When Mozart Disobeyed the Pope

08/20/2016 Comments (7)

Barbara Krafft (1764–1825), “Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart”

In his lifetime, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart composed more than 600 works including symphonies, concertos and operas. From his earliest years, he had an ear for music; the child prodigy began composing at only four or five years of age, and completed his first symphony by the age of eight.

But did you know that he disobeyed an edict of the Pope—thus risking excommunication? Mozart was raised a devout Catholic; but when he was only fourteen, he pirated a musical composition which had been commissioned for use exclusively in the Sistine Chapel.

In the 1630s, Pope Urban VIII had enlisted the Italian composer Gregorio Allegri to write a hymn to be sung during matins in Holy Week—as part of the...READ MORE

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The Words of the Prophets Are Written on the Subway Walls

08/19/2016 Comments (17)

(Photo credit: “The All-Nite Images”, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Among my New York City circle of friends, I am considered to be the best read. This is not because I am the most educated or gifted with the highest I.Q. It is because I have the longest commute. When one lives in the outer boroughs, as our less enlightened, Manhattan-centric brethren call them, one can expect a bus or subway commute of as much as one and a half hours each way. When I first moved to Brooklyn and then to Queens, with a brief sojourn of six months on Staten Island in between, I came to realize that three hours of each workday that would otherwise be wasted could be better spent improving myself. I recall the first book I brought with me all those years ago: Thomas Merton's...READ MORE

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How to Pray When You Don't Feel Like Praying

08/19/2016 Comments (8)

“A Woman Rescued from a Well by a Man Praying to Sansovino's Virgin and Child” (via Wikimedia Commons)

Sometimes I just don’t want to pray. Shouldn’t I enjoy praying? I’m a member of the Third Order of St. Dominic; prayer is our first pillar! Still, it’s hard to crack open my Divine Office every day.

My wife even laughed at me tonight at the dinner table, calling me an 8-year-old when I crossed myself and rattled out “Bless us O Lord…” in about 4 seconds flat before scarfing down my tacos. If I’m like anyone in the Bible, it’s the disciples in the garden choosing sleep over the repeated demands of the Son of God. Prayer, for me, is seriously hard.

Prayer sometimes seems awkward, too. I’m supposed to pray to the God that already knows everything? I’m supposed to ask God for something when I...READ MORE

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Give Thanks to the Lord, For He is Good

08/18/2016 Comments (4)

“Cleansing of the Ten Lepers” in the Codex Aureus Epternacensis (c. 1035-1040)

I received my first “hate tweet” today.

It read:

Let me understand. God is good for giving U a coffee break while letting people starve and get shot in the streets. #Demented

I’m assuming this was in response to a tweet I sent a while back about being grateful for a coffee break in the middle of a really tough day.

I do that every so often – send out social media messages in gratitude for the simple things in life that bring me joy, like a lovely sunset, fresh tomatoes just-picked from the garden, a stroll along the lakeshore. Or a steaming cup of delicious coffee when my mind has gone foggy and my energy has ebbed. I end those messages with the hashtag #GodisGood.

Apparently,...READ MORE

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That "Olympic Moment" Was a Christian Moment

08/18/2016 Comments (8)

By now, we've all probably seen that beautiful moment when Abbey D'Agostino of the United States collided with Nikki Hamblin of New Zealand in a women's 5000m qualifying race. In what is being heralded as "true Olympic spirit", D'Agostino jumped back on her feet and appeared ready to race on. This is the Olympics, mind you. But then she looked down and saw her rival from New Zealand, writing in pain.

Then she did the unthinkable—she stopped. She stopped and helped her opponent up. Hamblin later described it this way in Christianity Today:

"That girl is the Olympic spirit right there," Hamblin said of D'Agostino. "I went down and I was like 'What's happening? Why am I on the ground?' "Then...READ MORE

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Why Christ Will Never Let His Bride Redefine Marriage

08/18/2016 Comments (26)

Ephesians 5:25: “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her...” (Image: Francisco de Zurbarán, “Christ on the Cross”, 1627)

In my previous post,Why the Catholic Church Defined Marriage,” I noted that the Roman pagan world, into which the Church was born, had monogamy, but not the Christian understanding of monogamy—and that’s why the Catholic Church had to properly define marriage 2000 years ago by redefining it against the pagan culture.

To repeat: Roman heterosexual monogamy was not life-long. The pagan Romans allowed easy, no-fault divorce, and multiple remarriages. A man had a right to have sex with concubines, his slaves (male and female, adult and child), and prostitutes. Marriage was basically a contract for having children and handing on property.

To be fair to the ancient pagans, there were a...READ MORE

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The World Will Always Treat Christians Like It Treated Christ

08/18/2016 Comments (17)

John 15:20-21: “Remember the word that I said to you, 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also. But all this they will do to you on my account, because they do not know him who sent me.” (Image: Henryk Siemiradzki, “Martyrdom of Saints Timothy and Maura”, 1885)

Call me paranoid, but I sometimes feel like it is not only Protestants who are in protest against Catholicism, but the whole world.

When I stop to analyze this feeling I realize that there is an argument to be made. If Catholicism embraces the whole truth wherever it appears, then it is going to offend everybody who can’t stand that particular truth. Consequently, if Catholicism embraces the whole truth everywhere, then it is bound to offend almost everybody everywhere who only hold to part of the truth or to a distorted part of the truth.

This was hammered home to me in a most gentle manner by a Benedictine abbot. I was an Anglican priest at the time and I was debating in my own mind the...READ MORE

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Depression and the Psalms

Seeking out the laments in times of trial may help us give voice to our own pain.

08/18/2016 Comments (2)

Psalms by category, from Verbum Bible Software. The Psalms in blue are the laments.

There are many ways through the dark valleys of depression, and prayer must be one of them. The problem is that the depressive often cannot even stir to perform regular prayer. Simple tasks become a burden. Prayer routines fall by the wayside. Commitments are left undone.

And with each little failure, the walls close in tighter and the sufferer sinks deeper.

Perhaps one way through the dark valley is to follow the trail laid down by our ancestors with the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The Psalms have within them the entire range of human emotion and experience. If the regular routine of prayer no longer works for us, if the liturgy of the hours or the rosary or whatever discipline we...READ MORE

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