Saints We Love

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Confession - More Thoughts About Reconciliation

From the Gospel of today - "But to prove to you that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins,’ – he said to the paralytic – ‘get up, and pick up your bed and go off home.’ And the man got up and went home. A feeling of awe came over the crowd when they saw this, and they praised God for giving such power to men."  Matthew 9: 6-8

. . . and I know that even in the Confessional - it is never the priest who forgives sin - as only GOD forgives sin,  but here we see that Jesus did have the power and gave that power to the disciples - the 12 - when he breathed on them - yet before Pentecost - AND THAT POWER WAS PASSED ON for 2000 + years. 

John 20:19-23 19* On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you." 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21* Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you." 22* And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. 23* If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained."

Something wonderful happens in the Confessional Box - By Grace your faith takes you there -  and by Grace HE meets you there - even if you are not fully confessing - and you always know it - as in not being specific enough - being specific has always been a hard thing to learn - but I have come to love it more and more - the freedom of being specific.  To start being specific at 70 is amazing. 

Not growing up with specifics, always just talking at the Lord, later walking with the Lord, asking for forgiveness seemed to work.  I always knew I did not have to tell him something specifically, as he already knew about my sin.  In fact,  I used to say,  "Well, You know what I mean, Lord!" But now I shudder to think that I missed so much of Confession - not JUST the ABSOLUTION - but the saying and speaking TOTAL TRUTH.  SINS SPOKEN IN SPECIFIC TOTAL TRUTH.  

Some of this many have never really experienced - but that is one of the gifts to a convert and it is a wonderful gift!  To find that we can actually name our sin finally, and specifically, for the first time, that a dear priest, forced to hear it, often almost like drivel, yet  loving us,  and caring for our time of pouring out our hearts  maybe again and again, often the same besetting sins, but still bringing them in, and that dear priest is going to let it go in one ear and out the other directly to GOD who, amazingly enough is in the same booth!  Nothing is more wonderful than to know all of this.  Even if you have to wait until 70 and frankly, to be specific?  I think it is more wonderful at 70 than at any other age of your life. 

I remember our first Confession.  Tom was 76 and I was 70.  We had chosen, for our first Confession,  the same priest.  We had not discussed it,  but when the time came,  we both told the other who we had chosen.  He was a beautiful black priest from Africa;  I followed Tom into the same Confessional when he came out - smiling.   Can you imagine the same priest hearing, "Bless me Father, for I have sinned.  This is my first Confession and I am 76."  And the next voice he heard was a female voice saying, "Bless me Father, for I have sinned.  This is my first Confession and I am 71."  Tom and I left the Cathedral that night all but floating.  We had no idea what Confession would do to us! We both were over 70 years lighter of sins!  I am certain the priest felt it was a job well done as the next thing we heard was he was leaving the San Francisco area.  I love being Catholic!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Love in the Little Things 

Mike Aquilina 
Speechless in Half Moon Bay 
I have read LOVE IN THE LITTLE THINGS and gifted 40 or more copies of LOVE IN THE LITTLE THINGS - actually so many that the first time I sent them out to friends, from Amazon, Amazon had to cut me off of more orders because the publisher only allows a certain number to be sold to the same person. Don't ask me why, but it is true; I called in and asked. But the new year seems to have given me a new slate and I can buy LOVE IN THE LITTLE THINGS again and send it to friends. 

Why have I NOT reviewed it? It is too good for me to review. Simple as that. I am SPEECHLESS - but I am going to review it and come in here and edit this post. I just have to say that it is a perfect book. I don't know what that means but it is a perfect book. The poems make me hug myself! The stories of the the Father of the Author, Mike Aquilina (who happens to be my favorite author) are wonderful stories. They make you lonely . . . and happy and sad. I think this book is REAL - about real people and real love and real memories. 

The stories of Frostbite and Children and a, and a, and a . . . all the stories made me smile and cry at the same time. 

I don't review any book or movie that I don't like - I am positive - but LOVE IN THE LITTLE THINGS is over the top Great! 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Pocket Guide to the Bible - Dr. Scott Hahn

This review is from: A Pocket Guide to the Bible by Scott Hahn
 by Terry Fenwick

In A POCKET GUIDE TO THE BIBLE, after reading how the Bible came to be, the types of literature found within, and 'where to find' all the most important events in the Bible, Dr. Scott Hahn has given us a description for each of the Books of the Bible in a 'little' book so small that you can literally carry it in a pocket or handbag. I have them at home, in the car and in my book bag. Priced so economically, ($6.95) it is a great little gift for anyone. Personally, I buy them 10 at a time just to have them for last minute gifts! They fit in a 'greeting' card envelope with the card!

For Catholics, the Deuterocanonical books are clearly defined; for Protestants, that information is not wasted, as they will want to know what those 7 books are about,  when they speak with their Catholic friends.

Two examples for you - one for the Old Testament book of JOB and one for the New Testament book of 2 Thessalonians

JOB asks the most difficult question in all of philosophy: why do good people suffer? Job is prosperous and serves God faithfully. Satan, acting as a prosecutor in God's court, predicts that Job will curse God if he loses all his blessings. So Job loses everything, but he still will not curse God. However, he also refuses to admit that his downfall was the result of his sin, even when his friends try to persuade him to confess his unknown sin and pray to God for forgiveness. In he end, God himself vindicates Job, but Job can never hope to understand the reasons for his suffering. The wisdom and power of God are infinite and unsearchable.

2 Thessalonians reinforces the themes of 1 Thessalonians, clarifying teaching on Christ's return, and exhorting Christians to live orderly, normal lives of diligent work. He reminds them to hold fast to what they have been taught, either by writing or orally.

All the books are explained this clearly. Both younger and older people will treasure this book. There are many more helps in this POCKET GUIDE TO THE BIBLE. I just measured it and it is not even 1/16th of an inch thick.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Who (else) Likes Christina Rossetti?

The Days Are Clear
By Christina Georgina Rossetti
The days are clear,
Day after day,
When April’s here,
That leads to May,
And June
Must follow soon:
Stay, June, stay! -
If only we could stop the moon
And June!

Monsignor Soseman - Rome and Home Report on Boundaries

Getting personal - by Monsignor Soseman


Last Winter I went out to a Mall near the Rome airport.  When I go there, I often will spend a euro to park in a parking garage which is out of the way and difficult to find.  This also means that it is almost always empty, and so it was that day.  I pulled in and the parking garage was mine, to park wherever I wanted.  Since it can normally be a challenge to find any parking in Rome it was a real luxury; hundreds of open parking spaces.  I parked in an area with not one other car.  I parked at some distance from the exit, so if anyone else arrived they would not park near me.  

This is where I am teaching, not the location of the parking incident. This is, however, my car in Rome
I went into the mall  and happily did my shopping, but upon returning, I noticed from afar that the parking garage was no longer empty, there were now two cars, and the new car had pulled into the spot next to mine.  No need to worry, though, right?  As I came closer I noted that the car was not just in the spot next to mine, it had pulled in at an angle.  Looking through the window, it was obviously the car of a young person, who was either in a hurry or was just parking as they would in the city.  As I said, the car was at an angle, such that I could barely open the driver's side door when it was time to get in.  I had to squeeze through the opening to get into the driver's seat.  As the youngest of 8 children, I was used to squeezing and contorting to fit into small or unusual spaces.  So, using all of that training, I was able to fit through the space and into the car.  I have to admit that I was not overly cautious about the car next door, the only other car in the lot, and (probably) banged it a couple of times as I got in.  I have thought of this more than once this week here in Illinois, as I pull into parking spots with my Buick, thinking I will be over the line or on it, and seeing that I have almost a yard of space on either side.  

Some friends of mine from some years back had become unsatisfied with their Congregation, and were seeking a new Church.  When I suggested they might stop by for Mass at a local Catholic parish, they responded that they were uncomfortable with touching, and didn't want to go to Church someplace where they had to touch others.  Even the sign of peace was too much interpersonal contact for them.   

Many people are known for hugging, or for kissing both cheeks, or for shaking hands.  Some are more comfortable with this personal closeness, was it Seinfeld who popularized reference to the ever present close talker?   Apparently this also includes parking close.  Others hold back, not wanting to be part of even normal human interaction.  Some of this may be due to cultural background (the couple above was from a Nordic background), some to familial upbringing, some to life experiences, have been victims of crimes, or shun personal contact because of other factors.  In the past I have had the custom of omitting the sign of peace at Mass during Advent and Lent (coincidentally also Cold and Flu season), and been surprised at how many people  will thank me, people who shake someone's hand if it is required of them at Mass, but who otherwise would prefer not to make this contact.    

There has been much controversy in recent months about security screening at airports, involving agents of the TSA, Argenbright security, or others.  I have never had an inordinate problem with airport security, but am very pleased I had a rod removed from my leg a year after it had healed.  I can certainly sympathize with those who have felt that their personal space has been invaded during such processes, and I fear that many of the problems are at the level of policy, which then imposes a difficult framework upon all: normal people who want to travel, security workers, police, and others.

The great majority of us cannot do anything on the level of policy, and indeed, clearly, even good people have great differences of opinion regarding such policies.  In our daily lives, though, we often have to learn to adapt.  An American who moves to Italy or Japan has to become used to being thrust together with all kinds of other  people, in buses, on the street, or even in parking garages.  We must sometimes learn to be around people whose customs are different from ours.  We can also learn to be aware of the personal space of others, especially those who are particularly sensitive in this area.  In our lives as Christians, we do have to learn when to bend.  

Bishop Sheen was visiting a mission country and was brought to visit the 500 residents of a leper colony.  He wanted to give everyone a religious medal to encourage their faith, he said, but as he met he first leper, who held up his emaciated hand, he dropped the medal onto the stump of a hand, and it fell upon the ground.  Bishop Sheen said at that moment there were no longer 500 lepers there, but 501, as he had not met the spiritual challenge.  He picked up the medal and pressed it into the leper's hand.  

Whether or not you are a tactile person, or rather aloof, ask God for the strength to go beyond your own  personal boundaries to serve others through Him, and be confident in his grace.  

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Catholic Scripture Study International Bible Conference

Don't miss this spirit-filled weekend!

Exciting News! 
Fr. Matthew Kauth, lecturer for CSS who has been in Rome
 for the past few years studying Moral Theology, 
will be in Charlotte for our Conference! 

Inspiring speakers include:    
                   Fr. Mitch Pacwa, SJ            Fr. Patrick Winslow   
                   Pat Madrid                           Marcus Grodi
                   Bishop Peter Jugis              Dr. Bill Thierfelder
In addition to an impressive line-up of speakers, there will be daily Mass, morning and evening prayers, confession, live music, delicious meals, socials, giveaways, vendors and more.

The conference is an intimate event where attendees will be sharing all their meals with the speakers and have ample time to both socialize and chat with them. In addition, before each dinner there will be a social hour, and after dinner, attendees will have the opportunity to ask the speakers questions during a panel discussion.

For more information & registration visit: CSS Conference website   
 Space is limited and registration ends mid July!

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Verses I Never Saw - Marcus Grodi

The Verses I Never Saw – Marcus Grodi

June 7, 2011

One of the more commonly shared experiences of Protestant converts to the Catholic Church is the discovery of verses “we never saw.” Even after years of studying, preaching, and teaching the Bible, sometimes from cover to cover, all of a sudden a verse “we never saw” appears as if by magic and becomes an “Aha!” mind-opening, life- altering messenger of spiritual “doom”! Sometimes it’s just recognizing an alternate, clearer meaning of a familiar verse, but often, as with some of the verses mentioned below, it literally seems as if some Catholic had snuck in during the night and somehow put that verse there in the text!
The list of these surprise verses is endless, depending especially on a convert’s former religious tradition, but the following are a few key verses that turned my heart toward home. This article is a reprint from the topic I covered on the July 31, 2006 broadcast of The Journey Home on EWTN.
1. Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
Ever since my adult re-awakening (read “born-again experience”) at age 21, this Proverb has been my “life verse.” It rang true as a guide for all aspects of my life and ministry, but then during my nine years as a Presbyterian minister, I became desperately frustrated by the confusion of Protestantism. I loved Jesus and believed that the Word of God was the one trustworthy, infallible rule of faith. But so did lots of the non- Presbyterian ministers and laymen I knew: Methodists, Baptists, Lutherans, Pentecostals, Congregationalists, etc., etc., etc . . . The problem was that we all came up with different conclusions, sometimes radically different, from the same verses. How does one “trust in the Lord with all your heart”? How can you make sure your not “leaning on your own understanding”? We all had different opinions and lists of requirements. A verse I had always trusted suddenly became nebulous, immeasurable, and unreachable.
2. 1 Timothy 3: 14-15
I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these instructions to you so that, if I am delayed, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth.
Scott Hahn pulled this one on me. “So, Marc, what is the pillar and foundation of truth?” I answered, “The Bible, of course.” “Oh yeah? But what does the Bible say?” “What do you mean?” When he told me to look up this verse, I suspected nothing. I had taught and preached through First Timothy many times. But when I read this verse, it was as if it had suddenly appeared from nowhere, and my jaw dropped. The Church!? Not the Bible? This alone sent my mind and essentially my whole life reeling; the question of which Church was one I was not ready to broach.
3. 2 Timothy 3:14-17
But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings which are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
Verses 16-17 were the texts I and others had always turned to buttress our belief in sola Scriptura, so to this I quickly turned my attention. Among many things, three important things became very clear, for the first time: (1) when Paul used the term “scripture” in this verse, he could only have meant when we call the Old Testament. The New Testament canon would not be established for another 300 years! (2) “All” scripture does not mean “only” scripture nor specifically what we have in our modern bibles. And (3), the emphasis in the context of this verse (vereses 14-15) is the trustworthiness of the oral tradition Timothy had received from his mother and others—not sola Scriptura!
4. 2 Thessalonians 2:15
So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter.
This was another “too-hot-to-handle” verse Scott threw in my lap. The traditions (Dare I say, traditions) that these early Christian were to hold fast to were not just the written letters and Gospels that would eventually make up the New Testament, but the oral tradition. And even more significant, the context of Paul’s letters indicates that his normal, preferred way of passing along “what he had received” was orally; his written letters were an accidental, sometimes unplanned add-on, dealing with immediate problems—leaving unsaid so much of what they had learned through oral teaching.
5. Matthew 16:13-19
Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesare’a Philip’pi, he asked his disciples, “Who do men say that the Son of man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
There is so much to discuss in this verse, so much I never saw. I always knew that Catholics used this to argue Petrine authority but I wasn’t convinced. To the naively ignorant, the English words “Peter” and “rock” are so different that it’s obvious that Jesus was referring to the faith Simon Peter received as a gift from the Father. For the more informed seminary educated Bible students, like myself, I knew that behind the English was the Greek, where one discovered that Peter is the translation of petros, meaning little pebble, and rock is the translation of petra, large boulder. Again an obvious disconnect, so so for years I believed and taught specifically against Petrine authority. Then, through the reading of Karl Keating’s wonderful book, Catholicism and Fundamentalism, I realized the implications of something I knew all along: behind the Greek was the Aramaic which Jesus originally spoke, in which the word for Peter and rock are identical—kepha. Once I saw that Jesus had said essentially “You are kepha and on this kepha I will build my Church,” I knew I was in trouble.
6. Revelation 14:13
And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord henceforth.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!”
For years, as a Calvinist preacher, I recited this verse in every funeral graveside service. I believed and taught sola fide and discounting any place for works in the process of our salvation. But then, after my last funeral service as a minister, a family member of the deceased cornered me. He asked, with a tremble in his voice, “What did you mean that Bill’s deeds follow him?” I don’t remember my response, but this was the first time I became aware of what I had been saying. This began a long study on what the New Testament and then the Early Church Fathers taught about the mysterious but necessary synergistic connection between our faith and our works.
7. Romans 10:14-15
But how are men to call upon him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without a preacher? And how can men preach unless they are sent?
I had always used these verses to defend the central importance of preaching and why I, therefore, had given up my engineering career for seminary and the great privilege of becoming a preacher of the Gospel! And I was never bothered by the last phrase about the need of being “sent,” because I could point to my ordination where a cackle of local ministers, elders, deacons, and laymen laid their hands on my sweaty head to send me forth in the Name of Jesus. But then, first through my reading of the history and writings of the Early Church Fathers and second through my re-reading of the scriptural context of Paul’s letters, I realized that Paul emphasized the necessity of being “sent” because the occasion of his letters was to combat the negative, heretical influences of self-appointed false teachers. I had never thought of myself as a false teacher, but by what authority did those people send me forth? Who sent them? In this I realized the importance of Apostolic [those who have been sent] succession.
8. John 15:4 and 6:56
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.
He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. The book of the Bible I most preached on was the Gospel of John and my most preached on section John 15, the analogy of the vine and the branches. I bombarded my congregations with the need to “abide” or “remain” in Christ. But what does this mean? I always had an answer, but when I saw “for the first time” the only verse where Jesus himself defines clearly what we must do to abide in Him, I was floored. “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me and I in him.” This led me to study a boatload of verses in John 6 “I had never seen before,” and in the end, when it came accepting Jesus at His word on the Eucharist, I had only one answer: “Where else can we go? Only you have the words of life.”
9. Colossians 1:24
Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church.
I don’t know if I purposely avoided this or just blindly missed it, but for the first 40- years of my life I never saw this verse. And to be honest, when I finally saw it, I still didn’t know what to do with it. Nothing in my Lutheran, Congregationalist, or Presbyterian backgrounds helped me understand how I or anyone could rejoice in suffering, and especially why anything was needed to complete the suffering of Christ: nothing was lacking! Christ’s suffering, death, and resurrection were sufficient and complete! To say anything less was to attack the omnipotent completeness of God’s sovereign grace. But then again, this was the apostle Paul speaking in inerrant, infallible Scripture. And we were to imitate him as he imitated Jesus. It took a reading of Pope John Paul II’s encyclical on the meaning of suffering to open my eyes to the beautiful mystery of redemptive suffering.
10. Luke 1:46-49
And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden. For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.”
Finally the hardest hurdle for so many Protestant converts to get over: our Blessed Mother Mary. For most of my life, the only place Mary came into the picture was at Christmas—and dare I say, as a statue! But I never referred to her as “blessed.” Yet Scripture says all generations will call her blessed. Why wasn’t I? This led me to see other verses for the first time, including John 17 where from the cross Jesus giave his mother into the keeping of John, rather than any supposed siblings, and by grace I began, in imitation of my Lord and Savior and eternal brother Jesus, to recognize her, too, as my loving Mother.