preaching, in the formation of the laity, a father of the poor and an apostle of intercessory prayer for the dead."

The Polish priest died in 1701 at the age of 72. He was the first founder of a men's congregation dedicated to the Immaculate Conception of Mary, long before the dogma was defined, the Congregation of Marian Clerics.

In his homily, Cardinal Bertone highlighted the Marian devotion of the priest, "an authentic friend of Christ, and his tireless apostle."

He recalled what Father Papczynski said: "A man without charity, a religious without charity, is a shadow without sun, a body without a soul. Simply, he is nothing. What the soul is for the body, charity is for the Church, for religious orders and centers."

ND Saint...almost

Blessed Basil Antoine Marie Moreau, CSC

This past weekend was a special weekend for all of us at Notre Dame, as the founder of the Congregation of Holy Cross was beatified in Le Mans, France. Here is the official page set up by Notre Dame to commemorate this special event. Now we have one more saint interceding for Our Lady's university, and to whom we can officially pray!

From Zenit:

The Pope recalled Father Basile Antoine-Marie Moreau, who was beatified Saturday in Le Mans by Cardinal Saraiva Martins.

The French priest, founder of the Congregation of the Holy Cross, was 73 when he died in 1873.

Cardinal Saraiva Martins said he "was a Christian of great spiritual stature, and at the same time, a man of action. He dedicated himself to the missions among the people, to the education of youth, to works of charity, and to the foreign missions."

"He contributed to the growth of the Church in the United States, to the foundation of the first Catholic schools in Algeria and to the first rural orphanage in Rome," the cardinal said. And he was in France, "one of the pioneers in the fight for the freedom of education," and contributed to the "rebirth of the Church in France after the revolution."

The Pope concluded his reference to the three newly beatified, saying: "I entrust in a special way to the intercession of these newly beatified their spiritual sons and daughters, that they follow with ardor the luminous testimony of the prophets of God, who is Lord of every life."

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Tropical Pope

Whoever the liturgist is who chose these vestments needs to be shot, or hired by TY.

Caption contest:
Who can come up with the best description for these vestments?
All I can think of is:
"The beanie baby mania having died down, TY decides to make a line of plush popes. This tropical pope comes with aquamarine vestments, to reflect the Spirit gently blowing like a sea breeze."

Sitting on the Rock, basking in the sun,
Is this Pope's idea of fun.
Cross and Mitre, shoes and Chair,
His life is so perfect without a care!


Rae from Quo Vadis has written up a very positive review of this blog. Thanks Rae!

Apparently my descriptions of my travels are a "virtual immersion experience."

Pro-Life Government

A poster warning of the death penalty for any Poles who would harbor and protect Jews during World War II.

Despite disappointing opposition by Jaroslaw Kaczynski and his government to the recent push in Poland to outlaw all abortion without exceptions, it is very encouraging to see Poland's steadfastness in standing up to the secular-minded E.U. Here is a link to an article about the recent move to make an Anti-Death Penalty day celebrated in Europe.

The problem with such a celebration throughout Europe, though I do not support the death penalty, is that it exhibits an inconsistent ethic of life. As Catholics, we must seek to be consistent in our defense of human life, and we should refuse to compromise on such essential points. If we oppose the death penalty, we should oppose abortion, euthanasia, contraception, and all the other forms of modern manipulation of human life. This is something that the liberal secularists in Brussels do not undersand--and by seeking to promote one aspect of the pro-life cause in the name of justice and freedom, while ignoring so many others just serves to show that like most EU decisions, this one is a politically-motivated cause. Again, the stronger and more vocal and powerful members of the (dis)Union are seeking impose their agenda on conservative and Catholic nations. Fortunately, Poland has not caved in, like Portugal did.

(Update: I just found out that today marks the 26th anniversary of the abolition of the death penalty by guillotine in France. Which, I might add, was never legal in Poland...)