Friday, February 14, 2003

The effects of the media on culture....
Does anyone else still have George Carlin's seven dirty words running through your head on a regular basis? Does anyone else wish they still couldn't be said on television?
What? Has YACCS gone permanently south without so much as a "howdoyoudo?" I can't access their website or even What's up?

UPDATE: They seem to be back.
Dolan gives a gift to his priests
Over Christmas Archbishop Dolan gave the priests of and in the archdiocese a copy of Fr. George A. Aschenbrenner, S.J.'s book, Quickening the Fire in Our Midst: The Challenge of Diocesan Priestly Spirituality. This book is now being used in one of the classes here at the seminary. In it Aschenbrenner explores the challenges specifically of the secular clergy (but many of the principles are applicable to religious priests who are in active, especially parochial ministry). The emphasis of seems to be on fidelity, singleness of heart and purpose, and a distinctive priestly identity flowing from a deep spirituality. Aschenbrenner, of course, comes from the Jesuit tradition, so much of what he says is grounded in Ignatian principles. See especially the appendices on the Examen.

I'd also highly recommend Archbishop Dolan's own book, Priests for the Third Millenium. This is a collection of Dolan's rector's conferences from when he was rector of the North American College in Rome before becoming auxiliary bishop in St. Louis. Good, solid traditional priestly spirituality here. No wiggle room for infidelity. It is not surprising that Dolan wrote the preface for Benedict Groeschel's book, From Scandal to Hope, which is also a must-read for those interested in the priesthood, priestly formation, and the solution to recent scandals.
Mozarabic Rite in pictures
Here are some pictures of the Mozarabic Mass we celebrated here at Sacred Heart on Wednesday. Nope, no pictures of me reading.
Catholic Higher Education
If you are interested in the renewal of Catholic Higher Education, as I am, then you won't want to miss these sights:
And I agree with Tom Harmon that Fr. Robert Spitzer is the greatest thing to hit Catholic higher education since breaded butter, or some such expression. See, for instance, the Life Principles Institute, which Fr. Spitzer started.
If anyone can be an instrument of God's desire for peace...
...this man can. And I'm not talking about Aziz. Holiness doesn't guarantee success, but I'd sure rather trust in the Pope's prayers and efforts than anyone else's, even Colin Powell!

Thursday, February 13, 2003

If Kevin is right
about the developments in just war teaching (and I have no reason to doubt that this very smart guy is right), then I'm probably not yet in the pro war camp because I'm not as convinced as he is that there is a clear and present danger that Saddam's weapons will get into the hands of the terrorists for their use any time soon. I'm a little more concerned about the possibility of an attack on Israel if we go to war. Ick.

If we do go to war, then I don't want us to use nukes (even tactical ones, which I believe are just too indiscriminate) or biological or chemical weapons or saturation bombing or fire bombing of population centers. I'm absolutely against all that.
Schall on the War
This argument, from the pen of the peerless James V. Schall, S. J. on War & Clergy on National Review Online is the basic argument for the war, and the one that I am reluctantly in agreement with. It is also an explanation as to why those who are against the war will never ben convinced it was a good idea.

Stated simply, the alternative is worse.
Is there something worse than war, something worse than not preventing what needs to be prevented? If it takes a war to prevent this something worse, and we do prevent it, it will always seem, to the anti-war faction, that no real problem existed, because they could not see the evidence for it.
Homeschool or not?
Woodeene Koenig-Bricker is concerned about the attitude of many homeschoolers, who seem to think that anyone who doesn’t school their children at home is being irresponsible. I agree with her 1000% (as does my wife) that homeschoolers can be quite arrogant and elitist. They should just SHUT UP about other people’s education choices, just as much as they would expect others to shut up about their choice to home school or to have a zillion children, and for much the same reason: the decision is up to the parents (in the context of Church teaching and in consultation with the wise). As Woodeene says, “Make your own prayerful choice, but don’t impose your choice on someone else or judge anyone else’s choice in this area.”

Where I differ from Woodeene, however, is in her statement that “homeschooling is not a salvific matter. It is a choice, pure and simple. If you homeschool and it works for your family, great. If you don’t homeschool and it works for your family that’s great too.” The Church teaching does say something about the family and education. Specifically, I believe that, contrary to Woodeene’s assertion, the Church does teach that home education is the “automatic default” for Catholic education.

Now, before you get up in arms, hear me out. I speaking specifically of the educative responsibility of parents that flows from the procreative purpose of marriage as expressed in, for instance, Familiaris Consortio. Parents are the first and always most important teachers of their children.

This does not mean that they have to do all the teaching. Parents have a responsibility also to seek whatever assistance from the Church, from schools and even from the state they need to fulfill their educative responsibilities. Even “homeschooling” families don’t ever do it alone. They seek the assistance of each other, experts in the community, community education programs, public schools, distance learning programs, etc. So, all Catholic families home school. All seek assistance in that effort. The question is not whether to home school or not, but how much outside assistance one needs in order to give one’s child a solid, Catholic education The answer to that question is dependent on all kinds of contingencies both internal to the family and external to it. As Woodeene points out, for instance, some parents have more of an aptitude for teaching academic subjects than others.

Among the important external factors that affect educative choice is the quality of outside educational assistant available. The Church is not really neutral on this. The ideal is a solid, Catholic environment. Public schools, especially in our day, do not provide this and more often than not seem to provide an environment that in inimical to a Catholic world view. If a parent chooses to put his child in this environment, I’d say he must have a clear and well developed plan on how do counteract the negative influences that his child will receive at the school.

As for Catholic schools, they are really a mixed bag. Some of them are not much better than public schools with a Mass (or a prayer service) once a month. The teachers are pro choice, the curriculum is about as P.C. as you can get, the spirituality is often syncretistic and New Agey. Many home school families felt forced into their choice by this kind of shenanigans at their local Catholic school. I’d say that the kind of mixed signals sent by this kind of environment are very dangerous and, if possible, ought to be avoided. I’d think sending a child to public school might even be better, because at least then you don’t have to figure out a way to tell your child that their teachers are wrong without seeming to undermine the authority of the Church. I know of some professors at Franciscan University who chose public schools precisely for this reason.

In a way I think the choice to keep the children at home is similar to the choice to have a large family, and indeed related to it by the fact that both flow from the procreative purpose of marriage. While keeping your children at home isn’t exactly the default for the Church, it is certainly commendable. But, just like the choice to space children, the educative choices of the parents are their responsibility, based on their own prudential judgment. No one should look down on someone who, in faith, and with prayerful discernment, chooses a different option.

The home is always the most important factor in a child’s education, no matter what other educative opportunities the parents avail themselves of. That is why, for instance, the question of what and how much television a child watches may be as important as what school he or she goes to. In the end I’m saying that Woodeene did homeschool. I’m sure that if her son got a solid Catholic education it had as much to do with what he got at home as anywhere. She also availed herself of the assistance she needed to give her son a great education. Those of us who home school need to shut up about it.

Wednesday, February 12, 2003

A Mozarabic reprieve
Today we celebrated the Mozarabic Rite here at the seminary. Our vice rector, Fr. Raúl Goméz, S.D.S., has been granted faculties by the archbishop of Toledo (Spain) to celebrate it here. Though it has been reformed since Vatican II, is all in Latin and quite dignified and solemn.

Today we honored St. Eulalia, a Spanish virgin martyr from before the time of Constantine, and patroness of Barcelona. It was quite festive. The story of her martyrdom was woven into all the texts of the Mass.

I was privileged to read the first reading from Isaiah:
Haec dicit Dominus:
Exsulta, sterilis, quae non peperisti,
laetare, gaude, quae non parturisti,
quoniam multi sunt filii desertae
magis quam filii nuptae, dicit Dominus.
Dilata locum tentorii tui
et pelles tabernaculorum tuorum extende, ne parcas;
longos fac funiculos tuos
et clavos tuos consolida.
Ad dexteram enim et ad laevam penetrabis,
et semen tuum hereditabit gentes,
quae civitates desertas inhabitabunt.
Which is translated:
Raise a glad cry, you barren one who did not bear, break forth in jubilant song, you who were not in labor, For more numerous are the children of the deserted wife than the children of her who has a husband, says the LORD.
Enlarge the space for your tent, spread out your tent cloths unsparingly; lengthen your ropes and make firm your stakes.
For you shall spread abroad to the right and to the left; Your descendants shall dispossess the nations and shall people the desolate cities.
The call for us to enlarge the space of our tents is consoling for those of us who are called to have what our culture calls large families, especially in light of the fact that I believe that our descendents will literally "people the desolate cities" left that way by the culture of death.
Para-liturgical lament
Despite my best efforts in recent years, I just have not been able to match my affection with my intellectual knowledge about what happens at Mass. I just don't seem to experience or be able to generate a sense of awe, of being in the presence of the mysterium tremendum, my Creator and Judge.

I put part of the blame on the fact that I don't prepare adequately to participate in the Mysteries. I need to arrive earlier and spend more time in quiet prayer.

But I also put some blame on the unrelenting casualness and indifference toward the sacred in the life of the American Church especially in the 1960s, 70s and early 80s. (sounds like an oldies station or something).

I can still remember the time before 1965 when the sense of awesomeness was palpable. I would no more dare step into the sanctuary before being an altar boy than step into fire. And when my mom brought home some unconsecrated communion wafers when I was preparing to take my first Communion, I refused to eat them.

Suddenly, in 1965, all kinds of things began to change. And I'm not referring to official changes in the liturgy, but to the way priests and people did things and treated things outside of the official rubrics.

For instance, suddenly instead of beautifully bound black leather books with gold leaf edged, missals became disposable paper missalettes with the very Word of God in them. Gone was the stately orthography and the beautifully etched illustrations (not to mention the Latin). Instead of saying special prayers for each item while vesting, and then reciting Psalm 43 (42) while approaching the altar, the priest chats about who know what until the opening hymn starts. Altar rails were removed. Altar boys became servers and, instead of cassock and surplice, began to wear a ratty white alb with a plain rope cord for a cincture. The music became informal folk guitar music.

Things got very strange in the seventies. The Masses at the Bulla Shed at Notre Dame were done in a sitting position, using homemade bread that resembled cake more than anything. Even Emil T. Hoffman, the famed Notre Dame chemistry teacher, went to these Masses. I recall one C.S.C. priest celebrating Mass with us on a Frisbee altar on a mounting in Austria. It was quite common for students to go to the dorm Mass in their bathrobes. Or to study in the chapel lying down on the floor behind the altar.

Even at our parish, St. Anthony's, which is one of the liturgical gems of the diocese where there is a strong emphasis on the sacred, the parishoners chat in the isles after Mass (but, gottseidank, not before).

The accumulated effect of all these incidental changes in behavior was to deaden me, seemingly permanently, to the sense of the sacred. I remember, for instance, having absolutely no sense of holiness when I met and shook hands with Mother Teresa in the early 1980s. Nor was I exactly awe struck when I went to a papal audience in 1979.

As noted, almost none of these things have anything to do with the official changes in the liturgy since Vatican II. Much of the old ways could still be in place with the new missal. Something as simple as dressing up for Mass could still be done.

What we have here is an instance of bad inculturation. American have a strong preference for the casual and the informal. Why do we even need dress-down Fridays at work? Which then becomes the norm for all days? Comfort is more important than having our clothes say something about the importance or meaning of what we are doing.

I would suggest, for those of us, priest and people, who are growing impatient with the romanitas of current liturgical reforms aimed at enhancing the sense of the sacred, that we should begin with these things we can do something about. Lets dress up a little, get nicely bound missals, etc. Priests, those vesting prayers are still in the Roman Missal. Use them!
Substantial posts
For those of you who are disappointed that I haven't published enough of them in recent days, be patient. I'm kinda busy right now, but I'm working on two of them. Stay tuned!
Have you ever noticed how many times in those old black and white movies the heroine (deservedly) slaps some cad across the face? Nor was it considered brutality or abuse. In fact, it was probably considered a form of communication. In our current culture it would probably be as acceptible as smoking or having more than three children.
We finally got our snow for the winter. Four to six inches. After having lived in Minnesota for twelve years and in South Bend for four, that's not much snow, but given Milwaukee's recent winters, we take what we can get.

So, I was shoveling at 6:00 this morning. Why so early? Today is garbage/recycling day, so I had to clear a spot to put the garbage can and recycling bin out by 7:00. I also had to clear a path for the car, which my wife had to take out at 8:30.

Query: Is there a technical term for that stuff that the snow plow leaves at the end of your driveway? I'm not talking about the word I use when I'm trying to hack it apart with the shovel!

Tuesday, February 11, 2003

Okay, I've had it!
In an effort to get some dialogue going in my comments boxes I've decided to make the following pronouncements:
  • Karl Rahner is a better theologian than Karol Wojtyla;
  • We should stand throughout Mass, which should be the 1962 Roman Missal;
  • We should not go to war because Bush is a commie;
  • Peter Kreeft should be made archbishop of Boston (And John Mallon should be an auxiliary);
  • I think the NOR is wrong about Scott Hahn, but not Fr. Neuhaus;
  • Who IS Adrienne Von Speyr, anyway?;
  • I'm for racial profiling of white people, especially West Allis (WI) Germans;
  • Greg Popcak is the antichrist.

Did I mention that I was thinking of auctioning off Emily Stimpson's cat?
Heresy hunting
With Kevin Miller and de Lubac, I'm not that big at making heresy hunting an important part of my theological work. Nor should anyone, especially amateurs. One of the problems with amateur heresy hunters is that they don't know the difference between formal and material heresy (the latter better called, perhaps, "error").
Pertinacity, that is, obstinate adhesion to a particular tenet is required to make heresy formal. For as long as one remains willing to submit to the Church's decision he remains a Catholic Christian at heart and his wrong beliefs are only transient errors and fleeting opinions."
The other is that they don't know the significance of what is called "theological notes," or the level of authority of a given pronouncement or document. The relationship between the degree of heresy and the theological weight of a teaching is always kepf clearly in mind:
Both matter and form of heresy admit of degrees which find expression in the following technical formula of theology and canon law. Pertinacious adhesion to a doctrine contradictory to a point of faith clearly defined by the Church is heresy pure and simple, heresy in the first degree. But if the doctrine in question has not been expressly "defined" or is not clearly proposed as an article of faith in the ordinary, authorized teaching of the Church, an opinion opposed to it is styled sententia haeresi proxima, that is, an opinion approaching heresy. Next, a doctrinal proposition, without directly contradicting a received dogma, may yet involve logical consequences at variance with revealed truth. Such a proposition is not heretical, it is a propositio theologice erronea, that is, erroneous in theology. Further, the opposition to an article of faith may not be strictly demonstrable, but only reach a certain degree of probability. In that case the doctrine is termed sententia de haeresi suspecta, haeresim sapiens; that is, an opinion suspected, or savouring, of heresy.(Catholic Encyclopedia, 1908)
Speaking of the Word....
We have a winner for the contest. Bill White correctly identifies the next line of the lyric as "in the good and the bad books that I have read," from "The Word" on the Beatle's Rubber Soul album. This is THE archetypal hippie paeon to love. I just love John Lennon's humility. "Say the Word and you'll be free. Say the Word and be like me!"
More P.D. Eastman
But I think the best P.D. Eastman book by far is Big Dog, Little Dog. My family still often use the tag lines, "The bird's got the word," and "Why make big problems out of little problems."
Lourdes Hymn
I did not know until today that Immaculate Mary was called the Lourdes Hymn.
Are you my mother?
P.D. Eastman wrote a wonderful children's picture book called Are You My Mother? in which a little bird who fell out of his nest goes around asking cows and steam shovels and such if they are his mother. It is fun, and it is in Spanish as well.

At any rate, one thing I thought about at today's Mass today was that the primary maternal image in both the Old and New Testament is not God (although there are some maternal comparisions, as in Is. 49), but Jerusalem. Jerusalem is our Mother, as it says in Isaiah 66:
Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad because of her, all you who love her; Exult, exult with her, all you who were mourning over her! Oh, that you may suck fully of the milk of her comfort, That you may nurse with delight at her abundant breasts! For thus says the LORD: Lo, I will spread prosperity over her like a river, and the wealth of the nations like an overflowing torrent. As nurslings, you shall be carried in her arms, and fondled in her lap; As a mother comforts her son, so will I comfort you; in Jerusalem you shall find your comfort.
Like a good father, the LORD comforts us by giving us a Mother! This is confirmed by St. Paul in Galatians:
But the Jerusalem above is freeborn, and she is our mother. For it is written: "Rejoice, you barren one who bore no children; break forth and shout, you who were not in labor; for more numerous are the children of the deserted one than of her who has a husband."
Confession and chaos
I've noticed that the first few days after I go to confession everything seems to go to pot. My mood goes haywire, tensions rise at home, and my relations with others are stressed. I think the devil just can't stand a pure soul and so works overtime to mess it up right after its been cleaned. The same thing happens right after a retreat. You just don't get much time to rejoice and to bask in the afterglow of whatever spiritual high you may have experienced. Like that story in Matthew's Gospel:
43 "When an unclean spirit goes out of a person it roams through arid regions searching for rest but finds none. 44 Then it says, 'I will return to my home from which I came.' But upon returning, it finds it empty, swept clean, and put in order. 45 Then it goes and brings back with itself seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they move in and dwell there; and the last condition of that person is worse than the first. Thus it will be with this evil generation." (Mt. 12:43-45)

Monday, February 10, 2003

Novak's main argument
Given Saddam's proven record in the use of such weapons, and given his recognized contempt for international law, only an imprudent or even foolhardy statesman could trust that these two forces [Saddam and the terrorists] will stay apart forever. At any time they could combine, in secret, to murder tens of thousands of innocent and unsuspecting citizens.
This seems like basing a decision to go to war simply on speculation, especially in view of Novak's own statement that the likelihood of such a combination could be between 2 and 8 on a scale of 10.
Somewhere between 0 and 10, in other words, there already is a probability of Saddam's deadly weapons falling into al Qaeda's willing hands. (There are also other branches of the international terror network). Reasonable observers can disagree about whether that risk is at 2 or 4 or 8. But this much is clear: Those who judge that the risk is low, and therefore allow Saddam to remain in power, will bear a horrific responsibility if they guessed wrong, and acts of destruction do occur.
Yet, Novak's point become much more pointed when one considers the following:.
With less than a teaspoon of anthrax distributed in letters, for instance, thousands of government workers in Washington were obliged to be screened and preventively treated for anthrax poisoning, one Senate office building was closed for many weeks for decontamination, two post-office workers died, and many others fell ill for some time.

Saddam Hussein has failed to account for more than 5,000 liters — five million teaspoons — of anthrax which he is known to have possessed just a few years ago.

This does not include the thousands of liters of botulin and other forms of biological weapons, including nerve gas and sarin gas, reported by U.N. inspectors to have been present in his arsenals. Nor does it include the stockpiles of mustard gas the U.N. reported in his possession. "Mustard gas is not like marmalade," Hans Blix famously announced in January. "Governments must know exactly where it is, and what is done with every container of it." It is a deadly gas.
Until Saddam give these up or accounts for them, I think war is just.

War just or not?
James Kovacs of Integrity blog writes:
I read your "Am I being too obscure" post on your blog. I've had similar thoughts as well in expressing doubts about our justification for war with Iraq....I have had the strange experience where nearly everyone assumes because I'm not quite on the war bandwagon, that I'm either (a) a hippie pacifist, (b)assuming the Bush administration is really in this for the oil (which I find to be a downright insulting suggestion), or (c) that I just can't comprehend the threat of nuclear terrorism. It's the rare person who steps up and tries to address why I should be thinking of "grave, lasting and certain" damage differently so as to see Iraq as an imminent threat or to offer up some notions of the war-conduct and exit strategy to at least get me comfortable on the other prongs of likelihood of success and proportionality.
I'm probably a little more in favor of the war than James, but not by much.
Oh, yeah, the lyric contest
"Everywhere I go I hear it said." If you can e-mail me the next line in this song (you don't need the "artist" or the title of the song), you get your name and a link on my blog! And I have dozens of devoted readers, so you'll get a real boost in your Sitemeter.
Am I being too obscure?
Robert Wenson writes in a comment:

1. We're all praying for peace, even those of us who think that, as things stand right now, war is necessary.

2. I doubt that the fact that North Korea possesses nuclear weapons is the decisive reason that we are not going to war with them right now. I think that far stronger reasons are that we are already gearing up for Iraq and are not in a position to fight two wars on opposite sides of the world, and that it has not yet been established that our differences with North Korea cannot be solved diplomatically.

3. If Saddam Hussein's WMDs are in themselves a sufficient reason not to go to war, then not only should we pack up and leave, but we should also put an end to the inspections. To the extent that the inspections succeed in verifying that Hussein has disarmed, there is less reason to go to war; to the extent that they fail, there is more reason not to go to war. Since the result is the same in either case, why bother?

4. Furthermore, if Saddam Hussein's WMDs are in themselves a sufficient reason not to go to war, then he is in effect invulnerable. As long as we think he will use them, then whatever he does, we can do nothing against him. He has an absolutely free hand.
I'd like to reply to each point one at a time. First of all, though, I am no poliwonk. I just haven't done all the research necessary to have the most informed opinion on matters of prudential judgment. I try my best with what I do know.

1. We're all praying for peace, even those of us who think that, as things stand right now, war is necessary.
Nor did I intend to imply any different.
2. I doubt that the fact that North Korea possesses nuclear weapons is the decisive reason that we are not going to war with them right now. I think that far stronger reasons are that we are already gearing up for Iraq and are not in a position to fight two wars on opposite sides of the world, and that it has not yet been established that our differences with North Korea cannot be solved diplomatically.
This is perhaps a matter of speculation, although I can't see how it can't be a factor, even if it is not decisive.
3. If Saddam Hussein's WMDs are in themselves a sufficient reason not to go to war, then not only should we pack up and leave, but we should also put an end to the inspections. To the extent that the inspections succeed in verifying that Hussein has disarmed, there is less reason to go to war; to the extent that they fail, there is more reason not to go to war. Since the result is the same in either case, why bother?
I don't think they are in themselves sufficient reason not to go to war. But the just war theory does require that the damage done by the war not be disproportionate to the good achieved, including the damage done by the opponent. So, we do have to consider the likelihood of a megacatastrophe and we do need to take that into consideration when weighing the option to go to war.
4. Furthermore, if Saddam Hussein's WMDs are in themselves a sufficient reason not to go to war, then he is in effect invulnerable. As long as we think he will use them, then whatever he does, we can do nothing against him. He has an absolutely free hand.
See 3 above.
I went to confession on Saturday. Three things occurred to me. First, it had been two months since my last confession—much too long. While I was examining my conscience before the Crucifix and being made experientially aware of the weight of my many infidelities, it occurred to me that there is nothing that I’ve done or can do to merit the grace of forgiveness that flows from the Cross of Christ. When that weight of sin is lifted from my shoulder, it is pure, unearned gift and my proper response should be humble, blushing gratitude and joy. That I don’t always feel the elation (“woohoo!”) that the grace should engender is a sign of my continued need for interior transformation so that I can be freed of such effects of original sin.

The second thing that occurred to me as I sat in the almost empty Church was that, considering my own experience of the weight of my sinfulness, it is a scandal that often the only people who are there at the regular Saturday afternoon confession time at the Church down the street from us is my family. Believe me, I’m no Jansenist, but how can these thousands of people who belong to this parish walk around with the same burden of sin that I walk around with and not seek frequent absolution and freedom, especially as one approaches the Sacrament of the Altar? I don’t care what your theology of the sacrament is, if it is available, why woul you not want to receive it frequently?

I believe there may be a correlation between their infrequent confession and the location of their tabernacle. Now, I’m not the type who thinks that putting the tabernacle in a side chapel is a denial of the Real Presence (although I prefer it behind the main alter, just as I prefer the priest to face “liturgical east”). When we first started going to this Church, the tabernacle was located in a chapel in the left transcept of the Church, just to the left of the main altar. It had prie dieuxs and a nice stenciling of wheat on the wall behind it. But, as the Church got more crowded, they decided to put seats in this trancept facing the altar. So, instead of finding another worthy place for the tabernacle, they simply shoved it to the side and put the seats in facing the altar. So, there is a little narrow isle on the right side of the seats leading up to the tabernacle. No prie dieux; so when my wife and I came out of confession, we simply knelt on the carpet facing the tabernacle to pray. No one in this parish genuflects before the Blessed Sacrament when they come into the Church, not even the communion ministers when they get hosts out to take to the sick. My wife once asked the pastor why he didn’t put the tabernacle behind the main altar, since there is room for it there. He just indicated that that wasn’t going to happen. The casualness and lack of awareness with which these people treat the Real Presence of their Lord and Judge may be related to the fact that they feel no need for frequent confessions.

God be praised that our own parish (which is several miles away) has long confession lines both on Saturday and before (and, unfortunately, during) Mass on Sunday. Our former pastor really encouraged us to get “in the box” especially, but not only during Lent.

Third, it occurred to me what an awesome and terrible thing the seal of confession is. Not only must the priest not divulge the contents of the confessions he hears, but he must not treat the penitent any different based on his knowledge of the he has done. I can just imagine that that is the greatest burdens of being a priest, especially since the (admittedly imperfect) anonymity of the old-fashioned confessional is less common.

I can still remember how terrifying it was to return to the sacrament at the age of twenty-one after a seven-year hiatus (steeped in sin). I still experience a great deal of emotional resistance to the sacrament, partly, I’m sure, because I don’t go often enough. I don’t let the exhilaration of freedom from sin become habitual because I allow myself to wait too long and to become burdened once again with sins that I can’t even always remember. Fortunately, the extent of forgiveness is not proportional to the emotional high we experience.
St. Scholastica
”Ecce prudens virgo migravit ad Christum, fulgens inter choros virginum sicut sol in virtute caelesti.”

Can you imaging naming your child “school girl?” Or “blessed” (“Benedict”) for that matter. Or “High-born” (“Patricius”). Imagine this seen. “Hey, Blessed, you wanna come out and play? Bring your sister, Schoolgirl. We can play hide-and-seek.” “Okay, Highborn, Schoolgirl and I will be out in a minute. Have you seen Citydweller (“Urban”) and Devoted (“Pius”)? They could play, too!”