On the First of Observance of the Memorial of Bl. Bernard de Hoyos, SJ

November 29, 2010


For the edification of all, I thought I might include the second reading of the Office of Readings for the feast of Bl. Bernard de Hoyos, SJ.  Today marks the first observance of his memorial.


He was born on 20 August 1711 in Torrelobaton, in the modern province of Vallalodid, Spain.  After excelling in classical studies in the Colleges of Medina del Campo and Villagarcia de Campos, he entered the Society of Jesus on 11 July 1726 and was ordained a priest on 2 January 1735.  He always distinguished himself for his perfection in the virtues and particularly for his love of God and of neighbor.  From the beginning until the end of his religious life he received eminent mystical graces from the Lord.  He was responsible for the introduction of the public veneration of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Spain.  He died of typhus in Valladolid on 29 November 1735 during his terrtianship.  In 2009, Benedict XVI inscribed him in the book of the Blessed.



From the Instruction of Blessed Bernard Francis de Hoyos to Brother Ignatius Osorio

(Vallalodid, 14 September 1732, nn. 40-41; MS 1596, University Library of Salamanca.)

A divine and heavenly peace in your heart

Try to have, my beloved brother, a divine and heavenly peace in your heart. Read the rest of this entry »

Two Women and the Apocalypse

November 26, 2010

In this season of the apocalypse that precedes Christmas, as the Church reads warnings about the end times, we can turn to Mark’s Gospel, itself arguably a prophetic apocalypse, and ask what all this end time stuff means to us. 

Mark squeezes chapter 13, the famous “end times” discourse, between two stories of women.  The first comes at the end of chapter 12, in 12:41-44.  Jesus directs his disciples to watch an old women put two copper coins into the temple treasury.  She is a model of the old covenant, of the testament that is coming to an end.  In this sense, she is the perfect set-up for chapter 13, in which Mark describes not the end of the world but the end of the old covenant using language borrowed from the Old Testament.  This old women has completely devoted her life to the temple.  She pays all she has to support the temple, because the temple for her represented where God dwelt.  By giving all she had, she was giving all she had to God in the form of the primary symbol of Old Testament belief. Read the rest of this entry »

The Pope is right, and the Pope is still right: Benedict and condoms

November 24, 2010

I feel great sympathy for the secular media.

Yes, you read that correctly.  Other Catholic bloggers have criticized the media for its coverage of Pope Benedict’s recently released comments on AIDS and condoms (reproduced in their entirety below), but on this one, to be fair, journalists are in a bind.

They know the Pope didn’t change Church doctrine on contraception, nor—the wishful thinking of a few familiar “religion experts” aside—did he even edge closer to doing so.  But at the same time, what the Pope said was unexpected and significant.  Several of the articles I’ve read in the secular press have hinted at just how hard it is to do justice to the Pope’s comments in a headline.

And the press has good reason to be confused.  The reason coverage of the Holy Father’s words—such as his March 2009 comments on AIDS and condoms—is often so unbalanced is that what he is offering is not so much a political “stance” on an issue, but a complete—and, for many, completely foreign—vision of what human sexuality means.  His comments in Light of the World, like his March 2009 comments, are intended to invite people to give this vision a second look.

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Of Condoms and Popes

November 24, 2010


Amid all the excitement about the Pope’s “game-changer” regarding condoms, I thought I might do my humble best to clarify the situation.  I’ll offer a roughly analogous moral case, but one that does not involve condoms (since, for some reason, condoms seem to be much more effective at preventing thought than conception).  Though it’s true that my analogous case involves killing, a crime far weightier than contraception, the cases are structurally similar inasmuch as the Church reckons both deeds malum in se, that is, unjustifiable regardless of further intentions or extenuating circumstances.

Let’s suppose, for starters, that a pharmaceutical company develops and markets a “euthanasia” pill.  This pill is designed specifically to induce painless death during sleep. Read the rest of this entry »

Nietzsche in November

November 21, 2010

We are nearly at the end of the liturgical year, with daily readings from the Book of Revelation reminding us of the end of everything else too.  Indeed, the month of November as a whole, beginning with the feasts of All Saints and All Souls, is dedicated in a special way to remembering the dead and contemplating our own eternal future.

Some people have a problem with that.

Friedrich Nietzsche, one of Christianity’s most brilliant enemies, criticizes our faith for placing too much emphasis on the life to come, thereby emptying this life of meaning and giving unhappy and unsuccessful human beings—“mutterers and nook counterfeiters”—an excuse to wallow in their own misery until they arrive in “heaven,” which in Nietzsche’s estimation seems like little more than a very long nap.

This, I’m afraid, is not one of Nietzsche’s better arguments (though to give the poor old guy a break, I don’t think it’s original to him).  Unfortunately, it has too often been taken up in one form or another by well-meaning Christians themselves.  If we spend too much time contemplating heaven, they say, we will be neglectful of our duties here on earth.  Or, as that summit of liturgical kitsch, “Gather Us In,” puts it, “Gather us in… [but] not in some heaven, light years away.”

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More Girard…

November 15, 2010

For all the René Girard fans out there, you might be interested in the post I contributed to Per Caritatem‘s series on violence and religion.


I tried to summarize some of the ideas from earlier discussion here on Whosoever Desires.  (The original posts are here and here.)

Beauty, Basilicas, and Barcelona

November 9, 2010

Beauty is one of mankind’s greatest needs.

—Benedict XVI

7 October 2010


On Sunday Pope Benedict consecrated the Basilica of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain, a truly awesome rite.  Construction of the basilica, Antoni Gaudí’s masterpiece, began in 1882 and is not expected to be complete for another decade and a half.  In that respect, the Sagrada Familia is like many of the other great churches of Europe which took centuries to complete.

Today, the Church celebrates the dedication of another great basilica, St. John Lateran, Rome’s cathedral.  To some, this might seem a rather strange feast on the liturgical calendar, commemorating as it does a building rather than an event in the life of Jesus or a saint.  Some might even disapprove of lavishing such attention on a structure, a sentiment that finds expression in a line from my least favorite liturgical song, “Gather Us In.”  “Gather us in,” the ditty goes, but “[n]ot in the dark of buildings confining.”

The idea of church buildings as “confining,” however, does not do justice to artistic marvels such as the Sagrada Familia or St. John Lateran, wonders as much spiritual as they are architectural.  These buildings are, in fact, a true and profound expression of faith.

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Homily for the 32nd Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C

November 7, 2010


For the 7:30 am crowd at St. Paul’s in Cambridge.  This one would have benefited from more concrete examples, but I had to weigh the benefits of brevity against those of vividness (most folks don’t go to Mass at 7:30 am to hear a long homily …).


In refuting the Sadducees in today’s Gospel, Jesus makes two points that shed light on the mystery of the communion of saints—the mystery upon which the Church invites us to reflect during this month of November. Read the rest of this entry »

Prayer for Jesuit Vocations

November 5, 2010

November 5 is a special day on the Jesuit liturgical calendar, the Feast of All Saints and Blessed of the Society of Jesus.  It’s also a day of prayer for Jesuit vocations.  So whether it’s Ignatius, Miguel Pro or Peter Canisius, Alphonsus or Stanislaus, Hurtado or Campion, or any one of the Francises, ask your favorite Jesuit in heaven to pray that God will send us more men who will strive to be holy, faithful, and passionate for the Gospel.



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