Synod 2018

The Fifteenth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops is meeting next year at the Vatican to discuss the topic of Young people, faith and vocational discernment. Earlier this week the Vatican released an online questionnaire so that the young can voice their opinions on the state of the Church. If you’ve got some time fill it out. It doesn’t matter what religion you are as The Vatican just wants to take the pulse of the youth of the world. This  is your chance to voice your opinions about the Church and hopefully the Bishops will listen and do something about it.

Au revoir les enfants (1987)

Au Revoir les Enfants is a biographical story about director Louis Malle, when we was a boy in France during World War II. This film is on the Vatican list of 45 films honoring 100 years of films in the values section. There are spoilers to follow.

The film is about a group of boys at a Catholic boarding school who have just returned from Christmas break in occupied France. Julien Quentin and his classmates are introduced to three new pupils when they return Père Jean brings them in Jean Bonnet in put into Julien’s class and at first no one likes Bonnet and they make fun of his name calling him Easter Bonnet. Bonnet excels at math and piano playing. His peers still pick on him until Julien goes to confession on day and is told by Père Jean to be nice to him. One night, Julien wakes up and sees Bonnet wearing a yarmulke and praying over two candles in Hebrew. The next day, Julien snoops in Bonnet’s locker and find a book with the name Jean Kippelstein in it. This leads to one day the boys are having a treasure hunt and Julien and Bonnet get lost in the woods and are found by German soldiers, who bring them back to the school. The event is where Julien and Bonnet begin to bond. Eventually the German come and conduct a raid on the school uncovering that Père Jean has been using the school as a safe haven for Jewish individuals.

All to often in films about World War II and the Holocaust we get them told from in the camps or in Germany/Poland so it was nice to see a story that take place before the camps and in France. If you haven’t seen this film what’s taken you so long it isn’t that big of a sobfest but it is tells the story of World War II without blood or violence focusing on the other tragedy.

Lesser known…

Crispin and Crispinian (circa Third Century)
Most of us have heard of Saint Crispin, there’s that famous speech from Shakespeare, but who exactly is Crispin. They, Crispin and Crispinian, are twin brothers who were born to a noble Roman family. They fled to Soissons to get away from persecution. In France they preached to the Gauls and made shoes at night. From their shoes they earned enough to live comfortably and aid the poor. The governor heard of them and had them tortured and thrown into a river with millstones around their necks. They both survived but were eventually beheaded by Diocletian. Or Crispin and Crispinian could have been from Kent somewhere near Canterbury, but after their father died for displeasing the Roman Emperor their mother persuaded that they flee to London. The brothers made their way but stumbled upon a shoemaker’s workshop in Faversham and decided to stay there.  The English version of the story has no information about how they were martyred.

Pope Evaristus (died c. 107)
Evaristus was the Fifth bishop of Rome. Evaristus was originally a Hellenistic Jew on his father’s side from Bethlehem.  He divided Rome up into titles, or parishes these have grown to the Titular Church that Cardinals are given when they become Cardinals. Evaristus also appointed priest to these Churches and appointed seven deacons for the city.

Chiara Badano (29 October 1971 – 7 October 1990)
Chiara is a member of Generation X and is proof that regular people can still become saints. I felt compelled to mention Chiara Luce, her nickname given by Chiara Lubich,  even though she is only a blessed since a couple weeks ago I read about her and felt that her words are something that we need to hear in the world today. Chiara was born in a small village in Italy and her parents had waited and prayed for her to come for eleven years. Chiara got involved in the Focolare Movement in Italy at nine. The Focolare Movement was started by Chiara Lubich in 1943. In 1988 her life was changed dramatically as Chiara felt a twinge in her shoulder while playing tennis and it turned out to be osteogenic sarcoma, a rare and painful bone cancer.  When Chiara heard this she simply declared, “It’s for you, Jesus; if you want it, I want it, too.” This is remarkable as all that Chiara wanted was to be married to Jesus, and at her funeral she got her wish. Before Chiara died she told her mother “the young people…young people…they are the future. You see, I can’t run anymore, but how I would like to pass on to them the torch, like in the Olympics! Young people have only one life and it’s worthwhile to spend it well.” I hope that many young people take up the torch of Chiara and live always with a light that radiated from within from a heart full of the love of God.

Consueverunt Romani Pontifices

Over the next couple of week I’m going to be pulling out some Encyclicals and Papal Bulls out about the Rosary since October in the Month of the Rosary.

Consueverunt Romani Pontifices is  a Papal Bull from Pope Pius V from 1569 and is arguably the oldest of papal documents that talks about the Rosary that is widely known. In Consueverunt Romani Pontifices Pius V officially established the Rosary as a Vatican approved prayer.  It mentions that St. Dominic looked to a simple way of praying and beseeching God, accessible to all and wholly pious, which is called the Psalter of the Blessed Virgin Mary, or Rosary. Pius notes that “Christ’s faithful, inflamed by these prayers, began immediately to be changed into new men. The darkness of heresy began to be dispelled, and the light of the Catholic Faith to be revealed.” This is document, or the fragment we have is relatively low key compared to some of the later Encyclicals which I’ve read.

I am a fan of the second section\paragraph “Following the example of our predecessors, seeing that the Church militant, which God has placed in our hands, in these our times is tossed this way and that by so many heresies, and is grievously troubled troubled and afflicted by so many wars, and by the deprave morals of men, we also raise our eyes, weeping but full of hope, unto that same mountain, whence every aid comes forth, and we encourage and admonish each member of Christ’s faithful to do likewise in the Lord. ” These words seem like they could have been written in the past decade, if this is a good thing I am not sure but it is our call to action that 500 years from now that it doesn’t. If you have some time especially in the upcoming month of October please pray the Rosary.

Third Sunday of Easter

The theme of the readings this week is understanding and knowledge. We start as with every week in Easter in the Acts of the Apostles where we explore the beginnings of the Church. It is an interesting reading this week as Peter is preaching to the Jewish people and says “The Lord glorified Jesus whom you denied and let a murderer go free” then he adds, “but it’s okay since you didn’t know. However you should repent and convert for your sins to be forgiven.” The key point in this whole thing is that ignorance isn’t an excuse we need to be informed about our faith and the world around us. Pick up a newspaper or go visit one online and read about what is happening in the world, and not just hear some newscasters opinion of the story.

We continue in the first letter of John same as last week but we have moved up in the book to the second chapter in which he writes “I am writing this so that you may not commit sin.” Since we have Jesus in heaven acting as an advocate for us with the father. Then the reading turn on itself saying “Those who say ‘I know Jesus’ but don’t follow the commandment is a liar.” Yet those who keep their word the love of God is perfected in him. Aldous Huxley eloquently put it in his book The Perennial Philosophy, “We can only love what we know, and we can never know completely what we do not love. Love is a mode of knowledge…” It boils down to love you may know the Bible and Catechism inside and out and quote the Saints six ways from Sunday but if you don’t love you really are a Christian.

Turning to the Gospel we have the continuation of the Road to Emmaus story the two disciples when back to Jerusalem and were telling the other disciples about what had happened to them at dinner when Jesus appears again to all of them. The disciples were terrified and scared that they might be seeing a ghost. So Jesus reassures them saying “See, I’ve got flesh and bones” and then eats some fish in front of the disciples to prove he is real. After Jesus proves that he is real he opens their minds to understand the Scriptures. This is something that I try to do by reading through and giving the broad strokes of the readings to you all. If you don’t read the readings for mass on Sunday before going I would suggest taking a chance on it, I find it help me focus on the reading instead of reading along in the missal. This reading also seems to be pushing for more us all to try and get into the Bible and read it in group as part of a Bible study or by ourselves.

News Round up

Broadway: This is some big news Hamilton the new musical from Lin-Manuel Miranda from all the reviews I’ve read it is a phenomenal show and they show will be transferring to Broadway this Summer as well as producing a Cast Recording. This is Miranda’s second show to make it to Broadway. Now since the move will not happen until July we have to wait until the 2016 Tony Awards to see if it wins anything. If you are up in New York make some time to go see this show, it is currently running at the Public.

Vatican: This is real cool news the Swiss Guard has said that they are ready to defend the Pope if ISIS ever tries anything. To be completely honest I wanted to be a Swiss Guard since I was little, I think it was mostly because they wear pajamas all the time. As I grew older I learned you need to be Swiss to join so I could never join.  Beside having one of the coolest military uniforms of all time the Swiss Guard is a full blown military order which is the defacto military of Vatican City. We often forget about the Swiss Guard as being anything more then at the Vatican for show.

Food: Peanut Allergies seem to be rising in America, and researchers are now saying that by feeding children peanuts seems to reduce the number allergic. This seems counter intuitive but for years the method of avoidance hasn’t done anything and perhaps exposure might send these peanut allergies packing. There hasn’t been much long term research on the topic this study only lasted five years, so perhaps more needs to be done on the topic. I am now wondering if this is the same for other food allergies as well and they can be prevented if you just have a little bit of everything as an infant. We will have to wait for more research to come out on this in the future.

The Godfather Part III (1990)

Many people consider this the worst Godfather movie and sure they are not many that will disagree with this. For most is just seems tacked on with the other movies, since the book by Puzo was basically the first two movies that is what we get. Please be warned that there will be spoilers to follow so read with caution.

The movie begins with Michael Corleone being named an commander in the Order of St. Sebastian (This order does not exist in real life), basically being knighted by the Pope. Michael receives this honor because of generous donation to the Vatican earmarked for Sicily. At the event we meet a new member of the family Vincent Mancini, Sonny’s child with the bridesmaid from the first movie. Mary and Anthony Michael’s children are also in attendance,  with Anthony telling his father that he doesn’t want to be a part of the family business and want to become an Opera singer.  Vincent is fueding with Joey Zasa, who has become the defacto head of the family as Michael is trying to go legit after all these years.

Michael himself is trying to get the biggest deal of his life done that is taking over International Immobiliare by buying the Vatican shares of the company and bailing our the Vatican Back. Now Michael faces a problem here as the deal must be ratified by the Pope (Paul VI) and he is sick and without any word from the Pope the deal will go nowhere. Back in the US, Michael pays off everyone involved in the casinos and other dealings that The Family has done to make money, every one by Zasa get paid and Zasa is angry about this and storms out a few minutes later a helicopter comes and starts shooting up the room with Michael, Vincent and Al Neri among the lucky few to escape. This event isn’t great for Michael as shortly thereafter he suffers a diabetic stroke and is brought to the hospital. With no one really running the family Connie and Al tell Vincent to get revenge.

That’s the first half or so of the movie. In my opinion the film has some interesting things going on. Michael wanting to have a legitimate business and working with Sonny’s illegitimate child to do so, is sort of funny. The stuff with the Vatican is pretty cool as well, as there is that theory that the mafia killed John Paul I. Best of all Johnny Fontaine show up again and he plays a major part in the book. The film still has surprises and they were worth ti. All in all it is a decent film but it does drag and you are constantly wondering why you should care about the new characters.

If you have seen the first two parts and are desperate from more adventures in this universe that go ahead and watch the third one. However if you are given the chance it’s something that can be seem later on,  it isn’t at all necessary to the first two films, which Coppola have said is the series and this third one is only an epilogue.

News Roundup

Religion: The biggest piece of news to come out in recent days is the Vatican has released its report on the religious sisters in the United States. The big surprise of this whole report is that it is not as harsh as many people expected it to be but it was largely laudatory and praised the sisters in the United States as going to the fringes of society and working with these individuals.

Politics: The other big news is partially Church related as well the relations between Cuba and the US are thawing, or as Stephen Colbert put it the Cold War is finally over. The trade embargo is going to be lifted the US will soon re\open an embassy in Havana. It was none other than Pope Francis who played a pivotal role in this writing to both Obama and Castro and getting the Governments to talk with one another for the first time in a long time, and the news broke on his birthday as well

Movies:  Sony has backed down and scrapped their new movie The Interview because of all the threats that were coming from North Korea about it. It is no joke as North Korea had hacked Sony and said that if the film was released there would be bombings or something at movie theatres. The film features James Franco and Seth Rogen as an interviewer and his producer or something who are tasked by the CIA to kill the leader of North Korea. I think that the problem arose since they used Kim Jung-un’s name. The other problem is that it is another Seth Rogen/James Franco movie, how many of these movies do we have to see.

Religious News Roundup

On Sunday there were two special reports one on NBC the other on 60 Minutes both featured some news worthy Bishops in America. NBC’s story was about Archbishop Blase Cupich the new Archbishop of Chicago, the story noted that he is the first appointment by Pope Francis in the United States. It was a pretty nice piece, that doesn’t go that deep but I do like towards the end where Cupich says that John Paul II told us what we should do, Benedict XVI told us why we should do it, and now Francis is telling us to do it. This is something we should all reflect upon. Cupich was installed yesterday in Chicago and over on Whispers in the Loggia you can watch the video or just read his homily if you’d like to. I think that it also seems likely that Cupich will soon be elevated to a Cardinal.

Speaking of Cardinals over on 60 Minutes they interviewed Sean Cardinal O’Malley. This interview was a bit more biased as it really zeros in on the sex abuse scandal that has rocked the church as Cardinal Sean has played a big role in cleaning up that whole mess not only in Boston but now also around the world. The interview them goes into a weird place where the Cardinal is asked about LCWR and he basically side steps that question calling it a disaster and restating what Pope Francis has said in getting some women religious involved in the Curia in some capacity. Then the strange part comes as Nora O’Donnell asks if the exclusion of female from the priesthood is immoral since women have so little “power” in the church and cannot administer the sacraments. First off there is one sacrament where one of the celebrants is a women, the sacrament of marriage is celebrated by the man and women and witnessed by the priest/deacon, also women can in dire circumstances celebrate baptism.  As anyone could have guessed Cardinal Sean affirms the position of the Church but adds that if he were forming a church today he would love to have women priest. If there were to be female ordination I think it would make the most sense if the women could only be made into deacons so as they can preach and all that stuff that deacons do.

Dedication of the Basilica of St. John Lateran

Today is a unique feast as it is not a celebration of a Saint or an event in the life of Jesus or Mary, but it is for a building the Basilica of St. John Lateran, which holds the chair or cathedra or see for the Bishop of Rome. It is the Pope’s cathedral and it is the cathedral for the Diocese of Rome as well. The arch-basilica honors the Savior as well as John the Baptist and John the Evangelist and it located near the Lateran Palace. This church is kind of like everyone’s mother church in the Catholic Church as it is one of the oldest churches in the Western World. We will return to our regular readings next week.

We begin the readings this week with the prophet Ezekiel. In the reading we hear Ezekiel is brought back by an Angel to the entrance of the temple and he sees water flowing out from the temple and everything that the water touched was saved, salt water was made fresh and trees of all kinds started to grow on the banks. This reading is very straight forward, we need to be like the water flowing out into the world and purifying it so when the Father comes again his Kingdom will already be established here on Earth. We next hear from the first letter of Paul to the Corinthians, in this reading once again we are hit over the head with the message that we are the buildings of God and temples of the Spirit. It is up to us to help rebuild other and the world to become better temples. Once we finally reach the Gospel we once again here that we are temples and we need to help build the new kingdom on Earth. In John’s Gospel we have an account of Jesus cleansing the temple of all the nonsense that had accumulated over the years of it being built and the money changers and the animal sellers had basically taken the place over. This week we are to look at ourselves and see if there is any nonsense in our lives that keeps us away from our Heavenly family. I hope that we can take some time and reflect on each of our individual church communities and ask the same question, is there any nonsense that gets in the way of us being closer to Jesus.