Friday, April 29, 2005

frank tracy griswold

Bp. Griswold's penetrating insight into the essence of the Gospel:

At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of the universe and of the mystery of human life.

Christianity is all about rights, and the freedom to believe whatever you want.

high church car for sale

ROME - A second hand car once said to be registered in the name of Joseph Kardinal Ratzinger -- the new Pope Benedict - is up for sale on eBay and the sky seems to be the limit when it comes to bidding.

The vehicle, a metallic grey 1999 Volkswagen Golf, went up for auction on the German site ( at a minimum price of 9,900 euros ($12,790) on Wednesday and, just over 24 hours and more than 300 bids later, the price had hit one million euros ($1.3 million).

Read the whole thing.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

a general pleading

We sinners do beseech Thee, hear us.

That it may please Thee to defend and exalt Thy Church;
We beseech Thee, Lord Jesus, to hear us.

That it may please Thee to grant to Thy Church the tranquillity of peace;
We beseech Thee, Lord Jesus, to hear us.

That it may please Thee to put down the enemies of God's Holy Church;
We beseech Thee, Lord Jesus, to hear us.

That it may please Thee to defend us from dangerous enemies;
We beseech Thee, Lord Jesus, to hear us.

That it may please Thee to preserve Rowan, our pastor and chief priest, and the flock committed to him;
We beseech Thee, Lord Jesus, to hear us.

That it may please Thee to preserve the Queen in perpetual prosperity;
We beseech Thee, Lord Jesus, to hear us.

That it may please Thee to preserve all orders of the church, the clergy and laity, and the whole people;
We beseech Thee, Lord Jesus, to hear us.

That it may please Thee to make us persevere in good works;
We beseech Thee, Lord Jesus, to hear us.

That it may please Thee to give us celestial armour against the devil;
We beseech Thee, Lord Jesus, to hear us.That

Thy mercy and pity may keep us safe;
We beseech Thee, Lord Jesus, to hear us.

That Thou wouldest give us the will and the power to repent in earnest;
We beseech Thee, Lord Jesus, to hear us.

That it may please Thee to give us pardon of all sins;
We beseech Thee, Lord Jesus, to hear us.

That it may please Thee to g ive us right faith, firm hope, in Thy goodness, and perfect love, and constant fear of Thee;
We beseech Thee, Lord Jesus, to hear us.

That it may please Thee to remove evil thoughts from us;
We beseech Thee, Lord Jesus, to hear us.

That it may please Thee to pour into our souls the grace of the Holy Spirit;
We beseech Thee, Lord Jesus, to hear us.

That it may please Thee to give us perpectual light;
We beseech Thee, Lord Jesus, to hear us.

That it may please Thee to give us a happy end;
We beseech Thee, Lord Jesus, to hear us.

That it may please Thee to bring us to everlasting joys;
We beseech Thee, Lord Jesus, to hear us.

That it may please Thee to hear us;
We beseech Thee, Lord Jesus, to hear us.
Son of God;
We beseech Thee, Lord Jesus, to hear us.

O Lamb of God, That takest away the sins of the world;
Spare us.
O Lamb of God, &c.
Give us pardon.
O Lamb of God, &c.
Hear us.

Let us pray.

O Thou most clement, Who recallest the erring, Thou most mercifuly, Who despisest not sinners, we rely on Thine own promise, O Lord, that Thou wilt give pardon to the penitent. May all who seek Thee find Thee. Amen.

prayer against heresy

Almighty and everlasting God, Who savest all men, and willest not that any should perish; look upon the souls which have been deceived by the faud of the devil; that all heretical perversity may be driven away, and the hearts of the erring may repent, and return to Thine unshaken truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

(A Gelasian prayer. The Seventh Intercession for Good Friday.)

a prayer against error, sin, heresy, and schism

Dissolve, O Christ, the schisms of heresy, which seek to subert the faith, which strive to corrupt the truth; that as Thou art acknowledged in heaven and in earth as one and the same Lord, so Thy people, gathered from all nations, may serve Thee in the unity of faith. Amen.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

the martyrs of melanesia

For those of you who don't know, today, April 24, is the aniversary of the martyrdom of seven members of the Melanesian Brotherhood, the largest religious (i.e. monastic) community in the Anglican Communion. I urge you to celebrate it somehow.

Here is a link to some background information.

Here is an australian radio report, much of which comes from my friend Fr. Richard Carter, who until recently was chaplain to the Brotherhood.

A very poignant report on the funerals, including a letter from Fr. Richard.

Lastly, here is the collect I composed for our celebration of the feast at church today:

Almighty God, your servants the Martyrs of the Melanesian Brotherhood, offered themselves in obedience to you, and manifested thereby the reconciling love of our Savior Jesus Christ. Bring us so to obey your call that we may, with them, hold back nothing of ourselves, that the fruit of your Son’s passion, death, and resurrection, may be born in us, to the glory of your Name, and the redemption of the world; through the same your Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ, who with you and the Holy Ghost, lives and reigns, world without end. Amen.

jesse jackson

jesse jackson
Originally uploaded by gwbrark.
Because Jesse Jackson was at my school recently, trying to help graduate students organize a union -- because their stipends are only about $20,000, on top of tuition remittance, plus a minimum of $9,000 per teaching assistantship, cheap healthcare, etc. etc. etc.

the plot thickeneth

A comment by William Tighe at Titusonenine (commenting on the report, mentioned below, of talks between the Traditional Anglican Communion and the Vatican):

This report is to be taken with the *utmost* seriousness. I know from serveral persons (on both the Catholic and the Anglican sides) that when these conversations between the Vatican and the TAC began in 1995, they were “sidelined” by “professional ecumenists” in Rome because of the damage that they would do to Rome/Canterbury relations. When an attempt was made to restart them, they encountered similar problems. Two cardinals in particulat did a great deal to overcome this roadblock, and both of them have indicated their strong support for an “Anglican-Rite Catholic Church” in communion with Rome. One of these cardinals is now pope and depending on the length of his pontificate, the other cardinal may well be pope after him.

behind the scenes

Apparently in the first round of voting in the conclave, former Cardinal Ratzinger pulled slightly ahead of the only serious contender (...drum roll...): Carlo Maria Cardinal Martini, formerly of Milan.

In the first vote on Monday, Ratzinger received about 40 votes, while Carlo Maria Martini, an Italian, got more than 30. Others including Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina, Claudio Hummes of Brazil, and Dionigi Tettamanzi, another Italian, each received a handful.

Read the whole thing here. (There are some fascinating bits about the Traditional Anglican Communion and its relationship with Pope Benedict. They want formally to come under the authority of Rome.)

Now I know everyone says Cardinal Martini is a raving liberal, but that must be understood contextually. I rather like the man, based on what I know of him, which is not much. I read a lengthy-ish exchange between Cardinal Martini and Umberto Eco (the real Dan Brown) about skepticism vs. faith. I was impressed by Cardinal Martini's graciousness and thoughtfulness. In the last bit he gives a good apology for moral absolutes, and he even defends the Church's teaching on an exclusively male priesthood. This, by Episcopalian standards, is strident fundamentalism.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

archbishop williams to attend pope benedict's installation

Originally uploaded by gwbrark.
The Archbishop of Canterbury is due to leave the UK to attend Pope Benedict XVI's inauguration in Rome on Sunday.

Rowan Williams's presence is being seen as a sign of good relations between the Anglican and Catholic churches.

But the move follows strains over gay marriages and the ordination of women priests by the Church of England.

Here is the whole thing.

Friday, April 22, 2005

is this the new benedict, for whom the world waits, according to alistair macintyre?

As with the program, so with the man: He is a Benedict in the depths of his interior life and in his intellectual accomplishment. Benedict XVI has an encyclopedic knowledge of two millennia of theology, and indeed of the cultural history of the West. He is more the shy, monastic scholar than the ebullient public personality of his predecessor; yet he has shown an impressive capacity for a different type of public "presence" in his brilliantly simple homily at John Paul II's funeral and in his first appearance as pope. He has known hardship: He knows the modern temptations of totalitarianism (paganism wedded to technology) from inside the Third Reich; he has been betrayed by former students (like the splenetic Brazilian liberation theologian Leonardo Boff) and former colleagues (like Hans Kung, a man of far less scholarly accomplishment and infinitely less charity). His critics say he is dour and pessimistic. Yet I take it as an iron law of human personality that a man is known by his musical preferences; and Benedict XVI is a Mozart man, who knows that Mozart is what the angels play when they perform for the sheer joy of it. Indeed, and notwithstanding the cartoon Joseph Ratzinger, the new pope is a man of Christian happiness who has long asked why, in the aftermath of the Second Vatican Council, summoned to be a "new Pentecost" for the Catholic Church, so much of the joy has gone out of Catholicism. Over some 17 years of conversation with him, I have come to know him as a man who likes to laugh, and who can laugh because he is convinced that the human drama is, in the final analysis, a divine comedy.

He once called himself a "donkey," a "draft animal" who had been called to a work not of his choosing. Yet when Joseph Ratzinger stepped out onto the loggia of St. Peter's to begin a work he never sought, I couldn't help think of the conclusion of Alasdair MacIntyre's penetrating study of the moral confusions of the West, "After Virtue." In a time when willfulness and relativism had led to a frigid and joyless cultural climate, MacIntyre wrote, the world was not waiting for Godot, "but for another -- doubtless very different -- St. Benedict." The world now has a new Benedict. We can be sure that he will challenge us all to the noble human adventure that has no better name than sanctity.

From the Ethics and Public Policy Center. Here is the whole thing.

Is it of much significance that St. Benedict is the patron of Europe? Did Pope Benedict have this in mind when choosing his name?

fr. neuhaus on benedict's secular critics

The chatter goes on as to whether Benedict will change this or that "policy" of John Paul, as though each new pope reinvents Catholicism. There is, beyond doubt, development in the life of the Church, but on questions of great theological and moral moment there is not change. The office of the papacy is very limited. The pope's job is to defend, preserve, and transmit the "faith once delivered to the saints," as that faith is received in Scripture and Spirit-guided tradition. A pope who acts as though doctrine is no more than a policy option is a very bad pope.

Here is the whole thing.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

unity? dare one hope?

holy sepulcher
Originally uploaded by gwbrark.
The Anglican Communion Network met in Bedford Texas this week. They produced a statement. Part of it causes one really to hope (at least it causes this one really to hope). Here it is.

We requested that ACN Moderator Robert Duncan send a letter to Pope Benedict XVI expressing our greetings and support, thanking him for upholding the historic teaching and faith of the Church. We anticipate with joy his continued efforts to build bridges between the separated branches of God's One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

pope benedict xvi on orthodox anglicans

Originally uploaded by gwbrark.
Do you remember? Former Cardinal Ratzinger wrote a letter of solidarity to the folks gathered at the Plano meeting. It pleases me. Here it is:

October 9, 2003

From Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger

The Vatican, on behalf of Pope John Paul II

I hasten to assure you of my heartfelt prayers for all those taking part in this convocation. The significance of your meeting is sensed far beyond Plano, and even in this City from which Saint Augustine of Canterbury was sent to confirm and strengthen the preaching of Christ's Gospel in England. Nor can I fail to recall that barely 120 years later, Saint Boniface brought that same Christian faith from England to my own forebears in Germany.

The lives of these saints show us how in the Church of Christ there is a unity in truth and a communion of grace which transcend the borders of any nation. With this in mind, I pray in particular that God's will may be done by all those who seek that unity in the truth, the gift of Christ himself.

With fraternal regards, I remain

Sincerely yours in Christ,

+Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger

Thanks to Fr. Harmon, as often.

fireside chat

I am pleased to say that Fireside Chat with the Rector is back. Go thither and learn about the merits of potted kidneys, all things anglo, all things catholic.

more druid news

The saga continues:

In a rapid change of heart, a local Episcopal priest is abandoning Druid spirituality - a decision made one day after it was reported that he had renounced his Episcopal ordination and become the founding priest of a Druid group.

Let's pray for Mr. Melnyck. He clearly needs it.

Read more here.

pope benedict xvi

Originally uploaded by gwbrark.
Habemus papam. There is a new pope: Benedict XVI, formerly Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, of Germany, and until now Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

I reckon its good news. Its certainly exciting to watch on TV.

Read about him here. The site has links to a biography, some of his writings, etc.

Monday, April 18, 2005

ratzinger's sermon today

Here is an exerpt from the homily preached by Cardinal Ratzinger today to the other cardinals:

Having a clear faith, based on the Creed of the Church, is often labeled today as a fundamentalism. Whereas, relativism, which is letting oneself be tossed and “swept along by every wind of teaching”, looks like the only attitude (acceptable) to today’s standards. We are moving towards a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognize anything as for certain and which has as its highest goal one’s own ego and one’s own desires.

However, we have a different goal: the Son of God, true man. He is the measure of true humanism. Being an “Adult” means having a faith which does not follow the waves of today’s fashions or the latest novelties. A faith which is deeply rooted in friendship with Christ is adult and mature. It is this friendship which opens us up to all that is good and gives us the knowledge to judge true from false, and deceit from truth. We must become mature in this adult faith; we must guide the flock of Christ to this faith. And it is this faith – only faith – which creates unity and takes form in love. On this theme, Saint Paul offers us some beautiful words - in contrast to the continual ups and downs of those were are like infants, tossed about by the waves: (he says) make truth in love, as the basic formula of Christian existence. In Christ, truth and love coincide. To the extent that we draw near to Christ, in our own life, truth and love merge. Love without truth would be blind; truth without love would be like “a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal” (1 Cor 13,1).

Sunday, April 17, 2005


The NY Times (why do I read the NY Times anyway?) seems to think that Cardinal Ratzinger is leading the pack. They claim he has about fifty votes, which would be far more than the competition. On the other hand, it means that he has 117 minus 50 (67) no-votes. Who will it be? Its getting wild and wooly, as Dan Rather said on Election night in 2000.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

fr. neuhaus in rome

Originally uploaded by gwbrark.
See? Fr. Neuhaus agrees with me.

...for the most part, the media coverage of the pope's death has been intelligent, respectful, and even reverential. Although there is no way to measure the effect, this has been an extraordinary moment of evangelization.

This comes from First Things, via Fr. Harmon.

papal crucifix

papal crucifix
Originally uploaded by gwbrark.
Today I bought one of those papal crucifixes for my wall. Its poignant, don't you think? I think so. But I've recognized in myself a special devotion to the Passion of our Lord, and perhaps to his holy wounds too. Meditating on the Passion just really moves me, and this crucifix is one that emphasizes our Lord's suffering, yet rather abstractly. Its a very good effect to my mind.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

an encouraging thought

I think it is an encouraging thought that Christ chose us. This, perhaps, is the healthy way of thinking about election. The point is, our Lord chose you. You did not choose Jesus, but he chose you. That's a consolation to me. What love. He chose me and you.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

put better

come unto me
Originally uploaded by gwbrark.
Fr. Leander Harding better expresses my thoughts on the media coverage of the pope's death. The main thing is how incredible it was that the media channels were all avenues for the proclamation of the gospel, for about four days, and nearly exclusively.

Read the whole thing at Fr. Harding's site.

I found the Pope's funeral deeply moving. I was touched by my own unplumbed feeling for the life of this great Christian witness and by the remarkable fruitfulness of his ministry. Even in death he was proclaiming the gospel to countless millions, yes millions, who would not otherwise have heard it. About every ten minutes or so I would find myself being astounded that this whole event was being presented on CNN in an entirely reverent and respectful way. I was quite touched to watch some of the news commentators as they explained the liturgy clearly from notes prepared by others grow in understanding and awe as they began to develop some understanding of the language of the church and began to feel the power of the Gospel embedded in the church's ritual. One would have to have a heart of stone not to be impressed by the huge crowds that kept coming and coming.

Two moments particularly impressed. There was a reading from the Acts of the Apostles. It was Peter's sermon in Acts 10:34 and it was the most beautiful and succinct summary of the Gospel being read to perhaps the largest world wide television audience ever assembled and read in a context that caused the words to be electric with life. I am not sure what the translation was but it was stunning, describing a reality massively and incontrovertibly in front of your eyes. "God has no favorites but anyone of any nationality who acknowledges Him is acceptable to Him." And then on to the story of the savior who indeed comes to the world through Israel and how the Apostles were witnesses of his death "by hanging on a tree," and how God raised Him up and He appeared alive, "not to everyone but to chosen witnesses who ate and drank with Him after the resurrection," and "We are the ones commanded to be witnesses of His resurrection and to proclaim that everyone who believes in His name shall receive the forgiveness of their sins." CNN a partner in the reverent communication of the Gospel. What amazing fruitfulness of ministry God worked through this man and this moment.

bishop robinson

This is from Bishop Vicki Gene Robinson's talk to Planned Parenthood. Why is it always the case that support for "gay rights" and support for "reproductive freedom" seem to go together? Isn't that a little odd?

As a gay man, I find stories in both Hebrew and Christian scripture that have literally called me out. For instance, in the Passover story, I know what it’s like to leave Egypt, or leave the closet. The ancient Israelites, instead of finding the Promised Land immediately, wandered the desert, and I know, too, that life doesn’t immediately get better for you. At the same time, as a whole community, we’re getting closer to the Promised Land all the time.

Originally from Planned Parenthood, via Titusonenine.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

more on the millions

cross candle
Originally uploaded by gwbrark.
This is from the Independent, via Fr. Harmon:

But though the crowd numbered millions, it displayed a remarkable unity of purpose. A chant of "Giovanni Paolo" rang out; hissing greeted big-screen pictures of President George Bush's arrival. When the Mass finally began, all fell silent. Everyone was rapt and attentive. I saw no weeping: the mood was serious rather than mournful. There was quiet clapping only at the sight of the Pope's coffin on the screen. For most people the cardinals celebrating Mass were only a far-off streak of red. But when Cardinal Ratzinger elevated the Host, and the bells of St Peter's tolled for John Paul, many dropped to their knees.

Several things spring to mind. First, the wind reminded me of the Spirit of God moving. Who knows? Maybe it WAS the movement of the Spirit. Second, it is incredible how loved this pope was. It reminds me of Kierkegaard (as many things do). He was loved much, I reckon, because he loved much. Its the principle (from "Works of Love") that the more you give, the more you have, that the one who is "the most injured of all" is the true possessor of everything.

And it reminds me, as I've noted, of how much fruit can be born of a good death. Archimandrite Vasileios of Stavronakita Monastery (an Athonite monastery) says in "Hymn of Entry" that the vocation of every Christian is to die into God. This is a true saying, worthy of all to be believed. If John Paul showed us anyhting in the last few weeks, he showed us what dying into God can look like, and the kind of life it can give. A shadow of the life given to us by our Lord in his dying for us.

the media weighs in, becomes annoying

Originally uploaded by gwbrark.
Does anyone else find it annoying that the media's restraint seems to have worn more or less out? They don't seem to find their theollogical ignorance any bar to weighing in authoritatively on JP2's relative merits, nor on what the cardinals' and next pope's priorities must be.

From the NY Times:

With all but 3 of the 117 cardinal electors selected by John Paul, it is highly unlikely that the new pope will depart from his conservatism on contraception, divorce, women as priests or the range of what the church considers to be "sanctity of life" issues, from stem cell research to abortion and euthanasia.

Friday, April 08, 2005

pilgrims improvising

pilgrims improvising
Originally uploaded by gwbrark.
One does what one can when one is on pilgrimage. [Why do I associate all the candles with JP2's death?]

vox populi

Originally uploaded by gwbrark.
Here are some of the thousands upon thousands of pilgrims who slept in the sreets and on the ground around St. Peter's to have an opportunity to see the funeral.

One of the most moving sights at the funeral was Cardinal Ratzinger, and all the cardinals, standing silently after the communion while people chanted the word "Santo" and "Giovanni Paulo". Ratzinger let the people go on for quite a while.

the actual burial

Originally uploaded by gwbrark.
In accordance with Vatican tradition, John Paul II will be buried in a triple-lined coffin.

His body will first be placed in a simple coffin of cypress wood, to symbolise humility, and placed in front of St Peter's Basilica.

Before burial, it will be placed in a zinc coffin, hermetically sealed to slow down the process of decomposition. It will bear the name of the Pope and the dates of his pontificate.

This in turn will be placed in an oak coffin, before being interred beneath a marble slab.

The ceremony will take place in the crypt, deep beneath St Peter's Basilica.

The place chosen for John Paul II was previously used for Pope John XXIII, one of the Church's best-loved pontiffs.

The Polish Pope will lie close to the tombs of his two immediate predecessors, John Paul I and Paul VI, who both died in 1978.

In the days ahead, it will doubtless become a place of pilgrimage for Catholics unable to be present at the funeral.

The whole article is here.

nuns and binoculars at the funeral

nuns and binoculars
Originally uploaded by gwbrark.

heads of state

Originally uploaded by gwbrark.
There are plenty of heads of state and what not at the funeral. I'm adding this fact to the list of incredible things surrounding the death of JP2. I am again reminded of Fidel Castro and George W. both praising the pope in the same obsequious terms. And here we have them all gathered next to a huge crucifix, listening to words like "Behold the Lamb of God, behold him that takes away the sins of the world!"

druid site

Here is OakWyse's website.

The whole story really amazes me. I do appreciate the forthrightness with which OakWyse renounced his vows. I would only have recommended that he renounce them before repenting (the first time), but I understand how being "outed" probably came as a surprise, and hindsight is always 20/20, etc. etc.

I wonder what OakWyse's wife is up to. I wonder what Bp. Bennison thinks of the whole thing.

Thursday, April 07, 2005


You folks might like to know that I have renounced by [sic] ordination vows, and formed the Llynhydd Grove of the Druid Order of the Yew. You might want to take my forced letter of ‘recantation’ off your website.

(Bill Melnyk)

(From Titusonenine)

You may remember the whole fiasco when it happened a few months ago. You may remember also that "OakWyse" had repented. I guess he is now repenting of his repentence. Read about the history of this mess here, at Christianity Today.

four million pilgrims

Originally uploaded by gwbrark.
This is incredible. Authorities are apparently saying that there could be as many as four million people coming to see the pope. (Rome has a population of three million.)

This is from the NY Times:

Vatican officials said in this city of three million, one million people had seen the pope's body since it went on public display on Monday. Viewing is to end Thursday evening, and safety officials, concerned with the size of the crowd and recognizing the wait to see the body would exceed 24 hours, sent warnings on the radio and through text messages to cellphones advising people to stay away. Eventually they decided to close the line to newcomers....

The line had grown so big that it split in two - one curving through the narrow streets near the Vatican and a second along the Tiber River - amid much strain and a striking mix of the spiritual and the physical: there were songs and prayers and remarkable patience, as well as fatigue, sunburn and a bit of borderline bad behavior....

Each day since the pope's death, the crowds have grown by bounds, though they have consisted mostly of Italians, tourists already in Italy, and some from Poland, the pope's home country. But on Wednesday, people began flowing in from the outside....

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

timely antiphons

Originally uploaded by gwbrark.
Thy Saints, O Lord, shall flourish like the lily, alleluia; and they shall be before Thee as the odor of balm, alleluia.

The dwelling of Saints is in heavenly kingdoms, alleluia, and their rest is everlasting alleluia.

Thy Saints, O Lord, cried out within the veil, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

O ye spirits and souls of the just, sing a hymn to our God, alleluia, alleluia.

The just will shine forth like the sun in the presence of god, alleluia.

Chapter: Wisdom 5.1
The just shall stand with great constancy against those that have afflicted them and have taken away their labors.

Short R: O ye holy and just ones, rejoice in the Lord, Alleluia, alleluia.

V: God hath chosen you unto Himself for an inheritance. Alleluia. Glory be to the Father....

(From Lauds in the Common of Apostles and Evangelists in Paschaltide, from the Monastic Diurnal)

Tuesday, April 05, 2005


Originally uploaded by gwbrark.
This is incredible. Let me underscore that the authorities are expecting as many as four million pilgrims in Rome to see the Pope. Look at this picture. Ecce populus. This fills one with hope that perhaps the hordes are not quite as godless as one had thought. Its all wonderfully medieval. I do wish I could pick up and go to Rome just now.

the fructive power of death in christ

Originally uploaded by gwbrark.
It has been amazing to see what the death of the Pope has birthed. Apparently they are expecting as many as four million pilgrims in Rome. Young people are coming from all over Europe -- indeed from all over the world -- staying in tents, standing in lines for hours and hours and hours. There are breathtaking pictures of thousands at a time slowly making their way into St. Peter's. The cable news networks have turned into twenty four hour a day mouthpieces for the Gospel. When CNN goes to commercial, they play things like John Paul saying "My hope and my prayer is that you will open your hearts to Christ." Last night Franklin Graham was on Larry King quoting from John: "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me." It is absolutely amazing.

And if this isn't a display of popular sentiment, I don't know what is. The Pope is being praised in equal measure by George W. Bush and Fidel Castro. All around the world, millions and millions of people are praying, and praising the good example of the most intense and public proclamation of Christ crucified from the last hundred years (I would say): the life and death of John Paul II. I can't say how excited I am about this conversion of the media, temporary though it doubtless is. But the potential for good is great, so to speak. This "media event" has the potential to reach millions more, and (let us pray) to change lives and convert hearts.

Monday, April 04, 2005

john paul's message the day after his death

Originally uploaded by gwbrark.
This comes from Zenit via Fr. Harmon.

Here is the message John Paul II had prepared to be read at the gathering of pilgrims to pray the Regina Caeli today, Divine Mercy Sunday. It was read by Archbishop Leonardo Sandri, substitute of the Vatican Secretariat of State, following the Mass for the eternal repose of John Paul II.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

1. The joyful Easter Alleluia resounds also today. Today's Gospel page of St. John underlines that the Risen One, on the night of that day, appeared to the Apostles and "showed them his hands and his side" (John 20:20), that is, the signs of the painful Passion printed indelibly on his body also after his Resurrection. Those glorious wounds, which eight days later he made the incredulous Thomas touch, reveal the mercy of God "for God so loved the world that he gave his only Son" (John 3:16).

This mystery of love is at the heart of today's liturgy, Sunday "in Albis," dedicated to the worship of Divine Mercy.

2. To humanity, which at times seems to be lost and dominated by the power of evil, egoism and fear, the risen Lord offers as a gift his love that forgives, reconciles and reopens the spirit to hope. It is love that converts hearts and gives peace. How much need the world has to understand and accept Divine Mercy!

Lord, who with [your] Death and Resurrection reveal the love of the Father, we believe in you and with confidence repeat to you today: Jesus, I trust in you, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

3. The liturgical solemnity of the Annunciation, which we celebrate tomorrow, leads us to contemplate with Mary's eyes the enormous mystery of this merciful love that arises from Christ's heart. With her help, we can understand the true meaning of paschal joy, which is based on this certainty: The One whom the Virgin carried in her womb, who suffered and died for us, has truly risen. Alleluia!

the annunciation, transferred

Originally uploaded by gwbrark.
Hail, O you who have become a kingly throne; hail, O you who carry Him who carries all! Hail, O Star who manifests the Sun, hail, O womb of the divine Incarnation! Hail, O you through whom creation is renewed; hail, O you through whom the Creator becomes a babe!

eulogizing the holy father

Originally uploaded by gwbrark.
There have been lots of wonderful things said about Pope John Paul II in the days since his death. One of the most interesting and apt of them came from Archbishop Rowan Williams, who described John Paul's last days as a "lived sermon."

In the following, we are encouraged not to dwell on "the frailty of his last years" but on the vitality and action of his early pontificate. I think this is wrong. I think JP2's most powerful witness might well be the frailty of his last years, and particularly of his last days. Of course, we ought not to forget the vitality and action of his early pontificate, but the way he died spoke beautifully of the "culture of life" and was a moving witness to our Lord's passion and death. John Paul in his final days was like a sheep, which before its shearers is silent... quite literally silent, as John Paul apparently had great difficulty speaking as he died.


Pope John Paul II: His legacy for the church, and the world

John I. Jenkins and John Cavadini
The Boston Globe
Monday, April 4, 2005


Among the inspirations of the life of Pope John Paul II was his frequent
reference to the "civilization of love." It was an ideal that sparked the
imagination. Yet it was also a concept consistent with the example of his life
in a culture that is awash at times in cynicism, uncertainty and materialism.

He showed us how to live a life grounded in prayer, but also in reconciliation.

His outreach to the Jewish people, for example, was remarkable at a time in
history when ethnic divisions sometimes threatened the world on a broad level.
He spoke of a special relationship between the Jews and the Church and insisted
that the Old Covenant had never been revoked. His words put forth possibilities
for theologians that are yet to be fully explored.

In one special moment, the pope told an audience of Jews that he regarded them
as "our brothers and sisters in the Lord." Surely this was part of his vision
of a civilization of love.
And in a time when society seems to have lost its ear for the ideals of
procreation and their intrinsic connection to married love, the pope spoke of
the "nuptial meaning of the body" and upheld the values of Pope Paul VI's
controversial encyclical, "Humanae Vitae."

He worked to put the encyclical in a larger context. In his civilization of
love, the procreative ethic and an ethic of seamless love would reject the
negativity of abortion and the refusal of societies to guarantee the education
and health of all their children.

These were not popular views in parts of Western civilization, yet even critics
admired his fortitude and his recognition of heroic possibility in the
aspirations of humanity.

In a self-centered culture, this pope bore witness to service, to personal
sacrifice and the humanizing values rooted in love.

For some, the lives of the saints might seem old-fashioned and certainly a
private domain of the church. But in the pope's civilization of love they were
sources for healing cultures, because they represented the greatness of human
possibility. He once spoke of the way in which Catholic and non-Catholic
Christians died together in Uganda, referring to the "ecumenism of the saints
and of the martyrs," saying that the "communio sanctorum speaks louder than the
things that divide us."

Yes, in the words of the cliché, this pope was a Catholic. But he saw heroic
witness in any people who stood for goodness and hoped for the renewal of

So John Paul II could speak in the conviction of the absolute, and hold to
tenets of Catholicism that rankled others, yet avoid triumphalism and
superiority, tendencies that would be blind to the courageous witness of
others. In this, he moved inexorably toward a civilization of love, inspiring
others, particularly young people, to lives of joy and hope.

We should not be focused on the frailty of his last years, but on the incredible
vitality that he brought to his mission during most of his tenure. He went
everywhere, not just centers of Catholicism, whether the American Midwest or a
former Soviet republic or Fidel Castro's Cuba. In his 26-year papacy, he made
more than 104 trips outside Italy, taking in 129 of the world's 191 independent
states. He held talks with more than 1,500 heads of state or government.
His great intellectuality, as expressed in the 14 encyclicals he wrote and 100
other major documents, was an infusion of energy to Catholic intellectual
thought, and he was a powerful influence for all of us at Catholic

For decades the impact of John Paul II's papacy will be discussed on these
campuses and throughout the world. What remains to be seen is whether his
civilization of love can be realized. It will be food for thought in these
coming days as he is remembered and his image crosses millions of television
screens once again.

The pope did not expect his bold vision to be achieved either quickly or
painlessly, but it begins in the hearts and souls of every one of us. John Paul
II believed in the power of ideals and simple human warmth to inspire a sense of
heroic possibility latent in all of us, Catholic and non-Catholic alike.

He was a gift to Catholics. He was a gift to the world.

(Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., is president-elect of the University of Notre
Dame. John Cavadini is chair of the theology department at Notre Dame.)

Saturday, April 02, 2005

christian death

jp candles 2
Originally uploaded by gwbrark.
The death of the pope is a good catalyst for reflecting on the meaning of Christian death in general. I commend to your attention the
"Catechism of the Catholic Church" (which JP2 was instrumental in producing). I commend it to you in general, and as a reference on the meaning of Christian death in particular:

Because of Christ, Christian death has a positive meaning: "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." "The saying is sure: if we have died with him, we will also live with him." What is essentially new about Christian death is this: through Baptism, the Christian has already "died with Christ" sacramentally, in order to live a new life; and if we die in Christ's grace, physical death completes this "dying with Christ" and so completes our incorporation into him in his redeeming act:

"It is better for me to die in Christ Jesus than to reign over the ends of the earth. Him it is I seek -- who died for us. Him it is I desire -- who rose for us. I am on the point of giving birth.... Let me receive pure light; when I shall have arrived there, then shall I be a man." [from St. Ignatius of Antioch]

In death, God calls man to himself. Therefore the Christian can experience a desire for death like St. Paul's: "My desire is to depart and be with Christ." He can transform his own death into an act of obedience and love towards the Father, after the example of Christ:

"My earthly desire has been crucified;... there is living water in me, water that murmurs and says within me: come to the Father." [from St. Ignatius of Antioch]

"I want to see God and, in order to see him, I must die." [St. Teresa of Avila]

"I am not dying; I am entering life." [St. Therese of Lisieux]

-From CCC 1010-1011

john paul ii, requiescat in pace

Originally uploaded by gwbrark.
Grant, Lord, that your servant may find his rest this day with all the saints in your love. Forgive him of his sins. Vouchsafe to him to hear the words "well done, good and faithful servant." At the end of time, deliver him from judgment and raise him to glory, for the sake of your only Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, who died for the sins of John Paul and all the world on the + Cross, and who reigns with you and the Holy Ghost, now and forever. Amen.

Friday, April 01, 2005

a book review

This from one of my seminary's periodicals:

Review: Queer Commentary

Ken Stone, editor, Queer Commentary and the Hebrew Bible, The Pilgrim Press, 2001, paperback, ISBN 0829814477, $28.00.

Reviewed by Alicia Brooks

Queer Commentary and the Hebrew Bible, a collection edited by Ken Stone, is a welcome addition to scholarship on sexuality and scripture. in this volume, Stone and his contributors forego the weel-worn question of whether or not the Bible permits homosexuality. Instead, they unapologetically explore hte possibilities of queer theory as a tool for scriptural interpretation.

In this excellent introduction, Stone concisely surveys the history adn definistion(s) of "queer theory," highlighting foundational works as well as key debates within the field. He also addresses the history and politics of biblical commentaries and recent developments in the field of biblical studies. Stone does a thorough job of addressing potential knowledge gaps in his two main audiences: students of the Bible and students of queer theory. Both receive an accessible but sophisticated introduction to the less familiar field. Stone concludes his introduction by raising question about what it means to interpret scripture through the lens of queer theory, which the contributors take up in detail in their essays.

Seven essays, differing widely in style and subject matter, make up the body of the collection. Each delivers on the book's promise to be unapologetic, displaying boldness in both form and content. These authhors are not dabbling in queer theory; they dive in wholeheartedly.

Even the most "traditional" scholarly essays here exhibit the experimentation with form characteristic of queer theory. For example, several authors come out as queer within their essays, revealing personal experiences and / or motivations, which drew them to their subject matter. Many essays have provocative titles, such as Lori Rowlett's "Violent Femmes and S/M: Queering Samson and Delilah." Roland Boer and Timothy Koch make the farthest leaps in style and theme. Boer writes his essay as an imaginary (and racy) dialogue on the topic of sadomasochism, which takes place between YHWH, Moses, and secular thinkers such as Sigmund Freud and Jacques Lacan on top of Mount Sinai. Koch hilariously satirizes apologetic approaches to the Bible used to combat homophobia, such as "the 'Jesus is Love' Trump Card," before proposing his own "cruising" methodology for approaching scripture.

These essays feature many eyebrow-raising themes. One is the sexualiity of YHWH. In my favorite essay, Theodore Jennings explores the homoeroticism of YHWH's relationships with Saul and David, by drawing on Greek and Japanese texts about homosexual love between warriors. Another theme is the authority (or lack thereof) of scripture. In vastly different styles, Koch, Michael Cardin, and Mona West all argue for the authority of queer readers to make demands of scripture, adapting it to fit their experiences. Sadomasochism is a persistent theme, taken up in varying depths by Jennings, Boer, Rowlett, and Koch.

At times, the reader wonders whether these authors are pushing the envelope too far. Stone takes a step to answer this critique by concluding the book with three different responses to the book itself, a commentary within a commentary. Like Stone's introduction, these responses are as interesting as the essays themselves, and their inclusion gives the collection a moderating balance. Tat-Siong Bennew Liew discusses the give-and-take between Bilical studies and queer theory, observing that Biblical scholars use queer theory to pose questions to the bible, but seem reluctant to use the bible to pose questions to queer theory. Daniel Spencer analyzes the essays as examples of a liberationist hermeneutic, evaluating their potential impact on social justice struggles. Laurel Schneider raises insightful questions regarding gender issues within texts, debates about scriptural authority, and the role that the authors' desire for an affirming deity plays in their scriptural interpretations. In her response Scneider writes, "queer biblical theology... is an odd place of formation." Schneider's comment captures a sense that is evident throughout Queer Commentary and the Hebrew Bible that queer theory approaches to the Bible are in an early stage of development. Like an adolescent, these essays are at turns both tentative and reckless. The contributors are consciously experimenting, and they inevitably make mistakes. these mistakes may turn off some readers, particularly those who are already skeptical about queer theory as an approach to biblical interpretation. This is unfortunate. Even if one questions some of the interpretive moves in these essays, the book still raises important and interesting questions about interpretation itself. Despite its flaws, this collection proves that there is much fruitful work to be done by bringing queer theory into conversation with biblical studies. I hope that it will inspire future scholars to pursue that work.

pray for the pope

For those of you who have been living under the sea for the last 24 hours, John Paul II is gravely ill. It is likely that he will die soon. Pray for mercy. Pray for healing. Pray that he may be delivered from fear and be granted peace. When he dies, pray that his sins may be forgiven, and that he may be given a place in God's Kingdom, with all the saints.

Holy Mother of God, to whom John Paul has been consecrated, intercede for your Son's servant and vicar, that he may have life and peace. Amen.