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9th July 2006

7:42pm: Understanding happiness (1)
An in-depth look at the relationship between material wealth and happiness came in a recently-published book entitled, "The Challenge of Affluence" (Oxford University Press). Written by Avner Offer, professor of economic history at Oxford University, the book examines the experience of Britain and the United States since 1950.

In this period, Offer observes, Americans and Britons have come to enjoy unprecedented material abundance. Since the 1970s, however, self-reported levels of happiness have languished or even declined, so the rise in incomes since then has done little or nothing to improve the sense of well-being. Along with this, there are numerous social and personal problems: family breakdown; addictions; crime; economic insecurity; and declining trust.

Liberal societies hold out the promise that every person can choose their own way to self-fulfillment. The free society and the free market give the individual conditions for pursuing wealth and making choices. But choice is also fallible, not always consistent and, moreover, achieving more remote objectives requires a high level of commitment.

Therefore, exercising choice requires self-control and prudence, qualities increasingly uncommon in affluent societies. In fact, competitive market societies favor novelty and innovation, and this undermines conventions, habits and institutions.

Offer argues that a market system also tends to promote short-term rewards, individualism and hedonism. This undermines the commitment needed to achieve more satisfying longer-term rewards that are more difficult to obtain, but more fulfilling.

Offer believes that another factor undermining our happiness is relative income inequality. In both Britain and the United States inequality has worsened in recent years and this is a major factor in explaining people's lack of satisfaction with their situation. People who enjoy rising incomes, but see themselves falling behind others who are enjoying even greater progress, do not derive happiness from their improved situation.

Love, marriage and the family is another area where failures have damaged our happiness. A combination of contraception, no-fault divorce, more cohabitation and higher levels of childbirth out of wedlock have weakened marriage. A rise in explicit sexuality and in sexual relationships outside of marriage has also weakened the capacity for love and commitment within the marriage bond.

Marriage, Offer notes, confers important benefits: physical and mental health; longer life; happiness; along with numerous benefits for children. The proportion of married people has declined, meaning that about one adult in seven does not enjoy the protection and benefits of marriage. So while proponents of changes in marriage and the family argue its benefits of more freedom and space for "self-fulfillment," the costs for many have been high.

Offer does, however, stipulate that economic growth is not something bad. It should not, however, be the number one priority and we need to treat the claims of supposed benefits resulting from growth with skepticism.

In societies that are already wealthy, further efforts to raise economic growth need to be evaluated along with the costs this will impose. A rediscovery of the virtues of moderation and self-restraint could well benefit society. This led Offer to conclude that well-being depends on how well we understand ourselves and not just having more.
Current Mood: full

5th July 2006

12:43am: icon gallery
See large and beatifull icon gallery

www.goarch.org/en/resourses/icons
Current Mood: high

2nd July 2006

3:36pm: the Suffering world
As far as the concrete guilty person here also is now responsible for sufferings of other people (the not given birth killed children, who have lost during wars, prisoners Aushvitsa and Gulaga, of victims of the American bombardments of Hiroshima and Нагосаки, dying from famine in Africa...). This list seems made casually, it can be continued up to infinity. I think, that suffering people in the world is greater than happy. The concrete person who has been not involved in events connected to sufferings can an idea, in a word and business to join "executioners" and to "victims", can remain the observer. In other words he can occupy many positions. A question in that what from these positions are possible for the christian?
Current Mood: thoughtful

25th June 2006

11:48pm: About a reality of spiritual experience
About a reality of spiritual experience

Spiritual exercises - a fruit of personal experience st.I. Loyola. He was marking all movement in his soul due to reading, reflection and a pray; all this has induced him to formulate rules of a spiritual reasoning.
Э Pusse SJ
We frequently do not pay attention on forms a context of our pray. And not only pray. The slightest movements of soul are connected to environmental reality. Fixing these connections we deepen experience.
Current Mood: exanimate
12:10am: About Handbook for Spiritual Exersices of st. I. Loyola
About Handbook for Spiritual Exersices of st. I. Loyola

First Annotation. The first Annotation is that by this name of Spiritual
Exercises is meant every way of examining one’s conscience, of meditating, of
contemplating, of praying vocally and mentally, and of performing other spiritual
actions, as will be said later. For as strolling, walking and running are bodily
exercises, so every way of preparing and disposing the soul to rid itself of all the
disordered tendencies, and, after it is rid, to seek and find the Divine Will as to the
management of one’s life for the salvation of the soul, is called a Spiritual Exercise.

I long searched for Handbook for Spiritual exercises which would allow to do them day after day at home. It seems I has found on a site www.spiritualorientations.com. Basically the material contained on this site bases on the note 19.(see my LJ)

Nineteenth Annotation. The nineteenth: A person of education or ability who is taken up with public affairs or suitable business, may take an hour and a
half daily to exercise himself.
Let the end for which man is created be explained to him, and he can also be
given for the space of a half-hour the Particular Examen and then the General and
the way to confess and to receive the Blessed Sacrament. Let him, during three days
every morning, for the space of an hour, make the meditation on the First, Second
and Third Sins, pp. 37, 38; then, three other days at the same hour, the meditation
on the statement of Sins, p. 40; then, for three other days at the same hour, on the
punishments corresponding to Sins, p. 45. Let him be given in all three meditations
the ten Additions, p. 47.
For the mysteries of Christ our Lord, let the same course be kept, as is
explained below and in full in the Exercises themselves.
Current Mood: full

13th June 2006

1:16am: This is the day the Lord hath made;
let us be glad and rejoice therein. - Ps. 117.24

With this antiphon, the Church proclaims Easter Sunday the greatest day of the year. For the Christian believer every day is, of course, a celebration of Jesus Christ's resurrection from the dead, as is every Mass. Yet daily rejoicing pales in comparison to that of the Sunday Mass, since Sunday is the day that the resurrection took place, the "eighth" day of the week signifying a new creation and a new life. And these Sundays of the year, in turn, are dwarfed by Easter, the Feast of Feasts celebrated in the newness of the vernal moon and in the rebirth of springtime. Easter is the Christian day par excellence.

The commemoration of our Lord's physical resurrection from the dead provides not only the crucial resolution to the Passion story, but to several liturgical themes stretching back over the past two months. Easter ends the seventy days of Babylonian exile begun on Septuagesima Sunday by restoring the Temple that was destroyed on Good Friday, i.e. the body of Jesus Christ. It ends the forty days of wandering in the desert begun on Ash Wednesday by giving us the Promised Land of eternal life. It ends the fourteen days of concealment and confusion during Passiontide by revealing the divinity of Jesus Christ and the meaning of His cryptic prophecies. It ends the seven days of Holy Week by converting our sorrow over the crucifixion into our jubilance about the resurrection. And it ends the three days of awesome mystery explored during the sacred Triduum by celebrating the central mystery of our faith: life born from death, ultimate good from unspeakable evil. It is for this reason that all the things that had been instituted at one point or another during the past penitential seasons (the purple vestments or the veiled images) are dramatically removed, while all the things that had been successively suppressed (the Alleluia, the Gloria in excelsis, several Gloria Patri's, or the bells) are dramatically restored.

The Easter season (or Paschaltide, as it is traditionally known) is not an undifferentiated block of joy but one that consists of several distinct stages. The first is the Easter Octave, lasting from Easter Sunday to "Low" Sunday. These eight days comprise a prolonged rejoicing in our Savior's victory over death and in the eternal life given to the newly baptized converts. In fact, Christian initiates used to receive a white robe upon their baptism on Holy Saturday night and would wear it for the rest of the week. They would take off these symbols of their new life on the following Sunday, which in Latin is called Dominica in albis depositis as a result of this practice. (The English name, Low Sunday, was used as a contrast to the high mark of Easter). For centuries the first Sunday after Easter was also the day when children would receive their first Holy Communion, often with their father and mother kneeling beside them. So meaningful was this event that in Europe it was referred to as the "most beautiful day of life." (Significantly, both customs are encapsulated in Low Sunday's stational church, the basilica of St. Pancras: St. Pancras, a twelve-year-old martyr, is the patron saint of children and neophytes). Finally, in addition to the two Sundays of the Easter Octave, several of the weekdays within the Octave assumed a special importance.

The close of the Easter Octave, however, does not end the jubilance of Paschaltide. The Allelulia continues to be used copiously in the Mass and in the divine office; the Vidi Aquam and Regina cœli continue to replace the Asperges and Angelus; and the Paschal candle still burns bright. Nevertheless, a discernible shift in mood and meaning takes place. The weekdays no longer have their own set of Mass propers, while the Sunday propers tend to focus less on the specific events of the Resurrection and more on the general legacy of Christ's victory. There also occurs an interesting "triduum" immediately prior to the Feast of the Ascension known as the Lesser Rogation Days. Instituted in the 400s by St. Claudianus Mamertus in response to a series of natural catastrophes that were plaguing the diocese of Vienne in Dauphiny, the observance soon spread to the rest of France in the sixth century and then to Rome in the ninth. Rogationtide consists of penitential processions from or to the church during which are prayed poignant litanies petitioning for deliverance from a multitude of evils. Because these rogations were often agricultural, processions would often be conducted into the field for the priest to bless the crops. The Lesser Rogation Days were also once considered an ideal time to mend any personal rifts between parishioners.

This phase of Paschaltide also marks an anticipation of and preparation for the next cardinal event that the Church celebrates: the Ascension of our Lord into heaven forty days after His resurrection. In a sense this feast ends the Easter revelry: after the Gospel is read during the Ascension Thursday Mass, the Paschal candle is extinguished.

It does not, however, end Paschaltide. The nine days that the Apostles spent in prayer from Ascension Thursday to Pentecost provide not only the archetypal inspiration for all later novenas but the eagerly awaited build-up for what is often called the birthday of the Church, the Feast of Pentecost, or Whitsunday. This is the day that the Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles, giving them the grace and resolve to teach and convert all nations. The feast is fitting for a number of reasons. First, it corresponds to the Jewish feast of Pentecost, the great religious and agricultural festival of First Fruits. The Christian Pentecost, on the other hand, celebrates the first fruits of the Holy Spirit and of all our Lord's promises. (The Pentecost Octave is considered an ideal time to meditate on the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit.) And just as the Jewish Pentecost is celebrated fifty days after Passover, the Christian Pentecost is celebrated fifty days after Easter ("Pentecost" is the Greek word for fifty). God also revealed the Law to Moses on Mount Sinai fifty days after the first Passover, and so it is fitting the New Law was promulgated by the Apostles fifty days after it was ratified by the Lamb of God's self-sacrifice. Finally, the week after Pentecost constitutes the concluding stage of the Easter season, which quietly ends on the following Saturday afternoon. One distinctive feature of this week that bears special mention are the Ember Days. It no doubt strikes us as odd that three days of the jubilant Octave of Pentecost are reserved for fasting. This befuddlement has much to do with a common misconception about fasting, which tends to see the practice as a sign of contrition and sorrow. As is clear from the Mosaic Law, however, fasting can be joyous as well as penitential. In fact, it can express a variety of moods and serve a number of purposes. In the case of the Whitsundaytide Ember Days (as Pope St. Leo the Great once explained), the Apostles were commissioned by the Spirit to embark on a great mission, but before doing so they readied themselves with a holy fast by which they could more effectively wage war against the forces of evil. This was not a fast of mourning, but a fast of gladsome training and preparation. By following the example of the Apostles, St. Leo tells us, we too are joyfully preparing ourselves for our mission as witnesses of Christ to an unbelieving world. Having undergone the purgation of Lent and the sanctification of Paschaltide, we too are poised to burst out of the closed doors and speak the Good News of salvation.
Current Mood: creative

27th May 2006

11:38pm: Benedict xvi in Poland
Ballade to our lady of Czestochowa
(writen by Hilaire Belloc)

I

Lady and Queen and Mystery manifold
And very Regent of the untroubled sky,
Whom in a dream St. Hilda did behold
And heard a woodland music passing by:
You shall receive me when the clouds are high
With evening and the sheep attain the fold.
This is the faith that I have held and hold,
And this is that in which I mean to die.

II

Steep are the seas and savaging and cold
In broken waters terrible to try;
And vast against the winter night the wold,
And harbourless for any sail to lie.
But you shall lead me to the lights, and I
Shall hymn you in a harbour story told.
This is the faith that I have held and hold,
And this is that in which I mean to die.

III

Help of the half-defeated, House of gold,
Shrine of the Sword, and Tower of Ivory;
Splendour apart, supreme and aureoled,
The Battler's vision and the World's reply.
You shall restore me, O my last Ally,
To vengence and the glories of the bold.
This is the faith that I have held and hold,
And this is that in which I mean to die.

Envoi

Prince of the degradations, bought and sold,
These verses, written in your crumbling sty,
Proclaim the faith that I have held and hold
And publish that in which I mean to die.
Current Mood: hopeful

21st May 2006

10:15pm: What's Your Catholic IQ?
Answers
1. (d) St. Linus is thought to be the person Paul mentioned in his second letter to Timothy (4:21). It is not clear what his role as Bishop of Rome would have been, but he is important enough to be mentioned in the canon of the Mass after the names of Peter and Paul.
2. (a) Sr. Helen Prejean, a Sister of St. Joseph of Medaille, is the author of the book Dead Man Walking and a popular speaker on death penalty issues.
3. (a) The Babylonians destroyed the city of Jerusalem and captured its brightest and best people and made them captives in Babylonia. This time in Israel’s history is known as the Exile.
4. (c) Between 1452 and 1456 Johannes Gutenberg, a German goldsmith, invented movable type for each letter of the alphabet, type which could be locked together to produce a printed page. Before that time, books had to be copied by hand or printed from carved wood-blocks that contained the text of an entire page.
5. (b) The host is usually displayed in an ornate container, called a monstrance, and placed on the altar or above the tabernacle. Eucharistic devotion was established in the 1300s and has been practiced ever since.
6. (a) St Helena (c. 250-330), mother of Emperor Constantine, is popularly given credit for finding the cross of Jesus. She is also known for her commitment to serving the poor.
7. (b) It comes from the Greek word for sermon, based on the verb “to converse with.”
8. (c) Serra International claims 21,000 members in 35 countries. It is named in honor of Blessed Junipero Serra, the famous Spanish missionary who built missions in California in the 1700s.
9. (c) When Pope John XXIII announced the convocation of Vatican II, he also mandated a revision of the 1917 Code of Canon Law. After much work, the new Code was published in 1983. Canon Law is the body of laws or rules used to govern the Catholic Church. The word “canon” comes from the Greek word kanon, which means “rule.”
10. (a) This canticle, hymn, or song, known as the Magnificat, can be found in Luke 1:46-55. The word “magnificat” is the first word of the song in its Latin version.
11. (b) Pope Paul VI’s 1969 revision of the Calendar of the Roman Catholic Church greatly simplified the number of feasts and made the listing more inclusive geographically.
12. (a) Also known as “epistles,” letters were a form of written communication in the ancient world. St. Paul used letters to continue teaching and supporting the churches he founded in the first century.
13. (d) The Greek word for fish is ichthus, which was seen as an acrostic for “Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior.”
14. (b) An act of contrition, or an act of sorrow, is a normal part of the sacrament of reconciliation. It expresses a hatred of the sin, a deep sorrow, and a firm resolve not to sin again.
15. (c) There is evidence that the early Church observed an annual Easter celebration. The Feast of the Nativity, on the other hand, came later and does not reflect the calendar date of the birth of Jesus.
16. (b) The Second Vatican Council document Lumen Gentium says that “parents should, by their word and example, be the first preachers of the faith to their children” (n. 11).
17. (a) Changes introduced to the Communion Rite foster greater reverence for the body and blood of Christ.
18. (b) Jesus taught this prayer, also known as the Lord’s Prayer, to the disciples. Matthew 6:9-13 includes this prayer as part of the Sermon on the Mount. Luke 11:2-4 offers a shorter version.
19. (c) Named for the city in northern Italy where it was convened, the Council of Trent (1545-1563) dealt with questions raised by the Protestant Reformation. It brought about some much needed reforms in the Catholic Church.
20. (a) August 15, as a feast honoring Mary, goes back to the early Church, although the dogma of the Assumption was not officially defined until 1950.

13th May 2006

11:08pm: Solidarity With the Next Generation
Rome Meeting Highlights Responsibilities and Challenges

ROME, MAY 13, 2006 (Zenit.org).- A recent Rome meeting looked at the "generation gap" from a different perspective. Instead of the normal worries about youths' bad behavior, the topic under discussion was the adult generation's obligations to help younger people.

The Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences held its 12th plenary session April 28-May 2 on the theme: "Vanishing Youth? Solidarity with Young People in an Age of Turbulence." On the first day's morning session, Cardinal L?pez Trujillo, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, took up the topic of "The Gift of Life."

He focused on the earliest moments of the relationship between the two generations: that is, the transmission of life. Human procreation, the cardinal explained, is seen by the Church as the fruit of total self-giving. In this context children are considered as the supreme gift of marriage, and the family is a sort of sanctuary of life.

Children are both a gift and a responsibility, the cardinal pointed out -- a gift that comes, in first place, from God. They are also a joint responsibility for husband and wife. The "we" of the parents becomes the "we" of the family and from the first moments of a child's life a process of education begins. Unfortunately, if the parents do not fulfill this responsibility, then children pay a high price. In some cases they can be considered as "orphans with living parents," said Cardinal L?pez Trujillo.

Families also face challenges from outside, he added, referring to pressures from neo-Malthusian circles that seek to restrict the number of children. Other difficulties stem from within, when a selfish view of sexuality prevails, in which love is not given as a gift, but is reduced to pleasure.

In the face of these difficulties Cardinal L?pez Trujillo called upon families to provide children with values on which they can build to give meaning to life and to themselves. This "urgent need to communicate certainties," he said, is all the more important in a world that extols subjectivism and moral relativism.

In his presentation, Kenneth Arrow, an economics professor at Stanford University, argued that the ethical obligations of parents to children have not been thoroughly explored. Today's secular discourse sees all individuals as having rights and obligations, Arrow said, "but there is no special emphasis on the parent-child relation."

Valuing children

Seen from an economic perspective, resources flow from parents to children, who are not yet productive members of society. So, in a utilitarian perspective it is difficult to develop a theory of justice that would provide sufficient accommodation for children. Nobel Prize winner Gary Becker took economic theory a step further, by considering children as durable consumer goods, hence allowing their welfare to enter into a family's welfare. Seen from this perspective, parents act as trustees for their children.

Arrow considered it important to further develop this concept of the trusteeship of parents. This is particularly important in the light of the ever-greater number of single-parent households. The spread of unilateral divorce has had a significant negative impact on children's welfare, he added. Moreover, the state's capacity to compensate for the defects of poor family situations is very limited.

Pierpaolo Donati, from the University of Bologna, also looked at some of the problems faced by children and young people. Among the challenges he mentioned:

-- Science and technology applied to human procreation threaten the dignity of the human being right from the moment of conception.

-- The erosion of the family as a social institution removes one of the primary protections for children.

-- Economic pressures have diverse manifestations: the exploitation of minors as workers; a disregard for those who are not producers; and pressure to adopt a lifestyle centered on materialism.

-- Psychological and cultural pressures make the transition from adolescence to adulthood more problematic.

Donati also noted that, paradoxically, the proliferation of declarations and charters of children's rights and reports on their situation has done little to improve matters. In many cases they have become little more than an indicator of problems, more than achieving any real progress in protecting children.

Overall, Donati insisted, we need to question the type of world civilization we are building and what place children and young people will have in this civilization. Too often, he said, today's secularized culture is taken up with a fear of the future, perceiving only the risks and difficulties.

Against this view the Church expresses hope in young people. Donati quoted Pope John Paul II's words in "Tertio Millennio Adveniente," No. 58: "The future of the world and the Church belongs to the younger generation."

A diversity of challenges

Some of the presentations during the meeting made evident the widely varying nature of problems facing young people. Paulus Zulu, from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, in South Africa, dealt with the problem of excluded children in Africa. In many cases governments are unable to deliver basic goods and services to the population. This leads to high levels of infant mortality, hunger, and serious deficiencies in education.

Mina Ramirez, from Manila's Asian Social Institute, in the Philippines, also noted problems related to health and education. Child labor and sexual exploitation also present a series of challenges.

Kevin Ryan, from Boston University, spoke about the condition of young people in North America. He noted three dominant factors:

1) A troubled and weakened family. The United States and Canada combined have 88.3 million people under age 20. Changes in family life in the last few decades mean that there is much less contact time between parents and children, along with a reduction in parental authority. Looser marriage bonds and economic pressures further stress the family.

2) Resource-rich, but uneven schools. North America is home to many fine universities, but many of its elementary and secondary schools are academically poor, with mediocre results. Whereas education once served as a social leveler, the tendency now is for it to be a source of social stratification.

3) The highly sexualized, media-driven cultural world of the young. Television, the Internet, music, instant messaging and a growing number of portable devices means that young people spend more hours in contact with the media than in the classroom. Often the media exploit sexuality and drown out awareness of the physical and psychological costs of uncontrolled sexual activity.

Added to this last factor is the difficulty in transmitting the faith to young people. Catholic teen-agers, moreover, fare worse than other Christian groups when it comes to questions of religious practice and beliefs.

Ryan called upon the Church to launch a global effort by both clergy and laity to evangelize the young, starting with parents who have to be the first religious educators of their children. This new education program must develop improved educational materials and will require the participation of large numbers of the laity.

It must, however, not be limited to learning, Ryan said. The young need to be taught how to act as Christians and to be given opportunities to witness to their faith. Ryan also urged that a large part be given to prayer and worship as part of a renewed educational effort. Handing on the faith, then, is a key way adults can show their solidarity with the next generation.
ZE06051301

9th May 2006

5:54pm: How do you think we shall meet our favourite dogs and cats after our death?

16th April 2006

1:49pm: Dante – The Divine Comedy

Translated by A.S.Kline


Paradiso Canto XXXIII:49-145 The Final Vision

Bernard made a sign to me, and smiled, telling me to look higher, but I was already doing as he asked me, because my sight, as it was purged, was penetrating deeper and deeper, into the beam of the Highest Light, that in itself is Truth.
My vision then was greater than our speech, which fails at such a sight, and memory fails at such an assault. I am like one, who sees in dream, and when the dream is gone an impression, set there, remains, but nothing else comes to mind again, since my vision almost entirely fails me, but the sweetness, born from it, still distils, inside my heart. So the snow loses its impress to the sun: so the Sibyl’s prophecies were lost, on light leaves, in the wind.
O Supreme Light, who lifts so far above mortal thought, lend to my mind again a little of what you seemed then, and give my tongue such power, that it might leave even a single spark of your glory, to those to come: since by returning to my memory, in part, and by sounding in these verses, more of your triumph can be conceived.
I think that I would have been lost, through the keenness of the living ray that I suffered, if my eyes had turned away from it. And so, I remember, I dared to endure it longer, that my gaze might be joined with the Infinite Value. O abundant grace, where I presumed to fix my sight on the Eternal Light, so long, that my sight was wearied!
In its depths I saw in-gathered, and bound by Love into one volume, all things that are scattered through the universe, substance and accident and their relations, as if joined in such a manner that what I speak of is One simplicity of Light. I think I saw the universal form, of that bond, because, in saying it, I feel my heart leap, in greater intensity of joy. A single moment plunged me into deeper stillness, than twenty-five centuries have the enterprise, that made Neptune wonder at Argo’s shadow.
So my mind gazed, fixed, wholly stilled, immoveable, intent, and continually inflamed, by its gazing. Man becomes such in that Light, that to turn away to any other sight is beyond the bounds of possibility. Because the Good, which is the object of the will, is wholly concentrated there, and outside it, what is perfect within it, is defective.
Now my speech will fall further short, of what I remember, than a babe’s, who still moistens his tongue at the breast. Not that there was more than a single form in the Living Light where I gazed, that is always such as it was before, but by means of the faculty of sight that gained strength in me, even as it altered, one sole image quickened to my gaze.
In the profound and shining Being of the deep Light, three circles appeared, of three colours, and one magnitude: one seemed refracted by the other, like Iris’s rainbows, and the third seemed fire breathed equally from both. O how the words fall short, and how feeble compared with my conceiving! And they are such, compared to what I saw, that it is inadequate to call them merely feeble.
O Eternal Light, who only rest in yourself, and know only yourself, who, understood by yourself and knowing yourself, love and smile! Those circles that seemed to be conceived in you as reflected light, when traversed by my eyes, a little, seemed to be adorned inside themselves with our image, in its proper colours, and to that my sight was wholly committed.
Like a geometer, who sets himself to measure, in radii, the exact circumference of the circle, and who cannot find, by thought, the principle he lacks, so was I, at this new sight: I wished to see how the image fitted the circle, and how it was set in place, but my true wings had not been made for this, if it were not that my mind was struck by lightning, from which its will emerged.
Power, here, failed the deep imagining: but already my desire and will were rolled, like a wheel that is turned, equally, by the Love that moves the Sun and the other stars.


O. Mandelshtam

‘A flame is in my blood’
Translated by A.S.Kline

burning dry life, to the bone.
I do not sing of stone,
now, I sing of wood.

It is light and coarse:
made of a single spar,
the oak’s deep heart,
and the fisherman’s oar.

Drive them deep, the piles:
hammer them in tight,
around wooden Paradise,
where everything is light.

Note: A poem from his early collection ‘Stone’ here translated, out of historical sequence, as an envoi, setting lightness against the heaviness of that stone world that Mandelstam encountered, and, in the spirit, overcame.

In his essay ‘Morning of Acmeism’ (1913, published 1919) Mandelshtam took stone as a symbol of the free word, quoting Tyutchev, and saw poetry architecturally as in Dante, and in the context of the human being as an anonymous, indispensable, stone in the Gothic structure, of his essay on Villon (1910 published 1913). This poem however suggests to me a movement forward from this concept to poetry as the dark ploughed earth, and then the more fluid bird-flight and flute-music of his later poetry, the word as Psyche, wandering around the thing, and freely choosing its places to live in, as he suggests in the important essay ‘Word and Culture’ (1921, revised 1928)

12th April 2006

9:19pm: Date: 2006-04-11

Text for "Way of the Cross" at Colosseum

"Jesus Filled Death With Love!"

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 11, 2006 (Zenit.org).- The Office for the Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff today released a translation of the text of the Way of the Cross that Benedict XVI will lead at the Colosseum this Good Friday.

* * *

Way of the Cross at the Colosseum

Led by Benedict XVI
Good Friday 2006

Meditations and Prayers Composed by Archbishop Angelo Comastri,
Vicar General of His Holiness for Vatican City,
President of the Fabric of St. Peter's

Presentation

A Few Words Along the Way

In making the "Way of the Cross," we are struck by the certainty of two things: the destructive power of sin and the healing power of God's Love.

The destructive power of sin: The Bible never tires of repeating that evil is evil because it hurts us: Sin is self-punishment; it carries its own retribution. A few texts of Jeremiah clearly make this point: "They went after worthlessness, and became worthless themselves" (2:5); "your wickedness will punish you, and your apostasies will convict you; know and see that it is evil and bitter for you to forsake the Lord your God; the fear of me is not in you" (2:19); "your crimes have made all this go wrong, your sins have deprived you of all these favors" (5:25).

Isaiah is equally insistent: "Therefore thus says the Holy One of Israel: because you reject this word, and trust in oppression and deceit, and rely on them; therefore this iniquity shall become for you like a break in a high wall, bulging out, and about to collapse; its crash comes suddenly, in an instant; its breaking is like that of a potter's vessel that is smashed so ruthlessly that among its fragments not a shard is found for taking fire from the hearth, or dipping up water out of the cistern" (30:12-14). And, voicing the deepest convictions of God's People, the Prophet cries out: "We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy cloth. We fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away" (64:6).

The Prophets likewise denounce the hardness of heart that leads to appalling blindness and prevents us from perceiving the gravity of sin. Let us listen again to Jeremiah: "For from the least to the greatest of them, every one is greedy for unjust gain; and from prophet to priest, every one deals falsely. They have treated the wound of my people carelessly, saying 'Peace, peace,' when there is no peace. They acted shamelessly, they committed abomination, yet they were not ashamed, they did not know how to blush" (6:13-15).

Jesus entered into this history ravaged by sin, and took upon himself the burden and brutality of our sins. When we look upon Jesus, we see clearly the destructive power of sin and the sickness of our human family. Our own sickness! Yours and mine!

Yet -- and this is the second certainty -- Jesus countered our pride with humility; he countered our violence with gentleness; he countered our hatred with the Love that forgives. The Cross is the event which enables God's Love to enter into our history, to draw close to each of us, to become a source of healing and salvation.

Let us never forget: from the beginning of his ministry Jesus had spoken of "his hour" (John 2:4), of the hour "for which he had come" (John 12:27). It was an hour which he joyfully welcomed, when, at the beginning of his Passion, he cried out: "The hour has come!" (John 17:1).

The Church treasures this memory, and in the Creed, after professing that the Son of God "became incarnate from the Virgin Mary and was made man," she goes on to say: "For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried."

For our sake he was crucified! Jesus, at his death, embraced the tragic experience of death as it had been fashioned by our sins; yet, in his death, Jesus filled death itself with Love, he filled it with the presence of God. By Christ's death, death itself was vanquished, for he filled death with the one power capable of canceling the sin that had spawned it: Jesus filled death with Love!

Through faith and baptism, we have access to the death of Christ, to the mystery of the Love by which Christ himself tasted and conquered death ... and this in turn becomes the first step of our journey back to God, a journey which will end at the moment of our own death, a death experienced in Christ and with Christ: in Love!

As you begin this "Way of the Cross," let Mary take you by the hand. Ask her for just a bit of her humility and docility, so that the Love of Christ Crucified will be able to enter your heart and re-create it after God's own Heart.

God bless you on your way!

+ Angelo Comastri

--- --- ---

Opening Prayer

The Holy Father:
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
R. Amen.

Lord Jesus,
your Passion
is the whole of human history:
a history where the good are humiliated,
the meek ... assaulted,
the honest ... crushed,
and the pure of heart roundly mocked.

Who will be the winner?
Who will have the last word?

Lord Jesus,
we believe that you are the last word:
in you the good have already won,
in you the meek have already triumphed,
in you the honest have received their crown,
and the pure of heart shine like stars in the night.

Lord Jesus,
tonight we walk once more the way of your cross,
knowing that it is also our way.
One certainty lights up our path:
the way does not end at the cross
but continues beyond,
to the Kingdom of Life,
to a torrent of joy,
the joy which no one can ever take from us![1]

Reader:

O Jesus, I stand in sorrow
at the foot of your cross:
I myself have helped erect it by my sins!
Your goodness which offers no resistance,
and allows itself to be crucified,
is a mystery beyond my grasp;
it leaves me profoundly troubled.

Lord, you came into the world for my sake,
to seek me out and to lead me
the Father's loving embrace:[2]
the embrace for which I long!

You are the very Face
of beauty and of mercy:
that is why you want to save me!

Within me is so much selfishness:
come to me with your boundless love!

Within me is pride and malice:
come to me with your meekness and humility!

Lord, I am the sinner needing to be saved:
I am the prodigal son needing to return!
Lord, grant me the gift of tears,
that I may discover anew freedom and life,
peace with you, and in you, joy.

--- --- ---

FIRST STATION
Jesus is condemned to death

V. Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi.
R. Quia per sanctam crucem tuam redemisti mundum.

From the Gospel according to Matthew (27:22-23,26)

Pilate said to them: "Then what should I do with Jesus who is called the Messiah?"
All of them said: "Let him be crucified!"
Then he asked: "What evil has he done?"
But they shouted all the more: "Let him be crucified!"
So he released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus,
he handed him over to be crucified.

MEDITATION

We know this scene of condemnation all too well:
we see it played out daily!
But one question troubles our hearts:
why does God allow himself to be condemned?
Why does God, the Almighty,
show himself clothed with weakness?
Why does God let himself be attacked by pride, insolence
and human arrogance?

Why does God remain silent?

God's silence pains us,
it is our testing and trial!
But it is also what purifies
our hasty judgments,
and heals our thirst for revenge.

God's silence
is the soil in which our pride dies
and true faith springs up,
a humble faith,
a faith which does not challenge God,
but surrenders to him with childlike trust.

PRAYER

Lord,
how easy it is to condemn!
How easy to throw stones:
the stones of judgment and slander,
the stones of indifference and neglect!

Lord, you chose to stand
on the losing side,
on the side of the ignominious and the condemned![3]

Help us never to cause pain
to our vulnerable brothers and sisters.
Help us to take a courageous stand
in defense of the weak.
Help us to reject the water of Pilate,
which does not cleanse our hands
but sullies them with innocent blood.

+ All:

Pater noster, qui es in caelis:
sanctificetur nomen tuum;
adveniat regnum tuum;
fiat voluntas tua, sicut in caelo, et in terra.
Panem nostrum cotidianum da nobis hodie;
et dimitte nobis debita nostra,
sicut et nos dimittimus debitoribus nostris;
et ne nos inducas in tentationem;
sed libera nos a malo.

Stabat Mater dolorosa,
iuxta crucem lacrimosa,
dum pendebat Filius.

--- --- ---

SECOND STATION
Jesus takes up his Cross

V. Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi.
R. Quia per sanctam crucem tuam redemisti mundum.

From the Gospel according to Matthew (27:27-31)

Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor's headquarters, and they gathered the whole cohort around him. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on his head. They put a reed in his right hand and knelt before him and mocked him, saying:
"Hail, King of the Jews!"
They spat on him, and took the reed and struck him on the head. After mocking him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.

MEDITATION

In Christ's passion, hatred was unleashed:
our own hatred, and the hatred of all humanity.[4]
In Christ's passion,
our evil recoiled before goodness,
our pride exploded with resentment
in the face of humility,
our depravity was outraged
by God's radiant clarity.

And thus we became ... God's cross!

We, in our silly rebellion,
we, with our foolish sins,
have made a cross of our own anxiety
and our own unhappiness: we devised our own punishment.

But God takes the cross upon his shoulders,
our cross,
and he confronts us with the power of his love.

God takes the cross!
Unfathomable mystery of goodness!
Mystery of humility, which shames us
at our unbending pride!

PRAYER

Lord Jesus,
you entered human history
and found it hostile to you,[5] defiant toward God,
maddened by the pride
which leads us to think
that we stand as tall
... as our shadow!

Lord Jesus,
you did not attack us,
but let yourself be attacked by us,
by me, by everyone!

Heal me, Jesus, by your patience,
cure me by your humility,
cut me down to my rightful size,
that of a creature, a tiny creature
... yet the object of your infinite love!

+ All: Pater noster …

Cuius animam gementem,
contristatam et dolentem
pertransivit gladius.

--- --- ---

THIRD STATION
Jesus falls for the first time

V. Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi.
R. Quia per sanctam crucem tuam redemisti mundum.

From the Book of the Prophet Isaiah (53:4-6)

Surely he has born our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions,
he was bruised for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that made us whole,
and by his stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned everyone to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

MEDITATION

In our human way of thinking, God is incapable of falling,
... and yet he falls. Why?
It cannot be a sign of weakness,
but only a sign of love:
a message of love for us.

Falling beneath the weight of the cross,
Jesus reminds us that sin is a heavy burden,
sin lowers us and destroys us,
sin punishes us and brings us evil:
in a word, sin is evil![6]

Yet God still loves us and desires what is good for us;
his love drives him to cry out to the deaf,
to us, who are unwilling to hear:
"Abandon sin, because it hurts you.
It takes away your peace, your joy;
it cuts you off from life, and dries up within you
the very source of your freedom and dignity."

Abandon it! Abandon it!

PRAYER

Lord,
we have lost our sense of sin!
Today a slick campaign of propaganda
is spreading an inane apologia of evil,
a senseless cult of Satan,
a mindless desire for transgression,
a dishonest and frivolous freedom,
exalting impulsiveness, immorality and selfishness
as if they were new heights of sophistication.

Lord Jesus,
open our eyes:
let us see the filth around us
and recognize it for what it is,
so that a single tear of sorrow
can restore us to purity of heart
and the breadth of true freedom.
Open our eyes,
Lord, Jesus!

+ All: Pater noster …

O quam tristis et afflicta
fuit illa benedicta
mater Unigeniti!

--- --- ---

FOURTH STATION
Jesus meets his Mother

V. Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi.
R. Quia per sanctam crucem tuam redemisti mundum.

From the Gospel according to Luke (2:34-35, 51)

Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother:
"Behold, this child is destined for the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed -- and a sword will pierce through your own soul also.
Then he came down with them and went to Nazareth. And his mother kept all these things in her heart.

MEDITATION

Every mother is love made visible,
an abode of tender affection
and undying fidelity.
Because a true mother loves,
even when she is not loved in return.

Mary is the Mother!
In her, womanhood is unalloyed,
and love is not poisoned by the waves of selfishness
that constrict and smother human hearts.

Mary is the Mother!

Her heart faithfully accompanies
the heart of her Son,
shares in his sufferings, carries his cross,
and itself feels the pain
of every wound inflicted on the body of her Son.

Mary is the Mother!
She continues to be a Mother,
for us, for ever!

PRAYER

Lord Jesus,
we all need a Mother!
We need a love
that is faithful and true.
We need a love
that never wavers,
a love that is a sure refuge
at times of fear,
at times of pain and trial.

Lord Jesus,
we need women:
wives and mothers
who can restore to our world
the fair face of humanity.

Lord Jesus,
we need Mary:
the woman, the wife and the mother,
who never cheapens or refuses love!

Lord Jesus, we pray to you
for all the women of the world!

+ All: Pater noster …

Quae maerebat et dolebat
pia mater, cum videbat
Nati poenas incliti.

--- --- ---

FIFTH STATION
Jesus is helped by Simon the Cyrene to carry his Cross

V. Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi.
R. Quia per sanctam crucem tuam redemisti mundum.

From the Gospel according to Matthew (27:32; 16:24)

As they went out, they came upon a man of Cyrene, Simon by name; this man they compelled to carry his cross.

Jesus told his disciples:
"If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow me.

MEDITATION

Simon of Cyrene,
you are one of the little ones, the poor,
a nameless man from the countryside,
someone overlooked by the history books.

And yet you made history!

You wrote one of the most beautiful chapters
in the history of mankind:
you carried the cross of Another,
you lifted the cross,
and prevented it from crushing its victim.

You restored dignity to us all,
by reminding us that we become truly ourselves
only when we stop thinking only about ourselves.[7]

You remind us that Christ is waiting for us
in the street, on the landing,
in hospital, in prison,
in the outskirts of our cities.
Christ waits for us![8]

Will we recognize him?
Will we help him?
Or will we die in our selfishness?

PRAYER

Lord Jesus,
love is fading away,
and our world is becoming cold,
inhospitable, intolerable.
Shatter the chains that hold us back
from reaching out to others.
Help us, through love, to find ourselves.

Lord Jesus,
our affluence is making us less human,
our entertainment has become a drug, a source of alienation,
and our society's incessant, tedious message
is an invitation to die of selfishness.

Lord Jesus,
rekindle within us the spark of humanity
that God placed in our hearts at the dawn of creation.
Free us from our decadent narcissism,
and we will find new joy in life
and burst into joyful song.

+ All: Pater noster …

Quis est homo qui non fleret,
matrem Christi si videret
in tanto supplicio?

--- --- ---

SIXTH STATION
Veronica wipes the face of Jesus

V. Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi.
R. Quia per sanctam crucem tuam redemisti mundum

From the Book of the Prophet Isaiah (53:2-3)

He had no form or comeliness
that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces.

From the Book of Psalms (42:2-3)

As the deer longs for flowing streams
so my soul longs for you, O God.
My soul thirst for God,
for the living God.

MEDITATION

The face of Jesus is bathed with sweat,
streaming with blood,
covered with abusive spittle.
Who would dare draw near him?

A woman!
A woman steps out of the crowd,
keeping alight the lamp of our humanity,
... and wipes his Face
and finds his Face!

How many people today have no face!
How many people are relegated
to the margins of life,
exiled, forsaken,
by an apathy that kills the apathetic.

Only those afire with love are truly alive,
those who bend low before Christ who suffers
and awaits us in those who are suffering: today!

Today! For tomorrow will be too late![9]

PRAYER

Lord Jesus,
a single step
and the world could change!

A single step,
and peace could return to families,
a single step,
and the needy would no longer be alone;
a single step,
and the suffering could feel a hand
reaching out to take their hand
... and bring healing to both.

A single step,
and the poor could find a place at table,
lifting the sadness haunting the tables of the selfish,
who find no joy in feasting alone.

Lord Jesus,
a single step is all it would take!

Help us to take that step,
for our world is slowly depleting
all its store of joy.
Help us, Lord!

+ All: Pater noster …

Quis non posset contristari
piam matrem contemplari
dolentem cum Filio?

--- --- ---

SEVENTH STATION
Jesus falls for the second time

V. Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi.
R. Quia per sanctam crucem tuam redemisti mundum.

From the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah (12:1)

You are righteous, O Lord,
when I complain to you.
Yet I would plead my case before you.
Why does the way of the wicked prosper?
Why do all who are treacherous thrive?

From the Book of Psalms (37:1-2,10-11)

Fret not because of the wicked,
be not envious of wrongdoers!
For they will soon fade like the grass,
and wither like the green herb.
Yet a little while, and the wicked will be no more,
though you look well at his place, he will not be there,
but the meek shall possess the land,
and delight themselves in abundant prosperity.

MEDITATION

Our arrogance, our violence, our injustices
all press down upon the body of Christ.

They weigh upon him ... and he falls a second time,
to show us the unbearable burden
of our sins.
But what is it that today, in particular,
strikes at Christ's holy body?

Surely God is deeply pained
by the attack on the family.
Today we seem to be witnessing
a kind of anti-Genesis,
a counter-plan, a diabolical pride
aimed at eliminating the family.

There is a move to reinvent mankind,
to modify the very grammar of life
as planned and willed by God.[10]

But, to take God's place, without being God,
is insane arrogance,
a risky and dangerous venture.

May Christ's fall open our eyes
to see once more the beautiful face,
the true face, the holy face of the family.
The face of the family
which all of us need.

PRAYER

Lord Jesus,
the family is one of God's dreams
entrusted to humanity;
the family is a spark from Heaven
shared with all mankind:
the family is the cradle where we were born
and are constantly reborn in love.

Lord Jesus, enter our homes
and lead us in the song of life.
Rekindle the lamp of love
and make us feel the beauty
of being bound to one another
in an embrace of life:
a life warmed by God's own breath,
the breath of the God who is Love.

Lord Jesus,
save the family,
and save life itself!

Lord Jesus,
save my own family,
save our families!

+ All: Pater noster …

Pro peccatis suae gentis
vidit Iesum in tormentis
et flagellis subditum.

--- --- ---

EIGHTH STATION
Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem

V. Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi.
R. Quia per sanctam crucem tuam redemisti mundum.

From the Gospel according to Luke (23:27-29,31)

A great number of people followed him, and among them were women who were beating their breasts and wailing for him. But Jesus turned to them and said:
"Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold, the days are coming when they will say, 'Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed!'
For if they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?"

MEDITATION

The tears of the mothers of Jerusalem
flood with pity the path trod by the Convict,
soften the ferocity of an execution
and remind us that we are all children:
children come forth from a mother's embrace.

But the tears of the mothers of Jerusalem
are but a small drop
in the river of tears shed by mothers:
mothers of the crucified, mothers of murderers,
mothers of drug addicts, mothers of terrorists,
mothers of rapists, mothers of psychopaths:
but mothers all the same!

Yet tears are not enough.
Tears must overflow into love that nurtures,
strength that gives direction, firmness that corrects,
dialogue that builds, a presence that speaks!

Tears must prevent other tears!

PRAYER

Lord Jesus,
you know well the tears of every mother,
you see in every home the corner of pain,
you hear the silent cry
of the many mothers hurt by their children:
bearing deadly wounds ... yet still alive!

Lord Jesus,
dissolve the clots of callousness
that prevent love from circulating
in the arteries of our families.
Make us, once again, conscious of being children,
so that we can give our mothers
-- on earth and in heaven --
pride in having borne us,
and joy in blessing
the day of our birth.

Lord Jesus,
wipe away the tears of all mothers,
so that a smile may return to their children's faces,
to the faces of all.

+ All: Pater noster …

Tui Nati vulnerati,
tam dignati pro me pati
poenas mecum divide.

--- --- ---

NINTH STATION
Jesus falls for the third time

V. Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi.
R. Quia per sanctam crucem tuam redemisti mundum.

From the Book of the Prophet Habakkuk (1:12-13; 2:2-3)

Are you not from of old, O Lord,
my God, my Holy One?
Your eyes are too pure to behold evil.
and you cannot look on wrongdoing;
why do you look on the treacherous,
and are silent when the wicked swallow
those more righteous than they?

Write the vision,
make it plain on tablets,
so that a runner may read it.
For there is still a vision for the appointed time;
it speaks of the end, and does not lie.
If it seems to tarry, wait for it;
it will surely come, it will not delay.

MEDITATION

As Pascal insightfully observed:
"Jesus will be in agony until the end of the world;
and we cannot sleep during this time."[11]

Where is Jesus in agony in our own time?
In the division of our world into belts of prosperity
and belts of poverty ... this is Christ's agony today.
Our world is made of two rooms:
in one room, things go to waste,
in the other, people are wasting away;
in one room, people die from surfeit,
in the other, they die from indigence;
in one room, they are concerned about obesity,
in the other, they are begging for charity.

Why don't we open a door?
Who don't we sit at one table?
Why don't we realize that the poor
can help the rich?
Why? Why? Why are we so blind?

PRAYER

Lord Jesus,
those who live to hoard riches
are the very ones you have called fools![12]

Yes, those who think they own anything
are really fools,
since there is but one Owner
of the world.

Lord Jesus,
the world is yours and yours alone.
Yet you have given it to everyone
so that the earth can become a home
where all find nourishment and shelter.

So hoarding riches is robbery,
if their useless accumulation
prevents others from living.

Lord Jesus,
put an end to the scandal
that divides the world
into castles and slums.
Lord, teach us once more the meaning of brotherhood!

+ All: Pater noster …

Eia, mater, fons amoris,
me sentire vim doloris
fac ut tecum lugeam.

--- --- ---

TENTH STATION
Jesus is stripped of his garments

V. Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi.
R. Quia per sanctam crucem tuam redemisti mundum.

From the Gospel according to John (19:23-24)

When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his garments and made four parts, one for each soldier; also his tunic. But the tunic was without seam, woven from top to bottom; so they said to one another:
"Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be."
This was to fulfill the Scripture: "They parted my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots."

MEDITATION

The soldiers take Jesus' tunic from him
with the brutality of thieves;
they also try to rob him
of his modesty and his dignity.

But Jesus is the modesty, Jesus is the dignity
that belongs to man and the human body.

And the scorned body of Christ
becomes the indictment of all the scorn
ever shown to the human body,
which God created as the mirror of the soul
and the language to speak of love.

Today bodies are constantly bought and sold
on the streets of our cities,
on the streets of our televisions,
in homes that have become like streets.

When will we realize that we are killing love?
When will we realize that, without purity,
the body can neither be alive nor life-giving?

PRAYER

Lord Jesus,
purity has everywhere fallen victim
to a calculated conspiracy of silence: an impure silence!
People have even come to believe
a complete lie:
that purity is somehow the enemy of love.

But the opposite is true, O Lord!
Purity is necessary
as a condition for love:
a love that is true, a love that is faithful.

In any event, Lord,
if we cannot be the master of ourselves?
how can we give ourselves to others?

Only the pure are capable of love;
only the pure can love without cheapening love.

Lord Jesus,
by the power of your blood poured out in love,
grant us pure hearts,
so that our world may see a rebirth of love,
that love for which our hearts so deeply yearn.

+ All: Pater noster …

Fac ut ardeat cor meum
in amando Christum Deum,
ut sibi complaceam.

--- --- ---

ELEVENTH STATION
Jesus is nailed to the Cross

V. Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi.
R. Quia per sanctam crucem tuam redemisti mundum.

From the Gospel according to Matthew (27:35-42)

And when they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots; then they sat down and kept watch over him there. And over his head they put the charge against him, which read: "This is Jesus the King of the Jews."
Then two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right hand and one on the left. And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying:
"You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the Cross."
So also the chief priests with the scribes and elders mocked him, saying:
"He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the Cross and we will believe in him."

MEDITATION

The hands that blessed everyone
are now nailed to the cross;
the feet that walked everywhere,
bringing hope and love,
are now bound to the stake.

Why, O Lord?
Because of love![13]
Why your passion?
Because of love!
Why your cross?
Because of love!

Lord, why didn't you come down from the cross,
to respond to our taunts?
I did not come down from the cross,
because then I would have made power
the lord of the world, whereas love alone is the power
capable of changing the world.

Why, Lord, did you pay this dreadful price?
To tell you that God is Love,[14]
infinite Love, all-powerful Love.
Do you believe me?

PRAYER

Jesus, Crucified Lord,
everyone else can deceive us,
abandon us, delude us:
you alone will never delude us!
You let our hands
nail you brutally to the cross,
as a way of telling us that your love is true,
sincere, faithful and irrevocable.

Jesus, Crucified Lord,
our eyes look upon your hands pierced with nails,
yet still capable of granting true freedom;
they look upon your feet, nailed to the cross,
yet still capable of walking
and making others walk.

Jesus, Crucified Lord,
The illusion of a happiness apart from God
is dead.
Let us return to you,
our sole hope and freedom,
our sole joy and truth:
Jesus, Crucified Lord,
be merciful to us sinners!

+ All: Pater noster …

Sancta mater, istud agas,
Crucifixi fige plagas
cordi meo valide.

--- --- ---

TWELFTH STATION
Jesus dies on the Cross

V. Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi.
R. Quia per sanctam crucem tuam redemisti mundum.

From the Gospel according to John (19:25-27)

Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary, the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother:
"Woman, behold your son!"
Then he said to the disciples:
"Behold your mother!"
And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.

From the Gospel according to Matthew (27:45-46,50)

Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice:
"Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?",
that is:
"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
And Jesus cried again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit.

MEDITATION

People foolishly thought: God is dead!
But if God is dead, who will still give us life?

If God is dead, what is life itself?

Life is Love!

So the cross is not God's death,
but the moment when the fragile shell
of the humanity taken up by God
is shattered
and a flood of love bursts forth[15]
to renew all humanity.

From the cross was born the new life of Saul,
from the cross was born the conversion of Augustine,
from the cross was born the joyful poverty of Francis of Assisi,
from the cross was born the radiant goodness of Vincent de Paul;
from the cross was born the heroism of Maximilian Kolbe,
from the cross was born the amazing charity of Mother Teresa of Calcutta,
from the cross was born the courage of John Paul II,
from the cross was born the revolution of love:
so the cross is not the death of God,
but the birth of his Love in our world.

Blessed be the cross of Christ!

PRAYER

Lord Jesus,
in the silence of this evening, your voice is heard:
"I thirst! I thirst for your love!"[16]

In the silence of this night, your prayer is heard:
"Father, forgive them! Father, forgive them!"[17]

In the silence of history, your cry is heard:
"It is finished."[18]

What is finished?
"I have given you everything, I have told you everything,
I brought you the most beautiful message of all:
God is love! God loves you!"

In the silence of the heart, we can feel the caress
of your final gift:
"Behold, your mother: my mother!"[19]

Thank you Jesus, for giving Mary
the mission of reminding us each day
that the meaning of everything is to be found in love:
the Love of God planted in the world
like a cross!
Thank you, Jesus!

+ All: Pater noster …

Vidit suum dulcem Natum
morientem desolatum,
cum emisit spiritum.

--- --- ---

THIRTEENTH STATION
Jesus is taken down from the Cross and given to his Mother

V. Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi.
R. Quia per sanctam crucem tuam redemisti mundum.

From the Gospel according to Matthew (27:55,57-58; 17:22-2)

There were also many women there, looking on from afar, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him.
When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him.
As they were gathering in Galilee, Jesus said to them:
"The Son of man is to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him, and he will be raised on the third day."
And they were greatly distressed.

MEDITATION

The deed is done:
we have killed Jesus![20]

And Christ's wounds continue to sting
in Mary's heart,
as one sorrow
envelops both Mother and Child.

The Pietà! The sorrowing Mother and her Son!
The scene cries out to us, it brings distress and pain
even to those used to inflicting pain on others.

The Pietà! We almost seem
to feel compassion for God
and yet -- once again --
it is God who feels compassion for us.

The Pietà! Our pain
is no longer hopeless,
nor will it ever be hopeless again,
for God has come to suffer with us.

And with God, can we ever be hopeless?

PRAYER

O Mary,
in your Son you embrace every son and daughter,
and share in the anguish of every mother throughout the world.

O Mary,
your tears continue to fall in every age;
they bathe the faces
and mirror the grief of every man and woman.

O Mary,
you have known sorrow ... yet you still believe!

You believe that clouds do not darken the sun,
you believe that night gives way to dawn.

O Mary,
you who sang the Magnificat,[21]
lead us in the song that conquers sorrow
like the birth pangs that bring forth new life.

O Mary,
pray for us!
Pray that we too may experience
the infectious power of true hope.

+ All: Pater noster …

Fac me vere tecum flere,
Crucifixo condolere,
donec ego vixero.

--- --- ---

FOURTEENTH STATION
Jesus is laid in the tomb

V. Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi.
R. Quia per sanctam crucem tuam redemisti mundum.

From the Gospel according to Matthew (27:59-61)

Joseph took the body, and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud, and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock; and he rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb, and departed. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the sepulcher.

From the Book of Psalms (16:9-11)

My heart is glad,
and my soul rejoices;
my body also rests secure.
For you will not leave my soul among the dead,
nor let your beloved know decay.
You show me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy,
in your right hand are pleasures for evermore.

MEDITATION

There are times when life seems like
a long and dreary Holy Saturday.
Everything seems over,
the wicked seem to triumph,
and evil appears more powerful than good.[22]

But faith enables us to see afar,
it makes us glimpse the break of a new day
on the other side of this day.
Faith promises us that the final word
belongs to God: to God alone!

Faith is truly a little lamp,
yet it is the only lamp that can light up the night of the world:
and its lowly light blends
with the light of a new day:
the day of the Risen Christ.

So the story does not end with the tomb,
instead it bursts forth from the tomb:
just as Jesus promised us,[23]
it happened, and it will happen again![24]

PRAYER

Lord Jesus,
Good Friday is the day of darkness,
the day of blind hatred,
the day when the Just One was put to death!
But Good Friday is not the final word:
the final word is Easter,
the triumph of Life,
the victory of Good over Evil.

Lord Jesus,
Holy Saturday is the day of emptiness,
the day of bewilderment and dread,
the day when everything seems over!

But Holy Saturday is not the final day,
the final day is Easter,
the Light that is kindled anew,
the Love that conquers all hatred.

Lord Jesus,
whenever we experience our own Good Friday,
and we feel the anguish of Holy Saturday,
give us Mary's unwavering faith,
so that we can believe in the reality of Easter;
give us her clearsighted gaze
so that we can see the brilliant dawn
that announces the final day of history:
"new heavens and a new earth"[25]
already present in you,
Jesus, Crucified and Risen. Amen!

+ All: Pater noster …

Quando corpus morietur,
fac ut animae donetur
paradisi gloria. Amen.

--- --- ---

The Holy Father addresses those present.

At the end of his address, the Holy Father imparts the apostolic blessing:

V. Dominus vobiscum.
R. Et cum spiritu tuo.

V. Sit nomen Domini benedictum.
R. Ex hoc nunc et usque in sæculum.

V. Adiutorium nostrum in nomine Domini.
R. Qui fecit caelum et terram.

V. Benedicat vos omnipotens Deus,
Pater +, et + Filius, et + Spiritus Sanctus.
R. Amen.

--- --- ---

[1] John 16:22: Matthew 5:12.
[2] Luke 15:20.
[3] Matthew 25:31-46.
[4] Luke 22:53.
[5] John 1:10-11.

[6] Jeremiah 2:5,19; 5:25.
[7] Luke 9:24.
[8] Matthew 25:40.
[9] Matthew 25:11-13.
[10] Genesis 1:27; 2:24.

[11] B. Pascal, "Pensèes," 553 (ed. Brunswieg).
[12] Luke 12:20.
[13] John 13:1.
[14] 1 John 4:8,16.
[15] John 19:30.

[16] John 19:28.
[17] Luke 23:34.
[18] John 19:30.
[19] John 19:27.
[20] Zechariah 12:10.

[21] Luke 1:46-55.
[22] Jeremiah 12:1; Habakkuk 1:13.
[23] Luke 18:31-33.
[24] Romans 8:18-23.
[25] Revelation 21:1.

© Copyright 2006 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana [adapted]

11th April 2006

11:32pm: Via Crucis

FIRST STATION
Jesus is condemned to death

From the Gospel according to Matthew 27:22-23,26

PRAYER
Lord, you were condemned to death because fear of what other people may think suppressed the voice of conscience. So too, throughout history, the innocent have always been maltreated, condemned and killed. How many times have we ourselves preferred success to the truth, our reputation to justice? Strengthen the quiet voice of our conscience, your own voice, in our lives. Look at me as you looked at Peter after his denial. Let your gaze penetrate our hearts and indicate the direction our lives must take. On the day of Pentecost you stirred the hearts of those who, on Good Friday, clamoured for your death, and you brought them to conversion. In this way you gave hope to all. Grant us, ever anew, the grace of conversion.

SECOND STATION
Jesus takes up his Cross

PRAYER

Lord, you willingly subjected yourself to mockery and scorn. Help us not to ally ourselves with those who look down on the weak and suffering. Help us to acknowledge your face in the lowly and the outcast. May we never lose heart when faced with the contempt of this world, which ridicules our obedience to your will. You carried your own Cross and you ask us to follow you on this path (cf. Mt 10:38). Help us to take up the Cross, and not to shun it. May we never complain or become discouraged by life’s trials. Help us to follow the path of love and, in submitting to its demands, to find true joy.

THIRD STATION
Jesus falls for the first time

PRAYER

Lord Jesus, the weight of the cross made you fall to the ground. The weight of our sin, the weight of our pride, brought you down. But your fall is not a tragedy, or mere human weakness. You came to us when, in our pride, we were laid low. The arrogance that makes us think that we ourselves can create human beings has turned man into a kind of merchandise, to be bought and sold, or stored to provide parts for experimentation. In doing this, we hope to conquer death by our own efforts, yet in reality we are profoundly debasing human dignity. Lord help us; we have fallen. Help us to abandon our destructive pride and, by learning from your humility, to rise again.
12:44am: In Russia, Waiting for Springtime of Faith
Interview With Father McLean Cummings

ROME, APRIL 9, 2006 (Zenit.org).- The future of Russia hinges in part on the vitality of the Russian family, says an American priest working there.

Father McLean Cummings, a priest of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, has been working in the Archdiocese of the Mother of God in Moscow since early 2002. Last fall he was appointed spiritual director of the Catholic seminary in St. Petersburg.

Father Cummings shared with ZENIT his insight on the current state of the Catholic Church in Russia.

Q: How would you describe the current state of the Catholic Church there?

Father Cummings: I must first point out that my experience is rather limited. I have only lived and worked in Russia for the last four years. Most of that time has been spent in Moscow and St. Petersburg, with short stays at various parishes.

As Archbishop [Tadeusz] Kondrusiewicz has said, the history of the Catholic Church in Russia is "many centuries long, very noble, and also tragic."

In the first decade and a half since the end of the Soviet Union, great strides have been made to revive this noble and historic presence. Bishops have been named. Over 200 parishes have been reopened. Where possible, the original churches have been renovated.

Liturgical books and basic texts like the Catechism have been translated. It would seem that this stage is coming to an end, and a new stage is beginning.

We all know that the Church is not made up of buildings and books. Now the emphasis will be more exclusively on building up the faith of the people, strengthening the young communities, developing local traditions.

Q: What challenges does the Catholic Church face in Russia?

Father Cummings: The path toward a fervent, vibrant local church in Russia has many obstacles.

The most obvious problem that we face is the almost seven-decade interruption in the transmission of the faith. This discontinuity has very serious repercussions; one cannot simply pick up where one left off. One must in many ways start from scratch.

Cultural tradition is a process that can very nearly be destroyed if stopped for a generation or two.

The challenge most characteristic to Russia is distance. For various historical reasons, Catholics are not found in certain geographical pockets, but are spread thinly over this vast land mass. It makes it very difficult to provide for them, as the parishes are consequently very small.

This is one reason why the possibility of Catholic schools is very remote; this, of course, is a most effective tool for transmitting the faith that we do not have.

The most publicized challenge concerns the tense ecumenical situation in which the Church is operating. Great caution must be taken to avoid misunderstandings and great efforts [must be] made to overcome historic prejudices. This can stifle the initiative and enthusiasm of both pastors and people.

To choose one more challenge to mention: It would be the fact that 90% of the priests serving in Russia are, like myself, foreigners with no particular preparation for their mission. Assimilating the language and culture and overcoming differences in approach takes significant effort.

Q: What kind of young men in Russia are pursuing a vocation to the Catholic priesthood?

Father Cummings: Last fall, I was asked to come work in the seminary as spiritual director. Thus, I have been able to get acquainted with the diocesan seminarians from all four dioceses.

I was immediately struck by the fact that this group of men is very unusual for a seminary. Many have followed their own spiritual itineraries, often from atheism, overcoming great obstacles. One is reminded of St. Augustine. They seem to be particularly blessed by a divine election.

Nonetheless, a loving, faithful Catholic family has aptly been described as a "first seminary" for a reason. It is easier for candidates from such a background to realize a priestly call.

Most of the seminarians now training at Queen of Apostles in St. Petersburg have to work at their formation with special intensity to develop human and priestly virtues, to assimilate a truly Catholic outlook, and to integrate fully into the life of the universal Church.

Q: In light of the teaching of Pope John Paul II on building a culture of life, how would you describe the present situation of the Russian family?

Father Cummings: No one can deny that Russia is suffering from the culture of death in a most dramatic way. Every year the population drops by half a million, mainly due to alcoholism, suicide and abortion. Pornography and crime are rampant.

This atmosphere has taken its toll on those with Catholic roots as well.

Efforts are being made to build up Catholic families. This is, of course, essential for solid parishes and future vocations. We must strive for the goal that one day genuinely strong, faithful Catholic families will shine in their communities as a living Gospel for all to see.

Q: After many years of governance by communistic atheism, what signs do you see of a new springtime of faith in Russia?

Father Cummings: In St. Petersburg, one must wait a long time for the spring to arrive. The same may be true of "a new springtime of faith in Russia."

One must learn to rejoice at the individual victories: a child who learns to pray, a young couple that starts a genuinely Christian household, one more good book that gets translated, and so on. The big picture really must be left to the Lord of history.

However, we have the promise of Our Lady of Fatima, that her Immaculate Heart will triumph, to keep us strong. And we know from history that she can surprise us, as she did at Guadalupe, with great and sudden leaps forward in the work of evangelization.

9th April 2006

3:41pm: Guardini on Christ in Our Century

by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger

Romano Guardini's book The Lord has helped more than one
generation of Christians enter into a deeper relationship with
Jesus Christ. When the book first appeared, it offered a new
approach to the spiritual interpretation of Scripture for which
young people in particular longed; a longing, I might add, which
is being felt again in our own day.

=================================================

The First World War was everywhere experienced as the collapse of
the liberal dream of ever-advancing progress engendered by reason
alone. This crisis of liberalism had great consequences for the
Church and theology. Every "rational Christianity" which the
liberal theologians had managed to develop was affected by it.
Liberal biblical interpretation, or exegesis, had actually
prepared the ground for this crisis by its attempt to discover
behind the "veneer of dogma" the true "historical" Jesus.
Naturally, by the liberals' way of thinking, the historical Jesus
could be only a mere man. The liberals thought that everything
supernatural, everything pertaining to the mystery of God that
surrounded Jesus, was merely the embellishment and exaggeration of
believers. Only with everything supernatural removed could the
true figure of Jesus finally come to view! Already by the turn of
the century, however, Albert Schweitzer had established that such
an attempt would result only in contradictions: such a "sanitized"
Jesus would not be an actual person, but the product of a
historian.

As a student, Romano Guardini had himself experienced the drama of
liberalism and its collapse, and with a few friends he set out to
find a new path for theology. What came to impress him in the
course of this search was the experience of the liturgy as the
place of encounter with Jesus. It is above all in the liturgy that
Jesus is among us, here it is that he speaks to us, here he lives.

Guardini recognized that the liturgy is the true, living
environment for the Bible and that the Bible can be properly
understood only in this living context within which it first
emerged. The texts of the Bible, this great book of Christ, are
not to be seen as the literary products of some scribes at their
desks, but rather as the words of Christ himself delivered in the
celebration of holy Mass. The scriptural texts are thoroughly
imbued with the awe of divine worship resulting from the
believer's interior attentiveness to the living voice of the
present Lord. In the preface to his book, Guardini himself tells
us of the way in which these texts have arisen: "We can only
reverently pause before this or that word or act, ready to learn,
adore, obey."

Guardini did not view his book as theology in the strict sense of
the word, but more as a kind of proclamation or preaching.
Nonetheless, he did not fail to take into account the theological
significance of what he had to say. Throughout The Lord Guardini
struggled to come to the correct understanding of Jesus: All
attempts to "cleanse" the figure of Jesus of the supernatural
result in contradictions and meaningless constructions. One simply
cannot strip "the Wholly Other," the mysterious, the divine from
this Individual. Without this element, the very Person of Jesus
himself dissolves. There simply is no psychological portrait of
Jesus which can render his different features comprehensible
solely from a human perspective. Repeatedly the analysis of this
man takes us into that realm which is incomprehensible, "an
incomprehensibility, however, full of measureless promise." The
figure and mission of Jesus are "forever beyond the reach of
history's most powerful ray," because "their ultimate explanations
are to be found only in that impenetrable territory which he calls
‘my Father's will.'"

Guardini spoke in a similar way in 1936 in a small but invaluable
book entitled The Picture of Jesus the Christ in the New
Testament, the result of his characteristically methodical
reflections:

Perhaps we will not even succeed in arriving at a ‘person,' but
rather only at a series of sketches which stretch out beyond our
range of vision. Perhaps we will experience that the Ascension was
not simply a unique occurrence in the life of Jesus, but rather
above all, the manner in which He is given to us: as one vanishing
into heaven, into the Unconditional which is God. However, if that
is the case, then these bare sketches are most precious: They are
sign-posts pointing us to the ‘stepping beyond' of faith; and
insofar as they go beyond our vision, in fact, precisely because
they go beyond our vision, they teach us to worship.

It is from such a way of thinking that the meditations arose which
together make up this book. For Guardini the first step is always
attentive listening to the message of the scriptural text. In this
way the real contribution of exegesis to an understanding of Jesus
is fully acknowledged. But in this attentiveness to the text, the
listener, according to Guardini's understanding, does not make
himself to be master of the Word. Rather, the listener makes
himself the believing disciple who allows himself to be led and
enlightened by the Word. It is precisely by repudiating a closed,
merely human logic that the greatness and uniqueness of this
Person becomes apparent to us. It is precisely in this way that
the prison of our prejudice is broken open; it is in this way that
our eyes are slowly opened, and that we come to recognize what is
truly human, since we have been touched by the very humanity of
God himself.

One of Guardini's favorite expressions was, "that which is truly
real will arise from the rich, varied expansiveness of our
existence, of our being fully Christian, and will lead us to the
One who is truly real." As we are taught by Guardini, the essence
of Christianity is not an idea, not a system of thought, not a
plan of action. The essence of Christianity is a Person: Jesus
Christ himself. That which is essential is the One who is
essential. To become truly real means to come to know Jesus Christ
and to learn from him what it means to be human.

Our time is in many respects far different from that in which
Romano Guardini lived and worked. But it is as true now as in his
day that the peril of the Church, indeed of humanity, consists in
bleaching out the image of Jesus Christ in an attempt to shape a
Jesus according to our own standards, so that we do not follow him
in obedient discipleship but rather recreate him in our own image!
Yet still in our own day, salvation consists only in our becoming
"truly real." And we can do that only when we discover anew the
true reality of Jesus Christ and through him discover the way of
an upright and just life. Guardini's book The Lord has not grown
old, precisely because it still leads us to that which is
essential, to that which is truly real, Jesus Christ himself. That
is why this book still has a great mission today.

John Cardinal Ratzinger is prefect of the Congregation for the
Doctrine of the Faith. This article was translated by John. M.
Haas.

© 1995-1996 Crisis Magazine

This article was taken from the June 1996 issue of "Crisis"
magazine. To subscribe please write: Box 1006, Notre Dame, IN
46556 or call 1-800-852-9962. Subscriptions are $25.00 per year.
Editorial correspondence should be sent to 1511 K Street, N.W.,
Ste. 525, Washington, D.C., 20005, 202-347-7411; E-mail:
75061.1144@compuserve.com.

30th March 2006

12:26am: Benedict XVI will join the rosary that will be prayed in St. Peter's Square this Sunday night to commemorate the last moments of Pope John Paul II's life.

The Polish Pontiff died at 9:37 p.m. on April 2, 2005. Some 60,000 people had gathered in the square that night to pray the rosary for the dying Pope.

Shortly after, at the end of the Marian prayer, Archbishop Leonardo Sandri, substitute of the Secretariat of State, announced to the world that "our Holy Father has returned to the Father's House."

The crowds, visibly moved, intoned the Salve Regina followed by prolonged applause. Most of the faithful knelt down, many with tears in their eyes.

These memories will be relived with the rosary, presided over by Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the vicar for Rome.

Beginning at 8:30 p.m., the choir of the Diocese of Rome, directed by Monsignor Marco Frisina, will accompany the prayer with Marian songs and the reading of texts of Karol Wojtyla, according to a communiqu? issued today by the Vicariate of Rome.

"At 9 p.m., the Holy Father, Benedict XVI, will appear at the window of his study and the holy rosary will be prayed," it added.

During the prayer, passages will be read taken from John Paul II's apostolic letter "Rosarium Virginis Mariae" and other of his magisterial texts.

21st March 2006

12:21am: Snow teaches me to pray
It silently goes down on the white ground
Gentle music
Asking wind
Are precise snowflakes
Litany to Notre Dame

14th March 2006

11:17pm: ROME, MARCH 13, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Few would think to question Leonardo da Vinci's genius, yet his life and works have often been the object of serious misinterpretations.

Some books have presented him as an unbeliever and homosexual, who was threatened by the Church. Others, such as Dan Brown's "The Da Vinci Code," present him as a master of esotericism.

To help put things in their right place, philosopher Giuseppe Fornari has just published a book entitled, "La bellezza e il nulla. L'antropologia cristiana di Leonardo da Vinci" (Beauty and Nothingness: The Christian Anthropology of Leonardo da Vinci), published by Marietti.

In the work, Fornari argues that "far from being a heretic and blasphemer, a compiler of riddles (as pop esotericism would like) Leonardo was rather a tormented Christian, irregular by necessity but profound and impassioned." He shared more in this interview with ZENIT.

Q: Several authors have spread the idea that Leonardo da Vinci was a "naturalist" who was distant or even opposed to Catholic thought and culture. In your book, you argue just the opposite. Can you explain why?

Fornari: The principal error, committed for example by Sigmund Freud, lies in attributing to Leonardo a naturalist vision similar to that of the 19th and 20th centuries. There could be no greater distortion of his thought.

Leonardo was already a modern because he saw nature as an immense whole of forces and phenomena that man must try to know, and over which he has the right to intervene, wherever possible.

The great difference in regard to the vision that prevails today, is that for him these forces are of a profoundly spiritual character, understanding spirit as an energy and end which is not material, which is within nature itself, and which refers to a transcendent origin.

And such a vision not only is not in contradiction with the Catholic vision, but rather corroborates it in the most penetrating way.

Undoubtedly it was a vision that was too advanced for the age, as documented for us by the misunderstandings of [biographer] Giorgio Vasari, concerned that Leonardo's scientific researchers might have led him to religiously skeptical and heretical positions.

It is, therefore, an old prejudice, which is based essentially on a misunderstanding.

Q: In your opinion, which are the pictorial works in which Leonardo expresses his affinity with Christian culture and theology?

Fornari: Without a doubt, in all his works with a religious theme, one sees a growing maturation which finds the fullness of its maturity in the "Adoration of the Magi."

A constant in such paintings is meditation on the reality and centrality of the sacrifice, accepted by Christ for the salvation of humanity, a meditation that came to him from Tradition and from the suggestions of theologians with whom he was in contact every now and then, but which Leonardo deepened increasingly in the light of difficult personal experiences, marked by his condition of illegitimate son.

All this led him to give an interpretation of moving truth and profundity to the great themes of the Incarnation, the Fatherhood of God and the motherhood of Mary.

I will give you just one example that impressed me especially during the preparation of the book: the "Benois Madonna" kept in the Hermitage on St. Petersburg.

In this work, still youthful, we see a Mary who is virtually a girl, who gazes with a smile full of ingenuous joy, and with a secret melancholy, barely insinuated, at the Child she holds in her arms, absorbed in the contemplation of a flower, symbol of his future crucifixion.

It is a scene that is charged with moving connotations if we think of the little Leonardo, who was separated when he was still small, from his very young natural mother, Catalina, obliged to marry, in a marriage of reparation, and to leave little "Lionardo" in the father's house.

How can one not refer to the wisely filtrated re-elaboration of a traumatic experience, which Leonardo undoubtedly knew from his mother herself, in addition to his own emotional scars? In this sort of "flashback" one can measure Leonardo's closeness with the most profound content of the Christian message, through the cognitive re-elaboration of his own experience.

Q: You say that for Leonardo artistic beauty is the means by which man is united with God. Can you illustrate this concept?

Fornari: It is an articulated and complex argument because, to reconstruct it, we must unite explicit observations of Leonardo with what can be deduced from other testimonies, above all from his own works.

Leonardo begins with a vision that goes back at least partially to Florentine Platonism, according to which, beauty belongs to an ideal sphere, superior to the corruption of the material world, but this reflection is full of implications that are in no way consoling.

The same prodigious facility with which he knew how to give visible form to this "divine beauty" must have put him on guard. His enormous talent in fact also gave him the power to use it for other ends, such as vanity, ambition and sensuality.

The beauty of art therefore is ambiguous and depends on the way in which we respond with our freedom to its ambiguity: if we opt for its authentically spiritual orientation, or if we remain with a more equivocal vision. I believe this meditation on the ambivalence of beauty, and on its claim on our liberty, became an ever more important topic in this artist's career.

The only way out is the image of Christ himself. By accepting to be equal to us and to die for us, he shows us the only solution: the acceptance of suffering and sacrifice for love of others.

In this way, through him, we can rise again, and the beauty of the world, which seemed to be and was destroyed, resurrects through love.

The image of Christ makes a reality the image and likeness of God, by whom we were created, and the beauty of Christ is revealed as the beauty of the resurrected body, of creation led to redemption.

With God himself, who makes himself our image, we ourselves become his image. I believe that this is the secret of the greatest Christian art, the secret of Leonardo's art.

12th March 2006

11:00pm: What means to be the Catholic? I know, that there is only one Church, that she unites the world of angels and people, the world alive and dead, that forces of a hell will not win her.



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O Mandelshtam
* * *
Вот дароносица, как солнце золотое,
Повисла в воздухе — великолепный миг.
Здесь должен прозвучать лишь греческий язык:
Взят в руки целый мир, как яблоко простое.

Богослужения торжественный зенит,
Свет в круглой храмине под куполом в июле,
Чтоб полной грудью мы вне времени вздохнули
О луговине той, где время не бежит.

И евхаристия, как вечный полдень, длится —
Все причащаются, играют и поют,
И на виду у всех божественный сосуд
Неисчерпаемым веселием струится.

"O Heavens, Heavens..."
O heavens, heavens, see you in my dreams!
It is impossible -- you had become so blind,
And day was burned as if a page -- to rims:
Some smoke and ashes, one could later find.
Current Mood: loved

8th March 2006

11:32pm: Wind and rain this grey
Lenten day.
Wind that howls around
Jagged sins.
Rain,
My vain
Desire for holiness,
Condenses against a leaden sky
And falls again.
No sadness, no desire, no pain.
Only this grey day.
I'll believe in Easter
When it comes.
When it comes again.
--Sr. Jo Morton, OSB Mount Angel, Ore.

Denise Levertov
Talking to Grief

Ah, Grief, I should not treat you
like a homeless dog
who comes to the back door
for a crust, for a meatless bone.
I should trust you.

I should coax you
into the house and give you
your own corner,
a worn mat to lie on,
your own water dish.

You think I don't know you've been living
under my porch.
You long for your real place to be readied
before winter comes. You need
your name,
your collar and tag. You need
the right to warn off intruders,
to consider
my house your own
and me your person
and yourself
my own dog.

3rd March 2006

12:14am: The God mine!
I thank, that you give me time
For a pray,
For a confession
I thank, that you take
Cross of my sins.
Oh, Yours wounded heart...

25th February 2006

6:59pm: MESSAGE OF HIS HOLINESS
BENEDICT XVI
FOR LENT 2006



“Jesus, at the sight of the crowds, was moved with pity” (Mt 9:36)

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

Lent is a privileged time of interior pilgrimage towards Him Who is the fount of mercy. It is a pilgrimage in which He Himself accompanies us through the desert of our poverty, sustaining us on our way towards the intense joy of Easter. Even in the “valley of darkness” of which the Psalmist speaks (Ps 23:4), while the tempter prompts us to despair or to place a vain hope in the work of our own hands, God is there to guard us and sustain us. Yes, even today the Lord hears the cry of the multitudes longing for joy, peace, and love. As in every age, they feel abandoned. Yet, even in the desolation of misery, loneliness, violence and hunger that indiscriminately afflict children, adults, and the elderly, God does not allow darkness to prevail. In fact, in the words of my beloved Predecessor, Pope John Paul II, there is a “divine limit imposed upon evil”, namely, mercy (Memory and Identity, pp. 19ff.). It is with these thoughts in mind that I have chosen as my theme for this Message the Gospel text: “Jesus, at the sight of the crowds, was moved with pity” (Mt 9:36).

In this light, I would like to pause and reflect upon an issue much debated today: the question of development. Even now, the compassionate “gaze” of Christ continues to fall upon individuals and peoples. He watches them, knowing that the divine “plan” includes their call to salvation. Jesus knows the perils that put this plan at risk, and He is moved with pity for the crowds. He chooses to defend them from the wolves even at the cost of His own life. The gaze of Jesus embraces individuals and multitudes, and he brings them all before the Father, offering Himself as a sacrifice of expiation.

Enlightened by this Paschal truth, the Church knows that if we are to promote development in its fulness, our own “gaze” upon mankind has to be measured against that of Christ. In fact, it is quite impossible to separate the response to people’s material and social needs from the fulfilment of the profound desires of their hearts. This has to be emphasized all the more in today’s rapidly changing world, in which our responsibility towards the poor emerges with ever greater clarity and urgency. My venerable Predecessor, Pope Paul VI, accurately described the scandal of underdevelopment as an outrage against humanity. In this sense, in the Encyclical Populorum Progressio, he denounced “the lack of material necessities for those who are without the minimum essential for life, the moral deficiencies of those who are mutilated by selfishness” and “oppressive social structures, whether due to the abuses of ownership or to the abuses of power, to the exploitation of workers or to unjust transactions” (ibid., 21). As the antidote to such evil, Paul VI suggested not only “increased esteem for the dignity of others, the turning towards the spirit of poverty, cooperation for the common good, the will and desire for peace”, but also “the acknowledgement by man of supreme values, and of God, their source and their finality” (ibid.). In this vein, the Pope went on to propose that, finally and above all, there is “faith, a gift of God accepted by the good will of man, and unity in the charity of Christ” (ibid.). Thus, the “gaze” of Christ upon the crowd impels us to affirm the true content of this “complete humanism” that, according to Paul VI, consists in the “fully-rounded development of the whole man and of all men” (ibid., 42). For this reason, the primary contribution that the Church offers to the development of mankind and peoples does not consist merely in material means or technical solutions. Rather, it involves the proclamation of the truth of Christ, Who educates consciences and teaches the authentic dignity of the person and of work; it means the promotion of a culture that truly responds to all the questions of humanity.

In the face of the terrible challenge of poverty afflicting so much of the world’s population, indifference and self-centered isolation stand in stark contrast to the “gaze” of Christ. Fasting and almsgiving, which, together with prayer, the Church proposes in a special way during the Lenten Season, are suitable means for us to become conformed to this “gaze”. The examples of the saints and the long history of the Church’s missionary activity provide invaluable indications of the most effective ways to support development. Even in this era of global interdependence, it is clear that no economic, social, or political project can replace that gift of self to another through which charity is expressed. Those who act according to the logic of the Gospel live the faith as friendship with God Incarnate and, like Him, bear the burden of the material and spiritual needs of their neighbours. They see it as an inexhaustible mystery, worthy of infinite care and attention. They know that he who does not give God gives too little; as Blessed Teresa of Calcutta frequently observed, the worst poverty is not to know Christ. Therefore, we must help others to find God in the merciful face of Christ. Without this perspective, civilization lacks a solid foundation.

Thanks to men and women obedient to the Holy Spirit, many forms of charitable work intended to promote development have arisen in the Church: hospitals, universities, professional formation schools, and small businesses. Such initiatives demonstrate the genuine humanitarian concern of those moved by the Gospel message, far in advance of other forms of social welfare. These charitable activities point out the way to achieve a globalization that is focused upon the true good of mankind and, hence, the path towards authentic peace. Moved like Jesus with compassion for the crowds, the Church today considers it her duty to ask political leaders and those with economic and financial power to promote development based on respect for the dignity of every man and woman. An important litmus test for the success of their efforts is religious liberty, understood not simply as the freedom to proclaim and celebrate Christ, but also the opportunity to contribute to the building of a world enlivened by charity. These efforts have to include a recognition of the central role of authentic religious values in responding to man’s deepest concerns, and in supplying the ethical motivation for his personal and social responsibilities. These are the criteria by which Christians should assess the political programmes of their leaders.

We cannot ignore the fact that many mistakes have been made in the course of history by those who claimed to be disciples of Jesus. Very often, when having to address grave problems, they have thought that they should first improve this world and only afterwards turn their minds to the next. The temptation was to believe that, in the face of urgent needs, the first imperative was to change external structures. The consequence, for some, was that Christianity became a kind of moralism, ‘believing’ was replaced with ‘doing’. Rightly, therefore, my Predecessor, Pope John Paul II, of blessed memory, observed: “The temptation today is to reduce Christianity to merely human wisdom, a pseudo-science of well-being. In our heavily secularized world, a ‘gradual secularization of salvation’ has taken place, so that people strive for the good of man, but man who is truncated…We know, however, that Jesus came to bring integral salvation” (Redemptoris Missio, 11).

It is this integral salvation that Lent puts before us, pointing towards the victory of Christ over every evil that oppresses us. In turning to the Divine Master, in being converted to Him, in experiencing His mercy through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we will discover a “gaze” that searches us profoundly and gives new life to the crowds and to each one of us. It restores trust to those who do not succumb to scepticism, opening up before them the perspective of eternal beatitude. Throughout history, even when hate seems to prevail, the luminous testimony of His love is never lacking. To Mary, “the living fount of hope” (Dante Alighieri, Paradiso, XXXIII, 12), we entrust our Lenten journey, so that she may lead us to her Son. I commend to her in particular the multitudes who suffer poverty and cry out for help, support, and understanding. With these sentiments, I cordially impart to all of you a special Apostolic Blessing.

From the Vatican, 29 September, 2005.

BENEDICTUS PP. XVI



© Copyright 2005 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana
Current Mood: creative

22nd February 2006

12:04am: Space of friends from the different countries to which Catholics, orthodox are connected because Church uniform, universal, apostolic.

In Moscow there is a weak snow.
Whisper snowflakes
Touching trees.
Midnight snow
Tries to tell about love.
Current Mood: thankful

15th January 2006

11:10pm: There have come days of ordinary week.

Allow to set some questions:
1. How you understand christian personalism?
2. As are connected advantage of the person to freedom?.
3. What role is played with a nationality for the Catholic?
I pray for all you.
Current Mood: creative

5th January 2006

5:49am: Papa John Paul's Life and death supports christians in the world of temptations.
Current Mood: loved
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