Thursday, August 28, 2008

Holy Card of Me Meme

Athanasius contra mundum tagged me with the Holy Card meme

What picture would I use for my holy card, should I make it to sainthood, and of what cause(s) would I want to be patron of?

I'm partial to this one:

and I think I'd be the patron of all eradicators of goat-heads,

tinfoil hat wearers,

mechanical transport designers,

lovers of old things gone over the top,

and those who don't know when to stop,

Or travel the road their own way in danger,

in fear of the safe way,

begun in a manger.

It's an odd meme, but I think I finally figured out what to do with it.

Chewing gum at mass

Father Richtsteig has an issue with chewing gum at mass, as well we all should! On his blog, in a post titled Bringing out the big guns, he proposes the following informational poster:

that's good, Padre. Maybe you could induce the slack-jawed cud-chewers to rack their gum, as certainly you expect them to rack their gun...

...very orderly, very nice. But what would a gum rack look like?

No, on second thought, I don't think that would work (click image for more gross-out from a blog called "Amazing!" - rather too generous a term for this!). Leave it home, folks, or perhaps stick it under the seat of your own car if you forget!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Ode to Nancy

Ode To Nancy, by Jay Boyd

Senator Nancy Pelosi,
Has theology weak as Jello-si,
She quotes from Augustine
But must take a dustin'
From those who are in the know-si.

Nancy Pelosi's the Speaker,
But her theology is really much weaker
Than she'd like to admit;
It's giving her fits,
But it hasn't made her much meeker.

Communion's important, she's announcing,
As the Church's teaching she's renouncing.
She wants to receive;
She says she believes.
But the Bishops gave her a trouncing.

We witness amazing contortion,
Not to mention doctrinal distortion,
When Nancy comes in
With her version of sin,
And her political stance on abortion.

"Abortion just might not be wrong
If the woman's not too far along."
Roe v. Wade preaching
Replaces Church teaching
As Nancy's political song.

Abortion is wrong - she must know!
But with her record, it sure doesn't show.
She's Catholic, she said,
But her faith must be dead.
Nancy: you'll reap what you sow.

Dr. Jay Boyd is a convert to the Catholic faith, a Psychologist residing in Baker City, Oregon, and a frequent contributor to Homelitic and Pastoral Review who also enjoys writing limericks

Monday, August 25, 2008

Truth in advertising: There is no other way of finding Jesus except in the Church

Archbishop John Bathersby in Brisbane, Australia, has drawn the line in the sand; be a Catholic parish, or be closed. (Click the extract for the full text)

We would like to think that Episcopal oversight would prevent something like this long before this stage is reached, yet, here it is. Refreshing to see action, even late, taken. May all parties who have "kicked against the goad" (Acts 9:5) return to the one, holy, catholic and apostolic faith. Wake up, folks.

Hat tip to Fr. Z, Brisbane: Renegade parish to fly right or be shut down at What does the prayer really say

Friday, August 22, 2008

Equivocation - a postscript

This post is a post-script to the earlier post on equivocation; it is from Fr. Gerard S.J.’s “The Autobiography of a Hunted Priest.” For context, Fr. Gerard is living undercover as a gentleman of means…

Once in this lady’s house I was sitting with her in the dining-room after dinner – her maids-in-waiting were there, but the servants had gone downstairs for their own dinner. We were discussing spiritual subjects and sitting at the table. Suddenly some servants came up with a guest who had just arrived. He was a Doctor of Divinity from Oxford and a well-known persecutor of Catholics. His name was Abbot. Just recently he had published a book against Father Southwell, who had been executed, and Father Gerard, the man who had escaped from the Tower. These two priests had defended the doctrine of equivocation which he set out to refute. After its publication this good man was promoted to the Deanery of Winchester, which carried with it an annual income of 8,000 florins.

The gentleman, as I said, was shown upstairs and walked into the dining-room. After the fashion of these dignitaries, he was wearing a silk soutane that came down to his knees. He found us, or so he thought, playing cards. Actually we had put the cards away to attend to better things as soon as the servants had gone downstairs, and we had resumed our game when this gentleman was announced. So he found us sitting at the card-table piled with money.

I should explain that whenever I was with Catholics and we had to stage a game of circumstances like these, we had an understanding that everybody got his money back at the end and that the loser said an Ave Maria for ever counter returned. In this way I often played with brother Digby and others, when there was occasion to act a part and make bystanders think that we were playing for money in good earnest.

The good minister, therefore, did not have a moment’s suspicion. After an exchange of courtesies he began talking volubly. It is all these men can do; they have no solid knowledge, but with their persuasive words of human wisdom they lead poor souls astray and ‘subvert whole households, teaching what they ought not.’ So after a good deal of frivolous take, this man came out with the latest news from London: the story of a Puritan who had thrown himself from a church tower and had left behind a note in which he claimed that he was certain of his eternal salvation. The doctor did not mention that, but I heard it from another source.

‘Poor fellow,’ I said. ‘What could have induced him to destroy his body and soul in one fell act?’

‘Sir,’ answered the doctor, in a learned and magisterial manner. ‘Sir, it is not for us to pass judgment on any man.’

‘Quite so,’ I said. ‘It is possible, of course, that the man repented of his sin as he was still falling, inter pontem et fontem, as they say. But it is very unlikely. The man’s last act which we have any means of judging was a mortal sin and merited damnation.’

‘But,’ said the doctor, ‘we don’t know whether this was such a sin.’

‘Pardon me,’ I said, ‘it is not a case here of our own judgment. It is a question of God’s judgment; He forbids us under pain of hell to kill anyone, and particularly ourselves, for charity begins at home.’

The good doctor was caught. He said nothing more on the point, but he turned the subject, saying with a smile:

‘Gentlemen should not dispute on theological questions.’

‘I agree,’ I said. ‘We don’t, of course, pretend to know theology, but we should at least know the law of God, even if our profession is to play cards.’

When the lady I was playing with heard this retort she could hardly keep a straight face. What would he have thought if he had known whom he was talking to? But the doctor did not stay much longer. He went away after about an hour. I don’t know whether he left sooner than he had intended, but I do know that we much preferred his room to his company.

St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle...

Satan, while hidden, remains active in us and in society
By Bishop Robert Vasa

[]It is certainly important that we not become excessively consumed or obsessed by the presence and activity of the evil one but it is also most important that we not be oblivious to his presence or activity, for it is real. All one needs to do is look at the state of moral confusion which reigns in our present society. The killing of the sick or elderly because they want it is being promoted as some kind of right or good but this can be so only in the topsy-turvy world of Screwtape and Wormwood. When taking the life of an innocent pre-born child is seen as right and a right and when the preservation of precisely that right becomes the object of a political campaign, I suspect the letter from Screwtape to the demon master of that campaign would be filled with praise. When a whole society begins to question whether marriage really requires one man and one woman, faithfully committed to each other in an exclusive and child-centered relationship, Satan must be very pleased indeed. Screwtape’s letters to the untiring tempters who pulled off that coup would have to be filled with devilish pride. For that kind of confusion and moral inversion to have made this kind of progress in our society, it was and is necessary for Satan to have been very active and at the same time to remain very hidden. When he is so subtly hidden, there is no limit to the wickedness and snares of the devil.

When we look at our society and see the depths of depravity to which it has already sunk we must, like in the parable of the wheat and the tares, come to the unmistakable conclusion that “an enemy has done this.”

Read the full article here!

Our weapons are not those of strength, but of light. Gideon had to reduce his army from 10,000 to 300, so that it would be evident that victory was from God, not man. Why 300? St. Augustine points out that the number 300 is the Greek letter τ, in other words, victory is in the cross of Christ. Light in earthen vessels; what are we, but dust, to which we shall return? The dust of the earth, which carries the light? Is that light hidden, or does it shine? and why should not the Lord subject us to trial, in order that the light will be seen by others?

From the diocese of Baker, Pastoral Guidelines, a document which is good to read now and again, these sections in particular:



46. As I mentioned above still others have expressed concern that my insistence upon an affirmation of faith is a form of ‘judgmentalism’. Some have indicated to me that the task I have undertaken of trying to "oversee" ministry, liturgy and ministers of the Diocese is not "my job". This perspective is most interesting particularly since the very title Bishop means precisely that, "overseer". [...]

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Veritas - the Truth. We have a duty to the truth, and always being truthful is a part of that. This duty I have seen most painfully questioned in regard to situations where the questioner has no right to know; such as in the historical case of person who would have been hiding Jews during WWII, what to say to the direct question of the SS/Gestopo: are there Jews here?

I’ve seen this discussed in various places, but I’d not heard the doctrine of equivocation until reading it in Fr. John Gerard’s “The Autobiography of a Hunted Priest.” For context, it’s the closing days of the sixteenth century; Father Gerard S.J. has been arrested, moved to the tower of London, and after torture, is questioned by the crown:

The Queen’s Attorney-General put to me a series of questions, following, as he said, the same phrasing, order and form that he would observe in the actual prosecution.

He started with my priesthood and my coming to England as a priest and a Jesuit. Then he asked whether I had dealt with any people with the intention of seducing them from the faith and religious profession approved by law, to the Pope’s allegiance. I confessed straightway that I was guilty on all these counts-that was sufficient for a legal sentence. But when they asked me to name the persons with whom I had plotted against the government, I denied I had done any such thing. Nevertheless they persisted: how could I be so anxious for the conversion of England, they urged, and yet keep out of politics, which were the best means to my purpose?

As near as I can recall now, this is what I answered:
‘I will speak my mind plainly in this matter of conversion and politics, so that you will be left in no doubt and have no need to question me further. I call on God and His Angels to bear me out – I am not lying. I am hiding nothing from you that I have at heart. If I could have fulfilled all that I wish and desire, I would want the whole of England to return to Rome and the Catholic faith: the Queen, her Council, and yourselves also, and all the magistrates of this realm; yet so, my Lords, that neither the Queen, nor you, nor any officer of state forfeit the honor or right he now enjoys; so that not a single hair of your head perish; but simply that you may be happy both in this present life and in the life to come. But do not think that I want this conversion for any selfish reason of my own – that I may be freed and may enjoy the good things of life. I call on Almighty God to witness: I would gladly go out tomorrow morning to be hanged just as I stand before you now. These are my thoughts, my aspirations. I am not an enmity with the Queen nor with you, nor have I ever been.’

For a few moments the Attorney-General was at a loss for an answer. Then he asked me to name the Catholics I knew. Did I know so and so?

‘I don’t’, I said, and, as usual, I explained that, even if I did know I could not mention their names. Then he went off on to the question of equivocation and began to disparage Father Southwell’s character.

Now at his trial Father Southwell had refused to admit that he knew the woman who was brought in to give evidence for the prosecution. Though she swore he had visited her father’s house and had been received there as a priest, Father Southwell denied it – and he had been captured in that very house and in the very hiding-place which that woman had betrayed to the pursuivants. She was a monstrous creature and thought nothing of bartering away her own father’s life and Father Southwell’s too. But Christ who came not to set peace, but a sword, between the wicked and the good, separated this wicked daughter from her good parents.

Father Southwell was astonished at the woman’s impudence, but he denied everything she alleged. And he explained why he did so, putting his reasons well and showing clearly and convincingly that it was wrong for him to increase the burden of those who were already suffering for their faith and had been kind to him. Then, following up, he argued very learnedly that it was lawful and in some cases even necessary to resort to equivocation. Though many, he said, abhorred the doctrine, he showed there were solid reasons for it, and it rested on amply authority in Sacred Scripture and the Doctors of the Church.

The Attorney-General reprobated such teaching, and tried to show it countenanced lying and undermined social intercourse between men. Against this I maintained that equivocation was different from lying. In equivocation the intention was not to deceive, which was the essence of a lie, but simply to withhold the truth in cases where the questioned party is not bound to reveal it. To deny a man what he has no claim to was not deception. I showed that this teaching in no way destroyed the bonds of society, or made human intercourse impossible. ‘Equivocation’, I said, could not be invoked in contracts, since every man is bound to give his neighbor even his smallest due, and in contracts truth is due to the contracting party. Nor could it be invoked in ordinary conversation to the prejudice of plain truth and Christian sincerity, and still less in matters falling under the lawful cognizance of the State. For instance, a man cannot deny a crime if he is guilty and lawfully interrogated.’

‘What do you mean by lawful interrogation?’ asked the Attorney-General.

‘The question must be asked by a person who has authority or jurisdiction and it must concern an action in some way harmful to the State, otherwise the law cannot take cognizance of it. Wrong acts, that are merely internal, are reserved to God’s judgment alone. Again, there must be some evidence adduced against the accused person. In England it is the custom for the accused, when asked whether he is guilty or not, to answer ‘Not guilty’, until witnesses are produced against him or a verdict of guilty returned by the jury who examine the case. This is the general practice and no one calls it lying. In general, equivocation is unlawful save when a person is asked a question, either directly or indirectly, which the questioner has no right to put, and where a straight answer would injure the questioned party.’

Then I explained that this was the practice of Our Lord and of the saints and all sensible men. ‘The board examining me now’, I said, ‘would do the same if, for example, they were questioned about some secret sin or were attacked by thieves and asked where their money was hidden.’

When did our Lord use equivocation?’ they asked.

‘When he told His Apostles’, I answered, ‘that no one new the day of judgment, not even the Son of Man; and again, when He said He was not going up to Jerusalem for the feast, and then went. He knew He was going when He said He was not.’

Wade broke in.

‘Christ was ignorant of the day of judgment as Son of Man.’

‘The word “ignorant”’, I said, ‘cannot be used of the incarnate Word of God; His human nature was hypostatically untied to the divine. He was constituted Judge by God the Father, and would therefore know all that touched His office. Moreover, He was infinite wisdom and knew all that concerned Himself.’

Now, Protestants don’t admit all St. Paul teaches. They claim, of course, to follow him, but this was a case in point; Paul teaches that the fullness of the Godhead resided in Christ, corporally, and that in Him were all the treasures of the wisdom and knowledge of God. However, this passage did not occur to me at that moment.

They had practically no answer to make. But the Attorney-General wrote down every word and told me he would use it against me before very long when I came up for trial. But he did not keep his promise, for I was unworthy to enter the house of God. Nothing defiled can enter it, and I was still to be cleansed, and made to pass much time in exile; and then, if it please God, be saved, yet as by fire.

Prayer request

This from chapter member Bonnie Fitzpatrick:

My mother has had a heart attack and they think it is her time. Please pray for her soul and for all of us. This is more blessed and yet harder than I thought it would be.

Lord, may this time in which you bring Bonnie's mother's life to closure, Grant the grace that the hearts of this family be strongly bound to You, now and forever.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

New blog

Our newest Chapter Member, "Muscovite," is dabbling with a blog!

What I do
In case it's interesting to anyone out there.

I work with children and youth on drug abuse awareness, teen pregnancy avoidance, emotional health (e.g., self-control, healthy self-image, etc.) issues, life skills, developing healthy eating and exercise habits, and building healthy relationships. I also oversee their academic education. I try to make their lives as normal and secure and loving as possible. I am their mother, and I am married to their father. It's an unusual approach, but it works.

Priceless; looking forward to more!

and while I'm at it...

I stumbled across a nice blog with a Dominican flavor; ad altare dei, which I'll be visiting more in the future. Thanks, Alan.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Loaves and fishes - miracle or not?

For those who have had to sit through a homily which proposed that no miracle occurred in feeding 5000 with 5 loaves and two fishes, here is Steve Ray's answer, which was published in This Rock, January 2008.

Loaves and Fishes
Fashionable Priests and the "Miracle of Sharing"

By Steve Ray

One Sunday I visited a parish in another city and learned something new. The multiplication of loaves didn’t really happen. The greedy people following Jesus in the wilderness had loaves and fishes stuffed up under their robes. The disciples didn’t know about this surplus of hidden food, but this parish priest did!

Although the priest said he was taught in seminary that Jesus kept pulling bread and fish out of the basket, he learned the real truth from the natives in Mexico. They taught him that the Gospel writers misunderstood what really happened. What really happened is that Jesus preached to the crowd about caring and sharing and they responded by bringing out food from under their robes that they had been hiding from each other. Once everyone learned how to share, there was plenty for everyone with twelve basketfuls left over.

The story was told with great humor and passion, but the denial of the miraculous and the undermining of the clear intent of Scripture was accomplished nonetheless. And in the course of telling a good story, the priest actually placed the onus of this false teaching in the laps of the poor people in Mexico.

Unhappily, this priest is not alone in his misunderstanding. It seems this interpretation has quite a following. I’ve read it in books and magazines, and I’ve heard it in other homilies. For some theologians and priests, the real miracle was not the multiplication of loaves, but the act of caring. Jesus was able to convince selfish people to share: the real miracle.

Let’s take a look at a few of the many problems with this interpretation. There are six accounts of feeding the multitudes given in the Gospels (See "Read the Different Accounts" on page 24). Jesus fed the people on at least two occasions—once 5,000 men and another time 4,000 men; once with five loaves and two fish and again with seven loaves and a few fish; once with twelve baskets of remaining bread and in another five baskets.

Was Jesus Unaware of Custom?

Jesus and the disciples knew the people and the customs of the times. If it was customary for people to carry hidden food under their robes, Jesus and the disciples would have known. But Jesus and his disciples—unlike this "wiser-than-Jesus" priest—didn’t realize there was a hidden treasure of food.

The Twelve came to Jesus and made a request. They needed food to feed hungry people, or they needed to send them away. They never mentioned or taught anything about hidden food and sharing. Are we to believe that if Jesus intended the message to be about sharing that at least one of the writers would not have stated so or shared the homily Jesus preached about sharing?

Rather, three of the Gospel writers say "Send the crowd away, that they may go into the surrounding villages and countryside and find lodging and get something to eat; for here we are in a desolate place." The priest seemed to know something the disciples were totally oblivious to—there was plenty of food and no one needed to go into town to find food. Silly disciples!

Jesus and the disciples knew there was no abundance of bread hiding in secret picnic baskets. As St. Jerome said, "Wherein he calls the apostles to breaking of bread, that the greatness of the miracle might be more evident by their testimony that they [the people] had none [no food]" (Thomas Aquinas, Catena Aurea, I.2).

But if that is not enough, let’s look carefully at the words of Jesus in Matthew 15:32: "Then Jesus called his disciples to him and said, ‘I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with me now three days, and have nothing to eat; and I am unwilling to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way’" (cf. Mark 8:2-4).

Jesus states clearly that the people had been with him in the deserted area for three days. Even if they had originally brought hidden food, it would have been eaten over the three days of being in the wilderness. Jesus clearly stated that they had no food.

It doesn’t seem likely that Jesus was completely ignorant of the situation and was mistaken in thinking the people were really hungry. We can’t believe that Jesus knew there was plenty of hidden food and was just lying about the situation to make a point. Why should I believe what a priest says rather than what Jesus says?

Where’s the Sharing Lesson?

The line goes something like this: "The people had plenty of food but they were hoarding it. Jesus taught them to share so they all pulled out their surplus of food from under their robes and everyone shared with his neighbor. That is the lesson! Jesus did not do a physical miracle; the real miracle was convincing selfish people to share with others."

But read the Gospel accounts of the multiplication of loaves and fishes, and see if you can find even a hint of this "sharing interpretation." Nothing is said about Jesus teaching the crowds at this point, much less that he taught them about sharing. Scripture never mentions or even hints that Jesus exhorted everyone to pull up their robes to reveal their hidden stashes of food. In fact it is never even implied.

Except for the Resurrection, the multiplication of loaves is the only miracle told in all four Gospels. It was considered important enough to include in all four. And here we come to the next big problem. If these events were so important, why do the writers not offer the slightest clue that sharing was the primary import of the event?

Interestingly, Jesus does not address the crowd at all. He speaks only to his disciples. The dialogue goes on between Jesus and his disciples. The only time the crowd is addressed is when they are told to sit down in groups—not to teach them generosity. So, where are we told that Jesus taught them about sharing? If he did teach them to share their hidden food, why did the Gospel writers fail to inform us—in six separate accounts? If this was the main point of the story, shouldn’t it show up at least once?

Where Did It Come From?

Matthew informs us about two separate occasions of feeding the multitudes (Matt. 14 and 15). Matthew 15:36 makes it clear what happened and where the miraculous bread came from. It came from the hands of Jesus, not the people. Matthew writes "[Jesus] took the seven loaves and the fish; and giving thanks, he broke them and started giving them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people."

Is there any indication here that the bread just appeared among the crowd and kept growing as everyone pulled out food and began to share? Did the "multiplication" begin from the hands of the people to the mouths of their neighbor? Of course not. Nor did the bread start appearing first in the hands of the generous crowd and move to the hands of the disciples then to the hands of Jesus. It was the other way around. It went from the hands of Jesus who took, blessed, broke, and gave it into the hands of the disciples, who passed it to the people.

As St. Jerome affirmed, "The multitude receives the food from the Lord through the apostles; as it follows, and he gave the loaves to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude" (Thomas Aquinas, Catena Aurea, I.2).

It took a lot of bread and fish to feed 10,000–20,000 people or more. (Jesus fed 5,000 men on one occasion, not counting women and children. Add one woman and one child for each man and you already are at 15,000.) The fragments of bread left over filled many baskets. The Gospel writers even say the remaining bread represented a "superabundance." What was the source of the remaining superabundance? Had the remaining fragments come from the picnic baskets? Or were the fragments left over from the loaves blessed and multiplied by Jesus? Here is what John says:

So they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten. Therefore when the people saw the sign which he had performed, they said, "This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world." (John 6:13-14)

The people had seen a supernatural miracle (John refers to supernatural miracles as "signs" throughout his Gospel), so they declared that he was "truly the Prophet who is to come" (based on Deut. 18:15-18). And seeing the miracle they wanted to make Jesus the king (John 6:15).

Jesus, the New Moses

In the Gospels Jesus is presented as the New Moses. At the Transfiguration (interestingly, right after the miracle of the loaves and fishes), Jesus meets Moses on the mountain. They talk about his "exodus" soon to take place. Moses had led the first Exodus, passing through the Red Sea (baptism, 1 Cor. 10:1-4), and then providing miraculous bread in the wilderness (just as Jesus gave the bread in the wilderness and the Eucharist for our journey). Jesus is now the new Moses on a mountain, with a shining face, engulfed in a cloud and leading an exodus—all referring back to Moses on the mountain of Sinai.

When the miracle of the multiplication of loaves is told in the Gospel of John, it is immediately related to the manna in the wilderness. The people saw the connection between Moses and Jesus, the manna and the miraculous bread. Jesus was the Prophet who had been promised. The people wanted to make him a king, not because he taught selfish people to share, but because he had done a stupendous miracle like their ancestors had seen in the wilderness of Sinai.

Since the two events are tied together—especially by John—then we could ask, was the manna really a miracle in the wilderness of Sinai or had Moses simply taught the people to share? Did the Israelites all sneak out of their tents at night to scatter manna around the desert? Had they been hoarding manna in their tents or under their robes?

I don’t think so. God had performed a genuine, certifiable miracle and the people knew it. And they knew it with Jesus too.

As the new Moses, Jesus could do no less than the Moses of old. The people would not have been impressed with anything less than a stupendous miracle. And impressed they were! Look at their reaction: They tried to make Jesus a king. If he had just given a lesson on generosity, they would have gone around patting each other on the back—they would have been the heroes, the ones to receive praise for sharing. But they had seen the miraculous, supernatural hand of God. Jesus was the Prophet promised by God and they wanted him to be king.

The Number of Perfection

John’s Gospel is a masterful composition constructed with intricate detail that holds together like a gorgeous tapestry. He opens with "the Word was God" and concludes with "My Lord and my God." Everything in between proves the divinity of Jesus. John describes seven miracles which he calls signs. He even numbers the first two signs to encourage us to keep counting. The seven are these:

  1. changing water into wine,
  2. healing the official’s son,
  3. healing the cripple at Bethesda,
  4. walking on water,
  5. multiplying loaves,
  6. healing the blind man, and
  7. raising Lazarus from the dead.

On the eighth day, the start of a new week, he rises from the dead—the eighth miracle/sign which shows a new beginning on the eighth day. These signs point to the divinity of our Lord. He uses seven because that is the number of perfection—seven days, seven sacraments, etc. When God makes an oath in Hebrew, it is literally "God sevens himself." John’s use of seven signs is remarkable. To delete one of the miracles and say it is just a "caring, sharing" moment among people in the crowd is to destroy the symmetry John weaves into his Gospel. You end up with six miracles, and in Scripture six is the number of man and incompleteness.

Violating Scripture in one place has the effect of a ball of yarn rolling down a hill. It begins to unravel everything and to do violence to the fabric of the Scriptures and the faith.

Who Do You Believe?

Each Gospel account of the feeding the thousands was intended to report a divine miracle. In other words, the four Gospel writers did not set out deceive their readers. If, however, we accept what these homilists propose, denying the miraculous in these stories, then we are accusing the eyewitness Gospel writers of one of two things: 1) being ignorant of what really happened, or 2) deliberating trying to deceive their readers.

Even if it were not a miraculous multiplication of loaves, the writers thought it was miraculous and wrote to inform us that they had seen what they thought was a miracle. And those reading the accounts thought the writers intended to report a real miracle. Eyewitnesses were still alive when the Gospel accounts were written. If there had been no miracle, they would have scoffed at the New Testament writings and exposed them as lies.

And believing Jesus actually performed a miracle was not just the universal belief of the early Church. For 2,000 years, readers have believed not only that the writers intended to relay their eyewitness account of a miracle but that Jesus actually performed such a miracle.

What actually happened in the wilderness long ago? There are only three options: 1) there was no miracle, only "sharing"—the Gospel writers were ignorant and just thought it was actually a miracle; 2) there was no miracle, only "sharing" and the writers conspired to deceive their readers into thinking it was a miracle; or 3) it was a miracle, and the Gospel writers reported it accurately.

The correct option is not as complicated as some people seem to think. We must also remember that as the Second Vatican Council taught in Dei Verbum that all that the Scripture writers affirm as true is without error. The passage about the multiplication of the loaves and fish certainly affirms a miracle.

Do You Not Yet Understand?

It seems like Jesus is asking this question again, this time to those who stray from the truth and fail to listen and understand. Listen to what Jesus says in the context of the multiplication of the loaves:

And they discussed it with one another, saying, "We have no bread." And being aware of it, Jesus said to them, "Why do you discuss the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?" They said to him, "Twelve." "And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?" And they said to him, "Seven." And he said to them, "Do you not yet understand?" (Mark 8:16-21)

Steve Ray is the author of Crossing the Tiber, Upon This Rock, and St. John’s Gospel. He is also co-author of Catholic Answers’ Papacy learning guide. You may contact him through his Web site,

The Renewal of the Dominican Order is Flourishing

Fr Timothy Gardner, a friar based at London's St Dominic's Priory, believes that the growth of the last two decades is the result of the order rediscovering its charism. It has returned to the intentions of its founder to be defenders of orthodoxy, through study, prayer and preaching.

Read the Catholic Herald article at Catholic Online here

Hat tip to Karen Woods, OPL, outgoing president of the Lay Provincial Council, Province of the Holy Name of Jesus.

Thursday, August 14, 2008


What a fine gift for St. Dominic's feast day!

There are no little things... in the liturgy in particular.

In an August 8 letter to the bishops of the US hierarchy, relaying the Vatican directive, Bishop Arthur Serratelli-- the chairman of the US bishops' liturgy committee-- welcomed the instruction, saying that it "helps to emphasize the theological accuracy of our language and appropriate reverence for the name of God."
what is this referring to? Ah, yes:

Vatican directive: "Yahweh" inappropriate for liturgical use
Aug. 13, 2008 ( - The Vatican has ruled that the Name of God, commonly rendered as "Yahweh," should not be pronounced in the Catholic liturgy.

The Vatican directive will not require any changes in the language of liturgy, since the Name of God is not spelled out in any authorized translation of the Roman Missal. However some hymns may be deemed inappropriate for liturgical use.
The effect of the Vatican directive should be evident in the selection of hymns, since some contemporary liturgical music violates the policy by pronouncing the Name of God. The policy will also call for some care in the preparation of variable elements in the liturgy, such as the Prayers of the Faithful.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Thoughts on the rule

Some time ago I read a book of the letters of St. Jane de Chantel and St. Francis de Sales. Like many books, I no longer own it because I loaned it to someone long forgotten, so I can't look up the citation. In essence, the story went like this; Jane sat down to read her daily office, and one of the children (this was while still raising a family) demanded her attention. She immediately rose to attend to her child's needs. Duty dispensed, she sat down to read and the same thing immediately happened again, she was interrupted before finishing the same sentence. She rose and took care of the duty. This same thing happened seven times, and seven times she rose and did not finish reading the same sentence. When, after seven interruptions, she resumed her reading, the sentence was now embossed in gold! St. Francis de Sales, her spiritual director, advised her that this is because our duties of state have priority over our religious observances, and while praying the office is a duty (in her case), her duties to her children always come first, and so she had acted well and proper and had pleased her Lord who showed his pleasure through that little miracle.

The "rule of life" which we as Lay Dominicans are vowed to follow, is a guideline to sanctity, to help us work out our salvation first and foremost. The rule is an enumeration of "good habits of the spiritual life" in accord with the Dominican charism for those in the lay state. Our motivation to adhere to them needs to conform to what I've provided in the previous post; a pious, filial fear, a love which drives one to desire to please the beloved, our Triune God. We must balance this with the demands of the lay state, and for those who are in the married vocation, family and especially children provide a wonderful chaos against which to balance our practice of the rule; a rule which should never be seen as a burden, but always as a gift to the beloved, a gift which gives more to us than it does to Him.

The struggle, if I may be so bold, is to "fit it in." While this is in some ways the exercise and training of habit, it also is in fixing in our mind, heart, and will, the desire that this is something we have chosen to do, something that is good and wonderful, and, like physical exercise, something that will do us great good. Mostly, though, it is something which will please the One we love, and whom we have chosen to love with a greater and closer intensity than that which has been pledged by baptism and confirmation; a gift of our self to our Lord who gives us what we need to give this gift.

And I think some of the previous post contains essential keys; to do the office when tired and not feeling like it, not because it is required, but because we want to please God, even when it clearly does not please ourself, or make us feel good, is an act of the will stripped of sweetness, and thus of greater merit than doing it when we actually feel like it! There is something here to study and consider.

Perhaps a thought to add is that while the rule is not binding under sin, it should not be dispensed lightly either. Yet the process of conforming our lives to the rule is challenging and part of the learning experience of formation. If we think of the rule as an extension of the concept of the tithe, and consider that our Lord said "Unless your justice exceed that of the scribes and the pharisees (who tithed mint and cumin), you will not enter the kingdom of heaven" (Mt 5:20), we should rejoice at the opportunity to do more for Jesus and his mystical body, the Church.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Rule & Love: not in opposition, but sides of but one coin when integrated

In a recent discussion, the struggle to live fully the Rule (for the Dominican Laity) came up. I said some things, and it was pointed out that such a discussion should be held in Chapter. In anticipation of that, I have collected a few thoughts and quotes to begin with as background.

let's dive into the deep end, beginning with chapter 21 of John:

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." He said to him, "Feed my lambs."

He then said to him a second time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." He said to him, "Tend my sheep."

He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time, "Do you love me?" and he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." (Jesus) said to him, "Feed my sheep.
(Jn 21:15-17)

It is well at this point to examine what is going on here in the subtext which is hidden from us by the English translation:

Jesus asks: diligis me?
Peter answers: amo te

Jesus asks again: diligis me?
Peter answers again: amo te

Jesus finally asks: amas me?
Peter answers: amo te

Jesus as asked Peter twice for a divine, devotional love, and Peter only can offer a sensible, human love; the third time Jesus asks for what Peter has to offer, knowing that it will lead to the love which Jesus is seeking, a love which has consequences:

...someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go. (Jn 21:18)

Diligence - a word in scripture which is translated as "love" leaves us lost without love because we focus on the sensible love, which is what we know by nature, not supernature. This is a love which does not seek itself in its satisfactions, but which sacrifices for the beloved.

From Divine Intimacy by Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, OCD:


“Diligence is the application of the soul in the prompt performance of good works. It makes man like the angels who fly with wonderful speed to fulfill God’s commands” (Ven. John of Jesus Mary). Promptness in doing good works is a special characteristic of diligence.

A negligent person goes to his work unwillingly, slowly, and with needless delay, whereas the diligent man hastens to it cheerfully, with promptness and concern. The prompt doing of a thing that should be done, even when it would be more convenient to do something else, is the fruit of diligence. Above all, one who is bound to a definite rule of life, either privately or in a community, must observe it punctually and exactly. In fact, any rule which has been approved by one who represents God, is, for the soul who is bound to it, a manifestation of the divine will, which must be carried out without delay or postponement. Punctuality exacts self-discipline and detachment; it often asks us to interrupt some interesting, pleasant work in order to give ourselves to another kind, perhaps less attractive and or less important. However, it would be a great mistake to esteem our duties and to dedicate ourselves to them according to the attraction we have for them or according to their more or less apparent importance. All is important and beautiful when it is the expression of the will of God, and the soul who wishes to live in this holy will at every minute of the day, will never omit the slightest act prescribed by its rule of life. To prolong what we are doing beyond the prescribed time, or to dispense ourselves from a duty without a serious reason, is to abandon the will of God; it shows an attachment to our own will, and often enough , to our own convenience.

“In carefulness not slothful. In spirit fervent, serving the Lord” wrote St. Paul to the Romans (12:11); and to the Ephesians he recommended, “See therefore, brethren, how you walk circumspectly: not as unwise, but as wise: redeeming the time … Wherefore, become not unwise, but understanding what is the will of God” (5:15-17).


“O Lord, meditating in You presence, I understand that the best remedy for carelessness and laxity in performing my duties is charity. I must strive to do everything for love, with the special intention of pleasing You” (Bl M. Thérèse Soubiran).

Diligence produces fruit as well; and the other aspects of this love; again from the Divine Intimacy:


1. The Christian religion is not limited to the simple relations of the creature with the Creator, relations which, given the infinite distance between the, would remain only within the sphere of reverence and homage, without any character of intimacy, without any confidential impetus toward God. A Christian knows that he is bound to God for other reasons than those of creation, strong though these may be – he has been redeemed from sin and raised to a supernatural state. A Christian is conscious of the fact that his is not only a creature, but a child of God, redeemed by Christ; and this gives to all his relations with God that quality of filial piety, which is the very soul of his religion. Let us contemplate Jesus in His relations with God; He knows he is a Son, a Son who lives for the Father who has given Him existence. “The Father hath sent Me … and I live by the Father” (Jn 6:58) ; a Son who has no other ideal than to do His Father’s will, to which He adheres with all the strength of His Heart: “Yea, Father, for so hath it seemed good in Thy sight” (Mt 11:26) ; a Son who in all His actions, seeks only to please His Father: “I do always the things that please Him” (Jn 8:29). Jesus, the only-begotten of the Father, the only Son of God by nature, has by grace made us sharers in His divine filiation, so that “we should be called and should be the sons of God” (1 Jn 3:1). If we are sons of God, then it is right that we, too, strive to share Christ’s dispositions of filial piety toward His heavenly Father. For it is this which truly characterizes our religion as given to us by our divine Master: “Thus, shall you pray: Our Father, who art in heaven” (Mt 6:9). He wishes us to consider and invoke God as our Father: the Father who provides for all our needs: the Father who wishes us to pray to Him in secret, and who in secret will hear our prayers; the Father who sees all our actions, even the most hidden ones, and who is preparing a reward for them; the Father who wishes us to honor Him by keeping His commandments, and who is pleased to make His abode in the souls of those who love Him. The divine paternity is the center of the Christian religion, and to this paternity should correspond, on our part, an attitude of deep filial piety. We should love God as a child loves its father, trying to please Him in all things. Piety is truly the heart of our religion.

2. God has wished to raise us to the dignity of being His children, we should live as such and not like servants. The servant does only what is strictly necessary to obtain his salary and retain his position; the son, however, does not consider the reward, but loving his father dearly, puts himself at his disposal unreservedly, without restriction. The servant is lazy and selfish; he tries to spare himself as much as he can, and does not wish to give his employer anything more than what has been agreed upon. Not so the son; for him it is not a question of a time for work and a time for rest; nothing is to laborious when it is a question of giving pleasure to his father; he is always ready to carry out his orders, always attentive to his wishes, he is happy to be able to repeat at every moment, “Behold, I come … to do Thy will” (Heb 10:7). Similarly, in our relations with God, filial piety flows into devotion, which according to St. Thomas, is the will to do promptly all that pertains to the service of God” (IIa IIae, q.82, a.i, co.). Piety as well as devotion can be very much alive in the soul, although in the sensible part it feels cold and dry; and this to the extent that all its exercises of prayer and virtue are performed without the feeling of any sweetness or consolation, but rather with great repugnance.

This should not alarm us: St. Thomas teaches that devotion is an act of the will, that this act can very well exist in spite of aridity, coldness, repugnance, and even rebellion in the inferior part of the soul. St Paul himself, although raised to the third heaven, was still not entirely free from these miseries, and confessed: “I am delighted with the law of God, according to the inward man: but I see another law in my members, fighting against the law of my mind” (Rom 7:22-23). Now as St. Paul – in spite of this resistance in the sensible part of his soul – was not deprived of true piety and true devotion, so neither is the soul deprived of them if it remains firm in the decision of its will to give itself promptly to God’s service, in spite of everything. Devotion, which is derived from the Latin word devoveo, means precisely consecration to the divinity; and the soul gives itself entirely to God, not by bursts of enthusiasm in its feelings, but by an act of the will. Furthermore, when devotion is deprived of relish for the things of God, “it has a double worth, because the soul both fulfills its duty and governs its sensitive appetite by a strong act of the will” (Ven. John of Jesus Mary).


O Most High God, You have willed to be my Father; grant that I may really be Your child, a loving, devoted child, attentive and docile to every manifestation of Your will, desiring to serve and please You in everything. O You, who have a Father’s heart for me, create in me the heart of a child, a heart free from servile fear, but rich in filial fear, a disinterested, generous heart which has but one fear: the fear of offending You, and but one desire: that of pleasing You.

I will be following this with another post, but this is enough to chew on for a while. Greetings and blessings to our Secular Carmelite friends who will be joining us for our Aug 16th meeting!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Cdl Stafford on Humanae Vitae dissent - from the trenches

This article by Cardinal Francis Stafford is a bright glimpse into the dark night of Aug 5, 1968...

Humanae Vitae - The Year of the Peirasmòs - 1968
by Cardinal J. Francis Stafford, D.D.

No dialogue was possible in 1968; it remained impossible in 1978. There was no common ground. Both of us were looking into an abyss - from opposite sides. Anguish and disquiet overwhelmed the distant hope of reconciliation and friendship. We never returned to the subject again. [...]

Diocesan presbyterates have not recovered from the July/August nights in 1968. Many in consecrated life also failed the evangelical test. Since January 2002, the abyss has opened up elsewhere. The whole people of God, including children and adolescents, now must look into the abyss and see what dread beasts are at its bottom. Each of us shudders before the wrath of God, each weeps in sorrow for our sins and each begs for the Father’s merciful remembrance of Christ’s obedience.

© Copyright 2008 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

hat tip to the wonderful

Note: I have four days left to complete my move-out. Thanks be to God for providing the solution to my home-ownership problem; and then get back to writing!

Friday, August 08, 2008

Witness of life

We must appreciate and embrace what the church offers
By Bishop Robert Vasa

BEND — Since returning from Australia I have continued to reflect upon the wonderful experience of World Youth Day and have realized anew how much work we must do for the sake of the faith of the youth of our Diocese. There is a great need for stronger catechetical content in all of our programs and there is need for more and better Catechist support. These are things which I have very specifically indicated to our Diocesan Directors of Youth Ministry and Catechetics. There is, however, another element which is not quite as tangible. The Church calls this the apostolate of evangelization and sanctification and it relates in a foundational way to catechesis.

The first movement of a soul toward God is always a response to grace, to some kind of invitation, either explicit or implicit. These invitations come to each of us rather routinely every single day. They are not difficult to recognize but a proper response to them may be difficult. Perhaps as a result of a word in a sermon or in a particular Scripture passage some additional light of grace shines on some dark spot of our heart and we realize anew a need for ongoing conversion. This recognition acknowledges the invitation, the grace. There then comes the decisive moment for the soul, the decision to give time and effort to this new insight or inspiration or the decision to retain the spiritual status quo.

The decree on the Apostolate of the Laity from Vatican Council II points out that this grace can likewise be brought to the world by the very witness of holiness of life. Laymen have countless opportunities for exercising the apostolate of evangelization and sanctification. The very witness of a Christian life, and good works done in a supernatural spirit, are effective in drawing men to the faith and to God; and that is what the Lord said: “Your light must shine so brightly before men that they can see your good works and glorify your father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). The witness of life, however, is not the sole element in the apostolate; the true apostle is on the lookout for occasions of announcing Christ by word, either to unbelievers to draw them towards the faith, or to the faithful to instruct them, strengthen, incite them to a more fervent life; “for Christ’s love urges us on” (2 Corinthians 5:14), and in the heart of all should the apostle’s words find echo: “Woe is me if I do not preach the Gospel” (I Corinthians 9:16).

Catechists and Youth Ministers, if they are to be truly effective in handing on the word of God, must themselves be evangelized and sanctified. Imagine the incongruity of an adult who has not been to confession in 10 years helping youngsters prepare for their first confession. If that instruction on confession is to bear fruit in the heart of the young there must first be a personal conviction of the beauty and value of the Sacrament. Then the instruction is more than simply the transmission of data, it is truly the continuation of the process of evangelization.

Thus, if we are committed to the work of giving our youth the very best of what the Church has to offer, it is essential that we ourselves first appreciate and embrace that which the Church offers. This means we must first be evangelized ourselves. If evangelizing sounds challenging, being evangelized ourselves is even more so. Yet it is essential if our youth work and catechesis is to be truly spiritually effective.
The points are most strongly and consistently made in Pope Paul VI’s Encyclical on Evangelization (Evangelii Nuntiandi): “Every evangelizer is expected to have a reverence for truth, especially since the truth that he studies and communicates is none other than revealed truth and hence, more than any other, a sharing in the first truth which is God Himself. The preacher of the Gospel will therefore be a person who even at the price of personal renunciation and suffering always seeks the truth that he must transmit to others. He never betrays or hides truth out of a desire to please men, in order to astonish or to shock, nor for the sake of originality or a desire to make an impression. He does not refuse truth. He does not obscure revealed truth by being too idle to search for it, or for the sake of his own comfort, or out of fear. He does not neglect to study it. He serves it generously, without making it serve him.” (EN, 78)

The Encyclical continues: “The work of evangelization presupposes in the evangelizer an ever increasing love for those whom he is evangelizing. That model evangelizer, the Apostle Paul, wrote these words to the Thessalonians, and they are a program for us all: ‘With such yearning love we chose to impart to you not only the gospel of God but our very selves, so dear had you become to us.’ (I Thessalonians 2:8) What is this love? It is much more than that of a teacher; it is the love of a father; and again, it is the love of a mother. It is this love that the Lord expects from every preacher of the Gospel, from every builder of the Church. A sign of love will be the concern to give the truth and to bring people into unity. Another sign of love will be a devotion to the proclamation of Jesus Christ, without reservation or turning back.” (EN, 79)

The Encyclical, though written in 1975, speaks to a wonderful truth about youth: “It is often said nowadays that the present century thirsts for authenticity. Especially in regard to young people it is said that they have a horror of the artificial or false and that they are searching above all for truth and honesty. These ‘signs of the times’ should find us vigilant. Either tacitly or aloud — but always forcefully — we are being asked: Do you really believe what you are proclaiming? Do you live what you believe? Do you really preach what you live? The witness of life has become more than ever an essential condition for real effectiveness in preaching. Precisely because of this we are, to a certain extent, responsible for the progress of the Gospel that we proclaim.” (EN, 76)

© 2002-2008, Catholic Sentinel

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Mike Lee's June Presentation

In June Mike gave a series of talks on the Gospel of John. they are online hereThat They Might Have Life and Have It Abundantly:
Spirituality and Theology in the Gospel of John for Today

Thank you, Mike!

Book plug

I've been frightfully busy, some of which has been self-imposed, but I hope it will settle down by the weekend of the Assumption! Meanwhile, I received this plug and am passing it along because this is a wonderful book that you need to read. This book is the basis of the movie "The Ninth Day" which is quite good, but there is so much more to the story than the movie reveals.

Dear Friend of Zaccheus Press,

We are very pleased that ZENIT, the international Catholic news organization, recently published an interview with historian William Doino about our book Priestblock 25487: A Memoir of Dachau.

Here is a link to the interview. It has some fascinating details; we think you'll enjoy it:

We know that many of you have already read Priestblock, and the feedback we have received has been overwhelmingly positive.

In celebration of the ZENIT interview, for a limited time we are offering Priestblock at the special sale price of $10.00 (regular price: $14.95). Sale ends Friday, August 8, at 6pm eastern.

How to Order
Place your order for Priestblock 25487 at our webpage here.

Please note that we now offer PayPal as an online purchasing option.

You can also phone in your order using a credit card: call 970-416-6672. Orders may be placed Monday-Friday, 9 am - 5:00 pm, mountain standard time.

The sale price does not include shipping, which is $3.00, plus $1.00 for each additional book. Orders are shipped via USPS Media Mail, and will usually arrive within 3-4 days, but please allow up to 14 business days for delivery. Sorry, Priestblock is not for sale outside the US and Canada. (Because our webpage cannot currently accept non-US orders, Canadian customers will need to phone in their order, or pay by check. If you wish to pay by check, please reply to this email, and we will send you information on where to mail the check. We apologize for the inconvenience to our Canadian customers.)

Praise for Priestblock 25487
''Stunning... Casts light into dark and previously neglected corners of the horror that was the Third Reich.''
Richard John Neuhaus, Editor in Chief First Things

''Father Jean Bernard's portrait of survival in a German concentration camp is simple, forceful and vivid and therefore impossible to put down or forget. It ranks with the great 20th Century personal testimonies against totalitarian violence... Priestblock 25487 is a diary of Catholic discipleship under extreme conditions that will deeply move all persons of conscience.''
Charles J. Chaput, Archbishop of Denver

''Gripping! This crisp story of the 3,000-plus Christian clergy at Dachau in 1941 forces me to turn pages quickly, in horror... In its understated power, this brief book is unforgettable.''
Michael Novak, author Washington's God

''Many hundreds of books have been written about German concentration and extermination camps, including at least two or three dozens by their actual survivors.
Of these, Father Jean Bernard's Priestblock 25487 is among the very best, because of the exceptional intelligence and honesty of its author... His diary is extraordinarily telling, convincing, and graphic. Every scholar and student of that dreadful chapter of twentieth-century history ought to read and ponder its contents.''
John Lukacs, author The Hitler of History; and Five Days in London: May 1940

''A gripping story of heroism and horror that must never be forgotten.''
First Things

''Important... luminous... Moves the reader to compassion and insight.''
Rachelle Linner, Catholic News Service

''Should be treated as a meditation, even something to be read again and again... So profound it deserves a wide readership.''
Barbara Stinson Lee, Intermountain Catholic

''Deeply moving... The suffering of these priests for the sake of the loving God is one of the modern age's glorious mysteries.''
Fr. George Rutler

''I found this compelling book hard to stop reading.''
Tim Johnson, Today's Catholic

''Provides fresh anecdotal insight into the Vatican's battle against the Nazis... As this first-hand account shows in riveting detail, the mere rumor of clerical opposition on the outside sufficed to intensify suffering on the inside.''
Daniel Cole, The Wanderer

''A gripping testimony of the brutal treatment Catholic clergy received at the hands of the Nazis.''
William Donohue, President, Catholic League

''It is dramatic. It is brutally honest. I loved the book and could not put it down.''
Teresa Tomeo, Ave Maria Radio

''I began reading this book on Friday night and finished the 175 pages in three hours. It was a book that I could not put down or stop reading.''
Rev. Steve Wood, St. John's Evangelical Church

Also, Tan Books is plugging "Attaining Salvation" by St. Alphonsus Ligouri, which is the retitled reprint of our recent retreat book, "Preparation for Death."

Here's two books I have no hesitation recommending!

from the Zenit article:
One aspect which sets this memoir apart is Father Bernard’s brutal honesty. He frankly describes the temptations of despair he and his fellow inmates experienced, and yet the witness of Our Lord was ever present to rescue them: During their darkest moments, they remembered his solemn words, and these acted as healing balms on their fractured, tormented bodies. The Gospel was a source of boundless strength, which invigorated them. Even the Nazis could not invade the sanctuary of their souls.

Paul tells us: In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood [Heb 12:4]. It is good to remember.