How To Pray When You Can’t Pray

We’ve all experienced it. We get on our knees to pray and our minds and hearts are blank. We wait for the Spirit to move us and He doesn’t. Here is an approach that helps me: A.C.T.S.

A.C.T.S. is an acronym for four types of prayer. All we need to do is pray each type. The first is A for ADORATION. Think about the wonder that God is and respond the only way possible — by adoring Him.

The second is C for CONTRITION. Here we express our contrition for our sins. The Act of Contrition is a good one to use here. Notice how we start with God and then look to ourselves. The contrast alone evokes the contrition.

The third is T for THANKSGIVING. Count your blessings and thank God for each one. Be the tenth leper who thanked Jesus rather than the others who went away.

The fourth and final is S for SUPPLICATION. After thanking God for all of His blessings, ask for blessings for yourself and for others.

Next time your’re on your knees and can’t get started, just remember A.C.T.S.!


Catholic Believe It Or Not: Sudarium of Oviedo

Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, 7 as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head.

John 20:6-7

Today we know “the strips of linen” as the Shroud of Turin. What happened to “the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head?” There is good reason to believe that we know it today as the Sudarium of Oviedo.

What we know about the Sudarium? Among other things,scientific studies of the Sudarium have shows at least the following:

1. The Sudarium of Oviedo is a relic, which has been venerated in the cathedral of Oviedo for a very long time. It contains stains formed by human blood of the group AB.

. . . .

3. It seems to be a funeral cloth that was probably placed over the head of the corpse of an adult male of normal constitution.

4. The man whose face the Sudarium covered had a beard, moustache and long hair, tied up at the nape of his neck into a pony tail.

5. The man’s mouth was closed, his nose was squashed and forced to the right by the pressure of holding the cloth to his face. Both these anatomical elements have been clearly identified on the Sudarium of Oviedo.

6. The man was dead. The mechanism that formed the stains is incompatible with any kind of breathing movement.

7. At the bottom of the back of his head, there is a series of wounds produced in life by some sharp objects. These wounds had bled about an hour before the cloth was placed on top of them.

8. Just about the entire head, shoulders and at least part of the back of the man were covered in blood before being covered by this cloth. This is known because it is impossible to reproduce the stains in the hair, on the forehead and on top of the head with blood from a corpse. It can therefore be stated that the man was wounded before death with something that made his scalp bleed and produced wounds on his neck, shoulders and upper part of the back.

9. The man suffered a pulmonary oedema as a consequence of the terminal process. The main stains are one part blood and six parts fluid from the pulmonary oedema.

10. The cloth was placed over the head starting from the back, held to the hair by sharp objects.From there it went round the left side of the head to the right cheek, where, for apparently unknown reasons it was folded over on itself, ending up folded like an accordion at the left cheek. . . . It is therefore easy to deduce that the body was hanging by both arms. . . . [T]he only position compatible with the formation of the stains on the Oviedo cloth is both arms outstretched above the head and the feet in such a position as to make breathing very difficult, i.e. a position totally compatible with crucifixion. We can say that the man was wounded first (blood on the head, shoulders and back)and then “crucified”.

11. The body was then placed on the ground on its right side, with the arms in the same position,and the head still bent 20 degrees to the right, and at 115 degrees from the vertical position. The forehead was placed on a hard surface, and the body was left in this position for approximately one more hour.

12. The body was then moved, while somebody’s left hand in various positions tried to stem the flow of liquid from the nose and mouth, pressing strongly against them.

13. Finally, on reaching the destination, the body was placed face up and for unknown reasons, the cloth was taken off the head. Possibly myrrh and aloes were then sprinkled over the cloth.There are many points of coincidence between all these points and the Shroud of Turin – the blood group, the way the corpse was tortured and died, and the macroscopic overlay of the stains on sackcloth. . . .

The two original studies, with much additional detail (uber-Scholar would love it) from which the above conclusions were taken can be found here and here.

So What?

There are two implications. First, this information confirms the link between the Shroud of Turin and the Sudarium reported in John 20:6-7 can be confirmed scientifically. As strong as the case for authenticity that has been built for the Shroud is, the case for authenticity of the Sudarium is much stronger.

The second implication is that the Sudarium challenges our faith in the Incarnation. The blood on the Sudarium is real human blood. Christ was fully human. The mysteriousness of the Shroud’s image points to the divine; the Sudarium to the flesh. Both the Sudarium remind us that Christ was a man as well as God.

Something To Think About On This, The First Sunday Of Advent

This is from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy: Principles and Guidelines (2001):

Advent is a time of waiting, conversion and of hope:

waiting-memory of the first, humble coming of the Lord in our mortal flesh; waiting-supplication for his final, glorious coming as Lord of History and universal Judge;

conversion, to which the Liturgy at this time often refers quoting the prophets, especially John the Baptist, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Mt 3,2);

joyful hope that the salvation already accomplished by Christ (cf. Rm 8, 24-25) and the reality of grace in the world, will mature and reach their fulness, thereby granting us what is promised by faith, and “we shall become like him for we shall see him as he really is” (John 3,2).


Catholic Boot Camp: Solemnities, Feasts, and Memorials

Have you ever wondered why we Catholics do what we do? I don’t mean the high theological moral issues, but why does the priest where white on certain days, green on others, and pink (er, . . . rose) on one day of the year? You never have to wonder again! Catholic Boot Camp will answer all your questions and, hopefully, bring out the meaning behind a lot of what we do. Check it out every Thursday.

A “solemnity” is principal celebration of a mystery of prime importance. Father Edward McNamara, a professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum University, explained in a news item in 2008:

Solemnities are the highest degree and are usually reserved for the most important mysteries of faith. These include Easter, Pentecost and the Immaculate Conception; the principal titles of Our Lord, such as King and Sacred Heart; and celebrations that honor some saints of particular importance in salvation history, such as Sts. Peter and Paul, and St. John the Baptist on his day of birth.

Each solemnity has several unique liturgical elements such as its own opening prayer, communion antiphon, and so on. This liturgy takes precedence over a regular weekday or Sunday liturgy when they conflict. What are the solemnities for the Church generally? In the United States for 2010-2011, they are:

  • December 8, 2010:       Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • December 25, 2010:      The Nativity of our Lord
  • January 1, 2011:     Octave Day: The Blessed Virgin Mary, The Mother of God
  • January 2, 2011:    The Epiphany of the Lord
  • March 19, 2011:     Saint Joseph, husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • March 25, 2011:    The Annunciation of the Lord
  • April 25, 2011:      Monday of the Octave of Easter
  • April 26, 2011:      Tuesday of the Octave of Easter
  • April 27, 2011:     Wednesday of the Octave of Easter
  • April 28, 2011:     Thursday of the Octave of Easter
  • April 29, 2011:     Friday of the Octave of Easter
  • April 30, 2011:     Saturday of the Octave of Easter
  • May 1, 2011:          Divine Mercy Sunday
  • June 2, 2011:         The Ascension of the Lord
  • June 12, 2011:      Pentecost Sunday
  • June 19, 2011:     Most Holy Trinity
  • June 24, 2011:    The Nativity of Saint John the Baptist
  • July 1, 2011:  The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus
  • August 15, 2011:  The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • November 1, 2011:  All Saints Day
  • November 20, 2011:  OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST THE KING


Feasts are a step down from solemnities.  Professor McNamara explained:

A feast honors a mystery or title of the Lord, of Our Lady, or of saints of particular importance (such as the apostles and Evangelists) and some of historical importance such as the deacon St. Lawrence.

The feast usually has some proper prayers but has only two readings plus the Gloria. Feasts of the Lord, such as the Transfiguration and Exaltation of the Holy Cross, unlike other feasts, are celebrated when they fall on a Sunday. On such occasions they have three readings, the Gloria and the Creed.

Finally, per Fr. McNamara, a “memorial” is “usually of saints but may also celebrate some aspect of the Lord or of Mary. Examples include the optional memorial of the Holy Name of Jesus or the obligatory memorial of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.”

Pope Benedict XVI Summarizes The Way To Heaven In Two Sentences

A short post for today. During his Homily at the Consistory, Pope Benedict said:

“What path must then be followed by those who wish to be disciples? The path of the Master is the path of complete obedience to God.”

As we saw in St. Luke, Chapter 2, Mary and St. Joseph would heartily agree.


The Way of Obedience

Chapter 2 of St. Luke or here recounts the birth of Jesus, His presentation, the witnesses of Simeon (found here) and Anna, and the finding of Jesus in the Temple. On a literal, historical level, what happened was straightforward. St. Joseph and the Blessed Mother traveled to Bethlehem to be counted in a census. There, the Blessed Mother gave birth to Christ. Angels in all their splendor announced the birth to the shepherds. After the time of the Blessed Mother’s purification, she and St. Joseph brought Him to the Temple to be presented. Simeon exalted Him and praised God for the great gift to seeing the Lord’s Salvation in the flesh.

These events provide an excellent example of true worship and the true way to holiness. The overriding theme is obedience. Mary and Joseph obey human, external authority. They obey religious authority. Every step they take is obedient. So, too, for Simeon and Anna.

For those of us who are immature spiritually, there are always two choices: our preference and God’s preference. Sometimes they overlap, but many times (such as with sinful desires) our preference is opposed to God’s. Obedience, for the spiritually immature, is the conscious effort to subordinate our preference to that of God’s. Over time, though, our preference becomes wholly conformed to God’s so that our preference disappears or our preference is God’s. In other words, we die to ourselves while becoming alive in Christ.

Mary and St. Joseph illustrate this — Mary, in particular. “Be it done unto me according thy word” is the ultimate expression of the uniting of one’s will with God’s. Not is a passive way, but an active self-giving to Him. St. Joseph, not as perfect, but also heroic: drop everything and take Mary and the baby to Egypt. Take Mary as a your wife. Luke, Chapter 2 illustrates this through obedience to Jewish law. For neither Mary nor St. Joseph was religious observance likely their preference on a human level. But grace had so bound their wills to God’s through their “obedience” — dying to themselves and their preferences to the extent that they differed from God’s. The way of obedience is thus the way of holiness.

The Irrelevant And Diverting Question Of Which Bible Translation Is Right — (Updated: “Bible Translations”)

As everyone who’s been there on Saturday mornings is aware, the multiple translations of Scriptures annoys me. As far as I understand it, the closest thing we as Catholics have to an ‘official’ translation is the Douay-Rheims translation. It is the English translation of St. Jerome’s Latin Vulgate. I found a website that makes it available online (linked above). Here is the beginning of Luke, Chapter 3:

1] Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and Philip his brother tetrarch of Iturea, and the country of Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilina; [2] Under the high priests Annas and Caiphas; the word of the Lord was made unto John, the son of Zachary, in the desert. [3] And he came into all the country about the Jordan, preaching the baptism of penance for the remission of sins; [4] As it was written in the book of the sayings of Isaias the prophet: A voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight his paths. [5] Every valley shall be filled; and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight; and the rough ways plain;

[6] And all flesh shall see the salvation of God. … .

To read the rest, go to the source.


This post is being updated for two reasons.  The first is that I am coming to think that the quest I have been on to find a single, correct translation of Scriptures is anti-Catholic.  Perhaps, “anti-” is too strong a prefix, but it at least in tension with our faith.  Unlike proponents of sola scriptura, our faith is a living faith and living witness to God made man and His good news.  Obsessing over abstruse questions over words, whether this or that translation, is accurate in some philological sense subtly but definitely transforms that living faith into dead, academic exercise (even if the excuse is to know Christ better).  The precise wording, especially when the words are Christ’s, can be important to understanding and formulating doctrine.  But that’s not my job, that’s the Bishops’.   I guess it boils down to anything that is not contrary to the faith and contains all the books of the Bible is A-OK by me.

The second reason for the update is that the website linked above has a banner for the “Poem of the Man God.”  This book is one that faithful Catholics do not promote.  I did not notice it when I linked it originally.  I would like to have a link to Douay-Rheims, so I will not unlink it immediately.  Does anyone have any ideas for other sources for Douay-Rheims?