Wednesday, September 30, 2015

St. Jerome and the flaws of Saints

File:El Greco - San Jerónimo - Google Art Project.jpg
El Greco: St. Jerome in the Desert. Wikimedia Commons

Today is the memorial of St. Jerome, Doctor of the Church.

The second reading in the Office of Readings today reveals this saint's great love for Sacred Scripture. You can't read this and not find yourself making half-formed resolutions to read the bible more often, or in a more in-depth way than you are already doing.

My upcoming book includes an essay titled "You're Canonizing Him?" It discusses the controversies  over some recent beatifications and canonizations. Various members of the chattering class--both liberal and conservative--voiced objections when several 20th century popes were accorded these honors. Believe it or not, even Mother Teresa was seen as an imperfect role model by some of these commentators.

The difficulty is that in our modern age, journalism plus hi-tech communication brings us every smile, frown, step and mis-step, success and failure of prominent people. We don't have this kind of data on the saints of old, so we tend to imagine that they were perfect. We probably have to remind ourselves that they didn't walk around day and night. with their eyes cast always heavenward, carrying a lily in one hand and a crucifix in the other.

But of course these saints had their flaws.  And I don't refer to pre-conversion lives of sin, left behind forever after grace captured their souls (e.g. St. Augustine). I refer to faults they struggled with while living the holy lives that we admire.

If St. Jerome were up for canonization today, the usual suspects would be having the vapors,  passing the smelling salts, and in between swoons of horror would be burning up Facebook and Twitter to make sure we knew what a temperamental, often nasty man Jerome could be. His statements of apparent  professional jealousy towards Sts. Ambrose and Augustine would be repeated on endless loop. (Leaving out in their tirades, Jerome's deep awareness of his faults as evidenced by a life of penance that the chatterers would similarly not understand.)

All missing the point, of course, that all of us are sinners, even saints. But the saints are the ones who show us how to repent, and whose joy in forgiveness of their very real faults spurs them to great deeds.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

"For He Knows What He is Doing"

That's a line from St Augustine in today's Office of Readings. And it is the bit of today's Liturgy of the Hours that jumped out at me, seemed to be there for my instruction.

Does that often happen to you?  A single verse or a psalm or sentence from a reading stands out with special meaning. Although the Liturgy of the Hours is prayed primarily with the needs and the voice of the whole Church, the Holy Spirit can still use it to speak directly to the individuals who pray.

In my case today, I needed to be reminded that God has things under control.

Has anything jumped from the page in your breviary and into your heart today, or in the last few days? Feel free to share that here.

OR, if you have any questions about the Liturgy of the Hours, post them below in the comments. Plenty of knowledgeable readers here will give you an answer if I don't see it right away.

Friday, September 18, 2015

How praying the Breviary feels if you are a Saint

...or a Blessed, at least. And even the rest of us can regularly experieince something approaching this, so long as we pay attention to the psalms and their allegorical and moral meanings.   That, plus reminding yourself that you are praying the psalms, even when alone at home, as one voice united with the body of Christ in this world and the next.

«....I close my eyes, and while my lips murmur the words of the Breviary which I know by heart, I leave behind their literal meaning, and feel that I am in that endless land where the Church, militant and pilgrim, passes, walking towards the promised fatherland. I breathe with the Church in the same light by day, the same darkness by night; I see on every side of me the forces of evil that beset and assail Her; I find myself in the midst of Her battles and victories, Her prayers of anguish and Her songs of triumph, in the midst of the oppression of prisoners, the groans of the dying, the rejoicing of the armies and captains victorious. I find myself in their midst, but not as a passive spectator; nay rather, as one whose vigilance, whose skill, whose strength and courage can bear a decisive weight on the destiny of the struggle between good and evil, and upon the eternal destinies of individual men and of the multitude.»

 Blessed Card. Ildefonso Schuster (Archbishop of Milan 19289-54)
and here he is.  (wikimedia commons)
Thanks for this quote to Gregory DiPippo, managing editor  at the New Liturgical Movement blog.  and posted this on a Divine Office discussion page on Facebook today. I'll add that Mr. DiPippo translated this from the Italian original.
 Now I want to learn more about Bl. Cardinal Schuster, who writes with such exquisite beauty. 

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Prayer Request

Please, when you read the intercessions today for Morning and Evening Prayer--or during your rosary or any other prayer--please add this intention from a long time reader of this blog, Norman Hartley, who just wrote from Chile:

Good Morning Daria, forgive me jumping protocol, but I live in Chile, and I have an exceptional request. Last night we had another major earthquake and Tsunami. I and my family thanks be to God are well, but the earth continues very unstable, and we are having countless aftershocks. I would like to ask all those who pass by your blog to offer a prayer for all those who died and were damaged by the earthquake and Tsunami.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Happy Birthday, Mary! All Things are Made New.

"Justly then do we celebrate this mystery since it signifies for us a double grace. We are led towards the truth, and we are led away from our condition of slavery to the letter of the law. How can this be? Darkness yields before the coming of light, and grace exchanges legalism for freedom. But midway between the two stands today's mystery, at the frontier where types and symbols give way to reality, and the old is replaced by the new....Today this created world is raised to the dignity of a holy place for him who made all things. The creature is newly prepared to be a divine dwelling place for the Creator."

-St. Andrew of  Crete, discourse on the Nativity of Mary (Office of Readings, Sept.8)

Mother of God by Katherine Sockey. copyright 2015 

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Saints Boosting the Breviary plus Q&A

Occasionally it is remarked that if lay people ought to be praying the Liturgy of the Hours then we should see lots of statements from saints about it's importance, just as we frequently see the saints recommending, say, the holy rosary.

Okay, then. Here are:

Lots of quotes from saints about the beauty and importance of the Liturgy of the Hours

Thanks to The Poor Knights of Christ for assembling these quotes, and to Ryan Ellis for making me aware of this link on his Breviary and Divine Office discussion Facebook page.

Any Divine Office-related questions are welcome in the comments.