Thursday, September 30, 2010

Blessed Father Seelos Day in Louisiana

>>>Across all of Louisiana next Tuesday we will be celebrating Father Seelos Day. The 19th century Priest who was declared "blessed" by Pope John Paul II based on the miracle of my aunt, Angela Boudreaux, is just one affirmed miracle away from canonization. Saw this at the blog Opinionated Catholic:

Official Publication of the Diocese of Shreveport HomeArchives
It is not every day that a government leader declares a proclamation for a Louisiana priest. That’s exactly what Govenor Bobby Jindal did in 2008, proclaiming October 5 “Father Seelos Day in Louisiana,” attesting that “Father Seelos worked tirelessly to comfort those afflicted by the New Orleans yellow fever epidemic of 1867, until he himself was struck down by the disease and died on October 4, 1867.” It further notes that the sacred remains of this revered Redemptorist missionary “rest in the national shrine of St. Mary’s Assumption Church.”

Suggestions for celebrating Father Seelos Day:
1. Priests and deacons can discuss Father Seelos’ traits in a homily and how people have sought his intercession. Priests can download the Mass Proper for his Feast day by visiting the website or by viewing the Official Seelos Feast Day Liturgical Texts online at

2. Include a history lesson on how yellow fever attacked the population and what good people did to help the sick and dying.

3. Religious education teachers can make available Father Seelos’ 10 practical steps to holiness (found on the home page of or, and invite students to draw Father Seelos and explain the picture.

4. Show the movie Seelos, Tireless Intercessor. Make the DVD available in your library.

5. Inform parishioners of the Seelos feast day Mass on Sunday, October 3, 2010 at 1:00 p.m. at St. Mary’s Assumption Church in New Orleans through bulletin inserts and flyers or print from this link: Visitors from across the country attend this annual event.
6. Encourage families or groups to make a pilgrimage to the National Shrine in New Orleans. Visit the new Seelos “Walk of Life” Interactive Exhibit in the Seelos Welcome Center and Gift Shop that opened a year ago at 919 Josephine Street in New Orleans. To arrange a group tour, contact Joyce Bourgeois at 504-525-2499.

The official Seelos website offers a wealth of information on his life, beatification, sayings, prayers, etc., including videos and publications. For questions, call: 504-525-2495 or email: Father Byron Miller, C.Ss.R.

St. Therese of Lisieux

Saint Therese of Lisieux

Feastday: October 1
Patron of the Missions
1873 - 1897

Generations of Catholics have admired this young saint, called her the "Little Flower", and found in her short life more inspiration for own lives than in volumes by theologians.

Yet Therese died when she was 24, after having lived as cloistered Carmelite for less than ten years. She never went on missions, never founded a religious order, never performed great works. The only book of hers, published after her death, was an brief edited version of her journal called "Story of a Soul." (Collections of her letters and restored versions of her journals have been published recently.) But within 28 years of her death, the public demand was so great that she was canonized.

Over the years, some modern Catholics have turned away from her because they associate her with over- sentimentalized piety and yet the message she has for us is still as compelling and simple as it was almost a century ago.

Therese was born in France in 1873, the pampered daughter of a mother who had wanted to be a saint and a father who had wanted to be monk. The two had gotten married but determined they would be celibate until a priest told them that was not how God wanted a marriage to work! They must have followed his advice very well because they had nine children. The five children who lived were all daughters who were close all their lives.

Tragedy and loss came quickly to Therese when her mother died of breast cancer when she was four and a half years old. Her sixteen year old sister Pauline became her second mother -- which made the second loss even worse when Pauline entered the Carmelite convent five years later. A few months later, Therese became so ill with a fever that people thought she was dying.

The worst part of it for Therese was all the people sitting around her bed staring at her like, she said, "a string of onions." When Therese saw her sisters praying to statue of Mary in her room, Therese also prayed. She saw Mary smile at her and suddenly she was cured. She tried to keep the grace of the cure secret but people found out and badgered her with questions about what Mary was wearing, what she looked like. When she refused to give in to their curiosity, they passed the story that she had made the whole thing up.

Without realizing it, by the time she was eleven years old she had developed the habit of mental prayer. She would find a place between her bed and the wall and in that solitude think about God, life, eternity.

When her other sisters, Marie and Leonie, left to join religious orders (the Carmelites and Poor Clares, respectively), Therese was left alone with her last sister Celine and her father. Therese tells us that she wanted to be good but that she had an odd way of going about. This spoiled little Queen of her father's wouldn't do housework. She thought if she made the beds she was doing a great favor!

Every time Therese even imagined that someone was criticizing her or didn't appreciate her, she burst into tears. Then she would cry because she had cried! Any inner wall she built to contain her wild emotions crumpled immediately before the tiniest comment.

Therese wanted to enter the Carmelite convent to join Pauline and Marie but how could she convince others that she could handle the rigors of Carmelite life, if she couldn't handle her own emotional outbursts? She had prayed that Jesus would help her but there was no sign of an answer.

On Christmas day in 1886, the fourteen-year-old hurried home from church. In France, young children left their shoes by the hearth at Christmas, and then parents would fill them with gifts. By fourteen, most children outgrew this custom. But her sister Celine didn't want Therese to grow up. So they continued to leave presents in "baby" Therese's shoes.

As she and Celine climbed the stairs to take off their hats, their father's voice rose up from the parlor below. Standing over the shoes, he sighed, "Thank goodness that's the last time we shall have this kind of thing!"

Therese froze, and her sister looked at her helplessly. Celine knew that in a few minutes Therese would be in tears over what her father had said.

But the tantrum never came. Something incredible had happened to Therese. Jesus had come into her heart and done what she could not do herself. He had made her more sensitive to her father's feelings than her own.

She swallowed her tears, walked slowly down the stairs, and exclaimed over the gifts in the shoes, as if she had never heard a word her father said. The following year she entered the convent. In her autobiography she referred to this Christmas as her "conversion."

Therese be known as the Little Flower but she had a will of steel. When the superior of the Carmelite convent refused to take Therese because she was so young, the formerly shy little girl went to the bishop. When the bishop also said no, she decided to go over his head, as well.

Her father and sister took her on a pilgrimage to Rome to try to get her mind off this crazy idea. Therese loved it. It was the one time when being little worked to her advantage! Because she was young and small she could run everywhere, touch relics and tombs without being yelled at. Finally they went for an audience with the Pope. They had been forbidden to speak to him but that didn't stop Therese. As soon as she got near him, she begged that he let her enter the Carmelite convent. She had to be carried out by two of the guards!

But the Vicar General who had seen her courage was impressed and soon Therese was admitted to the Carmelite convent that her sisters Pauline and Marie had already joined. Her romantic ideas of convent life and suffering soon met up with reality in a way she had never expected. Her father suffered a series of strokes that left him affected not only physically but mentally. When he began hallucinating and grabbed for a gun as if going into battle, he was taken to an asylum for the insane. Horrified, Therese learned of the humiliation of the father she adored and admired and of the gossip and pity of their so-called friends. As a cloistered nun she couldn't even visit her father.

This began a horrible time of suffering when she experienced such dryness in prayer that she stated "Jesus isn't doing much to keep the conversation going." She was so grief-stricken that she often fell asleep in prayer. She consoled herself by saying that mothers loved children when they lie asleep in their arms so that God must love her when she slept during prayer.

She knew as a Carmelite nun she would never be able to perform great deeds. " Love proves itself by deeds, so how am I to show my love? Great deeds are forbidden me. The only way I can prove my love is by scattering flowers and these flowers are every little sacrifice, every glance and word, and the doing of the least actions for love." She took every chance to sacrifice, no matter how small it would seem. She smiled at the sisters she didn't like. She ate everything she was given without complaining -- so that she was often given the worst leftovers. One time she was accused of breaking a vase when she was not at fault. Instead of arguing she sank to her knees and begged forgiveness. These little sacrifices cost her more than bigger ones, for these went unrecognized by others. No one told her how wonderful she was for these little secret humiliations and good deeds.

When Pauline was elected prioress, she asked Therese for the ultimate sacrifice. Because of politics in the convent, many of the sisters feared that the family Martin would taken over the convent. Therefore Pauline asked Therese to remain a novice, in order to allay the fears of the others that the three sisters would push everyone else around. This meant she would never be a fully professed nun, that she would always have to ask permission for everything she did. This sacrifice was made a little sweeter when Celine entered the convent after her father's death. Four of the sisters were now together again.

Therese continued to worry about how she could achieve holiness in the life she led. She didn't want to just be good, she wanted to be a saint. She thought there must be a way for people living hidden, little lives like hers. " I have always wanted to become a saint. Unfortunately when I have compared myself with the saints, I have always found that there is the same difference between the saints and me as there is between a mountain whose summit is lost in the clouds and a humble grain of sand trodden underfoot by passers-by. Instead of being discouraged, I told myself: God would not make me wish for something impossible and so, in spite of my littleness, I can aim at being a saint. It is impossible for me to grow bigger, so I put up with myself as I am, with all my countless faults. But I will look for some means of going to heaven by a little way which is very short and very straight, a little way that is quite new.

" We live in an age of inventions. We need no longer climb laboriously up flights of stairs; in well-to-do houses there are lifts. And I was determined to find a lift to carry me to Jesus, for I was far too small to climb the steep stairs of perfection. So I sought in holy Scripture some idea of what this life I wanted would be, and I read these words: "Whosoever is a little one, come to me." It is your arms, Jesus, that are the lift to carry me to heaven. And so there is no need for me to grow up: I must stay little and become less and less."

She worried about her vocation: " I feel in me the vocation of the Priest. I have the vocation of the Apostle. Martyrdom was the dream of my youth and this dream has grown with me. Considering the mystical body of the Church, I desired to see myself in them all. Charity gave me the key to my vocation. I understood that the Church had a Heart and that this Heart was burning with love. I understood that Love comprised all vocations, that Love was everything, that it embraced all times and a word, that it was eternal! Then in the excess of my delirious joy, I cried out: O Jesus, my vocation, at last I have found it...My vocation is Love!"

When an antagonist was elected prioress, new political suspicions and plottings sprang up. The concern over the Martin sisters perhaps was not exaggerated. In this small convent they now made up one-fifth of the population. Despite this and the fact that Therese was a permanent novice they put her in charge of the other novices.

Then in 1896, she coughed up blood. She kept working without telling anyone until she became so sick a year later everyone knew it. Worst of all she had lost her joy and confidence and felt she would die young without leaving anything behind. Pauline had already had her writing down her memories for journal and now she wanted her to continue -- so they would have something to circulate on her life after her death.

Her pain was so great that she said that if she had not had faith she would have taken her own life without hesitation. But she tried to remain smiling and cheerful -- and succeeded so well that some thought she was only pretending to be ill. Her one dream as the work she would do after her death, helping those on earth. "I will return," she said. "My heaven will be spent on earth." She died on September 30, 1897 at the age of 24 years old. She herself felt it was a blessing God allowed her to die at exactly that age. she had always felt that she had a vocation to be a priest and felt God let her die at the age she would have been ordained if she had been a man so that she wouldn't have to suffer.

After she died, everything at the convent went back to normal. One nun commented that there was nothing to say about Therese. But Pauline put together Therese's writings (and heavily edited them, unfortunately) and sent 2000 copies to other convents. But Therese's "little way" of trusting in Jesus to make her holy and relying on small daily sacrifices instead of great deeds appealed to the thousands of Catholics and others who were trying to find holiness in ordinary lives. Within two years, the Martin family had to move because her notoriety was so great and by 1925 she had been canonized.

Therese of Lisieux is one of the patron saints of the missions, not because she ever went anywhere, but because of her special love of the missions, and the prayers and letters she gave in support of missionaries. This is reminder to all of us who feel we can do nothing, that it is the little things that keep God's kingdom growing.

The best half of the year

Starts tomorrow!! October 1st ushers in the best half of the year; the part I like. And we have been so lucky to have such nice weather to usher out the worst half and set the stage for the best half. My two favorite seasons are autumn and winter. Of course this is easy to say as we never have classic winter. Most of our best weather days occur between now and late March and sometimes early April.

October brings a real change in season; cooler, less humid and more intense football action. And we start looking forward to those awesome holiday seasons of Thanksgiving and Christmas.

This year I am looking forward to a couple of special events in this half of the year. In November we will have the dedication of the chapel on the grounds of the Rayburn Prison. After November 19th we will have a special worship space to conduct Mass, communion services and prayer meetings. So looking forward to this! And then in December we will ordain 10 men to the Permanent Diaconate in St. Louis Cathedral. I've been so privileged to be working with these men in the last weeks and months of their formation.

So with these events in mind and the general atmosphere of autumn I say c'mon October and beyond. Bring on cool temps, nice breezes, shorter days, football frenzy, holidays galore; what a joy to enter the best half of the year.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

St. Jerome

>>>Famous quote: "Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ"

St. Jerome Feast Day — September 30

Jerome was born in the country we now call Croatia. He was tutored at home and developed a love for education. When he was about twelve, his parents sent him to Rome to study both Greek and Latin.

When he was eighteen, Jerome was baptized in Rome. He then studied with some of the great Scripture scholars of his time. Jerome felt that God was calling him to use his education to serve the Church.

Jerome was ordained a priest and given permission to devote his life to study and writing rather than ministering to the people of a parish. He needed quiet for his studies so he moved to the wilderness to live a life of silence and simplicity. In the wilderness, he began to study Hebrew, to copy books by hand, and to write letters defending and explaining the faith. Each of these tasks prepared Jerome for the great work he was yet to do.

Pope Damasus called Jerome to Rome to be the papal secretary. In addition to those duties, Damasus asked Jerome to translate the Gospels from Greek into Latin, the language of the Church. Jerome’s translation of the Gospels was more accurate than any other version available at the time.

After Damasus died, Jerome traveled and eventually settled in Bethlehem where he became the spiritual director at a monastery. His duties allowed him the freedom and silence he needed to translate most of the Old Testament into from Hebrew, which he had learned in the wilderness, into Latin.

Jerome’s translation of the Old and New Testament is called the Vulgate, or common version, of the Bible. We honor St. Jerome contribution to the Church on September 30. His work made it possible for Catholics to understand and to respond to God’s Word.

St Michael Prayer

Saint Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray;
and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host -
by the Divine Power of God -
cast into hell, satan and all the evil spirits,
who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls.


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Archangels; Michael, Raphael, Gabriel

>>>A beautiful feast day tomorrow; the three Archangels mentioned in Scripture. I am named for St. Michael and am pleased to be part of a parish community that has a mission church named for St. Michael. This is a nice article about the three Archangels. Enjoy.

September 29th: Feast of The Archangels
September 28th, 2007 by Linda O'Brien, FTI Print This Article ·ShareThis

The name Michael signifies "Who is like to God?" and was the war cry of the good angels in the battle fought in heaven against satan and his followers. Holy Scripture describes St. Michael as "one of the chief princes," and leader of the forces of heaven in their triumph over the powers of hell. He has been especially honored and invoked as patron and protector by the Church from the time of the Apostles. Although he is always called "the Archangel," the Greek Fathers and many others place him over all the angels – as Prince of the Seraphim. St. Michael is the patron of grocers, mariners, paratroopers, police and sickness.

On Sunday April 24th 1994, Pope John Paul II recommended this prayer be used by all Catholics as a prayer for the Church when he said: '"May prayer strengthen us for the spiritual battle we are told about in the Letter to the Ephesians: 'Draw strength from the Lord and from His mighty power' (Ephesians 6:10). The Book of Revelation refers to this same battle, recalling before our eyes the image of St. Michael the Archangel (Revelation 12:7). Pope Leo XIII certainly had a very vivid recollection of this scene when, at the end of the last century, he introduced a special prayer to St. Michael throughout the Church. Although this prayer is no longer recited at the end of Mass, I ask everyone not to forget it and to recite it to obtain help in the battle against forces of darkness and against the spirit of this world."'

Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle.

Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.

May God rebuke him, we humbly pray;

and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host

- by the Divine Power of God –

cast into hell, satan and all the evil spirits,

who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls.



St. Raphael the Archangel

St. Raphael is one of seven Archangels who stand before the throne of the Lord. He was sent by God to help Tobit, Tobiah and Sarah. At the time, Tobit was blind and Tobiah's betrothed, Sarah, had had seven bridegrooms perish on the night of their weddings. Raphael accompanied Tobiah into Media disguised as a man named Azariah. Raphael helped him through his difficulties and taught him how to safely enter marriage with Sarah. Tobiah said that Raphael caused him to have his wife and that he gave joy to Sarah's parents for driving out the evil spirit in her. He also gave Raphael credit for his father's seeing the light of heaven and for receiving all good things through his intercession.

Besides Raphael, Michael and Gabriel are the only Archangels mentioned by name in the bible. Raphael's name means "God heals or The Remedy of God." This identity came about because of the biblical story which claims that he "healed" the earth when it was defiled by the sins of the fallen angels in the apocryphal book of Enoch. Raphael is also identified as the angel who moved the waters of the healing sheep pool. He is also the patron of the blind, of happy meetings, of nurses, of physicians and of travelers.


St. Gabriel the Archangel

The name Gabriel means "man of God," or "God has shown himself mighty." It appears first in the prophesies of Daniel in the Old Testament. The angel announced to Daniel the prophecy of the seventy weeks. His name also occurs in the apocryphal book of Henoch. He was the angel who appeared to Zachariah to announce the birth of St. John the Baptizer. Finally, he announced to Mary that she would bear a Son Who would be conceived of the Holy Spirit, Son of the Most High, and Saviour of the world. St. Gabriel is the patron of communications workers.

Who Is Like Unto God?

(As) we celebrate the Feast of the holy Archangels, Michael, Gabriel and Raphael. Each year, this feast gives us a golden opportunity to renew our friendship with the angels who are given for our spiritual benefit and are eager to assist us in our battle against the principalities and powers of the world of darkness. We need only to ask their assistance and their guidance on our way to heaven.

Let us take a moment to reflect on the glorious prince of the heavenly host, St. Michael the Archangel, the most potent of all God's helpers. We start with his name: "Michael" is of Hebrew origin and, literally translated, means, "Who Is Like Unto God?" It is actually a composite of three little Hebrew words that form one phrase: "Mi" (pronounced "mee" and meaning "who?"); "cha" (pronounced "ka" and meaning "like"), and "el" (the Hebrew name for "God.") The phrase, "Who is like unto God?" is not a statement about this angel being so close or similar to God – no one can claim that. Rather, it is a rhetorical question. It is what Michael uttered in his disbelief that someone would claim to be like God. That someone was another angel named Lucifer.

Tradition has it that Lucifer, the sublime Seraphim, ranked highest in the order of angels and proudly asserted that he wanted to "be like the Most High" (see Isaiah 14:14 for this). One faithful angel of a lower rank, unable to countenance the impudence of a creature thinking he were equal to God, courageously stood up in the divine assembly to defend the rights of God with a rebuke that issued from the depths of his being as a question something like: "And just who could possibly claim to be like God?" And so "Mi-cha-el" became his name.

Michael then cast Lucifer out of heaven with all his rebellious companions. No creature that rejects the sovereignty of God could ever remain in heaven. Michael is thus the defender of the rights of God and the one who manhandles the strongest of the demons. We have him to thank for showing us that proud Satan can actually be defeated and that the rights of God can be vindicated against all blasphemers.

Does God really have rights? You better believe it! The Lord of Heaven and Earth has, above all, the supreme right to be worshipped by all creation. God doesn't need our worship in an absolute sense, but all creatures need very much to worship Him and keep Him in the first place in our lives because that is how the order of the universe is maintained. When creatures replace Him with idols or arrogantly suppose that they, as creatures, are gods, then all things fall apart and man loses the very meaning of his life. God is the divine center that holds all things together and, as such, He has an absolute right to be worshipped by His creation.

Today we need St. Michael's aid more than ever. Never in the history of humanity has Satan convinced so many people to set up false idols to replace the worship of the True God. Never has Satan been so successful in getting people to abandon the worship of God and obedience to the moral law on such a massive scale. In the same way, never have we seen so much blasphemous conduct disseminated with such intensity throughout the human community by the power of modern communications; nor have we ever seen the glorification of Satan given such pride of place in the entertainment business.

We need a powerful and glorious angel to teach us to defend the rights of God again. St. Michael has been doing this since before time began and is eminently equipped to teach us to make sure that God remains as the absolute center of our lives and our society. Let us turn to St. Michael on his feast day and thank him for defending God and us against "the wickedness and snares of the devil." Let us invoke his protection over our loved ones and renew our friendship with him again on his feastday.

Pope John Paul I

>>> Think about it; the Catholic Church was emerging from the post Vatican II age, the post VietNam war age and a time of great change and renewal. Paul VI had been the Holy Father for 15 years and became known to a larger part of the world thanks to travel and technology. And then he was gone. But soon we would have a new Holy Father, the first Pope to take a double name; John Paul I. The world in general and the Catholic faithful were just getting to know him. He seemed happy, personable, somewhat shy but a hint of being media savvy. And just 33 days after his election he too was gone. Today is the 32nd anniversary of John Paul I's death. I've included this short bio for more info:
John Paul I Biography
Religious Figure

Name at birth: Albino Luciani

Albino Luciani was elected to replace Paul VI as head of the worldwide Catholic Church in 1978 -- only to die himself 33 days after his election. Born in rural Italy, Luciani was ordained as a priest in 1935. After three decades of service he became Patriarch of Venice in 1969 and then was made cardinal in 1973. Luciani was elected as the supreme pontiff on 26 August 1978. He combined the names of his two immediate predecessors, Paul VI and John XXIII, to become Pope John Paul. Cheerful and low-key, he was soon dubbed the Smiling Pope and the Laughing Pope by admirers. His time as leader was short: on the night of 28 September he died of a heart attack, apparently while reading in bed. He was succeeded by Karol Wojtyla, John Paul II, the first non-Italian pope in more than four centuries.

Pope John Paul I; pray for us!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Tragedy in Houma, La

>>>Such a tragic story. Today in the community of Houma, La four families and an entire Catholic community centered at Vandebilt High School are grieving and in mourning. As you read the story focus on the activities of these four young people. And it appears all families involved cared deeply for their faith and family life. It's hard to make sense of tragedies like these and easy to question why; perhaps ask what good comes from this? For now we should acknowledge we do not know why and just be present to those suffering and joined in prayer for these young people and all who are hurting because of this loss.

May these souls and the souls of the faithful departed rest in peace, Amen.


HOUMA, La. – Emotions poured out at a Memorial Mass for four high school students killed in a pickup truck crash early Sunday morning as they returned from watching the LSU-W. Virginia game in Baton Rouge.

The four died when the truck had trouble navigating a turn and hit a guardrail and flipped, landing on its top in a bayou and becoming submerged.

The deceased were mourned and remembered as model students: Gabrielle Hebert, a school cheerleader; T.J. Cantrelle, the school’s quarterback and a valedictorian candidate; Megan Hitt, who worked with campus ministries; and Ian Haydel, a sophomore on the football squad.

“I just want everybody to pray for our families,” said Rachel Hebert, Gabrielle’s mother.” Those kids were beautiful. They were the best they could be. They were angels.”

Rachel Hebert addressed students at the assembly and comforted friends of her daughter. She said the crash was an accident and was something that was uncontrollable.

Grief counselors and priests were on hand for counseling and a spokesman said they would be available for as long as necessary.

Many of the students were visibly upset.

“I think every child should learn to appreciate parents asking you where you’re going and not roll your eyes,” said student Megan Dupre. “Cause they’re doing it for your good.”

“Those four people had a lot of people that cared about them,” said Dyllon Rhodes, 17, a senior offensive lineman at Vandebilt.

Cantrelle and Haydel were members of the football team. Cantrelle was the quarterback. Haydel was a defensive back.

Cantrelle helped lead Vandebilt Catholic to a 34-12 win over South Lafourche this season, completing 7-of-12 passes for 113 yards and one passing touchdown. He also rushed five times for six yards and caught one pass for 8 yards.

After Friday's game against South Lafourche, a win that left Cantrelle optimistic about the remaining season, he told the newspaper, “We have a special team, and I love playing with these guys.”

T.J., short for “Third James,” had gotten scholarship offers from colleges. He wanted to play football and basketball at Louisiana College in Pineville, and then come back and take over his father's contracting business, Cantrelle Jr. said. His mother is Amy Hohensee.

He also had a strong faith, something that was evident following Vandebilt's Sept. 3 win over E.D. White.

“I remember him telling me ‘All week long I would pray God would let me play in the game. He allowed me to play, and I'll never doubt God again,' ” Cantrelle Jr. said. “The most solace I can take from this, I know his faith was strong, and he had God in his heart.”

Hitt, an active member of the campus ministry, planned to go to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and study to be a physical therapist, said Meghan Plaisance, a friend of both Hitt's and Hebert's.

“She was a really strong person,” Plaisance said. “Even if she was upset, she wouldn't show it. She didn't want to upset anyone else.”

Hitt's parents are Cindy and Kevin Hitt.

Hebert was a cheerleader at Vandebilt. Her parents are Rachel and Todd Hebert.

“She always had fun,” Plaisance said. “There was just something about her that could make you laugh.”

Ian Haydel, called Bug by family and friends, was popular and well-liked.

Chris Haydal, Ian's father, said he was also called Smalls, because of his slight stature. His mother is Tammie Haydel.

Haydel, a sophomore, was the Terriers starter at free safety on defense. His biggest play this season was on Sept. 17 in a game against Assumption, when he recovered a fumble and returned it 98 yards for a touchdown. Vandebilt went on to win the game, 41-16.

“Ian was a little bit younger but certainly was showing already his abilities,” said Ralph Mitchell, Terrebonne's former public-safety director and longtime announcer at Vandebilt games.

Lisa Vegas, a spokeswoman for Vandebilt, said counselors were on campus this morning to help students deal with the devastating news.

A single death “devastates the whole school,” she said, but four at a time is “just something we never imagined we had to deal with.”

Plans are to hold a wake for all four teens on campus, but details have not been finalized.

“It's just a devastating and tragic loss,” Mitchell said. “As a community, we need to pull together and support the families and the school and help them through this.”

Chris Singleton contributed to this report. Staff Writer Eric Heisig can be reached at 857-2202 or Senior Staff Writer John DeSantis can be reached at 850-1150 or

Authorities haven't released an official cause for the crash, but Cantrelle's father, James Cantrelle Jr., and grandfather, James Cantrelle Sr., said it appears the teen fell asleep at the wheel.

It is not clear if the students wore their seat belts, police said.

According to State Police spokesman Bryan Zeringue, the four were traveling home late after the LSU game and one of the occupants of the truck texted their parents around 12:45 a.m. Sunday to say they would be home soon. When they had not shown up by 3 a.m., the parents began to conduct their own search.

Zeringue said a missing persons report was filed around 8 a.m. and that officers began backtracking the roads the students may have travelled.

A GPS signal from the cell phone of one of the teens was used to locate the pickup.

Zeringue said one officer found just the wheels of the vehicle sticking out of a bayou near La. 182 and La. 316 where the pickup had apparently gone off the road after striking a guardrail.

The incident occurred in Bayou Blue, a community between Houma and Raceland.

“For unknown reasons, the driver failed to negotiate a slight right bank curve and crossed the center line,” said Zeringue. “The car crossed the center line and went off the roadway on the eastbound lane, striking a guardrail for the bridge and going into the bayou. The car was fully submerged.”

According to a story on the Houma Courier web site, classmates gathered near the scene and said they were preparing for a prayer service at a private home.

The cause of the wreck is under investigation by Louisiana State Police Troop C.

Below is the funeral information for each of the victims:

Ian Haydel:
Wake - Tuesday, 6:30-9:00 p.m. Chauvin Funeral Home
Funeral - Wednesday, 1:30 p.m. St. Francis de Sales Cathedral

T.J. Cantrelle:
Wake - Wednesday, 5:00-9:00 p.m. St. Hilary of Poitiers Catholic Church
Funeral - Thursday, 11:00 a.m. St. Hilary of Poitiers Catholic Church

Gabrielle Hebert:
Wake - Wednesday, 6:00-10:00 p.m. Chauvin Funeral Home
Funeral - Thursday, 11:00 a.m. St. Francis de Sales Cathedral

Megan Hitt:
Wake - Thursday, 6:30-9:00 p.m. Chauvin Funeral Home
Funeral - Friday, 11:00 a.m. St. Francis de Sales Cathedral

Sunday, September 26, 2010

St. Vincent de Paul

St. Vincent de Paul
Feastday: September 27
Patron of charitable societies

St. Vincent was born of poor parents in the village of Pouy in Gascony, France, about 1580. He enjoyed his first schooling under the Franciscan Fathers at Acqs. Such had been his progress in four years that a gentleman chose him as subpreceptor to his children, and he was thus enabled to continue his studies without being a burden to his parents. In 1596, he went to the University of Toulouse for theological studies, and there he was ordained priest in 1600.

In 1605, on a voyage by sea from Marseilles to Narbonne, he fell into the hands of African pirates and was carried as a slave to Tunis. His captivity lasted about two years, until Divine Providence enabled him to effect his escape. After a brief visit to Rome he returned to France, where he became preceptor in the family of Emmanuel de Gondy, Count of Goigny, and General of the galleys of France. In 1617, he began to preach missions, and in 1625, he lay the foundations of a congregation which afterward became the Congregation of the Mission or Lazarists, so named on account of the Prioryof St. Lazarus, which the Fathers began to occupy in 1633.

It would be impossible to enumerate all the works of this servant of God. Charity was his predominant virtue. It extended to all classes of persons, from forsaken childhood to old age. The Sisters of Charity also owe the foundation of their congregation to St. Vincent. In the midst of the most distracting occupations his soul was always intimately united with God. Though honored by the great ones of the world, he remained deeply rooted in humility. The Apostle of Charity, the immortal Vincent de Paul, breathed his last in Paris at the age of eighty. His feast day is September 27th. He is the patron of charitable societies.

How I spent my Sunday!

With the rest of New Orleans eat up with the Saints vs Falcons game, my wife and I set out early this morning for New Orleans and the Superdome was far from our plans. Instead we traveled to the heart of the French Quarter to St. Louis Cathedral. I was scheduled to be one of the two Deacons that assists at the Mass. My role today was Deacon of the Cup. It is a responsibilty of all Permanent Deacons in this Archdiocese to assist in the ministry of serving at the Cathedral. Today's Mass was presided by our recently retired Archbishop Alfred Hughes, who spoke eloquently of the story of Lazarus, the rich man and the great chasm between the two.

As Deacon of the Cup, I got to handle the special chalice given to the Archdiocese by Pope Benedict XVI as a gift. It is a special honor to just touch this chalice let alone being responsible for it during a Mass.

This afternoon, as the Saints drama was unfolding, Wendy and I made it to the Westbank of New Orleans to participate in the final discernment inquiry for those pursuing a possible vocation to the Permanent Diaconate. Final instructions were given to those in attendance for the application process and then all were visited by our current Archbishop, Gregory Aymond. He delivered a rousing talk about the mission and need for the Permanent Diaconate and the process of discerning a vocation. It was very encouraging to hear the views of our new Archbishop and to have him spend time with all of us.

So these events of the day helped me in surviving the Saints loss and the subsequent whining by so many of the fans.

I ask that you continue to pray for those discerning a vocation to the diaconate and all those who are supporting them in many and various ways!

New Orleans Saints; letting one get away:(

Today saw something Saints fans did not experience last year until December. The Saints lost today. Not only did the Saints lose, they lost to the Atlanta Falcons. Fortunately for me I did not see the game as I was involved in several activities related to the diaconate. But I know the results. I know the Saints made too many mistakes, including two uncharacteristic Drew Brees interceptions that appear to be on him. And I know they made it to overtime and put together a great drive that set up kicker Garret Hartley in great shape for a chip shot field goal. And he missed it; not even close. It was an ugly kick. And the door was opened wide and the Falcons walked right through it. Right down the field they marched and a field goal attempt for them resulted in a hard fought, well-deserved victory.

Early on in this football season Saints fans should know this ain't last year. Every game, including the two wins, has been tough. First, other teams are giving us their all and second, the Saints look far from the form that made 2009 special. But it's time to put this in perspective.

The season is early and we will see what the Saints do with the reality of their three game season so far. After all, this is basically the same team that won the Super Bowl coached by the same staff. I would hope that all of us should trust both Drew Brees and Sean Payton at this stage of the game. 2010 won't be easy. Super Bowl champs of recent memory don't too well the following season. That does not mean the team got suddenly bad; it just means defending a NFL championship is a herculean task.

Many Saints fans have disappointed me today because their reaction has been awful. I understand this was a tough loss, and we lost to a hated rival, and we should have won the game save the Hartley debacle on the FG attempt. But we have that Super Bowl banner now and forever. And we still have a great team with great coaches. And, in the end, it's still about execution and excellence on the field. Execution and excellence both need some improvement this year but we should have the team to make it happen.

So do not give up or give in to despair Saints fans. We lost; lose it with dignity. After all we are still the World Champions and we can do it again if we return to that high level of football execution.

Relax and cheer the Saints on and remember, it's just one loss and it is still a game!

Friday, September 24, 2010

More Anglicans coming

Beginning last fall, October to be exact, I began following and posting articles about large portions of the Anglican Communion returning home to Rome; reunited with the only Christian faith that dates to Jesus Christ. And now this story, fresh off Pope Benedict's historic trip to the United Kingdom, demonstrates the continued interest in many from the Anglican faith understanding the how and why of Christian unity.

Read on at for more information.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

St. Padre Pio; a Modern Day Saint

>>>For many of us a Saint to celebrate who lived in our lifetimes but a Saint for all generations! Many of my parishioners have a devotion to Padre Pio and our very own 4th Degree Assembly of the Knights of Columbus, of which I am a member, is named in honor of St. Padre Pio!

St. Pio of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio)

Feastday: September 23

b.1887 d.1968

Francesco, named in honor of St. Francis of Assisi, was born to Giuseppa and Grazio Forgione, peasant farmers, in the small Italian village of Pietrelcina on May 25, 1887. From his childhood, it was evident that he was a special child of God. Francesco was very devout even as a child, and at an early age felt drawn to the priesthood. He became a Capuchin novice at the age of sixteen and received the habit in 1902. Francesco was ordained to the priesthood in 1910 after seven years of study and became known as Padre Pio.

On September 20, 1918, Padre Pio was kneeling in front of a large crucifix when he received the visible marks of the crucifixion, making him the first stigmatized priest in the history of Church. The doctor who examined Padre Pio could not find any natural cause for the wounds. Upon his death in 1968, the wounds were no longer visible. In fact, there was no scaring and the skin was completely renewed. He had predicted 50 years prior that upon his death the wounds would heal. The wounds of the stigmata were not the only mystical phenomenon experienced by Padre Pio.

The blood from the stigmata had an odor described by many as similar to that of perfume or flowers, and the gift of bilocation was attributed to him. Padre Pio had the ability to read the hearts of the penitents who flocked to him for confession which he heard for ten or twelve hours per day. Padre Pio used the confessional to bring both sinners and devout souls closer to God; he would know just the right word of counsel or encouragement that was needed. Even before his death, people spoke to Padre Pio about his possible canonization. He died on September 23, 1968 at the age of eighty-one. His funeral was attended by about 100,000 people.

On June 16, 2002, over 500,000 Padre Pio devotees gathered in Rome to witness Pope John Paul II proclaim Padre Pio, Saint Pio of Pietrelcina. The Padre Pio Foundation and many benefactors traveled to Rome, San Giovanni Rotondo, Pietrelcina, Piana Romana and many other holy places to celebrate Padre Pio's Canonization.

Pope John Paul II - Homily at the Canonization of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina, Capuchin Priest - 16 June 2002

1. "For my yoke is easy and my burden light" (Mt 11,30).

Jesus' words to his disciples, which we just heard, help us to understand the most important message of this solemn celebration. Indeed, in a certain sense, we can consider them as a magnificent summary of the whole life of Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, today proclaimed a saint.

The evangelical image of the "yoke" recalls the many trials that the humble Capuchin of San Giovanni Rotondo had to face. Today we contemplate in him how gentle the "yoke" of Christ is, and how truly light is his burden when it is borne with faithful love. The life and mission of Padre Pio prove that difficulties and sorrows, if accepted out of love, are transformed into a privileged way of holiness, which opens onto the horizons of a greater good, known only to the Lord.

2. "But may I never boast except in the cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ" (Gal 6,14).

Is it not, precisely, the "glory of the Cross" that shines above all in Padre Pio? How timely is the spirituality of the Cross lived by the humble Capuchin of Pietrelcina. Our time needs to rediscover the value of the Cross in order to open the heart to hope.

Throughout his life, he always sought greater conformity with the Crucified, since he was very conscious of having been called to collaborate in a special way in the work of redemption. His holiness cannot be understood without this constant reference to the Cross.

In God's plan, the Cross constitutes the true instrument of salvation for the whole of humanity and the way clearly offered by the Lord to those who wish to follow him (cf. Mk 16,24). The Holy Franciscan of the Gargano understood this well, when on the Feast of the Assumption in 1914, he wrote: "In order to succeed in reaching our ultimate end we must follow the divine Head, who does not wish to lead the chosen soul on any way other than the one he followed; by that, I say, of abnegation and the Cross" (Epistolario II, p. 155).

3. "I am the Lord who acts with mercy" (Jer 9,23).

Padre Pio was a generous dispenser of divine mercy, making himself available to all by welcoming them, by spiritual direction and, especially, by the administration of the sacrament of Penance. I also had the privilege, during my young years, of benefitting from his availability for penitents. The ministry of the confessional, which is one of the distinctive traits of his apostolate, attracted great crowds of the faithful to the monastery of San Giovanni Rotondo. Even when that unusual confessor treated pilgrims with apparent severity, the latter, becoming conscious of the gravity of sins and sincerely repentant, almost always came back for the peaceful embrace of sacramental forgiveness. May his example encourage priests to carry out with joy and zeal this ministry which is so important today, as I wished to confirm this year in the Letter to Priests on the occasion of Holy Thursday.

4. "You, Lord, are my only good".

This is what we sang in the responsorial psalm. Through these words, the new Saint invites us to place God above everything, to consider him our sole and highest good.

In fact, the ultimate reason for the apostolic effectiveness of Padre Pio, the profound root of so much spiritual fruitfulness can be found in that intimate and constant union with God, attested to by his long hours spent in prayer and in the confessional. He loved to repeat, "I am a poor Franciscan who prays" convinced that "prayer is the best weapon we have, a key that opens the heart of God".

This fundamental characteristic of his spirituality continues in the "Prayer Groups" that he founded, which offer to the Church and to society the wonderful contribution of incessant and confident prayer. To prayer, Padre Pio joined an intense charitable activity, of which the "Home for the Relief of Suffering" is an extraordinary expression. Prayer and charity, this is the most concrete synthesis of Padre Pio's teaching, which today is offered to everyone.

5. "I bless you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because ... these things ... you have revealed to little ones" (Mt 11,25).

How appropriate are these words of Jesus, when we think of them as applied to you, humble and beloved Padre Pio.

Teach us, we ask you, humility of heart so we may be counted among the little ones of the Gospel, to whom the Father promised to reveal the mysteries of his Kingdom.

Help us to pray without ceasing, certain that God knows what we need even before we ask him. Obtain for us the eyes of faith that will be able to recognize right away in the poor and suffering the face of Jesus.

Sustain us in the hour of the combat and of the trial and, if we fall, make us experience the joy of the sacrament of forgiveness.

Grant us your tender devotion to Mary, the Mother of Jesus and our Mother.

Accompany us on our earthly pilgrimage toward the blessed homeland, where we hope to arrive in order to contemplate forever the glory of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

St. Matthew; Apostle & Evangelist

>>>Today is a feast of an Apostle and one of the 4 Evangelists; an author of one of the Gospels. And I found out, in researching the article I provide below, a patron Saint for bankers. Pretty cool as I leave for another day at the bank. St. Matthew, pray for us!

Saint Matthew

Feastday: September 21st

Patron Bankers

St. Matthew, one of the twelve Apostles, is the author of the first Gospel. This has been the constant tradition of the Church and is confirmed by the Gospel itself. He was the son of Alpheus and was called to be an Apostle while sitting in the tax collectors place at Capernaum. Before his conversion he was a publican, i.e., a tax collector by profession. He is to be identified with the "Levi" of Mark and Luke.

His apostolic activity was at first restricted to the communities of Palestine. Nothing definite is known about his later life. There is a tradition that points to Ethiopia as his field of labor; other traditions mention of Parthia and Persia. It is uncertain whether he died a natural death or received the crown of martyrdom.

St. Matthew's Gospel was written to fill a sorely-felt want for his fellow countrymen, both believers and unbelievers. For the former, it served as a token of his regard and as an encouragement in the trial to come, especially the danger of falling back to Judaism; for the latter, it was designed to convince them that the Messiah had come in the person of Jesus, our Lord, in Whom all the promises of the Messianic Kingdom embracing all people had been fulfilled in a spiritual rather than in a carnal way: "My Kingdom is not of this world." His Gospel, then, answered the question put by the disciples of St. John the Baptist, "Are You He Who is to come, or shall we look for another?"

Writing for his countrymen of Palestine, St. Matthew composed his Gospel in his native Aramaic, the "Hebrew tongue" mentioned in the Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles. Soon afterward, about the time of the persecution of Herod Agrippa I in 42 AD, he took his departure for other lands. Another tradition places the composition of his Gospel either between the time of this departure and the Council of Jerusalem, i.e., between 42 AD and 50 AD or even later. Definitely, however, the Gospel, depicting the Holy City with its altar and temple as still existing, and without any reference to the fulfillment of our Lord's prophecy, shows that it was written before the destruction of the city by the Romans in 70 AD, and this internal evidence confirms the early traditions.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Awesome article about the Pope, the visit to Britain and the staying power of the Church

>>>Awesome article; honest, forthright and spot on; despite man's best efforts the Church survives and thrives!! First saw this on Deacons Bench!!

The Pope and the CrowdsBy ROSS DOUTHAT

Published: September 19, 2010

All in all, the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Britain over the weekend must have been a disappointment to his legions of detractors. Their bold promises notwithstanding, Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens didn’t manage to clap the pope in irons and haul him off to jail. The protests against Benedict’s presence proved a sideshow to the visit, rather than the main event. And the threat (happily empty, it turned out) of an assassination plot provided a reminder of what real religious extremism looks like — as opposed to the gentle scholar, swathed in white, urging secular Britons to look with fresh eyes at their island’s ancient faith.

And the crowds came out, as they always do for papal visits — 85,000 for a prayer vigil in London, 125,000 lining Edinburgh’s streets, 50,000 in Birmingham to see Benedict beatify John Henry Newman, the famous Victorian convert from Anglicanism. Even at a time of Catholic scandal, even amid a pontificate that’s stumbled from one public-relations debacle to another, Benedict still managed to draw a warm and enthusiastic audience.

No doubt most of Britain’s five million Catholics do not believe exactly what Benedict believes and teaches. No doubt most of them are appalled at the Catholic hierarchy’s record on priestly child abuse, and disappointed that many of the scandal’s enablers still hold high office in the church.

But in turning out for their beleaguered pope, Britain’s Catholics acknowledged something essential about their faith that many of the Vatican’s critics, secular and religious alike, persistently fail to understand. They weren’t there to voice agreement with Benedict, necessarily. They were there to show their respect — for the pontiff, for his office, and for the role it has played in sustaining Catholicism for 2,000 years.

Conventional wisdom holds that such respect is increasingly misplaced, and that the papacy is increasingly a millstone around Roman Catholicism’s neck. If it weren’t for the reactionaries in the Vatican, the argument runs, priests might have been permitted to marry, forestalling the sex abuse crisis. Birth control, gay relationships, divorce and remarriage might have been blessed, bringing lapsed Catholics back into the fold. Theological dissent would have been allowed to flourish, creating a more welcoming environment for religious seekers.

And yet none of these assumptions have any real evidence to back them up. Yes, sex abuse has been devastating to the church. But as Newsweek noted earlier this year, there’s no data suggesting that celibate priests commit abuse at higher rates than the population as a whole, or that married men are less prone to pedophilia. (The real problem was the hierarchy’s fear of scandal, which led to endless cover-ups and enabled serial predation.)

And yes, the church’s exclusive theological claims and stringent moral message don’t go over well in a multicultural, sexually liberated society. But the example of Catholicism’s rivals suggests that the church might well be much worse off if it had simply refashioned itself to fit the prevailing values of the age. That’s what the denominations of mainline Protestantism have done, across the last four decades — and instead of gaining members, they’ve dwindled into irrelevance.

The Vatican of Benedict and John Paul II, by contrast, has striven to maintain continuity with Christian tradition, even at the risk of seeming reactionary and out of touch. This has cost the church its once-privileged place in the Western establishment, and earned it the scorn of fashionable opinion. But continuity, not swift and perhaps foolhardy adaptation, has always been the papacy’s purpose, and the secret of its lasting strength.

Catholics do not — should not, must not — look to the Vatican to supply the church with all its saints and visionaries and prophets. (Indeed, many of Catholicism’s greatest figures have had fraught relationships with the Holy See — including John Henry Newman, the man beatified on Sunday.) They look to Rome instead to safeguard what those visionaries achieved, to guard Catholicism’s inheritance, and provide a symbol of unity for a far-flung, billion-member church. They look to Rome for the long view: for the wisdom that not all change is for the better, and that some revolutions are better outlasted than accepted.

On Saturday, Benedict addressed Britain’s politicians in the very hall where Sir Thomas More, the great Catholic martyr, was condemned to death for opposing the reformation of Henry VIII. It was an extraordinary moment, and a reminder of the resilience of Catholicism, across a gulf of years that’s consumed thrones, nations, entire civilizations.

This, above all, is why the crowds cheered for the pope, in Edinburgh and London and Birmingham — because almost five centuries after the Catholic faith was apparently strangled in Britain, their church is still alive.

Monday, Monday; a personal reflection

Mondays can be tough; not because it is Monday but what we have made of the first day of the traditional work week. We can whine and complain because we return to work and/or school after those treasured days off. I don't long for Monday either, but that's on me. Monday is, like the other six days of the week, the day the Lord has made.

My big dilemas on most Monday's are how tough work will be, or how hard will it be to get out the bed. Many times, usually in prayer time, while reflecting, I realize that I should be thankful for my job and thrilled at the gift of another morning. Today was very busy at the office and a bit chaotic because of the many activities ahead. But during the hectic activity I heard a story on the radio during my lunch break about a quadruple amputee who swam the English Channel. Wow! Makes you want to mumble out loud, what did you accomplish today? I marvel both at the accomplishment of this amazing man and at the fact that God placed me in the right place at the right time to hear such an inspirational story.

And today as well, between tasks and customer demands, I recalled that a dear friend began day one of a six week course of chemotherapy in his courageous fight to defeat cancer. Again, what was difficult about my day today? And my friends ordeal, being handled with dignity and grace, reminded me that everyday, even Mondays, are another day for those who are ill to fight on!

This Monday also reminded me about the Gospel lesson from yesterday. We truly cannot serve two masters. It is reality that we dust ourselves off and start all over again, as in a new work week or school week, but do we completely and totally serve God. Do we see our everyday tasks as service in His Kingdom? Do we see Jesus in the many people we face everyday, even Monday? Do we grumble too easily or rejoice in thankfulness for the many gifts that everyday brings our way?

I've survived this Monday! And it really was not that big of a deal. Thank you Lord for the gift of this day. Forgive me Lord for the many weak moments when I may have grumbled or despaired today. Keep me Lord ever mindful that it is you alone I choose to serve and may that service help me to be cheerful and kind to everyone I meet.

Monday, Monday; today it is the day the Lord has made!

Inspired by the Korean Martyrs

>>>I firmly believe that the lives of the martyrs are great inspiration for us faithful. These men are more recent vintage; not yet 200 years ago. They testify to the complete devotion, even to the death, to follow Christ and His Church. And they also help keep the Catholic faith alive in parts of the world that few consider Catholic. May these Korean martyrs pray for us!

Sts. Andrew Kim Taegon, Paul Chong Hasang, and Companions

Feastday: September 20

The evangelization of Korea began during the 17th century through a group of lay persons. A strong vital Christian community flourished there under lay leadership until missionaries arrived from the Paris Foreign Mission Society.

During the terrible persecutions that occurred in the 19th century (in 1839, 1866, and 1867), one hundred and three members of the Christian community gave their lives as martyrs. Outstanding among these witnesses to the faith were the first Korean priest and pastor, Andrew Kim Taegon, and the lay apostle, Paul Chong Hasang.

Among the other martyrs were a few bishops and priests, but for the most part lay people, men and women, married and unmarried, children, young people, and the elderly. All suffered greatly for the Faith and consecrated the rich beginnings of the Church of Korea with their blood as martyrs.

Pope John Paul II, during his trip to Korea, canonized these martyrs on May 6, 1984, and inserted their feast into the Calendar of the Universal Church.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Homily for 25th Sunday on Ordinary Time

Green Acres is the place to be, farm living is the life for me. Land spreading out so far and wide; keep Manhattan and give me that countryside.

The theme song from an old TV show titled Green Acres was about a successful New York lawyer who sought the simpler life. Unfortunately his wife disagreed and still sought the high life in the big city amidst the stores and bright lights. Of course things were always comically complicated because the new life on the farm was not always the quiet simple life the lawyer imagined.

Today many people long for the simpler life because our financial situations are challenging. We face recession, high unemployment, financial bailouts, huge corporate and personal debt, health care costs and more. Many have tried to save for retirement by taking advantage of 401K plans, IRA’s and other investments. Some times these plans grow quite nicely but if we are not careful they can loose value too. So we spend plenty of time planning and researching these financial decisions we face throughout our life.

As people of faith, do we spend plenty of time and effort in attaining goodness and holiness as we do in all our worldly endeavors? Are we as concerned about our souls as we are about what’s next in our lives? Do we place business, travel, hobbies, and likes ahead of our faith life?

St. Luke gives us Jesus teaching a parable known as the parable of the dishonest steward. The parable just heard is more complicated than just a dishonest steward. The steward is in charge of his master’s estate and is being fired for mismanagement. Being quite the schemer he plans to give a full accounting by lying and embezzling. His plan includes the debtors too as they would realize immediate financial gain from his scheme. They knew what their debt was. Their debt was never in money as you and I understand it; it was in the crops they produced. When the debtors were given the opportunity to pay far less than they rightly owed, they agreed. The steward was both trying to curry favor with the debtors and have something over them if his scheme fell apart. And what about the master? For his part, discovering the steward’s scheme he commends his shrewdness and praises him. The master is not angry or upset at all. What’s up with this?

The answer comes in this line in the Gospel: “for the children of this world are more prudent with their own generation than are the children of light.” Jesus is not condoning dishonesty; absolutely not. He is commending the clever and shrewd actions of the steward attempting to achieve security for his future. Jesus wants us to have a secure future; not the same future the steward was after; but our secure future with Him forever. And he is challenging us in our discipleship to be as shrewd as the steward, but to be shrewd in a faithful and trustworthy manner. This involves choices for us; honesty over dishonesty, the needs of others over personal gain, caring for the most vulnerable in our community and society over personal needs, eternal happiness over the happiness of this world, a secure future in the next life over financial security in this life.

What does this mean for us today? How does this apply to our lives? Jesus gives us the answer: “the person trustworthy in very small matters is also trustworthy in great ones”. He challenges us to be trustworthy with true wealth and with that which belongs to another.

How do we use our material possessions; our wealth? Are we generous? Do we share our material wealth with the poor and the needy? Do we share our material wealth with our church community? Have we considered our true wealth as not that which we have saved or invested but that which we have given away? Are we generous with our time? Do we respond to the needs of our fellow man or the needs of our church family? On this Sunday when we recognize our school of religion and those who teach our youth, have we volunteered to help in this mission that is our responsibility too?

Are we considered trustworthy? In our everyday lives, in the classroom or the board room, in time spent with our loved ones, in every social setting, while shopping or running around town doing errands, are we trustworthy? Are we honest in our dealings with each other? Are the deeds we do in darkness, when no one is looking, could that stand up to the scrutiny of the light? For no one may be looking except He who sees and knows everything. In the week ahead as we ponder our generosity and trustworthiness can we pray the words from our opening prayer:

“May we love one another and come to perfection in the eternal life prepared for us.”

Green acres may be the place to be with its land spreading out far and wide. Sounds beautiful! But we seek a more beautiful destination; those heavenly acres spent in all eternity with God. Serve Him and Him alone; the Master who is truly generous.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Cardinal Newman and a miracle for the Deacon

Deacon Jack Sullivan and Cardinal Newman's cause

Jack Sullivan, a 69-year old Permanent Deacon from Marshfield near Boston, Massachusetts, was suffering from an extremely serious spinal disorder when he first prayed through the intercession of Cardinal Newman.

Deacon Sullivan, who was healed of his spinal disorder on 15 August 2001, the Feast of the Assumption, made a special visit to England with his wife Carol in November 2009.

Reflecting on the importance of Cardinal Newman’s teaching as an inspiration to him, Deacon Sullivan said:

“Our holy and enduring Church lives and is constantly renewed in a very special way by those called by Christ as His servants to inspire and revitalise her. One such person, called for this purpose was the Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman. Although he died 120 years ago, Newman’s thoughts and insights have enjoyed lasting acceptance, because they reflect the enduring truth about mankind’s condition and his instinctive quest for his Creator.”

He went on to talk about his own experiences in 2001:

“I was tragically afflicted with a serious spinal condition causing intolerable pain with utterly no prospect of relief. One surgeon told me that I was on the brink of complete paralysis. I had recently undergone spinal surgery because my lumbar vertebrae and discs were literally squeezing the life out of my spinal cord. During the procedure the surgeons also encountered serious complications. My dura mater or protective lining surrounding the spinal cord was very badly torn. For days after the surgery, I was still suffering incredible pain with no end in sight…

“I was completely helpless and the situation seemed hopeless. But it was this state of mind that led me to prayer. I called upon my very special intercessor and faithful friend: “Please Cardinal Newman, help me to walk, so that I can return to my classes and be ordained.”

Almost immediately Deacon Sullivan was able to walk. His doctors were unable to provide any medical explanation for the change in his condition and a year later Fr Paul Chavasse, the Postulator for the Newman Cause notified him that the process for the beatification of Cardinal Newman had been formally initiated and his case would be taken to Rome.

Pope Benedict to beatify John Cardinal Newman; who was he?


John Henry Cardinal NewmanBorn in 1801, baptised in the Church of England, Newman became a Fellow of Oriel College, Oxford in 1822, an Anglican clergyman in 1825 and Vicar of the Oxford University Church in 1828. The Anglican Newman was a pastor of souls, a University teacher, and a student of Christian history and theology. His studies were never purely theoretical. Informed by pastoral experience, they were above all shaped by his insight into the needs of the present.

Newman's point of reference was the Church of the Apostles and 'the Fathers', the great teachers of the first Christian centuries. At school he experienced the attractions of atheism, and all his life showed unusual sympathy with religious doubt. But also at school he underwent a conversion granting him an abiding sense of God's presence. At the same time, Newman acquired the conviction that Christianity is a doctrinal religion, and that doctrine and religious experience are in harmony, not opposed. In Christianity, Newman believed, mind and heart, dogma and experience, come together. With the doctrinal and sacramental faith unfolding in him from his conversion, Newman desired to revive Christianity for a culture descending into unbelief.

TeachingsSome of Newman's Anglican works retain startling relevance. In Arians of the Fourth Century (1833) he conveys through Christian history the very contemporary drama of the battle for orthodox Faith against politically-inspired compromise and apostasy. In his Parochial and Plain Sermons (1834-1843), against a background of nominal, demoralised Christinaity, he unfolds the Mysteries of Faith and awakens the depth and grandeur of the Christian life.

In the Tracts For The Times (1833-1841), Newman and his friends in the 'Oxford Movement' addressed the Church of England in the hope that it could be renewed in the Apostolic Faith. Gradually, it dawned on Newman that this was impossible. The Church of England could not embrace the truth Newman taught.

Embracing the Catholicism 1842-5 were his 'wilderness' years, out of the public eye, secluded in prayer and study. At Littlemore, outside Oxford, he worked on the still deeply influential Development of Christian Doctrine (1845). The book studies the ways in which Faith has unfolded in history; Newman saw an analogy with how Faith unfolds in individual minds, including his own. At last he was convinced that the Faith of the Apostles and Fathers was the Faith of Roman Catholicism. The Church of Christ was the Church of Rome. Embracing the Catholic Church as the 'One Fold of Christ' Newman was received at Littlemore by Blessed Dominic Barberi on 9th October 1845.

An OratorianOrdained a Catholic priest in Rome in 1847 Newman returned to England with a mission from the Pope to found Oratories of St Philip Neri, in Birmingham (where he lived until his death on August 11 1890) and then in London. The Oratory discloses the heart of Newman: small and stable communities of priests, living together in charity, dedicated to prayer, to the liturgy, to preaching, teaching and the intellectual life.

In 1846, after he had been received into the Catholic Church, John Henry Newman's first Catholic home was on the site which is now Maryvale Institute. It was Newman and his followers who gave it the name Maryvale after St Philip Neri's church in Rome and it is specified in the Papal Brief as the location of the first English Oratory of St Philip in 1848. In fulfilment of Newman's vision for an educated laity, Maryvale is now an international distance learning Catholic Theology College open to anyone who wishes to study the Catholic Faith at any level.

As an Oratorian Newman founded a Catholic University in Dublin (1851) and a Catholic School in Birmingham (1859). He continued writing and publishing works which today are more profoundly influential than ever: his religious autobiography the Apologia (1864), the Grammar of Assent on the origins of Christian Faith (1870) and the Idea of the University (1873). Working tirelessly especially for the poor parishioners of the Birmingham Oratory, Newman also conducted an enormous correspondence, helping people all over the world with their religious difficulties.

Pastorally and educationally, in his published writings and in his correspondence, Newman's aim was to describe and arouse the Christian mind. His vocation was to help modern people realise the demands of thinking and acting with the mind of Christ and His Church.

LiberalismWhen he was made a Cardinal in 1879, Newman said that all his life he had opposed religious Liberalism. In his own day, some of his fellow Catholics had regarded Newman himself as a 'liberal'. Influential ecclesiastical figures wanted to extend their authority beyond the domains of Faith and Morals, into areas where Catholics are free to have their own ideas. Newman criticised such ambitions, and as a result was distrusted. Ironically, such ecclesiastics were themselves 'liberal' by Newman's definition. By 'liberalism' in religion, Newman meant preferring our own mind to the mind of the Church, manipulating God's truth to suit our own judgement and will. In his day, those Catholics who opposed Newman did this in the name of 'orthodoxy'. In our own day, Catholic liberalism more typically expresses itself in dissent from the Church's teaching, especially in questions of morality. Newman gives no comfort to either party.

Newman was a Victorian, and his religious journey was intensely personal. But his is much more than a Victorian conversion. Perhaps no one better than Newman shows us the objective reality of Christianity, active in human history and human hearts, with an integrity profoundly (sometimes fiercely) independent of society and politics. He is a Man of Faith, but his voice is modern, recognisably of our own age. He knew the uncertainty, even hostitlity, towards Christianity, provoked by Science and Philosophy, flowing from politics, the media and popular culture, and prophetically confronted these things. Entering into the experience of the loss of God, he shows how God might once again be known and loved.

FaithUnlike so many in his own day - and in ours - Newman's response was not a watered-down Christianity of private 'spirituality' and State-approved social 'responsibility'. He shows us how to move from religious doubt, beyond dilution and compromise, to the fullness of Doctrinal and Sacramental Faith.

Instead of trying to argue someone into believing, Newman focussed on his or her conscience. It is not argument that awakens and draws the soul to God, he believed, but fidelity to conscience. The most powerful arguments for believing in God arise from desiring Him, and that desire is the fruit of obedience to conscience. Arguments against God, Newman said, are typically rationalisations of a conscience falsified into 'self-will' or simply ignored.

In perhaps his most powerful testimony to our own day, Newman shows how the light of conscience, active in every human heart, finds fulfilment not in subjectivity and individualism, but in obedience to the teachings of the Pope in the communion of the Catholic Church.

The Pope continues his amazing visit to the UK

3 days done and 1 to go; the amazing events of Sunday that will lead to the beatification of Cardinal Newman. For weeks and days leading up to this trip we have heard of the amazing protests and ugliness that awaited the Pope in a largely un-Catholic nation. We know now about the arrests of men reported to be plotting to do something harmful, either to the Pope or those gathered to see him. And yes there have been protesters. But there has been a genuineness about the Pope's welcome and a tangible witness to the Catholic presence in Great Britain.

And for his part Pope Benedict 16 has been brilliant. His address to parliament yesterday may be remembered as a watershed moment in his pontificate. I published his address last night and now I publish the following article from the pages of the blog site Da Mihi Animas:

Posted by Padre Steve
The Pope in Parliament and Westminster Abbey

The following comes from the UK Telegraph site:

How odd that it should be the Guardian that grasped the magnitude of what happened yesterday. Andrew Brown, religion editor of Comment is Free, and the possessor of an intellect as mighty and muddled as that of Rowan Williams, writes:
This was the end of the British Empire. In all the four centuries from Elizabeth I to Elizabeth II, England has been defined as a Protestant nation. The Catholics were the Other; sometimes violent terrorists and rebels, sometimes merely dirty immigrants. The sense that this was a nation specially blessed by God arose from a deeply anti-Catholic reading of the Bible. Yet it was central to English self-understanding when Queen Elizabeth II was crowned in 1952 [sic], and swore to uphold the Protestant religion by law established.
For all of those 400 or so years it would have been unthinkable that a pope should stand in Westminster Hall and praise Sir Thomas More, who died to defend the pope’s sovereignty against the king’s. Rebellion against the pope was the foundational act of English power. And now the power is gone, and perhaps the rebellion has gone, too.
This was indeed a day of unthinkable events. Many Protestants will have been disturbed to see Pope Benedict XVI in Westminster Hall praising St Thomas More (who incidentally died to defend what he saw as the sovereignty of God). I don’t agree, however, that rebellion against the Pope was the “foundational act of English power”. Brown is a Left-wing agnostic whom one would expect to be suspicious of a national myth; but here we go again – we’re told that England discovered its identity as a result of the Reformation. Actually, English industry and culture flourished under the spiritual patronage of Rome; if the country had remained Catholic, they would have continued to do so. (In Germany, cities that remained Catholic were as prosperous as those that become Protestant.)
Indeed, if you want evidence of the self-confidence of our Catholic national identity, look no further than Westminster Abbey and Westminster Hall. For at least the first 500 years of its existence – we can’t be sure when it was founded – the Abbey was obedient to Benedict’s predecessors. So for the Pope to enter it today was an affirmation of its own “foundational act”. Not for nothing did he point out in his address that the church was dedicated to St Peter. Even Catholics who would never be so crude as to say “the Abbey belongs to us, not to you” sensed that history was being re-balanced in some way. They realised that the Pope had as much right to sit in that sanctuary as the Archbishop of Canterbury (who, to be fair, showed the Holy Father a degree of respect that implied that he, at least, recognises the spiritual primacy of the See of Peter even if he rejects some of its teachings).
Of course I’m not denying that for centuries anti-Catholicism was central to English self-understanding, even if it took nearly a century of harrassment and persecution to suppress the old religion. And there are still pockets of intense hatred of Rome in English society today. The difference is that the only anti-Catholics with influence are secularists who aren’t interested enough in the papal claims even to find out what they are. (I’m thinking of Peter Tatchell’s amazingly ignorant Channel 4 documentary.) They hate religion and they pick on Catholics because they’re the softest target. Protestant anti-Catholics, in contrast, don’t have mates in the media or useful allies in the Church of England. All they can do is watch in horror as the Pope of Rome processes into the church where Protestant monarchs are crowned, declares unambigously that he is the successor of St Peter with responsibility for the unity of Christendom, and then walks out again – to hearty applause.
To be honest, I’m still not quite sure what to make of it all myself. Benedict XVI’s speeches are worth reading several times; they often turn out to be more radical than they first appear. But one thing is for sure. Despite the unassuming courtesy of the Pope’s manner, he didn’t give an inch.

>>>This is amazing stuff. Just the first line of this article is amazing. More to come!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Yom Kippur

Yom Kippur

Significance: Day of Atonement
Observances: Fasting, Prayer and Repentance
Length: 25 Hours
Greeting: Have an easy fast

...In the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall afflict your souls, and you shall not do any work ... For on that day he shall provide atonement for you to cleanse you from all your sins before the L-RD. -Leviticus 16:29-30
Yom Kippur is probably the most important holiday of the Jewish year. Many Jews who do not observe any other Jewish custom will refrain from work, fast and/or attend synagogue services on this day. Yom Kippur occurs on the 10th day of Tishri. The holiday is instituted at Leviticus 23:26 et seq.

The name "Yom Kippur" means "Day of Atonement," and that pretty much explains what the holiday is. It is a day set aside to "afflict the soul," to atone for the sins of the past year. In Days of Awe, I mentioned the "books" in which G-d inscribes all of our names. On Yom Kippur, the judgment entered in these books is sealed. This day is, essentially, your last appeal, your last chance to change the judgment, to demonstrate your repentance and make amends.

As I noted in Days of Awe, Yom Kippur atones only for sins between man and G-d, not for sins against another person. To atone for sins against another person, you must first seek reconciliation with that person, righting the wrongs you committed against them if possible. That must all be done before Yom Kippur.

Yom Kippur is a complete Sabbath; no work can be performed on that day. It is well-known that you are supposed to refrain from eating and drinking (even water) on Yom Kippur. It is a complete, 25-hour fast beginning before sunset on the evening before Yom Kippur and ending after nightfall on the day of Yom Kippur. The Talmud also specifies additional restrictions that are less well-known: washing and bathing, anointing one's body (with cosmetics, deodorants, etc.), wearing leather shoes (Orthodox Jews routinely wear canvas sneakers under their dress clothes on Yom Kippur), and engaging in sexual relations are all prohibited on Yom Kippur.

As always, any of these restrictions can be lifted where a threat to life or health is involved. In fact, children under the age of nine and women in childbirth (from the time labor begins until three days after birth) are not permitted to fast, even if they want to. Older children and women from the third to the seventh day after childbirth are permitted to fast, but are permitted to break the fast if they feel the need to do so. People with other illnesses should consult a physician and a rabbi for advice.

Most of the holiday is spent in the synagogue, in prayer. In Orthodox synagogues, services begin early in the morning (8 or 9 AM) and continue until about 3 PM. People then usually go home for an afternoon nap and return around 5 or 6 PM for the afternoon and evening services, which continue until nightfall. The services end at nightfall, with the blowing of the tekiah gedolah, a long blast on the shofar. See Rosh Hashanah for more about the shofar and its characteristic blasts.

It is customary to wear white on the holiday, which symbolizes purity and calls to mind the promise that our sins shall be made as white as snow (Is. 1:18). Some people wear a kittel, the white robe in which the dead are buried.

Yom Kippur Liturgy
See also Jewish Liturgy generally.

The liturgy for Yom Kippur is much more extensive than for any other day of the year. Liturgical changes are so far-reaching that a separate, special prayer book for Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah. This prayer book is called the machzor.

The evening service that begins Yom Kippur is commonly known as Kol Nidre, named for the prayer that begins the service. "Kol nidre" means "all vows," and in this prayer, we ask G-d to annul all personal vows we may make in the next year. It refers only to vows between the person making them and G-d, such as "If I pass this test, I'll pray every day for the next 6 months!" Click the musical notes to hear a portion of the traditional tune for this prayer.

This prayer has often been held up by anti-Semites as proof that Jews are untrustworthy (we do not keep our vows), and for this reason the Reform movement removed it from the liturgy for a while. In fact, the reverse is true: we make this prayer because we take vows so seriously that we consider ourselves bound even if we make the vows under duress or in times of stress when we are not thinking straight. This prayer gave comfort to those who were converted to Christianity by torture in various inquisitions, yet felt unable to break their vow to follow Christianity. In recognition of this history, the Reform movement restored this prayer to its liturgy.

There are many additions to the regular liturgy (there would have to be, to get such a long service ). Perhaps the most important addition is the confession of the sins of the community, which is inserted into the Shemoneh Esrei (Amidah) prayer. Note that all sins are confessed in the plural (we have done this, we have done that), emphasizing communal responsibility for sins.

There are two basic parts of this confession: Ashamnu, a shorter, more general list (we have been treasonable, we have been aggressive, we have been slanderous...), and Al Cheit, a longer and more specific list (for the sin we sinned before you forcibly or willingly, and for the sin we sinned before you by acting callously...) Frequent petitions for forgiveness are interspersed in these prayers. There's also a catch-all confession: "Forgive us the breach of positive commands and negative commands, whether or not they involve an act, whether or not they are known to us."

It is interesting to note that these confessions do not specifically address the kinds of ritual sins that some people think are the be-all-and-end-all of Judaism. There is no "for the sin we have sinned before you by eating pork, and for the sin we have sinned against you by driving on Shabbat" (though obviously these are implicitly included in the catch-all). The vast majority of the sins enumerated involve mistreatment of other people, most of them by speech (offensive speech, scoffing, slander, talebearing, and swearing falsely, to name a few). These all come into the category of sin known as "lashon ha-ra" (lit: the evil tongue), which is considered a very serious sin in Judaism.

The concluding service of Yom Kippur, known as Ne'ilah, is one unique to the day. It usually runs about 1 hour long. The ark (a cabinet where the scrolls of the Torah are kept) is kept open throughout this service, thus you must stand throughout the service. There is a tone of desperation in the prayers of this service. The service is sometimes referred to as the closing of the gates; think of it as the "last chance" to get in a good word before the holiday ends. The service ends with a very long blast of the shofar. See Rosh Hashanah for more about the shofar and its characteristic blasts.

After Yom Kippur, one should begin preparing for the next holiday, Sukkot, which begins five days later.

List of Dates
Yom Kippur will occur on the following days of the Gregorian calendar:

Jewish Year 5770: sunset September 27, 2009 - nightfall September 28, 2009
Jewish Year 5771: sunset September 17, 2010 - nightfall September 18, 2010
Jewish Year 5772: sunset October 7, 2011 - nightfall October 8, 2011
Jewish Year 5773: sunset September 25, 2012 - nightfall September 26, 2012
Jewish Year 5774: sunset September 13, 2013 - nightfall September 14, 2013

St. Robert Bellarmine

>>>Another awesome example of a Saint who can be an example for all of us. His assistance with St. Francis de Sales allowed for the formal recognition of the Visitation order of which our parish patron is the foundress, St. Jane de Chantal. I also remember with some fondness that our Archdiocese had a parish named in his honor; unfortunately one of many parishes that was so completely destroyed during Katrina it will never come back. St. Robert Bellarmine, pray for us!

St. Robert Bellarmine

Feastday: September 17

b. 1542 d. 1621

Born at Montepulciano, Italy, October 4, 1542, St. Robert Bellarmine was the third of ten children. His mother, Cinzia Cervini, a niece of Pope Marcellus II, was dedicated to almsgiving, prayer, meditation, fasting, and mortification of the body.

Robert entered the newly formed Society of Jesus in 1560 and after his ordination went on to teach at Louvain (1570-1576) where he became famous for his Latin sermons. In 1576, he was appointed to the chair of controversial theology at the Roman College, becoming Rector in 1592; he went on to become Provincial of Naples in 1594 and Cardinal in 1598.

This outstanding scholar and devoted servant of God defended the Apostolic See against the anti-clericals in Venice and against the political tenets of James I of England. He composed an exhaustive apologetic work against the prevailing heretics of his day. In the field of church-state relations, he took a position based on principles now regarded as fundamentally democratic - authority originates with God, but is vested in the people, who entrust it to fit rulers.

This saint was the spiritual father of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, helped St. Francis de Sales obtain formal approval of the Visitation Order, and in his prudence opposed severe action in the case of Galileo. He has left us a host of important writings, including works of devotion and instruction, as well as controversy. He died in 1621.

Reflecting on prison ministry

It's a Friday night and I'm taking a break from preparations. In the morning I'm leading a reflection on what it means to be a prison minister. Lay Catholics and perhaps a few nuns will be gathering at a Teresian chapel in nearby Covington to pray and reflect on this unique ministry entrusted to us from God.

It may be strange as some of the ministers undoubtably have been at this longer than me. I first was introduced to prison ministry during my formation years during a semester dedicated to clinical pastoral training(CPT). That only lasted for about 6 months. It would be 18 additional months before I would return as their formally assigned Deacon and pastoral care chaplain. I've been serving in this capacity for 20 months now.

My message in the morning will be heavily framed by my realistic experiences of time spent in prayer and services and time spent back in the dorms and the cell blocks. I'll do my best to explain the need to be faithful to this ministry for visiting those in prison is a command from Jesus as explained in Matthew 25. And I hope to convey the clear message of the gift of presence and the gift of treating prisoners as children of God, able to receive forgiveness and mercy from a just and loving Father. Letting those in prison know that we treat them with human dignity and a pastoral concern for thier spiritual well-being is critical in their own faith journey and ability to forgive self.

I hope to borrow liberally from several documents, including those of many Louisiana Bishops, including our own former Archbishop Alfred Hughes. I also am very fond of a book, given to me as a gift by my own Pastor, Fr. Robert Cavalier, entitled Doing Time; Finding Hope at San Quentin by Dennis Burke.

And I am most looking forward to hearing the personal stories of all ministers present; their hopes and joys at serving the prisoners and the challenges and struggles they may face as well.

Hopefully, I will have plenty to report on in the next day or so. In the meantime, pray for those who minister to prisoners and pray for prisoners too. Pray that they may deal honestly and forthrightly with their situation and that the time they spend in prison may be a time of potential spiritual renewal.

What a profound presentation by Pope Benedict in London

>>>Probably not many Catholics in these here parts are paying attention to the Pope as he traverses Scotland and England. And that is unfortunate. Today he delivered this gem of a talk to Parliament in London. Spot on! Please take time to read and pray for the Pope, the successor to Peter and the Vicar of Christ on earth. Viva el Papa!

Thanks to the website Whispers in the Loggia for presenting the following text in its' entirety:

"Reason and Faith Need One Another"

Mr Speaker,

Thank you for your words of welcome on behalf of this distinguished gathering. As I address you, I am conscious of the privilege afforded me to speak to the British people and their representatives in Westminster Hall, a building of unique significance in the civil and political history of the people of these islands. Allow me also to express my esteem for the Parliament which has existed on this site for centuries and which has had such a profound influence on the development of participative government among the nations, especially in the Commonwealth and the English-speaking world at large. Your common law tradition serves as the basis of legal systems in many parts of the world, and your particular vision of the respective rights and duties of the state and the individual, and of the separation of powers, remains an inspiration to many across the globe.

As I speak to you in this historic setting, I think of the countless men and women down the centuries who have played their part in the momentous events that have taken place within these walls and have shaped the lives of many generations of Britons, and others besides. In particular, I recall the figure of Saint Thomas More, the great English scholar and statesman, who is admired by believers and non-believers alike for the integrity with which he followed his conscience, even at the cost of displeasing the sovereign whose "good servant" he was, because he chose to serve God first. The dilemma which faced More in those difficult times, the perennial question of the relationship between what is owed to Caesar and what is owed to God, allows me the opportunity to reflect with you briefly on the proper place of religious belief within the political process.

This country’s Parliamentary tradition owes much to the national instinct for moderation, to the desire to achieve a genuine balance between the legitimate claims of government and the rights of those subject to it. While decisive steps have been taken at several points in your history to place limits on the exercise of power, the nation’s political institutions have been able to evolve with a remarkable degree of stability. In the process, Britain has emerged as a pluralist democracy which places great value on freedom of speech, freedom of political affiliation and respect for the rule of law, with a strong sense of the individual’s rights and duties, and of the equality of all citizens before the law. While couched in different language, Catholic social teaching has much in common with this approach, in its overriding concern to safeguard the unique dignity of every human person, created in the image and likeness of God, and in its emphasis on the duty of civil authority to foster the common good.

And yet the fundamental questions at stake in Thomas More’s trial continue to present themselves in ever-changing terms as new social conditions emerge. Each generation, as it seeks to advance the common good, must ask anew: what are the requirements that governments may reasonably impose upon citizens, and how far do they extend? By appeal to what authority can moral dilemmas be resolved? These questions take us directly to the ethical foundations of civil discourse. If the moral principles underpinning the democratic process are themselves determined by nothing more solid than social consensus, then the fragility of the process becomes all too evident - herein lies the real challenge for democracy.

The inadequacy of pragmatic, short-term solutions to complex social and ethical problems has been illustrated all too clearly by the recent global financial crisis. There is widespread agreement that the lack of a solid ethical foundation for economic activity has contributed to the grave difficulties now being experienced by millions of people throughout the world. Just as "every economic decision has a moral consequence" (Caritas in Veritate, 37), so too in the political field, the ethical dimension of policy has far-reaching consequences that no government can afford to ignore. A positive illustration of this is found in one of the British Parliament’s particularly notable achievements – the abolition of the slave trade. The campaign that led to this landmark legislation was built upon firm ethical principles, rooted in the natural law, and it has made a contribution to civilization of which this nation may be justly proud.

The central question at issue, then, is this: where is the ethical foundation for political choices to be found? The Catholic tradition maintains that the objective norms governing right action are accessible to reason, prescinding from the content of revelation. According to this understanding, the role of religion in political debate is not so much to supply these norms, as if they could not be known by non-believers – still less to propose concrete political solutions, which would lie altogether outside the competence of religion – but rather to help purify and shed light upon the application of reason to the discovery of objective moral principles. This "corrective" role of religion vis-à-vis reason is not always welcomed, though, partly because distorted forms of religion, such as sectarianism and fundamentalism, can be seen to create serious social problems themselves. And in their turn, these distortions of religion arise when insufficient attention is given to the purifying and structuring role of reason within religion. It is a two-way process. Without the corrective supplied by religion, though, reason too can fall prey to distortions, as when it is manipulated by ideology, or applied in a partial way that fails to take full account of the dignity of the human person. Such misuse of reason, after all, was what gave rise to the slave trade in the first place and to many other social evils, not least the totalitarian ideologies of the twentieth century. This is why I would suggest that the world of reason and the world of faith – the world of secular rationality and the world of religious belief – need one another and should not be afraid to enter into a profound and ongoing dialogue, for the good of our civilization.

Religion, in other words, is not a problem for legislators to solve, but a vital contributor to the national conversation. In this light, I cannot but voice my concern at the increasing marginalization of religion, particularly of Christianity, that is taking place in some quarters, even in nations which place a great emphasis on tolerance. There are those who would advocate that the voice of religion be silenced, or at least relegated to the purely private sphere. There are those who argue that the public celebration of festivals such as Christmas should be discouraged, in the questionable belief that it might somehow offend those of other religions or none. And there are those who argue – paradoxically with the intention of eliminating discrimination – that Christians in public roles should be required at times to act against their conscience. These are worrying signs of a failure to appreciate not only the rights of believers to freedom of conscience and freedom of religion, but also the legitimate role of religion in the public square. I would invite all of you, therefore, within your respective spheres of influence, to seek ways of promoting and encouraging dialogue between faith and reason at every level of national life.

Your readiness to do so is already implied in the unprecedented invitation extended to me today. And it finds expression in the fields of concern in which your Government has been engaged with the Holy See. In the area of peace, there have been exchanges regarding the elaboration of an international arms trade treaty; regarding human rights, the Holy See and the United Kingdom have welcomed the spread of democracy, especially in the last sixty-five years; in the field of development, there has been collaboration on debt relief, fair trade and financing for development, particularly through the International Finance Facility, the International Immunization Bond, and the Advanced Market Commitment. The Holy See also looks forward to exploring with the United Kingdom new ways to promote environmental responsibility, to the benefit of all.

I also note that the present Government has committed the United Kingdom to devoting 0.7% of national income to development aid by 2013. In recent years it has been encouraging to witness the positive signs of a worldwide growth in solidarity towards the poor. But to turn this solidarity into effective action calls for fresh thinking that will improve life conditions in many important areas, such as food production, clean water, job creation, education, support to families, especially migrants, and basic healthcare. Where human lives are concerned, time is always short: yet the world has witnessed the vast resources that governments can draw upon to rescue financial institutions deemed "too big to fail". Surely the integral human development of the world’s peoples is no less important: here is an enterprise, worthy of the world’s attention, that is truly "too big to fail".

This overview of recent cooperation between the United Kingdom and the Holy See illustrates well how much progress has been made, in the years that have passed since the establishment of bilateral diplomatic relations, in promoting throughout the world the many core values that we share. I hope and pray that this relationship will continue to bear fruit, and that it will be mirrored in a growing acceptance of the need for dialogue and respect at every level of society between the world of reason and the world of faith. I am convinced that, within this country too, there are many areas in which the Church and the public authorities can work together for the good of citizens, in harmony with Britain’s long-standing tradition. For such cooperation to be possible, religious bodies – including institutions linked to the Catholic Church – need to be free to act in accordance with their own principles and specific convictions based upon the faith and the official teaching of the Church. In this way, such basic rights as religious freedom, freedom of conscience and freedom of association are guaranteed. The angels looking down on us from the magnificent ceiling of this ancient Hall remind us of the long tradition from which British Parliamentary democracy has evolved. They remind us that God is constantly watching over us to guide and protect us. And they summon us to acknowledge the vital contribution that religious belief has made and can continue to make to the life of the nation.

Mr Speaker, I thank you once again for this opportunity briefly to address this distinguished audience. Let me assure you and the Lord Speaker of my continued good wishes and prayers for you and for the fruitful work of both Houses of this ancient Parliament. Thank you and God bless you all!