Archive for July 2011

For men going “Into the Wild”

July 29, 2011

As an inspiration for our GOTR CMF brothers who will be participating in the “Into the Wild” weekend in two weeks, I wanted to excerpt a bit from “Saint Among Savages,” the classic book on the life of St Isaac Jogues.  Perhaps these paragraphs from the chapter entitled “Along the Trail of Torture” will serve as motivation for them if their time in the wild starts to seem too uncomfortable.

When the Mohawks (a tribe of the Iroquois confederation) captured Fr Jogues and his companions (consisting of his fellow priests, a few French laymen, and the Hurons who had converted to Christianity), they took them to the various villages along the rivers and lakes.  At each Indian village, the Mohawks encouraged their local brethren to “caress” their trophy prisoners, which began with having them run a gauntlet.  Having traveled from the point of their capture for several days already with no food, they arrived at the first such village:

The prisoners were stripped totally naked, and whipped into file.  The old men were placed at the head, for they would set a slower pace.  The stronger Hurons were interspersed with the weaker.  Couture was in the forefront; Goupil in the middle; and Jogues, as the greatest in dignity was held as the last, so that his punishment might be the greatest.  The signal was given.  The first of the Hurons was driven between the lines of Iroquois.  He ran blindly, while the executioners pounded down blows [using clubs and switches of thorny rods] on his head and body and legs.  Another Huron was fed in; the shrieks grew diabolical; Couture rushed into the midst of the whirling clubs; then other Hurons; then Goupil; the outcries were blood-curdling; the hill was a mass of wild passions.

Father Jogues saw it all as he waited for his own ordeal of running the gauntlet.  He was shoved between the columns.  Blows beat down on his head and neck and arms, thudding blows, stinging strokes of switches and thorns, on his sides, on his legs.  Madly he tried to race up the hill.  They tripped and impeded him.  He fought forward.  He stumbled, and fell to the ground ere he had gone a hundred steps.  They showered more blows on him to make him rise.  He tried to escape; but he was hurled back.  He was numbed, paralyzed.  He felt nothing.  The Mohawks kicked and beat him the more; but he did not move.  They dragged him unconscious to the top of the hill.

When he opened his eyes, Jogues found himself lying on the rocky ledge at the top of the hill.  In the center of the open space he saw a platform, half the height of a man, roughly strung together from branches and wattle.  His comrades were being driven to mount it, while the Iroquois giddily whirled around and showered them with blows.  He was discovered revived; then he, too, was lifted roughly and thrown on the stage.  They hauled him up to a standing position, but he sank down to the wood, utterly unable to support himself.  The savages dug into his flesh with their finger nails and thrust burning fagots against his arms and thighs.  He could not move to protect himself.  One of them took his thumb and bit it, crunching and macerating it until the flesh was torn to bits and the bone exposed.  Another held a live coal against his other fingers.  Under the onslaught, once more he swooned off, lifeless.

[snip]

The Mohawks were finished with the French and threw them off the staging.  They turned with newer vigor on the Hurons.  Ahatsistari was the center of their rage.  Jogues watched his sufferings with growing terror.  He saw them slash the flesh with their long knives, from head to feet, saw them staunch the blood with burning torches.  Eustace stood unmoved, never flinching, taunting and maddening them by his words of courage.  They lifted his arms, and severed both of his thumbs in revenge for the arrows he had directed into the hearts of their kinsmen.  He remained unmoved.  One of the Mohawks took a tough stake, cleared of the bark and well pointed; he rammed it into the socket from which the thumb of the left hand had been amputated.  He forced the wood up through the flesh until it protruded at the elbow.  Eustace held his composure.  He would not disgrace his people by twitching a muscle; he would not show himself a coward and thus give satisfaction to his enemies.  He drew himself up more proudly, invincible.

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“Into the Wild” coming to Hickory Run

July 21, 2011

The King’s Men will be bringing their unique men’s formation and fellowship experience, known as “Into the Wild,” to Hickory Run State Park this year, August 11 to 14 (Thursday through Sunday). There are still spaces available!!  Register now to enjoy the Ten+ experiences on Into the Wild you’ll be sure to love:

1 – 24/7 Eucharistic Adoration

2 – Orienteering (map & compass) training and competition 

3 – Daily Mass with extraordinary priests such as Fr. John McFadden, Fr. Joe Freedy, Fr. Joe Coffey, Fr. Dean Borgmeyer.   (bios coming soon)

4 – Construction of an outdoor-style church

5 – Engaging talks on man’s role of Leader, Protector, and Provider

6 – Wild-game cooking training and feast!

7 – Training Under Torchlight (ask for details)

8 – Fishing on beautiful lakes and streams

9 – Rosary Procession through scenic woods

10 – Interaction with The King’s Men dynamic leader team.

Bonus#1:  Explore a 20,000 year old ice-age created National Natural Landmark – Boulder Field! (Hickory Run Location Only)

Bonus#2:  You’ll find out Friday night at the bonfire!

3 ways to register:

1 – Web www.intothewildweekend.com

2 – Email info@intothewildweekend.com

3 – Phone 215.906.8878

US Bishop Uses Terms “Fasting” and “Devils” ——— in Same Sentence!!

July 19, 2011

Amid all the hoopla surrounding Abp Chaput’s appointment to Philly, the title of this post should have been used as a headline somewhere!  Responding to the very last question in this lengthy interview with John Allen, Abp Chaput said:

I’m firmly convinced by a lifetime of being in the church that the traditional practices of the church are the ones we need to follow, and if we follow them, we really will be able to engage in all these issues in an appropriate way. The first thing is regular prayer, and for priests that means the divine office and the daily celebration of the Mass. Beyond that, we should embrace the sacramental life, which means personal confession as well as encouraging others to enter the sacrament of confession. There’s also fasting … Jesus tells us that ‘some devils can’t be driven out without fasting.’  We need to find time for spiritual reading, especially the reading of the scriptures…

August retreat opportunity

July 19, 2011

GOTR CMF Service Team member Bob Margetts and his wife Carol are helping to sponsor a special Holy Spirit retreat next month, to be led by Fr Anthony Ozele.  All the details are in this flyer.

Charismatic Renewal Conference

July 19, 2011

The annual Scranton Conference of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal will be held August 5th-7th at the University of Scranton.  Each year, it proves to be the largest assembly of Catholics that occurs in our diocese, with over 2,000 attendees.

Attendees at a recent Scranton CCR Conference

The registration form for this year’s Conference can be downloaded and printed.  You can also call the Scranton CCR office at 570.344.2214 for additional information.

Novena to St Benedict — Day 9

July 11, 2011

From Dom Mark Kirby OSB explaining a Chapter of the Rule of St Benedict:

Over-arching Principles

I often like to point out the grand over-arching principles of Benedictine life that Saint Benedict manages to slip into nearly every chapter of the Rule. Chapter 49 contains two of these. Interestingly enough, we find them in the opening and final sentences of the chapter. They frame all the rest, and suggest that this particular chapter is one for all seasons.

Our Father Saint Benedict begins with a rather sobering affirmation: “The life of a monk ought at all times to be Lenten in its character.”…

What Does It Mean?

What exactly does Saint Benedict himself mean when he declares that “the life of a monk ought at all times to be Lenten in character”? He describes the Lenten character of monastic life in the following terms:

— A life of great purity: When Saint Benedict speaks of purity of life, he is not referring exclusively to the virtue of chastity. He represents an all-encompassing notion of purity of heart, drawing, principally, upon the writings of Saint John Cassian. Purity of heart includes perfect chastity (according to one’s state in life) and cannot be attained without it, but it has to do also with the single-hearted direction of a monk’s life, with his all-consuming passion for God alone.

Purity of heart is the treasure hidden in the field for which the monk is ready to sell all that he has. It is the pearl of great price, and chief ornament of monastic holiness. “Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God” (Mt 6:8).

No one comes to the monastery with a clean heart; in every heart there are mixed motives, deeply rooted attachments, and compromises. But as a man perseveres in the monastic life his heart is purified and, if he consents to the purging fire of Divine Love, he will come, at length, to that degree of purity of heart by which the soul begins to contemplate God in the darkness of faith, and to cling to Him alone in love.

— A life of reparation: Saint Benedict presents Lent as a time during which the monk “expiates the negligences of other times.” One who has experienced the love of the Heart of Jesus wants to make up for the coldness, ingratitude, want of generosity, and failure to trust that have cast a shadow over his past.

— avoiding sin: This, of course, is binding on all who profess to love Christ. What specifically does Saint Benedict mean in this instance? It seems to me that this particular Lenten injunction has to do with being sober and watchful lest the enemy who “prowls about like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour” (1 P 5:8) pounce on one who has let down his guard.

— praying with tears: Virtues flourish where the labour of one’s prayer and good deeds is irrigated by tears. The Church so values the gift of tears that the Roman Missal contains a set of orations to beg for this grace.

— applying oneself to reading: The monk immerses himself in the Word of God, not only in Lent, but day after day, week after week, and year after year. One who neglects holy reading begins to dry up; one is tempted to cut short one’s times of secret, silent prayer. The neglect of holy reading is the first step in the slow descent into lukewarmness and spiritual sloth.

— to compunction of heart: Etymologically, compunction means the state of being wounded or pierced through. It is the condition of one who is wounded. Compunction, Blessed Abbot Marmion tells us, is a distinctively Benedictine virtue. The monk lives with an open wound in the heart; it is the wound opened there by the two-edged sword of the Word of God and by the piercing arrow of Divine Love. One so wounded cannot help but shed tears of sorrow for past and actual sins, tears of thanksgiving for the mercy shown him, and tears of joy in the face of Love.

— to abstinence: Saint Benedict is, undoubtedly, referring to abstinence from food and drink, but there are other forms of abstinence as well. Abstinence is a readiness to curb one’s appetites and to hold them in check, lest one become heavy and weighed down by any sort of excess.

In the Joy of the Holy Spirit

Nowhere in the Holy Rule does Saint Benedict speak of joy as much as he does in this chapter on the observance of Lent. If the life of a monk is to be Lent-like all year round, it is to be joyful. Joy, being one of the fruits of the Holy Ghost, flourishes on the branches of the Seven Gifts of the Holy Ghost. The Seven Gifts themselves grow out of the three theological virtues of Faith, Hope, and Charity. Benedictine life is characteristically joyful. How could it be otherwise when one is called to the praise of God seven times daily? How could it be otherwise when one approaches daily the sacred banquet of the Lamb?

Excerpt #9 from Pope St Gregory the Great on St Benedict:

But I must not here pass over with silence that which I had by relation of the honourable man, Anthony, who said that his father’s boy was so pitifully punished with a leprosy, that all his hair fell off, his body swelled, and filthy corruption did openly come forth. Who being sent by his father to the man of God, he was by him quickly restored to his former health.

Litany to St Benedict

Novena Prayer to St Benedict

Novena to St Benedict — Day 8

July 10, 2011

From Dom Mark Kirby OSB explaining a line in the Rule of St Benedict:

Marianna, a reader of Vultus Christi wrote me the other day, asking me the meaning of Saint Benedict’s words in the Prologue of the Holy Rule, “sharing in the sufferings of Christ through patience, so as to share also in his kingdom.” (RB Pro: 50)

Patientia

Patience derives from the Latin patior, meaning to suffer, to undergo, to bear, or to endure. The connotation of Saint Benedict’s patientia is a humble acceptance of the hard and painful things that come upon us, motivated by a desire to imitate Our Lord Jesus Christ and to be united to Him in His love of the Father and in His obedience to the Father’s will. Saint Benedict is telling us that by accepting the weaknesses, losses, detachments, and other sufferings that come upon us in the course of a day or a lifetime, and by uniting our acceptance of these painful things to the Passion and Death of Christ, we will, at length, come to share in the glory of HIs Kingdom.

With Christ Priest and Victim

Saint Benedict’s teaching is consoling to all those who ask if suffering can have any meaning or value. He is, in fact, echoing the teaching of the Apostle Saint Paul who, in Colossians 1:24, writes: “I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up those things that are wanting of the sufferings of Christ, in my flesh, for his body, which is the church.”Saint Paul is writing here of the sufferings of the whole Christ, Head and Members. Christ continues to suffer in His the members of His Mystical Body. Our sufferings are His and His are ours. Christ the Head of the Mystical Body, and our Eternal High Priest, associates His members, and all the sufferings they endure in union with Him, to His Sacrifice and to His triumph. Every suffering accepted in union with Our Lord’s obedient love for the Father becomes, by the grace of Holy Spirit, meritorious and fruitful for the whole Church.

Excerpt #8 from Pope St Gregory the Great on St Benedict:

Neither is that to be omitted, which one of his disciples called Peregrinus used to tell: for he said that, upon a certain day, an honest man, who was in debt, found no other means to help himself, but thought it his best way to acquaint the man of God with his necessity: whereupon he came to the Abbey, and finding the servant of almighty God, gave him to understand, how he was troubled by his creditor for twelve shillings which he did owe him. To whom the venerable man said that himself had not so much money, yet giving him comfortable words, he said: “Go your ways, and after two days come to me again, for I cannot presently help you”: in which two days, after his manner, he bestowed himself in prayer: and when upon the third day the poor man came back there were found suddenly upon the chest of the Abbey, which was full of corn, thirteen shillings: which the man of God caused to be given to him that required but twelve, both to discharge his debt, and also to defray his own charges.

Litany to St Benedict

Novena Prayer to St Benedict