Guadalupe

Our Lady of Guadalupe.Today it is common to find villages, towns, cities, and even districts in Mexico, Central and South America named “Guadalupe.”  But in the year 1531 there was no such place in Mexico. So, I have always wondered why the appearance of the Blessed Virgin Mary is referred to as “Our Lady of Guadalupe.”

Guadalupe is the name of an area, a city, a river, and a Marian shrine in Spain. The word itself comes from a mixture of  Arabic and Latin roots. Remember that Spain was occupied in part and whole by an Islamic regime from 720 CE until 1492 CE, hence many words have Arabic origin. The Arabic wadi (seasonal river bed) became the Spanish “quadi” having the same meaning. “Quadi” seems to have been combined with the Latin lupus (wolf) to come up with Guadalupe. Continue reading

Pope John XXIII

There was a 1964 paperback floating around the seminary library called “Wit and Wisdom of Good Pope John,” written by a man named Henri Fesquet. Inside was a compilation of humorous stories about John XXIII, who died the year before the book was published. I jotted several down and recently found them during my “purging of old files” episode.

The most famous one occurred when the pope was innocently asked by a journalist how many people worked in the Vatican, he deadpanned, “About half of them.”

An even better sample of his humor occurred while visiting a hospital in Rome called the Hospital of the Holy Spirit, run by a group of Catholic sisters. As Fesquet tells the story, “The mother superior, deeply stirred by the papal visit, went up to him in order to introduce herself”: “Most Holy Father,” she said, “I am the superior of the Holy Spirit.” “Well, I must say you’re very lucky,” replied the pope. “I’m only the Vicar of Christ.”

Documents from Rome

Several years ago I was putting together a series of posts that never went anywhere. It had more in common with an academic tome than blog post. Anyway… in cleaning up file on my hard drive, I ran across a document which might be of interest to folks…but then again, maybe not.  In any case, here it is: an abbreviated glossary of the most common types of documents issued by the Holy See, and terms associated with them. (I will be curious to see the “open” statistics on this one!) Continue reading

The Immaculate Conception

The Immaculate Conception of the Venerable One...It’s important to understand what the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception is and what it is not. Some people think the term refers to Christ’s conception in Mary’s womb without the intervention of a human father; but that is the Virgin Birth. Others think the Immaculate Conception means Mary was conceived “by the power of the Holy Spirit,” in the way Jesus was, but that, too, is incorrect. The Immaculate Conception means that Mary, whose conception was brought about the normal way, was conceived without original sin or its stain—that’s what “immaculate” means: without stain. The essence of original sin consists in the deprivation of sanctifying grace, and its stain is a corrupt nature. Mary was preserved from these defects by God’s grace; from the first instant of her existence she was in the state of sanctifying grace and was free from the corrupt nature original sin brings. Continue reading

Gift of Mercy

In last week’s column I wrote about forgiveness. I started out the column as a reflection on the readings from Scripture for the first week of Advent, noting how the readings did not seem to fit the mood of Christmas coming. The column explained that they weren’t meant to be – it’s Advent, a time of waiting and reflecting despite what the commercial world of commerce would have you believe. But maybe the draw of Christmas is too powerful. The column sort of morphed itself into the idea of forgiveness as the gift you give. The end of the column said: “What ‘Christmas gift’ comes along with this life of forgiveness? Lower blood pressure, restful night, sweet dreams, peace, no longer being a victim, uninterrupted prayer, a new experience of God’s love… and so much more. Your gift is waiting right there under the tree, the cross of Christ. Go ahead, open your gift. `Tis always the season.’” Continue reading

Remembering

Every generation has events that shape the psyche and memory of their time. Consider the terror attacks of September 11th, 2001. Do you remember where you were when you heard the news? 27 percent of our current citizenry does not because they were born after or were too young to remember the events of that day. It is not that they are not familiar with the events of that day and all the consequences of it, but the day does not have the same resonance for them as it does for we watched in shock as the towers were struck and then fell. Continue reading

Remembering December 7th

From the blog, “FaithMatters: Reflections on Life and Faith“, by the now-retired pastor of Hyde Park Methodist Church, Rev. Jim Harnish

I remember a Movie. I was nine years old when “A Man Called Peter” was nominated for an Academy Award in 1956.  Based on the book by that title that sat on my parents’ bookshelf, it was the story of a young Presbyterian preacher named Peter Marshall who emigrated from Scotland and became the nationally known Chaplain of the United States Senate.  It was one of the early childhood experiences that planted the seeds of my calling to be a preacher. Continue reading

Darkness: Waiting and Unknowing

Advent [meaning “coming”], to the Church Fathers, was the right naming of the season when light and life are fading. They urged the faithful to set aside four weeks to fast, give, and pray—all ways to strip down, to let the bared soul recall what it knows beneath its fear of the dark, to know what Jesus called “the one thing necessary”: that there is One who is the source of all life, One who comes to be with us and in us, even, especially, in darkness and death. One who brings a new beginning. Continue reading

The Gift of Forgiveness

The First Sunday of Advent readings might strike you as somewhat odd. The don’t seem very…well, in the Christmas spirit. Perhaps it helps to consider where Advent falls on the liturgical calendar for the Church. It is immediately preceded by the Solemnity of Christ the King and followed by the Nativity of the Lord (Christmas). Advent lies between the celebration of the Seconding Coming of Christ at the end of time and the commemoration of the First Coming of Christ at Christmas. The theme of readings and teachings during Advent is often to prepare for the Second Coming at the end of time, while also commemorating the First Coming of Christ at Christmas. With the view of directing the thoughts of Christians to the first coming of Jesus Christ as Savior, and to his second coming as Judge, special readings are prescribed for each of the four Sundays in Advent. Continue reading