Tonight the dalmatian Ian is going for top honors at the Westminster Kennel Club in New York City. A number of years ago I was able to attend the show because our Boxer named Swan was enetered-officially she was known as Jacquet's La Cynget. The show is a spectacle and the finals should be full of many laughs tonight. May the best dog win!
Today is also the feast of St. Valentine (?259 AD). St Valentine is known for resisting the Roman Emperor Claudius and is reported to have been imprisoned for defiantly performing the sacrament of matrimony for many Roman citizens. St. Valentine pray for priests to courageously preach the truth about marriage and family!
One courageous priest who lived and ministered in a difficult time was St. Josemaria Escriva. St. Josemaria may be known by people who have read the DaVinci Code or who have seen the movie. The DaVinci code was not an accurate portrayal of the Work or of its founder St. Josemaria. I wish today to share excerpts from a groundbreaking homily he gave at an outdoor mass at the University of Navarre on October 8, 1967.
"We are celebrating, therefore, the most sacred and transcendent act which man, with the grace of God, can carry out in this life. To communicate with the Body and Blood of our Lord is, in a certain sense, like loosening the bonds of earth and time, in order to be with God in heaven, where Christ Himself will wipe the tears from our eyes and where there will be no more death, nor mourning, nor cries of distress, because the old world will have passed away. (Rev 21:4). This profound and consoling truth, which theologians call the eschatological significance of the Eucharist could however, be misunderstood. And indeed it has been, whenever men have tried to present the Christian way of life as something exclusively spiritual, proper to pure, extraordinary people, who remain aloof from contemptible things of this world or at most, tolerate them as something necessarily attached to the spirit, which we live on this earth. When things are seen in this way, churches become the setting par excellence of the Christian live. And being a Christian means going to church, taking part in sacred ceremonies, being taken up with ecclesiastical matters, in a kind of segregated world, which is considered to be the ante-chamber of heaven, while the ordinary world follows its own separate path. The doctrine of Christianity and the life of grace would, in this case, brush past the turbulent march of human history, without ever really meeting it......Surely this confirms in your minds, in a tangible and unforgettable way, the fact that everyday life is the true setting for your lives as Christians. Your ordinary contact with God takes place where your fellow men, your yearnings, your work and your affections are. There you have your daily encounter with Christ. It is in the midst of the most material things of the earth that we must sanctify ourselves, serving God and all mankind. I have taught this constantly using words from holy Scripture. The world is not evil, because it has come from God's hands, because it is His creation, because 'Yahweh looked upon it and saw that it was good (Gen 1:7). We ourselves, mankind, make it evil and ugly with our sins and infidelities. Have no doubt: any kind of evasion of the honest realities os daily life is for you, men and women of the world, something opposed to the will of God. On the contrary, you must understand now, more clearly, that God is calling you to serve Him in and from the ordinary, material and secular activities of human life. He waits for us every day, in the laboratory, in the operating theater, in the army barracks, in the university chair, in the factory, in the workshop, in the fields, in the home and in all the immense panorama of work. Understand this well: there is something holy, something divine, hidden in the most ordinary situations, and it is up to each one of you to discover it."
These are inspiring words. These are words that correspond to earlier posts concerning the Catholic approach to the world. The world is not evil to be avoided at all costs. Rather, the Catholic approach to the world is that "it is good." St. Thomas Aquinas noted that to live a life of Christian virtue we must live a life that properly orders all the human goods. Pope John XXIII knew this well. When looking at plans for a new Vatican building he wrote the words : "Non summus Angelus". The arhitects were confused. Non Summus Angelus translated to English means "we are not angels." Apparently the architects neglected to include plans for bathrooms! No, we are not angels. We are creatures of flesh and blood. The church knows this and for those who have studied Natural Family Planning, nothing can be more natural than getting in touch with the natural fertility cycle of a woman so that husband and wife can correspondingly live in accord with that rhythm. Let the words of St Josemaria Escriva sink in. When you read newspaper articles critical of the church stand on contraception and portray the teaching as outmoded, outdated, or impossible to live. Remember, there are a silent minority who are quietly living the Christian message that Escrive espouses and that the Church upholds. By choosing to be open to life these young couples and families are fulfilling their vocations to become saints and they are serving as leaven in the world.
Happy Valentine's Day