Saturday, December 31, 2016

Rest in Peace Father Mulcahy of MASH fame

William Christopher Dies: Father Mulcahy Actor On ‘M.A.S.H.

Ross A. Lincoln
William Christopher, the actor best known as Father Mulcahy on the classic sitcom M.A.S.H., died today following a battle with lung cancer. He was 84, and died in his Pasadena home according to his son, John, who made the news public.
Born in Evanston, Illinois in 1932, Christopher got his start as a stage actor in the 1950s before moving into television and film. Christopher held a variety of guest roles on many 1960s shows including The Andy Griffith Show, The Patty Duke Show, and The Men from Shiloh; he would also land recurring roles on Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. – as Private Lester Hummel-, That Girl and Hogan’s Heroes.
Christopher landed his most famous role in 1972, replacing the actor who portrayed Father Mulcahy in the M.A.S.H. pilot. He would remain a series mainstay throughout the show’s 11 season run, and would reprise the character on the short-lived M.A.S.H. spinoff AfterMASH.
Christopher also held guest roles on shows such as The Love Boat, Good Times, Murder, She Wrote, and Mad About You among many others.
Christopher, whose son, Ned, is autistic, was an advocate for people with autism, devoting time to the National Autistic Society and recording public service announcements.
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The year that was; my look back at 2016

We just can't help ourselves as we measure time and reflect and reminisce at the milepost moments in life.  The end of a year and the beginning of another is one such milepost.  I can honestly tell you that 2016 was more than average thanks in large part to the April 30th wedding of the century.  On that raining mild April evening my little girl Elizabeth married Mark Moroney and the rest is history.  You may recall that it was quite the event as Wendy and I made every effort to give Elizabeth the wedding of her dreams.  She made a beautiful bride that night, the wedding was the first such event at the new Most Holy Trinity Catholic Church and I was privileged to both walk my daughter down the long aisle but to also preach at her wedding.  A great time was had by all that night and I remember marveling late that evening that how could this wedding already be over.  But the marriage just got started and I'm happy to report that Elizabeth and Mark are living happy ever after about 25 short miles away!
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Speaking of Most Holy Trinity my former assigned parish did indeed dedicate that new beautiful church in January 2016.  I was thrilled to have been invited to participate in the dedication and to renew friendships with so many MHT parishioners and families! 

January also brought about the new relationship in my life.  Wendy found some PT temporary employment at a no-kill animal shelter.  One day she came home with a puppy, and I was hooked.  My little girl Delilah is now a most important part of my life and my constant(when I'm actually home) lap partner.  I've never had a dog so attached to the hip and I do kind of like it! 

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A new chapter for Wendy began in May as doctors agreed she would benefit from no longer trying to maintain a steady job and she began life on disability.  It proved to be quite an adjustment for Wendy as she has worked in some capacity since she was 15.  Wendy had a very productive career in the field of accounting and bookkeeping.  She now spends plenty of time cooking, caring for Delilah and sewing.  By the way she is quite the seamstress!

The joys of our lives are always Calvin and Katelyn, our wonder grandkids who live far away in North Carolina.  While 2016 brought many a weekend on Skype, and they came to visit us for Elizabeth's wedding, Wendy and I managed three trips to North Carolina in July, September and December.  You can only imagine what great joy these trips are and we especially enjoyed being with them so close to Christmas time this year.Image may contain: 2 people, child

My life as a Permanent Deacon brought many more ministry opportunities.  2016 will be remembered as my first full calendar year back home ministering at St. Jane's in Abita Springs.  One of the big highlights for the year has been the robust Bible study that we have maintained now for the past 15 months dating back to September 2015.  I rejoiced in every Baptism I had in 2016 and look forward to the two already booked for January 2017.  Prison ministry saw some excitement as we hosted Archbishop Aymond during the summer and we also offered the men two exciting full day retreat/days of reflections complete with a huge lunch.  I get so excited seeing the men experience moments of profound joy when we can offer events like these.

I did something in 2016 that I have not done in over 8 years, due to great necessity I purchased a new car.  My new vehicle is a 2016 GMC Terrain purchased on November 11th and it already has 5,000 miles.  Retired from service permanently was my old rock steady 2008 GMC Acadia with 221,000 miles.

Profound challenges did await Wendy and I at the end of 2016 and are still persisting tonight as I write.  Wendy's mom took ill around December 18th and is now hospitalized for the 6th day battling pneumonia, possible congestive heart failure and profound weakness.  She is not doing well at all and we pray for healing soon.  Wendy spends plenty of time with her mom as she lay in the hospital and is feeling the effects of worry and exhaustion.  And I found out just last night that it seems very unlikely that I will finish 2017 with the same employer that I started with back in 2012.  I've commented before on the professional life changing results that leaving Capital One and landing at FNBC Bank provided.  I have a great little set up in Pearl River and was closing out another successful sales year.  But things have been tough for FNBC Bank in the second half of 2016 so my bank decided to sell off 9 branches to competitor Whitney Bank.  Yes, my branch was one of the nine.  It is my desire, as of this writing, to remain with my little branch in Pearl River and transition to Whitney, that's of course the good Lord willing and Whitney keeping me on board.  Early indications are that is a strong possibility.

So after an incredibly great year highlighted by the wedding of the century, faith, family and even year end challenges, I look back with profound happiness, thanking God for all my blessings and look forward to both the challenges and the opportunities that 2017 has to offer!

May we all experience profound blessings and grace, peace and understanding in the new year to come!

The Saint of the Day for the 1st Day of the New Year, why it's Mary, the Mother of God

Image of Mary the Blessed Virgin


Feastday: January 1
Patron of all humanity
Birth: September 8, Nativity of Mary
Death: August 15, Assumption of Mary

Mary, also known as St. Mary the Virgin, the Blessed Virgin Mary, Saint Mary, Mary Mother of God or the Virgin Mary is believed by many to be the greatest of all Christian saints. The Virgin Mother "was, after her Son, exalted by divine grace above all angels and men."
Mary is venerated with a special cult, called by St. Thomas Aquinas, hyperdulia, as the holiest of all creatures. The main events of her life are celebrated as liturgical feasts of the universal Church.
Mary's life and role in the history of salvation is foreshadowed in the Old Testament, while the events of her life are recorded in the New Testament. Traditionally, she was declared the daughter of Sts. Joachim and Anne. Born in Jerusalem, Mary was presented in the Temple and took a vow of virginity. Living in Nazareth, Mary was visited by the archangel Gabriel, who announced to her that she would become the Mother of Jesus, by the Holy Spirit.
She became betrothed to St. Joseph and went to visit her cousin, Elizabeth, who was bearing St. John the Baptist. Acknowledged by Elizabeth as the Mother of God, Mary intoned the Magnificat.
When Emperor Augustus declared a census throughout the vast Roman Empire, Mary and St. Joseph went to Bethlehem, his city of lineage, as he belonged to the House of David. There Mary gave birth to Jesus and was visited by the Three Kings.
Mary and Joseph presented Jesus in the Temple, where St. Simeon rejoiced and Mary received word of sorrows to come later. Warned to flee, St. Joseph and Mary went to Egypt to escape the wrath of King Herod. They remained in Egypt until King Herod died and then returned to Nazareth.
Nothing is known of Mary's life during the next years except for a visit to the Temple of Jerusalem, at which time Mary and Joseph sought the young Jesus, who was in the Temple with the learned elders.
The first recorded miracle of Jesus was performed at a wedding in Cana, and Mary was instrumental in calling Christ's attention to the need. Mary was present at the Crucifixion in Jerusalem, and there she was given into John the Apostle's care. She was also with the disciples in the days before the Pentecost, and it is believed that she was present at the resurrection and Ascension.
No scriptural reference concerns Mary's last years on earth. According to tradition, she went to Ephesus, where she experienced her "dormition." Another tradition states that she remained in Jerusalem. The belief that Mary's body was assumed into heaven is one of the oldest traditions of the Catholic Church.
Pope Pius XII declared this belief Catholic dogma in 1950. The four Catholic dogmas are: Mother of God, Perpetual virginity of Mary, the Immaculate Conception and Assumption of Mary. The feast of the Assumption is celebrated on August 15. The Assumption was the bodily taking up of the Virgin Mary into Heaven at the end of her earthly life. According to Pope Pius XII, the Virgin Mary "having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory."
In 1854, Pope Pius IX proclaimed the dogma of the Immaculate Conception - that Mary, as the Mother of the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, was free of original sin at the moment of her conception. The feast of the Immaculate Conception is celebrated on December 8. The birthday of Mary is an old feast in the Church, celebrated on September 8, since the seventh century.
Other feasts that commemorate events in the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary are listed in the Appendices. Pope Pius XII dedicated the entire human race to Mary in 1944. The Church has long taught that Mary is truly the Mother of God .
The Blessed Virgin Mary may be taken as a patroness of any good activity, for she is often cited as the patroness of all humanity. Mary is also associated with protecting many occupations and locations.
St. Paul observed that "God sent His Son, born of a woman," expressing the union of the human and the divine in Christ. As Christ possesses two natures, human and divine, Mary was the Mother of God in his human nature.
This special role of Mary in salvation history is clearly shown in the Gospel where she is seen constantly at her son's side during his soteriological mission. Because of this role, exemplified by her acceptance of Christ into her womb, her offering of him to God at the Temple, her urging him to perform his first miracle, and her standing at the foot of the Cross at Calvary Mary was joined fully in the sacrifice by Christ of himself.
Pope Benedict XV wrote in 1918: "To such an extent did Mary suffer and almost die with her suffering and dying Son; to such extent did she surrender her maternal rights over her Son for man's salvation, and immolated him - insofar as she could in order to appease the justice of God, that we might rightly say she redeemed the human race together with Christ."
Mary is entitled to the title of Queen because, as Pope Pius XII expressed it in a 1946 radio speech, "Jesus is King throughout all eternity by nature and by right of conquest: through him, with him, and subordinate to him, Mary is Queen by grace, by divine relationship, by right of conquest, and by singular election."
Mary possesses a unique relationship with all three Persons of the Trinity, thereby giving her a claim to the title of Queenship. She was chosen by God the Father to be the Mother of his Son; God the Holy Spirit chose her to be his virginal spouse for the Incarnation of the Son; and God the Son chose her to be his mother, the means of incarnating into the world for the purposes of the redemption of humanity.
This Queen is also our Mother. While she is not our Mother in the physical sense, she is called a spiritual mother, for she conceives, gives birth, and nurtures the spiritual lives of grace for each person. As Mediatrix of All Graces, she is ever present at the side of each person, giving nourishment and hope, from the moment of spiritual birth at Baptism to the moment of death.
In art, Mary is traditionall portrayed in blue. Her other attributes are a blue mantle, crown of 12 stars, pregnant woman, roses, and/or woman with child.
Hundreds of thousands of pieces of Marian artwork and sculptures have been created over the years from the best and most brilliant artists, like Michelangelo and Botticell, to simple peasant artists. Some of the most early examples of veneration of Mary is documented in the Catacombs of Rome. Catacomb paintings show Mary the Blessed Virgin with her son.
The confidence that each person should have in Mary was expressed by Pope Pius IX in the encyclical Ubipriinum : "The foundation of all our confidence. . . is found in the Blessed Virgin Mary. For God has committed to Mary the treasury of all good things, in order that everyone may know that through her are obtained every hope, every grace, and all salvation. For this is his will, that we obtain everything through Mary."

Pope Francis releases one prayer intention for January 2017: for Christian Unity

Pope Praying for Christian Unity in January
Asking God to bring all Christians to strive for unity with prayer and charity
L'Osservatore Romano
Pope Francis in January will be praying for Christian unity, that Christians will strive together to meet the challenges facing humanity.
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity falls in January, concluding on the Jan. 25 feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. This year’s theme for the week will be “Reconciliation: The Love of Christ Compels Us  (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:14-20).”
The Pope’s intention for January was announced by the Apostleship of Prayer.
The January intention in full is: “That all Christians may be faithful to the Lord’s teaching by striving with prayer and fraternal charity to restore ecclesial communion and by collaborating to meet the challenges facing humanity.”
This is the only monthly prayer intention thus far released, as Pope Francis has decided to make a change to the practice of having two monthly prayer intentions established beforehand for each month.
Instead, the Apostleship of Prayer announced, “Starting in 2017 the Pope will present only one prepared prayer intention per month, rather than the two presented before this year. He plans, however, to add a second prayer intention each month related to current events or urgent needs, like disaster relief. The urgent prayer request will help mobilize prayer and action related to the urgent situation. The Apostleship of Prayer will publish these urgent prayer intentions on this website as soon as we receive them from the Vatican.”
See more:

Friday, December 30, 2016

This 4th century Pope is Saint for the last day of the year

Image of St. Sylvester


Feastday: December 31

St. Sylvester, born in Rome, was ordained by Pope St. Marcellinus during the peace that preceded the persecutions of Diocletian. He passed through those days of terror, witnessed the abdication of Diocletian and Maximian, and saw the triumph of Constantine in the year 312. Two years later he succeeded St. Melchiades as Bishop of Rome. In the same year, he sent four legates to represent him at the great Council of the Western Church, held at Aries. He confirmed it's decision and imparted them to the Church.
The Council of Nice was assembled during his reign, in the year 325, but not being able to assist at it in person, on account of his great age, he sent his legates, who headed the list of subscribers to its decrees, preceding the Patriarchs of Alexandria and Antioch. St. Sylvester was Pope for twenty-four years and eleven months. He died in the year 335. His Feast Day is December 31st.

Changing the way the Pope offers monthly prayer intentions

Pope Francis to Change Practice of His Monthly Intentions
1st Angelus of the month will come with an announcement of a timely, ‘urgent’ intention
Pope Francis is changing up the practice of his monthly prayer intentions, distributed worldwide by the Apostleship of Prayer.
In an announcement at his blog today, Jesuit Father James Kubicki, national director of the Apostleship of Prayer, explained that a monthly papal prayer intention has been given to the world through the the Apostleship of Prayer, now known as the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, since the late 1800s. A second intention for missions was added in 1929.
“Today these are called his ‘universal’ and ‘evangelization’ intentions,” Fr. Kubicki noted, explaining that the “process of soliciting suggestions from Vatican Congregations and from members around the world, then proposing them to the Holy Father, then receiving his final versions and translating them from Italian into various languages, then publicizing them via print—is a long process.”
During 2016, a new development was added, with a video featuring the Pope illustrating each month’s intentions.
Now Pope Francis is introducing a change to this process.
He is “returning to the practice of one monthly intention; the twelve intentions for 2017, which alternate between evangelization and universal intentions, have already been published,” Fr. Kubicki explained. “However, given the speed of communication in the digital age, he is adding a second, urgent prayer intention that he will make known during his Angelus Address on the first Sunday of the month.  As soon as we hear what they are we will be publicizing them on our website and other social media.
“Fr. Frederic Fornos, S.J., the international director of the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, sees this as a way that Pope Francis wants to confront ‘the culture of indifference’ by focusing our prayerful attention on situations that are ‘more concrete, precise, current, related to actual circumstances.'”

Millions visit with the Holy Father in Rome

In 2016, Some 4M Attended Audiences, Liturgies With the Pope at the Vatican
March and September saw the highest numbers
Urbi et orbi
© PHOTO.VA - Osservatore Romano
During 2016, nearly 4 million people came to see the Pope at the Vatican.
The Prefecture of the Papal Household has published its annual summary of the numbers of participants at meetings and audiences with the Pope in the Vatican.
The statistics include general and special audiences, jubilee audiences, liturgical celebrations, and the Angelus and Regina Coeli addresses.
The Easter celebrations of March and the celebrations surrounding the canonization of Mother Teresa in September brought the highest numbers.

The Pope’s visits around Rome, to other places in Italy and his international trips are not included in the numbers.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Friday, December 30th in the Octave of Christmas we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family

Christmas: December 30th

Feast of the Holy Family

Scripture tells us practically nothing about the first years and the boyhood of the Child Jesus. All we know are the facts of the sojourn in Egypt, the return to Nazareth, and the incidents that occurred when the twelve-year-old boy accompanied his parents to Jerusalem. In her liturgy the Church hurries over this period of Christ's life with equal brevity. The general breakdown of the family, however, at the end of the past century and at the beginning of our own, prompted the popes, especially the far-sighted Leo XIII, to promote the observance of this feast with the hope that it might instill into Christian families something of the faithful love and the devoted attachment that characterize the family of Nazareth. The primary purpose of the Church in instituting and promoting this feast is to present the Holy Family as the model and exemplar of all Christian families.
— Excerpted from With Christ Through the Year, Rev. Bernard Strasser, O.S.B.
The Sixth Day of Christmas

The Holy Family
Marriage is too often conceived as the sacrament which unites a man and a woman to form a couple. In reality, marriage establishes a family, and its purpose is to increase the number of the elect, through the bodily and spiritual fecundity of the Christian spouses.
1. Every marriage intends children. Although Mary and Joseph were not united in a carnal way, their marriage is a true marriage: an indissoluble, exclusive union, wholly subordinated to the child. Mary and Joseph are united only in order to bring Jesus into the world, to protect and raise him. They have only one child, but he contains the whole of mankind, even as Isaac, an only child, fulfilled the promise made to Abraham of a countless progeny.
2. The purpose of every marriage is to establish a Christian family. The Holy Family observed the religious laws of Israel; it went in pilgrimage to Jerusalem every year with other Jewish families (Lk. 2:41). Jesus saddens and amazes his father and his mother because to their will and company he prefers "to be in his Father's house". Thus it may happen that God's will obliges the family to make disconcerting sacrifices. Yet every Christian family must live in harmony and in prayer, which are the pledges of joy and union.
3. "He remained obedient to them." Jesus was God. And through the fullness of grace Mary stood above Joseph. Nevertheless — if we except the event in the Temple — Joseph remained the head of the family; he took the initiative (as when the Holy Family fled to Egypt), and in Nazareth Jesus obeyed his parents.
Excerpted from Bread and the Word, A.M. Roguet

The Holy Family: Jesus, Mary and Joseph
The devotion to the Holy Family was born in Bethlehem, together with the Baby Jesus. The shepherds went to adore the Child and, at the same time, they gave honor to His family. Later, in a similar way, the three wise men came from the East to adore and give honor to the newborn King with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh that would be safeguarded by His family.
We can go further to affirm that in a certain sense Christ, Himself, was the first devotee of His family. He showed His devotion to His mother and foster father by submitting Himself, with infinite humility, to the duty of filial obedience towards them. This is what St Bernard of Clairvaux said in this regard, ‘God, to whom angels submit themselves and who principalities and powers obey, was subject to Mary; and not only to Mary but Joseph also for Mary’s sake [….]. God obeyed a human creature; this is humility without precedent. A human creature commands God; it is sublime beyond measure.’ (First Homily on the ‘Missus Est’).
Today’s celebration demonstrates Christ’s humility and obedience with respect to the fourth commandment, whilst also highlighting the loving care that His parents exercised in His keeping. The servant of God, Pope John Paul II, in 1989, entitled his Apostolic Exhortation, ‘Redemptoris Custos’ (Guardian of the Redeemer) which was dedicated to the person and the mission of Saint Joseph in the life of Christ and of the Church. After exactly a century, he resumed the teaching of Pope Leo XIII, for who Saint Joseph ‘.. shines among all mankind by the most august dignity, since by divine will, he was the guardian of the Son of God and reputed as His father among men’ (Encyclical Quamquam Pluries [1889] n. 3). Pope Leo XIII continued, ‘.. Joseph became the guardian, the administrator, and the legal defender of the divine house whose chief he was.[…] It is, then, natural and worthy that as the Blessed Joseph ministered to all the needs of the family at Nazareth and girt it about with his protection, he should now cover with the cloak of his heavenly patronage and defend the Church of Jesus Christ.’ Not many years before, blessed Pope Pius IX had proclaimed Saint Joseph, ‘Patron of the Catholic Church’ (1870)
Almost intuitively, one can recognize that the mysterious, exemplary, guardianship enacted by Joseph was conducted firstly, in a yet more intimate way, by Mary. Consequently, the liturgical feast of the Holy Family speaks to us of the fond and loving care that we must render to the Body of Christ. We can understand this in a mystical sense, as guardians of the Church, and also in the Eucharistic sense. Mary and Joseph took great care of Jesus’ physical body. Following their example, we can and must take great care of His Mystical Body, the Church, and the Eucharist which He has entrusted to us. If Mary was, in some way, ‘the first tabernacle in history’ (John Paul II Ecclesia de Eucharistia, n. 55) then we the Tabernacle in which Our Lord chose to reside in person, in His Real Presence, was also entrusted to us. We can learn from Mary and Joseph! What would they ever have overlooked in the care of Jesus’ physical body? Is there something, therefore, that we can withhold for the right and adoring care of His Eucharistic Body? No amount of attention, no sane act of love and adoring respect will ever be too much! On the contrary, our adoration and respect will always be inferior to the great gift that comes to us in the Holy Eucharist.
Looking at the Holy Family, we see the love, the protection, and the diligent care that they gave to the Redeemer. We can not fail to feel uneasiness, perhaps a shameful thought, for the times in which we have not rendered the appropriate care and attention to the Blessed Eucharist. We can only ask for forgiveness and do penance for all the sacrilegious acts and the lack of respect that are committed in front of the Blessed Eucharist. We can only ask the Lord, through the intersession of the Holy Family of Nazareth, for a greater love for their Son Incarnate, who has decided to remain here on earth with us every day until the end of time.
From the Congregation for the Clergy

January 1st is also World Day of Peace; here is Pope Francis enitre messageof peace

Sunday Is World Day of Peace: Pope Says Non-Violence Can Be Style of Politics
“In 2017, may we dedicate ourselves prayerfully and actively to banishing violence from our hearts, words and deeds, and to becoming nonviolent people and to building nonviolent communities that care for our common home”
Pope with dove of peace. Georgia.
© PHOTO.VA - Osservatore Romano
Sunday is the World Day of Peace, which Pope Francis this year is focusing on non-violence as a “style of politics for peace.” ZENIT presents here the Pope’s message as preparation for the World Day:
Nonviolence: a Style of Politics for Peace
1. At the beginning of this New Year, I offer heartfelt wishes of peace to the world’s peoples and nations, to heads of state and government, and to religious, civic and community leaders. I wish peace to every man, woman and child, and I pray that the image and likeness of God in each person will enable us to acknowledge one another as sacred gifts endowed with immense dignity. Especially in situations of conflict, let us respect this, our “deepest dignity”,[1] and make active nonviolence our way of life.
This is the fiftieth Message for the World Day of Peace. In the first, Blessed Pope Paul VI addressed all peoples, not simply Catholics, with utter clarity. “Peace is the only true direction of human progress – and not the tensions caused by ambitious nationalisms, nor conquests by violence, nor repressions which serve as mainstay for a false civil order”. He warned of “the danger of believing that international controversies cannot be resolved by the ways of reason, that is, by negotiations founded on law, justice, and equity, but only by means of deterrent and murderous forces.” Instead, citing the encyclical Pacem in Terris of his predecessor Saint John XXIII, he extolled “the sense and love of peace founded upon truth, justice, freedom and love”. [2] In the intervening fifty years, these words have lost none of their significance or urgency.
On this occasion, I would like to reflect on nonviolence as a style of politics for peace. I ask God to help all of us to cultivate nonviolence in our most personal thoughts and values. May charity and nonviolence govern how we treat each other as individuals, within society and in international life. When victims of violence are able to resist the temptation to retaliate, they become the most credible promotors of nonviolent peacemaking. In the most local and ordinary situations and in the international order, may nonviolence become the hallmark of our decisions, our relationships and our actions, and indeed of political life in all its forms.
A broken world
2. While the last century knew the devastation of two deadly World Wars, the threat of nuclear war and a great number of other conflicts, today, sadly, we find ourselves engaged in a horrifying world war fought piecemeal. It is not easy to know if our world is presently more or less violent than in the past, or to know whether modern means of communications and greater mobility have made us more aware of violence, or, on the other hand, increasingly inured to it.
In any case, we know that this “piecemeal” violence, of different kinds and levels, causes great suffering: wars in different countries and continents; terrorism, organized crime and unforeseen acts of violence; the abuses suffered by migrants and victims of human trafficking; and the devastation of the environment. Where does this lead? Can violence achieve any goal of lasting value? Or does it merely lead to retaliation and a cycle of deadly conflicts that benefit only a few “warlords”?
Violence is not the cure for our broken world. Countering violence with violence leads at best to forced migrations and enormous suffering, because vast amounts of resources are diverted to military ends and away from the everyday needs of young people, families experiencing hardship, the elderly, the infirm and the great majority of people in our world. At worst, it can lead to the death, physical and spiritual, of many people, if not of all.
The Good News
3. Jesus himself lived in violent times. Yet he taught that the true battlefield, where violence and peace meet, is the human heart: for “it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come” (Mk 7:21). But Christ’s message in this regard offers a radically positive approach. He unfailingly preached God’s unconditional love, which welcomes and forgives. He taught his disciples to love their enemies (cf. Mt 5:44) and to turn the other cheek (cf. Mt 5:39). When he stopped her accusers from stoning the woman caught in adultery (cf. Jn 8:1-11), and when, on the night before he died, he told Peter to put away his sword (cf. Mt 26:52), Jesus marked out the path of nonviolence. He walked that path to the very end, to the cross, whereby he became our peace and put an end to hostility (cf. Eph 2:14-16). Whoever accepts the Good News of Jesus is able to acknowledge the violence within and be healed by God’s mercy, becoming in turn an instrument of reconciliation. In the words of Saint Francis of Assisi: “As you announce peace with your mouth, make sure that you have greater peace in your hearts”.[3]
To be true followers of Jesus today also includes embracing his teaching about nonviolence. As my predecessor Benedict XVI observed, that teaching “is realistic because it takes into account that in the world there is too much violence, too much injustice, and therefore that this situation cannot be overcome except by countering it with more love, with more goodness. This ‘more’ comes from God”.[4]He went on to stress that: “For Christians, nonviolence is not merely tactical behaviour but a person’s way of being, the attitude of one who is so convinced of God’s love and power that he or she is not afraid to tackle evil with the weapons of love and truth alone. Love of one’s enemy constitutes the nucleus of the ‘Christian revolution’”.[5] The Gospel command to love your enemies (cf. Lk 6:27) “is rightly considered the magna carta of Christian nonviolence. It does not consist in succumbing to evil…, but in responding to evil with good (cf. Rom 12:17-21), and thereby breaking the chain of injustice”.[6]
More powerful than violence 
4. Nonviolence is sometimes taken to mean surrender, lack of involvement and passivity, but this is not the case. When Mother Teresa received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979, she clearly stated her own message of active nonviolence: “We in our family don’t need bombs and guns, to destroy to bring peace – just get together, love one another… And we will be able to overcome all the evil that is in the world”.[7] For the force of arms is deceptive. “While weapons traffickers do their work, there are poor peacemakers who give their lives to help one person, then another and another and another”; for such peacemakers, Mother Teresa is “a symbol, an icon of our times”.[8] Last September, I had the great joy of proclaiming her a Saint. I praised her readiness to make herself available for everyone “through her welcome and defence of human life, those unborn and those abandoned and discarded… She bowed down before those who were spent, left to die on the side of the road, seeing in them their God-given dignity; she made her voice heard before the powers of this world, so that they might recognize their guilt for the crimes – the crimes! – of poverty they created”.[9] In response, her mission – and she stands for thousands, even millions of persons – was to reach out to the suffering, with generous dedication, touching and binding up every wounded body, healing every broken life.
The decisive and consistent practice of nonviolence has produced impressive results. The achievements of Mahatma Gandhi and Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan in the liberation of India, and of Dr Martin Luther King Jr in combating racial discrimination will never be forgotten. Women in particular are often leaders of nonviolence, as for example, was Leymah Gbowee and the thousands of Liberian women, who organized pray-ins and nonviolent protest that resulted in high-level peace talks to end the second civil war in Liberia.
Nor can we forget the eventful decade that ended with the fall of Communist regimes in Europe. The Christian communities made their own contribution by their insistent prayer and courageous action. Particularly influential were the ministry and teaching of Saint John Paul II. Reflecting on the events of 1989 in his 1991 Encyclical Centesimus Annus, my predecessor highlighted the fact that momentous change in the lives of people, nations and states had come about “by means of peaceful protest, using only the weapons of truth and justice”.[10] This peaceful political transition was made possible in part “by the non-violent commitment of people who, while always refusing to yield to the force of power, succeeded time after time in finding effective ways of bearing witness to the truth”. Pope John Paul went on to say: “May people learn to fight for justice without violence, renouncing class struggle in their internal disputes and war in international ones”.[11]
The Church has been involved in nonviolent peacebuilding strategies in many countries, engaging even the most violent parties in efforts to build a just and lasting peace.
Such efforts on behalf of the victims of injustice and violence are not the legacy of the Catholic Church alone, but are typical of many religious traditions, for which “compassion and nonviolence are essential elements pointing to the way of life”.[12] I emphatically reaffirm that “no religion is terrorist”.[13] Violence profanes the name of God.[14] Let us never tire of repeating: “The name of God cannot be used to justify violence. Peace alone is holy. Peace alone is holy, not war!”[15]
The domestic roots of a politics of nonviolence
5. If violence has its source in the human heart, then it is fundamental that nonviolence be practised before all else within families. This is part of that joy of love which I described last March in my Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, in the wake of two years of reflection by the Church on marriage and the family. The family is the indispensable crucible in which spouses, parents and children, brothers and sisters, learn to communicate and to show generous concern for one another, and in which frictions and even conflicts have to be resolved not by force but by dialogue, respect, concern for the good of the other, mercy and forgiveness.[16] From within families, the joy of love spills out into the world and radiates to the whole of society.[17] An ethics of fraternity and peaceful coexistence between individuals and among peoples cannot be based on the logic of fear, violence and closed-mindedness, but on responsibility, respect and sincere dialogue. Hence, I plead for disarmament and for the prohibition and abolition of nuclear weapons: nuclear deterrence and the threat of mutual assured destruction are incapable of grounding such an ethics.[18] I plead with equal urgency for an end to domestic violence and to the abuse of women and children.
The Jubilee of Mercy that ended in November encouraged each one of us to look deeply within and to allow God’s mercy to enter there. The Jubilee taught us to realize how many and diverse are the individuals and social groups treated with indifference and subjected to injustice and violence. They too are part of our “family”; they too are our brothers and sisters. The politics of nonviolence have to begin in the home and then spread to the entire human family. “Saint Therese of Lisieux invites us to practise the little way of love, not to miss out on a kind word, a smile or any small gesture which sows peace and friendship. An integral ecology is also made up of simple daily gestures that break with the logic of violence, exploitation and selfishness”.[19]
My invitation
6. Peacebuilding through active nonviolence is the natural and necessary complement to the Church’s continuing efforts to limit the use of force by the application of moral norms; she does so by her participation in the work of international institutions and through the competent contribution made by so many Christians to the drafting of legislation at all levels. Jesus himself offers a “manual” for this strategy of peacemaking in the Sermon on the Mount. The eight Beatitudes (cf. Mt 5:3-10) provide a portrait of the person we could describe as blessed, good and authentic. Blessed are the meek, Jesus tells us, the merciful and the peacemakers, those who are pure in heart, and those who hunger and thirst for justice.
This is also a programme and a challenge for political and religious leaders, the heads of international institutions, and business and media executives: to apply the Beatitudes in the exercise of their respective responsibilities. It is a challenge to build up society, communities and businesses by acting as peacemakers. It is to show mercy by refusing to discard people, harm the environment, or seek to win at any cost. To do so requires “the willingness to face conflict head on, to resolve it and to make it a link in the chain of a new process”.[20] To act in this way means to choose solidarity as a way of making history and building friendship in society. Active nonviolence is a way of showing that unity is truly more powerful and more fruitful than conflict. Everything in the world is inter-connected.[21] Certainly differences can cause frictions. But let us face them constructively and non-violently, so that “tensions and oppositions can achieve a diversified and life-giving unity,” preserving “what is valid and useful on both sides”.[22]
I pledge the assistance of the Church in every effort to build peace through active and creative nonviolence. On 1 January 2017, the new Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development will begin its work. It will help the Church to promote in an ever more effective way “the inestimable goods of justice, peace, and the care of creation” and concern for “migrants, those in need, the sick, the excluded and marginalized, the imprisoned and the unemployed, as well as victims of armed conflict, natural disasters, and all forms of slavery and torture”.[23] Every such response, however modest, helps to build a world free of violence, the first step towards justice and peace.
In conclusion
7. As is traditional, I am signing this Message on 8 December, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Mary is the Queen of Peace. At the birth of her Son, the angels gave glory to God and wished peace on earth to men and women of good will (cf. Luke 2:14). Let us pray for her guidance.
“All of us want peace. Many people build it day by day through small gestures and acts; many of them are suffering, yet patiently persevere in their efforts to be peacemakers”.[24] In 2017, may we dedicate ourselves prayerfully and actively to banishing violence from our hearts, words and deeds, and to becoming nonviolent people and to building nonviolent communities that care for our common home. “Nothing is impossible if we turn to God in prayer. Everyone can be an artisan of peace”.[25]
From the Vatican, 8 December 2016

One Catholic Bishop rallies his parishes to pray and fast before the Presidential Inauguration

Bishop Barnes calls for prayer and fasting before inauguration

San Bernardino bishop asks parishes to participate in a one-day fast in response to 'divisions that emerged from the presidential campaign'
Bishop Barnes of San Bernardino diocese
The following comes from a December 19 Inland Catholic Byte article:
In response to divisions that emerged from the presidential campaign and in support of healing and hope for the country, Bishop Gerald Barnes is asking parishes of the Diocese to participate in a one-day fast during the final 18 days leading up to the inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States.
“It is meant as a show of support for our country,” Bishop Barnes said. “It’s a prayer that the United States succeeds in its principles, for the benefit of all.”
Groups of parishes will be encouraged to observe one day of fasting between January 3 and January 19. The fast would follow the directive for days of fasting during Lent, in which one full meal is permitted with two smaller meals as needed to maintain strength.
As they fast, parishioners are encouraged to pray for the country and that the presidency of Donald Trump will promote human life and dignity, and the common good.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Chancellor and Archbishop of Canterbury

St. Thomas Becket
Image of St. Thomas Becket


Feastday: December 29
Birth: 1118
Death: 1170

There is a romantic legend that the mother of Thomas Becket was a Saracen princess who followed his father, a pilgrim or crusader, back from the Holy Land, and wandered about Europe repeating the only English words she knew, "London" and "Becket," until she found him. There is no foundation for the story. According to a contemporary writer, Thomas Becket was the son of Gilbert Becket, sheriff of London; another relates that both parents were of Norman blood. Whatever his parentage, we know with certainty that the future chancellor and archbishop of Canterbury was born on St. Thomas day, 1118, of a good family, and that he was educated at a school of canons regular at Merton Priory in Sussex, and later at the University of Paris. When Thomas returned from France, his parents had died. Obliged to make his way unaided, he obtained an appointment as clerk to the sheriff's court, where he showed great ability. All accounts describe him as a strongly built, spirited youth, a lover of field sports, who seems to have spent his leisure time in hawking and hunting. One day when he was out hunting with his falcon, the bird swooped down at a duck, and as the duck dived, plunged after it into the river. Thomas himself leapt in to save the valuable hawk, and the rapid stream swept him along to a mill, where only the accidental stopping of the wheel saved his life. The episode serves to illustrate the impetuous daring which characterized Becket all through his life.

At the age of twenty-four Thomas was given a post in the household of Theobald, archbishop of Canterbury, and while there he apparently resolved on a career in the Church, for he took minor orders. To prepare himself further, he obtained the archbishop's permission to study canon law at the University of Bologna, continuing his studies at Auxerre, France. On coming back to England, he became provost of Beverley, and canon at Lincoln and St. Paul's cathedrals. His ordination as deacon occurred in 1154. Theobald appointed him archdeacon of Canterbury, the highest ecclesiastical office in England after a bishopric or an abbacy, and began to entrust him with the most intricate affairs; several times he was sent on important missions to Rome. It was Thomas' diplomacy that dissuaded Pope Eugenius III from sanctioning the coronation of Eustace, eldest son of Stephen, and when Henry of Anjou, great grandson of William the Conqueror, asserted his claim to the English crown and became King Henry II, it was not long before he appointed this gifted churchman as chancellor, that is, chief minister. An old chronicle describes Thomas as "slim of growth, and pale of hue, with dark hair, a long nose, and a straightly featured face.

Blithe of countenance was he, winning and lovable in conversation, frank of speech in his discourses but slightly stuttering in his talk, so keen of discernment that he could always make difficult questions plain after a wise manner." Thomas discharged his duties as chancellor conscientiously and well.

Like the later chancellor of the realm, Thomas Moore, who also became a martyr and a saint, Thomas Becket was the close personal friend as well as the loyal servant of his young sovereign. They were said to have one heart and one mind between them, and it seems possible that to Becket's influence were due, in part, those reforms for which Henry is justly praised, that is, his measures to secure equitable dealing for all his subjects by a more uniform and efficient system of law. But it was not only their common interest in matters of state that bound them together. They were also boon companions and spent merry hours together. It was almost the only relaxation Thomas allowed himself, for he was an ambitious man. He had a taste for magnificence, and his household was as fine--if not finer--than the King's. When he was sent to France to negotiate a royal marriage, he took a personal retinue of two hundred men, with a train of several hundred more, knights and squires, clerics and servants, eight fine wagons, music and singers, hawks and hounds, monkeys and mastiffs. Little wonder that the French gaped in wonder and asked, "If this is the chancellor's state, what can the King's be like?" His entertainments, his gifts, and his liberality to the poor were also on a very lavish scale.

In 1159 King Henry raised an army of mercenaries in France to regain the province of Toulouse, a part of the inheritance of his wife, the famous Eleanor of Aquitaine.

Thomas served Henry in this war with a company of seven hundred knights of his own. Wearing armor like any other fighting man, he led assaults and engaged in single combat. Another churchman, meeting him, exclaimed: "What do you mean by wearing such a dress? You look more like a falconer than a cleric. Yet you are a cleric in person, and many times over in office-archdeacon of Canterbury, dean of Hastings, provost of Beverley, canon of this church and that, procurator of the archbishop, and like to be archbishop, too, the rumor goes!" Thomas received the rebuke with good humor.

Although he was proud, strong-willed, and irascible, and remained so all his life, he did not neglect to make seasonal retreats at Merton and took the discipline imposed on him there. His confessor during this time testified later to the blamelessness of his private life, under conditions of extreme temptation. If he sometimes went too far in those schemes of the King which tended to infringe on the ancient prerogatives and rights of the Church, at other times he opposed Henry with vigor.

In 1161 Archbishop Theobald died. King Henry was then in Normandy with Thomas, whom he resolved to make the next primate of England. When Henry announced his intention, Thomas, demurring, told him: "Should God permit me to be the archbishop of Canterbury, I would soon lose your Majesty's favor, and the affection with which you honor me would be changed into hatred. For there are several things you do now in prejudice of the rights of the Church which make me fear you would require of me what I could not agree to; and envious persons would not fail to make it the occasion of endless strife between us." The King paid no heed to this remonstrance, and sent bishops and noblemen to the monks of Canterbury, ordering them to labor with the same zeal to set his chancellor in the see as they would to set the crown on the young prince's head. Thomas continued to refuse the promotion until the legate of the Holy See, Cardinal Henry of Pisa, overrode his scruples. The election took place in May, 1162. Young Prince Henry, then in London, gave the necessary consent in his father's name. Thomas, now forty-four years old, rode to Canterbury and was first ordained priest by Walter, bishop of Rochester, and then on the octave of Pentecost was consecrated archbishop by the bishop of Winchester. Shortly afterwards he received the pallium sent by Pope Alexander III.

From this day worldly grandeur no longer marked Thomas' way of life. Next his skin he wore a hairshirt, and his customary dress was a plain black cassock, a linen surplice, and a sacerdotal stole about his neck. He lived ascetically, spent much time in the distribution of alms, in reading and discussing the Scriptures with Herbert of Bosham, in visiting the infirmary, and supervising the monks at their work. He took special care in selecting candidates for Holy Orders. As ecclesiastical judge, he was rigorously just.

Although as archbishop Thomas had resigned the chancellorship, against the King's wish, the relations between the two men seemed to be unchanged for a time. But a host of troubles was brewing, and the crux of all of them was the relationship between Church and state. In the past the landowners, among which the Church was one of the largest, for each hide [1] of land they held, had paid annually two shillings to the King's officers, who in return undertook to protect them from the rapacity of minor tax- gatherers. This was actually a flagrant form of graft and the King now ordered the money paid into his own exchequer. The archbishop protested, and there were hot words between him and the King. Thenceforth the King's demands were directed solely against the clergy, with no mention of other landholders who were equally involved.

The resignation of a Bishop by Rocco Palmo

In Cleveland, LeBishop Calls It A Day
(Updated 10.30am ET with presser video, etc.)

While everyone's hopefully enjoying some Christmas downtime, even the Octave isn't stopping the US docket's most frenetic period of activity in nearly a decade.

At Roman Noon on this fourth day of Christmas, the Pope accepted the early retirement of Bishop Richard Lennon of Cleveland three months before the latter's 70th birthday. While the Boston-born prelate suffered a significant heart attack earlier this year – and has reportedly begun to struggle with "memory issues" – the move brings a rapid end to an extraordinarily fraught tenure marked by significant upheaval in the 700,000-member diocese, Ohio's largest local church (and once again a City of Champions).

In tandem with the move, as no permanent successor was immediately named, the Holy See has tapped Bishop Daniel Thomas of Toledo to temporarily lead the neighboring fold to his east as apostolic administrator. Once the lead staffer for English-language appointments at the Congregation for Bishops, the choice of the energetic, ever-sunny Philadelphia native signals an intent for the extensive local report on the state of the diocese (the first step in the search for its next occupant) to be handled with an expert's speed and an outsider's objectivity, thus increasing the odds for a permanent pick to emerge as soon as possible. (Just to avoid any confusion, Thomas remains at the helm of the Toledo diocese, doubling up his workload with the Cleveland post until Lennon's replacement is installed.)

Upon his appointment to the shores of Lake Erie in 2006, Lennon arrived marked by two experiences that yielded a reputation for storms: overseeing the Boston church as apostolic administrator between the collapse of Cardinal Bernard Law's tenure and the arrival of then-Archbishop Seán O'Malley, then leading the charge as vicar-general on the quick push to close nearly 70 Boston parishes as the embers of the scandals still smouldered.

In Cleveland, the second act proved no less eventful as Lennon's 2009 plan to consolidate 50 parishes – most of them early 20th century ethnic holdovers in a drastically changed city – saw him pilloried and heckled at practically every turn, then made to undergo an Apostolic Visitation on his stewardship of the diocese given what's been termed an unparalleled level of complaints sent both to Rome and the Nunciature in Washington.

Despite surviving the Vatican probe, part of which saw 11 of his closings reversed by the Holy See (and, in a rarity, the parishes fully reopened), Lennon's attempts at mending relationships in its wake seemed to come too late. In one especially bitter example, after a priest who formed an "independent community" with most of his closed parish got the result they wanted – the closing's nullification by Rome – they still refused to return, even despite the cleric's excommunication in 2013.

Though the bishop's friends invariably lament "the hand" he was made to deal with in both cities, such was Lennon's profile as a controversy-magnet in Boston that – following a bruising first three years that once saw O'Malley publicly express his prayer "that the Lord will take me home" – the confluence of the former's departure within weeks of the Capuchin's reception of the red hat is just as frequently seen as the critical moment that began turning the tide of the archdiocese. Much as with Newark – where, in an unprecedented moment for the Stateside church, a cardinal will be installed next week as archbishop – the priority for Cleveland's next bishop is on turning the page, as well as affirming the church's historically strong charitable and community presence on a struggling turf.