Friday, March 30, 2012
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
We are infinite wells that infinite finites will never be able to fill. Only the infinite can satiate an infinite well. Modern culture has displaced God from the center of life, a center which has been taken over by the ego.
The consequences? Lack of solidarity; permissive morality; nothing has meaning; no one is worthwhile; the advent of nihilism, the consequence of which is an infinite void that threatens to asphyxiate humanity. And the end is suicide. A society without God ends up as a society against man.
Thursday, March 22, 2012
Monday, March 19, 2012
I read this article yesterday in the Star-Ledger, a local NJ newspaper. The article is powered by Politifact.com. You can check out the article HERE. The writer has determined that the statement Rep. Chris Smith has made concerning 54 million abortions since 1973 is "mostly true." What amazes me (and I guess it shouldn't) is that the article has absolutely no heart. Can you imagine, 54 million children "killed" since 1973? A whole generation. This is the most horrendous holocaust in human history. God Bless Rep. Smith - he is a man not afraid to speak the truth.
U.S. Rep. Chris Smith has garnered attention for his ardent -- and sometimes graphic -- condemnation of abortion.
The Republican congressman, who represents parts of central New Jersey, took to the House floor on March 8 to denounce a new proposal: "after-birth abortion."
During his speech, Smith said: "since 1973" -- when the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its landmark decision in the Roe v. Wade case -- "well over 54 million babies have had abortion forced upon them." Now, he said, this "perverse proposal" for "after-birth abortion," or killing a newborn in all cases where abortion is permissible, has emerged.
PolitiFact New Jersey will leave others to debate "after-birth abortion." We decided to look only at Smith’s claim about the number of abortions.
First, let’s note that some abortion rights supporters contest using words such as babies and children in describing unborn fetuses. Jeff Sagnip, Smith’s public policy director, dismissed that argument, saying "to object to the use of the term ‘babies’ in this context is out of step with common use."
And it’s clear Smith was referencing the number of abortions since 1973, so that’s what we are fact-checking here.
Sagnip referred us to a report from the National Right to Life Committee, a group that opposes abortion, that claims there have been more than 54.5 million abortions through 2011.
The committee’s total is based on data collected by the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that advocates on issues of sexual and reproductive health.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also collect data on abortions, but states aren’t required to report to the federal agency so the numbers are incomplete in some years. And people on both sides of the abortion debate largely consider the Guttmacher Institute the authority for this type of data.
The institute has tracked roughly 49.3 million abortions through 2008 from surveys of abortion providers.
The National Right to Life Committee estimates the total through 2011 by assuming the number of abortions in 2008 -- about 1.2 million -- stayed the same. That puts the total near 53 million, a reasonable estimate, according to a spokeswoman for the Guttmacher Institute.
But the committee also adds 3 percent for a possible under-reporting rate, which pushes the total above 54 million.
The Guttmacher Institute found its 1992 survey overlooked some small providers and suggested that the number of abortions was actually between 3 percent and 4 percent more than reported. In its most recent report, the institute said: "undercounting has likely become more pronounced over the last decade" because of early medication abortions at facilities that don’t offer surgical abortions.
Spokeswoman Rebecca Wind said the Guttmacher Institute "acknowledges the potential underreporting in our abortion reporting, but we do not adjust the figures to account for underreporting. Rather, we report the actual number of abortions that are reported to us, so we are confident in this figure. We then acknowledge the level of potential underreporting in the reporting of those data."
Smith said that since 1973, when the Supreme Court handed down its decision in Roe v. Wade, there’s been "well over" 54 million abortions.
The Guttmacher Institute has tracked roughly 49.3 million abortions through 2008. If the recent trend of about 1.2 million abortions per year holds true through 2011, it’s reasonable to assume the total is now close to 53 million. Even by that figure, Smith is close.
The Guttmacher Institute acknowledges the potential for underreporting in its data, but does not adjust its figures. The statistic Smith cites relies entirely on the Guttmacher Institute data, except it adds 3 percent to adjust for the potential underreporting -- a calculation the institute doesn’t support.
Either way, both totals through 2011 are subject to projections and estimates, and for that reason we rate this claim Mostly True.
Sunday, March 18, 2012
Today we celebrate the 4th Sunday of Lent – so called LAETARE Sunday, meaning “Rejoice, O Jerusalem.” It is sometimes called “Laughter Sunday” or “Holy Humor” Sunday. We are past the halfway point of our Lenten season, glimpsing the joy that is coming at Easter, now near at hand. So, on this particular Sunday, we rest – we reflect on what we have done – what we intend to do – what we are called to do - and most of all, to recall the Joy of the Lord in the midst of our Lenten Pilgrimage. We always rejoice in the Lord – for He is with us every step of the way – through our darkness into Light. As today is “humor Sunday”, let’s being with some humor..
After presiding at a Station of the Cross service at a far distant parish, Deacon Joe found himself lost - driving home on a rainy Friday night. Seeing a light shining in the dark, he stopped his car and found himself parked in front of a Monastery. He rang the bell, after a few minutes the door opened. He was greeted by the Porter, who he asked for shelter. Fortunately, he was just in time for dinner and was treated to the best fish and chips he'd ever had. After dinner, Deacon Joe went into the kitchen to thank the chefs. He was met by two brothers, "Hello, I'm Brother Michael, and this is Brother Francis." "I'm very pleased to meet you. I just wanted to thank you for a wonderful dinner. The fish and chips were the best I've ever tasted. Out of curiosity, who cooked what?" Brother Michael replied, "Well, I'm the fish friar." Deacon Joe turned to the other brother and said, "Then you must be...." "Yes deacon, I'm afraid I'm the “chip monk”..." A true story of generosity – and where generosity reigns, there is the Kingdom of God.
Last Saturday, myself, and many of my parish cornerstone brothers, attended the Archdiocesan Catholic Men’s Conference at Seton Hall U. It was a joyful day, beginning with the perfect “blue sky” weather. I was happy to be with my Brothers in Christ – all with one heart and one mind. Yes – we all were struggling with similar and different issues, yet we all hoped for a bit of God’s grace to rain on us that day.
There were many conference speakers – the most profound being Bishop Arthur Serratelli , of the Diocese of Paterson. Bishop Serratelli is full of the Spirit – unafraid - he speaks the Truth plainly. He spoke about the present government assault on Mother Church – and on other faith traditions as well – and the role of the Catholic Christian in the midst of a subtle persecution. This is the darkness Christians are experiencing today – it is the same darkness that covered Judah so many years ago – when infidelity was added to infidelity, when abominations of all kinds were rampant – when the people polluted the Lords temple – as they do today - from within and without. The people’s sin brought on indifference towards God. Pope Benedict says “It is our very sleepiness to the presence of God that renders us insensitive to evil: we don’t hear God because we don’t want to be disturbed, and so we remain indifferent to evil.”
Brothers and sisters, we cannot afford to be insensitive to evil. In the words of the new Cardinal of New York, Timothy Dolan, “We are in a freedom of religion battle - an unwarranted, unprecedented, radical intrusion” into “a church’s ability to teach, to serve and to sanctify on its own.” The Cardinal is speaking about Mother Church – the Body of Christ – you and me.
Let us pray for strength – and let us live in hope, for history has taught us that in the midst of persecution, the Church grows stronger. God’s love is a fire that cannot be extinguished – as St. Paul exhorts the Christians in Ephesus:
“God, who is rich in mercy, because of the great love he had for us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, brought us to life with Christ - by grace you have been saved, raised us up with Christ.”
We rejoice because the most wonderful gift grace, even in the midst of our darkeness, has united us to Christ.
In our “holy humor” story, Deacon Joe was lost – looking for shelter from the storm.
So too was that notable teacher of Israel, Nicodemus, who was living in a darkness of unbelief. He sought Jesus in the night. Jesus enlightens him about the importance of Baptism, - of water and the Spirit. Jesus continues the conversation, revealing to Nicodemus that he, the Son of Man, will be lifted up on to the wood. Just as all who were restored to health as they gazed upon the serpent that was raised on a stake by Moses, all who gaze on the raised Christ and believe in Him – will be gifted with everlasting life.
This holy act is the greatest gift ever bestowed on mankind – a gift from the heart of the Father – the very heart of the Gospel “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but have eternal life.”
This gift has huge ramifications for us, we who are made in the Image of God. How wonderful it is to now that God loves us more than we love ourselves. Mother Teresa says “if we remember that God loves us, and that we can love others as He loves us, then we can become a sign of peace for the world.”
Joyful and accepting of the gift, we Praise God and say thank you. God’s gift is an offer of “mercy.” And this “mercy” is our light. Our season of Lent offers us the perfect opportunity to seek this “light” by our celebration of the Holy Sacrament of Reconciliation. We need not stay in the dark – walk into the light - ask for his “mercy.”
This Gift requires our response of Faith in Jesus. We follow him, both in his words and in his example. This gift requires us to unite ourselves spiritually with Jesus, by sharing in the power that comes from the cross. We walk under the power of Jesus, under his light, for he is the one who gives us strength and sustenance – and this power is especially needed for today’s battle against darkness. This power or light is none other than the love of God in Christ who, in his mercy, made us alive.
As we move through the second half of our Lenten journey, entering the life filled season of spring, towards that great Feast Day of Easter, remember that we live by the mercy of God. Let us renew our determination that the GRACE he has so generously lavished upon us will not be received in vain.
Father of peace, we are joyful in your Word, your Son Jesus Christ, who reconciles us to you.
Let us hasten toward Easter with the eagerness of faith and love.
Deacon Brian J. Murphy
Friday, March 9, 2012
"Simple morality dictates that unless and until someone can prove the unborn human is not alive, we must give it the benefit of the doubt and assume it is (alive). And, thus, it should be entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."
- Ronald Reagan 1982
Wednesday, March 7, 2012
Perpetua and Felicity (died 7 March 203) are Christian martyrs of the 3rd century. Perpetua (born in 181) was a 22-year old married noble, and a nursing mother. Her co-martyr Felicity, an expectant mother, was her slave. They suffered together at Carthage in the Roman province of Africa.
The account of the martyrdom of Sts. Perpetua and Felicity forms one of the finest pages of the history of the first centuries of the Church. It shows us clearly the wonderful sentiments of these two women when they heard that they had been condemned to the wild beasts. Knowing their own weakness but relying on the strength of Christ, who was fighting with them, they went to their martyrdom as to a triumphant celebration, to which they were invited by Christ. They were exposed to the fury of wild beasts in the amphitheatre at Carthage, A.D. 203, and finally killed by the sword. Their names are still mentioned together in the Roman Canon of the Mass.
* Persecution for religious beliefs is not confined to Christians in ancient times. Consider Anne Frank, the Jewish girl who, with her family, was forced into hiding and later died in Bergen-Belsen, one of Hitler’s death camps during World War II. Anne, like Perpetua and Felicity, endured hardship and suffering and finally death because she committed herself to God. In her diary Anne writes, “It’s twice as hard for us young ones to hold our ground, and maintain our opinions, in a time when all ideals are being shattered and destroyed, when people are showing their worst side, and do not know whether to believe in truth and right and God."
Saints Perpetua and Felicity, watch over all mothers and children who are separated from each other because of war or persecution. Show a special care to mothers who are imprisoned and guide them to follow your example of faith and courage. Amen
Sunday, March 4, 2012
A Real Sacifice
The readings for today's Mass can be found at http://usccb.org/bible/readings/030412.cfm
Sometimes people will ask what is it we priests do - outside of Sunday Mass. In some cases you can understand where that might come from. Most people only see their priests on Sunday at Mass, so they might think that’s it and that we wait around till next week to do it again. When I’m asked the question though, sometimes I’ll semi-jokingly respond that I see myself as one of Jesus’ customer service representatives. There’s a serious side to that answer – like the prayer requests, the people we minister too, the situations where we are to be His representative in the world. But the more light hearted part is that sometimes we get to hear all the complaints. Honestly. And this season of Lent is often the busiest for the complaint line. Here we are, the Second Sunday of Lent, and a lot of people want to share their stories about Lent that sound more like complaints:
– A mere 3 days into the season of Lent, one individual didn’t email or message me, no this was so imperative and needed immediate attention that I got a text message that said simply: I gave up eating at restaurants, fast food places, etc. It’s been three days and it’s miserable. I responded “Happy Lent” to which I got in response, only to underscore how desperate the situation was: “I’m watching my friend eat taco bell... Miserable.”
– The other night a guy who works on a Catholic Radio show was trying to share how he had given up complaining for Lent which was great because you could hear he wanted to complain about it as he was talking about it. Especially as the host of the show followed up asking him “Why don’t you tell us about your recent flight home from Rome?” The flight included an unexpected change in flights/lengthy lay over in Amsterdam for 12 hours. Not to be pessimistic, but I don’t see him making it till Easter.
– Last Sunday I got at least 3 emails asking “is it true that it’s Sunday so I can break my lenten fast.” It’s always remarkable to me how Lent makes people liturgical experts pointing to the fact that Sundays are meant to always be a celebration of the Resurrection of the Lord and part of that celebration of the “Sabbath” is to feast. But considering how people “honor” the Sabbath on a regular basis, I usually suggest that keeping to the fast might be an important thing to do.
– One friend was frustrated that someone had inivted people on twitter to respond to his post on his facebook wall wrote back on twitter: “What’s the question - I gave up Facebook for Lent (hence the reason I’m laying in the fetal position).”
As I was making a Roast Beef sandwich Friday afternoon and was just putting the leftover meat back in the fridge and it hit “Oh...Yeah... it’s Friday” and I begrudgingly wrapped the sandwich up, put it back in the fridge and looked for some meatless substitute, all of these stories, and a few others came up with a question Why do we go through all of this?
So as one of Jesus’ customer service representatives, I consulted Him (that would be through Prayer) and today’s readings really seemed to shed light on it. The Church encourages us to make these small sacrifices in our daily life to get us out of ourselves and to start thinking about, imagining a life that we live for God alone. And when we think of it - how ridiculous are we? I mean just asking the question – is Taco Bell more important than God? Facebook? Of course they’re not. But until we actually give those things up we don’t realize that, do we? And how good is God? Through the Church, He encourages us to choose whatever it is we want to give up... Even giving us the option not to give up anything at all, but rather take something on – prayer, almsgiving, etc. But the idea of all of these small moves is that it’s to help train us a bit. Train for what? To grow more and more comfortable with holding nothing back from God. To grow in our love of Him - recognizing His infinite, unmatchable love for us, so that we will become people who realize that nothing else in the whole world matters but God alone.
That’s what’s at the heart of that first reading. The story of Abraham and his son is one of the most difficult to hear, isn’t it? What kind of God would ask a Father to sacrifice his only son? Especially if you read the whole story and realize that Abraham was 100 and his wife Sarah, well it’s impolite to ask a lady her age, but she was up there too ... it was in this elderly stage of their lives before they are able to have this child. Throughout their married life they had longed for that day to have a child of their own. But that longing was always second to their love and service and sacrifice to God alone. He observed the law of God, sacrificed his own desires for God’s and at the unthinkable age of 100, Abraham and Sarah have Isaac. The joy of these parents who knew that all those around them would never have imagined new parents at their age – were it not for God working in their lives – must have been hard to match.
Yet in the short excerpt we heard today, Abraham is told “take your son Isaac, the one whom you love... and offer him up.” How was Abraham able to do this? Because Abraham knew where Isaac had come from. He knew that nothing else in the whole world matters but God alone and trusted that. And as much as that love for his son Isaac must have been tearing him apart as he prepared to offer him up to God, Abraham acted with that single-minded and single-hearted trust in God supplying all and more than he would ever need. Abraham has grown from being a man who earlier in Genesis gives up what was rightfully his “spoils of war” for the Lord to now being able to give up that which is nearest and dearest to Him, and because Abraham holds nothing back from God, God holds nothing back from him...saving his son, making him the Father of countless descendants – as all the children of God in the Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths look at Abraham as our Father in Faith.
Yet we as Catholic Christians don’t stop there. The even more amazing news is in the Gospel where Jesus takes three of his closest confidants with him into prayer. And what happens, Jesus is transformed, transfigured in their midst. Moses, and Elijah, representing the fullness of the Hebrew Scriptures appear and the voice of God speaks. And what does He say? One short sentence: “This is my beloved Son. Listen to Him.”
Here’s where the sacrifice comes back in. What is God telling us to do? To sacrifice my ego, my arrogance, my desire to do what I want, my sense of entitlement and to listen to Him, to follow Him, to live for Him alone. And thinking about Abraham and how that must’ve been so hard to offer up Isaac, how blown away should we be to realize what God Himself does? He sacrifices for us His beloved, only, son...
The minor disruptions our lenten sacrifices cause are meant to trigger within us a connection to this awesome gift. God invites us not to be gloomy, or discouraged through this season of Lent, but to recognize that as we strip ourselves of minor things, we realize how none of these things matter - how nothing matters - but Him alone. That we will find joy if we hold nothing back from God - who has held nothing back from me and from you.
Check out Fr. Chern's Blog HERE