Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Years Is Almost Here

This is a picture our family dog Shelby...sitting near the fire, waiting. Shelby waits, not knowing what she is waiting for. Every day is the same. This should not be for you and me. Every day should have meaning and reason.

Soon is will be a new year. 2012. Can you believe it? I remember Orwell's book 1984. 1984 was well into the it is so far behind us. Time is passing by.

So what should my New Years resolution be?

To love God and my neighbor. Only with more heart, doing all in Jesus' Name. That is my every day resolution, and my New Year resolution.

Friday, December 30, 2011

A Future and a Hope

Jeremiah 29:11

"For I know the plans I have for you," says the LORD. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

Image ©bjm 2011

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas !

Merry Christmas !

Pope Benedict's URBI ET ORBI message HERE

Painting by Norman Rockwell

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

St. Dominic of Silos


Feast: December 20

St. Dominic, founder of the Order of Preachers, was named after this Benedictine abbot, who lived a century before him. According to Dominican tradition, St. Dominic of Silos appeared to Blessed Joan of Aza (the mother of the later St. Dominic), who made a pilgrimage to his shrine before the birth of her son, and named him after the abbot of Silos.

Dominic of Silos was born in Navarre, Spain, on the Spanish side of the Pyrenees, and was a shepherd boy, looking after his father's flocks. He acquired a love of solitude and as a young man became a monk at the monastery of San Millan de la Cogolla. He eventually became prior of the monastery and came into conflict with the king of Navarre over possessions of the monastery claimed by the king. The king drove Dominic out of the monastery, and Dominic went with other monks to Castille, where the king of Castille appointed Dominic abbot of the monastery of St. Sebastian at Silos.

The monastery was in terrible shape, spiritually and materially, and Dominic set about to restore the monastery and to reform the lives of the monks. He preserved the Mozarbic Rite (one of the variants of the Latin Rite) at his monastery, and his monastery became one of the centers of the Mozarbic liturgy. His monastery also preserved the Visigothic script of ancient Spain and was a center of learning and liturgy in that part of Spain.

Dominic of Silos died on December 20,1073, about a century before the birth of his namesake, St. Dominic of Calaruega. Before the Spanish Revolution of 1931, it was customary for the abbot of Silos to bring the staff of Dominic of Silos to the Spanish royal palace whenever the queen was in labor and to leave it at her bedside until the birth of her child had taken place.

In recent times, great interest in Dominic of Silos has arisen since the literary treasures of the library of Silos have become known. The abbey had a profound influence on spirituality and learning in Spain. Today the monastery is an abbey of the Benedictine Congregation of Solesmes housing a library of ancient and rare manuscripts.

Thought for the Day: St. Dominic of Silos came to know God in the solitude of a shepherd boy. It was this love of solitude that drew him into monastic life where he could be alone with his God. Most of us are so busy we scarcely have time for Sunday Mass. We should cultivate a little solitude, too.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Catholic League president Bill Donohue comments on abortion

Bill Donohue of the "Catholic League" comments...

On Tuesday evening, a New York City superintendent was gathering the garbage when he felt something strange. It was a baby. “When I found the baby,” he said, “I didn’t know if it was real at first. It was so bad.” Not surprisingly, it made him sick. “After what happened, I just stayed in my apartment for a while because I didn’t feel well.”

Two days later, a 20-year-old woman was arrested and charged with self-abortion in the first degree, a misdemeanor.

Andrea Miller of NARAL Pro-Choice was outraged. “They have taken what should be a medical and public health matter and turned it into a criminal case,” she said. Sonia Ossoria of the National Organization for Women agrees, saying, “it’s absolutely outlandish to charge her with self-abortion.”

So a woman kills her own baby, and the sole source of anger coming from the pro-abortion community is that she is being prosecuted. Not a word of sorrow about the dead baby.

In a perverse way, they may have a point: why is it criminally wrong to perform the exact same procedure that a well-paid doctor can do legally? If she is a monster, what does that make him? Moreover, had this same superintendent found a baby in the dumpster who had been dropped there by a Planned Parenthood worker, there would have been no prosecution.

Those running for president should be asked about this issue. Their answers would no doubt prove to be revealing.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Monday, November 28, 2011

Merton on Advent

The certainty of Christian hope lies beyond passion and beyond knowledge. Therefore we must sometimes expect our hope to come in conflict with darkness, desperation and ignorance. Therefore, too, we must remember that Christian optimism is not a perpetual sense of euphoria, an indefectible comfort in whose presence neither anguish nor tragedy can possibly exist. We must not strive to maintain a climate of optimism by the mere suppression of tragic realities. Christian optimism lies in a hope of victory that transcends all tragedy: a victory in which we pass beyond tragedy to glory with Christ crucified and risen. Thomas Merton

* Above image "The Light Beyond" ©bjm
taken at Brookdale Park - Bloomfield, NJ

Friday, November 25, 2011

The First Thanksgiving

I found this image and this reflection on Jon Katz's "Bedlam Farm Journal." I find it insightful and full of truth. If you get a chance, check out the's quite interesting!

Simon Says: Don't Give Up On Life by Jon Katz

Yesterday was, in many ways, my first Thanksgiving. Not really, not technically, but in many ways. Thanksgiving was always a difficult holiday for me, family issues, a sense of estrangement, troubles as a kid. Lots of guilt, pressure, conflict. I never cooked a turkey before yesterday, never did Thanksgiving with anyone, never made stuffing. I was always outside of the process, outside of the kitchen, like many men. We struggle with the processes of family and emotion, and recuse ourselves walking dogs, hunting, watching football, reading our books off in our chairs.

Thanksgiving can be distancing for us, even lonely amidst our families, our friends. We are sometimes there, sometimes not. Yesterday it was different. I cooked the turkey with Maria. Made the stuffing with her. Stayed in the kitchen. Was at the center of Thanksgiving, not the edges. And today, waking up on a day I call Bright Friday, heading off to Battenkill Books to sell copies of “Going Home” and other books with Connie Brooks with Maria (she sold out of her potholders this morning), I realized that yesterday was my First Thanksgiving. I was at the center of the process with a full and open heart, not at the edges, where so many find themselves. And it was beautiful all day, in every way. And I told myself that one ought never to give up on life, at any point, at any age, because you can always find life if your mind is open and your heart is full and you understand that love is the point, love is the process, love is the reason.

Above image "Simon Says Don't Give Up On Life" by John Katz

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Christ the King

Today, we celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King. It is also the last Sunday of the Church year, and next week we begin the season of Advent. Let us remind ourselves that all of our celebrations are summed up in one statement: “Jesus is our King.” Jesus is the one we serve. If we do not know how to serve our King, not to worry, for today Jesus reveals to us what is necessary to secure the Kingdom of heaven.

In 1925, Pope Pius XI instituted “Christ the King” as a feast day. It was a bold move on his part. He was certainly guided by the Spirit. During this time, the world was experiencing a growing secularism and a misguided sense of nationalism. It was the year that Adolph Hitler published his biography of hatred, “Mien Kampf.” Benito Mussolini became dictator of Italy. People were moving away from a healthy reliance on God and trusting only in themselves, living only in the “here and now.” Much like today. Pope Pius said that “the majority of men had thrust Jesus Christ and his holy law out of their lives” – “nations will be reminded, by the annual celebration of this feast, Christ the King, that not only private individuals, but also rulers and princes are bound to give PUBLIC honor and Obedience to Christ.” Now that was a strong statement. Pius was not afraid to preach the truth - the truth that is as relevant today as it was then.

If we believe that Jesus Christ is our King - What are the implications of that reality? What is our relationship to the King? Aristotle tells us, “The king ought to be to his people as a shepherd to his sheep or a father to his children.” So we are the Kings children whom he loves. Our reading today from Ezekiel says that we are a scattered people, like a flock of sheep that is lost, strayed and injured. Our benevolent King looks for us when we are lost. He carries us home and heals our infirmities. Our King is loving and kind. As a child who embraces a parent after being given a gift, how shall we respond to our King’s royal acts of love?

As Hamlet once said, “That is the question.”

The key is in the scriptures. And it isn’t hidden; it is laid out for all to see. Jesus wants it to be clear, because he loves us, he thirsts for us, and he wants to enter our hearts.
Jesus’ message today may be the most important in all of scripture.
“What you have done to the least of my brothers, you have done to me.”
We are called to recognize the presence of Jesus in others. Our recognition is manifested by our acts of love. We must recognize Jesus in our families, in the poor, in the poorest of the poor, the children dying in Somalia, the confused and rejected young mother, the unborn, the terminally ill, the immigrant, those who love us and those who despise us – and most importantly, recognizing Jesus in the Eucharist. This is the key to heaven.
Now Jesus knows that we humans find it hard to understand. In his great wisdom, he raises up saints in every age to be leaven in the world. By emulating those who have embraced the gospel message, we too can become saints.

Perhaps the foremost authority on today’s gospel is Blessed Mother Teresa who said that at the end of our lives, we will not be judged by how many diplomas we received or how much money we have made – we will be judged by “I was hungry and you gave me to eat, I was naked and you clothed me, I was homeless and you took me in.”

St. Gianna Beretta Molla, a recently canonized saint, a woman of OUR time, was a physician, a working mom, and a loving wife. St. Gianna made a heroic choice when she refused an abortion when she was pregnant with her fourth child. She knew she had a cancerous tumor, and that continuing with her pregnancy would likely result in her death. Gianna was quite clear about her wishes, expressing to her family, "This time it will be a difficult delivery, and they may have to save one or the other -- I want them to save my baby.” Gianna recognized the presence of Christ her unborn child. Her child is now a Pediatrician.

There are also living saints right here in our own parish who we can emulate. They embrace the words of Jesus by their involvement in ministries that directly affect the lives of others – for example, the Shawl ministry, an inspiring movement of people who gather to pray and knit for those in need. And just last week, women who are members of the Cornerstone alumni, cooked for and fed more than 150 hungry souls in Mother Teresa’s soup kitchen in Newark. Those who work as ushers, extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist, those who distribute the bulletins and set up for Holy Mass - they all recognize the presence of Christ in the community, and serve each other with great acts of love.

This is all the Lord asks – that we “Love one Another.”

Pope Benedict XVI says that “Christ’s Kingship is not based on “human power” but on loving and serving others.”

On this solemnity of Christ the King, let us ask ourselves – do we see the presence of Christ in others? Do we manifest this reality by actions of Love? If our answer is no, let us begin today. For when our King comes to separate the sheep from the goats, we want to be in that line, waiting to hear the King’s words… ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me.”

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Albert the Great

Albert Magnus, also known as Albert the Great and "the teacher of everything there is to know" can be characterized as a "renaissance man" even before there was such a word. He was a grand thinker, prolific writer and distinguished philosopher during the period of the Middle Ages. One of his pupils was another brilliant mind, St. Thomas Aquinas. The topics that were influenced by Magnus are incredibly diverse and include psychology, logic, metaphysics, meteorology, mineralogy and zoology.

The works of Albert Magnus are a hand cramping 31 volumes. His life's work was to translate Latin and Arabian manuscripts and notes of the great philosopher Aristotle. Most of Aristotle's teachings have been preserved to this day because of the judicious efforts of Magnus. His writings are revered because of their exact scientific knowledge.

While studying at the University of Padua, Magnus reportedly had an encounter with the Blessed Virgin Mary who persuaded him to join the Holy Orders (individuals ordained for a special role or ministry). In 1254 he was named provincial of the Dominican order and 1260 the Bishop of Regensberg. In 1622 Magnus was beatified and in 1931 was canonized by Pope Pius XI and joined the illustrious rank of saint.

Albert Magnus's experiments are surprisingly accurate considering the era in which he lived. He knew a little about everything but was an expert in the works of Aristotle. His discoveries included the elements arsenic and silver nitrate (a precursor to many other silver compounds, such as those used in photography). Magnus was fan of alchemy and astrology, and there are many books to his credit on the subject. The philosopher's stone (a legendary substance that was capable of turning base metals, especially lead, into gold). It can also be thought of as a fountain of youth, as it has rejuvenating properties and can lead to eternal life.

There are several institutions of education that bear the name of Albert Magnus. One in particular is the Albert Magnus College established in 1925, and located in New Haven, CT. Also, a high school in New York, the main science building at Providence College and the Albert Magnus International Institute (a business and economic development research center) are but a few that bear the name of the prominent saint.

It is by the path of love, which is charity, that God draws near to man, and man to God. But where charity is not found, God cannot dwell. If, then, we possess charity, we possess God, for "God is Charity" (1John 4:8) -- St. Albert the Great

See Albert the HERE

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

"You do not know either the day or the hour."

Asteroid 2005 YU55. The asteroid will fly past Earth within the moon's orbit today. NASA's been tracking it since November 4, using the 230-foot-wide Deep Space Network antenna at Goldstone, California. This image was taken yesterday at 11:45 a.m. PST, when the asteroid was approximately 860,000 miles from Earth. The Deep Space Antenna will track it for four hours today, and radar observations from the Arecibo Planetary Radar Facility in Puerto Rico will also begin today.

Everyone is excited about this asteroid. Will they be able to see it with the naked eye? will they need a telescope? Wow - it's the size of an aircraft carrier!

We all should realize that this asteroid will pass very close to Mother Earth, it will be closer to earth than the moon. If the scientists were off a bit with their math, there would be dire consequences.

Out of Digital Journal > Astronomers say if the Earth were to sustain direct impact with an asteroid the size of 2005 YU55 expected to zip past the Earth tomorrow, we would experience a massive explosion equivalent to that set off by more than 50 megaton nuclear weapon. Such explosion would cause widespread destruction covering several thousands of kilometers. The impact will excavate a crater 4 miles wide and cause an earthquake of magnitude 7 on the Richter scale.

I think we should reflect on Sunday's Gospel, Matt 25:1-13. Jesus is very clear when He says;

" So stay awake, because you do not know either the day or the hour.’

Thursday, November 3, 2011

St. Martin de Porres

My friend, Dr. Frank, a friend of the Missionaries of Charity, went home to God a few years ago. Dr. Frank had a deep devotion to St. Martin de Porres. With Church permission, he was able to visit and enter the saint's home in Peru. For years, the small mission Church of St. Augustine in Newark, New Jersey displayed a beautiful statue of St. Martin. As time went by, the statue was relegated to the back of the church, practically hidden from view. The Missionaries of Charity, who have a mission beside the church, asked for permission to take the statue out of the church and display it in their soup kitchen - and there is stands today. Dr. Frank would be very happy. God bless you Dr. Frank...

St. Martin de Porres was born at Lima, Peru, in 1579. His father was a Spanish gentleman and his mother a coloured freed-woman from Panama. At fifteen, he became a lay brother at the Dominican Friary at Lima and spent his whole life there-as a barber, farm laborer, almoner, and infirmarian among other things.

Martin had a great desire to go off to some foreign mission and thus earn the palm of martyrdom. However, since this was not possible, he made a martyr out of his body, devoting himself to ceaseless and severe penances. In turn, God endowed him with many graces and wondrous gifts, such as, aerial flights and bilocation.

St. Martin's love was all-embracing, shown equally to humans and to animals, including vermin, and he maintained a cats and dogs hospital at his sister's house. He also possessed spiritual wisdom, demonstrated in his solving his sister's marriage problems, raising a dowry for his niece inside of three day's time, and resolving theological problems for the learned of his Order and for bishops. A close friend of St. Rose of Lima, this saintly man died on November 3, 1639 and was canonized on May 6, 1962. His feast day is November 3.

To you Saint Martin de Porres we prayerfully lift up our hearts filled with serene confidence and devotion. Mindful of your unbounded and helpful charity to all levels of society and also of your meekness and humility of heart, we offer our petitions to you. Pour out upon our families the precious gifts of your solicitous and generous intercession; show to the people of every race and every color the paths of unity and of justice; implore from our Father in heaven the coming of his kingdom, so that through mutual benevolence in God men may increase the fruits of grace and merit the rewards of eternal life. Amen.

* Read more about St. Martin HERE

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

All Saint's Day Homily

Deacon Greg Kandra, creator of the Deacon's Bench blog, wrote this wonderful homily for All Saints Day. Enjoy!

If you find yourself in Los Angeles, in between going on tours to see the homes of the stars or dining at Spago, take a side trip to 555 Temple Street. There, in a corner of the city that’s a little off the beaten track, you’ll find a home for some other stars – the kind you might not have expected to see.

It’s the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels – a big, boxy, modernist building dedicated in 2002 that doesn’t look anything like any church you would find in New York City. Critics have complained that it resembles an airline terminal more than a temple of God. The church was actually designed specifically to withstand earthquakes. As a result, it doesn’t have the big stained glass windows with images of saints that you find in most churches.

Instead, if you are looking for the saints, you will find them depicted very differently. They are on massive tapestries lining the walls of the nave. And they are stunning. These tapestries are said to be the largest collection of its kind in the United States. Created by artist John Nava, they portray in a dramatic and contemporary way dozens of saints, all standing and facing toward the altar, hands folded in prayer. There are 25 massive tapestries depicting 135 saints and blesseds. The image they create is striking. They are in line, as if they are going to receive the Eucharist. It is, in ever sense, the communion of saints.

Above each saint is written his or her name – so you can spot St. Peter, or St. Dominic, or Mary Magdalene. But they don’t look the way you might have seen them in Renaissance paintings. Creating these images, John Nava used for his models ordinary people from around Los Angeles. He even hired a Hollywood casting agent to find people with a particular look, so they actually resemble people you would pass on the street, or people you might know.

But looking at the tapestries, you start to notice something odd. Amid all the famous saints, there are 12 figures who don’t have names above them – including children of all ages. It’s not a mistake.

These people were not popes, or martyrs, or evangelists. There are no churches named for them or universities dedicated to them. They are the saints among us whose identity is known only to God.

We realize, looking at them: they could be any of us.

And we realize, too: we could be them.

I’ve been to see those tapestries in person several times, and I never fail to come away deeply moved and inspired.

It’s been said that church windows are “sermons in glass.” The tapestries at that cathedral in Los Angeles are sermons in cloth. The lesson they teach is so simple, but so eloquent. And it is this: any one can become a saint. The communion of saints is so vast, so all-encompassing, so real. It is available to all of us.

The tapestries tell the story. And what a beautiful story it is. It includes a Native American woman cradling a baby…an African American teenager in blue jeans…small children fervently praying. The communion of saints contains anonymous men and women and children who sanctify everyday life – miracle workers like a banker in Brooklyn or a secretary on Staten Island or a homemaker and mother in Queens.

It might even, by the grace of God, include any of us.

The gospel today shows us the way to holiness — the way, as the song says, to “be in that number.”

It means to be poor in spirit. To be meek. To be merciful and pure of heart. To be a peacemaker. To suffer for the sake of Christ.

None of these is easy. But then, if being blessed were easy, everyone would be a saint.

But don’t we want to try?

This day, we look to these great models of holiness for inspiration and guidance. We ask for them to intercede on our behalf, and to walk with us. The road is hard. We may stumble, and we may fall. But we get up and we go on.

Because we know they did.

And we know we can.

John Nava has said of his tapestries that he hopes 100 years from now, people will look at them and say, “These people were seen as whole, strong humans, full of hope.”

Let us pray that their strength, their hope, and above all their holiness, might also be ours – so that one day we might be blessed to find ourselves among that great cloud of witnesses, that great communion of saints.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Trick or Treat

Here I am in New Jersey – Monday is Halloween. And tomorrow the weather folks are calling for snow. It’s getting awful strange.

I remember as a child my excited anticipation of Halloween. Living in a city, I knew that Halloween would bring lots of candy! In the suburbs, there is only so much candy to be had. But in the city, we had apartment houses! Just one apartment house would be a Mother Lode. Dressed up as clowns, ghouls – even Dick Tracy –my friends and I would hit one apartment house after another. When our bags were full, we would go home, dump all the booty on the bed, then off to the next house. I guess you could say that we were greedy. But that is just the way it was back then. Our families did not have much, so when opportunity knocked, we answered!

Today, as a Catholic deacon, I realize that some emphasis should have been placed on Saints, not candy and ghouls. Yet, I believe the mystery of Halloween experienced in my youth prepared my mind and heart to experience the more important mysteries – the Mysteries that truly count.

Enjoy your Trick or Treat day.

God bless !

* above watercolor "Mischief Night", by Andrew Wyeth

Monday, October 24, 2011

A Monk's Perspective

A Monk's Perspective by Brother Paul Rowe

A monk of Our Lady of Guadalupe - Trappist Abbey

Here I will say something about my own understanding and experience of prayer, while laying no claim to “expertise.” I will focus on personal prayer, leaving aside the consideration of liturgical prayer which, especially in the celebration of the Eucharist, is the “source and summit of the Christian life” (Lumen Gentium 11; Sacosantum Concilium 10), and which in some sense makes possible all Christian prayer.

In my own walk with God, the metaphor of “gazing” seems especially fitting. At a certain point in my life, I became increasingly aware that I was always in God’s sight, and I believed that he held me in a loving gaze. Yet it struck me that I returned his gaze all too rarely, distracted as I was by so many concerns, by objects and interests clamoring for my attention. And I came to the conclusion that I would find no rest, no peace of soul, unless I acknowledged God’s love by trying to respond to his love more fully, to meet his gaze more habitually. This in turn meant, among other things, living a life of prayer. But since I could not find a means of praying attentively and constantly (cf. 1 Thess. 5:17) in a context of noise, busy-ness and chatter, I found myself drawn instead to the life lived here at Guadalupe.

So here, in this place of prayer, how do I try to meet God’s constant gaze? Oftentimes, in order to focus my wandering mind on the God revealed to us in the Old and New Testaments, I spend time ruminating on some passage from Scripture, especially from the gospel, where we see God in the face of Jesus Christ. Sitting in church and taking some time to reflect on a particular psalm, or on a scene from Jesus’ life, can help me to enter into the quiet of God’s presence and to abide there. This mediation on the inspired Word of God presupposes a prayerful encounter with that Word, both as proclaimed in the liturgy (the Mass and the Divine Office) and in the slow, reverent reading of the Bible known as lectio divina. This process begins with reading, continues with meditation on what is read, which then gives rise to prayer, and may—it is to be hoped—finally bear fruit in the grace of contemplation. The medieval Carthusian monk, Guigo II, offered the following explanation of this quintessentially monastic approach to prayer:

Reading is the careful study of the Scriptures, concentrating all one’s powers on it. Meditation is the busy application of the mind to seek with the help of one’s own reason for knowledge of hidden truth. Prayer is the heart’s devoted turning to God to drive away evil and obtain what is good. Contemplation is when the mind is in some sort lifted up to God and held above itself, so that it tastes the joys of everlasting sweetness.
(The Ladder of Monks, II)

It may happen, however, that during some hours of prayer, and perhaps even during whole periods of one’s life, that discursive and imaginative meditation proves unhelpful or even impossible. At such times, I simply try to “practice the presence of God” (as recommended by Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection in a book thus entitled), wanting him and awaiting him, fending off distractions by repeating a word from Scripture or, more often, the name of Jesus. With solid biblical warrant (cf. John 14:14; 16:23-24; Acts 4:12), Eastern Christianity has given pride of place to the Jesus Prayer, wherein the Name is continually remembered and repeated as a lifelong mantra. Though I am not so faithful as that, I try to bring the Name to mind as often as I can.
Also, in keeping with the teaching of the 14th century author of The Cloud of Unknowing, I practice what is now called “centering prayer” in our beautiful and serene meditation hall. This prayer consists in sitting still in God’s presence and summing up all the intentions of one’s prayer in a single predetermined word (“God,” “Jesus,” “Love,” “Help!” etc.), spoken softly within the heart. This is a prayer of letting go of one’s own controlling grip in order to open up to God’s transformative activity in the soul.
In order to cultivate my relationship and devotion to Mary, Mother of God and our Lady, I say the rosary daily. The rosary, along with other forms of Marian piety, is a commonplace in Cistercian monasteries such as ours, though never forced upon anyone. Marian devotion springs up spontaneously within this Order that has enjoyed Mary’s patronage from its inception, all our houses being dedicated to the Blessed Virgin.
Finally, lest I give a false impression, I should mention that the monk does not restrict his prayer to specially allocated time-slots. Throughout the day, the monk makes use of the pervasive quiet to recollect himself and call on the name of the Lord, to offer brief interior prayers of petition and intercession, or to invoke the help of Mary or of the other saints. Indeed, the monk seeks to arrive at the point of praying without cease, that his entire life may be spent in the awareness of God’s presence, an offering of the heart poured out continually for the glory of God and the salvation of the world.
The monk who has become a living prayer is the fullest embodiment of the contemplative life, having been so transformed and divinized by the grace of God that, in the words of the 12th century Cistercian Father, William of St. Thierry: “In a manner which exceeds description and thought, the man of God is found worthy to become not God but what God is, that is to say man becomes through grace what God is by nature” (The Golden Epistle, XVI). Such a monk enjoys that vision of God in everything and every circumstance of life that belongs to the pure of heart (Matt. 5:8). And those who meet him find in him the very likeness of Christ, in all the gentleness of his bearing and the warmth of his love.

+ Br Paul

Thursday, October 20, 2011


O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
Tomorrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow.
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know.
Release one leaf at break of day;
At noon release another leaf;
One from our trees, one far away.
Retard the sun with gentle mist;
Enchant the land with amethyst.
Slow, slow!
For the grapes’ sake, if they were all,
Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,
Whose clustered fruit must else be lost—
For the grapes’ sake along the wall.

By Robert Frost

The Mighty Macs

Do you remember when all of your teachers were nuns? this movie is a good reminder...

Friday, October 7, 2011

Wild Swans

I looked in my heart while the wild swans went over.
And what did I see I had not seen before?
Only a question less or a question more;
Nothing to match the flight of wild birds flying.
Tiresome heart, forever living and dying,
House without air, I leave you and lock your door.
Wild swans, come over the town, come over
The town again, trailing your legs and crying!

by Edna St. Vincent Millay

Photo from Mepkin Abbey

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


A few evenings ago there was a special presentation on PBS about the Jewish people. While watching a few minutes of the program, I heard the commentator use the words "before the Common Era." This showcases the problem we are having here in the USA and in Europe - the exclusion of Christianity in our culture. Let's do what we can to preach Jesus to who we know, and to who we do not know - that Jesus is the Lord of History.

This article is out of CNA;

Vatican daily criticizes BBC for 'erasing Christ from history'

The Vatican daily L’Osservatore Romano has criticized a decision by the BBC television network to drop its usage of the designations “A.D.” and “B.C.”

The network plans to adopt the terms “C.E.” (Common Era) and “BCE” (Before the Common Era) when referring to historical dates, to avoid “offending” non-believers.

L’Osservatore Romano called the decision “senseless historical hypocrisy.” Numerous BBC hosts, as well as politicians such as the mayor of London, Boris Johnshon, have also denounced the plan as absurd.

In an Oct. 5 article that will be published by the Vatican newspaper, reporter Luceta Scaraffia pointed out that numerous non-Christian spokespersons have stated that they “did not feel offended in any way by the traditional dating system.”

“It is clear that respect for other religions is a mere pretext, because what they want is to wipe out any trace of Christianity from western culture.”

Scaraffia noted that this is not the first time an attempt has been made to change the historical designations. The anti-Christian French Revolution of 1789 and the 1917 Leninist revolution in Russia both included efforts to reformulate the traditional calendar to start over again in their respective years.

She called those efforts “horrible precedents” and said the current proposed change is a hypocritical move on the part of those who “seem to not know why the years are counted starting from a certain date.”

“To deny the historically revolutionary role of the coming of Christ on earth, accepted even by those who do not recognize him as the Son of God, is a complete folly. And from a historical point of view, both Jews and Muslims know it.”

She pointed out that with the coming of Christ, mankind learned that all human beings have the same dignity, and this truth forms the basis “for all human rights, by which nations and leaders are judged.

“Until that time no one had held this principle, and Christian tradition is based upon it.”

The world changed after Christ, Scaraffia continued, and knowing the God who transcends nature, “made it possible for the peoples of Europe to discover the world and for scientists to begin the experimental study of nature, which led to the birth of modern science.”

“Why deny, then, civilization’s cultural debt to Christianity? There is nothing more anti-historical and senseless, as Jews and Muslims have clearly understood. It’s a matter of reason, not of faith.”

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Saint Francis of Assisi

Saint Francis of Assisi (born Giovanni Francesco di Bernardone; 1181/1182 – October 3, 1226) was an Italian Catholic friar and preacher. He founded the men's Franciscan Order, the women’s Order of St. Clare, and the lay Third Order of Saint Francis. St. Francis is one of the most venerated religious figures in history.

Francis was the son of a wealthy cloth merchant in Assisi, and he lived the high-spirited life typical of a wealthy young man, even fighting as a soldier for Assisi. While going off to war in 1204, Francis had a vision that directed him back to Assisi, where he lost his taste for his worldly life. On a pilgrimage to Rome, Francis begged with the beggars at St. Peter's. The experience moved him to live in poverty. Francis returned home, began preaching on the streets, and soon amassed a following. His order was endorsed by Pope Innocent III in 1210. He then founded the Order of Poor Clares, which was an enclosed order for women, as well as the Third Order of Brothers and Sisters of Penance. In 1219, he went to Egypt where crusaders were besieging Damietta, hoping to find martyrdom at the hands of the Muslims. By this point, the Franciscan Order had grown to such an extent that its primitive organizational structure was no longer sufficient. He returned to Italy to organize the order. Once his organization was endorsed by the Pope, he withdrew increasingly from external affairs. In 1223, Francis arranged for the first Christmas manger scene. In 1224, he received the stigmata, making him the first person to bear the wounds of Christ's Passion. He died in 1226 while singing Psalm 141.

On July 16, 1228, he was pronounced a saint by Pope Gregory IX. He is known as the patron saint of animals, the environment and one of the two patrons of Italy (with Catherine of Siena), his feast day is on 4 October.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury,pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen

Friday, September 30, 2011

Nun on the Run !

I found this fun story over at the "Deacons Bench" - out of the Chicago-Sun Times... Nun-to-be to run Chicago Marathon - Her nun’s habit is too long to run with, so Stephanie Baliga won’t wear it when she runs in next month’s Bank of America Chicago Marathon.....

But you still might be able to pick out Baliga from among the thousands of runners by the rosary beads that she’s thinking she’ll bring along on the 26.2-mile run Oct. 9. Oh, and there’s also the special running skirt, designed for modesty.

Baliga, 23, is a former University of Illinois track star who’s in the process of becoming a nun for the Franciscans of the Eucharist, a new Catholic community based in West Humboldt Park at Our Lady of the Angels Church.

Now known as Sr. Stephanie, she considered joining a different group of nuns, but it didn’t allow running.

Baliga, who grew up in Rockford, found her calling with a running-friendly order that works to feed about 700 families a month and provides an after-school program for about 900 kids. She runs 40 miles a week, usually early in the morning near the lake or in Humboldt Park.

“I’m able to have a blank mind while running — it’s one of the only times I can do that,” she says. “I feel closer to God when I run, there’s a rhythm and a peace.”

Baliga says she realized what she wanted to do with her life in college, when she hurt an ankle and couldn’t run.

“I realized running was too big a part of my life and began to ask what God was asking me to do with my life — and, eventually, felt called to become a sister,” says Baliga, who will formally become a nun on Tuesday.

“I’ve found the correct balance of God and running,” she says. “I’m not using running for any selfish means any more. I use it to glorify God and help promote what we’re doing at our mission...If the Lord wanted me to give up running, I would do it, but he ended up giving it back. And that makes me happy.”

Baliga is running the Chicago marathon to raise money to renovate Our Lady of the Angels church.

“We need more space to do our ministries for the neighborhood,” she says. “The original estimate was about $2 million. We’re almost there. We’re only $40,000 short.”

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Missionaries of Charity in Ethiopia

Michael Hill wrote a nice article concerning all the good work the Missionaries of Charity are doing in Ethiopia. The article is out of CRS -


Missionaries of Charity Foster Dignity Amid Destitution

By all rights, the Missionaries of Charity Home for the Destitute and Dying in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia should be a depressing place. After all, the 1,000 people in here are almost all sick. And they are poor. Their sleeping quarters are crowded, beds nearly wall-to-wall. Some have physical ailments that might make you want to avert your gaze. Others are mentally challenged and behave erratically.

It is certainly not a place that makes you happy. These people have been dealt a tough hand by life. Few have smiles on their faces. On this cool afternoon, they are mostly sitting outside. Not listless, exactly, but hardly active. Some are in wheelchairs. Others remain in their beds in the wards.

The home is really two compounds, one for children, the other for teens to the aged. The occupants go from newborn infants to those near the end of long lives. Some are simply too poor to afford any sort of lodging during medical treatment in Ethiopia’s capital city. But many were abandoned by their families, too poor to care for, say, a handicapped child with mental issues; or for an elderly relative near death; or for an unwanted newborn.

There is an entire facility in the children’s compound for young mothers and their babies. Some of the mothers were rape victims. All had nowhere else to go in a society where an extended family essentially defines who you are, your status in the world. The three-month stay in this ward could make the difference between a young mother abandoning her baby or learning how to care and nurture her child.

This is not a luxurious place. All eating and much of the cooking is done outside on long benches. Not only are there no private rooms, your private space hardly extends beyond the edge of your bed. Outside the gates, people line up looking to get in, some for a visit to the health clinic for outpatients, but many seeking accommodation.

So why wasn’t it depressing? Hard to say. Certainly the facility was well-cared for. The paint seemed fresh, the floors swept, the beds made. And the patients, though often in terrible medical shape, also seemed well cared for, their needs attended to as best as possible.

But there was something else, something elusive. It probably has to do with the attitude of the founder of the Missionaries of Charity, Mother Teresa, whose familiar face beams down from many of the home’s walls. She came to Ethiopia in 1974 and met with the then-Emperor Haile Selassie. With his permission, she sent two nuns from her home base in India to begin work in Ethiopia. There are now 120 Missionaries of Charity in the country, running 18 homes like this one all over the country.

About 40 of the sisters work at this house in Addis Ababa, along with 60 staff. Much of the support for their work, including the food they serve, comes through Catholic Relief Services. Though the sisters were not that visible during my visit—first they were in their daily mass then involved in tasks in their part of the compound—their spirit was evident.

And the foundation of that spirit is to treat all with dignity, even the poor and the sick who have been cast off from society. That was what pervaded the place, a feeling of the dignity of each of these patients, from the tiniest baby crying his eyes out to the oldest woman nearing her last breath. (One way of insuring dignity is to forbid photographs, by the way).

The presence of dignity affirmed the beauty in each of these people, giving the place a calmness that belied the turmoil of so many of these lives. It was a privilege to be amongst them.

The Missionaries of Charity feed more than 40,000 people in their homes across Ethiopia thanks to food donated by the U.S. and CRS private donations. Above Photo by Mikaele Sansone/CRS

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Way

This is a "must see" movie..

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


In the last analysis,

the individual person is responsible
for living his own life

and for finding himself.
If he persists in shifting his responsibility to somebody else,
he fails to find out the meaning
of his own existence.

- Thomas Merton

Friday, September 23, 2011



Ladies and Gentlemen,

As I begin to speak, I would like first of all to thank you for this opportunity to come together with you. I am particularly grateful to Pastor Schneider for greeting me and welcoming me into your midst with his kind words. At the same time I want to express my thanks for the particularly gracious gesture that our meeting can be held in this historic location.

As the Bishop of Rome, it is deeply moving for me to be meeting representatives of Council of the EKD here in the ancient Augustinian convent in Erfurt. This is where Luther studied theology. This is where he was ordained a priest in 1507. Against his father’s wishes, he did not continue the study of Law, but instead he studied theology and set off on the path towards priesthood in the Order of Saint Augustine. On this path, he was not simply concerned with this or that. What constantly exercised him was the question of God, the deep passion and driving force of his whole life’s journey. “How do I receive the grace of God?”: this question struck him in the heart and lay at the foundation of all his theological searching and inner struggle. For him theology was no mere academic pursuit, but the struggle for oneself, which in turn was a struggle for and with God.

“How do I receive the grace of God?” The fact that this question was the driving force of his whole life never ceases to make an impression on me. For who is actually concerned about this today – even among Christians? What does the question of God mean in our lives? In our preaching? Most people today, even Christians, set out from the presupposition that God is not fundamentally interested in our sins and virtues. He knows that we are all mere flesh. Insofar as people today believe in an afterlife and a divine judgement at all, nearly everyone presumes for all practical purposes that God is bound to be magnanimous and that ultimately he mercifully overlooks our small failings. But are they really so small, our failings? Is not the world laid waste through the corruption of the great, but also of the small, who think only of their own advantage? Is it not laid waste through the power of drugs, which thrives on the one hand on greed and avarice, and on the other hand on the craving for pleasure of those who become addicted? Is the world not threatened by the growing readiness to use violence, frequently masking itself with claims to religious motivation? Could hunger and poverty so devastate parts of the world if love for God and godly love of neighbour – of his creatures, of men and women – were more alive in us? I could go on. No, evil is no small matter. Were we truly to place God at the centre of our lives, it could not be so powerful. The question: what is God’s position towards me, where do I stand before God? – this burning question of Martin Luther must once more, doubtless in a new form, become our question too. In my view, this is the first summons we should attend to in our encounter with Martin Luther.

Another important point: God, the one God, creator of heaven and earth, is no mere philosophical hypothesis regarding the origins of the universe. This God has a face, and he has spoken to us. He became one of us in the man Jesus Christ – who is both true God and true man. Luther’s thinking, his whole spirituality, was thoroughly Christocentric: “What promotes Christ’s cause” was for Luther the decisive hermeneutical criterion for the exegesis of sacred Scripture. This presupposes, however, that Christ is at the heart of our spirituality and that love for him, living in communion with him, is what guides our life.

Now perhaps you will say: all well and good, but what has this to do with our ecumenical situation? Could this just be an attempt to talk our way past the urgent problems that are still waiting for practical progress, for concrete results? I would respond by saying that the first and most important thing for ecumenism is that we keep in view just how much we have in common, not losing sight of it amid the pressure towards secularization – everything that makes us Christian in the first place and continues to be our gift and our task. It was the error of the Reformation period that for the most part we could only see what divided us and we failed to grasp existentially what we have in common in terms of the great deposit of sacred Scripture and the early Christian creeds. The great ecumenical step forward of recent decades is that we have become aware of all this common ground and that we acknowledge it as we pray and sing together, as we make our joint commitment to the Christian ethos in our dealings with the world, as we bear common witness to the God of Jesus Christ in this world as our undying foundation.

The risk of losing this, sadly, is not unreal. I would like to make two points here. The geography of Christianity has changed dramatically in recent times, and is in the process of changing further. Faced with a new form of Christianity, which is spreading with overpowering missionary dynamism, sometimes in frightening ways, the mainstream Christian denominations often seem at a loss. This is a form of Christianity with little institutional depth, little rationality and even less dogmatic content, and with little stability. This worldwide phenomenon poses a question to us all: what is this new form of Christianity saying to us, for better and for worse? In any event, it raises afresh the question about what has enduring validity and what can or must be changed – the question of our fundamental faith choice.

The second challenge to worldwide Christianity of which I wish to speak is more profound and in our country more controversial: the secularized context of the world in which we Christians today have to live and bear witness to our faith. God is increasingly being driven out of our society, and the history of revelation that Scripture recounts to us seems locked into an ever more remote past. Are we to yield to the pressure of secularization, and become modern by watering down the faith? Naturally faith today has to be thought out afresh, and above all lived afresh, so that it is suited to the present day. Yet it is not by watering the faith down, but by living it today in its fullness that we achieve this. This is a key ecumenical task. Moreover, we should help one another to develop a deeper and more lively faith. It is not strategy that saves us and saves Christianity, but faith – thought out and lived afresh; through such faith, Christ enters this world of ours, and with him, the living God. As the martyrs of the Nazi era brought us together and prompted the first great ecumenical opening, so today, faith that is lived from deep within amid a secularized world is the most powerful ecumenical force that brings us together, guiding us towards unity in the one Lord.

Pope Benedict XVI will meet with the Lutherans

As a descendant of German Lutherans who arrived into Hoboken, New Jersey in the 19th Century, the idea of Catholics and Lutherans coming together is intriguing to me. Of course we have come together already on the Joint Declaration. Hopefully there will be more movement torwards that time in the future, when we will all be "one."

Here is a good article out of the Spectator by Freddy Gray...

A Catholic-Lutheran rapprochement?

Ecumenism doesn’t excite the media, as a rule. The quest for Christian unity usually involves beardy men drinking tea together, making safe and unfunny jokes about themselves, and agreeing to disagree. It doesn¹t make headlines.

Tomorrow, however, Pope Benedict XVI will mark an amazing shift in the relationship between Protestantism and Catholicism, as he visits Erfurt, the spiritual home of Martin Luther.

The Pope digs Luther, you see. He even digs Lutheranism. As John Allen Jr put it in his biography of Benedict, ‘The Lutherans are to Benedict what the Orthodox are to John Paul: the separated brethren he knows best, and for whom he has the greatest natural affinity.’

Benedict is German and his cultural sensibilities are therefore rather compatible with Germanic Lutheranism: he likes J S Bach and rigorous theology. In fact, as one of the world’s leading Augustinian scholars, Benedict has a natural rapport with Luther’s Augustinianism. In 1998, as Prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, he played a key role in formulating with the Lutheran World Federation the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification), arguably the most groundbreaking ecumenical document of the last twenty years.

It would be overkill to talk about a new era of Catholic-Protestant unity. Benedict told reporters last weekend not to expect a ‘sensation’ in Erfurt. He has said in the past that Lutheranism’s lack of central authority represents an obstacle to meaningful dialogue (‘As soon as there is a Lutheran Church, we can discuss it,’ he once remarked). Plenty of Lutherans, for that matter, can't bear the thought of rapprochement with Rome.

Yet a Roman Pontiff leading an ecumenical service at the monastery of the man who sparked the Reformation, an event that would have been unimaginable 50 years ago – that’s a significant story.

* Bottom right image > Erfurt's Augustine monastery, where Luther lived as a monk before his protest against the Roman Catholic Church in 1517.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Monday, September 19, 2011

Amish Life

This image speaks volumes...God's Love in action...

More photos of Amish Life HERE

Friday, September 16, 2011


Today I was on as deacon at Benediction. The new sense of practicality did not extend to the ceremonies. I was in a fog, but very happy. All I could think about was picking up the Host. I was afraid the whole Church might come down on my head, because of what I used to be -- as if that were not forgotten! But God weighs scarcely anything at all. Though containing more than the universe, He was so light that I nearly fell off the altar. He communicated all that lightness to my own spirit and when I came down I was so happy I had a hard time to keep myself from laughing out loud.

Thomas Merton

Monday, September 12, 2011

Nikie the Service Dog at Ground Zero

I am a lover of dogs, especially Golden Retrievers. We have a lovely Golden Retriever at home named Shelby - she is sweet, loyal and just about the most perfect friend. Frank Shane, a professional dog therapist and CEO of the K-9 Disaster Relief Foundation, also has a perfect friend, his Golden Nikie. Frank Shane wrote a nice article about Nikie, and their experience at Ground Zero.

Soon after the attacks, Nikie and I were walking around the Family Assistance Center when a woman made a beeline for us. Trained in crisis intervention, I had decided to bring Nikie to the Center at Pier 94, set up by the city to help families of the missing or dead, because I thought he might cheer up some of the kids whose parents were navigating this unbelievable tragedy.

The woman tackled Nikie and threw her arms around him.

"Hello," I said.

The woman didn't respond, and she didn't let go.

"What's your name?" I tried again.

Nothing. Despite Nikie's and my many experiences working with people in hospitals and trauma centers, we had never elicited this kind of emotion before.

A mental health worker came over and began to talk to the woman about the dog. When she finally did speak, the woman said she had a dog named Ginger. "My husband loved to throw a yellow ball to Ginger," she said.

Slowly, the mental health worker discovered that the woman needed financial assistance because her husband, who was missing, was the breadwinner of the family.

In that moment, I recognized the power of an animal in making a human connection. I had learned about the incredible ability of dogs—and in particular Nikie—to communicate while working with him in a New Jersey brain trauma center years before 9/11.

Nikie, a majestic golden retriever, was smart and intuitive. But I didn't know just how smart until I saw him in action at the trauma center. Nikie knew how to carefully step around the cords next to a patient's bed. If a patient was alert, he approached for a scratch or some kind of contact. Often the connectivity between him and patients broke through obstacles that doctors and nurses couldn't overcome.

Read the rest of the story

Frank Shane, a professional dog therapist and CEO of the K-9 Disaster Relief Foundation, had to improvise when he brought his golden retriever, Nikie, down to Ground Zero. There was no protocol for anything—from the kind of footwear Nikie should wear to how Frank should deal with the unfathomable grief of 9/11. Yet from the moment Frank and his dog stepped onto the site, they both knew they had a job to do. As it turned out, a pair of soft ears and a wagging tail offered one of the best ways to connect to the people on the ground.

Father Mychal Judge Walk of Remembrance

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Message from Pope Benedict XVI to Archbishop Timothy Dolan

Pope Benedict XVI at Ground Zero

To my Venerable Brother
The Most Reverend Timothy M. Dolan
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!

On this day my thoughts turn to the somber events. of September 11, 2001, when so many innocent lives were lost in the brutal assault on the twin towers of the World Trade Center and the further attacks in Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania. I join you in commending the thousands of victims to the infinite mercy of Almighty God and in asking our heavenly Father to continue to console those who mourn the loss of loved ones.

The tragedy of that day is compounded by the perpetrators' claim to be acting in God's name. Once again, it must be unequivocally stated that no circumstances can ever justify acts of terrorism. Every human life is precious in God's sight and no effort should be spared in the attempt to promote throughout the world a genuine respect for the inalienable rights and dignity of individuals and peoples everywhere.

The American people are to be commended for the courage and generosity that they showed in the rescue operations and for their resilience in moving forward with hope and confidence. It is my fervent prayer that a firm commitment to justice and a global culture of solidarity will help rid the world of the grievances that so often give rise to acts of violence and will create the conditions for greater peace and prosperity, offering a brighter and more secure future.

With these sentiments, I extend my most affectionate greetings to you, your brother Bishops and all those entrusted to your pastoral care, and I gladly impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of peace and serenity in the Lord,

From the Vatican, September 11,2011

Benedict XVI

Friday, September 9, 2011

Archbishop Timothy Dolan: A Time for Remembrance, Resolve and Renewal

As we commemorate the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York, Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and at the Pentagon, it is a time for remembrance, resolve and renewal.

We reverently recall those who were most directly affected by this tragedy—those who died, were injured or lost loved ones.In a special way we recall the selfless first responders—firefighters, police, chaplains, emergency workers, and other brave persons—who risked, and many times lost, their lives in their courageous efforts to save others.

We also remember how our nation responded to the terrifying events of that day—we turned to prayer, and then turned to one another to offer help and support.Hands were folded in prayer and opened in service to those who had lost so much.

We resolve today and always to reject hatred and resist terrorism.The greatest resource we have in these struggles is faith.Ten years ago our Conference of Bishops issued a Pastoral Message, Living with Faith and Hope after September 11, which drew on the rich resources of our Catholic faith to minister to our nation and world.The truth of that Pastoral Message still resonates today.

A decade later we remain resolved to reject extreme ideologies that perversely misuse religion to justify indefensible attacks on innocent civilians, to embrace persons of all religions, including our Muslim neighbors, and to welcome refugees seeking safety.We steadfastly refrain from blaming the many for the actions of a few and insist that security needs can be reconciled with our immigrant heritage without compromising either one.Gratefully mindful of the continuing sacrifices of the men and women in our armed forces, and their families, we also resolve to bring a responsible end to the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

This tenth anniversary of 9/11 can be a time of renewal.Ten years ago we came together across religious, political, social and ethnic lines to stand as one people to heal wounds and defend against terrorism.As we face today's challenges of people out of work, families struggling, and the continuing dangers of wars and terrorism, let us summon the 9/11 spirit of unity to confront our challenges.Let us pray that the lasting legacy of 9/11 is not fear, but rather hope for a world renewed.

In remembering the fateful events of September 11, 2001, may we resolve to put aside our differences and join together in the task of renewing our nation and world.Let us make our own the prayer of Pope Benedict XVI when he visited Ground Zero in New York in 2008:

O God of love, compassion, and healing,
look on us, people of many different faiths and traditions,
who gather today at this site,
the scene of incredible violence and pain….

God of understanding,
overwhelmed by the magnitude of this tragedy,
we seek your light and guidance
as we confront such terrible events.
Grant that those whose lives were spared
may live so that the lives lost here
may not have been lost in vain.
Comfort and console us,
strengthen us in hope,
and give us the wisdom and courage
to work tirelessly for a world
where true peace and love reign
among nations and in the hearts of all.

PDF version for printing HERE

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ) says the world is currently in the midst of a horrifying abortion surge.

Important article out of EWTN News...

The future of faith-based health care in the developing world is being threatened by the global pro-abortion lobby, led by the U.S. administration of President Barack Obama, a U.S. Catholic politician has warned.

“Make no mistake about it; they are going for the jugular. No country, save the Vatican, is immune,” said Congressman Chris Smith (R-N.J.) to a global conference of Catholic health care professionals in Rome Sept. 2.

The New Jersey congressman said that pro-abortion forces are willing to kill off faith-based health care in the developing world – despite the fact that such bodies provide up to 70 percent of all health provision in places such as Africa.

“The threat to mothers and children is real and growing. Faith-based health care is at risk of global defunding and disenfranchisement,” said Congressman Smith.

He claimed the world is currently “in the midst of a horrifying abortion surge” fueled, to a large extent, by the Obama administration.

“The Obama Administration poured over $61.5 million dollars - subsidizing a reported 83 NGO’s - to secure a new constitution in Kenya,” said Congressman Smith giving a recent example, “that includes a fundamental right to a ‘health’ abortion performed by anyone described in the constitution as a trained health professional.” Prior to the approval of the new constitution, abortion was illegal in Kenya.

Congressman Smith recalled speaking recently to a “Speaker of a Parliament in a large African country” who told him that such tactics “take advantage of our poverty.”

He also highlighted how the President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief, initiated by George W. Bush in 2003, now issues grant proposals that “require condom procurement, promotion and/or utilization activities as a core element of an HIV prevention program with no reference to the conscience clause in the document.”

Meanwhile, the U.N’s new “Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health” demands that abortion be included in any health care provision which, said the congressman, “apparently leaves little or no room for inclusion of Faith-Based Organizations (FBOs) and secular NGOs of conscience.”

Read more HERE

Monday, September 5, 2011

Labor Day

THROUGH WORK man must earn his daily bread and contribute to the continual advance of science and technology and, above all, to elevating unceasingly the cultural and moral level of the society within which he lives in community with those who belong to the same family. And work means any activity by man, whether manual or intellectual, whatever its nature or circumstances; it means any human activity that can and must be recognized as work, in the midst of all the many activities of which man is capable and to which he is predisposed by his very nature, by virtue of humanity itself. Man is made to be in the visible universe an image and likeness of God himself, and he is placed in it in order to subdue the earth. From the beginning therefore he is called to work. Work is one of the characteristics that distinguish man from the rest of creatures, whose activity for sustaining their lives cannot be called work. Only man is capable of work, and only man works, at the same time by work occupying his existence on earth. Thus work bears a particular mark of man and of humanity, the mark of a person operating within a community of persons. And this mark decides its interior characteristics; in a sense it constitutes its very nature. Blessed John Paul II

Excerpt from Laborem exercens

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Break, Break, Break

Break, break, break,
On thy cold gray stones, O Sea!
And I would that my tongue could utter
The thoughts that arise in me.

O well for the fisherman's boy,
That he shouts with his sister at play!
O well for the sailor lad,
That he sings in his boat on the bay!

And the stately ships go on
To their haven under the hill:
But O for the touch of a vanish'd hand,
And the sound of a voice that is still!

Break, break, break,
At the foot of thy crags, O Sea!
But the tender grace of a day that is dead
Will never come back to me.

By Alfred Lord Tennyson

* Painting - The Ocean by Michael Bozell