“Not In Ink” is now on Tumblr

Even if you don’t have Tumblr, be sure to check this out. It’s a little more casual and light-hearted, but the message is the same: living out our Catholic Faith one day at a time!

http://catholicliving.tumblr.com/

Thanks all of you readers for sticking with “Not In Ink,” despite the long hiatus!

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Poem on St. Catherine of Siena

“To set the world on fire,

The soul rising up to God

Needs to proclaim the Lord’s Truth,

And not be silent through fear.

Without God’s great endurance,

Nothing worthy can be done.

For Love as Virtue is fire—

Hungered for, nourishing life—

To work the wonders of God

Among His priceless people.

God’s all comes from Virtue Love

To save us through His Certain,

Victorious Forgiveness.

Love Uncreated prospers

In Man’s Soul; the Soul, In Him.

For His Beloved Servants,

Every place is the right place;

And every time, the right time

To give such pleasing wisdom,

To see the Life of His Grace,

And lean against Christ Crossèd.

Father, give these Souls Yourself;

Let them be whom You Have Made

So they may set all ablaze.”

All these were her prayers and words

For her beloved brethren;

To the Heavenly Bridegroom,

And His weak but chosen Bride.

Her faith staved off the maelstrom,

Her hope kept the sails aloft,

Her love helped preserve His Ship.

O Lovely Caterina,

Always pray for us, His Ship;

By the Angels’ Orchestra,

His Saints’ Heavenly Chorus,

And Our Church’s Passing Song—

May your name be ever blest.

Lord, may it be so. Amen.

—In May Two-Thousand Thirteen

Welcome, Papa Francesco!

My dear readers,

Viva il papa – Papa Francesco! Today, the cardinals of the Catholic Church elected Cardinal Bergoglio of Argentina to be the next pope.

I was planning to post my musing on the Holy Spirit today; but in lieu of that, I would like to encourage everyone to read my previous musing on Pope Benedict and his successor (Pope Francis I)!

Again, my apologies to my non-Catholic readers, but today the world has experienced such great joy and prayer that I believe it transcends religious differences. So, let us rejoice in the Lord and those shepherds whom He has chosen to lead us!

Let us pray for all of our religious leaders today (especially our new Pope, Francis I!) I shall pray for your ‘shepherds,’ ministers and pastors, as I ask that you please pray for mine.

And, please check back here tomorrow for the musing on the Holy Spirit! I promise I will post it.

Thank you, and I am praying for you all!

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Good evening.

You all know that the duty of the Conclave was to give a bishop to Rome. It seems that my brother Cardinals have come almost to the ends of the earth to get him… but here we are. I thank you for the welcome that has come from the diocesan community of Rome.

First of all I would say a prayer for our Bishop Emeritus Benedict XVI. Let us all pray together for him, that the Lord bless him and Our Lady protect him...

And now let us begin this journey, the Bishop and people, this journey of the Church of Rome which presides in charity over all the Churches, a journey of brotherhood in love, of mutual trust. Let us always pray for one another. Let us pray for the whole world that there might be a great sense of brotherhood . My hope is that this journey of the Church that we begin today, together with help of my Cardinal Vicar, be fruitful for the evangelization of this beautiful city.

And now I would like to give the blessing, but first I want to ask you a favor. Before the bishop blesses the people I ask that you would pray to the Lord to bless me – the prayer of the people for their Bishop. Let us say this prayer – your prayer for me – in silence.

I will now give my blessing to you and to the whole world, to all men and women of good will

Brothers and sisters, I am leaving you. Thank you for your welcome. Pray for me. We will see one another soon. Tomorrow I want to go to pray the Madonna, that she may protect Rome.

Good night and sleep well!

–Pope Francis I (Jorge Mario Cardinal Bergoglio), March 13, 2013

Musing on the Holy Father & His Successor

March 13 Update: Welcome to our new Holy Father, Pope Francis I!

He succeeds Pope Benedict XVI (and St. Peter) as Pope and Bishop of Rome!

Author’s Note: I realize that not all of you dear readers are Catholic, but the current situation with the Catholic Church’s Pope is a very interesting and bemusing one, even if you are not Catholic. So, with that being said, I hope you enjoy the post. (The following was written on Feb. 28, 2013, as Pope Benedict was resigning from the Papal office.)

A Musing on the Holy Father and His Successor

Today, as I write this, the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, is resigning the office of the Papacy – a move that is unprecedented in the modern era.

A few weeks ago, when the Holy Father announced his intention to resign, the faithful had many questions, as a pope’s resignation hasn’t been seen in 700 years or so.

“What do we call Pope Benedict once he resigns? Where will he live? What will he do? How are we supposed to address him, if we were to meet him?”

Pope Benedict has answered these questions, but there is one uncertaintly that has yet to be addressed (and cannot be addressed for some time):

Who will be the Pope’s successor, and what will the relationship be between the two popes?

The Pope’s successor will be elected, hopefully, before Easter by the conclave of cardinals. But, as mentioned above, the relationship between the Holy Father and the Pope emeritus is a relative unknown.

As I was thinking about this earlier today, I remembered a line from the movie The King’s Speech, which portrays Britain’s King George VI’s rise to the British throne after his brother, King Edward, abdicated. In the movie, King George (portrayed by Colin Firth) says:

“Every monarch in history has succeeded someone who is dead. Or just about to be. My predecessor’s not only alive, but very much so.”

Although Pope Benedict has resigned due to his failing health and “advanced age,” his successor will – similar to King George – take the papal throne (the Chair of St. Peter) while his predecessor still lives, God willing.

The Holy Father has pledged his obedience to whomever succeeds him, but what about the new Pope’s relationship with his still-living predecessor?

Will the new Holy Father reach out to our Pope Emeritus? Will he ask Benedict for advice? For counsel about the papacy?

There are probably many things a pope wishes he could have asked his predecessor about, but in most cases, his predecessor was dead. Odds are, the cardinal who will succeed the Holy Father already knows Pope Benedict. But, surely, there are things our new pope will want to ask the pope emeritus.

But, the best precedent I could find for this in the Scriptures was the relationship between Elijah and Elisha.

In 2 Kings 2, when Elijah is making his preparations before being swept up into Heaven, he asks Elisha three times to remain behind and allow him to leave. “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.”

The sons of the prophets who were (there) approached Elisha and said to him, “Do you know that the Lord will take away your master from over you today?” And he answered, “Yes, I know; be still.” –2 Kings 2: 3 & 5

Before Elijah leaves, he asks Elisha Ask what I shall do for you before I am taken from you.” And Elisha said, “Please, let a double portion of your spirit be upon me.” He said, “You have asked a hard thing. Nevertheless, if you see me when I am taken from you, it shall be so for you; but if not, it shall not be so.” Then, Elijah is taken up, and Elisha inherits Elijah’s spirit, which the people acknowledge.

Elisha shows his obedience to his master Elijah; he refuses to leave him and follows him until he is taken up by the chariot and the whirlwind.

Elijah, in return, shows his obedience to his successor, asking if there is anything Elisha will need from him before they part.

They acknowledge each other’s office and duties as a prophet of Israel – with Elisha knowing his place as the under-study (as it were) to his master and “father” Elijah, who in turn, recognizes that his work is completed and wants to help the new prophet in his duties. In essence, Elijah, by taking his leave of Elisha, acknowledges him as his successor.

While the situation between the new Holy Father and the pope emeritus will be different than that between Elijah and Elisha, they will share a mutual respect and obedience for one another.

Benedict has and will continue to acknowledge whomever succeeds him as the pope – the Vicar of Christ and the Successor of Peter.

But, in turn, Benedict’s successor will show his loyalty, respect, and obedience to his predecessor, and will recognize that he succeeds not only Peter, but Benedict.

He should savor the time he can spend with his predecessor, as Elisha did with Elijah. The new Holy Father will know that, when God wills it, Benedict will be taken from this life.

But, our future pope must be still and treasure this time with his predecessor by following him and learning from him – taking up his mantle, as Elisha did for Elijah.

And, when he is elected, our new Holy Father will fill the office and seat of, not only Benedict, but every Pope who has preceded him – ultimately to Peter who was commissioned by Christ Himself.

So, I pray for our new Holy Father, that he will realize that his predecessors – and the lessons they have taught and will teach him – are precious because they ultimately connect him to Jesus Christ, the Head and Bridegroom of the Church.

For the mantle of Christ is the one every Pope must take up. He is the God-Made-Man Whom each of them must succeed, as the Head of the Church of Christ here on Earth.

Feature Story: “Faith In Service”

Author’s Note: This article was written as a school project and ran in the Wichita Catholic Advance in January 2008. The Wichita Catholic Advance is the diocesan newspaper for the Catholic Diocese of Wichita Kansas.

Faith In Service

Lt. Guy Schroeder had not been a Wichita police officer long when he was stopped by an elderly lady while patrolling the Wichita streets. The woman, whom he had never seen before, took great care to wave him down.

As he stopped his patrol car, the woman handed him a St. Michael prayer card. There were no spoken words, but Schroeder said there was a silent understanding between them. Even though he is now a lieutenant, Schroeder keeps the card with him while on duty.

“I have no doubt,” he said, “that there is someone over our shoulders, looking out for us.”

Lt. Guy Schroeder with the St. Michael the Archangel prayer card that an elderly woman gave him.

Lt. Guy Schroeder with the St. Michael the Archangel prayer card that an elderly woman gave him.

For the average 9 to 5 worker, faith may not play a significant role during the workday. But for the Catholic members of the Wichita Police Department, faith has a definite impact on their careers.

Faith affects work

Detective Hans Asmussen converted to Catholicism in 1996 and currently works as a Crime Stoppers coordinator for the Wichita Police Department. Asmussen admits that he wasn’t always as involved in his faith as he is now.

“I was more nominal as a Catholic, at first,” he said. “It wasn’t until I became a detective that I became more active in my faith.”

Asmussen acknowledges that his Catholic faith has had a beneficial influence on his career as a police officer.

“I try to treat everyone as someone created in the image of God,” he said. “We are constantly confronted with people who need compassion, both victim and suspect, but are often overlooked. I must see Jesus in both and treat them with charity.”

“I am much more compassionate,” Lt. Schroeder said. “My faith gives me direction, and helps me understand the needs of people in all types of situations.”

Schroeder, who volunteers as a resource officer at Bishop Carroll Catholic High School, also says that his Catholic faith helps him make a better connection with the students and their families.

“It makes it that much easier,” he said. “You can talk about things that you can’t talk about at a regular high school.”

“My faith helps me to be a factfinder, not a judge – to assist in justice, not to deal out judgment,” Detective Asmussen said.

Work affects faith

Officer Daniel Oblinger once considered becoming a priest and attended the Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary in Winona, Minn.

However, Oblinger did not feel called to serve God in the priesthood, and has now been an officer on the WPD for five years.

As an officer, Oblinger has noticed how the things he sees on patrol affect his Catholic faith. Oblinger, who works on a Drug Recognition Expert Unit, has encountered several cases of drug and alcohol abuse, and realized it was a slavery to sin.

“My career helps in my spiritual life by showing me both the best and the worst in humanity,” he said. “I get to witness the capacity of men to harm their brothers and sisters.”

Several officers agree with Oblinger and admit that their careers in law enforcement have only strengthened their spiritual life, including Sgt. Clark Bolan and Detective Sarah Hamilton.

Lt. Schroeder and Sgt. Clark Bolan pose with the Wichita Police Department squad car.

Lt. Schroeder and Sgt. Clark Bolan pose with the Wichita Police Department squad car.

Sgt. Bolan, who has been on the force for 25 years, works as a Community Policing Sergeant for Patrol West. He, like Oblinger, has noticed how his career has impacted his Catholic faith.

“I see a lot of bad things on the job,” said Bolan, who converted to Catholicism in 1984. “I think it’s made my faith stronger.”

“I’m dealing with the people Jesus dealt with – the people that are suffering, like addicts and the homeless,” Detective Sarah Hamilton said. “This job is about helping people.”

Hamilton works as an investigator for the Gang/Felony Assault Unit and sometimes assists on homicide cases. While she just converted to Catholicism two years ago, Hamilton prays for the victims she encounters, both at home and on the job.

“If one had no faith,” she said, “they could become overwhelmed by all the bad things on this job.”

Detective Asmussen had a similar feeling about prayer’s role in his career.

“I get to see evil firsthand in the world,” he said, “and I understand my role in praying against it.”

Faith on the job

Since law enforcement can sometimes be a dangerous occupation, a number of Catholic officers find comfort and strength in using their Catholic faith while at work.

Detective Hans Asmussen kneels in prayer.

Detective Hans Asmussen kneels in prayer.

Several officers, like Detective Asmussen and Sgt. Bolan, wear a medal of St. Michael, the patron saint of police officers, while on patrol.

Officer Oblinger wears a vest underneath his uniform that says “Roman Catholic, send for priest.” This ensures that his spiritual needs will be met, in the event that he is wounded while on duty.

In addition, Asmussen, Oblinger, and Lt. Schroeder pray before they go to work. Bolan says that he offers a prayer every weekend at Mass, asking God to help him make good decisions and become a better officer.

“Without faith,” said Oblinger, “we can go pretty far astray.”

A strong connection

Although the Wichita Police Department doesn’t maintain records on religious affiliation, Deputy Chief Tom Stolz believes there is a definite religious diversity among the department.

“I believe there is general connection between people of faith and police work. The Wichita Police Department is made up of many good and decent officers who are Methodist, Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and Protestant, among others,” Stolz said. “I know people of faith who use their various spiritual principles to help guide them in their daily jobs as police officers – to help people and to serve others.”

Stolz, who was raised Catholic, has seen a relationship between the Catholic faith and serving as a police officer during his 26 years with the WPD.

“In my view, there are strong similarities between the Catholic faith and working in the police department,” he said. “They both care about social justice – about people that are less fortunate or who are enduring hard times. As police officers, our job is to help people, no matter what social strata they fall into.”

While there are many different law enforcement agencies throughout the country, all are vital to members of the Catholic community and ultimately, to the world.

“Law enforcement is a sociology,” Detective Asmussen said. “We help people, so that crime exists at its bare minimum.”

“Without the police department,” said Officer Oblinger, “there wouldn’t be an environment where people can go out and witness.”

Musing on Mercy & Justice

les-miserables-posters-jackman-crowe

The Mercy of Valjean and the Justice of Javert

Author’s Note: This musing is based on my knowledge and understanding of the musical “Les Miserables” and its movie adaptation that was released in theaters last December. I fully admit I have never read the book “Les Miserables” by Victor Hugo, and I realize there are differences in characters, plot, etc. between the musical and its source material. Still, I hope you enjoy it!

Meditation on Mercy & Justice from “Les Miserables”

In 19th century France, the starving teenager Jean Valjean, in desperation, steals a loaf of bread to feed himself and his family members. For his crime, and various escape attempts, he is imprisoned for 19 years. Upon his release, he finds little welcome in the world outside prison. He is treated as an outcast, because of his brand as an ex-convict. He struggles to find food and shelter, as few are willing to help him. As he sleeps in a graveyard, a bishop finds him and offers him food and shelter for the night.

Later that night, Valjean takes advantage of the bishop’s kindness by stealing his silver. The police arrest Valjean and return him to the bishop, as Valjean claims that the bishop gave him the silver as a present. The bishop confirms Valjean’s story, and by doing so, saves him from returning to prison:

“And remember this, my brother,
See in this some high plan.
You must use this precious silver
To become an honest man.
By the witness of the martyrs,
By the passion and the blood,
God has raised you out of darkness” (Valjean Arrested / Valjean Forgiven)

Because of this act of mercy, Valjean realizes the sinfulness of his life as a criminal and commits himself to God. Valjean expected justice, but received mercy instead. He sees and experiences the bishop’s and, more importantly, God’s love for him. And thus, sees his unworthiness, and desires to change his ways by committing himself to God.

And, because of the bishop’s single act of mercy, Valjean, in turn, becomes an apostle of mercy – spreading Christ’s love and forgiveness throughout the rest of his life.

Because of Valjean’s commitment to mercy, he:

  • rescues a man who was trapped under a cart;
  • reveals himself as the ex-convict Jean Valjean, to save an innocent man (whom the police had identified as Valjean) from going to prison;
  • saves the prostitute Fantine from jail and ensures she receives medical care;
  • saves Fantine’s daughter Cosette from her unloving caretakers and adopts her as his own daughter, continuing to provide for her;
  • joins the revolutionaries, trying to help as many of them as he can, and ultimately saves Cosette’s boyfriend, Marius;
  • spares the life and career of his ruthless pursuer, the policeman Javert; and
  • continually gives money to the poor and various charities, etc. throughout the course of the story.

Conversely, the police inspector Javert, who pursues Valjean after he broke parole, has committed himself to justice. He simply cannot allow himself to do anything except what is right by the law. He tells Valjean:

“Men like me can never change
Men like you can never change…
My duty’s to the law…
Dare you talk to me of crime
And the price you had to pay
Every man is born in sin
Every man must choose his way” (The Confrontation)

He believes that men are set in there ways: they are either good or bad, and their choices prove their character. Because Javert has dedicated himself to following the law and punishing those who do not, he believes he is a good man. Those whom he pursues, like Valjean, because they broke the law, are bad.

And neither can change. Good men cannot become bad; and bad men cannot become good.

Yet – unlike Valjean, the apostle of mercy – Javert is an administer of justice. No long-term goodness comes from his actions; he does not directly impact anyone’s lives for the better. He arrests and imprisons those who commit crimes; he “cleans the garbage off the street” (Look Down). He has no sympathy for the poor, and only looks to please the rich.

Valjean spreads his virtue through God’s grace and love; Javert spreads his through his position and the force of the law.

The difference source of their virtues results in different lives, different impacts, and different fates.

Even so, Javert admits that “every man is born in sin,” but will not admit that he is guilty of any sin, seemingly, except for original sin. He is committed to goodness, perfection, and the law.

But, after Javert infiltrates a group of rebels and fails in his deception of them, Valjean spares his life and allows him to go free, allowing the rebels to believe he did kill Javert. Later, Javert catches Valjean as he carries the unconscious Marius home; Valjean pleads for Javert to let him take Marius to a hospital, and he will return and “all our debts are paid.”

Yet, as Valjean walks away with Marius on his back, Javert tells him to stop. Valjean continues to walk away, and Javert cannot bring himself to shoot Valjean.

Damned if I’ll live in the debt of a thief!
Damned if I’ll yield at the end of the chase.
I am the Law and the Law is not mocked
I’ll spit his pity right back in his face
There is nothing on earth that we share
It is either Valjean or Javert! (Javert’s Suicide)

Javert cannot reconcile himself to accept that has received mercy, and – though unwilling – has shown mercy in return. He cannot accept that he lives because of the goodness of a criminal; and, because of this, he jumps off a bridge into the river, ultimately killing himself.

He gave me my life. He gave me freedom.
I should have perished by his hand
It was his right...
Can this man be believed?
Shall his sins be forgiven?
Shall his crimes be reprieved? (Javert’s Suicide)

Here is the difference between the two, and the focal point:

As Javert could not accept, justice and mercy are not mutually exclusive. One can accept both, as justice is what we deserve from God, but mercy is what we receive. A man can change, but only through God’s mercy.

Through our sin, we fall; through God’s grace, we rise.

Justice and mercy are both virtues; neither is a weakness. And, because we have received mercy from God, we must show mercy to others (as Javert could not understand or accept). Justice, or giving someone his/her due, is also a righteous thing. In our society, we recognize that those who commit dangerous crimes should be kept apart from the public for safety.

But, as Javert did not understand, there must be a balance between the virtues. In some cases, we can and should show mercy; in others, we might not have that ability (such as a judge during a court case).

The hard part is knowing when to show justice, and when to show mercy.

But, when we pray, we cross our fingers right over left – mercy over justice. We pray for mercy; we appreciate when others are merciful to us; and we hope that our mercy toward others is not abused.

Yet, that is the risk with mercy. Like love, it is a virtue that many can take advantage of. Just so, we have taken advantage of God’s mercy toward us by continuing to sin; still, he continues to show us mercy, despite repeatedly injuring Him.

So, we must – to the best of our ability – show mercy to our brothers and sisters. And when they abuse our ‘pity’ and ‘leniency,’ we must show them mercy once again, in the hopes that they will realize our love for them and change their ways.

The rippling effects of mercy, seemingly, flow out much farther than those of justice. In Valjean’s case, through the bishop’s mercy toward him, many lives were saved and changed for the better. In Javert’s case, many criminals were imprisoned, and he advanced further in his career.

Thus, we should continue to cross our fingers right over left – mercy over justice. For “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall be shown mercy” (Matt 5:7)

For further reading about Les Miserables and Catholicism, check out this FOCUS blog post. Kudos to its author! Very well written, and much shorter than my stuff. 🙂

Poem on Fr. Emil Kapaun

Fr. Kapaun says Mass for soldiers on a battlefield in Korea.

Author’s Note: This poem was written in 2008 or 2009 to honor Fr. Emil Kapaun, an Army chaplain during WWII and the Korean War. He died in a prisoner-of-war camp in China, after spending months praying with and ministering to his fellow soldiers. He was from the Diocese of Wichita, and he has been honored with the title “Servant of God.” His cause for beautification has been submitted to the Holy See in Rome. For more information on Fr. Kapaun’s life, please visit www.frkapaun.org . Also, I apologize but this blog is not very conducive to poetry.

A Man of God

He was a farm boy

Born on Holy Thursday

Raised on Pilsen prairie

Always looking up to God

He was an altar boy

Who strove to be perfect

And practiced whenever he could

Always looking up to God

He was a good student

With an agile mind and memory

Constantly challenging himself

Always looking up to God

He was a classmate

Who loved to fish and play

Had a lively wit and good humor

And was always looking up to God

He was a seminarian

With a special devotion to Mary

Sometimes doubting his call

But always looking up to God

He was a friend

Who loved to play a harmless joke

Wrote humorous letters when he could

While always looking up to God

He was a priest forever

In the line of Melchizedek

Ordained June 9, 1940

While looking up to God

He was a young pastor

Playing with the children

Dressing as a “cowboy priest”

Always looking up to God

He was an auxiliary chaplain

Writing letters to those in service

Gathering the wandering sheep

Always looking up to God

He was an obedient servant

Who did the will of his bishop

But also wanted the best for his men

Always looking up to God

He was military chaplain

Driving thousands of miles

To say Mass for the troops in India

While always looking up to God

He was a university student

Working toward a master’s degree

Anxious to lead others to salvation

While always looking up to God

He was an Army chaplain

Serving on the front lines in Korea

Guiding his brothers in their fight

Always looking up to God

He was a leader

That could have fled to safety

But instead stayed behind to help his men

While always looking up to God

He was a shepherd

Who prayed with his men when he could

And always had a smile on his face

While always looking up to God

He was a prisoner of war

Who stole food and washed clothing

To provide for the suffering troops

While always looking up to God

He was a man of God

Who forgave his captors

And loved his men to the end

While always looking up to God

He is Chaplain Emil Kapaun

A martyr and a saint

And even now, he is

Always looking up to God