Saturday, March 31, 2007

Rapping Catholic Priest hits Brisbane

From Brisbane Times:

A rapping Catholic priest from New York will be "wording it up" to the converted in Brisbane tonight and Sydney on Sunday.

Father Stan Fortuna, from New York's South Bronx district, brings his Activ8 concerts to warm up Australia prior to the World Youth Day event in Sydney in July next year.

Father Stan is known for his "unique musical style and inspirational lyrics".

His musical style is said to draw inspiration from contemporary jazz, folk, reggae and rap.

Vatican Treasures Found In Illinois House?

From CBS Channel 2 in Chicago:

There's something strange going on in a west suburban neighborhood. As CBS 2’s Rafael Romo reports, rumors are flying that priceless art from the Vatican may be inside a Berwyn home.

“By the time I came home from work the place was just swarming with police inside and out and they've been staking the place out each and every night since then,” said Greg Baroni, who lives next door to the house that may be holding a mystery.

Berwyn police have been standing guard outside the house, on Elmwood Avenue, for the last three days.But they are not saying what has been found inside the home that belonged to an Italian man in his late 70s who died last Thursday.

“He was a bank teller at Taylor Street for his whole life, as far as I know. I think he came here in the late 50s and I believe he owned the house since 1963,” Baroni said.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Search Inside My Novena Book

I would recommend taking a look inside my novena prayer book and reading the history behind some of these prayers...

Go to...

The Church's Most Powerful Novenas

Then do a search of:

St. Gaspar

Rosary Novena

Mother Teresa's Quick Novena


I think you'll be impressed and see that this isn't your normal prayer book.

"I was ill and now I am cured"


The irony that the miracle would be a cure from Parkinsons, from which the pope suffered himself, horribly.

From Monsters and Critics:

'I was ill and now I am cured,' French Catholic nun Sister Marie Simon-Pierre said Friday as she recounted how praying to the late Pope John Paul II helped cure her of Parkinson's disease in 2005.

'I am cured. It is the work of God through the intercession of John Paul II,' the 46-year-old woman told journalists in the southern French city of Aix-en-Provence. 'It is something very powerful, very difficult to put into words.'

Sister Marie's recovery from the degenerative disorder of the central nervous system, for which no known cure exists, is to be described as a miracle that the late pope performed, two months after his death, and could be used as a basis for his eventual beatification.

On Sunday, an announcement to that effect is scheduled to be made in Sister Marie's diocese of Aix-en-Provence.

Sister Marie, who is a member of an order of nuns working in Catholic maternity hospitals, was diagnosed with Parkinson's in 2002. She said Friday that her disease worsened after Pope John Paul II's death, on April 2, 2005.

She went on to say how she and her entire order then prayed for her continuously, using the late pope as an intermediary, and how she was suddenly cured on the night of June 2, two months after John Paul II died.

'It is up to the Church to make a declaration and to acknowledge that it is a miracle,' Sister Marie said.

The Way of the Cross from Brooklyn to Manhattan

From The Brooklyn Paper:

Walking from Brooklyn to Manhattan is always an experience. On April 6, however, a procession over the bridge will be a religious one.

The Catholic lay group Communion and Liberation will, for the 12th year, bring the “Good Friday Way of the Cross Procession” from St. James Cathedral to St. Peter’s in Lower Manhattan.

The march is led by Brooklyn’s Bishop Ignatius Catanello and Bay Ridge resident Jonathan Fields, who will carry a four-foot, 10-pound wooden cross across the bridge. Along the way, it will include songs from the Communion and Liberation choir as well as readings from the Gospels.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Hearing Confessions


From Zenit:

The Holy Father presented the penitential service as "an encounter around the cross, a celebration of the mercy of God that each of us can experience personally in the sacrament of confession." "In the heart of every person," there is "thirst for love," the Pope said in the homily. "The Christian cannot live without love. Moreover, if he doesn't encounter true love, he cannot even call himself fully Christian." State of grace Benedict XVI explained that, in approaching the sacrament of confession, "love and the mercy of God move your hearts. … You experience in this way the forgiveness of sins, reconciliation with the Church, and recovery of the state of grace, if you have lost it. "Christ attracts you to himself, to unite himself with each one of you so that, for our part, we learn to love our brethren with that same love." "There is great necessity for a renewed capacity to love our brothers and sisters," the Pope said. He invited the young people "to dare to love in your family, in your relationships with your friends, and also with those who have offended you."

Mystery nun the key to Pope John Paul II's case for sainthood

From the Guardian Unlimited:

The nun's identity is supposed to be a closely guarded secret, but a French newspaper named her last night as Marie-Simon-Pierre. On its website, Le Figaro said she was from a congregation near Aix-en-Provence, and worked in a maternity clinic in Paris. Slawomir Oder, a Polish cleric living in Rome who is the official advocate of John Paul's cause, declined to confirm or deny the report, saying he had been sworn to secrecy.
But, he had earlier told a press conference in Rome that the recovery of a French nun of "about 45 years old" was the main evidence that the late pope had miraculous powers. Among the thousands of documents in the dossier were two handwritten by the nun, he said. The first was written when she was in the grip of Parkinson's disease. Monsignor Oder said that in begging for the late Pope's intercession she had "written the name of John Paul II in an illegible hand, because of the illness".
He added: "On the morning of the miracle, however, the sister picked up a pen and wrote an entirely comprehensible letter." He said evidence from handwriting experts formed a crucial part of his file. The nun had also undergone a psychological examination. Monsignor Oder said she had been cured "two months after the Pope's death" in April 2005. "All the symptoms of her illness disappeared from one moment to the next," he said.

Schiavo Brother Denounces Bishop

From the North Country Gazzette:


"Speaking on behalf of my family, my intention was to write you a letter subsequent to my sister Terri Schiavo's death in order to explain to you why I hold you more accountable for her horrific death than Michael Schiavo, his attorney, and even the judge that ordered her to die.

"In something of a bitter irony, however, it wasn't until I came across your recent article in the Tampa Tribune, where your own words succeeded in saying much of what I wanted to say, that I was finally motivated to write.

"In the opening paragraph of your commentary, "The Homeless Are Challenge To Our Cities And Our Faith," you said "The challenge of the homeless in St. Petersburg has made national news and it has been embarrassing to many people. I am convinced that both on Judgment Day and in history, we will most likely be judged not by the things which we might have considered personally important to ourselves in life but how we took care of others less fortunate." A prophetic statement indeed - and one in complete conformity with the words of our Lord in Matthew 25:31-46.

"You then went on to say in the beginning of the next paragraph, "The faces which may haunt each of us on Judgment Day may well be those of Bishop Lynch, I couldn't have said it better myself. Instead of writing a lengthy letter explaining the hypocrisy of your words, let me just say the following:

"The barbarism and nightmare of Terri's two week death by thirst and starvation will be forever seared into my family's memory. It is incomprehensible to us that a nation supposedly built on basic Judeo- Christian principles would allow something so wicked to happen. That is, until one realizes that just as the Culture of Death made a triumphal entry into our nation in 1973, via legalized abortion, without so much as a whimper of protest from those with the God-given authority to stop it, so now our disabled and elderly are being targeted for death. The bottom line is, when apostolic grace and responsibility are abdicated, innocent people die.

"Fortunately, my family was provided much needed comfort and strength by an enormous outpouring of prayers of support, including the unwavering support of the Holy See, which to this day continues to arrive for our family.

"Even more uplifting are the stories we receive almost daily of how my sister has, in a special way, touched the hearts and changed the lives of so many people, not only in our country, but all over the world. So much so that there are efforts being made by people world-wide to promote Terri's cause for beatification.

"Terri's legacy is one of life and love. Sadly, your legacy will be that of the shepherd that stood silently by as one of his innocent disabled lambs was slowly and needlessly slaughtered by removing her food and water - while you persistently ignored the cries of her family for help ("her family" being the ones who merely wanted to care for her.)

"You should not need to be reminded of the many passages of Scripture that condemn the shepherds that "pasture themselves on their sheep," or Christ's admonition to St. Peter to "feed My lambs," etc. As my family and I dedicate the remainder of our lives to saving other innocent lambs targeted by the Death Culture, I beg the Lord to spare us another successor of the apostles who would exhibit the same scandalous inaction and silence by which you remain complicit in my sister's murder via euthanasia.

"I realize that for the sake of my salvation I must come to a point to at least want to forgive you, Bishop Lynch, for aiding and giving comfort to the evildoers who took my sister's innocent and vulnerable life (and yes, she was objectively more innocent and more vulnerable than perhaps any homeless person.) The Catholic Church however, has spoken on Terri's case, and she has decreed in favor of Terri's right to life and everything our family did to try to save her.

"Your behaviors, in contrast, have brought scandal to the Universal Church and to the faithful, particularly here in Florida. Your indifference toward the Truth is appalling, but seems to be indicative of the all-too prevalent corruption of priestly formation in the 1960's and 70's, so perhaps your culpability is somewhat mitigated. Even so, the fact of my sister's murder under your "pastoral care" is a fact you should acknowledge publicly.

"This season of Lent is one well suited to seek public forgiveness and make public reparation for public scandal. At least until that happens, I regret that I must remain, as you said, the face that haunts you as someone that did approach you for assistance and was turned away.

"May God have mercy on you, and may my holy sister Terri pray for us all".

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Latest Rumor on Motu Proprio

From a friend in Rome, who says that a respected female professor who had an audience with the pope, and asked specifically about the release of the Motu Proprio, reports to me that she was told by Pope Benedict XVI that it was coming "in May."

Catholic Nuns Murdered in Iraq

From Breitbart

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Words of Benedict Anger Left

Do a blog search of "hell" and you'll find those who claim that the Pope has put us back into the dark ages because he uttered this truth of the Christian faith:

Jesus came to say that he wishes all [to be] in Heaven and that hell, which is barely spoken of in our age, exists and is eternal for all those who close their hearts to his love.

I guess their hearts are closed to God's love...

Of Churches Closing

Sad to see that such fine churches as this:

can't be saved.

Places: St. Nicholas is spared, but what about its windows?

Monday, March 26, 2007

Solemnity of the Annunciation of Our Lord


Patronal Feast of this blog...


ANGELUS (Latin)

V. Angelus Domini nuntiavit Mariae.
R. Et concepit de Spiritu Sancto.

Ave Maria, gratia plena; Dominus tecum: benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui Iesus. * Sancta Maria, Mater Dei ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen.

V. Ecce ancilla Domini,
R. Fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum.

Ave Maria, gratia plena; Dominus tecum: benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui Iesus. * Sancta Maria, Mater Dei ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen.

V. Et Verbum caro factum est, (genuflect)
R. Et habitavit in nobis.

Ave Maria, gratia plena; Dominus tecum: benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui Iesus.* Sancta Maria, Mater Dei ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen.

V. Ora pro nobis, sancta Dei Genetrix,
R. Ut digni efficiamur promissionibus Christi.

Oremus.

Gratiam tuam, quaesumus, Domine, mentibus nostris infunde; ut qui, Angelo nuntiante, Christi Filii tui incarnationem cognovimus, per passionem eius et crucem ad resurrectionis gloriam perducamur. Per eumdem Christum Dominum nostrum.
R. Amen.

In Michigan, Disappearing Parishioners--Deported Ones

Hundreds of parishioners are gone; Albanian immigrants deported

Open Book/ Annunciations Bestseller's List

Our Bestseller's List

What Books People who Read Amy's Open Book blog and Michael's Annunciation blog are buying this month.



March 2007 (3/25/07)

1. A Pocket Guide to the Meaning of Life (Peter Kreeft)

2. The Roman Catholic Church: An Illustrated History

3 (tie) Those Terrible Middle Ages: Debunking the Myths

3. (tie)A Stay Against Confusion: Essays on Faith and Fiction

3. (tie) By Way of Grace: Moving from Faithfulness to Holiness

3. (tie) The Holy Way: Practices for a Simple Life

Last Month's Bestseller's

February 2007


1. The Power of the Cross: Meditations for the Lenten Season

2. The How-To Book of the Mass: Everything You Need to Know but No One Ever Taught You

3. The Gift of Faith

4. The Best American Catholic Short Stories: A Sheed & Ward Collection

5. Those Terrible Middle Ages: Debunking the Myths

Jesus a Vegetarian in PETA Campaign

We know he ate fish, (see the last chapter of John's Gospel where he is cooking "breakfast" for the disciples...He is the original tailgator)...supose He ate lamb at the pasch, but probably did eat meat sparingly. Soloviev has an excellent meditation on how Christians should do likewise, that he brings out in a reflection on Fasting.

From World Net Daily.

Protestant, Catholic Parties Announce Historic Deal

In Northern Ireland...

Sunday, March 25, 2007

On to the Final Four

Pope Recalls Martyrdom of Oscar Romero

From Today's Angelus:

Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday recalled the 1980 slaying of El Salvador archbishop and human rights activist Oscar Romero, and praised those who lost their lives in carrying out their mission for the Roman Catholic Church.

Benedict reminded pilgrims in St. Peter's Square that Saturday had been the anniversary of Romero's killing, and that the church had dedicated the day to prayer and fasting for missionary martyrs.

He described they martyrs as "bishops, priests, other men and women clergy and lay people cut down in carrying out their mission of evangelization and human promotion."

Benedict said martyrs represent hope for the world "because they testify that the love of Christ is stronger than violence and hate."

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Day of Prayer and Fasting for Missionaries

From Asia News Italy:

24 misisonaries - clergy, priests and lay readers of different nationalities- were killed last year. Not all of them died because of their faith, many- at least in appearance- were victims of aggression and theft as a result of social context of violence and poverty.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Listen to Me Live Tonight on SIRIUS' Catholic Channel

On Busted Halo's Wednesday night Mass class.

At Today's General Audience

The Key to Pope Benedict XVI

Jesus Christ...AMEN!

From the editors of The National Catholic Register:

Pope Benedict, also, is simply and deeply devoted to the person of Christ, in all of his clarity and depth.
When secular newspapers write about Pope Benedict’s new post-synodal apostolic exhoratation Sacramentum Caritatis (The Sacrament of Charity), they say things like “Pope Refuses to Yield” or “Benedict Loves Latin” as if the Holy Father were merely imposing his personal preferences on the Church.
But, from the very beginning, Benedict has been telling us exactly what he would do, and why he would do it. He started before the conclave that elected him, when he spoke about friendship with Christ, a concept he has returned to several times.
Noting that Jesus defines friendship as “the communion of wills,” he cited the old Roman definition of friendship — Idem velle idem nolle (same desires, same dislikes) — as the model of our friendship with Christ.
In his first message after becoming pope, he applied that lesson to the Eucharist. “I ask everyone in the coming months to intensify love and devotion for Jesus in the Eucharist,” he said, “and to express courageously and clearly faith in the Real Presence of the Lord, especially by the solemnity and the correctness of the celebrations.”
He wanted us to show our friendship with Jesus in the Eucharist not just by good feelings, but by a communion of wills — “by the solemnity and correctness” of our Masses.
This love for Jesus, which is both practical and passionate — we should say practical because it is passionate — is the key to Pope Benedict’s thinking. It is front and center in is private works (such as “On the Way to Christ Jesus”), in his official works before becoming Pope (Dominus Iesus — “The Lord Jesus” — foremost among them), and in his first encyclical and latest document on charity and the Eucharist.
This passionate, practical love explains many aspects of the new document.
It’s the reason why Pope Benedict is so poetic on the Eucharist. “What amazement must the Apostles have felt in witnessing what the Lord did and said during that Supper!” he writes in the introduction, “What wonder must the Eucharistic mystery also awaken in our own hearts!”
It’s also the reason he is so precise: “The Eucharistic celebration is enhanced,” he writes, “when priests and liturgical leaders are committed to making known the current liturgical texts and norms, making available the great riches found in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal and the Order of Readings for Mass” (No. 40).
Pope Benedict can be subtle: “It should be kept in mind that nothing is lost when the sign of peace is marked by a sobriety that preserves the proper spirit of the celebration, as, for example, when it is restricted to one’s immediate neighbors.”
He can be blunt: “Given the importance of the word of God, the quality of homilies needs to be improved.”
But the love of Christ pervades it all.
There is much in this document that needs to be brought to light. The Pope has specific words on everything from Communion at funerals and weddings to the proper use of music (Webster Young, on the previous page, would appreciate what he says). He says broadcast Masses should follow the local bishop’s norms, and that tabernacles should be placed in the center of most churches.
But it would be a mistake to look to the document for a list of “winners” and “losers” and try to determine on what issues Pope Benedict is a liturgical “conservative” and on which ones he is a liturgical “liberal.”
Rather, the document is exactly what our front-page headline declares it to be: a love letter to Christ, his friend and ours, the center of the Mass, and our life.

Novelist, Catholic priest collaborate in new ‘Gospel’ of Judas

From Catholic News Service:

Archer, presenting The Gospel According to Judas by Benjamin Iscariot at a March 20 press conference in Rome, said he is a practicing Anglican who wanted his new book to be backed up by solid biblical scholarship.
So he convinced Father Francis J. Moloney, provincial of the Salesians in Australia and a former president of the Catholic Biblical Association of America, to collaborate.
Father Moloney, who served on the International Theological Commission for 18 years when it was under the presidency of the future Pope Benedict XVI, provided scholarly criticism of the text and wrote the bulk of the theological notes and clarifications found at the end of the book.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

For Lent: Learn Your Prayers in Latin


ANTE PRANDIUM
Benedic, Domine, nos et dona tua,quae de largitate tua sumus sumpturi,et concede, ut illis salubriter nutrititibi debitum obsequium praestare valeamus,per Christum Dominum nostrum.

BEFORE A MEAL
Bless, O Lord, us and your gifts,which from your bounty we are about to receive,and grant that, healthily nourished by them,we may render you due obedience,through Christ our Lord.

Hear My Witness to Fr. Dajczer's The Gift of Faith

From In the Arms of Mary Foundation:

Spring Fundraiser Luncheon - "The Silence of Mary" - April 21, 2007

Our 5th annual fundraiser in Seal Beach, California, will be held on Saturday, April 21st. This year's theme is "The Silence of Mary." Save the date and plan on joining us to hear Michael Dubruiel's witness: "A Vision of Faith-- a testimony of the power of The Gift of Faith" and Rev. Arthur Gruszka's talk on the silence of Mary." All proceeds from the 2007 fundraiser will go directly toward our “Clergy & Religious support Fund” which helps us provide books for bishops and religious superiors to share with their priests, deacons, seminarians, religious sisters and brothers, as well as missionaries in the U.S. and worldwide.

Latin Mass Society Lauds Apostolic Exhortation

From Independent Catholic News:

In a statement the LMS particularly welcomed the Exhortation's call for 1) a re-emphasis on silent prayer, dignity and decorum in new rite celebrations 2) the reintroduction of Latin, particularly in international celebrations and in seminary training of new priests 3) the call for the laity to pray or sing the common prayers in Latin and for Gregorian Chant to be used wherever possible 4) the emphasis on a central or prominent position for the tabernacle which should not be obscured by the celebrant's chair 5) the renewed call for Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and Eucharistic Adoration, including perpetual adoration. All these proposals are designed to reconnect the Church to its centuries-old liturgical tradition.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Solemnity of St. Joseph, Husband of Mary

From a homily by Pope John Paul II:

Today we contemplate Joseph, husband of the Blessed Virgin, protector of the Incarnate Word, a man of daily work, steward of the great mystery of salvation.
It is precisely this last aspect which is given great emphasis in the biblical readings proclaimed a few moments ago, which explain to us how God involved St Joseph in the saving plan of the Incarnation. “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (Jn 3:16). This is the incomparable gift of salvation; this is the work of Redemption.
Like Mary, Joseph also believed in the Lord’s word and came to share in it. Like Mary, he believed that this divine plan would be fulfilled through their willing co-operation. And this is what happened: the eternal Son of God became man in the Virgin Mother’s womb.
About Jesus — a newborn, then a boy, an adolescent, a young man, a mature adult — the eternal Father spoke the words of prophetic announcement which we heard in the first reading: “I will be his father, and he shall be my son” (cf. 2 Sm 7:14). In the eyes of those living in Bethlehem, Nazareth and Jerusalem, Joseph was Jesus’ father. And the carpenter of Nazareth realizes that in a way this is so. He knows it, because he believes in the fatherhood of God and is aware of being called, to a certain extent, to share in it (cf. Eph 3:14-15). And today the Church, in venerating St Joseph, praises his faith and total docility to the divine will.

On the occaision of the Episcopal ordination of Msgrs. James Harvey, Stanislaus Dziwisz and Piero Marini on March 19, 1998.

Open Book/Annunciations' Bestsellers List

Our Bestseller's List

What Books People who Read Amy's Open Book blog and Michael's Annunciation blog are buying this month.



March 2007 (3/18/07)

1. A Pocket Guide to the Meaning of Life (Peter Kreeft)

2. The Roman Catholic Church: An Illustrated History

3. Those Terrible Middle Ages: Debunking the Myths

4. Through Their Own Eyes: Liturgy as the Byzantines Saw It

5. Atticus: Novel, A


Last Month's Bestseller's

February 2007


1. The Power of the Cross: Meditations for the Lenten Season

2. The How-To Book of the Mass: Everything You Need to Know but No One Ever Taught You

3. The Gift of Faith

4. The Best American Catholic Short Stories: A Sheed & Ward Collection

5. Those Terrible Middle Ages: Debunking the Myths

Pope Benedict's Synopsis of His Apostolic Exhortation

In a neat paragraph:

“In the Eucharist God wanted to donate us His love, which pushed him to offer his life for us on the cross. In the last supper, by washing the feet of his disciples, Jesus left us his commandment of love: ‘As I have loved you, so you also should love one another” (Jn 13,34). But for this to be possible we must remain united in him as branches on a vine (Jn 15,1-8), just as He himself chose to remain with us in the Eucharist so that we con remain in Him. Thus when we eat of His body and drink of His blood in faith, His love passes to us and makes us capable in turn of giving our lives for our brothers. (Jn 3,16). This is where Christian joy, Christian love is born”.

From Today's Angelus.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Magister on the Apostolic Exhortation

A unique European view, highlighted by by headline:

Sacramentum Caritatis”: Everyone to Mass on Sunday

A Christian cannot live without the Eucharist, Benedict XVI writes. In it, “the Lord truly becomes food for us, to satisfy our hunger for truth and freedom.”With the duty that stems from this, and in the political realm as well: to give “public witness to our faith”

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Sacrament of Charity (Part Two)

On Beauty in the Liturgy:

The beauty of the liturgy is part of this mystery; it is a sublime expression of God's glory and, in a certain sense, a glimpse of heaven on earth. The memorial of Jesus' redemptive sacrifice contains something of that beauty which Peter, James and John beheld when the Master, making his way to Jerusalem, was transfigured before their eyes (cf. Mk 9:2). Beauty, then, is not mere decoration, but rather an essential element of the liturgical action, since it is an attribute of God himself and his revelation. These considerations should make us realize the care which is needed, if the liturgical action is to reflect its innate splendour.

Not subject to the latest trends:

Since the eucharistic liturgy is essentially an actio Dei which draws us into Christ through the Holy Spirit, its basic structure is not something within our power to change, nor can it be held hostage by the latest trends. Here too Saint Paul's irrefutable statement applies: "no one can lay any foundation other than the one that has been laid, which is Jesus Christ" (1 Cor 3:11).

Want active participation of the laity? Celebrate the rite faithfully! Amen:

The primary way to foster the participation of the People of God in the sacred rite is the proper celebration of the rite itself. The ars celebrandi is the best way to ensure their actuosa participatio. (114) The ars celebrandi is the fruit of faithful adherence to the liturgical norms in all their richness; indeed, for two thousand years this way of celebrating has sustained the faith life of all believers, called to take part in the celebration as the People of God, a royal priesthood, a holy nation (cf. 1 Pet 2:4-5, 9) (115).

Cathedral litugies, a model:

I would ask that every effort be made to ensure that the liturgies which the Bishop celebrates in his Cathedral are carried out with complete respect for the ars celebrandi, so that they can be considered an example for the entire Diocese (120).

The Power of the Rite vs. additions of whoever:

The eucharistic celebration is enhanced when priests and liturgical leaders are committed to making known the current liturgical texts and norms, making available the great riches found in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal and the Order of Readings for Mass. Perhaps we take it for granted that our ecclesial communities already know and appreciate these resources, but this is not always the case. These texts contain riches which have preserved and expressed the faith and experience of the People of God over its two-thousand-year history. Equally important for a correct ars celebrandi is an attentiveness to the various kinds of language that the liturgy employs: words and music, gestures and silence, movement, the liturgical colours of the vestments. By its very nature the liturgy operates on different levels of communication which enable it to engage the whole human person. The simplicity of its gestures and the sobriety of its orderly sequence of signs communicate and inspire more than any contrived and inappropriate additions. Attentiveness and fidelity to the specific structure of the rite express both a recognition of the nature of Eucharist as a gift and, on the part of the minister, a docile openness to receiving this ineffable gift.

Gregorian Chant:

Finally, while respecting various styles and different and highly praiseworthy traditions, I desire, in accordance with the request advanced by the Synod Fathers, that Gregorian chant be suitably esteemed and employed (130) as the chant proper to the Roman liturgy (131).

Sacrament of Charity--Apostolic Exhortation (Part One)

Some Quotes:

I wish here to endorse the wishes expressed by the Synod Fathers (11) by encouraging the Christian people to deepen their understanding of the relationship between the eucharistic mystery, the liturgical action, and the new spiritual worship which derives from the Eucharist as the sacrament of charity. Consequently, I wish to set the present Exhortation alongside my first Encyclical Letter, Deus Caritas Est, in which I frequently mentioned the sacrament of the Eucharist and stressed its relationship to Christian love, both of God and of neighbour: "God incarnate draws us all to himself. We can thus understand how agape also became a term for the Eucharist: there God's own agape comes to us bodily, in order to continue his work in us and through us" (12).

And, Wow!:

The substantial conversion of bread and wine into his body and blood introduces within creation the principle of a radical change, a sort of "nuclear fission," to use an image familiar to us today, which penetrates to the heart of all being, a change meant to set off a process which transforms reality, a process leading ultimately to the transfiguration of the entire world, to the point where God will be all in all (cf. 1 Cor 15:28).

A need:

We need a renewed awareness of the decisive role played by the Holy Spirit in the evolution of the liturgical form and the deepening understanding of the sacred mysteries.


Whatever the Holy Spirit touches is sanctified and completely transformed" (25). Saint John Chrysostom too notes that the priest invokes the Holy Spirit when he celebrates the sacrifice: (26) like Elijah, the minister calls down the Holy Spirit so that "as grace comes down upon the victim, the souls of all are thereby inflamed" (27). The spiritual life of the faithful can benefit greatly from a better appreciation of the richness of the anaphora: along with the words spoken by Christ at the Last Supper, it contains the epiclesis, the petition to the Father to send down the gift of the Spirit so that the bread and the wine will become the body and blood of Jesus Christ and that "the community as a whole will become ever more the body of Christ" (28). The Spirit invoked by the celebrant upon the gifts of bread and wine placed on the altar is the same Spirit who gathers the faithful "into one body" and makes of them a spiritual offering pleasing to the Father (29).


A powerful insight...on the process of Christian initiation and the role of the Eucharist in binging it to completion:

Still, it is our participation in the Eucharistic sacrifice which perfects within us the gifts given to us at Baptism. The gifts of the Spirit are given for the building up of Christ's Body (1 Cor 12) and for ever greater witness to the Gospel in the world. (48) The Holy Eucharist, then, brings Christian initiation to completion and represents the centre and goal of all sacramental life. (49)

Proposing a change in the age of Confirmation???

Concretely, it needs to be seen which practice better enables the faithful to put the sacrament of the Eucharist at the centre, as the goal of the whole process of initiation. In close collaboration with the competent offices of the Roman Curia, Bishops' Conferences should examine the effectiveness of current approaches to Christian initiation, so that the faithful can be helped both to mature through the formation received in our communities and to give their lives an authentically eucharistic direction, so that they can offer a reason for the hope within them in a way suited to our times (cf. 1 Pet 3:15).


On Confession:

We know that the faithful are surrounded by a culture that tends to eliminate the sense of sin (55) and to promote a superficial approach that overlooks the need to be in a state of grace in order to approach sacramental communion worthily. (56) The loss of a consciousness of sin always entails a certain superficiality in the understanding of God's love. Bringing out the elements within the rite of Mass that express consciousness of personal sin and, at the same time, of God's mercy, can prove most helpful to the faithful.(57) Furthermore, the relationship between the Eucharist and the sacrament of Reconciliation reminds us that sin is never a purely individual affair; it always damages the ecclesial communion that we have entered through Baptism. For this reason, Reconciliation, as the Fathers of the Church would say, is laboriosus quidam baptismus; (58) they thus emphasized that the outcome of the process of conversion is also the restoration of full ecclesial communion, expressed in a return to the Eucharist. (59)

A Renewal in the practice of Indulgences:

Finally, a balanced and sound practice of gaining indulgences, whether for oneself or for the dead, can be helpful for a renewed appreciation of the relationship between the Eucharist and Reconciliation. By this means the faithful obtain "remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven." (64) The use of indulgences helps us to understand that by our efforts alone we would be incapable of making reparation for the wrong we have done, and that the sins of each individual harm the whole community. Furthermore, the practice of indulgences, which involves not only the doctrine of Christ's infinite merits, but also that of the communion of the saints, reminds us "how closely we are united to each other in Christ ... and how the supernatural life of each can help others." (65) Since the conditions for gaining an indulgence include going to confession and receiving sacramental communion, this practice can effectively sustain the faithful on their journey of conversion and in rediscovering the centrality of the Eucharist in the Christian life.

For priests:

Certainly the ordained minister also acts "in the name of the whole Church, when presenting to God the prayer of the Church, and above all when offering the eucharistic sacrifice." (73) As a result, priests should be conscious of the fact that in their ministry they must never put themselves or their personal opinions in first place, but Jesus Christ. Any attempt to make themselves the centre of the liturgical action contradicts their very identity as priests. The priest is above all a servant of others, and he must continually work at being a sign pointing to Christ, a docile instrument in the Lord's hands. This is seen particularly in his humility in leading the liturgical assembly, in obedience to the rite, uniting himself to it in mind and heart, and avoiding anything that might give the impression of an inordinate emphasis on his own personality.

For married couples:

The mutual consent that husband and wife exchange in Christ, which establishes them as a community of life and love, also has a eucharistic dimension. Indeed, in the theology of Saint Paul, conjugal love is a sacramental sign of Christ's love for his Church, a love culminating in the Cross, the expression of his "marriage" with humanity and at the same time the origin and heart of the Eucharist. For this reason the Church manifests her particular spiritual closeness to all those who have built their family on the sacrament of Matrimony. (86) The family – the domestic Church (87) – is a primary sphere of the Church's life, especially because of its decisive role in the Christian education of children. (88) In this context, the Synod also called for an acknowledgment of the unique mission of women in the family and in society, a mission that needs to be defended, protected and promoted. (89) Marriage and motherhood represent essential realities which must never be denigrated.

Praying for the dead:

I wish, together with the Synod Fathers, to remind all the faithful of the importance of prayers for the dead, especially the offering of Mass for them, so that, once purified, they can come to the beatific vision of God. (101) A rediscovery of the eschatological dimension inherent in the Eucharist, celebrated and adored, will help sustain us on our journey and comfort us in the hope of glory (cf. Rom 5:2; Tit 2:13).

Mary and the Eucharist:


Consequently, every time we approach the Body and Blood of Christ in the eucharistic liturgy, we also turn to her who, by her complete fidelity, received Christ's sacrifice for the whole Church. The Synod Fathers rightly declared that "Mary inaugurates the Church's participation in the sacrifice of the Redeemer." (104) She is the Immaculata, who receives God's gift unconditionally and is thus associated with his work of salvation. Mary of Nazareth, icon of the nascent Church, is the model for each of us, called to receive the gift that Jesus makes of himself in the Eucharist.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Sacramentum Caritatis

You'd think someone would have the goods by now on this...

The Mass I attended yesterday might likely be the type of Mass many will be attending in the future...Kyrie, Sanctus and Agnus Dei all in their respective languages (Greek and Latin) and chanted with much participation, which always amazes me, since I always figure that I'm one of the few who actually knows the words and tune...but not so. And the preist at this Mass--it wouldn't matter if he were facing East or West he doesn't make eye contact-he prays the prayers to God.

Future Wisconsin Saint?

Fom The Madison Catholic Herald:

After thanking the tribunal for their willingness to serve, Bishop Morlino gave a synopsis of the life of Samuel Mazzuchelli.

In 1828, the young Mazzuchelli - just 21 years old, a Dominican friar not yet a priest - left his native Italy to labor as a missionary in the United States. Not even knowing how to speak English, he came in response to an appeal that he heard from Bishop Fenwick of Cincinnati.
After further studies and ordination, Father Mazzuchelli was sent to Mackinac Island on the northwestern frontier of the Diocese of Cincinnati as the only priest to serve an area larger than Italy.

Father Mazzuchelli spent most of his remaining years working tirelessly to build up the Church in southwestern Wisconsin and the adjacent parts of Iowa and Illinois. He established more than 30 parishes and designed and built more than 20 church buildings, along with a number of civic buildings for his pioneer territory. He also founded the congregation of Dominican Sisters, whose motherhouse remains at Sinsinawa.

The outstanding virtues and heroic labors of Father Mazzuchelli were never forgotten by the people of this area nor by the Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters.

Cause for canonization

His cause for canonization was formally opened in 1964. After an exhaustive investigation of the facts of his life and his surviving writings, Father Mazzuchelli was declared a Servant of God - honored with the title "Venerable" - on July 6, 1993.

Before he can become "Blessed," the Church waits for his sanctity to be proven by testimony in the form of miraculous favors granted through his intercession.

Fr. Vito Gomez, a Dominican who is postulator of the Cause of Venerable Samuel Mazzuchelli, has named Sr. Mary Paynter, a Sinsinawa Dominican, as vice-postulator for the cause. Sister Mary asked that a diocesan inquiry be convened to examine whether a miraculous cure was granted to a Madison man through the intercession of Father Mazzuchelli.


For more on Venerable Samuel Mazzuchelli and other North American Saints (and causes) check out Father Vincent O'Malley's:

Saints of North America

Bishop: Penny a Pittance for Poor

From the St. Petersburg Times:

Bishop Robert N. Lynch, after his homily Sunday at Most Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church, told parishioners:

"I would never, ever put myself in the position where I would encourage people to vote for a particular candidate or against a particular candidate or even on issues. But I do have grave concerns about the way in which the poor, and the vulnerable elderly, especially, and the homeless are accommodated in Pinellas County. ... On the county level, you're being asked on Tuesday to vote for a renewal of a 1-penny tax that's been in effect for 17 years. You're being asked to vote for a renewal of a 1-penny tax that has in the past had zero in it for human services - nothing for the poor, the homeless or the vulnerable elderly. Now what do I mean about the vulnerable elderly? A lot of you in this church understand. You live on the edge of fixed incomes. And so many of our people who came here to spend their final years with us have found, for example, that the political jurisdictions have allowed the owners of trailer parks just to sell them and move everybody off. And they don't have any place to go. And in many other communities throughout the country, the community rises and provides low-cost housing as an alternative in these kinds of situations. We can't do it. We haven't done it. And if this penny tax passes as proposed, we won't be able to do very much. This tax will realize $1.9-billion over the 10 years from the year 2010 to 1019. They have, to their credit, allocated 1.5 percent for affordable and low-cost housing. They've never done that before. They've done it largely because of an organization like F.A.S.T., which has talked to them. I believe that $30-million out of $1.9-billion is a pittance, and we should be ashamed of that. And so I'm asking our Catholic people and others of goodwill to reflect this weekend on this particular political issue."

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Open Book/Annunciation's Blog Bestseller's List

Our Bestseller's List

What Books People who Read Amy's Open Book blog and Michael's Annunciation blog are buying this month.



March 2007 (3/11/07)

1. A Pocket Guide to the Meaning of Life (A Pocket Guide to)

2. The Roman Catholic Church: An Illustrated History

3. Atticus: Novel, A

4. A Stay Against Confusion: Essays on Faith and Fiction

5. Cities of God: The Real Story of How Christianity Became an Urban Movement and Conquered Rome



Last Month's Bestseller's

February 2007


1. The Power of the Cross: Meditations for the Lenten Season

2. The How-To Book of the Mass: Everything You Need to Know but No One Ever Taught You

3.The Gift of Faith

Pope's Angelus

From Asia News Italy:

Christ invites us to respond to evil first and foremost by seriously examining our own conscience and purifying our lives. Otherwise – he says – we will perish in a similar way. In fact the people and societies which live their lives without every questioning themselves are destined for ruination. Instead Conversion, though it will not save us from problems or misadventures, permits us to face them in a different ‘way’. Above all it helps us prevent evil, by defusing some of its threats. And it allows good to win over evil, maybe not at always at a practical level – often events occur beyond our will – but certainly at a spiritual level. In short: Conversion defeats evil at its very root which is sin, even if it may not always prevent its consequences.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

The Secret Power of the Cross

Jesus knew it, Blessed Mother Teresa knew it...but it isn't "The Secret" that some would have you believe, but another that will bear fruit in eternity. ..




Learn the "law of attraction" that led the hordes to seek Christ out, that longed to hear Mother Teresa, still flock to hear the message of Pope Benedict XVI!

Train Depot Monastic Reading

It became a ritual of mine, last Fall to take a book during lunchtime to a little train depot restaurant that was relatively quiet (except when a train would pass a few feet from the windows). While doing this I read three books, all of them strangely similar, but all of them unique. The first two dealt with the Carthusians living at Parkminster in England. I found An Infinity of Little Hours: Five Young Men and Their Trial of Faith in the Western World's Most Austere Monastic Order to be not only engaging, but in many ways spiritual reading in the genre of all great conversion stories. While reading it, I found that the Carthusians of this community now have their own website which made it all the more interesting--as well as a documentary has been made about them entitled Into the Great Silence.

It is a very rough life and few last. If I remember right of the five that are detailed in the Maguire book only one is still there some forty years after the five of them entered. One that didn't last is the author's husband. The book, a hardcover is under $8 for a new copy and is a great read--I would think an excellent Lenten book if you are still looking for one.

After reading An Infinity of Little Hours: Five Young Men and Their Trial of Faith in the Western World's Most Austere Monastic Order I found that I wanted to know more about the Carthusians and came across a book written about the same community in the past ten years. Then I came across Hear Our Silence which was a book that the Carthusians advertised on their web site, written by John Skinner who goes into the community (from the Guest House anyway) and spends time living on the fringe of the Carthusian community in the early 1990's. This was an interesting update on the community and had the air of reading another person's search for God in their life through the experience of those making a radical call to make God alone their one priority in life.
The third book that completed my trilogy of train depot luncheon reading, that brought me to the edge of Advent began in many ways like the other two. The book Clerical Error: A True Story (Handbooks of Catholic Theology) begins like the above books while a young Robert Blair Kaiser is enrolled as a young Jesuit in the early years of formation. Much of the same monastic experiences are recounted, but then this book takes off in an entirely different direction into the disfunction of life spinning out of control.
Now I confess that my initial reason for reading Clerical Error did not come from an attempt to continue reading about monastic life, but rather from a manuscript that had been submitted to me some years ago by Bishop Mark Hurley that detailed the "other side" of Malachy Martin. I have recounted in other places on this blog some aspects of that manuscript but somehow I came across that the key actor in this story, Kaiser, had written a book detailing the account of Martin's "other side." This is a sad book, because although it begins with someone searching for God, it ends with someone in the atmosphere of Vatican II (when most of the story takes place at the Council)of throwing off God and going headon into the 60's lifestyle. Someday Kaiser may reread this book of his and see that he was closer to God picking apples for the Jesuits, than he is in slamming Pope Benedict for trying to repair a church that is falling into ruin. So this book is Lenten reading of a different sort, but in the end might not be a bad primer for why reform is so badly needed today.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Cardinal Dziwisz Says Mass at John Paul II's Tomb

Prays for healing in the Polish Church.

From Zenit:

Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, archbishop of Krakow, celebrated a solemn Mass at the tomb of Pope John Paul II as a sign of reconciliation for the Church and the Polish nation.

Vatican Radio said that 50 priests took part in this morning's celebration with the cardinal, who was the Polish Pontiff's personal secretary.

For those who endured wrongs during communism, Cardinal Dziwisz prayed "that they not be led by emotions but look to Christ, who forgave from the cross."

During the Mass, prayers were said for the beatification of John Paul II. Prayers were also offered for the Polish people to experience heartfelt forgiveness and reconciliation.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Homilies and Spiritual Reflections

And podcasts as well:

Fr. JC Maximilian: My Homilies and Spiritual Reflections

The "Leaked" Motu Proprio?


From someone who received it via email, Telegraph Blog, says that it says:

1. Any priest wishing to say the Tridentine Mass (effectively outlawed after the Second Vatican Council) will be able to do so privately without asking his bishop.
2. Any group of parishioners who want to attend the Tridentine Rite – in which the priest says the Mass with his back to the people – will be able to go to their parish priest asking him to say it in public.
And he can say yes without asking his bishop. That is a major departure from current practice. At the moment, bishops have to give permission for the Old Rite, and they are often very stingy about doing so.
3. If the priest does not want to say the Old Rite, he can make arrangements for another priest to do so. (Whether "can" means "must" is a good question.)
4. If Catholics who want to attend the Old Rite are blocked by their bishop, they can write to the Vatican Commission Ecclesia Dei, which will try to find them a priest.


(Picture from Yahoo.com, Rainbow over Northern Germany)

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Pope: Cesar is not everything, the truth has the right to be heard even by the State

From Asia News Italy:

By praying for the civil authorities, even when they are persecuted by them, Christians follow Christ’s teaching on the cross and recognise the legitimacy of the political institutions. But “Cesar is not everything, another sovereignty emerges” born of the truth that God is coming, and thus “is worthy of being heard even by the State”.
After having dedicated past general audiences to the lives of the single apostles and witnesses, starting today Benedict XVI will centre his Wednesday catechesis on the “the apostolic fathers of the church, that is the first and second generation after the apostles”. First among those “fathers” is St. Clement, third of St Peter’s successors who St Irenaeus tells us “had seen the apostles he had met them”.
Examining Clements letter to the Corinthians, defined by the Pope as “the first act by the Roman primate following St Peter’s death”, in his audience address Benedict XVI, underlined that the Church’s structure is “sacramental and not political”. Indeed the letter was motivated by “grave problems” which had arisen in Corinth, where “the priests had been deposed by a group of young contesters”.
In the document, first and foremost is the joyful news of the grace which saves and Gods gift to Christians is underlined. News which “fills the heart with joy” and “gives certainty to our lives”. But we must coherently dedicate ourselves to this gift and to a journey of conversion. Clement states that if there have been abuses it is due to the undermining of charity, he recalls the faithful to humility and fraternal love, the fundamental elements of the Church. Moreover for the first time the term laikos, layman, member of Gods people, different from religious, appears in Christian writings. But the distinction must not mean opposition, because it is the same Spirit which breaths through the diverse members of the one body of Christ.
The letter, underlined Benedict XVI, shows that the Church “is neither confusion nor anarchy, in which each person can do as they wish” and Clement clearly explains the doctrine of apostolic succession: the norms which rule this are on analyses derived from God himself. The Father sent Jesus, he the apostles and they in their turn their successors. “Everything proceeds from the will of God”. This explains why the Church’s structure is “sacramental and not political” and that the sacramental structure guarantees the precedence of the divine gift. The Church “is Gods gift not our creature”.
Written in the shadow of Diocletian’s persecution, circa 96 AD, the Pope underlined that it also shows that Christians did not cease in their prayers for the authorities, even when they were unjustly oppressed by them. This text “has guided the Christian attitude to politics and the State down through the centuries”: “in the aftermath of persecution Christians still prayed for those same authorities who unjustly condemned them. The reason is primarily found in the Christological order: we must pray for our persecutors as Christ did on the cross”. “By praying for the authorities Clement recognises the legitimacy of the political authorities in the order established by God; at the same time, he expresses the concern that the authorities are open to God and that they use the power which He has granted them in peace and with pity”. But, beside “Cesar”, “another sovereignty emerges, whose origins and essence are not of this world, but come from above: it is the sovereignty of truth which bears the right to be heard even by the State”.

Everything is Ready to Launch

From the Vatican:

Sacramentum Caritatis (March 13, 2007)
[English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish]

German Bishops Equate Israel's Actions to Nazis

Not a good idea...

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Newark Archdiocese Finds Ways Not to Close Churches

From The Star Ledger:

But while many Catholic schools in the archdiocese have closed since 2004 as planned, the parish of St. Mark, like several other churches targeted for possible closure, has been spared.

The archdiocese has kept these churches open but made them share a pastor with another church. Archdiocese leaders now say they expect fewer closures, overall, than the dozens predicted three years ago.

In May 2004, a task force proposed closing as many as 25 of the archdiocese's 235 parishes in the following two years, with the prospect of additional closures through 2008. Yet so far, Archbishop John J. Myers has approved just six clo sures and mergers, plus six other arrangements in which a pair of parishes share one pastor.

Apostolic Exhortation “Sacramentum Caritatis to be Released Next Tuesday

"Sacrament of Love(Charity)" On the Eucharist as the source and summit of the life and the mission of the Church.

Lots of rumors circulating as to what it will say, but thankfully we can find out what it actually does say next week.

New Bishops for Dallas and Lake Charles

For Dallas: Bishop Kevin Joseph Farrell (currently and auxilary in Washington)

For Lake Charles, Louisiana: Monsignor Glen John Provost

Monday, March 5, 2007

New Head of Italian Bishop's Conference this Wednesday?

That's what the Italian papers are saying...

From Papa Ratzinger Forum:

Today, the newspapers are reporting that the Pope may announce his nomination of Mons. Angelo Bagnasco, Archbishop of Genoa, as CEI head, on Wednesday, March 7, the same day Pope John Paul II appointed Ruini in 1991. Cardinal Ruini will remain as the pope's Vicar in Rome.

Ruini's term (his third 5-year term at CEI) was to have ended last year, but the Pope extended it 'until other provisions are made' after an ill-advised survey of Italian bishops carried out by the Apostolic Nuncio to Rome, reportedly at the orders of his boss, the then Secretary of State Cardinal Sodano.

Italy is the only country where the Pope, as Bishop of Rome, chooses the head of the national bishops conference. Everywhere else, the head is elected by the bishops.

Bagnasco succeeded Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone as Archbishop of Genoa when the latter became Secretary of State. Before that, he was the military chaplain for all Italy.

But Not in U.S.

Give credit to the bishops of India who have enough clout to stop the airing of such blasphemous stuff (see below), but in this country it was shown.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Cameron’s Documentary on Faux Christ Tomb Canned

By the Discovery Channel...

From Daily News and Analysis:

Discovery Channel has put off the screening of controversial documentary - The Lost Tomb of Jesus - following protests from various Christian groups in India and abroad.

The channel was to air the documentary produced by Oscar-winning director James Cameron that contradicts major Christian tenets such as resurrection of Christ on Sunday.

According to the documentary, the caskets used to store bones discovered in a suburb of Jerusalem may have contained the bones of Jesus and his family. Reports said names of Jesus, Mary Magdalene and other relatives were found on the caskets. The documentary also claims that Judah was Jesus’s “secret son” from Mary of Magdalene.

Open Book/Annunciation's Blog Bestseller's List

Our Bestseller's List

What Books People who Read Amy's Open Book blog and Michael's Annunciation blog are buying this month.



March 2007 (3/3/07)

1. A Pocket Guide to the Meaning of Life (A Pocket Guide to)

2. The Roman Catholic Church: An Illustrated History

3. Cities of God: The Real Story of How Christianity Became an Urban Movement and Conquered Rome

4. The Church's Most Powerful Novenas

5. The Best American Catholic Short Stories: A Sheed & Ward Collection


Last Month's Bestseller's

February 2007


1. The Power of the Cross: Meditations for the Lenten Season

2. The How-To Book of the Mass: Everything You Need to Know but No One Ever Taught You

3. The Gift of Faith

4. The Best American Catholic Short Stories: A Sheed & Ward Collection

5. Those Terrible Middle Ages: Debunking the Myths