Dedicate yourselves to thankfulness. Colossians 3:15

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Artificial contraception corrupts intent of love

Published in Cumberland Times-News letters Thanksgiving Day, November 27, 2008.

"[A]rtificial contraception contradicts natural law: Most methods are unhealthy; and all corrupt the intent of love and unity – reverence
for, and openness to, the totality of the other."

Regarding Jeffrey Davis’ concerns (“This message was not one of compassion,” Nov. 19 Times-News), first, I wish to offer that “[t]he current medical consensus is that spermicidal and ovicidal mechanisms are the only way in which IUDs work,” as stated in Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia.

Apparently, the intrauterine device -- “the world's most widely used method of reversible birth control,” according to Wikipedia – causes inflammation, which produces an environment in which sperm and egg (99 percent of the time) will not thrive.

The IUD first was marketed in Germany in 1929, then improved by an American doctor in 1968. After years of trial and error (and some deaths), the FDA approved the ParaGard T 380A in 1984. It became available for use in 1988 and still is the only copper IUD approved in the United States. Wikipedia reports that a 2002 CDC survey found the IUD was used by 1.3 percent of American women of reproductive age. Wikipedia notes that insertion is painful; and the IUD can cause pain, increased menstrual discomfort, infection, ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage or premature delivery.

Second, I wish to offer for Mr. Davis that “[w]hoever really loves his partner (in marriage) loves not only for what he receives, but loves that partner for (her) own sake, content to be able to enrich the other with the gift of himself”: Pope Paul VI, in his ill-received encyclical, “Humanae Vitae,” considers “the reverence due,” each partner for the wholeness of the other.

While in 1930, the Anglican church broke from (and other Christian denominations followed) “what was once a solid ecumenical consensus” in “condemning artificial contraception as contrary to the plan of God for marriage,” as written by Baltimore Archbishop Edwin F. O’Brien in a Sept. 4 column about this year’s 40th anniversary of “Humanae Vitae;” and even though, as the bishop notes, more than 90 percent of Catholics disagree with it, Catholic teaching about natural family planning still applies to married couples. Unmarried folks still are expected to be celibate. Neither teaching is easy to follow: An admirable minority succeeds.

But simply because we (Catholic or otherwise, married or single) struggle to keep the unitive urge wholesome is no reason to expect the Church to change her teachings, or to condemn her or her ministers for upholding the truth or for exhorting us to comply honorably with the laws of God written into our hearts (the yearning to love) and the laws of nature written into our urges (the yearning to unite). No, we should continue struggling to be wholesome.

Pope Paul calls us to employ intelligence to consider our responsibilities and to manage our urges. We all know that artificial contraception contradicts natural law: Most methods are unhealthy; and all corrupt the intent of love and unity – reverence for, and openness to, the totality of the other. We all know that without respect for fidelity and procreation, the unitive act (the most profound expression of the love between a man and a woman) can become a disordered battleground for self-gratification, each manipulating or demeaning the other and degrading the relationship.

This age of man differs little from any other in its rebellion against God and its desire to control nature. Into the midst of one of human history’s darkest epochs came a man who walked the truth and left a legacy that became the Catholic church. Hopefully, the successors to Christ’s apostle Peter will stay true to the teacher, whose compassion for us, in our wholeness, points out our shortcomings and urges us to mold our minds, hearts and actions in respectful reverence for each other and for our God.

by Nancy E. Thoerig (written Nov. 20, 2008)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Real division is between liberals, conservatives

Published in Cumbelrand Times-News letters Sunday, November 16, 2008.

"[T]he real division among voters overall is between liberals and
conservatives and rests squarely in the moral issue of abortion
A short Associated Press article on page 2A in the November 7 Cumberland Times-News titled “Election shows deep racial divide in churches” troubled me. The viewpoint seemed to be slanted to conclude that white Christians were motivated by race preference to vote against the black candidate and that the situation was causing tumult among black Christians and their clergy.

The first sentence reads: “The barrier-crossing election of Barack Obama did little to bridge the deep racial divide in American churches.” The writer’s second paragraph states: “While nonwhite Christians voted overwhelmingly for Obama, most white Christians backed John McCain, according to exit polls. Several black clergy said that criticism of Obama by some white Christians over his religious beliefs and support for abortion rights crossed the line, hurting longtime efforts to reconcile their communities.”

The Times-News 4-paragraph version of the AP story had two more paragraphs, one that presented exit poll numbers breaking out the white Christian vote and another that concluded: “The pattern is not new and fits the larger trend of white voters overall, the majority of whom voted for McCain.” (The full AP national exit poll summary can be viewed at

But Obama won. So clearly there was a great amount of support for him among whites, Christian or otherwise. What’s the full story? I wondered who the cited black clergy were and what line they felt was crossed by legitimate concerns about Obama’s religious beliefs and support for abortion rights.

I found that the article was written by AP religion reporter Rachel Zoll and is 18 paragraphs in its entirety, published November 6 at web sites for both the Sentinel and Enterprise in Fitchburg, Mass. and the San Francisco Examiner.

Ms. Zoll presents a balance of quotes in her article, though not a balance of data. It seems important to note that, among white religious affiliations, Obama was supported overwhelmingly by the Jewish vote, 83 percent; “something else,” 67 percent; “none,” 71 percent; and “non-white,” 79 percent. And of the white vote overall, Obama received nearly half, 43 percent. Percentages of other races voting for Obama were 95 percent black, 67 percent Latino, 62 percent Asian, 66 percent other.

Based on information presented in (and left out of) her own article, Ms. Zoll’s conclusions about strained Christian race relations continue to confound me. The quotes actually show that Ms. Zoll’s so-called “racial divide” describes contention within black churches, while racial accord prevails among conservative blacks and whites surrounding questions about Obama’s moral formation and in opposition to his position on abortion rights.

Ms. Zoll establishes in her article that most (55 percent) white Christians voted for McCain. She highlights the fact that 74 percent of the evangelical vote went to him. She cites Rev. Al Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, as saying that white evangelicals were motivated by opposition to abortion rights, not by race preference, to vote for McCain. She also writes that “white and black Christian conservatives generally share an opposition to abortion rights.”

Ms. Zoll unerringly gets to the heart of her “racial divide” matter when she writes that Derrick W. Hutchins, a leader in one of the country’s largest predominantly African-American Pentecostal denominations, “was angered by repeated accusations that he and other black theological conservatives had abandoned their religious beliefs simply to vote for an African-American. The claims came not only from white Christians,” writes Ms. Zoll, “but also from some blacks who backed McCain.”

So Ms. Zoll’s “racial divide” manifests within black churches. Even though nearly 100 percent of blacks overall voted for Obama, tension arises now over church members’ commitment, or lack of it, to the abortion issue.

Also apparently of lingering tension in black churches, according to Ms. Zoll’s article, is Obama’s Christian formation under the leadership of Rev. Jeremiah Wright. She cites African-American Bishop Harry Jackson, pastor of Hope Christian Church in Washington, D.C.: "Many, many people question whether Barack Obama had been under a legitimate Christian leadership figure.” And of “criticism” over Obama’s religious beliefs that “crossed the line,” Jackson calls it “fair game” and says, “I personally never ascribed any vitriolic character assassination to it."

So it seems that the real division among voters overall is between liberals and conservatives and rests squarely in the moral issue of abortion rights. Obama has said, according to a Wikipedia article about the bill, that he will pass the Freedom of Choice Act, which, Wikipedia notes, “would abolish all restrictions and limitations on the right of women in the United States to have an abortion, whether at the state or federal level.”

In Ms. Zoll’s article, African-American conservative Dallas megachurch Bishop T.D. Jakes says: "I would love to see black and white Christians find common ground, and a deeper understanding of each other's needs." I wonder if Bishop Jakes would agree that black Christians need to re-unite to advocate “right to life” and join white Christians to take a strong stand against “freedom of choice.”

by Nancy E. Thoerig (written 11-11-08)

Defining and defending 'marriage'

The populist vote overturned the right in California for gays to "marry," spurring a wave of protests across the nation by gays "to urge supporters not to quit the fight for the right to wed," as reported in an Associated Press article published today in the Cumberland Times-News.

Gay union contradicts natural law. It is disordered. And legitimizing it would lead to a disordered union.

The USCCB sums up the dire consequences that gay marriage legislation would loose in society:

by Nancy E. Thoerig 11-16-08

Saturday, November 15, 2008

'Humanae Vitae' not fodder for interpretation

"This is the constant teaching of Tradition and of the Church's Magisterium which cannot be called into question by the Catholic theologian." -- Pope John Paul II on Humanae Vitae
Most searches lead us home.

At the web site for SS. Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Cumberland is a category titled "Right to Life," which takes the visitor to an article about Humanae Vitae written by Father Paul A. Duffner in which he expounds on the idea of "cafeteria" Catholic thinking, especially related to rejection of the church's teaching on contraception:

"[O]ur conscience, which is simply a practical judgment of the intellect, is not always a reliable guide. ... 'I am following my conscience,' they say.... What they are saying amounts to this: 'My conscience allows me to reject what the Spirit of Christ dictates, and follow what the spirit of the world suggests.'"

He quotes Pope John Paul II: "It is not sufficient to say to man: 'always follow your conscience.' It is necessary to add immediately and always: 'Ask yourself if your conscience is telling you the truth or something false, and seek untiringly to know the truth."

Quite strongly, Father Duffner says, "Once one is no longer guided by the light of divine faith, the spirit of the world takes over. "

by Nancy E. Thoerig 11-15-08

Catholic voters rallying behind 'foundational' issues

"[I]f we neglect or ignore the pillars of life, faith and family,
our nation will surely falter." --

Though may not have succeeded in convincing the majority of Catholic voters in the recent presidential election to stick with the social issues that matter -- life, family, faith -- in the face of a drastic worldwide economic downturn that continues to threaten those basic issues, the grassroots organization pledges to stand strong in defending them. is a project of the Fidelis Center for Law and Policy.

Here's the awesome, breathtaking, thought provoking video, one more time:

by Nancy E. Thoerig 11-15-08

Friday, November 14, 2008

Moral law, grace urge us to act

"Adhering to the precepts disposes us to receive God's grace and to be able to humble ourselves in love and service before God so that we will be able, humbly, to love and serve others."

(Photo from Clay Pots.)

"Moral Law, Grace and the Church" was the topic of yesterday's Why Catholic session. Father Ty Hullinger introduced concepts of moral (natural) law as being imprinted by God on our consciences, giving us an innate sense of right and wrong, good and evil, and grace as being infused continually, our reception, though, being subject to our awareness and acceptance.

Relying heavily on the Compendium as his source, Father Ty spoke then of the five precepts of the magisterium that are established as the "indispensible minimum" for us to aspire to do in order to cooperate to dispose ourselves to be open to the reception of God's grace: Attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation; receive the sacrament of reconcilation at least once a year; receive the sacrament of the Eucharist at least once in the year, during the Easter season; fast and abstain according to church guidelines; keep holy the holy days of oblication.

The two most liberal Catholics in the group -- St. Patrick (Cumberland) Deacon Loren Mooney and Antoinette Wiseman -- challenged the magisterium's "indispensible minimum" idea and raised the fact that the guidelines say nothing about loving each other. Father Ty agreed with me when I contended that these precepts are the magisterium's instructions for us to follow in order to dispose ourselves to be aware of and accept God's grace; the idea of loving each other is "covered" in the Ten Commandments and the Beautitudes. Loren and Toni both asked Father Ty, then, for reassurance that there is a law above these precepts of the magisterium. Of course, Father Ty said there is.

Loren propsoed, then, that Vatican I followers most likely would be very comfortable adhering to these precepts, which have nothing to do with love. If it would not have belabored the point, would have clarified that these precepts are about us, individually, developmentally, spiritually, not about our direct relationships with others. Adhering to the precepts disposes us to receive God's grace and to be able to humble ourselves in love and service before God so that we will be able, humbly, to love and serve others. I like both Loren and Toni, but here is another example of how unaccepting of church teaching and single-minded about "love" (which they seem to equate to leniencey) above obedience and openness to the fullness of God's love that a Vatican II-trained thinker can be....

Father Ty very effectively wove his points about moral law and grace into the story line of the movie Amazing Grace, which presents the relationship between John Newton, Anglican clergyman, former slave ship captain and auther of the famous hymn by the same name, and
William Wilbefforce, a Member of Parliament who spent 20 years, at the encouragement of Newton, fighting to abolish the slave trade in the British Empire.

The ignominy of slavery is the ignominy of present-day abortion, oppression of immigrants, human trafficking (all modern forms of enslavement); and we are called by social responsiblity, moral law and God's grace to take an active role to fight for justice.

Last week's session was led by Toni Wiseman and considered topics of "Sin, Mercy and Moral Solidarity." Toni discussed our relationship with God as one similar to a friendship that can be damaged and broken, in need of attention or often requiring repair.

We discussed God's eternal and infinte mercy that should not be taken for granted, but cherished and nourished, and His call for us to receive and develop the mercy He gives to us into our mercy given for others. As members of one church, we are called to take a unified position to address social injustices.

Our Why Catholic sessions are adjourned now until the Lenten season.

by Nancy E. Thoerig 11-14-08

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Bishops take stand on FOCA

"It is critically important that we voice our early and grave concerns to our elected officials regarding this uncompromising legislation...." -- Bishosp Edwin F. O'Brien, Maryland, host for USCCB winter conference

As reported at Whispers in the Loggia, where the full text may be viewed, Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, president, and the body of bishops, at their winter conference in Baltimore, organized their thoughts into a statement issued Wednesday afternoon to address the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) and guide their path in countering the legislation during the upcoming administration:

"The fundamental good is life itself, a gift from God and our parents. A good state protects the lives of all. Legal protection for those members of the human family waiting to be born in this country was removed when the Supreme Court decided Roe vs. Wade in 1973. This was bad law. The danger the Bishops see at this moment is that a bad court decision will be enshrined in bad legislation that is more radical than the 1973 Supreme Court decision itself.

"In the last Congress, a Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) was introduced that would, if brought forward in the same form today, outlaw any 'interference' in providing abortion at will. It would deprive the American people in all fifty states of the freedom they now have to enact modest restraints and regulations on the abortion industry. FOCA would coerce all Americans into subsidizing and promoting abortion with their tax dollars. It would counteract any and all sincere efforts by government and others of good will to reduce the number of abortions in our country.

"... Aggressively pro-abortion policies, legislation and executive orders will permanently alienate tens of millions of Americans, and would be seen by many as an attack on the free exercise of their religion.:

Whispers' Rocco Palmo quotes Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Chicago: "[FOCA] could mean discontinuing obstetrics in our hospitals, and we may need to consider taking the drastic step of closing our catholic hospitals entirely. It would not be sufficient to withdraw our sponsorship or to sell them to someone who would perform abortions. That would be a morally unacceptable cooperation in evil."

According to Whispers, first steps have been taken to arrange an official meeting between Cardinal George and President-elect Obama.

In his weekly column that appears in the November 13 Catholic Review, Baltimore Archbishop Edwin F. O'Brien, host for this year's USCCB winter conference, writes (as scooped at Wispers): "While early exit polling indicated that the economy was the paramount concern of six out of every 10 Americans, we must not lose sight of the ongoing struggle our country faces in achieving genuine respect for the freedom and dignity of every human life."

Bishop O'Brien exhorts his faithful: "As faithful citizens, our duty ... [is] to claim our legitimate role in the public square by urging those whom we have elected as our leaders to uphold values we believe are fundamental to the common good."

The bishop continues: "Of particular concern to Catholics and others seeking to promote a culture of life, is Senator Obama’s public commitment to passing the Freedom of Choice Act. It is critically important that we voice our early and grave concerns to our elected officials regarding this uncompromising legislation, which is currently pending before Congress. To do so, and to learn more information, I encourage you to visit the online Legislative Action Center of our Maryland Catholic Conference....

"FOCA, co-sponsored by Maryland Senators Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin and Representatives Dutch Ruppersberger and Chris Van Hollen

  • "Removes the choice of medical providers to refuse in good conscience to provide morally offensive services.

  • "Removes the choice of taxpayers to decline to have their money pay for morally abhorrent procedures.

  • "Removes the choice of state legislatures to undertake reasonable and widely accepted regulations of abortions, including those that increase education and family involvement while reducing the number of abortions. ...

"I pledge that we will join with other all law-abiding religious and public interest groups in taking every action necessary to resist this blatant attempt to stifle the consciences of those who continue to hold innocent human life sacred."

Photo from Archdiocese of San Francisco, Office of Public Policy and Social Concerns

by Nancy E. Thoerig 11-13-08

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Catholics vote economy over social concerns

Just found an undated item about an Associated Press interview with Papal spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi regarding the recent election of Senator Barak Obama president of the United States that notes that despite the fact that McCain was the pro-life candidate, Catholic voters "overwhelmingly prioritize economic over social concerns" (based on a November 5 AP exit poll). The article says the pope will make a statement.

Zenit posts a November 5 release regarding a telegram sent by Pope Benedict XVI to President-elect Obama promising him his prayers and encouraging Obama to "build a world of peace, solidarity and justice."

A November 5 Zenit news release quotes Cardinal Francis George in a congratulatory statement to Obama: ""We stand ready to work with you in defense and support of the life and dignity of every human person."

Zenit also has posted a release November 7 about a Westchester Institute for Ethics and the Human Person scientist's conclusions about the beginning of life, in which she says: "As I note in the paper, resolving when human life begins has important implications for a number of controversial political topics, including abortion and human embryonic stem cell research. "

by Nancy E. Thoerig 11-08-08

Ancient chant new again

"...the music of chant conveyed religious precepts to largely illiterate
societies." -- Carlos Alcala, Sacramento Bee

In a blog posting today, Fr. John Zuhlsdorf (called a "liturgy expert" by Zenit) at "What Does the Prayer Really Say?" takes a look at a November 7 Sacramento Bee article written by Carlos Alcala and titled "Chants of a Lifetime: An age-old form of vocal worship enhances the liturgy at St. Stephen’s Catholic Church." At the end of Father Z's commentary, inserted into the text of the article, is a video that features Gregorian chant in the tradition of the art that existed for hundreds of years prior to the papcy of St. Gregory and passed down over the ages in a vocal tradition. The first "recordings" were made in the 800s, notes Mr. Alcala, when monks created the method of indicating notes on a staff still used today.

Another exceptional example of chant and a glimpse at its role in daily religious life is presented as one aspect in an exploration of the lifestyle of Carthusian monks in the film titled "Into Great Silence." German filmmaker Philip Groening had asked the abbott permission to make a documentary film from inside the Grande Chartreuse monastery isolated in the French Alps. Sixteen years later, he got the go-ahead. Mr. Groening was so impressed with the sounds of silence (and occasional scheduled conversation) that he made the film an uncommon three-hour meditation. Moviegoers reportedly stood in long lines in France to view it. (I borrowed the DVD from the local public library system. The sights and sounds are awesome.)

An assortment of CDs sof chant are available for purchase or borrowing. One I own is titled "Immortal Gregorian Chant, Part One." Its seasonal selecxtions are intoned by French monks. Anotherof mine is titled "Chant from the Hermitage," on which John Michael Talbot and the monks of Little Portion Hermitage give chant a slightly new slant. Talbot still writes and tours. My CD of a "Mass in honor of the Immaculate Conception," sung by the choir of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception is performed mostly chant style. The Allegany County Public Library system has available for lending two chant CDs that I've borrowed, one titled "Feather on the Breath of God," a selection of chants composed by St. Hildegard von Bingen, and another sung by monks.

Seek out chant and give it a listen. It may revive your soul.

Here's a beautiful presentaiton of Hildegard von Bingen's "Spiritus Sanctus":

by Nancy E. Thoerig 11-08-08

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Liberals vs. conservatives: 'Anger' not a virtue?

"[C]harity demands beneficence and fraternal correction; it is benevolence; it fosters reciprocity and remains disinterested and generous; it is friendship and communication..." -- Catechism of the Catholic Church #1829

It seems that Father Paul Byrnes and I have reached an understanding, a holy "friendship" rooted in charity -- the type of charity that germinates and grows in forthright communcation. And we've agreed to pray for each other. ...

I sent Father Byrnes an email last week expressing my disagreements and concerns with his teaching on "conscience." He emailed me back with some probing (perhaps defensive, aggressive) questions. We exchanged a few more "notes," finally coming, it seems, to a point where we discover that we share a good deal of agreement; otherwise, we consent to disagree.

I've concluded that Father Byrnes and I both love our Catholic faith, though we stand at opposite ends of the spectrum in approaching its beliefs. He is liberal. I am conservative. He reads Commonweal, a non-profit journal of lay Catholic opinion on a variety of religious, cultural and political issues, dubbed "decidedly liberal" by Wikipedia. I watch the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN),a non-profit broadcasting system that airs only Catholic programming, dubbed "conservative" by Wikipedia.

Liberal Catholics tend to believe that the Vatican should be run more as a democracy, open to change in order to better reflect trends in society; they like to challenge doctrines and push limits of obedience to them. Conservative Catholics tend to believe that the magisterium should reflect the Vatican authoritatively in our communities and exhort the faithful to adhere strictly to church teachings, in order to effect changes in society; they aim for literal interpretations of doctrines and honorable obedience to them. Liberals think conservatives are judgmental and unweilding. Conservatives think liberals are shortsighted and unthinking.

Liberal Catholics think the church will become a monolilth if it does not adapt within the secular society. Conservative Catholics think Catholicism (its ethics and lifestyle) will disappear if it accommodates the secular society. Liberals think the church should bend to serve its members. Conservatives believe we members should straighten up and serve our church.

Liberal Catholics cling to the memory of Pope John XXIII (1958-63) and keep alive what we conservatives consider to be the "radical" spirit of change brought about by the Second Vatican Council (1962-65). Conservative Catholics are grateful to Pope Paul VI (1963-78) for the saving wisdom and inspired truth in his "Humanae Vitae"(1968) encyclical (which still elicits contempt from liberals), and they cling to the orthodoxy renewed by John Paul II (1978-2005) and the tradition and reason engendered by Benedict XVI. Liberals hold (conservatives would say "rebelliously") to the "interpretive" teachings and "loose" liturgies of the tumultuous 1960s and '70s. Conservatives strive (liberals might say "naively") to re-learn "authentic" teachings and revive liturgical orthodoxy.

Liberal Catholics tend to like noisy "friendliness" in church and easy or lax behaviors in the presence of a familiar and personable God. Conservative Catholics tend to prefer a silent sense of awe in church, and respect and reverence in the presence of God, who, though accessible to us all, is worthy of honor and fear for His great power and grand mystery.

Liberal Catholics might consider conservatives to be pious "papists." Conservative Catholics might consider liberals to be phony "protestants." Liberals think that teachings of Vatican II produced independent-thinking, more "mature," responsible adults. Conservatives think that many of the Vatican II teachings produced ill-informed, sadly misguided, disillusioned fall-aways.

Chances are, even though Father Paul and I have found points of agreement, we never will see eye-to-eye on our points of contention. Hopefully, we will respect and appreciate each other...and keep trying to understand the meanings and minglings of our divergent journeys in our beloved faith.

I believe we both were a bit angry -- with each other. Anger is considered to be a vice; and when it is hurtful, no doubt it is. Like love, though, anger (sparing and careful) can be benevolent -- when it is rooted in right intentions (to give or gain knowledge, understanding, counsel) -- though inflamed by passions, and employed to express and elicit deeply held thoughts and beliefs. Anger, then, like detached and generous love, once having achieved reciprocity, harmony or equanimity, should flee, forgetting offenses and forgiving transgressions (but remembering important aspects learned about the other).

Last week's Why Catholic session focused on virtues -- holy habits that dispose us toward doing good, living an ordered life, drawing nearer to God and neighbor.

Faith, hope and charity are theological virtues -- infused by God at baptism -- to "dispose Christians to live in a relationship with the Holy Trinity. They have God for their origin, their motive, and their object -- God known by faith, God hoped in and loved for His own sake" (CCC #1840). These three graces from God flow upon us continually like a waterfall. We simply need to receive them. They balance and compensate, so that in times when we may lack one, we may draw on the other for strength or understanding and perseverance.

Of the three theological virtues, charity -- the love of Christ for us and the love He asks us to give to others -- is greatest, because it "upholds and purifies our human ability to love, and raises it to the supernatural perfection of divine love" (CCC #1827). When a Christian's life is motivated by love for God and others, then he stands before God no longer "in servile fear, or as a mercenary looking for wages, but as a son responding to the love of him 'who first loved us'" (CCC #1828). The fruits of charity are joy, peace and mercy. Think (and act) on that....

Perpahs the most beautiful and complete description of love is this: "[C]harity demands beneficence and fraternal correction; it is benevolence; it fosters reciprocity and remains disinterested and generous; it is friendship and communication..." (CCC #1829). Wow. Yes.

From the theological virtues flow the cardinal, or moral, virtues: Prudence, temperance, fortitude and justice. "The moral virtues grow through education, deliberate acts and perseverance in struggle. Divine grace elevates and purifies them" (CCC #1839). We are tried in our lives by fire. These virtues, properly employed, make the fire our friend, smelting us into fortified steel, all for the glory of God, rather than melting us into a limp, gooey (stuck on ourselves) lump.

The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, which dispose us toward opening our minds and wills to discern and act upon His promptings in our hearts, are wisdom, understanding, counsel, courage, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord (CCC #1831).

I had a dream many years ago; and God said to me: "In fear of the Lord, all things will be revealed." I hope for wisdom...and trust it will come...and try to love...and I pray now more than I used to.

by Nancy E. Thoerig (Article was expanded and revised significantly in parts through 11-08-08.)

Monday, November 3, 2008

Washington National Cathedral 'live' tour

The Washington National Cathedral and grounds are hallowed places that draw my heart near and fill my senses with their beauty and intimacy. The cathedral spire stood as a steady reminder to me, as I recovered from my first heart surgery in 1972 at Georgetown University Hospital, that life was more than the here and now. The spire beckoned me and inspired me to get well and get out of the hospital -- and get to that place.

My sister and brother-in-law helped fulfill my wish at that time to go where the spire called me. Having grown up and gotten busy, time went by; and I forgot about the cathedral -- 'til I drove past one day in late 1997. I was amazed at my oversight and neglect and missed oppotrunities to enjoy it.

In the years that followed, 'til I lost my eyesight in 2006, I visited countless times to enjoy hearing the carillon or seeing turning of the seasons -- early multitudinous tulips, mid-summer aromatic lavendar, towering red, pink and yellow October roses -- in the Bishop's Garden; to hear the crystallilne voices of the boy's choir and the thunderous-to-delicate organ recital pipings at Sunday Evensong; to pray in Resurrection Chaptel; to particpate in special programs, like a spring flower sale or a summer workshop; or just to take respite in this uncommonly tranquil spot in the heart of the city.

Hardly a visit to Washington went by, from the time of my rediscovery on, when I didn't stop at the cathedral -- if for no other reason than to pay my respects.

I love this place. I miss it. I wish to share it with you. I hope you'll enjoy this video from WETA: (Click the little icon to the right of the time indicator to enjoy a full-screen version.)