Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Sorry for the Sag in Posts, Check this Out, Never Knew God had a right Hand

We apologize for the lack of posts. You probably haven't checked in a while. Once the semester concludes we'll get you some of our insights.

Here's an expert from a paper I'm working on:

"Your right hand, O Lord, glorious in power, your right hand, O Lord, shatters the enemy." Ex. 15:6

There is much insight to be found within the canon with regard to the phrase “right hand.” In the Psalms it seems to connote military might. Ps. 20:7 “Now I know that the Lord will help his anointed; he will answer him from his holy heaven with mighty victories by his right hand” (Ps. 20:7); and “For not by sword did they win the land, nor did their own arm give them victory; but your right hand, and your arm … For not in my bow do I trust, nor can my sword save me. But you have saved us from our foes, and have put to confusion those who hate us” (Ps 44:4,6 ); and also “O sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things! His right hand and his holy arm have gotten him victory” (Ps 98:1). The right hand of God seems to exact precision blows that afford Israel victory over its enemies. It seems to have the same connotation in Isaiah, “You are my servant, I have chosen you and not cast you off;’ fear not, for I am with you, be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand” (Is 41:10). The use, then, fits perfectly within the victory song.

Christ, as he tends to do, gives the phrase new meaning by connecting to Himself. “And Jesus said, ‘I am; and you will see the Son of man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven” (Mk 14:62). He retains the military connotation with the qualifier ‘of Power,’ but by connecting the phrase to Himself he unites that power to his humiliation on the cross, the greatest of all the victories of the right hand of God. In this victory he not only destroys the enemy of Israel but of all mankind, namely death. All mankind enters into this victory by means of baptism, which finds its main type in the destruction of Pharaoh and his picked officers in the Red Sea.

Friday, October 16, 2009

"Exocricsm of the spirit of Vatican II"

This is an article that I believe everyone should be aware of immediately. The Bishop of Sioux City has called for an exorcism of the 'spirit of Vatican II'. In the article, it speaks of how his Excellency desires to rid the discontinuity of the teachings and faith of the Church and get back to the continuity of faith. Please read this article that can be found at the link below. Also, let us keep in our daily prayer the souls that have been mislead, either through their fault or not through their fault, concerning the faith of our Holy and beautiful Church.


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Shift the focus just slightly

The entire staff (I can't type that with a straight face) here at Reverenced Reading announces a slightly augmented focus.  
We love books and we love God.  In fact, we love books about God.  Nonetheless, we also love movies, music, and other forms of media.  God being the creator of all men reveals himself through the thoughts and actions and words of men.  We read these signs and symbols and find in them a deeper understanding of revelation or a better way that we can evangelize.  
You will notice.  We have a new focus up top.  Check it out.  We hope you continue to read this blog and continue to read other thing.  Peace.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

An Honest Look

Another book I have read is, “As Bread that is Broken,” by Peter G. van Breemen, S.J. This book is another amazing book that I would highly suggest. It is 187 pages long and can be somewhat difficult to find. Fr. Breemen takes a hard and honest look at our condition and our condition in relation to God and others. He uses Sacred Scripture throughout the entire book in order to drive home the point he has to make in each chapter. Fr. Breemen forces the reader to examine the relationship between God and self and then to examine that relationship in association with others. The best way to end this review of this book is with a quote from Edward Farrell who wrote the forward, “This is a dangerous book. Read with faith and openness, it will compel you to follow Him more totally or ‘to go away sad’” (Mk 10:22).

Present Moment

Fr. Jean-Pierre De Caussade is a spiritual master, without a doubt. Under the guidance of my spiritual director I read Fr. De Caussade’s book, “The Joy of Full Surrender,” which is 201 pages. This book is one in which I am planning to keep throughout the years to read it over and over again. “The Joy of Full Surrender” is a book that really brings forth the beauty and treasure of surrendering to God and living fully in the present moment. This book, unlike others on the same subject, went further than simply saying it is a good idea to live in the present moment. Within this one book, Fr. De Cussade goes into depth about the reasons why one ought to fully surrender to God. He then speaks on the ‘state of being surrendered to God’s Will’ and God’s protection for those who do surrender totally to Him. The last two sections of the book speak of the trials of those who do surrender and the assurance of God’s constant, never ending help.
As many of my friends know, I have wanted to really strive after living in the present moment and surrendering totally to God’s will. However, I have been very strong headed and stubborn as well. Yet, while I was reading this book, I become more and more on fire to live the way Fr. De Cussade was speaking of. Although I am still stubborn in many ways, I can honestly say that after reading this book I have not yet stopped striving each and every day to live in the present moment and reach for holy indifference. This book is, without a doubt, a must read.

St. Bernard

I have just finished reading “The Two-Fold Knowledge: Readings on the Knowledge of Self and the Knowledge of God Selected and Translated from the Works of Bernard of Clairvaux” by Franz Posset. In the 149 page book, Posset’s goal is to take selects parts from St. Bernard’s works in order to frame the pathway of the two fold knowledge: knowledge of God and knowledge of self. Posset, to me, almost accomplished his goal. The book does contain quotes from St. Bernard’s works organized by chapter. However, it was just that, quotes from St. Bernard’s works. As I was reading this book, I was wishing for the Posset to have made his point in a more fluid way with the quotes of St. Bernard. The idea Posset had in uncovering the treasure of such a knowledge is most definitely awesome. The quotes themselves did, in fact, get the point across. However, for me, it did seem a bit choppy and repetitive because of the way Posset organized the book. Over all it was indeed a good read and one that I would suggest. However, one needs to take time when reading this book so that one can pull the ideas out of the quotes to get the entirety of the message.


I have recently read two different books on forgiveness written by the same author, Fr. Robert DeGrandis, S.S.J. Both books, “To Forgive is Divine,” and “Take the First Step Forgive” are excellent guides in the process of forgiving everyone in one’s past and present. “Take the First Step Forgive” (56 pages long) has many amazing aspects. The book is broken down into three chapters, ‘Forgiving’, ‘To Forgive’, and ‘New Way of Life’. Each chapter ends with a list of Scriptures concerning the topic of that chapter, and also has its own reflections to meditate upon. The chapters also include testimony from letters Fr. DeGrandis has received concerning forgiveness. At the end of the book, Fr. DeGrandis offers a Litany of Forgiveness and a chart to help you begin what he calls a forgiveness list. The litany is very in depth, but as a celibate, there were aspects I had to skip, such as the section for forgiving a spouse and one’s own children. The forgiveness list is one of the suggestions that Father offers to the reader in which a list is made of the person(s) involved and the reason for having them on the list. It is suggested that the reader spend time with each person, following the practical suggestions he gives in the book.
The book, “To Forgive is Divine” (65 pages long) is organized in a much different way. Fr. DeGrandis goes through the Ten Commandments of Forgiveness. I found this book to be a little more in depth than the other book as to the process of forgiveness. Also, the book places all the testimonies into one chapter at the end of the book. This book also organizes the Litany of Forgiveness from the other book into a more fluid prayer.
Both books were very good books and I was very glad to have read both of them while on retreat.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Wisdom from a dead British guy who sought to make fun of the monotony of Life, the Universe, and Everything

Log stardate ... wait wrong sci-fi series. Welcome to the second installment of Douglas Adams Hitchhiker's Guide series titled The Restaurant at the End of the Universe. After stealing the Heart of Gold, finding an ancient planet, and finding out the answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything (42, just in case you didn't know), our protagonists worked up quite an appetite. Where better to go than the Restaurant at the End of the Universe? Well, I would beg to differ being from New Orleans and all, I think Commander's Palace or Emeril's would be much more appetizing and enjoyable than eating a cow who wants to be eaten and watching the finality of the universe. Nonetheless, Adams wields with his pen another goop and hilarity worth your time. It might even work better at making your abs fit than 10 minute abs.

In this installment, one meets the man who runs the universe, a very interesting look at the true wielding of power.

The major problem - one of the major problems, for there are several - one of the many major problems with governing people is that of whom you get to do it; or rather of who manages to get people to let them do it to them.
To summarize: it is a well-known fact that those people who must want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it. To summarize the summary: anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job. To summarize the summary of the summary: people are the problem.
And so this is the situation we find: a succession of Galactic Presidents who so much enjoy the fun and palaver of being power that they very rarely notice that they're not.
And somewhere in the shadows behind them - who?
Who can possibly rule if no one who wants to do it can be allowed to?

Humility and the desire to see reality as it is forms a true leader and one who can wield power. Who thought comedy could be so theological (probably not Douglas Adams)?
We also find out the final answer to the question on whether man evolved from apes. The answer is no. We are rather descendants from a species called the Golgafrinchanms. The majority of the people were absolutely brilliant comparable to Einstein, Newton, Thomas Aquinas, Aristotle, da Vinci, and Hawking. However, there was a third of the population that was a tad bit less than mediocre whom the other considered absolutely useless. These useless individuals had such unprodigious jobs as hairdressers (not my own opinion), middle management, and telephone cleaners. The brilliant 2/3rds of the population tricked "the useless third" into fleeing from a dying planet (which was very easy to do). This third was set on a 3 year course towards a primitive planet called Earth. After crash landing, they bored to death the native population of Cro-Magnon and unfortunately reproduced, hence Earth-man. All has been solved. No need for scientists to work any longer.

If you wish to break the monotony and/or intensity of mid-semester reading, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe is a good choice (of course after you read the first). It will provide answers to the question on the top of your brain like: how to blow up a star, the time of the second coming, how to suspend the space-time continuum, or the nature and origin of our species.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Poustinia: Embracing God's presence

Poustinia: Encountering God in Silence, Solitude and Prayer.
Catherine de Hueck Doherty

The statement, "God exists," is one of foundational importance in the life of a human person. One's acceptance - or rejection - of God's existence shapes all of the beliefs and practices carried out by a person, whether in the "mundane" sip of coffee before heading out to work, or in the extraordinary courage in endangering one's own life in order to protect another. The individual's lived answer to this statement not only shapes what they do, but the way in which they do what they do. So, for instance, the coffee-drinker could enjoy his morning occasion of coffee in manner open to eternity: savoring the qualities of each sip, being grateful for a simple pleasure, recognizing in its bitterness the suffering of the world around him and recalling his duty to suffer-with (com-passion) through his prayers and actions; in short, he could be reminded of God's presence through his appreciation of coffee. (And, as Chesterton says in "On Lying in Bed," without a pre-meditated reason or justification for any of them.) Or, he could simply drink his coffee in order to get on with the rest of the day.

For those who answer in the affirmative that God exists, Poustinia is a book which (simply by its exposition) invites the reader to live the affirmation. It is one in a series of books in which Catherine de Hueck Doherty introduces the Western mind to the traditions of Russian Christianity. The Russian practice of the poustinia (which means "desert") is one in which a person is called to live a life of solitude and prayer, usually residing in a small cabin outside of a community and living very simply: bread, water, Bible, prayer, and solidarity with the locals. There is no habit, no rule of life per se, but the habit of life is ordered (as simply as I can put it) to "breathing" God. That is, through whatever the day brings, the "job" of the poustinik is to "practice the presence of God" that he may more fully unite himself to God, that he may be purified by Him, and that he may see the happenings of his interior and exterior life in the light of God...that he may see with God's eyes, and not his own. In this "practice," the poustinik is doing nothing other than becoming more Christian - more like Christ, so that Christ may be made Incarnate once more in and through the poustinik.

Likewise, it is the call of every Christian to become (as it is known in the Eastern tradition) "divinized," that is, to become like God. Catherine argues that it is necessary for every Christian to be a "poustinik," yet not of necessity the type that lives in solitude. The poustinia to which we are all called, she says, is the poustinia of the heart. The poustinia of the heart

is a place within oneself, a result of Baptism, where each of us contemplates the Trinity. Within my heart, within me, I am or should be constantly in the presence of God. .... It's as if I were sitting next to God in complete silence, although there are always many other people around.

In whatever situation any person finds himself in, it is possible to remain with God in the "desert" of his own heart, and listen to Him speak amidst the noise of the world which surrounds him.

The practice of poustinia, the task of every Christian, directs him to the depths of the affirmation, "God exists," so that it is not merely a statement of belief in an impersonal God, nor an exposition of one's general philosophical reasoning (for that is not Christianity, but sophistry). God enriches and enlivens the soul with His grace and His life and enables him to see (everything in) life through His eyes, to talk with His words, to act like God would act; to think and reflect, be happy and sad, angry and weak - before Him and with Him. Through embracing this relationship with Him, He enables men to live the "glorious freedom of the children of God" (Romans 8:21), so that "it is no longer [him] who live[s], but Christ who lives in [him]" (Galatians 2:20).

Now, the coffee cup is not just a coffee cup. One can see God in his coffee cup.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Don't Judge a Book By Its Cover

Handbook for Ministers of Care by Genevieve Glen, OSB, Marilyn Kofler, SM, and Kevin E. O'Connor

This book was written for laity new to ministry of any kind, but especially to the unique and difficult ministry of visiting the sick.
Judging by a cover such as the one you see, worry is probable. I worry about books with such abstract drawings. These show up in various part of the book almost insultingly as if lay people can't read a book without pictures. I didn't particularly find the images even helpful in illustrating a point the authors were making.
In the first chapter, the writers made sweeping generalizations without backing them up. This book was written for people discerning such a ministry so it is written simply and matter of factly. However, one could give one historical example to back the claim, "{Ministry of care} was a ministry open to all the baptized that gradually, through the ages, became a ministry for priests and religious, especially those who established and served in hospitals," (4). That might be true be a pastor or supervisor might not have the same historical theological background as the authors. One cannot take such a statement without some evidence. This happens a few more times where the authors make blanket statements such as the previous one.
The writing style is colloquial. This brings across the points the authors mean to make, and it makes for a clear and easy read. However, the colloquial style surrender theological clarity a few times using common phrases that can leave ambiguity.
If one who recommends it is aware of its shortcomings and properly explains things, it is a great source for those visiting the sick. It is very practical and helpful in providing someone with a good solid base knowledge of visiting the sick. It gives practical guides on how to order a visit. It goes through the liturgy of a communion visit. It goes through special cases that someone might or probably will run into. I found the entry on demetia and alzheimer's disease to be very enlightening. It is good resource for someone visiting the sick to have.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Reading Insights from Catholic Underground

I don't know if any of you are familiar with Catholic Underground's podcast. Two priests and two layman get to get together to talk about faith and technology. Trying a new format, Fr. Ryan Humpheries heads this show. He talks about the Pope Benedict XVI's new encyclical Caritas in Veritate as well as a very popular book called The Death of a Pope by Pierce Paul Reid. Fr. Humphries gives a great explanation on Benedict's idea of the continuity and unity of Catholic teaching. He also warns people of the problems of Pierce Paul Reid's book. I personally have not heard all of the hooplah over this novel, but according to Fr. Humphries it's been the book to talk about in Catholic circles. Nonetheless, it also deals with the continuity and unity of Catholic teaching or lack thereof. Check it out.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Friends Rocking the Blog-o-sphere

About a month and a half ago, I was sent an invitation on Facebook to be a fan of Histube. I was evidently curious as to what this would be. My first thought was a cheesy Christian ripoff of youtube. (I love first thoughts. They get proved wrong so many times.) This is one of those cases. I found out a friend of mine and fellow seminarian, Joshua Johnson (a diocesan brother of Brent, the dude without a nickname that writes for this fantastic blog), had set this up in conjunction with Focus Television Studios. Focus most definitely has an older audience in mind with more of their television programing. Histube is their foray to the younger generation. It's basic premise is the same as youtube (post video, comment about said video and other videos, etc). It thankfully lacks the useless and tactless comments found on many videos you find on youtube. Furthermore, they are very spiritually helpful. It also has a blog section called Through the Grapevine. Two fine ladies new to the blog-o-sphere have taken over this arm of the site. My younger sister Katie and fellow lover of John Paul II, Dorissa, write for the blog. Although they new to this medium of publication they are new in sharing their faith and minsitering through their written word. They are very much guided by the Holy Spirit. Although at the moment, one cannot follow them via RSS feed. Checking the blog every once in a while will never leave you disappointed.

Upon further research of said site there is a place to gather a feed (the bottom left hand side of the homepage). Sorry for the misinformation

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Another Home run for American Catholic Biblical Scholarship

Dr. Scott Hahn from Franciscan University of Steubenville has just published a new bible dictionary called the Catholic Bible Dictionary. This is a very exciting thing in Catholic Biblical Scholarship in the 21st Century. It will be an invaluable resource for lay ministers, laity in general, priests, students, religion teachers, and biblical scholars alike. It's both concise and thorough. Dr. Brant Pitre gives a real good description and recommendation on his blog. Check it out.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

So Long and Thanks for all the Fish, the number 42, the Infinite Improbability Drive, and Vogon Poems

I just finished reading the first installment of the Douglas Adams sci-fi series, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. It is a great summer read for all those looking for a last lovely hoorah before they hit the real books accorded to them to by professors of such fame and fortune that only use the books they themselves have written while sometimes using the books of popular noteriety and sometimes, on occasion, or something to that effect, an actual classic in their own field, i.e. Aristotle, Aquinas, Newton, Hippocritus, Einstein, da Vinci (he wrote stuff right), whoever is famous in engineering, and of course, Dante, Shakespeare, and Crichton (the great writers of the English language).

Never mind the long run on sentence. I found Hitchhiker's to afford me the time to laugh out loud because of ridiculous yet intelligent hilarity such as that (I'm glad you caught and appreciated my self-proclaimed brilliance). It is very well written. The plot and character development allow you to get into the story and feel right with Arthur Dent, who has lost his home, Earth, because it was destroyed to make way for an intergalactic bypass. The obvious microchasm and macrochasm show that the Adams uses throughout adds to the level of comedy. His characters are creations of comic genius. Zaphod Beetlebrox, the man from a planet somewhere near the star Betelgeuse, affords most of the laughs because of his out-of-this-world personality, a mix between Indiana Jones bravado, James Bond womanization, and Inspector Clouseau recklessness, all while having two heads, three arms and the distinction of being the Intergalactic President.

It really is a much fun to read. I found it most difficult to read in public places though. Can you imagine the odd looks you would receive if you were singularly watching your favorite comedy in busy coffeehouse? Your laughter, which would also be singular, would permeate their tepid and poor existence for having not experience the same hilarity you were. It creates odd situations, comical ones in fact, and that is what the comedy of this novel is all based. Create odd situations with maladjusted and far-out characters and watch the laughter arise.

So drink your three pints, eat you some peanuts, and stick out your thumb. Get ready for a very funny ride.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

How about a second helping?

My fellow blogger recently discussed The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. Well, I hope you don't mind reading another thought about Lewis. This one is about his book A Grief Observed. And just for fair warning...my next one will be on him as well. :) Anywho, on to grief! It's a short book (less than 100 pages) and a relatively easy read, although there being some parts where one might like to stop and ponder the text a bit. I found this to be the case as I was reading.

The book itself is originally Lewis sort of journaling about his experience of grief after losing his beloved wife. The book is full of those all-important questions such as "why does God allow this?" "where is she?" and "is she at peace?" He does offer some thoughts on these questions, but also addresses many other things in the process. As noted, there were a number of thoughts that I had to stop and ponder. Several things in here were issues that I've thought about a good bit, and even some things that I'm currently struggling with. Just a couple of quotes that I found to be good food for thought:

"Only a real risk tests the reality of a belief. Apparently the faith - I thought it faith - which enables me to pray for the other dead has seemed strong only because I have never really cared, not desperately, whether they existed or not. Yet I thought I did."

"Lord, are these your real terms? Can I meet H. again only if I learn to love you so much that I don't care whether I meet her or not? Consider, Lord, how it looks to us."

A good book to read to see one man's experience of death and grief, and to maybe get a different viewpoint on a theology of death and suffering. Certainly gave me some more concrete visualizations to turn to for explanation.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

More Than Just Entering into the Underworld

Dear reader,

I have been meaning to post this for almost a month. My lazy behind and maybe some sly remarks in my imagination from the cousin of Wormword have caused a month's worth of procrastination. Nonetheless, The Screwtape Letters by renowned Christian novelist, philologist, philosopher, and theologian, C.S. Lewis holds within it much more than a possible introduction to spiritual warfare and the very scary topic of demonology.

The book is a series of letters from a very experienced and high ranking demon named Screwtape. This "affectionate" uncle is providing advice for his "young nephew" who is charged with his first soul to damn. Screwtape speaks in opposites. What is actually good (as in participating in the infinite goodness of God) is bad, and what is actually bad (a privation of God's infinite goodness) is good. He calls God, the Evil One. Every time I read that I would shudder. It really got me thinking as to what evil does. It slowly erodes reason and goodness and turns it into irrationality and emptiness. The odd thing is that Screwtape spoke very rationally. He explained himself very well to Wormword, his nephew, about how to lead the soul to hell. Hell is described as a demonic feast. Demons are feasting on souls as if they were at table with a great king. Its puts an interesting perspective on the opposites with regards to the eternal wedding feast. In hell, souls don't participate in the feast but are the feast. Interesting thought, I must say.

There is another level, not immediately tangible, but very present. It seems that Lewis, through the lens of a demon, is critiquing modernity. Countless times he makes reference to how the hordes of demons orchestrated the focus on self that occurred in modernity. That they planned the total irrationalism of the Romantic period that still lives on today. In fact, that is a main focus of temptation. Try to not let the human use reason. Let him stay on his emotions. (Also, an interesting thought for me being in the emotion driven CPE program.) Lewis connects all the problems with modernity to demonic influence. He also pokes fun at the cultural defects of the English, which are indeed quite comical because of their semi-comparability to American cultural defects.

I would definitely suggest this book to anyone. It can give insight to spiritual warfare and what to be aware of in regards to possible ways we can be tempted. It also gives a good critique of modern man, than can open our eyes to cultural and sociological defects that can lead us to sin.

Your affectionate blogger,

The Ministry of Absence

So for several years now we've been hearing about this thing called ministry of presence, when you're "there for people" in their time of need and minister simply by being there...more or less. With that stuck in my head as a common model of ministry, you can imagine my confusion when I read through Henri Nouwen's book A Living Reminder and find him talking about a 'Ministry of Absence'. I immediately went "HUH?!" As I read on it made sense though. So often we feel we have to be with people to comfort them that we forget that it is God who actually does the work in the person. Nouwen's point is that just as Christ had to leave this world to send the Holy Spirit down upon us, so to in ministry must we know when to leave the person in the hands of God and allow the Holy Spirit to descend upon them and begin the healing that only the Hand of God can work. There was more in the book than just that one concept, but that is the thing that stuck out to me as I read through so I wrote on that. The book was a quick read, coming in at under 75 pages long in the big-margin, 1.5 spacing print (gotta love it!). Decent book; though I wasn't entirely sure how it all came together as a whole...the pieces were nice.

Monday, July 6, 2009

July 6-Saint Maria Goretti

Today we celebrate a young martyr who died at just 11 years of age—Maria Goretti. This Italian girl was known for her strong faith at a very early age. She was so beloved in her farm town that the whole community came together to help her obtain the needed white dress for her first Holy Communion. But for her this white dress was a symbol of a true reality. She was known for her purity her entire life. In fact, it was in protecting her purity that she found the gift of martyrdom.

Aside from being pure she also had great beauty for her age. Her neighbor Alexander always had her in his sights and wanted to have her for himself, despite her desire to keep her purity. His interest in her grew so great that one day in 1902, at 18 years old, Alexander grabbed Maria and attempted to rape her. In the end, he stabbed her and left her mortally wounded. She would go on to die in the hospital not long after. But before dying Maria forgave her murderer.

Unrepentant for his crime, Alexander was sentenced to 30 years in jail. Nevertheless, one night he dreamt that he was in a garden and received flowers from Maria. He awoke a converted soul begging for forgiveness from Maria’s mother. He was present in 1950 for Maria’s canonization.

In Maria the Church has given us a model for purity. Parents can learn from Maria’s conviction just as much as our children of today can. After all, parents are the first representatives of God in a child’s life. If a parent loves purity, so too should their child.

May Maria always intercede for our youth from heaven, but also for their parents and teachers, that they may be proper role models. May we also learn her ways of forgiving our persecutors.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


Although we typically focus on books and such for this blog, I felt compelled to write about something else today... I guess it falls under the "other tidbits" category.

As part of my chaplaincy program here in Orlando, we do a variety of activities aimed at helping us to become better chaplains/pastors. One such exercise was done this morning, in the form of a movie. The film was called "WIT" and starred Emma Thompson; it was originally a play, written by Margaret Edson. It ran about an hour and a half and at the end, half the people in the room were crying. Even I felt like I should have been shedding a few tears. It was certainly yanking on my heart-strings like few movies can. The story is about a woman who undergoes treatment for ovarian cancer and illustrates her experience of the hospital and staff, among other things. At the end of the film, the five of us just sat there unable to say a single word as the credits rolled past. After watching it, it made me seriously consider what it is that I do when I go meet with patients. I would strongly suggest that everyone watch this movie. It's not just about a woman's battle with cancer - it is much much more.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Did I drink the Kool-Aid???

I just finished reading a book by John Savage titled "Listening & Caring Skills". I know, I know -it sounds I drank the Kool-Aid, and I might have. But it did taste pretty good! Despite the book's eighties-riffic cover and laughable titled, the content was surprisingly good. As the title would indicate, it was very practical and the author did a really good job of adding in personal experiences and stories to illustrate his points. Toward the end he started to get into some of the deeper stuff that we don't always get around to looking at - our own history. He gets into how things that have happened to us or ideas that we have adopted in the past can come back to haunt us in very real ways down the road. It was interesting how he illustrated that even our theology is colored by our own life experiences. For example, those who suffer as a child might have a theology focused on suffering or victimhood, or one who has self-esteem issues as a child may find themselves questioning whether God really loves them like He claims to. Granted, some things just have to be taken with a grain of salt, but all in all, I would say that it was a pretty decent book. If you're looking for fun reading, this ain't the book. If you're looking to actually be a more attentive listener, and thus a better friend or pastor, this could be a help along the way.

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Tension of Reality

I'm currently making my way through C. Bernard Ruffin's Padre Pio: The True Story and must say that I am really enjoying it. There are many highlighted areas that are excellent little quotes or thoughts to take to prayer and spend time with. One such area is the issue of being real. I've always appreciated hearing stories of saintly people showing their humanity. We've seen it with Father Groeschel and Mother Angelica, likely heard stories of Mother Theresa's and probably other stories of saints who just liked to tell it how it was. I came across one of these instances while reading through Ruffin's book in the section on Pio's stigmata when he writes: He frequently replied to those who asked him if the stigmata hurt, "Do you think the Good Lord gave them to me for decoration?" When I read that response of Padre Pio, I could do nothing but laugh because I saw the humanity in such a statement; it wasn't some fluffy pious answer but a genuine human response. For me it is easy to fall into seeing saints as these almost other-worldly beings that can at times seem to be divorced from my view of reality. I see the incredible prayer life, charitable works, pious exercises, and mystical experiences and yet sometimes forget that they were people who experience many of the same things as the rest of us. I must admit, though, that I sometimes wonder about the tension that lies there between being 'real' and falling into sin. There are certainly days where it is easy for me to be 'real' and yet at the same time to go into a place that is not saintly in the least bit. It's one thing to be blunt or honest but if it is there without charity, then is it really a good thing? I guess we just have to find that tension ourselves and perfect the balance of things along the way...

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Epilogue to the Year of the Priest

A friend of my keyed me in on another very helpful and informative site on the Year of the Priest. Check it out. It would help to be part of Facebook

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Year of the Priest

The Year of the Priest is upon us. As a seminarian I am doubly excited about a year dedicated to what God is calling me and to what I truly desire. Our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI chose this as the theme of this year because it is the 150th Anniversary of the death of the Cure de Ars, St. John Marie Vianney. He was a humble parish priest who barely made it through seminary because of his difficulty with Latin. His trust in the Lord and his desire the the Holy Priesthood of Jesus Christ led to a resolve even his bishop could not deny. His ministry as a priest in the small French town of Ars was just what the town and the country of France needed. St. John Vianney grew up during the French Revolution and the tumultuous times following it. As a child he renegade priests who would move around the countryside celebrating baptisms and masses for the faithful while the utterly atheist government tried to stamp out Holy Mother Church. He knew the France and the small town Ars needed to be reintroduced to the healing and redemptive love of Jesus Christ.

He started his ministry as a humble priest doing his duty trying to bring his flock to Christ. He ended his ministry doing the same. In between he fought with demons and reintroduced countless souls to the grace pouring forth from the Sacred Heart of Jesus through the sacrament of Reconciliation. It was said that in his last years he heard upwards of 16 hours of confessions a day.

Seeing such a great model for priesthood, both ministerial and universal, Pope Benedict XVI has welcomed us to this year of the priest.

The Vatican website has set up a sub-site just for the year of the priest. It has all of the addresses of Pope Benedict on the subject as well as documents from the Second Vatican Council, Servant of God John Paul II, Pope Paul VI, Blessed John XXIII, Pope Pius XII, Pope Pius XI, Saint Pius X, and Pope Leo XIII. This will be invaluable resources for anyone preparing something dealing with this wonderful year of the priest. Here a link to the site

St. John Marie Vianney

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Praise God!

I am currently taking my last two classes I need for my Masters degree. One of the books we are reading, "Encountering the Book of Psalms" had an idea in Chapter 6 under "The Anatomy of Priase" that I never really paid much attention to before, which I should have, and thus I want you to also :D

The book speaks about how the vocation of our existence as humans is to praise God: "A case can be made on the basis of the Psams that the purpose of human existence is to praise God." In St. Paul's first letter to the Corinthians 10:31, he tells us that we should give praise to God no matter what we are currently doing. The book for class continues, "Further, to disengage oneslef from the vocation of praise is to deny one's own human existence." In other words, by not giving God praise, we are denying our human existence!!! St. Catherine of Siena speaks about having a cell inside of the deepest part of the soul in which one is to remain for the cell, as that of a monk, should be a place of quiteness and where one can encounter God. By creating this cell, we can do as the book says, "it becomes necessary at times to summon our inner self to the tabernacle of praise." The last quote I want to give you from the book is this, "we could say that to praise God is to live, and to live is to praise God."

Thus, I must ask you this: are you alive? How often do we praise God in the midst of the distractions of this world? I know I have trouble for sure not falling into the complaining mode. However, If we strive to live, to praise God in all we do, then we can say like Job in Chapter 1:21, "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return; the LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD."

Thursday, June 11, 2009

It Is You I Beckon

Greetings all! The time has come for me to open my mouth, or at least use my fingers, and talk a bit about one of the books that I have just recently finished. Though not terribly hard to find online, it is not a book that I have seen often (ever) in a book store.

As I noted in my profile, in my spare time I like to browse in our library at school and periodically find little gems that I treasure. One such book is Bishop Joseph Angrisani's book entitled "It Is You I Beckon: A Book of Spiritual Inspirations for Seminarians" Although totaling only 337 pages, it took me about 4 months to read it all. Bishop Angrisani models this book after Pope Pius XII's exhortation 'Menti Nostrae' and does an incredible job of making his points quickly and powerfully. It relies heavily on scripture and the lives of the saints, in addition to the exhortation. The book is split up into 100 chapters, each containing 3 smaller sections. These chapters range from a basic understanding of vocation to the call to Christian perfection with Christ as the model, it breaks down the the beatitudes and the older setup of the various major and minor orders in the Church.

I have often read books that make me stop and reflect on something for a bit before moving on in the reading, but never have I have not encountered one that forced me to do that nearly every time I picked it up (aside from scripture of course!). Each 2-3 page chapter was more than enough food for a day of spiritual reflection and has actually had a major impact upon me, and my relationships with family and friends. In fact, this book has proved to be an incredible blessing from God because it has helped me to deal with several things that I had been wrestling with for a while in my own spiritual life and clarified some questions with my discernment. I actually liked it so much that I went out and bought a copy for myself so I could read it again in the future or allow others to borrow it. So, instead of supplying a 100 reflective blogs on this incredible little book, I will simply note that it was well worth the 4 or so months that it took to make it through.

One might think that because of the title that only seminarians ought to read this book. While it is obviously aimed at this particular group of readers, there are many reflections that the regular lay person could benefit greatly from, in addition to the possibility of people coming to understand a bit more what it means to be a priest or seminarian in the world today. I did notice a few things in the book where the author reflects things that were of greater importance and emphasis in his day, and not as much in ours, but those points are typically noticeable to the discerning eye. In summary, I would very strongly suggest this book to all those seeking a source of spiritual nourishment - especially those discerning the priesthood, or those already in orders.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


Hello! This is not really a book review as much as it is my general thoughts about perfection.

Fr. Grou in "The Spiritual Life" takes a thought from "Imitation of Christ" : "Wherever you find self, renounce self." This is a thought that I had been thinking of for quite some time now.

A very dear friend of mine has spoken to me throughout the past couple of years about being challenged to be perfect and holy. There are not many who will tell you to be perfect or to be holy in today's world. The more I thought of this, the more I wondered what it meant to be perfect and holy. Thankfully, the Lord blessed me with a retreat in which I was able to meditate upon this. I believe that to be perfect and holy is a very simple . It comes down to seeing every moment as a chance to glorify God. The challenge to be perfect and holy is a challenge that calls the person to glorify God in the present moment by giving everything they do to Him, no matter how great or small.

Above all, the call to perfection/holiness is a call to self-abandonment. As the Little Flower would put it, the path to perfection is in the little things, the little victories over one's own will and over one's pride.

Although this sounds simple, and in many ways is simple, we tend to complicate things. Thus a challenge arises in the quote I began with. I challenge everyone who reads this to find a way to triumph over your own will in at least one way during the day. This could be something as small as simple as taking time to see God's work in your life and giving Him thanksgiving for it. It could be as difficult as asking God to grant you a grace, such as asking for the desire to forgive someone you are having trouble forgiving. The more we are able to loose ourselves in Christ through little victories over our will, the more we are able to become who we were always called to be, a perfect and holy people.


Hello everyone!

I am currently reading, "The Spiritual Life" by Fr. Jean Nicolas Grou. I had picked up the book because I have been wanting to look at the basics of the spiritual life again, spending time to meditate on such basics and allowing God to really speak to me. Little did I know the density of the book, nor the beautiful revelations that would come from some of the quotes. In this post I will look at Chapter 1 particularly. This chapter challenges the reader to look at humility and understand what it is in order to grow in that path. Fr. Grou shows that humility is a balancing act between the knowledge of the souls worthiness and the souls unworthiness. He proposes also the idea that if, in true humility, we are called to holiness, to walk the path of Christ, then are we to say it is too much for our soul after what God has done to save our soul? The following are a few quotes from this short chapter.

"...religion humbles a man by teaching him that he comes from nothing...it raises him up and inspires him with great thoughts about himself, by teaching him what his nature is really capable of through the grace of God..."

"But that which puts the crown on the real greatness of man, and on the sad disorder of his abasement of himself, is the thought of what the salvation of his soul has cost God. The Word of God...united Himself to our human nature, took upon Himself our passible and mortal flesh, conversed with men, condescended to instruct them by His teaching and example, and finally, as a voluntary victim, sacrificed Himself for them to the Divine Justice...to reconcile them to God...That which our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ did and suffered for all me, He did and suffered for each one in particular; and He would not have thought it too much to do if it had been a question of saving only a single soul."

"It proves that the dignity of a soul is beyond understanding"

"And if, so that we may save ourselves, God required of us the same sacrifice to which Jesus Christ willingly submitted Himself, could we say that He required too much?"

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

New Direction

If anyone reads this, then I have some news.  From the obvious lack of posts in the past 9 months, I have not been active in the blogosphere.   However, with a new desire willing co-workers Reverenced Reading will take a new direction.  This direction will have multiple facets, but the main one is this: to let people know about what there is out there in the great wide world of books.  We will begin posting book reviews of the books we read.  We will post other things, such as our thoughts on life and other such things.  Hopefully the new direction will continue and be somewhat more successful.