Thursday, July 24, 2014

One of the 12 Apostles, Son of Thunder, the 1st Apostle to give his life for the Church

Image of St. James the Greater


Feastday: July 25
Patron of Laborers

For James there was no indication that this was the day that his life would change. The dawn for him was not the bright beginning of a new day, but the end of long fruitless night of fishing. As James sat mending his nets in the boat with his brother John and his father Zebedee, he must have watched in wonder as his partner Simon brought in nets loaded with fish he had caught at the command of Jesus. Was he shocked when he saw Simon and his brother Andrew walk away from this incredible catch at a word from this same Jesus?
As he watched Jesus walk toward him followed by Simon and Andrew, did he feel curiosity, fear, hope, envy? Jesus didn't pass him by but, stopping by their boat, called James and his brother John to do just what Simon and Andrew had done. Without argument or discussion, James and John left their boat and even their father behind, and followed Jesus.
The first thing James saw after he followed Jesus was his teaching with authority in the synagogue and the cure of Simon's mother-in-law.
We all know that Jesus was the focus of James' life from then on, but it is also evident that James held a special place in Jesus' life.
He was chosen by Jesus to be one of the twelve apostles, given the mission to proclaim the good news, and authority to heal and cast out demons. To be named one of the twelve James must have had faith and commitment.
But even among the apostles he held a special place. When Jesus raised Jairus' daughter when all thought her dead, he only allowed James, John, and Peter to come with him. Even more important when he went up to the mountain to pray, he wanted James, John, and Peter to go with him. And it was there on the mountain they were privileged to witness what no one else had seen -- Jesus transfigured in his glory, speaking to Moses and Elijah, as the voice of God spoke from a cloud.
And with Simon Peter, James and John were the only ones of the apostles that Jesus gave a special name: Sons of Thunder.
To be singled out in these ways, James must have been a close and respected friend of Jesus.
It's no wonder then that James, along with John, felt that he had the right to go to Jesus and ask him to give them whatever they asked. As a mark of his love, Jesus didn't rebuke them but asked them what they wanted. They showed their lack of understanding of his mission when they asked that he let one of them sit on his right and the other on his left when he came into his glory. He replied that they didn't know what they were asking. They didn't see the cross in his future, but an earthly throne. Could they drink of the cup he would drink of? They replied that they could. He assured them they would indeed drink of that cup.
(Matthew has their mother asking for this favor for her sons. Despite the bad reputation their mother got for this, it should be remembered that she too had followed Jesus in his travels, providing for him, and was one of the women who stayed with Jesus as he was crucified when the apostles, including her son James, had fled.)
The other apostles were furious at this request. But Jesus used this opportunity to teach all of them that in order to be great one must be a servant.
James and John did show further lack of understanding of their friend and Lord when he was turned away by Samaritans. They wanted to use their newfound authority as apostles not to heal but to bring fire down on the town. (Perhaps Jesus gave them their Sons of Thunder nickname because of their passion, their own fire, or their temper.) Jesus did reprimand them for their unforgiving, vengeful view of their power.
But despite all these misunderstandings, it was still James, Peter, and John that Jesus chose to join him in prayer at the Garden of Gethsemane for his final prayer before his arrest. It must have hurt Jesus that the three of them fell asleep on this agonizing evening.
James did drink of the cup Jesus drank of, all too shortly after the Resurrection. Acts 12:1 tells us that James was one of the first martyrs of the Church. King Herod Agrippa I killed him with a sword in an early persecution of the Church. There is a story that the man who arrested James became a convert after hearing James speak at his trial and was executed with him.
James is called James the Greater because another younger apostle was named James. He should not be accused with this James, or the James who is a relative of Jesus, or the James who was an elder of the Church in Jerusalem and heard Peter's defense of baptizing Gentiles. James, son of Thunder, was dead by then.
Legends have sprung up that James evangelized Spain before he died but these stories have no basis in historical fact.
James is the patron saint of hatmakers, rheumatoid sufferers, and laborers.

USCCB President calls for prayers in light of war, terror and horror across the globe

Archbishop Joseph Kurtz calls for Prayers, Action for Peace in Middle East, Ukraine, Africa, Central America

24 Jule 2014, 13:52 | Catholic world |
Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), has asked the U.S. bishops to join with him in prayer and action for peace in world trouble spots, including the Middle East, Ukraine, Africa and Central America.

He also urged the bishops to express solidarity with Pope Francis in a July 22 letter.

Dear Brother Bishops,
May God bless you!
On Sunday, July 20, our Holy Father, Pope Francis, prayed for peace in all situations of tension and conflict in the world. He mentioned in particular the Middle East and Ukraine, singling out the terrible crisis of Christians in Iraq with these words: “Today our brothers are persecuted. They are banished from their homes and forced to flee without even being able to take their belongings!”
Our own Conference of Bishops has called attention to numerous situations of violence that cry out for peace. There is the terrible conflict between Israel and Hamas that terrorizes Israeli civilians and has cost the lives of more than 500 Gazans, most of whom are civilians. There are the alarming conflicts in Syria and Iraq that have caused millions to flee their homes and tens of thousands to lose their lives. We are mindful of the violent conflict in Ukraine, of the thousands who are displaced, and the hundreds of innocent civilians whose lives were cut short when a passenger jet was shot down. In Africa there are the often forgotten clashes in South Sudan, the Central African Republic, Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo that have displaced millions. Closer to home, there is the violence in Central America that is driving unaccompanied children to seek refuge in our country.
All of these tragic situations, and sadly many more, demand our prayer and action for peace. On Sunday, Pope Francis pleaded: “May the God of peace arouse in all an authentic desire for dialogue and reconciliation. Violence cannot be overcome with violence. Violence is overcome with peace!” Let us join our prayers and calls to action with his.
In the coming days and weeks I urge you to ask our Catholic people to pray for peace and to support diplomatic efforts aimed at dialogue and reconciliation. As Jesus admonishes us: “Blessed are the peacemakers” (Matthew 5:9). This can be done in personal prayers and in the Prayers of the Faithful at Mass.
We should never underestimate the power of prayer; for it touches and opens us to the power of God among us. My prayer is that together we might help open our world to God’s gift of peace, a peace that the world cannot give (cf. John 14:27).

During the botched execution in Arizona, while gasping 600 times for a breath, a Deacon stood by and prayed

Arizona execution: As Joseph Wood died, a deacon prayed
The accounts of yesterday’s botched execution are horrifying. But a deacon was with him as he died:
A convicted double murderer snorted and gasped some 600 times as it took him almost two hours to die during a botched Arizona execution Wednesday.
An attorney for Joseph Wood filed an emergency stay of execution about 70 minutes after the procedure had begun and left the 55-year-old inmate “gasping and snorting for more than an hour.”
“This execution has violated Mr. Wood’s Eighth Amendment right to be executed in the absence of cruel and unusual punishment,” the filing read.
The man was pronounced dead at 3:49 p.m. local time, 117 minutes after it began. Dean Baich, Wood’s defense attorney, said the execution using a combination of midazolam and hydromorphone, should have taken 10 minutes.
An administrator checked on Wood a half dozen times. His breathing slowed as a deacon said a prayer while holding a rosary.;postID=7855169858323503025

Another grim incident that screams for the elimination of the death penalty

Another botched execution? Inmate gasps during two-hour execution

By Dana Ford, Amanda Watts and Jason Hanna, CNN
updated 10:29 PM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014

Source: KTVK

CNN's original series "Death Row Stories" explores America's capital punishment system at 10 p.m. ET/PT Sundays on CNN. Join the conversation about the death penalty at or Twitter @CNNorigSeries using #DeathRowStories.

(CNN) -- Joseph Wood snorted and struggled to breathe during his nearly two-hour lethal injection Wednesday, his attorney said.
"It took Joseph Wood two hours to die, and he gasped and struggled to breathe for about an hour and 40 minutes. We will renew our efforts to get information about the manufacturer of drugs as well as how Arizona came up with the experimental formula of drugs it used today," attorney Dale Baich said in a statement.
He added: "Arizona appears to have joined several other states who have been responsible for an entirely preventable horror -- a bungled execution."
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer had directed the Department of Corrections to review the process, saying she is concerned by the length of time it took to carry out the lethal injection.
A federal judge ordered local officials to preserve all physical evidence in Wood's execution.
Inmate Joseph Wood has been executed in Arizona.
Inmate Joseph Wood has been executed in Arizona.
Lethal Injection: The process
"One thing is certain, however, inmate Wood died in a lawful manner and by eyewitness and medical accounts he did not suffer. This is in stark comparison to the gruesome, vicious suffering that he inflicted on his two victims -- and the lifetime of suffering he has caused their family," Brewer said.
Arizona's corrections department said in a statement that it followed protocol in Wood's execution, re-affirming his "deep sedation" seven times before he was pronounced dead.
Aside from snoring, he did not make grimaces or otherwise move, the corrections department said.
Wood was convicted of murder and assault in the 1989 deaths of his estranged girlfriend and her father.
"I don't believe he was gasping for air; I don't believe he was suffering. It sounded to me like was snoring," said Jeanne Brown, a relative of Wood's victims.
"You don't know what excruciating is. What's excruciating is seeing your dad laying there in a pool of blood, seeing you sister laying there in a pool of blood. This man deserved it. And I shouldn't really call him a man," she said.
The execution procedure began at 1:52 p.m. (4:52 p.m. ET) and concluded, with Wood's being pronounced dead, at 3:49 p.m. (6:49 p.m. ET).
Troy Hayden, a media witness from KSAZ, told reporters the execution was difficult to watch. He likened Wood's breathing to a "fish gulping for air."
"It was tough for everybody in that room," he said.
Michael Kiefer, a reporter for The Arizona Republic, has witnessed five executions, including Wood's.
"Usually it takes about 10 minutes, the person goes to sleep. This was not that," he told reporters afterward. "It started off looking as if it was going alright but then obviously something didn't go right. It took two hours."
Kiefer described the sound Wood made as a "deep, snoring, sucking air sound."
Wood's attorneys had filed an emergency motion for a stay after his execution began, saying then that Wood had been "gasping and snorting for more than an hour."
The motion read: "He is still alive. This execution has violated Mr. Wood's Eighth Amendment right to be executed in the absence of cruel and unusual punishment. We respectfully request that this Court stop the execution and require that the Department of Corrections use the lifesaving provisions required in its protocol."
Inmate objected to drugs
Earlier, the Arizona Supreme Court lifted its brief stay of the murderer's execution.
Wood was first set to be executed at 10 a.m. local time (1 p.m. ET), though it was temporarily halted when the court said it would consider his request for the justices to review his claims.
The court lifted the stay shortly after that, saying without explanation that it considered the request but decided not to review Wood's case.
Wood was the latest American death row inmate to argue that an anesthetic recently introduced in some states' execution protocols could fail to sufficiently knock out the inmate ahead of the lethal drugs, subjecting the person to an agonizing death.
Wood claimed among other things that the state was going to use an "experimental" drug protocol of midazolam and hydromorphone.
In documents filed with the state Supreme Court, he contended the use of the anesthetic midazolam was problematic in recent U.S. executions and that it would violate the Constitution's guarantee against cruel and unusual punishment.
Wood was "very concerned they were experimenting," said attorney Baich, who witnessed the execution.
"The room was silent. I was focusing on Mr. Wood. There were seven announcements during the process that Mr. Wood was still sedated. This is -- to confirm that he was still sedated.
"He was still breathing and struggling to breathe and gasping and snorting. I have witnessed 10 executions, and I had never seen that before," Baich told CNN.

Sudanese woman condemned to die for not being Muslim meets Pope Francis today!

Death row Christian woman flies out of Sudan, meets Pope

Pope Francis blesses Mariam Yahya Ibrahim of Sudan and her baby during a private meeting at the Vatican July 24, 2014.

ROME/KHARTOUM (Reuters) - A Sudanese woman who was sentenced to death for converting from Islam to Christianity, then detained after her conviction was quashed, flew into Rome on an Italian government plane on Thursday and hours later met the Pope.
Mariam Yahya Ibrahim, whose sentence and detention triggered international outrage, walked off the aircraft cradling her baby and was greeted by Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi.
Soon afterwards, Ibrahim, her husband and two children had a private meeting with Pope Francis in the Vatican. "The Pope thanked her for her witness to faith," Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said.
The meeting, which lasted around half an hour, was intended as a "sign of closeness and solidarity for all those who suffer for their faith," he added.
There were no details on what led up to the 27-year-old's departure after a month in limbo in Khartoum, but a senior Sudanese official said it had been cleared by the government.
"The authorities did not prevent her departure that was known and approved in advance," the senior official told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Ibrahim was accompanied on the plane by Italy's vice minister for foreign affairs, Lapo Pistelli. He told journalists at Ciampino airport that Italy had been in "constant dialogue" with Sudan but did not give any more details on Rome's role in securing her exit.
He published a photograph on his Facebook page of himself with Ibrahim and her two children on the plane with the caption: "A couple of minutes away from Rome. Mission accomplished."
Ibrahim was sentenced to death in May on charges of converting from Islam to Christianity and marrying a Christian South Sudanese-American.

Her conviction was quashed last month, but Sudan's government accused her of trying to leave the country with falsified papers, preventing her departure for the United States with her husband and two children.
She was initially detained, then released and moved into the U.S. embassy in Khartoum.
Pistelli told reporters at the airport that the family was in good health and would stay in Italy for a few days before leaving for the United States.
Mariam Yahya Ibrahim of Sudan carries one of her children as she arrives with Pistelli, Italy's vice minister for foreign affairs, holding her other child, and wife Agnese after landing at Ciampino airport in Rome, July 24.Reuters: Remo Casilli
Mariam Yahya Ibrahim of Sudan carries one of her children as she arrives with Pistelli, Italy's vice minister for foreign affairs, holding her other child, and wife Agnese after landing at Ciampino airport in Rome, July 24.
The minister, who carried one of Ibrahim's young children off the plane, said he expected her to have "some important meetings" during her time in Italy.
Ibrahim says she was born and raised as a Christian by an Ethiopian family in Sudan and later abducted by a Sudanese Muslim family.
The Muslim family denies that and filed a lawsuit to have her marriage annulled last week in a new attempt to stop her leaving the country. That case was later dropped.
Prime Minister Renzi mentioned Ibrahim's case in his speech to inaugurate Italy's six-month European Union presidency earlier this month.
"If there is no European reaction we cannot feel worthy to call ourselves 'Europe'," Renzi said.
Apostasy is punishable by death in many countries' interpretation of Islamic law.

A middle-eastern Saint (Lebannon); we should ask his intercession for the crisis Chrsitian are facing there

St. Charbel

Image of St. Charbel


Feastday: July 24
Birth: 1828
Death: 1898

Youssef Antoun Makhlouf was born in 1828, in Bekaa Kafra (North Lebanon). He had a true Christian upbringing, which had given him a passion for prayer. Then he followed his two hermit uncles in the hermitage of the St Antonious Kozhaya monastery and was converted to monastic and hermetical life.
In 1851, he left his family village and headed for the Our Lady of Maifouk monastery to spend his first monastic year, and then he went to the St Maron monastery in Annaya, where he entered the Maronite Order, carrying the name Charbel, a name of one of the Antioch church martyrs of the second century. On November 1st. 1853, he exposed his ceremonial vows in St Maron�s monastery - Annaya. Then he completed his theological studies in the St Kobrianous and Justina monastery in Kfifan, Batroun.
He was ordained a priest in Bkerky, the Maronite Patriarchate, on July 23rd, 1859. He lived 16 years in the St Maron's monastery � Annaya. From there, he entered, on February 15th, 1875, the St Peter & Paul hermitage, which belongs to the monastery. He was a typical saint and hermit, who spent his time praying and worshipping. Rarely had he left the hermitage where he followed the way of the saintly hermits in prayers, life and practice.
St Charbel lived in the hermitage for 23 years. On December 16th, 1898 he was struck with an illness while performing the holy mass. He died on Christmas' eve, December 24th, 1898, and was buried in the St Maron monastery cemetery in Annaya.
Few months later, dazzling lights were seen around the grave. From there, his corpse, which had been secreting sweat and blood, was transferred into a special coffin. Hordes of pilgrims started swarming the place to get his intercession. And through this intercession, God blessed many people with recovery and spiritual graces.
In 1925, his beatification and canonization were proposed for declaration by Pope Pious XI. In 1950, the grave was opened in the presence of an official committee which included doctors who verified the soundness of the body. After the grave had been opened and inspected, the variety of healing incidents amazingly multiplied. A multitude of pilgrims from different religious facets started flocking to the Annaya monastery to get the saint's intercession.
Prodigies reached beyond the Lebanese borders. This unique phenomenon caused a moral revolution, the return to faith and the reviving of the virtues of the soul.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Can Your Vote be a sin?



Can there be Mortal Sin in Voting? Print E-mail
By Howard Kainz   
Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Living in Milwaukee, a bastion of liberalism, I can’t recall meeting any Catholic in the last two elections, including some daily communicants, who did not vote enthusiastically for Obama. And the post-election data in both cases indicate that the majority of Catholics around the country voted similarly. During these elections, however, we occasionally heard news from other states about priests warning their congregations that voting Democratic would be a mortal sin.
These priests had some solid backing from bishops. For the last two decades, a number of bishops have warned not only politicians but individual voters that they should not receive communion without confession, after voting for Democrats supporting abortion rights – including Bishops Burke of St. Louis, Wenski of Orlando (now Miami), Sheridan of Colorado Springs, Maher of San Diego, Weigand of Sacramento, and Cardinals Law and O’Malley of Boston. 
In the 2012 election, Bishops Ricken of Green Bay and Paprocki of Springfield, Ill., and Jenky of Peoria were very specific concerning the danger of mortal sin in voting for Obama. If added confirmation were needed from the Vatican, we have the 1974 declaration from the CDF that “Man may never obey a law which is in itself immoral, and such is the case of a law which would admit in principle the liceity of abortion. Nor can he take part in a propaganda campaign in favor of such a law or vote for it.” And in 2013, Benedict XVI responded to journalists’ questions concerning a contemplated excommunication by Mexican bishops of politicians who would enact laws permitting abortion. Benedict said they would be justified in doing so; but the bishops never followed through. It goes without saying, however, that, if there is anything spiritually worse that mortal sin, it would be excommunication.
But how could casting a ballot – even enthusiastically (like MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, with a tingle up one’s leg) –  be a mortal sin? Voting boils down to a type of speech, free speech. Like a gesture or sign, it translates into “I support this candidate and what he/she stands for.” If a vote is another form of speech, this would seem to imply that even saying in public, “I support Obama and his constant and dedicated extension of abortion rights” would be a mortal sin. This seems extreme. But speech can be gravely sinful: Jesus admonishes us in Mt. 5:22 that even saying hateful words to your brother can put you in danger of hell fire.
Most Catholics, of course, if they had to put the meaning of their vote into words, would not say, “I support elective abortion,” but rather something like “I am just voting for choice.” Still, this boils down to “choice for women to kill their own offspring,” which doesn’t jibe well with the Fifth Commandment of the Decalogue. Supporting this choice justifies murder. How can that not be sinful? Support by words and deeds of the killing, at will, of unwanted unborn humans manifests an indifference which is the opposite of love, and, in fact, makes the supporter into an accomplice of the act – not just “ethically challenged,” but an abettor.
Many post-election justifications were heard from Catholics who voted for Obama. For example, extensions in health care for women would decrease the number of abortions; the administration would bring about the redistribution of wealth; maternity and paternity leaves would help in pregnancies; the expansion of immigration, expansion of unemployment benefits, and other “entitlements” envisioned in the Democratic platform, would better the lives of many – and  even save lives.
In such responses one notices ethical utilitarianism and “the means justifies the end” type of argumentation: namely, good ends will be achieved, but a price will have to be paid (over a million preborn humans destroyed per year). Could a voter actually be unaware of these consequences?  Unlikely.
In spite the mainstream media’s concerted blackout of most negatives about candidate Obama, the news did slip out that, as a member of the Illinois legislature, he alone among the Senators refused to support medical care to save the life of newborns who survived late-term abortion – even after the Illinois legislation had been revised to address his objections. And Obama’s multiple campaign speeches favoring continuation and extensions of the right to abortion left no doubt about his intentions to any of his fervid followers. Could rational beings have no intimation of what would follow from putting this man in power?
The best-case scenario for justifying the Catholic vote for Obama was the advice that Senator Edward Kennedy and other Democrats followed in their famous 1964 meeting with Catholic priests and theologians for two days in Hyannisport, about which I have already written in a former column. After intensive dialogue, the “experts” concluded that a Catholic could vote in favor of abortion. In the aftermath, Kennedy, Al Gore, John Kerry, and other Democrats began shifting from pro-life to “pro-choice.” The basic idea was that, even if you had personal objections against abortion, you should not “force” it on others, e.g., by voting according to your conscience.
It is instructive that in the 2012 election even the Democrats for Life in America (DFLA), an organization that claims to speak for a third of the Democratic Party, could not in conscience endorse the Presidential candidate, Barak Obama. But “Catholics for Obama” harbored no such reservations.
The popular “decision” of not “imposing” your view by liberal theologians has been constantly overruled by the statements of bishops and cardinals, as mentioned above. Unfortunately voters in Congress, as well as voters on the street, think that they have the prerogative of overruling these overrulings. They may think they are also overruling the possibility of committing mortal sin; but this possibility exists, objectively, in spite of deliberately ill-informed consciences. That will become an issue again this November.
Howard Kainz is emeritus professor of philosophy at Marquette University. His most recent publications include Natural Law: an Introduction and Reexamination (2004)The Philosophy of Human Nature (2008), and The Existence of God and the Faith-Instinct (2010

Another Martyr from England; killed for the crime of being Catholic


Image of St. John Boste


Feastday: July 24
Birth: 1544
Death: 1594

One of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales. He was born at Dufton, at Westmoreland, England, and studied at Oxford. Becoming a Catholic in 1576, he went to Reims and received ordination in 1581. John went back to England where he worked in the northern parts of the kingdom and became the object of a massive manhunt. He was betrayed, arrested, and taken to London. There he was crippled on the rack and returned to Dryburn near Durham. On July 24, he was hanged, drawn, and quartered. John was canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1970 as a martyr of Durham.

The Catholic Mayor of New Orleans and his abortion/Planned Parenthood dilema

The Mayor of New Orleans fancies himself quite the Catholic, and often he certainly demonstrates his faith.  He is a frequent visitor to the St. Louis Cathedral and is quite the champion for most things social justice.

This issue seems unfortunate because in this press release, he and the city come off as wholly uninterested in protecting innocent human life.  You read the article and decide: