Dear Parishioners, +JMJ
I’m writing this letter the day before taking off for my canonical retreat, which this year will be at Our Lady of Solitude Monastery, near Phoenix, Arizona. My plan for the content of the retreat, at least at the moment (I suppose the Lord could change it in the next 24 hours)… My plan is to read through some essays of Pope Benedict XVI on various aspects of priesthood. Ignatius press collected the essays, written throughout the entire career of Pope Benedict XVI, in a book entitled Teaching and Learning the Love of God: Being a Priest Today.
In addition, I plan on getting re-acquainted with the Song of Songs, the premiere love poem in the Old Testament. I wrote my license paper in Rome on one line from this book/poem called “the adjuration refrain”, which shows up a number of times throughout the work. It goes like this: “I adjure you, daughters of Jerusalem, by the does and gazelles on the field, not to awaken or stir up love until it desires.” From this line alone, you can see that the poem treats the love between a man and woman, with the witness of cities (i.e., daughters) around Jerusalem (i.e., God’s people), but you really have all of creation brought in as a witness, represented by the creatures – does and gazelles. Although the poem is obviously about the love between a man and woman, the Tradition of the church has always seen in this poem also a reflection of God’s love for his Old Testament people, God’s love for his New Testament people, the Church, and God’s love for each individual soul. So, with the literal meaning, and then the various levels of spiritual meaning, there is plenty to meditate upon for a long time. Finally – as far as reading materials for my retreat go – I have with me a small book of Christian poetry written by a religious sister whose pen name was Jessica Powers. I will probably read one of her poems each day.
Of course, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the center of the retreat each day, just as it is the source and summit of each of our lives. Also, I will pray the breviary as usual – five times each day. Hopefully the three of us priests on this retreat can chant the breviary together.
On another note, I received in the mail last week the latest copy of the alumni magazine of the Pontifical North American College, entitled Roman Echoes. In it were highlighted “Catholic Bytes” podcasts. These podcasts were started by a couple PNAC priests a few years ago. You get the play on the word “bytes”?…. It sounds like “bites”, like something small that you can digest quickly and easily. But “bytes” also is a measure of electronic capacity. The idea is that these podcasts are short enough that a busy person can fit in a whole podcast somehow, even on a busy day. Each podcast is somewhere around 10-11 minutes. But they even have some 1-minute podcasts. If you go to “catholicbytespodcast.com” you can see the various titles of the podcasts. There are several on various popes throughout history. They call that series on popes “Habemus Papam”. Then you have titles such as, “The exchange between us and divinity”, “Tips for Confession”, “Weird Catholic Words”, “The Requiem Mass”, “René Descartes and Spreading the Gospel”, “Hope, Despair, Redemption”, etc. The talks seem to be super solid… and short!
So, if the other electronic resources I have recommended have been too long (“Al Kresta in the Afternoon”, “Catholic Things You Should Know”, “Pints with Aquinas”, Fr. Barron’s “Word on Fire” talks and homilies, Fr. John Ricardo’s “Christ is the Answer”, Teresa Tomeo’s “Catholic Connection”, etc…) then consider giving Catholic Bytes podcasts a try. These are all great ways to keep up your Catholic education – which is a lifelong endeavor.
Have a blessed week!
In cordibus Jesu et Mariae,