Monday, February 28, 2011

March already

Yes, we are moving head on into March; for me the last of the nice months. The recent turnaround in weather here in the deep south has served as a reminder that I really dislike summer and hot weather. Since about Valentine's Day we leaped from one of the colder winters ever to hot. We have even broken record highs recently. And hotter weather means the grass starts to grow; troublesome enough but much more so when all the batteries are dead on the lawn tractors. Nothing I can do about it for now as my upcoming schedule is hectic squared.

The month of March will bring a change of seasons; and I'm not talking about winter to spring. In just a little over a week the Church begins the discipline of Lent. The wonderful and rich season of prayer, fasting and almsgiving starts on Ash Wednesday, March 9th. For us here in the New Orleans area that means we are celebrating an unusually late Mardi Gras with parades and festivities; many of which are not very polite, to be polite. Once Lent starts we begin Stations of the Cross, and many parishes will have Lenten fish fries. Lent is a special time in the liturgical cycle.

March does bring some nice family memories as my birthday is the 4th and our son's is the next day, March 5th. On March 12th I will remember my mom on her birthday; she would be 89 if still with us!

The big event of the month in ministry is the Kairos Prison retreat. This year the event is from the 17th through the 20th. This 4 day event brings us into the Rayburn prison for intense prayer, reflection and fellowship.

So March is here. May God Bless our days in the month ahead and may he give me the courage to say farewell to cool weather.

First Saint for March:St. David of Wales

St. David

Feastday: March 1

According to tradition, St. David was the son of King Sant of South Wales and St. Non. He was ordained a priest and later studied under St. Paulinus. Later, he was involved in missionary work and founded a number of monasteries. The monastery he founded at Menevia in Southwestern Wales was noted for extreme asceticism. David and his monks drank neither wine nor beer - only water - while putting in a full day of heavy manual labor and intense study. Around the year 550, David attended a synod at Brevi in Cardiganshire. His contributions at the synod are said to have been the major cause for his election as primate of the Cambrian Church. He was reportedly consecrated archbishop by the patriarch of Jerusalem while on a visit to the Holy Land. He also is said to have invoked a council that ended the last vestiges of Pelagianism. David died at his monastery in Menevia around the year 589, and his cult was approved in 1120 by Pope Callistus II. He is revered as the patron of Wales. Undoubtedly, St. David was endowed with substantial qualities of spiritual leadership. What is more, many monasteries flourished as a result of his leadership and good example. His staunch adherence to monastic piety bespeaks a fine example for modern Christians seeking order and form in their prayer life.His feast day is March 1.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Christian Unity: it's the catholic thing to do

I've spoken before and posted articles on this blog about the progress of the Anglican ordinariate. With a strong desire for Christian unity, Pope Benedict XVI has worked tirelessly to dialogue with peoples of faith. It was through his efforts that we have seen the conversion of Anglicans world-wide with a recent profound impact in the United Kingdom.

Pope Benedict XVI has been in close dialogue with not just Anglicans. Now word comes of an Anglo-Lutheran group coming into full communion with Rome. You can read so much more here:

In addition to this group, the Vatican continues to work with the Orthodox and those SSPX folks who can come home to Rome.

There are many Catholic sites and facebook posters that want to scream and holler about the sky falling, no good news and how the Church is falling apart. Despite all of her warts, all the painful events she endures because of human failure, the Church endures, grows and propspers. This is the eternal promise of Christ Himself.

With well over 1 billion Catholics and growing, with the renewed interest in the faith, the eucharist and liturgical worship, she will continue to grow.

Confirmation at Most Holy Trinity

Today was a parish celebration as 8 young adults were confirmed in the faith at my new parish, Most Holy Trinity. Our presiding Bishop was Shelton Fabre and I was honored to assist him along with Deacon Tom Caffery. The Bishop was generous in his homily explaining that the gift recived today may not seem as fancy as all the things they could desire today as he compared this to a gift of a platic crucifix given to him by his mother at a Catholic school fair. That crucifix also did not seem so fancy when compared to all the elaborate toys and gifts at the fair. Yet the Bishop reminded the confirmands that this crucifix is with him still, and today means much to him. The gift of the Holy Spirit will remain with them too long after today and will mean so much to each of them throughout their lives.

Our 8 newly confirmed are high school juniors and now they have made their adult profession of faith. Sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit and annointed with holy chrism these young people are more fully equipped to stand for Christ in an adult world that hardly recognizes Him.

This was my first experience of a community celebration at MHT and the first time I've experienced Confirmation at the regular Sunday Mass. The congregation seemed to genuinely appreciate the words of the Bishop and the opportunity to witness this important Sacrament.

Please join me in praying for our 8 newly confirmed that they will continue to allow the Holy Spirit to work in their lives as they grow in relationship with Jesus.

Most Holy Trinity, have mercy on us!

Corporal punishment in Catholic school; Archbishop says no

Corporal punishment at St. Aug is morally troubling, New Orleans archbishop says
Published: Sunday, February 27, 2011, 6:30 AM
By Bruce Nolan, The Times-Picayune

Forty-five years ago, as a student at Cor Jesu High School in the mid-1960s, young Greg Aymond occasionally saw an angry teacher suddenly cuff a student, or shove him hard in the chest. It never happened to him, Aymond said, nor does the memory of faculty discipline meted out to teen boys in those days particularly trouble the man who later became the archbishop of New Orleans.

'I do not believe the teachings of the Catholic Church as we interpret them in 2011 condone corporal punishment,' Archbishop Gregory Aymond says.
That said, as Archbishop Gregory Aymond, now 61, confronts Catholic schools' last vestige of formal physical punishment -- this at St. Augustine High School, one of the jewels of Catholic education, he is clear:

"I do not believe the teachings of the Catholic Church as we interpret them in 2011 condone corporal punishment.

"It's hard for me to imagine in any way, shape or form, Jesus using a paddle," he said.

Moreover, he said, the social research "is very, very clear: Violence fosters violence."

Aymond's concerns about corporal punishment at St. Augustine received a public airing Thursday in an extraordinary basketball-court meeting with the school's parents and alumni.

There, the alumni, in particular, urged the school to drop its temporary ban on paddling -- a ban put in place, Aymond disclosed Friday, as a result of his concerns quietly raised with school administrators months ago.

One after another, business and professional men, tradesmen and fathers recalled getting bent over and whacked by a lay teacher or a Josephite priest during their days at St. Aug.

With the distance of age, they told Aymond they appreciated the crack of the paddle for its ability to force a mid-course correction on a young man grown lazy, or disrespectful, or too full of himself.

A few recalled memorable collective punishment: a whole class getting caned, one by one, for substandard academic performance, or because one miscreant declined to come forward.

"I listened, genuinely," Aymond said. "The words I heard are that we are different. We are unique. It works for us. It's not a problem. This is the best way we can do discipline."

But still, he said Friday, physical punishment is expressly banned in all Catholic schools for reasons both theological and psychological.

And as to St. Augustine, "It saddens me that any school in the archdiocese uses corporal punishment."

Aymond said the concern about corporal punishment at St. Augustine dates back two years and is his -- not a parent's, nor a lawyer's.

"I'm not concerned primarily about liability," he said. "I am concerned about morality.

"In my mind, to strike another person in this day and age -- 40, 50, 60 years ago, it might have been OK -- but in this day and age, all the data says this is not an appropriate thing to do.

"It doesn't foster a positive self-image. I don't think it's what the Catholic Church should be doing. And it's not what Jesus would do."

The archbishop said he found the matter waiting for him when he arrived in New Orleans from Austin in the late summer of 2009.

Aymond said his early official readings contained an unusual letter forwarded to New Orleans by the national bishops' Office of Child and Youth Protection, the child-care department set up in the wake of the Catholic sex abuse scandal.

Aymond said the letter came from an activist he did not identify who wrote from Ireland, which is suffering through a sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church worse than the American experience in 2002.

Aymond said the Irish author singled out the continuing existence of physical punishment at St. Augustine High School in New Orleans and called it to the bishops' attention.

Aymond said he inquired and learned that despite archdiocesan prohibition, corporal punishment was and is expressly authorized in St. Augustine's handbook -- that it is administered with a piece of wood at the front of a class.

That makes it different from the discipline he saw as a student at Cor Jesu, Aymond said.

"I never witnessed, in all my years at school, a paddle. Never witnessed what I'd consider violence," he said.

And Aymond said he never saw a punishment meted out in public, as a public lesson.

He said he learned that the archdiocese occasionally received parental complaints, which were forwarded to St. Augustine for handling.

But Troy Henry, who chairs the local board that runs day-to-day operations at the school, said he was surprised to hear Aymond had received parental complaints. Henry said he had spoken to school officials, who maintain they have not heard any.

Aymond said in late 2009 the archdiocese hired Monica Applewhite, a national consultant on "safe environments" for minors, to review the environment at St. Augustine in conversations with administrators, teachers, parents and students.

Although he declined to discuss her report, he said it was her research underlying his remark Thursday night that St. Augustine is the last Catholic school in the country to use the wooden paddle.

Aymond said his conversations with the Josephites, the order of Catholic priests that runs St. Augustine, prompted them to call a temporary ban on corporal punishment. And it is against that backdrop that the public meeting, with its alumni defense of the paddle, convened Thursday.

As archbishop, Aymond is charged with generally ensuring that all Catholic institutions broadly reflect Catholic values.

More particularly, he said, "When a school chooses to be a part of the family of Catholic schools, they commit themselves to adhering to the rules that are set for the office of Catholic schools. And in this case, (St. Augustine) is not following the rules."

Aymond said he is "eager for further dialogue and conversation" with St. Augustine's constituents, preferably behind the scenes.

The archbishop said he wants to avoid a display of episcopal authority in a confrontation with St. Augustine and those who love it.

"I don't want to go there. I want to be persuasive, and I want to be influential, and I want to do this in as much a peaceful and reconciling way as possible," he said.

"I would never want to use the last resort."

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Homily for 8th Sunday, ordinary A, Feb 27,2011

Robin Williams was quite the comic genius in the popular movie Mrs. Doubtfire. Upset at losing his kids in a custody battle he became their caregiver by donning an elaborate costume becoming transformed into Mrs. Doubtfire. And the cleverly concocted ruse worked, until Williams had to serve two masters. In one hysterical scene Williams had to juggle between Mrs. Doubtfire and his male character in a public restaurant. On one side, he was out for a nice meal with the entire family; the other side interviewing for a prestigious job with his TV station. He must have changed clothes and make-up a half dozen times as he went to and fro trying to keep all happy; and in the dark. He was eventually found out, to the shock of all involved.

Sometimes we serve two masters. We load up our calendar with to do lists a mile long. Even our children today need a schedule to keep up with everything they do. We try to please everyone, we struggle to say no and we run, run, run adding stress and anxiety to our lives.

As people of faith, do we serve two many masters? Do we serve the Master? Are we full of stress and anxiety and do we allow our soul to rest in God?

Matthew’s Gospel today challenges us to serve God and dismiss all of our unnecessary worry and anxiety. Jesus uses beautiful imagery of the birds and the flowers, even mentioning Solomon, to emphasize that God alone is in control. Since God made us in His image and likeness, and sent His Son as a man among us to save us, if he protects the birds and the flowers, how much more will He care for us. And still we worry.

Worry and anxiety is a cottage industry today. Our never ending 24 hour news cycle, the insatiable appetite for bigger, better, faster, the buy it first pay later mentality, and the millions of talking heads that confuse and confound us work together to diminish God, our desire to serve Him and serve one another. We know, deep within, that God cannot be diminished. But we should ask ourselves what prevents me from serving Him and my brother, sister, neighbor? Jesus calms our worry and anxiety as He clearly tells us: Do not worry, our heavenly Father knows all that we need and we are called to seek first the kingdom of God.

The fears and concerns addressed in this Gospel may not be exactly the same fears and concerns we experience today. This does not matter. Whatever they may be, how personal our own worries are, Jesus clearly says do not worry. In our 1st reading today the prophet Isaiah makes it clear: God will never forget us.

But let’s return to the beginning of this Gospel where Jesus tells us not to serve God and mammon. What is mammon? Simply, this is the Aramaic word for wealth. Not the type of wealth that comes from hard and honest labor. Jesus is referring to the unhealthy obsession and greed that can be associated with wealth. This often results in placing God and our fellow man down our list of priorities. In whatever we do, Jesus challenges us to serve God first and foremost in our lives.

What can we do in the week ahead to answer the challenge presented in today’s Gospel? First, we can ask in prayer for God to make known His will for us. What are we being called to do? Who are we being called to serve? Once we reflect on these questions, we can further discern what are the things I cling to that may prevent me from serving God and serving others. Using a system similar to an examination of conscience, name this mammon in our present day lives. Write them down. Name them and claim them and then let them go. Free your time and talent for God and our fellow man!

Mrs. Doubt fire eventually failed at trying to serve two masters by deceit and dishonesty. Fortunately for all involved, things worked out and Robin Williams did get that job and generous visitation with his kids. But first, he had to serve just one master; to have one ultimate goal.

For us, our challenge is not the comic escapades of Robin Williams as Mrs. Doubtfire. We can, we must accept Jesus’ words in this Gospel and pledge our lives in service to God and our fellow man. And then we can say goodbye to worry and anxiety.

And in God alone, my soul is at rest!

N.Y. Archbishop Dolan on unpleasant truths

Unpleasant Truths
Posted by Fr. Bruno M. Shah, O.P. on 26 Feb 2011

From our Archbishop,

Unpleasant Truths
I’ve known for a long time that I should lose some weight. So, last week, I visited my doctor, and he showed me a gross, disgusting, dripping ball of yellow wax. “This,” he said to me, “is what ten pounds of fat looks like. This is what you’re carrying around in your body.” Was it upsetting? Unnerving? Sobering? You bet it was. It was also true, and it was effective, as it strengthened my resolve to get my weight under control.

Being confronted by the truth can often be unpleasant. That’s why those who fight so hard to eradicate world hunger will show us what hunger does, with a picture of a starving child, covered with flies and sores. Does it disturb us to face that truth, an image we’d rather not see or think about? It should, even as it spurs us to action.

It’s the same with smoking. I’m sure you’ve seen those television commercials that graphically portray the effects of smoking. It’s unpleasant to look at open heart surgery, or a pair of diseased lungs, or to see a person who has lost fingers, toes, or the esophagus, all due to smoking. The ads are nauseating, even hideous, to see. But the New York State Department of Health, among many others, sponsors these kinds of ads because they know that they can help to save lives.

Another ad has been generating some fierce reactions. Here in New York, a billboard was recently displayed, that simply stated “The most dangerous place for an African-American is in the womb.” This message was accompanied by a photograph of a young, African-American girl.

Is that message unpleasant? Is it upsetting? Does it get our attention?


Because the message is somberly true. The City of New York’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene recently released its vital statistics from a year ago which showed that 59.8% of African-American pregnancies in New York City ended in abortion. That’s even higher than the chilling city-wide average of 41% of pregnancies ending in abortion. (I joined other community leaders from a diversity of religious and ethnic backgrounds at a press conference sponsored by the Chiaroscuro Foundation about this a few weeks ago.)

So why has the billboard suddenly been taken down? What was it that moved many of our elected officials to condemn this ad and call for the gag order. Are they claiming that free speech is a right enjoyed only by those who favor abortion or their pet causes? Do they believe that unpleasant and disturbing truths should not be spoken? Or are they afraid that when people are finally confronted with the reality of the horror of abortion, and with the toll that it is taking in our city, particularly in our African-American community, that they will be moved to defend innocent, unborn, human life?

Perhaps I’m more saddened by this intolerance right now because on Monday I will be celebrating the funeral mass for Doctor Bernard Nathanson, that giant of the pro-life movement, who died earlier this week. If you don’t know Dr. Nathanson’s story, you should. At one time, he fought hard to promote and expand abortion on demand in this state and in our country. He was one of the founders of the National Abortion Rights Action League. He ran what he called the “largest abortion clinic in the Western world,” and bragged about personally performing thousands of abortions. But, when Dr. Nathanson was confronted with the undeniable truth, when he could see the unborn baby in the womb through the use of ultrasound technology, he abandoned his support for abortion and became a crusader for the protection of the life of the baby in the womb.

His courage and bravery should be an inspiration to us, especially when we have to face unpleasant and sobering truths.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Young hero fights for his life

>>>In our day when the culture of death surrounds us we are reminded of the beauty of life and those who fight courageously to live!

13 year-old Meisler student fights rare blood disorder
Reported by: Sabrina Wilson, Reporter

(FOX 8 News) New Orleans - He is only 13 years-old and was absolutely thrilled to be playing football for Meisler Middle School up until recently.

But now Shakobe Peters is in the hospital fighting a very rare blood disorder that not only sidelined his game, but is threatening his life.

In an exclusive interview with FOX 8 News, Shakobe's mother, Tomika Durio, and the teen's doctor shared his plight.

''It's very difficult, I have my moments, I have more bad days than good days I mean I want to fix it, but I can't you know he looks at me like mom, fix it, let's go to the drug store, get something, go home, it's not happening," said Durio.

Shakobe was in intensive care at Children's Hospital in New Orleans until Wednesday evening.
"It's been a roller coaster, it's very difficult, I had never heard of it before," said his mother.

The disease with a long name is complex. "It's Hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis. Histiocytosis is a family diseases that are actually very rare," said Shakobe's doctor, Maria Velez, a hematologist-oncologist at Children's Hospital.

"Unfortunately it's a serious disease and it could be lethal or produce death, if its not well controlled," said Dr. Velez.

The disease called "HLH" for short, paralyzed Shakobe's immune system, making him a prey for serious infections and shutting off his body's ability to produce life sustaining red blood cells and platelets.

"Since his bone marrow has not recovered and has not been producing the red cells and platelets then he has been dependent on blood transfusions."

Dr. Velez said "HLH" can be inherited or a serious infection or T-cell lymphomas can trigger it. What she knows for sure is that Shakobe did not inherit it.

"We feel it might be something abnormal in your immune system that doesn't allow the marrow cells to survive well, but most of the time we, we cannot tell what is producing this phenomenon," stated Velez.

While Shakobe does not have cancer, chemotherapy is part of his treatment.

"What we are trying to do is just his abnormal cells, trying to re-program them," his doctor stated.

"Perfectly healthy, never sick, it just happened all of a sudden," said his mother. His diagnosis came in December and his doctors concede nailing down the disease is often difficult. It took a second round of testing to confirm Shakobe had "HLH."

Before the diagnosis Shakobe was enjoying his first year as a football player at his school. "It took us back, definitely took us back," said Meisler Coach Chuck Harrison.

He said as a receiver and corner back for the team Shakobe was full of energy. "It caught me by surprise. He's a good kid and he was in my P.E. class and he played football for me."

Shakobe also played ball at Johnny Bright's Playground right across the street from the school. The coach was at the hospital with Shakobe's family on Wednesday.

"Shakobe besides being a wonderful athlete is just a wonderful young man, ah he's just been outstanding since we had him at bright, the last game he played in he actually scored a big first down when we needed about 20 yards."

Without a constant supply of healthy blood, Shakobe's chances of getting to a possible bone marrow or stem transplant diminish greatly.

"The plan is just to identify potential bone marrow or stem cell donors for him to undergo stem cell transplant and at that point then his chances of surviving the disease will improve dramatically," said Dr. Velez.

"He has about a 66 percent chance of finding a match because he is African- American, so we definitely need minorities to join the registry," said Natalie Rowe, of the bone marrow registry, "Be the Match."

"To date he's had about 40 blood transfusions that I know of," stated Amanda Chittenden of the Blood Center of Southeast Louisiana. She said a blood and bone marrow drive will be held on March 5th at Calvary Baptist Church at 939 South Sibley Street from 9am to 2pm.

"Without the blood supply which is a critical part of his treatment then Shakobe possibly won't make it as long as he has," stated Chittenden.

With tears streaming down her face, his mother exhibited the weight of having a child so ill.

"Sometimes I feel like I'm just in my own little world, alone, it's hard."

And although she was surrounded by family and friends at the hospital, the pain of a suffering child was palpable.

"I try to be strong for him, but , it's hard and you wonder why, he's not a bad kid," said Tomika Durio.

Now she hopes the public will give of themselves to save her son.

To donate blood, you must be in good health, at least 17 years old and weigh a minimum of 110 pounds. Additionally, the Blood Center says 16 years old can donate if they weigh at least 130 pounds and present a signed "Blood Center" parental consent form at the time of donation.

A picture ID is required to donate blood. More information can be found on blood donations at the Blood Center's website,

Woman realizes her "mistake"; not really a Deacon

>>These stories always intrigue me. It clearly falls under the category: what were you thinking. Secular media always writes theses things to make it appear even more sensational. Let's be clear; she never was a Deacon, the organization mentioned in the article has no authority but the good news; she has asked for forgiveness; and that's what is most important!

Woman Renounces Her Claim to Be a Deacon
Says She "Made a Mistake"; Asks Forgiveness
SAN DIEGO, California, FEB. 24, 2011 ( A woman who claimed to be a Catholic deacon has renounced her "ordination" and is affirming her fidelity to the Church's teaching on the impossibility of women's ordination.

Norma Jean Coon, formerly a member of the Roman Catholic Womenpriests organization, posted a message Feb. 8 on the Internet in which she "confess(es) to the authority of the Holy Father on these issues of ordination and recognize(s) that Christ founded the ordination only for men."

Coon, who has been married for 47 years and is the mother of five, participated in a ceremony in Santa Barbara attempting her ordination July 22, 2007.

Roman Catholic Womenpriests was established in Europe and began claiming to ordain women in the United States in 2006. The summer of Coon's ceremony, there were similar events in Portland, New York, Minneapolis and Toronto. Today, the group claims around eight bishops worldwide, and more than 80 priests and deacons.

Coon said that she "withdrew from the program within two weeks of the ceremony because I realized that I had made a mistake in studying for the priesthood."

She added, "I confess to the truth of Pope John Paul II's apostolic letter 'Ordinatio Sacerdotalis.'"

In her statement, Coon formally relinquishes connection to Roman Catholic Womenpriests and disclaims "the alleged ordination publicly with apologies to those whose lives I have offended or scandalized by my actions."

Her statement concludes with a prayer: "Holy God, I ask your blessings on my bishop and my pastor and priests in Rome who have assisted me in the process of being reinstated into the Roman Catholic Church. [...] Forgive me my Beloved Jesus and Mother Mary for pursuing my own will in this matter of ordination. [...] [W]e pray for more priests to serve in our Church and for vocations to enrich our Church in the United States.

"Forgive us for failing in obedience and enrich us in your holy love, I pray through Jesus and Mary. Fiat."

It's Mardi Gras big time tonight

Well, come on down to New Orleans over the next week and a half and enjoy Mardi Gras. The season actually begins January 6th on the original Feast of the Epiphany or 12th night. Until the big parades start rolling most of the action is grand masquerade balls and copious consumption of king cake. But tonight the big show begins and will not end until Fat Tuesday, March 8th. Every day between now and then the parades will be rolling across New Orleans, the suburbs and many other places in south Louisiana.

While uniquely ours, Mardi Gras can be a blessing and a curse. The event can be a wonderful family time with the emphasis on delighting the children. The thrill of a marching band, the horse units and those big Mardi Gras parade floats packed with maskers tossing beads and trinkets is's a magical memory for many a child. Mardi Gras can also be gross. Yep, downright gross. That's ashame because it should be a wonderful family and cultural celebration; and often it is. But sometimes overly zealous adults and totally misguided and uninformed tourists think Mardi Gras is a good excuse for an all out orgy or worse. Some human behavior exhibited at Mardi Gras is hard to describe as human. Like everything else our celebration of the Carnival season can be hijacked by just a few. Over here on the wonderful Northshore area of New Orleans the celebration is always tamer than across the lake. Many communities host walking parades and come as you are events that see tractors and trailers replacing floats. In any event, Mardi Gras can be tons of fun and should be a family event!

Many who come down south to celebrate this tradition would be shocked to know that there is a religious twist to all of this. With the beginnings of the season on the Epiphany and it's grand farewell on the day before Ash Wednesday, it is meant to be spiritual in nature. The allowance of such a radical party was a farewell to flesh, as in the sins thereof, prior to the deeply spiritual and repentive mood of Lent.

So my hope and prayer for the millions who will celebrate Mardi Gras is quite simple: have fun, be good, be safe and make it truly a family event.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Nice story that reminds us about Blessed items

Statues retired fittingly

When officials with St. Francis Medical Center decided to respectfully dispose of worn religious objects, they chose the site of the new Kitty DeGree Emergency Center as the final resting place.
Blessed religious items belonging to the downtown hospital were buried in concrete on Wednesday. Items included cracked or damaged statues of Jesus, St. Joseph, St. Anthony carrying baby Jesus, St. Patrick, a crucifix and pieces from the hospital's manger scene.
These blessed religious items were in use at various places throughout the hospital. After years of use, the items had wear and tear so officials said they wanted to dispose of the blessed items respectfully.
"These statues are holy objects, and we refrain from throwing them away in the trash," said Yvonne Boudreau, vice president of mission integration at St. Francis. "For Catholics, it is a sign of respect to dispose of damaged statues in a way that honors these holy objects. We do this by burying them into the foundation of a new building."
According to, blessed objects break and can wear from use. The basic rules for the disposition of these items are to bury or burn them. The Canon Law of the Catholic Church states that once a religious object is blessed and dedicated for divine worship or veneration, it must be treated with reverence and not be used in an improper or profane way.
St. Francis Medical Center held a groundbreaking ceremony for the construction site in October. It was at the ceremony that hospital officials unveiled plans for the $5.9 million project and announced that local philanthropist Kitty DeGree donated $1 million to the project and that the new facility would be named in her honor.
The new emergency center will expand the current emergency services area and more than double the size of the emergency center to nearly 30,000 square feet. The center will have 38 beds, an expanded fast track capability, in-house CT scanner and the latest in digital radiology technology. It will have two entrances, one for the public and one for ambulances.
While construction costs are estimated at a little less than $6 million, the hospital plans to invest another $3 million in technology, equipment and furnishings.
Since construction began, the downtown ER will remain open throughout the project. St. Francis North's ER remains open and hospital officials encourage patients with minor illnesses to use that facility.
The construction is expected to be completed in July 2012.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

In prison but close to Christ

>>> This is my exact same experience; the men at Rayburn are indeed close to Christ. Tip of the dalmatic to Deacon's Bench where I first spotted this great article on prison ministry.

Deacon impressed by inmates’ ‘hunger’ for Christ
February 23rd, 2011
By George Raine

There are enough house rules as is at San Quentin State Prison, and it is not Deacon Larry Chatmon’s place to add to them when he serves inmates in his prison ministry. He does have some friendly advice for them, however, when they leave the chapel after services.

“I tell them, ‘You have to take what is in that chapel with you when you go back to the yard,’” he said. “I tell them, ‘For you to go in there and receive the Spirit and just leave it there and go back to where you are is not life-changing. If you want life-changing, if you want to truly experience Christ, take him with you.’”

Chatmon, in fact, was promised a life-changing experience himself when three years ago he added prison ministry to his list of duties and volunteerism at St. Paul of the Shipwreck Parish in San Francisco, where he and his wife, Loretta, have worshiped for more than 25 years. He got what he hoped for.

Here’s what Chatmon found: There are people in prison who are probably closer to Christ than most of us, closer to Christ than many people would realize. He was amazed, in fact, by how committed to their faith many inmates are – that they want to learn more about the Catholic Church.

“We don’t find a lot of people in our parishes with that hunger,” said Chatmon. “There is a hunger that they have. Part of that comes from where they are and the circumstances in which they have to live.”

He added, “It brings about an eagerness. People begin to search for God when they hit the ground, when they hit a brick wall. They start looking for some other way.”

The spiritual place in which many of the inmates dwell – closer to Christ – is one Chatmon, 60, tries to occupy himself as a deacon and volunteer at St. Paul of the Shipwreck, where, by his own account, he uses his skills “to help build up the body of Christ.”

He brings to the tasks a body of work experience in the private sector, the nonprofit sector and, for the past 13 years, the public sector, as senior contract manager at the Human Services Agency of the City and County of San Francisco. He was baptized in the Catholic Church at age 36, and introduced to St. Paul of the Shipwreck by Loretta. It has been a good fit for 25 years.

He is one of the Ministers of Christian Service, parish lay leaders who oversee all aspects of the Sunday, 10:30 a.m. African-American spirituality or gospel Mass which, according to Conventual Franciscan Father Paul Gawlowski, the pastor, has the best qualities of the parish itself.

“This is a place of vibrant worship. There is a felt sense of the Holy Spirit during Mass,” he said.

Chatmon, said Father Gawlowski, “brings to parish life wisdom based on his age, based on raising a family (there are four kids), working in the world.” He added, “He brings that wisdom into the parish and helps work with me to make wise pastoral decisions, based on his perspective and my perspective.”

What Chatmon found behind the walls of San Quentin – an eagerness in inmates to grow in their faith – comes as no surprise to the prison’s Catholic chaplain, Jesuit Father George Williams, who arrived for duty in January after serving as a chaplain in a Massachusetts prison.

“A lot of these guys are lifers,” he said. “They have grown up since they committed their crime and reflected on their lives. They found in their Catholic faith a sense of stability and meaning and so they really are sincere about their faith.” Newer arrivals, he said, are disoriented and are looking for “some sense of stability, meaning, purpose.”

Others, of course, Father Williams added, “just come to get a set of rosary beads, or as they often ask, ‘rosemary beads,’ which are their favorite form of jail jewelry.”

Those with sincerity, noted Chatmon, know Matthew 25: “I was in prison and you visited me … I tell you, whenever you did this for one of the least important of these brothers of mine, you did it for me.”

The least of these brothers, Chatmon learned, know Scripture, do a lot of praying and need to connect with people on the outside so they can share a vision. He listens a lot, he said, during his monthly visits.

“I make sure they know I am there to serve them, but I tell them all the time, I think it’s the other way around. I’m the one being fed here. I’m the one closer in touch with the real meaning of our ministry and the real meaning of what being Catholic means.”

Chatmon tells them, too, that he can’t change their circumstances, but he can help in an important way. “I can let them know that I represent the one who changes all things for all of us,” he said. “I tell them that we collectively work together to give praise and thanks, and that our lives are enriched by everyone who we meet who also believes.”

Chatmon, added Father Williams, “does a better job of connecting than a lot of people who come in here.” He added, “He speaks from the heart and he uses very clear, concrete examples from real life and the guys like that. He comes in here with that spirit of openness. These guys are not empty vessels who need all this wisdom poured into them. They have a lot of life experience, a lot of things to teach us.”

It’s also true, said George Wesolek, director of the Office of Public Policy and Social Concerns of the Archdiocese of San Francisco, that Jesus was executed as a common criminal “on a cross with our sins and the sins of the whole world on his shoulders,” and, accordingly, inmates can relate.

“The suffering helps us to connect more quickly with the life of Christ,” said Chatmon. “Because we can’t believe that suffering is all that there is. Tragedy is not all that there is. Having endured a lot in their lives, they start seeking something else. The message is, if you have tried everything else, try Christ.”

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

St Polycard; the next generation

Saint Polycarp

Feastday: February 23

Imagine being able to sit at the feet of the apostles and hear their stories of life with Jesus from their own lips. Imagine walking with those who had walked with Jesus, seen him, and touched him. That was what Polycarp was able to do as a disciple of Saint John the Evangelist.

But being part of the second generation of Church leaders had challenges that the first generation could not teach about. What did you do when those eyewitnesses were gone? How do you carry on the correct teachings of Jesus? How do you answer new questions that never came up before?

With the apostles gone, heresies sprang up pretending to be true teaching, persecution was strong, and controversies arose over how to celebrate liturgy that Jesus never laid down rules for.

Polycarp, as a holy man and bishop of Smyrna, found there was only one answer -- to be true to the life of Jesus and imitate that life. Saint Ignatius of Antioch told Polycarp "your mind is grounded in God as on an immovable rock."

When faced with heresy, he showed the "candid face" that Ignatius admired and that imitated Jesus' response to the Pharisees. Marcion, the leader of the Marcionites who followed a dualistic heresy, confronted Polycarp and demanded respect by saying, "Recognize us, Polycarp." Polycarp responded, "I recognize you, yes, I recognize the son of Satan."

On the other hand when faced with Christian disagreements he was all forgiveness and respect. One of the controversies of the time came over the celebration of Easter. The East, where Polycarp was from, celebrated the Passover as the Passion of Christ followed by a Eucharist on the following day. The West celebrated Easter on the Sunday of the week following Passover. When Polycarp went to Rome to discuss the difference with Pope Anicetus, they could not agree on this issue. But they found no difference in their Christian beliefs. And Anicetus asked Polycarp to celebrate the Eucharist in his own papal chapel.

Polycarp faced persecution the way Christ did. His own church admired him for following the "gospel model" -- not chasing after martyrdom as some did, but avoiding it until it was God's will as Jesus did. They considered it "a sign of love to desire not to save oneself alone, but to save also all the Christian brothers and sisters."

One day, during a bloody martyrdom when Christians were attacked by wild animals in the arena, the crowd became so mad that they demanded more blood by crying, "Down with the atheists; let Polycarp be found." (They considered Christians "atheists" because they didn't believe in their pantheon of gods.) Since Polycarp was not only known as a leader but as someone holy "even before his grey hair appeared", this was a horrible demand.

Polycarp was calm but others persuaded him to leave the city and hide at a nearby farm. He spent his time in prayer for people he knew and for the Church. During his prayer he saw a vision of his pillow turned to fire and announced to his friends that the dream meant he would be burned alive.

As the search closed in, he moved to another farm, but the police discovered he was there by torturing two boys. He had a little warning since he was upstairs in the house but he decided to stay, saying, "God's will be done."

Then he went downstairs, talked to his captors and fed them a meal. All he asked of them was that they give him an hour to pray. He spent two hours praying for everyone he had every known and for the Church, "remembering all who had at any time come his way -- small folk and great folk, distinguished and undistinguished, and the whole Catholic Church throughout the world." Many of his captors started to wonder why they were arresting this holy, eighty-six-year-old bishop.

But that didn't stop them from taking him into the arena on the Sabbath. As he entered the arena, the crowd roared like the animals they cheered. Those around Polycarp heard a voice from heaven above the crowd, "Be brave, Polycarp, and act like a man."

The proconsul begged the eighty-six-year-old bishop to give in because of his age. "Say 'Away with the atheists'" the proconsul urged. Polycarp calmly turned to the face the crowd, looked straight at them, and said, "Away with the atheists." The proconsul continued to plead with him. When he asked Polycarp to swear by Caesar to save himself, Polycarp answered, "If you imagine that I will swear by Caesar, you do not know who I am. Let me tell you plainly, I am a Christian." Finally, when all else failed the proconsul reminded Polycarp that he would be thrown to the wild animals unless he changed his mind. Polycarp answered, "Change of mind from better to worse is not a change allowed to us."

Because of Polycarp's lack of fear, the proconsul told him he would be burned alive but Polycarp knew that the fire that burned for an hour was better than eternal fire.

When he was tied up to be burned, Polycarp prayed, "Lord God Almighty, Father of your beloved and blessed Son Jesus Christ, through whom we have received knowledge of you, God of angels and powers, of the whole creation and of the whole race of the righteous who live in your sight, I bless you, for having made me worthy of this day and hour, I bless you, because I may have a part, along with the martyrs, in the chalice of your Christ, to resurrection in eternal life, resurrection both of soul and body in the incorruptibility of the Holy Spirit. May I be received today, as a rich and acceptable sacrifice, among those who are in you presence, as you have prepared and foretold and fulfilled, God who is faithful and true. For this and for all benefits I praise you, I bless you, I glorify you, through the eternal and heavenly High Priest, Jesus Christ, your beloved Son, through whom be to you with him and the Holy Spirit glory, now and for all the ages to come. Amen."

The fire was lit as Polycarp said Amen and then the eyewitnesses who reported said they saw a miracle. The fire burst up in an arch around Polycarp, the flames surrounding him like sails, and instead of being burned he seemed to glow like bread baking, or gold being melted in a furnace. When the captors saw he wasn't being burned, they stabbed him. The blood that flowed put the fire out.

The proconsul wouldn't let the Christians have the body because he was afraid they would worship Polycarp. The witnesses reported this with scorn for the lack of understanding of Christian faith: "They did not know that we can never abandon the innocent Christ who suffered on behalf of sinners for the salvation of those in this world." After the body was burned, they stole the bones in order to celebrate the memory of his martyrdom and prepare others for persecution. The date was about February 23, 156.

In His Footsteps:
When faced with challenges to your Christian life, try a version of Polycarp's prayer of martyrdom: "Lord God Almighty, Father of your beloved and blessed Son Jesus Christ, through whom we have received knowledge of you, God of angels and powers, of the whole creation and of the whole race of the righteous who live in your sight, I bless you, for having made me worthy of this day and hour, I bless you, because I may have a part, along with the martyrs, in the chalice of your Christ, to resurrection in eternal life, resurrection both of soul and body in the incorruptibility of the Holy Spirit. For this and for all benefits I praise you, I bless you, I glorify you, through the eternal and heavenly High Priest, Jesus Christ, your beloved Son, through whom be to you with him and the Holy Spirit glory, now and for all the ages to come. Amen."

Saint Polycarp, sometimes Christ seems so far away from us. Centuries have passed since he and the apostles walk the earth. Help us to see that he is close to us always and that we can keep him near by imitating his life as you did. Amen

Monday, February 21, 2011

Angola Prison warden changing culture of prison

by Angela Hill / Eyewitness News
Posted on February 21, 2011 at 6:21 PM

ANGOLA, La. -- Angola State Penitentiary is huge, 18,000 acres.

“It’s 22 miles when you come in the front gate if you drive all the way around the outside perimeter,” said Angola Warden Burl Cain

Cain calls Angola “a gated community," emphasis on community, and it’s not just the 5000 inmates who live here. Of his 1500 employees, 600 of them are residents.

And the warden himself lives here.

“We have a swimming pool down here for the kids and ballparks, and there is a post office in front of us. We are the only prison in America that’s large enough to own its own post office,” he said. “We feed naturally about 11,000 inmates a day, because not only do we raise the vegetables for this prison, we also raise the vegetables for Dixon and Hunt and the womens prison and Avoyelles across the river.”

The vegetables are farmed with mules and horses and harvested by hand -- a little primitive, he says, but it works.

“The mules crank every morning. We don’t have to worry about burning up the clutch. We don’t have to buy diesel fuel,” he said.

The warden is very proud of his domain, a very different place from when he arrived 16 years ago.

“We cleaned up. We really changed the whole management system of it. We got accountability from the staff and we stopped being oppressive,” Cain said.

“In corrections, it means correcting deviant behavior. It doesn’t mean torture and torment; it doesn't mean lock and feed,” he said.

He has taken those words very seriously and created what he calls moral rehabilitation, and it is what he calls his greatest contribution.

“I’m real proud that females can walk anywhere in this prison with no whistles and cat calls. I'm real proud that we don’t curse here. There is no profanity in prison, and that’s big time,” Cain said.

But his rehabilitation goes far beyond correcting bad language and bad manners.

“We want to be a normal society as we as can possibly be. That's not being soft. That’s being right,” Cain said. “I'm trying to rehabilitate them and the moral rehabilitation is the only true rehabilitation. I can teach you skills and trades to read and write, but if I don’t have any morality with it, I just made a smarter criminal.

“I don’t care what religion you are. I don’t even care if you are in religion. I care if you are moral.”

He started the moral rehabilitation by first talking with prisoners and letting them talk to him, he even created a word for the open discussion, "askable."

“And parents should be askable with their children, because I wind up being their parent what happens, and I got to make them do everything you should have done as a parent,” he said. “I gotta teach them the discipline and to respect others and just get control of them, and it’s a shame it has to be as an adult.”

But his system has worked. Violence of all kinds at Angola has dropped over 75 percent since he took over and now prison systems in other states are replicating his approach.

With numerous programs to teach prisoners trades, even art, Burl Cain calls Angola the "the land of new beginnings," whether a prisoner ever gets out or not.

“Where they can begin their life over and they are not really judged for what they did, let’s judge for what they are going to do.”

The Feast of the Chair of St. Peter

February 22
Chair of Peter

This feast commemorates Christ’s choosing Peter to sit in his place as the servant-authority of the whole Church.
After the “lost weekend” of pain, doubt and self-torment, Peter hears the Good News. Angels at the tomb say to Magdalene, “The Lord has risen! Go, tell his disciples and Peter.” John relates that when he and Peter ran to the tomb, the younger outraced the older, then waited for him. Peter entered, saw the wrappings on the ground, the headpiece rolled up in a place by itself. John saw and believed. But he adds a reminder: “..[T]hey did not yet understand the scripture that he had to rise from the dead” (John 20:9). They went home. There the slowly exploding, impossible idea became reality. Jesus appeared to them as they waited fearfully behind locked doors. “Peace be with you,” he said (John 20:21b), and they rejoiced.

The Pentecost event completed Peter’s experience of the risen Christ. “...[T]hey were all filled with the holy Spirit” (Acts 2:4a) and began to express themselves in foreign tongues and make bold proclamation as the Spirit prompted them.

Only then can Peter fulfill the task Jesus had given him: “... [O]nce you have turned back, you must strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:32). He at once becomes the spokesman for the Twelve about their experience of the Holy Spirit—before the civil authorities who wished to quash their preaching, before the council of Jerusalem, for the community in the problem of Ananias and Sapphira. He is the first to preach the Good News to the Gentiles. The healing power of Jesus in him is well attested: the raising of Tabitha from the dead, the cure of the crippled beggar. People carry the sick into the streets so that when Peter passed his shadow might fall on them.

Even a saint experiences difficulty in Christian living. When Peter stopped eating with Gentile converts because he did not want to wound the sensibilities of Jewish Christians, Paul says, “...I opposed him to his face because he clearly was wrong.... [T]hey were not on the right road in line with the truth of the gospel...” (Galatians 2:11b, 14a).

At the end of John’s Gospel, Jesus says to Peter, “Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go” (John 21:18). What Jesus said indicated the sort of death by which Peter was to glorify God. On Vatican Hill, in Rome, during the reign of Nero, Peter did glorify his Lord with a martyr’s death, probably in the company of many Christians.

Second-century Christians built a small memorial over his burial spot. In the fourth century, the Emperor Constantine built a basilica, which was replaced in the 16th century.


Like the committee chair, this chair refers to the occupant, not the furniture. Its first occupant stumbled a bit, denying Jesus three times and hesitating to welcome gentiles into the new Church. Some of its later occupants have also stumbled a bit, sometimes even failed scandalously. As individuals, we may sometimes think a particular pope has let us down. Still, the office endures as a sign of the long tradition we cherish and as a focus for the universal Church.


Peter described our Christian calling in the opening of his First Letter, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in his great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead...” (1 Peter 1:3a).

Eucharistic Adoration & Benediction

>>>As we are now growing our own Eucharistic Adoration and Benediction at Most Holy Trinity I'm so excited to have found this article. I will be doing Adoration and Benediction for our CCD children next week and now every 1st Friday til 7 p.m. when Benediction begins!

February 19, 2011 12:00 AMMost Viewed Stories
'WE ARE A CHURCH ON FIRE': ACUSHNET — A little church in a small town, St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church was facing tough times. The congregation was dwindling, and Mass attendance was at an all-time low. The empty confessional was collecting dust, and donations were dismal.

But then the unthinkable happened.

Today, St. Francis Xavier is one of the most vibrant parishes in the diocese with standing-room only Masses, confessional lines, a busload of parishioners participating in the March for Life, and an abundance of freewill donations that will make them debt-free by April.

"Jesus is on the property," said Mary Cardoza, the spark that inflamed the parish. "We are a church on fire."

'I was always a zombie catholic'
Brought up in a Catholic family, Mary Cardoza attended Catholic schools.

"I had one foot in the world and one foot in the Church," she said.

But although she fulfilled her Sunday obligation, she never participated in church activities and often rebelled against the laws of the Church.

"I was always a zombie Catholic," she said laughing.

When she turned 40, she decided it was time to cultivate a relationship with God.

"You only go to Him when you are in trouble," she said.

She began meeting with a group for moms after church, who began teaching her about the faith.

It was on a group pilgrimage to the Divine Mercy Chapel in Stockbridge, where she had a life-changing experience. A message board of activities listed "Eucharistic Adoration".

"What's Adoration?" she asked the group. "Jesus is really in the Eucharist," they answered. "But what do you do?" she asked. "You talk to Him," they said. "Okay, so I go in there, kneel down and something happens — a spiritual experience. I'm on fire for an hour,' she said." I knew without a doubt Jesus was in the Eucharist. He was real. We were connected."

Back at home, she had no idea what to do with her newfound faith.

After Sunday Mass, her pastor, the Rev. Daniel Lacroix, asked her to attend a Stewardship Committee meeting.

"So I go to this meeting, and it is the most depressing meeting I've ever been to," she said. "They start telling me all the stuff that is wrong — church attendance and collections were down; no one was going to Confession; not many people were attending church activities. I go home and cry."

But then, she said her prayers were answered with the solution to all that ailed her parish.

"I go back to Father Dan and tell him I have the answer — Adoration," she said.

Lacroix offered her the use of a little room in the church basement, an exit hall to the elevator, but he had no funds to spare.

Shortly after, Cardoza received a phone call from a neighbor who had a package for her. It contained step-by-step instructions on how to start Adoration in your church.

"Her uncle had mailed it to her 10 years prior," said Cardoza. "She had kept it until she found out about me."

The next problem was that they needed kneelers, which cost about $500 each.

She received a call from another friend, who had started up a conversation with a woman wearing a Divine Mercy pin at Dunkin Donuts. When her friend mentioned that her church needed kneelers, the lady gave her a number to call.

"I called the number, and the Franciscans Sisters of the Immaculate in Fairhaven told me to pick up four kneelers that night," Cardoza said.

Now, all they needed were adorers.

Cardoza spoke to the parishioners at all the Masses that weekend. She needed adorers to serve one-hour increments from Friday at 9:30 a.m. through Saturday at 3 p.m.

"Personally, I think Adoration is the best kept secret," she told them. "I give Him all my problems; He gives me answers. I give Him all my fears; He gives me peace beyond any human understanding. I give Him my tears; He gives me joy. If you're looking for a place to refuel with God's graces to get through another hectic week, then Adoration is the place to be."

Fifty people signed up.

In 2008, Lacroix was assigned to a parish on Cape Cod, and the Rev. Monsignor Gerard P. O'Connor became pastor of St. Francis Xavier's.

"Monsignor looked at me and said, 'Adoration in an exit hall? Put Jesus in the church,'" recalled Cardoza. "He loves Jesus with his whole heart and soul, and he loves his people. He puts Eucharist first and makes it the center, which brought the people back. As soon as he put Jesus in the church, Adoration exploded."

'I'm sorry that I don't really love you'
Parishioner Susan Charbonneau knew something was missing in her life. She had been divorced for 10 years and was often distracted when she prayed at home.

Her friend asked her to cover her Friday Adoration hour at 5 p.m.

Charbonneau's first prayer before the Blessed Sacrament was "I don't love you. I'm sorry that I don't really love you."

Growing up in a strict Portuguese Catholic family, Charbonneau attended Mass every Sunday, observed all the religious holidays, and the family prayed the rosary together every night.

"I was dragged to Confession regularly, but I never had a personal relationship with Jesus," she said. "I knew of Him, I knew about Him, but I didn't know Him. I didn't love Him because you can't love someone you don't know."

Sitting in the last pew in the church, she said she was bored out of her mind and spent most of the time looking at her watch.

Her second visit to Adoration was a few weeks later, and it was much the same.

"I didn't pray," she said.

A couple of weeks later Cardoza asked her to become an adorer. Caught off guard, she reluctantly agreed.

Then came the Saturday morning at an especially low point in her life that she found herself kneeling and looking at the Blessed Sacrament. She also eventually made it to Confession, which she said was an extremely important part of her journey.

"Adoration has improved every aspect of my life, one of which is that my marriage has been restored," said Charbonneau. "I'm no longer in a state of constant worry about situations I have no control over. I don't know what the future holds, but I find great comfort in knowing the One who does."

'I felt the Holy Spirit, like a wind'
Forty years ago Stephen Watts returned from the Vietnam War and married his wife Jeannine at St. Francis Xavier Church. A non-practicing Methodist who had never been baptized, he made a promise to God that he would raise his children in the Catholic faith. Year after year, his family went to church without him.

After 21 years working for the electric company, Watts retired.

"My kids had grown up and moved out, and me and my wife were drifting apart," he said.

One Sunday he asked his wife to bring home a bulletin from church, and he noticed the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) program. Intrigued, he signed up for classes.

"I was a sponge," he said, absorbing as much information as he could. With the guidance of Lacroix, who was pastor at the time, Watts made the decision to become a Catholic.

On the day he received all his sacraments — Baptism, First Communion and Confirmation — Watts said that he experienced a miracle.

"As I bent over the font to be baptized, I felt the Holy Spirit, like a wind, rush over my back and neck and across the water," he said. "When I looked down at the water in the font, I saw the water ripple. I not only felt but heard the Holy Spirit, who sounded like a breath in my ear."

Watts is now the captain of Tuesday Adoration.

"I do see a difference," he said of his relationship with God after spending time in Adoration. "I believe I was wavering in some of my beliefs, but now I can focus more clearly. This one hour is really not enough time. So I try and make it my best hour spent with Him."

'i was hanging on to years of compounding sins'
Parishioner Tony Pimentel had been serving as an adorer for five months, but when he sat in front of the Blessed Sacrament every week, a guilty conscience plagued him. He had not been to Confession in 26 years.

"I knew that despite basically being a good person, I was hanging on to years of compounding sins and making new ones all the time," he said.

Pimentel was raised in a Catholic family and had attended Catholic school.

"I believe in God and Jesus, and I went to Mass; but I had a superficial faith."

He said that he was frightened to go to Confession because of the judgment of the priest.

When Pimentel finally entered the confessional, he said he expected admonishment, but instead the priest began with a prayer of thanksgiving to God for bringing him back home.

Pimentel had brought a document with him that he downloaded from the Internet entitled "Steps to Making a Good Confession".

They spent 30 minutes together.

"When my Confession was over, I exhaled an exhale I had not felt for as long as I could remember," he said. "I felt as light as a feather, as though all those sins I had been holding on to for all of those years had been removed in one fell swoop. I thought I would be excommunicated from the Church. But I couldn't have been more wrong. Hadn't I been listening? I mean, Jesus' whole ministry was centered on the forgiveness of sins."

Currently, St. Francis Xavier offers 54 hours of Adoration every week. There are 70 adorers and 21 substitute adorers. The Adoration schedule is Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., followed by Benediction and Evening Prayer; and Friday at 9:30 a.m. through Saturday at 3 p.m. Everyone is welcome.

Saint of the Day Peter Damian

St. Peter Damian, Doctor of the Church

On February 21, 2011, in Catholic Saint of the Day, by uCatholic .St. Peter Damian, born in 988, was the youngest of a large family; his parents were noble, but poor. At his birth an elder brother protested against this new charge on the resources of the family with such effect that his mother refused to suckle him and the babe nearly died. A family retainer, however, fed the starving child and by example and reproaches recalled his mother to her duty. Left an orphan in early years, he was at first adopted by an elder brother, who ill-treated and under-fed him while employing him as a swineherd. Finally, his other brother, who was archpriest of Ravenna, took him under his wing. His brother sent him to good schools and Peter became a professor.

Already in those days Peter was very strict with himself. He wore a hair shirt under his clothes, fasted rigorously and spent many hours in prayer. Soon, he decided to leave his teaching and give himself completely to prayer with the Benedictines of the reform of St. Romuald at Fonte Avellana. They lived two monks to a hermitage. Peter was so eager to pray and slept so little that he soon suffered from severe insomnia. He found he had to use some prudence in taking care of himself. When he was not praying, he studied the Bible.

The abbot commanded that when he died Peter should succeed him. Abbot Peter founded five other hermitages. He encouraged his brothers in a life of prayer and solitude and wanted nothing more for himself. The Holy See periodically called on him, however, to be a peacemaker or troubleshooter, between two abbeys in dispute or a cleric or government official in some disagreement with Rome.

Finally, Pope Stephen IX made Peter the cardinal-bishop of Ostia. He worked hard to wipe out simony (the buying of church offices), and encouraged his priests to observe celibacy and urged even the diocesan clergy to live together and maintain scheduled prayer and religious observance.

He wished to restore primitive discipline among religious and priests, warning against needless travel, violations of poverty and too comfortable living. He even wrote to the bishop of Besancon, complaining that the canons there sat down when they were singing the psalms in the Divine Office.

He wrote many letters. Some 170 are extant. We also have 53 of his sermons and seven lives, or biographies, that he wrote. He preferred examples and stories rather than theory in his writings. The liturgical offices he wrote are evidence of his talent as a stylist in Latin.

He asked often to be allowed to retire as cardinal-bishop of Ostia, and finally Alexander II consented. Peter was happy to become once again just a monk, but he was still called to serve as a papal legate. When returning from such an assignment in Ravenna, he was overcome by a fever. With the monks gathered around him saying the Divine Office, he died on February 22, 1072. In 1828 he was declared a Doctor of the Church.

Fatima Visionaries

>>>Two of the three young children who received the visitations of Mary at Fatima are remembered on Feb 20th; this year falling on a Sunday the feast is supressed. Yet their story is important; a great 20th century event in the life of the universal church.

Bl. Jacinta and Francisco Marto

On February 20, 2011, in Catholic Saint of the Day, by uCatholic

Between May 13 and October 13, 1917, three children, Portuguese shepherds from Aljustrel, received apparitions of Our Lady at Cova da Iria, near Fatima, a city 110 miles north of Lisbon. At that time, Europe was involved in an extremely bloody war. Portugal itself was in political turmoil, having overthrown its monarchy in 1910; the government disbanded religious organizations soon after.

At the first appearance, Mary asked the children to return to that spot on the thirteenth of each month for the next six months. She also asked them to learn to read and write and to pray the rosary “to obtain peace for the world and the end of the war.” They were to pray for sinners and for the conversion of Russia, which had recently overthrown Czar Nicholas II and was soon to fall under communism. Up to 90,000 people gathered for Mary’s final apparition on October 13, 1917.

Less than two years later, Francisco died of influenza in his family home. He was buried in the parish cemetery and then re-buried in the Fatima basilica in 1952. Jacinta died of influenza in Lisbon, offering her suffering for the conversion of sinners, peace in the world and the Holy Father. She was re-buried in the Fatima basilica in 1951. Their cousin, Lucia dos Santos, became a Carmelite nun and was still living when Jacinta and Francisco were beatified in 2000. Sister Lucia died five years later. The shrine of Our Lady of Fatima is visited by up to 20 million people a year.

More changes to the Roman Missal

Louie VerrecchioPreparing the Way for the Roman Missal 3rd Edition, Part 10: The Liturgy of the Eucharist

We continue our examination of the Liturgy of the Eucharist at the Ecce Agnus Dei:

After once again receiving the Lord’s blessing, The peace of the Lord be with you always, and responding, And with your spirit, the next change that we encounter takes place when the priest elevates the Host and Chalice and says:

Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world. Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb.

The new translation for the priest refers to the Lamb’s supper - language found in the Book of Revelation. One will also notice that blessed replaces the adjective happy – a noteworthy upgrade with regard to sacred significance that should be apparent to anyone who has ever given their kid a Happy Meal.

Our response will also change:

Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.

This response calls to mind the words that were spoken by the Roman centurion to Jesus when he begged the Lord to heal his sick servant in Matthew 8.

In this instance, however, we are asking the Lord to heal not our servant, but our very soul. We are acknowledging that we’re about to receive Him under the “roof of our mouths” and thus to welcome Him into our physical abode; into our bodies, the dwelling place of the soul.

We ask that our souls be healed so that the Lord may indeed enter in spite of our unworthiness, so that He may abide in us and we in Him. The imagery of the Lord entering under the roof of our physical bodies should naturally lead our thoughts to the Bread of Life discourse found in John 6: “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.”

Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof…

While some people have commented that the unusual language employed here, though Biblical, feels uncomfortably distant when compared to the incredible intimacy of Holy Communion, it’s important for us to realize that our response is the lead up to the divine encounter that awaits us; it is not the moment of intimacy itself. Our response, in other words, is meant to orient our thoughts in such way as to help us embrace the breathtaking reality of what is about to happen. This is important!

Let’s take a closer look at the Scriptural roots of this response as recorded in the Gospel of Matthew to discover how we might make the centurion’s words and sentiments our very own; inspiring the kind of awe that should accompany our union with Christ in the Most Holy Eucharist.

And he said to him, “I will come and heal him.” But the centurion answered him, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” (Matthew 8:7-9)

What is the centurion saying here? In comparing himself to his own servants as “a man under authority,” the centurion is suggesting some very important truths. One, he realizes that in Jesus’ presence he is really no more than a servant himself. Secondly, his words also suggest that he recognizes that Jesus is more than just an ordinary man; rather, he indicates an awareness that Jesus is one with true authority.

In describing how his own underlings obey him even though he is but a servant to another as well, the centurion is saying, “If those under me do what I command at my word, surely You who have ultimate authority can command anything – including something as incredible as the miracle of healing – by your very word alone.”

The end result?

“And Jesus said, ‘Go; be it done for you as you have believed.’ And the servant was healed at that very moment” (Matthew 8:13).

Now let’s make these words our very own.

Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.

Consider just how fitting the sentiment being expressed truly is – we are telling Jesus that we recognize Him as Lord, and that we know how unworthy we are of having Him join Himself to us not only spiritually, but physically in an intimacy that exceeds our comprehension.

As we prepare for this incredible encounter with Christ, the time is truly fitting to express the degree to which we are awed by the very thought of such intimate union with our Lord. He is, after all, the One through whom all things were made and we are but creatures!

Perhaps an analogy will help. Imagine your telephone ringing and the voice on the other end says, “The Holy Father is coming to your house for a visit, he’ll be walking through the front door in five minutes.” How would you feel?

In addition to being excited and thrilled at the prospect you’d probably think, “Oh my God! Not me! Not now! I’m not prepared! The house isn’t clean enough, the furniture isn’t good enough, I’m not dressed well enough,” etc.

When we are preparing to receive the Lord Jesus Christ in an infinitely more profound manner in the Most Holy Eucharist, it is absolutely right that we should take on similar sentiments, filled with anticipation and awed at the very thought, yet also with a sense that we are utterly unprepared for such a privileged encounter. The interior of our abode – our bodies – are not quite clean enough, our holiness is not yet refined enough, in the words of the centurion, we simply are not worthy.

But the centurion didn’t stop there and neither do we. We recognize that because Jesus is Lord, all that it takes is His word and our souls – dwelling within our bodies, our inmost being – can be healed of all unworthiness such that He can, and indeed will, enter. But only say the word…

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me,” says the Lord (Revelation 3:20).

In our response at Holy Mass, we are proclaiming before God and one another that we truly are unworthy of the Holy Communion that is about to come (and who is?) but we then accept in faith that Jesus will respond to us just as He did to the centurion, “As thou hast believed, so be it done to thee.”

At this, we accept in faith that our souls are thus healed and we are prepared by grace to “open the door” so that the Lord who knocks may enter under the roof of our mouths, into our bodies, that we may receive Him in a way the centurion couldn’t even begin to imagine.

There is indeed infinite distance between the Holy One of God and ourselves, but the Lord by His awesome power, His infinite love and His unfathomable mercy, breaches that distance in response to our faith; a faith reflected in the words that we say from the depths of our hearts:

Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.

This recognition of our unworthiness and our acceptance of the healing that makes intimate union with Christ in the Eucharist possible is essential, because when this is lost we run the risk of losing the sense of awe that should accompany our participation in this great and glorious mystery of God’s sacrificial love for His people.

The Concluding Rites

Finally, we return in the Concluding Rites to those familiar words that we first encountered in Part One; The Lord be with you / And with your spirit. In this way, all are reminded that we go forth from Holy Mass newly fortified indeed, yet also just as we entered; in Christ who dwells within us.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Against the Death Penalty

Faith leaders bring personal testimony to dialogue on death penalty
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
By Jonah Dycus, Catholic News Service

HOUSTON (CNS) -- Religious leaders, including Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, brought personal testimony and the beliefs common to their faiths to a recent dialogue on the death penalty.

Cardinal DiNardo said the care and support brought to families and communities victimized by murders is "an essential element and dimension of our religious convictions."

"The humanizing attitude we can bring to the manner of punishing crime and criminals requires now more thinking and action in our culture, particularly in this faith, toward the elimination of punishment by execution," he said.

The cardinal recalled leading a pro-life march in 2008, where 500 participants prayed at various sites through Huntsville. The mile-long walk ended with a vigil at the state penitentiary in Huntsville, which houses the state's execution chamber, and a meeting with prison authorities.

"It was a most sobering occasion," Cardinal DiNardo said. "The authorities were kind and clear in the explanation of what happens in the final days and hours of the prisoner who is to be executed. But in going into the death chamber and the surrounding rooms, there was an unmistakable aura and feeling of coldness, stark efficiency of everything that is opposed to the dignity of the human person, even a guilty one. I found the occasion instructive and alarming."

Citing "Evangelium Vitae" ("The Gospel of Life"), Pope John Paul II's 1995 encyclical indicating a preference for a "nonlethal means of punishment as more in keeping with the common good and dignity of the human person," the cardinal emphasized the need for catechesis on the death penalty with parishioners and seminarians.

Cardinal DiNardo, who is chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities, also said that "sharing in the grief of those who lost a dear one by violence is a significant aspect of our humanity and of our Christian faith."

More than 500 people of various denominations attended the Jan. 18 symposium at the Hobby Center. The event preceded a Houston Grand Opera performance of "Dead Man Walking," the opera based on a book recounting Sister Helen Prejean's experiences with two men on death row.

Sister Helen, a Sister of St. Joseph of Medaille, said she hoped the evening would "help ignite discourse in this community" regarding the issue of capital punishment. Noting that 16 states have abolished the death penalty, she said Texas' reputation of ardently supporting capital punishment draws an inaccurate picture of the state from her perspective as a well-traveled public speaker of 20 years.

"The people in Texas are not any different than people in other parts of the United States," she said. "I find some of the same things. Most people haven't reflected deeply on the death penalty. You hear about terrible crimes and you think that is what the death penalty is for. It is not one of the moral issues that hits home personally the way other moral issues do. I believe in the goodness of the American people."

Sister Helen said those who consider themselves pro-life do not always extend their beliefs to include death-row inmates.

"Pro-life-stance people are for the dignity of unborn children. ... But murderers?" she said. "They stepped across the line, they killed a person. And doesn't justice demand that we do (to) them what they did to the one they killed? Even those who have done a terrible crime have a dignity that must not be taken from them. Statements, church teachings are one thing. Those of us who try to follow the way with Jesus ... we have to go through our own journey."

Joining Cardinal DiNardo in exploring the issue were representatives of the local Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Jewish and Lutheran congregations and the group Pastors in Action.

Sponsors of the dialogue included Catholic Mobilizing Network to End the Use of the Death Penalty; Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston; the Dominican Sisters of Houston; the archdiocesan Office of Justice and Peace; and the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word.

Homily for 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Feb 20, 2011

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood…And I, I took the one less traveled. And that has made all the difference!

These few lines are from the famous poem by Robert Frost, the Road Not Taken, also known as the Road Less Traveled. Sometimes we are called to take the road less traveled.

We have taken the road less traveled. We jump off the interstate and seek the scenic path; a wilderness trail, the coast highway, the long way around; the road less traveled. And many, many times, the road less traveled results in breathtaking scenery, peace and tranquility and a memory that lasts a lifetime.

As people of faith, do we take the road less traveled; the one the world does not always travel, but the one that follows Jesus?

The road less traveled is the road that St. Matthew has beautifully captured in his 5th chapter. Over these past four weeks we have traveled this road, hearing every word of every verse; all 48 of them! Jesus challenges us to take the road that goes beyond the law; beyond the rules; past the minimum requirements of discipleship. Yet the road less traveled fulfills the law and obeys the rules but is also richly scenic and beautiful and invites us to service. With the Beatitudes as the foundation of this journey we are called to love radically; love rooted in compassion, forgiveness and mercy. This road less traveled is radically different from the more frequently traveled roads.

This road less traveled calls us to turn the other cheek, hand over our cloak, serve for two miles not one, give to the one who asks and love your enemy and pray for them. This road less traveled calls us to be perfect just as God our Father is perfect.

Jesus challenges us to consider if we still have an eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth mentality? If we do, our world then will be one big blind toothless wonder. Jesus says no; turn the other cheek, love one another and serve each other. Love radically; to the point of consciously loving the unlovable.
Forgive others; be generous in compassion and mercy. Is this easy? Nothing so worthwhile, nothing so beautiful, nothing so Christ-like is easy. But it can be done. I learned firsthand about compassion and forgiveness from my own daughter. Parents, don’t you just love when we learn something wonderful from one of our own children? A quiet peaceful December night was interrupted by a frantic chilling phone call from Elizabeth; her voice full of fright; quivering. Dad, she said, come to Baton Rouge and get me; I was robbed at gunpoint. I can’t begin to explain my emotions, my own fears and the frustration at not being able to simply reach out and console her right there, right now. As soon as we could, we reached her in Baton Rouge surrounded by policemen and investigators but she was safe and unhurt. But her mom and I shuddered at the details of a gun pressed to her temple, forced to empty a cash register, ordered about while under duress and then forced into an industrial freezer with two young customers. Never expressing anger or hate, she was scared and changed. But the men were arrested and Elizabeth was called to return to Baton Rouge and identify the young man who committed this criminal act. She positively identified him, helping to seal his fate for sometime, still devoid of anger and hate. Learning from the detective of the young man’s broken life, his poor choices and his lack of self respect and self love, my daughter was filled with compassion for him. All we could do for him was pray for him and ask that God give him healing and peace. My little girl refused to go down the well worn road of hate and revenge. She traveled the road less taken as she forgave him and prayed for him. And for me; lesson learned.

How do we, the Body of Christ, respond to this Gospel message? How do we leave here and follow Him on the road less traveled? Can I suggest we all pray and reflect carefully this week on Matthew chapter 5? From start to finish, spend time in this rich Gospel message. Pay attention to the radical response Jesus calls us to; telling us to be perfect. Not perfect like we think of perfect; perfect in traveling and progressing in our call to be his disciple.
We are called this week to stay on the road less traveled. We are called to examine our own attitude about forgiveness, reconciliation, love and mercy. Can we think of just one relationship that we can repair this week? Someone out there is hurting, or has hurt us. Offer them your cheek, your cloak, your love. Can we examine just one long held belief or attitude that keeps us from fully following Jesus and journeying on the road less traveled? And can we ask ourselves, how long since we have been to reconciliation? His mercy in the confessional is located on the road less traveled.

Two roads converge, not in a yellow wood; they converge at the intersection of our very heart and soul. Which road will we take; who will we choose to follow?

Follow Jesus and take the road less traveled and that will make all the difference.

And at the end of this road less traveled we find “perfect”; as our Heavenly Father is perfect!

Friday, February 18, 2011

And a light that never goes out

I am the light of the world: he that followeth me, walketh not in darkness, but shall have the light of life (John 8:12)

The wisdom and beauty of the Holy Catholic Church are marvelously expressed through a universe of symbols.

Consider the sanctuary lamp. In every church where the Blessed Sacrament is reserved, the eye meets that suave flickering flame, indicating the Real Presence.

What does the silent sanctuary lamp calmly say to the soul? What does it symbolize?

The warmth of its welcoming flame draws us closer to Our Lord. As if held aloft by Angels, the lamp is suspended, not attached to this earth, preparing souls to receive Divine grace. Its subtle light envelopes the faithful, creating a state of spirit in which all Catholic souls feel united.

At the same time, the wick burns serenely, spending itself to the point of destruction, offering itself to God, which symbolizes sacrifice.

The sanctuary lamp creates a pleasing and temperate atmosphere adequate to man. Its subtle light enhances the church and is not even slightly overpowering.

The flame's panoply of discrete shadows projects a respectful warmth and depth. It has nothing in common with the frenzied lights of a discotheque or the cold neon lighting prevalent today.

For the sake of contrast, imagine a neon light in place of the sanctuary lamp. The mere thought causes unrest. The harsh neon light destroys shadows.

What else does the sanctuary lamp say to the soul?

Imagine a dark church illuminated by a single sanctuary lamp. When a church is empty and Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament is alone, the lamp pays homage to its Creator. The flame keeps constant vigil, like a faithful soul who kneels before God in adoration while so many abandon Him or turn against Him.

If the light could speak, it might say this: "I remain faithful. I am Thine, O Lord. Although I am the least of men, I belong to Thee, I exist for Thee alone. In the worst uncertainty, in the worst isolation and darkness, I will follow Thee come what may. I am confident that my fidelity means something to Thee."

The dominant note of the lamp speaks of the relationship between Creator and creature, Redeemer and redeemed. It is a resting place for the Catholic soul. Like three bells in perfect harmony, it echoes Our Lord's words: "I am the way, the truth and the life" (John 14:6).

When the lights go out in prison

Wednesday night was the usual visit to the men at Rayburn prison. On this night we would be using the sanctuary of the recently dedicated chapel located right in the heart of the prison's massive footprint. All begin well, greeting the men as they arrived and took their seat, opening prayers and the reading of the Sunday readings including the Gospel from St. Matthew; an eye for an eye.

As the prayer intentions begin we were all a bit confused as the prison guards starting yelling and shouting commands and before you knew it we, the visitors, were ordered to leave the men and assemble in the hallway. Not to we accomplished this did we realize that the commotion was a total power failure at the prison; total except for the chapel. That's right, the only light illuminating the prison compound was the chapel. Kind of puts things into perspective; His light never goes out.

But the outage was real and we were told that we would not be able to return to the men. No opportunity to say goodnight, we'll see you next week, nothing. We were led by flashlight to the first secured gates where guards fumbled with a massive key ring to find the right one to move us along. Without power, none of the electronic gates worked. And then once through that gate we proceeded to the main gate which had to be hand cranked to free us to the other side.

This really made me wonder about all the many challenges the guards and administration must face to run a correctional facility and keep the peace. Despite my life changing commitment to serve these men with joy I need an occasional reminder that they are indeed convicted felons serving at the state prison level. The event was not traumatic or even frightening; just a reminder that there are certain realities we must remember as we minister to them and bring God's word and Jesus in Holy Communion to them.

So all the volunteer ministers and chaplains gathered in the front parking lot, disappointed at not completing our visits and we carefully packed Jesus away for the long ride home. And my night was filled with pray for the men and those charged with guarding them and for a peaceful and uneventful night.

And all the while, the light in the Chapel burned brightly.

A Family's loss; a community unites and Heaven receives an Angel

The Latest on Shelby. May she forever rest in Peace in the armms of her God.

NEW ORLEANS -- Shelby Leonhard, the teen whose need for a rare type of blood and platelets to fight non-Hodgkins lymphoma sparked a community-wide outpouring of donations, has died.

She was 14.

Leonhard was a student at the Academy of the Sacred Heart. She was admitted to Children's Hospital on Jan. 19 for fluid in her lungs, and she was soon diagnosed with cancer.

Doctors at Children's Hospital said the teenager suffered respiratory arrest after complications with chemotherapy.

“She's not producing any platelets and platelets are critical in helping us stop bleeding, and right now unfortunately, she's bleeding from multiple areas,” said Dr. Tim Pettitt, a cardio-thoracic surgeon, said last week.

Leonhard's father, Tom, asked for help from the community last week in getting the rare type of A-negative blood Shelby needed in her battle against the disease.

The response was overwhelming. The Blood Center extended its hours at all area locations in order to accommodate the influx of people wishing to donate in Shelby's name.

Shelby's parents released the following statement Wednesday morning: "Last night, our beautiful, brave and beloved Shelby went into the arms of God. It was a peaceful ending in a room filled with love. Our family wishes to sincerely thank each and every one of you for the many prayers and love you have showered on our precious daughter and our family. Please continue to pray for us, especially Barrett and Reese. Please pray that Shelby's loving soul is at peace."

"We would ask also that you continue to praise God. He gave us such a precious gift and we feel privileged to have taken this journey with Shelby and with all of you. She belongs to us all, but above all, she belongs now, to God."

The Academy of the Sacred Heart will have a blood drive in Shelby's honor on Feb. 24. It will run from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at 4301 St. Charles Ave. To schedule an appointment to donate, call 504-269-1201.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

More on the changes in the Roman Missal

Subject: Preparing the Way for the Roman Missal 3rd Edition, Part 9: The Liturgy of the Eucharist.

Preparing the Way for the Roman Missal 3rd Edition, Part 9: The Liturgy of the Eucharist

by Louie Verrecchio In the final two installments of this series, we will focus our attention on the people’s parts in the Liturgy of the Eucharist, addressing each instance of change in the text as it comes.

Suscipiat Dominus

Shortly after the beginning of the Liturgy of the Eucharistic, we are encouraged to pray that our sacrifice may be acceptable to God, the Almighty Father, to which we respond:

May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands for the praise and glory of His name, for our good and the good of all his holy Church.

One small change is present here as we will now describe the Church as holy just as it is in the Latin. It’s difficult to imagine what the motive was for removing it in the first place, even more difficult to imagine is that anyone would be disturbed with its restoration as we have been confessing a holy Church in the Creed for many decades now.

After once more responding to the priestly blessing, The Lord be with you saying And with your spirit, we are implored, Lift up your hearts.

We reply in the new translation as always, We lift them up to the Lord, to the exhortation, Let us give thanks to the Lord our God, will now respond, It is right and just.

Not only is it right to give thanks; i.e. to offer Eucharist which means “thanksgiving” as we have always said, it is also just.

It is right because this is exactly what the Lord has asked of his Church, “Do this in memory of me.” When we say it is just, however, we are talking about the purpose and the effect of the Most Holy Eucharist.

It is just because the Eucharist is the justice of the New Law. It is the sacrifice through which sinners are justified. It is the sacrifice that unites us with the Father, in the Son, by an action of the Holy Spirit. It is, therefore, both right and just.


Where once we sang, Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, God of power and might, we will now sing, Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of hosts.

Yes, our God is indeed a God of power and might, and as such he has at his disposal a standing army that is made up of intelligent and powerful spiritual beings – the angels – and they, as we, are his very own creation.

When we sing the Sanctus,we are joining this army of spiritual beings of every rank – Angels, Archangels, Virtues, Powers, Principalities, Dominations, Thrones, Cherubim and Seraphim – all the choirs of angels, in singing the Lord’s unending hymn of praise.

The choirs of angels are not simply the ones who made the final cut in singing try outs while the ones that can’t carry a note serve as lectors and ushers. This refers to all of the angels; all the heavenly hosts!

Did you know that the title “Lord of hosts” appears in the Old Testament more than 230 times? Addressing God in this way during the Sanctus draws our attention to both what are doing and with whom we are doing it. We are joining the angels in singing to our God.

Heaven and earth are truly co-mingled right in our very midst!

Mysterium Fidei

At the Mystery of Faith, our most typical response here in the U.S. has been:

Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.

This, however, is an adaptation that was specifically requested for use in the United States. As of this writing, it has not been approved by the Holy See for use in the new translation.

Now, remember, this effort begins with a faithful translation of the Latin, so let’s take a look at the typical that is being translated in Form A of the Mystery of Faith:

Mortem tuam annuntiamus, Domine, et tuam resurrectionem confitemur, donec venias.

The correct translation of this text in English renders:

We proclaim your death, O Lord, and profess your Resurrection until you come again.

I suppose it is possible that the Holy See may eventually re-approve the American adaptation previously mentioned, but I sincerely hope not. The faithful translation above is far richer. Why? Because the adaptation that we are so used to proclaiming strikes me as the Dragnet version; “Just the facts, ma’am.”

In the new translation, rather than simply stating the facts: Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again, reflects our Baptismal calling in a particular way; namely, it calls to mind the fact that we have personally taken on the mission of the Church according to our vocation as members of his Body.

As such, we not only state the fact that Christ has died– we proclaim it! And not only do we state the fact that He is risen -we profess in union with the martyrs who were willing to die rather than renounce the resurrection of the Lord! And we will not cease to proclaim and profess our Lord crucified, died and risen until He comes again!

Mystery of Faith – Form B

Form B: When we eat this Bread and drink this Cup, we proclaim your death, O Lord, until you come again,speaks for itself. It is taken almost exactly from 1 Cor. 11:26.

Mystery of Faith – Form C

Form C: Save us, Savior of the world, for by your Cross and Resurrection, you have set us free.

This form has us crying out Hosanna! Save us!It serves as a fitting affirmation that we are ever in need of the Lord’s saving grace; i.e., we do not embrace a “once saved always saved” theology as some of the Protestant communities do. We know that we must “work out our own salvation in fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12) and by God’s grace alone shall we be saved.

And so we are compelled to cry out, Hosanna, Save us, Savior of the world, for I know that I cannot save myself.