Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Well deserved honor for Drew Brees

NEW YORK, Nov. 30, 2010
Drew Brees Honored as SI's Sportsman of Year
Saints QB Wins Magazine's Award for His Championship on the Field and His Charity Off It

(CBS/AP) Drew Brees was honored as Sports Illustrated's sportsman of the year for his championship on the field and his charity off it.

Brees became the award's 57th recipient when the magazine made the announcement Tuesday on the "Today" show. The quarterback led the long-suffering New Orleans Saints to their first Super Bowl title in February, lifting the spirits of the hurricane-battered city.

But the cover story notes he's done much more than inspire with his brilliant play. Since Brees joined the Saints in 2006 months after Hurricane Katrina, his foundation has worked with nearly 50 New Orleans schools and organizations to aid in recovery.

"The more that I've learned about the award and that it goes well beyond what you accomplish on the field, that it's very much about what you do off the field as well, with community service and your family, makes the award even more special to me," Brees said.

Brees is the fifth NFL quarterback to be honored and third in six years. The Pittsburgh Steelers' Terry Bradshaw won in 1979, the San Francisco 49ers' Joe Montana in 1990, the New England Patriots' Tom Brady in 2005 and the Green Bay Packers' Brett Favre in 2007.

Sports Illustrated Group editor Terry McDonell said he had been "determined not to be a slave to a calendar" in considering NFL players, even though it might seem like an eternity between the Super Bowl and the announcement of the award. But Brees' contributions outside of football made this selection easy.

"It's year-round for him," McDonell said.

Brees will be recognized at a ceremony in New York on Tuesday with past winners including Bill Russell, Curt Schilling and Montana.

Archbishop Aymond speaks about Pope Benedict and the condom controversy

New Orleans archbishop says Catholic church still views condoms as birth control as immoral
Published: Saturday, November 27, 2010, 5:00 AM Updated: Saturday, November 27, 2010

Bruce Nolan, The Times-Picayune

In New Orleans, Archbishop Gregory Aymond has been following the global dustup over what Pope Benedict XVI said — or is thought to have said, in German, Italian and English — about the Catholic church’s view on the use of condoms to protect people from AIDS and other diseases.

Archbishop Gregory Aymond is sure of this: The pope cannot and has not reversed the Catholic church’s traditional teaching that condoms are immoral as a contraception technique.
Whatever the confusion, Aymond is sure of this: Benedict cannot and has not reversed the Catholic church’s traditional teaching that condoms are immoral as a contraception technique.

Beyond that, Aymond said Benedict may be inviting the church to step up its conversation on whether condoms might be appropriate as a health measure in a marriage in which one spouse is infected with a dangerous disease like AIDS.

“My read is that he’s inviting us as a faith community to do further prayer, theological reflection and study on that issue,” Aymond said.

The issue has special relevance in places like Africa, ravaged by AIDS, where Catholic relief workers confront the disease and counsel people on prevention. Their church has been heavily criticized for taking a different view from other health organizations on the appropriateness of condoms.

The Catholic church’s position is that AIDS prevention campaigns relying principally on condom distribution are insufficient — that because sex outside of marriage is not only immoral but unsafe, the best solution involves persuading people to limit themselves to monogamous sexual behavior.

Beyond that, the Catholic church has long opposed use of condoms on moral grounds.

The confusion began last week when the Vatican's Italian-language newspaper translated from Benedict's German a discussion of condoms in the context of AIDS and Africa. Benedict said that in an extreme case, in the case of an infected male prostitute, using a condom might be laudable as the first stirring of a moral responsibility, even within an immoral act, if the intent is to protect the partner from disease.
In Catholic philosophy, condoms thwart the design of sex by blunting its reproductive potential, and thus are always wrong when used to prevent conception.

But the church has no definitive teaching on the use of condoms within a marriage solely to prevent disease like AIDS — although the Rev. Jose Lavastida, a moral theologian and the rector of Notre Dame Seminary, said the prevailing logic of Catholic moral theology comes down heavily against it.

Whether Benedict, a renowned theologian himself, offered a provocative personal opinion on that narrow question, or whether his observations to a German journalist were muddled by Vatican mistranslations, further muddled by a Vatican clarification — and from the outset misinterpreted by some elements of the secular press, is still not entirely clear.

The confusion began last week when the Vatican’s Italian-language newspaper translated from Benedict’s German an excerpt of his conversation with journalist Peter Seewald, with whom Benedict had collaborated on Benedict’s new book, “Light of the World.”

Discussing condoms in the context of AIDS and Africa, Benedict told Seewald that in an extreme case, in the case of an infected male prostitute, using a condom might be laudable as the first stirring of a moral responsibility, even within an immoral act, if the intent is to protect the partner from disease.

Much of the worldwide secular press at first incorrectly reported that the church had reversed its traditional opposition to condom use generally.

Aymond and other church spokesmen vigorously denied that.

Asked later whether the original German accurately limited Benedict’s observation strictly to homosexual sex, where contraception is not an issue, Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi’s clarification seemed to enlarge Benedict’s observation beyond the exotic example of male prostitution.

“I personally asked the pope if there was a serious, important problem in the choice of the masculine over the feminine,” Lombardi said. “He told me no. The problem is this: It’s the first step of taking responsibility, of taking into consideration the risk of the life of another with whom you have a relationship.”

Some Catholic writers and commentators saw the reference to “relationship” as an indication that Benedict was talking about a married couple’s use of condoms to keep one partner with AIDS from infecting another.

If so, “this is something of a game-changer,” wrote the Rev. James Martin in the Jesuit magazine, America. Other Catholic writers and commentators picked up the same thread.

That’s because that debate had been going on inside the church for some time, driven largely by its anti-AIDS work. Some Catholic theologians have supported the limited use of condoms for disease prevention within marriage as morally permissible, if not the ideal.

But the church as a whole has never come to a conclusion. And according to Lavastida, the weight of current theological opinion runs against condom use, even in those cases.

“If that question were to be answered today, what would be looked at is the integrity of the marital act. And the marital act with the use of condoms (violates) the integrity of what the act should be,” he said.

For his part, Lavastida said he doubts that Benedict was even gesturing toward a limited re-thinking involving condoms and AIDS in marriage.

Aymond said it seemed possible that Benedict was, in fact, addressing that possibility, although only as a personal opinion.

In his own remarks in a pre-Thanksgiving video on the archdiocese’s website, Aymond cited Benedict’s first-version example of male prostitution, which Catholic teaching views as clearly immoral.

Aymond said Benedict’s remarks had changed nothing in the church’s prohibition of condoms as contraceptives. “He’s simply saying that if a person chooses not to follow the way of Jesus ... and they have AIDS, that they at least should think about protecting the person that they are engaging with,” he said.

Moreover, Aymond said, the stark right-vs.-wrong tone of the media discussion thus far does not capture the way Catholic theology gives pastors room to try to apply general principles to real cases on the ground.

More likely, he said, if the church were to offer some guidance on the use of condoms within marriage to prevent disease, it would not likely be a blanket statement, but would express an ideal packaged with a recommendation that couples consult with a confessor or spiritual advisor.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Feast of St. Andrew the Apostle

>>>The first Apostle; Andrew went to Peter with news of Jesus!

St. Andrew

Feastday: November 30
Patron of Fisherman

Andrew, like his brother Simon Peter, was a fisherman. He became a disciple of the great St. John the Baptist, but when John pointed to Jesus and said, "Behold the Lamb of God!" Andrew understood that Jesus was greater. At once he left John to follow the Divine Master. Jesus knew that Andrew was walking behind him, and turning back, he asked, "what do you seek?" When Andrew answered that he would like to know where Jesus lived, Our Lord replied, "Come and see." Andrew had been only a little time with Jesus when he realized that this was truly the Messiah.

From then on, he chose to follow Jesus. Andrew was thus the first disciple of Christ. Next, Andrew brought his brother Simon (St. Peter) to Jesus and Jesus received him, too, as His disciple. At first the two brothers continued to carry on their fishing trade and family affairs, but later, the Lord called them to stay with Him all the time. He promised to make them fishers of men, and this time, they left their nets for good. It is believed that after Our Lord ascended into Heaven, St. Andrew went to Greece to preach the gospel. He is said to have been put to death on a cross, to which he was tied, not nailed. He lived two days in that state of suffering, still preaching to the people who gathered around their beloved Apostle. Two countries have chosen St. Andrew as their patron - Russia and Scotland.

Pope Benedict and the Pro Life vigil for nascent life

Pope’s homily for ‘historic’ pro-life vigil - FULL TEXT

(LifeSiteNews.com) – On Saturday evening Pope Benedict XVI held an unprecedented “vigil for all nascent human life” at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. The vigil was held in union with thousands of similar events in parishes and dioceses across the world.

At the request of the Holy Father, a letter had been sent to all the episcopal conferences of the Catholic Church this past June, asking them to organize the pro-life prayer vigils on the eve of the beginning of the liturgical season of Advent in all local churches.

The following is a complete transcript of the pope’s remarks during the vigil, courtesy of Vatican Radio:

Dear brothers and sisters,

With this evening’s celebration, the Lord gives us the grace and joy of opening the new liturgical year beginning with its first stage: Advent, the period that commemorates the coming of God among us. Every beginning brings a special grace, because it is blessed by the Lord. In this Advent period we will once again experience the closeness of the One who created the world, who guides history and cared for us to the point of becoming a man. This great and fascinating mystery of God with us, moreover of God who becomes one of us, is what we celebrate in the coming weeks journeying towards holy Christmas. During the season of Advent we feel the Church that takes us by the hand and - in the image of the Blessed Virgin Mary - expresses her motherhood allowing us to experience the joyful expectation of the coming of the Lord, who embraces us all in his love that saves and consoles.

While our hearts reach out towards the annual celebration of the birth of Christ, the Church’s liturgy directs our gaze to the final goal: our encounter with the Lord in the splendour of glory. This is why we, in every Eucharist, “announce his death, proclaim his resurrection until he comes again” we hold vigil in prayer. The liturgy does not cease to encourage and support us, putting on our lips, in the days of Advent, the cry with which the whole Bible concludes, the last page of the Revelation of Saint John: “Come, Lord Jesus “(22:20).

Dear brothers and sisters, our coming together this evening to begin the Advent journey is enriched by another important reason: with the entire Church, we want to solemnly celebrate a prayer vigil for unborn life. I wish to express my thanks to all who have taken up this invitation and those who are specifically dedicated to welcoming and safeguarding human life in different situations of fragility, especially in its early days and in its early stages. The beginning of the liturgical year helps us to relive the expectation of God made flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary, God who makes himself small, He becomes a child, it speaks to us of the coming of a God who is near, who wanted to experience the life of man, from the very beginning, to save it completely, fully. And so the mystery of the Incarnation of the Lord and the beginning of human life are intimately connected and in harmony with each other within the one saving plan of God, the Lord of life of each and every one of us. The Incarnation reveals to us, with intense light and in an amazing way, that every human life has an incomparable, a most elevated dignity.

Man has an unmistakable originality compared to all other living beings that inhabit the earth. He presents himself as a unique and singular entity, endowed with intelligence and free will, as well as being composed of a material reality. He lives simultaneously and inseparably in the spiritual dimension and the corporal dimension. This is also suggested in the text of the First letter to the Thessalonians which was just proclaimed: “May the God of peace himself - St. Paul writes - make you perfectly holy and may you entirely, spirit, soul, and body, be preserved blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ “(5:23). Therefore, we are spirit, soul and body. We are part of this world, tied to the possibilities and limits of our material condition, at the same time we are open to an infinite horizon, able to converse with God and to welcome Him in us. We operate in earthly realities and through them we can perceive the presence of God and seek Him, truth, goodness and absolute beauty. We savour fragments of life and happiness and we long for total fulfilment.

God loves us so deeply, totally, without distinction, He calls us to friendship with him, He makes us part of a reality beyond all imagination, thought and word; His own divine life. With emotion and gratitude we acknowledge the value of the incomparable dignity of every human person and the great responsibility we have toward all. ” Christ, the final Adam, - says the Second Vatican Council - by the revelation of the mystery of the Father and His love, fully reveals man to man himself and makes his supreme calling clear…. by His incarnation the Son of God has united Himself in some fashion with every man. “(Gaudium et Spes, 22).

Believing in Jesus Christ also means having a new outlook on man, a look of trust and hope. Moreover, experience itself and reason show that the human being is a subject capable of discernment, self-conscious and free, unique and irreplaceable, the summit of all earthly things, that must be recognized in his innate value and always accepted with respect and love. He has the right not to be treated as an object of possession or something to manipulate at will, not to be reduced to a mere instrument for the benefit of others and their interests. The human person is a good in and of himself and his integral development should always be sought. Love for all, if it is sincere, naturally tends to become a preferential attention to the weakest and poorest. In this vein we find the Church’s concern for the unborn, the most fragile, the most threatened by the selfishness of adults and the darkening of consciences. The Church continually reiterates what was declared by the Second Vatican Council against abortion and all violations of unborn life: “from the moment of its conception life must be guarded with the greatest care ” (ibid., n. 51).

There are cultural tendencies that seek to anesthetize consciences with misleading motivations. With regard to the embryo in the womb, science itself highlights its autonomy capable of interaction with the mother, the coordination of biological processes, the continuity of development, the growing complexity of the organism. This is not an accumulation of biological material, but a new living being, dynamic and wonderfully ordered, a new unique human being. So was Jesus in Mary’s womb, so it was for all of us in our mother’s womb. With the ancient Christian writer Tertullian we can say: ” he who will be a man is already one” (Apologeticum IX, 8), there is no reason not to consider him a person from conception.

Unfortunately, even after birth, the lives of children continue to be exposed to abandonment, hunger, poverty, disease, abuse, violence or exploitation. The many violations of their rights that are committed in the world sorely hurt the conscience of every man of good will. Before the sad landscape of the injustices committed against human life, before and after birth, I make mine Pope John Paul II’s passionate appeal to the responsibility of each and every individual: ” respect, protect, love and serve life, every human life! Only in this direction will you find justice, development, true freedom, peace and happiness!”(Encyclical Evangelium vitae, 5). I urge the protagonists of politics, economic and social communications to do everything in their power to promote a culture which respects human life, to provide favorable conditions and support networks for the reception and development of life.

To the Virgin Mary, who welcomed the Son of God made man with faith, with her maternal womb, with loving care, with nurturing support and vibrant with love, we entrust our commitment and prayer in favour of unborn life . We do in the liturgy - which is the place where we live the truth and where truth lives with us - worshiping the divine Eucharist, we contemplate Christ’s body, that body who took flesh from Mary by the Holy Spirit, and from her was born in Bethlehem for our salvation. Ave, verum Corpus, natum de Maria Virgine!

And the retreat ends...

Today around 1 p.m. on a warm November Monday the pre-ordination retreat for our 10 candidates and wives came to a close. Together since Thanksgiving afternoon, the ten couples departed for home aware that they would next be all together in one place for rehersal, a pre-ordination vigil and finally ordination day. And then, they move on to their assigned ministries and the possibility that they all will never be together in one place again.

On Saturday evening the class experienced a myriad of prayer opportunities; the vigil for nascent life as requested by Pope Benedict, a rosary, exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and Bendiction and finally a penance service and individual reconciliation.

Sunday brought Mass as community in the beautiful church of the St. Joseph Abbey and an evening prayer and sharing opportunity in front of the fireplace. Supported by about 6 or 7 deacons, many of whom served as mentors, the candidates and wives were able to reflect on the journey, share moments from the retreat that touched them and look forward to the ministry of deacon that now awaits.

This morning, in a prayerful and reflective way, Archbishop Hughes walked the couples through the actual rite of ordination. I can imagine how profound that must have been as being a relatively new deacon, I found the Archbishop's talk as he described the rite spiritually profound.

After Mass, lunch was served and off they went.

And soon we will welcome these 10 men as brother deacons in the diaconate community for the Archdiocese of New Orleans. As I do, may I ask each of you to pray for these men as ordination day draws near.

All about Advent

>>>From the USCCB website:

About Advent

Advent (ad-venio in Latin or "to come to") begins the Church year and consists of the four Sundays before Christmas. The Advent season is a time of preparation that directs our hearts and minds to Christ’s second coming at the end of time and also to the anniversary of the Lord’s birth on Christmas. Advent devotions remind us of the meaning of the season. Special Advent Devotions: the lighting of the Advent wreath each Sunday during Advent; the Advent calendar helps remind us of the season with daily thoughts and activities; Advent prayers prepare us spiritually for the birth of Jesus Christ.

Advent Wreath
The four candles represent the four weeks of Advent. Three candles are purple and one is rose. The purple candles in particular symbolize the prayer, penance, and preparatory sacrifices and goods works undertaken at this time. The rose candle is lit on the third Sunday, Gaudete Sunday, when the priest also wears rose vestments at Mass; Gaudete Sunday is the Sunday of rejoicing, because the faithful have arrived at the midpoint of Advent, when their preparation is now half over and they are close to Christmas. The progressive lighting of the candles symbolizes the expectation and hope surrounding our Lord’s first coming into the world and the anticipation of his second coming to judge the living and the dead.

Advent Prayers
Advent prayers call to mind our preparation for the Lord's coming on Christmas and His second coming at the end of the world. The Advent theme of preparing one spiritually requires special Advent prayers focused on waiting, watching, and hoping for the Lord's coming. Many Advent prayer books include daily prayers, while others involve the writings of popular Catholics including Pope John Paul II or Fulton Sheen. Other prayers are meant specifically to be said along with an Advent wreath.

Advent Calendar
The Advent Calendar is believed to have been created in the early 19th century to mark the days of Advent leading up to Christmas. Advent calendars of today usually count down the 24 days of December ending on Christmas Eve. Popular amongst children Advent calendars are a joyful activity that helps children learn about preparing for Jesus' birth. Some Advent calendars have doors to open that reveal some symbol of Advent or Christmas, while others have symbols that are individually placed on the calendar for each day.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Happy New Year; Advent has arrived.

With the praying of evening prayer on this last Saturday of November we usher in Advent 2010; the official start of the new liturgical year. Advent 2010 ushers in Cycle A on the church calender which means we will focus on the Gospel of St. Matthew this year. Advent is a beautiful and important time of the year that should be properly celebrated. Thankfully, the church does all in it's power to focus on Advent and make it important in our lives. With the constant tug by the secular world, driven mostly by retailers and the media, there is little to no concept of Advent as we are trained to celebrate Christmas 30, even 45 daysw before the actual holiday. And these same types are quick to abandon Christmas as soon as Christmas day dawns.

I noticed the other day that one of the local FM radio stations is already on 24-hour Christmas music. Retailers have been decorated for weeks and already running Christmas sales; especially yesterday with the so called black Friday. Many families have Chirstmas trees, decorations and lights up already. Now there is nothing wrong with preparing and getting ready for Christmas but hopefully it is in an Advent spirit.

Advent gives rise to the ancient cry: Maranatha, Come Lord Jesus! Advent brings us plenty of Isiaiah, John the Baptist, themes of the coming of the Lord, hope & joy, and prayerful anticipation. Yes, we anticipate the coming of the newborn King at Christmas; the Christ child born of Mary. But we also ponder his coming to us in our own lives, in His Word and most excellently in the Eucharist. And the Advent anticipation gives us hope in His coming again.

So in the next four weeks, we will celebrate Advent, see liturgical purple, light the candles on the Advent wreath, pray for Jesus' coming and anticipate Christmas. May this be a joyful and spiritual Advent!

And the retreat continues...

While everyone transitioned to "black" Friday foolishness, big football rivalries and turkey sandwich leftovers, the 2010 class of soon to be deacons moved into day 2 and 3 of their pre-ordination retreat. After that opening session on Thanksgiving night that I previously addressed, the candidates and wives moved a little further along into directed prayer and reflection. Led by our recently retired Archbishop Hughes, they were challenged to focus on personal prayer and relationship with Scripture as they prepare for diaconal ministry. The retreat has featured ample time for reflection, daily Mass, personal one-on-one time with the Archbishop, daily prayers, adoration & benediction and a reconciliation service with time for individual confessions.

Of course this is a required 5 day retreat so there is much more to come Sunday and Monday. The overall retreat, with the exception of two sharing sessions, is silent. It is our hope that the silent retreat and time together in pray, as husband & wife, as well as community, will prepare the candidates not just for the ordination activities of the next 2 weeks but the lifetime of ministry that awaits.

So I ask my readers to continue to pray for these candidates and their wives, for the vocation of the diaconate and vocations for our Church. More to come on the retreat later.

Friday, November 26, 2010

A Special Spiritual Time!

Last night I wrapped up Thanksgiving Day at the Abbey Retreat Center at St. Joseph Abbey as the pre-ordination retreat began for our 10 soon to be deacons. Our class of 2010, selected before Hurricane Katrina hit and forced to endure a full year delay in starting classes, is now just 2 weeks away from ordination. Before ordination can occur it is required of the diaconate candidates that they be in retreat for a time of 5 days just prior to ordination. For our 2010 class that meant a retreat that began on Thanksgiving evening and will run through Monday. Last night, as the class gathered, they drove in from various Thanksgiving family events yet it was obvious how happy they were to be together. As candidates they have been together for more than 5 years. They have journeyed through formation together. They have shared their personal ups & downs, family joys & sorrows, since coming together as "community". Now, they wake up on this Friday morning to be fed spiritually on day 2 of this pre-ordination retreat. Each day is planned carefully with time allowed for adoration in chapel, Mass and prayers and a time to reflect and share. When they leave this beautiful Abbey they will gather again in 12 days to be ordained as each will go there own way to fulfill the ministries entrusted to them.

The retreat is being led by our wonderful Archbishop Emerti, Alfred C. Hughes. He has planned a wonderful spiritual retreat focused on the spirituality of ministry as our candidates are called to this beautiful ministry of diaconate.

For me, as a Deacon approaching my 2 year anniversary, these events are beautiful reminders of those fall days in 2008 when Wendy and I ventured to Rosaryville for our pre-ordination retreat. I remember everything from those 5 days; the spirituality, the "community", the anticipation of ordination, even the rooms, the grounds and the crisp fall weather we enjoyed. I also remember that day, at the end of the retreat, when we signed our commitments and declarations at the closing Mass of the retreat. And I remember being told to savor these days as after ordination, we would never be together again in one place; it just never happens. To this day, that has proven to be a very true statement.

So thankful for the opportunity to be of some small assistance I rise this Friday to spend some day in support of the class of 2010. On this first full day of retreat the candidates and their wives will explore the call to a life of prayer and to ministry of the Word. I pray that their spiritual retreat be a wonderful experience that prepares them for ordination on December 11th and a lifetime of ministry as Deacons.

Please pray for these candidates and the ministry of the Deacon!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Saintsgiving

Ever since the Saints became Super Bowl champions(and they are reigning Super Bowl champs!) some of us tend to be critics of poor performances, even in victory, as we continue to recall with profound happiness the events of last year. At this time in 2009 the Saints were 11-0. Several aspects of their 3 losses and even 1 or 2 of their victories have given me great concern. So let's face forward to this Thanksgiving extravaganza. As the Saints blew a big lead and seemed left for dead, I should have a negative critique or two of this effort for sure. NOT TONIGHT!

The New Orleans Saints defeated the dallas cowboys in dallas on Thanksgiving day in just a 3.5 day turnaround. I beleive the Saints, despite the fast start, had a few reasons to go flat as this was a very quick week. And the Saints are winning football games with two running backs that were not even members of the Super Bowl Champs. If you would tell me in September no Reggie and no Pieere but we got this Chris Ivory guy and we can pick up Julius Jones I would have said, uh oh. And for good measure throw in nagging injuries to the likes of Shockey and the entire defensive backfield; this is truly a solid victory.

For how many years did the Saints find themselves victimized like they victimized dallas tonight? I'm willing to bask in it being "our time". In retrospect, the way we won actually is even more fulfilling as it is quite joyful to send cowboy fans away in defeat after they smuggly and incorrectly counted on victory. How sweet tonight it must have been for Who Dat's in the stands to let the cowboy fans have it. By the way, sounded to me like there may have been as many Saints fans as cowboy fans in that atrocious self-engrandizing edifice to Jerry Jones and his over inflated ego. Hey Jerry: YOU are what is wrong with the cowboys but I don't want you to change a thing.

So yea, we blew a big lead, we turned the ball over twice in the 2nd half, Reggie stunk, BUT the Saints win over dallas.

Happy Saintsiving!!

And by the way; can I ask for a big favor from the Green Bay Packers? Please beat the atlanta falcons Sunday; please!

George Washington and the Thanksgiving proclamation

General Thanksgiving
By the PRESIDENT of the United States Of America
WHEREAS it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favour; and Whereas both Houfes of Congress have, by their joint committee, requefted me "to recommend to the people of the United States a DAY OF PUBLICK THANSGIVING and PRAYER, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to eftablifh a form of government for their safety and happiness:"

NOW THEREFORE, I do recommend and affign THURSDAY, the TWENTY-SIXTH DAY of NOVEMBER next, to be devoted by the people of thefe States to the fervice of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our fincere and humble thanksfor His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the fignal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpofitions of His providence in the courfe and conclufion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have fince enjoyed;-- for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to eftablish Conftitutions of government for our fafety and happinefs, and particularly the national one now lately instituted;-- for the civil and religious liberty with which we are bleffed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffufing useful knowledge;-- and, in general, for all the great and various favours which He has been pleafed to confer upon us.

And also, that we may then unite in moft humbly offering our prayers and fupplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and befeech Him to pardon our national and other tranfgreffions;-- to enable us all, whether in publick or private ftations, to perform our feveral and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a bleffing to all the people by conftantly being a Government of wife, juft, and conftitutional laws, difcreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all fovereigns and nations (especially fuch as have shewn kindnefs unto us); and to blefs them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increafe of fcience among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind fuch a degree of temporal profperity as he alone knows to be beft.

GIVEN under my hand, at the city of New-York, the third day of October, in the year of our Lord, one thousand feven hundred and eighty-nine.

An early Church Saint & Martyr

St. Catherine of Alexandria
Feastday: November 25

St. Catherine of Alexandria, Virgin and Martyr whose feast day is November 25th. She is the patroness of philosophers and preachers.

St. Catherine is believed to have been born in Alexandria of a noble family. Converted to Christianity through a vision, she denounced Maxentius for persecuting Christians. Fifty of her converts were then burned to death by Maxentius.

Maxentius offered Catherine a royal marriage if she would deny the Faith. Her refusal landed her in prison. While in prison, and while Maxentius was away, Catherine converted Maxentius' wife and two hundred of his soldiers. He had them all put to death.

Catherine was likewise condemned to death. She was put on a spiked wheel, and when the wheel broke, she was beheaded. She is venerated as the patroness of philosophers and preachers. St. Catherine's was one of the voices heard by St. Joan of Arc.

Maxentius' blind fury against St. Catherine is symbolic of the anger of the world in the face of truth and justice. When we live a life of truth and justice, we can expect the forces of evil to oppose us. Our perseverance in good, however, will be everlasting.

Saint of the miraculous medal!

St. Catherine Laboure

Feastday: November 25

St. Catherine Laboure, virgin, was born on May 2, 1806. At an early age she entered the community of the Daughters of Charity, in Paris, France. Three times in 1830 the Virgin Mary appeared to St. Catherine Laboure, who then was a twenty-four year old novice.

On July 18, the first apparition occurred in the community's motherhouse. St. Catherine beheld a lady seated on the right side of the sanctuary. When St. Catherine approached her, the heavenly visitor told her how to act in time of trial and pointed to the altar as the source of all consolation. Promising to entrust St. Catherine with a mission which would cause her great suffering, the lady also predicted the anticlerical revolt which occurred at Paris in 1870.

On November 27, the lady showed St. Catherine the medal of the Immaculate Conception, now universally known as the "Miraculous Medal." She commissioned St. Catherine to have one made, and to spread devotion to this medal. At that time, only her spiritual director, Father Aladel, knew of the apparitions. Forty-five years later, St. Catherine spoke fully of the apparitions to one of her superiors. She died on December 31, 1876, and was canonized on July 27, 1947. Her feast day is November 25.

What are we thankful for?

Happy Thanksgiving! I pray that everyone will have a wonderful day today and that you can spend the day with people you love. I also pray that we all will remember what we should truly be thankful for. When we make that list, or share our thankfulness at the table where is God on that list? First and foremost we all should be thankful for a God who loves us and wants an intimate relationship with each of us. We all should be thankful that He sent us His Son Jesus to suffer and die and rise again for us so that we may enjoy eternal life. We all should be thankful for the Holy Spirit; for his gifts and guidance and his power. We all should be thankful that a young girl said yes to God's will and now today Mary continues to pray for us. We all should be thankful for the gift of the Eucharist; the precious body and blood of Jesus Christ; the ultimate banquet. Of course the word Eucharist means thanksgiving.

It's great to add to the list all our family and friends and the many gifts we have in this life. Just the gift of life itself and the freedom to live in a great country are awesome. But whatever your list may hold; whatever you are truly thankful for; always, always keep God first. For without Him nothing we have is possible but with Him all things are possible!

Happy Thanksgiving 2010!!

I will give thanks to the Lord for he is good; his love is everlasting!!!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Modern Martyr; Viva Cristo Rey

>>>What a compelling story and wonderful witness to the faith who was martyred less than ninety years ago. You can actually find pictures of his martyrdom on the web. What heroic virtue!

Blessed Miguel Pro
A Martyr for Our Times

Feastday: November 23

Born on January 13, 1891 in Guadalupe, Mexico, Miguel Agustin Pro Juarez was the eldest son of Miguel Pro and Josefa Juarez.

Miguelito, as his doting family called him, was, from an early age, intensely spiritual and equally intense in hi mischievousness, frequently exasperating his family with his humor and practical jokes. As a child, he had a daring precociouness that sometimes went too far, tossing him into near-death accidents and illnesses. On regaining consciousness after one of these episodes, young Miguel opened his eyes and blurted out to his frantic parents, "I want some cocol" (a colloquial term for his favorite sweet bread). "Cocol" became his nickname, which he would later adopt as a code name during this clandestine ministry.

Miguel was particularly close to his older sister and after she entered a cloistered convent, he came to recognize his own vocation to the priesthood. Although he was popular with the senoritas and had prospects of a lucrative career managing his father's thriving business concerns, Miguel renounced everything for Christ his King and entered the Jesuit novitiate in El Llano, Michoacan in 1911.

He studied in Mexico until 1914, when a tidal wave of anti-Catholicism crashed down upon Mexico, forcing the novitiate to disband and flee to the United States, where Miguel and his brother seminarians treked through Texas and New Mexico before arriving at the Jesuit house in Los Gatos, California.

In 1915, Miguel was sent to a seminary in Spain, where he remained until 1924, when he went to Belgium for his ordination to the priesthood in 1925. Miguel suffered from a severe stomach problem and after three operations, when his health did not improve, his superiors, in 1926, allowed him to return to Mexico in spite of the grave religious persecution in that country.

The churches were closed and priests went into hiding. Miguel spent the rest of his life in a secret ministry to the sturdy Mexican Catholics. In addition to fulfilling their spiritual needs, he also carried out the works of mercy by assisting the poor in Mexico City with their temporal needs. He adopted many interesting disguises in carrying out his secret mininstry. He would come in the middle of the night dressed as a beggar to baptize infants, bless marriages and celebrate Mass. He would appear in jail dressed as a police officer to bring Holy Viaticum to condemned Catholics. When going to fashionable neighboorhoods to procure for the poor, he would show up at the doorstep dressed as a fashionable businessmam with a fresh flower on his lapel. His many exploits could rival those of the most daring spies. In all that he did, however, Fr. Pro remained obedient to his superiors and was filled with the joy of serving Christ, his King.

Falsely accused in the bombing attempt on a former Mexican president, Miguel became a wanted man. Betrayed to the police, he was sentenced to death without the benefit of any legal process.

On the day of his execution, Fr. Pro forgave his executtioners, prayed, bravely refused the blindfold and died proclaiming, "Viva Cristo Rey", "Long live Christ the King!"

Information courtesy of ProVision and Brother Gerald Mueller.

Celebrating the saintly 3rd Pope of the Church

>>>This is awesome; celebrating the life and service of the 3rd Pope in the history of The Church! 2,000 years of unbroken succession as established by Jesus to Peter; you are rock!!!

Pope St. Clement I

Feastday: November 23

Patron of Marble-Workers

100 A.D.

Little is known of this apostolic father beyond a few facts. He was a disciple of S. Peter, and perhaps of S. Paul. It is thought that the Clement whom S. Paul praises as a faithful fellow- worker, whose name is written in the Book of Life [Philippians 4:3], was Clement, afterwards bishop of Rome. But there is great difficulty in admitting this supposition. It is certain that Clement, the idol of the Petrine party in the Primitive Church, about whom their myths and traditions circled lovingly, was quite removed in feeling from the Pauline party.

According to Tertullian, Clement succeeded S. Peter immediately in the episcopal government of the Church at Rome. But in the list of bishops given us by Irenaeus and Eusebius he occupies the third place after the apostle, that is, after Linus and Cletus (Anacletus). It is, however, probable that the Church at Rome had at first two successions, one Petrine, the other Pauline, but that they speedily merged into one; and this will account for the confusion in the lists of the first bishops of Rome. Clement probably was Petrine, and Cletus Pauline bishop, the former ruling the converted Jews, the latter the Gentile converts. We know nothing of the events of his pontificate, except that there was a schism at Corinth, which drew forth a letter from him which is preserved. S. Jerome and S. Irenaeus do not say that he died a martyr's death, but Rufinus and Zosimus give him the title of martyr; but this title by no means implies that he had died for the faith; it had anciently more extended signification than at present, and included all who had witnessed a good confession, and suffered in any way for their faith.

This is all that we know of S. Clement. But imagination has spun a web of romance about his person.

The Clementine Recognitions and Homilies are an early romance representing the disputation of S. Peter and Simon Magus; they have a story running through them to hold the long disquisitions together, of which S. Clement is the hero. It is, however, pure romance, with, perhaps, only this basis of truth in it, that Clement is represented as the devoted adherent and disciple of S. Peter. The Clementines are thoroughly anti-Pauline, as are also the Apostolic Constitutions, in which again S. Clement appears prominently.

The legend of the martyrdom of S. Clement relates that, in the reign of Trajan, when Mamertinus was prefect of the city, and Toractianus count of the offices, a sedition arose among the rabble of Rome against the Christians, and especially against Clement, bishop of Rome. Mamertinus interfered to put down the riot, and having arrested Clement, sent him to the emperor, who ordered his banishment to Pontus, where he was condemned to work in the marble quarries. He found many Christians among his fellow-convicts, and comforted and encouraged them. The only spring of drinking water was six miles off, and it was a great hardship to the convicts to have to fetch it all from such a distance. One day Clement saw a lamb scraping at the soil with one of its forefeet. He took it as a sign that water was there; dug, and found a spring.

As Clement succeeded in converting many pagans, he was sent to Aufidianus, the prefect, who ordered him to be drowned in the sea with an old anchor attached to his neck. His body was recovered by his disciple Phoebus. The relics of S. Clement were translated to Constantinople (860) by S. Cyril on his return from his mission to the Chazars, whilst engaged in the Chersonese on his Sclavonic translation of the Gospels. Some of the relics found their way to Rome, and were deposited in the church of San Clemente, where they are still reverently preserved. These consist of bones, some reddened earth, a broken vase containing some red matter, a little bottle similarly filled, and an inscription stating that these are the relics of the Holy Forty Martyrs of Scilita, and also of Flavius Clement.

In art S. Clement of Rome is represented as a Pope with an anchor at his side. [His death is placed at about 100 A.D.]

From The Lives of the Saints by the Rev. S. Baring-Gould, M.A., published in 1914 in Edinburgh.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Catholic School news

>>>Intresting read; not sure if whole story here. No mention at all about Catholic home schooling which is very popular here and on the grow!

Catholic school enrollment steadily falling in New Orleans area and nationally
Barri Bronston, The Times-Picayune

Not much keeps Archbishop Gregory Aymond up at night. But one thing does make him toss and turn.

In the past four years, Catholic school enrollment in the New Orleans area has been steadily falling, and finding ways to reverse the trend has been the most challenging work of his administration.

"It worries me," Aymond said. "There is a decline and there has been a decline for the last several years, nationally as well as locally."

Catholic schools, like the region as a whole, took a hit from Hurricane Katrina in 2005. But they have continued losing students since then, too. From 2007 into the current academic year, enrollment dropped almost 5 percent, from 40,625 to 38,434, according to the Archdiocese of New Orleans. It's down 19 percent from pre-Katrina levels, and there are 20 fewer schools.

Nationally, Catholic school enrollment has shrunk 20 percent over the past decade, from 2.6 million to 2.1 million students, according to the National Catholic Educational Association. More than 1,600 schools have closed or consolidated, with elementary schools taking the biggest hit.

Earlier this month, the Archdiocese of New York proposed shuttering 32 schools in what church officials described as the largest reorganization in that school system's history. In the Baltimore archdiocese, 13 schools are set to close.

"It's significant, and it's disturbing," said Sister Dale McDonald, the national association's public policy director. "We're talking about a half million students.

"Our role is to work with the schools, trying to provide some input through marketing tools and strategic planning and help them get a handle on the crisis."

Magnet schools attract students

The reasons for the decline, both nationally and locally, are numerous. Families are smaller, tuition is higher and public charter and magnet schools are more popular than ever as are conventional schools in high-performing public systems such as those in St. Charles and St. Tammany parishes.

The trend is especially surprising in the New Orleans area, where the percentage of students attending non-public schools has historically been one of the highest in the United States.

It was a magnet school that attracted Linda Kleinschmidt of Metairie.

She said she never imagined taking her daughter, Eva, out of Catholic school until she learned about Haynes Academy for Advanced Studies in Old Metairie, the second-ranked public high school in Louisiana. But while a student at St. Ann Catholic School, Eva took the admissions test for the co-ed Haynes and also applied to the all-girls St. Mary's Dominican High School in New Orleans as a back-up. She won acceptance to both schools and opted for Haynes, where she is now in the eighth grade while continuing her Catholic education with a weekly religion class at church.

"It was not a matter of money," Kleinschmidt said. "It was more a difference in the social and academic environment that single-sex schools cannot offer. We are happy so far with the decision."

Ben Kleban, founder and director of NOLA College Prep Charter School in Central City, said that while most of his students come from other public schools, he's seeing a rise in applicants from Catholic schools.

"I'm hearing more and more from parents that it doesn't make sense for them to pay tuition if we can provide as good or better education than what they are getting at a parochial school," Kleban said.

Lynn Jenkins, admissions director at Ben Franklin High School, the state's top public high school, said the school has 46 new students from Catholic schools this year, up from 29 last year.

Such switches are becoming increasingly common. "Charter and magnet schools have definitely affected our enrollment, and we know that," Aymond said.

Formulating a plan

But while such schools do offer a good education, Aymond thinks families are leaving Catholic schools for economic reasons. The average tuition for elementary school is $3,400 a year, for high school, $8,000.

"Catholic education is expensive," Aymond said. "We not only provide excellent (secular) education but we provide excellence in the teaching of the Catholic faith. It worries me, as I look toward the future. We do not want Catholic education to be something for the elite. That would go against our whole philosophy.

"We do the best we can in providing scholarships to those who struggle financially," he said, but even the archdiocese is limited in how much it can help. "We have to start thinking outside the box."

That process will begin in January when the archdiocese embarks on a comprehensive strategic plan with experts from Catholic University in Washington.

"We will be looking at trends, what schools may not be viable in the future, the application process, how much we are able to give (in scholarships) in a given year," Aymond said. "We need to think big, and we need to think different."

John Convey and Leonard DeFiore, professors at Catholic University, plan to make several visits to New Orleans as they help dissect every aspect of the area's Catholic school community. In addition to meeting with the top leadership, they want to hear from pastors, teachers, principals, parents and students.

"We'll have a number of public meetings," said Convey, who has done similar work in other cities. "We'll ask people what from their perspective are the challenges and the problems."

Aymond will then appoint a steering committee to work with Convey and DeFiore, and together they will develop a set of recommendations for the archdiocese.

"What we bring mostly is a process for generating good solutions," Convey said. "It will probably take a year, maybe longer. New Orleans isn't typical because of Katrina."

Among other issues, they will look at the demographics of each area of the archdiocese to determine the possibility for future growth and the need for further school consolidation and closings.

"We want to make sure we do as much consultation and listening as possible," said Convey, who worked on a similar study in Mississippi. "In Biloxi, we ended up recommending that they build a new high school, which they did."

Enrollment push

In the meantime, the archdiocese will work to boost enrollment, from increasing advertising to pushing open house attendance.

"We have made conscious and tangible efforts to put the word out," Aymond said, "to remind people that Catholic schools are available, what their purpose is and invite them in."

McDonald said she expects to see a greater emphasis on fund-raising, with proceeds dedicated to scholarships.

"High schools are very good at that but the elementary schools really don't do that, and we'd like to see more of an emphasis on elementary alumni giving," she said.

Aymond said he is convinced that such efforts could reclaim families who are leaving Catholic schools for financial reasons.

"We, as the bishops of the country, put out a statement in strong support of Catholic education being available and affordable to all," Aymond said. "I believe in that statement. There is something unique and valuable about Catholic schools, something children cannot get anywhere else."

Iraqi martyrs

>>>In the aftermath of the Iraqi Catholic church massacre. First saw this at Deacons Bench; here is the entire article:

Christians appeal for canonization of the Martyrs of Baghdad
Saturday, November 20, 2010By Speroforum

"We ask that the martyrs of Iraq be canonized, because the example of their lives and their sacrifice is an inspiration to us all as Christians, Arabs and non alike, living in the Middle East." These are words taken from an internet petition that has been launched by a group of Arab Christians living in the Holy Land.

In the massacre of October 31, in the Syriac Catholic Church of Our Lady of Deliverance in Baghdad, over 40 faithful were killed, including two priests, Fr. Thair Sad-alla Abd-al and Fr. Waseem Sabeeh Al-kas Butros, as they prayed with their people: "Their names join the list of Christians who have died in Iraq for their faith, as Christians of the region continue to face a serious threat," says the petition. Both the Catholic Church and the various Orthodox Christian churches recognize as martyrs those who have died at the hands of those who hate the Christian faith.

"As Arab Christians in the Holy Land, would like to reaffirm our desire to live our Christian faith in the same land where Christ died and rose for our salvation and where his apostles proclaimed the Good News to our ancestors," continues the text, recalling that the Middle East, birthplace of Christianity, has borne fruit by the power of the Holy Spirit and now expresses a plurality of believers: Greek-Catholics, Syrian Catholics, Copts, Maronites, Armenians, Latins, Lutherans, Anglicans, and others.

Following the tradition of the Early Church, the Christian Arabs ask that those who die as martyrs be recognized and honored as saints, in particular: Fr. Thair Sad-alla Abd-al and Fr. Waseem Sabeeh Al-kas Butros and their companions, who were murdered on October 31 by Islamist terrorists. Others mentioned are the Chaldean Sisters Fawzeiyah and Margaret Naoum, killed March 26, 2007; the Chaldean priest Fr. Raghid Aziz Ganni and sub-deacons Yousef Daoud, Wahid Hanna Isho, and Gassan Issam Bidawid, killed June 3, 2007 in Mosul; Chaldean Archbishop Paulos Faraj of Mosul, found dead March 13, 2008. The website also recalls the murder of Syriac Orthodox Father Boulos Iskandar and Father Joseph Petros, killed in Baghdad on October 9, 2006; Father Amer Iskander, Syriac Orthodox, who was found beheaded on October 11, 2006; and Reverend Mundher Aldayr, a Protestant minister who was killed in Mosul on November 26, 2006

Visitors to the Martyrs-Iraq.org website can add their names to the petition. The website also lists the names of the Iraqi Christians murdered in Baghdad in October. The website notes that it has been organized by a group of "anonymous Christians."

The petition is available at http://www.martyrs-iraq.org.

This is why I get up every morning

The events of the past weekend had a profound impact on me. That is often the case these days as I allow God to move in my life and I embrace the ministry of diakonia entrusted to me by Him. Taking a Friday off from work to make a three day weekend is something we all have done. We may make special plans. I planned a day in prison! On Friday we dedicated the inter-faith chapel at Rayburn prison. Since I've already detailed the events of this great day I won't belabor. But once again it was glorious! When you walk away from prison knowing that you witnessed transformative events for the glory of God you can only say: this is why I get up every morning!

Saturday was a special day spent with 20 men in formation for the permanent diaconate. I've done this many times. This past Saturday was the last day of formation class for our 2010 class. After their pre-ordination retreat this weekend these men await their ordination on December 11th. In the afternoon I joined two brother deacons as we critiqued the final practice homilies for our 10 soon to be deacons. The overall function of homiletics and honest critique is taken seriously to assist the candidate.

Sunday brought two masses and two homilies. On this wonderful Feast of Christ the King I shared my homily inspired by the Gospel reading of Christ and the good thief, St. Dismas. What a wonderful opportunity to incorporate my recent visit to the Rayburn prison into the homily. And in the early afternoon I was privileged to preside at the Baptism of a beautiful baby girl named Sophie. I love baptisms.

When I reflect on being a deacon, fully understanding our call to service, word, and sacrament, to reflect on how beautifully God's plan came together over these past few days.

This is why I get up every morning!

St Cecilia

St. Cecilia
Feastday: November 22

In the fourth century appeared a Greek religious romance on the Loves of Cecilia and Valerian, written, like those of Chrysanthus and Daria, Julian and Basilissa, in glorification of the virginal life, and with the purpose of taking the place of the sensual romances of Daphnis and Chloe, Chereas and Callirhoe, etc., which were then popular. There may have been a foundation of fact on which the story was built up; but the Roman Calendar of the fourth century, and the Carthaginian Calendar of the fifth make no mention of Cecilia.

It is said, however, that there was a church dedicated to S. Cecilia in Rome in the fifth century, in which Pope Symmachus held a council in 500. But Symmachus held no council in that year. That held at Easter, 502, was in the "basilica Julii"; that on September 1, 505, was held in the "basilica Sessoriana"; that on October 23, 501, was in "porticu beati Petri apostoli que appelatur Palmaria." The next synod, November 6, 502, met in the church of St. Peter; that in 533, "ante confessionem beati Petri"; and that in 503 also in the basilica of S. Peter. Consequently, till better evidence is produced, we must conclude that S. Cecilia was not known or venerated in Rome till about the time when Pope Gelasius (496) introduced her name into his Sacramentary. In 821, however, there was an old church fallen into decay with the dedication to S. Cecilia; but Pope Paschal I dreamed that the body of the saint lay in the cemetery of S. Celestas, along with that of her husband Valerian. He accordingly looked for them and found them, or, at all events, some bodies, as was probable, in the catacombs, which he was pleased to regard as those of Cecilia nd Valerian. And he translated these relics to the church of S. Cecilia, and founded a monastery in their honor.

The story of S. Cecilia is not without beauty and merit. There was in the city of Rome a virgin named Cecilia, who was given in marriage to a youth named Valerian. She wore sackcloth next to her skin, and fasted, and invoked the saints and angels and virgins, beseeching them to guard her virginity. And she said to her husband, "I will tell you a secret if you will swear not to reveal it to anyone." And when he swore, she added, "There is an angel who watches me, and wards off from me any who would touch me." He said, "Dearest, if this be true, show me the angel." "That can only be if you will believe in one God, and be baptized."

She sent him to Pope S. Urban (223-230), who baptized him; and when he returned, he saw Cecilia praying in her chamber, and an angel by her with flaming wings, holding two crowns of roses and lilies, which he placed on their heads, and then vanished. Shortly after, Tibertius, the brother of Valerian, entered, and wondered at the fragrance and beauty of the flowers at that season of the year.

When he heard the story of how they had obtained these crowns, he also consented to be baptized. After their baptism the two brothers devoted themselves to burying the martyrs slain daily by the prefect of the city, Turcius Almachius. [There was no prefect of that name.] They were arrested and brought before the prefect, and when they refused to sacrifice to the gods were executed with the sword.

In the meantime, S. Cecilia, by preaching had converted four hundred persons, whom Pope Urban forthwith baptized. Then Cecilia was arrested, and condemned to be suffocated in the baths. She was shut in for a night and a day, and the fires were heaped up, and made to glow and roar their utmost, but Cecilia did not even break out into perspiration through the heat. When Almachius heard this he sent an executioner to cut off her head in the bath. The man struck thrice without being able to sever the head from the trunk. He left her bleeding, and she lived three days. Crowds came to her, and collected her blood with napkins and sponges, whilst she preached to them or prayed. At the end of that period she died, and was buried by Pope Urban and his deacons.

Alexander Severus, who was emperor when Urban was Pope, did not persecute the Church, though it is possible some Christians may have suffered in his reign. Herodian says that no person was condemned during the reign of Alexander, except according to the usual course of the law and by judges of the strictest integrity. A few Christians may have suffered, but there can have been no furious persecutions, such as is described in the Acts as waged by the apocryphal prefect, Turcius Almachius.

Urbanus was the prefect of the city, and Ulpian, who had much influence at the beginning of Alexander's reign as principal secretary of the emperor and commander of the Pretorian Guards, is thought to have encouraged persecution. Usuardus makes Cecilia suffer under Commodus. Molanus transfers the martyrdom to the reign of Marcus Aurelius. But it is idle to expect to extract history from romance.

In 1599 Cardinal Paul Emilius Sfondrati, nephew of Pope Gregory XIV, rebuilt the church of S. Cecilia.

St. Cecilia is regarded as the patroness of music [because of the story that she heard heavenly music in her heart when she was married], and is represented in art with an organ or organ-pipes in her hand.

From The Lives of the Saints by the Rev. S. Baring-Gould, M.A., published in 1914 in Edinburgh.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A Feast for a Queen on the Kings Feast Day

>>>>Today is the Feast of Christ the King which always occurs on the last Sunday before Advent begins. The Memorial of the Presentation of Mary is celebrated on November 21st. Being a memorial, it never takes precedence over a feast. How beautiful though that Christ, our King shares today with his Queen-mother!


Religious parents never fail by devout prayer to consecrate their children to God, His divine service and love, both before and after their birth. Some among the Jews, not content with this general consecration of their children, offered them to God in their infancy, by the hands of the priests in the Temple, to be brought up in quarters attached to the Temple, attending the priests and Levites in their sacred ministry. There were special divisions in these lodgings for the women and children dedicated to the divine service. (III Kings 6:5-9) We have examples of this special consecration of children in the person of Samuel, for example. Today the Church celebrates the feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Temple of Jerusalem. It is very probable that the holy prophet Simeon and the prophetess Anna, who witnessed the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple, as we read in the second chapter of the Gospel of Saint Luke (verses 25 ff.) had known His Mother as a little girl in the Temple and observed her truly unique sanctity.

It is an ancient and very trustworthy tradition that the Blessed Virgin was thus solemnly offered in the Temple to God at the age of three by Her parents, Saint Anne and Saint Joachim. The Gospel tells us nothing of the childhood of Mary; Her title Mother of God, eclipses all the rest. Where, better than in the Temple, could Mary be prepared for Her mission? Twelve years of recollection and prayer, contemplation and sufferings, were the preparation of the chosen one of God. The tender soul of Mary was adorned with the most precious graces and became an object of astonishment and praise for the holy Angels, as well as of the highest complacency for the adorable Trinity. The Father looked upon Her as His beloved Daughter, the Son as One set apart and prepared to become His Mother, and the Holy Ghost as His undefiled Spouse.

Here is how Mary’s day in the Temple was apportioned, according to Saint Jerome. From dawn until nine in the morning, She prayed; from 9:00 until 3:00 She applied Herself to manual work; then She turned again to prayer. She was always the first to undertake night watches, the One most applied to study, the most fervent in the chanting of Psalms, the most zealous in works of charity, the purest among the virgins, Her companions, the most perfect in the practice of every virtue. On this day She appears as the standard-bearer for Christian virginity: after Her will come countless legions of virgins consecrated to the Lord, both in the shadow of the altars or engaged in the charitable occupations of the Church in the world. Mary will be their eternal Model, their dedicated Patroness, their sure guide on the paths of perfection.

Homily for the Feast of Christ the King

Undercover Boss! That’s the name of a relatively new TV reality show where the boss, usually the President or the CEO, goes undercover behind the scenes of his business. Their goal is to find out if business is being conducted effectively and efficiently. You just don’t expect to see the President or CEO of a big corporation dressed in work clothes while they clean toilets, stock shelves or take out the garbage.

Where I work we use mystery shoppers who are paid consultants who arrive at the bank and act like a customer. They score their visit with us to gauge our products and sales culture. For most of our staff, they least expect these “customers” to be mystery shoppers.

Throughout our everyday lives we may encounter a CEO or some well connected community leader and never know it. There may be someone who fits that description sitting next to you in church, ahead of you in the check out line or navigating that same car line at school just like we do.

Today we have arrived at the great feast of Christ the King. We know that Christ never really liked that title nor did he look or act like a king.

But as people of faith, do we honor Christ as King of our lives?

Today’s celebration will bring to an end our “ordinary time” for the cycle of St. Luke. We actually begin Advent next Sunday. The feast of Christ the King is somewhat new; established in 1925 by Pope Pius XI. Although the Church has long celebrated the belief of Christ as King no official feast existed before 1925. Pope Pius XI believed the time was right in post World War I Europe as more and more Catholics were exposed to communism and state secularism. Today we celebrate this feast right before Advent as a reminder that we joyfully await the coming of the newborn King.

In today’s Gospel we are reminded that being a “king” was a crime for which Jesus was crucified. Pilate had an inscription made that was placed above him on the cross which said simply yet sarcastically: This is the King of the Jews. We also hear of the encounter on the cross between Jesus and the two thieves. While one reviled Him; the other humbly and sincerely begged for mercy. And Jesus tells him: “today you will be with me in Paradise”. Tradition assigns the name Dismas to the “good thief”.

When we think of a king we have images of thrones, palaces and majestic crowns. The cross is where we least expect to find a king. The cross is His throne. His crown is far from majestic made of thorns that pierced his skull. His palace was with the peoples, along the roads where he depended on strangers to rest his head.

In his actions as King, Jesus gives us the model of self-giving. As he showed mercy to Dismas, we too are to show mercy to others; even the most incorrigible among us. Did you catch what Dismas said first? He admitted his fault; he confessed. And then he surrendered to the mercy of the King. We will never encounter someone dying on a cross but we will encounter someone frustrated and angry, tired and hungry, lonely and scared. Will we, like the King, show mercy.

Just this past Friday I attended the dedication of the chapel on the grounds of the state prison in Angie, La. Archbishop Hughes said Mass for the men and we celebrated Christ the King. These men, like Dismas, are thieves. Yet they have admitted their sins and turned to their King for mercy. Among thieves, I witnessed Christ the King!

As we prepare for Advent after this Thanksgiving week, will we, prepare ourselves to be of service to others? It is not too late to prepare a meal, invite someone for Thanksgiving dinner or prayerfully prepare our families for the coming of our King.

Today we will celebrate a Baptism. During the rite, we are reminded by the anointing that we share in Christ’s three-fold mission of priest, prophet and king. By our Baptism, we share in Christ’s kingship. May we offer that shared kingship in service to the King, His Church and each other.

Under Cover Boss, mystery shoppers; good ideas and you may never know when they are among you. Jesus as King; not as a king as we envision; the King of the Universe and the King of our lives and our hearts!

To Jesus Christ our Sovereign King!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Another Anglican update; home to Rome

November 19, 2010. The Vatican reveals that it will welcome up to 50 Anglican clergy members, including five bishops, who are leaving the Church of England to become Roman Catholic. Hundreds of Anglican church goers are expected to follow them in the move and many more are projected to follow after an Ordinariate has been established at the beginning of 2011.

The move comes as a rejection of the plan to introduce women as bishops to the Church of England.

Most Anglicans are waiting with interest to see if legislation will finally be passed in 2012 to allow the consecration of women.

Catholic bishops are meeting to discuss how the incoming clergy will be financially supported and if they will be allowed to continue worship in their churches.

After meeting the Pope at the Vatican in mid-November, Archbishop Rowan Williams has said he viewed the “resignations with regret but also respect,” and noted the challenge will come in finding a solution to shared use of the churches.

What a glorious day!

Today was the long awaited dedication ceremony of the Bethel interfaith chapel at the Rayburn Prison. As the Catholic Deacon assigned to Rayburn I have looked forward to this day for over two years. Slowly but surely the chapel took off and today we celebrated a grand dedication. A large crowd of some 200 guests and 100 resident offenders were gathered in the worship space to hear praise and worship music, prayers and blessings, speeches and acknowledgements all in thanksgiving for this beautiful new worship space.

A truly ecumenical effort today brought worshippers of all faiths together. The chapel foundation choose two ministers to bless the new worship space; one was Dr. Waylon Bailey from the Covington Baptist Church and the other Archbishop Emiritus Alfred Hughes.

After the truly uplifting and inspiratonal dedication the prison administration allowed our Catholic faith community to hold the first official service. So after a half hour of hearing confessions Archbishop Hughes led us in celebrating the first Mass in the new chapel. We celebrated the liturgy of the Feast of Christ the King which, not coincidentaly, had the responsorial psalm: "I rejoiced when they said let us go to the house of the Lord." And then the Gospel reading is that hopeful interlude between Jesus and the good thief as they hung on their crosses. Jesus tells Dismas: "today you will be with me in paradise."

It was a glorious celebration as over 40 men received the Eucharist from the hands of the Archbishop. And after Mass Archbishop Hughes made sure he personally told each inmate good night.

And to top this off, the Archbishop graciously agreed to a quick trip to the priosn infirmary where he prayed with & for each man on the ward. One of the men in the infirmary is terminal and falling away rather quickly. Archbishop Hughes got on his knees to communicate with this man and prayer for him. What a remarkable day!

It is my hope and prayer that this chapel will further enhance the faith based programs at Rayburn and further move hearts and minds to grow closer to God.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A new Chapel at Rayburn Prison

>>>>This story appears today in the New Orleans paper and is a source of great joy for me personally and all the many clergy and volunteer ministers who work behind bars. The Rayburn Prison has been my ministry of charity since my ordination in Dec 2008. The two gentlemen mentioned in the article are wonderful volunteers who give so much to this ministry. Mike Holland is a member of our ministry team for the Catholic Community. Tomorrow will be a big day; we all are looking forward to the dedication. The Archdiocese is sending our retired Archbishop Alfred Hughes to celebrate and we will have our first Mass in the Chapel later in the afternoon. What a wonderful day ahead!

B.B. 'Sixty' Rayburn Correctional Center in Angie gets chapel, with help of volunteer fundraisers
Published: Thursday, November 18, 2010, 4:00 AM
Daniel Lawton

For church volunteers in St. Tammany Parish, the dedication of the Bethel Interfaith Chapel at the B.B. “Sixty” Rayburn Correctional Center in Angie on Friday will be the final touch on years of rigorous fundraising.

Construction of the Bethel Interfaith Chapel at the B.B. 'Sixty' Rayburn Correctional Center in Angie was financed by $550,000 in private donations, which were solicited by a network of church groups over a three-year period.
The construction of the 7,100-square-foot nondenominational chapel was financed by $550,000 in private donations, which were solicited by a network of church groups over a three-year period.

“There were so many skeptics at first,” said Mike Stevens, who attends Church of the King in Mandeville and spearheaded the project.

Stevens, who has been active in prison ministry since the mid-1990s, began raising money for the chapel in 2004, when he noticed that faith-based activities at the state prison in Washington Parish were becoming so popular that they were spilling over into the gymnasium and the cafeteria.

When Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, he put his plans on hold, but resumed work in January 2007, partnering with the Louisiana Prison Chapel Foundation to host a kickoff fundraiser featuring U.S. Sen. David Vitter and Gov. Bobby Jindal, then a congressman. The event raised $150,000.

According to Cindy Mann, executive director of the Prison Chapel Foundation, a nonprofit organization that builds prison chapels in Louisiana, the chapel at Rayburn is the 12th built in the state since 2001.

Mann said that prison chapels have received a positive response from the Louisiana Department of Corrections and wardens across the state.

“From the start, every warden wanted to be first. They are all on board because they know the difference this sort of programming makes,” she said.

Mann said that faith-based programs have been shown to not only decrease levels of recidivism, but also make jails safer. According to Warden Robert Tanner, Rayburn has offered faith-based programs since its opening in 1989. In addition to decreasing violence, Tanner said, such programs give inmates “something to look forward to and hope of a better life.”

Tanner said that spiritual activities at Rayburn range from Bible study to a faith-based motorcycle group that grills hamburgers and brings in their bikes for inmates to peruse.

He said that inmates at Rayburn span the gamut of religions and though the majority of activities are by Christian groups, the prison has a Muslim population and also a small congregation of Wiccans, all of whom will have access to the chapel.

Volunteers and jail officials associated with the Rayburn chapel said that the response from inmates at the prison, which holds 1,142 men, has been positive.

According to Warden Tanner, over 50 inmates have volunteered to work on the construction of the chapel. Inmates have also donated over $14,000, most of which was generated on hourly wages of between 12 and 14 cents.

While inmates contributed what they could from the inside, Stevens melded together an impressive network of volunteers from the faith-based community to raise money.

Mike Holland, who attends Mary Queen of Peace Catholic Church in Mandeville, began working on faith-based programs at Rayburn in 2004. Recently retired, he was looking for community service opportunities and found a fit with prison ministry.

“I just felt like this was a calling, that God wanted me to do this, and I did. It has consumed so much of my free time, but I get so much satisfaction back,” he said.

Holland, who now serves on the board of the Louisiana Prison Chapel Foundation, said that 493 individual donations were made toward the chapel at Rayburn, more than any prison chapel in the past.

Yet despite the outpouring, it was because of one special donor that the project was able to finally break ground.

In January, short of his goal and running out of options, Stevens sent letters to all previous donors telling them that “the finish line was near.”

A few days later, his wife came into his office with a envelope that she demanded he look at immediately.

Stevens said he almost fell out of his chair when he peeked inside to find a check for a sum well in excess of $50,00 from an anonymous donor. The contribution was the exact amount he needed.

“I felt like God had impressed on someone’s heart,” he said.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The more we get together...

It's good to get together every now and then; very good indeed. And this is so true among the community of Deacons. For many Deacons sometimes the doing of ministry takes it's toll on the Deacon's spirituality and his ability to simply pause and refresh. So tonight, a bunch of us took time to do something about it!

Hosted by my home parish a gathering was held of several Deacons, candidates and wives from the particular deanery to which we all belong. About half of the Deacons and 60% of the candidates attended. We gathered for evening prayer, in the church, and a meal and fellowship, friendhip and mutual support. Even our director attended and shared a few words of update and encouragement.

The evening afforded the opportunity for candidiates and Deacons to get to know each other a little better, old friends to reaquaint, ministry stories tio share and lots of laughs. We did pray for the sick among our community as well.

All in all it was a very special evening; one we are pledging to repeat monthly!

To all my brother Deacons reading this: try this in your deanery or diocese. Community is one of the special gifts and graces of our diakonia. Let me know how it goes as I will do te same on this blog!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A new leader for the USCCB; great news

U.S. bishops elect New York City archbishop as head in upset
Published: Tuesday, November 16, 2010, 10:17 AM

BALTIMORE (AP) — In an upset, New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan elected president Tuesday of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, defeating a vice president who had been widely expected to win the job.

It is the first time since the 1960s that a sitting vice president was on the ballot for president and lost. It follows protests by some conservative Catholics against the vice president, Tucson Bishop Gerald Kicanas.

Dolan received 54 percent of the vote to 46 percent for Kicanas on the third round of balloting. Kicanas has served as vice president for a three-year term which ends this week.

Dolan's surprise victory comes at a time when church leaders are divided over how best to uphold Roman Catholic orthodoxy.

A growing number of bishops have taken a more aggressive approach, publicly denying Holy Communion to Catholic politicians who support abortion rights, warning Catholic voters they should never vote for a candidate who supports abortion rights under any circumstances and reining in prominent dissenters in their dioceses.

Kicanas has not denied Communion to any Catholic politicians and rejected calls to punish the president of the University of Notre Dame for honoring President Barack Obama, who supports abortion rights. Kicanas instead urged bishops and Catholic university presidents to start a discussion about their differences.

Partly because of Kicanas' approach, he was pilloried in the days leading up to the vote by right-wing Catholic bloggers, who urged readers to send protest faxes and leave messages for bishops at the hotel where they are meeting.

Dolan also does not outright deny the sacrament to dissenting Catholic lawmakers, but he is seen as an outspoken defender of church orthodoxy in a style favored by many theological conservatives.

Monday, November 15, 2010

My Archbishop and what he says about CCHD

It's time for that 2nd collection for CCHD which in recent years has been very controversial. And we all can agree that massive mistakes in the past have been made but much reform has been implemented. Perhaps more needs to be done but there seems to be those critics that will never believe in CCHD. Of course many of these folks don't believe in bishops. But I digress. As a Catholic in the Archdiocese of New Orleans I look to my shepherd and this is what Archbishop Aymond has to say:

"The collection for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development will be held Nov. 20-21 in our archdiocese. CCHD carries out Jesus' mission to bring glad tidings to the poor...to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free. (Luke 4:18).

Shortly after the oil tragedy in the Gulg began, the bishops of the United States allocated funds specifically for groups working to empower people in the most highly affected areas along the Gulf Coast. Here in the Archdiocese of New Orleans, CCHD provided much-needed support to three organizations: the United Commercial Fisherman's Association, the Louisiana Oysterman's Association and the Louisiana Bucket Brigade. Both the United Commercial Fisherman's Association and the Louisiana Oysterman Association are working directly with those most affected by the spill to advocate for just solutions to the challenges they face. Meanwhile, the Louisiana Bucket Brigade is empowering citizens to report sightings of oil or the scent of oil.

In addition to these special emergency grants, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development funds both the Micah Project and the Latino Farmers Cooperative of Louisiana. Micah works with churches throughout the New Orleans area to find the most pressing needs of the community and how to best address these needs. One Micah local organizing ministry is working to ensure that the community has input on the educational priorities of local schools. The Latino Farmers Cooperative is working for equal access to food for all people regardless of their race or ethnicity.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us that there exists also sinful inequalities that affect millions of men and women. These are in open contradiction to the Gospel: their equal dignity as persons demands that we strive for fairer and more humane conditions. Excessive economic and social disparity between individuals and peoples of the one human race is a source of scandal and militates against social justice, equity, human dignity, as well as social and international peace. (CCC 1938 and Gaudium et Spes no. 29). Please take the opportunity this Nov. 20 and 21 to contribute to the efforts of CCHD as we strive for more fairer and more humane conditions for all people. For more information about CCHD and the groups it funds, please visit www.usccb.org/nationalcollections.

Wishing you God's blessings and the assurance of my prayers, I am
Sincerely in Christ,
Most reverend Gregory M. Aymond
Archbishop of New Orleans

>>>Now in addition to this stirring endorsement by a Bishop I trust, I also want to mention the efforts of the CCHD under the leadership of Bishop Roger Morin. One who criticizes CCHD still should inform themselves of his eforts to reform CCHD and see the video of his speech today. On a personal note, I know Bishop Morin, I have assisted Him at Mass. This is a good man, smart and faithful.

For me PERSONALLY, I'll line up behind Archbishop Aymond and Bishop Morin, and support CCHD.

It's Ladies Week

Over the course of the next two days the Church gives us feasts in honor of some great Catholic Saints who just happened to be women. Tomorrow the Church honors both St. Margaret of Scotland and St. Gertrude while Wednesday gives us St. Elizabeth of Hungary.

Some information follows:

Margaret was an English princess. She and her mother sailed to Scotland to escape from the king who had conquered their land. King Malcolm of Scotland welcomed them and fell in love with the beautiful princess. Margaret and Malcolm were married before too long.

As Queen, Margaret changed her husband and the country for the better. Malcolm was good, but he and his court were very rough. When he saw how wise his beloved wife was, he listened to her good advice. She softened his temper and led him to practice great virtue. She made the court beautiful and civilized. Soon all the princes had better manners, and the ladies copied her purity and devotion. The king and queen gave wonderful example to everyone by the way they prayed together and fed crowds of poor people with their own hands. They seemed to have only one desire: to make everyone happy and good.

Margaret was a blessing for all the people of Scotland. Before she came, there was great ignorance and many bad habits among them. Margaret worked hard to obtain good teachers, to correct the evil practices, and to have new churches built. She loved to make these churches beautiful for God's glory, and she embroidered the priest's vestments herself.

God sent this holy Queen six sons and two daughters. She loved them dearly and raised them well. The youngest boy became St. David. But Margaret had sorrows, too. In her last illness, she learned that both her husband and her son, Edward, had been killed in battle. Yet she prayed: "I thank You, Almighty God, for sending me so great a sorrow to purify me from my sins."

Let us take this saintly Queen for our example. While we do our duties, let us keep in mind the joys that God will give us in Heaven. Her feast day is November 16th.

St. Gertrude, Virgin (Patroness of the West Indies) Feastday-November 16 St. Gertrude was born at Eisleben in Saxony. At the age of five, she was placed in the care of the Benedictine nuns at Rodalsdorf and later became a nun in the same monastery, of which she was elected Abbess in 1251. The following year she was obliged to take charge of the monastery at Helfta, to which she moved with her nuns.

St. Gertrude had enjoyed a good education. She wrote and composed in Latin, and was versed in Sacred Literature. The life of this saint, though not replete with stirring events and striking actions, was one of great mental activity. It was the mystic life of the cloister, a life hidden with Christ in God. She was characterized by great devotion to the Sacred Humanity of Our Lord in His Passion and in the Blessed Eucharist, and by a tender love for the Blessed Virgin. She died in 1302.

St. Elizabeth was born in Hungary in 1207, the daughter of Alexander II, King of Hungary. At the age of four she was sent for education to the court of the Landgrave of Thuringia, to whose infant son she was betrothed. As she grew in age, her piety also increased by leaps and bounds. In 1221, she married Louis of Thuringia and in spite of her position at court began to lead an austerely simple life, practiced penance, and devoted herself to works of charity.

Her husband was himself much inclined to religion and highly esteemed her virtue, encouraging her in her exemplary life. They had three children when tragedy struck - Louis was killed while fighting with the Crusaders. After his death, Elizabeth left the court, made arrangements for the care of her children, and in 1228, renounced the world, becoming a tertiary of St. Francis. She built the Franciscan hospital at Marburg and devoted herself to the care of the sick until her death at the age of 24 in 1231.

St. Elizabeth is the patron saint of bakers, countesses, death of children, falsely accused, the homeless, nursing services, tertiaries, widows, and young brides. Her symbols are alms, flowers, bread, the poor, and a pitcher.

Desegregating New Orleans Catholic schools circa 1962

New Orleans area Catholic schools integrated 2 years after the city's public schools

Bruce Nolan, The Times-Picayune

In New Orleans the day after Labor Day in 1962, almost 200 African-American children began arriving at many of the 153 Catholic elementary and high schools that the Archdiocese of New Orleans previously reserved only for white families.

On that day 48 years ago, seventh-grader Cynthia Soniat, 12 years old but lady-like in her pressed cotton dress and shiny black flats, walked to her first day of school at all-white Mater Dolorosa Elementary in Carrollton.

She and her eighth-grade brother, Donald, were there because their father, Llewelyn, a civil rights activist, wanted his black children to help breach the racial barriers he had spent his life assaulting.

A little more than two miles away, 14-year-old Lawrence Haydel Jr. arrived for his freshman year at all-white Jesuit High School, although his enrollment was a triumph of pragmatism over principle. His father, a black 7th Ward contractor raising 12 children, had pounced on the school's offer of free tuition.

Anthony Rachal also started that year at Jesuit, having picked it over Xavier Prep as both a challenge and a chance to grasp the opportunity denied to his friends, his parents and other black New Orleanians.

Many entered through generally peaceful but ominous knots of sullen parents. With some notable, ugly exceptions in Westwego and Buras, where there were boycotts, threats and vandalism, the transition passed without major public turmoil.

But that was on the surface.

Some of those first students remember that after the crowds dispersed, the years that followed were often difficult in the small, lacerating ways secretly embedded in a child or adolescent's school life.

While many made friends across racial lines, there were also anonymous insults in locker rooms and cafeterias, or psychic welts left by a teacher's cruel public remarks.

Trailblazing would come at a cost.

While New Orleans this weekend commemorates the 50th anniversary of public school integration, it took another two years for the Archdiocese of New Orleans to integrate its 75,000-student system, despite a clear moral imperative to do so.

Partly because of the two-year interval, Catholic integration is remembered as a comparative success. If there was popular opposition, it was less vitriolic, without the backdrop of shrieking white mothers, federal marshals and massive public resistance.

But records show the delay infuriated thousands of black Catholics and deeply embarrassed a relative handful of progressive white Catholics, all of whom thought the church had missed the chance to lead at a moment requiring moral courage.

The story of the conversations around integration at archdiocesan headquarters on Walmsley Avenue is still not fully told.

Emilie Leumas, the church's archivist, said the papers of then-Archbishop Joseph Francis Rummel are still being catalogued and are not yet available to historians.

But other records are available at other repositories, and several histories of Catholic integration have been written without access to the Rummel papers.

Rummel had served in Harlem

Among the central unanswered questions: What were the counsels that led the church to postpone integration from as early as 1957 all the way to 1962, behind even the public school system?

At the center of the storm lay Rummel, toward the end blind, elderly and nearly infirm -- who had led the New Orleans church since 1935.

A liberal churchman who had once served in Harlem, Rummel, beginning in the late 1940s, used increasingly strong words and actions to tell New Orleans area Catholics that racial segregation was wrong, and would have to come to an end.

By many accounts, throughout the second half of the 1950s, Rummel pushed white Catholic parents toward integration faster than they wanted, but not so quickly as to blow up his congregations, empty his white Catholic schools, or trigger retaliation from a defiant state Legislature threatening to withdraw textbooks and transportation.

As early as 1949, Rummel had canceled a large Catholic worship service at City Park rather than segregate it, as the park board demanded.

Two years later he ordered church seating integrated. Two years after that he declared all segregation unacceptable. And in 1956, he issued a blunt public letter using the full power of his teaching office to make it plain:

Segregation is "morally wrong and sinful because it is a denial of the unity and solidarity of the human race as conceived by God in the creation of man in Adam and Eve," he wrote.

La. vowed massive resistance

But as federal courts pushed New Orleans public schools toward integration on a parallel track, white politicians, segregationist white Citizens Councils and neighborhood groups lashed back, unleashing angry denunciations of integration as un-biblical, Communist-inspired and a threat to racial superiority.

The Legislature vowed massive resistance, and soon enough would threaten Catholic schools with loss of aid if they segregated.

While local politicians like Plaquemines Parish's Leander Perez denounced every new civil rights lawsuit, Catholic segregationists picketed Rummel's residence and burned a cross on his lawn.

In 2002, researchers Diane T. Manning and Perry Rogers found in the records of a church-affiliated lay group, called the Catholic Council of Human Relations, evidence that the archdiocese had a well-developed plan to integrate its schools for the 1957-58 school year.

But it held off.

Justin Poché, a historian at Holy Cross College who has written extensively on Catholic school integration, said Rummel probably saw his moral exhortations were having no effect in the pews, where they would have to be lived.

In one particularly infamous episode in 1959 -- eight years after segregated seating had been nominally banned -- parishioners of St. Joseph the Worker Church in Marrero badly beat two black youths who, for a second time, sat themselves in the front pews for Sunday Mass.

Moreover, Poché said, Rummel deeply valued harmony. He wanted change -- even if radical -- to come organically. The more vigorous secular civil rights approach of taking it to the streets "just wasn't in his vocabulary."

In 1959, the archdiocese announced that Catholic schools would be integrated "at the earliest possible opportunity, and definitely not later than when the public schools are integrated."

But by 1960, Rummel was approaching 84 and failing physically.

"I think it was a combination of pressure from above and below, compounded by the fact that he's sick and can't stand as symbol of progress in the city," Poche said. "That, and his theological perspective that he doesn't see it as his calling to disrupt society."

According to historian Liva Baker's "The Second Battle of New Orleans," an account of New Orleans public school desegregation, as public schools approached their fateful date, Rummel issued a letter to be read from Catholic pulpits.

While warning of the "chaos and moral irresponsibility" offered by public resistance to public school desegregation, Rummel said the church remained committed to integration, but again declined to set a date.

'Rummel didn't want chaos'

The Rev. William Maestri, who has seen some of the Rummel papers, said in a 2004 interview that civil authorities urged the archdiocese not to integrate alongside the public school system as a matter of public safety.

In 1961, a year after public schools were integrated, the archdiocese created the Catholic Council on Human Relations. Led by Executive Director Henry Cabriac and New Orleans lawyer C. Ellis Henican, the committee set for itself the task to join others pushing the church toward integration.

"Rummel didn't want chaos. He thought, if chaos ensued then his pastoral plan of integration would have failed, even if there were black kids sitting in the schools," said Poché, the historian. "But after 1960, these lay committees are saying, 'We're past that now.'"

Meanwhile, the Vatican sent a new archbishop, John Patrick Cody, to work alongside the failing Rummel.

John Patrick Cody was named Coadjutor Archbishop of New Orleans by the Vatican in 1961 to assist Archbishop Rummel and he oversaw the complete integration of the archdiocesan school system. He became Archbishop of New Orleans after Rummel's death in 1964.
Brusque, authoritarian and self-confident, Cody almost certainly picked up the pace.

"Cody wouldn't relent on much," Poché said. "He sort of stepped in. They brought him in so Rummel could take credit for integration and Cody could take the blame.

"He drew the heat away from Rummel and Cody didn't mind that in the least."

In March 1962, the archdiocese announced that its schools would integrate in the fall. Rummel reportedly approved it from his hospital bed.

Unhappily, Our Lady of Good Harbor School in Buras, deep in the Leander Perez segregationist heartland, opened two weeks before other Catholic schools with a fraction of its normal population, as angry crowds surveyed the arrival of black children and a sound truck played "Dixie."

Black parents were intimidated into withdrawing their children, and the school closed. The empty building was bombed before the 1963 school year and shut down for good.

In addition, The Times-Picayune reported a few days later that at Our Lady of Prompt Succor Parish in Westwego, a crowd smashed the car windshield of a black mother retrieving her child from school, where enrollment fell precipitously.

All told, however, Catholic schools in New Orleans held their enrollments for the short term, before white flight to the suburbs set in ensuing years.

At the end of September, church authorities reported enrollment at 97 percent of the previous year's figure for the full 10-parish archdiocese.

Mixed emotions

Forty eight years later, the memories of the first African-American students to attend all-white institutions are even more complex than the usual, layered memories of adolescence.

Haydel, the contractor's son who went on to become a contractor himself, values the Jesuit education he received, as well as the support he felt from most of the administration and faculty.

But Haydel says his four years were marked by numerous little cruelties amidst the occasional friendships.

"I can't say I enjoyed the experience, because I didn't. But I can say I enjoyed the benefit of the experience," he said. "Things were just hard for kids in strange environments."

Rachal has the same take.

He left Jesuit after two years for Washington, D.C., where he works now as a lawyer. He served for a time on the District of Columbia's utility regulatory commission.

"For me, it was a life-changing situation," he said.

Before desegregating an all-white high school, "I had been on a conventional path ... like an old pair of shoes," Rachal said. "Educationally, no doubt, it was the right decision. Socially, it was the wrong decision."

He added: "I'm glad I did it, although at some points I doubt myself, whether it was the right thing to do.

"I look back on it with mixed emotions."