Tuesday, June 30, 2009

What Does Courage Require?

In a homily bringing the Pauline Year to a close, Pope Benedict encouraged everyone to have the mature faith and courage of St. Paul. Contrary to the shifting 'winds and currents of the age', it takes true courage to be faithful to the teachings of the Church.

In his Letter to the Ephesians, the Apostle says that "with Christ we must reach adulthood, mature humanity". Paul wants Christians to have 'responsible' faith, 'adult' faith. The phrase 'adult faith' has become a common slogan over recent decades. It is often understood as the attitude of those who no longer listen to the Church and her pastors, but autonomously choose what they wish to believe and not to believe: a sort of 'do-it- yourself' faith. This is also presented as the 'courage' to go against the Magisterium of the Church. The truth, however, is that it requires no courage because one is always certain of garnering public sympathy.

What does require courage is to adhere to the faith of the Church even if this contradicts the blueprint of the modern world. It is the 'non-conformity' of faith that Paul calls 'adult faith'. What he considers childlike is to charge after all the winds and currents of the age.

Part of adult faith, for example, is commitment to the inviolability of human life from the very first moment, thus radically opposing the principle of violence by defending the most helpless human creatures. Part of adult faith is recognizing lifelong marriage between a man and a woman, as ordained by God and re-established by Christ. Adult faith does not allow itself to be blown here and there by the slightest breeze.

Bishop Tobin Batting .500

Bishop Tobin of the Diocese of Providence writes a weekly column in the Rhode Island Catholic entitled Without a Doubt. It is always well done, thought provoking and pastoral but this past week made me cheer at one point and feel utterly frustrated at another. In his most recent submission, Bishop Tobin briefly addressed several issues, including the Fr. Cutie scandal in Miami, the murder of Dr. Tiller, President Obama's reception of an honorary degree at the University of Notre Dame, President Obama's declaration of the month of June as Lesbian,Gay, Bi-sexual Transgendered pride month, and a couple of other random wanderings. First the 'home run' then the 'swing and a miss'.

On the "gay agenda" he wrote:
I see that President Obama has declared June to be Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) month. The President has called on all Americans to “turn back discrimination and prejudice everywhere it exists.” In other words, if you’re opposed to the homosexual sub-culture and behavior, you’re now a presidential bigot. “If we can work together to advance the principles upon which our Nation was founded, every American will benefit,” the President said. In that spirit, I can’t wait for the President’s declaration of a month dedicated to pro-life Americans. After all, our Nation was founded on the principle of life – along with liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Speaking of the gay agenda, the left-leaning columnist of the “Providence Journal” Bob Kerr, who frequently sounds the trumpet on behalf of the gay lobby, has asked why some people feel the need to defend traditional marriage. “What are they protecting it from?” he pleads.

The answer, Bob, is identity theft. From the very beginning of recorded history, marriage has had a very specific identity – the union of one man and one woman, joined together for the dual purpose of mutual love and the creation of new life. Because of its essential contributions, marriage has been afforded special rights and privileges in every culture. Now, in just the last few years, some individuals involved in other forms of immoral sexual liaisons have appeared on the scene to say, “Hey, we want to be married too. We hereby claim your identity, your rights and privileges, for ourselves.” So that’s the answer, Bob. We’re protecting the fundamental institution of marriage from identity theft.
Identity theft...I like that. Now on to the strikeout. On President Obama at Notre Dame:
I didn’t offer any public comments about President Obama’s appearance at Notre Dame last month for several reasons: Lots of other bishops made excellent public statements that covered everything I would have said; I have no jurisdiction over Notre Dame and my voice would have meant little; and along with Notre Dame, there’s lots of other Catholic colleges and universities across the country that could be challenged for similar situations.

Nonetheless, to say that I was disappointed by the decision of Father Jenkins to invite the President and award him an honorary degree is a huge understatement. The invitation seriously compromised the Catholic identity and integrity of Notre Dame and gave plenty of encouragement to the pro-abortion folks around the country who love to see the Church divided over this issue. Accordingly, even if asked, I won’t be writing any letters of recommendation for anyone applying for Notre Dame any time soon. Or Georgetown either, for that matter.

These last two paragraphs are contradictory. The latter is a very strong statement which articulates the heart of the issue and the gravity of the scandal. Merriam-Webster defines scandal as "discredit brought upon religion by unseemly conduct in a religious person; conduct that causes or encourages a lapse of faith or of religious obedience in another; loss of or damage to reputation caused by actual or apparent violation of morality or propriety : disgrace." This is exactly the detrimental outcome Bishop Tobin observes, and it is the very reason it necessitated a public statement.

To make a public statement when 'lots of other bishops' are doing the same is not "piling on", but an important sign of solidarity. Silence is affirmation and it spoke more loudly and added to the fervor of controversy because it was perceived as tacit support. Even though Bishop Tobin has no canonical jurisdiction in South Bend, the effects of the scandal reached the faithful he is charged with shepherding--in his jurisdiction. And lastly, the fact that many other Catholic institutions could be challenged for similar incidents is a sad commentary on the state of Catholic higher education, and no excuse for ignoring the most public display of Roman Catholic Identity crisis.

The Church in the United States is at the bottom of the ninth inning and we're on our feet. We just need our shepherds to step up to the plate.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Caritas in Veritate (Love in Truth)

Today on the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, Pope Benedict signed his long-awaited encyclical on economic justice. Generally published shortly after the Pope signs the official document, it is reported that it will be available just before the G8 Summit which begins on July 8th. The content will offer ways to make globalization more attentive to meeting the needs of the poor amid the worldwide financial crisis and outline the goals and values that the faithful must defend to ensure solidarity among all peoples.

At todays audience Pope Benedict said:
"Pray for this new contribution that the Church offers to humanity in its mission to create a sustainable future, in full respect of human dignity and the right demands of all."

Scientific analysis done on St. Paul's bones

Last evening Pope Benedict celebrated First Vespers for the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, winding down the Pauline Year. Excavations begun in 2002 to make the sarcophagus of St. Paul "accessible" (pictured above) to pilgrims have produced some interesting scientific discoveries.

"An authentic scientific analysis" conducted on the sarcophagus conserved in the basilica, the Holy Father said, "seems to confirm the unanimous and uncontested tradition that these are the mortal remains of the Apostle Paul."

"A tiny hole was drilled into the sarcophagus -- which over many centuries had never been opened -- in order to insert a special probe, which revealed traces of costly purple colored linen fabric, laminated with pure gold and a blue fabric with linen filaments," Benedict XVI explained.

"Grains of red incense and protein and chalk substances were also discovered," he continued. "There were also tiny bone fragments, which were sent for carbon-14 testing by experts who were unaware of their origin. These were discovered to belong to a person who had lived between the first and second centuries."
Reported here and here.

Also announced the previous day was the following: on the 19th it was reported that Vatican archaeologists using laser technology have discovered what they believe is the oldest image in existence of St Paul the Apostle, dating from the late 4th century, on the walls of the catacomb of St. Tecla, near the basilica.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Contradiction at Conception

Published for Fathers Day last Sunday, Parade magazine asked President Obama to write a reflection on what fatherhood means to him. It is quite good, though it contains a disturbing contradiction. After sharing his personal experience of being raised without a father and coming to know the importance of a father's role by its absence, he states the following:
That is why we need fathers to step up, to realize that their job does not end at conception; that what makes you a man is not the ability to have a child but the courage to raise one.
Did he just say what I think he said? If the life of that child and with it the responsibility of the father begins at conception, how does that fit in with his abortion rights advocacy? Exactly when does life begin? Above his pay grade? Seems like the President made a practical judgment here.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Once again Pope Benedict focuses on the Year for Priests, demonstrating the great importance he is placing on the desired fruit of this year: the sanctification of priests. Hopefully those dioceses and priests that have yet to join the Holy Father in this endeavor will be moved to do so and dedicate themselves to a continued renewal of self conformed to Christ.

From Vatican Information Service:

VATICAN CITY, 24 JUN 2009 (VIS) - During today's general audience, held in St. Peter's Square, the Pope focused his remarks on the Year for Priests which he inaugurated last Friday, Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and day of prayer for the sanctification of the clergy, and which is intended to mark the 150th anniversary of the death of St. John Mary Vianney.

"Why a Year for Priests?" the Pope asked. "And why should it recall the holy 'Cure of Ars' who apparently did nothing out of the ordinary?"

The Holy Father went on to explain how "Divine Providence ordained that the figure [of St. John May Vianney] should be associated with that of St. Paul" because, "although the two saints followed very different life paths, ... these exists nonetheless a fundamental factor that unites them: their total identification with their ministry, their communion with Christ".

"The aim of this Year for Priests", he went on, "is to support each priest's struggle towards spiritual perfection, 'upon which the effectiveness of his ministry particularly depends', and to help priests, and with them the entire People of God, to rediscover and revive an awareness of the extraordinary and indispensable gift of Grace which the ordained ministry represents, for the person who receives it, for the entire Church, and for the world which would be lost without the real presence of Christ".

"Although the historical and social conditions in which the 'Cure of Ars' worked have changed, it is right to ask how priests can imitate him by identifying themselves with their ministry in modern globalised societies", said the Pope.

"In a world in which the common view of life leaves ever less space for the sacred, in place of which 'functionality' becomes the only decisive category, the Catholic concept of priesthood could risk losing its due regard, sometimes even in the ecclesial conscience".

The Holy Father identified two conceptions of the priesthood, "which do not in fact contradict one another". On the one hand "a social-functional conception which identifies the essence of priesthood with the concept of 'service'. ... On the other hand there is a sacramental-ontological conception" which sees priestly ministry "as determined by a gift called Sacrament, granted by the Lord through the mediation of the Church".

"What", the Pope asked, "does it mean for priests to evangelise? In what does the primacy of announcement exist? ... Announcement coincides with the person of Christ", he said, "a priest cannot consider himself as 'master' of the Word, but as its servant".

"Only participation in Christ's sacrifice, in His 'chenosi', ... and docile obedience to the Church ... makes announcement authentic. ... Priests are Christ's servants, in the sense that their existence, ontologically configured to Him, have an essentially relational character. The priest is in Christ, for Christ and with Christ at the service of humankind. Precisely because he belongs to Christ, the priest is radically at the service of man".

Benedict XVI concluded by expressing the hope that "the Year for Priests may lead all the clergy to identify themselves completely with Christ Who died and rose again, so that, imitating St. John the Baptist, they may be ready 'to diminish' that He may grow; and that, following the example of the 'Cure of Ars', they may be constantly and profoundly aware of their mission, which is both sign and presence of the infinite mercy of God".

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Birth of St. John the Baptist

Besides Christmas and the Nativity of the Blessed Mother, there is only one saint whose birthday is celebrated in the Liturgy of the Church, St. John the Baptist. Usually a saint is remembered on the day of his death--or birth into eternal life--but the Blessed Mother and St. John the baptist share a common dignity of being born free from original sin, thereby meriting the celebration of their actual birthday. (Mary was conceived and born free of the stain of original sin and John the Baptist was cleansed at the Annunciation when, in the presence of Christ, he leapt for joy in the womb of his mother.) This should come as no surprise for it was Jesus who said, "I tell you, among those born of women, no one is greater than John".

Taken from the Office of Reading of today's solemnity:

A sermon of St Augustine

The voice of one crying in the wilderness

The Church observes the birth of John as in some way sacred; and you will not find any other of the great men of old whose birth we celebrate officially. (The feasts of the Immaculate Conception and of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin had not yet been introduced.) We celebrate John’s, as we celebrate Christ’s. This point cannot be passed over in silence, and if I may not perhaps be able to explain it in the way that such an important matter deserves, it is still worth thinking about it a little more deeply and fruitfully than usual.

John is born of an old woman who is barren; Christ is born of a young woman who is a virgin. That John will be born is not believed, and his father is struck dumb; that Christ will be born is believed, and he is conceived by faith.

I have proposed some matters for inquiry, and listed in advance some things that need to be discussed. I have introduced these points even if we are not up to examining all the twists and turns of such a great mystery, either for lack of capacity or for lack of time. You will be taught much better by the one who speaks in you even when I am not here; the one about whom you think loving thoughts, the one whom you have taken into your hearts and whose temple you have become.

John, it seems, has been inserted as a kind of boundary between the two Testaments, the Old and the New. That he is somehow or other a boundary is something that the Lord himself indicates when he says, The Law and the prophets were until John. So he represents the old and heralds the new. Because he represents the old, he is born of an elderly couple; because he represents the new, he is revealed as a prophet in his mother’s womb. You will remember that, before he was born, at Mary’s arrival he leapt in his mother’s womb. Already he had been marked out there, designated before he was born; it was already shown whose forerunner he would be, even before he saw him. These are divine matters, and exceed the measure of human frailty. Finally, he is born, he receives a name, and his father’s tongue is loosed.

Zachary is struck dumb and loses his voice, until John, the Lord’s forerunner, is born and releases his voice for him. What does Zachary’s silence mean, but that prophecy was obscure and, before the proclamation of Christ, somehow concealed and shut up? It is released and opened up by his arrival, it becomes clear when the one who was being prophesied is about to come. The releasing of Zachary’s voice at the birth of John has the same significance as the tearing of the veil of the Temple at the crucifixion of Christ. If John were meant to proclaim himself, he would not be opening Zachary’s mouth. The tongue is released because a voice is being born – for when John was already heralding the Lord, he was asked, Who are you and he replied I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness.

John is the voice, but the Lord in the beginning was the Word. John is a voice for a time, but Christ is the eternal Word from the beginning.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Pope Benedict Inaugurates Year for Priests

A PRIEST by Lacordaire

To live in the midst of the world
without wishing its pleasures;
To be a member of each family,
yet belonging to none;
To share all suffering;
to penetrate all secrets;
To heal all wounds;
to go from men to God
and offer Him their prayers;
To return from God to men
to bring pardon and hope;
To have a heart of fire for Charity,
and a heart of bronze for Chastity
To teach and to pardon,
console and bless always.
My God, what a life;
and it is yours,
O priest of Jesus Christ.


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Catechism on the Priesthood

by St. John Vianney
My children, we have come to the Sacrament of Orders. It is a Sacrament which seems to relate to no one among you, and which yet relates to everyone. This Sacrament raises man up to God. What is a priest! A man who holds the place of God -- a man who is invested with all the powers of God. "Go, " said Our Lord to the priest; "as My Father sent Me, I send you. All power has been given Me in Heaven and on earth. Go then, teach all nations. . . . He who listens to you, listens to Me; he who despises you despises Me. " When the priest remits sins, he does not say, "God pardons you"; he says, "I absolve you. " At the Consecration, he does not say, "This is the Body of Our Lord;" he says, "This is My Body. "

Saint Bernard tells us that everything has come to us through Mary; and we may also say that everything has come to us through the priest; yes, all happiness, all graces, all heavenly gifts. If we had not the Sacrament of Orders, we should not have Our Lord. Who placed Him there, in that tabernacle? It was the priest. Who was it that received your soul, on its entrance into life? The priest. Who nourishes it, to give it strength to make its pilgrimage? The priest. Who will prepare it to appear before God, by washing that soul, for the last time, in the blood of Jesus Christ? The priest -- always the priest. And if that soul comes to the point of death, who will raise it up, who will restore it to calmness and peace? Again the priest. You cannot recall one single blessing from God without finding, side by side with this recollection, the image of the priest.

Go to confession to the Blessed Virgin, or to an angel; will they absolve you? No. Will they give you the Body and Blood of Our Lord? No. The Holy Virgin cannot make her Divine Son descend into the Host. You might have two hundred angels there, but they could not absolve you. A priest, however simple he may be, can do it; he can say to you, "Go in peace; I pardon you. " Oh, how great is a priest! The priest will not understand the greatness of his office till he is in Heaven. If he understood it on earth, he would die, not of fear, but of love. The other benefits of God would be of no avail to us without the priest. What would be the use of a house full of gold, if you had nobody to open you the door! The priest has the key of the heavenly treasures; it is he who opens the door; he is the steward of the good God, the distributor of His wealth. Without the priest, the Death and Passion of Our Lord would be of no avail. Look at the heathens: what has it availed them that Our Lord has died? Alas! they can have no share in the blessings of Redemption, while they have no priests to apply His Blood to their souls!

The priest is not a priest for himself; he does not give himself absolution; he does not administer the Sacraments to himself. He is not for himself, he is for you. After God, the priest is everything. Leave a parish twenty years without priests; they will worship beasts. If the missionary Father and I were to go away, you would say, "What can we do in this church? there is no Mass; Our Lord is no longer there: we may as well pray at home. " When people wish to destroy religion, they begin by attacking the priest, because where there is no longer any priest there is no sacrifice, and where there is no longer any sacrifice there is no religion.

When the bell calls you to church, if you were asked, "Where are you going?" you might answer, "I am going to feed my soul. " If someone were to ask you, pointing to the tabernacle, "What is that golden door?" "That is our storehouse, where the true Food of our souls is kept. " "Who has the key? Who lays in the provisions? Who makes ready the feast, and who serves the table?" "The priest. " "And what is the Food?" "The precious Body and Blood of Our Lord. " O God! O God! how Thou hast loved us! See the power of the priest; out of a piece of bread the word of a priest makes a God. It is more than creating the world. . . . Someone said, "Does Saint Philomena, then, obey the Cure of Ars?" Indeed, she may well obey him, since God obeys him.

If I were to meet a priest and an angel, I should salute the priest before I saluted the angel. The latter is the friend of God; but the priest holds His place. Saint Teresa kissed the ground where a priest had passed. When you see a priest, you should say, "There is he who made me a child of God, and opened Heaven to me by holy Baptism; he who purified me after I had sinned; who gives nourishment to my soul. " At the sight of a church tower, you may say, "What is there in that place?" "The Body of Our Lord. " "Why is He there?" "Because a priest has been there, and has said holy Mass. "

What joy did the Apostles feel after the Resurrection of Our Lord, at seeing the Master whom they had loved so much! The priest must feel the same joy, at seeing Our Lord whom he holds in his hands. Great value is attached to objects which have been laid in the drinking cup of the Blessed Virgin and of the Child Jesus, at Loretto. But the fingers of the priest, that have touched the adorable Flesh of Jesus Christ, that have been plunged into the chalice which contained His Blood, into the pyx where His Body has lain, are they not still more precious? The priesthood is the love of the Heart of Jesus. When you see the priest, think of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Faithful to Christ, Faithful to the Priesthood

The Year for Priests begins tomorrow, June 19th, at Solemn Vespers in Saint Peter's Basilica. Thus begins a special year of grace and intercession for the "importance of the priest's role and mission in the Church and in contemporary society ever more clearly perceived". (Pope Benedict audience 16 March, 2009) It is more than a year to honor, a public relations maneuver or a "shot in the arm" for priests who have been fatigued by scandal and bad press. To think this is to miss the point...and a tremendous opportunity for grace. This year is "precisely to encourage priests in [their] striving for spiritual perfection on which, above all, the effectiveness of their ministry depends". (ibid)

Archbishop Mauro Piacenza, secretary of the Congregation for the Clergy, writes, “Each day we are called to conversion, but we are called to it in a very particular way during this year, in union with all those who have received the gift of priestly ordination. Conversion to what? It is conversion to be ever more authentically that which we already are, conversion to our ecclesial identity of which our ministry is a necessary consequence, so that a renewed and joyous awareness of our “being” will determine our “acting”, or rather will create the space allowing Christ the Good Shepherd to live in us and to act through us”.

The Holy Father has asked 1.2 billion Catholics throughout the world to dedicate themselves to a year of prayer for the sanctification of priests, and has called the over 400,000 priests of the world to re-dedicate themselves to the goal of personal sanctity and mission. Think about that! How important a cause must be for the Pope to mobilize behind it the entire Church Militant? Priests, rediscover the nature of your priestly identity, recommit yourselves to Christ in prayer, lectio divina, continuing education, theological study, preaching the Gospel and the salvation of souls. All faithful unite their prayers with yours in a common goal of renewal and holiness.

St. John Mary Vianney pray for us!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

It's Official: Dominican Augustine DiNoia to Head the Congregation for Divine Worship

Fr. Augustine DiNoia, OP, a Bronx native, has been named Secretary for the Congregation of Divine Worship and will be elevated to the rank of Archbishop. Well respected for his work as executive director of the Secretariat for Doctrine and Pastoral Practices for the US National Conference of Catholic Bishops (NCCB) from 1993 to 2001, the 'then' Cardinal Ratzinger called him to the Eternal City to work as his undersecretary at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. He was appointed by Pope John Paul II in April, 2002.

Fr. DiNoia is a a prolific writer, editor, professor and brilliant theologian who is purported to have ghost-written Redemptionis Sacramentum (On certain matters to be observed or to be avoided regarding the Most Holy Eucharist).
Speculation continues as to why Pope Benedict replaced his favored Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith with Fr. DiNoia. Rather than appointing a known 'liturgist', Pope Benedict would seem to be emphasizing the theological heart of worship by the selection of his trusted collaborator. The Holy Father has written extensively on the theology of the liturgy and the organic continuity of worship, a topic near and dear to his heart. At a time when the English re-translation of the Roman Missal is being finalized and the murmurs of something historic brewing on the Anglo-Catholic front, a theologian of DiNoia's acumen appears inspired.

Theology of the liturgy means that God acts through Christ in the liturgy and that we cannot act but through Him and with Him. Of ourselves, we cannot construct the way to God. This way does not open up unless God Himself becomes the way. And again, the ways of man which do not lead to God are non-ways. Theology of the liturgy means furthermore that in the liturgy, the Logos Himself speaks to us; and not only does He speak, He comes with His Body, and His Soul, His Flesh and His Blood, His Divinity and His Humanity, in order to unite us to Himself, to make of us one single "body." In the Christian liturgy, the whole history of salvation, even more, the whole history of human searching for God is present, assumed and brought to its goal. The Christian liturgy is a cosmic liturgy – it embraces the whole of creation which "awaits with impatience the revelation of the sons of God" (Rom. 8; 9)...The liturgy derives its greatness from what it is, not from what we make of it.
Cardinal Ratzinger on the Liturgy

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Priest - the Believer

The priest must be a believer, one who converses with God. If this is not the case, then all his activities are futile. The most lofty and important thing a priest can do for people is first of all being what he is: a believer. Through faith he lets God, the other, come into the world. And if the other is not at work, our work will never be enough; When people sense that one is there who believes, who lives with God and from God, hope becomes a reality for them as well. Through the faith of the priest, doors open up all around for people: it is really possible to believe, even today. All human believing is a believing-with, and for this reason the one who believes before us is so important. In many ways this person is more exposed in his faith than the others, since their faith depends on his and since, at any given time, he has to withstand the hard-ships of faith for them….

There is a mutual given-and-take in faith in which priests and lay people become mediators of the nearness of God for one another. The priest must also nurture the humility of such receiving in himself ….

The first “task” a priest has to do is to be a believer and to become one ever anew and ever more. Faith is never simply there automatically; it must be lived. It leads us into conversation with God which involves speaking and listening to the same degree. Faith and prayer belong together; they cannot be separated. The time spent by a priest on prayer and listening to Scripture is never time lost to pastoral care or time withheld from others. People sense whether the work and words of their pastor spring from prayer fabricated at his desk.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, from A New Song for the Lord, tr. by Martha M Matesich, NY: Crossroad Publishing Co., 1996, and quoted in Magnificat for Holy Thursday, March 24, 2005.

Pray for Priests

Back on March 16th Pope Benedict XVI declared a “Year for Priests” beginning with the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on June 19, 2009--this Friday. The year will conclude in Rome with an international gathering of priests with the Holy Father on June 19, 2010.

With the announcement of this Year for Priests, the Pope has declared St. John Vianney the Universal Patron of Priests on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the death of the Curé d’Ars.

During the Year for Priests the gift of special Indulgences is granted as described in the Decree of the Apostolic Penitentiary, published on 12 May.

Pope Benedict has called this special year of dedication to encourage priests to "strive for spiritual perfection [and] divine intimacy in which the priest is called to be expert, so that he may be able to lead the souls entrusted to him humbly and trustingly to the same encounter with the Lord". Throughout this year our part is to pray for all priests that they may have a renewal of personal purity and holiness, a re-dedication to study and evangelization, and a profound self-identity of being an "alter Christus".

There is no Church without the Eucharist and there is no Eucharist without the Priest!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

O Sacrum Convivium--The Summit of our Catholic Identity

O Sacred Banquet, in which Christ becomes our food
the memory of His passion is celebrated
the soul is filled with grace
and a pledge of future glory is given to us

The Feast of Corpus Christ--Body and Blood of Christ

A Belgian Augustinian nun had a deep devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and after having a vision of the moon with a dark spot, she petitioned her bishop and later the pope to establish a feast in honor of her devotion. Thus St. Juliana helped fill the void (dark spot) in the liturgical life of the Church when Pope Urban IV issued the Bull, Transiturus, extending the feast to the Church Universal in 1264. At the request of Pope Urban, the Angelic Doctor himself, Saint Thomas Aquinas, OP, composed arguably the most beautiful body of prayer, text, hymns and chants in the Roman Breviary. You may recognize the Tantum Ergo, Pange Lingua, O Salutaris Hostia and the most beautiful of sequences, Lauda Sion, all composed by St. Thomas for this feast. Below is from this morning's Office of Readings and is a rich theolgical tract, albeit brief and concise and fairly 'accessible'.

From a work by Saint Thomas Aquinas, priest
(Opusculum 57, in festo Corporis Christi, lect. 1-4)

Since it was the will of God’s only-begotten Son that men should share in his divinity, he assumed our nature in order that by becoming man he might make men gods. Moreover, when he took our flesh he dedicated the whole of its substance to our salvation. He offered his body to God the Father on the altar of the cross as a sacrifice for our reconciliation. He shed his blood for our ransom and purification, so that we might be redeemed from our wretched state of bondage and cleansed from all sin. But to ensure that the memory of so great a gift would abide with us forever, he left his body as food and his blood as drink for the faithful to consume in the form of bread and wine.

O precious and wonderful banquet, that brings us salvation and contains all sweetness! Could anything be of more intrinsic value? Under the old law it was the flesh of calves and goats that was offered, but here Christ himself, the true God, is set before us as our food. What could be more wonderful than this? No other sacrament has greater healing power; through it sins are purged away, virtues are increased, and the soul is enriched with an abundance of every spiritual gift. It is offered in the Church for the living and the dead, so that what was instituted for the salvation of all may be for the benefit of all. Yet, in the end, no one can fully express the sweetness of this sacrament, in which spiritual delight is tasted at its very source, and in which we renew the memory of that surpassing love for us which Christ revealed in his passion.

It was to impress the vastness of this love more firmly upon the hearts of the faithful that our Lord instituted this sacrament at the Last Supper. As he was on the point of leaving the world to go to the Father, after celebrating the Passover with his disciples, he left it as a perpetual memorial of his passion. It was the fulfillment of ancient figures and the greatest of all his miracles, while for those who were to experience the sorrow of his departure, it was destined to be a unique and abiding consolation.

Let Us Bow Down and Worship...

The One whom we adore is not some distant power. He has Himself knelt down before us to wash our feet. And that gives to our adoration the quality of being unforced, adoration in joy and in hope, because we are bowing down before Him who Himself bowed down, because we bow down to enter into a love that does not make slaves of us but transforms us. So let us ask the Lord that he may grant us to understand this and to rejoice in it and that this understanding and this joy may spread out from this day far and wide into our country and our everyday life.
Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger

Free Abortions in Memory of Dr. Tiller

What a meaningful tribute? You can only scratch your head and wonder how giving away free abortions is considered honoring Dr. Tiller's memory and legacy. Yet that is just what a Philly abortion clinic did Tuesday afternoon. Incidentally, his family announced the closing of his Kansas late-term abortion clinic, leaving 2 remaining in the US. Prayers are needed.

Friday, June 12, 2009

New Rector of the Angelicum

The name of Swiss-born Fr. Charles Morerod o.p. has been submitted for approval to the Congregation for Education. General Secretary of the International Theological Commission and Consultor of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, Morerod is Dean of the Faculty of Philosophy of the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome, and professor of Dogmatic Theology.

Fr. Morerod has also been charged with leading the discussions between the CDF and Bp. Bernard Fellay of the SPPX.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Morally Irresponsible Product?

A Texas company recently released IntelliGender, an over-the-counter test which can determine the sex of a baby as early as 10 weeks into a pregnancy. Such a test and the resulting knowledge is morally neutral. However, what potential action could follow? This raises some interesting ethical concerns: sex selection and regulation.

The company claims 78-80% accuracy and of course comes with numerous disclaimers. A spokesman indicated they will not sell the product to China or India due to "sex selection concerns". Why would this not be a concern in all markets? Wouldn't this knowledge potentially lead to an increase in sex-selection abortions?

Should the product be banned? How can it be regulated? A comparison can be made with another 'neutral' product. A handgun is similar in that it is morally neutral. A handgun is a tool that is not evil in itself, but can be used for a good (self-defense) or an evil (Bank robbery) end. Therefore it is not justified to ban a neutral product. Regarding regulation, a handgun purchase can be restricted and laws enacted to govern its proper use. How would this be done for a "in-home" gender test? It simply can't. Restrict the sale by requiring a prescription? What would be the beneficial outcome? Restrict its use to a doctors office? To what end? Govern its proper usage? How do you mandate an abortion clinic report "sex-selection" as the reason for the abortion? This is neither enforceable nor reliable.

So this begs the question, why do we need such a product? Parents who want to know the sex of their baby can request it at an ultrasound. Perhaps the earlier the sex can be determined the 'less personal' it is to abort and start over until the desired result is achieved. I can think of no good reason to know the sex of a baby at 10 weeks gestation but I can think of a potential evil result. Just because 'we can' doesn't necessarily mean 'we should'.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Fr. DiNoia, OP to Head Congregation for Divine Worship?

The rumor mill is churning but it looks like Dominican father Augustine DiNoia, OP will move from the number 3 position (undersecretary) in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (formerly headed by Cardinal Ratzinger) to the number 2 position in the Congregation for Divine Worship. Considering this Congregation is responsible for the re-translation of the Mass for English speaking countries it makes sense that Pope Benedict XVI would select DiNoia, his trusted advisor, to take the helm as Archbishop. Exciting news for the Church and for my former professor.

Friday, June 5, 2009

U.S. Catholic Population Rises

Imagine the positive impact we could have if all Catholics in the United States were "on the same page".

WASHINGTON—Data in the 2009 Official Catholic Directory, also known as the Kenedy Directory, show there are 68,115,001 Catholics in the United States, making up 22 percent of the U.S. population. The total number of Catholics is an increase of about one million from the previous year.

The directory is based on information collected from dioceses and is released each spring.

Other data note there are
-- 41,489 diocesan and religious order priests
-- 60,715 religious sisters
-- 4,905 religious brothers
-- 16,935 permanent deacons
-- 18,674 parishes, including 91 new parishes
-- 562 Catholic hospitals assisting 85,293,351 patients
-- 3009 social services centers with 27,213,486 people assisted annually
-- 189 seminaries with 4,973 students
-- 234 Catholic colleges and universities with 795,823 students
-- 1,341 Catholic high schools with 674,380 students
-- 6,133 Catholic elementary schools with 1,609,387 students
-- 722,599 Students in high school religious education program
-- 3,080,838 students in elementary school religious education
-- 887,145 infant baptisms
-- 42,629 adult baptisms
-- 81,775 persons coming into full Communion, i.e. baptized Christians who joined the Catholic Church.

Each year, Catholic organizations in the United Sates provide an estimated $28.2 billion in service through institutions represented by the Catholic Health Association ($5.7 billion), Catholic Charities USA ($3.5 billion) and National Catholic Educational Association (19.8 billion). This does not include assistance provided through parishes and other organizations.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Santo Subito!

As early as the funeral of Pope John Paul II the vox populi was heard and banners were seen declaring him a "saint now!". Pope Benedict agreed, suspended the ordinary five year minimum post-mortem waiting period, and began the process.
There recently has been some 'chatter' that the investigation period was nearing a close but was delayed by the discovery of a suitcase containing 55 years worth of correspondence with a personal friend. Regardless, the pope's former press spokesman, Joaquin Navarro-Valls, has said in an interview with Il Sole 24 that Pope Benedict XVI could announce the beatification as early as this year. There have been numerous reports that the beatification will take place on April 2, 2010, marking the fifth anniversary of his death. That's where my money is! Enjoy the video.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Coming Soon...

Below are 2 more examples for a future work in progress entitled: Shame, Tolerance, Acceptance, Virtue.

Stay tuned.

In case this got passed the radar...

What?? Tolerance is one thing, promotion and "pride" is quite another. "The LGBT rights movement has achieved great progress, but there is more work to be done." But isn't Pres. Obama against same-sex marriage? Read on...


Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release June 1, 2009

- - - - - - -

Forty years ago, patrons and supporters of the Stonewall Inn in New York City resisted police harassment that had become all too common for members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. Out of this resistance, the LGBT rights movement in America was born. During LGBT Pride Month, we commemorate the events of June 1969 and commit to achieving equal justice under law for LGBT Americans.

LGBT Americans have made, and continue to make, great and lasting contributions that continue to strengthen the fabric of American society. There are many well-respected LGBT leaders in all professional fields, including the arts and business communities. LGBT Americans also mobilized the Nation to respond to the domestic HIV/AIDS epidemic and have played a vital role in broadening this country's response to the HIV pandemic.

Due in no small part to the determination and dedication of the LGBT rights movement, more LGBT Americans are living their lives openly today than ever before. I am proud to be the first President to appoint openly LGBT candidates to Senate-confirmed positions in the first 100 days of an Administration. These individuals embody the best qualities we seek in public servants, and across my Administration -- in both the White House and the Federal agencies -- openly LGBT employees are doing their jobs with distinction and professionalism.

The LGBT rights movement has achieved great progress, but there is more work to be done. LGBT youth should feel safe to learn without the fear of harassment, and LGBT families and seniors should be allowed to live their lives with dignity and respect.

My Administration has partnered with the LGBT community to advance a wide range of initiatives. At the international level, I have joined efforts at the United Nations to decriminalize homosexuality around the world. Here at home, I continue to support measures to bring the full spectrum of equal rights to LGBT Americans. These measures include enhancing hate crimes laws, supporting civil unions and Federal rights for LGBT couples, outlawing discrimination in the workplace, ensuring adoption rights, and ending the existing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy in a way that strengthens our Armed Forces and our national security. We must also commit ourselves to fighting the HIV/AIDS epidemic by both reducing the number of HIV infections and providing care and support services to people living with HIV/AIDS across the United States.

These issues affect not only the LGBT community, but also our entire Nation. As long as the promise of equality for all remains unfulfilled, all Americans are affected. If we can work together to advance the principles upon which our Nation was founded, every American will benefit. During LGBT Pride Month, I call upon the LGBT community, the Congress, and the American people to work together to promote equal rights for all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim June 2009 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month. I call upon the people of the United States to turn back discrimination and prejudice everywhere it exists.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this first day of June, in the year of our Lord two thousand nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-third.


In Recognition of Gay and Lesbian Pride Month 2009

Sec. of State Clinton's tone seems much more toned down than the Presidential proclamation. There is a great difference between "recognition" and "pride". No one should argue against decrying and preventing human rights violations against any person or class of persons. Legitimate disagreement as to what is 'included' in such human rights is valid.

Hillary Rodham Clinton

Secretary of State
Washington, DC
June 1, 2009

Forty years ago this month, the gay rights movement began with the Stonewall riots in New York City, as gays and lesbians demanded an end to the persecution they had long endured. Now, after decades of hard work, the fight has grown into a global movement to achieve a world in which all people live free from violence and fear, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
In honor of Gay and Lesbian Pride Month and on behalf of the State Department, I extend our appreciation to the global LGBT community for its courage and determination during the past 40 years, and I offer our support for the significant work that still lies ahead.
At the State Department and throughout the Administration, we are grateful for our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees in Washington and around the world. They and their families make many sacrifices to serve our nation. Their contributions are vital to our efforts to establish stability, prosperity and peace worldwide.
Human rights are at the heart of those efforts. Gays and lesbians in many parts of the world live under constant threat of arrest, violence, even torture. The persecution of gays and lesbians is a violation of human rights and an affront to human decency, and it must end. As Secretary of State, I will advance a comprehensive human rights agenda that includes the elimination of violence and discrimination against people based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
Though the road to full equality for LGBT Americans is long, the example set by those fighting for equal rights in the United States gives hope to men and women around the world who yearn for a better future for themselves and their loved ones.
This June, let us recommit ourselves to achieving a world in which all people can live in safety and freedom, no matter who they are or whom they love.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Notes on the murder of George Tiller

In the process of gathering some thoughts on the Dr. Tiller debacle, I stumbled across the entry below which does a great job summarizing:
(appreciate the photo irony)

By Michelle Malkin • June 1, 2009 12:48 AM

*Late-term abortion doctor George Tiller was gunned down at his church in Kansas Sunday morning in a thoroughly evil, cold-blooded act of domestic terrorism. Yes, terrorism. Not “extremism.” Interesting how the t-word has been rediscovered.

*Every mainstream pro-life organization has unequivocally condemned the killing.

I repeat: Every mainstream pro-life organization has unequivocally condemned the killing.

*Princeton University professor Robert P. George is right about this: “Whoever murdered George Tiller has done a gravely wicked thing. The evil of this action is in no way diminished by the blood George Tiller had on his own hands. No private individual had the right to execute judgment against him. We are a nation of laws. Lawless violence breeds only more lawless violence.”

*President Obama is right about this: “However profound our differences as Americans over difficult issues such as abortion, they cannot be resolved by heinous acts of violence.”

*Unfortunately, some are not content to leave it at that for now. They fail to respect that there is a proper time and place to indulge in political battle.

You can go here, here, and here for all that. Another round-up here.

Tiller’s family is grieving. Those who have jumped to score political points before Tiller is even buried are no better than the Phelps family thugs of the “Westboro Baptist Church” who respect no bounds of civility.

Unfortunately, it’s too much to ask the cable news networks and hyper-partisan snipers on the Internet to have the decency to restrain themselves.

Prepare for a wall-to-wall onslaught of gleeful finger-pointing on the Left and heated responses on the Right.

Prepare for whitewashed hagiographies of Tiller’s career as an abortionist.

Prepare for DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano’s defenders to gloat about vindication.

Prepare for collective demonization of pro-lifers and Christians — and more gratuitous attempts to tar talk radio, Fox News, and the Tea Party movement as responsible for the heinous crime.

Prepare for the continuing redefinition of any and all sharp political disagreement as “hate” — a ruinous trend that inevitably comes back to haunt the hysterical accusers decrying “hate” the loudest.

How unhinged has the discourse gotten already? Here’s the left-wing Daily Kos going after the left-wing John Aravosis for going after Barack Obama because he didn’t go after “right-wing extremism” hard enough.

It’s going to be a long week.