Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Our 1st saint for June: Justin Martyr

Saint Justin

Feastday: June 1

All the voices around Justin clamored that they had the truth he sought so desperately. He had listened to them all since he first came to Rome to get his education. They each shouted that they held the one and only answer but he felt no closer to the truth than when he had started his studies. He had left the Stoic master behind but the Stoics valued discipline as truth and thought discussion of God unnecessary. He had rejected the Peripatetic who seemed more interested in money than discussion. The Pythagorean had rejected him because he didn't know enough music and geometry -- the things that would lead him to truth. He had found some joy with the Platonists because the contemplation of ideas gave wings to his mind, but they had promised wisdom would let him see God and so, where was God?

There was one place that Justin always escaped to in order to get away from these shouting, confusing voices and search out the quiet inner voice that led him to truth. This place was a lonely spot, a path that seemed made for him alone in a field by the sea. So sure was he of the isolation of his retreat that he was shocked one day to find an old man following him.

The old man was not searching for truth but for some of his family. Nonetheless they began a discussion in which Justin identified himself as a philologian, a lover of reason. The old man challenged him -- why was he not a lover of truth, a lover of deeds. Justin told him that reason led to truth, and philosophy led to happiness. This was certainly an interesting thing for Justin to say since he had not found the truth in the study of reason or happiness in his quest among the philosophers! Perhaps the old man sensed this for he asked for Justin's definition of philosophy and of happiness.

In the long discussion that followed, Justin spoke eloquently to the old man's searching questions but even Justin had to admit that philosophers may talk about God but had never seen him, may discuss the soul but didn't really know it. But if the philosophers whom Justin admired and followed couldn't, then nobody could, right?

The old man told him about the ancient prophets, the Hebrew prophets, who had talked not of ideas but of what they had seen and heard, what they knew and experienced. And this was God. The old man ended the conversation by telling Justin to pray that the gates of light be opened to him.

Inflamed by this conversation, Justin sought out the Scriptures and came to love them. Christ words "possess a terrible power in themselves, and are sufficient to inspire those who turn aside from the path of rectitude with awe; while the sweetest rest is afforded those who make a diligent practice of them."

Why hadn't Justin known about Christianity before with as much as he had studied? He had heard about it, the way other pagans of second century Rome had, by the rumors and accusations that surrounded the persecution of Christians. The fearlessness of their actions made him doubt the gossip, but he had nothing else to go by. Christians at that time kept their beliefs secret. They were so afraid that outsiders would trample on their sacred faith and descrate their mysteries that they wouldn't tell anyone about their beliefs -- even to counteract outright lies. To be honest, there was good reason for their fears -- many actors for example performed obscene parodies of Christian ritual for pagan audiences, for example.

But Justin believed differently. He had been one of those outsiders -- not someone looking for trouble, but someone earnestly searching for the truth. The truth had been hidden from him by this fear of theirs. And he believed there were many others like him. He exhorted them that Christians had an obligation to speak of their faith, to witness to others about their faith and their mysteries.

So Justin took his newfound faith to the people. This layman became the first great apologist for Christianity and opened the gates of light for so many others. He explained baptism and Eucharist. He explained to the pagans why they didn't worship idols and why that didn't make them atheists. He explained to the Jews how Christians could worship the same God but not follow Jewish laws. He explained to the Greeks and the philosophers how philosophy did not take into account the dignity of humankind. He wrote long arguments known as apologies and traveled to other lands in order to debate publicly. His long education in philosophy and rhetoric gave him the skills he needed to match his oponents and the Holy Spirit gave him the rest.

It is not surprising that Justin was arrested during the persecution under Marcus Aurelius. Along with four others (Chariton, Charites, Paeon, and Liberianus) he was brought before the Roman prefect, Rusticus, to be accused under the law that required sacrificing to idols. When Rusticus demanded that they "Obey the gods at once, and submit to the kings," Justin responded, "To obey the commandments of our Saviour Jesus Christ is worthy neither of blame nor of condemnation."

When Rusticus asked what doctrines he believed, Justin told him that he had learned all the doctrines available during his quest but finally submitted to the true doctrines of the Christians, even though they didn't please others. (An understatement when he was under danger of death!)

When Rusticus asked where the Christians gathered, Justin gave a response that gives us insight into Christian community and worship of the time: "Where each one chooses and can: for do you fancy that we all meet in the very same place? Not so; because the God of the Christians is not circumscribed by place; but being invisible, fills heaven and earth, and everywhere is worshipped and glorified by the faithful."

When Rusticus asked each of them if they were a Christian, they all responded the same way: "Yes, I am a Christian." When Rusticus tried to put responsibility for this on Justin, they responded that God had made them Christians.

Just before Rusticus sentenced them he asked Justin, "If you are killed do you suppose you will go to heaven?" Justin said, "I do not suppose it, but I know and am fully persuaded of it."

Justin and his fellow martyrs were beheaded in the year 165 and went to be with the Truth Justin had longed for all his life. He is often known as Justin Martyr and his works are still available.

The heat is on!

As we wait for June to dawn in just a few hours the heat is already on!  We are experiencing 93 to 95 degree highs already, coupled with absolutely no rain and high humidity, equals heat index somewhere north of 100.  And this is just the last day of May.  And with June 1st we begin the high anxiety of hurricane season and the daily weather feature of looking at satelitte photos of the Gulf, Caribbean and Atlantic, even when nothing is out there.  Predictions are this will be an active hurricane season.  True definition of an active hurricane season: if one hits you!

Followers of yours truly know that I'm not a fan of this time of year; at least in comparison to the wonderful cool delightful weather that is fall and winter.  Summer also is a time of much grass cutting for me and more chores outdoors.  Actually, I really like being outside; from October through early April.  Oh well, can't avoid it.

June has some exciting highlights: ordinations a plenty to the diaconate and priesthood(and this year some very impressive numbers being ordained), my wife and I celebrate anniversary # 34, KC banquets, America's Got Talent(sorry, I like it) and vacations(although this year I have not yet planned one).  But on balance, June for me is just the intense start to 100 days of heat.

June challenges me to remember that I should praise God, in the heat as well as the cold, praise God in the summer as well as the fall, praise God when cutting grass as well as, well, not cutting grass.  So in June I also look forward to the many saint feast days, Ascension and Pentecost, 1st Friday Adoration & Benediction, the many Masses I will assist as Deacon, including preaching, at least one Baptism, preparing two couples for their marriage and my visits to Rayburn prison.  So despite my misgivings, when left to God's plan, I love June; heat and all!

Yep, they are in the Bible

Today's beautiful feast of Mary's visitation to cousin Elizabeth, as told in the Gospel of St. Luke, yields two marvelous prayers that most Catholics recognize.  As Elizabeth catches a glimpse of young Mary coming to her we hear the following: "most blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb".  Elizabeth continues by calling Mary the "mother of my Lord."  Luke 1:42-43.

These words from Scripture (probably a shock to those who still think we Catholics are not scriptural) are the basis for the Hail Mary.

Then Mary, responding to Elizabeth's greeting utters the beautiful prayer that is called Mary's canticle or the Magnificat.  In Luke 1:46-55 we read the following:

My soul magnifies the Lord,
And my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.
For He has regarded the low estate of His handmaiden,
For behold, henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name. And His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with His arm:
He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He has put down the mighty from their thrones,
and exalted those of low degree.
He has filled the hungry with good things;
and the rich He has sent empty away.
He has helped His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy;
As He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to His posterity forever.

Thought it important that on this particular feast day of Mary's visitation, we recall that both the Hail Mary and the Magnificat are in fact, Scriptural!

The real full Gospel Church: The Roman Catholic Church!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Happy Birthday Archbishop Hannan

>>>Dont usually post from wikipedia but on balance a nice resume of our beloved retired Archbishop, Philip Hannan, who on Friday last, May 20th, celebrated his 98th birthday!  After a health scare earlier in the year we all are thrilled to see the Archbishop alive and well and still praying for and with the people of the Archdiocese of New Orleans:

The Most Reverend
Philip Matthew Hannan
Archbishop of New Orleans

Province New Orleans
See New Orleans
Enthroned October 13, 1965
Reign ended December 6, 1988
Predecessor John Patrick Cardinal Cody
Successor Francis Bible Schulte
Other posts Auxiliary Bishop of Washington 1956-1965
Ordination December 8, 1939
Consecration August 28, 1956
Personal details
Born May 20, 1913 (1913-05-20) (age 98)
Washington, District of Columbia

Philip Matthew Hannan (born May 20, 1913) is an American Roman Catholic priest and bishop who served as Auxiliary Bishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington and later as the Eleventh Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans from September 29, 1965 to December 6, 1988.

Philip Hannan was born in Washington, D.C. into an Irish-American family. His father, P. F. Hannan, had emigrated from Ireland and settled in Washington, where he met Lillian Keefe, a native Washingtonian purportedly with ties to the Smithson family of Smithsonian Institution fame. However, James Smithson, benefactor of the Institution, was a bastard son of Hugh Percy, 1st Duke of Northumberland, who had changed his own family name from Smithson to Percy. Furthermore, Smithson was born Jacques Louis Macie, later anglicized as James Lewis Macie, only taking the name Smithson after his mother's death, and had neither descendants of his own nor any close relatives with the same surname. Therefore, the claim made by Ms. Keefe is highly unlikely.[original research?]

Hannan is one of eight siblings, having one sister (Mary) and six brothers (John, Frank, Bill, Tom, Denis, and Jerry.)

Hannan attended high school at St. John's College High School in northwest Washington, D.C, followed by college studies at St. Charles College in Catonsville, Maryland and the Sulpician Seminary (known now as Theological College) affiliated with The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

Following his studies at The Catholic University of America, Hannan studied from 1936 to 1939 as a major seminarian at the North American College in Rome, where he personally witnessed the rise of fascism in Italy and Germany. He would later write a biographical account, Rome: Living under the Axis, detailing his experiences in Rome. He was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Baltimore-Washington on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, December 8, 1939.[1]

He returned to the United States and spent the next two years as a curate at St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Baltimore, Maryland.[2]

After the attack on Pearl Harbor and the United States' entry into World War II, Hannan enlisted in the United States Army, where he served as a chaplain to the 82nd Airborne Division. He parachuted into Europe with the rest of his division and ministered to the paratroopers during the Ardennes Offensive. Hannan was also with American soldiers during the liberation of a concentration camp.

After the war, Hannan served briefly as pastor of the Cologne Cathedral during the American occupation of Germany.[3][4]

He returned to the United States and served as a pastor and administrator in the Archdiocese of Baltimore-Washington. When the archdiocese of Washington was split from the archdiocese of Baltimore on November 15, 1947, with separate archbishops being appointed for each, Hannan became a priest of the newly erected Archdiocese of Washington. In 1951, Hannan established the Catholic Standard newspaper in Washington and served as its editor-in-chief. Later that same year he was named chancellor of the Archdiocese, and Pope Pius XII honored Father Hannan in 1952 by naming him a Monsignor. On June 16, 1956, Hannan was named Titular Bishop of Hieropolis and Auxiliary Bishop of Washington, and was consecrated in the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle on August 28.

As Auxiliary Bishop of Washington, Hannan was part of the U.S. delegation to the Second Vatican Council, where he served as a press officer. As of 2011, Hannan is one of two living United States bishop to have attended all four sessions of Vatican II, along with Raymond Hunthausen, Archbishop Emeritus of Seattle, Washington.

During his 9 years as auxiliary bishop of Washington, and because of his skills as a press officer in both Baltimore and Washington, Hannan became acquainted with several prominent politicians, especially the Kennedy family. It was his familiarity with the Kennedys that would move Hannan into the national spotlight.

Hannan was in Rome for meetings of the Second Session of the Second Vatican Council in November 1963 when news reached him concerning the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, which forced his immediate return to Washington. At Kennedy's state funeral mass, Richard Cardinal Cushing, Archbishop of Boston, served as the principal celebrant. Cushing was a close friend of the family who had witnessed and blessed the marriage of Senator Kennedy and Jacqueline Bouvier in 1953, baptized two of their children, given the invocation at President Kennedy's inauguration, and officiated at the recent funeral of the President's infant son, Patrick Bouvier Kennedy. Hannan, however, was asked by the Kennedy family to deliver the homily at the Requirm Mass, which substituted for a formal eulogy, since a traditional eulogy was not permitted by the Catholic Church.[5]

During the Fourth Session of Vatican II, specifically on September 29, 1965, Hannan was appointed as the eleventh Archbishop of New Orleans, succeeding Archbishop John Cody (later Cardinal), who had been transferred to Chicago. He moved to New Orleans only weeks after Hurricane Betsy hit the city, and he became a spiritual leader during the rebuilding of both the city and the archdiocese.

He presided over the New Orleans archdiocese during a time of great change. The Second Vatican Council concluded on December 8, 1965, and Archbishop Hannan led the effort to implement the Council's policies of reform within the archdiocese. Hannan instituted a Social Apostolate program in 1966 which now provides over 20 million pounds of free food each year to 42,000 needy women, children and elderly. He also reformed the Archdiocesan Catholic Charities system, which now serves as the largest non-governmental social service agency in the New Orleans metropolitan area.

At the same time, the demographics of the city were changing, as Catholic whites moved to the suburbs, while Orleans Parish became increasingly Protestant. New churches and parishes were being built throughout the city, while attendance in inner-city churches declined.[6]

As for his political views, Archbishop Hannan was known to be a staunch anti-Communist, and was one of the leaders of a moderate minority of bishops who opposed the May 3, 1983 pastoral letter of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops entitled The Challenge of Peace: God's Promise and Our Response, which came out strongly against the notion of deterrence and advocated a nuclear freeze with the Soviet Union.

Hannan was archbishop when Pope John Paul II made his apostolic visit to New Orleans between September 11 and 13, 1987, the first ever Papal Visit to the city. Hannan was the Pontiff's personal guide throughout his three day tour of the city.[7][8]

In May 1988, upon reaching his 75th birthday and in accordance with canon law, Archbishop Hannan submitted his resignation. This resignation was accepted on December 6, 1988, when Hannan was succeeded as Archbishop by Francis Schulte, then Bishop of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia. 

Archbishop Hannan was the Archbishop of New Orleans for over twenty years, during which he became one the city's most recognized and popular residents. He has received numerous civic honors including the most prestigious award presented to a New Orleans civic leader, The Times-Picayune Loving Cup. In 1987, The Catholic University of America honored him by naming its new science center Hannan Hall and conferring upon him the honorary Doctor of Laws Degree. He also holds an honorary Doctor of Laws Degree from Georgetown University.

In 1996, Hannan was awarded the Pacem in Terris Award. It was named after a 1963 encyclical letter by Pope John XXIII that calls upon all people of good will to secure peace among all nations. Pacem in Terris is Latin for 'Peace on Earth.'

Also in 1996, Hannan, as a retired archbishop, publicly opposed the election of Democrat Mary Landrieu, a Roman Catholic whose family had been Hannan's longtime friends, to the United States Senate. Although stopping short of endorsing (or even mentioning) Landrieu's Republican opponent, Woody Jenkins, the retired archbishop had become concerned, as he explained, by the endorsement of Landrieu by Emily's List, an organization devoted to pro-choice candidates on the issue of abortion.[9] Emily's List later ceased its support of Senator Landrieu prior to her 2002 reelection because of her congressional opposition to intact dilation and extraction (partial-birth abortion). Hannan's 1996 declaration has been cited as influential on later Catholic prelates in issuing cautionary statements about pro abortion rights Catholic politicians and in barring them from communion.[10]

At the age of 92, Hannan was still in the news when it was revealed that, during Hurricane Katrina, he courageously remained at a studio in a Catholic television station he had founded in Metairie, in order to protect it from looting. In the aftermath of Katrina, Hannan continued in the effort to revive New Orleans, by both inspiring residents spiritually and pitching in to the clean-up effort physically.

On Thanksgiving Day, November 27, 2008, from his home in Covington, the retired archbishop published his "Thanksgiving and Christmas Blessings" in the New Orleans Times-Picayune. The full-page announcement was mostly a pro-life appeal expressing particular concern over the potential threat that the "evil" Freedom of Choice Act might be passed into law by the incoming United States Congress and the Presidential administration of Barack Obama. The ad cited the 1973 Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade and, quoting the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, warns that "a bad court decision will be enshrined in bad legislation that is more radical than the decision itself."[11]

In May 2010, Our Sunday Visitor Publishing published Hannan's memoirs in The Archbishop Wore Combat Boots - From Combat, to Camelot, to Katrina: A Memoir of an Extraordinary Life by Archbishop Philip Hannan with Nancy Collins and Peter Finney, Jr., hardcover, 457 pages, ISBN 978-1-59276-697-0.

As of March 2011, Hannan remains an influential spiritual figure in Louisiana, and is part of a rarity in American Catholicism. Hannan is the oldest of four living Archbishops of New Orleans, where the eleventh (Hannan, from September 29, 1965 until December 6, 1988), twelfth (Francis Bible Schulte, from December 6, 1988 until January 3, 2002), thirteenth (Alfred Clifton Hughes, coadjutor from February 16, 2001 to January 3, 2002, archbishop until June 12, 2009) and fourteenth (Gregory Michael Aymond, appointed June 12, 2009) continue to minister and live in the Archdiocese.

The Feast of the Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth

The Visitation of the
Blessed Virgin Mary


Feast Day: May 31

After the angel Gabriel had announced to Mary that she was to become the mother of Our Lord, Mary went from Galilee to Judea to visit her kinswoman Elizabeth, soon to be the mother of John the Baptist. This visit is recorded in Luke 1:39-56. Elizabeth greeted Mary with the words, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb." Mary burst forth with the song of praise which we call the Magnificat, beginning, "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord." We are told that even John the Baptist, still unborn, leaped for joy in his mother's womb. Thus we are shown, side by side, the two women, one seemingly too old to have a child, but destined to bear the last prophet of the Old Covenant, of the age that was passing away; and the other woman, seemingly not ready to have a child, but destined to bear the One Who was Himself the beginning of the New Covenant, the age that would not pass away.

It is this meeting that we celebrate today.


Father in heaven, by whose grace the virgin mother of your incarnate Son was blessed in bearing him, but still more blessed in keeping your word: Grant us who honor the exaltation of her lowliness to follow the example of her devotion to your will; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Reading Song of Songs 2:8 - 8:7
The voice of my beloved, behold he cometh leaping upon the mountains, skipping over the hills. My beloved is like a roe, or a young hart. Behold he standeth behind our wall, looking through the windows, looking through the lattices. Behold my beloved speaketh to me:

Arise, make haste, my love, my dove, my beautiful one, and come. For winter is now past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers have appeared in our land, the time of pruning is come: the voice of the turtle is heard in our land: The fig tree hath put forth her green figs: the vines in flower yield their sweet smell.

Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come: my dove in the clefts of the rock, in the hollow places of the wall, shew me thy face, let thy voice sound in my ears: for thy voice is sweet, and thy face comely. Put me as a seal upon thy heart, as a seal upon thy arm.
For love is strong as death, jealousy as hard as hell, the lamps thereof are fire and flames. Many waters cannot quench charity, neither can the floods drown it. If a man should give all the substance of his house for love, he shall despise it as nothing.


Reading A sermon by St Bede the Venerable
Mary proclaims the greatness of the Lord
working in her soul
My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my saviour. With these words Mary first acknowledges the special gifts she has been given. Then she recalls God’s universal favours, bestowed unceasingly on the human race.
When a man devotes all his thoughts to the praise and service of the Lord, he proclaims God’s greatness. His observance of God’s commands, moreover, shows that he has God’s power and greatness always at heart. His spirit rejoices in God his saviour and delights in the mere recollection of his creator who gives him hope for eternal salvation.

These words are often for all God’s creations, but especially for the Mother of God. She alone was chosen, and she burned with spiritual love for the son she so joyously conceived. Above all other saints, she alone could truly rejoice in Jesus, her saviour, for she knew that he who was the source of eternal salvation would be born in time in her body, in one person both her own son and her Lord.

For the Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. Mary attributes nothing to her own merits. She refers all her greatness to the gift of the one whose essence is power and whose nature is greatness, for he fills with greatness and strength the small and the weak who believe in him.

She did well to add: and holy is his name, to warn those who heard, and indeed all who would receive his words, that they must believe and call upon his name. For they too could share in everlasting holiness and true salvation according to the words of the prophet: and it will come to pass, that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. This is the name she spoke of earlier: and my spirit rejoices in God my saviour.

Therefore it is an excellent and fruitful custom of holy Church that we should sing Mary’s hymn at the time of evening prayer. By meditating upon the incarnation, our devotion is kindled, and by remembering the example of God’s Mother, we are encouraged to lead a life of virtue. Such virtues are best achieved in the evening. We are weary after the day’s work and worn out by our distractions. The time for rest is near, and our minds are ready for contemplation.

Memorial Day 2011; say a prayer!

>>>The official national prayer for this year's Memorial Day.  As many of us simply enjoy another day off can we say a prayer for the men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice to keep us free and to bring liberty to others?  Can we pray for the safety and protection of our troops today, deployed all across the world including the dangerous war zone in Afganistan and those serving  still in Iraq or involved with the NATO action in Libya?  Can we remember the families of all these men and women; those both still missing a loved one who paid the ultimate price and those seperated by their current service?

Thank you to all veterans and military personnel and remember the real reason for Memorial Day!

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

Prayer for Peace, Memorial Day, 2011

For over two centuries, brave men and women have laid down their lives in defense of our great Nation. These heroes have made the ultimate sacrifice so we may uphold the ideals we all cherish. On this Memorial Day, we honor the generations of Americans who have fought and died to defend our freedom.

Today, all who wear the uniform of the United States carry with them the proud legacies of those who have made our Nation great, from the patriots who fought at Lexington and Concord to the troops who stormed the beaches at Normandy. Ordinary men and women of extraordinary courage have, since our earliest days, answered the call of duty with valor and unwavering devotion. From Gettysburg to Kandahar, America's sons and daughters have served with honor and distinction, securing our liberties and laying a foundation for lasting peace.

On this solemn day in which Americans unite in remembrance of our country's fallen, we also pray for our military personnel and their families, our veterans, and all who have lost loved ones. As a grateful Nation, we forever carry the selfless sacrifice of our fallen heroes in our hearts, and we share the task of caring for those they left behind.

In his second Inaugural Address, in the midst of the Civil War, President Lincoln called on our embattled Nation "to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just, and a lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations." On this Memorial Day, and every day, we bear a heavy burden of responsibility to uphold the founding principles so many died defending. I call on all Americans to come together to honor the men and women who gave their lives so that we may live free, and to strive for a just and lasting peace in our world.

In honor of our fallen service members, the Congress, by a joint resolution approved May 11, 1950, as amended (36 U.S.C. 116), has requested the President issue a proclamation calling on the people of the United States to observe each Memorial Day as a day of prayer for permanent peace and designating a period on that day when the people of the United States might unite in prayer. The Congress, by Public Law 106 579, has also designated 3:00 p.m. local time on that day as a time for all Americans to observe, in their own way, the National Moment of Remembrance.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim Memorial Day, May 30, 2011, as a day of prayer for permanent peace, and I designate the hour beginning in each locality at 11:00 a.m. of that day as a time to unite in prayer. I also ask all Americans to observe the National Moment of Remembrance beginning at 3:00 p.m. local time on Memorial Day.

I request the Governors of the United States and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the appropriate officials of all units of government, to direct that the flag be flown at half staff until noon on this Memorial Day on all buildings, grounds, and naval vessels throughout the United States and in all areas under its jurisdiction and control. I also request the people of the United States to display the flag at half staff from their homes for the customary forenoon period.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this
twenty-seventh day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand eleven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fifth.


More thoughts on my attendance at the Latin Mass

I can hardly believe that on the day I attended my first Traditional Latin Mass in nearly 45 years the article I'm going to share at the end of this post was published in National Catholic Register.  I hope you will read the whole thing because it perfectly captures many of my, and others, concerns since the implementation of Summorum Pontificum.  Continuing to celebrate the Novus Ordo and the increased availability of the Traditional Latin Mass was never, ever meant to be a source of conflict and debate among Catholic faithful.

At all costs, the faithful must avoid temptations to compare one against the other in terms of superiority yet the faithful must be able to call out obvious liturgical abuses.  For me personally, I have witnessed few liturgical abuses in my adult life at the celebration of the Novus Ordo.  Many Catholics, however, have called out certain actions or practices at the Novus Ordo as abusive despite the Church firmly teaching that they are not abuses at all.   And, as the article will point out far better than I can, part of the demise of the "traditional" Mass many years ago was the liturgical abuses and sloppy implementation of the rubrics.

I am so glad that I attended a Traditional Latin Mass.  As I said in my post yesterday there was much I found spiritually edifying to help me give worship to God in the holy sacrifice of the Mass.  It was also very obvious to me that by participating in this Mass I truly missed some aspects of the Novus Ordo.

By attending the Traditional Latin Mass yesterday, and wanting to go back again when I can, I hope to point out the desire of our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, who asks us to look at both Masses as one liturgy; both giving proper and due worship to God the Father.  I say this because I am concerned by those who strongly and unaplogetically state one of the following: "I'll never go to the TLM, this would be going backwards" or from the other point of view: "I'll never go to the Novus Ordo because it's not the real Mass" or "it's not real worship" or something along those lines.

Catholics who are drawn to the Traditional Latin Mass should not disparage or avoid the Novus Ordo and Catholics who are drawn to the Novus Ordo should not disparage or avoid the Traditional Latin Mass.  Pope Benedict XVI himself has said so.  In his most recent letter promoting the wider use of the Traditional Latin Mass the Pope has cautioned about criticizing the Novus Ordo, or the reforms of Vatican II for that matter.  I personally find this refreshing since I have met a few, and I stress FEW, who attend the Traditional Latin Mass because in their words: Vatican II ruined the Church, the new Mass is Protestant and even we have had no "real" Pope since Pius XII.  I personally defriended someone on facebook, a seemingly devout Catholic, who on the occassion of the beatification of Pope John Paul II went on a rant about the new Blessed being a beast and the continuation of the ruination of the Church since John 23rd.  Dear God; this is exactly what the Holy Father has asked us to not do.

This indeed begs for a personal confession: I had my doubts before entering Church yesterday.  I barely remember the Mass in latin.  What I do remember was everybody around me seemed to be praying a rosary or reading the missal instead of participating in the Mass.  But that was well over 40 years ago.  You can't be skeptical of something that you don't know so going to the Mass yesterday helped me to realize that I was fully particpating and worshipping God the Father in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

I am going to follow Pope Benedict XVI on this one.  He celebrates the Mass in both the Novus Ordo and the Traditonal Latin.  He participated in the reforms of Vatican II and is trying to reform the abuses that come from disobedience, not the Council itself.  And he begs us as faithful Catholics to celebrate the liturgy; both the Novus Ordo and the Traditional or the ordinary and extra-ordinary form of the same liturgy.  And Catholics: quit carping at one another.  Whatever happened to that great line from about 200 A.D. : see how those Christians love one another.

And read the article here:

At Mass, Do This
A Register editorial

It’s mystifying to watch online shouting matches between Catholics about the ordinary form and the extraordinary form of the Mass. “Picking sides,” after all, makes no sense in Catholicism.

The whole point of Pope Benedict’s new instruction on the “correct interpretation and proper application” of his 2007 motu proprio letter Summorum Pontificum, which facilitated wider use of the Traditional Latin Mass, is that there are no “sides.” Both forms are the patrimony of all.

But the past looms large and heavy over us. The fragmentation of Catholic liturgical sensibility is a direct result of the silliness of the 1960s and 1970s, because its roots are in the greatest societal problem of that epoch: accepting authority.

Should we complain about the abuses in Novus Ordo Masses nowadays? Yes, and rightly so, because some priests and liturgists assume a power that isn’t theirs.

Do the same complaints apply to the now hardly mentioned liturgical abuses of the pre-Vatican II Church, like Masses said at warp speed in barely recognizable Latin? Yes, and rightly so, because only lip service was being paid to the wishes of the Church.

Are those who deny the validity of the Mass in English wrong or studiously avoid it as less “sacred” wrong? Yes, because the Church’s authority in prescribing it — just as it has formed, reformed and re-reformed its liturgy for almost 2,000 years — isn’t being acknowledged, and because the perfect sacrifice of the Lamb, re-presented under any form authorized by the authority of the Church, is just as sacred as any other.

Any Church leader who dawdles and splits hairs in permitting local celebrations of the Mass’ extraordinary form as authorized by Pope Benedict, has an authority problem, too.

For that matter, so do those who inopportunely and single-mindedly pester their bishops or make impractical demands.

“Do this in memory of me.” Christ’s authority is at the core of the Mass — any time we’re squabbling over the Mass, we’re missing the entire point.

The liturgy is meant to shape us in Christ’s image by his command; we’re not supposed to shape our liturgy in the image we prefer. That’s, in one of Pope Benedict’s favorite expressions, the “performative” aspect of the liturgy. We are at its service, and not vice versa.

Why? Because it’s about something far greater than us. God gathers together his People in the Eucharist; in the words of the Catechism, “by the Eucharistic celebration we already unite ourselves with the heavenly liturgy and anticipate eternal life, when God will be all in all” (1326).

That heavenly unity isn’t based on taste. In heaven, there are no “sides.” True unity — God’s will for his Church — comes only through accepting and embracing the authority of the One whom we are not worthy to receive, but who has only to say a word and we shall be healed.

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/at-mass-do-this#ixzz1NqgI5bn0

Faith, hope and charity amid devastation

Daily News
Cross Symbolizes Faith Amid Tragedy in Joplin
Local priest: 'At times like this, it is easy to see the face of Jesus.' Updated numbers and look at how the Catholic community is helping.

JOPLIN, Mo. (CNS) — The devastating scene left by the massive F-5 tornado that hit Joplin the evening of May 22 can best be described as apocalyptic.

The tornado cut a swath of destruction three-fourths of a mile wide and six miles long, claiming at least 132 lives, as of May 27, with hundreds still missing. Nearly every building in its path was left in total ruin.

The powerful winds uprooted trees and tossed cars. They toppled bricks, bent steel, snapped power lines, sheared limbs and stripped bark off trees.

In a May 25 news conference for area faith leaders, Missouri Gov. Jeremiah Johnson, upon witnessing the catastrophic destruction at St. John’s Regional Medical Center, described it as a war zone.

St. Mary’s Catholic Church was in the storm’s direct path. The sanctuary, elementary school, rectory, parish hall and the St. Vincent de Paul building, the original church from 1938, were all leveled by the storm.

“Most people’s emotions are still too raw for them to begin processing this catastrophic event,” said Father Justin Monaghan, St. Mary’s pastor. “I just want to tell them, ‘Our prayers are with you, and we will rejoin you in rebuilding, healing and renewal, in the midst of the pain you are all suffering.’”

Father Monaghan found shelter in the bathtub of the rectory only seconds before the tornado brought the entire building down around him. He was trapped for hours, but parishioners eventually found him safe and dug him out of the ruins.

Parishioners retrieved the Blessed Sacrament from the church’s shattered tabernacle. Only the large steel cross at what was the church’s entrance remains, towering over the wreckage.

The priest said he has been overwhelmed with the outpouring of support from his parishioners: “I hope that I am reaching out to others as much as they have been reaching out to me.”

“My faith has been strengthened by the amazing response of people in our parish and in the community. And to see the cross still standing reminds us what our mission is all about,” he told the Eastern Oklahoma Catholic, the publication of the Diocese of Tulsa, Okla.

Tulsa is about 100 miles southwest of Joplin, in the western Missouri Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau. The city sits close to the state line bordering Kansas and Oklahoma.

As she brought lunch to fellow parishioners sifting through the rubble, Cassie Patrick was overcome by the extent of the destruction.

Surveying the wreckage in tears, she said, “It is really hard to see. I can’t even wrap my head around it. I would have rather lost my house than this church. I know it is just a building, and we will rebuild, but all my kids have gone to school here, and this church has kept my family together. I am just thankful that Father Monaghan is safe. I prayed for Father all night and was so worried.”

For Patrick and other parishioners, however, the emotional toll of the physical destruction pales in comparison to the pain of the human suffering. Tragically, one woman in the parish lost her husband, 5-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son in the storm. They were at Home Depot when the tornado razed the building. Steve Jones, St. Mary’s principal, confirmed the deaths, but names will not be released until official notifications have been made.

Father J. Friedel, pastor of St. Peter the Apostle Parish in Joplin, and Gene Koester, principal of McAuley Catholic High School, were busy offering pastoral care, support and leadership since the storm struck.

St. Peter and McAuley are only a couple miles from St. Mary’s but were left untouched by the tornado. Since the storm, the high school has been serving as a triage center, hospital, storm shelter and sleep facility. Residents and staff of a destroyed nursing home were now making the gym their temporary home.

Koester had not slept since the evening of May 22, when the tornado struck, going home just long enough to shower and shave. He said that nearly every one of the school’s 100 students had been volunteering around the clock, with the only exceptions being those who have lost their homes or family members.

“The kids have just been amazing. Students and their parents have given of themselves, and their mindset is entirely on helping. It is remarkable, but not surprising. It is also part of the legacy of the Sisters of Mercy, who founded our school,” he said.

Father Friedel said providing care at this point is difficult, as everything keeps shifting, depending on the immediate needs of the people who have been displaced or injured and the subsequent storms that continue to come through the area. Still, Father Friedel was heartened by the selfless and dedicated service offered by the Catholic faithful in Joplin.

“It is absolutely remarkable to watch our high school and college kids working with our professionals to help the homeless, the elderly and anyone in need. There has been an abundance of compassion, concern and charity from the people,” he said. “Even those who have endured tragic personal suffering or the loss of their homes are volunteering to help others. They just want to care for people when they need it. At times like this, it is easy to see the face of Jesus in both his suffering and compassion.”

Father Friedel told the congregation at Mass: “Sometimes only tears, laughter and love can get us through our disasters. ... We are going to be okay. For us, losing our lives is not the end. This does not make light of the pain and suffering, but reminds us that God in Christ is in the middle of our lives. This disaster cannot win. Easter reminds us that Jesus will make all things right in the end.”

And as Karen Drake, the first-grade teacher at St. Mary’s Catholic Elementary School, standing next to all the parish’s toppled buildings, said: “Our cross is still standing. I think that says a lot.”

A Catholic couple is doing what they can to hand out financial assistance with the help of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

John and Mary Olson belong to St. Mary’s Parish.

Mary is president of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul at St. Mary’s and John, a past president, serves as treasurer.

Once the Olsons realized the extent of damage from the storm, they immediately contacted the society’s national disaster fund and applied for financial assistance. The offices of the society’s national council are based in St. Louis.

At St. Mary’s, the St. Vincent de Paul ministry has served almost 10,000 people since it was established in 2003.

John and Mary have grown accustomed to helping those in need, and this disaster has done nothing to change their desire to serve.

“You cannot imagine how this will ever be cleared out, but people are going to rebuild,” said John, standing in the middle of all the destruction, a scene that could best be described as apocalyptic.

“We don’t really care about the buildings, it is the people,” John added.

On the morning of May 25, the Olsons gave away $1,000. As they walked toward the remains of St. Mary’s Church from their own home, located just outside the disaster area, they stopped to talk with people who had lost their homes and then wrote them $100 checks.

“My faith means so much to me,” Mary said. “I couldn’t get by any day without it. You are not sure why some things happen the way they do. We take so much of life for granted until you see something like this.”

Information about donations and materials needed by Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau can be found online at http://home.catholicweb.com/diocspfdcape/

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/cross-symbolizes-faith-amid-tragedy-in-joplin#ixzz1NqUO4X5r

Sunday, May 29, 2011

St Joan of Arc

St. Joan of Arc
Feastday: May 30
Patron of soldiers and France
b.1412 d.1431

St. Joan of Arc is the patroness of soldiers and of France. On January 6, 1412, Joan of Arc was born to pious parents of the French peasant class, at the obscure village of Domremy, near the province of Lorraine. At a very early age, she heard voices: those of St. Michael, St. Catherine and St. Margaret.

At first the messages were personal and general. Then at last came the crowning order. In May, 1428, her voices "of St. Michael, St. Catherine, and St. Margaret" told Joan to go to the King of France and help him reconquer his kingdom. For at that time the English king was after the throne of France, and the Duke of Burgundy, the chief rival of the French king, was siding with him and gobbling up evermore French territory.

After overcoming opposition from churchmen and courtiers, the seventeen year old girl was given a small army with which she raised the seige of Orleans on May 8, 1429. She then enjoyed a series of spectacular military successes, during which the King was able to enter Rheims and be crowned with her at his side.

In May 1430, as she was attempting to relieve Compiegne, she was captured by the Burgundians and sold to the English when Charles and the French did nothing to save her. After months of imprisonment, she was tried at Rouen by a tribunal presided over by the infamous Peter Cauchon, Bishop of Beauvais, who hoped that the English would help him to become archbishop.

Through her unfamiliarity with the technicalities of theology, Joan was trapped into making a few damaging statements. When she refused to retract the assertion that it was the saints of God who had commanded her to do what she had done, she was condemned to death as a heretic, sorceress, and adulteress, and burned at the stake on May 30, 1431. She was nineteen years old. Some thirty years later, she was exonerated of all guilt and she was ultimately canonized in 1920, making official what the people had known for centuries. Her feast day is May 30.

Joan was canonized in 1920 by Pope Benedict XV.

I went to a Traditional Latin Mass today

The Traditional Latin Mass has come to the Northshore of the Archdiocese of New Orleans at a beautiful country church in the tiny village of Lacombe, La.  My schedule this weekend for diaconate ministry allowed me to be able to attend.  It dawned on me as I was traveling to the church that I can't remember the last time I went to a Mass using the 1962 missal.  I'm guessing that it has been close to 45 years, when I was but a boy, since I've been to anything other than the Novus Ordo.

The obvious was what struck me first: the prayers in Latin, the Priest facing the same direction as the congregation, the inaudible prayers of the Priest(it was a low mass) and so much more.  It was a beautifully celebrated Mass however for me, I seemed to be working overtime to keep up with the missal provided and I'm sure my latin pronunciation is in need of some improvement.  I actually found much of the Mass appealing: the Priest facing the same direction, especially during the sacrifice of the Mass, communion kneeling and the beautiful music of the choir.  Some things I miss from the Novus Ordo: no reading from the Old Testament, lack of paticipation from the laity, and no sign of peace.

I know that liturgy is not about what we like/dislike so please accept this as observations from a 1st timer.

I knew enough not to be surprised that the Gospel is read in both latin and english but was surprised that the Priest read the epistle in both languages.  For a "low" mass I was pleastanly surprised at the amount of the singing.  I also expected the final Gospel that comes after Mass is over.  I believe it is the same Gospel from St. John after every Traditional Latin liturgy.

I have been very heartened by the words of Pope Benedict XVI and the cardinals he has put out front in discussing his decision to allow a wider use of this Mass.  He has asked the Catholic faithful to not discount or criticize either the Novus Ordo, the ordinary form of the Mass or the Traditional Latin Mass, the extr-ordinary form of the Mass.  In fact, Pope Benedict asks us to look at it as one liturgy.  Why was this even necessary?  I'm sure many devotees of the Novus Ordo have made several claims about the Church going backwards, etc.  And I'm equally sure that many "traditionalist" have felt some degree of triumphalism over the new emphasis for the Latin Mass.  Unfortunatley, I have personally been told by devotees of the traditional Mass that it is far superior to the Novus Ordo.

Pope Benedict XVI could not be more clear.  Those who desire the Tradional Latin Mass are to make no comments criticizing the Novus Ordo, the reforms of Vatican II, etc.  They are to refrain from wild radical statements that no Pope has been valid since Pius XII.  Please understand: those who do these things are very, very few and far between.  And Pope BenedictXVI could also not be more clear, for those who desire the Novus Ordo and may not feel a tug to the Traditional Latin Mass, no negative comments as well.

Follow the Pope.  He celebrates the Novus Ordo.  He has given great life to the renewal of the Tradional Latin Mass.  Catholics should feel comfortable at either and should understand that in either Mass, they are celebrating the holy sacrifice of the Mass.

So, I'm glad I went today.  And yes, I may go back again.  And yes, I am very grateful that I have always experienced a reverent and holy celebration of the Mass, in both the Novus Ordo of most of my church going life and the Traditional Latin Mass I attended today!

Deo Gratias!

Joplin recovers by faith

Faith comes to the forefront on Sunday in Joplin
By the CNN Wire Staff

(CNN) -- Sunday has long been a day for reflection in Joplin, Missouri, with residents flocking to churches and other places of worship for guidance, understanding and a sense of community.

Now, several of those churches are gone, as are scores who might otherwise be going to them, thanks to a horrific tornado that ripped through the southwest Missouri city one week ago. That makes this Sunday especially significant, not to mention the subsequent days, as religious leaders try to offer meaning after such a senseless disaster.

"You could see ... the challenge they are going to face, as they preach funerals in the weeks to come," Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon said after meeting faith-based leaders this week. "It's enormous."

Nixon, along with President Barack Obama, will be among those attending a special memorial service at Missouri Southern State University for the 142 killed (as of Saturday evening) and thousands more affected by the tornado.

Then at 5:41 p.m. -- exactly one week after an EF-5 tornado, with winds over 200 mph, first touched down -- the city will go silent.

That moment will be a stark contrast to the fury the Rev. Justin Monaghan experienced as the twister barrelled toward St. Mary's Catholic Church. The 70-year-old pastor got in a bathtub at the church, put his face down and prayed.

When the winds ceased, Monaghan found himself trapped in the rubble -- where he remained until some of his parishioners rescued him, unscathed.

While he's still coming to grips with what happened, Monaghan said he believes that good will come out of this tragedy and in fact already has.

"God allows things to happen that we don't know why," the pastor said earlier this week. "But when we look back, we always hear the good things that happen as a result."

That positive energy was on display Saturday on the church grounds. There, parishioners and volunteers picked through the debris looking for items to salvage, Monaghan said. One found the pastor's Bible, and another was able to save his golf clubs.

"The enthusiasm was unbelievable, even as people were shedding tears," Monaghan said. "It's just wonderful to see."

On Sunday, Monaghan said he will celebrate Mass at St. Peter's, another Catholic church in Joplin. And if and when his church is rebuilt -- something that he expects will happen, with the parish council's support -- the pastor said a 6-foot cross that somehow braved the storm will be a part of it, behind the altar.

"We wouldn't dream of not using that," he said.

The Bridge Ministries, a nondenominational Christian youth organization, has opened its doors to schools, relief agencies and churches in need of space. They include members of St. Paul's United Methodist Church, which will hold their Sunday services at the ministries' center after their own facility was severely damaged in the storm.

Dan Mitchell, the organization's president, said he has been impressed that so many people, from near and far, offered help. Food, water and clothing have come in everything from car trunks to tractor-trailers, he said, and the center's parking lot has transformed into a distribution point for supplies.

Meanwhile, Mitchell said that locals directly affected have seen their faith strengthened in the past week.

"Faithful Christians who understand that God creates order from chaos have stood up and done what it takes," he said. "They have given up their lives. If they come up against roadblocks, they get around them and they get it done."

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Steven Tyler's ex-girlfriend now speaks about her abortion. Powerful!

Several weeks ago I posted an article about Steven Tyler of Aerosmith fame and recently American Idol, and the profound impact on his life from an abortion by his then girlfriend Julia Holcombe.  Very recently Julia has come forward and the article I am posting now is also very profound.  It's a lengthy article so I'm providing the link below and strongly encouraging all to read it.

The impact of abortion is forever.  And the decision to repent is precious is God's eyes.

Here is the entire article:


I hope this will encourage you, and me, to redouble our efforts to be a pro-life people!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Back to jail

I can make a very strange statement: my whole week improved the moment I went to jail.  For background let's just say I've been out of sorts lately.  Work has been challenging.  Elizabeth's graduation activities rewarding but hectic.  Schedule all out of whack.  Feeling a little lousy due to my arthritis.

For the last couple of days I've been happy just to get through the day and make it to bed.  Wednesday night brought me back to prison.  I realized yesterday afternoon that I have not been here in 3 weeks; a long abscense for me.  So even though the day was difficult and I was tired as all get out, northern bound I traveled.

The men were remarkably glad to see me, grateful for my mid-week visit.  The liturgy was beautifully celebrated and I was inspired to preach a strong message for the men!

One of our own picked up the saxophone and accompanied us in Amazing Grace at the end of the communion service.

Many of the men stopped to share with me thanks or a quick visit or their circumstances updated from 3 weeks past.

Needless to say, I needed this visit with my brothers from Rayburn more than they needed me to show up.  This ministry is alive and doing great; thanks be to God!  And I am always lifted and renewed and refreshed in Jesus Christ our Savior every time I visit.

Archbishop Dolan: subsidiarity & solidarity; blessed and blasted

Subsidiarity and Solidarity

May 25th, 2011 A couple of months ago, the bishops of the state of New York enjoyed a working luncheon with our new governor. It was a productive and enlightening visit.

At the conclusion, Governor Andrew Cuomo made an observation that has stuck with me. He commented: “Most people who come to see me lobby on behalf of their own needs, their own group, or their own cause. You bishops have just spent an hour talking to me about the needs of inner-city school kids, prisoners, immigrants, the uninsured sick, the elderly, moms and their babies, and nursing homes.” [We had also spoken about the unborn and the defense of marriage.]

The governor thoughtfully concluded, “I am moved by your agenda, because it’s not your own, but for others, especially those in need.”

Okay, flattery will get you everywhere, but we bishops, in spite of some serious differences we may have with our governor, appreciated his observation, and sure hope it is deserved.

We bishops are not politicians, but pastors. So we preach principles — not our own, but those rooted in the Bible, especially the teachings of Jesus, Natural Law, and the tradition of our Church. We then trust such principles will enlighten those who look to us for guidance.

As Blessed Pope John Paul II remarked, “The Church does not impose; she only proposes.”

And a fundamental proposition is that care for those struggling, the poor, sick, and abandoned, the vulnerable and defenseless, has a priority in our attention to what we call the common good.

This was the theme of a letter I sent — written in my capacity as president of the bishops’ conference last January — to each member of Congress as they got back to work, as well as a letter on the budget sent last month by my brothers, Bishop Stephen Blaire, chair of the bishops’ committee on domestic policy, and Bishop Howard Hubbard, chair of our committee on international policy sent recently to the House and Senate. This was the theme again in my recent correspondence with Congressman Paul Ryan, which built on those two earlier letters.

When we bishops propose moral principles — most often allied, by the way, with the basic philosophy of our beloved country, as enshrined in our normative documents like the Declaration of Independence — we get both blessed and cursed.

One side usually blesses us when we preach the virtue of fiscal responsibility, the civil rights of the unborn, the danger of government-tampering with the definition of marriage, and the principle of subsidiarity — that is, that the smaller units in our society, such as family, neighborhood, Church, and volunteer organizations, are usually preferable to big government in solving social ills.

Yet this same side then often cringes when we defend workers, speak on behalf of the rights of the undocumented immigrant, and remind government of the moral imperative to protect the poor.

The other side enjoys quoting us when we extol universal health care, question the death penalty, demand that every budget and program be assessed on whether it will help or hurt those in need, encourage international aid, and promote the principle of solidarity, namely, society’s shared duties to one another, especially the poor and struggling . . .

. . . and then these same folks bristle when we defend the rights of parents in education, those of the baby in the womb and grandma on her death bed, insist that America is at her best when people of faith have a respected voice in the public square, defend traditional marriage, and remind government that it has no right to intrude in Church affairs, but does have the obligation to protect the rights of conscience.

So, we bishops get both blessed and blasted, a friend or foe of bloggers, pundits, and politicians, depending on what the issue is.

But, once again, we’re used to it. We try our best to be pastors, not politicians, teachers, not tacticians, shepherds, not strategists; we do not need to run for re-election (good thing, since most of us would probably lose!); and the only platform we have is God’s Word, as hardwired into the human heart and handed on by His Church, especially as taught by Jesus, who reminded us that, “As long as you did it to one of these, the least of my brethren, you did it to me.”

St. Philip Neri

Saint Philip Neri

Feastday: May 26
Patron of Rome

If one had to choose one saint who showed the humorous side of holiness that would Philip Neri.

Born in 1515 in Florence, he showed the impulsiveness and spontaneity of his character from the time he was a boy. In fact one incident almost cost him his life. Seeing a donkey loaded with fruit for market, the little boy had barely formed the thought of jumping on the donkey's back before he had done it. The donkey, surprised, lost his footing, and donkey, fruit, and boy tumbled into the cellar with the boy winding up on the bottom! Miraculously he was unhurt.

His father was not successful financially and at eighteen Philip was sent to work with an older cousin who was a successful businessman. During this time, Philip found a favorite place to pray up in the fissure of a mountain that had been turned into a chapel. We don't know anything specific about his conversion but during these hours of prayer he decided to leave worldly success behind and dedicate his life to God.

After thanking his cousin, he went to Rome in 1533 where he was the live-in tutor of the sons of a fellow Florentine. He studied philosophy and theology until he thought his studies were interfering with his prayer life. He then stopped his studies, threw away his books, and lived as a kind of hermit.

Night was his special time of prayer. After dark he would go out in the streets, sometimes to churches, but most often into the catacombs of St. Sebastiano to pray. During one of these times of prayer he felt a globe of light enter his mouth and sink into his heart. This experience gave him so much energy to serve God that he went out to work at the hospital of the incurables and starting speaking to others about God, everyone from beggars to bankers.

In 1548 Philip formed a confraternity with other laymen to minister to pilgrims who came to Rome without food or shelter. The spiritual director of the confraternity convinced Philip that he could do even more work as a priest. After receiving instruction from this priest, Philip was ordained in 1551.

At his new home, the church of San Girolamo, he learned to love to hear confessions. Young men especially found in him the wisdom and direction they needed to grow spiritually. But Philip began to realize that these young men needed something more than absolution; they needed guidance during their daily lives. So Philip began to ask the young men to come by in the early afternoon when they would discuss spiritual readings and then stay for prayer in the evening. The numbers of the men who attended these meetings grew rapidly. In order to handle the growth, Philip and a fellow priest Buonsignore Cacciaguerra gave a more formal structure to the meetings and built a room called the Oratory to hold them in.

Philip understood that it wasn't enough to tell young people not to do something -- you had to give them something to do in its place. So at Carnival time, when the worst excesses were encouraged, Philip organized a pilgrimage to the Seven Churches with a picnic accompanied by instrumental music for the mid-day break. After walking twelve miles in one day everyone was too tired to be tempted!

In order to guide his followers, Philip made himself available to everyone at any hour -- even at night. He said some of the most devout people were those who had come to him at night. When others complained, Philip answered, "They can chop wood on my back so long as they do not sin."

Not everyone was happy about this growing group and Philip and Buonsignore were attacked by the priests they lived with. But eventually Philip and his companions were vindicated and went on with their work.

In 1555, the Pope's Vicar accused Philip of "introducing novelties" and ordered him to stop the meetings of the Oratory. Philip was brokenhearted but obeyed immediately. The Pope only let him start up the Oratory again after the sudden death of his accuser. Despite all the trouble this man had caused, Philip would not let anyone say anything against the man or even imply that his sudden death was a judgment from God.

One church, for Florentines in Rome, had practically forced him to bring the Oratory to their church. But when gossip and accusations started, they began to harass the very people they had begged to have nearby! At that point, Philip decided it would be best for the group to have their own church. They became officially known as the Congregation of the Oratory, made up of secular priests and clerics.

Philip was known to be spontaneous and unpredictable, charming and humorous.

He seemed to sense the different ways to bring people to God. One man came to the Oratory just to make fun of it. Philip wouldn't let the others throw him out or speak against him. He told them to be patient and eventually the man became a Dominican. On the other hand, when he met a condemned man who refused to listen to any pleas for repentance, Philip didn't try gentle words, but grabbed the man by the collar and threw him to the ground. The move shocked the criminal into repentance and he made a full confession.

Humility was the most important virtue he tried to teach others and to learn himself. Some of his lessons in humility seem cruel, but they were tinged with humor like practical jokes and were related with gratitude by the people they helped. His lessons always seem to be tailored directly to what the person needed. One member who was later to become a cardinal was too serious and so Philip had him sing the Misere at a wedding breakfast. When one priest gave a beautiful sermon, Philip ordered him to give the same sermon six times in a row so people would think he only had one sermon.

Philip preferred spiritual mortification to physical mortification. When one man asked Philip if he could wear a hair shirt, Philip gave him permission -- if he wore the hair shirt outside his clothes! The man obeyed and found humility in the jokes and name-calling he received.

There were unexpected benefits to his lessons in humility. Another member, Baronius, wanted to speak at the meetings about hellfire and eternal punishment. Philip commanded him instead to speak of church history. For 27 years Baronius spoke to the Oratory about church history. At the end of that time he published his talks as a widely respected and universally praised books on ecclesiastical history!

Philip did not escape this spiritual mortification himself. As with others, his own humbling held humor. There are stories of him wearing ridiculous clothes or walking around with half his beard shaved off. The greater his reputation for holiness the sillier he wanted to seem. When some people came from Poland to see the great saint, they found him listening to another priest read to him from joke books.

Philip was very serious about prayer, spending hours in prayer. He was so easily carried away that he refused to preach in public and could not celebrate Mass with others around. But he when asked how to pray his answer was, "Be humble and obedient and the Holy Spirit will teach you."

Philip died in 1595 after a long illness at the age of eighty years.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Venerable Bede

Venerable Bede
Feastday: May 25

Bede was born near St. Peter and St. Paul monastery at Wearmouth-Jarrow, England. He was sent there when he was three and educated by Abbots Benedict Biscop and Ceolfrid. He became a monk at the monastery, was ordained when thirty, and except for a few brief visits elsewhere, spent all of his life in the monastery, devoting himself to the study of Scripture and to teaching and writing. He is considered one of the most learned men of his time and a major influence on English literature. His writings are a veritable summary of the learning of his time and include commentaries on the Pentateuch and various other books of the Bible, theological and scientific treatises, historical works, and biographies. His best-known work is HISTORIA ECCLESIASTICA, a history of the English Church and people, which he completed in 731. It is an account of Christianity in England up to 729 and is a primary source of early English history. Called "the Venerable" to acknowledge his wisdom and learning, the title was formalized at the Council of Aachen in 853. He was a careful scholar and distinguished stylist, the "father" of English history, the first to date events anno domini (A.D.), and in 1899, was declared the only English doctor of the Church. He died in Wearmouth-Jarrow on May 25. His feast day is May 25th.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Wednesday's Saint of the day

St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi

Feastday: May 25

It would be easy to concentrate on the mystical experiences God gave this saint, rather than on her life. In fact, it would be difficult to do differently, so overwhelming were those gifts from God. The temptation for many modern readers (including the author) would be to see little to identify with in these graces and walk away without seeing more. The other temptation would be to become so fascinated with these stories that one would neglect to dig deeper and learn the real lessons of her life.

But Mary Magdalene de Pazzi is not a saint because she received ecstasies and graces from God. Many have received visions, ecstasies, and miracles without becoming holy. She is a saint because of her response to those gifts -- a lifelong struggle to show love and gratitude to the God who gave her those graces.

In fact Mary Magdalene saw her ecstasies as evidence of a great fault in her, not a reward for holiness. She told one fellow sister that God did not give this sister the same graces "because you don't need them in order to serve him." In her eyes, God gave these gifts to those who were too weak to become holy otherwise. That Mary Magdalene received these gifts proved, in her mind, how unworthy she was.

Born in Florence on April 2, 1566, Mary Magdalene (baptized Catherine) was taught mental prayer when she was nine years old at the request of her mother. Her introduction at this age to this form of prayer which involves half an hour of meditation did not seem to be unusual. And yet today we often believe children incapable of all but the simplest rote prayers.

At twelve years old she experienced her first ecstasy while looking at a sunset which left her trembling and speechless.

With this foundation in prayer and in mystical experience, it isn't surprising that she wanted to enter a contemplative monastery of the Carmelite Order. She chose the monastery of St. Mary's of the Angels because the nuns took daily Communion, unusual at the time.

In 1583 she had her second mystical experience when the other nuns saw her weeping before the crucifix as she said, "O Love, you are neither known nor loved."

Mary Magdalene's life is a contradiction of our instinctive thought that joy only comes from avoiding suffering. A month after being refused early religious profession, she was refused she fell deathly ill. Fearing for her life the convent had her professed from a stretcher at the altar. After that she experienced forty days of ecstasies that coexisted with her suffering. Joy from the graces God gave were mixed with agony as her illness grew worse. In one of her experiences Jesus took her heart and hid it in his own, telling her he "would not return it until it is wholly pure and filled with pure love." She didn't recover from her illness until told to ask for the intercession of Blessed Mary Bagnesi over three months later.

What her experiences and prayer had given her was a familiar, personal relationship with Jesus. Her conversations with Jesus often take on a teasing, bantering tone that shocks those who have a formal, fearful image of God. For example, at the end of her forty days of graces, Jesus offered her a crown of flowers or a crown of thorns. No matter how often she chose the crown of thorns, Jesus kept teasingly pushing the crown of flowers to her. When he accused her, "I called and you didn't care," she answered back, "You didn't call loudly enough" and told him to shout his love.

She learned to regret the insistence on the crown of thorns. We might think it is easy to be holy if God is talking to you every day but few of us could remain on the path with the five year trial that followed her first ecstasies. Before this trial, Jesus told her, "I will take away not the grace but the feeling of grace. Though I will seem to leave you I will be closer to you." This was easy for her to accept in the midst of ecstasy but, as she said later, she hadn't experienced it yet. At the age of nineteen she started five years of dryness and desolation in which she was repelled by prayer and tempted by everything. She referred to her heart as a pitch-dark room with only a feeble light shining that only made the darkness deeper. She was so depressed she was found twice close to suicide. All she could do to fight back was to hold onto prayer, penance, and serving others even when it appeared to do no good.

Her lifelong devotion to Pentecost can be easily understood because her trial ended in ecstasy in 1590. At this time she could have asked for any gifts but she wanted two in particular: to look on any neighbor as good and holy without judgment and to always have God's presence before her.

Far from enjoying the attention her mystical experiences brought her, she was embarrassed by it. For all her days, she wanted a hidden life and tried everything she could to achieve it. When God commanded her to go barefoot as part of her penance and she could not walk with shoes, she simply cut the soles out of her shoes so no one would see her as different from the other nuns. If she felt an ecstasy coming on, she would hurry to finish her work and go back to her room. She learned to see the notoriety as part of God's will. When teaching a novice to accept God's will, she told her, "I wanted a hidden life but, see, God wanted something quite different for me."

Some still might think it was easy for her to be holy with all the help from God. Yet when she was asked once why she was weeping before the cross, she answered that she had to force herself to do something right that she didn't want to do. It's true that when a sister criticized her for acting so different, she thanked her, "May God reward you! You have never spoken truer words!" but she told others it hurt her quite a bit to be nice to someone who insulted her.

Mary Magdalene was no pale, shrinking flower. Her wisdom and love led to her appointment to many important positions at the convent including mistress of novices. She did not hesitate to be blunt in guiding the women under her care when their spiritual life was at stake. When one of the novices asked permission to pretend to be impatient so the other novices would not respect her so much, Mary Magdalene's answer shook this novice out of this false humility: "What you want to pretend to be, you already are in the eyes of the novices. They don't respect you nearly as much as you like to think."

Mary Magdalene's life offers a great challenge to all those who think that the best penance comes from fasting and physical discomfort. Though she fasted and wore old clothes, she chose the most difficult penance of all by pretending to like the things she didn't like. Not only is this a penance most of us would shrink from but, by her acting like she enjoyed it, no one knew she was doing this great penance!

In 1604, headaches and paralyzation confined her to bed. Her nerves were so sensitive that she could not be touched without agonizing pain. Ever humble, she took the fact that her prayers were not granted as a sure sign that God's will was being done. For three years she suffered, before dying on May 25, 1607 at the age of forty-one.

If at first you don't succeed; predict the rapture again!

Rapture actually is coming in October, radio host says now
Published: Tuesday, May 24, 2011, 9:00 AM Updated: Tuesday, May 24, 2011, 10:34 AM
By The Associated Press The Times-Picayune

Print OAKLAND, California — California preacher Harold Camping said Monday his prophecy that the world would end was off by five months; Judgment Day actually will come on Oct. 21.

Camping, who predicted that 200 million Christians would be taken to heaven Saturday before the Earth was destroyed, said he felt so terrible when his doomsday prediction did not come true that he left home and took refuge in a motel with his wife. His independent ministry, Family Radio International, spent millions — some of it from donations made by followers — on more than 5,000 billboards and 20 RVs plastered with the Judgment Day message.

But Camping said that he has now realized the apocalypse will come five months after May 21, the original date he predicted. He had earlier said Oct. 21 was when the globe would be consumed by a fireball.

Saturday was "an invisible judgment day" in which a spiritual judgment took place, he said. But the timing and the structure is the same as it has always been, he said.

"We've always said May 21 was the day, but we didn't understand altogether the spiritual meaning," he said. "May 21 is the day that Christ came and put the world under judgment."

It's not the first time the independent Christian radio host has been forced to explain when his prediction didn't come to pass. He also predicted the Apocalypse would come in 1994, but said it didn't happen then because of a mathematical error.

Rather than give his normal daily broadcast on Monday, Camping made a special statement to reporters at the Oakland headquarters of the media empire that has broadcast his message. His show, "Open Forum," has for months headlined his doomsday message via the group's radio stations, TV channels, satellite broadcasts and website.

When the Rapture didn't arrive Saturday, crestfallen followers began turning their attention to more earthly concerns.

Jeff Hopkins had figured the gas money he spent driving back and forth from Long Island to New York City would be worth it, as long as people could see the ominous sign atop his car warning that the end of the world was nigh.

"I've been mocked and scoffed and cursed at and I've been through a lot with this lighted sign on top of my car," said Hopkins, 52, a former television producer who lives in Great River, New York. "I was doing what I've been instructed to do through the Bible, but now I've been stymied. It's like getting slapped in the face."

Camping said Family Radio would never tell anyone what they should do with their possessions.

"That is between them and God," he said.

But he said he wouldn't give away all his possessions ahead of Oct 21.

"I still have to live in a house, I still have to drive a car," he said. "What would be the value of that? If it is Judgment Day why would I give it away?"

Apocalyptic thinking has always been part of American religious life and popular culture. Teachings about the end of the world vary dramatically — even within faith traditions — about how they will occur.

Still, the overwhelming majority of Christians reject the idea that the exact date or time of Jesus' return can be predicted.

Tim LaHaye, co-author of the best-selling "Left Behind" novels about the end times, recently called Camping's prediction "not only bizarre but 100 percent wrong!" He cited the Bible verse Matthew 24:36, "but about that day or hour no one knows" except God.

"While it may be in the near future, many signs of our times certainly indicate so, but anyone who thinks they 'know' the day and the hour is flat out wrong," LaHaye wrote on his website, leftbehind.com.

In 2009, the nonprofit Family Radio reported in IRS filings that it received $18.3 million in donations, and had assets of more than $104 million, including $34 million in stocks or other publicly traded securities.

By Garance Burke, Associated Press

Associated Press writer Tom Breen in Raleigh, North Carolina, and Videographer Ted Shaffrey and AP Religion Writer Rachel Zoll in New York, contributed to this report.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Tuesday's Feast: Mary Help of Christians

Mary Help of Christians

The Feast of Mary Help of Christians is celebrated on May 24.

The tradition of this advocation goes back to 1571, when the whole of Christendom was saved by Mary Help of Christians when Catholics throughout Europe prayed the Rosary. The great battle of Lepanto occurred on October 7th 1571. For this reason this date has been chosen as the feast of the Holy Rosary. In 1573 Pope Pius V instituted the feast in thanksgiving for the decisive victory of Christianity over Islamism.

Near the end of the 17th century, Emperor Leopold I of Austria took refuge in the Shrine of Mary Help of Christians at Pasau, when 200,000 Ottoman Turks besieged the capital city of Vienna, but a great victory occurred thanks to Mary Help of Christians: on September 8th, Feast of Our Lady's Birthday, plans were drawn for the battle. On September 12, Feast of the Holy Name of Mary, Vienna was finally freed through the intercession of Mary Help of Christians. All Europe had joined with the Emperor crying out "Mary, Help!" and praying the Holy rosary.

In 1809, Napoleon's men entered the Vatican, arrested Pius VII and brought him in chains to Grenoble, and eventually Fontainbleau. His imprisonment lasted five years. The Holy Father vowed to God that , if he were restored to the Roman See, he would institute a special feast in honor of Mary. Military reverses forced Napoleon to release the Pope, and on May 24th 1814, Pius VII returned in triumph to Rome. Twelve months later, the Pope decreed that the feast of Mary Help of Christians, be kept on the 24th of May.

St. John Bosco (1815 - 1888) was a dynamic priest who founded the Salesian Order in the XIX century in Italy. His many prophetic dreams, beginning at age nine, guided his ministry and gave insights on future events.

On May 14, 1862, Don Bosco dreamed about the battles the Church would face in the latter days. In his dream, the Pope of those days anchors the 'ship' of the Church between two pillars, one with a statue of Mary (Auxilium Christianorum or 'Help of Christians') and the other with a large Eucharistic Host

St. John Bosco wrote about his congregation, the Salesians: "The principal objective is to promote veneration of the Blessed Sacrament and devotion to Mary Help of Christians. This title seems to please the august Queen of Heaven very much."

The Salesian Sisters of St John Bosco or Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, are the sister order of the Salesians of Don Bosco.

St. John Bosco, himself, on June 9 1868, dedicated to Our Lady Help of Christians, the mother church of his congregation at Turin (Italy). The Salesian Fathers and their Sisters have carried the devotion to their numerous establishments.

A great connection between Blessed John Paul II and Blessed Seelos

>>>This is a great story connecting the lives of two Blesseds: John Paul II and Francis Xavier Seelos.  The report also connects the affection between the Vatican and the Archdiocese of New Orleans.

Please view this and continue to pray for God's will so that both of these extraordinary servants of God will one day be declared Saints by the Church.

Blessed John Paul II and Blessed Seelos, pray for us!!


Know not the hour or the day...

So much has been written about the rapture prediction of Harold Camping that, like all others, did not come true.  Why do we waste so much time on these things.  The Gospels of both St. Matthew and St. Mark tells us that no one knows the hour or the day.  I enjoyed the whole of Saturday for what it was; another fabulous day the Lord has made.  At 6 p.m. I was preparing for a nice dinner with family.

As I digest the news of the last few hours I wonder if it felt like the last day in Joplin, Missouri.  As a quiet southwest Missouri town faced another Sunday and the predicted bad weather, little did they know it would be such a ghastly day.  At this hour, 89 are reported dead while others are hurt and still others are missing.  I guess it must have felt like end times recently for the good folks of Alabama, or Japan or even my own region some six years ago because of Katrina.

How about those whose days end unexpectedly due to an accident or perhaps an act of violence or even a medical emergency previously undected?

The lesson from all of this is simple: be prepared?  At all times and in all situations live life as if today may be your last on earth.  We who call ourselves Christians know by faith that this life is not the end.  No!  One way or the other we will live on eternally.  Our hope is that it will be in sheer happiness with God.  For Catholics this means we strive to live in a state of grace free from the poison of mortal sin. 

Catholics who paid even the least bit of attention to this latest "rapture" prediction and are moved by the fates of those who experience a Joplin or Katrina moment should pause and reflect on what the Church teaches about grace, sin, mercy, judgement.  For starters we can examine our own conscience, deeply and sincerely so as to consider our own sinfulness and need for God's mercy.  Yes, Jesus paid a debt for our sins, but we must continue to repent and confess.  For us Catholics, confession or reconciliation is sacramental.  We are obliged by our faith to confess our sins.  If you have not been to the Sacrament of Reconciliation, even if it be a very long time, please consider doing so soon.  You will be so happy that you did so!

Catholics believe all that divine Scripture declares, as authentically interpreted by the Church.  We believe all of John Chapter 6.  To have eternal life we must eat His body and drink His blood in Holy Communion as presented to us in the holy sacrifice of the Mass.  Again, if you have been far from the Mass for a long time, or you may attend but can't receive Him in the Eucharist, come back and talk to a priest or deacon or someone who can guide you authentically.

It is true that all will reach the end of this walk on earth.  And yes, Jesus will indeed come again.  But He will not come in foolhearty predictions of those who wish to interpret the Bible their way.  And in that statement lies all the reason to believe in one body, one church.

Jesus founded a Church some 2,000 years ago and She was born on Pentecost.  She is alive today helping people achieve their eternal life with the Father and the Son.  Come find out more and visit us at any Catholic parish!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

St. Rita; patron of impossible causes

St. Rita
Feastday: May 22
Patron of impossible cases

St. Rita was born at Spoleto, Italy in 1381. At an early age, she begged her parents to allow her to enter a convent. Instead they arranged a marriage for her. Rita became a good wife and mother, but her husband was a man of violent temper. In anger he often mistreated his wife. He taught their children his own evil ways.

Rita tried to perform her duties faithfully and to pray and receive the sacraments frequently. After nearly twenty years of marriage, her husband was stabbed by an enemy but before he died, he repented because Rita prayed for him. Shortly afterwards, her two sons died, and Rita was alone in the world. Prayer, fasting, penances of many kinds, and good works filled her days. She was admitted to the convent of the Augustinian nuns at Cascia in Umbria, and began a life of perfect obedience and great charity.

Sister Rita had a great devotion to the Passion of Christ. "Please let me suffer like you, Divine Saviour," she said one day, and suddenly one of the thorns from the crucifix struck her on the forehead. It left a deep wound which did not heal and which caused her much suffering for the rest of her life. She died on May 22, 1457. She is the patroness of impossible cases. Her feast day is May 22.

A reflective and satisfying Sunday

As I relax for a little while longer on this beautiful Sunday morning before leaving for Mass I find myself remarkably reflective.  On Friday evening I sat next to my wife of 34 years and watched our baby girl march across stage on the campus of LSU to receive her college diploma.  While feeling very proud, that accomplishment is all hers; she did the work and remained focused over four years to reach this point.  What a great moment and as I reflect on both my children, seeing them succeed has been one heck of a blessing.

The whole buildup to graduation weekend was cool; Wendy made sure everything was in place, not just for graduation but the visit of my son Jimmy and his wife Sara.  They would be visiting us for the first time since they were married this time last year.  In addition to all the graduation action, the visiting time with Jimmy and Sara was such a nice added pleasure.  They are already airborne, flying back to resume their lives in North Carolina.

Yesterday, as part of her graduation experience, Elizabeth, Jimmy and Sara all went sky-diving.  Now jumping out of a plane is not my idea of fun, but they could not wait.  Not wanting to tempt anything, and knowing my personality, I opted to hear all about it and look at the pictures.  Needless to say they all landed safe and sound and in one piece.

So while preparing for Mass, always grateful for this gift, I'm preparing to give thanks to God for the gift of my children, their lives lived and the good things that have come their way.  And for the gift of the family he created in giving me a devoted and wonderful wife Wendy all those many years ago.

Today at Mass we will hear from Acts the reading of the first seven deacons.  Again, another moment of thanksgiving as I rejoice in this ministry He has bestowed on me.

I may not do much with the rest of my Sunday after Mass beyond reflecting and remembering the wonderful events of these past few days.  And in doing so I will utter many times, Deo Gratias: Thanks be to God!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Should we preach diakonia? Absolutely!

I'm not preaching this weekend but wish I were.  Why?  The first reading from Acts of the Apostles gives us the history and lesson of the original deacons of the Church.  We find the whole story in Acts 6:1-7.  The disciples are growing and widows are being neglected.  The twelve determined that it would not be right to neglect the Word of God and serve at table.  Wanting to remain devoted to prayer and ministry of the word, the twelve selected seven "deacons" to serve.  By name they are Stephen, Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicholas of Antioch.  The reading continues by describing the first ordination rite for deacons; prayer and the laying on of hands.

Stephen, in exercising his diaconal ministry, gives a marvelous witness to the new church, the new faith, by way of pwerful preaching.  We all know that Stephen, forgiving those who turned on him, then soon became the first Christian martyr.

From this time forward the church has been served by deacons including the robust restoration of the permanent diaconate.  Like those early days we permanent deacons are called to service.  Like Stephen, we are called to preach.  Like that early rite, we are ordained by prayer and the laying on of hands by a Bishop, the successors to the twelve.

So this weekend I would preach diakonia and the mission of Christ the servant.  And remind everyone that deacons are ordained to that call.  And finally, by nature of ordination and the example given here in Acts, confirm once again, it's not just what we do but who we are...Permanent Deacons serving Him and His Church by serving others!

The end of the world; not my idea of a fun Saturday

According to the latest end of the world prediction; the end is here.  Today is the day.  The end of the world has been declaratively predicted by Harold Camping, another self appointed religious leader who has it all figured out.  Now today's big end of the world is not your normal run of the mill end of the world it's a rolling time zone by time zone end of the world for 6 p.m. local time.

If that be the case, I think the first devestated time zone is on the clock so we should know inside the hour how this is working out.  I also find it hard to take that this development obviously means the end of this year's spring horse racing excitement as the Preakness may or may not make it to the finish line.

This is the problem with the on-going movement of anybody/everybody rock and roll feel good religions.  Don't like what the Church teaches or believes, start your own.  Camping and thousands upon thousands of others fit this bill.  He says the world ends today and presto he has more 15 minutes of fame than Kate Gosselin.

This is of course the whole hocus pocus that is rapture theology; another man made misread of Sacred Scripture, taught out of context and with no belief in Sacred Tradition.  So the Catholic Church, which was given the fullness of truth by Her founder Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, present when the Church was born at Pentecost, teaches a little something about the rapture.  While not the greatest of articles I'll post what I have tonight because, well it's late.  And I do want to wake up early and see which time zones are still with us.

My advice, enjoy the day.  Do what you would normally do and give thanks to God above and Jesus our only mediator between us and Him that we don't need to listen to Camping or believe in the rapture to achieve eternal life with them in Heaven.

Read on:

Catholic Church Teaches About the Rapture
An area of Catholic theology that is often misunderstood by non-Catholics and Catholics alike is that of the end times and the rapture. The concepts of the end of the world and death are very dramatized and in many ways mysterious in our current society. Because of this, much fiction has been mixed in with truth, blurring the lines between what has been revealed in scripture, and what are simply fanatical ideas.

When many people, Protestant and Catholic alike, think of the end times, they automatically think of the rapture, a type of “Left Behind” event. In this event, those who are right with God are mysteriously taken up into heaven, and those who are living in sin, remain on Earth during a time of tribulation and chaos. The Catholic teaching on the end times however, does not support this type of event.

The word “rapture” comes from the Latin word meaning “to be caught up” or “taken up”. This refers to the passage in St. Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians 4:17 which states, “then we who are alive, who are left, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we shall always be with the Lord.” The Catholic understanding of this passage is that those believers who are alive during Christ’s second coming will not experience death, but rather, will be gloriously transformed and join the saints already with Christ. Nowhere in 1 Thessalonians does St. Paul teach a secret coming of Christ. Furthermore, St. Paul states that Christ’s coming will be announced by the cry of an archangel and by a trumpet blast. St. Paul is describing the resurrection of the dead that will take place at Christ’s second coming. It appears, when reading 1 Thessalonians that Christians at the time were worried that those who died before Christ’s second coming would not share in His triumphant return. Paul assures them that when the time comes, they will join the resurrected to meet the Lord and will share in Christ’s triumphant descent from heaven to earth.

And for more help: