Friday, May 30, 2008

Sacred Heart of Jesus

The promises of the Sacred Heart of Jesus to Saint Margaret Mary:

1. I will give them all the graces necessary for their state of life.
2. I will give peace in their families.
3. I will console them in all their troubles.
4. I will be their refuge in life and especially in death.
5. I will abundantly bless all their undertakings.
6. Sinners shall find in my Heart the source and infinite ocean of mercy.
7. Tepid souls shall become fervent.
8. Fervent souls shall rise speedily to great perfection.
9. I will bless those places wherein the image of
My Sacred Heart shall be exposed and venerated.
10. I will give to priests the power to touch the most hardened hearts.
11. Persons who propagate this devotion shall
have their names eternally written in my Heart.
12. In the excess of the mercy of my Heart, I promise you that my all powerful love will grant to all those who will receive Communion on the First Fridays, for nine consecutive months, the grace of final repentance: they will not die in my displeasure, nor without receiving the sacraments; and my Heart will be their secure refuge in that last hour.

-Michael Dubruiel

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Caritas in Veritate

Social Encyclical of Pope Benedict now due out in the Fall according to CWS.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Old Books Made New

Late this year, a book written by Amy and myself fifteen years ago will be re-released under a new title by Ave Maria Press. Neither of us was ever very thrilled about the original art in The Biblical Way of the Cross, when I was asked if I had any artist in mind for the revision I immediately suggested Michael O'Brien and all though it seemed unlikely at the time that was possible it now turns out that indeed the new edition will feature the beautiful art of Michael O'Brien and be presented in full color!
The other book that will also be rereleased this Fall is Take Up Your Cross, A Lenten Walk with Jesus which is a reworking and complete revision of The Power of the Cross--perhaps Our Sunday Visitor will be able to land Michael O'Brien for the cover art of that books as well!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Day to Pray for China

From Pope Benedict via Father Mark:

Dear Pastors and all the faithful, the date 24 May could in the future become an occasion for the Catholics of the whole world to be united in prayer with the Church which is in China. This day is dedicated to the liturgical memorial of Our Lady, Help of Christians, who is venerated with great devotion at the Marian Shrine of Sheshan in Shanghai.

Here is the prayer to say:

Prayer to Our Lady, Help of Christians, of Sheshan

Virgin Most Holy, Mother of the Incarnate Word and our Mother,
venerated in the Shrine of Sheshan under the title "Help of Christians",
the entire Church in China looks to you with devout affection.
We come before you today to implore your protection.
Look upon the People of God and, with a mother's care, guide them
along the paths of truth and love, so that they may always be
a leaven of harmonious coexistence among all citizens.

When you obediently said "yes" in the house of Nazareth,
you allowed God's eternal Son to take flesh in your virginal womb
and thus to begin in history the work of our redemption.
You willingly and generously cooperated in that work,
allowing the sword of pain to pierce your soul,
until the supreme hour of the Cross, when you kept watch on Calvary,
standing beside your Son, who died that we might live.

From that moment, you became, in a new way,
the Mother of all those who receive your Son Jesus in faith
and choose to follow in his footsteps by taking up his Cross.
Mother of hope, in the darkness of Holy Saturday you journeyed
with unfailing trust towards the dawn of Easter.
Grant that your children may discern at all times,
even those that are darkest, the signs of God's loving presence.

Our Lady of Sheshan, sustain all those in China,
who, amid their daily trials, continue to believe, to hope, to love.
May they never be afraid to speak of Jesus to the world,
and of the world to Jesus.
In the statue overlooking the Shrine you lift your Son on high,
offering him to the world with open arms in a gesture of love.
Help Catholics always to be credible witnesses to this love,
ever clinging to the rock of Peter on which the Church is built.
Mother of China and all Asia, pray for us, now and for ever. Amen!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Corpus Christi

From Reuters India:

In his sermon at the Mass at St. John's before the start of the procession, the Pope said that communion joined all

Catholics together -- regardless of their backgrounds.

"We are united beyond our differences of nationality, profession, social class, ideas," he said.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Romanus the Melodist

Pope's weekly catechesis, from Vatican Radio:
In today’s catechesis we turn to the Christian poetry of Romanus the Melodist. Born in Syria at the end of the fifth century, Romanus received a classical education, was ordained a deacon, and settled in Constantinople. His preaching took the form of chanted metrical hymns known as “kontakia”, consisting of an introduction and a series of stanzas punctuated by a refrain. Some eighty-nine of these have come down to us, and they testify to the rich theological, liturgical and devotional content of the hymnography of that time. Composed in simple language accessible to his hearers, these kontakia are notable for their dramatic dialogues and their use of sustained metaphors. Romanus was a catechist concerned to communicate the unity of God’s saving plan revealed in Christ. His hymns, steeped in Scripture, develop the teaching of the early Councils on the divinity of the Son, the mystery of the Incarnation, the person and role of the Holy Spirit, and the dignity of the Virgin Mary. Romanus shows us the power of symbolic communication which, in the liturgy, joins earth to heaven and uses imagery, poetry and song to lift our minds to God’s truth.

Thoughts on “Roman Catholics for Obama ’08”

From Archbishop Chaput in First Things:
In fact, I can’t name any pro-choice Catholic politician who has been active, in a sustained public way, in trying to discourage abortion and to protect unborn human life—not one. Some talk about it, and some may mean well, but there’s very little action. In the United States in 2008, abortion is an acceptable form of homicide. And it will remain that way until Catholics force their political parties and elected officials to act differently.

Why do I mention this now? Earlier this spring, a group called “Roman Catholics for Obama ’08” quoted my own published words in the following way:

So can a Catholic in good conscience vote for a pro-choice candidate? The answer is: I can’t, and I won’t. But I do know some serious Catholics— people whom I admire—who may. I think their reasoning is mistaken, but at least they sincerely struggle with the abortion issue, and it causes them real pain. And most important: They don’t keep quiet about it; they don’t give up; they keep lobbying their party and their representatives to change their pro-abortion views and protect the unborn. Catholics can vote for pro-choice candidates if they vote for them despite—not because of—their pro-choice views.

What’s interesting about this quotation—which is accurate but incomplete—is the wording that was left out. The very next sentences in the article of mine they selected, which Roman Catholics for Obama neglected to quote, run as follows:

But [Catholics who support pro-choice candidates] also need a compelling proportionate reason to justify it. What is a “proportionate” reason when it comes to the abortion issue? It’s the kind of reason we will be able to explain, with a clean heart, to the victims of abortion when we meet them face to face in the next life—which we most certainly will. If we’re confident that these victims will accept our motives as something more than an alibi, then we can proceed.

On their website, Roman Catholics for Obama stress that:

After faithful thought and prayer, we have arrived at the conclusion that Senator Obama is the candidate whose views are most compatible with the Catholic outlook, and we will vote for him because of that—and because of his other outstanding qualities—despite our disagreements with him in specific areas.

I’m familiar with this reasoning. It sounds a lot like me thirty years ago. And thirty years later, we still have about a million abortions a year. Maybe Roman Catholics for Obama will do a better job at influencing their candidate. It could happen. And I sincerely hope it does, since Planned Parenthood of the Chicago area, as recently as February 2008, noted that Senator Barack Obama “has a 100 percent pro-choice voting record both in the U.S. Senate and the Illinois Senate.”

Changing the views of “pro-choice” candidates takes a lot more than verbal gymnastics, good alibis, and pious talk about “personal opposition” to killing unborn children. I’m sure Roman Catholics for Obama know that, and I wish them good luck. They’ll need it.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Hero Dies

Irena Sendler, 98--responsible for saving about 3,000 Polish Jews during the Holocaust, from the LA Times:

Fate may have led Irena Sendler to the moment almost 70 years ago when she
began to risk her life for the children of strangers. But for this humble Polish
Catholic social worker, who was barely 30 when one of history's most nightmarish
chapters unfolded before her, the pivotal influence was something her parents
had drummed into her."

I was taught that if you see a person drowning," she said,
"you must jump into the water to save them, whether you can swim or not."...

...Sendler, 98, who died of pneumonia Monday in Warsaw, has been called the female Oskar Schindler, but she saved twice as many lives as the German industrialist, who sheltered 1,200 of his Jewish workers.

Unlike Schindler, whose story received international attention in the 1993 movie "Schindler's List," Sendler and her heroic actions were almost lost to history until four Kansas schoolgirls wrote a play about her nine years ago.The lesson Sendler taught them was that "one person can make a difference,"

Megan Felt, one of the authors of the play, said Monday."Irena wasn't even 5 feet tall, but she walked into the Warsaw ghetto daily and faced certain death if she was caught. Her strength and courage showed us we can stand up for what we believe in, as well," said Felt, who is now 23 and helps raise funds for aging Holocaust rescuers...

...She and her friends smuggled the children out in boxes, suitcases, sacks and coffins, sedating babies to quiet their cries. Some were spirited away through a network of basements and secret passages. Operations were timed to the second.

One of Sendler's children told of waiting by a gate in darkness as a German soldier patrolled nearby. When the soldier passed, the boy counted to 30, then made a mad dash to the middle of the street, where a manhole cover opened and he was taken down into the sewers and eventually to safety.

Decades later, Sendler was still haunted by the parents' pleas, particularly of those who ultimately could not bear to be apart from their children."The one question every parent asked me was 'Can you guarantee they will live?' We had to admit honestly that we could not, as we did not even know if we would succeed in leaving the ghetto that day. The only guarantee," she said, "was that the children would most likely die if they stayed."

Most of the children who left with Sendler's group were taken into Roman Catholic convents, orphanages and homes and given non-Jewish aliases. Sendler recorded their true names on thin rolls of paper in the hope that she could reunite them with their families later. She preserved the precious scraps in jars and buried them in a friend's garden.

In 1943, she was captured by the Nazis and tortured but refused to tell her captors who her co-conspirators were or where the bottles were buried. She also resisted in other ways. According to Felt, when Sendler worked in the prison laundry, she and her co-workers made holes in the German soldiers' underwear. When the officers discovered what they had done, they lined up all the women and shot every other one. It was just one of many close calls for Sendler.

During one particularly brutal torture session, her captors broke her feet and legs, and she passed out. When she awoke, a Gestapo officer told her he had accepted a bribe from her comrades in the resistance to help her escape. The officer added her name to a list of executed prisoners. Sendler went into hiding but continued her rescue efforts.Felt said that

Sendler had begun her rescue operation before she joined the organized resistance and helped a number of adults escape, including the man she later married. "We think she saved about 500 people before she joined Zegota," Felt said, which would mean that Sendler ultimately helped rescue about 3,000 Polish Jews.

When the war ended, Sendler unearthed the jars and began trying to return the children to their families. For the vast majority, there was no family left. Many of the children were adopted by Polish families; others were sent to Israel.

In 1965, she was recognized by Yad Vashem, Israel's Holocaust authority, as a Righteous Gentile, an honor given to non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews during the Nazi reign. In her own country, however, she was unsung, in part because Polish anti-Semitism remained strong after the war and many rescuers were persecuted.

Her status began to change in 2000, when Felt and her classmates learned that the woman who had inspired them was still alive. Through the sponsorship of a local Jewish organization, they traveled to Warsaw in 2001 to meet Sendler, who helped the students improve and expand the play. Called "Life in a Jar," it has been performed more than 250 times in the United States, Canada and Poland and generated media attention that cast a spotlight on the wizened, round-faced nonagenarian.

For more on Irena Sendler click here.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Saint Mathias, Apostle

First example in the Bible of Apostolic succession...after the Ascension of Jesus, from the Acts of the Apostles:
In those days Peter stood up among the brethren (the company of persons was in all about a hundred and twenty), and said, [16] "Brethren, the scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand by the mouth of David, concerning Judas who was guide to those who arrested Jesus. [17] For he was numbered among us, and was allotted his share in this ministry. [18] (Now this man bought a field with the reward of his wickedness; and falling headlong he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out. [19] And it became known to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the field was called in their language Akel'dama, that is, Field of Blood.) [20] For it is written in the book of Psalms, `Let his habitation become desolate,and let there be no one to live in it';and `His office let another take.' [21] So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, [22] beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us -- one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection." [23] And they put forward two, Joseph called Barsab'bas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthi'as. [24] And they prayed and said, "Lord, who knowest the hearts of all men, show which one of these two thou hast chosen [25] to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside, to go to his own place." [26] And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthi'as; and he was enrolled with the eleven apostles.

Read Pope Benedict XVI's teaching on the Apostle Mathias in The Apostles

General Audience: Religions of the East

A different angle today by Pope Benedict:

In the reflection he had previously addressed to the 30,000 people present at the Wednesday audience, the pope had spoken about dialogue with the mystical religions of Asia, maintaining that these are based on the idea that God is found through praising him, praying to him, and not only through reflection, because even the highest concepts that can be expressed about God do not arrive at his greatness. It is faith and love that are capable of illuminating reason, the sense of being part of the "cosmic symphony" of praise for the Creator. Benedict XVI today illustrated the relevance of this "journey", which was at the centre of the work of one of the Church fathers of the sixth century, Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite, a promoter of the encounter between Greek thought and Christianity, showing how Dionysius responded to the school of thought that sought to transform Plato into a "philosophical religion" for a return to Greek polytheism, the divinities of which "are the cosmic forces themselves" and therefore more true than Christian monotheism. Dionysius transformed this polytheistic universe into the harmony of the cosmos of God, into the symphony of the cosmos that spans from the Seraphim to the angels, from the archangels to man. This is the "symphony of God", the "cosmic praise of God", because "all of creation speaks of God". "Speaking of God always means singing for God, with the great song of the creatures that is reflected and embodied in liturgical praise". It is a "mystical theology", with which Dionysius expresses the journey of the soul to God, and which becomes "liturgical theology": to sing with the choir of the creatures of the cosmos.

Much of the pope's reflection today was developed spontaneously, and maintained that the true spirit of dialogue is in the search for truth, it is "the experience of the truth", "and then the truth itself sheds light and overthrows errors", "it is possible to speak with one another, or at least draw closer to each other". Dialogue among Christians or with the other religions, in fact, "is not born from superficiality", but "from the truth", and "precisely where one enters into the profundity of the encounter with Christ, there is opened wide the space for the light of the truth, which is light for all; controversies disappear and it becomes possible to approach each other".

Also in our time, "dialogue means precisely being near to Christ and to God: it is in the experience of the truth, which opens us to the light and to the encounter with others; in the final analysis", he continued, recalling the experience of Saint Francis, "it tells us to take the path of experience, of humble experience, when the heart expands and is able to illuminate reason".

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Feast of Our Lady of Fatima

Only extended to the universal church in 2002, of course also the anniversary of the attempt on Pope John Paul II's life at Saint Peter's. For a rare and excellent look at the children of Fatima see Leo Madigan's:

Australian Bishops Take Fellow Bishop to Task

Release negative critique of a book he published, from the Australian Bishops Conference:

In 2007 Bishop Geoffrey Robinson, retired Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of
Sydney, published a book entitled “Confronting Power and Sex in the Catholic
Church: Reclaiming the Spirit of Jesus.”
We are grateful for the
contribution Bishop Robinson has made to the life of the Church. We are deeply
indebted to him for his years of effort to bring help and healing to those who
have suffered sexual abuse and for what he has done to establish protocols of
professional standards for Church personnel in this area. In responding to the
issues raised in the book, we do not question his good faith. However, people
have a right to know clearly what the Catholic Church believes and teaches, and
the Bishops have a corresponding duty to set this forth, as we seek to do in
this statement.
After correspondence and conversation with Bishop Robinson,
it is clear that doctrinal difficulties remain. Central to these is a
questioning of the authority of the Catholic Church to teach the truth
definitively. In Saint John’s Gospel, Jesus promises to send the Holy Spirit to
the disciples in order to lead them into the fullness of the truth (cf. John
16:13). It is Catholic teaching that the Church has been endowed with this gift
of truth.
The book’s questioning of the authority of the Church is connected
to Bishop Robinson’s uncertainty about the knowledge and authority of Christ
himself. Catholics believe that the Church, founded by Christ, is endowed by him
with a teaching office which endures through time. This is why the Church’s
Magisterium teaches the truth authoritatively in the name of Christ. The book
casts doubt upon these teachings.
This leads in turn to the questioning of
Catholic teaching on, among other things, the nature of Tradition, the
inspiration of the Holy Scripture, the infallibility of the Councils and the
Pope, the authority of the Creeds, the nature of the ministerial priesthood and
central elements of the Church’s moral teaching.
The authority entrusted by
Christ to his Church may at times be poorly exercised, especially in shaping
policy and practice in complex areas of pastoral and human concern. This does
not, in Catholic belief, invalidate the Church’s authority to teach particular
truths of faith and morals.

Horrible Loss of Life

In Myramar and China and how you can help:

Catholic Relief Services

Caritas International

Monday, May 12, 2008

The Pope Stumbles

Old news, happened yesterday, but in this picture the MC's offer a Christ like example in helping the pope back to his feet setting a true Pentecost example:

The Octave of Pentecost?

This morning I mused on our way to Mass that it seemed strange that there wasn't an Octave of Pentecost--given that it celebrates the coming of the Third Person of the Trinity. Well it turns out that there was an Octave, but that it disappeared in the 1960's, Father Mark has a post on this. Let us hope that Pope Benedict might restore this Octave as he calls upon the Church to experience a new Pentecost!

Sunday, May 11, 2008


Pope Benedict's homily, from Asia News Italy:

The group of disciples that receives the Holy Spirit is the "new Israel", a "new creation", which speaks in "other languages". It is a community "constructed not by human will, but by the power of the Spirit of God . . . a community that at the same time is one and universal".

"The Church that is born at Pentecost", Benedict XVI further explains, "is not in the first place a particular community - the Church of Jerusalem - but the universal Church, which speaks the languages of all peoples. From this are then born communities in every part of the world, particular Churches that are all and always actualisations of the only and unique Church of Christ". In the ecumenical world and in some fringes of the Catholic Church, the preeminence of the particular Church is often emphasised, looking to the unity of the Church (and the pope) as a sort of optional association, a federation constituted externally. "The Catholic Church", the pope adds, "is not . . . a federation of Churches, but a unique reality: ontological priority belongs to the universal Church. Without being Catholic in this sense, a community would not even be a Church".

In the "federalist" view of the Church, Catholics are called "Roman" in order to limit the universality of this Church. Benedict XVI explains that the Rome cited in the Acts of the Apostles "was the symbol of the pagan world in general", and that in the vision of Luke "the power of the Holy Spirit would guide the steps of the witnesses 'to the ends of the earth' (Acts 1:8), all the way to Rome". The "Roman" character of the Church is therefore another sign of catholicity and universality: "the journey of the word of God, begun in Jerusalem, reaches its destination, because Rome represents the entire world and thus embodies the Lucan idea of catholicity. The universal Church is realised, the Catholic Church".

The Church created by the Spirit has peace as its characteristic. Benedict XVI returned to the Gospel of today's Mass, which recalls the appearance of Jesus in the Cenacle, and the gift of "shalom" (peace) offered by the Risen One. "'Shalom' is not a simple greeting; it is much more: it is the gift of the peace that is promised (cf. John 14:27) and won by Jesus at the price of his blood, it is the fruit of his victory in the struggle against the spirit of evil. It is therefore a peace 'not as the world gives', but as only God can give".

This gift brings with it the responsibility to spread it in the world, among all peoples. The pontiff recalls his recent speech to the United Nations as a sign of this lived responsibility. "But", he adds, "one must not think only of these events 'at the top'. The Church realises its service to the peace of Christ above all in its ordinary presence and action among men, with the preaching of the Gospel and with the signs of love and mercy that accompany this (cf. Mark 16:20)".

The pope then cites one of the main signs: that of reconciliation, both as the sacrament of confession ("How important, and unfortunately not sufficiently understood, is the gift of Reconciliation, which pacifies hearts!") and as daily effort in society: "The peace of Christ is spread only through the renewed hearts of reconciled men and women who have been made servants of justice, ready to defend peace in the world solely with the power of truth, without descending to compromises with the mentality of the world, because the world cannot give the peace of Christ: this is how the Church can be the leaven of the reconciliation that comes from God".

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Music and Diplomacy

From Asia News Italy:

Everything began with the music, which in the words of both the pope and of maestro Long Yu, who conducted the performance, is a "privileged instrument for encounter and reciprocal knowledge and esteem between different populations and cultures". And the pope - who loves to play the piano - paid homage to the music by going up onto the stage to greet the orchestra, which repaid the favour with a beautiful song from Turandot. But Benedict XVI also saw in the music the means to "understand better the history of the Chinese people, their values and their noble aspirations". At the same time, he noted "with pleasure the interest shown by your orchestra and choir in European religious music. This", he added, "shows that it is possible, in different cultural settings, to enjoy and appreciate sublime manifestations of the spirit such as Mozart’s Requiem which we have just heard, precisely because music expresses universal human sentiments, including the religious sentiment, which transcends the boundaries of every individual culture".

It was a short step from this point to present the image that the Church wants Beijing to recognise, and, naturally without naming it, the right to religious freedom. "I should also like to say a word", Benedict XVI said, "regarding this place where we have come together this evening. It is the great hall in which the Pope receives his guests and meets those who come to visit him. It is like a window opening onto the world, a place where people from all over the world often meet, with their own personal stories and their own culture, all of them welcomed with esteem and affection. In greeting you this evening, dear Chinese artists, the Pope intends to reach out to your entire people, with a special thought for those of your fellow citizens who share faith in Jesus and are united through a particular spiritual bond with the Successor of Peter. The Requiem came into being through this faith as a prayer to God, the just and merciful judge, and that is why it touches the hearts of all people, as an expression of humanity’s universal aspirations".

And, before expressing a wish "for every good" in Chinese, the pope sent his "greetings, through you, to all the people of China as they prepare for the Olympic Games, an event of great importance for the entire human family".

Christian Unity Focus of General Audience

From Asia News Italy :

Benedict XVI, addressing the 40,000 people present in Saint Peter's Square, spoke of his "joy" at the possibility of welcoming the head of the Armenian Church. "His presence", he continued, "revives within us our hope for the unity of all Christians". The pope then recalled "the unforgettable visit made" by Karekin to Rome in 2000, immediately after his election. "In meeting with him, John Paul II gave him an extraordinary relic of Saint John the Illuminator", a "father" of that Church whose "commitment to dialogue" he emphasised. Benedict XVI said that he is "certain that the current visit will contribute to intensifying the relations that exist between our Churches", and to "advancing hope along the road of ecumenism". The Lord, he added, "never abandons us on our journey", and in our "efforts to overcome every laceration in the living fabric of the Church".

Benedict XVI then gave thanks "for the accomplishments reached in this journey that leads to the full communion of all the disciples of Christ", and he finally repeated his exhortation to prayer for unity that he addressed to Catholics during his recent visit to the United States.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Pope to Text Msg Youth at WYD

From Scientific American:
The Pope will text daily messages of inspiration and hope during the six-day Sydney event while digital prayer walls will be erected at event sites and the church will set up a Catholic social networking Web site akin to a Catholic Facebook.

The Catholic Church said it decided to use technology to connect to the estimated 225,000 young Catholics expected to attend the World Youth Day (WYD) celebrations that start on July 15.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Pope Offers Condolences to Tragedy Victims

Death toll continues to rise, from Asia News Italy:
The official death toll from May 3rd cyclone Nagris which hit Myanmar is over 15 thousand people. According to state TV, in the city of Bogalay alone the body count numbers 10 thousand people, while the foreign minister Nyan Win reports 30 thousand missing and countless more homeless. The scale of the disaster, the worst to rock the region since the 2004 tsunami, has forced the military junta to accept offers of international aid, usually viewed with deep suspicion. A move which points to a far more dramatic final death count.

From the Vatican:

Magister on Politicians and Holy Communion

From Chiesa:
But now that it has exploded once again, the impression is that a more strict approach is taking hold among the bishops of the United States. It was striking that cardinal Egan did not limit himself to recalling general principles, but directly criticized a famous political figure, and moreover accused him of violating a private agreement made with him.

In Europe and in Italy, such questions are not even raised. The fact that "pro-choice" politicians should receive communion does not raise any particular reactions. Their decision is left to their personal conscience.

The fact that in the United States, on the other hand, this question is so inflammatory is another sign of the differences in the political-religious landscapes on either side of the Atlantic: a diversity repeatedly emphasized by Benedict XVI during his visit and in the concluding audience on Wednesday, April 30.

In the United States, religion is a public reality to a much greater extent and in a different way than in Europe. With the consequences that follow from this.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Apparition Approved (Signal of the End of Times?)

After 300+ years, but perhaps with a message for today? One of the predictions made by Our Lady of Laus (France), was that the message given there would reappear near the "End of Times" Refuge of Sinners is approved by the French bishops, from the International Tribune:
Speaking at Mass in Laus in remarks broadcast nationally on France-2 television, Monsignor Jean-Michel di Falco Leandri said he recognized the "supernatural origin" of the apparitions to 17-year-old shepherd girl Benoite Rencurel starting in 1664 and running through 1718.

What is the message given to the young shepherd girl way back then? Michael Matt from The Remnant shares the story:
Most of us, however, had never before even heard of the message or apparitions of Notre Dame Du Laus. Even most Catholics in France have not heard of Notre Dame Du Laus. Why? Because our Lady's message to Benoite, aside from being filled with great hope, also had another aspect to it—an aspect that is anything but popular to the Church in the modern world. The message placed a tremendous amount of emphasis on the dangers of sin, the importance of repentance, the absolute "essential to salvation" nature of the Sacrament of Penance, and the necessity of receiving that Sacrament frequently. During the lifetime of Benoite, and for centuries after her death, Laus was a place of great spiritual healing through the Sacrament of Penance. An incredible number of Catholics from every class (peasantry, gentry, and nobility) over the centuries since 1647 found their way back onto the road that leads to salvation, as a direct consequence of the message of Notre Dame Du Laus and the sanctity of the seer Benoite, who proclaimed that message to the world.

The sanctuary at Laus is called the "Refuge of Sinners" and it is, perhaps, due to its emphasis on the evil of sin that the message of Our Lady to Benoite has been all but "swept under the carpet" of Modernism in this our new age of "enlightened," "grown-up" Catholicism.

So, what follows is the story of the apparitions of Notre Dame Du Laus and the life of the seer, Benoite. As you read it, remember the place as we have described it above and try to imagine the strange, unearthly atmosphere that surrounds the hamlet, the message and the story. And then remember this: along with the account of the apparitions of Notre Dame Du Laus, there is also a prediction which states that the extraordinary events and message of Laus would be forgotten and ignored by the world for a very long time.

However, word of Laus would re-surface, the prediction states, at a point in time when the End Times were close at hand...

...Our Lady now had complete confidence in Benoite and began to reveal the mission which she was to entrust to the shepherdess.

"I have asked my Son to give me Laus, and He has agreed," explained the Virgin. She told Benoite that it was her dearest wish that men should be brought to understand the love which God offered them. Benoite came to the chapel frequently during that winter (1644-1645). Our Lady continued to educate her and asked her to pray for those who lived badly, so that they would turn in repentance to her Son.

One thinks of Pope Benedict's Enclyclical Deus Caritas Est (God is Love) when one reads the last paragraph.

Pray the Rosary!

 Praying the Rosary.  Click on the cover for more information.

"Michael Dubruiel"

The Gospels show that the gaze of Mary varied depending upon the circumstances of life. So it will be with us. Each time we pick up the holy beads to recite the Rosary, our gaze at the mystery of Christ will differ depending on where we find ourselves at that moment.

Thereafter Mary’s gaze, ever filled with adoration and wonder, would never leave him. At times it would be a questioning look, as in the episode of the finding in the Temple: “Son, why have you treated us so?” (Lk 2:48); it would always be a penetrating gaze, one capable of deeply understanding Jesus, even to the point of perceiving his hidden feelings and anticipating his decisions, as at Cana (cf. Jn 2:5). At other times it would be a look of sorrow, especially beneath the Cross, where her vision would still be that of mother giving birth, for Mary not only shared the passion and death of her Son, she also received the new son given to her in the beloved disciple (cf. Jn 19:26-27). On the morning of Easter hers would be a gaze radiant with the joy of the Resurrection, and finally, on the day of Pentecost, a gaze afire with the outpouring of the Spirit (cf. Acts 1:14) [Rosarium Virginis Mariae, no. 10].

As we pray the Rosary, then, we join with Mary in contemplating Christ. With her, we remember Christ, we proclaim Him, we learn from Him, and, most importantly, as we raise our voices in prayer and our hearts in contemplation of the holy mysteries, this “compendium of the Gospel” itself, we are conformed to Him.

The Rosary

Pope Benedict reflects on the power of the rosary. Hat tip to Father Mark, from the Papa Ratzinger Forum:

Today, we confirm together that the Holy Rosary is not a pious practice relegated to the past, nor a prayer from other times which we only think about with nostalgia. The Rosary is, in fact, undergoing a new spring almost. This is undoubtedly one of the most eloquent signs of the love that the new generations feel for Jesus and for Mary his mother.

In the present world that is so dispersive, this prayer helps to put Christ in the center, as the Virgin did, who meditated in her heart on all that was said about her Son, and on all that he said and did.

In reciting the Rosary, one relives the important and significant moments in the story of salvation - we retrace the various stages of the mission of Christ.

With Mary, our hearts are oriented towards the mystery of Jesus, Christ is placed at the center of our lives, of our time, of our cities, through meditating on the holy mysteries of joy and light and sorrow and glory in his life...

...The Rosary, when prayed in an authentic way, one that is not mechanical and superficial, but profound, undeniably confers peace and reconciliation. It contains within itself the healing power of the Most Holy Name of Jesus, invoked with faith and with love at the center of each Ave Maria."

Two excellent rosary aids, one written by Amy and myself--the other by Father Dwight Longenecker:

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Pope Benedict on the Ascension of the Lord

From today's Regina Caeli address, before over 100,000 people, as recounted in Asia News Italy:
Before the Regina Caeli, the pontiff emphasised the value of today's feast, the Ascension of Christ to heaven and his "return to the Father" with his and our humanity. "He", the pope explains, "in fact came to the world to bring men back to God, not on the level of ideas - like a philosopher or master of wisdom - but really, as a shepherd who wants to lead his sheep back to the fold . . . It is for us that he came down from Heaven, and it is for us that he ascended there after making himself like men in all things, humiliated to the point of death on the cross, and after touching the abyss of the greatest separation from God".

"God in man - man in God" are "not a theoretical truth, but a real one", an anchor for the life of all men. "And what does man need more in every age if not this: a solid anchoring for his existence?".

"After the Ascension", the pope further recalled, "the first disciples remained gathered together in the Cenacle around the Mother of Jesus, in fervent expectation of the gift of the Holy Spirit, promised by Jesus (cf. Acts 1:14)". From this arises the invitation "to remain united together in prayer, to invoke the gift of the Holy Spirit. In fact, only to those who 'are born again from above', meaning from the Holy Spirit, is opened the entrance to the Kingdom of heaven (cf. Jn. 3:3-5), and the first one 'born again from above' is precisely the Virgin Mary".

Time Magazine: Is Liberal Catholicism Dead?

Reminicent of Saint John Bosco's dream, the magazine reflects on what Pope Benedict XVI's papacy means to the Church, albeit from only one side--it would have been good to hear some voices from the young and upcoming, rather than from the graying, from Time:
To some extent, liberal Catholicism has been a victim of its own success. Its positions on sex and gender issues have become commonplace in the American Church, diminishing the distinctiveness of the progressives. More importantly, they failed to transform the main body of the Church: John Paul II, a charismatic conservative, enjoyed the third-longest papacy in church history, and refused to budge on the left's demands; instead, he eventually swept away liberal bishops. The heads at Call to Action grayed, and by the late 1990s, Vatican II progressivism began to look like a self-limited Boomer moment.

Then, the movement received a monstrous reprieve. The priest sex abuse scandal implicated not only the predators, but the superiors who shielded them. John Paul remained mostly silent. A new reform group, Voice of the Faithful, arose; the old anger returned, crystallizing around the battle-cry "They just don't get it."

Benedict's visit, however, changed the dynamic. And that's a problem for progressives. Says Fr. Thomas Reese, a senior fellow at Georgetown University's Woodstock Theological Center whom Benedict famously removed from his previous job as editor of America, "Reform movements need an enemy to organize against. As most bishops have gotten their acts together on sex abuse, they have looked less like the enemy and more like part of the solution. Enthusiasm for reform declined. With the Pope's forthright response, it will decline even more."

Not everyone agrees. Says Voice of the Faithful spokesman John Moynihan, "That's funny; I just came from a meeting of COR (Catholic Organizations for Reform), and there were a lot of people very buoyed up. We can now say to people, 'We have made a difference, and if you stick with us we are going to make a further difference'." Adds Peter Steinfels, a former editor of Commonweal, now a director of Fordham's Religion and Culture Center, "I think there is continuity in terms of the issues and the questions about whether Church structures can be altered." He notes that a social justice group, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, formed just three years ago.

But the familiar progressives-versus-Vatican paradigm seems almost certain to be undone by a looming demographic tsunami. Almost everyone agrees that the "millennial generation," born in 1980 or later, while sharing liberal views on many issues, has no desire to mount the barricades. Notes Reese, "Younger Catholics don't argue with the bishops; they simply do what they want or shop for another church." And Hispanic Catholics, who may be the U.S. majority by 2020, don't see this as their battle. "I'm sure they�re happy that the celebration of the Eucharist is in the vernacular," says Tilley, "but they don't have significant issues connected to Vatican II."

And so, unless Benedict contradicts in Rome what he said in New York, the Church may have reached a tipping point. This is not to say that the (over-hyped) young Catholic Right will swing into lay dominance. Nor will liberal single-issue groups simply evaporate. But if they cohere again, it will be around different defining issues. "It's a new ball game," admits Steinfels. As Tilley wrote recently in Commonweal regarding his fellow theologians, "A new generation has neither the baggage nor the ballast of mine. Theirs is the future. Let's hope they remember the Council as the most important event in twentieth-century Catholicism."

The Real Power of Evil

"I decided I did not want to get involved."

It seems that many knew of the crimes of Joseph Fritzl, but remained silent. This is an oft told story when it comes to abuse and it merits a deep meditation on evil and how if we do not confont it, we become silent accomplices--corporate sin, think about that when you recite the Confiteor..."in what I have failed to do." From The Sydney Morning Herald:

EVIDENCE of how a wall of silence hid the crimes of Joseph Fritzl is
mounting as it was revealed that his abuse of his daughter Elisabeth as a
teenager was an open secret among people who knew the family.
Former lodgers
at the family house and school friends of Elisabeth admitted on Saturday that
they heard she was being sexually abused and mistreated, yet none contacted
authorities before or after she disappeared.
Joseph Leitner, a former lodger,
said that shortly after he moved in, he learnt that she had been repeatedly
raped by her father.
"I had a good friend from school who was really close to
Elisabeth," said Mr Leitner, who lived at the house in the small Austrian town
of Amstetten between 1990 and 1994. - "She confided in me, and told me what a
monster Josef was - and what he had done to Elisabeth.
"But I decided I did
not want to get involved. I did not want to get kicked out of the flat, I did
not want to lose it. I kept myself to myself."

Saturday, May 03, 2008

In Stock Again

After selling out as soon as it was released, Amazon's Kindle is finally back in stock:

City Repents in Sackcloth (burlap) and Ashes

Birmingham, Alabama--last Friday, from FoxNews:
Struggling to confront a worsening homicide rate, the mayor of Birmingham asked pastors and citizens Friday to don burlap sacks and ashes Friday in an Old Testament-style sign of biblical repentance.

Mayor Larry Langford said his "sackcloth and ashes" rally at Boutwell Auditorium was inspired by the Book of Jonah, where residents of the ancient city of Ninevah wore rough fabric and ashes as a sign of turning away from sin.

A pastor who helped organize the rally said Langford purchased 2,000 burlap bags that will be handed out at the event.

"We believe things begin to dramatically change when the mayor, or leader, calls for prayer. I don't think there's ever been a city called to sackcloth and ashes," Green said.

Since he took office last year, Langford has held three prayer rallies as a way of addressing crime and violence. Bibles were handed out at one of the events.

"This city needs to humble itself," said Langford, a professing Christian.

So far this year 27 people have been killed in Birmingham, compared to 19 at the same time last year.

Which of course has raised the ire of some as witnessed in this piece entitled Sackcloth and Asses:
At any rate, the Birmingham prayer rally has serious goals. The News reports that Langford admonished the pastors surrounding him and others not to attend the rally for spectacle, but for a religious experience.

“Do not come looking pretty,” he said. “If you’re too cute to put a little ash on your hands, stay home. If you’re too cute to pray, stay home.”

I’ve got a better idea. Langford should stay home, and he should read the Constitution of the United States. Government officials have no authority to meddle in religion, and he should repent of his unconstitutional activities.

Changes in Papal Media Coverage

An excellent overview by Dale O'Leary in The Pilot:

As I followed the pastoral visit of the Holy Father on television, switching between EWTN and FoxNews, I could not help but contemplate how far we have come. I remember the coverage of the visits to the United States of John Paul the Great in 1979 and 1987. Then the coverage focused on dissenters. The commentators wanted to know when the Church would change its teachings of life, sexuality, marriage and women. When would the Church come into the modern age and cease to cling to ideas that everyone knew were outdated? To the media it was clear, the Church was not attracting new vocations to the priesthood and religious life; it was not engaging the younger generation and if the Church didn’t come around quickly it would soon sink into irrelevance. The dissenters assured us change would come; it was only a matter of time.

By John Paul’s third visit in 1995, the critics recognized that things would not change under his pontificate, but they still held out the hope that he was a passing phenomenon. He was ill. His death was expected and then there would be a new pope who would bring the Church into the 20th century. By 1995, the pundits grudgingly admitted that John Paul had achieved rock star status, he had stopped the decline of vocations and he had attracted the young, but they consoled themselves with the belief that his successor would not be able to match his appeal. The critics were, however, less confident than they had been.

Then the scandal hit and the pundits were sure that this would be the nail in the coffin. Surely, now the Church would at least give up on celibacy, let priests marry, ordain women. The scandal caused terrible harm. Many good souls found their faith tested and some left.

But here we are in 2008 and here is Benedict XVI. This shy, humble scholar is getting the same enthusiastic welcome as his predecessor. We saw stadiums full of young people, young women religious in full habit reaching out to touch his hand, and young priests and seminarians distributing Communion to thousands. One commentator noted that the College of Cardinals seemed to be a better system for picking a leader than our electoral process.

Of course, there are still dissenters, but rather than being lauded, they are the ones who are marginalized. An anti-Catholic comic who slandered the Holy Father was forced to offer an apology. The mainstream media seems to have accepted the fact that the Catholic Church is not going to “modernize.” And why should it? The religious denominations that have bent over backwards to accommodate 20th century sensibilities have found their congregations shrinking, their influence waning. Some are being torn apart in a battle between the modernizers and the traditionalists who refuse to surrender biblical truth.

The new century has come and the Church still stands uncompromisingly for the truth and for Christ. It now appears that there is nothing less relevant as yesterdays “modern.”

What has changed is the media. In 1979, most people got their news from the major networks and newspapers. The dissenters within the Church were probably never as numerous as the media made them appear to be, but for a long time they were the only voices we heard.

Today it is different. First, we have EWTN. The Eternal World Television Network now reaches 80 percent of homes in the United States. This has allowed the pope and teachers faithful to the Church to speak directly to the people. Catholics can hear the truth without distortion.

We have seen the rise of talk radio, which has undermined the ability of the mainstream media to shape the news. The pro-lifers discovered they were not alone.

We have the Internet, which in spite of its many dangers is a way for Catholics to educate themselves and to engage in various forms of activism. My favorite Internet news source is out of Canada. LifeSiteNews covers the pro-life, pro-family, and religious freedom news from around the world with its own writers and links to local coverage. It’s like having an international newspaper delivered every morning with all the news a concerned Catholic needs.

Television is no longer dominated by the three major networks. The extensive coverage of the Holy Father’s visit on FoxNews was fantastic. The anchors were enthusiastic. The priests/guests knew what they were talking about. One of Fox’s lovely blond ladies beamed as she exclaimed that Catholics really know how to put on a show. What is more amazing is that the “show” she was praising was nothing more than a beautifully celebrated Mass.

Of course, much of the credit for the success of the visit must go to the Holy Father himself. Benedict never missed a beat. He had the right word for every occasion.

The world has changed and John Paul the Great must be credited for leading the way. But we the faithful have played our part. We listened, we responded, we made our voices heard. There is much more to do. Benedict XVI has pointed the way and we will follow.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Pope's Meeting with Avery Dulles

Another private moment when Benedict was in the U.S., described in the National Catholic Register:

Amid the great public spectacles of his visit to America, Pope Benedict XVI made time for a private, poignant encounter with Cardinal Avery Dulles, SJ, on April 19 at New York’s St. Joseph’s Seminary.

Cardinal Dulles, suffering the effects of post-polio syndrome, now lives in the Jesuit infirmary at Fordham University. As his muscles atrophy, he is no longer able to walk and is unable to speak. He was therefore unable to participate in the papal events alongside the other cardinals.

Instead, the Holy Father decided to meet him privately as a gesture of esteem and affection...

...Benedict, the university professor, saluted America’s greatest scholarly theologian. And, suitably, the latter encounter was private, at Fordham, a place of teaching, with the two scholars speaking about their earlier theological collaborations and their books.

“Eminenza, Eminenza, I recall the work you did for the International Theological Commission in the 1990s,” said the Holy Father as he greeted Cardinal Dulles with obvious enthusiasm. Cardinal Dulles kissed the papal ring and smiled back at Benedict. Unable to speak, Cardinal Dulles had prepared a text that was read to the Holy Father by a fellow Jesuit priest.

Cardinal Dulles then presented Benedict with a copy of his most recently published book, a splendid collection of the McGinley Lectures he has been delivering at Fordham for 20 years under the title Church and Society.

Benedict immediately took it in hand, read the inscription and began to look through the pages — as happy as any scholar is to get a new book by a respected friend.

Archbishop John C. Neinstedt

Takes the reigns of the Archdiocese of Minneapolis-St. Paul as the Holy Father accepts the retirment of Archbishop Flynn today. See Vatican News Service