30 September 2007

Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost

The Liturgy today alludes to the ordinations of Ember Saturday. Christ is our Savior, and the Priests of the Church are made rich in Him. The Church is blessed abundantly in and through our Lord Jesus Christ.

This afternoon we wandered around a little bit outside. We didn't go far as Lisa is conserving her strength for tomorrow's trip to Vienna! Since tomorrow is the Feast Day of St. Therese of Lisieux (Patroness of the ITI) on the New Calendar, the whole school is making a trip to Vienna in order to hear Holy Mass offered by Cardinal Schönborn in St. Stephen's Cathedral. We'll be in Vienna around 11:00 AM, giving us plenty of time to wander around before Mass at 6:00 PM and dinner afterwards. We'll tell you all about it tomorrow!

Back to this afternoon's meanderings... Some ducks in the river that runs through Gaming quite captivated Maria's attention for some time. Here they are, and here is Maria gazing rather serenly at them oblivious to all else.

29 September 2007

Ember Saturday in September

Almighty and everlasting God, Who by means of healthful abstinence dost heal both minds and bodies, very humbly we entreat Thy majesty: be appeased by the devout prayer of those who fast, and give us help both now and for time to come. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.

Check out the Catholic Encyclopedia for more on the Ember Days (the winter Ember Days occur after the 3rd Sunday of Advent, this year December 19, 21, 22).

This afternoon we discovered a delightful Austrian beverage: Gurktaler Alpenkräuter. It's made out of 59 different types of herbs, roots, seeds, and fruits. And it's excellent with tonic water and a slice of lemon. Sort of like a gin and tonic with the flavor taken up quite a few notches. Becherovka has a rival claimant to the title of "favorite drink" around here. And this stuff has the advantage of being readily available in the Spar right beneath our flat.

And last but not least, Maria decided to have some fun today with her daddy's shoes. Hmmm...

28 September 2007

Ember Friday in September

We beseech Thee, O almighty God, grant that, as year by year we devoutly keep these sacred fasts, we may please Thee both in body and mind. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.

It was an absolutely gorgeous day today! After John came home from his lecture, we took a long walk through Gaming. The trees on the mountains are changing colors, our view was absolutely breathtaking, the pictures below do not come close to doing it justice.

There are small shrines all throughout the Austrian countryside. We came across this one on our walk, a plaque read "Anno 1450."

27 September 2007

SS. Cosmas and Damian, Martyrs

SS. Cosmas and Damian, two brothers, physicians, born at Egæa (Arabia), were beheaded after many cruel tortures in Cilicia, under Diocletian, by order of the prefect Lysias in 283.

Tonight at the Kartause the ITI hosted a lecture by Dr. Markus Riedenauer entitled "Orexis: The Natural Basis of Aristotelian Ethics. All students are required to attend such lectures and so I had the opportunity to expand my knowledge of Aristotelian philosophy (such as it is). The main subject of the lecture was the proper place of the passions (emotions) in human virtue. The passions must be disciplined and integrated into right reason. Clearly it is our responsibility to train our passions to react spontaneously in accordance with reason. To quote Aristotle:

"Virtue has the quality of hitting the mean ... to feel these feelings at the right time, on the right occasion, towards the right people, for the right purpose and in the right manner, it is to feel the best amount of them, which is the mean amount" (Nichomachean Ethics VI, 2).

And in conclusion, here is another cute picture of Maria!

26 September 2007

Ember Wednesday in September

At the beginning of the four seasons of the Ecclesiastical Year, the Ember Days have been instituted by the Church to thank God for blessings obtained during the past year and to implore further graces for the new season. Their importance in the Church was formerly very great. They are fixed on the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday: after the First Sunday of Lent for spring, after Pentecost Sunday for summer, after the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross (14th September) for autumn, and after the Third Sunday of Advent for winter. They are intended, too, to consecrate to God the various seasons in nature, and to prepare by penance those who are about to be ordained. Ordinations generally take place on the Ember Days. The faithful ought to pray on these days for good priests. The Ember Days were until c. 1960 fastdays of obligation.

The women here have been taking turns bringing dinner to our flat ever since Lisa has been out of the hospital. It's been great for her to be able to rest, and for all of us to eat some new dishes. Today we received a tasty pasta dish with chunks of bacon. Maria thoroughly enjoyed wrestling the noodles off of her fork.

Budweiser Budvar

Region of Origin: Bohemia, Czech Republic
Style: Golden Lager
Alcohol Content: 4.0 abw (5.0 abv)
Ideal Serving Temperature: 48 F (9 C)

In the Czech Republic, only beers from Pilsen may use the name of that city. While they emphasize the hop, their similar, more southerly rivals from the brewing sity of Budweis lean towards a light, smooth maltiness. The city, on the Moldau River, began with a monastery and in the 1200s grew as a southern stronghold of the kingdom of Bohemia. Before trademarks, any brew mafe there would have been described as a "Budweiser" beer. Budweiser Burgerbrau, established in 1795, made the city's first lager in 1853. That brewery still operates. Budweiser Budvar came later, in 1895. By then, the German-American brewer Adolphus Busch was already making a "Budweiser" beer. Several other US brewers have in the past used the term Budweiser to describe their beers, but Busch's exclusive US rights to the name were eventually established beyond doubt. The Czech Budweiser beers are generally more assertive in flavor than their American namesake [that may be a bit of an understatement!], but not substantially higher in alcohol (taken from p. 89 of Great Beer Guide by Michael Jackson).

Thanks Jake and Christina!

25 September 2007


Today Maria wore the dress which her Nana made for her first birthday. Below she is quite involved in one of her favorite activities - meditating upon the happenings in the plaza below.

Here is a smile especially for Nana!

24 September 2007

Commemoration of Our Lady of Ransom

The Blessed Virgin Mary by repeated visions inspired St. Peter Nolasco and St. Raymond of Peñafort to found with the aid of king James of Aragon the Order of Our Lady of Ransom for the redemption of Christian captives from the infidels. The Church commemorates today this incomparable work of charity.

Today Lisa picked up and began to read 'a jewel of a book' entitled A Key to the Doctrine of the Eucharist by Abbot Vonier. On the very first page she encountered the, at first glance, startling idea that Christ died on the Cross not primarily for our sake but for God's sake. Here is what Vonier writes:

Before it is at all possible to think of man's enrichment through the grace of Christ's redemption we have to assume that much greater result of Christ's sacrifice on the Cross which is aptly expressed in the term "Atonement," by which is meant, not directly the benefit of man, but the benefit of God: that full restoration of what had been taken from God through man's sin, His honor and glory. Christ's act on the Cross has given back to the Father all that was ever taken away from Him by man, and the divine rights have been fully restored (pp. 1-2).

When Lisa read this statement to me I was immediately reminded of something which I read in Joseph Ratzinger's newest book Jesus of Nazareth. He writes:

He [Jesus] is the peacemaker, he is the one who suffers for God's sake (p. 74).

Honestly, how often do we remember to consider that Christ offered Himself on the Cross primarily for God's sake and secondarily for ours? Think about it.

23 September 2007

17th Sunday after Pentecost

The Liturgy reminds us today of the great commandment of charity towards God and our neighbor. "The precept is twofold," declares St. Augustine, "but charity is one." We love God above all and our neighbor for His sake.

Today for Divine Liturgy Maria wore her traditional Austrian dress which we bought at a flea market in a nearby town.

22 September 2007

Novena to St Therese (Sept 22-30)

Novena prayer in honor of St. Therese for the intentions of the International Theological Institute

God, you have called us as your children to grow together in wisdom and love under the patronage of your servant St. Therese. Guided by her example and supported by your grace, may we perform our duties faithfully and generously, and place all of our trust in you. Through her merits and prayers grant us the spiritual strength and wisdom, the union in heart and mind, and the material goods that we need to carry out the mission to which you have called us. Through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Pater noster, Ave Maria

St. Thomas of Villanova, Bishop, Confessor

St. Thomas, born in Spain, religious of the Order of Hermits of St. Augustine, Archbishop of Valencia, died having given away to the poor all he possessed in 1555.

Lisa is home! Deo gratias! We picked her up from the hospital this morning a little after 10:00 and came home after doing a bit of shopping at the Hofer in Scheibbs. It was quite a wild second week in Austria for Lisa. She seems to be doing just fine now though. Thank you again for all your prayers. We celebrated her return home this evening with a glass of fizzy peach wine.

21 September 2007

Maria is growing up so fast

Tonight Maria and I ate a frozen pizza for dinner (one more reason it will be great to have Lisa home tommorow!). Here's Maria trying out a new skill - eating with a fork. She has actually had some success, believe it or not. She is growing up so fast!

St. Matthew, Apostle, Evangelist

St. Matthew was at first a publican at the toll station at Capharnaum. The publicans, on account of their many acts of injustice and extortion, were looked upon as the greatest sinners by the Jews. Matthew himself by his humble confession gratefully acknowledged the gracious condescension of the Lord to sinners. At his Master’s invitation he promptly joined Him. He wrote the first Gospel and preached the Good News in Palestine and in Ethiopia, where he was attacked and killed while saying Mass in 60.

The class on the Prophets in which I am enrolled met this morning for an extended session in lieu of meeting on the regularly scheduled Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. So instead of a day off, I was immersed in the writings of Isaias (Isaiah). The weather today, though, is absolutely beautiful. The sky is pure blue as you can see:

Just to give you some idea of how different this place is from ordinary universities, here is a shot of the Ave Maria classroom in which I was engaged in the study of Isaias this morning:

The book of Isaias was often referred to by the Church Fathers as the Fifth Gospel because of its many and detailed prophecies of the Christ. For example:

7:14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign. Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel.

9:6-7 For a child is born to us, and a son is given to us, and the government is upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called, Wonderful, Counsellor, God the Mighty, the Father of the world to come, the Prince of Peace. His empire shall be multiplied, and there shall be no end of peace: he shall sit upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom; to establish it and strengthen it with judgment and with justice, from henceforth and for ever: the zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.

11:1-3 And there shall come forth a rod out of the root of Jesse, and a flower shall rise up out of his root. And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: the spirit of wisdom, and of understanding, the spirit of counsel, and of fortitude, the spirit of knowledge, and of godliness. And he shall be filled with the spirit of the fear of the Lord.

40:3-4 The voice of one crying in the desert: Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the wilderness the paths of our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall become straight, and the rough ways plain.

42:1-4 Behold my servant, I will uphold him: my elect, my soul delighteth in him: I have given my spirit upon him, he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not cry, nor have respect to person, neither shall his voice be heard abroad. The bruised reed he shall not break, and smoking flax he shall not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth. He shall not be sad, nor troublesome, till he set judgment in the earth: and the islands shall wait for his law.

50:6 I have given my body to the strikers, and my cheeks to them that plucked them: I have not turned away my face from them that rebuked me, and spit upon me.

52:13-53:12 Behold my servant shall understand, he shall be exalted, and extolled, and shall be exceeding high. As many have been astonished at thee, so shall his visage be inglorious among men, and his form among the sons of men. He shall sprinkle many nations, kings shall shut their mouth at him: for they to whom it was not told of him, have seen: and they that heard not, have beheld. Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? And he shall grow up as a tender plant before him, and as a root out of a thirsty ground: there is no beauty in him, nor comeliness: and we have seen him, and there was no sightliness, that we should be desirous of him: Despised, and the most abject of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with infirmity: and his look was as it were hidden and despised, whereupon we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our infirmities and carried our sorrows: and we have thought him as it were a leper, and as one struck by God and afflicted. But he was wounded for our iniquities, he was bruised for our sins: the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and by his bruises we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray, every one hath turned aside into his own way: and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was offered because it was his own will, and he opened not his mouth: he shall be led as a sheep to the slaughter, and shall be dumb as a lamb before his shearer, and he shall not open his mouth. He was taken away from distress, and from judgment: who shall declare his generation? because he is cut off out of the land of the living: for the wickedness of my people have I struck him. And he shall give the ungodly for his burial, and the rich for his death: because he hath done no iniquity, neither was there deceit in his mouth. And the Lord was pleased to bruise him in infirmity: if he shall lay down his life for sin, he shall see a long-lived seed, and the will of the Lord shall be prosperous in his hand. Because his soul hath laboured, he shall see and be filled: by his knowledge shall this my just servant justify many, and he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I distribute to him very many, and he shall divide the spoils of the strong, because he hath delivered his soul unto death, and was reputed with the wicked: and he hath borne the sins of many, and hath prayed for the transgressors.

20 September 2007

Commemoration of St. Eustace and His Companions, Martyrs

Eustace was commander-in-chief in the army of the Emperor Trajan. Having refused to thank the gods for a triumph, he was burned to death with his wife and two children, after undergoing many cruel tortures in 120.

Today Maria and I were able to spend the whole afternoon at the hospital with Lisa. They now say that she'll be able to come home Saturday morning, Deo gratias! Please continue to pray for her complete recovery.

I had occasion to remind myself again that suffering patiently endured here at least has this advantage over Purgatory: beautiful surroundings. These are a couple shots of the landscape from the road between Gaming and Scheibbs (where the hospital is located).

19 September 2007

St. Januarius, Bishop, Martyr, and His Companions, Martyrs

St. Januarius, Bishop of Beneventum, was beheaded with his companions Acutius, Eutychius, Desiderius, Festus, Proclus, and Socius at Puteoli in the persecution of Diocletian in 305. St. Januarius is the patron of Naples, where year by year the liquefaction of his blood, preserved in a phial, takes place.

After a long day of taking Maria here and there to be cared for by friends while I attended classes, we just got back from a visit to the hospital. Lisa is doing well although she is getting rather tired of laying in bed all day. The new estimate for her return home is Sunday or Monday, but she is trying to convince them to let her go at least by Saturday. Thank you all for your prayers. We all appreciate them.

18 September 2007

St. Joseph of Cupertino, Confessor

St. Joseph, a humble Franciscan Friar of Cupertino in Italy, who could acquire but little of book knowledge and needed divine help to qualify for the priesthood, was favored by his crucified God with a marvelous grace of contemplation, and with a remarkable power of miracles. He died at Orsino in 1663.

Please keep us all, especially Lisa, in your prayers. She had her appendix removed this morning after waking up in a lot of pain. She is recovering at a near-by hospital and hopefully will be out tomorrow or the day after. We'll keep you all updated.

17 September 2007

Commemoration of the Imprinting of the Holy Stigmata on the Body of St. Francis, Confessor

Two years before his death, while at prayer on Mount Alvernia, the Seraphic Patriarch St. Francis of Assisi, was rapt in contemplation, and received in his own body the impression of the sacred Wounds of Christ. Pope Benedict XI ordered the Feast of the Stigmata of St. Francis to be observed on September 17. Pope Paul V extended it to the whole Catholic world.

Today Maria played one of her favorite games with her daddy while mommy took a nap. Peek-a-boo!

There she is!

16 September 2007

Sixteenth Sunday After Pentecost

All the faithful in the Catholic Church, assisted by the grace of God, which they humbly implore, should always seek the perfection of their souls.

This morning at Divine Liturgy we witnessed the baptism, chrismation, and first reception of Holy Communion of a baby boy. It was beautiful; the rites were far more involved than what we have been accustomed to. The Easterners really have a sense for symbolism.

Tonight Miriel Thomas (sister of two of John's classmates from Ave) came over for dinner. Dinner was interesting... I thought I had bought cans of tomato sauce, but it was just whole tomatoes. So the sauce was pretty watery, but it turned out alright. It might take awhile, but I suppose I'll get used to shopping when all the labels are in German! For dessert we had some delicious swiss and austrian chocolate, which Maria particularly enjoyed.

15 September 2007

Evening Constitutional

Maria is not always as sad as in the previous post. Tonight she was quite pleased with herself, and with dinner. Her favorite part was the ketchup, which she got all over her face!

After dinner, we decided to explore the town of Gaming. Maria and I had not seen much of it, besides the main street, which is where our flat is located. Running through Gaming is a small river, which is much lower now than it has been for the past few weeks, because finally it has stopped raining!

We were told that behind the church in Gaming there was a path up the side of a mountain, with a great view of the town. Here you can see most of the town, as well as the surrounding mountains. It really is a beautiful place. Unfortunately, there was a small tree right in the middle of the best view.

Feast of the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary

What words can ever describe the unspeakable anguish that rent the sacred heart of Mary as she looked upon her Divine Son hanging on the cross! Every wound in Jesus’ body was also a wound in the heart of Mary: every fiber, every nerve throbbing in agony, every pang He suffered re-echoed in her heart. She endured by her compassion a share in all the anguish of His Passion. Why did Mary suffer all this? That she might be our Mother, the Mother of mankind. She who brought forth her Divine Son without a pang suffered many a piercing pang when from the cross her dying Son commended to her the sinful sons of men. It was indeed a motherhood of sorrow that she suffered for our sins: for mine.

Here are a couple pictures of Maria that were actually taken yesterday. We woke her up early to catch a ride into Scheibbs, the nearest town of moderate size, in order to do some more extensive grocery shopping at the Hofer, which believe it or not is the exact same store as Aldi. Maria was, as you can see, none to pleased to be awakened before she was good and ready.

Then, for some reason, she suddenly developed an intense fear of heights; even heights of one or two inches. Here she is cautiously scooting over a little ledge between the kitchen and living room with a rather fearful expression on her face. This only after she stood there and cried for quite some time begging to be carried over the ledge. Our strategy must have worked because today she walks over it without seeming to notice at all.

14 September 2007

A Presentation on Ecumenism

The 3rd European Ecumenical Assembly, which met in Subiu, Romania from 4-9 September 2007, adopted as their theme The Light of Christ Shines Upon All. Hope for Renewal and Unity in Europe. One of the participants in this gathering, a Catholic priest, offered a presentation this evening at the Kartause. He spoke both of his experience at Subiu, and also of his vision of the ecumenical movement in general. The whole student body of the ITI was in attendance with Dr. Waldstein present as German-English interpreter.

The presentation focused primarily, indeed almost exclusively, on the relationship of the Catholic Church with the schismatic Orthodox Churches of the East. I'll offer just two observations on the presentation. First, I was delighted that he urged the Eastern Catholic Churches united with Rome to cling tenaciously their own unique traditions, to resist the easy path of adopting Roman habits. Second, and more negatively, I am rather uncomfortable with the notion put forward that the Orthodox ought only to be bound to believe, in regards to the primacy of the Bishop of Rome, those aspects of the doctrine that developed in the first millennium of the Church. N.B. the de Fide dogma of papal infallibility was solemnly defined only in 1870 by the First Vatican Council's decree Dei Filius.

When the students were offered the opportunity of putting questions to our guest, I asked the following: "What, if any, do you think the significance of Pope Benedict's initiative, which takes effect today, of de-restricting the traditional liturgy of the Latin Church, will be in regards to the Orthodox, who obviously value so highly their own traditional liturgies?"

I was rather disappointed with his answer, although I appreciated the honesty of his initial response. He admitted that it is not something he has much familiarity with, although he would suppose a favorable reaction amongst the Orthodox in general. However, he then went on with the usual characterizations of the Traditional Latin Mass: mumbled prayers in a dead language, old ladies praying the rosary, etc. Ah well, today is still a day for rejoicing in the Exaltation of the Holy Cross and in the liberalization of our beloved rite of Mass.

But it behooves us to glory in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ: in Whom is our salvation, life, and resurrection: by Whom we are saved, and delivered. May God have mercy on us and bless us: may he cause the light of His countenance to shine upon us, and may He have mercy on us. Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto sicut erat in principio et nunc et semper et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.

O God, Who this day dost gladden us by the yearly feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross: grant, we beseech Thee, that we who on earth acknowledge the mystery of Redemption wrought upon it, may be worthy to enjoy the rewards of that same Redemption in heaven. Through the same our Lord Jesus Christ Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.

Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross

Chosroes, king of Persia, carried away the True Cross to Persia; but Heraclius, Emperor of the East, defeated Chosreos and himself carried the holy Cross to the Basilica on Calvary in 629.

Today the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, derestricting the offering of the Traditional Latin Mass, obtains the force of law in the Roman Catholic Church!

Today is a day of great celebration for traditional Catholics all across the world. TE DEUM LAUDAMUS!

13 September 2007

Finally, Stambrau!

At long last we obtained the much acclaimed Stambrau bier and drank it tonight with dinner in honor of Will and Anna's wedding and the birth of Chuck and Julia's new baby Elizabeth Rose. It didn't disappoint.

This morning we obtained a coffee maker! Lisa tested it out immediately. I think she'll survive here now.

And, last but not least, little Maria. She is enjoying all her new friends here; there are over sixty children at the campus, many of them her same age. Here she is with a bandana on her head (at her own insistence) carrying a paintbrush with which to tickle her parents. She gets quite a kick out of seeing us jump.

12 September 2007

Maria Likes it Here!

Here, Maria is winking for the camera, a skill she aquired from her father, because her mother is unable to wink. She is especially winking for her grandparents, whom she misses very much. See mom, I told you I wouldn't let her forget you.

Maria is very satisfied after her dinner of mashed bananas in vanilla yogurt. Her father and mother had spicy chicken and fresh bread and butter. And of course, beer. She didn't know what she was missing. Hopefully we can keep it that way for awhile.

Feast of the Most Holy Name of Mary

The great victory, which John Sobieski, king of Poland, gained against the Turks under the walls of Vienna, caused the Pope Innocent XI to make this feast obligatory throughout the whole Western Church as a yearly act of thanksgiving for the deliverance of Christian Europe.

From the Catholic Encyclopedia Articles on Vienna and John Sobieski, detailing his glorious victory there over the muslim Turks:

"Vienna had to suffer another siege by the mortal foe of Christendom during the reign of Emperor Leopold I. Influenced by Louis XIV of France, the sultan sent directly against Vienna an army of 200,000 men under the command of the Grand Vizier Kara Mustapha; this army appeared before the city before the gathering of the imperial army had been completed... The Turks began the attack 13 July, 1683, and made violent assaults almost daily; the number of defenders sank from day to day, hunger and misery appeared, and the hospitals were full of sick and wounded. It was not until early in September that the relieving army, which had collected at Tulln, set out for Vienna; the commander-in-chief was the King of Poland, John Sobieski... The memorable battle began on 12 September; the Christian army descended form the Kahlenberg in three charges and won a brilliant victory over the Turks. Thenceforth Austria and Germany were permanently relieved of the danger of invasion by the Turks..."

"The Turks were routed, Vienna and Christendom saved, and the news sent to the pope and along with the Standard of the Prophet, taken by Sobieski, who himself had heard Mass in the morning. Prostrate with outstretched arms, he declared that it was God's cause he was fighting for, and ascribed the victory... to Him alone."

A conquerer like Caesar, yet unlike him a Christian, John Sobieski's words ring through the ages ascribing to God the ultimate victory of Christianity over Islam - Veni, vidi, Deus vicit (I came, I saw, God conquered).

11 September 2007

Ss. Protus and Hyacinth, Martyrs

These two brothers were scourged and beheaded at Rome in the persecution of Valerian and Gallian in 262.

Deo gratias! We are all here now. Despite a long dely in Atlanta due to a broken air valve, Lisa and Maria finally landed in Vienna at 11:48 local time. I had to rush off to a class on the prophets, but afterwards we bundled up Maria and walked to the Kartause restaurant and had a delicious dinner complete with the Kartause's own brew.

10 September 2007

St. Nicholas of Tolentino, Confessor

From his childhood St. Nicholas was a model of virtue and innocence. He entered the Order of St. Augustine and became a famous preacher. He died in 1310.

Lisa and Maria are in the air! If all goes well, after a layover in Atlanta, they'll be in Vienna tomorrow morning at 10:00 (4:00am Eastern Time) where I'll be waiting! Please say a prayer to St. Christopher for their safety.

09 September 2007

Fifteenth Sunday After Pentecost

Our Lord Jesus Christ has snatched us from eternal death, as He once snatched the young man of Naim from natural death. Doing this He shows the compassion which he feels for our mother the Catholic Church lamenting over sinners, just as He was moved by pity for the poor widow lamenting over her son.

One more note on yesterday's Mass at Mariazell with Pope Benedict XVI:

Appropriately enough, on the centennial of Pope St. Pius X's encyclical letter Pascendi Dominici Gregis, in which he condemned the modernist heresy with force and clarity, Pope Benedict XVI spoke the following yesterday in his homily at Mariazell:

"Only He [Jesus] is God and therefore only He is the bridge that truly brings God and man together. So if we Christians call him the one universal Mediator of salvation, valid for everyone and, ultimately, needed by everyone, this does not mean that we despise other religions, nor are we arrogantly absolutizing our own ideas; on the contrary, it means that we are gripped by him who has touched our hearts and lavished gifts upon us, so that we, in turn, can offer gifts to others. In fact, our faith is decisively opposed to the attitude of resignation that considers man incapable of truth - as if this were more than he could cope with. This attitude of resignation with regard to truth, I am convinced, lies at the heart of the crisis of the West, the crisis of Europe. If truth does not exist for man, then neither can he ultimately distinguish between good and evil."

Back to today:

This morning, for the second Sunday in a row, I was subjected to an emotive guitar Mass. Blithly assuming that the Byzantine Divine Liturgy would also be offered at 10:00 I arrived to find the Divine Liturgy already well underway, leaving me no other means by which to fulfill my Sunday obligation than by attending the Mass about to begin in the main chapel. I could not help recalling to mind again the words of Pope St. Pius X in his Instruction on Sacred Music, Tra Le Sollecitudini:

"It is vain to hope that the blessing of heaven will descend abundantly upon us, when our homage to the Most High, instead of ascending in the odor of sweetness, puts into the hand of the Lord the scourges wherewith of old the Divine Redeemer drove the unworthy profaners from the Temple."

Iesu dulcissime, cuius effusa in homines caritas, tanta oblivione, negligentia, contemptione, ingratissime rependitur, en nos, ante altaria tua provoluti, tam nefariam hominum socordiam iniuriasque, quibus undique amantissimum Cor tuum afficitur, peculiari honore resarcire contendimus...

08 September 2007

The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

At the time of Mary’s birth the whole world was plunged in darkness. The heathen nations were steeped in vice and pride. The Jews, too, had corrupted their ways and departed from God. Everywhere there was sin and gloom, no bright spot on the face of the earth. But when Mary was born a light arose amid the darkness: the dawn of the glorious day that was to usher in the Redeemer. So, too, the darkness of the sinner’s soul is dispersed by Mary’s holy influence. Where the love of her is born in the soul, all becomes full of light, and Jesus comes to make his habitation there. Mary, in the first hour of her life, brought more glory to God than all the Saints of the Old Testament. In her were made perfect the obedience of Abraham, the chastity of Joseph, the patience of Job, the meekness of Moses, the prudence of Josue. It is because she is the model and pattern of these and all other virtues that she can communicate them to us.

In honor of our Blessed Mother's birthday and the 850th Anniversary of the most important Marian shrine in Central Europe, Pope Benedict XVI offered Mass this morning at the shrine in Mariazell as part of his three day pilgrimage in Austria (you can read his homily here). The shrine houses a miraculous wooden statute (below) of the Blessed Virgin holding the child Jesus, which was brought here by a monk named Magnus in 1157.

The ITI was represented at Mariazell by two busloads of faculty, staff, and students, myself among them. We departed from the Kartause at 5:30am, and, upon arriving, walked about 4km to Mariazell where Mass began at 10:30. We were rained upon the entire time, reminiscent of my experience of WYD in Toronto. It was quite a zoo, but worth it in order to pay my respects to the successor of St. Peter. In the picture below you can see that we weren't favored with the best location. The Pope offered Mass under the white canopy that you can see in front of the Church. We were only able to watch on the enormous television screen.

Upon arriving by car rather than helicopter due to the rainy weather, the Pope first went in to pray for a few moments at the shrine:

He then retired in order to be vested and came out again wearing what can only be described as tie-dyed rainbow vestments. [Update: The American Papist has linked the below photo taken by yours truly, a "Papist-on-the-ground"]

Here, at the beginning of the Mass, you can see that the cardinal is also vested in like manner. How disturbing! I can't seem to remember in which liturgical feast or season the rubrics call for such colors to be used!

07 September 2007

First Friday Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Pious souls, deeply afflicted by the outrages that the Sacred Heart of Jesus receives from careless and impious Christians, consecrate to It, in the spirit of reparation, the First Friday of each month.

O sweet Jesus, whose overflowing charity for men is requited by so much forgetfulness, negligence, and contempt, behold us prostrate before Thine altar eager to repair by a special act of homage the cruel indifference and injuries, to which Thy loving Heart is everywhere subject... (Act of Reparation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus)

The Byzantine Divine Liturgy was offered in Romanian today, and following the celebration of the Mysteries, were devotions to the Sacred Heart of Jesus in honor of the first Friday of the month. I was delighted to find that such Western devotions are also practised by the Byzantines here.

In more mundane news, it finally stopped raining today. It seems like it's been raining ever since I got here, although I vaguely remember seeing the sun the first couple of days. It has rained so much here in the past week that the little stream that runs through the town has turned into a rushing river. Last week it was just winding gently along its way; you could even see the streambed quite clearly. Today, however, and it has already receded somewhat, it looks like this:

06 September 2007

Opening Ceremonies

Tonight's opening of the new academic year was quite exhilarating. First, Mass at 5:15, at which the president of the University, Msgr. Hogan, presided. At 7:30 the whole school assembled in the baroque library, which has been called "the sistine chapel of the north" (see picture). There we were privileged to witness a performance by an opera singer and a pianist of some reputation (I heard mention of two of the opera houses in Vienna), as well as a very talented young violinist. Mozart and Bach, duets on the piano, violin accompanied by piano, selections from various operetta's, what an evening! High Austrian culture brought right into the Kartause. And afterwards bread and cheese, fruits and cakes, and wine, no shortage of good red wine.

The president of the University also gave an address on the subject of, "The Idea of a University," in which he posed the question, "Are Students Animals or Are They Beasts?" A provacative question indeed. Of course we are animals, rational animals, according to the definition of Aristotle. The speech focused in on the trend in modern society to treat beasts with more and more respect while at the same time treating men with less and less respect. It is no coincidence that animal rights movements go hand in hand with increased abortion and euthanasia, for the evolutionary theory has increasingly blurred the line between man and beast. What separates us from the beasts? Our rationality. And here we come to the purpose of the University: to form human beings in that which makes us human; to educate; not merely to impart knowledge, but to train the mind of the student in virtue.

05 September 2007

St. Lawrence Justinian, Bishop, Confessor

St. Lawrence, of the noble family of Giustiniani, Bishop and first Patriarch of Venice, was “the pride and the ornament of the Catholic Episcopate.” He died in 1455.

The results are in from the first day of classes here, and, I have to say, I think I'm going to like it here. German this morning was entertaining and not too challenging; we started with cognates, and there are quite a few of them. Then in Political Philosophy I was quickly disabused of the notion that Plato generally expresses his own opinions through the mouth of Socrates in his dialogic writing style. After lunch, I had Natural Philosophy and St. Augustine's City of God. Except for German so far, there are exactly four students in each of my classes. It makes the seminar style classes, as opposed to lectures, a little more challenging, but hopefully my loquacious nature will serve me well in that regard.

Tonight, in preparation for tomorrow's class on the Synoptic Gospels, I am reading our Supreme Pontiff's recent book Jesus of Nazareth, as well as Romano Guardini's The Lord.

04 September 2007

My First Reading Assignments

Tomorrow is my first day of classes here, and I have assignments to work on for almost every class already tonight. Welcome to grad school, I suppose.

For my German class, which meets at 8:00 tomorrow, I thankfully do not have any preparatory work. For Political Philosophy, my next class, I have begun to read Plato's republic. Socrates has already had a delightful exchange with a young interlocutor who proposes that "justice" is giving to each his due (a correct proposition in my own opinion).

I resume in the afternoon with Natural Philosophy, for which I have read a chapter of Josef Pieper in which he discusses our increasing inability to really see things as they are. For the same class I have also read two excerpts from Jean Henri Fabre (my first encounter with him) on his observations of processionary caterpillars and of grey crickets. After that comes Ecclesiology: The City of God, in which we are reading, naturally enough, St. Augustine's City of God. I have just finished the introduction, and, after an orientation meeting to which I must run off, I shall also read book one.

Wish me luck!

03 September 2007

St. Pius X, Pope, Confessor

Joseph Sarto was born at Riese in Venetia on June 2, 1835. He was successively curate, parish priest, bishop of Mantua, patriarch of Venice. He was elected Pope on August 4, 1903. As chief pastor of the Church he realized to the full the value of the liturgy as the prayer of the Church and spared no effort to propagate the practice of frequent and daily Communion. In his encyclical Pascendi Dominici Gregis, he exposed and condemned the modernist heresy with force and clarity (1907). He died on August 20, 1914, and was canonized on May 29, 1954.

In local news, today was laundry day. Things are a little different here, but I think I'm starting to get the hang of it.

And, hat tip to Mary and Christina who ventured into the Germanies before us, I refreshed myself at lunch today with a Radler. Yes, that is a picture of lemons on the bottle. It says (in German), With Natural Lemonade! Quite delicious. I bought this on a whim because I could not locate the Stambrau that has been so highly recommended to me. But no worries, the search begins anew tomorrow.

02 September 2007

Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Christian people should attend to their temporal interests without exaggerated preoccupation, for such anxiety offends God Who is our Father in heaven. We cannot serve two masters: the flesh and the spirit, at the same time. But let us serve the spirit given to us by the Holy Ghost, Who makes us lean towards the supernatural life.

Today, after Mass, I had brunch with a wonderful couple from India. Their son is just one month older than Maria. They made omelets and french toast and we drank pear juice and coffee -it was really quite nice. Afterwords, I went home and took a nap. I'm still tired and sore from yesterday's pilgrimage. And I must confess that I failed to take any pictures all day.

01 September 2007

Commemoration of St. Giles, Abbot

St. Giles, an Athenian, fled to the south of France, where he lived as a hermit in a vast forest. Discovered by king Theodoric, he founded a renowned monastery and was so famous on account of his miracles that a great number of churches were dedicated to him. He died in the 6th century.

Today I woke up at 6am in order to go on pilgrimage to the Marian shrine at Mariazell. The shrine, the same which the Pope will visit next Saturday, houses an ancient miraculous statue of the Blessed Virgin. We walked for about 8 hours through some of the most beautiful country I have ever seen. Needless to say, my feet are now killing me, but if I manage to go to confession this week and detach myself from all venial sin, I will be the grateful recipient of a plenary indulgence. So, I'll deal with sore feet. Along the way we prayed together all 20 decades of the holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The few pictures that I managed to take do not do justice in the least to the awesome majesty of the Alpine Mountains. Nevertheless, here are a few of my favorites.
Our path winds right into the mountains.
Here you can see two of our party to give you a sense of scale.

For most of the day, we followed the path cut by this river as it winds its way through the mountains.

Here is our whole group together. All ITI students/staff except for three Ave Maria students here for the semester.

When there was no path, we made one.

And at long last, our destination came into sight. We heard Mass at 4:00, offered ad orientem to my great delight! And then piled into vans for the return trip. A magnificent experience that I wouldn't mind going through again in a year or so when my feet are fully recovered.
Sancta Maria, ora pro nobis!