Catherine of Siena

Today at our spiritual hour I gave an introduction to the theme of judging (or not), and of the union between truth and love, after which a discussion followed. After I translate my talk into English and clean it up it a bit, I'll post it (or at least part of it) here. But for today, the feast of St. Catherine of Siena (in English occasionally spelled Sienna), a co-patroness of Europa (St. Benedict is the first patron), I'll just jot down some points about St. Catherine. I had remarked that the theme of not definitively judging/condemning while at the same time being ready to correct false behavior was illustrated by St. Catherine, who was quite bold even in her correction of the pope, and yet always showed respect for and obedience to him. In the discussion, in response to the question how we can reconcile the problem of avoiding negative judgments of other persons that are contrary to charity, with the necessity of making judgments in order to correct harmful situations, harmful and bad behavior, etc., a piece of advice from St. Catherine of Siena was pointed out. When we are affected by someone's bad behavior, before we set up seeking to correct it, we should mentally bear the consequences of that bad behavior, in the spirit of Christ, who bore the sins of the world. This identification and sympathy with the person enables one to approach them not as though an enemy, or condescendingly, as to someone beneath oneself, but as a friend in Christ, or one whom one loves that they might be a friend. This fundamental attitude provides a strong basis for making a judgment in the manner necessary, without condemning.

(Image of St. Catherine is from the Church of San Domenico, in Siena, Italy)

Theology of the Body Symposium

Theology of the body symposium

The Second International Theology of the Body Symposium, in Maynooth, Ireland, will be held on the weekend of the Feast of Corpus Christi, in anticipation of the thirtieth anniversary of Pope John Paul II's visit to Ireland. 2009 also marks thirty years since the first Papal Audience on the Theology of The Body.

The Symposium on the Theology of the Body aims at exploring ever deeper the goodness, truth and beauty of the Divine plan for human love. It will present the Theology of the Body itself as a unified whole, approaching it from spiritual, theological, philosophical, anthropological, and ethical perspectives. The Speakers (Dr. Michael Waldstein, Kathy Sinnott, Fr. Donald Calloway, and others) will present individual sections of the work according to their expertise, complemented by talks placing the Theology of the Body in its historical-cultural, political and medical context. The talks will be given in a language that is broadly accessible, that is, not accessible to scholars alone.

The registration fee is €135 for waged participants and €95 for students and unwaged. The fee includes attendance, meals (excluding breakfast), and tea/coffee breaks for the four days of the Symposium and a wine reception on Thursday evening. Those who cannot come, but would like to support the event, are encouraged to make a donation for it.

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Easter: The Great Sunday

Easter is not just "Easter Day," it is the fifty days from Easter Day until the Day of Pentecost. Easter is, so to speak, the "Sunday season". Every day of the Easter week is liturgically like a Sunday, and is of a similar rank as Easter. The following days are a further extension of Easter: the Sundays following Easter, often wrongly called "First Sunday after Easter," "Second Sunday after Easter," or (better) "Second Sunday of Eastertime" etc., are rightly called "Second Sunday of Easter", "Third Sunday of Easter" etc.

All the 7 weeks of Easter (a week of weeks) preserve an Easter and Sunday character. These fifty days, approximately a seventh of the year, make up a great "Sunday" in the yearly cycle.

The season of Easter has always been a time of joy and celebration. The Council of Nicaea, to favor this spirit of joy and celebration, even forbade fasting and kneeling during the fifty days of Easter.

This keeping of Easter as an extended celebration of the Resurrection has unfortunately been very much lost. I was struck today reading a pastoral letter of Bishop Conlon, of the diocese of Steubenville, inviting the Catholics of the diocese to resume the practice of abstaining from meat on Friday, and stating "The resumption of year-round abstinence in the Diocese of Steubenville will begin after this coming Easter, one week after Good Friday (April 17)." Of course this is certainly a good practice, but in fact, he chose the most inappropriate day possible to begin it. The Code of Canon Law, which in general preserves the law of abstinence on Fridays (though permitting the conferences of bishops to substitute other forms of penance), states that "abstinence from eating meat" is to be observed on Fridays unless they are solemnities. Easter Friday is a solemnity, indeed the greatest solemnity of the year that occurs on Friday. So this would not traditionally have been, nor according to the Code of Canon Law be a day of abstinence. The particular point about the starting date for beginning the practice is a small one, perhaps, but does seem to point to a certain regrettable lack of liturgical understanding.