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
“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.

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.