Saturday, April 26, 2014

A vigil for four Popes

As I start to write, it is 10:30pm on Saturday, 26 April.  In about two and a half hours, a momentous occasion will begin, the canonization Mass of Popes John XXIII and John Paul II.  For an institution that has seen over two millennia of human history, to say that tomorrow will be unprecedented is no small statement.  Pope Francis will celebrate the Mass that elevates these two to the honors of the altar.  Even more unprecedented will be the presence of Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI.  He is set to concelebrate the Mass with the cardinals.  For those of you who know me, you know the esteem and affection that I hold for B16, and you can imagine that I am excited to watch this unfold.

Pope John XXIII is a misunderstood man by many.  True, he is rightly described as "The Good Pope", and seen as a lovely, convivial grandfatherly-like man.  He called, and presided over the first session of, the Second Vatican Council.  When he called for the Council, he looked for an updating of the Church's teachings for the modern world.  That his motto was "Obedience and peace" is a telling reminder that he saw himself as a servant of God, a servant of his Church, and a disciple of Christ, in who alone we find true and lasting peace.

Pope John Paul II (styled "the Great" by many) is still in the minds of so much of the world.  He reigned from 1978 to 2005.  Until I was 24, there was only one Pope; the former Karol Jozef Wojtyla of Wadowice, Poland.  He was a philosopher, an actor, a poet, and a priest.  Of all the hundreds of documents, speeches, and homilies that came from his pontificate, there is one theme.  This was the theme at the very beginning:  BE NOT AFRAID!  OPEN WIDE THE DOORS TO CHRIST!

Sainthood is not the Medal of Honor.  Sainthood is not the lifetime achievement award of some organization for seller of most widgets.  Sainthood is not an earthly honor.  Sainthood is what we are all called to.  For these two men to be formally declared saints is to declare that they lived lives of such heroic virtue that their souls are in heaven now, and they are actively interceding on our behalf.  This is why we honor and venerate the thousands of saints on the rolls of the Church, this is why images exist in our Churches and homes.  If we cooperate with God's grace in our lives, this is what can happen!

I attended World Youth Day in Rome in 2000.  After a few days' soujourn in Italy, my group of pilgrims arrived in Rome. I scorched my feet and backside on the cobblestones of St Peter's Square waiting for John Paul II to arrive to start our time in Rome together.  I will never forget the thrill that we had as we saw him go past.  At one point in his reflection for opening World Youth Day, he asked us, "Why are you here?", "Who are you here to see?".  The correct answers were not, "St Peter's", "the Colosseum", or "the Pope", but rather "Jesus".  The whole point of these men's lives was to point us to God and his Son. 

John Paul II inspired so many of us through his life and his witness.  John XXIII inspired the Council Fathers to allow themselves to be open to the Holy Spirit.  It has been said that John Paul II told us what we believe, Benedict XVI told us why we believe it, and now Pope Francis is showing us how to act out what we believe. 

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and preserve in running the race before us,"  Hebrews 12:1


Popes St. John XXIII and John Paul II, pray for us!  We love you!

Pax,
Donald

Friday, May 17, 2013

B16 Quote of the Week

The more the depths of our souls are directed to God, the better we will be able to pray.  The more prayer is the foundation of our entire existence, the more we will be men of peace.  The more we can bear pain, the more we will be able to understand others and open ourselves to them.  This orientation pervasively shaping our whole consciousness, this silent presence of God at the heart our thinking, our meditating, and our being, is what we mean by "prayer without ceasing".  This is ultimately what we mean by love of God, which is at the same time the condition and the driving force behind love of neighbor.

-Jesus of Nazareth, Pgs 129-130

Saturday, March 9, 2013

A blessing of a day


I am writing this post white on the road on a business trip to Tennessee.  This was a short-notice trip; I decided to take it last Saturday.  I left on Wednesday night, and arrived at my destination on Thursday morning.  That said, my travel itinerary is not the point of this post.  I have wanted to write a post that includes the abdication of the now-Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI, but have needed time to process. 

Today, though, has been a blessing.  I was done with my meetings in TN last night, and opted not to do an immediate red-eye.  I stayed the night, ostensibly, just to go visit some of the big sights in country and bluegrass music.  The thing that I really wanted to do was visit an old friend.  When I was at Cal Poly, I lived in a house my senior year that was run by the Newman Center.  I was one of four men and two women who lived in the house.  Over the course of that year, they became like the brothers that I never had, and the sisters that I want my daughter to be.  Two and a half years ago, I lost one of those brothers in a plane crash. It’s slightly ironic that I am writing this post in an airport terminal.  One of the women is in a convent,with the Nashville Dominicans, and has recently taken her first vows.  She is about halfway through her formation.  My little sister, Katie, is now Sister Rose Miriam, O.P..  I visited her today on my way into Nashville. 

It was a rather short visit; I arrived just before noon prayer and lunch.  She met me in the chapel, which is absolutely gorgeous.  It was dedicated in 2006 because the previous chapel was not big enough to house the entire community and guests at big Masses.  I counted chairs for about 100 in the old chapel.  Needless to say, they have a wonderful problem; the convent is filled to the brim.  In fact, today, there was a retreat taking place for prospective vocations to the order; the priest-chaplain and I were the only men there.  It was an odd feeling, but I digress.  My friend was amazing.  She was radiant with a serene joy.  I know that may sound corny, but it is so very, very true.  We chatted for about 10-15 minutes, and we shared where we were with our lives.  I told her about how the Newman Center in San Luis Obispo is being remodeled.  The kitchen is being dedicated to the memory of Mike Ross, our fallen brother.  We both got misty eyed at his memory.  She let me stay for noon prayers, which I was glad to.  After the prayers, I caught the priest, and was able to go to Confession.  That priest is a wonderful confessor and a true physician for a soul.  My penance was one that I wish was given more often; to pray for my parish priest.  As I walked out of the convent, my heart was full of the grace of seeing my “little sister” and going to Confession. 

I did go to Music Row.  I toured the Ryman Auditorium, one of the finest concert halls in America, and the “Mother Church” of country and bluegrass music.  I had lunch at a pub, and a beer at Tootsie’s Bar, where many of the legends of country music got their start.  It was about 2 pm and there was a live band.  Absolutely wonderful.  I’ll put up a photo of the Ryman, and of the convent chapel when I get home, if they look ok.

Regarding Benedict’s abdication, it was a blow emotionally, as I have respected the man as a theologian and priest long before he was elected to the See of Peter.  I now have an understanding for his motive; I have no desire to entertain various conspiracy theories.  I trust that his mind was guided by God to abdicate, and trust that the Holy Spirit will act through the College of Cardinals when the conclave begins next Tuesday.  I have re-started my reading of Jesus of Nazareth, Volume 1 for the umpteenth time.  This time, though, I am looking at his text with a new appreciation.  Over the next two weeks, I will post a few choice quotations.

My flight boards soon, so I need to sign off.  The next time I post, I will have my feet on the terra firma of California.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Kicking!

Here's a quick post to let you know that I'm still alive and kicking.  The family is doing well; LnJ are doing great in kindergarten, and are getting tall (and still skinny). O is almost 3, still thinking that he is a triplet.  And Alie is getting kicked around from the inside.  She is due with number 4 in late may, right around the twins 6th birthday.  So far, so good with this pregnancy. She just is a bit tired.

Work is going well; we had a good harvest at home,and at the winery. I have quite a few projects that I am working on these days, but they are all meaningful.  Running took a bit of a hiatus over December and January. My weight went up a bit because of that.  Have no fear, the running has returned, and I have my sights set on the Salinas Valley Half in August for a PR.   I am shooting for a 1:45, which would be a 5:45 PR.

Short post, more to follow.  Keep calm and pray a rosary!

D

Friday, October 12, 2012

Vatican II, the reading list, running

It is the middle of harvest, so the idea of having a current book to read, save for the latest issue of Runners' World, and my winemaking texts, is laughable.  That said, current events are nudging me to carve out some time for real reading.  You see, yesterday was the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the Second Vatican Council.  Vatican II was a council envisioned by Blessed Pope John XXIII (yes, that is 23rd) to update and rearticulate the timeless teachings of the Catholic Faith for the modern world.  Over the course of three years, the world was left with a batch of documents, a new pope (John XXIII died and Paul VI was elected), and a feeling of optimism. 

I link to a post by Whispers, and link to a video of Pope Benedict giving an off the cuff reflection.  On the first night of the council, Pope John appeared at his window and addressed the crowd that had gathered in St. Peter's Square.  That talk is referred as the "discorso alla luna", the "discourse to the moon", as there was a radiant moon that night in Rome.  Benedict took a page from John's book to reflect on his feelings on the optimism that came from the council and on the quiet, confident humility that the Holy Spirit calls us to. 

So, where does the reading come in?  Benedict opened a "Year for Faith" in the Church, emphasizing our dedication to the letter of the Council, not just the amorphous "Spirit of Vatican II", which was used as an excuse for poor teaching, catechetics, liturgy, and nearly ran our Church into the ground.  My plan for this Year of Faith is to really dig in and read all of those un-read books on the shelf:  Jesus of Nazareth, The Confessions, The City of God, Introduction to Christianity, Feast of Faith.  I plan on reading all of the Mass readings for the year.  That will get me at least 1/3 of the Bible read in one year.  I need to dedicate more time to prayer.  I can pray when I'm running, driving, or when I have a quiet moment in the office. 

Pray for me, I'll pray for you.
D
http://whispersintheloggia.blogspot.com/2012/10/the-lord-doesnt-forget-us-in-moonlight.html
http://whispersintheloggia.blogspot.com/2012/10/quote-of-day-night-and-half-century.html

Monday, October 8, 2012

Still kicking

For those of you that come by on rare occasion to see if I am still around, have no fear for Donald is here!  It is the middle of harvest at the winery. Which means grapes, interns, and lots of work.  things have been going pretty well at the job, and we shall leave it at that.  On the home front, we are not at Hazel's anymore.  Our home was sold out from under us, and we are no renting at a ranch about five miles from the winery.  Well, it is 5.5 miles, as I clocked it this afternoon.  Today was "run to work day", as Alie's car was in the shop, and mine was filled with car seats.   It was a nice run.  peaking of running,  I ran the Salinas Valley Half Marathon in August, finishing in 1:53; three minutes slower than last year.

For a bit of nuttiness, I have signed up for the Big Sur Half to be run in mid-November.  that's rig, it's harvest, and I'm training for a half, too.  I ll keep you updated as things progress.  Hope you are well, where've you are.

Cheers,
D

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Hemingway of the winery

In the last few days, I have had one of my bosses call me, "The Hemingway of Paicines", the miniscule wide spot in the road where the winery is. I am not sure if this is a compliment or not. This guy likes Hemingway and Kipling, that I know. At any rate, I know that this blog, with its three followers, is not Hemingway or Kipling. So, tonight is Holy Saturday. Tonight, we Catholics enter the Easter Triduum (three days of Holy Thursday to Good Friday, to Holy Saturday/Easter Vigil). My preference would have been to go to Mass, followed by Adoration. Unfortunately, the wife was not feeling well, so I was not able to go.
At any rate, after dinner, I was watching the sun go down in the kitchen. Leo climbed up onto my leg, and we talked about the sun going down, and how it was twilight. He asked when the sun would come back up, and we talked about twilight being that part of the day after the sun goes down, but before it is dark. He told me that the dark is on his "list of things that he is scared of". I got the idea to show him the stars before he went to sleep. Sure enough, after putting pajamas on, and after doing the night time routine, the twins wanted to see the stars. I took them outside, and showed them how to find the North Star. i showed them Venus, Mars. There was a nearly full moon out tonight. I thought them their first Shakespeare: I got them to repeat, "I am as constant as the Northern Star," (Julius Caesar). After the annoyances and frustrations of the last few days, I felt like I was doing the right thing, like I was following The Plan. Too bad it took a full bottle of wine. Great way to start the Triduum, right. Now, I think I will go off onto the porch to sing one of my favorite hymns. Since no one comments on this blog, I'll tell you the title: "Pange Lingua Gloriosi", by my patron, St. Thomas Aquinas. Happy Holy Week.