Saturday, May 29, 2010

Military Pilgrimage notes

From Catholic News Agency:

Vatican City, May 21, 2010 / 08:00 pm (CNA).- Lourdes, France is this weekend's destination for thousands of military personnel and their families who will participate in the 2010 International Military Pilgrimage. Since 1958, the Shrine has seen soldiers from all over the world come in peace to venerate Mary.

The tradition of the International Military Pilgrimage (IMP) to the French Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes began in 1958, after what was initially a regional pilgrimage and later national pilgrimage was made international to officially recognize the many NATO soldiers that had been arriving.

This year's 52nd pilgrimage takes place from May 21-23 and, according to organizers, will see nearly 12,000 pilgrims. An American outfit is represented in addition to 36 other delegations from as far away as Australia and Kenya and one formed of UN-mandated troops based in Kosovo.

Pilgrimage organizer and French military ordinary, Bishop Luc Ravel, spoke of the event saying that “the encounter brings with it the will of every military man of the world to work together for peace, the final good that we all seek. Also for a soldier, the use of weapons isn't the only way to promote peace between nations or within a people.”

“It's the conjugation of the force of weapons and the support of prayer that give the militaryman the dynamism and the openness to aim one day to achieve the good of peace,” he added, “without which the other 'goods' are reduced and eventually disappear.”

Major events planned for the three-day stay in the foothills of the French Alps, which will involve all military personnel, include a parade on Friday, adoration in the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary on Saturday and Mass in the Basilica of St. Pius X on Sunday before the group formation and farewell on the esplanade. Many other activities are set to take place within the individual national representations and languages.

Vatican Radio reported on Friday that Italy had sent 4,000 soldiers to Lourdes for the occasion, while on Thursday L'Osservatore Romano made note of a 15-member Swiss Guard contingent. Many soldiers will be staying in tent camps in the mountains during the pilgrimage.

I traveled to this event with the land contingent of a group sponsored by the North American Lourdes Volunteers. We departed Panzer Barracks, Stuttgart, on May 18 and arrived late the afternoon of May 19. We stayed at the Accueil Notre-Dame...

which is directly across the Gave river from the grotto where Bernadette Soubirous was graced with several visits from Our Lady.

We went everywhere under the banner of the Chi Rho, which contained the phrase "MILITIAE DE JESU CHRISTI" - the name of a precursor organization which in 1285 became the Third Order of Preachers (Dominican Third Order).

There were nightly rosary parades with increasing numbers of pilgrims daily:

Unfortunately, my camera failed to be able to take pictures of any quality in the underground Basilica of Pius X; it was the first time I'd been to a mass with over 25,000 in attendance! quite a few moving events took place there. Highly recommend it! One was a Eucharistic procession, with these fine fellows in front of our Lord:

Unfortunately, a few days before the pilgrimage, I had fallen and stoved in my knee pretty badly, making getting around more than a little difficult. I was fortunate to have great guys of all rank push me in a wheelchair which we brought from Germany.

The wheelchair had it's advantages other than mobility, as this photo shows during mass for the English speaking forces at the grotto. BTW, that's Archbishop Broglio of the Military Archdiocese.

(not) sorry, no pictures from the baths. what an experience. Go!

Here's the whole North American Lourdes Volunteer crew (including the Steubenville kids who served us so well):

Many thanks to Marlene of North American Lourdes Volunteers and all the great folks who were on this pilgrimage, and to Maj. Paul O'Leary OPL who led the troops through the sea of people there!

It's going to take a while to process all of this...

check out the official Lourdes site; many fascinating things to read!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Dateline London

I've been away from the computer while traveling, but I will have quite a few pictues to post when I return home. Here's from Mass on Monday, in a little town called Ars in France.

May the Lord forgive me for taking a picture during mass but I was overwhelmed with the temptation! Not every day you get to be with St. John Marie Vianney!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Preaching Can Change the World

Bishop Robert Vasa’s article posted on DominicanIdaho on April 29, 2010, shed light on facts and statistics not widely known by the public with regard to abuse of children in general. Very well done.
Over the last several decades, many in Church leadership handled abuse of young children and post-pubescent children poorly. There is no excuse for any of it. But, the diligent efforts to improve have been fruitful. I pray that this sin may be eradicated from within the walls of the Church.
Bishop Vasa correctly notes that the “bright light shining on the Church … may be shading other areas of society where abuse is much more prevalent and much less noticed.” If the truth of child sexual abuse, in general, is being avoided by society, then the light needs to shine there as well.
Bishop Vasa also notes that any news of abuse outside of the Church may hit the local press for a short time, but that “every single report involving the Church will make national news for days and sometimes weeks.” A media-observant reader will see the truth in that statement.
Where does the light come from that need to shine on society? From the Church. That is why the Church is being cleansed so thoroughly. Once completed, the purity will shine like a bright sun. It is only a matter of time. Pope Benedict XVI is working on it. Hard. It may define his pontificate. More likely, however, he will define our age by cleaning out the Lord’s House first.
The light I speak about regards preaching. The pastors, parochial vicars, priests, friars, religious, sisters and brothers need to pick up the virtue of good preaching. Our society desperately needs stalwart preachers to speak the Word of God.
Plainly stated, so much of the Sunday ration of preaching given at any Holy Mass, is good, but it isn’t great. Further, too often the preaching we hear deals more with social issues, how much God loves us, how great the world is, loving one another in all the right ways. These messages have a place, but the thing that makes preaching relevant is when it makes the hearer turn back to God, to change his or her behavior. It can also be an instrument of substantive change at the family, parish, community, social, and national levels. This is critical to peace from the home, to the community, to the nation..
For instance, the preachers need to talk about the Catholic concepts of personal responsibility. This includes obeying the law, paying bills justly due, showing up to work on time, doing a good and decent job while at work, giving until it hurts in the family, at work, and at church. Another issue is morality. Preachers need to talk about sex, morality, right conduct, and how wrong conduct affects us individual, as well as the family and society at large. For instance, sex between unmarried men and women causes pregnancy, which in turn is a cause of great social concern. Why? Because it creates a class of young mothers stricken by poverty. Medicaid picks up the bill. The Medicaid program has grown exponentially and much of it is in relation to babies born out of wedlock. A kind but thoughtful admonition from a pastor to a young girl or boy in the pew may be enough to change sexual behavior.
Preachers make a difference. The soft pedaling of our Catholic Faith from the pulpit must end. This is not about “fire and brimstone” and fear, but it is about love. Love in action. It is about getting to know the Lord, really and truly, knowing the Lord. Knowing Him, knowing His love, means you obey His commandments. In obeying His commandments, we engage in good habits and become virtuous. As individuals, we can affect all those around us when we each are personally responsible and morally upright.
Often, people learn their Faith from the pulpit. As faith comes by hearing, as it says in Romans, by the gifts of the Holy Spirit the preacher can become a teacher and can influence an entire community and nation.
Too often, this reality is overlooked. Too many religious today look to political action to affect public policy, social change, and the like. Compelled by an addiction to action, too many avoid the pulpit as a place to raise key moral issues and religious principles. Yet, a good example and lives well-lived will do more to change people. A preacher should speak about God and His holy laws regarding morality, personal responsibility, right conduct, and the preacher should act rightly, preach well, and give the People of God—in preaching—the Word of God, not the party platform.
Because of its deep traditions and origin, this starts with the Order of Preachers, the Dominican Order.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Flying through

This weekend I've been treated to the presence of the strikingly colored Western Tanagers as they move through the foothills on their migration.

and in the morning I fly out, traveling to Germany for the wedding of Paul O'Leary OPL and Alane Cleven, to be held on Ascension Thursday in Stuttgart. They are also taking me to Lourdes, so I won't be returning until May 28. Hopefully, I can post some pictures during the pilgrimage trip.

Mary, Mother of God, mother of the Church, mother of all the faithful, we love you.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Fulton Sheen

The following quote is from chapter 2, "Cosmic Intimidation" in Fulton Sheen, "Old Errors and New Lables" (1931)

A normal mind looking at the vast expanse of the heavens is naturally led to the conception of an Omnipotent Being Who threw them into space and endowed them with a law so that orb could pass by orb, and planet by planet, without ever a hitch or halt. It is an abnormal mind that begins immediately to think of pettiness when it sees power; it is not natural for a man who looks at a skyscraper to think of the littleness of the flea, but rather at the greatness of the mind that conceived it. A great mural pointing that covers the side of a corridor does not make a sane man think of a dwarf, but of an artist. When a modern mind stands amazed at the size of the cosmos and argues that even on this earth man is “far outdistanced by the cockroach,” he is indulging in the same kind of fallacious reasoning that would make him conclude that L’Enfant, who designed the city of Washington, is only an infant, because the city of Washington is bigger and bulkier and therefore better than he is.

…the first false assumption underlying this type of anemic thinking [is] that greatness is to be measured by quantity rather than by quality.

The cult of magnitude is driving the modern mind mad; it has so obscured its mental vision as to blind it to other dimensions than those of length, breadth, and thickness. It is well to remember hat the contained is generally worth far more than the container, even though the contained rattle around in the container like a diamond in a cracker-box. The really great things of the world are not always the immense things…

This book brings out in a more readable fashion the points made in his very deep and much more difficult read, "God and Intelligence," his first book, written in 1925.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Prayer request

Sr. Constance, a Dominican noviate, daughter of Mike Collins who is a deacon at St. Paul, Nampa, is studying in a convent in Nashville, TN where there has been terrible flooding. Please pray for her, the sisters and all of the residents of the area. The deaths are in the teen numbers and rising.

Dear Friends,

We are praying that those of you in Tennessee are safe and dry when you receive this. Please let us know if there is anything we can do for you.

Many of you have inquired about the status of the Motherhouse after hearing news of flooding in the Nashville area. We are grateful to God that we are able to report that the Motherhouse sustained no damage during the flooding in Nashville, and that all the sisters are safe. Similarly, the three schools of The Dominican Campus sustained little to no damage during the two days of record flooding in Nashville.

The joy of this news is tempered by the loss suffered by many of the families whom we serve in the schools of middle Tennessee. The sisters of St. Cecilia serve in six different schools in the diocese of Nashville. Of these, five schools remain closed. Many teachers, as well as students' families have lost homes or sustained major damage to their homes. Another local congregation of sisters suffered damage to their convent and some of those sisters are now residing at the Motherhouse.

We ask for your prayers for the families whom we serve, and for the sisters that serve them. We also ask you to join us in humble gratitude to "Our Lady of this House," whom we invoke nightly at the beginning of Night Prayers and Compline, to "protect us from pestilence, fire and water." In this month of May which has begun with uncertainty for so many, may we look to Our Lady to be our certain refuge, and a sure guide to the heart of her Son.

Gratefully in Christ,
Sister Dominic Mary, O.P.
Director of Institutional Advancement

Update courtesy of Friar's Blog, Eastern Province