Sunday, October 30, 2016

Birthplace of St. Benedict Flattened by Earthquake

You probably have all heard about the devastating earthquake in Italy, including the terrible damage to the Basilica of St. Benedict and the town of his birth Norcia. As you may recall, there was already a bad earthquake there in August, destroying the Benedictine monastery there. The monks have since  been living in temporary quarters outside of town.

(Aftershocks of the latest earthquake were even felt in Rome, and there is some damage reported to St. Paul Outside the Walls.)

The last message from the superior of Norcia, Fr. Benedict Nivakoff, asks for prayers for the people and for the monks as they help survivors and administer the sacraments to the injured and dying. He also mentioned that connectivity would be limited in the near future, and indeed I find that when I go to the monks' website it is impossible to get beyond the portal. I'm hoping that this will soon change and it will be possible to make online donations.

Update: the donation page appears to be working now. Perhaps my earlier trouble with it was due to--hopefully--more traffic than their server could manage.

Since St. Benedict was largely responsible for the tradition of the liturgical hours as practiced in the western Church today, it seems that those of who pray the Office will be particularly moved by this disaster and motivated to help in some way. To that end, keep checking the monk's website or looking for other online  opportunities to reach them. And in the meantime, if you don't have it already, buy the CD or MP3 version of their collection of Marian chants. 

Friday, October 28, 2016

You and Me Both, Dorothy Day!

“My strength returns to me with my cup of coffee and the reading of the psalms. ” 

-the Servant of God, Dorothy Day

A friend alerted me to this quote on the Facebook page of the Dawson Society for  Philosophy and Culture. I could hardly believe it. Although Dorothy and I might have a few philosophical or political differences, we are kindred spirits in terms of our morning routine.   

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Liturgy of the Hours in an Unexpected Place

I absolutely love this article by a journalist explaining what the Liturgy of the Hours is, and what it means to him.  Even more delightful is where this essay appears--on a secular website devoted to current events and primarily--this month at least--to the American political scene. In fact, Paschal-Emmanuel's opening lines refer to that:

This election might have you praying for a swift death, or indeed the destruction of all life on Earth. I get that. I really, really get that. The campaign drives me insane, too. And when it does, I've found something to restore my sanity. I pray.

Then he goes on from there:

I pray the Liturgy of the Hours, perhaps the oldest liturgical practice of the Catholic Church after Mass and the sacraments. Indeed, the Acts of the Apostles record the Apostles observing the Jewish custom of praying at the third, sixth, and ninth hours of the day, the practice from which the Hours sprung. Although the Hours are associated with religious orders and priests, who all pray them, every Catholic can, and indeed is encouraged to, pray them. The Hours have been woven into the fabric of Catholic spirituality for centuries...

...There's no need to lead a monastic life to pray the Hours. I have them all on an app on my phone, and there is another app that pings me when I wake up, every three hours thereafter, and then when I go to bed. Praying each time takes but a few minutes...

Now here's my favorite part: 

Countless people are anxious to feel profound experiences through prayer, or worry that their prayer experience is "dry" or feels pointless. It is indeed possible to have spiritual experiences through prayer, the great masters tell us, but that is not what matters. Instead, prayer should be pursued simply for itself, as an offering to God. And the way to know whether your prayer "works" is if it makes you more like Jesus or not.
I don't think I've ever "felt anything" while praying the Hours. But I have noticed that, slowly but surely, they are changing me.

There is lots, lots more after that and I urge you all to read, and bookmark,the entire thing. For all my writing and speaking on this topic, I don't think I've ever given a better What it Is and Why You Should Do It  than this piece. Bravo!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

My Patron Saint

I had an email from one of you today, wishing me a happy nameday. Good thing, because I'd forgotten all about St. Daria this year.

image from
Of course I shouldn't leave out her husband St. Chrystanthus, so here they are together.

And then there's the recent and exciting information that their bones were recovered and identified in 2008:

Photo via ChristianNewswire

So I will probably do vespers today using the common of several martyrs.  Here is a link to a pretty good article if you want to know more about Sts. Daria and Chrysanthum.

Now, whenever you see or hear my name you will have something else in your mind besides this girl:

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Memorial of St. John Paul II Today!

This is a good day to have a breviary app handy even if you normally use a real book.

You will find the necessary texts for St. John Paul II at,, and

The only texts needed are the concluding prayer for any of the hours AND the second reading of the Office of Readings.   However, if you want, you could also switch into the Common of Pastors with the "for a Pope" options after doing the regular psalms of the day in the four-week psalter.

Today being Saturday, you must do Evening Prayer I of Sunday rather than the memorial this evening.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Former slave, accused Embezzler, and Pope of Mercy

There are so many saints in the October calendar to get excited about because they are so well known both from their history and even from their own writings. St. Therese, St. Teresa of Avila, the North American Martyrs, St. Francis of Assisi, Pope St. John XXIII and Pope St. John Paul II are the ones I have in mind here. These last two are particularly well known to us, but all the others are beloved and familiar.

Funny, where else but in the Communion of Saints do we feel as if people who lived 500 to  800 years ago are contemporaries and even friends?

But I must admit that this feeling diminishes somewhat when the name on the calendar is someone who lived well over 1500 years ago and who did not leave us a  body of writings.   Today's saint, Pope Callistus, is one of these, but his story is well worth reading. The irony is that what we know of him was written by one of his worst enemies, who is also today known as a saint!

This article at Catholic online helps us read that account with a discerning eye. There's a video above which is okay, but the article is more thorough.

Friday, October 7, 2016

One-volume Pauline Africa Breviary on Ebay UK

If any of you like in the UK and want a deal on the one-volume Pauline breviary (It's called The Prayer of the Church) you can find one on Ebay.  Here's the link.

What Conscience Dreads...

You many have noticed some interesting language in the concluding prayer of the Office of Readings this week, which, as always, is identical to the collect of the daily mass:

Almighty ever-living God,
who in the abundance of your kindness
surpass the merits and the desires of those who entreat you,
pour out your mercy upon us
to pardon what conscience dreads
and to give what prayer does not dare to ask.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.
Although we didn't say this prayer every day due to several memorials (such as today's Our  Lady of the Rosary) we did do it on Sunday, Monday, and Wednesday.