Friday, October 30, 2009

A Quote for Today

The most beautiful emotion we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead, a snuffed-out candle. To sense that behind anything that can be experienced there is something that our minds cannot grasp, whose beauty and sublimity reaches us only indirectly: this is religiousness. In this sense, and in this sense only, I am a devoutly religious man.

Albert Einstein

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Abortion and the ‘Great Disconnect’: A Call to Action for the People of Life by Jennifer Hartline

It is imperative that you read the following article by Jennifer Hartline. This madness, this relentless killing of babies has to stop.

CHESAPEAKE, Va. (Catholic Online) – On Tuesday evening, Oct. 27, 2009, I had the great privilege of attending – along with 1,200 other people – a fundraising banquet for the Tidewater Crisis Pregnancy Center in Chesapeake. I went as a reporter for "Catholic Online" as well as a supporter. The featured guest speaker was pro-life hero and Nurse Jill Stanek. She was every bit as powerful in person as she is on her blog – even more so. We all need to take a cue from her as we engage the fundamental human rights issue of our age.

She spoke to us about her years spent working as a nurse at Christ Hospital in Illinois, and her struggle to shed light on the dirty little secret happening in hospitals all over the country – Christian hospitals, no less. Babies are being aborted alive (that means they survived the initial attempt on their lives) and then left alone to die, often discarded and thrown away as “medical waste”. Their deaths are blamed on “extreme prematurity” when in fact their cause of death is deliberate, forced eviction from their rightful home.

She spoke to us about what she calls “the great disconnect.” How can it be that if 51% of Americans now say they are pro-life we are still struggling to win the battle against abortion? Why is it that people will say they think it is wrong to kill a baby in the womb, and yet that belief is not evidenced in their actions? It certainly seems to have no influence on their votes. Can we truly say we believe abortion is wrong if we are not willing to stop it? Can we truly say we believe abortion is wrong if we are willing to elect lawmakers, even Presidents, who are intent on enshrining abortion “rights” into law?

This is the great disconnect. Americans will say they believe something, yet be unmotivated to defend that belief. Worst of all, Christians will say they believe something, yet be weak-willed and silent in the face of opposition to that belief. That is pathetic. Satan is mocking us and the horrors caused by abortion on demand continue.

Please - read the rest HERE !

If every American who claims to be pro-life actually connected their beliefs to their actions, we could win the battle against abortion.

Jennifer Hartline is a Catholic Army wife and stay-at-home mother of three precious kids who writes frequently on topics of Catholic faith and daily living. She is a contributing writer for Catholic Online.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A New Apparition at Knock?

Archbishop Michael Neary is an Irish clergyman of the Roman Catholic Church. He is the current Archbishop of Tuam. The Archbishop has warned against reports that the Virgin Mary will soon appear at the Shrine of Our Lady of Knock, the site of a reported apparition in 1879. A Mr Coleman. a Ballyfermot man, claims he has had regular visions of Our Lady since 1986.

A few years ago my wife Mary and I visited the "Our Lady of Knock" Shrine at Knock Ireland. It is an enchanting place and certainly a shrine where you can expect to receive many graces. There had to be a thousand people all together reciting the rosary.

I also gave an unsuccessful try at climbing nearby Croagh Patrick (Cruach Phádraig), Ireland's holy mountain, where St. Patrick is said to have fasted forty days on the summit. I guess my asthma got the best of me.

Here is an interesting article out of the Mayo News, written by Michael Commins and Anton McNulty, concerning Archbishop Michael Neary - and possible new?apparitions at Knock.

THE Archbishop of Tuam, Dr Michael Neary has criticised those who are encouraging people to believe that apparitions will take place at Knock Shrine.
Earlier this month, thousands of people were in Knock after Dublin faith healer, Joe Coleman claimed that Our Lady would appear at the Shrine. However, in a statement released yesterday (Monday) Archbishop Neary criticised these predictions saying that events at the Shrine risk misleading God's people and undermining faith. He added that the Shrine would be best served by maintaining its ‘authentic identity’ and such events are to be regretted rather than be encouraged.

“Knock is a much loved place of pilgrimage and prayer. Ever since the apparition in 1879, believers from home and abroad have made the pilgrimage there in increasing numbers. Such faith makes Knock pilgrims firm in hope and active in love for the sick and suffering. They do not expect visions or seek further apparitions.
“God has manifested Himself in Jesus Christ and His people have responded ever since. It is not healthy, does not give glory to God and certainly is not good witness to the faith to be looking for extraordinary phenomena. The apparition of 1879 was neither sought nor expected by the humble, honest people who were its astonished witnesses. Their faith reveals the patience and humility that characterises true belief. The Shrine of Knock is living witness to that faith.

“Unfortunately, recent events at the Shrine obscure this essential message. They risk misleading God’s people and undermining faith. For this reason such events are to be regretted rather than encouraged. The Shrine of Knock will be best served by retaining its authentic identity,” he said. Archbishop Neary released the statement after claims that several thousand people are expected in Knock on next Saturday, October 31, for the second predicted ‘happening’ by Mr Coleman. The Ballyfermot man, who claims he has regular visions of Our Lady since,1986, says another ‘spiritual awakening’ will take place at the Shrine this coming Saturday afternoon.

The rest of the article is HERE.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Archbishop Timothy Dolan Says Todays Most Life Pressing Issue is "Abortion."

Here is another important article by Deacon Keith Fournier, The Archbishop of New York, Timothy Dolan, says the most pressing life issue today is "Abortion." We should all follow the example of this holy bishop. We must not relent - we must be willing to suffer all persecutions to protect our most vulnerable neighbors. God bless Archbishop Dolan.

The Gospel of life is at the heart of Jesus' message. Lovingly received day after day by the Church, it is to be preached with dauntless fidelity as "good news" to the people of every age and culture. Evangelium vitae

NEW YORK, NY – At his installation Mass Archbishop Timothy Dolan signaled his intention to defend human life with these words: "As the Servant of God Terrence Cardinal Cooke wrote, 'Human life is no less sacred or worthy of respect because it is tiny, pre-born, poor, sick, fragile, or handicapped.' Yes, the Church is a loving mother who has a zest for life and serves life everywhere, but she can become a protective 'mamma bear' when the life of her innocent, helpless cubs is threatened… Everyone in this mega-community is a somebody with an extraordinary destiny…. Everyone is a somebody in whom God has invested an infinite love. That is why the Church reaches out to the unborn, the suffering, the poor, our elders, the physically and emotionally challenged, those caught in the web of addictions."

Read the rest of the article HERE

Sunday, October 25, 2009

30th Sunday of the year

Pope Saint Clement I, also known as Saint Clement of Rome (in Latin, Clemens Romanus), is listed from an early date as a Bishop of Rome. He was the first Apostolic Father of the early Christian church.

From todays Office of Readings:

A letter to the Corinthians by Pope St Clement I

In his goodness to all, God gives order and harmony to the world
Let us fix our gaze on the Father and Creator of the whole world, and let us hold on to his peace and blessings, his splendid and surpassing gifts. Let us contemplate him in our thoughts and with our mind’s eye reflect upon the peaceful and restrained unfolding of his plan; let us consider the care with which he provides for the whole of his creation.

By his direction the heavens are in motion, and they are subject to him in peace. Day and night fulfil the course he has established without interfering with each other. The sun, the moon and the choirs of stars revolve in harmony at his command in their appointed paths without deviation. By his will the earth blossoms in the proper seasons and produces abundant food for men and animals and all the living things on it without reluctance and without any violation of what he has arranged.

Yet unexplored regions of the abysses and inexpressible realms of the deep are subject to his laws. The mass of the boundless sea, joined together by his ordinance in a single expanse, does not overflow its prescribed limits but flows as he commanded it. For he said: Thus far shall you come, and your waves will be halted here. The ocean, impassable for men, and the worlds beyond it are governed by the same edicts of the Lord.

The seasons, spring, summer, autumn and winter, follow one another in harmony. The quarters from which the winds blow function in due season without the least deviation. And the ever-flowing springs, created for our health as well as our enjoyment, unfailingly offer their breasts to sustain human life. The tiniest of living creatures meet together in harmony and peace. The great Creator and Lord of the universe commanded all these things to be established in peace and harmony, in his goodness to all, and in overflowing measure to us who seek refuge in his mercies through our Lord Jesus Christ; to him be glory and majesty for ever and ever. Amen.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Fr. Benedict Groeschel CFR celebrates the 50th Anniversary of his Ordination to the Priesthood

I grabbed this article out of the "Bronx Life House."

Sunday October the 18th Fr. Benedict Groeschel CFR celebrated the 50th Anniversary of his Ordination to the Priesthood of Jesus Christ, with a beautiful Mass at Holy Family Church in Nutley, NJ! The mass was concelebrated by Archbishop Celestino Migliore, Apostolic Nuncio to the United Nations and Archbishop John J. Myers of Newark, New Jersey, Diocesan priests and many Franciscan Friars of the Renewal. Three EMC Interns, myself included, were given the opportunity to attending the Mass.

Fr. Groeschel is well known for his work as the host of popular television show, "Sunday Night Live with Fr. Benedict Groeshel' on EWTN and as a prolific author of books like 'Why Do We Believe' and 'There Are No Accidents'. He is also the co-founder of Good Counsel Homes. "Good Counsel is a private Catholic agency whose primary mission is to help homeless pregnant women by providing a loving family environment in a safe and secure shelter. Begun in 1985 by Fr. Benedict Groeschel and Chris Bell, both leaders in the pro-life movement, Good Counsel has grown to five homes in the New York greater metropolitan area." says their website.

* Fr. Groeschel is a founding member of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal

Thursday, October 22, 2009


Today, I was happy to hear that the Holy Father, in today's catechesis, made a strong mention of St. Bernard of Clairvaux, the primary builder of the reforming Cistercian monastic order. Being a yearly retreatant at a cistercian monastery, I personally owe much thanks to Bernard. I also thank the cistercians (trappists) for gifting us with very good teachers, Fr. Basil Pennington, Fr. Louis (Thomas Merton).

Here is The Holy Father's catechesis:


VATICAN CITY, 21 OCT 2009 - In the catechesis he delivered during his general audience, held this morning in St. Peter's Square, the Holy Father turned his attention to St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153), known as the last of the Church Fathers "because in the twelfth century he renewed and updated the great theology of the Fathers".

Born in Fontaines, France, Bernard entered the monastery of Citeaux at the age of twenty. In 1115 he was sent by St. Stephen Harding, third abbot of Citeaux, to found a new monastery at Clairvaux where Bernard himself became abbot. At Clairvaux the saint "insisted on the importance of a sober and restrained lifestyle, in food, in clothing and in the structures of the monastery, at the same time encouraging support and assistance for the poor", the Holy Father explained.

From Clairvaux, where the community grew steadily, Bernard corresponded regularly and often with people of all kinds, and wrote a large number of sermons and treatises. As of 1130 he also concerned himself with serious questions affecting the Holy See and the Church. With his writings he combated the heresy of the Cathars who, by spurning matter and the human body, also spurned the Creator. Likewise, he "defended the Jews, condemning the ever more widespread outbreaks of anti-Semitism".

The two central aspects of the saint's doctrine concern Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary. He "did not introduce novelties to the academic discipline of theology but, with great decisiveness, likened the theologian to the contemplative and the mystic", in the belief that "true knowledge of God consists in a personal and profound experience of Jesus Christ and His love.

"This", the Pope added, "applies to all Christians. Faith is first and foremost an individual and intimate encounter with Jesus, it means experiencing His closeness, His friendship, His love". Thus Bernard was in no doubt that "through Mary we are led to Jesus", and he clearly demonstrated "the privileged place of the Virgin in the economy of salvation, thanks to her entirely unique participation in the sacrifice of her Son".

Even today St. Bernard's ideas "stimulate not only theologians but all believers. At times we think we can resolve the fundamental questions about God, mankind and the world using only the power of reason. St. Bernard however, solidly rooted in the Bible and the Fathers of the Church, reminds us that without a profound faith in God, nourished by prayer and contemplation, ... our reflections upon the divine mysteries risk becoming a vain intellectual exercise and lose their credibility".

Benedict XVI concluded: "Theology defers to the 'science of the saints' - to their intuition concerning the mysteries of the living God, to their wisdom (a gift of the Holy Spirit) - who become a point of reference for theological thought. ... In the end, the most authentic figure of theologian and of evangeliser remains that of St. John, who placed his head against the Master's heart".


* Above right stained glass representing Bernard. Upper Rhine, ca. 1450.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Saint Jeanne Jugan

May Saint Jeanne Jugan be for the elderly
a living source of hope and for the persons
so generously placing themselves at their service
a powerful stimulus to pursue and develop her work!
– Pope Benedict XVI

I grabbed this reflection from the "Little Sisters of the Poor" blog, written by Jennifer LaVoie, a postulant-to-be. It concerns Jennifer LaVoie's experience of attending the Canonization of Jeanne Jugan, the foundress of the Little Sisters of the Poor. I would recommend checking out the sisters blog (link below) - there are many nice pictures and reflections of the event.

Back home, with time to reflect…
October 20, 2009
An awesome experience
Jennifer LaVoie, postulant-to-be

We have experienced so much in such a little amount of time! We went to the catacombs the first day, and it was particularly moving for me because it was where so many of our saints of many centuries ago were buried, including Saint Cecilia, my unofficial patron! … It was a really good way to start off our tour because we were literally walking in the footsteps of the saints.

A particular note for me has been the music, which I was privileged to be a part of the whole week [Jennifer participated in the liturgies with the Glenn Mohr Chorale]. There have been many unscripted moments, especially in regards to the music. I ended up playing in the first two Masses for the U.S. pilgrims. We did not have hymnals, so we sang songs that everyone knew. The music was so full and worshipful. It was really edifying to hear everyone sing. All of the masses with Glenn Mohr went very well overall, and everyone said that they enjoyed the music. Divino Amore was definitely my favorite. It felt like we were singing with the angels. Also, I was really, really touched by Cardinal Law's homily on Saint Jeanne at the mass.

At the canonization, I was separated from our group entirely, and actually ended up to the left of the Papal altar, about 15 pews back. I had a bird’s eye view of the Pope during the consecration. The whole thing was really so solemn and reverent. About 10 minutes before the Mass, you could actually hear the silence in the basilica. After the canonization, I actually got to get really close to the Pope—about 3 rows back from his canopy, on the left hand side. It really struck me how jovial and happy he was. It all is just so wonderful.

I met Little Sisters from all over the world. I met Sr Mary Josephine, who is a novice from India, and many other Little Sisters. I have now also met Mary and Andrea briefly, who are in my postulant group. When I was in Rome, Rachel and I both wore our postulant outfits (even though we don’t officially become postulants for a couple of weeks). At St. Mary Major, some Spanish-speaking pilgrims recognized it as the postulant outfit, and started talking to me in Spanish all about St. Jeanne and the order. They were very happy about the canonization, and knew us pretty well.

A wonderful moment for me was visiting the home in Rome. There was a constant flow of pilgrims coming in and out, yet our hosts were very gracious. We went out onto the terrace, and then the roof, and we had a perfect view of the Coliseum and quite a large section of the city. The home in Rome also has a beautiful icon of St. Jeanne, which I have never seen before. It really drew me into prayer, and I wished that I could have sat and meditated on it for hours.

I brought all of the community and the resident’s intentions to every place we went. It has really been an awesome experience for me. I really feel that this experience is bringing me so much closer to Notre Mere, and to our beloved congregation.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Roman Catholic Church Welcomes the Anglicans Home

Our Roman Catholic Church, with the promptings of the Holy Spirit, will ease the way for our Anglican brothers and sisters to come home to Holy Mother Church. Thanks be to God.

The following article, written by By Sabina Castelfranco, is out of Voice of America:

Roman Catholic Church Eases Way for Anglicans to Join

Rome 20 October 2009 - Pope Benedict XVI has approved a document that will make it easier for Anglicans to join the Roman Catholic Church. The move comes after years of discontent in the Anglican community about the liberal attitudes of some parts of the church toward women priests and homosexual bishops.

With a new apostolic constitution, the highest form of pontifical decree, set to be published in the next few weeks, Pope Benedict has created a new church structure for Anglicans who want to join the Roman Catholic Church.

Vatican observers say the provision is a response to the disillusionment of some Anglicans over the ordination of women, the election of openly gay bishops and the blessing of same-sex unions.

U.S. Cardinal William Levada presented the new legal entity at the Vatican. He is head of the Vatican's office for the doctrine of the faith. Cardinal Levada said the new structure is a response to the many requests that have reached the Vatican over the years.

He added that Anglicans will be able to maintain their Anglican identity and many of their liturgical traditions.

"It is the hope of the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI that the Anglican clergy and faithful who desire union with the Catholic Church will find in this canonical structure the opportunity to preserve those Anglican traditions precious to them and consistent with the Catholic faith," he said.

Cardinal Levada added the new canonical provision will allow married Anglican priests to become ordained Catholic priests. But, married Anglicans will not be able to become Catholic bishops.

Although no figures were made available by the Vatican on the number of requests that have reached the Vatican, hundreds of thousands of Anglicans are expected to join the Catholic Church, following the announcement of the new provision.

It will be the first time since the Reformation in the 16th century that communities of Anglicans reunite with the church in Rome.

It is unclear how the Vatican announcement would be received by the Anglican Communion (churches worldwide) or how it would affect ecumenical talks.


Monday, October 19, 2009

The Lost Key

In "Trappist" Father Thomas Keating's book "The Human Condition", Fr. Keating shares the Sufi story of "The Lost Key." it goes as follows...

A Sufi master had lost the key to his house and was looking for it in the grass outside. He got down on his hands and knees and started running his fingers through every blade of grass. Along came eight or ten of his disciples. They said, “Master, what is wrong?”

He said, “I have lost the key to my house.”
They said, “Can we help you find it?”
He said, “I’d be delighted.”
So they all got down on their hands and knees and started running their fingers through the grass.
As the sun grew hotter, one of them said, “Master, have you any idea where you might have lost the key?”
The Master replied, “Of course. I lost it in the house.”
To which they all exclaimed, “Then why are we looking for it out here?”
He said, “Isn’t it obvious? There is more light here.”

What an interesting story. What is this key? It is the key to happiness, the key to the very experience of God's presence in ourselves. It seems that so many of us have lost the key. Because our good God has gifted us with "desire", a "thirst" for Himself, we are always searching for the key. Problem is, we are looking in all the wrong places. Certainly in our modern era, the distractions and obstacles are numerous.We search the easy places, in the light - where it can not be found.

We can only find the key inside ourselves. With quiet prayer - meditation - contemplation - the key can be found.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

St. Ignatius of Antioch

St. Ignatius of Antioch

Born in Syria, Ignatius converted to Christianity and eventually became bishop of Antioch. In the year 107, Emperor Trajan visited Antioch and forced the Christians there to choose between death and apostasy. Ignatius would not deny Christ and thus was condemned to be put to death in Rome.

Ignatius is well known for the seven letters he wrote on the long journey from Antioch to Rome. Five of these letters are to Churches in Asia Minor; they urge the Christians there to remain faithful to God and to obey their superiors. He warns them against heretical doctrines, providing them with the solid truths of the Christian faith.

The sixth letter was to Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna, who was later martyred for the faith. The final letter begs the Christians in Rome not to try to stop his martyrdom. "The only thing I ask of you is to allow me to offer the libation of my blood to God. I am the wheat of the Lord; may I be ground by the teeth of the beasts to become the immaculate bread of Christ."

Ignatius bravely met the lions in the Circus Maximus.

Dear Holy Spirit,

Saint Ignatius was taken to Rome under military guard after he was condemned to die in the Roman amphitheater. On the way, he wrote inspiring letters to Christian communities. Nothing would stop him from carrying out his ministry of preaching the Gospel. I ask him to pray for me to continually find opportunities to build up Your kingdom, even in the midst of problems. Keep me from being blinded by discouragement, so that I may see that there are always opportunities to share the Gospel with others. When there are roadblocks in my path, show me the way around them. Saint Ignatius, pray for me. Amen.

* Bio from Saint of the Day

Thursday, October 15, 2009

I Heard the Voice of Jesus

This past Sunday I attended Holy Mass at St. Joseph's Abbey (Trappist) in Spencer, Massachusetts. Holy Mass with the Trappists is extraordinary. The processional hymn for this Twenty-Eighth Sunday of the year was "I Heard the Voice of Jesus." Our voices join with the music and we rise to prayer. The words of the hymn speak to us plainly - are we not weary, worn and sad? We come to Our Lord with all our woes and rest in him - we are safe, protected. He promises us an everlasting joy. This is our Christian Hope.

Here is a video of Anthony Way singing "I Heard the Voice of Jesus." He has an amazing voice.

Below is a copy of the program from Sunday Holy Mass.

* above image of St. Joseph's Abbey - Spencer, Mass.

St. Augustine's New Christian Life

I spent most of today reading "Spe Salvi", Pope Benedict's Encyclical Letter on Christian Hope. By no means do I have a complete grasp of this letter. It is very deep. One reading will never suffice. I would like to share with you paragraph #29.

In Augustine's words:

“The turbulent have to be corrected, the faint-hearted cheered up, the weak supported; the Gospel's opponents need to be refuted, its insidious enemies guarded against; the unlearned need to be taught, the indolent stirred up, the argumentative checked; the proud must be put in their place, the desperate set on their feet, those engaged in quarrels reconciled; the needy have to be helped, the oppressed to be liberated, the good to be encouraged, the bad to be tolerated; all must be loved. The Gospel terrifies me."

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Father Andrew Trapp - The Poker Playing Priest Wins $100,000

Here is a fun story out of the NC Register - Father Andrew Trapp, parochial vicar at St. Michael Church in Garden City, S.C., has won $100,000 on Fox TV’s new “Pokerstars Million Dollar Challenge.”

The poker-playing priest plans to go “all in” with his winnings, by donating them to towards construction of a new parish church, Catholic News Service reported. And courtesy of his victory, Father Trapp is now in the running to compete against three other poker players in a championship round in December for a $1 million additional prize.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Abbey Bells

"Bells are meant to remind us that God alone is good, that we belong to Him, that we are not living for this world.

"They break in upon our cares in order to remind us that all things pass away and that our preoccupations are not important.

"They speak to us of our freedom, which responsibilities and transient cares make us forget.

"They are the voice of our alliance with the God of heaven.

"They tell us that we are His true temple. They call us to peace with Him within ourselves."

- Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude

*Image St. Joesph's Abbey 2009 @bjm

Friday, October 9, 2009

Politics, Morality and a President

In an article published in The Italian daily Il Foglio, the archbishop of Denver, Charles J. Chaput, criticizes the American president and the churchmen who praise him.

I will be leaving today for retreat - my next post will be on Sunday - I pray you all have a good weekend. Here is the text of Archbishop Chaput's response to Cardinal Cottier on the Notre Dame controversy.

Politics, Morality and a President: an American View

One of the strengths of the Church is her global perspective. In that light, Cardinal Georges Cottier's recent essay on President Barack Obama ("Politics, morality and original sin," 30 Days, No. 5), made a valuable contribution to Catholic discussion of the new American president. Our faith connects us across borders. What happens in one nation may have an impact on many others. World opinion about America's leaders is not only appropriate; it should be welcomed.

And yet, the world does not live and vote in the United States. Americans do. The pastoral realities of any country are best known by the local bishops who shepherd their people. Thus, on the subject of America's leaders, the thoughts of an American bishop may have some value. They may augment the Cardinal's good views by offering a different perspective.

Note that I speak here only for myself. I do not speak for the bishops of the United States as a body, nor for any other individual bishop. Nor will I address President Obama's speech to the Islamic world, which Cardinal Cottier mentions in his own essay. That would require a separate discussion.

I will focus instead on the President's graduation appearance at the University of Notre Dame, and Cardinal Cottier's comments on the President's thinking. I have two motives in doing so.

First, men and women from my own diocese belong to the national Notre Dame community as students, graduates and parents. Every bishop has a stake in the faith of the people in his care, and Notre Dame has never merely been a local Catholic university. It is an icon of the American Catholic experience. Second, when Notre Dame's local bishop vigorously disagrees with the appearance of any speaker, and some 80 other bishops and 300,000 laypeople around the country publicly support the local bishop, then reasonable people must infer that a real problem exists with the speaker – or at least with his appearance at the disputed event. Reasonable people might further choose to defer to the judgment of those Catholic pastors closest to the controversy.

Regrettably and unintentionally, Cardinal Cottier's articulate essay undervalues the gravity of what happened at Notre Dame. It also overvalues the consonance of President Obama's thinking with Catholic teaching.

There are several key points to remember here.

First, resistance to President Obama's appearance at Notre Dame had nothing to do with whether he is a good or bad man. He is obviously a gifted man. He has many good moral and political instincts, and an admirable devotion to his family. These things matter. But unfortunately, so does this: The President's views on vital bioethical issues, including but not limited to abortion, differ sharply from Catholic teaching. This is why he has enjoyed the strong support of major "abortion rights" groups for many years. Much is made, in some religious circles, of the President's sympathy for Catholic social teaching. But defense of the unborn child is a demand of social justice. There is no "social justice" if the youngest and weakest among us can be legally killed. Good programs for the poor are vital, but they can never excuse this fundamental violation of human rights.

Second, at a different moment and under different circumstances, the conflict at Notre Dame might have faded away if the university had simply asked the President to give a lecture or public address. But at a time when the American bishops as a body had already voiced strong concern about the new administration's abortion policies, Notre Dame not only made the President the centerpiece of its graduation events, but also granted him an honorary doctorate of laws – this, despite his deeply troubling views on abortion law and related social issues.

The real source of Catholic frustration with President Obama's appearance at Notre Dame was his overt, negative public voting and speaking record on abortion and other problematic issues. By its actions, Notre Dame ignored and violated the guidance of America's bishops in their 2004 document, "Catholics in Political Life." In that text, the bishops urged Catholic institutions to refrain from honoring public officials who disagreed with Church teaching on grave matters.

Thus, the fierce debate in American Catholic circles this spring over the Notre Dame honor for Mr. Obama was not finally about partisan politics. It was about serious issues of Catholic belief, identity and witness – triggered by Mr. Obama's views -- which Cardinal Cottier, writing from outside the American context, may have misunderstood.

Third, the Cardinal wisely notes points of contact between President Obama's frequently stated search for political "common ground" and the Catholic emphasis on pursing the "common good." These goals – seeking common ground and pursuing the common good – can often coincide. But they are not the same thing. They can sharply diverge in practice. So-called "common ground" abortion policies may actually attack the common good because they imply a false unity; they create a ledge of shared public agreement too narrow and too weak to sustain the weight of a real moral consensus. The common good is never served by tolerance for killing the weak – beginning with the unborn.

Fourth, Cardinal Cottier rightly reminds his readers of the mutual respect and cooperative spirit required by citizenship in a pluralist democracy. But pluralism is never an end in itself. It is never an excuse for inaction. As President Obama himself acknowledged at Notre Dame, democracy depends for its health on people of conviction fighting hard in the public square for what they believe – peacefully, legally but vigorously and without apologies.

Unfortunately, the President also added the curious remark that ". . . the ultimate irony of faith is that it necessarily admits doubt . . . This doubt should not push us away from our faith. But it should humble us." In a sense, of course, this is true: On this side of eternity, doubt is part of the human predicament. But doubt is the absence of something; it is not a positive value. Insofar as it inoculates believers from acting on the demands of faith, doubt is a fatal weakness.

The habit of doubt fits much too comfortably with a kind of "baptized unbelief;" a Christianity that is little more than a vague tribal loyalty and a convenient spiritual vocabulary. Too often in recent American experience, pluralism and doubt have become alibis for Catholic moral and political lethargy. Perhaps Europe is different. But I would suggest that our current historical moment -- which both European and American Catholics share -- is very far from the social circumstances facing the early Christian legislators mentioned by the Cardinal. They had faith, and they also had the zeal – tempered by patience and intelligence – to incarnate the moral content of their faith explicitly in culture. In other words, they were building a civilization shaped by Christian belief. Something very different is happening now.

Cardinal Cottier's essay gives witness to his own generous spirit. I was struck in particular by his praise for President Obama's "humble realism." I hope he's right. American Catholics want him to be right. Humility and realism are the soil where a commonsense, modest, human-scaled and moral politics can grow. Whether President Obama can provide this kind of leadership remains to be seen. We have a duty to pray for him -- so that he can, and does.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

If You Think You Can Go it Alone

St. Basil the Great

I have been blogging now for more than six months. Time does fly. I really enjoy posting articles, reflections, photos, poetry. I named my blog "A Book of Everything" for a reason - so I could post just about anything. It all fits in. Everything, good and bad, is part of God's plan. Maybe some of my posts have changed you or moved you - maybe not. I will keep trying. If I can open the window to the Kingdom just a little bit - then I have done my job.

Do you know that "Catholic Blogging" is Trinitarian? YES - We are a "Community" and we serve each other. God bless all the good bloggers, I couldn't do it without them!

St. Basil speaks eloquently here about "community" and "service."

If You Think You Can Go it Alone
by Basil the Great

If anyone claims to be able to be completely self-sufficient, to be capable of reaching perfection without anyone else’s help, to succeed in plumbing the depths of Scripture entirely unaided, he is behaving just like someone trying to practice the trade of a carpenter without touching wood. The Apostle would say to such: ‘It is not the hearers of the Law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the Law who will be justified.’ [Rom. 2:13]

Our Lord, in loving each human being right to the end, did not limit himself to teaching us in words. In order to give us an exact and telling example of humility in the perfection of love, he put on an apron and washed the disciples’ feet.

So what about you, living entirely on your own? Whose feet will you wash? Whom will you follow to take the lowest place in humility? To whom will you offer brotherly service? How, in the home of a solitary, can you taste the joy that is evident where many live together?

The spiritual field of battle, the sure way of inner advancement, continual practice in the keeping of the commandments, this is what you will find in a community. It has the glory of God as its aim, in accordance with the word of the Lord Jesus: ‘Let your light so shine before your fellows that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.’ [Matt. 5:16]

What is more, community preserves that particular characteristic of the saints which is referred to in the Scriptures thus: ‘All who believed were together and had all things in common.’ [Acts 2:44] ‘The company of those who believed were of one heart and soul and no one said that any of the things which he possessed was his own, but they had everything in common.’ [Acts 4:32]

Cited from:

-Spidlik, Thomas. Drinking from the Hidden Fountain : A Patristic Breviary: Ancient Wisdom for Today’s World.

* above image: Theophanes the Greek. St. Basil the Great. c. 1405. Tempera on wood. 211 x 121 cm. Icon from the Deesis Range of the Iconostasis of the Annunciation Cathedral in the Moscow Kremlin, Moscow, Russia

St. John Leonardi, the Patron Saint of Pharmacists

St. John Leonardi, the patron saint of pharmacists. This Italian saint, the Pope taught, can show us that God's medicine, his son Jesus, “is the measure of all things.” John Leonardi was born at Diecimo, Italy. He became a pharmacist's assistant at Lucca, studied for the priesthood, and was ordained in 1572. He was canonized in 1938 by Pope Pius XI. His feast day is October 9th.

Thank God for our wonderful Catholic Church - and for the witness of the saints! The Patron saint of pharmacists teaches us about God's medicine, Pope says.

Grabbed out of CNA:

Vatican City, Oct 7, 2009 - During his Wednesday general audience, held for 40,000 people in St. Peter's Square, Pope Benedict XVI focused his catechesis on St. John Leonardi, the patron saint of pharmacists. This Italian saint, the Pope taught, can show us that God's medicine, his son Jesus, “is the measure of all things.”

St. John Leonardi, Pope Benedict recalled, was born in the Italian town of Diecimo in the year 1541. He studied pharmacology but abandoned it to focus on theology and was later ordained a priest.

Together with Monsignor Juan Vives and the Jesuit Martin de Funes he helped to found the Pontifical Urban College of Propaganda Fide, in which countless priests have been formed. Throughout his religious life, John Leonardi never lost his passion for pharmacology, convinced that "God's medicine, which is Jesus Christ Who was crucified and rose again, is the measure of all things," the Pope said.

The saint was also involved in advising a group of young people who in 1574 founded the Congregation of the Priests of the Blessed Virgin Reformed, later known as the Clerics Regular of the Mother of God.

Read more of the article HERE

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Our Lady of the Rosary


Jesus invited us to turn to God with insistence and the confidence that we will be heard: “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you” (Mt 7:7). The basis for this power of prayer is the goodness of the Father, but also the mediation of Christ himself (cf. 1Jn 2:1) and the working of the Holy Spirit who “intercedes for us” according to the will of God (cf. Rom 8:26-27). For “we do not know how to pray as we ought” (Rom 8:26), and at times we are not heard “because we ask wrongly” (cf. Jas 4:2-3).
In support of the prayer which Christ and the Spirit cause to rise in our hearts, Mary intervenes with her maternal intercession. “The prayer of the Church is sustained by the prayer of Mary”. If Jesus, the one Mediator, is the Way of our prayer, then Mary, his purest and most transparent reflection, shows us the Way. “Beginning with Mary's unique cooperation with the working of the Holy Spirit, the Churches developed their prayer to the Holy Mother of God, centering it on the person of Christ manifested in his mysteries”. At the wedding of Cana the Gospel clearly shows the power of Mary's intercession as she makes known to Jesus the needs of others: “They have no wine” (Jn 2:3).

The Rosary is both meditation and supplication. Insistent prayer to the Mother of God is based on confidence that her maternal intercession can obtain all things from the heart of her Son. She is “all-powerful by grace”, to use the bold expression, which needs to be properly understood, of Blessed Bartolo Longo in his Supplication to Our Lady. This is a conviction which, beginning with the Gospel, has grown ever more firm in the experience of the Christian people. The supreme poet Dante expresses it marvellously in the lines sung by Saint Bernard: “Lady, thou art so great and so powerful, that whoever desires grace yet does not turn to thee, would have his desire fly without wings”. When in the Rosary we plead with Mary, the sanctuary of the Holy Spirit (cf. Lk 1:35), she intercedes for us before the Father who filled her with grace and before the Son born of her womb, praying with us and for us.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Message from Nweke Kizito Chinedu

Nweke Kizito Chinedu is a seminarian originally from Nigeria and currently studying at the Pontifical University Heiligenkreuz near Vienna. He has a message for the Christians of Western Europe. The message does not only apply to Christians in Europe, but also to Christians in America.

This letter is out of Europe4Christ:

Why are you only a spectator?

Why don’t you get involved?

Why are you not proclaiming the truth?

An African Christian registers with horror the Anti-Christian climate in Europe and is astonished with what passivity European Christians accept that.

"In Western Europe, there has been a storm of critique on Christianity for a long time, an Anti-Christian trend. To have faith is seen as a pitiful situation. To say it gently, the majority of Christians waits helplessly and inactively for the total destruction of already wounded Christianity. I am not worried that the Church would not survive difficult situations (Mt 16:18) or that Christ would abandon his Church (Mt 28:20). But I worry about the degree of carelessness and apathy that Christians in Europe show in this difficult situation.

Christians meet the increasing wave of Anti-Christianity with total passivity. Because of the media, daily newspapers, magazines, TV and radio, people are on a daily basis confronted with ideologies that only deep faith and clear discernment can withstand. The question is: How do Christians react to this? What did they do until now?

I read daily newspapers and I am bewildered because of the eagerness with which journalists and editors make arbitrary statements, leap to illogical conclusions and criticize the Church in a hostile way. The passivity with which Christians react on these assaults is alarming.

Why do you observe instead of argue, defend and proclaim the truth from a rational point of view? Why not react on negative developments, especially when they turn into a dangerous ideology?

Now it is time to wake up, everyone in their way and in their environment! Let’s write! Let’s speak loudly! We have to prepare ourselves, because as Christ has already warned us: “...for the sons of this age are more shrewd in relation to their own kind than the sons of light...” (Lk 16:8)

It is not enough to wait for a miracle! We could not impede this development by waiting for a wonder from God. Why should He perform a miracle, when he already gave us the ability to act through faith and common sense?

Prayer is undeniably the first step that we have to make, but it is not enough. We have to act. We owe that to our descendants. People leave the church because they receive wrong answers to their questions. And they get these wrong answers from the wrong people.
An average Europeans who read daily newspapers probably will tend to lose their faith than remain a believer. It is time to let Christ lead us. Let everyone around you notice that there is a Christian. Where are you? What do you see? What do you hear? What do you know? Speak aloud! Our silence is our pain."
Kizito Chinedu Nweke


* above image of Vienna

Monday, October 5, 2009

Revenge by Taha Muhammad Ali

In September 2006, I attended the Geraldine Dodge Poetry Festival in Waterloo Village, New Jersey. Waterloo Village is like Colonial Williamsburg, only on a much smaller scale. There is an old Church, Grist Mill, Saw Mill, remnants of the old Morris Canal. The festival usually takes place in the fall, when the air is clean and cool, and the colors of the leaves are striking. I am drawn to poetry in the autumn time of year - when the smell of dying leaves and woodsmoke wake you up and let you know - there is a change - in the season - and in you.

One of the poets presented at this last festival was Taha Muhammad Ali. With the help of an interpreter, he recited his poem "Revenge." For me it was the highlight of the festival. This poem is powerful - it speaks volumes. I would like to know if it moves you as it does me.

REVENGE by Taha Muhammad Ali

At times … I wish
I could meet in a duel
the man who killed my father
and razed our home,
expelling me
a narrow country.
And if he killed me,
I’d rest at last,
and if I were ready—
I would take my revenge!


But if it came to light,
when my rival appeared,
that he had a mother
waiting for him,
or a father who’d put
his right hand over
the heart’s place in his chest
whenever his son was late
even by just a quarter-hour
for a meeting they’d set—
then I would not kill him,
even if I could.


Likewise … I
would not murder him
if it were soon made clear
that he had a brother or sisters
who loved him and constantly longed to see him.
Or if he had a wife to greet him
and children who
couldn’t bear his absence
and whom his gifts would thrill.
Or if he had
friends or companions,
neighbors he knew
or allies from prison
or a hospital room,
or classmates from his school …
asking about him
and sending him regards.


But if he turned
out to be on his own—
cut off like a branch from a tree—
without a mother or father,
with neither a brother nor sister,
wifeless, without a child,
and without kin or neighbors or friends,
colleagues or companions,
then I’d add not a thing to his pain
within that aloneness—
not the torment of death,
and not the sorrow of passing away.
Instead I’d be content
to ignore him when I passed him by
on the street—as I
convinced myself
that paying him no attention
in itself was a kind of revenge.

April 15, 2006

Trappist Monk Maria Rafael Arnaiz Baron to be Canonized

Blessed Rafael Arnaiz Baron, Spanish oblate friar of the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance (Trappist. On October 11th in St. Peter's Square, Blessed Rafael Arnaiz Baron will be canonized by Pope Benedict XVI.

The Trappists hold a special place in my heart.The following article out of "Agenzia Fides" caught my eye - as I will be on retreat next week at a Cistercian Monastery.

EUROPE/SPAIN - “Seek the Face of God”: Pastoral Letter to the Youth on the occasion of the canonization of Trappist monk Maria Rafael Arnaiz Baron

Madrid (Agenzia Fides) - “Seek the Face of God” is the title of the Pastoral Letter that seven Spanish Bishops have written to the youth “in age and in spirit,” in light of the canonization of Trappist monk Maria Rafael Arnaiz Baron, which will take place on October 11 in Saint Peter's Square in Rome. The letter was signed by: Archbishop Francisco Hellín of Burgos, Bishop José Ignacio Munilla of Palencia, Bishop Ricardo Blázquez of Bilbao, Bishop Rafael Palmero of Orihuela-Alicante, Bishop Francisco Cerro of Cória-Cáceres, Bishop Manuel Sánchez of Mondoñedo-Ferrol, and Bishop Gerardo Melgar of Osma-Soria, all of whom are from places in someway linked to the saint's origins. Their hope is that the example of this religious brother can “illumine and strengthen the spirituality of Christians” in the youth, so that they may become, like the Blessed, “testimonies of Christ in today's world.”

The testimony of the young Trappist monk, the Bishops write, “leads us to strive for holiness in our particular vocation.” In fact, “the Church presents Brother Rafael as a model to be imitated, not to slavishly copy every aspect of his life, but to enlighten us in discerning the paths that God has marked out for us,” they added. If we more or less follow models, they can “be of little relevance or they can elevate us and urge us on. An ideal of little relevance produces a life of little relevance and and a holy ideal produces holy men and women. Rafael's model was none other than Jesus Christ,” the signers of the Letter said. It was for Him that the Blessed “renounced everything, his refined tastes, his affections, his vanity, his plans,” and became capable of “confronting difficult farewells in order to follow his vocation, embrace the impossible dream of becoming a monk, accepting an illness without a cure.”

This total adherence to Christ that Blessed Rafael undertook “is not an aspect of an entire life, but its essence, it was his life.” In fact, the Eucharist was for him “the center of irresistible attraction,” along with “the mother of Jesus, Mary.”

Read more of the article HERE

Friday, October 2, 2009

The Virgin of Suyapa, Patroness of Honduras

The Virgin of Suyapa (Spanish: Virgen de Suyapa) is an 18th-century statue of the Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus Christ. The statue, also known as the Our Lady of Suyapa (Spanish: Nuestra Señora de Suyapa), is perhaps Honduras' most popular religious image, and the focus of an extensive pilgrimage. The statue is kept in Suyapa, a suburb of the capital Tegucigalpa, and toured through various other parts of the country each year in early February. Many thousands of people from all over Central America make pilgrimages to visit the statue on her name day, February 3rd, a commemoration of the day she was found. The statue has been stolen and then recovered on two occasions.

Here is a good article written by Nicholas Casey of the Wall Street Journal. The politicians in Honduras need some help with their political woes. So now they are seeking some "divine intervention." Maybe this a good idea!

When All Else Fails, Nation Turns To the Virgin of Suyapa for a Miracle

SUYAPA, Honduras -- In the past three months, a slew of Latin American presidents, foreign ministers, ambassadors and even a Nobel Peace Prize winner, have failed to find a solution to the political standoff that has split Honduras. Now, many despairing Hondurans say, may be time for a little divine intervention.

So every day, more and more Hondurans are calling on the Virgin of Suyapa, a 3-inch statuette of the Virgin Mary, made of dark wood and nicknamed La Morenita, or the Little Dark One, for help. Over the centuries, La Morenita, which was found on a hillside in 1747 and now makes its home at a small whitewashed colonial church near the capital, has been credited with sundry miracles, from curing kidney stones to ending a brief war.

"I've asked her to intervene," said Abad Zelaya, 42 years old, a pharmacist and no relation to ousted President Manuel Zelaya, who has been holed up in the Brazilian embassy for more than a week since he sneaked back into Tegucigalpa. Mr. Zelaya's ouster three months ago has led many countries, including the U.S., to suspend aid to one of the hemisphere's poorest countries.

"The Virgin can perform this miracle," said Gustavo Sauceda, a teacher waiting in a long line to pray to the Virgin, the patroness of Honduras and its armed forces. "She has resolved some of our people's largest problems in the past, and she can fix what's happening now."

HERE for the rest of the story

Feast of the Guardian Angels

Today is the Feast of the Guardian Angels. Let us thank God for giving us these special friends, who guide and protect us - each and every moment of our lives.

From Saint of the Day...

Perhaps no aspect of Catholic piety is as comforting to parents as the belief that an angel protects their little ones from dangers real and imagined. Yet guardian angels are not just for children. Their role is to represent individuals before God, to watch over them always, to aid their prayer and to present their souls to God at death.

The concept of an angel assigned to guide and nurture each human being is a development of Catholic doctrine and piety based on Scripture but not directly drawn from it. Jesus' words in Matthew 18:10 best support the belief: "See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father."

Devotion to the angels began to develop with the birth of the monastic tradition. St. Benedict gave it impetus and Bernard of Clairvaux, the great 12th-century reformer, was such an eloquent spokesman for the guardian angels that angelic devotion assumed its current form in his day.

A feast in honor of the guardian angels was first observed in the 16th century. In 1615, Pope Paul V added it to the Roman calendar.

The concept of an unseen companion has given rise to many childish titters about leaving room for an angel in a crowded seat and teacher-induced terrors about the danger of sudden death for a child who fails to honor the angel with prayer. But devotion to the angels is, at base, an expression of faith in God's enduring love and providential care extended to each person day in and day out until life's end.

"May the angels lead you into paradise;
may the martyrs come to welcome you
and take you to the holy city,
the new and eternal Jerusalem."

Thursday, October 1, 2009

October is Here!

October is here! The month of the Rosary, month of my birthday! Fall is in the air. The vivid colors of this month proclaim God the Father as Creator. God's first Revelation is creation - and creation is sacrament. Enjoy the grace!

Here is a great song by Cheryl Wheeler, "When fall comes to New England." I hope you enjoy it!

When Fall Comes To New England

Words And Music By Cheryl Wheeler

When fall comes to New England
The sun slants in so fine
And the air's so clear
You can almost hear the grapes grow on the vine

The nights are sharp with starlight
And the days are cool and clean
And in the blue sky overhead
The northern geese fly south instead
And leaves are Irish Setter red
When fall comes to New England

When fall comes to New England
And the wind blows off the sea
Swallows fly in a perfect sky
And the world was meant to be

When the acorns line the walkways
Then winter can't be far
From yellow leaves a blue jay calls
Grandmothers Walk Out In Their Shawl
And Chipmunks Run The Old Stone Walls
When fall comes to New England

The frost is on the pumpkin
The squash is off the vine
And winter warnings race across the sky
The squirrels are on to something
And they're working overtime
The foxes blink and stare and so do I

'Cause when fall comes to New England
Oh I can't turn away
From fading light on flying wings
And late good-byes a robin sings
And then another thousand things
When fall comes to New England

When fall comes to New England