Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Good video, which needs no explanation...

Monday, August 29, 2011

Photo from Merton's Zen camera

Trappist Monk Thomas Merton, in his twenty-seventh year at Gethsemani Monastery, wrote to his friend novelist John Howard Griffin, in 1968, shortly after he received the gift of a camera: “It is fabulous. What a joy of a thing to work with.The camera is the most eager and helpful of all beings, all full of happy suggestions. Reminding me of things I have overlooked and cooperating in the creation of new worlds. So Simply. This is a Zen camera.”

Hurricane Irene strikes Brookside Park in NJ

A local of Bloomfield, New Jersey (my home town) shot this video of raging waters in Brooksdide Park. The water in this park is barely a stream.

Yesterday, it became the Colorado River !

Friday, August 26, 2011

Hurricane Irene, on the way to Jersey

Well here she is, Hurricane Irene, on the way to my home State of New Jersey. As I am one to worry, I am becoming more worried. First of all, I have a brick fireplace that rises on its own about 8 feet above my roof. In almost twenty five years, the wind has never blown it down. Big trouble if it does come down - it will take a whole wall with it. And my basement is prone to flooding. I have a sump pump that works very well - but - if the power goes out, I am a dead duck! Well, maybe not a dead duck, but maybe a floating duck. My wife tells me to stop worrying, and do more praying. I am a deacon - she really shouldn't have to tell me to pray...but my wife, and I hate to say it, is usually 99.9% correct. So, I will take her advice, and pray - and ask the Good Lord to not only spare our home and protect OUR family, but to protect all God's children who are in the way of this terrible storm.

I am charging my camera batteries, waiting to get my first shot of a hurricane - up close....

God bless !

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Cowl by Brother Paul Quenon

The Cowl

–solemn as chant,
one sweep of fabric
from head to foot.
Cowls hanging
on a row of pegs—
tall disembodied spirits
holding shadows
deep in the folds
waiting for light,
for light to shift
waiting for a bell
for the reach of my hand
to spread out the slow
wings, release the
shadows and envelope my
prayer-hungry body
with light.

* Image > Detail of Cowls on Pegs by Brother Paul Quenon

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Biden and China - The One Child Policy

The one child per couple policy is cruel, inhumane and the most egregious systematic attack on women ever,” said Representative Chris Smith (R-N.J.)- yet our Vice-President fully understands it, and would not second-guess the Chinese.

Today, out of CNA - By Benjamin Mann;

Washington D.C. - A leading human rights advocate in the U.S. House of Representatives says Vice President Joe Biden betrayed Chinese women and children by saying he “fully understood” the country's one-child policy and was not “second guessing” it.

“The one child per couple policy is cruel, inhumane and the most egregious systematic attack on women ever,” said Representative Chris Smith (R-N.J.) said on August 23. “For the Vice President to publicly state that he fully understands the one child policy is unconscionable.”

“He and all of us should be defending the women of China from this state-sponsored cruelty of forced abortion and forced sterilization, not supporting and enabling it.”

Vice President Biden made the remarks during his state visit to China, at an August 21 appearance at Chengdu's Sichuan University. He was discussing the United States' dilemma of paying for entitlement programs when the number of retirees exceeds the number of workers, a problem he said China shared.

“But as I was talking to some of your leaders, you share a similar concern here in China,” Biden said.

“Your policy has been one which I fully understand – I’m not second-guessing – of one child per family. The result being that you’re in a position where one wage earner will be taking care of four retired people. Not sustainable.”

The Vice President's remarks in Chengdu drew widespread criticism, particularly from pro-life activists and his political opponents.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said on August 22 that he was “deeply troubled by the comments ... regarding China’s reprehensible one-child policy, which has resulted in forced sterilizations and coerced abortions and should not be condoned by any American official.”

Read the rest HERE

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Earthquake Hits New Jersey and New York

Office workers gathered in downtown Washington, Tuesday, after an earthquake shook the nation's capital.

The ground was shaking today in New Jersey. A 5.9 Magnitude Earthquake centered in Virginia/North Carolina shook much of the northeast - from the Carolinas to New Jersey, to New York. Read more HERE.

O God, who hast established the earth upon firm foundations, graciously receive the prayers of Thy people: and, having utterly removed the dangers of the shaken earth, turn the terrors of Thy divine wrath into the means of the salvation of mankind; that they who are of the earth, and unto earth shall return, may rejoice to find themselves citizens of heaven by means of a holy life. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Hope in Madrid

Jennifer Hartline posted a wonderful article on her blog "My Chocolate Heart" about the excitement and exuberance of all the young pilgrims who attended World Youth Day in Madrid. This reminds me of my own pilgrimage to Rome in 2003, attending the beatification of Mother Teresa. In St. Peter's Square, the young people were standing on their seats, waving - singing - screaming - all for their love of the Pope. When you see this excitement in our young people for the Church, it really strengthens our Christian Hope!

Papa, the Young Catholics, and Amanda Marcotte: Hope in Madrid

I watched part of the World Youth Day welcoming ceremony in Madrid, Spain, and talk about great television! From every ethnicity and country stood throngs of youth jam-packed into the square, waving their countries’ flags and they were all absolutely beaming. They were exuberant with joy and excitement at welcoming the Holy Father and being welcomed by him.

I readily admit I was overcome with emotion at the sight. So many young people in every manner of dress, yet they all seemed to be clothed with the same electrifying spirit. I watched some of them present a thoughtful gift to Pope Benedict on behalf of their nation, and each of them got his childlike warm smile and blessing. The rice from a young Korean woman; a flower garland from the young lady from Japan (she looked like a walking flower herself -- so lovely!); the sombrero from the young man from Honduras; each one given with sincerity and gratitude, and equally received.

It was a striking thing to watch. Young Catholics in full-spectrum color, bubbling over with enthusiasm. This, after all, is supposedly the Church that has abandoned young people and oppressed women. I defy anyone to watch what's going on in Madrid and tell me the Church is not alive with young blood! What I saw tonight gives me great hope for my Church, and I shamefully admit I am often susceptible to discouragement. We, the Church, will indeed climb the steep hill before us because the souls doing the climbing are young and strong.

I saw young people screaming, crying and jumping for joy like lovesick fans at a rock concert, but their affection is for their Papa! This young flock knows him and they respect him. They know him because he speaks the truth without condescension or apology. They know him because he offers them hope that will never be shaken.

They recognize in Papa's voice the One who truly loves them and gave Himself for them. They hunger for that love and so they long to hear the words of the Holy Father, for he communicates the joy, the love, and the promise of Divine Mercy. He dares them to build their lives on the firm foundation of the Person of Christ rather than the flimsy, shifting sands of their era.

Those who wag their finger and look disdainfully at the Catholic Church and pile up their scathing criticism about this World Youth Day are yelling with their eyes shut. They have no idea what they're describing because they've never seen it. They’re filled with hatred, anger, resentment, disappointment, and other, less understandable motivation. Like scrawny, feral cats backed into a corner and sprayed with a hose, they're just hissing and clawing, all fangs and screeches.

One such cat is Amanda Marcotte. Slate had the bad sense (or was it endorsement?) to publish her latest round of anti-Catholic vomit this week. There was nothing at all new in her ravings, just the same ol', same ol': The Church is misogynist and hates women; the Church hates sex and thinks sex is dirty; the Church hates women who've had an abortion; the Church is full to the rafters will creepy pedophiles who practically eat little children for lunch; the Church has no remorse whatsoever for the crimes of her priests and couldn't care less who got hurt; and on and on it goes.

Well, Amanda, there's only one thing to say. Sit down, honey. You must be exhausted! I mean, the energy it takes to perpetuate this much venomous anger toward the Church must be enormous! It's clearly consuming you, so why don't you just let it go?

Seriously, Amanda, come on home. Are you Catholic? It's not your fault if you were never properly taught your Church's teachings. Sadly, most of us weren't. However, you're an adult now, so it is your fault if you don't now seek out the truth and learn to separate fact from twisted fiction.

The good news is there's a plethora of great books, CD's and other material that can bring you up to speed real quick if you just make an effort. You’ll find a much different Church than the one you're railing against so viciously. You’ll find a very different God than the one you slander so callously. But you have to seek. That's the rule: seek and ye shall find.

If you're not interested in seeking, well, I'm sorry to hear that. But in that case, please close your mouth and keep your vile and ignorant screeds to yourself. You don't know what you're talking about, and you don't have the right to spread lies and hatred.

Did you see those people in Madrid, Amanda? Did you see the life and freedom on the faces of that crowd? Do those really look like mindless sheep to you? Do those vibrant young women really look oppressed or restricted to you?

They are filled with something I believe you desperately want and need: real joy. The pure joy that comes from knowing you are loved. Endlessly, completely loved. And you are, Amanda. I'm truly sorry you don't know that. There's no way you could know that and still behave the way you do.

They're also brimming with the excitement of being part of the Body of Christ on earth. By God's grace, they are hearing the call to transform their generation by the witness of their lives. They're getting ready to fling their nets wide and haul in the catch of the century. And through their faithfulness, our dying culture will be reborn. By God's grace...

As I said, I’m prone to discouragement about all of this. I, too, see the statistics revealing the chasm between what Catholics are taught and what they're actually doing. I know there is much, much work to be done in catechizing generations of Catholics who don't know two bits about their faith. I'm frustrated on a daily basis by so-called Catholics who give the Church "the finger" and live like any other pagan.

I’m disgusted by the betrayal of public officials who are supposed to be Catholic, yet devote their lives to tearing down every moral truth when they should know better. But you know what, Amanda? Those folks are not the Church. They’re just hecklers and criminals in sheep's clothing.

The Church -- the real Church -- is seen in the faith and hope now gathered in Madrid. God is still in His heaven, and our High Priest still offers Himself for us every second of every day. Our Blessed Mother still intercedes for us. She's still teaching us the only way to freedom is through humble obedience to the lovable will of her Son.

Read the rest HERE

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Pilgrims at World Youth Day in Madrid

I grabbed this picture from Deacon Kandra's Blog - it was too good to pass up!

Pilgrims at World Youth Day in Madrid get a peek at the pope

A Cistercian Prayer

Whatever the object of my prayer,

I never pray or worship you in vain; the very act of praying brings me rich reward.

Teach me then, Holy Spirit, to pray without
ceasing, that you may grant me to rejoice unceasingly in you.

World Youth Day Begins !

Opening homily by Cardinal Antonio María Rouco Varela;

My dear brothers and sisters in the Lord

1. Welcome to Madrid for the XXVI World Youth Day announced by our Holy Father Benedict XVI in Sydney three years ago and today begins with the solemn Eucharistic celebration at the central Plaza de Cibeles Madrid!

Welcome Reverend Cardinals, Archbishops and Bishops! I greet all of you with fraternal affection in the Lord! We are joined by many priests, consecrated persons and a huge crowd of young people, hope and future of our Churches, our peoples and nations of the whole Church!

2. Allow me to speak them directly as Pastor of the Diocesan Church of Madrid and President of the Spanish Episcopal Conference and tell you with all my heart:

Dear young people of the world: Welcome to Spain! Many of you have experienced and appreciated the warm welcome and fraternal love of your fellow young people of Spain, their families, their communities and their pastors since the Days in the Dioceses. You could verify that this attitude of open arms and warm sympathy has very much to do with the fact that this is an old country formed by a community of nations: Spain!, whom main hallmark of his historical culture and his life style is the profession of Christian faith by their children in the communion of the Catholic Church. The historic character of Spain is formed with distinctive features about the Christian vision of man and life from the very dawn of his history, which began with the first journey of the apostolic preaching in Spanish almost two thousand years ago. One of the most brilliant writers and performers of contemporary Spain could say: “Spain has been moved through out history by its Christian identity”.

3. Welcome to Spain and welcome to Madrid, the Capital! The Metropolitan Cathedral of Madrid with its members dioceses, Alcala de Henares and Getafe, open not only the physical doors of their parishes, schools, a wide variety of cultural buildings and sports facilities along with the generosity provided by public and private institutions for this unique event, but also they open those areas with the most humane and Christian warmth which their families and communities. In other words: They open the doors of their hearts!

May you feel as if you are in your own house, in your own home! The Church and the people of Madrid wanted – and want- this to be for all of you, during these always difficult times of arrival, in your accommodations and throughout all of World Youth Day, which culminates on Sunday, a favourable place to live in friendship and Christian fellowship in the framework of the Universal Church, at once human and divine, which is home and family for the children of God scattered throughout the earth. And just as Spain is not intelligible without being aware of its two thousand year old Catholic tradition, Madrid, the royal residence and capital since the second half of the 16th century, in the middle of modern world, is not either. The Christian roots of this city are ancient and as we begin the second millennium of Christianity, still very much alive and strong, influencing social life, both cultural and human, but above all, its soul, the soul of their sons and daughters! Madrid is a welcoming city and friendly to all who visit it, wherever they may come!

4. World Youth Day, already with its long history of more than a quarter century, is inseparable from that Blessed man, whose memory we celebrate the Eucharist this evening in the Plaza de la Cibeles, very close, in fact, to the place where he presided over three major celebrations in the years 1982, 1993 and 2003. I’m talking about the unforgettable, venerable and beloved John Paul II. The Pope of the youth! With John Paul II begins a new historical period, unprecedented, with respect to the Successor of Peter’s relationship with the youth, and, consequently, a relationship that until then did not exist between the Church and her young: direct, immediate, heart to heart, imbued with a faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, enthusiastic, hopeful, joyful, contagious. Since that first convocation of World Youth Day 1985 in Rome all the way to World Youth Day Madrid, a beautiful story of faith, hope and love has been unfolding for three generations of young Catholics and non-Catholics who have seen how their lives are transformed in Christ and how countless vocations to the priesthood, consecrated life, Christian marriage and apostolate have emerged from them. The personal holiness of John Paul II shines with a unique appeal when it comes to the evangelization of our contemporary youth. On May 1st in St. Peter’s Square at his beatification ceremony, our Holy Father Benedict XVI did not hesitate to highlight John Paul II’s special love for the youth.

5. The secret of that brilliant personality, shaped by perfect charity, is easily revealed under the light of God’s Word which has been proclaimed. The key to explaining his life, consecrated to the Lord, the Church and man, is nothing other than his burning love for Jesus Christ, from whom, like St. Paul, he never wanted to stray. In his life, John Paul II also suffered sorrow, anguish, and persecution, lacking the most basic of necessities during the years of World War II, watching the implacable and cruel occupation of his homeland and the inhuman deprivation of his people … He suffered the pain of those that are persecuted for the cause of Christ, both before and after his election to the Holy See of Peter, literally, to the point of shedding his own blood. Indomitable witness of the truth and of Christian hope, he believed in the truth of the phrase, “If God is with us, who can be against us?”, and did not fear any of the internal or external enemies of the Church. He was a brave soldier of Christ! Nothing could separate him from his love.

How exciting it is to imagine and relive the moments of his intimate dialogue with the Lord when he asked him if “he love Him more than these!” How many times did he answer during the most critical, decisive and painful circumstances of his years as Pastor of the Universal Church: “Lord, you know everything, you know that I love you!” The Pope knew very well that to graze the sheep meant to “surrender” himself for others and go he did not want to go.

This passionate love of Jesus Christ is precisely what fascinates and catches young people. They were able to understand that in this way they were truly loved and liked by the Pope: without flattery, dissimulations, interest, cheating or superficiality, but with complete authenticity from someone who desired their good, the good of their lives: their happiness, their eternal salvation. And he looked for it by giving his own life without saving himself. They understood intuitively more with their heart than their brain. It does not come as a surprise, that they saw in the Pope the messenger of Jesus Christ’s grace and peace, announced by the prophet Isaiah, when he said, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that brings good tidings, that publishes peace; that brings good tidings of good, that publishes salvation; that says unto Zion, Thy God reigns!” (Is 52:7). Whoever experienced the World Youth Day of Buenos Aires, Santiago de Compostela, Czestochowa, Denver, Manila, Paris, Rome, Toronto, you can confirm that the way in which the Pope was welcomed, with that mixture of joy and respectful tenderness, young people showed that they recognized him as the one who came to meet them in the name of the Lord.

7. Since the fourth World Youth Day in Santiago de Compostela in 1989, no matter where the celebration has taken place, they have been designed and lived as the end of a joyful pilgrimage, conforming with this appealing Christian tradition. When inviting us to participate in this 26th World Youth Day in Madrid, the Pope is calling us to place ourselves on the path towards a new encounter with the Lord, friend, brother, Jesus Christ! He is the only one who can understand you and lead you to the truth; give everlasting life, happiness and true love! Yes, the youth of World Youth Day since Santiago de Compostela until now and forever are pilgrims of the Church. They walk in communion with her on an exceptional spiritual journey of decisive consequences for the future of their lives. They verify that the path indicated by the Successor of Peter indeed leads to Christ and no human power can prevent it; the path for their search, but above all, the way to meet Him. He is taking the initiative. John Paul II reminded us at the Vigil on the “Monte del Gozo” in Santiago de Compostela on the 19th of August, 1989 that “the spiritual tradition of Christianity not only underlines the importance of our search for God but also it highlights something even more important: it is God who seeks us. He comes to meet us.” Christ is, dear young people, the one that is looking for you and is coming to meet you at World Youth Day Madrid 2011! The key to the success of any World Youth Day is to let yourself be found by Him and, of course, it is the key to this one, as well. It will be your success!

8. Benedict, our Holy Father has presided over WYD in Cologne in August 2005 and Sydney in July 2008 in creative continuity with John Paul II. Both were unforgettable! The day after tomorrow, August 18, the Holy Father will arrive in Madrid, to preside over what we are beginning today with Thanksgiving and the Eucharistic Prayer this evening in the Plaza de Cibeles in Madrid. His appeal addressed to you, young people of the Third Millennium, resonates with new and charming accents but the same paternal request and the same love that moved Blessed John Paul II when he instituted World Day of Youth. You, the young people that are here, and many others who have wished to participate in our WYD in Madrid but were unable or unwilling to be here, you are the generation of Benedict XVI. It is not the same as that of John Paul II. Your “place in life” has its peculiarities. Your problems and life circumstances have changed. Globalization, new technologies in communication, the economic crisis, etc., has been a determining factor in your life sometimes for better and often times for worst. The youth of today, with weakened existential roots due to a rampant spiritual and moral relativism, “imprisoned by the dominant power” (Benedict XVI. Message for WYD 2011, 1), and can find no solid foundation on which to build your life in today’s culture and society, even sometimes, in the family, you are tempted to your absolute limit to lose your way in life: How could your faith not be sometimes shaken? Youth of the 21st century need, even more than previous generations, to find the Lord through the only path that has proven spiritually effective: that of a humble and simple pilgrim seeking God’s face. The youth of today need to see Jesus Christ when He comes to meet them in the Word, the sacraments, “as well, and most importantly, in the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Penance, the poor and the sick, in those brothers experiencing difficulty and in need of help “(Benedict XVI. Message, 4). They need to see and enter into an intimate dialogue with Him, who loves them without asking anything in return except that you answer with your own love. The intention of the Pope who loves you so much, is to guide you in this very way: that you may experience in the Communion of the Catholic Church the truth and the urgency of making the theme of World Youth Day 2011 your life: “rooted and built up in Christ, firm in the faith “(cf. Col 2.7).

9. John Paul II conceived World Youth Day as a valuable instrument of the new evangelization. Our Holy Father Benedict XVI as well.

Dear young people: you need to live this Eucharistic Celebration of the World Youth Day, saying thanks to the Lord, for being called from this moment to become his disciples and witnesses! Do not doubt it! Jesus Christ shows you the way and the aim of real happiness. Not only to you; but also to your fellows and friends who moved away from religious practice and, even, from their faith or who do not have any knowledge about it. Jesus is searching for you to put down roots in the heart of young people of the Third Millennium. Live the celebration as the great Prayer of the Church, which offers the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ Crucified and Resurrected to the Father as your own, for the salvation of all people; and in the Eucharistic Communion of his Body and Blood do not reject that he will make you as part of himself. Keep in mind during these days that the Lord, through the Pope, is going to ask you:

Do you accept the wonderful and beautiful challenge of “the new evangelization” of your young peers? Answer him yes, remembering that vibrant and brave call of John Paul II in the Homily on Monte del Gozo on the 20th of August, 1989:

“Do not be afraid to be saints”! “Let Christ reign in your hearts”! Answer him yes with a complete hope and a generous opening to the big life’s goals, as it is typical to young people. Answer the renewed call of Benedict XVI with a clear and coherent engagement of life! You can evangelize with words and works, today more then ever. John Paul II said to young Spanish people on the Vigil of Mary at “Cuatro Vientos”, the 3rd of May, 2003, that the new evangelization is everyone’s task in the Church: “Lay people have a leading role in it, especially married couples and Christian families, nevertheless, the evangelization today requires priests and consecrated people with urgency. Therefore, if these days you hear God’s calling that is saying to you: “Follow me!” (Mk 2, 14; Lk 5.22), do not silence it. Be generous, respond as Mary did, offering your joyful yes of your person and your life”.

10.We entrust ourselves to the maternal protection of Virgin Mary, the Mother of our Lord and the Mother of the Church at the beginning of the World Youth Day 2011. People in Madrid call on her as their Patron with the name of “Saint Mary, Royal of the Almudena”. Mary has always watched over the strength of faith, the certainty of hope and burning charity of all her sons and daughters of Madrid. I pray that, especially, these days she will watch over all of you, young people of this World Youth Day 2011, pilgrims to Madrid, the town that is devoted to Mary, in particular, to celebrate the meeting with the Holy Father. I pray that she will take care of you as only she can do, as well as our Holy Father Benedict XVI, the Bishops and priests, all your Pastors and those accompanying you. I pray that she takes care and protects your families. Remembering the prayer of John Paul II, said at the end of the unforgettable Rosary Vigil, already mentioned — the perfect end — I invite you to implore to Mary tonight with his own words:

“Hail Mary, full of Grace.
Tonight I beg for the young people
Who came to Madrid from all other the World,
Full of dreams and hopes.
They are the guards of tomorrow,
The people of the Beatitudes:
They are the living hope of the Church and of the Pope.
Holy Mary, the Mother of the young people,
Please intercede so that they are witnesses of Risen Christ,
Humble and brave disciples of the Third Millennium,
Generous heralds of the Gospel.
Holy Mary, Immaculate Virgin,
Pray with us,
Pray for us.”

Saint Patrons of the WYD2011 — Saint Isidro Labrador and Saint Mary de la Cabeza, Saint Ignatius of Loyola, Saint John of Avila, Saint Francisco Javier, Saint John of the Cross, Saint Rosa of Lima, Saint Rafael Arnáiz — pray for us!

Blessed John Paul II pray for us, pray for all young people of the WYD2011 so that they open their hearts wide to the saving grace of Christ, the only Redeemer of human kind, these extraordinary days of the Holy Spirit during which we want to “count the wonders of the Lord to the nations”!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Faith over Relativism

Anna Williams, an editorial page intern at USA TODAY, wrote a wonderful article about the triumph of faith over relativism. Regarding "relativism", Pope Benedict says "relativism, that is, letting oneself be "tossed here and there, carried about by every wind of doctrine", seems the only attitude that can cope with modern times. We are building a dictatorship of relativism that does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of one's own ego and desires." Hopefully, the youth attending WYD in Madrid will see the danger of "relativism" and toss it to the wind.

Crowds of young people throng the streets, singing, dancing and waving flags from around the world.

When a diminutive figure emerges in a white car, they erupt, jockeying for the best view of this international superstar. A rock idol? A marquee athlete? A political prodigy?

Nope: an old man — more scholar than celebrity — smiling shyly to acknowledge the adulation.

Pope Benedict XVI will arrive this week in Madrid for a weeklong celebration marked by up to a million teenage and twentysomething Catholics as World Youth Day. The international event gives young Catholics a chance to learn about and practice their faith together: Think Mass, lectures, prayer and more Mass.

But this is not your average religious conference. The music is loud; the hours, late; the attendees, young, diverse, exuberant.

The whole spectacle might understandably confuse those outside of the church: Why would these young people belong to, much less celebrate, such a backward, oppressive institution as the Roman Catholic Church? And why do they seem to find Pope Benedict, 84, not just endearing but also inspiring? The answers to these questions lie in the discontent and desires of a peculiar subset of the millennial generation.

Tradition returns

At first glance, studies such as Pew's 2010 report "Religion Among the Millennials" seem to indicate that young Catholics (age 18-29) exemplify their generation's tendency toward religious indifference. To wit, they are less likely to attend Mass weekly, less likely to pray daily, and less likely to consider religion "very important" than Catholics 30 and older. Yet the millennial Catholics who do practice and value their faith are doing something odd: They are spearheading a resurgence of traditional Catholic liturgy and disciplines that their parents and grandparents had largely abandoned.

A recent study of Catholic religious orders confirmed this trend. Sister Mary Bendyna, a member of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas and director of the Georgetown University-affiliated center that conducted the study, summarized the findings for The New York Times. Compared with older generations, she said, millennials who consider becoming priests or nuns are "more attracted to a traditional style of religious life, where there is community living, common prayer, having Mass together, praying the Liturgy of the Hours (the church's daily cycle of Scripture readings and prayers) together." "They are much more likely to say fidelity to the church is important to them," she added. "And they really are looking for communities where members wear habits," the age-old garb of monks and nuns.

You can read the rest of the story HERE

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Perseid Meteor Shower - As seen from Space !

Here is a great photo taken by Nasa astronaut Ron Garan of a Perseid meteor through a window in the International Space Station. Very cool! You can read more about it HERE.

Of Gods and Men

As a yearly retreatant at a Trappist Monastery, I have much interest in the Trappist way of serving God. After watching this movie I have a greater respect and knowledge of the Cistercians and the manifestation of their Christian Hope.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Samuel Adams, Quote for Today

"Among the natural rights of the colonists are these: first, a right to life; second, to liberty; third, to property; together with the right to support and defend them in the best manner they can. These are evident branches of ... the duty of self-preservation, commonly called the first law of nature. All men have a right to remain in a state of nature as long as they please; and in case of intolerable oppression, civil or religious, to leave the society they belong to, and enter into another.... Now what liberty can there be where property is taken away without consent?" (Nov 20, 1772)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

He is Greater than All His Works

"How greatly to be desired are all his works, and how sparkling they are to see!... He has made nothing incomplete.... Who can have enough of beholding his glory? Though we speak much we cannot reach the end, and the sum of our words is: "He is the all'. Where shall we find strength to praise him? He is greater than all his works..." Blessed John Paul II

Our Blessed John Paul II says "Who can have enough of beholding his glory"? When I see this photo taken by the Mars Rover Opportunity, I marvel at God's creation - how awesome is our God !

On Aug. 9, the golf cart-sized rover relayed its arrival at a location named Spirit Point on the crater's rim. Opportunity drove approximately 13 miles (21 kilometers) since climbing out of the Victoria crater.

Read more HERE

Lucy Hussey-Bergonzi - Saved by Baptism

All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore,* and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit." Matt 28:18-19

I saw this article on Beliefnetnews, posted by Rob Kerby. A telling story of the power of Baptism.

Expected to die, Harry Potter actress reports “miraculous” recovery after Baptism

“A teenage girl who doctors believed was going to die has been hailed a real-life miracle – after she came back to life when a priest put holy water on her head,” reports the British tabloid the Daily Mail.

Two years go, 13-year-old actress Lucy Hussey-Bergonzi was rushed to the hospital suffering from a brain hemorrhage a few days after filming a bit part in the film “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.” She had been kept alive by life support machines for five days, then her parents were told she wouldn’t make it.

“Her collapse was triggered by a rare condition Lucy had carried since birth called Arteriovenous malformation,” reports the tabloid, ”a cluster of abnormal blood vessels that remain undetected until they burst.”

The Daily Mail reports:
Lucy was transferred to Great Ormond Street Hospital on February 15, 2009, where she got through two operations while she was in a coma. At her bedside Lucy’s mother Denise, 41, was told by doctors it was time to say goodbye to her daughter.

As the family gathered to say prayers for Catholic Lucy, the priest prepared the holy water ready to douse Lucy’s lifeless forehead. As the water splashed on Lucy’s skin the stunned family saw her arm shoot up in air. Within 24 hours of her baptism Lucy was off the machines and showing signs of recovery as baffled doctors looked on struggling for an explanation.

Mrs Hussey-Bergonzi said: ‘Nothing could have prepared me for the day she was taken into hospital. We were so scared I just wanted to pick her up and run away with her, I really thought I was having a nightmare and any minute I was going to wake up and Lucy would be fine.

“When we got to the hospital a nurse came over and told me I had to leave her room. When I said ‘I’m not leaving’ they told me that Lucy was in a coma and they were putting her on a life support machine. I had no idea it was that serious. My world just came crashing down around me.’

“It was the day after her second operation when I turned to my husband Robert and said ‘we have to get her baptised,’” said Denise. “At that point I really thought she was going to die and I wanted to give her the best chance in the next life.

“So five days after Lucy was first taken into hospital we were by her bedside saying prayers watching her about to be baptized. Then the moment the priest put holy water on Lucy’s head, her arm suddenly moved up. At first I thought she might be having a fit but within 24 hours she was taken off all the life support machines and tubes.

“When I asked the doctors why she had come back to us they said they can’t explain how it happened and to this day they don’t know how or why she recovered.”

Today, aged 16, Lucy is slowly rebuilding her life, the Daily Mail reports.

”I don’t know what to make of the way I came out of the coma,” she told the newspaper. “I’d never heard of anything like this before. The doctors were saying it was a miracle, people who have brain hemorrhages usually don’t survive them.

‘I think it was a miracle, I can’t think of any other explanation.’

Read the rest of the story HERE

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Saint Lawrence the Deacon

The Deacons of today must try to emulate Lawrence and his companion deacons, as today's world is very similar to the Rome of Lawrence's time.

Here is a very good bio of St. Lawrence from Deacon Keith Fournier.

Lawrence the Deacon

The year was 258. It was a difficult beginning for what would become the First Christian Millennium. Hostility against these early followers of Jesus Christ was growing. The barbarism and severity of pagan Rome had begun to reach a fever pitch. It would soon lead to a blood lust. The newborn Christian Church, faithful to the One who had given Himself for the life of the world, continued the work of His redemption.

Roman authorities charged Christians of that era with "odium humani generis" [hatred of the human race]. The Romans claimed to be citizens of a great empire, yet they practiced primitive forms of abortion as well as "exposure", the killing of unwanted newborns. They also tried to institutionalize approval of homosexual relationships on a par with authentic marriage. Emperor Nero in the first-century A.D. was not only overt in his homosexual relationships but sought to make them normative in the empire, to give an equal status between homosexual relationships and marriage. First and Second century Rome was a challenging mission field for these early Christians. Rome proclaimed itself the shining example to the world of its age while it violated the natural law and embraced debauchery.

The day that Deacon Lawrence experienced his birth from death to life was an ominous and frightful day in ancient Rome. Four days earlier, the great Bishop of Rome, Sixtus, was arrested by soldiers of the emperor Valerian, along with his beloved deacons, and beheaded. Valerian had issued an edict to the Roman Senate that all the Christian clergy—bishops, priests and deacons—were to be arrested and executed. There were so many holy people among the martyrs of early Rome. That makes it even more remarkable that the life and death of this one humble deacon—Lawrence—is attributed with "all of Rome becoming Christian."

Sentenced to death in the Emperor Valerian’s sweeping condemnation of all Christian clergy, Lawrence offended the Emperor—and thereby endeared himself to all Christians since—by assembling before Valerian the "gold and silver" of the Church. According to the tradition, Deacon Lawrence, knowing that the fervor of Valerians' hatred was extending to all Christians who owned property, began to give it all away. He distributed the money and treasures of the Church to the city's poor—believing the clear admonition of the Savior that they were blessed and especially loved by Him.

Read more

St. Lawrence, pray for us, that the flames of divine love may burn away all traces of vice within us, and that we may be practical and zealous in the service of the poor. Amen.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Sister Mary Ann Walsh "Government must not stick its proverbial camel's nose under the church tent."

I found this article over at the Deacon's Bench blog. I think it is very important for us to read - the thought of our government undermining our religious freedom is frightening. The article is written by Sr. Mary Ann Walsh.

When it comes to church-state relations, both church and government historically have watched to keep the government out of church business. The U.S. Constitution acknowledged the significance of the role of the First Estate, when it declared that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..."

It is a clear message that government must not stick its proverbial camel's nose under the church tent. Now, however, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has gone beyond nuzzling its nose where it does not belong. It has plunked itself right in the middle of the sanctuary. It is trying to define what a religion does and does not do.

This misguided move comes with a proposed HHS regulation to guide implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The regulation for the new health care reform bill demands that all health plans pay for contraceptives, sterilizations and education to use both.

In a tacit acknowledgement that this violates the Constitution's cherished respect for religious liberty, HHS provides an exemption for religious employers -- but with a catch. The church agency can only claim exemption if it primarily serves people of its own faith. It also must meet other requirements, such as employing mostly people of its own faith.

This means HHS is setting itself up to determine what constitutes church ministry and who Jesus meant when he referred to serving "the least of my brethren."

read the rest of the story HERE

Saint Dominic

16th century portrait of St.Dominic by Giovanni Bellini.

Saint Dominic, also known as Dominic of Osma, often called Dominic de Guzmán and Domingo Félix de Guzmán (1170–August 6, 1221) was the founder of the Friars Preachers, popularly called the Dominicans or Order of Preachers (OP) Dominic is the patron saint of astronomers

"A man who governs his passions is master of the world. We must either command them, or be enslaved by them. It is better to be a hammer than an anvil."

God of Truth, you gave your church a new light in the life and preaching of our Father Dominic. Give us the help we need to support our preaching by holy and simple lives. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, God, forever and ever. Amen.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Fr. Michael Doyle doing God's work in Camden, New Jersey

Interesting story, written by Bob Braun, out of the Star-Ledger/NJ.com, about Fr. Michael Doyle, a Catholic priest in Camden New Jersey.

CAMDEN — The priest looks up at a stained-glass window of the old Sacred Heart church and points at two small holes. Bullet holes, a kind of grotesque memorial to the brief life of Anjanea Williams, 20, shot to death while doing nothing more momentous than buying a sandwich at nearby Frank’s Deli, one of the few local eateries to survive the collapse of the South Camden neighborhood.

"Like the others, she will be remembered," says Rev. Michael Doyle, the church’s pastor. Williams will be remembered at the church’s annual "Mass for the Murdered," celebrated in November for those in Camden who died violently in the previous year.

Violent crime is Sacred Heart’s invisible and deadly parishioner, a stalker that last year took 54 lives — compared to 19 murders in Glasgow, Scotland, considered the murder capital of Europe, with a population seven times the size of Camden’s, 585,000 to 79,000.

* Read the rest of the story

* photo by Saed Hindash

St. John Vianney

Without the Holy Eucharist there would be no happiness in this world; life would be insupportable. When we receive Holy Communion, we receive our joy and our happiness. The good God, wishing to give Himself to us in the Sacrament of His Love, gave us a vast and great desire, which He alone can satisfy. In the presence of this beautiful Sacrament, we are like a person dying of thirst by the side of a river — he would only need to bend his head; like a person still remaining poor, close to a great treasure — he need only stretch out his hand. He who communicates loses himself in God like a drop of water in the ocean. They can no more be separated,”

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Obama administration mandates health insurance to cover contraceptives and sterilization for women

Every day there seems to be a new attack on religious freedom. Bill Donohue, of the Catholic League, posted an article concerning the Obama administration's mandate that all health insurance plans cover contraceptives and sterilization for women.

Catholic League president Bill Donohue addresses the dilemma that the Obama administration has created for religious employers:

Yesterday, the Obama administration mandated that all health insurance plans cover contraceptives and sterilization for women, though it made an exception for religious employers. But did it? Not really. To wit: a religious employer is defined, in part, as one that primarily employs, and serves, persons who share its religious tenets.

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo said this means that "our institutions would be free to act in accord with Catholic teaching on life and procreation only if they were to stop hiring and serving non-Catholics." He's right: Catholic schools, hospitals and social service agencies have a long and distinguished record of serving everyone, regardless of religious affiliation; most even employ non-Catholics. However, there are matters, like foster care programs, where same-religion requisites make sense.

The situation is even more pernicious than it looks. Consider that three years ago, then presidential candidate Barack Obama said he opposes allowing faith-based programs to hire only their own people. Since becoming president, he has authorized his administration to consider this issue on a case-by-case basis, and just recently many of his allies lobbied him to gut the religious liberty provision in hiring altogether.

In other words, the Obama administration is playing Catch-22 with religious employers. If they are too religious, Catholic social service agencies risk losing federal funds, but if Catholic hospitals are not sufficiently religious, they cannot be exempt from carrying health insurance policies that transgress their religious tenets.

The Obama administration knows exactly what it is doing, and what it is doing is burning religious institutions at both ends. This is a pretty sick game. But it is one where there is plenty of time left on the clock.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Dawn Eden and Archbishop Sambi

I found this story at CNA. Dawn Eden, a convert from Judaism, recalls a meeting with the Archbishop.

Author and Catholic convert from Judaism Dawn Eden remembers Archbishop Pietro Sambi as a pastoral leader with a “fatherly” heart, who shared a special connection with her over his deep affection for the Jewish faith.

Archbishop Sambi, the Pope’s diplomatic representative to the U.S., died on Wednesday, July 27 at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore after lung surgery complications.

Eden, known for her 2006 bestseller “The Thrill of the Chaste,” remembers a unique and surprising series of events with the late archbishop that are forever branded in her memory.

In a July 29 interview with CNA, she recalled meeting Archbishop Sambi for the first time in 2007 at a dinner in Washington, D.C.

Eden remembered a friend introducing her to the archbishop as a Jewish convert, since the nuncio had “a special affection for the Jewish people,” having served as the papal representative to the Holy Land.

“Before I could get any words out, Archbishop Sambi looked me in the eyes with a big smile and took both my hands in his and held them tight,” Eden said.

“You must come and have tea with me at the nunciature,” Archbishop Sambi told her, “and I will show you pictures of my late friend Cardinal Lustiger and I will tell you a story about him.”

Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, a renowned French archbishop who converted to Catholicism from the Jewish faith and died in 2007 just weeks earlier, was “a great friend” of Archbishop Sambi, Eden said.

“I was quite stunned,” she added, “to be immediately welcomed” by the archbishop in such an intimate, friendly way.

As soon as she got home, Eden contacted the nunciature and “heard back immediately” from the archbishop's secretary. Within days, Eden was welcomed by Archbishop Sambi into his parlor at the nunciature for tea and cookies.

Once seated, Archbishop Sambi earnestly showed her different photos of the late cardinal's life, including the French prelate's visit to the Nazi concentration camp in Auschwitz, where his mother died.

“It was very important to him that I get a feel for who Cardinal Lustiger was” and the way that his Jewish faith “was integral to his Catholic faith,” Eden said.

It was then that Archbishop Sambi told Eden why he felt so compelled after meeting her to invite her to tea.

Read the rest of the story HERE