Friday, October 9, 2015

Chicago Archbishop speaks out on gun violence


To gun violence, Archbishop Cupich says 'Enough!'

Archbishop Cupich: I, too, say 'Enough!'
Here are the ingredients of a tragedy: untreated mental illness, a society where life is cheap and crime is glamorized, and a ready supply of firearms. As we recently saw yet again, a misguided, angry young man with an arsenal of stockpiled weapons ended the lives of those with the misfortune of simply being at school.
Closer to home, nearly a dozen human beings in the Archdiocese of Chicago fell victim to gun violence during the past two weeks. And those injured, maimed and traumatized were simply too many to count. Among the wounded were 10- and 11-month-old infants. Princeton Chew, the 11-month-old, will not remember his grandmother or his mother, who both died in the Back of the Yards shooting. He will never know the brother or sister his mother carried.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has consistently called for "reasonable regulation and controls for guns, especially handguns." It also wants to ban "assault weapons." After the 2012 murders of 20 first-graders and six staff members at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school, the USCCB sent testimony to Congress the following year. "This is the moment," said the USCCB spokesperson who testified before Congress, "to push for better gun controls. We want to build a culture of life and confront the culture of violence." That moment came and went without meaningful action.
Let's be honest. The Second Amendment was passed in an era when organized police forces were few and citizen militias were useful in maintaining the peace. Its original authors could not have anticipated a time when the weapons we have a right to bear now include military-grade assault weapons that have turned our streets into battlefields. The Second Amendment's original intent has been perverted by those who, as Pope Francis recently commented, have profited mightily. Surely there is a middle ground between the original intent of the amendment and the carnage we see today.
Recently, the city of Chicago adopted a tough ordinance to tightly regulate gun stores here. I applaud Chicago's leadership for taking this important step to protect our children and families. For this measure to truly be effective, however, the General Assembly must pass a similar law, especially considering how many guns are sold in gun shops located outside of Chicago.
Members of Congress stood late last month to applaud Pope Francis' call for an end to the weapons industry that is motivated by "money that is drenched in blood," and to endorse his call "to confront the problem and to stop the arms trade." Surely America's political leaders did not think the pope's comments were limited to arms trade outside of America's borders.
It is no longer enough for those of us involved in civic leadership and pastoral care to comfort the bereaved and bewildered families of victims of gun violence. It is time to heed the words of Pope Francis and take meaningful and swift action to address violence in our society. We must band together to call for gun-control legislation. We must act in ways that promote the dignity and value of human life. And we must do it now.
Blase J. Cupich is the Roman Catholic archbishop of Chicago.

Spanish nobleman who became a powerful Jesuit Priest

St. Francis Borgia

Image of St. Francis Borgia


Feastday: October 10
Patron against earthquakes; Portugal; Rota, Marianas
Birth: 1510
Death: 1572

Francis was a young nobleman at the court of the King of Spain. He became a Duke when he was only thirty-three and lived a happy, peaceful life with his wife Eleanor and their eight children. But unlike so many other powerful nobles, Francis was a perfect Christian gentleman, a true man of God and his great joy was to receive Holy Communion often. This happy life ended when his beloved wife died. Francis did something that astonished all the nobles of Spain; he gave up his Dukedom to his son Charles and became a Jesuit priest. So many people came to his first Mass that they had to set up an altar outdoors, but his Superior tested him by treating him in exactly the opposite way he had been used to all his forty-one years of life. He who had once been a Duke had to help the cook, carrying wood for the fire and sweeping the kitchen. When he served food to the priests and brothers, he had to kneel down in front of them all and beg them to forgive him for being so clumsy! Still he never once complained or grumbled. The only time he became angry was when anyone treated him with respect as if he was still a Duke. Once a doctor who had to take care of a painful wound Francis had gotten said to him: "I am afraid, my lord, that I have to hurt your grace." The saint answered that he would not hurt him more than he was right then by calling him "my lord" and "your grace." It was not too long before the humble priest accomplished wonderful works for God's glory as he preached everywhere and advised many important people. He spread the Society of Jesus all over Spain and in Portugal. When he was made Superior General of the Jesuits, he sent missionaries all over the world. Under his guidance, the Jesuits grew to be a very great help to the Church in many lands.  Through all such success, St. Francis Borgia remained completely humble. His feast day is October 10.

LSU really going above and beyond for the folks from South Carolina; humanity, sportsmanship; great job LSU

Geaux Gamecocks: 10 ways LSU is making USC feel at home

Cardinal Wuerl on mercy and forgiveness from the Synod

God’s mercy, forgiveness are good news for all, cardinal says

Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington leaves a session of the Synod of Bishops on the family at the Vatican Oct. 6. (CNS/Paul Haring)
Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington leaves a session of the Synod of Bishops on the family at the Vatican Oct. 6. (CNS/Paul Haring)
By Cindy Wooden Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The heart of the Synod of Bishops on the family is the challenge of discerning ways to reach out with God’s mercy to people, who might not be perfect, and to help them move closer to perfection, said Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington.
The first step, the cardinal said, is to “recognize what the human condition is and that we are all caught up in it — that’s what the fall was all about and that’s what Jesus’ death on the cross was all about. We do live in an imperfect world and each one of us is imperfect, but we also have the salvific grace of God at work in each one of us.”
Cardinal Wuerl, speaking to Catholic News Service Oct. 9, said it was important for the synod members to show people around the world both that the church still believes firmly that marriage and family are blessings, but also that church leaders know there are challenges raised by society and by the individuals themselves.
“I think it’s good for people to hear that their shepherds recognize that they are struggling, that it isn’t as easy as it sounds in the catechism,” he said. “At the same time, God’s grace is at work in our lives.”
Many at the synod, he said, are echoing Pope Francis’ call, “Go out. Meet people. The church has an obligation to meet people where they are, encounter them where they are. Not to scold them, but to accompany them on the faith journey.”
Cardinal Wuerl said he is always touched by the pope’s addition of a reminder that “if you accompany them, maybe both of you will get closer to Jesus.”
The key to the pastoral care of families — both the strong and the weak — is Pope Francis’ call to go out and to encounter, the cardinal said.
“Now when you encounter someone, you have to do that with respect,” he said. “Does that mean acceptance of their lifestyle? Not necessarily. But you have to respect them for who they are. And then you begin to walk with them, trying to understand where they are while also inviting them to draw closer to Christ.
“I think that’s what this pope asks us to do: respect people,” he said. “You don’t have to approve what they’re doing, but if you are going to walk with them, you have to do so with a sense of respect.”
Speaking after hearing the reports of all the synod’s small working groups, Cardinal Wuerl said one common thread was that while the church needs to recognize “all of the problems that marriage is facing today, we also need to weave into that the witness, the testimony of all those people who are living successful family life, who are living successful marriages.”
But if the synod does not speak openly and honestly about the challenges, he said, nobody will listen to the rest of what the synod has to say.
While people do not need a “fervorino” — a pious pep talk — “admitting, recognizing and seeing the problems has to be balanced with encouragement that not everybody is succumbing to the problem.”
After listening to the small group reports, synod members — including Cardinal Wuerl — began talking about what the church brings to the reality of the family.

The third section of the synod’s work will deal with what the church’s pastoral response should be, the cardinal said, “and that’s where the challenge of this synod will be and that’s where this synod will be different from past synods because we have been asked to take a look at practical, pastoral responses.”
In his speech to the synod, the cardinal said, “One of the things I touched on was the need to remember a two-fold element: that the fullness of the teaching and the mercy, God’s mercy, as we try to live that teaching, are both elements of the faith. They are both essential and intrinsically related elements of the faith.”
The church always has presented its teaching and called people to live it fully, he said. At the same time, the church always has said, “‘When you fail, here’s confession. And when you’re struggling, here’s absolution. The thing to do is to get up and keep trying.’ That’s the beauty of our faith.”
Some people who are living the faith more closely may be tempted to feel neglected or even annoyed, Cardinal Wuerl admitted. Jesus knew those people, too.
In the Gospels, he said, “the Good Shepherd goes out after the one lost sheep. In the parable of the prodigal son, the older son is encouraged by the father to be loving and forgiving so that the one who has been away is welcomed back.
“Remember, Jesus also used the parable about a man going out and hiring people at different hours,” but paying them all the same, Cardinal Wuerl said. When people complained, the landowner said, “Are you annoyed with me because I’m generous?”
“Yes, there could be a temptation to say, ‘Look, I’ve struggled in the heat of the sun all day and what reward do I get? Heaven. And this person comes along at the end of the day and what reward does he or she get? Heaven,'” the cardinal said. “What we need to say is, ‘Isn’t it a blessing that Jesus died on the cross so that all of us could have heaven?'

The Pope preached about the Evil One today

Pope’s Morning Homily: Be on Guard, Evil One Is Always Trying to Deceive

At Casa Santa Marta, Francis Considers Necessity of Discerning and Watchfulness

Vatican City, ( Staff Reporter              

Pope Francis today at his morning Mass in Casa Santa Marta recalled that a Christian should always discern what God is doing and asking in a situation, since the Evil One is always present as well, and trying to deceive.
Vatican Radio reported that the Holy Father drew his homily from today’s Gospel reading, in which Jesus is accused of driving out a demon by the "power of Beelzebul, the prince of demons."
There was a group, the Holy Father said, “that did not appreciate him and sought to interpret Jesus’ words and actions in a different way, against Jesus. Some, for envy, others for doctrinal rigidity, others because they were afraid that the Romans would come and massacre them; for many reasons they sought to distance Jesus’ authority from the people, even with slander as in this case.”
Against such misinterpretations of a situation, Pope Francis invited Christians to discern the roots of any given situation, because in the life of faith “temptations always return, the Evil Spirit never tires."
“The Evil One is hidden,” the Pope said, “he comes with his very educated friends, knocks at the door, asks for permission, comes in, and lives with that person. Drop by drop, he gives him instructions” on how to “do things with relativism."
The Holy Father warned against allowing the conscience to be anesthetized.
"This is a great evil," he said. "When the Evil Spirit succeeds in anesthetizing the conscience, it is then he can claim a true victory, for he has become the master of that conscience.”
To combat this, the Pope called for watchfulness, explaining:
“The Church counsels us to always make an examination of conscience: What happened today in my heart because of this?"
“Discernment: From where do these comments, words, teachings come? Who says this?
"Let us ask the Lord for this grace: the grace of discernment and of watchfulness.”

English reports from the Synod; take the time to read these

Some of the early reports from the Synod worth reading for those concerned or just wondering what is going on:

From The Catholic Blog over at Texas A&M: why pre-marital sex is always wrong!!!

Is Pre-Marital Sex Always Wrong?

Q – Is pre-marital sex always wrong (a sin)?
A – It seems like a simple enough question – is pre-marital sex always a sin? The answers to that question, given by Catholics, might shock you – even if this was from 5 years ago.  The gist of the results are the following:
  • In 1972, 39% of adult Catholics responded that premarital sex was “always wrong.” That went up to 54% of Catholics who attended Mass at least once a week.
  • In 2008, 14% of Catholics responded that premarital sex is “always wrong.” Among Catholics attending Mass at least once a week, 30% responded as such.
  • Put another way – 70% of Church-going Catholics do not believe the Bible or Christian teaching on sexuality. Among Catholics who do not go to Mass the number is even higher at 86%.
We have a lot of work to do. But, I am not shocked by the numbers. I see the results of such numbers all the time.
The simple answer to the question is yes, it is always a sin. Why? Because we were made for something better! Premarital sex is a selfish, unloving, use of another human being and a misuse of our sexuality. Let me break it down.
Pre-marital sex is selfish:
It is never about the other person. If it was, then we wouldn’t be risking the other person’s health, getting someone pregnant while not married, spreading disease, emotional welfare, spiritual state-of-being, and future marriage. It really is all about me and only me, whenever pre-marital sex happens. Yes, there might be strong emotions, friendship, and some love which exists between persons – but, the act of premarital sex itself is never about true unselfish love (see the next point).
Pre-marital sex is not a loving act:
The highest form of love = “choosing what is best for the other, despite the cost to myself” and could be summed up in one phrase = “gift of self“. We are called to love others by being a selfless gift for them. Thus, when we choose something that is about me and is not good for the other, then it is not love. Pre-marital sex, by definition, can NEVER be a loving act.
Pre-marital sex is use of another human being:
John Paul II said using another person as a means to an end (in this case your pleasure) and not as an end unto themselves is the opposite of love. It is reducing a human being to an object. Not treating them as a child of God. If we humans are the most amazing things God has ever made, and if we aer made in God’s image and likeness, then we have a purpose. To be used is never part of our God-given purpose.
Pre-marital sex is a misuse of our sexuality:
Why do we have these desires in the first place? It isn’t just to bring us pleasure. It is to be open to new life (procreation) and to bring a married man and woman together (unitive). These two ends are the purpose of marriage. Pleasure is a by-product of sex. A good by-product, but when it replaces one or both of the real purposes – it degrades the act and we are back at selfishness.
Sex is a gift from God and like any gift can be used for good or bad. It is also a meant to be a beautiful act between a man and wife – in the context of marriage. Sex is something intimate and wonderful. But, just like anything good, it can be twisted to be bad. This is what happens with pre-marital sexual acts. While it may feel like true love, we would never risk another person’s future, virginity, pregnancy, disease, soul, broken heart, etc. if we truly loved them as best we could.
Another way to re-phrase the question might be to ask “where is the line between sin and not sinning?” Well, (for some things) it depends on each individual. While all sexual activity (not just intercourse) outside of marriage is sinful, lust is as well. This is the deeper issue. Lust isn’t just a passing sexual thought about another person. It is when we grab hold of that thought and use it for our own pleasure.
When we have a control of what is going on in our hearts and minds, then we will easily see where the line is drawn and will do all we can to avoid even approaching it. We want to try and change our hearts, not just our actions.
I know there are many Catholics who struggle with their sexuality and controlling their desires, but it is worth it. Here is the reason – you can’t give what isn’t your own. If you don’t have self-control, you can’t give yourself away fully. This means you can’t really love another person by being a gift to them. We can either be in control of our desires or allow them to control us.
Chastity is the virtue that allows us to give ourselves to another…remember the definition of love as “gift”. To give everything means we are free of selfishness in our love and chastity frees us of selfishness in our sexual desires. Therefore chastity = sexual freedom! Unfortunately this understanding of chastity is not known well. Most people think that it means just not having sex. It is not a negative thing – it is a positive thing.
Sex should be saved for marriage, where the deepest intimacy (of all kinds) is supposed to be. Unfortunately in today’s world, we give our sexuality, our emotions, our bodies, and our lives to people we our not married to. We have lost the depth to what a intimacy really means. We end up deadening our sensitivity to it and putting present and future relationships at risk.
Just look at the results of a world that encourages us to be sexually intimate with many partners, in many ways, so long as it gives us pleasure. Are we a happier and more fulfilled people? Is this kind of lifestyle leading to contentment and goodness? I don’t know how anyone could argue that it is. We see brokenness and a poverty of love, much of it due to the misuse of our sexuality and a misunderstanding of who we are and why we exist.
To put it another way, I have never met a person who saved sex (of any kind) for marriage and regretted it, but I have met thousands who didn’t keep themselves pure and now do. You will never regret purity. Never. But, you will always regret impurity, eventually.
A life with no regrets is a full and good life.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Pharmacist, Priest, Founder, Saint

St. John Leonardi

Image of St. John Leonardi


Feastday: October 9
Patron of pharmacists
Birth: 1541
Death: 1609

John Leonardi was born at Diecimo, Italy. He became a pharmacist's assistant at Lucca, studied for the priesthood, and was ordained in 1572. He gathered a group of laymen about him to work in hospitals and prisons, became interested in the reforms proposed by the Council of Trent, and proposed a new congregation of secular priests. Great opposition to his proposal developed, but in 1583, his association (formally designated Clerks Regular of the Mother of God in 1621) was recognized by the bishop of Lucca with the approval of Pope Gregory XIII. John was aided by St. Philip Neri and St. Joseph Calasanctius, and in 1595, the congregation was confirmed by Pope Clement VIII, who appointed John to reform the monks of Vallombrosa and Monte Vergine. He died in Rome on October 9th of plague contracted while he was ministering to the stricken. He was venerated for his miracles and religious fervor and is considered one of the founders of the College for the Propagation of the Faith. He was canonized in 1938 by Pope Pius XI. His feast day is October 9th.

Lay observor at Synod encourages homilies that connect the Gospel to real family life

Families need homilies connecting Gospel to real life, observer says

Pope Francis participates in prayer at the opening session of the Synod of Bishops on the family at the Vatican Oct. 5. (CNS/Paul Haring)
Pope Francis participates in prayer at the opening session of the Synod of Bishops on the family at the Vatican Oct. 5. (CNS/Paul Haring)
By Carol Glatz Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Families need to hear homilies that connect the Gospel to the troubles and joys they experience, said a synod participant.
Maria Gomes, the Family and Life director at St. Mary’s Church in Dubai, and an observer at the Synod of Bishops on the family, said the typical scenario is “the priest just talks about the Gospel, ‘Peter said this, John said this’ and then it’s finished and it’s done and over.”
But Catholics, she said, want their priest “to cover real facts of what’s happening in the family and how important the family is today.”
Gomes, who is one of a number of non-voting lay observers, said urging priests around the world to connect the Gospel to people’s real lives is the focus of her presentation to the synod.
Accompanying God’s word with a real example or story from someone’s life helps people know “the facts, that there are so many other people also having problems” and how Christ offers healing, Gomes told Catholic News Service Oct. 7.
While the quality of homilies is important, the pastor’s personality and the dedication of the community are also key, she said.
One priest they had in Dubai, she said, was very outgoing, always visiting the schools and talking with families. She said that closeness helped couples who were in irregular unions decide to get married in the church.
“Our secret is when they come for the children’s baptism,” she said.
The church community and the priest speak with the family and help guide them through what often can be a long process of discernment and discovering the importance of the sacrament of matrimony. Other married couples “start calling them, talking to them, getting to know them a little bit better, drawing them to the church.”
Sometimes they find out people were not getting married in the church not for a lack of faith, but because of economic restraints or because they didn’t want the hassle of getting the proper documents from their parish back in their home country, she said.
St. Mary’s Church in Dubai is “the largest pilgrim parish in the world,” she said, serving more than 100,000 Catholics who are foreign workers and non-citizen residents from the Philippines, India and other South Asian nations. Gomes, with her husband, moved from Bombay, India, 31 years ago and raised their three children in Dubai.
While most parishes serve a community made up of citizens or long-term residents, St. Mary’s reaches out to a largely itinerant congregation where “many of them use Dubai as a steppingstone for greener pastures.”
Gomes said many of the church programs and outreach they offer are based on concrete input and feedback from priests and counselors who work at the parish.
Without violating people’s privacy or breaking the seal of confession, counselors and priests take the recurring issues they hear and translate them into ideas about “what people are hungry for,” Gomes said.
For example, extramarital affairs and conflicts with in-laws are frequent problems threatening parishioners’ marriages, she said.
As a response, Gomes runs “Marriage Encounter” weekends and workshops to help couples better communicate, build more intimate and solid unions and deal with the many challenges they face.
The parish offers workshops and seminars on the sacraments and expatriate workers’ rights; they invite medical professionals to talk about breast cancer awareness and other health issues; they help widowed spouses with a “Hope and Life” program; and they offer children a “Holyween” celebration at the end of October to teach Christian virtues through the life of the saints.
Parishioners form networks and are deeply involved in parish life, she said, adding that it is not unusual to still see people still at church at 9 p.m. “There’s so much brotherhood and community,” she said. “I feel alive in that parish.”
Gomes said she wants to set up new programs to help couples facing infertility.
With Catholic teaching emphasizing the procreative value of marriage, some couples feel “the whole purpose of marriage is children,” she said. “They come to church, but there’s a deep sadness in them” because they don’t have kids like their peers and “what happens is they start drawing away.”
Gomes said she also wants to do something to address the loneliness many migrant workers face when their spouse has stayed back in their home country.
A woman once told her, “‘When I go home from work, I prepare a lovely meal, but I have no one to share it with. I’m sitting there all alone trying to enjoy it.’ And then I realized how lonely that is.”
The individuals and families St. Mary’s serves “have problems, there are problems, it’s not a rosy picture. That’s why we need a lot of healing and that’s why we do a lot of workshops and seminars so there is healing as well.”
Migrants often go to foreign lands to follow a dream; sometimes that dream materializes and sometimes it doesn’t, she said.
“There are heartbreaks, there’s depression and sadness,” she said. But people must take the good and bad “in stride and make the best of it, keeping God always present in your life at all times.”
“My message is: Never stray from him, keep him close and you can fight any battle. I call him my bodyguard,” she said with a smile.