Monday, December 08, 2003

Gifts for Family or the Poor

A personally autographed book makes the perfect gift, not to mention that books that help someone come closer to Christ (the whole reason for the season) and the Mass (the name of the feast--Christ Mass). Amy's page has all the details:
Amy Welborn and Michael Dubruiel's Books

New Apostolic Letter

As best I can tell, it recommends renewed appreciation for a variety of aspects of the liturgy including "hush" as the crappy translation tools available online translate the Italian word for silence. Also renews a stress on sacred music and fuller use of the Liturgy of the Hours by all Christians.

Sunday, December 07, 2003

Saint Nicholas Paid a Visit to a Local Catholic Bookstore Yesterday

And Joseph received a few more chocolate coins besides the ones he found in his shoe on Saturday morning.




Here is a thought, why don't Catholics and Orthodox Christians make an all out attempt to reclaim the person of Saint Nicholas transforming him back into a bishop and emphasizing bringing gifts to the poor. In fact wouldn't it be a great idea to make Christmas not a time of exchanging gifts with each other but of totally directing our gift giving to the poor. Think of the great good that could be done if we spent even a fraction of what we waste on useless gifts that often are expensive if we gave like amounts to help feed, clothe and house the truly poor.

Saturday, December 06, 2003

Feast of St. Nicholas

Shoes here were filled with coins this morning--gold ones filled with chocolate!

Check out Amy's post at open book on St. Nicholas.

Catholics everywhere should try to recapture this Saint's feast and slowly reel jolly St. Nick back to his sainted origin.

Friday, December 05, 2003

New Apostolic Letter on the Liturgy

It is only up in Italian so far. I can read the first line, a quote from the Book of Revelation, "The Spirit and the Bride say: Come!" which is a great way to begin a letter on the Liturgy. That's what its all about, inviting Our Lord to Come again!

It also isn't very long.

From the Vatican:

"1. 'Lo Spirito e la Sposa dicono: ‘Vieni!’. "

Did Murdered Priest Pose a Threat to Killer?

Interesting tale about a priest who was murdered several years ago, who it turns out was the source for the Roman Catholic Faithful's Stephen Brady.

From "Priest Knew Too Much?" By Matt C. Abbott posted Dec 2, 2003, 12:20:

"Kunz was an advisor to the Illinois-based Roman Catholic Faithful (RCF), headed by lay Catholic activist Stephen Brady. RCF investigated the misdeeds of the now-former bishop of Springfield, Ill., Daniel Ryan. (For more information about RCF's work, visit www.rcf.org.)

The police are, understandably, very tight-lipped about the status of their investigation into the Kunz homicide. But they remain steadfastly determined to solve the case, despite what some individuals have surmised. The fact is we (read: concerned Catholics) don't know what they know. And they probably know a lot more than we might think they do. In fact, press reports have stated that the police have interviewed over 1,000 people during the course of their ongoing investigation.

So if and when the case is finally solved, we'll know for sure. We'll know the full story. But, until then, all we have is speculation. Educated speculation, that is. And, I would submit, a little educated speculation - coupled with a lot of prayer - can go a long way."

Thursday, December 04, 2003

Joke Related to an Impending Snowstorm Here

As a trucker stops for a red light, a blonde catches up. She jumps out of her car, runs up to his truck, and knocks on the door. The trucker lowers the window, and she says "Hi, my name is Heather and you are losing some of your load." The trucker ignores her and proceeds down the street.
When the truck stops for another red light, the girl catches up again. She jumps out of her car, runs up and knocks on the door. Again, the trucker lowers the window. As if they've never spoken, the blonde says brightly,"Hi my name is Heather, and you are losing some of your load!"
Shaking his head, the trucker ignores her again and continues down the street.
At the third red light, the same thing happens again. All out of breath, the blonde gets out of her car, runs up, knocks on the truck door. The trucker lowers the window. Again she says "Hi, my name is Heather, and you are losing some of your load!"
When the light turns green the trucker revs up and races to the next light.
When he stops this time, he hurriedly gets out of the truck, and runs back to the blonde. He knocks on her window, and as she lowers it, he says...

"Hi, my name is Robert, it's winter in New Hampshire, and I'm driving the damn SALT TRUCK!


Thanks to my mother for forwarding this to me from Florida.

New Apostolic Letter on the Liturgy

There is a new on that I'm having a hard time finding online. But from other sources here is a snipet:

Pope John Paul said a lack of respect for the norms sometimes has led to "serious abuses" which cast a shadow over the mystery being celebrated and which cause concern and tensions among Catholics.

"Such abuses have nothing to do with the authentic spirit of the (Second Vatican) Council and must be corrected by pastors with an attitude of prudent firmness," he said, without specifying any particular abuse.

The pope said it is "more necessary than ever to increase the liturgical life within our communities," by educating Catholics about the meaning of the Mass and its various moments and their role as participants.


My How-To Book of the Mass would provide any religious educator out there with a great way to educate their parish communities.

This one was written in 1988, and giving how well it was followed there probably isn't much hope for the new one either. From the Apostolic Letter Vicesimus Quintus Annus on the twenty-fifth anniversary (today is the fourtieth anniversary.


Here is the link and a snipet, from
Apostolic Letter Vicesimus Quintus Annus:


"It cannot be tolerated that certain priests should take upon themselves the right to compose Eucharistic Prayers or to substitute profane readings for texts from Sacred Scripture. Initiatives of this sort, far from being linked with the liturgical reform as such, or with the books which have issued from it, are in direct contradiction to it, disfigure it and deprive the Christian people of the genuine treasures of the Liturgy of the Church.

It is for the bishops to root out such abuses, because the regulation of the Liturgy depends on the bishop within the limits of the law (61) and because “the life in Christ of his faithful people in some sense is derived from and depends on him”. (62)"


Further update: The new Apostolic Letter was circulated in Italian among participants at a conference held in Rome today commemorating the fortieth Anniversary of Document on the Sacred Liturgy. My guess it will be out in English in the next week or so.

Boston Archdiocese to Sell Bishop's Residence

Not surprising, and probably appropriate.

From Boston.com / News / Local / Mass. / Diocese to sell residence:

The Archdiocese of Boston will sell one of its most symbolic and coveted properties, the ornate cardinal's residence in Brighton, and 28 surrounding acres to help pay the $85 million settlement with 540 victims of clergy sexual abuse, a spokesman for Archbishop Sean P. O'Malley said last night.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

In Wheaton, Illinois Today

At the public library right now. No young people on the computers here, in fact plenty of empty spots...one man in his seventies next to me just staring that the timer (60 minute limit), I don't think he knows what to do. See Amy's post about my experiences at another library yesterday.

On my way to check out the Billy Graham museum at Wheaton.

Last night of the mission tonight...snow expected too, hopefully I'll be home before that hits.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

At St. Procopius Abbey Today...

Another Benedictine monastery from a different congregation. Latched on to a school tour and got taken through the whole complex. Very interesting! Here's a link.

There is "Tour" at the bottom of the page I've linked to above.

Crowds Flock to See Newborn in Bethlehem

No, it ain't Jesus...

From Reuters:

A baby born in Bethlehem is drawing crowds by the thousands.

Palestinians in the West Bank town revered by Christians as Jesus's birthplace have been thronging to the adjacent Aida refugee camp for a glimpse of the 11-day-old infant many are calling a "miracle baby".

The boy has gained attention for being born with a large birthmark across his cheek that roughly forms in Arabic letters the name of his uncle, Ala, a Hamas militant killed by Israeli troops after he was alleged to have planned a suicide bombing.

The family, devout Muslims, called it a divine message of support for the Palestinians against Israel, though some local Christians preparing for subdued Christmas observances have quietly dismissed it as lacking any religious significance.

The Israeli army declined comment but one security source said: "It sounds very freaky". The family denied any hoax.

Monday, December 01, 2003

At Marmion Abbey Right Now

Just visiting, catching up with office email and working on my mission talks. Beautiful monastery, founded by monks at St. Meinrad (my alma mater).

Here is their website.

Sunday, November 30, 2003

Pray for Success of Mission

I'm in Plano, Illinois today through Wednesday giving a mission. Please pray for the success of the mission.

Thanks!

Everyone Says Officials Were Horrible in FSU-Florida Game

I didn't see the game, but in the little Illinois town where I am the paper's two paragraph description includes a line "terrible officiating" that all went against Florida (and cost them at least 14 points). There was a near riot at the end of the game.

I look to Mike Biachi of the Orlando Sentinel for a little relief.

From The Orlando Sentinel:


"That's the worst [bleeping] officiating I've seen in my entire life," Florida offensive guard Shannon Snell said. "We're supposed to be cordial, but the way the game was called was b.s. They were definitely biased. I can see one or two bad calls, but it happened at least five times. They took the game away from us."

When told that the officials were pelted with debris when they left the field, Snell scoffed, "They deserved it."

Added UF offensive tackle Max Starks: "It's hard to win when it's 17 playing 11."

OK, so Starks' math is a little off. Actually, there are seven officials on a crew, which means the Gators were actually outnumbered 18 to 11. Or so it seemed.

The controversy started on the opening kickoff when it appeared FSU return man Antonio Cromartie fumbled, but the officials ruled Cromartie down. A short time later, on another kickoff, Cromartie again fumbled, but officials ruled Florida was offside. On one series later in the first half, there were three times when officials disallowed potential Florida State fumbles. Three times in one series.

In the second half, it appeared as if Florida running back Ciatrick Fason might have been down before he fumbled, but officials ruled Florida State recovered and returned it for a touchdown. Meanwhile, Florida State running back Leon Washington fumbled near Florida's goal line later in the game and UF linebacker Channing Crowder came out of the pile with it, but officials gave the ball to FSU.

"I had it right from the start," Crowder said. "I had the ball in my arms, but they gave it to FSU."

Obviously, Florida had Chris Rix in a fourth-and-14 late in the game and allowed the Seminoles to convert. And that had nothing to do with officiating. Obviously, P.K. Sam caught the game-winning 52-yard touchdown with 55 seconds left. And that had nothing to do with officiating. And, obviously, the officials didn't miss every one of those controversial calls.

But how often does every questionable call go against one team?

I'm not positive who the officials were Saturday, but I believe their names were Terry Bowden, Tommy Bowden, Timmy Bowden and Tony Bowden. And I can't swear to this, but I think I saw the field judge leaving the game Saturday riding a horse and carrying a flaming spear. And I'm still a little fuzzy on this, but I believe I saw the head linesman signal that it was Florida State ball by doing a tomahawk chop.

I'm kidding, of course, but there are certainly questions today regarding the allegiance of game officials. This is a problem that could easily be solved by just contracting officials from a neutral conference to call big games pitting teams from different leagues. Many times there are $15 million BCS bowl bids riding on the outcome of these games, so why not eliminate even the appearance of favoritism?

Saturday, November 29, 2003

Woman Knocked Unconscious By Wal-Mart Shoppers

And it being the day after Thanksgiving, we might presume "heavy" shoppers. When you hear this Sunday's Gospel reflect on the warning of Jesus, "do not let your hearts become drowsy"...Christmas has become the antithesis of Christmas.

local6.com - News - Woman Knocked Unconscious By Wal-Mart Shoppers

Friday, November 28, 2003

Shootings in Columbus

Over ten confirmed so far, one death. The latest hit was yesterday.

From USATODAY.com - More reports of cars possibly shot near Ohio highway:

A law enforcement task force already was investigating the shootings on or near a stretch of Interstate 270, the highway that circles Columbus, and extra law enforcement were sent to patrol the area on Thursday.

The first shooting was reported in May and others had come in the past 6 1/2 weeks in the area just south of Columbus. On Tuesday, Gail Knisley, 62, was killed when a bullet ripped through the driver's door of the car she was riding in on I-270.

Authorities are investigating 10 shootings in all, including one confirmed Thursday, said Franklin County Sheriff's Chief Deputy Steve Martin. Three new reports of cars possibly being shot at were ruled out.

Good Move by the President

The President's secret trip to Iraq was a good move, both for the morale of the troops but also for his presidency.

From USATODAY.com - President's visit pumps up troops:

"Troops preparing for a Thanksgiving dinner in a chow hall here had a different surprise Thursday: Their holiday dinner was served by President Bush, who moments earlier had secretly flown into Baghdad International Airport on a darkened Air Force One.

'I've never been so surprised,' said Pvt. Stephen Henderson, 19, of Inglewood, Calif., with the 1st Armored Division. 'I feel uplifted. I almost forgot I was even here.'

The soldiers gathered for Thanksgiving dinner were expecting speeches from Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, and Paul Bremer, the top civil administrator in Iraq."

Thursday, November 27, 2003

Pope Receives "Courtesy" Visit from Dalai Lama

They only discussed religous topics. Since one of the claims of the Dalai Lama is that he is the "son of God", I wonder what they discuss? This is one of the marvels of the modern church...

News From the Vatican and About the Vatican

Happy Thanksgiving!

Give thanks to God for all the blessings you've received, both those you can see as blessings and those that have yet to reveal themselves as blessings.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Virgin Mary tree causes media frenzy

Yes, there is a picture.

StarBeacon.com - Virgin Mary tree causes media frenzy

Pilgrims are stopping at a tree they say features the likeness of the Virgin Mary. The Lord may work in mysterious ways but a tree in Ridgeview Burial Park?

A gnarled ash tree, across from the cemetery office, caused a sensation Friday among believers who say the scar in the bark is a dead ringer for the Blessed Virgin.

“It sure does look like her from here,” said Sam Bucci, township trustee, as he stood about 20 feet east of the tree. “I’ve been here 100 times and never noticed it, but it does look like her.”

PROCESS OF BEATIFICATION OF JOHN PAUL I OPENED

From News From the Vatican and About the Vatican:

"On Sunday, November 23, the process of the beatification of Albino Luciani, John Paul I, was opened with a solemn liturgy in the cathedral of Belluno, Italy. John Paul I was pope for thirty-three days.

The ceremony was presided by Bishop Vincenzo Savio of Belluno-Feltre, Italy. Among those present were Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Bishop Alfredo Magarotto of Vittorio Veneto, a delegation from the patriarchate of Venice, as well as the deceased pope’s brother, Berto, and several nieces and nephews.

Albino Luciani was born in 1912 in Forno di Canale, Italy, now known as Canale d’Agordo. He was ordained a priest in 1935 and was appointed bishop of Vittorio Veneto by Blessed John XXIII in 1958. In 1969, Paul VI appointed him as the patriarch of Venice and in 1973 he was created a cardinal. After the death of Paul VI, he participated in the conclave in which he was elected as the successor of Peter on August 26, 1978. On September 28, only 33 days after his election, he died."

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Amy Welborn and Michael Dubruiel's Books

Amy's new bookstore is launched!

Autographed books make a great gift! Check her books and mine out at:Amy Welborn and Michael Dubruiel's Books

New Bishop in Phoenix

I know Catholics in Wichita will hate to see him go. In a year of extensive traveling around the U.S., I was in Wichita for a few days back in January, very vibrant Church there!

From SunHerald.com - Your Biloxi Everything Guide:

"Pope John Paul II on Tuesday named Wichita, Kan., Bishop Thomas Olmsted as leader of the Roman Catholic diocese of Phoenix, filling the vacancy left by the resignation of Bishop Thomas J. O'Brien in June.

O'Brien resigned two days after being arrested on charges of leaving the scene of a June 14 accident that killed a pedestrian. His trial is expected to begin on Jan. 12.
The 56-year-old Olmsted has been serving in Wichita since Feb. 18, 1999, first as coadjutor and then as bishop of the diocese.

He studied at the North American College in Rome, the American seminary, and received a degree in church law from the Pontifical Gregorian University."

Latest Odds on the Next Pope

Tettamanzi is the favorite, followed by Ortega y Alamino, Arinze, Battista Re and Biffi.

From Next Pope Odds | Next Pope Betting

Monday, November 24, 2003

How To Hear a Great Homily Every Time You're at Mass

I wrote about this in The How-To Book of the Mass, giving a concrete way to do it. A friend who has put it into practice told me about a week ago that it had worked for him at every Mass that he had attended until last Sunday when the priest spent the entire time lambasting various bishops and political decisions made by Bush and the Congress. This Sunday he said the pastor apologized for the remarks fo the visiting priest (recently ordained) for as he said, "not preaching a homily but giving his opinion." Therein lies the problem when priests confuse their role, essentially writing opinion columns and delivering them orally rather than preaching the Gospel.

All of this is on my mind since I'm preaching a mission next week. Any time you have the opportunity to speak to people it is a blessed moment and one that you don't want to squander on your ego. I ask your prayers for this mission and as I make final changes to the talks that I'm giving, please pray for the Lord's guidance.

Speaking of homilies and trying to hear a great one, yesterday was the Feast of Christ the King and the homily I heard told me that I don't like having kings in my life (a blanket statement made by the homilist who once stated to me in private that the biggest problem in the Church today is people don't like the hierarchy, which may or may not be true, sometimes I think it is more a case of we want to like the hierarchy very much and want them to act like a hierarchy taking bold stands against the culture of death, against those who dilute the faith). I for one, think my problem is more a choice of who is "king" of my life, who is "lord" of my life? Is it pleasure? Is it myself or another person?

I think the answer is different for all of us. I have known people who never are themselves, but constantly seek to please whoever they deem to be the "king" or "lord" of the moment. We all can be tempted when faced with the choice between the man with the crown of thorns or our personal "king" to say with the crowd, "We have no king but....(fill in the blank)."

So, sometimes even when you think you've heard a real bad homily, if in the end it has caused you to reflect on the Gospel more--then God has worked his miracle through the homilist and in fact you've heard a great homily once again!

Sunday, November 23, 2003

Attackers Slit Throats of American Soldiers

One news agency reported this story this morning as "two American soldiers were killed in a traffic accident near Baghdad International Airport"--I'd say this was hardly an accident.

From My Way News:

Attackers slit the throats of two American soldiers who were waiting in traffic in this northern Iraqi city on Sunday, witnesses said. Another soldier was killed in a roadside bombing north of Baghdad.

Friday, November 21, 2003

Congratulations to Auxiliary Bishop Elect Felipe Estevez

Named by Pope John Paul II today to be an Auxilary Bishop in Miami. I've known him since 1980 when I visited Saint Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach. He was the Rector at the time and took me outside as the sun was setting and said the memorable words, "Mike, this is Florida!"

A few years ago, I was visiting the Seminary and he recounted a fascinating nugget when I told him I was now living in Fort Wayne, IN--this Cuban born man had grown up in Fort Wayne! He also was ordained a priest for a Cuban diocese in abstentia in the Cathedral in Fort Wayne. Its a small world!

He'll make a great bishop!

Archdiocese Found Guilty of Failing to Report Abuse

Part of the Prosecuting Attorney's Statement...

From :

"Hold them accountable.

Make sure this doesn't happen again.

I cannot tell you how many times or how many people have said that to me over the last year. But they were not talking about a serial rapist, or a multiple murderer, or the vicious rioters who brought our city to its knees.

They were talking about one of the most respected and revered institutions in our county - the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.
And the depth of the public's anger and frustration with the leadership of the Catholic Church rivals that expressed to me about any case since I have been prosecutor.

I can tell you today that we have done exactly what the citizens of Hamilton County and this office felt was required. We have held them accountable, and we have taken steps to make sure what took place in the Catholic Church over the last several decades will not happen again. "


Grave of Simeon?

Interesting find in Jerusalem.

From Gospel verse found on ancient shrine:

"The inscription says the monument is the tomb of “Simeon who was a very just man and a very devoted old (person) and waiting for the consolation of the people.” Simeon is a Greek version of Simon.

The passage is identical to the Gospel verse Luke 2:25, as it appears in a 4th-century version of the Bible, the Codex Sinaiticus, which was later revised extensively.

“This (the inscription) shows there were different versions of the Old and New Testament going around,” said Zias, who presented his find Thursday at the annual conference of the American Schools of Oriental Research in Atlanta.

The Zachariah and Simon inscriptions were chiseled into what is known today as Absalom’s Tomb, one of three large funerary monuments built in the Kidron Valley for the city’s rich."

Thursday, November 20, 2003

Pretending to be Catholic--In Order to Save Your Life

I'm working on talks for my upcoming mission and illustrations for the talks. One of the most remarkable people that I have come to befriend in the past few years is someone who for a period of her life pretended to be Catholic in order to save her life. She is a Polish Jew who growing up in Poland in the late 1930's literally survived the horrors of the Nazi occupation by pretending to be Catholic. She was given a fake Baptismal Certificate, a Christian name, and she attended Mass regularly (Communion was not a problem in the pre-conciliar church because hardly anyone received regularly). Much later in life she became close friends with a fellow Pole (besides me that is) who just happens to be the Pope. In a correspondence with her, one of his recurring messages to her, is that she "be herself" and I find this remarkable because of her early history where survival was only possible by not being herself but pretending to be someone else. Even though she is a Jew the Pope is very Christian in his correspondence to her, he recommends her to the Blessed Virgin Mary, wishes her well on Jewish feasts as well as those connected to Christ, he even sends her a piece of his Oplatek, Na szczescie, na zdrowie z Wigilia!.

She has written a book about Him and her own experiences entitled Building Bridges: Pope John Paul II and the Horizon of Life.

What strikes me about Lena's story is how many of us are pretending to be Catholic in our own day? And why?

I often wonder when I hear people talk about what they believe and what they do not believe and wonder why they remain Catholic if they really don't believe? The amazing thing I have learned from my experiences with Dr. Allen-Shore is that she believes more about the Catholic faith than many who say they are Catholic. She once pretended to be Catholic in order to save her life and perhaps in the end all of us our pretending to be Catholic so that we too might save our lives. But is "pretending" going to be enough in the end?

If we followed the Pope's advice to Lena to "be ourself" would we be something else? I know deep down that when the Pope tells Lena to be herself that he knows that she is a follower of Christ. That something in her early years catechized her to the truth of the Gospel and it has never left her. And I truly believe that if each of us was the person that God created us to be, namely ourself, we too would hear the truth of the Gospel and coming to Christ in the Eucharist would be something that would enable us to become even more truly who we are!

In the Philipines if You're a Priest and You Father a Second Child--You're Out!

Why not with the first????

Same rule applies to those with a homosexual orientation but its unclear how they would know if it was the first act or second act?

From The Manila Times Internet Edition | TOP STORIES >:

Priests in the Philippines found to have fathered a child will not be automatically defrocked but those with two will be immediately asked to leave the Catholic Church.

Those found committing homosexual acts will be sent to a rehabilitation center run by the Church, but if they repeat the offense they will be expelled at once.

The offenses and their penalties are contained in an 18-page “Pastoral Guidelines on Sexual Abuses and Misconduct by the Clergy” released by the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines on Wednesday.

The CBCP was forced to issue the protocol after two prominent bishops earlier this year figured in sex scandals.

Bishop Crisostomo Yalung left the clergy after begetting two children by a parishioner in Antipolo City, while the Vatican removed Teodoro Bacani, bishop of Novaliches, on allegations that he sexually harassed his secretary.

For the first time last year the Catholic Church publicly apologized for sexual abuses committed by Filipino priests, but insisted that most of them remained faithful to their vows.

The Church admitted that some 200 priests have been investigated for sexual misconduct over the past 20 years. Some were dismissed; most resigned voluntarily.


FSU Joke of the Day

In preparation for the Florida-Florida State game on Nov. 29th:

A state trooper pulls over an FSU grad on Interstate 10.

State trooper asks, "You got any I.D."

The FSU grad replies, "About what??"

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

The Next Archbishop of Atlanta?

A friend who has an uncanny knack for being right when it comes to telling me weeks before who the most likely candidates are to fill vacant sees, claims Bishop Boland will be the next Archbishop of Atlanta...today he raises his voice against same-sex marriages.

From MDJonline.com - Marietta, Georgia:

"A Roman Catholic bishop who co-authored a statement opposing same-sex unions, approved by U.S. bishops last week, said Monday legal gay marriages would be 'another diminishing of society, just like abortion.'

But Bishop J. Kevin Boland of the Diocese of Savannah insisted the document, to be distributed to Catholic churches in pamphlet form, was not intended to condemn homosexuals.

'We respect their dignity as persons,' Boland said at a news conference. 'We know that, with some individuals, it's not their choice to be gay. But at the same time a gay person, just like a heterosexual person, may be obliged to chastity.'

At their annual meeting in Washington last week, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops adopted a four-page statement explaining why Catholics should oppose legal recognition of same-sex unions. As chairman of the bishops' Committee on Marriage and Family, Boland was one of the document's authors and sponsored it before the full conference."

The Bethlehem Code

The real secret code that largely goes unnoticed by many Bible believing Christians is the Bethlehem code. The subtle message that is written into the New Testament that points to where the Risen Christ may be found. I say it is secret because it clearly was written into the text of the New Testament but those who read the Scriptures only literally can totally miss it.

Consider for starters the Gospel of Luke, we all know the story at the beginning...the annunciations to Zechariah and Mary and Mary gives us the first hint of the "secret" when she proclaims "He has shown the might of his arm dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart. He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones but lifted up the lowly. The hungry he has filled with good things; the rich he has sent away empty,"(Luke 1:51-53) Zechariah in his prophetic utterance further gives us a clue, "by which the daybreak from on high will visit us to shine on those who sit in darkness and death's shadow, to guide our feet into the path of peace" (Luke 1:78,79).

Think of the themes hinted at in both of these canticles, the lowly understand a message that those in power totally miss, their hunger is filled, and those who sit in darkness are given light. Again for someone who sees these as clues that point us to a message that is about to be revealed to us, a secret message, we have only to look a few verses further for the first big revelation.

In Luke 2: 8 immediately following the birth of Jesus we read about shepherds keeping "night watch" over their flocks, literally a people "sitting in darkness" who have an experience of "the glory of the lord shone around them"...they are told by the angels who appear to them that this will be "a sign" to them.

Let's stop there what exactly is a sign? It is not an end in and of itself but rather points to a greater reality. What is the sign they will witness? They are told that they will fine an "infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger." A manger is a feeding box (as one poor translation of Scripture once actually translated it) for animals. We are told that it is a "sign", what they witness there points to something beyond their experience of the birth of Christ to something else.

When the angels leave, the shepherds look to one another and say, "Let us go, then, to Bethlehem to see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us." The key phrase here is "Bethlehem" which literally means "house of bread". "Let us go to the House of Bread to see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us."

All of this is how the Gospel of Luke begins... how does it end? The Risen Christ joins two disciples on the road to Emmaus. They do not recognize him. He opens the Scriptures to them. They invite Him to stay with them. He takes bread, says the blessing, breaks it, gives it to them, then physically vanishes from their site. Luke tells us quite blatantly, for the really dense reader, that they recognized Him in the "breaking of the bread". Where are we to find Jesus this day? In the bread that is broken in the Eucharist!

I'll be preaching a mission on the "Bethlehem Code" in suburban Chicago from Nov. 30- December 3rd. If you are in the area feel free to join us!

Russian Orthodox Sever Ties with Episcopalians

Interesting, strong statement.

From Vladivostok News :: Episcopal's gay bishop completely unorthodox:

"The Russian Orthodox Church said Monday that it has broken off ties with the Episcopalian movement in the U.S. calling the latter's consecration of an openly gay bishop, 'unchristian and blasphemous.'

The Moscow Patriarchate referred to a verse in the Bible stating that sex between two men is loathsome and neither fornicators nor sodomites will enter God's realm.

'The Church does not deny assistance to the unfortunate people who suffer from this ailment. God is love, and Christians must pray for all sinners and for their salvation. However, the Church cannot approve perversions of human nature created by the Lord himself,' the statement says. "

Fate of the Late President Kennedy

I've been watching off and on The Kennedies on PBS this week. Today Spirit Daily has an interesting account traced back to a nun who claims that Kennedy went to confession and Mass on the morning of the day he was assasinated. Seems difficult to confirm but Michael Brown does an interesting job of trying to track down the truth. At the end of his piece he provides an interesting anecdote from St. Padre Pio.

Spirit Daily - Daily spiritual news from around the world:

"In Italy, the famous mystic Padre Pio, since canonized, was said to have broken down and wept at news of the assassination. When a fellow priest, Padre Aurelio, equally distressed, asked him to pray for the dead president's salvation, Padre Pio reportedly replied: 'It's not necessary. He's already in paradise.'"

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Tammy Faye Update

Its the "old hymns" that kept her going...and keep her going evidently.

WorldNetDaily: Tammy Faye speaks at homosexual church:

"Pastor Robert L. Morgan told the paper he has been trying to get Messner to speak in his church for the past two years because, he says, she carries a powerful message: God loves all. Messner once hosted a daytime television show with a homosexual co-host and, the Times said, has appeared at 'gay pride' events throughout the country.
'I wanted to set as an example that not all straight people hate you,' Morgan is quoted as telling his congregation prior to introducing his guest speaker.

According to the Florida paper, Messner told the churchgoers how difficult it was when Jim Bakker's Praise the Lord television network was shut down so quickly in 1987.

'Everything was gone, everyone hated us,' she said through tears, the paper reports. 'I couldn't read my Bible. You know what sustained me? The old hymns.'

She then sang, 'Oh, what a friend we have in Jesus.'

As Messner spoke, she walked among the wooden pews of the small, white church. "

Touching on her theological beliefs, the paper quotes the former TV star as stating, "I think Jesus really loves crazy people. He really does. He made so many of us!"

Joseph's Favorite Tune

He refers to it as the "chicken man" song. It is a Bruce Springsteen song performed by Hank Williams III and as to the identity of the "chicken man" well here you go...

From Philly/South Jersey Mob History:

"In the 1980s and 1990s, mob watching in the region became a spectator sport of sorts. The colorful nature of the mob wars was immortalized in Bruce Springsteen's song, Atlantic City, which chronicled the events surrounding the 1981 bombing death of Bruno's successor, Philip 'Chicken Man' Testa."

Archbishop Milingo Disappears

From Troublesome archbishop runs a little further from grace - www.theage.com.au:

"Archbishop Emanuel Milingo has done it again: run off with a woman. Vatican sources say that the Zambian archbishop, who has been under 'monastery arrest' since returning from marriage to a Korean member of the Moonie sect, has absconded again.

He is reported to have fled from a religious community at Zagarolo, near Rome, to Lecco, north Italy, with a female painter, Alba Vitali. He has long known the painter - she did his portrait before the marriage. It is believed that she is convinced he needs a more congenial atmosphere than at Zagarolo, and also medical care."

The Tower Proposes an Advent Fast

What is strange about this was that I was looking at an Orthodox calendar that I have hanging in my office and I noticed that the period we are now in is purple (symbolizing fast). I wondered what it might mean. Then I was viewing my blog and noticed a comment by Nathan, so I decided to check out his blog and lo and behold a direct answer to my unspoken question. Plus a great suggestion, in fact it is a suggestion that I would suggest you pass on to your diocesan bishop.

What we need right now is not "statements" but action. A declaration of a fast for Advent--for peace in the world and renewal within the Church is just what we need.

Fasting During Advent: Waiting in Joyful Hope

Nathan also has a response to Andrew Sullivan which is well worth a read. He shares Andrew's plight but has a different view of what being Catholic (and he just became a Catholic this past Easter) means. Scroll down to his November 10th entry.

I would add the following. Everyone is a sinner. In the our modern experience of the Church we often hear of the term of "cafeteria Catholicism" that might be better termed "cafeteria sinfulness". We all tend to pass by those parts of Catholicism that convict us of sin. But it is exactly in our weakness, our sinfulness where Christ can save us. We all need to fast not only from food, but from judgment of others, and from our sins...so that Christ may truly come into our lives.

Mr. Sharon Tear Down This Wall!

Pope John Paul has asked Israel to rethink its building a wall between itself and the Palestinians. The creation of a "Berlin" type wall in this modern age seems unthinkable, but shows how conflict between peoples seems to never leave us.

From News 24:

"At the same time, I must note that unfortunately in those places, the dynamism of peace seems to have stopped. The construction of a wall between the Israeli and Palestinian people is seen by many as a new obstacle on the road toward peaceful cohabitation," he said. "In reality, the Holy Land doesn't need walls, but bridges."

Elie Wiesel takes issue with the Pope:

"From the spiritual leader of one of the largest and most important religions in the world, I expected something very different, namely a statement condemning terror and the killing of innocents, without mixing in political considerations and above all without comparing these things to a work of pure self-defence," Wiesel told the Corriere della Sera newspaper in an interview.


Monday, November 17, 2003

Geoff Bodine Singing

Click here.

Varia

Spirit Daily has an interesting prophecy by Pere Lamy...

I had read this years ago, but it does seem even more relevant today and I do think that we are on the verge of what the Pope has termed the period of "new evangelization"...all at a time when it seems that all is lost.

Drudge has a sneak at the latest outrage to come out of Disney...a movie that has a Santa swearing and doing just about everything else under the sun. I saw a preview yesterday and even the preview was pretty daring.

He also reports that Alaska has been hit with a 7.5 earthquake and now there is fear of a giant tusami hitting the west coast.

Amy has a link to the latest Report from Rome that includes some interesting takes on the Liturgical situation in the Church.

Sunday, November 16, 2003

Happy Birthday to the Oldest Living Human Being

A few weeks ago she was the third oldest, but today she is the oldest! She lives in nearby Lima, OH. She moved there when she was 110 so that she could be close to family. She also has two sisters still living, both of whom are 99.

My grandmother lived into her hundreds (as well as her sisters).

Today is also my birthday, but I'm a long, long way from 100.

From The Vindicator:

"Charlotte Benkner, who will celebrate her 114th birthday Sunday, said Friday she doesn't understand what all the fuss is about.

'It's just another birthday,' the world's oldest person said after making her way through the crowded room with the help of a walker to a chair facing rows of reporters and schoolchildren.

'I'm overwhelmed that so many people came out for my birthday.' Smiling, she added, 'It would be so nice if it were sweet 16. I'd have a lovely time.'


Her favorite food:

"What's your favorite food?" a boy asked.

"My favorite time is dinner and I can eat chicken five days a week," Benkner responded.


The secret to a long life?

Reporters were more interested in learning the secret to Benkner's living so long.

"There is no secret," she said. "I just live each day the way the Lord gives it to me."


Something we can all apply to this and everyday!

Saturday, November 15, 2003

Review from a Reader...of The How-To Book of the Mass

Amazon.com: Books: The How-To Book of the Mass: Everything You Need to Know but No One Ever Taught You:
"An Enlightened Cradle Catholic, November 14, 2003
Reviewer: Kimberly from Omaha, NE United States

As a 'cradle Catholic', I'm pleasantly surprised to find how much I learned from this book! At age 25, I obviously know the 'how' of mass, but this book also gives the 'why' - something I was (unfortunately) never taught in CCD growing up. It explains the rituals of the mass by telling of their uses in the early church and/or relevant passages in the bible. I know I will get at least twice as much out of attending mass from now on!
My mother always used to complain that my generation was not taught the 'parts of the mass' in CCD as hers was. I don't know if this is a result of changes made by Vatican II, or simply the archdiocese I grew up in. I hope CCD children today are again taught the parts of the mass; I personally purchased this book to learn more myself so I can teach my own children better. After reading it, I wish I could afford to pass out copies at my church to the other parishioners of my generation who are obviously also not getting as much from the mass as they could be!
I agree with another reviewer that it would have been nice if the text of the prayers explained were included in the book, even if just in the back. But don't let this keep you from purchasing it; if you are a cradle Catholic, you already KNOW the prayers. If you are new, they can be easily found in a missal at any Catholic church. "


And a note of explanation with regard to the last point. I would have liked to have included the actual prayers in the book too, for the most part I found ways to allude to them to the degree that I could without quoting them--although I did quote them if they were drawn from Scripture or other the early church. But as to the Mass parts they are copyrighted and you have to pay ICEL money to quote them in their entirity and because I know the translation of the prayers is changing (although it could be a few years before it happens) I didn't want to include them in this edition.

Bishop's November Meeting

A few bishops (one liberal, one orthodox) and the usual lay groups. I'm left with wondering if the bishops in this country will ever recapture in the hearts of the faithful that they speak for Christ?

From Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly . NEWS FEATURE: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops . November 14, 2003 | PBS

Friday, November 14, 2003

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Saint's Name for Every Child???

About a year ago we released a very popular book entitled Dictionary of Patron Saints' Names. One of the remarkable aspects of this book was that it can link almost any name a child is given, say for instance "Spring" or "Brook" with a patron. I'm not sure that Father ingenuity can match the latest trend though:
BBC NEWS | World | Americas | US babies get global brand names:

"Americans are increasingly turning to the world of popular culture to name their children, a study has found.

Children have been named after big brands as diverse as beauty company L'Oreal, car firm Chevrolet and designer clothes company Armani.

There are even two little boys, one in Michigan and one in Texas, called ESPN after the sports channel.

Psychology professor Cleveland Evans discovered the trend after surveying US social security records for 2000. "


I wonder if anyone has named their child EWTN, Envoy or Our Sunday Visitor?

Japan Cardinal Hopes Next Pope Calls Vatican III

From Total Catholic:

Newly-created Japanese Cardinal Stephen Fumio Hamao has said he believes it would be acceptable for John Paul II to retire, and has also called for his successor to call a third Vatican Council.

“I admire very much his courageous activity and work in spite of his not-so-good condition of health,” said Cardinal Hamao, 73.

“But he may retire, and I hope he does so, because it is pitiful to see him like he is now.” However, the cardinal pointedly added: “I don’t think he wants to retire.”

Cardinal Hamao, who is President of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Itinerants and the only Asian currently heading a Vatican office, said he considered the red hat to be a “strong endorsement” by John Paul II of the work of his office.

The cardinal then looked forward to the conclave to choose a successor, who he said firstly should be a man like the present Pope, and secondly a man able to “understand the position of the different cultures, religions and customs of the different countries”.

Third, he would like the next pope to be “open, intelligent and welcoming,” who will ensure that the Curia serves and encourages the Church throughout the world. Fourthly, he considers it important that the next pope should have pastoral experience in a diocese, and fifthly, and most strikingly, he wants the next pope to call a third Vatican Council.
“The bishops make proposals at the synods, and the Holy Father gives an apostolic exhortation, but nothing is decided,” he said.

“No decisions are taken by the synods of bishops. I don’t think this is due to the Holy Father. But the fact is there is no change in the structures of the Church. This does not strengthen the faith.”

Cardinal Hamao said a Vatican Council could address such issues as the relationship with other religions, bioethics, cloning, the environment and ecology.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

Popular Devotional Practices: Questions and Answers

New document by the American Bishops.

I found the following, from the Appendix interesting:

i. What are indulgences?

An indulgence does not confer grace. An indulgence is not a remission of the guilt due to sin. The guilt due to sin is ordinarily taken away by the Sacraments of Baptism and Penance (confession), in which we receive forgiveness for sins through Jesus Christ. Although guilt is taken away, and with it the eternal penalty that is due to sin—namely, damnation, the eternal loss of the presence of God—there remain consequences for sins that those who have committed them must bear. There is what is traditionally called the temporal punishment for sin.

By its very nature, every sin inevitably causes suffering for the one who has committed it. Every sinful act creates a disorder within the soul of the human person; it distorts our desires and affections, leaving us with "an unhealthy attachment to creatures, which must be purified either here on earth, or after death in the state called Purgatory."57 Furthermore, sin disrupts one's relationships with God, with the Church, with other people, and with the world as a whole. The communion intended by God is damaged or lost. Those who have received forgiveness for their sins still have an obligation to undergo a difficult and painful process (the temporal penalty for sin) to be purified of the consequences of their sins and to restore the disrupted relationships. "While patiently bearing sufferings and trials of all kinds and, when the day comes, serenely facing death, the Christian must strive to accept this temporal punishment of sin as a grace."58 The necessary and painful process that brings restoration and purification can take place either in this life or in Purgatory, as whatever part of the process remains unfinished at death must be completed in Purgatory.59

Through an indulgence, God grants the prayer of the Church that the temporal penalty for sin due to someone be reduced (or possibly eliminated). By God's grace, participation in a prayer or action that has an indulgence attached to it brings about the necessary restoration and reparation without the suffering that would normally accompany it. The granting of an indulgence by the Church is "the expression of the Church''s full confidence of being heard by the Father when—in view of Christ's merits and, by his gift, those of Our Lady and the saints—she asks him to mitigate or cancel the painful aspect of punishment by fostering its medicinal aspect through other channels of grace."60

A Pint of Guinness is Good for You

Actually 8 ounces more than a pint...I'll drink to that!

From BBC NEWS | Health | Guinness good for you - official:

"The researchers told a meeting of the American Heart Association in Orlando, Florida, that the most benefit they saw was from 24 fluid ounces of Guinness - just over a pint - taken at mealtimes.

They believe that "antioxidant compounds" in the Guinness, similar to those found in certain fruits and vegetables, are responsible for the health benefits because they slow down the deposit of harmful cholesterol on the artery walls.


Feast of Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini

Today is the feast of the Mother Cabrini. Last Thursday Amy, Katie, Joseph and I prayed a few inches from Mother Cabrini's body encased below the altar at the Mother Cabrini Shrine in uptown Manhattan. We prayed that Amy's talk would go well the next day, and that all our future "missionary" activity would be blessed by God as well, including specifically a mission that I'm giving in suburban Chicago later this month.

Mother Cabrini died in Chicago and there is a shrine there that has the rooms she lived and died in at the Columbus Hospital. The hospital recently closed and I understand that the shrine remains open. I ask everyone to ask Mother Cabrini's intercession on all missionary activity both in this country and in foreign lands.

Today is also the feast of St. Stanislaus Kostka the patron saint of the parish that I grew up in, essentially one of the few Polish parishes in New Hampshire. In fact, I grew up directly across the street from the original parish church, pictured in the link.

Gas is $.10 a Gallon

In Baghdad, Iraq..FOXNews.com - Top Stories - Journal: Here's a Buck; Fill It With Regular

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

In Case You Missed It

A few weeks ago on Sixty Minutes, Bob Simon did a piece on the canonization of Mother Teresa and the subject of Padre Pio came up in his disscussion with Father Richard McBrien. Father Richard McBrien's Catholicism was a book that many lay ministers in the Church use to carry around as though it were a Bible. Bishops in the U.S. have called the accuracy of the book into question, but it is still used by many. What is telling in this interview with Bob Simon isn't so much McBrien's disbelief in the miracles of Padre Pio but his equating Jesus with a simple message minus miracles. It shows what kind of Chritianity we are left with once Jesus has been stripped of the miraculous--a powerless Christianity, which is not the Christianity of the Jesus of the Gospels...who tells His Apostles and disciples "You shall receive power!" What kind of power, to heal the sick, to raise the dead and I would guess the power to "love" the unlovable. No wonder the church is in such a mess in this country!

From CBS' Sixty Minutes:

SIMON: (Voiceover) But behind every bevy of true
believers, there is bound to be a skeptic. Father
McBrien says he'd like to do away with the miracle
requirement for sainthood, and he thinks that Pope
John Paul II made a mistake when he declared Padre Pio
a saint.

Padre Pio?

Fr. McBRIEN: I would not have canonized him, either.

SIMON: Just in terms of the miracles which he is said
to be involved with--he naturally emitted the scent of
flowers, it is said. He appeared to many people...

Fr. McBRIEN: I don't believe--I don't...

SIMON: ...in many places at the same time.

Fr. McBRIEN:: I don't--I don't believe any of that.

SIMON: He levitated above his hometown.

Fr. McBRIEN: I don't--I don't believe any of that.
See, that makes religion into a kind of act, a show,
a--a kind of theatrical operation. I mean, Jesus'
message was pretty straightforward and universal: you
know, 'love your neighbor as you love yourself.'


I might add that Jesus' message is also stripped of "Loving God above all things"

No Priest Shortage Priest Sociologist Claims

One reason cited is that even though there are a lot more Catholics today, a lower percent attend Mass.

From the Detroit News:

"But the Rev. Paul Sullins, a sociologist at Catholic University in Washington, is researching the distribution of priests, and he said Monday that the shortage may not be a crisis.
Sullins' findings:

* Demand has dropped. In 1965, when 70 percent of Catholic worshipers attended Mass weekly, there was a priest for every 540 weekly attendees, the group most likely to seek Communion. Today, fewer than 30 percent of Catholics go to Mass weekly; there's a priest for every 448.

* Many African and South American nations have three to six times more Catholics per priest than the United States.

* Permanent deacons (married or celibate single men) and parish administrators (including women) handle many tasks once performed by priests. There are 14,106 permanent deacons in the United States who perform sacraments such as baptisms and weddings.

The answer to empty altars is not in changing ordination rules but in redistributing priests, Sullins suggests. Like doctors and lawyers, priests tend to concentrate in urbanized, wealthier locations. They also are tied to the bishop who ordained them. Any change in assignment depends on a bishop's consent. "

Perhaps Just a Little Tasteless

Popecountdown.com

Incidently the most popular prediction for the current pope's death is December 25th, second is December 24th...there is something of the saintliness of this pontiff that is reflected in that thought.

Meanwhile, that count may be a lot longer than anyone thought a month ago:

From Yahoo News:

Pope Jean Paul II's health has improved "incredibly" since his exhausting schedule of 25th anniversary celebrations last month, former Polish president Lech Walesa said.

"The suitable therapy must have been found because the pope has overcome his moment of weakness," Walesa said after meeting the pope at the Vatican with a delegation from the Polish Solidarity trade union.

"This meeting has been very moving. The last time we were really concerned (about the pope's health), but this time, there has been an improvement," he said.

Walesa met the 83-year-old pope last month during celebrations marking the 25th anniversary of his election and also attended the ceremony beatifying Mother Theresa.

The pontiff, who suffers from the degenerative Parkinson's disease and arthritis, had appeared visibly exhausted and was barely able to speak at the end of a week-long series of public engagements.


Tuesday, November 11, 2003

The Met, the Walk, The Drive

Day 3

The third day was dominated by walking where cars roared past and driving where nothing but people were walking. Through an error in judgment (otherwise known as stupidity) I drove into Central Park on a "car-free"day in an attempt to get closer to the Metropolitan Art Museum that I had alread drove past. I thought it was rather strange that no other cars were on the road. There were thousands of people milling about, along with a fair amount of horse drawn carriages. Finally one jogger rapped on my window and broke the news to me, that it was a car-free Saturday and he pointed to where I might exit the park. Thankfully the CNN helicopters didn't hover overhead and break into their news coverage.

After driving down Park Ave. and turning correctly on 85th Ave., we arrived at the Met. Our main focus was on the El Greco special exhibit. I enjoyed this immensely. I especially liked the "Adoration of the Shepherds" it gave me an insight into a mission I'm preaching in a few weeks entitled "Let us go and see what the Lord has made known to us." The one downside about the El Greco exhibit was the lack of religious insight into the various paintings.

After several hours at the Met, including twenty minutes of trying to find our way out (which gave us a quick look through many galleries we might otherwise have missed) we grabbed a cab and headed to Saint Patrick's Cathedral. I had wanted to pray at the tomb of Archbishop Fulton Sheen but this turned out not to be possible because of all that activity going on at the Cathedral on this day.

Next we hiked over to Rockefeller Center, watched the folks skating on the ice, peeked into the Today Show studios, walked underneath the GE building, checked out the toy soldiers on top of the marquee of Radio City Music Hall, saw the Time-Life building, walked over to the Fox News building, saw the Simon and Shuster building, walked a few blocks to Times Square, walked up one street and then down a block and ate at Hamburger Harry's. Next we walked back toward Times Square, into the theater district to where The Producers was playing, then back through Times Sqaure, over several blocks to the New York City Public Library, then to Grand Central, then to the Empire State Building. All of this on a very cold windy 41 degree day!

Hopping on the subway, after another two block walk we headed to Ground Zero. The cold fit the mood of one of the largest graves of the twenty-first century. A fence around the site carries pictures of happier times, and the cross at ground zero stands as a monument reminding us of all who died on that fateful day in September. The site now reminds me of those religous sites where apparitions have occurred with trinkets and memorabilia for sale everywhere--but no one seems to buy any of these wares. A street preacher railed against the money being spent to rebuild, while so many continue to die the victims of disease. Meanwhile across the street at the Century 21 department store people cram the ailes in some mad rush to consume...anything...just consume.

We walked a block to St. Peter's the oldest Catholic Church in Manhattan. This is the Church where Father Mychal Judge was carried and laid before the altar. The wheels of one of the planes that struck the second tower landed upon the roof of this church. The smell of incense flooded my nostrils as we walked in out from the cold. A plaque announced that Father Sorin the founder of Notre Dame had said Mass here before making his trek to Indiana to eventually start the famous Catholic University. The Mass we attended was simple (no music) and the readings for the the Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica were startling, "destroy this temple and I will rebuild it in three days." Earthly temples eventually fall and in the end Our Lord's offer of salvation is our only hope. Sitting in St. Peter's one was reminded that the Lord gave charge of His assembly, His church to St. Peter so that we might receive Him at this Mass.

After Mass we made a futile attempt to take the subway to the Statten Island Ferry, after a visit to the aforementioned Century 21 department store to get out of the cold, we went to the omnipresent in the northeast-- Dunkin Donuts across the street to await Father Joseph Wilson who had graciously invited us to dine with him.

Father Wilson entertained us, taking us to a fine Italian restaraunt in China Town. Father Wilson is the friend of converts and a frequent contributer to The Wanderer...also Crux News has some of his columns here. At the end of our evening Father called a cab for us...the driver, Amy surmises a Korean spoke very little English and couldn't understand any of us in the back seat trying to direct him back to the Met where our car was parked. We ended up in Brooklyn for a time, but finally back to our car at the Met parking garage. Then off from the island back to White Plains where the moon slowly recovered from an eclipse and we longed for home.

Veteran's Day/Feast fo St. Martin of Tours

There is a very neat site dedicated to Catholics in the military...Welcome to CatholicMil.org...check it out while you offer up a prayer for those who are still in and for those. like myself (77-80 US Army) who've served in the past.

Only Catholic Church Losing Clergy

Contrary to an oft repeated mantra by certian groups with regard to the retention of Clergy in Christian Churches in the United States, the truth is that only the Catholic Church has experienced a decline.

From CNS NEWS BRIEFS Nov-10-2003:

Among major U.S. religious bodies, the Catholic Church is the only one experiencing a decreasing number of clergy, according to Purdue University sociology professor James D. Davidson. In the current U.S. discussion over whether mandatory celibacy is a significant factor in the Catholic priest shortage, some church officials have cited clergy shortages in other denominations to argue that it is the social or cultural climate of the country that inhibits vocations, not celibacy. Davidson compared 1981-2001 trends in the Catholic Church, seven large mainline Protestant churches and three more theologically conservative churches. He found that the Catholic Church experienced a 22 percent decline in clergy, while all the Protestant churches registered gains. Even seven denominations that had declining membership in those years had more clergy in 2001 than in 1981 or 1991, he found. The CARA Report, a quarterly publication of the Washington-based Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, cited Davidson's findings in its fall 2003 issue.

Monday, November 10, 2003

Universities and the Conneticut Coast

Day 2

The second day was dominated (for me anyway) of taking care of Joseph while Amy spoke at the Catholic Congress at Sacred Heart University, in Fairfield, CT. After lugging Joseph around the previous day, I immediately went with him to a nearby mall after dropping Amy off at Sacred Heart. Luckily, I quickly found a cheap stroller and we headed back to the University where I took in a few minutes of each of the speakers who were speaking at the same time as Amy. Barbara Morgan of Stuebenville was telling the teachers that they needed to present a Catholic world view in how they taught their subjects, regardless of what the subject was...Monsignor Irwin was speaking about the liturgy and it's importance as a part of life and Amy was speaking on how to teach young people to pray and evidently since people kept saying to me "oh this must be the stroller," that entailed relating the need for help that we all have in carrying our burdens.

Joseph and I spent much of the afternoon sitting in the Pioneer's stadium watching the football team practice (mostly goof around). His comment in between sifting through peanut shells left from a previous game was that the boys were being silly. The silly Pioneeer boys lost again this past weekend, it turns out for the third straight time!

Here is an interesting tidbit about Sacred Heart's nickname:

Sacred Heart University's nickname, Pioneers, stems from its founding, in 1963, as the first Catholic university in the United States that was led and staffed by independent lay people. All five of its presidents have been laymen. The first issue of the school's yearbook, in 1967, refers to the men's basketball team as the "Pioneers". This name was subsequently adopted as the name for all of our athletics teams.

We met the wife of the President at lunch.

At the end of the day we traveled along the Conneticut coast. A beautiful drive, up toward Guilford, CT. I had been to Guilford two other times in my life, both times to visit a friend who was assigned in a parish there. We had a nice meal at the Guiford Mooring, where the chilled air smelled of seaweed and lobster traps were piled high in the air.

On the way home we drove through New Haven and the Yale University campus.

New York and Conneticut

Day 1

After a flight to Chicago and then to Westchester County we picked up the rental car and proceeded to Manhattan. Flying into White Plains I was amazed at how sparsely populated the area is just a half hour from one of the largest cities in the world. The Westchester County airport had two gates, making it one of the smallest airports I have ever flown into.

After picking up tickets and dropping off books to a generous benefactor who had contacted Amy we headed to the Mother Cabrini Shrine in upper Manhattan. Here is the final resting place of Saint Mother Cabrini, her body lies in state under the main altar. The walls in the sanctuary contain mosaics of her life, from her commission by the Pope to "go west", to illustrations of her many charitable works. I met with several workers at the shrine to discuss the inclusion of the shrine in a new book that will come out next year entitled The Church's Most Powerful Novenas--a complete revision of the (Mention Your Request) book that will be done more like a prayer book. One of the workers gave me a second class relic--they were all very cooperative!

While we were there one of the Shrine directors was giving a presentation to a group of students visiting the shrine. I only caught part, but it was fascinating to hear--like a scene out of an episode of CSI the details of Mother Cabrini's remains when her tomb was openned some twelve years after her death. All done with a thick New York accent!!

We had lunch at a little New York diner, where Joseph gobbled down his grilled cheese (when promised that he would receive a cookie from a nearby bakery).

When we returned to where I had parked, we found another car had double parked next to us--blocking us in. The driver was in the car though, so it didn't seem like it would be a problem--until the driver found they couldn't start their car. Another driver, also double parked got out and tried to help the driver of the car that wouldn't start by banging the battery cables. Finally the second driver moved his car and I was able snake my way out. I found evey New Yorker I encountered on this trip to be incredibly friendly--are the days of the rude New Yorker a distant memory now or did we just luck out?

Next we went to the Cloisters, where there was plenty of parking. By now it was raining a cold damp drizzle. Taking turns lugging Joseph around and trying to keep him entertained in a beautiful peaceful setting is no small chore. He did take a fancy to a small bird (fake) in a cage that hung from the ceiling in one of the rooms. And he was able to identify figures of Mary, Jesus on the cross and "nummy" referring to an exposed woman's breast whenever he would spot one.

Which brings to mind one image (that I believe was there), of Mary interceding with her Son who was inteceding with the Father for a group of petitioners who were at the bottom of the painting. In the image the people small stand pleading under an image of Mary who appears larger than life, who holds one of her breast out toward Christ saying (portrayed by words flowing from her to Christ) something to the effect "for the sake of the milk that I nurished you with" hear these people's prayers. Jesus then has one hand opening the wound on his side as he looks to the Father in Heaven and says (agains symbolized by words flowing upward) something to the effect "for the sake of the suffering I endured for your glory". I found the whole image an incredible lesson in the nature of sacrifice as essentially a "giving" of oneself for others and how intricate this is to true prayer. Thanks to Joseph who pointed it out to me as another "nummy" image...thanks to the giving of his mother for planting that thought in his mind.

Next, since it was already rush hour and any attempt on fleeing New York would have been in vain. We just bit the bullet and drove right through Manhattan. Down Broadway, up Fifth Avenue, past Rockfeller Center, through Times Square, past Ground Zero, through the Brooklyn Tunnel and then north on I-278 where crawling in traffic we spyed the New York skyline at night to the music of Joseph whining, crying and shouting that he wanted something. We tried to convince him to take his neglected nap and that when he awoke he would indeed get something, but to no avail. Meanwhile Amy tried to read a map but like me found that her reading without the aid of some magnification is failing. When I looked at the map several times when the traffic was at a complete stop, I found that while I could make out roads the numbers were totally illegible. But we made it finally out of Gotham and into the more placid region of Conneticut.


Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen Foundation

Official site for the cause of canonization... at Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen Foundation

My attempt to pray at the tomb of Archbishop Sheen on Saturday was turned out to be a futile attempt. Not sure why the crypt is so out of reach there...