The sudden announcement of Pope Benedict about his voluntary retirement caught most of the world by surprise, as in 99.9% of the world. Only a few Vatican officials knew. On the 17th, I was the homilist at our church, and I joked that Benedict got his idea of retiring but living on the property and praying and helping from me. After all, it is just about identical to what I do!
Actually, that’s not true. I stay pretty busy with the parish, though, and as former pontiff, he is not going to be doing that. It takes great humility to recognize one’s limits, and then chart a new course in life based on those limitations. He most certainly is going to be praying a lot, and writing. And I hope he gets to play the piano and have his cat live with him!
The last appearance by Pope Benedict XVI at the Sunday Angelus can be seen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=txUyaYKJrXE.
A crowd of 200,000 came to the square to say good-bye, an enormous number for an event that usually gets only a few thousand!
I just found out that I have been cited as a major source on the persecution of Catholicism in the USSR in this presentation by Sister Maria Stella, JCD, that is available online:
http://www.lighthousecatholicmedia.org/store/title/heroic-witnesses. You can watch another one of Sister’s presentations on You Tube at:
Father Mitch Pacwa, SJ, of EWTN fame, also refers to my work on his shows. But they don’t carry either of my books … I wonder why?******
There is a really good Byzantine Catholic devotional magazine out there, Theosis, published by Jack Figel of Eastern Christian Publications. I use it, and several people here have told me how much they like it. It is available in print or online.
Here is his write-up about it.
Eastern Christian Publications offers a monthly magazine and eZine called Theosis:
Spiritual Reflections from the Christian East. It contains daily prayer and short
description for the saint of the day, and several short essays on topics for spiritual
reflection from the Christian East. They include the history, tradition and theology of a
feast for the month, and various articles on the mystical theology, prayer, spirituality,
iconography, and sacramental life of the Eastern Churches. Each issue will also cover
other topics such as scripture, homiletic reflections, feasts and fast, and a photo essay of
an Eastern Church.
Theosis focuses on the tradition of the Eastern Churches, and reflects on the call of Blessed John Paul II for the Church to
“breathe with TWO LUNGS.”
You can subscribe to the printed magazine for 6, 12 or 24 months – the longer you
subscribe, the lower the monthly cost. These will be mailed to you each month. Single
copies can also be purchased – print version or eZine version – from our website. The
print versions will be shipped to you in bulk quantities, and the eZine version can be
downloaded for you to print yourself. Bulk print versions can also be purchased by
parishes who wish to distribute or make Theosis available to parishioners.
Go here: http://ecpubs.com/theosis.html to order it!
The Evangelization website has been dormant for a while – I am learning the ins and outs, and the web designer will be back on February 28. So I should have new items up in March. Until then, please refer people to the site:
Bishop Gerald has been happy with what has gone up so far and he asked parishes to link their websites to it. And please write me with ideas or comments!
Today we celebrate the memory of St. Gregory Palamas, the premiere theologian of theosis/ divinization, and the great defender of hesychasm. It used to be forbidden to mention him in many Byzantine Catholic Churches, and so the 2nd Sunday of Lent would be the “Sunday of the Paralytic” instead of its proper title. That was because many Latins misunderstood theosis and Palamas both. Now that is being rectified, and our Typikon once again includes this great bishop.
There have been claims that Aquinas and Palamas are in opposition, but research of the last 50 years has changed that. Both write about the importance of deification, which figures in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It would be worthwhile to check out a copy of The Ground of Union: Deification in Aquinas and Palamas published back in 1999. I would be interested in hearing from people who have compared the two.
St. Gregory taught that the mystic, even without education, could have greater knowledge of God than others, but he made the crucial distinction between energies of God, and the essence of God. Essentially, God can not be known in His essence by any human, but His energies (what God sends forth in His creation), can be known. In this, he quoted the ancient Cappadocian Fathers. As for the body postures and breathing, since the person is both body and soul, uses of the body can affect the soul. In the end, he wrote that hesychasm teaches that one can see the Light of God, but only with repentance, interior conversion, constant prayer, and spiritual direction. This remains the position today, nearly 900 years later.
St. Gregory Palamas, pray for us!
Finally, for those who are in the Albuquerque area, we have the beautiful service of the Presanctified Gifts on Wednesdays at 12 noon and Fridays at 6.30 pm. The Friday service is followed by a meatless potluck, and on March 1st by a fish fry put on by our Knights of Columbus. Join us!