Related article here.
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Today’s date always brings with it a slight element of sadness for me. The note on my calendar reminds me that, three years ago today, Fr Gabriel Bunge OSB converted to the Russian Orthodox Church. It seems to have been an extremely fulfilling move for him, but I was disappointed that he was not able to find his fulfillment in the Catholic Church.
When I read Fr Bunge’s Earthen Vessels about ten years ago, it changed my personal prayer life radically. For one thing, it helped me to understand better my affinity for the expressiveness of ‘charismatic prayer.’ The bodily actions and gestures in prayer about which Fr Bunge taught in Earthen Vessels enable me to be more deeply self-giving to the Lord in my personal prayer time. As Fr Bunge said in Chapter Four:
Like sacramental actions, the methods and gestures in prayer must also be meaningful, that is to say, the body must reproduce visibly what is taking part in the soul.
I first learned to be open to what Eastern Christianity has to offer from my first visit to Mount Saviour Monastery in 1984. The monks of Mt Saviour have incorporated some Eastern Christian practices and images into their monastic life. Reading JP2’s Orientale Lumen increased my openness. Matthew the Poor’s Orthodox Prayer Life was also very helpful (and is among my rotation of nightstand books). Even now, I’ll periodically stop by the Orthodox Way of Life blog, or occasionally listen to a talk by Fr Thomas Hopko or Metropolitan Jonah, which can be found at the Ancient Faith Radio site. Orthodoxy has many obscure but admirable practices worthy of emulation, not only in Church life, but also in home and family life. Here’s one example which Fr Bunge relates in an interview (he was still Catholic priest-monk at this time):
I stayed two months in Greece on Lesbos. There weren’t many tourists then and, therefore, we were lodged among local families. I lived in a family of a priest. And of course, I was going to church every Sunday. The family knew I was a Catholic, but because there wasn’t any Catholic church around, I was going to an Orthodox one. Everyone in the family was kind to me and treated me with much love. On the small entrance, they even brought me the Gospel to kiss as if I was an honorable guest.
Imagine the surprise of my pastor (or any priest) if, upon arriving at our house, we offered him a book of the Gospels to kiss!
If you’re interested, you can read more about Fr Bunge and his conversion here and here. You can get an indication of what he teaches in Earthen Vessels by reviewing the excerpts available at its Google Books site.
That’s right. Only three months remaining in the Year of Faith. This Year of Faith will end on November 24th, the Solemnity of Christ the King. Remember: It’s purpose is to help us prepare to be active participants in the New Evangelization.
Has your faith grown during this Holy Year in any way which you could share with us (in the Comments Box)?
I’ve had two primary faith-increase goals for this Holy Year: a) to deepen my love for the person of Jesus and my personal communion with Him, and b) to implement a twice-a-day Ignatian Examen into my life to foster my ongoing conversion.
Here are some of the efforts I’ve made to attain my first goal:
- Prepare better to receive Holy Communion at Mass on Sunday (via pre-Communion prayers, Confession if necessary, etc), and to see the moment of receiving Holy Communion as a deeply personal encounter with my Lord (among all the other things that the Mass is)
- Spend an hour with Jesus in Eucharistic Adoration at least once during the week
- Do a deeper lectio divina on the Sunday Gospel readings (I’ve started taking the time to post these on my personal blog — mainly for my children)
- Pray and reflect on the primary litanies of Jesus (Sacred Heart, Precious Blood, Holy Name, Holy Face) and on the Titles of Jesus found in Sacred Scripture
- Engage in colloquies to Jesus several times each day (colloquies (according to St Ignatius of Loyola) are short periods of talking with Jesus as one friend would talk to another)
I’m experiencing about a forty per cent rate of success with my second goal. Trying to develop a new habit like a two-a-day examen is proving to be a challenge for a geezer like me.
The moderate success that I’ve had with both of my goals is evidenced in my life by a more merciful attitude, and an ability to maintain my joy and trust in the Lord during difficult times.
How about you?
No, really. You’re gonna love this — a pro life mainstream rap song (some scenes might be disturbing for young viewers)
Apologies if I mis-spelled that.
Saw a preview for what looks to be a great movie coming out:
But while watching that, I also caught the video for the first part of the promotional Bus Tour, where the faith is on display. It brought a smile to my face and I thought I’d share:
Hello…long time no blog, I know.
Recently our mens Group in Ashley has matured to the degree that we decided to branch off and start a new group. My pastor has been needling me for some time to get something going at our three parishes which are in the fitful process of merging into one.
So we had an ambitious plan to setup a general meeting for all the men of the parish to come and learn about Catholic Mens’ Fellowship. I was (and am) totally confident that we could get at least three new groups started in these parishes.
Once the plan was in place, things started to go wrong. First off, the parish administration didn’t get the full page poster insert for the bulletin. For either of the two weeks the bulletin ran. We did have an ad in there, thought it was just a short blurb placeholder. Then circumstances conspired against me in getting to the masses and doing some individual reaching out beyond that which I had already done.
The fateful night arrived, and my partner Jeff called up to confirm that we were meeting. He jokingly said, “I’ll bet it will just be you and me.” Ha ha. I set up early, with 80 sets of handouts I copied. The clock started getting closer to 7 pm, the start of the meeting. I started to think of what Jeff said, and our ‘masterful’ marketing campaign . I thought, “Well Jesus, if you want this to succeed you need to bring the men out tonite. I’ve done as good a job as I can for my part.”
5 minutes later no one was there yet. I thought of Abraham bargaining with the lord over the fate of Sodom, and how many good people would he spare the city for. I started to bargain with the Holy Spirit saying “Well there are 1500 families in these parishes, 80 men would be just fine. That way My fliers will get used up.” A minute or two later I thought, “Well 25 men would make a good enough audience that the speech I’m prepared to deliver won’t seem awkward…. You know, 12 nice Jewish boys changed the face of the Roman Empire, send me 12 from these parishes… Hmm, a group will be pretty stable and successful with 6 men….. wherever 2 or three are gathered…. Lord. If you want this to work, I can do it with one man.”
And right on cue, I heard the door open, and an elderly gentleman all bundled up for the cold, shuffled in. We greeted eachother warmly, and then he looked at my handouts and said, “What’s this? You mean this ISN’T the parish historical society meeting?” I said he was welcome to stay, but… out the door he went again.
At 7 My buddy Jeff arrived, looked around and laughed. I told him that he may not have the charismatic gift of tongues, but he sure had the gift of prophecy.
And then….. one new man arrived. Followed by the pastor and a ‘ringer’ from the Freeland group (visit www.catholicundergroundpa.com ). And from there we laid the groundwork for how we will proceed.
In discussing it afterwards, Jeff said it was one of the best meetings he has been to in a while. He got to meet the pastor, who was really dedicated to making this a success, and we talked about how our plans for growing the CMF weren’t ncessarily God’s plans. We had this idea that we could take the easy way out and reach lots of men at once through mass communication, and not really have to put ourselves out on the line risking embarrassment by walking up to men we didn’t know so well and pitching the idea. When St. Paul preached in the Areopagus most everyone laughed, but a handful spoke with him later one on one and were converted. Maybe the holy spirit wants us to be better and fearless witnesses in one on one relationships. After all, aren;t the small group sharing sessions about one on one relatioships. Jeff was so on fire that he went out that very night to a plumbing job where spoke about faith with his 23 year old male customer who was having a rough patch in his life and with his neighbors. They prayed about a few things there on his front porch, and this protestant non-churchgoing kid admitted that maybe God broke his furnace so that he could meet Jeff. He now wants to come to our next meeting next wednesday night… and now there are two.
And if I cannot conquer myself, Lord, then You conquer me.