Monday, November 30, 2009

Advent Meditation

If anyone is remotely interested, the Owl can be seen on the Diocese of Burlington's website, with a little Advent meditation - it is on the right, with the little movie screen about Advent.

The Purpose of the Priest

One of them, at least, according to the great philosopher, Joseph Pieper. Appropriate as Advent begins to meditate that, in order to fulfil what Pieper says is one of the priest's functions, silence and meditation is needed.

The priest is called, "above all, to keep alive the remembrance of a face that our intuition just barely perceives behind all immediate and tangible reality - the face of the God-man, bearing the marks of a shameful execution."

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Newsflash - Bishop behaves like Bishop - He "teaches, sanctifies and governs" - hold the press!

Too many Catholic politicians love the label "Catholic" when it comes to election time - all the Bishop is doing is his moral duty - thank God more of them are starting to wake up after 30 years of slumber!

Kudos to Bishop Tobin of Providence, Rhode Island!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Saviour of Catholic Spain

Today is the anniversary of General Franco - "El Caudillo," the saviour of Catholic Spain, who died on November 20th, 1975. A few lines from Belloc on meeting the General after the battle of Barcelona.

"I was led to the ante-chamber whence I should be ushered into the presence of a man last in succession to those many who on this same general battlefield have endured, planned and achieved Europe's recovery........It may be that the entry into Barcelona will mark another turning point and that a remote posterity may perceive it as something even more of a boundry-stone than the Battle of Warsaw. When Barcelona was set free the effort of those who had destroyed Christendom was, in this field at least, at an end. However this may be, when I entered Franco's presence I entered the presence of one who had fought that same battle which Roland in the legend died fighting and the Godfrey in sober history had won when the battered remnant, the mere surviving tenth of the first Crusaders, entered Jerusalem - on foot, refusing to ride where the Lord of Christendom had offered Himself up in sacrifice.

I will not linger upon that brief experience of mine. I was not there to record for my fellows a personal emotion which perhaps cannot be communicated and which at any rate should not be, but when I had spoken to this man of what he had done for us all and what he meant to us - when I had left him, to retain as I shall ever retain, the impression of those words exchanged in the noble, sombre room of a Spanish palace, majestic as all those proportions are in that land of majesty - I knew that I had experienced something unique. I had been in the air of what has always been the Salvation of Europe - I mean the Spanish Crusade. Worse luck for those who do not understand these things!"

Hilaire Belloc, The Salvation of Spain from Places, first published in 1942.

Roman Pilgrimage

Been back a week, complete with nasty cold and cough. One of my charming parishioners apparently said that I should not be saying Mass last weekend because of those "foreign germs!" - only in Vermont! I wonder who they imagine would say all the weekend Masses? The Roman pilgrimage was filled with many graces. We did not have good weather, only three days without rain. One evening in Trastevere it rained so much our trousers were soaked past our ankles. We prayed before the tombs of at least 27 Saints - and a number of times in the Clementine Chapel before the first Pope and before John Paul II. We stayed at the Residenza Paolo VI, so had an ideal location for daily Mass at St. Peter's. It was a particular grace each morning, after Mass, to spend an hour in prayer before St. Peter's started to fill up and get noisy. I was lucky enough to be able to say Mass at the altar of St. Josaphat, my ordination day Patron - not on his Feast Day, my anniversary the 12th November, but at our last Mass in St. Peter's on the Tuesday. It was interesting to note how many priests were saying the Extraordinary Form of the Mass at the side altars every day. One of the highlights of the trip was a most gracious audience with Archbishop Raymond Burke, the Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura. Sure to be named a Cardinal next year, Archbishop Burke gave us more than thirty minutes of his time. Most of what we discussed is, of course, "off the record," but suffice it to say he did not disappoint! One interesting comment he made as we left, was his conviction that, in the end, American Catholics will re-evangelize England! As all pilgrimages must have some discomfort, this was kindly supplied by the good people at Alitalia, Italian baggage-handlers and the kind folks at Delta on our return.