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.

*********

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.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Martyrdom of St Polycarp

This page has links to the full text of the Martyrdom of Polycarp (his feast day is today.) He was the bishop of Smyrna in Asia Minor and was martyred around 155 AD.

The text of his martyrdom is short and well worth reading. It's full of details that make Polycarp come alive. For example, the policemen sent to apprehend him were so taken by his courtesy that they regretted they had to do it:

"So when he [Polycarp] heard that they [the police] were come, he went down and conversed with them, the bystanders marvelling at his age and his constancy, and wondering how there should be so much eagerness for the apprehension of an old man like him. Thereupon forthwith he gave orders that a table should be spread for them to eat and drink at that hour, as much as they desired. And he persuaded them to grant him an hour that he might pray unhindered;
and on their consenting, he stood up and prayed, being so full of the grace of God, that for two hours he could not hold his peace, and those that heard were amazed, and many repented that they had come against such a venerable old man."

He must have had a good sense of humor, as this part shows (the Christians were accused of being atheists):

"When Polycarp was brought before him, the proconsul inquired whether he were the man. And on his confessing that he was, he tried to persuade him to a denial saying, 'Have respect to thine age,' and other things in accordance therewith, as it is their wont to say; 'Swear by the genius of Caesar; repent and say, Away with the atheists.' Then Polycarp with solemn countenance looked upon the whole multitude of lawless heathen that were in the stadium, and waved his hand to them; and groaning and looking up to heaven he said, 'Away with the atheists.' "

That wasn't what the proconsul intended!

But the most beautiful part comes when Polycarp testifies to his faith in Jesus: "But when the magistrate pressed him hard and said, 'Swear the oath, and I will release thee; revile the Christ,' Polycarp said, 'Fourscore and six years have I been His servant, and He hath done me no wrong. How then can I blaspheme my King who saved me?'"

St Polycarp, pray for us!

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!

Abraham Lincoln

Today, Lincoln's birthday, I thought I'd mention something about him. I've been reading Team of Rivals, which tells the story of Lincoln's rise to the presidency. It's quite an interesting book and very informative.
Among the many lessons from Lincoln's life, one is hard work.
He became president not through some quirk of fate, but because he worked hard for it. In the year or so before his election, he went on a speaking tour in the East Coast, where he was not widely known. That was a critical factor in helping him later win the nomination and the election. His chief rival, William Seward, went on a tour of Europe instead of actively campaigning.(He was following some bad advice from his campaign manager!)
Lincoln was very savvy and knew how to promote himself without attacking his rivals. On occasions when he had some cause for taking revenge, he didn't stoop to that but took the high road.
After he was elected president, Lincoln invited his chief rivals into his cabinet, including Seward. That kind of virtue is a good model for civic life.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Our Lady of Lourdes

Today, the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, is also the World Day of the Sick. I've never been to Lourdes, but people who have been there say it is a wonderful place. It is a place of peace and serenity. In the silence of the grotto, one can imagine how Mary must have looked when she appeared to Bernadette.
One interesting aspect of the story of Lourdes is the way Bernadette interacted with Mary. Bernadette didn't say she had seen the Blessed Mother, but that she had seen a beautiful lady. Bernadette called her "aquero," meaning "that one." Prompted by those who wanted to know more, Bernadette finally asked her who she was. The lady replied, "I am the Immaculate Conception."
The pastor was astounded when Bernadette reported this, because the dogma of the Immaculate Conception had been proclaimed four years earlier, in 1854. He knew that Bernadette, who struggled to learn even the basics of the catechism, didn't know anything about the proclamation of the dogma. She couldn't have made it up.
Bernadette was the perfect witness because she never changed her story. She didn't elaborate on it and add more details as she got older. She reported exactly what she saw and that was that.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Fr Thomas Berg's letter

The American Papist blog has posted a beautiful letter written by Fr Thomas Berg, a Legion of Christ priest, about the crisis his order is going through. Well worth reading! God bless him for his courage. I pray for him and all the members who are going through great difficulties right now.

Monday, February 09, 2009

More on the Legion of Christ

George Weigel has a great piece about it on the First Things website here.

The following ideas have been coming to my mind as I think about this terrible crisis.

1. First, I feel for the individual members of the Legion and Regnum Christi who were betrayed by Maciel. His sins are not their fault. Still, the Legion as an institution needs to deal with the effects of those sins and crimes.

2. At a minimum, this calls for not only an apology to all of Maciel's victims, but to reparation in whatever ways are possible. This would include paying for therapy for the victims and/or making some other kind of compensation.

3. Name the sin. The official statement from the Legion so far talked of Maciel's "failures." This is a euphemism. A failure can be something insignificant, like breaking the rule of silence or failing to hand in a receipt for toothpaste. As Fr Berg said in his excellent letter, it is very likely that the other allegations against Maciel are also true. Those are the allegations that he sexually abused boys. Many were minors at the time. If he had been charged with a crime, it would have been "rape of a child." The first step in coming to terms with what Maciel did is to call it what it is. No more euphemisms or vague statements about it.

4. Some comments in various blogs dealing with this say things like "God forgives," or "do not judge lest you be judged," etc. All of that is beside the point. God forgives the repentant sinner (and we have to hope Maciel did indeed repent; only God knows what the state of his soul was), but certain sins also carry an obligation of restitution. Stole something? You have to pay it back. Lied about someone? You have to make it right. The list goes on.
The point is that even if Maciel repented before he died and God forgave him, as we should hope happened, his crimes are not so easily erased. People are still suffering the effects of his abuse. The Legion as a corporate person has an obligation to help them in whatever way it can.

5. Maciel's position as a founder of a religious order makes this case very unusual and actually totally bizarre. The question that keeps running through my mind is this: how can the Church allow to stand a "charism" of a group founded by a child molester? The reports about Maciel seem to indicate that he engaged in such molesting for years. If his crimes had been known, the Church would have defrocked him if canon law was being applied. Maciel presented himself in a false light to the Vatican when he sought approval for his order. That duplicity has to be taken into account. This is my own opinion, and I realize others may disagree, but I don't believe that Church approval gained through deceit makes a charism legitimate in the Church. By this I'm not suggesting that the sincere members of the Legion are at fault in any way; they've been deceived too. If the Church allows the order to stand as it is, it will be a black mark on the holiness of the Church that will give its enemies plentiful fodder for years to come.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Legion of Christ scandals

Unfortunately, as you've probably heard, more scandals have been revealed about Legion founder Fr Marcial Maciel. Some good commentary has already come out on several blogs.
Feelings run strong about the Legion, both pro and con. The further revelations of Maciel's sins must surely come as a shock to the many sincere members of the Legion, who have been taught to venerate him as their saintly founder. I can feel very sympathetic for them and am praying for them.
Having said that, though, I find myself wondering about what this must mean for the Legion. Their spokesman offered this pathetic response:
"In response to reporters’ questions whether or not the Legion will renounce Father Maciel as its founder, Fair said that there was no intent to rewrite history: 'He is the founder and he always will be the founder of the order. Whatever Father Maciel’s human failings, we remain grateful for the charism we received through him. One of the mysteries that we all see in life is that God does good works with less than perfect human instruments.'"

This response is very weak; it doesn't even name the sins but calls them "failings." A "failing" can be something very minor; pedophilia is far more than a "failing;" it is a mortal sin and a crime.
During the sexual abuse crisis that broke in 2002, Pope John Paul said that there is no place in the priesthood for a man who abuses children. There have been many former Legion members who accused Maciel of sexually abusing them. Up to now, the Legion has denied those accusations and treated the victims with lamentable indifference. The new revelations that Maciel had a mistress, fathered at least one child (it's not clear if there was only one; see Ed Peters blog) and basically led a double life, are truly mind-boggling. If there is no place in the priesthood for a sexual pervert, how can there be a place in the Church's panoply of founders of religious orders? Yes, he did what he did in starting the Legion. But the charism of a religious order is so closely tied to the Founder's spirit, that I don't see how the Legion can continue to exist as it is. Canonist Edward Peters in his blog says that the order should be suppressed and perhaps some Legion members can reconstitute themselves somehow as another order. I think he's right.
But some persons may object: many saints sinned grievously, so doesn't that show Maciel was just like them? The problem with that argument is that the sinning saints (like Augustine) had a conversion in their lifetime. Augustine, for example, admitted his sins in his Confessions and went on to lead a holy life in which he did not indulge in sexual immorality anymore. But Maciel was held up as a saint during his life, despite his leading a double life of sin and perversion. He never admitted his crimes but portrayed himself as some kind of innocent victim. That's the difference.
Others may object: look at the fruit, look at all the priests that the Legion has ordained and the good they do, etc. Yes, there are many good priests in the Legion and surely God knows all the good that they do. But remember what Mother Teresa once said: (I'm quoting from memory so this may not be her exact words) "God doesn't ask us for success, he asks us for fidelity."
The lesson of Maciel is that we can't be deceived into thinking that holiness is to be equated with good works. St Paul wrote, "If I deliver my body to be burned, but do not have charity, it profits me nothing." (1 Cor 13) Just because somebody founded a religious order that has grown and succeeded does not mean that the founder is a saint. There have been so many founders who were holy, the vast majority, that we can tend to equate the two things. But it comes down to our motivation. We can do great works out of great self-love. I'm not judging Maciel's motivation; only God knows that. But my point is that we can't look at the work he did and say that it proves he was a saint. It most assuredly does not. It could be an indication of it, if the rest of his life had reflected heroic virtues. But his sexual perversions show a different story.

Michael Dubruiel

Very sad news from Catholic blogger Amy Welborn about the sudden death of her husband Michael. He was only 50 years old. May he rest in peace. Please pray for Amy and her family.

ShareThis