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I am a Third Order Franciscan of the Province of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Sunday, November 28, 2004


Yesterday, the relics of two of the Eastern Church's most beloved saints were returned to Constantinople.

Pope Returns Relics To Orthodox Leader (

Of course, whenever Rome meets Constantinople, the question of union is raised. When this question is raised, issues of memory and forgiveness inevitably follow. Does Rome truly understand the gravity of the destruction wrought in its name against the Eastern Church in 1204? Can the East ever put the events of the past in the past?

The beginning of Advent seems to me a good time to reflect upon the idea of forgiveness. I know that I am unable to atone for my sins both because of their gravity as well as because of the tendency I have to repeat them. Being unable to deserve forgiveness for my own sins, if you were to place upon me a responsibility to atone for the sins of all of my fellow Catholics, I would certainly be lost.

Only one person has ever been able to take upon himself the burden of atoning for the sins of another, for atoning for my sins. All praise to His glorious Name!

I wonder if it is not more difficult to forgive the sins committed against those we love than it is to forgive the sins committed against us? No amount of returned relics, begging, grovelling, or fasting can ever do justice for those Orthodox murdered at the hands of Catholics. How can we place a price upon a life? Forgiveness seems to be the only response but is it possible to forgive in such a way that we do not deny the gravity of what has happened, that we do not cheapen the memory of the victims? How can we have forgiveness and justice? It seems to me, that is where the real difficulty lies.

In twenty seven days, the Catholic Church will be celebrating the incarnation of our Savior, the one who came to bring peace and reconcilliation. A few days later we will remember the deaths of those children killed in Herod's attempt to silence this message. Times do not appear to have changed much. But if these children are now in the presence of God's glory, it seems to me that attaining historical justice is no longer one of their concerns.

"The saving mercy of God planned to heal this sinful world in these later days and foreordained the salvation of humanity through the Person of Christ; so that, since all nations had long turned away from the worship of their true God by sin and even the chosen people of Israel had fallen away from the fulfillment of the Law all had sunk into error, He might show mercy upon us all. For justice appeared to be failing everywhere and the whole world seemed to have given in to pride and wickedness, indeed if the Divine Judge had not delayed His sentence all of humanity would have been condemned. Yet, wrath became forgiveness so that the greatness of God’s mercy might be seen even more wondrously, especially as it pleased God to offer the mystery of His forgiveness precisely when no one could boast of their own merits." – Leo the Great [Thirty-Third Homily – On the Feast of the Epiphany, I]

Is justice and mercy possible? Not in any human act, but only in the one who is the fullness of justice and the fullness of mercy. The world is still full of pride and wickedness, yet in this Advent season we remember that God continues to be pleased to offer His forgiveness precisely at this time when no one can boast of their merits. How will we respond to this offer and can we accept it for ourselves while denying it to others?

Turkey Day and National Treasure

I hope that everyone had a great thanksgiving with just the right amount of leftovers. It was a full house here at the friary with a total of 25 people stuffing themselves on turkey, ham, and Russian borscht. I know that doesn't sound like your typical Thanksgiving fare, just consider it an attempt to be more multicultural. What is more ironic is that an American priest serving in the Russian far east introduced Thanksgiving there, so the inclusion of borscht is not really that far off.

I was in charge of the shopping, quite the chore, though I am thankful for the help of brothers Nathan and John. Still, we filled three carts and then some. I have determined that people shop for groceries like they drive. They go down the middle of the aisle very slowly so that no one can go around them. They stop suddenly and slowly look around for that missing item as they might look for hidden street addresses. They block the way as they chat with neighbors while a long line of carts forms behind them. Unlike driving, though, I am not able to express my frustration shielded by a heavy metal car door. So no public displays of irriatation.

Today was yard cleaning and leaf raking day. The weather was nice enough, this was greatly appreciated as we had ten of us raking for about two hours to form a pile big enough to cover a couple of small cars now in our back yard awaiting city pickup. Fortunately, we didn't have to bag the leaves as the city will suck them all up - as well as any small children hiding inside [just kidding] - and take them all away.

A group of us went out to see the movie National Treasure today as well. Not too bad for what it was, an Indiana Jones clone. Not much violence though there are some scary scenes. I wonder whether I could show the film to my class and get students interested in studying history for the sake of becoming famous treasure hunters?

Monday, November 22, 2004

Shameless promo

Just a quick blurb for my new site at

It's still under construction so check it out occasionally for new stuff.

Ordinations and Republicans

I spent this weekend up in Loretto attending the ordination of one brother to the priesthood and another to the diaconate. Naturally, I paid close attention to the ceremony as it looks like I will be ordained to the diaconate on May 21st of next year. The ceremony went well except for some confusion that resulted when we rehearsed with the old ritual but the bishop decided to use the new ritual for the first time without telling anyone. Still, the ordinations are licit and valid and that's what really matters.

Fr. Malachi also serves as a chaplain for the local volunteer fire department, so the pews were full of firefighters. After the ordination, Fr. Malachi was lifted high in the air by a fire truck so as to be better able to give everyone his priestly blessing. I was asked if I would be able to top all of the pomp and circumstance in my own ordination, but I doubt I could think of anything that might rival it.

I was also able to visit Saint Michael's, the elementary school at which I taught as a postulant and a novice long ago. Only a few students remember me from those times and much has changed. Still, it was good to be back. I had to laugh at a couple of things. At the end of the day, the students all closed with the Act of Contrition. I guess it is just expected that they did something that they should be sorry for that day. Also, the sixth and seventh graders were studying the American Revolution and made posters related to it. One poster had the phrases "No more taxes!" and "Let's go to war!" I joked with the principal that they were raising a bunch of little Republicans.

I miss it, but I guess time goes on.

Monday, November 15, 2004

The importance of memory

Perhaps it this is the result of so much academics, especially right now in my life, but I have been increasingly struck by the importance of memory in the Christian life. Augustine speaks of memory as a sign of the reality of the Trinity, but I am thinking more basically as to how if God were to forget us, impossible though that is, we would cease to exist and if we forget God, which happens far too often, we cease to truly live. In the Eastern Church, the living always ask God to have "Eternal Memory" of the departed believing that if God remembers someone, he has to treat them with love. I'm not sure that this makes sense, as I said I am still thinking about this, but maybe I can issue this request to myself and to others that they try to remember God today.

Visiting the Melkites

Today I had the blessing of attending the ordination of a new deacon at Holy Transfiguration parish. Holy Transfiguation is a Melkite parish. Melkites are Eastern Catholics originating from Egypt, so some of their liturgy continues to be in Arabic. The actual ordination ceremony was suprisingly brief. I say this as a lover of all things Eastern and was under the impression, apparently mistakenly, that anything that the West could do, the East could do make much longer - with lots of bells and incense and stuff. I was told that the ordination ceremony for priesthood is even briefer. I guess that this is one time I will be happy to take the longer Western service. After the ordination cermony there was a celebratory meal with lots of hummus, spinich pie, lamb, chicken and all sorts of mid-eastern dishes. The head of the parish council at Holy Transfiguration is a former Southern Baptist, go figure. Tomorrow we have practice confessions again. I get to pretend to be a teenager and have to hear the mock confession of another student pretending to be a young child. Wish me luck.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Recollecting on the mission

This weekend was devoted to our November Day of Recollection. Brother Nathan spoke of and moderated a discussion upon the mission of our community both toward the People of God as well as to ourselves. We mentioned such things as the need to minister to the poor, continue to support our educational institutions, strengthen community life, be examples of Christian living, and work to attract vocations. We also celebrated Carlo's birthday with a brunch and a fruit flan. Now I sit in mourning over Notre Dame's loss. Ah, the humanity!

Friday, November 12, 2004

Follow the Way of Love

U.S. Catholic Bishops - Secretariat for Family, Laity, Women & Youth

This is a document from the U.S. Bishops published back in 1994 for the U.N. International Year of the Family. As Cardinal Mahoney of Los Angeles stated, "It's so readable that it's hardly believable that it's one of our documents." It is clearly written under the influence of Catholic families and presents the strong relationship which much exist between clergy and parents. I strongly advocate reading it.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

News from the world of Orthodoxy

According to the August 18, Chicago Sun Times Romanian Orthodox priest, Agapie Aurel Rusu, was ordered by Romanian Orthodox authorities to fast on bread an water for a month. His offence? Apparently, Father Rusu officiated over a five-hour funeral service. He extended the funeral homily by including poetry, political discurses, historical tales and even a talk on heart surgery. Father Rusu was angered at the deceased's relatives who had initially asked a different priest to preside [funerals are a good way to get stipends]. A spokesman for the Romanian Orthodox Church said that a funeral service should not take more than an hour.

Think about this the next time you think a priest has talked too could be worse!

Seraphim's got a brand new blog!

Isidore's Corner

I have just started a new blog site devoted to interesting computer stuff I have stumbled upon. Non-computer stuff will, of course, stay in Friary Notes. Check it out if you are interested.

Friday, November 05, 2004

New Stuff to Add

I have posted some pictures on Yahoo - a couple of them you have already seen on this site, the rest are more pictures from my solemn profession. You can access them at

As I get more, I'll put them up and let you all know.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Election Comments

Well, now that Kerry has conceded I guess I can congratulate George Bush. It seems to me that there are several winners in this particularly late night comedians and editorial cartoonists who have been given another four years of material. Seriously, I view this with very mixed feelings on the one hand I am hopeful for greater protection for the unborn on the other hand I am worried about Bush's lack of concern for the poor and for the environment. I'm not sure if it will ever be possible to have a candidate who exemplifies what I would really like - though I have found that it is possible to exemplify the opposite - see Arnold the Governator. There is a group called Democrats for Life at I can only pray that they might grow and gain influence in that party. As for the Republicans, I can only pray that they might grow to care more for the urban poor and minorities and less for CEOs and Tax Breaks.

So, I don't know whether to look at the next four years with hope or trepidation. Bush certainly has a larger portion of the popular vote than he did in 2000 but the country appears to be very divided as to the direction we should take. The voices of rational discourse seem to have been replaced by "shouting heads". Yet, it is into a world such as this that Christ has been born.

P.S. Did anyone else see the photo of George Bush and family on election night sitting together awaiting election returns? In the room is an icon of the Virgin and Child. Very interesting.

Monday, November 01, 2004

All Saints Day and Election Eve

Happy All Saints Day to everyone and Happy All Souls Day for tomorrow. It is traditional for us to pray the Office of the Dead on All Souls Day, we also prayed it last friday for those friends, family, and benefactors who have passed away. We pray it again on friday in honor of the Franciscan saints and again next friday, for friends, family and benefactors. A lot of focus on death. Tomorrow is my last Deacon practicum. It hasn't been as helpful as I would have liked as far as really doing the rituals but something is better than nothing. I also cook tomorrow - Manwiches.

Tomorrow is the big election day and I can say that the friary is divided between Bush and Kerry - I won't say where I come down, although I can say that all of this has made me think seriously of becoming a monarchist. I hope that whoever wins, that the loser is gracious because the divisions just seem to serious. We pray and leave the rest in God's hands.