Because We Don’t Need Another Hero

I loved the Mad Max film series. My favorite was the second film in the franchise, The Road Warrior. But by the time Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome came around, the story was pretty stale to me.

But for some reason, the song sung by Tina Turner from that last film is stuck in my head. I think I need to share it with you. Maybe it’s because Thomas Merton died today, back in 1968. Maybe he is pointing out the truth of our fallen world to me, and suggesting this song.

I believe from watching the video and following along with the lyrics, this pop culture hit is a kind of modern day lamentation for Advent (or for Lent). My buddy Father Louis was on to something, I know that for a fact.

Or maybe it’s just me. But the scenes that unfold below look a lot like what Father Louis was writing about with these thoughts in The Seven Storey Mountain,

Free by nature, I was nevertheless the prisoner of my own violence and my own selfishness, in the image of the world into which I was born… loving God and yet hating him, living instead in fear and hopeless self-contradictory hungers.

Have a look and listen,

We Don’t Need Another Hero
Songwriters:Terry Britten & Graham Hamilton Lyle

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Out of the ruins
Out from the wreckage
Can’t make the same mistake this time
We are the children
The last generation
We are the ones they left behind
And I wonder when we are ever gonna change it
Living under the fear ’till nothing else remains

(chorus)
We don’t need another hero
We don’t need to know the way home
All we want is life beyond,
the Thunderdome.

Looking for something we can rely on
There’s got to be something better out there:
Love and compassion
Their day is coming
All else are castles built in the air
And I wonder when we are ever gonna change it
Living under the fear ’till nothing else remains

All the children say:
We don’t need another hero
We don’t need to know the way home
All we want is life beyond,
the Thunderdome.

So, what do we do with our lives?
We leave only a mark!
Will our story shine like a light?
Or end in the dark?
Give it all or nothing
We don’t need another hero…

For unto us, a savior is born.

Thus says the LORD, your redeemer,
the Holy One of Israel:
I, the LORD, your God,
teach you what is for your good,
and lead you on the way you should go.
If you would hearken to my commandments,
your prosperity would be like a river,
and your vindication like the waves of the sea;
Your descendants would be like the sand,
and those born of your stock like its grains,
Their name never cut off
or blotted out from my presence. (Isaiah 48: 17-19)

Thanks be to God.

Update: Deacon Greg’s Quote of the Day from Father Louis.

For the Love of Saint Andrew: A Christmas Novena, Day 10

On this, the tenth day of the Christmas Novena, it strikes me that the intention that I have been praying for up to now is too selfish, too self-centered to even be worthwhile to continue to ask God for.

Instead, I am compelled to pray for a different intention; one for our brothers and sisters in the world who are being persecuted for Our Faith.

What prompted the change of heart is a nagging feeling I have had of late regarding the nature of love. I’m not referring to eros, here but instead to the form of love known as caritas in Latin, or agape in Greek.

I once shared the thoughts of Archbishop Fulton Sheen on the various words for love and their meanings. Today is the day that our brother, the good Archbishop, passed on to eternity. When I was reminded of this, the recollection of that post, and this novena came together like ingredients in a mixing bowl.

Since the beginning, we have been called to love one another. It is difficult, and we weren’t getting it right, and God knew we wouldn’t.Even now, loving others is still tough to do. But God had a plan for this, one part of which we celebrated yesterday, and the other, the Incarnation, we will celebrate soon. We have confused ourselves about the meaning of love, and confused it’s nature as something to be guarded jealously for fear it may be stolen, or fear that our hearts will be broken.

But God’s love for us is not that form of love. With His love, we need not guard our hearts and jealously keep them locked away from others. Nor do we need to continually act like mercenaries of love and ask God, “what’s in it for me?” like Ray Kinsella asks Shoeless Joe Jackson in Field of Dreams. St. Catherine of Sienna discussed this at length in her Dialogues.

I’ve lived life in that manner long enough to know that being a practitioner of mercenary love is a complete waste of time. It certainly, and unequivocally is not the Way.

These sentiments of mine lay dormant until the coming of this Advent season and this novena prayer. Twenty-five days of saying a prayer and asking for the same intention has a way of making you take stock of the intention, see? And today I was prodded into changing mine and sharing my change of heart with you because as I was praying the LOTH today, Psalm 43 came crashing down on my head.

I couldn’t stop thinking about our persecuted brothers and sisters in Iraq after reading these verses,

Unto the end, for the sons of Core, to give understanding.

We have heard, O God, with our ears:
our fathers have declared to us,
The work, thou hast wrought in their days,
and in the days of old.
Thy hand destroyed the Gentiles,
and thou plantedst them:
thou didst afflict the people
and cast them out.
For they got not the possession of the land by their own sword:
neither did their own arm save them.
But thy right hand and thy arm,
and the light of thy countenance:
because thou wast pleased with them.

Thou art thyself my king and my God,
who commandest the saving of Jacob.
Through thee we will push down our enemies with the horn:
and through thy name we will despise them that rise up against us.
For I will not trust in my bow:
neither shall my sword save me.
But thou hast saved us from them that afflict us:
and hast put them to shame that hate us.
In God shall we glory all the day long:
and in thy name we will give praise for ever.

But now thou hast cast us off, and put us to shame:
and thou, O God, wilt not go out with our armies.
Thou hast made us turn our back to our enemies:
and they that hated us plundered for themselves.
Thou hast given us up like sheep to be eaten:
thou hast scattered us among the nations.
Thou hast sold thy people for no price:
and there was no reckoning in the exchange of them.

Thou hast made us a reproach to our neighbors,
a scoff and derision to them that are round about us.
Thou hast made us a byword among the Gentiles:
a shaking of the head among the people.
All the day long my shame is before me:
and the confusion of my face hath covered me,
At the voice of him that reproacheth and detracteth me:
at the face of the enemy and persecutor.

All these things have come upon us,
yet we have not forgotten thee:
and we have not done wickedly in they covenant.
And our heart hath not turned back:
neither hast thou turned aside our steps from thy way.
For thou hast humbled us in the place of affliction:
and the shadow of death hath covered us.

If we have forgotten the name of our God,
and if we have spread forth our hands to a strange god:
Shall not God search out these things?
for he knoweth the secrets of the heart.
Because for thy sake we are killed all the day long:
we are counted as sheep for the slaughter.

Arise, why sleepest thou, O Lord?
arise, and cast us not off to the end.
Why turnest thou face away?
and forgettest our want and our trouble?
For our soul is humbled down to the dust:
our belly cleaveth to the earth.
Arise, O Lord, help us
and redeem us for thy name’s sake.

Do you see what I mean? And I’m not the first to notice that often times the LOTH, has an uncanny way of speaking the words of God to me that I need to hear most, and when I need to hear them. And I believe the answers to these prayers are seen in the short readings included for Terce, Sext, and None as well.

He will stand and feed his flock with the power of the Lord, with the majesty of the name of his God. They will live secure, for from then on he will extend his power to the ends of the land. He himself will be peace (Micah 5:4-5).

A little while now, and I am going to shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. The new glory of this Temple is going to surpass the old, and in this place I will give peace – it is the Lord of Hosts who speaks(Haggai 2:6,9).

For you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness will shine out with healing in its rays; you will leap like calves going out to pasture. You will trample on the wicked, who will be like ashes under your feet on the day I am preparing, says the Lord of Hosts (Malachi 3:20-21).

Thanks be to God.

The St. Andrew Christmas Novena can be found here.

For Help Reading Maps Correctly

I have a friend who can’t understand why I enjoy being a Catholic.

From discussions I have had with him, it appears that he believes I am now enslaved by an organization that is run by a tyrant who bears the title of “Pope.” I reckon that his libertarian tendencies bristle at the very idea of submitting to an authority, even if that authority is ordained  and conferred by Christ Himself.

Now before you go and start thinking Frank is using hillbilly colloquial speech by using the word reckon, let me put on my Anu Garg hat and have a look at this particular word. Here is what the Merriam Webster Dictionary says about it,

Reckon transitive verb
Definition of reckon
1
a: count <to reckon the number of days days till Christmas>
b: estimate, compute <reckon the height of a building, etc.>
c: to determine by reference to a fixed basis
Example-

the existence of the United States is reckoned from the Declaration of Independence
2: to regard or think of as: consider
3
chiefly dialect : think, suppose < I reckon I’ve outlived my time — Ellen Glasgow>

intransitive verb

1: to settle accounts
2: to make a calculation
3
a: judge
b: chiefly dialect: suppose, think
4: to accept something as certain: place reliance reckon on your promise to help.

I hope you can see from this that using the word reckon in a sentence is not something that only hillbillies from Tennessee do. Because surely you can see that this word has many different meanings, and shades of meaning. And notice the reference to the Declaration of Independence, which for the purposes of this post fits where I’m going to the “T.”

There is another use of the root word reckon that may help shed some light on where I’m going with this post as well. This word is really a phrase that has to do with the science of navigation. Let’s take a look at Merriam Webster again,

Dead reckoning noun
Definition of Dead Reckoning

1: the determination without the aid of celestial observations of the position of a ship or aircraft from the record of the courses sailed or flown, the distance made, and the known or estimated drift
2: guesswork
— dead reckon (verb)

First Known Use of Dead Reckoning: 1613

Dead reckoning is nice, and all, but you wouldn’t board an airline flight if you thought the pilot was just taking the plane up for a spin without any detailed flight plan to get you where you were going, would you? And lookee there at the second definition of the word. In the navigation business, guesswork can get you killed.

Now, I’m removing the scholarly and erudite looking Anu Garg hat and putting on my Tennessee hillbilly “common sense” hat to say that this here fancy phrase-word means nothin’ more than “flying by the seat of your pants.” Heck, you might even be plumb lost, “but yer jes too proud to stop at the gaas stayshun to ask that feller for directions, I reckon.” See?

What’s that? You can read a map all by yourself you say? You don’t need any help reading maps? Well, I would really like to believe that about you but my own experience has been different. I almost never get lost, geographically speaking. Just ask my wife. And I’ve spent an awful long time in the map room too and I love reading maps as well. But in my practical, real world experience of actually navigating out in the field as a Marine? I know that some people read maps wrong. Dead wrong.

And they were reading the same maps that I had, too. I can’t even remember how many times I have had to point this out to lost Lieutenants, Captains, and sometimes even Majors, when I was out in the field in the Marines. And to PFC’s, Lance Corporal’s, and even Sergeants sometimes too, as they were learning land navigation skills. And this assumes you are using current maps that were drawn and printed recently. True story time. This may shock you, but I even knew a Captain in my artillery battery who got lost routinely(!) even when he was using GPS. I kid you not! So don’t argue to me that the latest technology will absolutely guarantee that you will make it to your intended destination.

Now, what if the map you are using today is ancient? You know, like you are using one that looks something like Blackbeards treasure map, or the one from Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic book Treasure Island. You can see that there is an X that marks the spot of the treasure but not much more detail than that.

Well, if I were you, and I found a map like this, I would track down and find the guy who buried the treasure who, as it turns out, is also the same guy who drew the map, and I’d say,

Lookee here, I can’t make head nor tales of where in the world this here treasure is from a readin’ your map all by myself. Show me how to read this map and take me to the place where “X” marks the spot.

That is where the Catholic Church comes in see? She made the map, and she knows where the treasure chest is. Sure, I can read that Treasure Island map too, but it’s lacking in a few details, or didn’t you notice? How long have you been reading that map and you didn’t notice this?! Now, the Church knows where the treasure is buried, because She was there when the chest was put into the ground. And She was there when it ascended up into Heaven too.

She knows that the treasure resides in each and every one of us now, so the map isn’t a geographical one, see, but an internal one. As G.K. Chesterton explains so well,

The Catholic Church carries a sort of map of the mind which looks like the map of a maze, but which is in fact a guide to the maze. It has been compiled from knowledge which, even considered as human knowledge, is quite without any human parallel.

There is no other case of one continuous intelligent institution that has been thinking about thinking for two thousand years. Its experience naturally covers nearly all experiences; and especially nearly all errors. The result is a map in which all the blind alleys and bad roads are clearly marked, all the ways that have been shown to be worthless by the best of all evidence: the evidence of those who have gone down them.

Now back to my friend, who has a “give me liberty, or give me death” bent that would make even Patrick Henry seem squishy on the concept of freedom. Free will is a wonderful gift from God. Knowing that you can’t read maps and need help navigating is another one of those gifts. But wait, there is more.

In my little mind, the knowledge that Christ himself founded the Church and put a human being in charge of it while She is here on earth gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling inside. The kind of feeling I get when I think of my mother comforting me after the time when I had gotten lost at the county fair one year when I was little. When she found me, she gave me the biggest hug ever, and boy did I need that too! And to me this is similar to the kind of feeling I got when I was in the Marines and was serving under a great Commandant, or good commander. It is a feeling of confidence and joy that I am in good hands, even if the mission I was involved in might lead to my physical death.

Allison recently wrote a post about her search for answers about the Kingdom of God. I don’t know if my freedom loving friend thinks about the fact that this kingdom is not a representative democracy or not. But to be clear, it’s called a Kingdom, because there is a King. He is a wise and wonderful King, and a benevolent one too. But most certainly He is a King, and if I pledge my allegiance to Him, which I have, then I do so with full knowledge that I will have to do what he asks of me. I am submissive to Him, otherwise, I’m a rogue and a traitor.

This duty to obey requires discipline and grace, and in my short experience as a Catholic, the Sacraments of the Church, and Her teachings, which are God’s teachings (as you can easily discover), are what provide me the means to stay the course without getting lost. And I will continue to read maps to my hearts content. And I’m very happy because on this ship, I don’t have to decide everything either. Thank God!

The Church is the Ship and I have complete confidence in Her Captain’s ability to navigate the shoals of this world until the day His Majesty decides to come back aboard Her and brings us into port.

Semper Fidelis,


Update: Mark Shea on “Herding Cats On Sola Scriptura.

For the Love of Saint Andrew: A Christmas Novena, Day 4

What’s in a name? Upon Our Lord’s first meeting with Andrews’ brother Simon, in John chapter 1, He says Simon’s name will be changed. This is how the scene unfolds,

The next day again John (the Baptist) stood, and two of his disciples. And beholding Jesus walking, he saith: Behold the Lamb of God. And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. And Jesus turning, and seeing them following him, saith to them: What seek you? Who said to him, Rabbi, (which is to say, being interpreted, Master,) where dwellest thou? He saith to them: Come and see.

They came, and saw where he abode, and they stayed with him that day: now it was about the tenth hour. And Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was one of the two who had heard of John, and followed him. He findeth first his brother Simon, and saith to him: We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ. And he brought him to Jesus. And Jesus looking upon him, said: Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is interpreted Peter.

Yes, Jesus knew who he was, sight unseen. To keep things straight for us readers, St. John calls St. Peter Simon Peter often throughout his version of the gospel. Even though the “Peter” part wasn’t declared yet. And when he calls him Simon only, he clarifies it, like this from John 6:14 (all of these citations are from the Douay-Rheims version of the Bible):

Simon, whom He (Jesus) surnamed Peter, and Andrew his brother, James and John, Philip and Bartholomew,

Biblical name changes are no small matter. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, the significance is weighty. For example, Abram (which means high father) becomes Abraham, or father of multitudes. His wife’s name, Sarai (which means my princess) is changed to Sarah, which means mother of nations. Very ironic for a women who was barren? Miraculous, is what it is.

Another major name change in the Old Testament occurs to Jacob. Jacob’s name, which originally means heel or leg-puller is changed to Israel, which means persevere with God. And later on, in the Acts of the Apostles, A Pharisee named Saul will have his named change as well.

The foreshadowing of the name change for Simon in John’s first chapter, feeds the drama of Our Lord’s statement in the 16th chapter of Matthew when he asks the Twelve “Who do the people say I am?” and more importantly, “who do you say I am?” And that is the hugely significant prelude to the recognition of who Peter is, and who he is to become.

Ponder the plan God has for each of us in your heart as you pray the Christmas Novena today.

Meet the Beatles! (Music for Mondays)

I’m not even going to try and squeeze all of the good out of the Beatles in this post. It simply can’t be done. It’s not even remotely possible. Sure, maybe Rolling Stone magazine (or these guys) could come up with the definitive Beatles play list, but why would you believe it? I mean, on what authority?

I’m just glad the Vatican gave them the big thumbs up sign! So forget all about picking the “best Beatles songs of all time” and let’s just enjoy a selection of some of my favorites here. To top it off, I’ll even include a few of my own thoughts, that granted, are completely, 100% guaranteed, private interpretations of their lyrics.

What’s that? I can’t interpret their lyrics, you say? And why not? The Apple Records Magisterium doesn’t exist. And even if it did, it collapsed when the Beatles divorced, broke up, split, and basically went their separate ways. As such, I can make their lyrics mean anything I want them to. Sure, it’s bad form to ignore the intent of the artists, especially when several of them are still alive to tell you what they were actually saying. But I’ve got three words for you on that front: Let It Be. Hey, that sort of rhymes with “heresy” doesn’t it?

So hold on to your hats and get ready to meet the Beatles!

Help! Live, back when live meant “for real.” These lyrics ring true for me and for my need for Our Lord and His Church. I used to be a believer in “sola” this and “sola” that. But now? Well it’s Advent and I’m singing this song until Christmas.

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Let It Be.Just when you thought it was safe to enter the water, they up and sing a song about Mother Mary. Sheesh! With a little help again from Billy Preston on keyboards.

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Lady Madonna. Whaat?! A second one?

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All Together Now. From the end of the movie Yellow Submarine. Sing along (it’s pretty easy to remember the lyrics).

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See? Once again, we haven’t even scratched the surface. One good thing though: most of these songs are short. I’ll see you next week for more MfM.

Because I Never Saw This Coming

Last Thanksgiving, let’s see…yes that was on November 26, 2009,— I received an e-mail from Webster Bull asking me if I would consider sharing my conversion story with the readers of this blog.

I had been pointed towards YIMCatholic from either Patrick McNamara’s blog, or Deacon Greg Kandra’s blog (I don’t really remember which one), and I enjoyed what I had found here.

I was a new(ish) Catholic myself and I had started poking around in the blog-o-sphere looking for kindred spirits. You know, guys like me who had been Protestants once and who had become Catholics. I knew there were a few of us around though, because I had found Francis Beckwith’s story in the Washington Post, see, when I was considering the unheard of idea (to me anyway) of converting to Catholicism. And I knew that Anthony Blair, the former Prime Minister of the UK, was converting to Catholicism too in the same year I was. And as it turns out, that is when Webster had joined the Church as well.

As Webster reported, I had e-mailed him saying that I enjoyed his blog and that if ever I could help him out, I would be glad to do so. I didn’t think anything would come of it, really.  Sometimes my comments weren’t even published ( the nerve!), but I had sent him a few things I thought he would find of interest and that was about all I figured would result from my e-mailing him.

And then on Thanksgiving Day, he asked me to share my story.  That first 2BFrank post hit the blog on November 28, 2009 and thanks to the grace of God, I’ve been here ever since. I never really thought I would be, you know. Writing my conversion story wasn’t my idea of a good time. It never, ever occurred to me to start my own blog, for example, and if Webster wouldn’t have asked, I would not be here now.

I had no idea that in one year, Webster would no longer be here blogging away with me. On other fronts, I had no idea that Allison would be here. Nor had it ever occurred to me that one day (it could happen) I might be the only person still writing here at all.

The fact of the matter is that I don’t know why I was called to join YIMCatholic as Webster’s first partner. Aside from term papers and essays in college, I had never written a word for publication in my life. But called I was, and that calling is what keeps me here sharing my experiences, as well as what I have found about the Catholic Faith that I think you may appreciate, or enjoy, or find comfort in.

So to all of you, and to Webster and Allison too, I say thanks for having me, and for taking a few minutes out of your day to stop by and visit here. And I want to thank my wife, with whom I shared Webster’s initial request and who has steadfastly supported my efforts here.

I pray that I am able to continue serving the Lord in a manner that I believe He finds favor with. I also pray that you may find your visits here to be, as St. Anthony the Great would say, profitable.

“For often (Anthony) would ask questions, and desired to listen to those who were present, and if any one said anything that was useful he confessed that he was profited.”

Because, although I never saw this coming, blogging here has been a gift to me. A gift that I don’t believe I can ever repay.

Pax Christi

“A Thanksgiving” (A Few Words for Wednesday)

A Thanksgiving by Blessed John Henry Newman
“Thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me.”
Lord, in this dust thy sovereign voice
First quickened love divine;
I am all thine,—thy care and choice,
My very praise is thine.

I praise Thee, while thy providence
In childhood frail I trace,
For blessings given, ere dawning sense
Could seek or scan thy grace;
Blessings in boyhood’s marvelling hour;
Bright dreams, and fancyings strange ;
Blessings, when reason’s awful power
Gave thought a bolder range;
Blessings of friends, which to my door
Unasked, unhoped, have come;
And, choicer still, a countless store
Of eager smiles at home.
Yet, Lord, in memory’s fondest place
I shrine those seasons sad,
When, looking up, I saw thy face
In kind austereness clad.
I would not miss one sigh or tear,
Heart-pang, or throbbing brow;
Sweet was the chastisement severe,
And sweet its memory now.
Yes!let the fragrant scars abide,
Love-tokens in thy stead,
Faint shadows of the spear-pierced side
And thorn-encompassed head.
And such thy tender force be still,
When self would swerve or stray;
Shaping to truth the froward will
Along thy narrow way.
Deny me wealth; far, far remove
The lure of power or name;
Hope thrives in straits, in weakness love,
And faith in this world’s shame.

For All The Saints: Clement I

Feast of Pope St. Clement I

Today is the feast day of the third (or fourth?) pope of The Church. Clement left one of the first patristric writings when he wrote letters from his office in Rome to the church in Corinth. But what else is known about him?

The first source I saw, from the good folks over at Universalis, said that nothing certain is known of his life. Looking for a little bit more than the terse paragraph they had on him, I turned to the handy YIMCatholic Bookshelf.

There, I found this interesting account of Clements’ life in a book entitled, Lives of the Saints: Compiled From Authentic Sources by a Jesuit Father named Francis Xavier Weninger. Published in 1876, I found this from Volume 11. Have a look before you go and read his letters to the Corinthians.

St. Clement, Pope and Martyr

Whilst the holy Apostles, Peter and Paul, were preaching the Gospel at Rome, there came to them Clement, a son of Faustinus, who was related to the Emperor Domitian. After several discourses with St Peter, he saw the error of Paganism in which he had been born and educated, and became a convert to the Christian faith. He progressed so rapidly in virtue and holiness, that he was of great help to Paul in converting the heathen, as the holy Apostle testifies in his Epistle to the Philippians.

The unwearied zeal he manifested in such holy endeavors, his purity and other bright virtues, raised him, after the death of Sts. Linus and Cletus, to the government of the entire Church of Christ. In this elevated but burdensome dignity, his holy life was an example to his flock.

He gave several excellent laws to the Church, by one of which he divided the city into seven districts, and placed in each a notary to record the deeds, virtues and martyrdom of those who were persecuted for Christ’s sake, that posterity, admiring their heroism, might be animated to follow their example. His sermons were so full of deep thought and so powerful, that he daily converted several heathens.

Among these was Flavia Domitilla, a niece of the Emperor Domitian, who not only became a zealous Christian, but refusing several advantageous offers of marriage, vowed her virginity to God. He converted Sisinius, one of the most influential men in the city, by a miracle. While yet a heathen, Sisinius went unseen into the secret chapel where the Christians assembled, in order to ascertain what they were doing, and to see whether his wife was among them. God, however, punished him immediately with blindness in both eyes. He discovered himself by calling for someone to lead him home; and St. Clement, who was present, went to him, and, restoring his sight after a short prayer, he improved the occasion to explain to him the truths of Christianity.

Sisinius, being soon convinced, received holy baptism, and many heathens followed his example. The Emperor Trajan, being informed of this, commanded St. Clement to be banished to the Chersonesus, unless he consented to sacrifice to the gods. Nearly two thousand Christians had already been banished to that region, where they were forced to work in mines and quarries.

The holy Vicar of Christ rejoiced to be thought worthy to suffer for his Divine Master, and indignantly refused to comply with the Emperor’s command to worship the Pagan idols. He was accordingly transported, and condemned to labor like the others. This fate at first seemed very hard to him, but the thought that he suffered it for Christ’s sake, strengthened him.

With the same thought he endeavored also to inspire his unhappy companions, when he saw that they became discouraged and lost their patience. He also frequently represented to them the reward which was awaiting them in heaven. A miracle that God performed through him raised him to great consideration even with the heathens. There was a great scarcity of water; and the Christians suffered much from the thirst occasioned by their hard work.

St. Clement, pitying them most deeply, prayed to God to help them. Rising from his knees, he saw, on a high rock, a lamb, which seemed, with his raised right foot, to point to the place where water could be found. The holy man, trusting in the Almighty, seized an axe, and, lightly striking the rock, procured a rich stream of clear water, which refreshed all the inhabitants of the country, especially the poor persecuted Christians.

So many heathens were converted on account of this miracle, that, in the course of a year, almost all the idolatrous temples were torn down, and Christian churches erected in their stead. Some of the idolatrous priests complained of this to the Emperor, who immediately sent Aufidian, a cruel tyrant, to force the Christians to forsake their faith, and to put St. Clement to death.

The tyrant endeavored to induce the holy man to forsake Christ, but finding that all words were useless, he commanded the executioners to tie an anchor to the neck of St. Clement, take him out into the sea, and cast him into the deep, in order that nothing of him should remain to comfort the Christians. The last words of the holy Pope were: “Eternal Father! receive my spirit!”

The Christians, who had been encouraged by him to remain constant in their faith, stood on the sea-shore, until the tyrant and his followers had departed, after the death of the Saint. They then knelt in prayer, to beg of the Almighty that He would restore to them the body of their beloved shepherd; and, whilst they prayed, the sea began slowly to retreat from the shore.

The Christians, following the retreating water, came to the place where the Saint had been cast into the sea, and found, to their inexpressible astonishment, a small marble chapel, and in it a tomb of stone, in which the body of the holy Pope was reposing. At his side lay the anchor which had been tied around his neck.

The joy and comfort that filled the hearts of the faithful at this sight can more easily be imagined than described. They wished to take the holy body away, but God made known to them that, for the present, it should not be disturbed; and that every year the sea would retreat, during seven days, so as to permit all to visit the shrine of the Saint. This took place for several years, until, at last, by divine revelation, the relics were transported to Rome.

Thanks to Father Antonio Vivaldi, “the Red Priest”

Around this time of the year, my appreciation for classical music rises to the surface. I don’t know if it is because of the change of seasons, or whether it is the “fall back” move on our clocks. Perhaps it’s because the days are getting shorter and the nights longer now that “daylight savings time” is over.

I’m a simple man, and I would be quickly found a liar if I tried to buffalo you with the idea that I am a man who is a well-educated, and throughly cultured, connoisseur of classical music. No. I’m a poor hick who only knows what he likes. And I’ve always liked Vivaldi and his Four Seasons. I do know that his music came before Bach, Handel, and Beethoven, and that is about it.

But here is what prompted this post: yesterday morning, while preparing to head to Mass, I heard a snippet of a program on NPR where the announcer mentioned that Vivaldi had been “in the clergy.”

Whaat?! It didn’t take me long to determine that given the time frame, and the fact that he was an Italian, that Vivaldi was a Catholic priest. And due to his being a red-head, he was given the nick-name of “the Red Priest.”

A quick check of the internet later and sure enough, seemingly the whole world knows that Vivaldi was a Catholic priest, except me. Somehow I missed hearing about that in music class, and a part of me thinks this is the result of a cover-up. But as I always say, let the sun shine in.

Father Antonio was ordained in 1703 and it seems like he only performed his clerical duties for a short while due to ill health.  He suffered from asthma, among other ailments.

Here is the trailer of a movie based on Vivaldi’s early career. Truthfully, I don’t know if this film ever made it into the theaters or even if it ever hit the small screen instead. But, as you can see, he is wearing a collar throughout. And you get the distinct impression that the good looking red-head had a problem in common with modern-day musicians as well.

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Andante from Concerto In D Minor for 2 Mandolins. But instead of two mandolins, we get Yo-Yo Ma on cello and Bobby McFerran playing his voice box. This is pretty amazing.

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Double Concerto for Two Cellos. This is a beautiful piece Vivaldi wrote for cellos. And this is a very clever presentation with Rebecca Roundman “using multi-tracking. Rebecca plays the two solo cellos parts, the violin 1 part, the violin 2 part, the viola part (not shown), the section cello part and the bass part.” All I can say is, “bravo!”

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Vivaldi did a lot more than this too. Operas and concertos. Sacred and choral music. Like just about any other MfM post though, we are just scratching the surface of his work here. Do you believe he died a pauper? I haven’t read his biography yet (where do you start?) but maybe, just maybe, he wanted to die in that state.

To Send Supplies to the Christians in Iraq

Sending letters to the Nuncio was a great idea to let our embattled brothers and sisters in Iraq know we care. And with a little help from our friends (like the Anchoress and Father Robert Barron and many other bloggers—thanks!), the letter post  “read ’round the world” was shared by 384 people on Facebook and resulted in 2400+ people reading the post. We’re not sure how many e-mails the Nuncio received, but we will let you know what we find out.

But many asked us about how to send relief in the form of food and supplies. Sending donations that can be turned into food, clothing, and shelter is an idea that many of us would like to put into action now.

Good news! I think I’ve found a few ways that you may be able to help in this manner.  Iraqi Christians In Need, is one such organization based in the United Kingdom. This group was was also mentioned in an article dated a month before the latest attacks about Chaldean Catholic refugees in my home state. From the U.S. based ICIN website, I found this You Tube video with only 57(!) views. Take a look,

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From the ICIN website in the U.K., I found the video below with David Frost and Father Nezir Seeman, the chaplain to the Syriac Catholic Community there.

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Other avenues to help might be through Aid to the Church in Need. They are an organization that has been helping persecuted Christians the world over since 1947. And the Catholic Near Eastern Welfare Association is another possible alternative.

Full disclosure time: I have donated through ICIN, whose US offices are near where I live. But this post is not a solicitation for either one of these three entities. You may contact your local parish  to see what your local diocese may be doing in order to aid the Church in Iraq too. Or look to your own favorite charitable organizations as well.

And please, keep assaulting Heaven with your prayers.

UPDATE:   A letter to President Obama.


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