Tags: catholicism


Magnificat - Tu es pastor ovium (3:39). Gregorian chant by the Benedictine Monks of the Abbey of Saint-Maurice & Saint-Maur, Clervaux.

From Wikipedia, "Magnificat":

"The Magnificat (Latin: [My soul] magnifies) — also known as the Song of Mary or the Canticle of Mary — is a canticle frequently sung (or spoken) liturgically in Christian church services. It is one of the eight most ancient Christian hymns and perhaps the earliest Marian hymn. Its name comes from the first word of the Latin version of the canticle's text.

The text of the canticle is taken directly from the Gospel of Luke (Luke 1:46-55) where it is spoken by the Virgin Mary upon the occasion of her Visitation to her cousin Elizabeth. In the narrative, after Mary greets Elizabeth, who is pregnant with the future John the Baptist, the child moves within Elizabeth's womb. When Elizabeth praises Mary for her faith, Mary sings what is now known as the Magnificat in response."

Liturgy of the Hours, Evening prayer, Vespers, for Roman Catholics

Latin (older form):

Magnificat: anima mea Dominum.
Et exultavit spiritus meus: in Deo salutari meo.
Quia respexit humilitatem ancillae suae:
ecce enim ex hoc beatam me dicent omnes generationes.
Quia fecit mihi magna, qui potens est:
et sanctum nomen eius.
Et misericordia eius, a progenie et progenies:
timentibus eum.
Fecit potentiam in brachio suo:
dispersit superbos mente cordis sui.
Deposuit potentes de sede:
et exaltavit humiles.
Esurientes implevit bonis:
et divites dimisit inanes.
Suscepit Israel puerum suum:
recordatus misericordiae suae.
Sicut locutus est ad patres nostros:
Abraham, et semini eius in saecula.

English (Douay-Rheims):

My soul doth magnify the Lord.
And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
Because he hath regarded the humility of his handmaid;
for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
Because he that is mighty,
hath done great things to me;
and holy is his name.
And his mercy is from generation unto generations,
to them that fear him.
He hath shewed might in his arm:
he hath scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart.
He hath put down the mighty from their seat,
and hath exalted the humble.
He hath filled the hungry with good things;
and the rich he hath sent empty away.
He hath received Israel his servant,
being mindful of his mercy:
As he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his seed for ever.

My Catholicity

When I was a young person and being a Roman Catholic, I thought of becoming a priest, perhaps a Jesuit (even an exorcist!), or a Cistercian monk living in silence on a distant mountain.

The trouble was, though my theology was liberation theology in parts mixed with early medieval visual and musical symbolic culture,...and the Church's visual culture (guitars and hippies, while I was a cassock and Gregorian chant type). Plus I kinda hoped to have kids (I didn't), and the niceties like the problem that I didn't believe that all nonChristians (nonCatholic heretics even!) were going to hell. That's not how I saw Jesus or His Father. And that little problem I had , that not only humans had souls, but so did animals, rocks, trees, springs, mountains.. Canticle of the Sun and all that.

But the social justice part of the Catholic tradition, I really believed, and still do, in that. Mother Theresa, Saint Francis, Archbishop Romero. And I saw no point in denigrating others' beliefs or forcing mine on them. Judge not, and the best sermon is the one without words. I knew I'd be a washout, so I never tried.

I don't have a label that really fits. I'm too pagan for Catholics and too Catholic for pagans. I am betwixt and between. As for other kinds of Christians, I like the Orthodox and Copts and Celtic old school stripes, but anything else just isn't hardcore enough for me. Our Lady is someone very important to me, even in my most heretical and apostatic cycles.

In any case, I'm with the Doobie Brothers: "Jesus is just all right with me..."

Justice and the Sin of Sodom

I watched "Gasland" yesterday and was horrified at what frakking is doing to our water. What Chief Seattle said is coming true: we are defecating in our own beds and will one night suffocate in our own waste.

By the way, there are five sins that cry out to Heaven for vengeance:

(1) Wilful murder - the blood of Abel, [Gen. 4:10]

(2) The sin of the Sodomites, [Gen. 18:20; 19:13]

(3) The cry of the people oppressed in Egypt, [Ex. 3:7-10]

(4) The cry of the foreigner, the widow and the orphan, [Ex. 20:20-22] and

(5) Injustice to the wage earner. [Deut. 24:14-5; Jas. 5:4]

Seems like the candidates who claim to be true to Christianity haven't made their positions clear on any of these, except for #2 of course.

But, since it is one of the sins that cries out to Heaven for vengeance, it is worth learning what Jewish tradition teaches about the sin of Sodom: http://www.iwgonline.org/docs/sodom.html

‎"This was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. They were haughty and did abominable things before me; therefore I removed them when I saw it." (Ezekiel 16:46-50 ). Sound familiar?

Nostos Algos und Wachet Auf

I haven't heard this song since I was a little kid in the Cathedral during Mass...in those days, it was Latin Mass...this song strikes me this morning deeply with a sense of loss, beauty and nostalgia: "The word is a learned formation of a Greek compound, consisting of νόστος (nóstos), meaning "homecoming", a Homeric word, and ἄλγος (álgos), meaning "pain, ache"."


I walk a fine line, a line of tension. I am Native American. I have had lots of odd experiences that have meaning and context and reality in my cultural framework and upbringing in our tribal and intertribal traditions. I can say the same thing about my Catholic upbringing, although the contexts are very different. But I have also been trained in anthropology and in science, and especially in the scientific context, I also have skepticism about some of those same experiences in my contexts of NA tradition and Catholic religion. Some things are irreconcilable, period. Some things can be reconciled to some extent. And the rest, well, are rocks I have to paddle my canoe through or I will capsize.

(i just had one person criticize me on the use of "through the rocks" saying "Paddle through or paddle around?...Paddle over, too?" I saw their point, but "through the rocks" to me means picking your way between/among them. Just as "through the trees" doesn't necessarily mean you are picking a tree (singular) and walking through it (unless there is a doorway, that would be impossible), but walking through the trees (plural) is an acceptable English usage, and so paddling through the rocks is a parallel language construct.)

Old School Catholicism on Heretics, Schismatics, and Apostates

i learned it this way as a Roman Catholic, so your mileage may vary. To be considered Christian requires baptism with water under the Three Names, each a Person of the One God (not arguing how three can be one here). Mormons and Unitarians would therefore not be considered Christian under old school Roman Catholic thought. Baptists and Evangelicals would be considered heretics. Eastern Orthodox are schismatics. People who were baptized Christian but convert to Islam or Wicca are apostates. People who were were never baptized at all are the only true pagans in traditional Catholic thought. But then some traditionalists are considered heretics by Rome and they consider Rome as heretics (such as the sedevacantists or "Old Catholics"). Yes, it turns into quite a mess.

Heresy - rejection of an essential element (dogma or doctrine) of faith - aka for a Catholic an example would be rejection of transubstantiation. Catholics consider Protestants as heretics. Only Christians can be heretics, those who were never part of the church cannot be.

Schism - division from the faith, ex. the historic division between Roman and Eastern churches over the nature of the Holy Spirit. Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox consider each other schismatic. Individuals are not schismatic, it take a splitting of the church itself.

Apostasy - completely abandoning and rejecting the Christian faith if one has already accepted it. So one who converts from Catholicism to Islam would be an apostate. Neopagans such as Wiccans who were baptized are apostates.

As I understand it, Catholics who have "fallen away" and are nonpracticing are not yet fully apostates, unless they declare such publicly, as the sacrament of Confession and healing for reunification is possible. However they cannot take Communion. The divorced, without annulment, cannot take Communion.


When I was younger, and at several times during my life, such was my spiritual devotion and seeking that I had thought of becoming a Catholic monk. This morning I came across the writings of an ex-monk and one of the most famous monks. I saved these scraps to remember...

"Living “in the world” was good but it didn’t tackling for me to realize that for so many, life was a shallow, meaningless experience. While the abbey was too far away from everyman’s experience, the constant pursuit of money and good times stretched too far into mindlessness."

"I think that already at this age I no longer thought of the Deity as an old man with a white beard sitting on an ornate marble throne surrounded by troops of angels who, along with myriad of other folk who made it to heaven, stood there for century after century happily and ecstatically singing praises to Him. God help us! It did take some years of silent seeking to realize Its essence in the gentle majesty of trees, the innocent beauty of animals, the silence of the evening sky and the peace in distant mountains."

"We who entered cloistered orders...were certainly chilled by the sense that there was something warped and inhumane about it. We were not totally blind and stupid. We knew we were getting into something hard, even unreasonably hard. But we also knew that this counted for very little in comparison something else which in our case was decisive. We believed that we were really called by God to do this. . . . It is true that we were told absurd things, made to behave with a stupid and artificial formality, and put through routines that now, as we look back, seem utterly incredible. How did we ever stomach such atrocious nonsense? It must be even be admitted that the climate of Catholic spirituality, perhaps especially in contemplative life has proved for many to be unhealthy, both physically and mentally. We carry deep wounds which will prevent us from ever forgetting it…."

"[But also] one learned much about how prayer, meditation and solitude led to a healthier mental outlook and brought us closer to the Ineffable."

"My aversion to philosophy and theology was boundless. My deep love of the monastic life at that time was not in reading explanations of how prayer worked, nor the foundations of Church doctrine nor half-assed explanations of what godhood was theologically, not how many spirits could dance on the head of a pin. (Nor was my life enhanced by the spiritual aphorisms which were painted on walls just below the ceilings of many of the monastic gathering places–as though one could not allow one’s mind to be empty of spiritual propaganda every minute of the day. God forbid your mind would be empty of all thought and just soaking up the silence of the spiritual.) All empirical knowledge meant little to me in reference to the truth of living and love of whatever you want to call the Source of creation. I found simple joys in everyday living in the monastery: walking in the woods, loving the chant and being part of the schola cantorum, working in the novitiate garden, getting in the hay, planting tomatoes, working in the woodshed to provide heat for the abbey and really just being in a place which seemed sacred and blessedly steeped in silence."

"...he suddenly realized that monastic contemplatives were not in any way above the common man, that we were like all of humanity. We are all in this life together and the monk’s responsibility was to help everyone toward a greater awareness of the love surrounding us. No one was better because they locked themselves away in monasteries. They just had taken a different path from others."

"The “permanent” community was an amalgam of a few truly saintly men, some very nutty men, and the rest of us in between– Much like those living on the outside the walls."

"I have no intention of trying to “solve your problem” because that is your problem: you go around looking for solutions. Life is very nice as it is, without solutions. If you want to be a living question mark, by all means go ahead and be one. But if you expect answers you defeat yourself. What will happen to the question mark if the question is answered? You don’t want an answer. But you haven’t the courage to face that situation, because you still depend so much on everybody else and everybody else says you have to have an answer. I won’t tell you either to leave or to stay: that is for you to decide. But it will be useless to stay here asking yourself day after day “why why why” unless you are content to ask why without expecting an answer. I’d forget the question. Incidentally, have you ever heard about God? Maybe He can run your life better than you can. You have never let Him."

"...a grueling peruse of internal suffering, an experience something like St. John of the Cross’ “dark night of the soul” where everything bottoms out and you’re as al one and godless as if you were completely abandoned by all things physical and spiritual..."

"...it is possible that you are just starting to climb back up out of a deep hole. I am certainly with you but it is not going to be easy–you have made it tough on yourself by systematically destroying the normal ladders on the theory that you could get out of the hole through a secret tunnel without having to climb.

You have to have a very large amount of courage, patience and humility and you are weak especially in the first two of these. However it is basic humility to accept the fact of being in the same boat as everybody else and trying to make the best of it.

You are going to feel tragic about it once in a while. OK but not too much now. It is the ordinary lot of all men. And of Christ on earth and above all, what we go through here is very trifling. It is a sin to exaggerate it as much as we all do. However, you are right to face it. And for heaven’s sake if you do find a little joy in the ordinary things of life again don’t go and reject it. Be humble enough to take anything good from anybody even if it is far short of perfect– anyway–lots of love and prayers."

"I continued to have problems with life in the modern world, everything too shallow, consumerist and empty. I still felt the pull of monastic life and thought that this might still be had in a monastery or friary where peace and silence would nurture the spirit. I truly enjoyed the pleasures of everyday life but thought depth was sorely missing. These pleasures were quite simple and boiled down to listening to music, eating great bagels, having a drink with friends after work while discussing the complete collapse of humanity..."

"Our real journey in life is interior: it is a matter of growth, deepening, and of an ever greater surrender to the creative action of love and grace in our hearts. Never was it more necessary for us to respond to that action. I pray that we may all do so generously. God bless you."

"I found myself questioning all of the Catholicism I had been following my whole life. I began to feel that it was just one religion in the world, not the only true one, that God was above and beyond any organized religion and that Catholic exclusivity was a delusion. I still believe this and have grown, into a more understanding person, embracing diversity in beliefs, shunning all organized religion as dead ends on the way to understanding, to enlightenment. My faith in God has not faltered, though I find trying to understand this world far beyond me, belief being something, as has been said, irrational and unexplainable."

"Nowadays, atheism is increasing in cultured societies and it speaks volumes about our divorce from nature and any spiritual underpinnings due partially to lack of time, materialism and greed no less than to the shabby and often criminal behavior of so many in organized religion. It seems belief in something outside of the purely empirical is an absurdity. Understandable to some degree, but when one considers that we billions are living on a revolving speck of dust, hurtling through an inconceivably gigantic universe of billions upon billions of suns, planets, etc., at unheard of speeds, belief in something Other seems no more absurd. (Personally, I prefer an honest atheist to a phony priest.)"

"If you forget everything else that has been said, I would suggest you remember this for the future: ‘From now on everybody stands on his own feet’”."


I am Catholic, Native American, Heathen/Pagan, Scientist/Skeptic, Animist, Humanist, and all manner of things. Yet am not strictly any one of these to exclusion of the others. Truth will not be bounded except BY Truth. I do not fit in to any of these categories. I see the commonalities more than the differences. God is of Truth and so I will not exclude any Truth by mandate of any dogma in order to fit God into a particular worldview as to what God is said to be. Yet on this perilous path, the discernment of Truth is therefore paramount. "...pure spirituality transcends ‘isms’ and salvation may be had for all beyond the established churches."

In some ways, I am a natural contemplative. As a boy I remember during recess in 6th grade staring deeper and deeper into a common pebble, until I felt immersed in its crystalline structure, inward further and further. This nature of course set me as different from others, and this led to bullying and further distancing. Yet it was humor and laughter which kept me connected.

To perceive, to marinate in perception. To meditate. To go to any place, seeking God, but not in abstraction, rather in the streak of morning dawn on cloud and mountain, voice in wind and bird and wave.

It turns out I have become a monk of sorts, not a recluse not cloistered, but secluded in an ordinary, small life as seen from outside, but an immense life as seen by the one living it.

"From now on everybody stands on his own feet."

(Quotes from http://mertonocso.wordpress.com/)

The Most High God and Other Gods

I found this paragraph very useful and I agree entirely. "Many of these spirits are accustomed to being worshiped as gods. Some continue to expect such reverence, others not so much. Bible students will perhaps recall Psalm 82:6 (or John 10:34 for those Christian readers!), wherein the pagan gods are accounted as limited potentates who will, in their own term, be judged by God as are other mortals. In the scripture, they are called gods, and sons of god, but they will ultimately face judgment as men do, presumably to face total destruction or share the common reward."

I think there are gods of peoples, gods of places, gods of offices/functions, etc. The words "god" "goddesses" "angels" "demons" etc. have so much baggage. I like what St. Thomas said about angels: "angel" is an office (function), in this case, "messenger of the Most High" while their nature is "spirit." Daniel speaks of the Prince of Persia contending with Gabriel and others. The Prince of Persia was a spirit of a people (the Persians) and/or place (Persia). Michael was the spirit which was assigned to Israel and as head of the Heavenly Army.

IMHO, gods from Greek, Germanic/Norse, Native American, Celtic, etc. pantheons are the same. Some have never been human. Some were flesh and blood ancestors of an ethnic group who went through apotheosis. Some are anthropomorphized natural forces, elements, rivers, storms, etc. I think ultimate reality is probably even grander than any of us suspect. Some may live for so long that we conceive of it as forever. But others are born, exist and die, like us. Gotterdammerung.

My own evolving theology holds the Most High to be the Creator of All, whether Earth, the Stars, the Gods, the Angels, Human Beings etc. The Most High is beyond our knowing, the Ain Soph. Earthmaker. We only know of the Most High through His works, his creation, and his messengers. We may know of Him through His Son, Jesus Christ, and through His Prophets like Moses and Mohammed. But my understanding is necessarily human, thus limited. I'm just whistling and kicking a can down the alleyway of eternity :-)

Gods and Goddesses

I believe in God. I do, but I am not dogmatic about things. I believe in God the way most people meant in the old days when they said "I believe in God." That (God =the Creator) doesn't cause any friction between my Ioway beliefs (God = Ma'un = Earthmaker) and my Catholic beliefs (God = the Father, Son and Holy Ghost). It doesn't, not for people from the older generation I was brought up around. You believe in God, do your best, avoid doing bad things, treat people the way you want to be treated. That's how you live.

When I was little, I fell in love with Greek mythology. The first thing I ever remember drawing was a Cyclops, from the Ulysses movie starring Kirk Douglas ("More wine! hahaha!"). The book I remember is D'aulaire's Book of Greek Myths; it formed my mental pictures of the Greek Gods and it still does. The Greek Gods were as real to me as a little child as Gumby and Pokey, and God, and my stuffed animals that also were alive, and the clouds that sent down lightning. And the dark things under the bed and in the closet that moved around at night and caused nightmares. The knotholes in the walls' wood paneling were the eyes of trees that had been killed, accusing one of the crime.

It was only as I grew older, that I learned that I was to believe only in some of these things as "real." And older than that, I learned that I couldn't believe in both the Greek Gods AND God with a capital G. And then when I went to Catholic school, things got even more complicated. I had known about God for a long long time ("Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep...") but now there was Jesus, and the Holy Ghost, and Mary. And I took it all in stride and believed in them as well. And I wasn't allowed to believe in anything other than these new additions to my understanding.

But there were problems. They said only humans had souls. But that was untrue, as I knew my dogs also had souls...I could see it in their eyes, their souls. And the idea of hell. I didn't like it. It made me even more scared, adding hell to those dark things that roamed around at night. I knew EVERYBODY I knew was going to heaven when they died ("If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take" wasn't a lie was it?).

So what about the Greek Gods and Goddesses, and the souls of my dogs, and the eyes of the murdered trees in the planks, and the plants that grew and could even grow vines to strangle you at night? And the wind that spoke and rain that seemed to say something to me? Many years passed, and I still wondered about these things. While in Church I prayed to God, and took communion, and wondered about the dark feelings in the Church's basement and the carvings of staring faces on the cathedral's stonework: who were they?

I learned about the theories of anthropology in college, about the development of witchcraft and religion. I learned...

Most of the Gods and Goddesses of Classical Paganism can shown to be, in their essence/origins:

I. Universal Major Elements/Forces
1. Sky Father
2. Mother Earth
3. Winds
4. Storms/Thunder/Lightning
5. Ocean
6. Underworld
7. Ice, Fire, etc.

II. Human Ancestors who went through Apotheosis
1. Fathers and Mothers of an Ethnic Group
2. Direct Ancestors
3. Ancestors who were expert craftspeople or practitioners
4. Ghosts, Egregores, Tulpa, etc. formed by emotions, rituals, memories in the land placed there by ancestors

III. Local Anima Loci "Spirits of Place"/landvaettir
1. Mountains, Volcanoes, Cliffs, and Hills
2. Plants, Groves and Forests
3. Caves
4. Unusual Features (rock spires, etc.)
5. Watercourses: Rivers, streams, springs, ponds, lakes, waterfalls
6. Others..

EVERY God or Goddess I can think of, when you look at the origin myths, has an origin in one of the above categories, even if it was later amalgamated with another category.


Odin: Originated as a Germanic ancestor, added features of Sky Father, and craft of magic and cunning.

Shango: Originated as a great West African chief, added feature of amalgamation with thunder and fire.

But many of the polytheistic pagan faiths also had a distant "Creator" god that made all things but didn't get much involved in human affairs. For my tribe, we believed in Earthmaker (Ma'un), but when you went out to get a vision or made sacrifices, it was to one of the Persons created by Ma'un...it was THESE Persons (Thunder, Bear, etc.) who became one's Helper in a Vision Quest.

So whatever path we take for ourselves, it is okay to believe in "God" (however one wants to think about "God", as an old white-bearded man, Zeus/Deus, or "the Force" or whatever) but the day-to-day business of living is tied to one's local natural forces and places, animals and plants, as Persons, and also to one's Ancestors and the ancestral practitioners of one's craft/way of making a living.

And so, I still struggle to make sense of all this.

I have never had God tell me anything. Nor Jesus, nor Odin, nor Mary, nor Apollo. Not so I can tell without second-guessing myself. A couple of times I have had dreams in which it seemed angels talked to me. But those were only dreams. That came true, even if it was decades later.

But I have seen the souls of dogs in their eyes, and the hair rise on my neck in a dark place in the woods where I know I am not wanted, and the lick of a butterfly that landed on my hand, and the blessing of a cold drink of water. I know these exist. I KNOW... I don't have to believe.

Currently, I am busy working on a coherent worldview based on the Creator, ancestors, local land spirits, local Native American lore, scientific ecosystem research, and American folklore.

Brother Sun, Sister Moon: The Canticle of the Sun

Canticle of the Sun, by St. Francis of Assisi

Most High, all powerful, good Lord God, Yours are the praises, the glory, the honour, and every blessing, To You alone, most High, do they belong, and no man is worthy to mention Your name.

Praised be You, my Lord, with all Your creatures, especially Sir Brother Sun, Who is the day and through whom You give us light. And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendour; and bears a likeness of You, Most High One.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars, in heaven you formed them clear and precious and beautiful.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Wind, and through the air, cloudy and serene, and every kind of weather through which You give sustenance to Your creatures.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Water, which is very useful and humble and precious and chaste.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Fire, through whom You light the night, and he is beautiful and playful and robust and strong.

Praised be You, My Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces varied fruits with coloured flowers and herbs.

Praised be You, My Lord, through those who give pardon for the sake of Your love, and bear infirmity and tribulation. Blessed are they who endure in peace, for by You, Most High, they shall be crowned.

Praised be You, my Lord, through our Sister Death, from whom no living man can escape. Woe only to those who die in mortal sin. Blessed are those whom death will find in Your most holy will, for the second death shall do them no harm.

Praise and bless my Lord and give Him thanks And serve Him with great humility.