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White smoke drifting into the night sky:

white smoke

The world watches…

St Peter's Square

…21st-century style:

Crowd 2

The crowd goes wild:

Crowd

A moment of prayer:

pope francis bowing

The cardinals take in the crowd’s jubilation, and no doubt look forward to resting more easily:

cardinals

Pope FrancisHabemus Papam!  Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires is now Pope Francis!

What a wonderful gift God and our cardinals have given to the Church today! Our new Holy Father seems like such a humble and gracious man.  I will never forget when he bowed and asked the people to pray for God’s blessing upon him, and the entire crowd fell silent and prayed, joined by the millions around the world who were watching via the media.  A beautiful, edifying, unifying moment.

I so look forward to getting to know our new Papa better and seeing and hearing more from him.  I feel we are in very good hands, and that he is going to move the Barque of St. Peter forward and reach out to the world.  A good leader for this age of the New Evangelization and the Year of Faith.

Pope Benedict farewell

With humility he came to the papacy, and with humility he left.  Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI bade farewell to the public world today.  I’m still taking it in.  The Church is pope-less for a time.  Sedes vacans.  While I was watching videos of his departure from Vatican City, I felt awe at the fact that I was witnessing such an historical moment.  I also felt a touch of sadness.  But I know Papa Benedict will be a great prayer-warrior for the Church and the world, and I am grateful for that.  I hope and pray that this gentle scholar–that is how I will always remember him most–will enjoy serenity and some refreshment for the rest of his days.  I hope he will continue to bless us with his writing as well.

At the same time, let us pray very hard for the cardinals who will be in the upcoming conclave.  As Papa Benedict himself said in his farewell address to them, the future pope is among them.  We must pray for their discernment, for their careful attention to the voice and motion of the Holy Spirit.  In addition to praying for the college of cardinals as a whole, perhaps you might want to adopt a cardinal and pray for him in particular.  I am praying for my adopted cardinal, Cardinal Peter Erdo of Hungary.

This last weekend was certainly a momentous one!  A British royal wedding, the beatification of Blessed Pope John Paul II, and the death of the United States’ top public enemy.  I had quite a bit going on personally, so I wasn’t able to tune in to as much of the news and events as I would have liked.  And by now, so much has been written in the blogosphere that I almost feel like this little post of mine will be totally redundant and insignificant.  But it’s my blog, and I’m trying to start posting much more frequently, so here are just some quick little reactions.

The royal wedding:  From what I saw it was a very beautiful ceremony and very rooted in Christian tradition.  I came across the prayer that Prince William and his bride composed and offered up:

God our Father, we thank you for our families; for the love that we share and for the joy of our marriage.

In the busyness of each day keep our eyes fixed on what is real and important in life and help us to be generous with our time and love and energy.

Strengthened by our union help us to serve and comfort those who suffer. We ask this in the Spirit of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Beautiful.  It sounds like this young couple will not only have invited God to the wedding, but will also keep Him a part of their marriage–something all too rare these days.  I pray for them that it may be so and that many young people around the world will follow their example.  I was also very impressed with Catherine’s dress–very classic, and very modest as wedding dresses go these days.  It reminded me of Princess Grace’s wedding dress.

Beatification of Bl. Pope John Paul II:  What an experience to see somebody who lived in your own lifetime be beatified!  And how blessed the world was to have this incredible man at its service during such turbulent times.  He was truly a universal man, who had so much personal experience with human suffering and yet vigorously, tirelessly preached “Be not afraid!” and the worth and dignity of every human life, no matter how poor, how small, or how difficult it might be.  In the Church and on the world stage, he was a lion-hearted man, and also an extremely gentle man.  In his old age and illness, when many were shaming him for not retiring and letting somebody younger, healthier, and supposedly more capable take over as pope, he persevered quietly, and taught us all that people don’t lose their dignity and worth when they become old and sick.  That perseverance is one of the things that inspired me to come back to the Church, and has uplifted me many times since.

Death of Osama Bin Laden:  When I saw the news, I had two thoughts almost simultaneously.  One was, “Thank God, he’s finally gone!”  The other was, “Dear Lord, he must be in desperate need of Your mercy!”  I rejoiced in the success of our soldiers and the defeat of such a dreadful enemy who had killed so many innocent people.  I also feared for the state of his soul and how terrible his judgment before God must have been.  I hate and despise his sins.  I pity the man.  I wish he had repented.  Maybe he did in his final moment.

I was also glad to see some joy and celebration in the streets of New York and Washington.  I know some people have found it tasteless, even going so far as comparing those people to the people in the Middle East who celebrated in the streets on 9/11.  I didn’t see that at all.  For one thing, I didn’t see any burning effigies or burning flags or guns.  I saw people celebrating not a man’s death in itself, but rather celebrating the ending of at least one chapter of a dark and haunting story, a nightmare of agony.  I think that the New Yorkers and Washingtonians deserved to celebrate.  I don’t think that we in other parts of the nation fully understand what they have gone through.  9/11 may have occurred almost 10 years ago, but the shadow of grief is very long and dark, as I know from personal experience.

I am finally catching up on the coverage of the Holy Father’s visit to Britain.  One-word summary: Wow!

Pope Benedict’s sermons and speeches are as powerful and prophetic as ever, with their characteristic blend of incisiveness and gentleness.

But overarching everything, there is the sheer historical magnitude of the Catholic Pope speaking in places like Westminster Hall and Westminster Abbey, openly and fearlessly declaring himself the Successor of St. Peter and calling Britain back to her Christian, and indeed Catholic roots, pointing to such British Catholics as St. Edward the Confessor, St. Thomas More, St. Margaret of Scotland, and the soon-to-be-beatified Ven. John Henry Newman.

I cannot help but feel great wonder and awe at this occasion!  And while the re-conversion of Britain to Catholicism has long been a prayer intention dear to my heart, I finally feel, for the first time, that some kind of breakthrough might be in progress.  I hope and pray that the Holy Father’s presence and words may bear much good fruit in those lands.

Here are some of the British sources I’ve been following:

The Catholic Herald

Damian Thompson

The Hermeneutic of Continuity

Saint Mary Magdalene

That the Bones You Have Crushed May Thrill

Godzdogz

May our Lord and Lady continue to bless and protect our Holy Father during this momentous journey.

Via Catholic World News, I found the USCCB’s newly-launched site that introduces the new English translation of the Roman Missal!

Among other things, they provide a nice summary of changes in the text.

“Consubstantial” here we come!  :D

Well… eventually.  It’s still not clear when the new translation will actually be implemented.  You know it can’t happen quickly enough for me!  But at least the text is becoming more accessible and people can start familiarizing themselves with it.  I can’t imagine anybody not being moved by the new language, once they get familiar with it.

Sacred Heart of JesusToday we celebrate the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

The image of the Sacred Heart is the quintessential emblem of divine love.  Wrapped in thorns, divine love suffers and sacrifices.  Ablaze with fire, divine loves is ardent and unquenchable.

Today is also the first day of the Year for Priests that has been declared by Pope Benedict.

There couldn’t be a more appropriate feast day for launching the Year of the Priest?  Are our good shepherds not one of the greatest signs of divine love and divine providence?  They ardently devote their lives to the Church–to each one of us–in a spirit of service and sacrifice.

I pray for our priests every day, especially those close to me–those who serve my parish, those at my local Dominican priory, our local FSSP chaplain who provides the Extraordinary Form of the Mass.

But I pray for all of them.  I pray for those who are struggling, those have gone astray or are in danger of going astray.  Those in danger of losing their immortal souls.  Those who suffer in Purgatory for their failings in bearing their immense responsibilities.  To whom much is given, much is expected.  We may find it easy to imagine the privileges of priesthood… few of us can fathom the great responsibilities, and the great penalties incurred for lapsing in those responsibilities.

This year, let us be especially mindful, especially grateful, especially supportive, and especially merciful toward our priests!  May our Lord Jesus Christ bless them and keep them close to His Sacred Heart, now and always!

Here is a prayer to the Sacred Heart of Jesus:

O most holy Heart of Jesus, fountain of every blessing, I adore You, I love You, and with a lively sorrow for my sins, I offer You this poor heart of mine.  Make me humble, patient, pure and wholly obedient to Your will.  Grant, good Jesus, that I may live in You and for You.  Protect me in the midst of danger; comfort me in my afflications; give me health of body, assistance in my temporal needs, Your blessing on all that I do, and the grace of a holy death.  Amen.

Tomorrow, Sunday 17 May, I will be making my temporary profession to the Order of Preachers.  Having come through training as an inquirer and then a novice, I will be making a firmer pledge and commitment to live according to the rule of the Dominican Laity.  I will receive a small white scapular.  I will receive the privilege of including the “OP” designation after my name.

But I will be thinking much more about what I can give and what I can do as a Lay Dominican.  This blog will stay around.  In fact, this blog will likely take on a greater significance as I embark on the apostolic mission of the Order to preach to all the ends of the earth.

I can tell you that I have some other projects brewing in my head, including at least one additional blog.  It will be devoted to issues of creation, stewardship, the welfare of animals and other creatures, and man’s proper role in it all.  My aim is to provide an authentic Catholic alternative to the secular environmentalism and related movements that are sweeping our nation and our world and that are so wound up in paganism and liberalist agendas.  I want to show a better, higher, truer way.  At the moment, I have much to learn on the issues myself.  If anybody can help me out, if anybody can recommend resources, or if anybody can point me to good Catholic blogs with the same or similar aims… it would be much appreciated.  I don’t want to re-create the wheel, after all!  Although there’s no content there yet, you can see what the new blog will look like.

I’m still planning to create a work about and dedicated to St. Dominic, my beloved spiritual father.  I want to help everybody to know him as I do, to know him as he is.  That too is in its very early, preparatory stages.  I’m not even sure what form it will take.

Of course, tomorrow is also the big day for Pres. Obama and Notre Dame.  I will always remember that this debacle coincided with my profession day.  I wonder if that means something…  I don’t believe in coincidences.

I just saw a report on a local news program about it, and it made me want to bang my head on my desk repeatedly.  They were talking about the pro-lifers protesting the president’s coming to give a speech.  They aired an incredibly disingenuous, very innocuous-sounding statement from some ND spokesman about how the university and Catholic values are not threatened by the president coming to give a speech, and that the university is open to all kinds of thinking, including the president’s.  GAH!  Among the protesters they showed were Dr. Alan Keyes, two cassock-clad priests, and various other men and women, all of them quietly and calmly praying the Rosary.  But of course they just had to include a police officer remarking on how some of the protesters have gotten out of hand.  GAAAHH!

I’ll tell you what’s gotten out of hand–Catholic universities honoring pro-abortion public figures, then publicly lying about it, making it sound like they’re only providing an open forum for ideas and that any protesters are just censorship-loving meanies and/or crazy fringe elements.  The report also mentioned that none of the protestors shown were students.  They made no mention at all of the pro-life, faithful Catholic students who are holding their own protests and even boycotting their own commencement ceremony!

Oh…  Lord, please just bring a great deal of good from this situation!  And please help me to do my part, whatever it may be!

Mary Ann Glendon, former U.S. ambassador to the Holy See, refuses to be the token good Catholic sharing Obama’s stage at Notre Dame’s 2009 commencement ceremony.

Just in from Catholic World News:

Glendon declines commencement honor from Notre Dame (Subscribe to RSS Feed)

Apr. 27, 2009 (CWNews.com)

Mary Ann Glendon has announced that she will not accept the Laetare Medal–the highest honor conferred by the University of Notre Dame–at this year’s commencement exercises.

Glendon–the Harvard Law professor who recently stepped down from her post as US ambassador to the Holy See–has indicated that she decided to decline the Laetare Medal because of her concerns about the commencement address that will be delivered by President Barack Obama. In an April 27 letter to Father John Jenkins, the president of Notre Dame, she wrote that a prospect “that once seemed so delightful has been complicated” by the Obama appearance and by Notre Dame’s response to criticism from the American bishops.

In her letter Glendon expressed dismay that Notre Dame chose to honor the President despite his clear public stand against Catholic principles on key moral issues. She also voiced her discomfort with the university’s suggestion that her own speech at the commencement exercises might counterbalance the Obama appearance. A commencement celebration, she said, “is not the right place, nor is a brief acceptance speech the right vehicle, for engagement with the very serious problems raised” by Notre Dame’s decision to invite Obama in defiance of clear guidance from the US bishops.

The full text of Glendon’s letter follows:

Dear Father Jenkins,

When you informed me in December 2008 that I had been selected to receive Notre Dame’s Laetare Medal, I was profoundly moved. I treasure the memory of receiving an honorary degree from Notre Dame in 1996, and I have always felt honored that the commencement speech I gave that year was included in the anthology of Notre Dame’s most memorable commencement speeches. So I immediately began working on an acceptance speech that I hoped would be worthy of the occasion, of the honor of the medal, and of your students and faculty.

Last month, when you called to tell me that the commencement speech was to be given by President Obama, I mentioned to you that I would have to rewrite my speech. Over the ensuing weeks, the task that once seemed so delightful has been complicated by a number of factors.

First, as a longtime consultant to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, I could not help but be dismayed by the news that Notre Dame also planned to award the president an honorary degree. This, as you must know, was in disregard of the U.S. bishops’ express request of 2004 that Catholic institutions “should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles” and that such persons “should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.” That request, which in no way seeks to control or interfere with an institution’s freedom to invite and engage in serious debate with whomever it wishes, seems to me so reasonable that I am at a loss to understand why a Catholic university should disrespect it.

Then I learned that “talking points” issued by Notre Dame in response to widespread criticism of its decision included two statements implying that my acceptance speech would somehow balance the event:

• “President Obama won’t be doing all the talking. Mary Ann Glendon, the former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, will be speaking as the recipient of the Laetare Medal.”

• “We think having the president come to Notre Dame, see our graduates, meet our leaders, and hear a talk from Mary Ann Glendon is a good thing for the president and for the causes we care about.”

A commencement, however, is supposed to be a joyous day for the graduates and their families. It is not the right place, nor is a brief acceptance speech the right vehicle, for engagement with the very serious problems raised by Notre Dame’s decision—in disregard of the settled position of the U.S. bishops—to honor a prominent and uncompromising opponent of the Church’s position on issues involving fundamental principles of justice.

Finally, with recent news reports that other Catholic schools are similarly choosing to disregard the bishops’ guidelines, I am concerned that Notre Dame’s example could have an unfortunate ripple effect.

It is with great sadness, therefore, that I have concluded that I cannot accept the Laetare Medal or participate in the May 17 graduation ceremony.

In order to avoid the inevitable speculation about the reasons for my decision, I will release this letter to the press, but I do not plan to make any further comment on the matter at this time.

Yours Very Truly,

Mary Ann Glendon

Could this finally get through to Father Jenkins and others who think there’s no problem with honoring pro-abortion people at Catholic schools and who disobey our bishops in the process?

Whatever happens, I am very happy about Mrs. Glendon’s response.  We, and the world, need to see Catholics in public life who act with integrity and faith.  The opposite is becoming too much the rule and the standard… the very low standard.  Thank God for Mrs. Glendon’s good example.  May many be inspired to follow it.

[UPDATE] American Papist has a good compilation of ND news.

A very happy birthday to our Holy Father, Pope Benedict, who is 82 years old today!

Pope Benedict in Brazil, 2007

As always, I pray that the Lord bless him with continued long life and good health!  I am so grateful to have him as our Papa!

Also, this Sunday, 19 April, we celebrate the 4th anniversary of his election as Pope!  Appropriately enough, this year, it is also Divine Mercy Sunday.  Providing us with such a good shepherd has been an act of God’s mercy in these troubled times.

Viva il Papa!  Ad multos annos!

(Photo by Fabio Pozzebom, found at Wikipedia)

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