For the Verses on the YIMCatholic Bookshelf Icon

Patricia Cornell, proprietor of St. Theodosia’s Icon Shop writes,

The Pantocrator on your website is one of my favorites! The text in the Book Jesus is holding is a combination of two Biblical texts on “judge not lest you be judged in the same way” (my paraphrase). It is one of my favorites and I handcraft this image, as well.

In Christ,

Patricia

Thanks Patricia! Actually, when Christ holds an open book, this is a variant of the Pantocrator and is called “Christ the Teacher.” I went to the link she provided to see her work and found the following information on the scripture verses on the icon(which whisks readers to the treasures contained on the YIMCatholic Bookshelf in the right sidebar),

John 7:24–”Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgement.” Matthew 7:2–”For with the judgement you pronounce, you will be judged and the measure you give will be the measure you get.”

I knew I liked it for multiple reasons!

Coming Soon to a PBS Channel Near You

Catholicism. And you thought Ken Burns’ documentaries are good? This is going to be best series shown on PBS ever!

“I want the series to go out beyond the walls of the Church,” he said in an Aug. 10 interview. “That’s why we’re so happy it’s going to be on public television.”

Set in 50 locations in over 16 countries, the series examines major themes within the Church such as the person of Christ, the mystery of God, the Virgin Mary, Saints Peter and Paul, the “missionary thrust of the Church,” the liturgy and the Eucharist, prayer and spirituality and the saints, Fr. Barron said.

In the episode on the Virgin Mary, for instance, the crew traveled to the Holy Land, France, Mexico and “around the world to see where the Marian faith shows up.”

“The approach I used,” he said, “was just to go to places around the world that visually show the themes I’m talking about.”

Fr. Barron said that the series comes at time when the U.S. is going through what he believes to be “the darkest period in the history of the American Catholic Church,” and that the “wrong” people are telling the story of what the Church actually is.

He pointed to the secular media’s depiction of the Church “as the place where the sex abuse scandal happened,” a narrative that he finds “so tiresome and counterproductive.”

“I think Catholics from the inside have to tell a much richer, broader, fascinating story,” Fr. Barron said, stressing the importance of not allowing the Church to be “reduced to the sex abuse scandal.”

He noted that during challenging times in Church history, the saints “tended to come forward in the times of crisis and bring things back to their evangelical basics.” Go read the rest.

Check your local listings, and set your DVR’s! Here’s a teaser for you too,

Episode One is about a dangerous man, indeed. A Savior for all mankind!

There is also a book as well as DVD’s.

Because World Youth Day is a Fertile Field for Vocations

A fortnight ago, I wrote a post about the coolest blog to add YIMCatholic to their blog roll. The blog is written by TingTing Tse, whose photograph you see here. Her blog is written in Chinese, though search me if it is in Cantonese or Mandarin. After I posted about her blog, which appeared to be coming out of Emmaus in the Holy Land, she wrote me a note.

Dear Frank,

Thanks for your kind words and friendship in Christ.  And thanks for your kindness of mentioning me in your blog- you gave me the same warm feelings and smiles!

In fact,  I just left Israel a few weeks ago. I’m a Postulant in the Catholic Community of the Beatitudes. Our community’s mission in the Holy Land is to take care of the site of Emmaus-Nicopolis. Therefore I had the chance, and indeed the honour, of living in the Holy Land for one year.

Right now I’m staying in France, to complete my Religious Formation. This journey is my “exile,” as I am really, really, really in love with the Holy Land! The recent posts in my blog are all bubbling over with the Love of Jerusalem!

Thanks for the great work of writing your blog. Indeed, it is a very important tool to spread God’s Words! I pray for your ministry, and I feel blessed to “meet” you in this “small big internet world!”

And I am especially grateful to you for introducing me to Dom Lou Tseng-Tsiang. I did not know of him yet! For sure I will spend the time to get to know this new friend. I’m quite sure he’s already praying for me!

I come from Hong Kong and lived there all my life (well, we belonged to Britain until 1997 —that explains my English.) The persecuted Church in mainland China geographically is very near to us but we Christians from Hong Kong actually know very little about Catholics in mainland China, and we bear too little of the Cross with our Brothers and Sisters there.

My Mother got baptised in her teens (many schools in Hong Kong are founded by missionaries: Salesians, Canossians, for example). She married my Dad, who was a Buddist. Mixed-marriages are very typical for Hong Kong Christians, even to this day). She brought me to be baptised when I was 3. This was because, after 3 years of age, I would have needed to attend Catechism Class before baptism. She didn’t want to “miss the chance”, a typically “realistic” calculation of Hong Kong people (smile). But indeed I give thanks to God every day for this. If not, I don’t know where I would fall religiously now.

My conversion was in 2005 at World Youth Day. During the overnight vigil, Pope Benedict XVI raised the Blessed Sacrament, and 1 million of us were kneeling down. It was the first time in my life that I realised what it means by the phrase “we are one body.” 

My parish in Hong Kong is taken care of by some missionaries from Argentina, the IVE Priests and Sisters. They are full of fire and loyal love for the Catholic Church. Therefore I received very good formation with other youths in the years after.

In 2006, somehow, I felt “called” to join a pilgrimage to Medjugorje. That was my second, and real,  conversion to prayer and it changed many bad habits in my life. Also, I began to seek my Vocation. Well little by little, very slowly, I began following God’s call step by step. I was constantly falling and forgiven and renewing and moving on, while struggling along this path.

And then I joined the Community of the Beatitudes, and I was sent to Israel for the first year of experiencing their spirituality. Now, I have arrived in France to complete my formation, and if God is willing, I want to be a consecrated Sister.

I have written long enough for now, just an ordinary love story in our Father’s infinite Mercy.

I’d love to write and share an article for your blog. On August 8th, I’m departing for World Youth Day, and then I will go to Rome for a week long pilgrimage (it will be the first time in my life going to Rome, and I’m so excited!). I’ll need to write for you around 1 month after, ok?

I’ll keep you, your family and readers in my prayers during my coming pilgrimage.

Love in Christ,

TingTing


I look forward to your guest post TingTing! We’ll keep the prayers flowing for you through your travels and witnessing for Christ and the Church. And prayers for all of the youths who will be traveling to Madrid for this years celebration of World Youth Day as well. Truly, it is a font for vocations.

Thanks be to God.

Check Out This Balloon Ride (Because Catholics Can Dig Science)

My wife knows my interests. She sent me this little clip this morning and I just had to share it with you. Suppose you were given the opportunity to help test the atmosphere for radiation drifting our way from the melted down nuclear reactor in Fukushima, Japan. Suppose you mounted some cameras on that balloon. What would you see?

This is what Colin Rich came up with. Check out the video as he builds and launches the Pacific Star 3. Talk about “wow!”

Pacific Star 3 from Colin Rich on Vimeo.

Wasn’t that just the neatest thing you’ve seen all year? Read more about the mission, and see the still photographs obtained on it, here.  Aslo, have a look at the Pacific Star  website. And remember the 5th Dimension? Head back down memory lane.

Because Family Has No Perfect Picture

There are neat people everywhere. Yes, you have them in your parish too. And they are outside your parish as well, waiting for you to invite them to join the family. Or to expand your own family, like one of my fellow parishioners has done.

If one listens closely enough, His voice can be heard. It can happen at anytime and can be for any number of reasons.

For Larry Strauser and his wife of 18 years, Beverly, that time came 13 years ago.

“My wife (has a background of) Church of God and I’m Roman Catholic, and she heard the calling,” said Larry. “And I asked my pastor about it and I said, ‘I didn’t hear anything.’” So he said, ‘Larry, if your wife was called into it, you were called into it, too.’ So, we’ve been doing it ever since.”

The Strauser’s are foster parents. It’s a commitment that stands alone and there are children all over Knoxville, as well as the world, who need and want to find a loving home. Larry said after his wife heard the call, they both decided to put down roots in East Tennessee and let their faith guide them along the way.

“In 1998 we sold our businesses and we got called into the ministry working at a children’s home in Sevierville,” he said. “We worked there for five years and we decided we loved Tennessee so much that we wanted to live here. So, we bought a house out in the Karns area and went into foster care with Catholic Charities and Omnivisions. Now we have two great kids who’ve been with us for two-and-a-half years — (foster children) Ryan and Noah — they’re 10 and 13. Five years ago we adopted my son Kevin, so it’s just the five of us at home right now.”

Go read the rest here. Did I mention Larry also finds the time to be a sponsor in our parish RCIA program? Last year, 50 folks joined the Catholic family through that narrow portal.

So the family isn’t “perfect.” But her members try, and the Church provides the means of grace through the sacraments. My friend Wu Li, SJ put it this way,

Those who are known as “daily improving”
to praise the Spirit are worthy;

Day by day, and one step at a time.

Amen, I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you. (cf. Matt 17:20)

Lord? Help my unbelief. Amen.

Because Irony Is God’s Way of Lightening Our Load (Friday Funnies)

Photo credit: Sameli 

Go ahead…I dare you not to crack a smile at these. Push all liquids away from your keyboard, swallow any food you have in your mouth, and don’t forget to breathe. I’m probably the last person to have seen them.

Go see more here. Happy Friday!

For the Coolest Blog That Added YIMCatholic to Their Blog Roll

I mean seriously, my hearts goes all soft and warm when I see stuff like this. This is the New Evangelization in action. Would you believe coming out of Emmaus? John C.H.Wu and Dom Lou Tseng-Tsiang are smiling. Me too.

What does the post say? Dunno. But I can make out 2 Corinthians 4: 7-15.

Thank you TingTing Tse…you just made my day!

Because We’re a Pilgrim People

My father was a wandering Aramean.

Today is the Feast of St. James the Greater, brother of St. John the Evangelist. He is one of the sons of Zebedee, the “sons of thunder,” as Our Lord called them. James was the first of the Apostles to be martyred, which is interesting when you consider that Mary Salome, the mother of these two, and with them in tow, had the temerity to ask Jesus the following request,

“Command that these two sons of mine sit, one at your right and the other at your left, in your kingdom.”

Jesus said in reply, “You do not know what you are asking.

Then he must have turned to these two and asked,

Can you drink the cup that I am going to drink?”

They said to him, “We can.”

You’ve got to hand it to them. I mean they were nothing if not confident.

He replied, “My cup you will indeed drink, but to sit at my right and at my left, (this) is not mine to give but is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.”

Of course, after this episode, the other ten disciples got pretty fired up at these two, and Jesus again uses it as a teachable moment and says,

“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and the great ones make their authority over them felt. But it shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave. Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Christ certainly has a way of melting animosity while bringing the focus back to seeing things as He sees and pointing us down the paradoxical path of the Way.

Speaking of St. James, feast days, paradoxes and the Way, I wanted to share with you all a couple of blog posts that you may find of interest. The first is from Teresa Doyle-Nelson’s blog Bible Saints and includes some really neat background information about James the Greater. The second is a post written by Fr. Steve Grunow of Word on Fire about the pilgrimage along “the Way of St. James,” also known as Santiago de Compostela.

My wife would be thrilled to know that I would love to fly to Provence (remember that dream?) and hike along the pilgrims path all the way to the cathedral in Santiago in Northern Spain. Wait a second…hike the route?! Ok, that may be a little over the top. Maybe a Eurail Pass would do the trick.

By the way (pun intended), I found that way cool map at the website of the Confraternity of St. James. Go check it out too!

UPDATE: Which James is which again?

For Thoughts On the Misery of Man

Here are a few words in prose from my gifted friend Blaise Pascal. They should need no explanation, but only the observation that this particular mathematical genius understands human nature (at least mine, if no one else’s) and he can write as clear as the peal of a bell.

from On the Misery of Man

We care nothing for the present. We anticipate the future as too slow in coming, as if we could make it move faster; or we call back the past, to stop its rapid flight. So imprudent are we that we wander through the times in which we have no part, unthinking of that which alone is ours; so frivolous are we that we dream of the days which are not, and pass by without reflection those which alone exist. For the present generally gives us pain; we conceal it from our sight because it afflicts us, and if it be pleasant we regret to see it vanish away. We endeavour to sustain the present by the future, and think of arranging things not in our power, for a time at which we have no certainty of arriving.

If we examine our thoughts, we shall find them always occupied with the past or the future. We scarcely think of the present, and if we do so, it is only that we may borrow light from it to direct the future. The present is never our end; the past and the present are our means, the future alone is our end. Thus we never live, but hope to live, and while we always lay ourselves out to be happy, it is inevitable that we can never be so.

We are so unhappy that we cannot take pleasure in a thing, save on condition of being troubled if it turn out ill, as a thousand things may do, and do every hour. He who should find the secret of rejoicing in good without being troubled at its contrary evil, would have hit the mark. It is perpetual motion.

Our nature exists by motion; perfect rest is death.

Food for thought on a Saturday afternoon…

Update: Me and Blaise go way back.

For the Paradox of the Wide Road on the Narrow Path

Joe Six-Pack, USMC here with a few brief words on Why I Am Catholic. Actually, there is one word that sums up what I am getting at with this post: pluralism. Before pitchforks and torches are mobilized, and hordes of angry, conspiracy theory influenced folks attempt to hurl themselves upon my redoubts and battlements, and risk being bitten by my ferocious and cunning battle dog, let me clarify which definition of this word I mean.

Using the handy Merriam-Webster on-line dictionary, you will find the definition of pluralism, as I use it here, listed as the fourth one with two parts.

4 a: a state of society in which members of diverse ethnic, racial, religious, or social groups maintain an autonomous participation in and development of their traditional culture or special interest within the confines of a common civilization.

b: a concept, doctrine, or policy advocating this state

Catholic Cathedral Bamako, Mali

If when reading the definition in 4 a) you didn’t immediately notice the similarity of this with the actual makeup of the Catholic Church, think about it for a moment. Do you see it now? I don’t mean just in your particular parish, or even in your diocese, though if they are anything like mine, it may be enough. No, I mean the whole Church, the entire Body of Christ spread as she is throughout the world; every parish, and every diocese from Rome, Italy to Bamako, Mali, in all countries, from A to Z.

Whoa Frank, you may be thinking, there is only one way, and that is the Catholic way! And if you note the title of this blog, it should come as no surprise that I agree. But I do so with the caveat that within the “one way” of Catholic tradition, there are many variations that allow the adaptation of practices not only to the cultural mores of local parishes, but even extending out to the widely different charisms that give rise to the multitude of orders and societies within the Church as well.

If there was only “one way,” there would be no allowance for the orders of the Benedictines, the Franciscans, the Paulists, or the Poor Clares. There would be no tolerance of the charisms of the Capuchins, the Carthusians or the Cistercians. No need for the Carmelites, the Brothers of the Holy Cross, the Redemptorists, or the Sisters of Mercy. Seriously, if there is only one way to be a faithful, Christ-centered, and blessed by grace, Catholic, the enterprise of saving the whole world was doomed to failure at the beginning.

But it wasn’t a failure. Instead, the mission has been a rousing success, in spite of all the challenges, travails, and martyrs. From the death and resurrection of the Founder, to those of our brothers and sisters that endure persecution for being faithful Catholics today, the saving mission of the Church continues on. The sharing of the Good News, and the provision of inward grace via the outward signs of grace (which are the sacraments) continues apace.

And the Church was successful, and will continue to be so, because the catholic nature of the world demands an embrace of pluralism that, frankly, the leadership of the Church understands and encourages. This is why when you hear some folks ranting about there being only one way to receive communion, only one correct way to sing songs (and even diatribes on certain songs that are in in your hymnal? Lord have mercy.), only one proper way for the Mass to be said, in only one proper language, etc, etc., there is something to remember: there is a wideness in God’s mercy within the narrow path of Catholicism.

Oh, and thank God for bishops. Who, among their many responsibilities, have one also “to affirm legitimate pluralism and to challenge simultaneously contemporary currents which exceed the boundaries of justice, holiness, and mutually forgiving love, so that the unity of truth and the unity of Spirit can be even more deeply renewed ” among the faithful and spread to the world. See Matthew 7:16.

I lifted that quote from Brother James Hanson, CSC and I’ll also share this one from the introduction of his book, If I’m a Christian, Why Be a Catholic? as well,

To be Catholic today is to live in the pluralism of the post Vatican II Church. For many the experience is as confusing as it is renewing. Gradually the dust is settling as the wheat is separated from the chaff while gently nurturing new shoots of life at the same time (Matthew 13:25-30). I am convinced that all truth is beautiful and that the revealed truth of Catholic faith is compellingly beautiful when it is properly understood. In John 10:14, Jesus called himself the good shepherd who knows his sheep and is known by them. When Pope Gregory the Great preached on that text, he wrote, “If someone does not love the truth, it is because he has not recognized it.”

I thank God for helping me to recognize it. And a huge part of that recognition is from seeing the beneficial fruits of the pluralistic policies of the Church as seen in the various approaches she allows in following her. She is so accommodating and hospitable, you know, like you would expect your best friends mom to be.

Now, Brother Hanson wrote those words 27 years ago about the Council, which concluded 19 years before he wrote them. Perhaps he was premature in saying the dust was settled, because there was plenty of threshing to be done, as there always will be. But to me, and remember, I’m just Joe Six-Pack, she believes, practiced, and continues to practice E Pluribus Unum long before that motto was adopted on the Seal of the United States (1782, for you history buffs). In fact, a variation of the phrase was used in the fourth book of the Confessions of St. Augustine (which is just another reason why I am Catholic).

Why has pluralism been a “Catholic thing” since the beginning? Well, I’ll venture to again keep things simple with a one word answer, that may require development in further posts to make it evident. Agape. A simple answer that again is seen as the reason for the saving mission of Christ, and thus of His Church,

A mustard seed

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. (John 3:17)

And thus the mustard seed of agape was planted and now we behold the truth as the Truth Incarnate foretold us in this short parable,

“The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a person took and sowed in a field. It is the smallest of all the seeds, yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants. It becomes a large bush, and the ‘birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches.’”

Not just for one kind of bird, and in a very large bush. Thanks be to God.


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