30 April 2014

From self-seeking love to a love willing to sacrifice

This evening I was talking with a former student about his relationship with a former girlfriend when this passage of Benedict XVI's Deus caritas est came to mind:
In this context it is highly instructive to note that in the course of the book [The Song of Songs] two different Hebrew words are used to indicate “love”. First there is the word dodim, a plural form suggesting a love that is still insecure, indeterminate and searching. This comes to be replaced by the word ahabĂ , which the Greek version of the Old Testament translates with the similar-sounding agape, which, as we have seen, becomes the typical expression for the biblical notion of love. By contrast with an indeterminate, “searching” love, this word expresses the experience of a love which involves a real discovery of the other, moving beyond the selfish character that prevailed earlier. Love now becomes concern and care for the other. No longer is it self-seeking, a sinking in the intoxication of happiness; instead it seeks the good of the beloved: it becomes renunciation and it is ready, and even willing, for sacrifice (6).
This passage often form the basis of homilies I preached at weddings because it talks about what authentic love really is.

Just a little something to ponder today.

Pope Francis' butler carries the Pope's bag! Where's the media?

Earlier this week, Monday Vatican asked an important question worth considering: "Is the papacy according to the media overshadowing the real media?" Anyone who tries even a little to follow the actions and words of Pope Francis apart from the mainstream media knows the answer is a resounding, "Yes!"

Consider this image of Pope Francis as he prepared to fly to Rio de Janiero for the World Worth Day 2014 that garnered so much of the world's media because it demonstrated, as they said, the humility of the Bishop of Rome:


No doubt you saw this image, or another one that showed His Holiness walking towards or boarding the plane with his bag in hand. The media used the image well to pit Pope Francis against the Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI.

Now consider this image taken yesterday of Pope Francis as went to attend meetings with the Council of Cardinals, and notice who is carrying the bag:


By the media's own previous reporting, this image would seem to imply that Pope Francis is not humble, yet we have seen no media reports about the Holy Father allowing his butler to do his job.

I am not sharing this photo with you because I do not like Pope Francis; rather, I want you to stop paying attention to the way the media portrays the Pope and the Church and to start thinking for yourselves, as I have urged here and here, and probably elsewhere besides.

I repeat: Don't be a lemming!

News round up - April 30th

The news you may have missed:
  • The State Journal-Register reports that a proposed tax in Illinois on sugary beverages "may be falling flat" with legislators. When news of this proposed tax first surfaced, I offered my thoughts on it: a foolish bill that, if passed, would simply backfire.
  • President Obama told a gathering of Malaysian youth yesterday that "the world is less violent, it is healthier, it is wealthier, it is more tolerant and it offers more opportunity than any time in human history for more people than any time in human history." If you live in the Middle East or in Africa, you probably haven't noticed a less violent world. You won't have noticed a healthier world if you life in the U.S.A. where childhood obesity continues to rise, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control earlier this month. Likewise, the poor of the world aren't getting any wealthier and Christians throughout the world remain the most persecuted people in a more tolerant world, and face growing persecution besides as John L. Allen, Jr. has recently demonstrated in his book, The Global War on Christianity.

28 April 2014

Thoughts on the title change of Jackons' third Hobbit movie

Sir Peter Jackson recently announced that the third installment of his cinematic adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit will no longer be subtitled There and Back Again but The Battle of the Five Armies. Shaun Gunner of The Tolkien Society agrees with this change, as do I (though I think it should be The Battle of Five Armies, without the second unnecessary "the"), and suggests it is partly for the sake of profits, which is likely true.

I knew the The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug did well in theaters but not as well as The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Gunner, though, notes something rather important to the movie studio that I had not known before:
This is particularly salient in light of the fact that the second Hobbit film grossed $67 million less than the first (highly unusual in itself), that both films failed to take more at the box office than The Return of the King (and that’s not even factoring in inflation), and that The Desolation of Smaug fell behind Iron Man 3, Frozen and Despicable Me 2 in box office takings for 2013.

Here we have to ask what Gunner did not: Why were the revenues from The Desolation of Smaug so much less than An Unexpected Journey? It cannot be because Tolkien fans no were Tolkien fans; rather, I submit ticket sales were so low because they are more Tolkien fans than Jackson fans.

I am happy to say that I am part of the reason The Desolation of Smaug did not do as well as An Unexpected Journey; the first movie I saw four times in the theater (in a growing attempt to determine if I liked it, which I partly did, given that it is not Tolkien's The Hobbit)  and the second only twice, so greatly did I dislike it; what is more, I own An Unexpected Journey on DVD/Blu Ray, but I have not even considered buying The Desolation of Smaug because it so little resembles the work of the subcreator of Middle-earth.

If the studios, as Gunner suggests, are concerned about increasing their profits, which I'm sure they are, they would do well to convince Jackson to do what he can to repair much of the harm he and his writers did to the story in the many and unnecessary departures from the actual text. The changes, as I wrote in my review, feel forced and contrived and do help but hinder the story. These changes are the reason I only saw the movie twice and never considered buying it.

There is some small hope that The Battle of the Five Armies will more closely resemble the actual story, though it will be impossible to correct the many departures and additions made in the film. If Jackson and company are concerned about their revenue from the third installment, they would do well to heed this advice.

When The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is released in theatres, I will go see it, more out of some bizarre curiosity than anything else; I have no real confidence in the third installment. However, if it it proves better than the second installment, I may say it more than once.

Thoughts and pictures from the canonization of Saints John XXIII and John Paul II

This afternoon it occurred to me that this morning I witnessed the canonization of a saint for the third and fourth time. The first canonization I attended was for Saint Theresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein); the second for Saint Damien de Vuester; the third for Saint Pope John XXIII; and the fourth for Saint Pope John Paul II.

At 6:30 a.m. I began my walk toward the Basilica of St. Peter, where my ticket indicated I was to present myself at 8:30 a.m. to be shown to the "clergy section" where the priests and deacons - and apparently a few seminarians, as well - who where neither concelebrating nor assisting with the distribution of Holy Communion would be seated.

Ordinarily the walk takes about thirty minutes, depending on tourists and traffic (which are sometimes the same). With the great number of both pilgrims and tourists in Rome this weekend, I expected to encounter slow moving crowds along the way. To my great surprise and pleasure, I encountered crowds, and almost no one else, until I arrived at the piazza outside of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith just to the left of Saint Peter's Square. It was there that I found a massive gathering of priests and laity all dutifully following instructions and getting more or less in certain lines to enter the screening area before being admitted to the square.

It all seemed remarkably organized and efficient, by Italian standards, until I quickly realized that not only did not all of the workers know which line went where, but the security personnel were not yet at the metal detectors. We stood around for about thirty minutes until they arrived, all the while being pushed and shoved by impatient clergy, most of whom were from Poland and Italy. Once they began to screen us, however, the line moved along more or less well.

It was classic demonstration of Italian organization. The "line" going to the metal director was somehow between 15 and 20 people wide (as determined by the railings that guided and corralled us), all of whom had to somehow funnel themselves into a single file row to be screened. Once we finally made it through the check point, we then had to merge with large groups of people coming toward us from our right and at various - and rather random and subjective moments determined by the staff - one line or the other would be made to stop without explanation.

When, after much frustration, I finally arrived at the clergy section I was greatly relieved to find it rather empty. I took a seat along the far left side on the aisle and in the second row.



Here is the view from my seat:


The forecast for the day called for intermittent rain and the clouds certainly looked like they could unleash a downpour at any moment:


Though the temperature took a quick drop before the Mass began and the air felt like rain, a few drops fell upon us, but no real amount of rain. On a providential note, after Pope Francis said, "...we declare and define Blessed John XXIII and John Paul II be Saints and we enroll them among the Saints, that they are to be venerated as such by the whole Church," that the clouds lessened slightly and the sun shone enough to illumine the Square. (The fell at last about 4:00 p.m.)

Hundreds of thousands of people filled the Square, the Via Conciliazione that led to the Square, as well as the surrounding streets and piazzas throughout the city of Rome:



A few minutes before the Mass was to begin the congregation erupted in applause as I was sitting in my chair reading a book. I looked up and saw that His Holiness Benedict XVI, the Pope Emeritus, had arrived. As a further sign of their respect and love for the predecessor of Pope Francis, the congregation - including the Bishops - stood to welcome him as the applause continued. We saw his smile again on the jumbotrons and tears formed in my eyes; it was very good to see him again.

The Most Reverend Thomas John Paprocki, Bishop of the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois, happened to be sitting three rows behind the Pope Emeritus, tweeted this picture:
Throughout his life, Benedict XVI has been a man of authentic humility, a further example of which we saw today in an extraordinary way. Let us not forget him in our prayers and pray that he, too, will one day by numbered among the Saints!

When the time came, the rite of canonization began with the Litany of the Saints as the Cardinals and Pope Francis came in procession to the altar. After reverencing the altar, the Cardinals took turns greeting Benedict XVI before taking their places at the chairs.

After the Litany of the Saints, His Eminence Angelo Cardinal Amato, S.B.D., Prefect of the Congregation of the Causes of Saints, thrice asked the Successor of Peter to enroll the Blessed Popes John XXIII and John Paul II among the Saints. After imploring the assistance of the Holy Spirit, Pope Francis acceded to Cardinal Amato's request, which he made in the name of the whole Church.

We then sang praise to God and Cardinal Amato asked the Holy Father to "decree the Apostolic Letter concerning the Act of canonization to be drawn up." When Pope Francis said, "We so decree," the congregation erupted in applause of joy and gratitude. It was a very moving and powerful moment.



The relics of Saints John XXIII and John Paul II were then brought to the Holy Father to venerate before placed on a pedestal beside the altar where they were honored with candles and incense:




The Mass of Divine Mercy Sunday then followed as usual, with two deacons chanting the Gospel, one in Latin and the other in Greek:



In his homily, Pope Francis said, in part, that
Saint John XXIII and Saint John Paul II were not afraid to look upon the wounds of Jesus, to touch his torn hands and his pierced side. They were not ashamed of the flesh of Christ, they were not scandalized by him, by his cross; they did not despise the flesh of their brother (cf. Is 58:7), because they saw Jesus in every person who suffers and struggles. These were two men of courage, filled with the parrhesia of the Holy Spirit, and they bore witness before the Church and the world to God’s goodness and mercy.
They were priests, bishops and popes of the twentieth century. They lived through the tragic events of that century, but they were not overwhelmed by them. For them, God was more powerful; faith was more powerful – faith in Jesus Christ the Redeemer of man and the Lord of history; the mercy of God, shown by those five wounds, was more powerful; and more powerful too was the closeness of Mary our Mother.
In these two men, who looked upon the wounds of Christ and bore witness to his mercy, there dwelt a living hope and an indescribable and glorious joy (1 Pet 1:3,8). The hope and the joy which the risen Christ bestows on his disciples, the hope and the joy which nothing and no one can take from them. The hope and joy of Easter, forged in the crucible of self-denial, self-emptying, utter identification with sinners, even to the point of disgust at the bitterness of that chalice. Such were the hope and the joy which these two holy popes had received as a gift from the risen Lord and which they in turn bestowed in abundance upon the People of God, meriting our eternal gratitude. 
After the Mass, Pope Francis greeted the various state delegations before touring the Square and the Via Conciliazione in the Popemobile. My place at the corner of the clergy section allowed me to take a pictures as he rolled by:

 




When Pope Francis concluded his little tour, it took some time before the security personnel opened the Square and allowed the 150,000 or so of us inside to begin to exit, but only in certain sections, thus creating several funnels within the Square that outside the Square had to funnel again into one line.


It felt as though the Italians spent so much effort figuring out how to get people into the Square that they completely forgot to plan how to get them out. It was an absolute mess and led one English woman to vocalize, rather loudly and with some anger, my same sentiments: "These are the pushiest people I have ever seen," she declared, before adding, "I'm never coming back!" I couldn't argue with her and only told her, "The Italians have no sense whatever of personal space." It seems the Poles don't either, but then neither does most of continental Europe.

Several times I wanted to turn around and say to those pushing and shoving into spaces that simply didn't exist, "Sono qui, non lei! (I am here, not you!)." I refrained, however, and once I managed my away to the other side of the Tiber the crowds lessened considerably and I continued my way back to the Casa Santa Maria and rested within the safety and peace of its walls.

All in all, the day was excellent and not nearly as chaotic as I expected it would be.

Saints John XXIII and John Paul II, pray for us!

I have posted additional pictures in an on album on my Facebook page.

26 April 2014

The chaos that wasn't, and being scolded by a German

Questioning my sanity as I did so, I set out yesterday morning toward the Basilica of St. Peter both to take pictures of the tapestries that had been hung that morning of the soon-to-be Saints John XXIII and John Paul II and to see how chaotic the city of Rome was becoming.

As I walked through the piazza outside the Pantheon, I was very surprised at how few people there were (it was not until much later in the day I realized it was closed in honor of Italy's Liberation Day) and wondered where all of the tourists. Since it was about 10:30 a.m., it seemed unlikely they were all still in bed (though not entirely impossible).

On my way to the Vatican Basilica, I was stopped by a stop light at the Tiber River. Like most Italians (and everyone else who visits Rome except for the Germans), I refuse to have my life ordered by a computerized box and, since no vehicles were to be seen from either direction, I stepped into the street and began to cross over to the other side. As I did so, a German began to scold me as he pointed to the clear "don't walk" sign indicated on the opposite side. He clearly did not realize where he was (the Germans, as a general rule, having a very hard time ignoring unnecessary crossing signals and are often visibly uncomfortable by those who ignore them). I simply waved to him and continued on my way.

When I entered St. Peter's Square I was very surprised to see how open it was:



It certain sections, however, it was quite filled with people:



Without much difficulty I made my way in front of the basilica to take a few pictures of the tapestries:

Because of the crowds, it was all but impossible to stand still long enough for a straight shot.


I'm especially pleased that the two Pontiffs are shown wearing the same items of papal vesture and have been baffled why so much of the Internet - both news sites and blogs - show one in cassock, mozetta, and stole and the other in a chasuble, something like this (though not the usual juxtaposition):



Showing them in matching attire makes more sense and is more visually pleasing.

After I left the piazza and was half-way down the road that leads to St. Peter's, an older Italian man who was approaching the basilica stopped me to ask if it was, in fact, St. Peter's. His question caught me by surprise; I thought everyone knew what the Basilica of St. Peter looks like, especially an Italian in Rome!


In the days following the announcement of the tomorrow's dual canonization, some feared that canonizing both Popes at the same ceremony would either be too large of an event or take something away from the canonization of Blessed Pope John XXIII, or both.

While the first concern remains yet to be seen, the second concern seems quite right. In looking at banners, buttons, and pins, and looking at various souvenirs in the shops, it seems that John Paul II has completely overshadowed John XXIII. As just one example, one shop sold four of different holy cards of John Paul II, but none of John XXIII. Either the pilgrims have already bought up nearly everything relating to the Good Pope, or most are only vaguely aware that he is, as it were, "that other guy."

Since Bishop Paprocki is in Rome for the canonizations, I joined him and my successor as his secretary for lunch, together with our seminarian at the North American College and a few of the Bishop's friends for Chicago. I spent the afternoon with the seminarian and the priest and visit one of the chapels at the NAC, where I happily noticed this window:


Every day with Father Damien is a good day.

In the evening I visited with an old friend from Quincy who now serves as the Executive Director of Communications and Planning for the Archdiocese of St. Louis, a good friend whom I don't get to see often enough.

All in all, it was a very good day as, I hope, today will be as well despite the increasing crowds and threat of rain.

24 April 2014

News round up - April 24th

The news you may have missed (the last one is my favorite):
  • A memorial to Blessed Pope John Paul II in Krakow (where he had been Archbishop before his election to the See of Peter) has been vandalized ahead of his canonization on Sunday.
  • A man in the United Kingdom has invoked the medieval right to trial by combat to contest a motor vehicle violation. The court has refused his claim. You cannot make this up. It was not until 1819 that the British Parliament put an end to trial by combat as a means of legal recourse.

23 April 2014

Big days ahead in Rome: Here comes everybody

James Joyce once wrote that being Catholic means "here comes everybody," a phrase which certainly applies well to the coming days in the Eternal City as pilgrims are now arriving in droves from every part of the world in attempt to witness something of the canonization Blessed Popes John XXIII and John Paul II.

The city of Rome is home to some 2.5 million people, no small number for a city that is 2,767 years old. Officials with the city of Rome are expecting an additional 1 million people will be in the city for the weekend's celebrations (in a city that can almost accommodate its usual population), though I expect that estimation to be very, very low and not near what the reality will be (Vatican Radio admits that no one really knows how many people to expect).

The city is already becoming difficult to navigate as roads around the Basilica of St. Peter are being barricading and streets and sidewalks repaired (you never what to accomplish a task too early in Italy) and the other streets are filled with people. The number of taxis in the area of the Vatican basilica has increased considerably, leading me to guess that taxis have either been brought in from other cities in Italy or parts of Rome will suffer a shortage of taxis over the never five or six days. This afternoon I witnessed a taxi traffic jam:



The logistical preparations alone for the canonizations are staggering:
"We are prepared to distribute almost 4 million plastic bottles of water, we have a massive plan to host almost 2,000 buses coming from all over Europe, and we will have shuttles moving back and forward in order not to have 2,000 huge buses circulating downtown in Rome," [Ignazio] Marino said [he is the mayor of Rome].

Some 2,000 police officers will be on the streets at any given time, says the mayor. More than 2,500 civil protection department volunteers will help with crowd control. Specially trained medical teams will staff 13 first aid stations. And a thousand chemical toilets have been set up near the Vatican and key tourist areas.

Rome's two subway lines and some buses will run nonstop, and 17 big screens will enable visitors to watch the ceremony throughout the city.
The total cost is estimated at $11 million, which will be partially covered by the national government. After all, the mayor says, this is not just a local Roman event.
"We are talking about an event I would classify as a global event," Marino said. "We will probably have 2 billion all over the planet who will watch Rome on that day through TV, radio and [the] Internet." 
But wait, there's more:
Over two and a half thousand volunteers will be working throughout the weekend to distribute four million free water bottles and hand out 150.000 free liturgical booklets. They’ll also be providing information about free access to the Mass, which will be from the river end of Via della Conciliazione, and disability assistance points, which will be located in three areas close to St Peter’s Square.
The entire zone around the Vatican will be closed to traffic but extra bus lines will be laid on from coach parking facilities and both the main Metro lines will be running non-stop from early on Saturday morning until after midnight on Sunday.
Being one who does not enjoy crowds (not even slightly), I had planned to join many Romans and flee the city this week to avoid the ensuing chaos - and watch the canonization online or on television - until my Bishop sent word that he is coming for the celebrations (I then thought it wise to stay in town).

Even so, I will more than likely still watch the canonization online in my room. Many weeks ago I requested a ticket and offered to assist with the distribution of Holy Communion, but have neither received a response or a ticket. This was just fine with me until I learned a few hours ago the His Holiness Benedict XVI will attend the canonization Mass (reports which seem to have vanished from both my Facebook and Twitter feeds).

News round up - April 23rd

The news you may have missed:

Thoughts on the selfie

There are many aspects of modernity which I simply do not - and maybe cannot - understand. Among these is the growing popularity of these things called "selfies," by which a person extends his hand and with his phone or camera takes a picture of - of all things - himself.

Even the Pope himself has given in to taking a selfie with people (which makes one wonder if it can still rightly be called a "selfie") leading groups to hold up banners in St. Peter's Square such as this one seen this morning:
A group "selfie" really just points out the irony of the modern age and of how little thought we often give to matters that may not seem, on the surface, very important but may really be.

To my mind, the prominence of the selfie indicates, in a way perhaps more clearly than any other, the great ego-centrism of our own day. It says: "Look at me! Why are you looking elsewhere?! Pay attention to me!" It is, I think, a consequence of the desire today to be famous; not for having actually done something worthwhile or important, but simply for the sake of being famous. The beautiful things all around me, whether of nature or of man, the other people around me, why would you want to look at any of that or at them?

At the same time, the selfie demonstrates the great disconnectedness of modern people. It was not that long ago that a person would easily stop a passerby and ask him or her to take a picture. Living now in a city filled with tourists - especially this week - lots of selfies are taken (even of groups) every day and when I offer to take a picture for a person or group so that the picture will actually be decent (if not good), people seem quite surprised that I would trouble myself with them. One wonders what happened to living in a society. Sometimes it seems we are all simply hermits wandering about each other.

Who knows? It may be that I simply think too much.

22 April 2014

News round up - April 22nd

Here are several news stories you may have missed:
  • Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood whom President Obama asked God to bless, called for "no more babies" because it is "more practical and more humane" for women not to have babies. And still people support Planned Parenthood.

Life in Italy: Dry cleaning

Yesterday being "little Easter" throughout Italy, most businesses - and even some cafes - were closed even if they were on Easter Sunday (don't look for logic here) as a way of taking a break after the business of Holy Week and the Paschal Triduum. It is an idea I find quite pleasing and in most of the western world it would not cause too many difficulties, but this is Italy.

Ordinarily, it takes four to five days to have a pair of pants dry cleaned; if Rome has anything like a same-day cleaning service, such as those in my hometown, I have yet to find it or hear of it. You can imagine that such a turn around time sometimes takes good planning, particularly if a cassock needs to be cleaned.

This morning I dropped off three pairs of pants for cleaning and was told they will be ready on Wednesday, the 30th of April, eight days from now. There must be quite a back load of work from yesterday and modern Italians are not known for their efficiency.

21 April 2014

A parade celebrating Rome's founding

Quite unbeknownst to me when I set out this afternoon to spend several hours at the beach reading a large commentary on the Code of Canon Law, today is the 2,767th anniversary of the foundation of the city of Rome (saying that always brings to mind my second favorite line of the Proclamation of the Date of Easter, the first being the one with the word "Olympiad" (it isn't every day you can use it]). So it was that I found myself caught in the midst of a wreath-laying ceremony at the statue of the Emperor Augustus, the first of Rome's emperors and perhaps her greatest, who ruled from 27 B.C. to A.D. 14.

In his chapter on the life of Augustus, Suetonius tells us that "whenever he had heard of anyone having passed away quickly and painlessly he used to pray, "May Heaven grant the same euthanasia [happy death] to me and mine (The Twelve Caesars, Divus Augustus, 99). He seems to have had his wish, for after kissing his wife he said to her, "Goodbye, Livia; remember our marriage!" and, says Suetonius, "died almost at once."

Here follow a few pictures of what I encountered today when I realized I was trapped in the crowd with no chance of escape (I really don't like crowds):





Once the wreath was laid the crowd was allowed to continue along the Via dei Fori Imperiali and I soon found myself ahead of the parade (Romans tend to move almost as slowly as tourists), which gave me a good position from which to take a few better pictures:



20 April 2014

May nothing inspire us more than his life


"Let us not flee from the resurrection of Jesus, let us never give up, come what will. May nothing inspire us than his life, which impels us onwards."

- Pope Francis, Evangelium Gaudium, 3

The power of the Resurrection




"Christ’s resurrection is not an event of the past; it contains a vital power which has permeated this world. Where all seems to be dead, signs of the resurrection suddenly spring up. It is an irresistible force. Often it seems that God does not exist: all around us we see persistent injustice, evil, indifference and cruelty. But it is also true that in the midst of darkness something new always springs to life and sooner or later produces fruit. On razed land life breaks through, stubbornly yet invincibly. However dark things are, goodness always re-emerges and spreads. Each day in our world beauty is born anew, it rises transformed through the storms of history. Values always tend to reappear under new guises, and human beings have arisen time after time from situations that seemed doomed. Such is the power of the resurrection, and all who evangelize are instruments of that power."

- Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, 276


Queen of heaven, rejoice!


Queen of heaven, rejoice, alleluia!
for he whom you were worthy to be, alleluia!
has risen as he said, alleluia!
Pray for us to God, alleluia!

Having just returned from the celebration of the mother of all holy vigils in the Basilica of St. Peter with Pope Francis, I wanted to share with you the above picture and to wish all of you a very blessed and happy Easter!

I will have more pictures and reflections to share tomorrow, but first I must sleep before I return to the Vatican basilica in the morning for the Mass of Easter Day.

19 April 2014

News round up - March 19th

Here are a few news stories you may have missed:

What tongue can tell, O blessed Virgin?


"What tongue can tell, what intellect grasp the heavy weight of your desolation, blessed Virgin? You were present at all these events, standing close by and participating in them in every way.

This blessed and most holy flesh - which you so chastely conceived, so sweetly nourished and fed with your milk, which you so often help on your lap, and kissed with your lips - you actually gazed upon with your bodily eyes now torn by the blows of the scourges, now pierced by the points of the thorns, now struck by the reed, now beaten by hands and fists, now pierced by nails and fixed to the wood of the cross, and torn by its own weight as it hung there, now mocked in every way, finally made to drink gall and vinegar.

But with the eye of your mind you saw that divine soul filled with the fall of every form of bitterness, now groaning in spirit, now quaking with fear, now wearied, now in agony, now in anxiety, now in confusion, now oppressed by sadness and sorrow, partly because of his most sensitive response to bodily pain, partly because of his most fervent zeal for the divine honor taken away by sin, partly because of his pity poured out upon wretched men, partly because of his compassion for you, his most sweet mother, as the sword pierced the depths of your heart, when with devoted eyes he looked upon you standing before him and spoke to you these loving words: 'Woman, behold your son,' in order to console in its trials your soul, which he knew had been more deeply pierced by a sword of compassion than if you had suffered in your own body.

- Saint Bonaventure

Let me gaze upon thee


"Jesus, whom I look at shrouded here below,
I beseech thee send me what I thirst for so,
some day to gaze on thee face to face in light
and be blest for ever with thy glory's sight."

- Saint Thomas Aquinas

Anointing the body of Christ


"Therefore anoint your Head, pouring out on him who is above whatever devotion or delight or affection you have. Anoint you Head, so that if there is any grace in you it may be ascribed to him, and you may not seek your own glory but his."

- Saint Bernard of Clairvaux