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

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Birthday picture for 2005

So, do they have me to a "t", or what?Posted by Picasa

Reflections on the Divine Praises

As part of my ministry to a group at Holy Rosary, I have begun a series of reflections upon the Divine Praises which I would like to post on the blog over a series of several days. I intended these reflections to serve as a starting point for personal reflection upon each of the Divine Praises perhaps during a period of Eucharistic Adoration or just a time of quiet prayer. Feel free to comment on them if you feel that the Spirit is moving you.


The Divine Praises are a series of praise prayers, recited for generations after the benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. They are thought to be originally compiled in 1797 by Luigi Felici, S.J. to make reparation for blasphemy and profane language. Praises of the Immaculate Conception, the Assumption, the Sacred Heart, St. Joseph and the Precious Blood have been added since the mid-nineteenth century.

Why do we praise God?

God does not need our praise as if he needs some sort of ego boost. God is perfectly satisfied in himself. Nor does he demand our praises so that we might humiliate ourselves before him. We must always remember that humility is not the same as humiliation. God offers himself in love and the response to love is to offer love in return. Approaching God in humility means approaching God in reality - acknowledging that he is God and we are not. Approaching God in humility means being open about our needs - after all, he already knows them - and being open to what he might ask of us.

Our desire to praise God should naturally come out of our love for him. Indeed we say in our liturgy that even our desire to praise God pleases him. CS Lewis offers the analogy of a little boy who asks his father for a sixpence coin, a very small amount of English currency, to go and buy a gift for his father. The father accepts the gift and while he realizes he is not any richer for the transaction since he gave his son the money in the first place – still the gift means more to him than the original sixpence did.

Certainly we have a good deal to praise God for – our lives, our friends, our family, food, shelter, a good day at work, God’s many graces in our lives. We should also praise God for his graces in the life of others – especially if we find ourselves becoming envious of them. It is often easy or natural to ask God for help in our struggles and this prayer is pleasing to God as well. If it were not, Jesus would not have told us to ask of things from our Heavenly Father. Yet, just as it is natural to ask God for his blessings, so it should also be natural for us to thank God and praise God for blessings given.

The blessing prayers we offer arise out of the Jewish Berekhot tradition which recognizes that in praying “Blessed be God”, we are not asking for blessings upon God but instead that God is the source of all blessing. The Jewish tradition is to say one hundred Berekhot prayers a day – a repetition intended to help the Jewish faithful see more clearly how much God constantly blesses their lives.

How do we praise God?

We praise God with our mouths and voices. We praise God with our bodies. We should strive to praise God with our whole being. Let all that we are give praise to the Lord.

We praise God by treating God’s gifts with the respect that they deserve – whether that be our selves or all of creation. We praise God by treating all of his blessings as what they truly are - gifts of God. In treating the gift with honor, we honor the giver.

Where do we praise God?

We praise God in all places and at all times. Our entire lives should be in continuous praise of God. Both because it is the right thing to do and because in this way we will more closely enter into the divine life of heaven in which we will praise God for all time, where the angels cry out Holy, Holy, Holy. In our praises, heaven and earth will meet.

All praise to you O God who give to us every blessing!
You are the source of every blessing and of every gift
and I ask that I might join with the flower, the tree, the rock and the mountain
who endlessly give you praise.
To you alone the angels sing and the saints rejoice and bow down before your goodness
To sing endless praises before you is my one desire.
For you alone are holy and you alone are worthy of all praise.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

I guess I just wasn't made for these times

The rain has been coming pretty continuously for a couple of days now and we expect more tomorrow. Let me tell you that walking around in sandles and a long habit makes for one soggy friar. I think I'll be wet when I go to bed and wet when I get up again in the morning.

So far the classes are going well - well, I guess I should say the class went well. I have the first class of the other section tomorrow or they have me whichever you prefer.

Let's pray for sun.

Monday, August 29, 2005

On the eve...

Tomorrow I begin another year of teaching. I am looking forward to it, though I feel I must put some oil in the old creaks to get myself back up to speed after the past year away.

It will again mean returning to the struggle between faith and reason. I call it a struggle not because I think that there should be one but because it is sometimes difficult to persuade students that the difficulty is only an illusory one. It is sometimes difficult to get students looking for black and white to see that much of the world is grey. I'm not saying that the truth isn't out there, but that it can be hard to find and it may not be what you first thought it was.

Still, teaching allows me to join the students on a journey for the truth and you really haven't found it until you can express it. I as of yet have only certain glimpses, like a lighthouse amidst a dark fog. You can tell it's there but just when you think you have grasped it, it slips away - at least for a little while.

I'll end this post on a lighter note. I wandered up to the dean's office today to drop off some paperwork when I saw some staff eating some cake. I mentioned how happy I was at my good timing - an only somewhat veiled attempt to get some cake for myself. While I was also somewhat concerned that the cake was a strange celebration of the beheading of St. John the Baptist which was commemorated today - I was relieved to discover it was indeed a birthday celebration. Oh, and the cake was tasty.

When the UN stands for U[tter] N[onsense]

How ironic to have these two news articles appear on the same day. One might think we were indeed in an Orwellian world.

Uganda promotes a strong abstinence policy which has led to a decline in the HIV rate to 6% of the population. As Reuters says, "Uganda had been praised for cutting HIV infection rates to around 6 percent today from 30 percent in the early 1990s, a rare success story in Africa's battle against the disease."

Today, Reuters also posted an article about the King of Swaziland hosting a ceremony in which he sought a wife from 50,000 topless women. As opposed to Uganda, Swaziland has one of the highest rates of HIV infection. Indeed, just last week the king ordered women to "throw off chastity scarves worn to ward of preying men."

Now guess which one Stephen Lewis, the U.N. secretary general's special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa is criticizing. You get two guesses and Swaziland is wrong.

Apparently in UN logic, abstinence which is successfully lowering the HIV rate is bad because there aren't enough condoms being distributed but unhealthy lifestyles are okay as long as you have a condom.

Argh! Blog Spam

I have had to add a new function to comments on this blog after getting my first group of blog spam. I appreciate comments, but I don't want the comment section of my blog to turn into free advertising for anonymous posters of other sites that are totally unrelated to the topics I discuss here. So, if you want to post a comment from now on you have to type in a special word which can be seen if you are a live user, but not if you are a computer.

In other news, the new Isidore's Corner is up and running so you may want to go and check it out. NOTE - I shamelessly feel free to advertise my own stuff.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Homily for August 28

Sunday Homily for Matthew sixteen twenty one to twenty seven

Think back on the summer of a few years ago. Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa were in a friendly rivalry for the home run title. It was a great sign of racial harmony. McGuire’s concern for his son was a model of what fatherhood should be. America again felt good about itself. Sosa said that we would never forget what they had done. Ah, but we did.
For while the world calls for heroes, many want them to fail. Heroes challenge us and make us uncomfortable. They make us look at ourselves and ask why we weren’t more like them.
Jesus did a great many good things and performed many great miracles. He healed the sick and raised the dead. But they still nailed him to a tree. The heroes of today find that the light of fame quickly direct our attentions to their flaws and those that we once praised become those that we now condemn.
Both Sosa and McGuire have been implicated in the use of steroids, Sammy Sosa was found using an altered bat that allowed him to hit farther. Sosa and McGuire are no longer spoken of as heroes, but are called cheaters. They are no longer symbols of the greatness of baseball but rather they have become symbols of the state to which baseball has fallen. For the hero isn’t perfect, then I don’t have to follow his example. I can tell myself – see he wasn’t a hero after all. I want my heroes, but I just want them to remain in the world of fantasy – not reality.
Well, there were only two people who were ever totally free from sin – the rest of us are all jerks, at least some of the time. Our Book of the Saints may speak of holy men and women that seem free of any imperfection, but the saints and heroes are just like us. They are people who struggle to do what is right and sometimes they fail.
Yes, it’s hard to be a hero, to do the right thing all the time. It’s difficult to answer Christ’s call to take up our cross, to follow Christ on a path that might lead into suffering. We don’t want to stand out. We don’t want prying eyes looking over us, discovering our sins. It’s easier to remain hidden, simply a voice in the every growing and always noisy crowd.
Yet, despite all of this – despite the whole world against them – despite the many people saying – don’t stick your neck out, don’t take that risk, just blend in with everybody else, the voice of many Peters saying “God forbid that any such thing ever happen to you!” – some still step forward, some still take up that cross, they risk humiliation and embarrassment, they willingly accept more difficulties for others sake.
Why? Perhaps it is because have a very stubborn and annoying God. Despite all we do to make life miserable for ourselves, God keeps saving us and bringing forth new heroes into our fallen world. Perhaps it is because it is because heroes, like Jeremiah, can do nothing else. Perhaps it is because these heroes realize that it is only through coming to the agony of the Cross that we can come to the glory of the Resurrection. Perhaps it is because these heroes come to see that the saint is not the one who is perfect, but the one who is striving to be perfect. The saint is not one who never falls, but one gets up one more time than he has fallen. The hero is not the one who is free from problems, but the one who doesn’t let those problems keep him or her from trying to make the world a little better. The hero is the one that reveals to us all too rarely the contrast between what we are and what God has made us to be.
Sosa and McGuire weren’t our heroes because of their bats. They weren’t our heroes because they could hit the ball better than most anyone. They were our heroes because of the sportsmanship they shared. They were our heroes because they showed us a world in which a father’s love for his son could be publicly demonstrated. In which the racial divide in our country could be bridged – even if for a brief while.
I think the words in Ken Burn’s documentary about baseball speak well of this conflicted life in which we live. “[Baseball] is a haunted game in which every player is measured against the ghosts of all who have gone before. Most of all, it is about time and timelessness, speed and grace, failure and loss, imperishable hope – and coming home.”
We too live a life in which taking up the way of cross means being confronted with the saints who have walked this path before us. This path is one which brings failure and loss but also brings with it grace and imperishable hope – hope in the care of a God who promises that in losing our life we will find it, hope that in finishing this path we will indeed be coming home.

Friday, August 26, 2005

In the "What were they thinking?" column

Nuns and condoms?

Taiwan has had to withdraw a controversial ad which portrayed a nun promoting condoms. Apparently, they wanted to use someone who had a "positive image". Is it possible that the reason for the postive image is that the nun opposes the very lifestyle that the condom promotes? Perhaps the Taiwanese government can make amends by having some ads with nuns holding a copy of Humanae Vitae?

Opening Weekend

Today was a very busy day with student registration, Mass for the freshmen, and generally getting introduced to all sorts of new people that I'm not likely to remember thanks to a generally poor memory. Classes haven't even started yet and I'm exhausted.

Still, it's good to be back amidst the academic community - complaining about common dislikes but resting on a foundation that we all truly love what we do.

The Bishop gave a good homily at the Mass, speaking both of the need to grow in faith as well as grow in learning. I think that the image of the doves and serpents is good. We should all be as gentle as doves, preaching the love of God but we also need to be wise as serpents because there are some things in the world that need to be confronted and we need to strive for the wisdom to confront falsehood with truth. However, as the bishop mentioned - learning the truth does not come easy and we never know everything.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Back from the grave?

It has been awhile since I have posted anything and for that, I am sorry but things have been very busy with both the deaconate assignment and getting ready for classes. I have also directed my attention to my new project Isidore's Corner - the web blog directed toward research on the web that I have been working toward for sometime. Think of it as a more advanced form of the earlier Isidore's Corner blog which will no longer be updated.

Since I am now teaching I need to be more careful with the posts that I put here. I will try to keep up better with the blogs and keep posting my views on various things going on but if I don't I hope you understand why. Thanks for the patience.