Introducing the YIMCatholic Bookshelf

Back in January, I wrote a post named Because of the Pleasure of Finding Things Out, a title I borrowed from a book written by physicist Richard Feynman. The photo you see here accompanied that post. As I wrote then, finding things out about Catholicism is a pleasure for me.

It was probably late 2007 when I discovered Google Books.  There you will find previews of books, what they call “snippet views” or “limited previews” that have a clock running on them (I guess?) and missing pages. But there is also a category called “full view.” I really liked that because I could read the whole book for free! 

That and the fact that I’m frugal (cheap, broke, or stingy depending on who I’m dealing with). I hear Kindle is great and there is even an i-Phone Kindle application too.  But I have neither device, so they might as well not exist.  I also don’t have an unlimited budget for buying books either (stingy, er, frugal) whether hardbound, paperbound, or electronic.

To make a long story short, I noticed that I could “add” books to an electronic shelf over at Google Books. So I starting building it and promptly named it the YIM Catholic Bookshelf. I sent the link to Webster and in a split second, he put it in the sidebar as a “value-added” resource for those who happen to stop by our humble blog.

Here are a couple of things to share about the Bookshelf:

A) Only books available in “full view,” with every single page available for you to read, will ever rest on our shelf. So far there are over 300 volumes awaiting your perusal. And I am constantly adding to it as well (like just now during my lunch break).

B) The “library” is fully searchable. This is a handy feature that I used when I was doing the Divine Mercy Novena posts. Want to know about purgatory? Plug the word in the “search my library” box under the portrait of our patron, St. Joan of Arc, and instantly 60 books appear with a reference to “purgatory.” Within each book there may be as few as one citation or as many as 40 in any given volume. Give it a try!

C) You can search for a person, a place, or a thing in the entire library as well as individually in any single volume. Interested in converting to Catholicism? Search “Catholic converts” and thirty (count ‘em, 30!) volumes will pop up. Or maybe you are interested in the Rosary (40 volumes!), Augustine, Belloc, Baring, Benson, or Chesterton—all the way to Utopia. All points in between are at your disposal as well. Come and see! Just click on the portrait of Our Lord on the sidebar and find a comfy chair.

D) For the books that are no longer protected by copyright, you can click the “view plain text” button on any volume and cut and paste passages into your posts, e-mails, love letters, etc.  Just don’t forget your footnotes! You can also send a link to the the book, page, and even an exact paragraph of any book on the shelf to anyone with an e-mail address. Send it to someone around the world at the speed of light. Just fasten your seatbelt first!

Which leaves me wondering: What if there had been Google Books when I was going to college? Sheesh! And note this: I haven’t read every book that sits on the shelf. But I intend to spend a lifetime trying. And you can join me too, because at the YIM Catholic Bookshelf, the light is always on and we never charge “over-due” fees.

Now, if I could just figure out how to put a free Starbucks in here, it would almost be heaven.

It’s Only Rock and Roll II (Music for Mondays)

Happy Monday people! It’s raining in my neck of the woods, how about yours? I’ve come up with 5 religious (or near religious songs) that did well on the charts. They still sound good today too and always make me think of the divine. Some more than others for sure and maybe none of them for you. Either way, if nothing else, they may help you see that the divine is always at work and still breaks in upon the secular just to remind us of that fact.

Bob Dylan and Eric Clapton, Crossroads. A cover of the classic written (and first performed by) Robert Johnson. Of course, the legend is that Robert Johnson, who rocketed to fame and then died at age 27, sold his soul to the Devil. I suppose we will all know the truth about that one day. In the meantime, these two have some good, clean,fun with the song that helped Cream make it into the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame.

I went down to the crossroads, fell down on my knees.
I went down to the crossroads, fell down on my knees.
Asked the Lord above for mercy, save me if you please.

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The Police, Secret Journey. I always liked this tune by the Police. From their 1981 album Ghost in the Machine. The West frowns upon monks and figures they are wasting time and accomplishing nothing. Catholic Christians know better, right? Right!? A very unique sound that the Police (Sting, Andy Summers, and Stewart Copeland) were known for.
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The Police again, and from the same album too. Spirits in the Material World. C.S. Lewis once said, “we are souls, we have bodies.” Forget theology for a few minutes and just enjoy the tune.
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George Harrison, My Sweet Lord. I know, I know, the chorus chants “hare Krishna” at the end. That doesn’t mean I have to! I just keep singing hallelujah instead.
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Simon and Garfunkel, Bridge Over Troubled Water. If this doesn’t make you think of Our Lord, then I don’t know what will.

I’ll take your part
When darkness comes
And pain is all around
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down

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Because the Vocation You Pray For May Be Your Own

A few days ago, I wrote a post where I said that as a father and husband, I can’t literally go “to the Desert.” I quipped “maybe in the future.” Sure you will, I thought to myself. And then I found this story of a saint who did just that. Her name is Marie of the Incarnation and her Feast Day is April 18th.

Allison wrote a post on the same day about praying for vocations. Keep this in mind as you pray, because it just might turn out that the prayer may well be answered by an opened door. Who is to say what lies ahead for us? God knows. Barbara Avrillot was a mother of six, but her babies grew up and her husband passed away, opening the door to a life she had always admired. Let’s take a look.

What follows in italics is from the citation on Marie found in the Catholic Encyclopedia at New Advent.

Blessed Marie de l’Incarnation

Known also as Madame Acarie, foundress of the French Carmel, born in Paris, 1 February, 1566; died at Pontoise, April, 1618. By her family, Barbara Avrillot belonged to the higher bourgeois society in Paris. Her father, Nicholas Avrillot was accountant general in the Chamber of Paris, and chancellor of Marguerite of Navarre, first wife of Henri IV; while her mother, Marie Lhuillier was a descendant of Etienne Marcel, the famous prévôt des marchands (chief municipal magistrate). She was placed with the Poor Clares of Longchamp for her education, and acquired there a vocation for the cloister, which subsequent life in the world did not alter. In 1684, through obedience she married Pierre Acarie, a wealthy young man of high standing, who was a fervent Christian, to whom she bore six children. She was an exemplary wife and mother.

So she came from the upper crust of society and basically went to a boarding school (of sorts) with the Poor Clares. Sounds like something I’ve read before in a novel by Sigred Undstet. She married well and then had six children, which will definitely keep any mom busy for a while. Any dad too. Speaking of dads, he had his hands full at work. Take a look.

Pierre Acarie was one of the staunchest members of the League, which, after the death of Henry III, opposed the succession of the Huguenot prince, Henry of Navarre, to the French throne. He was one of the sixteen who organized the resistance in Paris.

Tea party anyone? Being a rich and well placed gentleman, I daresay he thought he could change the world, and obviously win. This story is getting good. Stand-by for an act of God.

The cruel famine (!), which accompanied the siege of Paris (war!), gave Madame Acarie an occasion of displaying her charity. After the dissolution of the League, brought about by the abjuration of Henry IV, Acarie was exiled from Paris and his wife had to remain behind to contend with creditors and business men for her children’s fortune, which had been compromised by her husband’s want of foresight and prudence.

Ouch. Dad wound up on the wrong side in this fight and was sent away (in irons?!). The family fortune is compromised too? Uh-oh, now mom has to fight to save the estate and provide for her kids as well. I hope she is up to the challenge. Surely, it can’t get any worse than this.

In addition she was afflicted with physical sufferings, the consequences of a fall from her horse, and a very severe course of treatment left her an invalid for the rest of her life.

What the heck? And I thought Kristen Lavransdatter had it tough. But truth is stranger than fiction, isn’t it? And, ahem, “severe course of treatment” most likely means a broken leg didn’t heal well. Game over? Not with her network, nor with her example of charity and good works.

At the beginning of the seventeenth century Madame Acarie was widely known for her virtue, her supernatural gifts, and especially her charity towards the poor and the sick in the hospitals. To her residence came all the distinguished and devout people of the day in Paris, among them Mme de Meignelay, née de Gondi, a model of Christian widows, Mme Jourdain and Mme de Bréauté, future Carmelites, the Chancellor de Merillac, Père Coton the Jesuit, St. Vincent of Paul, and St. Francis de Sales, who for six months was Mme Acarie’s director.

Yeah, you read that right, St. Francis de Sales and St. Vincent de Paul were in her Rolodex and paid calls to her salon. Sheeeeesh. Wait a second. I thought the rich had as much chance of getting to heaven as a camel has to pass through the eye of a needle. What gives? I told you this was a great story. It gets better:

The pious woman had been living thus retired from the world, but sought by chosen souls, when, toward the end of 1601, there appeared a French translation of Ribera’s life of St. Teresa. The translator, Abbé de Brétigny, was known to her. She had some portions of the work read to her.

Another rich illiterate? Doubtful, because she went to school with the Poor Clares, remember? Maybe either Vincent or Francis was reading to her in the salon on a visit. Ready for a miracle? Read on—

A few days later St. Teresa, appeared to her and informed her that God wished to make use of her to found Carmelite convents in France. The apparitions continuing, Mme Acarie took counsel and began the work.

I mean, what the heck would you do? Keep shopping and go on cruises? Talk about your life-changing experiences! As Our Lord says, “knock and the door will be opened to you.” Sure, the French hated the Spanish, but when Our Lord sends Big Terry as an emissary in a vision, well, I’d obey the call too, no questions asked. But what about the wealth?

Mlle de Longueville, wishing to defray the cost of erecting the first monastery, in Rue St. Jacques, Henry IV granted letters patent, 18 July, 1602. A meeting in which Pierre de Bérulle, future founder of the Oratory, St. Francis of Sales, Abbé de Brétigny, and the Marillacs took part, decided on the foundation of the “Reformed Carmel in France,” 27 July, 1602. The Bishop of Geneva (Francis de Sales again) wrote to the pope to obtain the authorization, and Clement VIII granted the Bull of institution, 23 November, 1603.

That answers the wealth question. Put it to work for the Lord! Speaking of Clement, way back around 200 AD, Clement of Alexandria wrote a lengthy exposition entitled Who is the Rich Man That Shall Be Saved? Basically it spells it out for us regular folks that when wealth is put in its proper place (read “way out in left field”), while Christ remains in the proper place (read “at the center of our being”), things work out just dandy. Especially when you give all your wealth away, as Marie eventually does. But not yet, I don’t think her husband would agree. Anyway. . .

The following year some Spanish Carmelites were received into the Carmel of Rue St. Jacques, which became celebrated. Mme de Longueville, Anne de Gonzague, Mlle de la Vallieres, withdrew to it; there also Bossuet and Fénelon were to preach. The Carmel spread rapidly and profoundly influenced French society of the day. In 1618, the year of Mme Acarie’s death, it numbered fourteen houses.

From zero to fourteen Carmelite houses in France due to the work of this fine soldier for Christ. Can she rest now? Go back on vacation? Why would she want to when there is still so much for this crippled mom to accomplish. Like to help fund, er, found the French Oratory and then the Ursulines.

Mme. Acarie also shared in two foundations of the day, that of the Oratory and that of the Ursulines. She urged De Bérulle to refuse the tutorship of Louis XIII, and on 11 November, 1611 she, with St. Vincent de Paul, assisted at the Mass of the installation of the Oratory of France. Among the many postulants whom Mme Acarie received for the Carmel, there were some who had no vocation, and she conceived the idea of getting them to undertake the education of young girls, and broached her plan to her holy cousin, Mme. de Sainte-Beuve.

The Ursalines were founded solely for the purpose of educating young girls. How progressive. Those wacky Catholics, always pushing the frontier of humanism and never getting credit for it. I’d like to get to know her “holy cousin” too. Marie was still married all this time but alas,

To establish the new order they brought Ursulines to Paris and adopted their rule and name. M. Acarie having died in 1613, his widow settled her affairs and begged leave to enter the Carmel, asking as a favour to be received as a lay sister in the poorest community.

OK, all the children raised? Check. No longer married? Check. Remember her life long dream of a “vocation to the cloister”? Check. Exit stage left!

In 1614 she withdrew to the monastery of Amiens, taking the name of Marie de l’Incarnation. Her three daughters had preceded her into the cloister, and one of them was sub-prioress at Amiens. In 1616, by order of her superiors, she went to the Carmelite convent at Pontoise, where she died. Her cause was introduced at Rome in 1627; she was beatified, 24 April, 1791; her feast is celebrated in Paris on 18 April.

Ever heard the expression “God writes straight with crooked lines”? What a life and what a marvelous ending! Maiden, wife, mother, wealthy patron of the Church, cloistered Carmelite, and then home with our Lord. May all our journeys end blessed as such.

Madame Acarie, please pray for vocations and also please pray for us.

You can read a full account of her life on the YIMCatholic Bookshelf in A Gracious Life by Emily Bowles.

For the Joys of Prayerful Silence

Guest Post by Warren Jewell
The general quiet and often hushed silence of my solitude is a remedy, consolation, comfort, and luxury, like an unspoken call to prayer a hundred times a day. My effective muezzin is my own heartbeat, you see. I have forsworn TV all my adult life; I own no radio; I long ago gave away my sound equipment. Life can sound so much like the crash and the fury and the cry. And, when my littlest grandchild has Mommy call Grandpa to ‘talk,’ her gentle gurgles and attempts to convey her blossoming feelings can mean something to one more and more acculturated to hear God in every little natural sound. As yet, no words: just an angel’s innocence.

If I sometimes suffer in loneliness, and I do, in the course of my daily rounds I more often thank God for the silence that speaks of that loneliness in softest terms; and I can hear God come closer to my side. “Silence, son, and know that I am your God, and your Best-Beloved.” I live in a carpeted chapel within an out-of-the-way cloister.

In our noisy modern times, we just don’t get enough hush, or quiet, and even less, silence. I have found my secret place, time, life era, etc., to have those nearly from God’s own hand. In just my writing about it, you may hear the blessing of it.

I don’t urge such conditions on another. A big aspect of it, and heart of the loneliness present, is something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy: widowhood from my best friend, my late wife, Sharon. However, all things work to the good of those who take to trusting God about it all, and He is goodness and love personified, and who needs much else? In the silence one can find that God, so full of Good News, just can’t hold His tongue for ten minutes in a row. The soft speech He gifts me with can make me wish the silence, on human and earthly parts, would go on forever.

We all need such times so that God’s messages can come through. At Mass, the Church helps by affixing the messages common for the day, and that is wonderful. But God has personal messages for each of us, and we must find the silence to give our ears, and souls, spirits, wills, minds and hearts, to Him. So find your own little chapel. Make some time and place your cloister. Closing your eyes and having the simple white noise of an electric fan might help. However, do get yourself so alone in silence that God can’t resist getting so close He whispers sweet everythings to you.

Oh, it won’t happen every time. But to have it even once from out of a myriad of silences lets you know that your Redeemer lives, and He lives that He can love and bless you, He can comfort and console you, He can give you Himself in His own intimate way just for you.

It really isn’t such a privilege to you or to me. Remember, you are His child. It is He Who makes the event special, and He Who privileges Himself to have you so intimately open to Him.

I suppose that I could go on and on about this, for much of God’s gifts of peace, joy, assurance, guidance and other wonderful things come out of prayerful silence for me. Even of paradox the ascending descent into humility grows within me. To finish, may God find His glory shine in silent love with you.

Be so kind, O Lord, to frequently remind me that I am always in Your Holy Presence, and You are in my humble presence.  In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Because of Bishops Like This II (A Letter to Parishioners)

A few days ago I shared a post about an allegation of sexual abuse that occurred on April 14th in the diocese my family resides in. I posted the press release of Bishop Richard F. Stika along with the 27-minute-long video of the press conference held the day after the allegation came to light.

Today at all Masses, as promised, a letter by Bishop Stika was read to parishioners after the daily readings. In the case of my parish, our pastor read the letter and, in place of the homily, offered a reflection on this particular incident. He also reflected on how there are actually three victims whenever scandals take place within the ranks of the Church: the victims of the abuse, the innocent priests, and we the faithful.

My pastor mentioned that the victim in this case had expressed surprise and elation that Bishop Stika handled this case so rapidly and thoroughly. He said Mr. Tucker also mentioned in interviews that Bishop Stika’s handling of his case is a model that he sincerely hopes will be followed by others throughout the Church.

Bringing this full circle, then, in the video below, is Bishop Stika reading the letter he composed to his flock.

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Bishop Stika’s Letter to all parishes in the Diocese of Knoxville 4-17-2010 from patrick murphy-racey on Vimeo.

Did I mention Bishop Stika has a blog too? Check it out.

Because of Bishops Like This

Yesterday in my hometown, the Bishop held a press conference. There was an allegation of sexual abuse from years past that just came to light.  No doubt the recent events in our Church are giving some victims the courage to speak out about the harm that unfortunately came to them from the most unexpected of places.

What follows are the opening comments of Bishop Richard F. Stika’s announcement to the press. If you have the time (27 minutes approx.) please listen to Bishop Stika as he fields questions from the local press corps. He very candidly and openly discusses the problem of sexual abuse and how these cases are being handled.  If anything, his remarks are an example of the beatitudes in action, justice coupled with mercy woven through and through with Christian charity.

Bishop Stika calls this crime exactly what it is, an abomination. The priest in question is being relieved of all duties, stripped of his vestments and the title of Father.  He will no longer wear the collar. He will be accountable to the civil authorites and like us all, to God. And he states that the paramount concern is for the victim. A letter asking others to come forward if they were victims too will be read at every Mass this Sunday in our diocese. I’ll be preparing to answer my childrens questions on the matter.

Webster once wrote a post Because There Are Good Fathers. Indeed there are, and they are legion.  I’m proud that this Father is my Bishop. But enough of my feeble words. Actions are stronger than words as St. Francis of Assisi proclaimed long ago:  preach the Gospel always, use words when necessary. This is one of those times. Bishop Stika, you have the floor.

I want to thank you all for being here this morning.

Last week when I spoke to the media about the topic of clergy sexual abuse, I was not aware of a credible allegation against any priest in the Diocese of Knoxville.

Knowing how difficult it is for a victim of sexual abuse to come forward, I want to personally thank Mr. Warren Tucker for his courage in bringing this allegation to our attention [on April 14]. I know that SNAP has been working with Mr. Tucker and I appreciate their assistance.

Yesterday morning Mr. Tucker spoke with our Chancellor, Deacon Sean Smith, and a member of our Diocesan Review Board. Mr. Tucker has accused Father Bill Casey, a retired priest of the Diocese of Knoxville, of sexually abusing him while Father Casey was pastor of St. Dominic Church in Kingsport between 1975 and 1980. At that time St. Dominic Church was a part of the Diocese of Nashville.

Following Deacon Smith’s meeting with Mr. Tucker, we immediately adhered to the process outlined in our Policy and Procedure Relating to Sexual Misconduct. This policy is available on our website. I have also spoken with Bishop David Choby in the Diocese of Nashville since this occurred when East Tennessee was part of the Diocese of Nashville.

Last night I met with Father Bill Casey, and he admitted that there is credibility to Mr. Tucker’s statement. Father Casey is ashamed of his actions and truly saddened by the harm he has caused Mr. Tucker, his family, the Church, and its faithful.

Prior to Deacon Smith’s meeting with Mr. Tucker yesterday morning, we had no knowledge of Mr. Tucker’s experiences, and Mr. Tucker can verify that fact. At this time we have still not been notified by McDowell County, N.C., authorities that an investigation has been initiated.

As Bishop of the Catholic Church of East Tennessee, I want to apologize to Mr. Tucker, his family and to anyone else who may have been harmed by Father Casey.

I am sending a letter to all of our parishes to inform the parishioners of these allegations. I will ask that the letters be read aloud at Mass this weekend and inviting any others who may have been harmed to come forward.

Our first concern is for Mr. Tucker, his family, and anyone else who may have been harmed by Father Casey. We want to help him in his healing process in any way we can.

I want to assure you that Father Casey has been removed from ministry and will never again function as a priest in the Catholic Church.

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Press Conference, The Diocese of Knoxville, April 15, 2010, Bishop Richard F. Stika from patrick murphy-racey on Vimeo.

An Interview with President George Washington on the Scandal

I’ve seen some weird stuff recently regarding the current scandal embroiling our beloved Church. This for example. And this. Hunter S. Thompson said that “when the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.” Keep that in mind as you read on.

What follows are all quotes from the first President of the United States, George Washington. I wondered today what his thoughts would be regarding the current crisis facing our Church. Below are my questions (Joe Sixpack, USMC) and  President Washington’s ”thoughts” on the subject, as I have arranged them. 

For simplicity’s sake, my questions are in plain script and the President’s responses are in italics. Here goes.

Mr. President, do you think it is appropriate for the members of the Church Militant, however painful this may be to them, to demand answers from our Church leaders regarding the current scandal plaguing our ranks? 

Truth will ultimately prevail where there is pains to bring it to light.

Aside from the obvious expertise in theology and the daily practice of the cardinal and theological virtues, what would you suggest to Pope Benedict XVI as the main leadership criteria used for selecting bishops and cardinals to shepherd the Church going forward?

Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence.

But given the shortage of priests the Church is facing, this may prove difficult, Mr. President.

Discipline is the soul of an army. It makes small numbers formidable; procures success to the weak, and esteem to all.

Touché, Mr. President, touché. There has been a lot of rhetoric not only from the Vatican, but also from many news sources, from Catholic pundits, etc., saying what we the laity should or should not do, think or not think, about this scandal. In your opinion, what is more important on this issue, actions or words?

A slender acquaintance with the world must convince every man that actions, not words, are the true criterion of the attachment of friends.

St. Bernard of Clairvaux would agree with you. But sir, many of us (our religious and priests too) have not spoken out due to fear of taint, or fear that changes may occur to our beloved Church if we confront this issue forcefully. Unfortunately, the saying “misery loves company” comes to mind. Why should we demand action on this issue?

Happiness and moral duty are inseparably connected.

Excellent point, Mr. President. Now, many have complained that other Christian denominations, other religious faiths, heck even the Boy Scouts, should own up to their own past abuse cases. Should we ally ourselves with these groups or “nations,” if you will, and make the plea that we are no worse (or better) than these other groups are?

I hope I shall possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider the most enviable of all titles, the character of an honest man. It is better to offer no excuse than a bad one. Bad seed is a robbery of the worst kind: for your pocket-book not only suffers by it, but your preparations are lost and a season passes away unimproved. It is far better to be alone, than to be in bad company. There can be no greater error than to expect, or calculate, upon real favors from nation to nation. It is an illusion which experience must cure, which a just pride ought to discard.

We need to face this ourselves and not blame others. Understood, sir. Here is my next question. In your opinion, Mr. President, why has the leadership seemed more intent on covering up their failures than they have on expending their energy to root out the perpetrators of these heinous crimes at various levels of the Church hierarchy?

Arbitrary power is most easily established on the ruins of liberty abused to licentiousness.

Ouch! That is painful to hear, Mr. President. Surely, as the leader of a powerful nation, that is easy for you to say. But we few, we rank and file members of the Church, in our poverty of both wealth and distinction, should we just keep quiet on this issue? Your thoughts?

It may be laid down as a primary position, and the basis of our system, that every Citizen who enjoys the protection of a Free Government, owes not only a proportion of his property, but even of his personal services to the defense of it.

Then you see speaking out on this issue as a duty for all members of the Church, not only here in the United States, but throughout the world?

Truth will ultimately prevail where there is pains to bring it to light.

Thank you for giving us a moment of you time today, Mr. President.

Let us raise a standard to which the wise and honest can repair; the rest is in the hands of God.

Amen to that Mr. President, a hearty amen to that. Semper Fidelis.

It’s Only Rock ’n Roll (Music for Mondays)

What does this morning’s music have in common? Basically it’s only rock n’ roll, but I like it. Heck, maybe I just feel like playing air-guitar and singing some of my favorite secular tunes. Follow along with me and see if we can pull some Catholic perspective out of the following songs. Keeping in mind, of course, that these are just one person’s impressions. Your mileage may vary.

Stevie Ray Vaughn, The House is a Rockin’. Not much to explain here. It’s Spring and Our Lord has risen, and we feel like partying here at YIM Catholic! If the house is a-rockin’, don’t bother knockin’. No invitation needed, just come on in!

Kick off your shoes start losin’ the blues
This old house ain’t got nothin’ to lose
Seen it all for years, start spreadin’ the news

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Rolling Stones, Gimme Shelter. I can hear some of you sigh and mutter, there Frank goes again. You know what? I need shelter, and I find it in the Holy Mother Church. Which means my soul won’t fade away either. This song works for me. And do you know the difference between the Beatles and the Rolling Stones? The Rolling Stones are still together and making music, basically ’til death do they part. I like that ideal.

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Bruce Springsteen, Brilliant Disguise. Look out for the false self. In light of the scandal imbroglio, perhaps many have been tempted to think the Church is a sham, a house of cards. Better look hard and look twice. Recently, and grudgingly even the “respected” news sources have to contend with the truth that the entire Roman Catholic Church isn’t the only game in town when it comes to abusing children. Just lonely pilgrims we are, but as for me, Jesus I Trust in You. Bruce concludes this tune with this wise line: God have mercy on the man who doubts what he’s sure of. Amen.

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Sarah McLachlan Sweet Surrender. Sarah, on the other hand, really has the right idea, I think (see the lyrics below).

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It doesn’t mean much.
It doesn’t mean anything at all.
The life I’ve left behind me
Is a cold room.

I’ve crossed the last line
From where I can’t return,
Where every step I took in faith
Betrayed me

And led me from my home

And sweet
Sweet surrender
Is all that I have to give

You take me in
No questions asked
You strip away the ugliness
That surrounds me

Are you an angel?
Am I already that gone?
I only hope
That I won’t disappoint you
When I’m down here
On my knees

Next up, Jack Johnson Better Together. I only recently came across this Jack Johnson fellow and really like some of his work. This song in particular works well as I pondered the Divine Mercy novena prayer for the reunification of Christ’s Church here on earth. See the lyrics below…

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Love is the answer
At least for most of the questions in my heart,
Like why are we here? And where do we go?
And how come it’s so hard?
It’s not always easy,
And sometimes life can be deceiving,
I’ll tell you one thing, its always better when we’re together.

Rush Limelight. Only three guys, but big, big sound! Yes, I am asking you to consider the universal dream, the real relation and the underlying theme. Guess what I think those are. See the lyrics below and have a listen.

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Living on a lighted stage
Approaches the unreal
For those who think and feel
In touch with some reality
Beyond the gilded cage.

Cast in this unlikely role,
Ill-equipped to act,
With insufficient tact,
One must put up barriers
To keep oneself intact.

Living in the Limelight,
The universal dream
For those who wish to seem.
Those who wish to be
Must put aside the alienation,
Get on with the fascination,
The real relation,
The underlying theme.

Living in a fisheye lens,
Caught in the camera eye.
I have no heart to lie,
I can’t pretend a stranger
Is a long-awaited friend.

All the world’s indeed a stage,
And we are merely players,
Performers and portrayers,
Each another’s audience
Outside the gilded cage.

For Thoughts Like These on Divine Mercy Sunday

It is the first Sunday after Easter, now known as Divine Mercy Sunday.  For the previous nine days we have been praying a novena for the Divine Mercy in preparation for this day. Today there will be services honoring the Divine Mercy image, special penance services, indulgences, etc. Why? All because some nun had visions and heard voices? Well yes, but only because the visions and voices were true to Christ and His Church. If it had been otherwise, we wouldn’t be commemorating this day with such vigor and passion.

For those of you who prayed the novena with us you know that I included various passages from works of saints, historians, and theologians to shed light on the various works of mercy that we were praying for on any given day.  After all, prayer itself is a work of mercy too.  Especially when we are praying for others as Our Lord asked us to do these past nine days.

I’ll spare you from any more of my personal reflections on this great day and leave you to enjoy it with these beautiful words and thoughts written by St. Bernard of Clairvaux about 900 years ago.  It is from his book of answers to the question he received from a nobleman named Lord Haemeric. To wit, why God is to be loved, and how much? What follows is chapter one of St. Bernard’s answer.

Why we should love God and the measure of that love

You want me to tell you why God is to be loved and how much. I answer, the reason for loving God is God Himself; and the measure of love due to Him is immeasurable love. Is this plain? Doubtless, to a thoughtful man; but I am debtor to the unwise also. A word to the wise is sufficient; but I must consider simple folk too. Therefore I set myself joyfully to explain more in detail what is meant above.

We are to love God for Himself, because of a twofold reason; nothing is more reasonable, nothing more profitable. When one asks, Why should I love God? he may mean, What is lovely in God? or What shall I gain by loving God? In either case, the same sufficient cause of love exists, namely, God Himself.

And first, of His title to our love. Could any title be greater than this, that He gave Himself for us unworthy wretches? And being God, what better gift could He offer than Himself? Hence, if one seeks for God’s claim upon our love here is the chiefest: Because He first loved us (I John 4.19).

Ought He not to be loved in return, when we think who loved, whom He loved, and how much He loved? For who is He that loved? The same of whom every spirit testifies: ‘Thou art my God: my goods are nothing unto Thee’ (Ps. 16.2, Vulg.). And is not His love that wonderful charity which ‘seeketh not her own’? (I Cor.13.5). But for whom was such unutterable love made manifest? The apostle tells us: ‘When we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son’ (Rom. 5.10). So it was God who loved us, loved us freely, and loved us while yet we were enemies. And how great was this love of His? St. John answers: ‘God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life’ (John 3.16). St. Paul adds: ‘He spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all’ (Rom. 8.32); and the son says of Himself, ‘Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends’ (John 15.13).

This is the claim which God the Holy, the Supreme, the Omnipotent, has upon men, defiled and base and weak. Some one may urge that this is true of mankind, but not of angels. True, since for angels it was not needful. He who succored men in their time of need, preserved angels from such need; and even as His love for sinful men wrought wondrously in them so that they should not remain sinful, so that same love which in equal measure He poured out upon angels kept them altogether free from sin.

As the song goes, Love is a many-splendored thing.

For Your Good Friday Night at the Movies

We are safely back on the ground. We picked up a nice tailwind after we launched off of the Abraham Lincoln last Saturday. This development is putting us ahead of schedule. The electricians on Ol’ Abe replaced the faulty Fire Warning sensor on the starboard engine without a hitch. With that favorable wind, we landed last night before our logistics train made it to our forward base of operations.

So what am I saying? I’m saying we have no food, except what little we had in the cockpit with us. We’ve got lots of water though.  Now, since it’s Good Friday, that’s really not such bad news. The AWACS up in the sky informs us that the rest of the squadron will be here tomorrow.

The good news?  We’ve got the hangar all to ourselves and Webster had tonight’s film stashed in our baggage tank. As such, we’ve taken the liberty of setting up the screen for tonight’s movie right here in the hangar bay after dinner. (I’ve got an apple, Webster has some Fig Newtons, bring what you have to share!) Is it right to even watch a movie on Good Friday? I ran it by the chaplain over at mainside and he said that, given our selection, it wouldn’t be wrong. If you care to join us, it is the 1965 classic The Greatest Story Ever Told. 

Starring Max von Sydow as Jesus, Charlton Heston as John the Baptist, and an all-star cast. This family-friendly movie takes us through the life of Christ from his baptism, ministry, death and resurrection. As the good folks over at IMDb say,

“My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken Me?”It is towards this climactic crossroads that the story of Jesus of Nazareth leads, and to which, at the final moment, it again looks back in triumphant retrospect. It is the anguishing crossroads where the eternal questions of faith and doubt become resolved.

Have a look at the trailer, and we hope to see you in the hangar bay at 20:00 for “chow” and 21:00 for the film. Webster, Allison, and I invite you to enjoy the film and have a blessed Easter weekend.  As always, we appreciate your support, and thank you for flying YIMC Airlines.


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