Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Rejoice, he is drawing near!

"Look toward the east, O Jerusalem,
and see the joy that is coming to you from God!" (Baruch 4:36)

Monday, December 21, 2009

O Radiant Dawn

Today, the shortest day of the year, the O antiphon is this:
"O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, and sun of justice, come, and shine on those seated in darkness, and in the shadow of death."

Christ draws near. He said of himself, "I am the light of the world."
The first letter of John simply says, "God is light."

Up to now darkness has been increasing every day. But with the solstice, each day will bring us a bit more light. The birth of Christ is celebrated at this time of year to show in a symbolic way that he is indeed the light of the world.
John the Baptist's birth is celebrated in the liturgy on June 24, near the summer solstice. Symbolically, it fits with what John said about himself: he is not the light, but the precursor of the light. "He must increase, and I must decrease," he declared. After John's birth the days begin to grow longer, but with Christ's coming we start to walk in greater light.

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Advent "O" Antiphons

This last part of Advent has a special feature called the "O" antiphons. They're designed to help us desire the coming of Christ more and more. They were developed centuries ago, in Latin, and the first letters of the Latin words spell out SARCORE. Read backwards, it says "ero cras," which means "tomorrow I will be." There's a lot of thought behind the liturgy! Here are the words:

Sapientia: O Wisdom
Adonia: O Lord and Leader
Radis: O Root of Jesse
Clavis: O Key of David
Oriens: O Radiant Dawn
Rex: O King
Emmanuel: O Emmanuel, God with us!

The text of today's antiphon is:
Adonai, and leader of the House of Israel, who appeared to Moses in the fire of the burning bush and gave him the law on Sinai: Come and redeem us with your outstretched arm.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Demise of the Dollar

Sometimes I blog about things related to the economy, because it's such a big issue today. The dollar's days as the world's reserve currency are dwindling. I don't know exactly how it will play out, but there are more and more signals that other nations are getting out of dollar-denominated investments.
Last month the reserve bank of India exchanged dollars for 200 tons of gold. And today there's some news coming out of the Gulf states. They are planning to introducing their own currency (the "Gulfo") as an alternative to the dollar. The full story is here.

What does this trend mean for Americans? We need to get our financial house in order. Up to now we've been able to borrow money from other countries to finance our deficits. But with government spending spiraling out of control, wise people in other countries realize what many Americans do not: there is no reason in the world for them to finance our profligate spending. And what will happen when the U.S. Treasury holds an auction for T-bills and nobody buys? Americans will have to finance their own government's out of control spending. And with so many people in debt, there's no way we as a country can continue to live beyond our means. But imagine the social chaos that will occur when government checks stop arriving: whether they're Social Security checks or any other type of entitlement. Think it can't happen? It's happened to other countries and there's no law of nature that says the United States will always be prosperous no matter how reckless we are.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Rejoice, Mary!

Mary is an important figure during Advent. And she shows us how to be joyful.
At the Annunciation, Gabriel’s first word to Mary is chaïré, a Greek word meaning “rejoice.” The angel invites Mary to rejoice, because God has chosen her for a most special mission. But if Gabriel is telling Mary to rejoice, why is the most popular Marian prayer called the “Hail Mary” and not the “Rejoice Mary”? It’s because of the way the Gospels were translated into Latin. The Latin Vulgate Bible, translated by St. Jerome, used the words “Ave Maria.” In Latin, “ave” is a greeting. The Latin Bible was used extensively in the church in the West (mainly Europe), and became the basis for the prayer we know as the Hail Mary. Western writers also liked to contrast Eve (or Eva in Latin) with Mary, using a play on words of changing Eva into Ave.
In the Eastern church, however, the people could read Greek so they had a better sense of the invitation to joy that Gabriel was extending to Mary. Many of the Greek Fathers of the Church wrote about joy in connection with the Annunciation. The famous Marian hymn of the East, called the Akathist Hymn, constantly uses the refrain “rejoice” in relation to the Annunciation.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

The Immaculate Conception

This is a day late because I was away for a few days at a funeral. The feast of Mary's Immaculate Conception is my favorite Marian feastday (it's also my birthday.)
It's often confused with the Virgin Birth. The Immaculate Conception means that Mary was conceived by her parents in the natural way, but she was free from original sin. Her soul was endowed with a fullness of sanctifying grace. All of that was in view of her vocation to be the Mother of God. The Virgin Birth, of course, refers to the fact that Mary conceived Jesus in a virginal way, through the power of the Holy Spirit and not by any man.
All of us were maculately conceived--that is, in the state of original sin (from "macula," the Latin word for sin.) Mary, instead, was the only human being conceived immaculately--without original sin. ( besides Jesus, of course, who also did not have original sin). But through baptism and the life of grace, Jesus has joined us to himself and sanctifies us. Our life is a daily struggle with sin. We often fall. But our hope is that at the end of our lives we will die free from sin. Mary Immaculate will obtain that grace for us if we ask her.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Advent--waiting for the coming of Christ

Advent is all about waiting--waiting in joyful expectation for the coming of Christ.
Historically, Jesus Christ already came in the flesh 2000 years ago when he was born in Bethlehem. But there are two other comings: his coming in glory at the end of the world, and his coming by grace into our hearts.
Although anything is possible, Jesus' second coming probably won't be during our lifetime. Here and now, though, Jesus comes into our hearts again and again through grace. Advent is all about opening our hearts to grace, letting the Lord lead us. Advent is such a short liturgical season that it goes by very fast, and we can come to the end of it before we know it. What is the Lord saying to you this Advent?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Remembering Mom



Today would have been my mother's 83rd birthday. She passed away in 2005. Since her birthday always fell around Thanksgiving, I have her in my thoughts and prayers every Thanksgiving in a special way. I'm grateful to her and my dad not only for giving me life but also for giving me the gift of being baptized in the Catholic faith and raising me in it. Mom was always a devout Catholic and for about the last 25 years of her life she went to Mass every day. She worked at a savings bank in New York, and the bank's customers always liked her because she was so friendly and pleasant.
I'm confident that now she is enjoying her eternal reward with the Lord.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Stimulus watch

This website called "stimulus watch" has information on the various projects funded by the stimulus bill passed last January.
I picked out one at random--over 4 million dollars to replace AC units in various airports around the country. There was one for 30,000 dollars for picnic tables in a town in Iowa.
Do you think this is a good way for the government to be spending money?
About ten days ago the national debt passed the 12 trillion dollar mark. No government can go on forever living way beyond its means. True, the government could always print money, but that would force down its value and cause a huge inflationary spiral. That's what happened in Germany before Adolf Hitler took over.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Hunger in America

A few news stories have surfaced lately about hunger in America. The numbers of people who went hungry at least some of the time last year because they didn't have enough to eat went up quite a bit.
The Christmas season is coming up, a good time to think of those who are struggling and to help them in some way.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

4 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Confession

It's no secret that most Catholics have stopped going to confession frequently. Once I even met a religious sister (from another congregation) who told me she hadn't gone to confession in several years! But the sacrament of Penance is a gift from Jesus to us to cleanse our souls. Few people would wait weeks, months, or years to take a shower or bath. So why put off "cleaning" the soul?

Sometimes people may feel that they're not getting anything out of the sacrament, that they still have the same old sins to confess time after time, so why bother? Isn't it a little like always going on a diet and never losing weight?

Here are 4 tips that can address this problem:

1. Identify the area that troubles you most. Ask Jesus to help you here. If you let him be honest with you, he'll make sure you get the message. Or, you could even ask someone in your family!

2. Confess the sin and ask Jesus to heal you of the root cause. For example, one person might have the habit of belittling other people. Perhaps the root cause could be a deep insecurity rooted in a rejection from a parent. The person might feel somehow that belittling others puts them in a better light.

3. Forgive whomever you need to forgive. If you can get at the root cause and see who hurt you, forgiving that person opens the way for healing. Again, Jesus will help you here. We can't forgive others on our own, but Jesus gives us the strength and grace to forgive like he did.

4. Never get discouraged, even if you slip into the same sin. Make a resolution and keep on going. It's said that St. Francis de Sales, the bishop of Geneva, kept the same resolution for 20 years.

St. Martin of Tours and Veterans' Day

Today's saint, Martin of Tours, ties in nicely with the observance of Veterans' Day.
Martin was born in the early 4th century. His father was in the Roman Legions, and Martin grew up to become a soldier too. As a young man he converted to Christianity, and later was ordained a priest and then a bishop.
Martin is an important saint because he worked to establish the church in the rural districts of Gaul (now France--he's a patron of France, with Joan of Arc). Martin also spread monasteries in Gaul.
Probably the most famous story about St Martin is this: When he was still a soldier, one day he met an old beggar shivering in the cold. Martin took his own military cloak and cut it in two, giving half to the beggar. That night, Martin had a dream in which the beggar appeared in glory--and it was Jesus. The Lord told Martin "Whatever you do to the least of my brethren, you do unto me."

Monday, November 09, 2009

Great post at the Anchoress

The Anchoress has a great post today here. It's about hope despite the harrowing events we see going on around us: terrorism, (Fort Hood), an out of control Congress passing society-changing legislation in the dark of the night.
For a long time I've had a sense that the major events going on in our society are leading to a time of great troubles. This thought is not intended to be depressing or despairing, but realistic. Tough times are ahead, economically, politically, socially, religiously. Tough times are already here. Millions of people are unemployed, with few prospects for an expansion of new jobs. The value of the dollar is plummeting because of the reckless spending of our federal government. Last Friday the central bank of India bought 200 tons of gold--and got rid of a corresponding amount of dollars. The other countries that have been supporting profligate American spending are not going to continue lending us money indefinitely. And why should they? Why should they support a self-indulgent society that takes no thought for the future, that is willing to burden its children and grandchildren with a mountain of unsustainable debt? This party can't go on forever, and "the night is far spent" (St. Paul). More on that later, but for now, the Anchoress' words offer a good dose of hope.

Friday, November 06, 2009

The love of the heart of Christ

Every First Friday of the month reminds us of the intense love that Jesus has for each of us. He revealed this love to St Margaret Mary under the aspect of his Sacred Heart. The devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is all about love.
Why is it so hard at times to really believe that God loves us? Perhaps it could come from a lack of faith, or perhaps from a sense of unworthiness, a sense of self-hatred or rejection. Other people might reject us, but God never does. Other people may not be able to love us, but God always does. If we have experienced rejection or a lack of love, it's easy to transfer that into our feelings, as if God looks at us like that too.
Look at the crucifix, and recall that nails didn't fasten Jesus to the cross, but his love did. St Paul says that Christ died for us while we were still sinners. He didn't die for us because we were good, we weren't. But accepting the love that flows from his cross makes us good. The next time somebody insults or disparages you, send that up to Jesus on the cross and ask him to transform it into love. He will.

Unemployment and the wily manager

Today's Gospel is about the wily manager, sometimes called the unjust steward. Jesus praises this dishonest steward not because of his dishonesty, but because he showed initiative in taking care of his own interests. Jesus' point is that we should take just as much initiative when it comes to God's work.

The unjust steward acted to save himself when he knew he was about to lose his job.
Unfortunately, the latest report shows that unemployment has reached 10.2 percent, the highest in 26 years. The real rate is higher because the official statistic doesn't included discouraged workers, nor those who work part time when they really need full time jobs.

There's a lot of talk about a so-called "jobless recovery," but I don't believe that. The economy can't recover unless people have jobs. I'm not an economist, but that's just common sense.
St. Joseph is the patron of workers, and he's the man to turn to if you're looking for work.

Monday, November 02, 2009

The Communion of Saints

Yesterday and today, the Church celebrates two great feasts of the communion of saints: All Saints and All Souls day. They're like two faces of the same coin. All of the saints are those who have gone before us and now rejoice in God. The holy souls are those who have passed from this life but are undergoing a purification before entering into the fullness of joy.

The Catholic Church teaches that by our prayers, especially through the Mass, we can help those who are being purified. This is the reason why we offer Mass intentions for the deceased. Purgatory is more of a state than a place, as Pope John Paul said a few years ago in his general audience on the subject. The doctrine of purgatory gives us a consoling message. If we die without having reached the degree of love that God calls us to, we can get there through God's own loving action in our souls. That's really what purgatory is all about: finally learning to love as God loves. And when we reach it, we'll pass into the happiness of heaven.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

44th Bomb Group in World War II

The historian of the 44th Bomb Group, Roger Fenton, contacted me about my Dad, Louis Trouve. He was shot out of a plane while flying a bombing mission near Emden, Germany, on Dec. 11, 1943. His story appears in the current issue of their newsletter. He later told my mother that he never wore his parachute while flying, except for that day! It saved his life. He was the navigator on the plane. Here is part of what my Dad wrote 10 years later, reflecting on being taken a prisoner of war:

"The watchdogs at their sides [The German guards] were German Shepherds of
frightening mien, but fine specimens
nevertheless, who obeyed with amazing
alacrity the slightest whim of their
masters. We were soon to learn that a
guard and his dog were inseparable.
The guards addressed the dogs by
name, and in the inflection in their
voices betrayed the closeness of relationship.
One guard might lend another
his gun, but never his dog.
“We fell silent and struck a slow
cadence, each man engrossed in his
own thoughts as he marched toward
captivity. Presently there appeared in
the flat distance, an enclosure ringed
by two concentric barbed wire fences,
with rolls of barbed war in between.
Even a sure-footed squirrel would have
his work cut out for him to get across
that barrier. Every few hundred feet, a
watchtower of ‘posten’ box rose to
dominate the wire, with searchlights
and machine guns clearly in evidence
as grim warnings that escape was
something more than a matter of mere
preferment.
“Some things are common to all
prisoners. You live constantly with the
yearning for freedom. Somewhere in
your subconscious there is always the
awareness of the deep concern you
know your kin must feel for you. Your
future is uncertain at best, and you are
solicitous for you own safety. You may
from time to time have to cope with
dark thoughts that challenge your faith
– your faith in your own military, your
faith that someday you will return to
your homeland, your faith in mankind."

The full account is here. His story starts on page 17.

The narrow gate

Today is the feast of Sts. Simon and Jude, so it has its own proper Gospel.
But the Gospel reading for the weekday is the one where Jesus tells us to enter through the narrow gate. The English translation uses the word "strive"--"strive to enter through the narrow gate."

Actually, though, the original Greek text here has a stronger verb: agonizomai.
If it reminds you of the word "agony," it should, because it's related. It doesn't just mean to strive in a non-committal sort of way. Instead, it means to struggle, or to fight, or to compete in an athletic contest.
So Jesus is telling us that we have to really challenge ourselves and work hard to enter through the narrow gate that leads to eternal life.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Anglicans and the Catholic Church

You've probably heard in the news that Pope Benedict has issued a new Apostolic Constitution that makes it easier for Anglicans to unite with Rome. There are a lot of important aspects to this story, because it is not just about individuals but congregations becoming Catholic, bringing their own pastors. The American Papist blog has a lot of links to this story right now, with in-depth coverage.

Here in Boston there was a small Anglican congregation who came into full communion with the Catholic Church about 10 years or so ago. They came with their priest who I believe was then ordained as a Catholic priest. Bishop Lennon of Cleveland, who was then here in Boston as one of our chaplains, worked with them to accomplish this. They have their own parish where they follow a modified form of the Catholic liturgy that allows them to still use some of the Anglican liturgical rites.

I'm not sure exactly how what they did is different from what the Pope is allowing now. But it seems that it will be easier for groups such as this to become Catholic.
Pope Benedict is being very pastoral and trying to smooth their way.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Oral contraceptives and heart disease

I'm currently working on a book about women and the Church's teaching on human sexuality. While the purpose of the Church's teaching is to promote moral health, indirectly it also has physical health benefits.
A study that was released not too long ago showed that using oral contraceptives doubles the risk for heart attack or stroke. The analysis is here.

In effect, the massive use of contraceptive pills over the last few decades has endangered women's health in a way that is only now starting to come to light. It's ironic these pills are used so much in a time when there is a great growth of interest in natural, organic food and other chemical-free ways of promoting health.

The Couple to Couple league is one group that offers help to couples who are seeking a moral alternative to the widespread acceptance of contraception in our culture.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Paul to the Romans

This week at daily Mass, we started reading the letter to the Romans. These readings will continue for the next four weeks.

In yesterday's reading, Paul states the heart of what his letter is all about:
"I am not ashamed of the Gospel. It is the power of God leading everyone who believes in it to salvation, the Jew first, then the Greek. For in the Gospel is revealed the power of God, which begins and ends with faith, as Scripture says: 'The just one will live by faith.'" (1:16-17).

This is the core of Paul's message in Romans. The letter centers on the importance of faith, believing in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
He goes on to portray the situation of humanity without Christ. Both Gentile and Jew need the salvation that Jesus offers. Paul sketches a catalog of sins that humanity has fallen into. This will then lead up to how Jesus can save us from the mess we get ourselves in.

Poll request

Sally from our marketing department at Pauline Books has put up a poll about various social networking sites here.

If you have a chance to vote, it will help us get some feedback that can help us respond better to people's needs. We're in the process of further developing our website.
Thanks!

Friday, October 02, 2009

Away for a week

I'll be away for a week without internet access, but I'll keep on praying for everyone who visits this blog. God bless you!

Guardian angels

Today is the feast of the guardian angels.

In 1986 I was stationed in New Orleans. That fall another sister and I went to Grand Isle, Louisiana, for a week of evangelization. It's an island located on the Gulf of Mexico. We drove down in our bookmobile, and the first day we stopped at the local parish and met some of the people coming out of Mass. People in Louisiana are some of the friendliest folks in the world. As they took turns going in and out of the bookmobile we made their acquaintance and talked. We met one woman in particular, Bernadette, who told us about her family and her husband who was a fisherman.
We had a beautiful week and had a great diffusion of books and music.

The last full day we were there happened to be October 2, the feast of the guardian angels. It also was the first Thursday of the month, which in our congregation is dedicated to the guardian angels. We were driving down the road and noticed a car following us. The woman driving it started to wave and caught up with us. It was Bernadette. “Sisters!” she said. “I’m so happy that I found you! Ever since I saw you earlier this week, I’ve been trying to find you again. In fact, I’ve been driving up and down the island looking for you. I was praying to my guardian angel when I saw your bookmobile!”

She wanted to invite us to dinner that night. After a week of eating on the run, we were grateful for the invitation. So that evening we enjoyed a wonderful dinner of trout. Her husband assured us “this trout is so fresh it slept in the Gulf that night.” After the main course, Bernadette got up and said she was going to the kitchen to get the dessert. She came back shortly with a freshly baked angel food cake! We had to laugh and thanked our angels for providing us with a wonderful dinner and good company.

Monday, September 28, 2009

TOB and how to see people

Our sisters in Chicago have been sponsoring a class on TOB via webcast with Fr Thomas Loya. I've been thinking about one class in particular that he did, in which he spoke about how to look at people. The context had to do with modesty. The problem in our society is that the very idea of modesty has become so foreign that we are often surrounded by images of scantily clad people. Advertising does this a lot in an effort to sell more products. Sometimes these things can be temptations to lust.
Father said that we can't go around with a bag over our heads, so how can we deal with this reality? I'm summing up what he said, which was very rich. The key is not to focus so much on the body images, but to see the person who is there.
So much of pornography is anonymous--the emphasis is just on a body. The person is hidden underneath all the flesh.
But according to TOB, the body reveals the person. The key is to see others as persons. The next time you see one of those less than modest images on a billboard or a TV commercial, in your mind turn the image into a person and usually lust goes away. What if you knew the person depicted? What if she were your sister? Or if he were your brother?
Father said that the way we see comes out of who we are--like Jesus told us in the Gospel, it's what comes out of our minds and hearts that makes us dirty, if those thoughts are not clean.
Fr. Loya was not saying that we should go and deliberately seek out such images, especially if they might be a source of temptation. But in our world we can't avoid them completely. He said if all we're doing is running away, that's not chastity. Chastity makes us free because it gives us real purity of heart.

The angels

Tomorrow Sept. 29 is the feast of the angels--Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael.
Gabriel is the angel who named Jesus. He told Mary at the annunciation that she should name her son "Jesus." And Luke notes that when Jesus was circumcised, he received "the name the angel gave him before he was born." So Gabriel would be a good angel to pray to if you're looking for some inspiration on naming a baby.

I'm still collecting stories about angels for the book I'm working on, so if you have any true stories of angelic intervention or answers to prayer, please let me know!
Thanks and God bless you!

Friday, September 25, 2009

"Render to Caesar..."

I just came across St Augustine's interpretation of the famous saying of Jesus, "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God, the things that are God's."
Usually this is interpreted in terms of the church and state relationship.
But in his commentary on Psalm 4, St Augustine has a completely different take on it.
He observes that the Roman coin had Caesar's image on it. But we are made in God's image and likeness, and sin defaces that image. Augustine says, "God, like Caesar, demands from you the impression of his own image. Just as you repay his coinage to Caesar, so return your soul to God, shining and stamped with the light of his countenance."
What a beautiful way to think about it. Although sin has made its mark on all of us, through conversion and Christian living God reforms his image in us. That is the work of a lifetime, so that at the end of our days, we can return our soul to God, beautifully made into his shining image.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Choose Life license plate in Massachusetts

People who live in Massachusetts can now register for a "Choose Life" license plate. The details are here. This is one small way to help the prolife cause for those who are able to do it. The proceeds for purchasing a special plate go to charities that help women and children.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Response to an inquiry

The following is a comment that was left in one of the posts:
"Hello, I just came across your blog. I am a spiritual seeker, trying to find my path (I want to know God but have no idea where to start or how to believe, I know it sounds crazy!). So although I'm not a Catholic, I can't help but appreciate the beauty of your faith:-). I have actually considered going to a Catholic church in my area. I would like to take Catechist classes as well. I, too believe we have a culture of death more than a culture of life in America. Take the rate of crime here, and the fact that there are some 32 (average) gun-related deaths here EVERYDAY when England only has about 23 per YEAR! I am draw to the beauty of the Catholic faith, and the peace Christ invokes. I truly believe Love, Compassion, and Peace are much needed in this world. God bless you, the nuns-all the work you do for good! I also in particular love the Fransican covents-as I am an avid animal lover."

*******
Thank you for your beautiful and sincere comment. I certainly will pray for you as you pursue your spiritual journey. Just doing that is a big step in the right direction. The first letter of John says: "We know that we are God's children, and that the whole world lies under the power of the evil one. And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding so that we may know him who is true, and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ." (1 Jn 5:19-20)
I hope that you do visit a Catholic church in your area. Parishes are different, and some have more active outreach programs than others. Most do have programs of welcome and opportunities for those who are interested to find out more about the Catholic faith.
In the meantime I would encourage you to read the Bible, the Word of God. The Gospels are a good place to start.
If you have any questions please feel free to leave them and I will do my best to answer them as I am able to.
God bless you!

Friday, September 18, 2009

40 days of prayer for life

In a comment, Fr Ben reminded me that the Forty Days of prayer and fasting for life will begin on Sept. 23rd, the Feast of St. Pio of Pietelcina.

The following is taken from the website:

"40 Days for Life is a focused pro-life campaign with a vision to access God’s power through prayer, fasting, and peaceful vigil to end abortion in America.

The mission of the campaign is to bring together the body of Christ in a spirit of unity during a focused 40 day campaign of prayer, fasting, and peaceful activism, with the purpose of repentance, to seek God’s favor to turn hearts and minds from a culture of death to a culture of life, thus bringing an end to abortion in America."


As Jesus once said about a certain demon, "This kind can only be driven out by prayer and fasting."

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The story of Raoul Wallenberg

Recently I read a book about Raoul Wallenberg. He had an amazing story. He was a Swedish diplomat who saved around 30,000 Hungarian Jews during World War II. Hungary was ruled by a Hungarian who was a puppet of Hitler. But somehow Hungary had avoided Nazi pressure to persecute the Jews--until the spring of 1944. Then, Adolf Eichmann arrived on the scene. He was the "mastermind" behind the killing of the Jews, and probably no one did more than he did to carry out the executions. Within 6 weeks, from mid-May to the end of June 1944, Eichmann had sent almost 450,000 Hungarian Jews to their deaths.
Wallenberg, however, went to Hungary and managed to get many people out on Swedish passports. He gave them out freely, and didn't object when he found out that other people were forging even more Swedish passports. He was very heroic and worked tirelessly that year to save as many people as he could.
What happened to him? When the Soviets rolled into Hungary, they took Wallenberg as a prisoner and he disappeared into the Soviet Gulag. No one knows exactly what his fate was. He was never freed and probably died, deserted and alone, in a Soviet prison or Siberian labor camp. But now he must be in heaven enjoying the vision of God and a great reward for all his work.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Remembering 9/11



This image of the cross on 9/11 always impressed me as a visual statement of the paschal mystery: death leads to resurrection.
Here is Pope John Paul II's prayer after 9/11:

One month since the inhumane terrorist attacks that occurred in different parts of the United States of America, we again recommend to the eternal mercy of the God of our Fathers the numerous innocent victims. We ask for consolation and comfort for their family and relatives, burdened by pain; we invoke strength and courage for the many who continue their work in the places struck by this terrible disaster; we implore for tenacity and perseverence by all men of goodwill continuing on the paths of justice and peace. May the Lord remove from the heart of man every trace of resentment, of hostility and of hate, and open him to reconciliation, to solidarity, and to peace. Let us pray, so that the "culture of love" may be established all over the world . . . O God, Almighty and Merciful Father, he who sows discord cannot understand You; he who loves violence cannot welcome You: watch over us in our painful human condition tried by the brutal acts of terrorism and death. Comfort your children and open our hearts to hope, that our time may again know days of serenity and peace, through Christ our Lord.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

"Put love and you will find love"

I believe this thought is from St John of the Cross: "Where there is no love, put love and you will find love."
The other day I had a good conversation with someone who told me about a painful situation in her family. This person had an abusive mother, and wanted to somehow come to terms with her mother before she died. The daughter went through a journey of forgiveness and was able to confront her mother in love with the pain. She said to me that in order to do something like that, it has to be said out of love, otherwise it doesn't have any effect. It's better to say nothing if we can't say it out of love. I really had to admire her for going through such difficulties and coming out a loving person. Prayer and her deep relationship with Jesus made all the difference.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Happy birthday, Mary!

The Church's liturgical calendar only has three birthday celebrations: for John the Baptist, Mary, and of course Jesus. This departure from the Church's usual custom of celebrating a saint's birth into eternal life can tell us something about Mary. Her whole life was significant in God's plan of salvation. So we can rejoice in the birth of this baby girl who was to play such an important role for us.

The book At Worship with Mary by Christopher O'Donnell, O. Carm., has some other information about this feast. It was probably first celebrated in Jerusalem around the 5th century. Why in September? Of course we don't know the actual date of Mary's birthday. But in Constantinople, as in all the East, the year began on September 1. The 8th was chosen (I'm not sure why that particular day). The date of this feast determined the date of the feast of Mary's Immaculate Conception--December 8, going 9 months backward.

With Mary's feast came the dawn of our salvation.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Final thoughts on the Kennedy funeral

Ted Kennedy had a magnificent funeral, while aborted babies are thrown into dumpsters.

And no one weeps.

Request for angel stories

I'm working on a small book about angels. It will be about how angels help us, what we know about them, and will also contain some stories and prayers.
I could use some help! If you or someone you know have a true story about help you received the intercession of the angels, I would love to hear about it.
Depending on how many stories I received, I will pick the best, most interesting ones to use in the book. You could submit them either by leaving them in the comments, or by emailing them to:
angelstories126@yahoo.com (that last part is the number 1 followed by 26)

If you leave a comment, though, please leave your email address so I can contact you. I have to obtain release forms giving us permission to use the story.

Thank you very much! God bless you!

I'm entrusting this project to the intercession of the angels. Today is the first Thursday of the month, and it is a custom in our congregation to dedicate the first Thursday to the angels. This was something handed on to us by our founder, Blessed James Alberione.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

"Plain, Honest Men"

I just finished reading this book which is about the constitutional convention held in 1787. It's quite good and is a thorough account of what happened that fateful summer in Philadelphia when "plain, honest men" hammered out the US Constitution.
While the Founders debated everything, one point in particular that they had a lot of debate about was the role of the president. Having just fought a revolution to throw off the yoke of a king, they were very leery about investing too much authority in one man. They spent days debating it until they finally came to an agreement.
They definitely did not want the president to be anything like a monarch. They felt his authority should be carefully circumscribed.
The story of how they came up with the electoral college is fascinating in itself.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Obama to speak to all students--what's up with this?

I just saw a news item that Obama is planning to speak to all public school students on September 8.


The Dept. of Education has issued a prep sheet for teachers. Among the items are included:

"students can prepare by reading books about presidents and Barack Obama"
My comment: What if George Bush had issued this order that students read books about him?

"Why is it important that we listen to the president and other elected officials?"
My comment: Notice how the wording of the question assumes that it is important to listen to the president. Isn't it the other way around? Aren't our elected officials supposed to be listening to us? The American government is built on the idea of government "of the people, by the people, for the people." Obama is accountable to the American people. He is not supposed to be brainwashing our children to look on him as their "dear leader." We are a free people, and that means we can choose not to listen to the president if we don't want to.

"What is he asking me to do?"
My comment: Why does he think he has the right to demand our children to do anything for him?

This is just another red flag indicating that Obama is trying to accrue more and more power to himself and the federal government. This is not a good direction to be going in. The United States was built on the idea that the people have the right to be free of oppressive government and autocratic civil leaders. We don't need the president to foster a personality cult around himself, especially with children.

A few weeks ago the White House asked people to report emails and other communication from people who were spreading what they called "disinformation" and "fishy" things about the health care plans before Congress. Now they've pulled that down and started a website instead. Can you imagine the uproar that would have ensued if Bush had done anything like that?


I find all this very disturbing and bordering on indoctrination of our children. It's one thing to appeal to love of country, and what we should do for our country. It's quite another to make the appeal to what we should do for the president. Then it becomes a personality cult. As John F. Kennedy said, "Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.

Media literacy -- from the 4th century!

I happened across a short piece from St. Basil (4th century) called "An Address to Young Men on Reading Greek Literature." In it, he explains how to read the pagan authors with profit from a Christian perspective. I found it interesting because he didn't tell them just to burn those books since they were pagan. Instead, he tells the young men that there are many things they can learn from them, especially various stories of virtue. Of course, there are other things they should ignore since they don't agree with Christian faith.
Today we would call that media literacy. It's a wide field of studies.

This is a summary of his main points:

. Introduction: Out of the abundance of his experience the author will advise young men as to the pagan literature, showing them what to accept, and what to reject.

II. To the Christian the life eternal is the supreme goal, and the guide to this life is the Holy Scriptures; but since young men cannot appreciate the deep thoughts contained therein, they are to study the profane writings, in which truth appears as in a mirror.

III. Profane learning should ornament the mind, as foliage graces the fruit-bearing tree.

IV. In studying pagan lore one must discriminate between the helpful and the injurious, accepting the one, but closing one's ears to the siren song of the other.

V. Since the life to come is to be attained through virtue, chief attention must be paid to those passages in which virtue is praised; such may be found, for example, in Hesiod, Homer, Solon, Theognis, and Prodicus.

VI. Indeed, almost all eminent philosophers have extolled virtue. The words of such men should meet with more than mere theoretical acceptance, for one must try to realize them in his life, remembering that to seem to be good when one is not so is the height of injustice.

VII. But in the pagan literature virtue is lauded in deeds as well as in words, wherefore one should study those acts of noble men which coincide with the teachings of the Scriptures.

VIII. To return to the original thought, young men must distinguish between helpful and injurious knowledge, keeping clearly in mind the Christian's purpose in life. So, like the athlete or the musician, they must bend every energy to one task, the winning of the heavenly crown.

IX. This end is to be compassed by holding the body |100 under, by scorning riches and fame, and by subordinating all else to virtue.

X. While this ideal will be matured later by the study of the Scriptures, it is at present to be fostered by the study of the pagan writers; from them should be stored up knowledge for the future.

Conclusion: The above are some of the more important precepts; others the writer will continue to explain from time to time, trusting that no young man will make the fatal error of disregarding them

Monday, August 31, 2009

Maybe I should have been a Dominican?

I took this quiz on Facebook about what religious order appeals to you, and I got:

Dominican
You are infused with the desire to learn, and, following in the footsteps of St. Aquinas, St. Catherine of Sienna, St. Vincent Ferrer, St. Louis de Montfort, should consider joining the Domincans. Founded to preach the gospel and to combat heresy, the order is famed for its intellectual tradition, having produced many leading theologians and philosophers. Further, the Order places heavy emphasis on the role of charity in the Christian life. As the image of God grows within man, he learns to rely less on an intellectual pursuit of virtue and more on an affective pursuit of charity and meekness. Meekness and charity guide Christians to acknowledge that they are nothing without the One (Christ) who created them, sustains them, and guides them. Thus, man then directs his path to that One, and the love for, and of, Christ guides man's very nature to become centered on the One, and on his neighbor as well. Charity is the manifestation of the pure love of Christ, both for and by His follower. Friars differ from monks in that they are called to live the evangelical counsels (vows of poverty, chastity and obedience) in service to a community, rather than through cloistered asceticism and devotion. Whereas monks live cloistered away from the world in a self-sufficient community, friars are supported by donations or other charitable support. Dominicans are distinguished by their white habit and black mantle, from which they get the term “Blackfriars”.


****

I'm not surprised because I've always loved St. Thomas. I guess that's a clue.
But I'm very happy being a Daughter of St. Paul. Actually, we have Dominican characteristics. There's a reason why I was attracted to an order that makes books!

Prayer need

An awful story from Oklahoma: the Rev. Carol Daniels was brutally murdered and her body left with arms outstretched in a crucifixion position. She had been tortured evidently. She was the pastor of a Protestant church. I pray that her murdered will be apprehended soon.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Feast of St. Augustine

Today is the feast of St. Augustine, that great convert. He was a religious genius and left a huge amount of very important theological writing. He is certainly an inspiration to all of us sinners who are seeking to follow Christ.

Today is also my anniversary of entering religious life--33 years! I remember taking the Amtrak train from NY to Boston. It was a Saturday and that evening we started a day of retreat. I certainly had no idea what to expect but it's been a great adventure. I thank the Lord for his mercy to me, for the grace to persevere, for the sisters in my community and for our great mission in the Church. It seems like a drop in the ocean and very insignificant. But at least that drop is there. God can multiply the effects of the little good that we do.
I pray for the grace of perseverance. It's a great grace, and ultimately the most important one. After grace, of course, I think I've made it this far through a certain stubbornness in not giving up. Religious life is not for the faint of heart. I've survived, difficulties, problems, upsets, conflicts, and two bouts with cancer. God is most faithful.
Deo gratias!

Early signals of financial reckoning day for USA

I saw a news item that the Swiss bank Wegelin is closing its US branches due to the US government's new requirement for the bank to turn over certain data. However, buried in the article is this:

"It added that it believes the US overestimates its attraction as a financial centre, and is advising its clients to get out of all US securities."

Take note of that. Investors in other countries are getting out of US securities. That means that the day is approaching when the Treasury holds its auction and there will be no buyers. Then, how will the government finance the crushing deficit? Taxes and printing money, which leads to inflation. It could ultimately bring down our economy. It's time to get back to fiscal responsibility before the whole house of cards collapses.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Real unemployment at 16%

Once in a while a government official will let the truth slip out. It happened this week about unemployment:

"The real US unemployment rate is 16 percent if persons who have dropped out of the labor pool and those working less than they would like are counted, a Federal Reserve official said Wednesday.
"If one considers the people who would like a job but have stopped looking -- so-called discouraged workers -- and those who are working fewer hours than they want, the unemployment rate would move from the official 9.4 percent to 16 percent, said Atlanta Fed chief Dennis Lockhart. "

"The real US unemployment rate is 16 percent if persons who have dropped out of the labor pool and those working less than they would like are counted, a Federal Reserve official said Wednesday. "If one considers the people who would like a job but have stopped looking -- so-called discouraged workers -- and those who are working fewer hours than they want, the unemployment rate would move from the official 9.4 percent to 16 percent, said Atlanta Fed chief Dennis Lockhart.


Full story here:

Fr Sirico on Kennedy

Fr Sirico has an excellent reflection about Ted Kennedy and the Catholic aspect.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

This amazed me

The news of Kennedy's death evoked a lot of different feelings in me. More than anything, I was feeling disturbed about how the whole issue of abortion affected his career. Sometimes when I'm dealing with the pull of different emotions, I pray about it and ask the Lord for a word from the Scriptures. So I did that and opened my Bible at random, and this is the first thing my eye fell on:

Jeremiah 2:22-23

Though you scour it with soap and use much lye,

The stain of your guilt is still before me, says the Lord God.

How can you say, “I am not defiled, I have not gone after the Baals’?

Consider your conduct in the Valley*, recall what you have done.


*The note on this word says that the Valley refers to Ben-hinnom, south of Jerusalem—the site of a pagan temple where children were sacrificed to the god Molech!

This really amazed me, especially the reference to sacrificing children to Molech. It seemed to confirm for me that it is important to realize that the issue of abortion is major. It can't be shrugged off, for "not as man sees does God see."

A further thought: though soap and lye can't take away our sins, "the blood of his Son Jesus cleanses us from all sin." (1 John)

On the death of Ted Kennedy

When someone dies it is a time to remember we all have to go before God. It's a time to pray for the person and ask God's mercy. Thus may it be for Senator Kennedy.

Some years ago my mother had a problem with the Social Security Administration. Living in NY, she wrote to Senator Daniel Moynihan and he got it straightened out for her. My brother told me about it and said, "We're grateful to the senator for helping us out with this, but we still can't vote for him because he supports abortion."

I thought of that story when I heard about Kennedy's death. I'm sure that in many ways he did help a lot of people. But the sad thing about his life is that he turned into an indefatigable advocate of abortion rights. In fact, he racked up a 100% approval rating from NARAL. He voted in favor of extending abortion in any way he could, and he voted against any restrictions on it. I could never understand how he could ever justify this since it is completely against Catholic teaching. In the encyclical "Gospel of Life," Pope John Paul wrote: "Abortion and euthanasia are thus crimes which no human law can claim to legitimize.... I repeat once more that a law which violates an innocent person's right to life is unjust and, as such, is not valid as a law. For this reason I urgently appeal once more to all political leaders not to pass laws which, by disregarding the dignity of the person, undermine the very fabric of society."

Amid all the media adulation of Kennedy, and even feeling for the humanity of the man, I feel disturbed at the way Catholic politicians have been so complicit with the culture of death. May God have mercy on his soul.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Mary's Queenship

Tomorrow is the feast of the Queenship of Mary. One thing she does as Queen is to intercede for us.
There's a great book on the rosary by Jean La France. In it he calls Mary the "omnipotent intercessor." In other words, if you need anything, go to Mary. If your life is getting off track, go to Mary. If you're in trouble, go to Mary. Just pray to her and she'll get you back on track. Really, there's nothing she can't obtain for us if God wants us to have it. She does for us what she did at Cana. She went to Jesus and just said, "They have no wine." That's it. "They have no money; they have no family life, they have no job...." She goes to Jesus and will present it to him. And her Son will take care of whatever she wants.

Monday, August 17, 2009

A Marian week

This week we're between two feasts of Mary: her Assumption on the 15th, and the feast of her Queenship on the 22nd.
Actually, these are like two facets of the same feast. The Assumption is about Mary's final passage to glory, and her Queenship is about what she does in heaven. She doesn't forget about us but always intercedes for us with her Son, Jesus.
Especially for us Americans, the concept of royalty and queenship can seem a little remote. Pope John Paul liked to talk about it in terms of service, however. In his writings about Mary he spoke of her as the attentive servant of the Lord. "To serve is to reign."
A few years ago when I was at a Marian meeting, a sister who had done some research on how people relate to Mary spoke about her findings. She said that thinking of Mary as a Queen was actually popular with men. More men than women said they liked to think of her that way. I thought that was kind of interesting. I'm not sure why that would be-- any thoughts?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Just released--my new book on St Clare



Today's the feast of St Clare, so it's an appropriate day to mention my new book about her. It's part of our Encounter the Saints series, beautifully illustrated by Sr Mary Joseph.
I learned a lot about Clare in writing the book. What impressed me the most was her great love of poverty. All her life she fought for the "privilege of poverty"--of owning nothing! She had to contend with cardinals and popes, but on the day before she died, she finally obtained this privilege as part of the Rule of her order.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Marian festival

A Marian festival will be held in France for a few days around the feast of the Assumption. As part of it, the rosary will be prayed simultaneously on five continents next Sunday, August 16, at 11 AM Eastern time.
More details here. It's a great way to honor our Blessed Mother.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

What's the real unemployment rate?

Last week the Bureau of Labor Statistics released data saying that the US unemployment rate was down slightly, to 9.4 %. It reminds me of the saying that Mark Twain popularized about there being three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.

The government removed 796,000 people from the total number of unemployed. Those people are still unemployed, but they've given up looking for jobs. So they're not counted. This is nothing new, since the Labor Bureau has always done this. But in a climate like today when we have so many people unemployed, it can really shift the numbers. When you add them back in, the real rate is 9.9%. Probably it's actually even more than that, because it doesn't account for people who are working fewer hours than before, and those who are working part time when they really want full time work.'

My point is that the headlines are a bit misleading. This isn't an economics blog, but I've been thinking about the economy a lot lately. The downturn has moral dimensions to it. While I'd like to be hopeful, I think the reality is that it will get a lot worse before it gets better.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

The Transfiguration

This feast is the anniversary of the death of Pope Paul VI (1978). I was a novice at the time. Pope Paul had the difficult task of leading the Church during the chaotic period right after Vatican II.

In the Gospel for today's feast, Jesus goes up the mountain with Peter, James, and John. While he is transfigured in glory, Moses and Elijah appear. Jesus speaks with them about his coming Passion and death. Moses and Elijah represent the Law and the Prophets. Jesus brings both of those to fulfillment.

The journalists were released

Thank God that the journalists were released!

Monday, August 03, 2009

Help free the two American women in North Korea

Two American journalists, Laura Ling and Euna Lee, were condemned to 12 years of hard labor in North Korea. And they didn't even commit a crime. Find out more at this website, which also has some ways to help them. But especially, pray for their release.

This op-ed has more details about the case. As the article notes, Christians in North Korea are also suffering persecution:

“A Christian woman accused of distributing the Bible, a book banned in communist North Korea, was publicly executed last month for the crime, South Korean activists said yesterday.’’

"So began a recent Associated Press dispatch from Seoul noting the death of Ri Hyon Ok, a 33-year-old mother of three. According to the Investigative Commission on Crime Against Humanity, a South Korean human-rights coalition, punishment for Ri’s “crimes’’ was meted out to her entire extended family: The day after she was executed, her husband, children, and parents were all thrown in prison." (article by Jeff Jacoby in the Boston Globe)

Friday, July 31, 2009

St. Ignatius and his spiritual exercises

St. Ignatius is one of the soldier saints. In 2005 I went to my nephew's wedding at the Catholic chapel in West Point. The stained glass windows depict various saints who were soldiers, dressed in their military uniforms. St. Ignatius was there, of course, since he is probably the most famous soldier saint. The image surprised me a bit since I had never seen him depicted quite like that.

Ignatius is also known for his spiritual exercises. This 30-day retreat involves praying through four weeks, focusing on God's love for us and the whole life of Christ. Ignatius always has retreatants ask for the grace they most desire. "What is the desire of your heart?" When I first learned about this, it attracted me because God really wants to give us what we most desire. God doesn't want to frustrate us. Some types of spirituality could give that impression.

However, the key is to get to the deepest desires of our heart, not the superficial ones. The deepest desires have to do with following Jesus and loving him. The work of the 30-day retreat involves getting to those deepest desires.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

To be true images of Christ

Does it sometimes happen to you that you read a line from Scripture that you've read many times before, and it suddenly jumps out at you in a whole new light?
That happened to me this morning and the verse was Paul to the Romans, 8:29. I read a different translation of it, which says that God the Father "called us especially long ago to become true images of his Son."
"To become true images of his Son." Wow, that sums up the whole spiritual life in a nutshell. To be images of Jesus Christ.
When I was around 5 or 6 years old, one day my father took me out and we had lunch at a diner. The waitress told him that I was his image. It must have made an impression on me, because I can remember it quite vividly. My father beamed and when we got home he told my mother this in a very proud way. It pleased him that I resembled him a lot.
This is an inadequate comparison, but in a similar way I can imagine God the Father looking on us and seeing the image of Jesus, his Son. The gift of baptism is so precious because it makes us members of Christ, his image. The whole task of our spiritual life is to become more like Jesus every day.

Medjugorge priest laicized

The news recently came out that Fr Vlasic, who had been a spiritual director at Medjugorge some years ago, was laicized. That's prompted a lot of commentary on Catholic blogs about the apparitions.
It's up to the Church to decide if the apparitions are authentic or not. I'm not calling them authentic or not authentic.
But the case of Fr Vlasic really has nothing to do with that question. He wasn't one of the seers, and his former relationship with them is irrelevant to the question about the apparitions.
History can give us some light here. Back in the mid 1800's, the Church approved the Marian apparition at LaSalette in France. Mary appeared to two children, a boy and a girl, Melanie and Maximin. In later life, both had various problems and difficulties and didn't turn out to be quite as saintly as say, St Bernadette. But that doesn't invalidate the apparitions they experienced.
All of this is a reminder that holiness doesn't consist in having visions. In fact, St John of the Cross was rather severe toward those who had any desire for visions. Instead, the way of faith is the way God leads us: "We walk by faith, not by sight." Visions fall into the category of charisms. These are spiritual graces that God sometimes grants not for the sanctification of the person receiving them, but for the spiritual good of the wider Church. In approved apparitions, Mary generally gives some message calling people to prayer, repentance and conversion of life. It's great if the seers live that message themselves. But if they don't, Mary's message remains just as valid.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Important webcast about abortion and healthcare bill

Tonight, Thursday July 23, an important webcast will be held to inform voters about the abortion implications of the proposed healthcare bill now before Congress.
You can register here and submit questions about this important topic. Proposed new legislation would make abortion coverage mandatory.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Ginsburg on eugenics

Every once in a while a pro-abortion advocate will let something slip out that betrays their real agenda.
This happened recently in a New York Times interview with Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Talking about abortion, she said:
"Frankly I had thought that at the time Roe was decided, there was concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don't want to have too many of." (emphasis added)

What "populations" is she talking about? In her mind, what is the real goal of unlimited abortion? Reducing "unwanted" populations?

In fact, abortion has been devastating the African-American population in the US. Black women abort at three times the rate of white women. Representing 13% of the general population, black women account for 36% of all abortions. This is a real tragedy.

Although Ginsburg came perilously close to it, she didn't actually say that she wants to reduce the numbers of American blacks. But the policy that she and other abortion proponents have been pushing are bringing that about.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

National Debt

This is a great visualization of how fast the national debt is increasing right now.
From "political math" blog. I don't usually blog about political things, but I'm quite concerned about the financial instability of the USA right now. As a nation we can't keep on recklessly spending without considering the consequences: hyperinflation, the death of the dollar and eventual bankruptcy.


Monday, July 13, 2009

Street evangelizing

On my way home from the tall ships, I stopped at St Anthony's shrine in downtown Boston. As I was walking toward it I noticed a man who was hanging around in front of the church, sort of huddled into a corner wall. He didn't appear to be begging, so I wasn't sure what he was doing. True to my New York upbringing, I walked quickly past pretending not to notice. (In NY, you learn never to make eye contact on the sidewalk with someone who may be out to get you.) He was holding a plastic bag, the kind you get in the grocery store, close to himself. As I went by, suddenly he reached into the bag, pulled out a leaflet, and shoved it into my face. I realized immediately that it was one of those anti-Catholic tracts, so I didn't take it.
I spent a few minutes in church (they were having Eucharistic adoration just then) and I got an inspiration that on my way out I should stop and talk to that man. Now, anyone who knows me will realize that this is totally out of character for me. I never approach strangers on the street and talk to them. But I thought, here's this guy handing out anti-Catholic leaflets in front of a Catholic church, so why should I just go by without responding in some way? So feeling very much like I did in my days in the Catholic Evidence Guild, I went up and asked him, "What's that you're handing out?"

He handed me the leaflet--you know the kind, you've probably seen them before. They list in a few pages everything that's wrong with the Catholic Church and why it could just never, never be the truth. He said he had been Catholic but now was going to the Lutheran church. Since his big point was that the Catholic Church has "man-made" beliefs and practices, I pointed out to him that Martin Luther came 1500 years too late, 1500 years after Jesus Christ. Wasn't what he established "man-made?" So I did a little street preaching of my own to him, quoting the Bible and responding to his objections.

Only the grace of God can bring back a fallen-away Catholic to the Church. So I didn't think I was converting him back. But at least I was able to give him something to think about, so that hopefully he'll realize that the Catholic Church does have responses to the typical fundamentalist objections to it. I also asked him if he really wants to evangelize, why doesn't he go talk to Muslims, or atheists, or other people who have no belief and no religion? It's pretty easy to try and get Catholics out of their church, because religious ignorance is so rampant among Catholics. But what would happen if he stood outside a mosque handing out anti-Islamic leaflets? I suspect that he wouldn't last too long doing that!

I was talking about this at breakfast this morning, and Sr Anne Joan (of Nunblog fame) made a really good point when she had a similar experience talking to someone preying on ignorant Catholics: "There may be a lot of ignorant Catholics, but that doesn't mean that the Catholic Church doesn't have a really good response to the objections made against it!"

Tall Ships in Boston


Yesterday (Sunday) I went down to Boston harbor to see some of the tall ships that are in town right now. It was a beautiful sight--ships from all over the world. I went on one of them, the Libertad, from Argentina (see picture above). The ships are actually in a race and are just anchored here for a few days before they continue.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Oldest image of St Paul




Vatican archeologists have discovered what they believe is the oldest image of St. Paul known to date. They found it in the catacombs of St Thecla, which are near the basilica of St. Paul in Rome.

More details here

Monday, June 08, 2009

Two American journalists sentenced

Please pray for their release. They were sentenced to 12 years of hard labor in North Korea, for illegal entry. Laura Ling and Euna Lee are based in San Francisco and were investigating the plight of women and children trying to flee the country.


The sentence cannot be appealed. Conditions in North Korean labor camps are said to be harsh and life-threatening. Malnutrition, beatings and other rights abuses are rampant according to human rights groups.

Ms. Ling suffers from an ulcer and needs medication. Ms. Lee has a four-year-old daughter at home in California.

Full story here

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Sin is an obstacle to the spiritual life

Well, that should seem obvious, shouldn't it? If we lived in a sane world, it would be. But we don't live in a sane world.
I've been thinking about this because of what happened last week in Miami with Fr Alberto Cutie. Unless you've been on a fishing trip with no outside communication, you know that this priest who had been photographed frolicking on the beach with his girlfriend left the Catholic Church and joined the Episcopal Church. Last Sunday--the feast of Pentecost--he gave his first sermon in the Episcopal Church. According to one news report he said something to the effect that the Church is all about forgiveness. I guess he forgot that repentance and conversion are supposed to come before forgiveness. Otherwise it's what Bonhoeffer called "cheap grace."

If we lived in a sane world, Cutie would be off in a monastery somewhere doing penance after the revelation of his 2-year affair with this woman. Instead, he got himself a pulpit and a church full of supporters who applauded him. He could have asked to be laicized in order to be married. The Church allows for these cases. Instead, he renounced his Catholic faith. There is something wrong with this picture!

I'm not blogging about this to criticize him, but because scandals like this can disturb the faithful people who live their baptism by striving to avoid sin and practice virtue. They do this even when it costs them a lot in terms of sacrifice and self-denial. Then they see a priest do what Cutie did, and they can be tempted to think "what's the point?" of trying to live a Christian life.

These scandals can make us go back to Christian Life 101: avoid sin. Jesus started his ministry by preaching to people that they give up sin and be converted. Nothing keeps us from God except sin. We can fool ourselves that we can lead spiritual lives and keep up some habit of sin that we like. Today, with relativism all around us, it's easy to find a justification for anything. But that doesn't change the reality that sin keeps us from God. To grow in the spiritual life, we need to give up deliberate sin. It's a struggle and it doesn't happen all at once. As long as we never give up and live in a continual conversion, we're on our way to God.

Friday, May 29, 2009

St Thomas on scandal

Recent events like the sad and strange case of Fr Albert Cutie in Miami have gotten me thinking about how to handle scandals in the Church. As Jesus said, it's inevitable that they will occur. But they needn't disturb our faith.

I looked up what St Thomas had to say about it. He treats the topic of scandal as a vice opposed to the virtue of charity. Scandal means to put a stumbling block in the way of another person (understood as a spiritual block). The word comes from the Greek word "skandalon" which literally means stumbling block. It's opposed to charity because the virtue of charity enables us to help our neighbors, not trip them up.

In question 43 of the part of the Summa on the virtues, St Thomas asks the question if holy persons are scandalized -- that is, if a holy person sees or knows about the sins of others, does that trip them up? Thomas says no, because a person who is firmly anchored in virtue looks to God alone. He emphasizes that besides active scandal (that is, actually giving scandal), there can be a passive scandal. That means to "take" the scandal, so to speak, to actually be scandalized in the sense of letting it upset us or disturb our faith. If we look to God alone, the sins of others won't shake our faith because our trust is in God, not fallible human beings. All of us can sin. Just as I know my own weaknesses, it shouldn't disturb me that others have weaknesses too. Here are Thomas' own words (from the public domain version of the Summa):

"Passive scandal implies that the mind of the person who takes scandal is unsettled in its adherence to good. Now no man can be unsettled, who adheres firmly to something immovable. The elders, i.e. the perfect, adhere to God alone, Whose goodness is unchangeable, for though they adhere to their superiors, they do so only in so far as these adhere to Christ, according to 1 Corinthians 4:16: 'Be ye followers of me, as I also am of Christ.' Wherefore, however much others may appear to them to conduct themselves ill in word or deed, they themselves do not stray from their righteousness, according to Psalm 124:1: 'They that trust in the Lord shall be as Mount Sion: he shall not be moved for ever that dwelleth in Jerusalem.' Therefore scandal is not found in those who adhere to God perfectly by love, according to Psalm 118:165: 'Much peace have they that love Thy law, and to them there is no stumbling-block [scandalum].' "

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Fr Alberto Cutie some thoughts

Bishop Favolora's statement in the post below this one is a heartfelt expression of the grief that a good pastor feels upon losing a member of his flock. At the end he comments on the parable of the prodigal son, in the hope that Fr Cutie will return to the Catholic Church.

When I heard this news, I thought of something from the rules of St Ignatius about making discernments. A few years ago Fr Timothy Gallagher, OMV, gave an excellent workshop about St Ignatius and discernment. He said that if we were to forget everything about it except one thing, this is the one thing to remember:
Never make an important decision, especially a life-changing, vocational decision, when you are in a time of darkness and confusion. The decision will very likely be wrong-headed. Ignatius always stressed that the Holy Spirit speaks in calmness and peace.

We can pray for Fr Cutie and ask God to give him the courage and strength to come back to the Catholic Church. As Bishop Favolora says, Cutie's decision to renounce his Catholic faith is certainly a bad one, and for a priest in particular, it carries with it grave scandal and is very serious. While this is not to judge Fr Cutie's soul, since only God can do that, his external actions objectively give scandal. It seems likely that since his 2-year relationship with a woman was suddenly made public, he's probably not in the best emotional state of his life. To make a decision about changing one's church at such a time is exactly what St Ignatius was talking about. It's too bad that Fr Cutie took this action without first going away for a time of retreat, reflection and prayer.

He's going to be preaching in the Episcopal Church next Sunday. Since it's been revealed that Fr Cutie has been carrying on an affair for the past two years, to me it seems incongruous that he will now be preaching, as if he did nothing wrong.
I'm not writing this as a judgment on his state of soul, for that is not up to me. But Jesus also said, "By their fruits you will know them." I take that to mean we ought not to let ourselves be discouraged from leading a good life by the bad example of other people. The letter to the Hebrews says "Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus." If we do that, we'll never be scandalized.

Bishop Favolora's statement about Fr Alberto Cutie

Here is the text of what the Catholic bishop of Miami, Bishop Favolora, said upon hearing the news that Fr Cutiee has formally renounced his Catholic faith and entered the Episcopalian communion:

I am genuinely disappointed by the announcement made earlier this afternoon by Father Alberto Cutié that he is joining the Episcopal Church.

According to our canon law, with this very act Father Cutié is separating himself from the communion of the Roman Catholic Church (c. 1364, §1) by professing erroneous faith and morals, and refusing submission to the Holy Father (canon 751). He also is irregular for the exercise of sacred orders as a priest (canons 1041 and 1044, §1) and no longer has the faculties of the Archdiocese of Miami to celebrate the sacraments; nor may he preach or teach on Catholic faith and morals (cannon 1336, §1). His actions could lead to his dismissal from the clerical state.

This means that Father Cutié is removing himself from full communion with the Catholic Church and thereby forfeiting his rights as a cleric. Roman Catholics should not request the sacraments from Father Cuité. Any sacramental actions he attempts to perform would be illicit. Any Mass he says would be valid but illicit, meaning it does not meet a Catholic’s obligation. Father Cutié cannot validly officiate at marriages of Roman Catholics in the Archdiocese of Miami or anywhere.

Father Cutié is still bound by his promise to live a celibate life, which he freely embraced at ordination. Only the Holy Father can release him from that obligation.

To the Catholic faithful of Saint Francis de Sales Parish, Radio Paz and the entire Archdiocese of Miami, I again say that Father Cutié’s actions cannot be justified, despite his good works as a priest (statement of May 5, 2009). This is all the more true in light of today’s announcement. Father Cutié may have abandoned the Catholic Church; he may have abandoned you. But I tell you that the Catholic Church will never abandon you; the Archdiocese of Miami is here for you.

Father Cutié’s actions have caused grave scandal within the Catholic Church, harmed the Archdiocese of Miami − especially our priests – and led to division within the ecumenical community and the community at large. Today’s announcement only deepens those wounds.

When Father Cutié met with me on May 5th, he requested and I granted a leave of absence from the exercise of the priesthood. Because of this, he could no longer be the administrator of St Francis de Sales Parish or the General Director of Radio Paz. For the good of the Church and to avoid the media frenzy, I chose not to impose publicly an ecclesiastical penalty, although his admitted actions clearly warranted it. Since that meeting, I have not heard from Father Cutié nor has he requested to meet with me. He has never told me that he was considering joining the Episcopal Church.

I must also express my sincere disappointment with how Bishop Leo Frade of the Episcopal Diocese of Southeast Florida has handled this situation. Bishop Frade has never spoken to me about his position on this delicate matter or what actions he was contemplating. I have only heard from him through the local media. This truly is a serious setback for ecumenical relations and cooperation between us. The Archdiocese of Miami has never made a public display when for doctrinal reasons Episcopal priests have joined the Catholic Church and sought ordination. In fact, to do so would violate the principles of the Catholic Church governing ecumenical relations. I regret that Bishop Frade has not afforded me or the Catholic community the same courtesy and respect.

In my nearly 50 years as a priest, I have often preached on Jesus’ parable of the Prodigal Son – which really should be called the parable of the Forgiving Father (Luke 15, 11-32). Perhaps the story told by the Lord so long ago is applicable to our discussions this afternoon.

A father had two sons. One of them took his inheritance early and left home, spending his money wantonly. The father waited patiently for the return of his prodigal son, who after he had seen the error of his ways, repented and returned home. Upon his return, the father lovingly embraced him and called him his son. I pray that Father Cutié will “come to his senses” (Luke 15, 17) and return home. The Catholic Church seeks the conversion and salvation of sinners, not their condemnation. The same is my attitude toward Father Cutié.

We must not forget, however, that there were two sons in the Lord’s story. The other son, who never left home, was angry that his erring brother was welcomed home by the father. To all faithful Catholics, I say what the father said to this second son: “You are with me always and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice. This brother of yours was dead and has come back to life. He was lost, and is found” (Luke 15, 31-32).

In this beautiful parable Jesus teaches us that God is a loving and forgiving Father. Each of us has experienced that love, each of us needs that forgiveness; for we are all sinners. If our brother comes home, let us celebrate with the Father.

In conclusion, I commend and salute the priests of the Archdiocese of Miami and all priests who faithfully live and fulfill their promise of celibacy. By their fidelity to their promise they reflect more clearly to the world the Christ whose total gift of himself to the Father was pure and chaste love for his brothers and sisters. In our times so pre-occupied with sex, the gift of celibacy is all the more a sign of the Kingdom of Heaven where, as scripture says, there will be “no marrying or giving in marriage” (Matthew 22, 30). I encourage all Catholics to pray for and support our dedicated priests.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Great review of one of our new books

Check this out for a great review of our new children's book, Beginnings, about the treasure of each human life.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

About the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano

In this article George Weigel has some good information about the authoritativeness of articles that appear in L'Osservatore Romano. The gist of it is that basically, the articles and editorials in the Vatican newspaper have no special authority, but they just reflect the opinions and insights of the various writers.
However, he mentioned something that I didn't know. When an editorial is followed by three dots, that's a sign that the editorial in question came from someone of high rank in the Vatican. That doesn't make it an official church teaching, of course, but could reflect the thinking of Vatican "higher-ups".

Monday, May 18, 2009

Bishop D'Arcy's letter

In view of the ongoing controversy about Notre Dame's honoring of Obama with an honorary doctorate, here is Bishop D'Arcy's letter about it. He is the bishop of the diocese in which Notre Dame is located. Many other bishops have spoken out about this, too, and I for one am glad that the bishops are acting as true pastoral leaders concerning this issue.

My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Recently, Father John Jenkins, CSC, in a letter of response to Bishop Olmsted of the Diocese of Phoenix, who had written him, critical of the decision to invite President Obama to speak and receive an honorary degree of law at Notre Dame, indicated that it was his conviction that the statement “Catholics in Political Life” (USCCB) did not apply in this matter. Father Jenkins kindly sent me a copy of his letter, and also at a later meeting, asked for a response.

In an April 15th letter to Father Jenkins, I responded to his letter.

Now the points made in his letter have been sent by Father Jenkins to the members of the Notre Dame Board of Trustees and have been publicized nationally, as well as locally in the South Bend Tribune. Since the matter is now public, it is my duty as the bishop of this diocese to respond and correct. I take up this responsibility with some sadness, but also with the conviction that if I did not do so, I would be remiss in my pastoral responsibility.

Rather than share my full letter, which I have shared with some in church leadership, I prefer to present some of the key points.

1. The meaning of the sentence in the USCCB document relative to Catholic institutions is clear. It places the responsibility on those institutions, and indeed, on the Catholic community itself.

“The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.” — “Catholics in Political Life,” USCCB.

2. When there is a doubt concerning the meaning of a document of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, where does one find the authentic interpretation? A fundamental, canonical and theological principal states that it is found in the local bishop, who is the teacher and lawgiver in his diocese. — Canon 330, 375 §§ 1 & 2; 380; 381 § 1; 391 § 1; 392, & 394 §1.

3. I informed Father Jenkins that if there was any genuine questions or doubt about the meaning of the relevant sentence in the conference’s document, any competent canonist with knowledge of the tradition and love for Christ’s church had the responsibility to inform Father Jenkins of the fundamental principle that the diocesan bishop alone bears the responsibility to provide an authoritative interpretation.

4. I reminded Father Jenkins that he indicated that he consulted presidents of other Catholic universities, and at least indirectly, consulted other bishops, since he asked those presidents to share with him those judgments of their own bishops. However, he chose not to consult his own bishop who, as I made clear, is the teacher and lawgiver in his own diocese. I reminded Father Jenkins that I was not informed of the invitation until after it was accepted by the president. I mentioned again that it is at the heart of the diocesan bishop’s pastoral responsibility to teach as revealed in sacred Scripture and the tradition. (“Lumen Gentium,” 20; and “Christus Dominus,” 2.) I reminded him that it is also central to the university’s relationship to the church. (“Ex corde ecclesiae,” 27 & 28; Gen. Norm., Art. 5, §§ 1-3.)

5. Another key point. In his letter to Bishop Olmsted and in the widespread publicity, which has taken place as the points in the letter have been made public, Father Jenkins declared the invitation to President Obama does not “suggest support” for his actions, because he has expressed and continues to express disagreement with him on issues surrounding protection of life. I wrote that the outpouring of hundreds of thousands who are shocked by the invitation clearly demonstrates, that this invitation has, in fact, scandalized many Catholics and other people of goodwill. In my office alone, there have been over 3,300 messages of shock, dismay and outrage, and they are still coming in. It seems that the action in itself speaks so loudly that people have not been able to hear the words of Father Jenkins, and indeed, the action has suggested approval to many.

In the publicity surrounding the points Father Jenkins has made, he also says he is “following the document of the bishops” by “laying a basis for engagement with the president on this issue.” I indicated that I, like many others, will await to see what the follow up is on this issue between Notre Dame and President Obama.

6. As I have said in a recent interview and which I have said to Father Jenkins, it would be one thing to bring the president here for a discussion on healthcare or immigration, and no person of goodwill could rightly oppose this. We have here, however, the granting of an honorary degree of law to someone whose activities both as president and previously, have been altogether supportive of laws against the dignity of the human person yet to be born.

In my letter, I have also asked Father Jenkins to correct, and if possible, withdraw the erroneous talking points, which appeared in the South Bend Tribune and in other media outlets across the country. The statements which Father Jenkins has made are simply wrong and give a flawed justification for his actions.

I consider it now settled — that the USCCB document, “Catholics in Public Life,” does indeed apply in this matter.

The failure to consult the local bishop who, whatever his unworthiness, is the teacher and lawgiver in the diocese, is a serious mistake. Proper consultation could have prevented an action, which has caused such painful division between Notre Dame and many bishops — and a large number of the faithful.

That division must be addressed through prayer and action, and I pledge to work with Father Jenkins and all at Notre Dame to heal the terrible breach which has taken place between Notre Dame and the church. It cannot be allowed to continue.

I ask all to pray that this healing will take place in a way that is substantial and true, and not illusory. Notre Dame and Father Jenkins must do their part if this healing is to take place. I will do my part.

Sincerely yours in our Lord, Most Reverend John M. D’Arcy

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Christ our Victory

Easter is the ultimate assurance of our final victory over sin and death.
Life on earth is never easy. Sometimes it's very difficult. Besides the personal trials that each one of us faces, whole societies and countries can go through trying times. We are living through one of those times now, with the economic problems the world is facing. Many people are out of work and can't find new jobs.
Whatever the problems we face, Christ is our ultimate victory over them all.
It might seem like evil is gaining the upper hand. But Christ is the final victor. Things will get better. We have a beautiful future to look forward to, joy beyond imagining. Easter is a little glimpse of what that future life holds.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday

I posted this piece before, but it is so appropriate for Good Friday I'm putting it up again. It's about how the liturgy makes the events of Good Friday alive for us.

Ths is from the book The Week of Salvation by James Monti. He quotes an article titled "Good Friday in Venezuela" that appeared in the April 1941 issue of Catholic Digest (It must be in the public domain by now!) The author was Heywood Broun.

"Some few years ago I went on a spring cruise. The steamer touched the northern tip of South America and paused for a day at the port... When we reached Venezuela word came that Gomez, the old dictator, lay dying in the capital. And, as we went up the winding road, I noticed that all those who walked along the highway were clad in black or purple. Young and old all seemed to be hurrying to some central point. And, naturally, it was my notion that they were hurrying to the palace to learn the fate of Gomez...

"But at the door of the cathedral the driver stopped and said something to my companion. My friend translated and explained, 'The driver says this is the service to mark the three hours of agony on the cross.' And it came to me that they mourned not for Gomez, but for the Son of God. Out of bright sunlight I came into cool darkness flecked, but not wholly broken, by the light of many flickering candles. And all about the walls and statues and across the shoulders of the worshipers I saw the Holy Week badge of purple.

"I have seen church services in far and near places, and many were impressive, but here for the first time I saw a people who seemed to feel that the Passion of the Lord was actually occurring again.
"Pilate was not a famous dead procurator of Judea who washed his hands in an ancient city long ago. It was but yesterday that Jesus stood before the Romans on trial for his life and was condemned. And at the very moment the living Christ hung on the cross....
"It was as if one of their own lay dying in a room at home. And all of them lived in a world in which each year Jesus again walked the earth and Judas brought betrayal in a pleasant garden. Many stood outside upon the steps under the hot sun and peered through the doors and down the dark aisles. They waited for some word from the mourners. Almost they seemed to say, 'What is the news? How fares our Lord on Calvary?'"

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Annunciation Mary's joyful yes!

The Gospel for today's Mass is taken from Luke's beautiful account of the Annunciation. The angel Gabriel visited the virgin and offered her a proposal from God. Mary accepted, and changed the world forever.

One aspect of Mary's "yes" that attracts me is that it was a joyful yes. There are times when it's hard to say yes to God, when it's a question of doing something difficult or distasteful, or of some suffering that comes into our lives. For those times, we have the example of the "yes" that Jesus said in Gethsemane. But that was very different from the Annunciation. In the agony in the garden, Jesus knew he was entering into a cosmic struggle with Evil. He prayed to the Father to be spared that trial, but with the proviso "not your will but mine be done." It was the Father's will that Jesus go into that struggle, and he did.

But Mary's yes is a joyful one. God was offering her a great gift, and she accepted wholeheartedly. This isn't just a pious thought, but is borne out by the Gospel text itself. The word Luke uses to describe Mary's acceptance is "genoito"--let it be done. It's a form of the verb that's used only rarely in the New Testament--the optative mood. This verb form expresses a joyful willingness, even an eagerness to do something. It expresses a desire and a strong wish. So Mary said "yes" with all the desire of her heart.
May we too have the same openness to accept God's greatest gift--our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Message from Cardinal George

Cardinal Francis George of Chicago speaks out about preserving conscience protection for health care workers who object to abortions. The link to the USCC website gives more details. As you probably know, the Obama administration has announced its intention to do away with these conscience protections.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Obama acts to save endangered species

Story here

Unfortunately, though, preborn humans aren't included.
Maybe if children in the womb were classified as an endangered species, they could get a little protection.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Obama is overturning abortion conscience rules

This is from the life news site:

Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) -- The White House quietly announced on Friday that President Barack Obama is starting the process of overturning protections President Bush put in place to make sure medical staff and centers are not forced to do abortions. The move is the latest that will add to Obama's growing pro-abortion record.

Existing federal laws already make it so doctors and hospitals are not required to perform abortions. Because those laws aren't always followed, the Bush administration added additional protections.

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This is a really important prayer intention, that no medical personnel will be forced to participate in abortions against their conscience.

So much for "choice." The deep hypocrisy of the pro-abortion movement is getting more and more evident. The real agenda is to force abortion as much as possible.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ash Wednesday: Prayer and Penance

Prayer, fasting and almsgiving are three traditional works of penance that Christians have always undertaken during Lent. They might take different forms today than in past ages, but the essence is the same.

Lent is the time when the whole Church goes on retreat. It's a special time of grace, six weeks to pause and attend to the health of our souls.

This Lent, many people face economic difficulties. A lot of people have lost their jobs in recent months. The economy seems to be sinking even deeper into recession, maybe even depression. It means real hardship for a lot of people. This Lent, the work of almsgiving might be harder to practice than before. But for those who can do it, it's a great way to practice generosity. Almsgiving isn't only about money, however. Anything we can give counts, whether it's our time, our interest, our attention, our care and concern for others.

When I was in grade school, we used to get "mite boxes" for Lent. We would put our pennies and other spare change into them. When Lent was over, we turned them in as a donation to some local charity. It really wasn't a lot of money, but it was a good way to teach kids how to think of other people and to make some sacrifices to help them.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Pope Benedict meets Nancy Pelosi

After the meeting, the Vatican Press Office issued this statement:

"Following the General Audience, the Holy Father briefly greeted Mrs. Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, together with her entourage. His Holiness took the opportunity to speak of the requirements of the natural moral law and the Church’s consistent teaching on the dignity of human life from conception until natural death, which enjoin all Catholics, and especially legislators, jurists, and those responsible for the common good of society, to work in cooperation with all men and women of good will in creating a just system of laws capable of protecting human life at all stages of development."

****

We can only pray that Pelosi, as well as other Catholic legislators who consistently vote to promote abortion, will take the Pope's words to heart. Note that the statement refers to the "natural moral law" in this regard. Taking an innocent human life is part of the natural law, the law of reason that all people know in their hearts. May it penetrate Nancy Pelosi's heart too!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Response to Opey's comment

In my post below about the Legion, Opey left a comment asking about the prayer the Legion members recited at the end of the Mass that Thomas Peters, the American Papist, blogged about. I did read his whole post about the Mass he attended.
Concerning the prayer, what struck me as strange was this line in particular: "Lord Jesus, you have entrusted to us the mission of furthering the Legion and Regnum Christi."

It seems strange to me because it identifies the mission as furthering the Legion and Regnum Christi, as if the institutes are an end in themselves. As a religious myself, I certainly love my own congregation, the Daughters of St. Paul. While I pray for my sisters and for vocations for our institute, I never have identified my mission as furthering the Daughters of St. Paul as an institution. Instead, our mission in the Church is specifically to use the media to bring the Word of God to everyone. That's what we pray for when we pray for our mission.I see my congregation as a means to a further end: to proclaim Christ to the world. I hope and pray we would never get to the point where we would identify our mission with keeping our institute going. Religious institutes come and go in the Church. Our deepest commitment is to Christ, through the Church. If in God's plan the time should come when God does not will our institute to continue, then so be it. Blessed be God for his inscrutable ways! He would continue our part in the Church's mission through some other means.

Here's more of the prayer from the Legion that Mr Peters reported:

"Since the Legion and the Movement will be vigorous and will flourish as long as the spirit of our founder is present and active in our lives and behavior, we ask you to open our eyes to the urgency of learning, assimilating and passing on the doctrine, spirit, apostolic methods, genuine traditions, discipline and lifestyle of the Legion and Regnum Christi, just as our founder has made them known to us, since this is our responsibility."

Just speaking for myself, and not intending this as a criticism but simply my own reaction, this strikes me as odd, too, since again it focuses on the particular practices of the Legion. Ultimately in religious life, it is not particular practices that are the most important, but the practice of the virtues and the three vows, while working for the mission. (I'm only giving my reaction here since Opey asked about it. I'm not trying to criticize the Legion.)

Most of the prayers we use in our private Pauline prayerbook were written by Bl. James Alberione, our Founder, and are permeated with his apostolic spirit. For example, here is a Marian prayer he wrote:
O Mary, you who gave birth to the Word made flesh,
be present among us:
assist, inspire and comfort
the ministers of the Word,

O Mary,
you who are the Queen of the Apostles,
intervene with your protection
that the light of the Gospel
may reach all peoples.

O Mary,
Mother of Jesus, Way, Truth and Life,
intercede for us,
so that heaven may be filled
with those who sing the hymn of glory
to the most Holy Trinity. Amen!

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