reflections, updates and homilies from Deacon Mike Talbot inspired by the following words from my ordination: Receive the Gospel of Christ whose herald you have become. Believe what you read, teach what you believe and practice what you teach...
Generations of Catholics have admired this young saint, called her the "Little Flower", and found in her short life more inspiration for own lives than in volumes by theologians.
Yet Therese died when she was 24, after having lived as cloistered Carmelite for less than ten years. She never went on missions, never founded a religious order, never performed great works. The only book of hers, published after her death, was an brief edited version of her journal called "Story of a Soul." (Collections of her letters and restored versions of her journals have been published recently.) But within 28 years of her death, the public demand was so great that she was canonized.
It's slim pickins this year for the New Orleans Saints and long suffering Saint fans. Wait a minute, that last remark was a post tramatic stress reaction to decades of bad Saints teams. This is different and to us, it feels different. After all, this is Saints team with lots of the same players who took us to and won a Super Bowl. This is mostly the same Saint team that went 13-3 last year and barely missed out on the NFC championship team. This is the same Saint team that early on, even NFL experts picked as a possible host team playing a Super Bowl at home.
Enter bounty-gate and unprecedented penalties from a league that wanted to inflict punishment but evidently wanted to destroy the Saints. No head coach for a year, no GM for an extended period of time, no interim head coach for 6 games, loss of draft picks, etc. We boldly and perhaps arrogantly said bring it on. We have everything in place to weather this storm. Then we had a Drew Brees holdout, then a contract that while many believe justified, it helped usher the good bye forever ticket to 4 key players of the once proud Saint machine.
Looked like we would start the season in good shape. Nothing was revealed in preseason that would indicate disaster, although the defense looked problematic. Heck, the defense is always problematic, we just dominate the game when Drew and the O are on the field. Then the early schedule has the Saints playing Washington, Carolina and KC. No concerns here. But after they strapped it up and played between the lines the Saints were 0-3 and facing an almost equally desperate Green Bay. Despite actually outplaying the Pack, the Saints still find new and innovative ways to lose, including a missed FG after an unbelievable holding penalty that wiped out a good FG just moments earlier. Any way you cut it, this is a team that is 0-4 with a very bad defense; I mean worst in the league kinda bad. Now we can add to that a running game that is poor, a much less effective Drew Brees(making about 2 million gross per game in 2012), receivers dropping almost as many balls as they catch and a O-line that has just the big breakdown at just the wrong time. Now throw in a FG kicker that has missed 2 important kicks so far this year. And don't forget the lack of leadership on the sidelines. This poor guy, Cromer, seems so far in over his head. Sad. Sean Payton's lack of presence is now palpable.
How bad will this season be Only time will tell. But I don't see the team winning too many games just based on the defense alone. The schedule down the road won't help much either. I hate doing this but I'll predict 6-10 best case. And I hope I'm wrong.
As much as I never thought I would see the Saints in the Super Bowl, let alone win it, I never thought this team, still made in Sean Payton's image and led by Drew Brees, would be this bad this soon. It is what it is. Somehow, I'll probably keep watching and keep getting in trouble with my comments on facebook. Unlike others, at least I'm not pulling out the paper bag yet!
Well, my imaginary line in time, that difference between April-September(hot, muggy, summer, hurricanes, ick) and October - March(cooler, beautiful, early nights, less humidity, football, fall, winter, early spring, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, Mardi Gras) is upon me. Here we are on the eve of the day that transitions to my favorite time of the year. For the most part, October 1st is normally cooperative. Not so much here in 2012. It's rainy and humid and well, too darn hot. Football has arrived but neither my Saints in defeat or my LSU Tigers in victory have inspired confidence or dreams of post season glory. The cold weather is nowhere in sight and I'm ready to really celebrate fall!
October brings much busy-ness(if that can be a word) in all aspects of Talbot life. Personally, our little grandson is growing big and my wife Wendy will be off to North Carolina in October to spend 2 weeks with the baby. Lucky her. I'm guaranteed at least some great pictures, some Skype activity and daily updates. I'm staying behind as I begin my first full business quarter as manager of FNBC Bank, my new employee since July. Yes, 2012 has been about a bunch of big changes.
October brings much excitement for the Church: the Year of Faith, the celebration of the 50th anniversary of Vatican II, Respect Life Month, World Mission activity and I'm sure more I simply can't remember right now. It's great that the Church founded by Christ is very much alive and active.
Church ministry for this Permanent Deacon will witness big activity at Rayburn Correctional, much preparation for our 2012 class off soon to be ordained Deacons and lots of work on our ongoing Bible study and my preparation for 4 couples getting married this December.
So tonight, this last night of my least favorite half of the year, I am so ready for what the most favorite half of year will bring. In all times, however, I look to Him, who is Lord over all the days and seasons of the year!
We are approaching elections in just a few short months. The Church calls us to be good citizens of our nation. By our baptism, Catholics are committed to following Jesus Christ and to be "salt for the earth, light for the nations." As the Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us, "It is necessary that all participate, according to his position and role, in promoting the common good. This is inherent in the dignity of the human person ... As far as possible citizens should take an active part in public life" (nos. 1913-1915). As Americans, we are blessed with so many freedoms and opportunities. So many people have sacrificed so very much so we might be able to live as we live in our country. This election year, let's remember our faith in Jesus Christ. Let us also remember the freedoms that we enjoy, especially that of Religious Freedom. There is a wonderful Novena to the Mother of God For Our Nation that began on Saturday September 29 on the Feast of the Guardian Angels and it is available to pray at multiple websites. The National Catholic Register (www.ncregister.com) has the novena at http://www.ncregister.com/images/documents/NCRnovena.pdf and EWTN (www.ewtn.com) has the novena at http://www.religiousliberties.org/novena/ . Even if you start the Novena today, that will be wonderful to help you remember what is truly important. What is truly important? Well, the central tenets of our faith as is mentioned at http://www.religiousliberties.org/novena/ - "the Incarnation, passion, death, resurrection of the Lord and Mary's unique role in our salvation."
I will conclude with a prayer I found on the U.S. Bishops Website www.usccb.org for the Protection of Religious Liberty. I hope to pray this a number of times before the November election for our amazing nation, the United States of America.
Prayer for the Protection of Religious Liberty
O God our Creator, from your provident hand we have received our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. You have called us as your people and given us the right and the duty to worship you, the only true God, and your Son, Jesus Christ. Through the power and working of your Holy Spirit, you call us to live out our faith in the midst of the world, bringing the light and the saving truth of the Gospel to every corner of society.
We ask you to bless us in our vigilance for the gift of religious liberty. Give us the strength of mind and heart to readily defend our freedoms when they are threatened; give us courage in making our voices heard on behalf of the rights of your Church and the freedom of conscience of all people of faith.
Grant, we pray, O heavenly Father, a clear and united voice to all your sons and daughters gathered in your Church in this decisive hour in the history of our nation, so that, with every trial withstood and every danger overcome— for the sake of our children, our grandchildren, and all who come after us— this great land will always be "one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."
detours and getting there!Those are
but three parts of our many travels.Just recently, my wife and I left for one of our most important trips
ever; to reach Greensboro, North Carolina to meet our grandson Calvin; our
first grandbaby.Now, we know the way
from Abita Springs to Greensboro,
it just seemed awfully long as we anxiously wanted to see our little man.We had all the roadmaps in the travel bag,
the GPS was set and we prayed we would avoid all detours, road hazards and even
bad weather; anything that would delay us getting to our ultimate destination;
our destination being little Calvin!
Many of us have
experienced just that of which I speak.We set out on a journey and, for the most part, we find our way!Then again, we may, from time to time be
confounded by detours, road hazards and even bad weather.Despite these obstacles, we do ultimately
reach our destination.
As people of faith
we are challenged today to acknowledge our detours and road hazards and follow
the road map of Jesus to our ultimate destination: eternal life with God the
Father in Heaven.
continues to allow us to take this trip with Jesus and his Apostles as they
travel back to Jerusalem.We know that when this trip is over, Jesus
will face his Passion, Death and then his Resurrection.Along the way they may have encountered their
own detours and road hazards, maybe even their fair share of bad weather.But nothing, and I mean nothing, would deter
Jesus from following his road map: the will of the Father.
Now along the way,
Jesus was able to teach many lessons, to show those traveling with him the road
map that leads to that glorious destination.Today’s lesson comes because of the Apostles concerns that there were now
others doing things in Jesus’ name.Jesus tells them do not get detoured here; let them do it; it’s ok!Sounds very similar to our 1st
reading where Joshua wanted Moses to do the same to those Joshua did not know.No, keep the destination in mind; the end in
mind if you will.Let nothing deter you
from arriving at your ultimate destination.Jesus uses this break to talk about sin; yes, he preached about
sin.We tend to forget that no one in
the Scriptures spoke more about sin, and the consequences of sin than
Jesus.Three times in today’s Gospel he
mentions fiery Gehenna.It is a metaphor
for Hell.You see Gehenna is a real
place.Gehenna was an old, dirty,
filthy, burning, rotting mess of a garbage dump located outside of the
city.Gehenna was even believed to be a
place of evil human sacrifice.The mere
mention of Gehenna, as Jesus does in this Gospel, would more than get the point
And the point is
this: don’t end up in Gehenna, don’t end up in hell.Don’t let the detours and road blocks of this
life knock us off the path to Heaven and instead find the fires of hell.Jesus reminds us that NOW, we must cut off
and pluck out that which will keep us on the right destination.If it is our hand or our foot that causes us
to sin, cut it off.If it is our eyes that
cause us to sin, pluck it out.That begs
the question, what causes us to sin?
Are we addicted to
that which detours us from a life following the path to eternal life with the
Father?Does our drinking, or perhaps
drugs, pornography, hatred, violence, racism, gluttony, selfishness, being a
mean spirited person; do these things cut us off from the right path?Jesus tells us: cut it off, pluck it
out.Pick up the right road map, tune in
the GPS, follow His teaching, call out for help and seek His mercy for it is
never too late, if we follow Him!Does
our job or career prevent us from following Jesus?Is our circle of friends really leading us
down the wrong path?Could our own
family members be the road block from an eternal life spent with Jesus?Does our politics cause us to sin?These questions can only be answered by us as
individuals, seeking the right path.Are
we equipped with the right tools?Like
our road maps and GPS, we can begin with having the Bible and the Catechism in
our homes and used frequently.We can
have the Rosary on us and prayed frequently.We can take advantage of God’s unending font of mercy in Holy
Confession.This week, right here and
now, we must sit ourselves down and declare that which we need to cut off and
pluck out and turn to Jesus, the only destination we should truly have!And in this week, as we discern that which
prevents us from that destination, plot out a new path, clear all road blocks,
arrive at that destination that gives life and life eternally!
When my wife and I
arrived to meet Calvin it was one of the most profound and wonderful moments of
our lives.He was our destination on
that last trip to Greensboro,
North Carolina.As wonderful and as beautiful that moment
was; how much more wonderful when we realize our journey, no matter how
difficult, has arrived at our ultimate destination: Jesus Christ leading us
home to that place of eternal joy in Heaven with God!What a trip that will be!!
St. Jerome, who was born Eusebius Hieronymous Sophronius, was the most learned of the Fathers of the Western Church. He was born about the year 342 at Stridonius, a small town at the head of the Adriatic, near the episcopal city of Aquileia. His father, a Christian, took care that his son was well instructed at home, then sent him to Rome, where the young man's teachers were the famous pagan grammarian Donatus and Victorinus, a Christian rhetorician. Jerome's native tongue was the Illyrian dialect, but at Rome he became fluent in Latin and Greek, and read the literatures of those languages with great pleasure. His aptitude for oratory was such that he may have considered law as a career. He acquired many worldly ideas, made little effort to check his pleasure-loving instincts, and lost much of the piety that had been instilled in him at home. Yet in spite of the pagan and hedonistic influences around him, Jerome was baptized by Pope Liberius in 360. He tells us that "it was my custom on Sundays to visit, with friends of my own age and tastes, the tombs of the martyrs and Apostles, going down into those subterranean galleries whose walls on both sides preserve the relics of the dead." Here he enjoyed deciphering the inscriptions.
Angola death row inmate who gave false confession released after 15 years
A Marrero man who spent 15 years on Louisiana's death row for his wrongful conviction of raping and strangling to death 14-year-old Crystal Champagne under the Huey P. Long Bridge in 1996 walked out of the Angola prison a free man Friday. (Photo by Scott Threlkeld, The Times-Picayune)
A Marrero man who spent 15 years on Louisiana's death row for his wrongful conviction of raping and strangling to death 14-year-old Crystal Champagne under the Huey P. Long Bridge in 1996 walked out of the Angola prison a free man Friday. Damon Thibodeaux, 38, was cleared, attorneys announced, confirming what he has said since his arrest on July 20, 1996: He caved after nine hours of interrogation by Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office detectives and confessed to a crime he did not commit.
Thibodeaux, then a 21-year-old offshore deckhand, immediately recanted after he was fed and rested, but it was too late, his attorneys have said. He was convicted of first-degree murder by a Jefferson Parish jury and sentenced to die solely on the confession he gave then-Maj. Walter Gorman and then-Sgt. Dennis Thornton, who are now high-ranking officers in the Sheriff's Office, according to court records.
Thibodeaux's release was kept under wraps until a state judge in Jefferson Parish unsealed court records detailing the case Friday, an action timed with his being processed out of the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola.
A press conference is planned in New Orleans this afternoon to announce and detail the exoneration.
In a joint statement, Thibodeaux's attorneys and District Attorney Paul Connick said an investigation had begun in 2007, after the defense team approached prosecutors with evidence they said showed the man was innocent. DNA testing was done, and witnesses were interviewed. Connick also consulted with Michael Welner, a nationally recognized forensic psychiatrist who concluded the confession was false.
Welner described Thibodeaux as being "of modest vulnerabilities who confessed falsely under an unremarkable police interrogation. The case illustrates how a suspect's acute guilty feelings and expression and clearly false statements in questioning can snowball with interrogators who would logically interpret these as signs of criminal responsibility."
Connick said in the statement that it is his "duty to make every effort to ensure that convictions are based on reliable evidence."
"I have concluded that the primary evidence in this case, the confession, is unreliable," Connick said. "Without the confession the conviction can't stand, and therefore in the interest of justice, it must be vacated.
"At this time, the collective thoughts are with the Champagne family, who has suffered a grievous tragedy," he said. "This case remains open and, in keeping with office policy, there will be no further comment."
In the statement, Thibodeaux said, "I'm grateful to Mr. Connick for studying my case and for his commitment to justice. I'm looking forward to life as a free man."
His defense team included Barry Scheck, co-director of The Innocence Project in New York. "There's no question that Mr. Thibodeaux has suffered terribly because of his confessing to a crime he did not commit," Scheck said.
Champagne left the Westwego apartment she shared with her little sister and parents on July 19, 1996, to walk to a local supermarket. She never returned.
The following day, Thibodeaux was being questioned by a Sheriff's Office detective in what was still a missing persons case. But just as the interview was beginning, the Sheriff's Office learned that Champagne's nude, bloodied body was found in the Mississippi River batture under the bridge, with a red wire wrapped around her neck.
Her skull had been fractured, and one of her teeth had been knocked out. She had been dead about 24 hours, according to testimony during the 1997 trial.
Thibodeaux denied knowing anything about her disappearance, and then her death, according to court records. But in a third statement he gave the detectives, he confessed, saying he and the teenager were driving around, and that "she wanted me to have sex with her," court records show.
Under the Huey P. Long Bridge, she said it hurt, and he became rough and she kicked, and he strangled her before returning to her apartment to joint in the search for her, according to his confession.
The boyfriend of a friend of Champagne's mother, then a Westwego resident who had been convicted of a sex crime, found the body while searching, court records show. Thibodeaux's appellate attorneys argued that his trial defense attorneys failed to uncover evidence that undermined that suspect's alibi, court records show.
Two women who were exercising on the river levee also told authorities they saw Thibodeaux "pacing and acting nervous." Thibodeaux's appellate attorneys said those witnesses later backed off their testimony.
His public defenders during the trial, Walter Amstutz - now an assistant district attorney in Jefferson Parish - and Cesar Vazquez, argued then that the confession was false, records show.
Prosecutors offered to let him plead guilty and receive a live sentence, but Thibodeaux refused, Vazquez said Friday. "He said, 'Mr. Vazquez, I cannot plead guilty to a crime I did not commit," Vazquez said.
"It's a great day for Damon, and it's a great day for justice," Vazquez said. "He never waivered."
Thibodeaux claimed that Thornton and Gorman provided him with details of the crime for the confession, and that he "parroted" back the information. Gorman also used hypnosis, he claimed.
When they told him a lie detector test showed deception, Thibodeaux told the detectives he had had a dream that Champagne had been strangled by a man.
In all, attorneys have said in court records, Thibodeaux arrived at the Sheriff's Office investigations bureau at 7:45 p.m., July 20, 1996. He confessed at 4:21 a.m., the following day.
During the trial, the prosecutors, Caren Morgan and Conn Regan, who is now a 24th Judicial District Court judge, argued it was a valid confession.
The state Supreme Court affirmed the conviction and sentence, rejecting Thibodeaux's claim that he gave a false confession, records show. Justices noted that Thibodeaux did not allege his confession was coerced before the trial, and he never alleged he was beaten or forced to confess.
Since, his attorneys have argued he was psychologically vulnerable to giving a false confession, and that some details he provided did not match the evidence. For instance, he recollected during the interrogation that the wire he used to strangle Champagne was gray or black, and that he got it from his car. However, the wire was red and found at a nearby lean-to detectives found in the batture, court records show.
Other anomalies in the confession, his attorneys have said, include the lack of semen. Thibodeaux confessed he ejaculated, yet no semen was found. Thornton surmised that maggots ate it, attorneys have said in court records in recent years, in which they sought DNA testing on those maggots.
Although the scene was bloody, and Champagne's body showed signs of a struggle, no physical evidence was found linking Thibodeaux to the crime.
Court records show then-Judge Greg Guidry, now a state Supreme Court justice, granted a stay in the execution in 2001, to allow Thibodeaux's attorneys to test evidence. The case record at the 24th Judicial District Court shows no activity in the case in several years.
Thibodeaux was described during the trial as a high school drop-out at age 15, who had little to no contact with his biological dad and who was briefly abandoned by his mother.
Thibodeaux's defense team included Denise LeBoeuf and Caroline Tillman of the Capital Post-Conviction Project of Louisiana; Vanessa Potkin of The Innocence Project; and Steve Kaplan and Richard Kyle Jr., of the Fredrikson & Byron firm in Minneapolis, Minn.
Leboeuf, who represented Thibodeaux since 1998, now is director of the ACLU's Capital Punishment Project.
"The death penalty is a human rights violation in any case, for anyone," she said. "But there can be no stronger argument against capital punishment than the condemnation of a truly innocent man. The people of Louisiana should demand a moratorium on executions until they can be assured there are no more miscarriages of justice like the one that occurred in this case." Paul Purpura can be reached at 504.826.3791 or email@example.com.
The events of the passing of Archbishop Hannan, just one year ago today, from the 1st announcement of his death, through all the marvelous tributes that followed, the events surrounding his services and funeral, still remain fresh. This indeed was a holy man, a people's Archbishop, one of us. He was as important to us in this greater New Orleans area in retirement as he was in service as the 24-year reigning Archbishop of New Orleans. And make no mistake; he was everything in an Archbishop the Catholic faithful and the greater community at large would want and could ever need!
Archbishop Hannan was many things, but kind and gentle stand out. Yes, he was tough and among his peers, perhaps one of the more outspoken and patriotic of the bunch. First and foremost he was a Priest. As Archbishop he loved celebrating Mass, hearing confessions, taking people aside and just being present to them and he loved, loved rolling up his sleeves and solving problems. He loved all things New Orleans and was among the New Orleans Saints biggest fans.
His last years were spent in Covington. He was a fixture at the St. Tammany Parish Courthouse as he walked the steps daily for exercise. He began helping out local Northshore parishes by presiding at Mass in Covington, Abita Springs and other communities. As an acolyte and later as a Deacon I had the most amazing privilege to assist him at Mass. Always kind, he never seemed to mind if I had to remind him, very occasionally of what was next or where he was on the page. After all, he was in his late nineties but he was sharp. I will never forget those Masses.
Other colleagues of mine had the graced opportunity to assist him at Mass when Mass became a more private affair in his personal residence. Everyone of those Deacons told me the same thing; what a memory that will last a lifetime!
What I think I remember most about the Archbishops funeral was the overwhelming turnout of people on the streets and across the city as his body was moved from Notre Dame seminary to St. Louis Cathedral. In a city more known for it's outlandish celebrations of parades and processions, this one was all New Orleans, but with a deep, profound respect and dare I say love, for this New Orleans and Catholic icon.
When Archbishop Philip M. Hannan died so did the last remaining American witness to Vatican II and the only Bishop/Archbishop of this great diocese to make it possible for the visit of a Pope. On grand scales and in personal reflections, we remember Archbishop Philip M. Hannan, on this the 1st anniversary of his passing to everlasting life.
the news this morning, the death of an iconic figure of the American church: Philip
Hannan, the 11th archbishop of New Orleans, whose 55 years of episcopal
ministry saw him take on roles from media pioneer to political powerhouse -- and
seemingly everything in between -- died
at 98 overnight.
and civic force alike well into his quarter-century retirement, Hannan's
passage fittingly came not just on the feast of the Archangels -- the historic
patron-saints of communication
-- but the 46th anniversary of his appointment to New Orleans, a time that would
become evenly split in two 23-year spans as ordinary and
...and much like the prelate who came to be known as the
"Energizer Bunny," the epic list goes on, and on, and on.
a priest of Washington in 1939, Hannan became an auxiliary bishop of the capital
in 1956 -- but only after founding the DC archdiocese's newspaper, the Catholic
Standard. At Vatican II, the future archbishop was the lead
coordinator of briefings for the English-language media covering the Council;
with Hannan's death, retired Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen of Seattle becomes
the last surviving American prelate to have attended all
four of the Council's sessions as a bishop. (Retired since 1991, Hunthausen,
now 90, was ordained bishop of Helena two months before the Council's opening in
At noon, current NOLA Archbishop Gregory
Aymond -- who the late archbishop ordained a priest, then named as rector of
the city's Notre Dame Seminary in 1986 -- will hold a press conference at which
the funeral arrangements will be announced.
In a statement this morning,
Aymond said that "in every way," Hannan "was a good shepherd of the church who
was modeled after Christ, not just for Catholics of New Orleans but for the
truly made New Orleans his home. This was his parish and his archdiocese, and it
had no boundaries. He was there for anyone and everyone. That was his goal in
"He always quoted St. Paul, and he truly believed that his mission
and ministry was to preach the Gospel untiringly both in actions and in
(Hannan is shown above right with Aymond and (from left) his
first two successors, Archbishops Alfred Hughes and Francis Schulte, after the
14th archbishop's 2009 installation. Below, the archbishop is shown leading the
burial of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis at Arlington National
is the first Crescent City archbishop to be farewelled since 1964, when
Archbishop Joseph Francis Rummel died at 88. The German-born prelate famously ordered the
desegregation of the city's Catholic schools, then garnered national
headlines for excommunicating
three members of his fold who led public resistance to the move.
Feastday: September 29 Patron of grocers, mariners, paratroopers, police, and sickness
St. Michael, the Archangel - Feast day - September 29th The name Michael signifies "Who is like to God?" and was the warcry of the goodangels in the battle fought in heaven against satan and his followers. Holy Scripture describes St. Michael as "one of the chief princes," and leader of the forces of heaven in their triumph over the powers of hell. He has been especially honored and invoked as patron and protector by the Church from the time of the Apostles.
Although he is always called "the Archangel," the Greek Fathers and many others place him over all the angels - as Prince of the Seraphim. St. Michael is the patron of grocers, mariners, paratroopers, police and sickness.
Feast of Sts. Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, Archangels
The liturgy celebrates the feast of these three archangels who are venerated in the tradition of the Church. Michael (Who is like God?) was the archangel who fought against Satan and all his evil angels, defending all the friends of God. He is the protector of all humanity from the snares of the devil. Gabriel (Strength of God) announced to Zachariah the forthcoming birth of John the Baptist, and to Mary, the birth of Jesus. His greeting to the Virgin, "Hail, full of grace," is one of the most familiar and frequent prayers of the Christian people. Raphael (Medicine of God) is the archangel who took care of Tobias on his journey.According to the 1962 Missal of Bl. John XXIII the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, today is the feast of St. Michael. St. Gabriel is observed on March 24 and St. Raphael on October 24.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us that, "[T]he existence of the spiritual, non-corporeal beings that Sacred Scripture usually calls "angels" is a truth of faith. The witness of Scripture is as clear as the unanimity of Tradition." Angels are pure, created spirits. The name angel means servant or messenger of God. Angels are celestial or heavenly beings, on a higher order than human beings. Angels have no bodies and do not depend on matter for their existence or activity. They are distinct from saints, which men can become. Angels have intellect and will, and are immortal. They are a vast multitude, but each is an individual person. Archangels are one of the nine choirs of angels listed in the Bible. In ascending order, the choirs or classes are 1) Angels, 2) Archangels, 3) Principalities, 4) Powers, 5) Virtues, 6) Dominations, 7) Thrones, 8) Cherubim, and 9) Seraphim.St. Michael The name of the archangel Michael means, in Hebrew, who is like unto God? and he is also known as "the prince of the heavenly host." He is usually pictured as a strong warrior, dressed in armor and wearing sandals. His name appears in Scripture four times, twice in the Book of Daniel, and once each in the Epistle of St. Jude and the Book of Revelation. From Revelation we learn of the battle in heaven, with St. Michael and his angels combatting Lucifer and the other fallen angels (or devils). We invoke St. Michael to help us in our fight against Satan; to rescue souls from Satan, especially at the hour of death; to be the champion of the Jews in the Old Testament and now Christians; and to bring souls to judgment. This day is referred to as "Michaelmas" in many countries and is also one of the harvest feast days. In England this is one of the "quarter days", which was marked by hiring servants, electing magistrates, and beginning of legal and university terms. This day also marks the opening of the deer and other large game hunting season. In some parts of Europe, especially Germany, Denmark, and Austria, a special wine called "Saint Michael's Love" (Michelsminne) is drunk on this day. The foods for this day vary depending on nationality. In the British Isles, for example, goose was the traditional meal for Michaelmas, eaten for prosperity, France has waffles or Gaufres and the traditional fare in Scotland used to be St. Michael's Bannock (Struan Micheil) — a large, scone-like cake. In Italy, gnocchi is the traditional fare.Patron: Against temptations; against powers of evil; artists; bakers; bankers; battle; boatmen; cemeteries; coopers; endangered children; dying; Emergency Medical Technicians; fencing; grocers; hatmakers; holy death; knights; mariners; mountaineers; paramedics; paratroopers; police officers; radiologists; sailors; the sick; security forces; soldiers; against storms at sea; swordsmiths; those in need of protection; Brussels, Belgium; Caltanissett, Sicily; Cornwall, England; Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee Florida; England; Germany; Archdiocese of Mobile, Alabama; Papua, New Guinea; Puebla, Mexico; San Miguel de Allende, Mexico; Sibenik, Croatia; Archdiocese of Seattle, Washington; Diocese of Springfield, Massachusetts.Symbols: Angel with wings; dressed in armour; lance and shield; scales; shown weighing souls; millstone; piercing dragon or devil; banner charged with a dove; symbolic colors orange or gold.St. Gabriel St. Gabriel's name means "God is my strength". Biblically he appears three times as a messenger. He had been sent to Daniel to explain a vision concerning the Messiah. He appeared to Zachary when he was offering incense in the Temple, to foretell the birth of his son, St. John the Baptist. St. Gabriel is most known as the angel chosen by God to be the messenger of the Annunciation, to announce to mankind the mystery of the Incarnation. The angel's salutation to our Lady, so simple and yet so full of meaning, Hail Mary, full of grace, has become the constant and familiar prayer of all Christian people.Patron: Ambassadors; broadcasting; childbirth; clergy; communications; diplomats; messengers; philatelists; postal workers; public relations; radio workers; secular clergy; stamp collectors; telecommunications; Portugal; Archdiocese of Seattle, Washington.Symbols: Archangel; sceptre and lily; MR or AM shield; lantern; mirror; olive branch; scroll with words Ave Maria Gratia Plena; Resurrection trumpet; shield; spear; lily; symbolic colors, silver or blue.St. Raphael Our knowledge of the Archangel Raphael comes to us from the book of Tobit. His mission as wonderful healer and fellow traveller with the youthful Tobias has caused him to be invoked for journeys and at critical moments in life. Tradition also holds that Raphael is the angel that stirred the waters at the healing sheep pool in Bethesda. His name means "God has healed". Patron: Blind; bodily ills; counselors; druggists; eye problems; guardian angels; happy meetings; healers; health inspectors; health technicians; love; lovers; mental illness; nurses; pharmacists; physicians; shepherds; against sickness; therapists; travellers; young people; young people leaving home for the first time; Archdiocese of Dubuque, Iowa; Archdiocese of Seattle, Washington. Symbols: Staff; wallet and fish; staff and gourd; archangel; young man carrying a staff; young man carrying a fish; walking with Tobias; holding a bottle or flask; symbolic colors, gray or yellow.
From prospect to priest: Grant Desme leaves the A's, becomes a monk and tries to find his peace
Thu, Sep 27, 2012
Frater Matthew (formerly Grant) Desme (L) participates in a ceremony on All Souls' Day. (Rick Belcher/St. Michael's …SILVERADO, Calif. – On the morning Grant Desme ceased to exist, he was at peace. He spent years searching for serenity, convinced it was coming soon, next, now. It never did. Life was a blaring stereo, and he had become numb to its noise. The sound finally abated when he arrived here. He believed God muted it.
So on Christmas Eve two years ago he and seven other men marched into the church at St. Michael's Abbey and readied for a transition the church considered spiritual death. Grant Desme would go by another name. His plainclothes would become a head-to-toe white habit. For the next two years, he would commit to the dual life of a priest-in-training and a monk in the Norbertine Order. The naming ceremony bound him to the virtues of chastity, poverty and obedience.
To determine his new name, Desme submitted three choices from which St. Michael's abbot and spiritual leader, the Rt. Rev. Eugene J. Hayes, would choose. Desme liked Paul, Louis and Moses. None sounded right. Neither did Desme's second round of choices. On his vestition day, he knelt before the Father Abbot Eugene, who handed him a copy of the rule of St. Augustine.
"And in our order," he said, "you will be called Matthew."
Sometime after the ceremony, Frater Matthew Desme approached Father Abbot Eugene. For the rest of his life, people would call him Matthew. He wanted to know why.
"He said it struck him because [Saint Matthew] was a rich tax collector," Frater Matthew says, "and I was a rich baseball player."
By Greg Kandra
A date most Catholics do not know may be one of the most important anniversaries on the church calendar: June 18, 1967. That was the day Pope Paul VI, following the recommendations of the Second Vatican Council, issued “Sacrum Diaconatus Ordinem,” which laid out “General Norms for Restoring the Permanent Diaconate in the Latin Church.” That document and what followed it had a seismic impact. Nearly 50 years later the earth continues to move.
There are some 31,000 permanent deacons worldwide, over 17,000 of them in the United States. They are increasingly a part of the Catholic landscape, in ways that are vibrant, vocal and visible. Deacons run religious education programs and food pantries; supervise adult Christian initiation teams and bereavement groups; facilitate Pre-Cana classes and annulments. They make regular appearances in the pulpit; some parishes have “deacon weekends,” where they preach at all the Masses. In many dioceses, they have assumed leadership responsibilities that once belonged exclusively to priests. More and more, when families flip through photo albums of weddings and baptisms, the vested figure smiling in the background, offering a blessing and a toothy grin, is not the parish priest. It is the deacon.
The deacon has also become a presence in the life of the universal church. Three points spring to mind. The diaconate has broadened our idea of what it means to belong to the clergy. Some of us can remember when the most familiar member of the clergy was the parish priest. He was usually a “lifer” who entered the seminary fresh from college (or a prep seminary), was ordained in his mid-20s and never knew any other kind of life. The restoration of the diaconate opened up membership in the clergy to men who were older, married and had families, jobs and careers. This significant move challenged the church to change its perception of what it means to be ordained. It does not necessarily mean being celibate; a life dedicated to holiness could come from anywhere. A résumé in the world suddenly became an asset. The church came to embrace the idea that life experience could inform and enhance ministry.
For most deacons that includes experience as a husband and father, which has brought into the Roman church the clergyman’s wife and family. The wife’s role, in particular, is critical. Many wives work closely with their husbands in ministry, helping prepare couples for marriage, assisting at baptisms and/or serving as a prayerful support when the nights get long, the classes become grueling and the parish council meeting turns into a shouting match. (More than a few deacons will tell you that when it comes to homilies, their wives are also their most trustworthy critics.) The diaconate has put a new voice in the pulpit. When deacons arrived on the scene, many in the pews began to hear preaching that connected with their lives in unexpected ways. They heard a father talk about the challenges of raising teenagers; they heard a husband preach about the sacrament of marriage; they heard a worker talk about the pressures of paying off a mortgage or dealing with a difficult boss. This different kind of homiletics can mirror the people in the pews. The diaconate has given a new dimension to the sacrament of holy orders. It has brought the laity closer to the clergy and vice versa. The deacon bridges two worlds. To his bishop and pastor he can be a set of eyes and ears; to the faithful he can be a prayerful advocate and sympathetic voice. He lives down the block, has a child in the parish school and will often be the first person parishioners approach if they have a problem, a question, a worry or a doubt.
As the Code of Canon Law (Canon 1009, No. 3) makes clear: “Those who are constituted in the order of the episcopate or the presbyterate receive the mission and capacity to act in the person of Christ the Head, whereas deacons are empowered to serve the people of God in the ministries of the liturgy, the word and charity.”The deacon’s faculty—and his defining charism—is one of service.
It is a service we are still coming to understand, for the restored diaconate is a work in progress. But its impact is unmistakable. The diaconate, a flourishing fruit of the council, has strengthened the church’s presence in the modern world and left the church and the world enriched. Deacon Greg Kandra of the Diocese of Brooklyn is the executive editor of ONE magazine, published by Catholic Near East Welfare Association. He also writes the blog “The Deacon’s Bench.”
>>>The gift of the Permanent Diaconate is among one of the many gifts of Vatican II that bears much fruit; good fruit. I thank God nightly for the gift of my vocational call, and response, to the Permanent Diaconate.
The death of Pope John Paul
I: 34 years ago today.
THE DEATH OF POPE JOHN PAUL I
Holiness Pope John Paul I is dead. His death took place in the Apostolic Palace
about eleven o'clock on the evening of 28 September, little more that a month
after his election. He had been elected on the evening of 26 August. The news of
the Pope's unexpected death caused widespread sorrow and shock. The first
person to become aware of Pope John Paul's death was his private secretary,
Father John Magee. The latter at once informed Cardinal Jean Villot, Secretary
of State and Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church. That was in the early hours of
the morning of 29 September. The Cardinal Secretary of State went at once to the
Pope's room where he testified that the Pope was dead. Meanwhile the doctors in
attendance attributed death to a coronary thrombosis. They considered that it
took place about eleven o'clock on the previous evening (28
The Dean of the Sacred College, Cardinal Carlo Confalonieri,
and the Pope's Vicar for the city of Rome, Cardinal Ugo Poletti, were then
informed. About 9 a.m. the formal recognition that the Pope was dead was made by
the Cardinal Camerlengo in the presence of representatives of the Papal
The Dean of the Sacred College, Cardinal Confalonieri,
indicated that the first meeting of Cardinals would be held at 11 o'clock on
Saturday morning, 30 September.
Notice of the Pope's death was given as
follows: "This morning, 29 September 1978, about 5.30, the private Secretary of
the Pope, contrary to custom not having found the Holy Father in the chapel of
his private apartment, looked for him in his room and found him dead in bed with
the light on, like one who was intent on reading. The physician, Dr Renato
Buzzonnetti, who hastened at once, verified the death as having presumably taken
place around eleven o'clock yesterday evening through an acute coronary
Patron saint of Bohemia, parts of Czech Republic, and duke of Bohemia frorn 924-929. Also called Wenceslas, he was born near Prague and raised by his grandmother, St. Ludmilla, until her murder by his mother, the pagan Drahomira. Wenceslaus's mother assumed the regency over Bohemia about 920 after her husband's death, but her rule was so arbitrary and cruel in Wenceslaus' name that he was compelled on behalf of his subjects to overthrow her and assume power for himself in 924 or 925. A devout Christian, he proved a gifted ruler and a genuine friend of the Church. German missionaries were encouraged, churches were built, and Wenceslaus perhaps took a personal vow of poverty Unfortunately, domestic events proved fatal, for in 929 the German king Heinrich I the Fowler (r. 919-936) invaded Bohemia and forced Wenceslaus to make an act of submission. This defeat, combined with his pro-Christian policies, led a group of non-Christian nobles to conspire against him. On September 28, 919, a group of knights under the leadership of Wenceslaus' brother Boreslav assassinated the saint on the doorstep of a church. Virtually from the moment of his death, Wenceslaus was considered a martyr and venerated as a saint. Miracles were reported at his tomb, and his remains were translated to the church of St. Vitus in Prague which became a major pilgrimage site. The feast has been celebrated at least since 985 in Bohemia, and he is best known from the Christmas carol "Good King Wenceslaus."
Star-Ledger file photo Assemblyman John Burzichelli (D-Gloucester) is shown in this file photo.
TRENTON — A state lawmaker says it’s time for New Jersey to openly discuss the most difficult of topics: whether terminally ill patients should be allowed to decide how and when they die.
Assemblyman John Burzichelli (D-Gloucester) on Monday quietly proposed a bill that would grant doctors the right to prescribe lethal doses of drugs to patients who have less than six months to live. It’s called the New Jersey Death with Dignity Act.
The South Jersey lawmaker wants suffering patients to have the option of ending their days on their own terms. He expects a long debate on the bill.
"This is the beginning of discussing a topic that we’ve got to get a sense of how people feel," he said. "People are not favorable to a Dr. Kevorkian suicide bill that says someone who’s 45 and depressed and decides to kill themselves with help. That’s not what this bill is."
Under the bill, no law would be enacted without voter approval, but Burzichelli said he is not sure if the final version will call for a public referendum. If it becomes law, patients would self-administer the drugs.
"In my mind it’s a matter of conscience, faith and a very private decision the individual should be in a position to make if they choose to," said Burzichelli.
Patrick Brannigan, executive director for the New Jersey Catholic Conference, said while the Church does not require "futile medical treatments or high-tech interventions for the dying" and backs palliative care to ease pain — it does not support hastening the end of life.
"The New Jersey Death with Dignity Act as written is not about dignity or choice. The legislation would enable people to pressure others to an early death or even cause early death. The Act may also encourage patients with years to live to give up hope," Brannigan said. "The Bishops of New Jersey strongly oppose any direct, intentional or purposeful taking of a human life."
Mickey MacIntyre — chief program officer for Compassion & Choices, a group that provides counseling on end of life issues and pushes for legislation like Burzichelli’s across the country, said the bill would help patients and their families.
"It gives them the opportunity to share a loving and peaceful death, the opportunity to say goodbye to each other and experience memories that would be an honorable tribute to the patient’s life as opposed to memories of horrible pain and suffering," he said.
Under the bill (A3328), patients who want to end their lives would have to first verbally request a prescription, followed at least 15 days later by another verbal request and one in writing, signed by two witnesses.
After that, the doctor would have to offer the patient a chance to rescind the request and recommend the patient’s next of kin be notified. A second doctor would then have to certify the original doctor’s diagnosis and affirm that the patient is acting voluntarily and capable of making the decision.
Patients deemed to have impaired judgement would not be eligible, and the doctors would be required to refer them to counseling. And health care facilities would be able to prohibit their doctors from writing the prescriptions.
The New Jersey legislation is modeled after laws in Oregon and Washington, the only states with statutes that allow doctors to prescribe life-ending drugs to terminally ill patients. One other state, Montana, allows it based on a court decision.
A similar measure is on the ballot this November in Massachusetts, and since the 1990s voters have rejected them in California, Maine and Michigan.
In Oregon, 935 patients received prescriptions and 596 died from ingesting them from 1997 to 2011, according to the Oregon Public Health Division. The patients’ most frequently mentioned concerns last year were "inability to participate in activities that made life enjoyable," "loss of autonomy" and "loss of dignity."
This appears to be the first time a lawmaker in New Jersey has proposed such a measure, said Peter Mazzei, a librarian for the Office of Legislative Services.
Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver (D-Essex), who decides which bills get posted for a vote in the lower house, signaled she would review the legislation.
"The Speaker recognizes this as an serious and emotional issue, and the bill will certainly be reviewed," said her spokesman, Tom Hester Jr.
Forty-seven minutes and a life filled with meaning
Published on Wednesday, 26 September 2012 21:35
Written by Peter Finney Jr.
Regina and Kenny Heine of Metairie first got the news that something might be wrong with their unborn child during a prenatal exam. Because Regina was approaching her mid-30s, doctors recommended that she be screened by a perinatologist, who is well versed in the associated risk factors with what is termed “advanced maternal age.”
And now, the grainy image on the ultrasound screen was sending out warning signals to those who could read the digital tea leaves. The baby’s legs appeared closed, which made it impossible to determine the gender. After a few more minutes, the perinatologist asked: “Are there any skeletal abnormalities in your family?”
At such moments, time stands still. An amniocentesis, which draws amniotic fluid from the womb so that it can be tested, confirmed the diagnosis. The Heines' unborn child – a girl – had full Trisomy 18 – a genetic disorder also called Edwards syndrome in which the 18th chromosome is repeated.
Medical jargon aside, Regina heard only one thing: “Incompatible with life.”
“At that point, it was amazing how my prayers changed and how the focus of my pregnancy shifted,” said Regina, already the mother of 18-month-old daughter Katharine. “Everybody wants this perfect, healthy baby. But when you’re faced with something like this, you start to pray, ‘If something’s going to be wrong with my baby, let it be something that’s survivable.’ When they refer to it as incompatible with life, you pray that it is anything but that.”
A choice for life
There was no question in the couple’s mind that they would carry the baby to term.
“We were offered termination, because in Louisiana that is permissible until 20 weeks,” Regina said. “My husband and I immediately said, ‘God gave us this baby for a reason, and however long she’s going to be with us, it’s up to him, not to us.’ We’re not here to judge people, but we knew we were going to cherish her and love her and keep her safe as long as God chose to have her with us.”
About half of all babies with Trisomy 18 are stillborn, and 95 percent die within a year after birth, many in the first month.
“It’s sort of a bleak outlook,” Regina said. “All we wanted was time with the baby, though you understand she’s very sick. We prayed, ‘Please don’t let her suffer.’ My husband and I wanted her to be baptized as a Catholic. That was very important to us. And we knew that she would have to be born alive in order for that to happen.”
As the weeks stretched on, immediate family and close friends knew the full story, but as Regina’s pregnancy became more apparent, she had to bear the well-meaning comments from people in the grocery store, who would ask little Katharine if she was going to have a little brother or a sister.
“I have the utmost love and respect for her,” Kenny said of his wife. “I don’t know how she did it.”
Regina, an attorney in the St. Charles Parish District Attorney’s Office, went to law school with the son of Deacon Eddie Beckendorf, who serves at Mary Queen of Peace Church in Mandeville. She knew that if her daughter – to be named Anne Grace Heine – were born alive, she would have to be baptized quickly.
“We knew we may only have minutes,” Regina said. “When Deacon Eddie and I were talking about it, he told me, ‘I will be happy to come and sit and wait and pray with you and your family and do anything I need to do.’ What a gift he gave to us – the gift of his time. That was an amazing gift.”
The staff at East Jefferson General Hospital made special arrangements for the extended Heine family, setting up a separate waiting area for them. On Aug. 20 – at exactly 12:14 p.m. – Anne Grace Heine, 3 pounds, 8 ounces, came into the world, breathing as softly and imperceptibly as an angel.
After Kenny cut the umbilical cord, the nurses brought Anne Grace to the warming table, and Deacon Beckendorf baptized her there. Then Kenny took his newborn over to Regina.
“She was obviously breathing, and at some point the neonatologist and the nurse practitioner checked her heart and didn’t hear a whole lot,” Regina said. “They indicated her heartbeat was faint, but she was still there.”
“She was just a little angel – perfect in our eyes,” Kenny said.
For the next 47 minutes, Regina and Kenny spent time caressing their newborn. WhenRegina kissed her, Anne Grace cried. Little Katharine came into the room, and a photographer from an organization called Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, which volunteers to take portraits for families faced with the prospect of infant death, snapped a shot of Katharine reaching her hand to Anne Grace’s, which was clenched.
One day, she will understand the picture that now rests atop her dresser.
Holding Anne Grace next to her, Regina recited a nighttime prayer that she always uses with Katharine. Kenny told his daughter, “Sweet dreams,” because he does that every night with Katharine.
At 1:01 p.m. – 47 minutes after she arrived – Anne Grace said goodbye.
“It was the most profound 47 minutes of my life,” Regina said. “Somebody asked me not long ago, ‘Are you angry with God?’ And I said, ‘How can I be angry with God when he gave us this beautiful gift. He gave us this beautiful little girl for 47 little minutes.”
Pink balloons soar
Anne Grace was laid to rest in a family tomb in St. Louis No. 3. That day, the heavens broke open, sending down torrents of rain. While Msgr. Andrew Taormina offered the prayers of committal, Regina orchestrated the release of 47 pink balloons, filled with helium, into the sky. The rain was coming down so hard that Regina’s mother and mother-in-law had to chase down a few renegade balloons to give them a boost “into the heavens.”
“Bless their hearts, they were chasing them all over the place,” Regina said. “My husband and I both feel very strongly that those 47 minutes changed who we are and changed our lives forever.”
As Msgr. Taormina said goodbye to the Heines at the cemetery, he tried to take in what he had seen. He has been a priest for 50 years, and pro-life stories like these are one reason he became a priest.
“Call me for the baptism,” he told Regina.
Regina knew immediately what he meant. “When we have another one,” she said.
St. Vincent was born of poor parents in the village of Pouy in Gascony, France, about 1580. He enjoyed his first schooling under the Franciscan Fathers at Acqs. Such had been his progress in four years that a gentleman chose him as subpreceptor to his children, and he was thus enabled to continue his studies without being a burden to his parents. In 1596, he went to the University of Toulouse for theological studies, and there he was ordained priest in 1600.
In 1605, on a voyage by sea from Marseilles to Narbonne, he fell into the hands of African pirates and was carried as a slave to Tunis. His captivity lasted about two years, until Divine Providence enabled him to effect his escape. After a brief visit to Rome he returned to France, where he became preceptor in the family of Emmanuel de Gondy, Count of Goigny, and General of the galleys of France. In 1617, he began to preach missions, and in 1625, he lay the foundations of a congregation which afterward became the Congregation of the Mission or Lazarists, so named on account of the Prioryof St. Lazarus, which the Fathers began to occupy in 1633.
It would be impossible to enumerate all the works of this servant of God. Charity was his predominant virtue. It extended to all classes of persons, from forsaken childhood to old age. The Sisters of Charity also owe the foundation of their congregation to St. Vincent. In the midst of the most distracting occupations his soul was always intimately united with God. Though honored by the great ones of the world, he remained deeply rooted in humility. The Apostle of Charity, the immortal Vincent de Paul, breathed his last in Paris at the age of eighty. His feast day is September 27th. He is the patron of charitable societies.