Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Remarks of Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York at Saint Patrick´s Cathedral



Remarks of Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York at Saint Patrick´s Cathedral in New York on Sunday, March 28, 2010.

"The father of our family, il papa, needs our love, support, and prayers."

"May I ask your patience a couple of minutes longer in what has already been a lengthy — yet hopefully uplifting —Sunday Mass?

"The somberness of Holy Week is intensified for Catholics this year.

"The recent tidal wave of headlines about abuse of minors by some few priests, this time in Ireland, Germany, and a re-run of an old story from Wisconsin, has knocked us to our knees once again.

"Anytime this horror, vicious sin, and nauseating crime is reported, as it needs to be, victims and their families are wounded again, the vast majority of faithful priests bow their heads in shame anew, and sincere Catholics experience another dose of shock, sorrow, and even anger.

"What deepens the sadness now is the unrelenting insinuations against the Holy Father himself, as certain sources seem frenzied to implicate the man who, perhaps more than anyone else has been the leader in purification, reform, and renewal that the Church so needs.

"Sunday Mass is hardly the place to document the inaccuracy, bias, and hyperbole of such aspersions.

"But, Sunday Mass is indeed the time for Catholics to pray for " . . . Benedict our Pope."

"And Palm Sunday Mass is sure a fitting place for us to express our love and solidarity for our earthly shepherd now suffering some of the same unjust accusations, shouts of the mob, and scourging at the pillar, as did Jesus.

"No one has been more vigorous in cleansing the Church of the effects of this sickening sin than the man we now call Pope Benedict XVI. The dramatic progress that the Catholic Church in the United States has made — — documented again just last week by the report made by independent forensic auditors — — could never have happened without the insistence and support of the very man now being daily crowned with thorns by groundless innuendo.

"Does the Church and her Pastor, Pope Benedict XVI, need intense scrutiny and just criticism for tragic horrors long past?

"Yes! He himself has asked for it, encouraging complete honesty, at the same time expressing contrition, and urging a thorough cleansing.

"All we ask is that it be fair, and that the Catholic Church not be singled-out for a horror that has cursed every culture, religion, organization, institution, school, agency, and family in the world.

"Sorry to bring this up … but, then again, the Eucharist is the Sunday meal of the spiritual family we call the Church. At Sunday dinner we share both joys and sorrows. The father of our family, il papa, needs our love, support, and prayers."

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Trappist Abbey - Matins


When the full fields begin to smell of sunrise
And the valleys sing in their sleep,
The pilgrim moon pours over the solemn darkness
Her waterfalls of silence,
And then departs, up the long avenue of trees.

The stars hide, in the glade, their light, like tears,
And tremble where some train runs, lost,
Baying in eastward mysteries of distance,
Where fire flares, somewhere, over a sink of cities.

Now kindle in the windows of this ladyhouse, my soul,
Your childish, clear awakeness:
Burn in the country night
Your wise and sleepless lamp.
For, from the frowning tower, the windy belfry,
Sudden the bells come, bridegrooms,
And fill the echoing dark with love and fear.

Wake in the windows of Gethsemani, my soul, my sister,
for the past years, with smoky torches, come,
Bringing betrayal from the burning world
And bloodying the glade with pitch flame.

Wake in the cloisters of the lonely night, my soul, my sister,
Where the apostles gather, who were, one time, scattered,
And mourn God’s blood in the place of His betrayal,
And weep with Peter at the triple cock-crow.

from Thirty Poems, 1944e Thomas Merton


* Image > Abbey Cross©bjm

Sunday, March 28, 2010

A Message from Pope Benedict XVI to the Catholics of Ireland


Here is an excerpt from the Pastoral Letter of the Holy Father to the Catholics of Ireland. You will find the complete text HERE.

To all the faithful of Ireland

A young person’s experience of the Church should always bear fruit in a personal and life-giving encounter with Jesus Christ within a loving, nourishing community. In this environment, young people should be encouraged to grow to their full human and spiritual stature, to aspire to high ideals of holiness, charity and truth, and to draw inspiration from the riches of a great religious and cultural tradition. In our increasingly secularized society, where even we Christians often find it difficult to speak of the transcendent dimension of our existence, we need to find new ways to pass on to young people the beauty and richness of friendship with Jesus Christ in the communion of his Church. In confronting the present crisis, measures to deal justly with individual crimes are essential, yet on their own they are not enough: a new vision is needed, to inspire present and future generations to treasure the gift of our common faith. By treading the path marked out by the Gospel, by observing the commandments and by conforming your lives ever more closely to the figure of Jesus Christ, you will surely experience the profound renewal that is so urgently needed at this time. I invite you all to persevere along this path.


* above image "Irish home altar" ©bjm

Palm Sunday


The Gospel according to Luke 19:28-40

Blessings on him who comes in the name of the Lord.
Jesus went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. Now when he was near Bethphage and Bethany, close by the Mount of Olives as it is called, he sent two of the disciples, telling them, ‘Go off to the village opposite, and as you enter it you will find a tethered colt that no one has yet ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, “Why are you untying it?” you are to say this, “The Master needs it”.’
The messengers went off and found everything just as he had told them. As they were untying the colt, its owner said, ‘Why are you untying that colt?’ and they answered, ‘The Master needs it.’

So they took the colt to Jesus, and throwing their garments over its back they helped Jesus on to it. As he moved off, people spread their cloaks in the road, and now, as he was approaching the downward slope of the Mount of Olives, the whole group of disciples joyfully began to praise God at the top of their voices for all the miracles they had seen. They cried out:

‘Blessings on the King who comes,
in the name of the Lord!
Peace in heaven
and glory in the highest heavens!’

Some Pharisees in the crowd said to him, ‘Master, check your disciples,’ but he answered, ‘I tell you, if these keep silence the stones will cry out.’


Almighty and ever living God,
in your tender love for the human race
you sent your Son our Savior Jesus Christ to take upon him our nature,
and to suffer death upon the cross, giving us the example of his great humility:
Mercifully grant that we may walk in the way of his suffering,
and also share in his resurrection; through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God,
for ever and ever. Amen.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Bart Stupak - The New Judas - by Paul Nichols




* posted with the permission of Paul Nichols

Annunciation of the Lord



The feast of the Annunciation goes back to the fourth or fifth century. Its central focus is the Incarnation: God has become one of us. From all eternity God had decided that the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity should become human. Now, as Luke 1:26-38 tells us, the decision is being realized. The God-Man embraces all humanity, indeed all creation, to bring it to God in one great act of love. Because human beings have rejected God, Jesus will accept a life of suffering and an agonizing death: No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends (John 15:13).

Mary has an important role to play in God's plan. From all eternity God destined her to be the mother of Jesus and closely related to him in the creation and redemption of the world. We could say that God's decrees of creation and redemption are joined in the decree of Incarnation. As Mary is God's instrument in the Incarnation, she has a role to play with Jesus in creation and redemption. It is a God-given role. It is God's grace from beginning to end. Mary becomes the eminent figure she is only by God's grace. She is the empty space where God could act. Everything she is she owes to the Trinity.

She is the virgin-mother who fulfills Isaiah 7:14 in a way that Isaiah could not have imagined. She is united with her son in carrying out the will of God (Psalm 40:8-9; Hebrews 10:7-9; Luke 1:38).

Together with Jesus, the privileged and graced Mary is the link between heaven and earth. She is the human being who best, after Jesus, exemplifies the possibilities of human existence. She received into her lowliness the infinite love of God. She shows how an ordinary human being can reflect God in the ordinary circumstances of life. She exemplifies what the Church and every member of the Church is meant to become. She is the ultimate product of the creative and redemptive power of God. She manifests what the Incarnation is meant to accomplish for all of us.


Angelus

The Angel of the Lord declared to Mary:
And she conceived of the Holy Spirit.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Behold the handmaid of the Lord: Be it done unto me according to Thy word.

Hail Mary . . .

And the Word was made Flesh: And dwelt among us.

Hail Mary . . .

Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray:

Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts; that we, to whom the incarnation of Christ, Thy Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His Resurrection, through the same Christ Our Lord.

Amen.


* Above image > The Annunciation 1430-32 Tempera on wood, 154 x 194 cm Museo del Prado, Madrid

** Annunciation information - Saint of the Day

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Forgiveness and Mercy




On October 2nd, 2006, Charles Carl Roberts, a milk truck driver, walked into an Amish one-room schoolhouse in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania, killing five children- after which he took his own life. It was a tragedy of such proportion that there were very few people in America, or in the world, who had not heard the news that day. I recall, while working in the office, most of the sentiment I heard was anger and revenge, not forgiveness. Obviously revenge was not an option, as Mr. Roberts committed suicide.

But for the Amish, especially those directly affected, there was another issue. On the day of the killing, a grandfather of one of the murdered children was heard warning some young relatives “Do not hate the killer.” “He had a mother, a wife, a soul.” Now he stands before a just God.” Only hours after the shooting, the Amish community visited and comforted Mr. Robert’s widow, parents, and in-laws. The Amish community set up a charitable fund for Mr. Robert’s family. Marie Roberts, the murderer’s wife, wrote an open letter to her Amish neighbors thanking them for their forgiveness, grace, and mercy. The news of the Amish forgiveness swept across America, as if forgiveness was unthinkable. Deeply rooted in the Anabaptist, being Amish Mennonite tradition is the Christ Like answer – the answer to violence is non-violence, the answer to hatred is love, and the answer to evil is to do good.


In 1902, an 11 year old farm girl, while sewing, was grabbed by an eighteen year old who tried to rape her. After refusing to submit to his violence, the attacker stabbed her with a knife. As she lay in the hospital, she forgave her attacker before she died. After 27 years in prison, the attacker was released. He went directly to Maria's mother to beg her forgiveness, which she gave. "If my daughter can forgive him, who am I to withhold forgiveness," she said. The young girl’s name is Maria Goretti, now a Canonized Saint.

The Amish community, young Maria Goretti and her mother – all manifest clearly what it means to be “In Christ.” to be like Jesus, who is forgiving and merciful. Some say that unforgiveness is just human nature. Not so. Unforgiveness is a symptom of our fallen nature, resulting from that first sin so long ago. Jesus is the perfect man – this is what we Christians must strive to be. To understand the forgiveness of the Cross, we must learn to forgive. If we do not learn forgiveness, how can we ever know what God has done for us. Recently, I read an interesting line from a Catholic blog that makes so much sense. “The person who has forgiven a grievous wrong done to them understands what the cross means better than a thousand theologians.”

How are we to learn to forgive? The first and most important answer is “prayer.” Maybe the only prayer we can offer is to ask God for the grace to want to forgive. We can meditate on the word of God often, taking the message into our hearts. In John’s Gospel Jesus teaches us to “love one another as I have loved you.” (John 15:12)

In the familiar Gospel from Luke, The Prodigal Son, we hear Jesus’ story of unconditional love. There are many aspects to the story – a younger son who is hardheaded, having to leave home – taking his inheritance with him. He loses all he has – then after a time of poverty, he comes to his senses. He returns home, seeks forgiveness and receives forgiveness from his loving father. Then there is an older son, jealous of the love his father gives to his young brother – the one who squandered everything. Who is this story really about, the returning son? No. It is about the father – a father who offers unconditional love. Who is the father Jesus speaks of in His parable? This is Our Father - Who art in heaven. And even though we are unworthy sinners, Our Father offers us forgiveness, grace and mercy every moment of our lives.

Our Father asks us to do the same. To offer that same mercy - to ourselves, and to our neighbor. He wants and expects us to forgive. Without our forgiveness and mercy, our world will have no peace, we will find no peace in our homes.

Let us pray to the Father and ask him for all the grace necessary to change our hearts, to change our minds, to imitate His mind. Let us trust in His love. Let us learn to forgive as we have been forgiven.

Monday, March 22, 2010

It's Raining Again

It's raining again - outside my window I can hear the drops falling. They are heavy, on my roof, on my window. It's always raining......

Some time ago I put together a post about "the rain." I went back to it today.

If you get a chance, check it out....

Click HERE for The Rain

Mary, Mother of God - Pray For Us







With a hymn composed in the eighth or ninth century, thus for over a thousand years, the Church has greeted Mary, the Mother of God, as “Star of the Sea”: Ave maris stella. Human life is a journey. Towards what destination? How do we find the way? Life is like a voyage on the sea of history, often dark and stormy, a voyage in which we watch for the stars that indicate the route. The true stars of our life are the people who have lived good lives. They are lights of hope. Certainly, Jesus Christ is the true light, the sun that has risen above all the shadows of history. But to reach him we also need lights close by—people who shine with his light and so guide us along our way. Who more than Mary could be a star of hope for us? With her “yes” she opened the door of our world to God himself; she became the living Ark of the Covenant, in whom God took flesh, became one of us, and pitched his tent among us (cf. Jn 1:14).


* ENCYCLICAL LETTER SPE SALVI OF THE SUPREME PONTIFF BENEDICT XVI

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Fr. Frank Pavone - The Health Care Vote and Abortion



Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director, Priests for Life

Open Letter to Congress: The Health Care Vote and Abortion

March 20, 2010

Dear Members of Congress,

As you prepare to cast your vote on health care reform, abortion again has emerged as a momentous and defining issue in this debate. Some consider it a distraction or an unwanted obstacle to authentic health care reform. But the fact is that the abortion debate is bigger and more important than the health care reform debate, and the apparent inability of our nation to avoid wrestling with the abortion issue is another sign that until we resolve the abortion debate the right way, we will not be able to make the progress we need to make on health care or any other matter of social justice or human rights.

Today, therefore, along with countless other Americans, I urge you not to try to look beyond the abortion debate, but to look at it directly, to wrestle with it honestly, and to realize that it is the question that surpasses all others, because it involves the principle that underlies all others.

As a public servant, you are responsible to know the difference between serving the public and killing the public. The first responsibility of government is the protection of human life. To fail to do this is to fail to serve. To violate the right to life is to fail to protect every human right, including health care.

The service that we are all called to carry out to humanity embraces life at every stage and in every circumstance. To fail to respect a human life at any stage of its development is to break the principle that holds it sacred at every stage of its development.

That is why one may never use our duty to life at one stage to justify destroying it at another. Some have tried to do this in the health care debate, by their willingness to expand child killing in the process of helping adults get medical treatment. This approach is self defeating, because as soon as we tolerate the killing of children, we undercut every rationale to provide health care to both children and adults.

Despite the views of some in political office, abortion is not an aspect of health care. In fact, this destructive and violent act does not even deserve the name “medical procedure.” After all, a medical procedure is supposed to help the body to do what it is trying to do, but is having trouble doing. Abortion is just the opposite: it stops the body from doing what it is supposed to do and is doing very well. And in stopping the life of the child within by an unnatural and cruel method, it introduces numerous complications for the health of the mother. Abortion is not health care, it is not respectable, and it deserves the same kind of rejection by society as slavery, segregation, and terrorism.

We who are part of the vast pro-life movement in America call upon you, our legislators, and all our fellow citizens to listen carefully to what the practitioners of abortion say about the procedure itself.

Abortionist Martin Haskell, in describing, under oath, the suction curettage abortion procedure, said , “The fetus passes through the catheter and either dies in transit as it’s passing through the catheter or dies in the suction bottle after it’s actually all the way out” (1).

The same abortionist describes the D and E procedure by saying, “We would attack the lower part of the lower extremity first, remove, you know, possibly a foot, then the lower leg at the knee and then finally we get to the hip … Typically the skull is brought out in fragments rather than as a unified piece…" (2)

Abortionist Warren Hern writes in his medical textbook Abortion Practice, “A long curved Mayo scissors may be necessary to decapitate and dismember the fetus…" (p.154).

We ask you, our legislators: When you say the word abortion, is this what you mean? Is this the kind of activity you want to fund?

We in the pro-life movement also listen to and give voice to the women and men who have lost children to abortion. Their experiences, shared through the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, draw attention to the physical and psychological damage abortion does. These are voices we cannot ignore.

Some prefer to ignore, trivialize, or relativize abortion. Others, represented by the pro-life movement, declare not only that it is wrong, but that it is a show-stopper, a deal-breaker.

It is a show-stopper precisely because the principle it breaks is the show-starter for every effort and struggle on behalf of human rights, including the great experiment in freedom and self-governance that is the United States of America.

As Pope John Paul II explained, "The common outcry, which is justly made on behalf of human rights -- for example, the right to health, to home, to work, to family, to culture -- is false and illusory if the right to life, the most basic and fundamental right and the condition for all other personal rights, is not defended with maximum determination" (3).

The United States Catholic bishops expressed it this way: “Any politics of human dignity must seriously address issues of racism, poverty, hunger, employment, education, housing, and health care. … But being 'right' in such matters can never excuse a wrong choice regarding direct attacks on innocent human life. Indeed, the failure to protect and defend life in its most vulnerable stages renders suspect any claims to the 'rightness' of positions in other matters affecting the poorest and least powerful of the human community. If we understand the human person as the "temple of the Holy Spirit" -- the living house of God -- then these latter issues fall logically into place as the crossbeams and walls of that house. All direct attacks on innocent human life, such as abortion and euthanasia, strike at the house's foundation. These directly and immediately violate the human person's most fundamental right the right to life. Neglect of these issues is the equivalent of building our house on sand” (4).

Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, when he was Archbishop of Chicago, explained “the consistent ethic of life,” showing that issues like health care are connected to issues like abortion and every other issue. He also explained, "A consistent ethic of life does not equate the problem of taking life (e.g., through abortion and in war) with the problem of promoting human dignity (through humane programs of nutrition, health care, and housing). But a consistent ethic identifies both the protection of life and its promotion as moral questions” (5) He also said, "The fundamental human right is to life—from the moment of conception until death. It is the source of all other rights, including the right to health care" (6).

Today, you stand again in the crosshairs of this debate whether you choose to or not. Some will continue to dismiss our concerns. Others will echo them, declaring that we can no more pay for the destruction of innocent children weeks after their life begins than we can do so years after their life begins.

Today, you have the opportunity to decide whether you will contribute to our nation’s blindness about abortion, or whether you will be part of a new awakening, by which our nation will see the abortion debate as the civil rights issue of our time and again apply its founding principles to its youngest citizens.

Fr. Frank Pavone,
National Director, Priests for Life
President, National Pro-life Religious Council

(1) Sworn testimony given in US District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin (Madison, WI, May 27, 1999, Case No. 98-C-0305-S), by Dr. Martin Haskell, an abortionist. He describes legal activity.

(2) Sworn testimony given in US District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin (Madison, WI, May 27, 1999, Case No. 98-C-0305-S), by Dr. Martin Haskell, an abortionist. He describes legal activity.

(3) Christifideles Laici, 1988

(4) Living the Gospel of Life n. 23, 1998

(5) A Consistent Ethic of Life: Continuing the Dialogue, The William Wade Lecture Series, St. Louis University, March 11, 1984.

(6) The Consistent Ethic of Life and Health Care Systems, Foster McGaw Triennial Conference, Loyola University of Chicago, May 8, 1985.

Priests for Life
PO Box 141172
Staten Island, NY 10314
P:718-980-4400
F: 718-980-6515
mail@priestsforlife.org

Friday, March 19, 2010

A Quote For Today by Fr. Louis, O.C.S.O./Trappists









There are crimes which no one would commit as an individual which he willingly and bravely commits when acting in the name of his society, because he has been (too easily) convinced that evil is entirely different when it is done ‘for the common good.’ As an example, one might point to the way in which racial hatreds and even persecution are admitted by people who consider themselves, and perhaps in some sense are, king, tolerant, civilized and even humane. But they have acquired a special deformity of conscience as a result of their identification with their group, their immersion in their particular society. This deformation is the price they pay to forget and to exorcise that solitude which seems to them to be a demon. “ - from Disputed Questions

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patrick's Day !



God our Father,
you sent Saint Patrick to preach your glory to the people of Ireland.
By the help of his prayers,
may all Christians proclaim your love to all men.
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

In Remembrance




The Foggy Dew

I was down the glen one Easter morn
To a city fair rode I.
There armed lines of marching men
In squadrons passed me by.
No pipe did hum, no battle drum did sound its loud tattoo.
But the Angelus Bells o'er the Liffey swells rang out in the foggy dew.

Right proudly high in Dublin town
Hung they out a flag of war.
'Twas better to die 'neath that Irish sky
than at Sulva or Sud el Bar.
And from the plains of Royal Meath
strong men came hurrying through
While Brittania's huns with their long range guns
sailed in through the foggy dew.

Their bravest fell and the requiem bell
rang mournfully and clear
For those who died that Eastertide in the
springing of the year.
While the world did gaze with deep amaze
at those fearless men but few.
Who bore the fight that freedom's light
Might shine through the foggy dew.

And back through the glen
I rode again.
And my heart with grief was sore.
For I parted then with valiant men
Whom I never shall see n'more.
But to and fro in my dreams I go
And I kneel and pray for you.
For slavery fled the glorious dead
when you fell in the foggy dew.

Performed by Sinead O'Connor and the Chieftans
Writer : James McNally

Blessed Teresa - Abortion Is The Greatest Destoyer Of Peace !




But I feel that the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child, a direct killing of the innocent child, murder by the mother herself. And if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another? How do we persuade a woman not to have an abortion? As always, we must persuade her with love and we remind ourselves that love means to be willing to give until it hurts. Jesus gave even His life to love us. So, the mother who is thinking of abortion, should be helped to love, that is, to give until it hurts her plans, or her free time, to respect the life of her child. The father of that child, whoever he is, must also give until it hurts.

By abortion, the mother does not learn to love, but kills even her own child to solve her problems. And, by abortion, that father is told that he does not have to take any responsibility at all for the child he has brought into the world. The father is likely to put other women into the same trouble. So abortion just leads to more abortion. Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want. This is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion.

Many people are very, very concerned with the children of India, with the children of Africa where quite a few die of hunger, and so on. Many people are also concerned about all the violence in this great country of the United States. These concerns are very good. But often these same people are not concerned with the millions who are being killed by the deliberate decision of their own mothers. And this is what is the greatest destroyer of peace today — abortion which brings people to such blindness.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Who is Saint Patrick?



St. Patrick - A man of prayer, spiritual depth, unresting piety by Dermot Quinn

At this time of year, when every meal seems to be corned beef and cabbage and every drink a foaming pint of Guinness, spare a thought for the man we celebrate and the country he brought to Christ. Saint Patrick lived over 1500 years ago and is surely not forgotten today but he is still, somehow, the saint that everyone claims and the man that no one really knows. That is a pity, because to make his acquaintance is to meet an extraordinary human being.

Historians have been fighting over him for ages. Even the simplest things—his date and place of birth, his length of life, his years in Ireland—still produce good-natured scholarly squabbles.

Most authors have him born around 390 and dying around 460, spending roughly 30 years in Ireland. But one or two will place him a generation after that, perhaps dying as late as the 490s. We will probably never know for sure. The fighting Irish will fight about anything, even about the man who preached a gospel of peace.

In the absence of fact, legend takes over. The Patrick we commemorate today—the banisher of snakes, the wielder of shamrocks, the bishop with a beard and crosier—is a largely mythic figure. He was invented to symbolize a certain kind of Irish Catholicism and so, for centuries, he has remained.

Even during his life, and soon after his death, his achievements were being crusted over by myth. Within a couple of centuries, biography had given way to hagiography. By the early 17th century, when an Irish Franciscan called Luke Wadding persuaded Church authorities to include his feast day in the universal liturgical calendar, he was a fully fledged “National Apostle.” Now he is an excuse (if excuse were needed) for a party. The man has all but disappeared. Even the saint is hard to see. He has become, instead, a kind of trademark, a greeting card, a blur of green and gold. Soon he may be listed on Wall Street.

Most of this is innocent, of course. Here in New Jersey, the party has been going on for a long time, with few adverse consequences. In March 1780 George Washington, encamped in Morristown with an army bored to the point of mutiny, held a Saint Patrick’s Day Ball which, he hoped, would be conducted “with the least rioting or disorder.” In Jersey City in 1865, “the citizens (witnessed) the processions of the various Irish American associations of our city,” wrote a correspondent to The Daily News, and “in the evening, the more youthful and jovial (participated) in the grand Irish National Ball.” And so it has continued to the present. “We implore you to give us the right to eat meat at this (Saint Patrick’s Day) luncheon,” telegrammed one West Orange group to Archbishop Thomas Walsh in 1950. They need hardly have worried. It would have needed a reinforced miter to refuse.

But it is odd, all the same, to notice this distance between the man and the myth. For one thing, the legendary Patrick is not an especially attractive figure. In most accounts, he comes across as a somewhat imperious magician, more of a druid than a disciple of Christ. For another thing, the real Patrick, the Patrick of history, is a far more compelling figure—a man of prayer, of spiritual depth, of anguished and unresting piety. He is a saint for the modern world as much as for the dark and troubled world of the late Roman Empire.

“I am Patrick, a sinner, the most unlearned of men.” Those opening lines of his confession set the tone of his life and of his mission. As you read that confession, you know it is not false modesty. He really did think himself a man of poor learning and poor Latin, painfully inadequate to the task ahead of him. He knew one book inside out—the Bible—and that became his shield through all difficulties. Otherwise, he was more saint than scholar.

He had no particular reason to love Ireland. He was not even Irish. He was brought to that western wilderness against his will as a young man and for six years was a captive, a swineherd, an adolescent alone in the world.

Yet that captivity deepened his faith. “The love of God increased in me,” he wrote, “so that in the woods and on the mountains and even before the dawn I was roused to prayer and felt no hurt from it.”

And when his days of slavery were over, he still felt, he said, the “call of the Irish”; the need to be back among those who had taken his youth away from him. And so, returning to preach the Gospel, his very inarticulacy became a kind of eloquence. “The stammering tongues shall quickly learn to speak peace,” he wrote. “How much more should we earnestly strive to do this, we who are, so Scripture says, a letter of Christ for salvation even to the utmost ends of the earth?” And in this strange, magnificent outpost, three things grew greater in him: his love of Ireland, his love of Christ, and his love of the Irish in whom he could see Christ.

That love of Ireland and her people was, at root, a love of the world. It was also a love of the world’s triune creator, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Saint Patrick’s hymn to the Trinity—his breastplate—has a brilliant vividness.

For a man who insisted on his unlearnedness, he was not as inarticulate as he thought. For a slave, he was as free as the air. For an exile, he longed for his true home, in heaven. For one who was mocked and derided, he was full of gratitude.
That is the person who has prompted a thousand parades. When the last glass is lifted, when the banners are put away for another year, we should think of him again in the quietness of the night. Saint, apostle and man of peace, Patrick is worthy of our celebrations. Let us hope our celebrations are worthy of him.

A blessing on the Munster people, he once preached:

Men, youths and women;
A blessing on the land
That yields them fruit.
A blessing on every treasure
Produced on their plains
God’s blessing be on Munster.
A blessing on their peaks
And on their flagstones
A blessing on their glens
And on their valleys
On slopes and plains,
On mountains and hills,
A blessing.

You can open and print this article HERE

Dermot Quinn, Ph.D., is professor of history at Seton Hall University, South Orange. He is author of “The Irish in New Jersey: Four Centuries of American Life.”
Above image - Holy Water Font "Cruach Phádraig." ©bjm

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Sign of the Cross





The Sign of the Cross – A Reflection

Today I attended Holy Mass at a lovely Church in Yonkers, New York. As I walked into the Church, I proceeded down the center isle towards the baptismal font. I placed my fingers into the cool water and proceeded to bless myself with the sign of the cross, praying “In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.”

Catholics have practiced this gesture for generations. My grammar school teachers, the Franciscan Missionary Sisters, taught me as a very young child how to pray the Sign of the Cross. Every day, before morning class, we began with the Sign. At the end of class, we prayed the Sign. The practice was drilled into me and my classmates at such an early age; it has become a good habit.

This holy gesture proclaims that we are members of a Christian community of believers, predominately Catholic, members of the Body of Christ. Today, after receiving Eucharist at Holy Mass, I walked back to my pew, knelt down, and watched my community of believers receiving our Lord, each following with the sign of the cross. The scene was emotional. It affirmed my belief, the Church is my home; these men and women here are my brothers and sisters.

The Three Persons of the Trinity live in relationship with each other. The Sign of the Cross reminds us of this relationship. As we bless ourselves, we praise God in all his Glory; we thank him for his outpouring of love for us on the cross, and we enter the very mystery of the Trinity.

Within the Trinity there is interconnection and interdependence. So too in our own community. Catholics are connected by common beliefs, such as the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, a belief that Mary, the Virgin Mother of God, was born without sin and was assumed into heaven. We recognize each other by our love of neighbor, displayed by corporal and spiritual acts of mercy, by our compassion and empathy. Edith Stein, also known as St. Teresa Benedict of the Cross, said about empathy “I felt that those who understood the Cross of Christ should take it upon themselves on everybody's behalf.” Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta is an extraordinary example of compassion. She embraced the cross, serving Jesus in the poorest of the poor. And St. Gianna Beretta Molla, who was canonized in 2004 for living an exemplary Christian life, offered her own human life so that her child would live. Interdependence in our community is displayed by the sharing of good example and the encouragement which strengthens faith even in the midst of tragedy. Together we discover our God given gifts and help build up the Body of Christ.

The Cross is the sign of Christ’s victory over death. His willingness to accept suffering offers you and me the possibility of Heaven. Let us thank God for our Catholic faith, and let us end this reflection as we end all things,


In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Waters of Lough Pollacappul

Christ beside me,
Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ within me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me.

Kylemore, Ireland

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist on Oprah

It looks like the appearance of the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist on the Oprah Winfrey show was a big success!! Here are four videos of the show. Below is an article I grabbed out of Catholic-Online/Catholic News Agency.









ANN ARBOR, MI. (CNA/EWTN News) - In February, the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist made an appearance on the Oprah Winfrey Show. Since then, almost all the feedback the sisters have received has been overwhelmingly positive the sister's mission director told CNA/EWTN.

During their appearance, the sisters fielded questions regarding their vocation and discernment, their vows of poverty and chastity, and their life in community. "I think the main excitement for the sisters comes from the fact that we are glad to have had the chance to tell our story in such a positive, balanced manner to such a large audience," Sister Maria Guadalupe Hallee, Director of Mission Advancement for the sisters, told CNA/EWTN.

"One of the sisters here put it really well when she said that the focus of the show really seemed to about ´who we are´ rather than ´what we do,´" she added. "We are really pleased with this, because although it seems like a very small distinction, it´s really quite important."

On the show, "many of the sisters spoke about experiencing a desire for something more, and I would say that it is our identity as religious (brides of Christ, which Oprah found so fascinating) that fulfills us more than our activity – again, the primacy of ´being´ over ´doing,´" Sister Maria Guadalupe explained.

Since the show aired, the sisters have received positive feedback from all sides. Sister Maria Guadalupe reported that while traveling by plane, a flight attendant asked her if she had seen the "nuns" on Oprah. The question presented an opportunity for a lengthy conversation which proved edifying for those around them as well. She said that other sisters have also been approached about the show in gas stations, grocery stores, or on campus.

After the show, the number of young women registered for the sisters' February discernment retreat jumped from 70 to 135. The community has also received many emails from new and old supporters, both before and after the show, sharing their excitement. "Probably our favorite feedback, though, comes in the form of stories we´ve heard, both directly and indirectly, from individuals who have been away from the practice of their Catholic faith, but were encouraged by the joy of our sisters to consider returning to the faith," explained Sister Maria Guadalupe. "These potential conversions are very precious to us, and we continue to pray for all who have encountered us through this show."

In the end, "we could not have asked for anything better!" exclaimed the joyful Dominican.

Founded in continued response to Pope John Paul II’s call for a “New Evangelization,” the Catholic News Agency (CNA) has been, since 2004, one of the fastest growing Catholic news providers to the English speaking world
.

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Fig Tree


A brief reflection on the Parable of the Fig Tree - Gospel of Luke 13:1-9

I grew up in Union City, New Jersey on the second floor of a two family house. The house was parallel to a parking lot, which gave my friends and I every opportunity to play stickball, box ball and football. On the first floor lived the landlord, Mr. Romanzi, an Italian immigrant. He was very proud of his home, keeping the house in tip top shape. The porch railing always had a fresh coat of paint, the sidewalk in front of the house was always scrubbed clean. Mr. Romanzi loved his small, neat backyard. The yard was a small patch of well maintained earth, half grass, and the other half, an old fig tree. I remember once Mr. Romanzi took me out into the parking lot so we could view his backyard from a distance, he thought it was picturesque. Looking back on it now, it was beautiful, an oasis in the midst of concrete and asphalt. He was especially proud of his old fig tree.

Fig trees were never meant to grow in New Jersey, they are much happier in a mild climate. Yet, if given the proper food, if they are sheltered from the winter wind – they can survive. Every fall Mr. Romanzi would wrap the tree in burlap to protect the fig tree from the winter wind, it was a labor of love. In the summer, the fig tree would produce a bumper crop of fruit.

The tree would flourish to such a degree the branches would grow through the fence –offering many figs for parking lot picking. Many times during the summer, I remember Mr. Romanzi walking up the stairs, knocking on our door and offering my family a bowl of fresh figs lying on a bed of ice. I will never forget how delicious these figs were. Mr. Romanzi’s patient cultivation and care certainly produced good fruit.

In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus tells us the story of the man who owns a vineyard, who planted a fig tree. The fig tree is not bearing fruit. Why? The tree may have a disease, maybe the gardener is lazy, or maybe not well schooled in agriculture. In any case, the gardener is concerned. The owner of the vineyard wants to cut the tree down. The tree is not only useless without fruit, it has a negative effect on its neighboring trees. So the gardener asks the owner for another chance to make things right. We will assume the chance was granted.


Just as my landlord cultivated and cared for his fig tree, so to must we care for our own spiritual lives, with fervent prayer and participation in the sacraments of the Church, primarily Penance and Eucharist. Holy Mother Church has all the graces necessary for our "metanoia", our change of heart. The Gospel message is clear, Christians must bear good fruit, and this fruit must manifest itself in good works. The Corporal and Spiritual works of Mercy are perfect guides to follow. Do we feed the hungry? Do we clothe the naked? Do we visit the sick and lonely? Do we teach the ignorant, those who are ignorant of Christ?

There is no mistaking the meaning of this parable. If us Christians do not produce good fruit, there will be consequences. Lent is the perfect season for us, to reflect upon our lives, discern what changes are necessary, and begin to cultivate and care for our spiritual lives.

After my landlord had passed from this life, our house was sold, and the fig tree, without the tender loving care of my landlord, withered and died.



* Top Image - a satellite image courtesy of google "my childhood home."

Friday, March 5, 2010

The Day That True Love Died - Phil Wickham





Come close listen to the story
about a love more faithful than the morning
The Father gave his only Son just to save us

The earth was shaking in the dark
All creation felt the Fathers broken heart
tears were filling heaven's eyes
The day that true love died, the day that true love died
When blood and water hit the ground
Walls we couldn’t move came crashing down
We were free and made alive
The day that true love died, The day that true love died

Search your heart you know you can’t deny it
Come on, lose your life just so you can find it
The Father gave his only son just to save us

The earth was shaking in the dark
All creation felt the Fathers broken heart
tears were filling heaven's eyes
The day that true love died, the day that true love died
When blood and water hit the ground
Walls we couldn’t move came crashing down
We were free and made alive
The day that true love died, The day that true love died

Now, Jesus is alive

Jesus is alive X4
Oh, He is alive
He rose again

When blood and water hit the ground
Walls we couldn’t move came crashing down
We were free and made alive
The day that true love died, The day that true love died

Come close listen to the story

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Novena of Grace





TO ST. FRANCIS XAVIER of THE SOCIETY OF JESUS

March 4 - 12

INTRODUCTION

The Novena of Grace is a nine-day prayer sequence that has been popular since Francis was canonized in 1622. The traditional days for this novena are March 4-12, but it can be prayed at any time, for any intention you might have. It can be prayed alone, or with your family, or in a church in the company of others.

DAILY SEQUENCE

Take a moment in quiet to put yourself in God’s presence and to think of your particular intention for this novena.

Read the biographical section and the questions for reflection for each day.

Spend some quiet time meditating on the reading or how you have responded to the questions.

Pray the Our Father, the Hail Mary and the Glory Be to the Father.

Close with the following prayer:

O most kind and loving saint, in union with you I adore the Divine Majesty. The remembrance of the favors with which God blessed you during life, and of your glory after death, fills me with joy; and I unite with you in offering to God my humble tribute of thanksgiving and of praise.

I implore of you to secure for me, through your powerful intercession and the all important blessing of living and dying in the state of grace. I also beseech you to obtain the favor I ask in this Novena (here ask the favor you wish to obtain), but if what I ask is not for the glory of God or for the good of my soul, obtain for me what is most conducive to both. Amen

DAY ONE

Francis is born into a rich family

Francis was born in 1506, into an aristocratic family. When he was 19, he went to Paris to study, to help the family fortune by becoming a cleric. By his own account, he was more interested in the parties than in studies.

Reflection: How has my family and my upbringing influenced my life and my choices?

DAY TWO

Francis meets Ignatius Loyola

Ignatius was twice as old as Francis, and saw potential in the young man from his part of the country. It took 5 years of each man getting to know the other, but finally Francis let Ignatius direct him in the Spiritual Exercises and his life was changed forever. He decided to give his life to serving God.

Reflection: Who has been influential in my life? Have I ever examined my life and my goals in quiet prayer? What role does God play in my life today?

DAY THREE

Francis and the First Companions are ordained

Ignatius and Francis gathered around them a group of young men with whom they prayed and planned for the future. They decided to be ordained and to go to Rome to offer themselves at the service of the Pope. Eventually they decided to form a religious order, the Society of Jesus.

Reflection: Who are my companions? Do I ever share spiritual desires with my friends, or invite them to share theirs with me? Is my faith a part of my character that I share with others? Am I willing to ask for help – from others, and from God?

DAY FOUR

Francis is secretary to Ignatius

When he joined with Ignatius and the other companions, their idea was “to do great things for God.” Others were sent to councils and to deal with Kings and princes. Ignatius asked Francis if he would stay with him in Rome and help deal with the management of the new religious order. For someone who wanted to “go forth,” this must have been a difficult assignment.

Reflection: How do I react when asked to do something I don’t want to do? How do I deal with difficult challenges in my life? Where is God in my decision-making?

DAY FIVE

Francis is sent to India

At the last moment, Francis took the place of another Jesuit who had fallen ill. With no preparation or even a chance to pack, he left to spread God’s word in foreign places. He never returned to Rome or saw Ignatius again.

Reflection: Am I ready if God calls me for a special mission? Am I listening for God’s voice in my life? Does prayer appear on my schedule every day?

DAY SIX

Francis baptizes thousands

Francis worked tirelessly wherever he went, and he traveled throughout the lands of India and Japan for many years. Everywhere he went he taught and preached and above all, baptized. Although he was often alone and sometimes became discouraged, he was always cheerful and energetic in his work.

Reflection: How do I react when things are difficult? Do I easily get discouraged? Am I open to new challenges in my life? What really excites me?

DAY SEVEN

Francis goes to Japan

Always looking for new souls to save, Francis managed to spend almost three years working in Japan. He learned Japanese customs so he could better explain the beliefs of Christianity.

Reflection: Am I open to learning new ways of doing things? Do I assume that “my ways” are automatically better? Am I willing to try to explain my faith to others?

DAY EIGHT

Francis preaches by his life

When Francis went to Japan, he had a translator but he was limited by not being able to speak the language. But he soon started to make many converts, because they were impressed that the way he lived his life so closely reflected what he preached.

Reflection: What do people learn about me from the way I live? Am I embarrassed at sharing my faith in public? Do I live what I say I believe?

DAY NINE

Francis dies overseas

Francis did not know that Ignatius had sent for him to come home; the letter arrived after he died. Legend has it that he died on the beach, looking across the ocean at China, the land he never reached.

Reflection: How do I imagine my death? What can I learn about my life by reflecting on the life of Francis Xavier? How do I want to be remembered?

Questions to ask myself each day:

What have I done for Christ?

What am I doing for Christ?

What will I do for Christ?

Monday, March 1, 2010

Instituted Acolyte



Today, thirty five men in the Archdiocese of Newark will be installed as "Instituted" Acolytes. Please pray for them.

Here is some history about the Instituted Acolytes in the Roman Catholic Church.

Before August 15, 1972 (with the issuing of Pope Paul VI's moto proprio, suppressing the minor orders) the acolyte was the highest of the minor orders, having as duties the lighting of the altar-candles, carrying the candles in procession, assisting the subdeacon and deacon, and the ministering of water and wine to the priest at Mass. Acolytes wore the cassock and surplice. While acolytes did not receive the sacrament of Holy Orders, they were considered part of the clergy, and were considered a step on the way to Holy Orders. In the Latin Rite, they still do exist licitly in some capacity in traditional Catholic groups.

Paul's change was intended to replace the antique titles with two which recognized and encouraged the laity in the work of the Church. The Pope's intention was to have laymen thus able to participate more fully in this. The current Code of Canon Law has incorporated this ministry as one open to all baptized laymen. The Pope expressed the wish that these ministries would not be limited to seminarians. At present, though, this is the usual situation.

More information to follow.....