Saturday, June 30, 2012

1st Saint for July: patron of vocations; beautiful missions

Bl. Junipero Serra

Bl. Junipero Serra
Bl. Junipero Serra
Feastday: July 1
Patron of Vocations
1713 - 1784
Beatified By: Pope John Paul II

Miguel Jose Serra was born on the island of Majorca on November 24, 1713, and took the name of Junipero when in 1730, he entered the Franciscan Order. Ordained in 1737, he taught philosophy and theology at the University of Padua until 1749.
At the age of thirty-seven, he landed in Mexico City on January 1, 1750, and spent the rest of his life working for the conversion of the peoples of the New World.
In 1768, Father Serra took over the missions of the Jesuits (who had been wrongly expelled by the government)in the Mexican province of Lower California and Upper California (modern day California). An indefatigable worker, Serra was in large part responsible for the foundation and spread of the Church on the West Coast of the United States when it was still mission territory.
He founded twenty-one missions and converted thousands of Indians. The converts were taught sound methods of agriculture, cattle raising, and arts and crafts.
Junipero was a dedicated religious and missionary. He was imbued with a penitential spirit and practiced austerity in sleep, eating, and other activities. On August 28, 1784, worn out by his apostolic labors, Father Serra was called to his eternal rest. He was beatified by Pope John Paul II on September 25, 1988. His statue, representing the state of California, is in National Statuary Hall. His feast day is July 1.

Pray with the Pope in July

Pope's prayer intentions for July 2012

CWN - June 28, 2012
The Vatican has announced the prayer intentions of Pope Benedict XVI for July 2012.
The Pope’s general intention is “That everyone may have work in safe and secure conditions.” His missionary intention is: “That Christian volunteers in mission territories may witness to the love of Christ.”
The Vatican announcement, ordinarily made on the last weekday of the month, came early because Friday, June 29, is the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, and a holiday at the Vatican

Here comes July

July ushers in the 2nd half of my least favorite half of the year.  The months of April thru September constitute the unfavorite months while October thru March are the favorite months of the year.  While July marks the halfway point it must be noted that July, August, and even a good deal of September are the hottest most uncomfortable times of the year; although these last few days have baked a nation.

As we leave June I am wrapping up a wonderful 8 day vacation and ushering in the month of July, which brings to me the biggest job change of my professional career.  On July 9th I start a new job and as of July 3rd will not be a member of the same bank where I have labored since 1995.  The times they are a changing!

As we enter July I look forward to the celebration of the monthly Saints of the day, the conclusion to the fortnight of freedom, getting back into a major groove in my diaconal ministries, the pre-ordination retreat for our 2012 candidates for the Permanent Diaconate, and the start of the 2012 Summer Olympics.

So July will dawn in the morning for me and my wife in Cullman Alabama and we are going to spend the day here, primarily to visit the Ave Maria Grotto and the Shrine in Hanceville for EWTN.  Hang in there with me in July as I appreciate your visits to the blog.

SSPX: we aint gonna sign!

Fellay: “Things are at a standstill, we cannot sign”

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In his homily for the priestly ordinations in the Swiss town of Ecône, the Superior of the Society of St. Pius X confirmed that the Lefebvrians could not sign the Vatican’s doctrinal preamble

Andrea Torniellivatican city
He had not made any public statement during the meeting with Cardinal William Levada on 13 June, in the Vatican. But today, the Superior of the Society of St. Pius X, Bishop Bernard Fellay, confirmed that no agreement could be signed with the Holy See at the present time.

During this morning’s homily for the priestly ordinations celebrated in Ecône, Fellay also made some comments about the negotiations with Vatican leaders.

You can listen to the homily - which lasts approximately half an hour - by clicking on this link. The passage about the Society’s relations with Rome can be heard when the player gets to 21.50.
“You rightly ask me how things are going with Rome.” The Lefebvrian superior said, before going on to add: “Things are currently at a standstill.”

“There has been a lot of back and forth, exchanges, letters and protests - Mgr. Fellay added – but we are back to square one.” The bishop recalled: “We said we could not accept, we could not sign; that is all.”

This confirms the content of yesterday’s communiqué issued by the Lefebvrians after the meeting in the Vatican. They also hinted at the need for new clarifications and discussions. In his homily, Fellay also confirmed the opinion expressed in the letter sent by the Secretary General of the Society of St. Pius X to district superiors on 25 June, ahead of the next general chapter: the last version of the doctrinal preamble which was discussed by cardinals of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and approved by the Pope was defined as “unacceptable”.

>>>I admit that I, this one simple humble Deacon serving the people of God in my local Archdiocese, parish and community claim not to be an expert on all things SSPX and it's negotiations with Holy Mother Church; of which they are NOT in union.  But it seems to me, they are not really all that interested either.  Among the SSPX hierarchy is there really any true desire to be one with the Catholic Church?  Someone really needs to convince me.  I have seen not one charitable comment on their end while the Vatican seems very willing to accomodate them.  Whether you wish a God made in your own image from the left or the RIGHT, it just ain't CATHOLIC.

The early martyrs of our Church remembered today

First Martyrs of Rome

Feastday: June 30

Many martyrs who suffered death under Emperor Nero . Owing to their executions during the reign of Emperor Nero, they are called the Neronian Martyrs, and they are also termed the Protomartyrs of Rome, being honored by the site in Vatican City called the Piazza of the Protomartyrs. These early Christians were disciples of the Apostles, and they endured hideous tortures and ghastly deaths following the burning of Rome in the infamous fire of 62.Their dignity in suffering, and their fervor to the end, did not provide Nero or the Romans with the public diversion desired. Instead, the faith was firmly planted in the Eternal City.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Sr. Mary Ann Walsh blogging for the USCCB on the ACA gets it right

Flawed Affordable Care Act Needs Fixing

Health care for all has been a goal for the U.S. bishops for almost a century. Yet despite the apparent Supreme Court victory June 28 for the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the nation still does not have health care for all.

Most glaring is the lack of protection of the unborn, because the ACA allows use of federal funds for elective abortion. Rather than protecting children in utero, the health care law endangers them when it takes the unprecedented step of authorizing federal funds to subsidize health plans that cover such abortions. In addition, with the Health and Human Services mandate to coerce employers and employees to pay for female sterilization and contraceptives, including abortion-inducing drugs, children in utero are endangered more than they were before. When the ACA allows federal funding of abortion in various provisions, it contradicts longstanding federal policy in all other health care laws, such as Medicaid, Medicare and the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program.

The Affordable Care Act also excludes undocumented immigrants from the new health care exchanges, even if they simply want to purchase insurance with their own money. This is a cut-off-your-nose-to-spite-your-face action, given that the ACA can’t work unless as many people as possible buy into the system. The stance also drives up health care costs for all of us because undocumented immigrants who cannot purchase insurance will be forced to seek medical care in the more expensive emergency room setting. For some, politics requires you fight against undocumented immigrants everywhere, despite the fact that about 11 million of them have become part of the fabric of America, holding jobs, paying taxes and making the economy work.

Some people will benefit from the Act. People with pre-existing medical conditions cannot be discriminated against, a merciful outcome. Young people can stay on their parents’ insurance until they are 26, certainly good now when post-college does not automatically mean a good job with insurance benefits. The exchanges will help working families who don’t have insurance through their employers. Uninsured poor people will be helped by the Medicaid expansion if their state pursues the expansion, which the Court’s ruling has now made optional.

But the bill is significantly flawed and the Administration and Congress need to face this when they stop popping champagne corks celebrating an apparent victory.

1. ACA allows use of federal funds to pay for elective abortions and for plans that cover such abortions, contradicting longstanding federal policy. This law can be fixed by amending it to bring it into line with other health care legislation, for example by passing the Protect Life Act (HR 358) that the House has approved.

2. ACA fails to include necessary language to provide essential conscience protection, both within and beyond the abortion context. This has been illustrated in dramatic fashion by the HHS mandate to force religious and other employers to cover sterilization and contraception, including abortifacient drugs. Most of the conscience problems are problems of omission, because the act does not include protections of conscience that other federal programs have. This law can be fixed also by amending it to bring it into line with other health care legislation, by enacting the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act (H.R. 1179) supported by a majority of the House and a near-majority of the Senate.

3. ACA fails to treat undocumented immigrant workers and their families fairly, leaving them worse off by not allowing them to purchase health coverage in the new exchanges created under the law, even if they use their own money. Congress could easily change this.

Getting nearly universal health care is a first step. Now Americans need to get it right. This flawed Act needs fixing.

The Road Long Traveled

Vacation continues for me and the wife and we have now left the son & daughter-in-law's in the Greensboro suburbs for a trip west and south, landing today in Cullman, Alabama.  Why Cullman?  Well, we have a family wedding tomorrow in the big city of Arab, Alabama; about 35 minutes away.  In Cullman I am right down the street from the Ave Maria Grotto and not too far from both Hanceville and Irondale; home of EWTN.  I hope to manage both Mass and Benediction at the Shrine.

Our vacation in Greensboro was awesome, mostly because we only see James & Sara once or twice a year; literally days in a span of 12 months.  Sara, 7 months pregnant, and glowing by the way, is carrying my 1st grandchild, a boy, whose name is yet to be determined.  We enjoyed seeing her carrying our precious 1st grandchild.

James and Sara brought us to a movie, a minor league baseball games, which was lots of fun, and we also went out to eat.  On Wednesday, a busy work day for both of them, Wendy and I took a 3 hour each way road to the Biltmore Estates in scenic, mountainous Asheville, North Carolina.

All in all, what a nice visit.  How interesting that while N.C. is baking today in 102 degree heat, on Tuesday a front pushed through and we had 50's for a low and 79 for a high.  The baseball game was so comfortable.  Alas, we all are under the dome of hot air now.

But then comes today and the realization that the road trip from Greensboro to Cullman is a 9 hour plus drive.  We usually plan better but it happens.  At least the drive back through Asheville and then into the Smokies, driving through both Knoxville and Chatanooga, was gorgeous.  Just too long!

After the 9 plus hour drive, the last 90 minutes of which was spent on small Alabama roads, we are here!!  And off to the rehersal dinner we go shortly, then the wedding and then two days of touring all things Catholic.

This was the perfect break after making that huge decision last week to leave Capital One Bank after 18 years.  I am starting the new job on the 9th of July so I don't want to focus there yet; afterall, I have another 9 days to vacay!!!

Thanks Be to God for these blessed opportunities to relax and recreate!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Celebrating our two powerful Apostles; Peter and Paul

June 29
Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul
(d. 64 & 67)

Peter (d. 64?). St. Mark ends the first half of his Gospel with a triumphant climax. He has recorded doubt, misunderstanding and the opposition of many to Jesus. Now Peter makes his great confession of faith: "You are the Messiah" (Mark 8:29b). It was one of the many glorious moments in Peter's life, beginning with the day he was called from his nets along the Sea of Galilee to become a fisher of men for Jesus. The New Testament clearly shows Peter as the leader of the apostles, chosen by Jesus to have a special relationship with him. With James and John he was privileged to witness the Transfiguration, the raising of a dead child to life and the agony in Gethsemane. His mother-in-law was cured by Jesus. He was sent with John to prepare for the last Passover before Jesus' death. His name is first on every list of apostles.
And to Peter only did Jesus say, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven" (Matthew 16:17b-19).
But the Gospels prove their own trustworthiness by the unflattering details they include about Peter. He clearly had no public relations person. It is a great comfort for ordinary mortals to know that Peter also has his human weakness, even in the presence of Jesus.
He generously gave up all things, yet he can ask in childish self-regard, "What are we going to get for all this?" (see Matthew 19:27). He receives the full force of Christ's anger when he objects to the idea of a suffering Messiah: "Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do" (Matthew 16:23b).
Peter is willing to accept Jesus' doctrine of forgiveness, but suggests a limit of seven times. He walks on the water in faith, but sinks in doubt. He refuses to let Jesus wash his feet, then wants his whole body cleansed. He swears at the Last Supper that he will never deny Jesus, and then swears to a servant maid that he has never known the man. He loyally resists the first attempt to arrest Jesus by cutting off Malchus's ear, but in the end he runs away with the others. In the depth of his sorrow, Jesus looks on him and forgives him, and he goes out and sheds bitter tears. The Risen Jesus told Peter to feed his lambs and his sheep (John 21:15-17).
Paul (d. 64?). If the most well-known preacher today suddenly began preaching that the United States should adopt Marxism and not rely on the Constitution, the angry reaction would help us understand Paul's life when he started preaching that Christ alone can save us. He had been the most Pharisaic of Pharisees, the most legalistic of Mosaic lawyers. Now he suddenly appears to other Jews as a heretical welcomer of Gentiles, a traitor and apostate.
Paul's central conviction was simple and absolute: Only God can save humanity. No human effort—even the most scrupulous observance of law—can create a human good which we can bring to God as reparation for sin and payment for grace. To be saved from itself, from sin, from the devil and from death, humanity must open itself completely to the saving power of Jesus.
Paul never lost his love for his Jewish family, though he carried on a lifelong debate with them about the uselessness of the Law without Christ. He reminded the Gentiles that they were grafted on the parent stock of the Jews, who were still God's chosen people, the children of the promise.
In light of his preaching and teaching skills, Paul's name has surfaced (among others) as a possible patron of the Internet.

New Orleans Hornets just got good; real good!

New Orleans Hornets make Anthony Davis the first pick in the NBA draft

Published: Thursday, June 28, 2012
The New Orleans Hornets ended one month of artificial suspense Thursday night, selecting University of Kentucky power forward Anthony Davis with the first overall pick in the NBA draft, a selection the team hopes results in a sustained turnaround of its on-court fortunes.
Anthony DavisNBA Commissioner David Stern, left, poses with the No. 1 overall draft pick Anthony Davis, of Kentucky, who was selected by the New Orleans Hornets in the NBA basketball draft, Thursday, June, 28, 2012, in Newark, N.J. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
Davis, 6 feet 10, 220 pounds, was the consensus college player of the year last season as a freshman while leading the Wildcats to the NCAA Championship in the Final Four played at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, a building that stands adjacent to his new professional home, New Orleans Arena.
NBA rules prohibited the Hornets from publicly stating their intentions to draft Davis prior to Thursday night's ESPN national cablecast and the made-for-television announcement by Commissioner David Stern.
But since the Hornets won the NBA Lottery on May 29, there was no doubt that Davis, 19, would be the first overall choice.
Davis visited just one team – the Hornets – on June 19, a trip that allowed Davis to acquaint himself with the team's Alario Center practice facility, as well as meet new owner Tom Benson, while getting the opportunity to dine at some of the city's noted restaurants.
"We're thrilled to welcome Anthony to the Hornets family," General Manager Dell Demps said in a release issued by the team. "Anthony is an incredible person and very talented basketball player. We look forward to him being a part of the sustained success of our franchise on and off the court going forward."
Said Coach Monty Williams: "We have added an incredibly talented, athletic big man with great length who is also a proven winner. In getting to know him, he's also a high-character kid and someone I look forward to help develop further."
"The first thing I said was if I get drafted here, it would be great to win another championship in New Orleans," Davis said during his visit last week. "Great city. If I get drafted (here), it would be awesome."
Davis did not work out for the Hornets, or any other NBA team in the weeks leading up to the draft.
In his one season at Kentucky, Davis averaged 14.2 points per game and 10.4 rebounds, while leading the nation in blocked shots, averaging 4.7 per game. A one-time, 6-3 point guard who went through a dramatic growth spurt before being recruited at Kentucky, Davis can handle the ball as well. Davis shot 62 percent from the field last season.
Virtually every scouting service has rated Davis as the only "can't miss" prospect in Thursday night's draft.
NBA Director of Scouting Ryan Blake said Davis' skill set measurables were unlike any other draft prospect in the last decade.
"His numbers are off our charts," Blake said.
nbahornetspic1.JPGCHRIS GRANGER / THE TIMES-PICAYUNE Donna Hilliard and Cheryl Varnado, bottom front, help lead the stands in cheering and yelling as the New Orleans Hornets select Anthony Davis as the first pick of the draft on Thursday, June 28, 2012. Fans gathered at the New Orleans Arena for the announcement.
This is the second time in Hornets' team history that they've had the No. 1 overall draft choice. The first was in 1991 when the team, then located in Charlotte, drafted Larry Johnson, a power forward from Nevada-Las Vegas.
Under terms of the new collective bargaining agreement, Davis will earn a base salary this season of $4,286,900 in his rookie season. That salary escalates to $4,479,800 in his second season and $4,672,700 in his third, which is at the team's option. Because of Davis's placement in the draft as the first overall pick, however, he could earn up to 20 percent more each season than the base salary contained in the rookie scale of the CBA.
 This week, to protect his financial rights, Davis and his family took steps to trademark references to "unibrow," a sobriquet by which Davis has become known because of the lack of a gap between his eyebrows.
Asked during the ESPN draft telecast about the move and what it might mean monetarily, Davis told an interviewer: "Who doesn't like money?"
As Stern announced the Hornets' pick, three minutes into the five minutes each team is allotted to make a decision in the first round, Davis, wearing a gray suit and a Kentucky blue-and-white striped dress shirt, hugged his mother and father, as well as his college coach, John Calipari, before making his way to the stage to shake Stern's hand and pose with the one-time Hornets' owner.
"I just want to come in and do the best I can," Davis told a television interviewer. "I know Coach (Monty) Williams is a great coach and he's got the best intentions for me. So when I go down there, I'm going to do whatever he wants me to do and try to be a team leader."
Asked how his shot-blocking ability might translate into the NBA, Davis said, "It's going to be very difficult. Guys are very crafty and use a lot of ball fakes. They're professionals and they do this for a living. So I'll just try to get used to what a guy's tendencies are, and try to block them then."

USCCB official reaction to Supreme Court upholding Obamacare

Bishops Renew Plea To Congress And Administration To Repair Affordable Care Act

June 28, 2012
Supreme Court decision does not address fundamental flaws in the law
Legislation still needed to fix conscience, abortion funding, immigration problems
WASHINGTON—Today the United States Supreme Court issued a decision upholding as a tax the provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that requires individuals to purchase a health plan—the so-called "individual mandate."
For nearly a century, the Catholic bishops of the United States have been and continue to be consistent advocates for comprehensive health care reform to ensure access to life-affirming health care for all, especially the poorest and the most vulnerable.Although the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) did not participate in these cases and took no position on the specific questions presented to the Court, USCCB's position on health care reform generally and on ACA particularly is a matter of public record.The bishops ultimately opposed final passage of ACA for several reasons.
First, ACA allows use of federal funds to pay for elective abortions and for plans that cover such abortions, contradicting longstanding federal policy.The risk we identified in this area has already materialized, particularly in the initial approval by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) of "high risk" insurance pools that would have covered abortion.
Second, the Act fails to include necessary language to provide essential conscience protection, both within and beyond the abortion context.We have provided extensive analyses of ACA's defects with respect to both abortion and conscience.The lack of statutory conscience protections applicable to ACA's new mandates has been illustrated in dramatic fashion by HHS's "preventive services" mandate, which forces religious and other employers to cover sterilization and contraception, including abortifacient drugs.
Third, ACA fails to treat immigrant workers and their families fairly.ACA leaves them worse off by not allowing them to purchase health coverage in the new exchanges created under the law, even if they use their own money.This undermines the Act's stated goal of promoting access to basic life-affirming health care for everyone, especially for those most in need.
Following enactment of ACA, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has not joined in efforts to repeal the law in its entirety, and we do not do so today.The decision of the Supreme Court neither diminishes the moral imperative to ensure decent health care for all, nor eliminates the need to correct the fundamental flaws described above.We therefore continue to urge Congress to pass, and the Administration to sign, legislation to fix those flaws.

Venerable Fulton Sheen

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Fulton the Venerable

In an audience this morning with his chief Saintmaker, Cardinal Angelo Amato SDB, the Pope assented to several decrees of canonization, beatification and the heroic virtue of souls on the path to sainthood.

Of them all, however, none are as likely to resonate among this crowd more than the declaration as "Venerable" of the figure who's arguably the most celebrated and effective evangelist in the history of the faith on these shores, once the nation's most-watched TV personality -- the epic, great and beloved "Bishop Sheen"....

The declaration of Fulton Sheen's heroic virtue marks the Vatican's affirmation of a process concluded by his native diocese of Peoria in early 2008. A miraculous healing attributed to his intercession has already been presented to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

>>>Post from Whispers in the Loggia

Anti-Catholics fight back

Former SNL Star Calls Bishops ‘Real Threat to Freedom’ in Atheist Group’s New Anti-Catholic TV Spot

The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) is known for creating a stir, particularly among people of faith — a cohort the group so regularly targets. In recent months, the atheist non-profit has set its sights primarily on Catholics, first running a New York Times ad that read, “It’s Time to Quit the Catholic Church.” Now, the FFRF has released a new television spot slamming what co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor calls the ”Catholic Bishops’ war against contraception.”
Julia Sweeney Appears in FFRFs Anti Catholic Ad
Coincidentally, the 30-second ad, which features former “Saturday Night Live” actress and comedian Julia Sweeney (she played the popular character “Pat”), will run from June 21 through July 4. Interestingly, this is the same time frame during which the Catholic Church’s “Fortnight for Freedom” campaign is going on (yes, an intentional action on the part of the atheists).
On the FFRF web site yesterday, Gaylor praised the ad’s placement throughout mainstream and cable media:
The 30-second spot featuring personable Julia Sweeney is running approximately 1,200 times over a two-week period on a variety of national TV — but in regional markets. Those who may view the ads have the following TV or cable carriers: Dish, DirecTV, Cox, Comcast, Verizon and Viamedia.
We’re getting a lot of phone calls at the FFRF office in response. Some callers are giving our female receptionists a hard time, making unprintable comments. But others are our kind of folks, such as a grandmother in Pennsylvania who said she was raised Catholic but is “98 percent atheist,” and is disgusted by the Catholic Church’s attempt, as she put it, to “put canon law over civil law.”

A kind man living in a remote area of North Carolina caught us on MSNBC’s Hardball With Chris Matthews. Another North Carolinian called after seeing Julia’s spot on a rerun of the The Daily Show and said people have forgotten the need for a strict separation between state and church. I couldn’t help replying: “It might sound strange for an atheist to say this, but hallelujah, brother.” He laughed and said, “Amen, sister.”
Julia Sweeney Appears in FFRFs Anti Catholic Ad
Image Credit:
In the clip, Sweeney makes it clear that she‘s left the Catholic Church behind and that she doesn’t appreciate the Bishops’ treatment of the contraceptive issue.
“I’m a cultural Catholic. I’m no longer a believer…but I wanted you to know that, right now, Catholic Bishops are framing their opposition to contraceptive coverage as a religions freedom issue,” Sweeney proclaims.
“But the real threat to freedom is the Bishops who want to be free to force their dogma on people who don’t want it,” she continues.
Watch the controversial ad featuring Sweeney, below:
The ad will reach 42 million viewers, according to Gaylor (a full list of the shows it will appear during and air times can be found here).

>>>Read the Opinionated Catholic for a response to this.

Catholics must be prepared, and the USCCB too, as we stand for our faith, the attacks and criticisms will mount.  I could also have posted a story here about billboards going up across the country urging Catholics to quit the Church.

It's gonna get rough!

Obama care upheld; now the fallout

Obamacare's Insurance Rule Is Upheld by Supreme Court

Published: Thursday, 28 Jun 2012 | 10:34 AM ET
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By: with AP and Reuters

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The Supreme Court, in a landmark ruling Thursday, upheld President Obama's health care overhaul, including the controversial requirement that all Americans have health insurance.
Supreme Court Health Care Ruling
Getty Images
Pro-life activists, led by Rev. Pat Mahoney (2nd L) of Christian Defense Coalition, pray in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, DC.

The court on Thursday handed Obama a campaign-season victory in rejecting arguments that Congress went too far in requiring most Americans to have health insurance or pay a penalty.
Chief Justice John Roberts announced the court's judgment that allows the law to go forward with its aim of covering more than 30 million uninsured Americans.
The court, however, found problems with the law's expansion of Medicaid, but even there said the expansion could proceed as long as the federal government does not threaten to withhold states' entire Medicaid allotment if they don't take part in the law's extension.
The court's four liberal justices, Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, joined Roberts in the outcome. Justices Samuel Alito, Anthony Kennedy, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented.
Stocks of hospital companies moved sharply higher on the decision, including HCA Holdings [HCA  28.00    1.39  (+5.22%)   ] and Community Health Systems [CYH  27.205    1.715  (+6.73%)   ].
Stocks of drug companies and medical device makers are slightly lower for the day as analysts sort through the Supreme Court's ruling. Stocks of the biggest insurance companies are also lower.
Chief Justice John Roberts
Bill O'Leary | The Washington Post | Getty Images
Chief Justice John Roberts

"This gives us clarity, which is what markets needed," said Todd Schoenberger, Managing Principal At The Blackbay Group In New York. "This resolved the uncertainty about healthcare."
"However," he added, "with that said, there seems to be some confusion on the ruling. I'm getting word that the mandate is looking like a tax, and if that is the case, that could hurt the economy and that won't help at all. Who knows how this impacts the election?"
The markets overall were sharply lower, amid skepticism that European leaders would be able to form a solution to tackle the ongoing debt crisis.
The ruling on Obama's sweeping federal health care law will shape the contours of the presidential campaign through the summer and fall. Both Obama and Republican rival Mitt Romney are primed to use the outcome for political gain.
Before the decision, Obama has expressed confidence the court will uphold his signature legislative initiative.
Obama recently avoided mentioning the impending court ruling directly, but he has vigorously defended the health-care overhaul as critical to the public's health and well-being in campaign events this week.
"I think it was the right thing to do. I know it was the right thing to do," he told supporters in Boston.
Romney, who as Massachusetts governor signed a health care law on which the Obama's federal law was modeled, has focused more than usual on the Supreme Court ruling this week.
Polling suggests that most Americans oppose the law, but an overwhelming majority want Congress and the president to find a new remedy if it's struck down. Romney so far has spent little time crafting a comprehensive plan to replace the overhaul.
And the Obama campaign already has seized on Romney's opposition to the most popular provisions in the law. For example, Romney would not prevent health-care companies from denying coverage to new customers with medical conditions. Nor would he force them to cover young adults on their parents' plans through age 26.
Still, both sides will use it to raise money and motivate supporters.
And outside groups are ready to unleash a flood of advertisements following the ruling, including a 16-state, $7 million ad buy from the conservative political action group Americans for Prosperity. 

>>>With a big assist from Chief Justice John Roberts, President Bush's carefully handpicked guy, Obama care survives.  Roberts called it a tax thing that Congress can do.  No matter what would have happened we would have seen protests and angry reaction.  Now it gets to be from the right.  So let the games begin.  Great opportunity now for those on the right to express dissent and maintain dignity.  Let's see how that goes.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The 1st Pope Paul

St. Paul I, Pope

St. Paul I, Pope
St. Paul I, Pope

Feastday: June 28
700 - 767

Pope from 757-767. The brother of Pope Stephen 11 and a Roman, he was educated in the Lateran Palace, became a deacon under Pope Zachary, and wielded considerable influence in his brother’s administration. Elected to succeed Stephen, he took as his primary concern the threat posed to Rome and the Papal States by the Lombards. Paul secured an alliance with the Frankish king Pepin the Short, thereby cementing the relationship between the Holy See and the Frankish Empire which culminated with the historically significant alliance between Pope Leo III and Charlemagne. Paul also opposed the Iconoclast policies of the Byzantine emperor Constantine V, thereby exacerbating further the deteriorating relationship between the papacy and the Byzantine Empire. He died on June 28 at St. Paul’s Outside the Walls, in Rome.

Father of Church; defending truth against the Gnostics

St. Irenaeus

St. Irenaeus
St. Irenaeus

Feastday: June 28
Died: 202

The writings of St. Irenaeus entitle him to a high place among the fathers of the Church, for they not only laid the foundations of Christian theology but, by exposing and refuting the errors of the gnostics, they delivered the Catholic Faith from the real danger of the doctrines of those heretics.
He was probably born about the year 125, in one of those maritime provinces of Asia Minor where the memory of the apostles was still cherished and where Christians were numerous. He was most influenced by St. Polycarp who had known the apostles or their immediate disciples
Many Asian priests and missionaries brought the gospel to the pagan Gauls and founded a local church. To this church of Lyon, Irenaeus came to serve as a priest under its first bishop, St. Pothinus, an oriental like himself. In the year 177, Irenaeus was sent to Rome. This mission explains how it was that he was not called upon to share in the martyrdom of St Pothinus during the terrible persecution in Lyons. When he returned to Lyons it was to occupy the vacant bishopric. By this time, the persecution was over. It was the spread of gnosticism in Gaul, and the ravages it was making among the Christians of his diocese, that inspired him to undertake the task of exposing its errors. He produced a treatise in five books in which he sets forth fully the inner doctrines of the various sects, and afterwards contrasts them with the teaching of the Apostles and the text of the Holy Scripture. His work, written in Greek but quickly translated to Latin, was widely circulated and succeeded in dealing a death-blow to gnosticism. At any rate, from that time onwards, it ceased to offer a serious menace to the Catholic faith.
The date of death of St. Irenaeus is not known, but it is believed to be in the year 202. The bodily remains of St. Irenaeus were buried in a crypt under the altar of what was then called the church of St. John, but was later known by the name of St. Irenaeus himself. This tomb or shrine was destroyed by the Calvinists in 1562, and all trace of his relics seems to have perished.

Good news for Fr. Frank Pavone

Vatican Upholds Fr. Frank Pavone's Appeal


Priests for Life

We are happy to announce that the Vatican has upheld Father Frank Pavone's appeal and has declared that Father Pavone is not now nor has ever been suspended. Father Pavone remains a priest in good standing all over the world.

We were confident all along that a just decision would be made by the Vatican's Congregation for the Clergy. While we fully agree that Bishop Zurek has rightful authority over the priests of his diocese, we also see the urgent need for Father Pavone to be allowed to conduct his priestly ministry outside the diocese of Amarillo for the good of the pro-life movement.

With regard to all inquiries relative to Father Pavone's status and the Diocese of Amarillo, we will continue to be as transparent as possible and place all communications and press releases on our public website.  In this way we can best respect the rights and privacy of all concerned, particularly ecclesiastical authority and communications which are intended to be confidential at this time.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Still on vacation

Still vacationing with my son and daughter-in-law in North Carolina and enjoying the visit.  We will continue to visit with them through Thursday before heading to Alabama Friday for a family wedding.  My ability to post often seems to be impeded by some on the road computer issues so the updates I had promised from the various Catholic dioceses I'm traveling through may wait to I am back at home.

There are so many things happening back home too as this is the week we see many clergy changes, moving from parish to parish ahead of the July 1st start-up date.  Again, this will wait until I'm back.

For now, I continue to relax, enjoy visiting with my son and really enjoying this unexpected North Carolina weather; the high was 80 today, right now mid 60's.

So stay tuned and I'll keep on enjoying my latest vacation!

Bishop and Doctor of the Church

St. Cyril of Alexandria

St. Cyril of Alexandria
St. Cyril of Alexandria

Feastday: June 27

St. Cyril of Alexandria, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (June 27) Cyril was born at Alexandria, Egypt. He was nephew of the patriarch of that city, Theophilus. Cyril received a classical and theological education at Alexandria and was ordained by his uncle. He accompanied Theophilus to Constantinople in 403 and was present at the Synod of the Oak that deposed John Chrysostom, whom he believed guilty of the charges against him. He succeeded his uncle Theophilus as patriarch of Alexandria on Theophilus' death in 412, but only after a riot between Cyril's supporters and the followers of his rival Timotheus. Cyril at once began a series of attacks against the Novatians, whose churches he closed; the Jews, whom he drove from the city; and governor Orestes, with whom he disagreed about some of his actions. In 430 Cyril became embroiled with Nestorius, patriarch of Constantinople, who was preaching that Mary was not the Mother of God since Christ was Divine and not human, and consequently she should not have the word theotokos (God-bearer) applied to her. He persuaded Pope Celestine I to convoke a synod at Rome, which condemned Nestorius, and then did the same at his own synod in Alexandria. Celestine directed Cyril to depose Nestorius, and in 431, Cyril presided over the third General Council at Ephesus, attended by some two hundred bishops, which condemned all the tenets of Nestorius and his followers before the arrival of Archbishop John of Antioch and forty-two followers who believed Nestorius was innocent. When they found what had been done, they held a council of their own and deposed Cyril. Emperor Theodosius II arrested both Cyril and Nestorius but released Cyril on the arrival of Papal Legates who confirmed the council's actions against Nestorius and declared Cyril innocent of all charges. Two years later, Archbishop John, representing the moderate Antiochene bishops, and Cyril reached an agreement and joined in the condemnation, and Nestorius was forced into exile. During the rest of his life, Cyril wrote treatises that clarified the doctrines of the Trinity and the Incarnation and that helped prevent Nestorianism and Pelagianism from taking long-term deep root in the Christian community. He was the most brilliant theologian of the Alexandrian tradition. His writings are characterized by accurate thinking, precise exposition, and great reasoning skills. Among his writings are commentaries on John, Luke, and the Pentateuch, treatises on dogmatic theology, and Apologia against Julian the Apostate, and letters and sermons. He was declared a doctor of the Church by Pope Leo XIII in 1882. His feast day is June 27th.

The Life of Jesus per the inmates at Angola

June 23, 2012 There are more than 5,300 inmates at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola. Nearly 4,000 of them are serving life without parole. Last month, the Angola Prison Drama Club staged a play unlike any other in the prison's experience. The Life of Jesus Christ featured 70 inmates, men and women acting together for the first time — in costume, with a real camel, performing for the general public. For the untrained actors, this production held special meaning as they saw pieces of their own lives revealed in the characters they played. 'We're Making Amends' The Roman soldier who executes Jesus is played by Terrence Williams, a muscular convicted murderer who is serving time for his earlier role as an assassin for a drug-dealing gang on the streets of New Orleans. The centurion's armor is castoff football pads, and his shield is cut from a plastic garbage can. His thick arms are covered with prison tattoos. Williams is in his 17th year of a life sentence at Angola. "I was involved with a large drug trade, things went haywire, people wound up dead, I got charged with murder, you know, more than once. ... I left with my hands bloody," he says. "But here I am, in prison, playing a character in The Life of Jesus Christ, so who's to say we can't change? And I think what me and the guys are doing, this is a way to say that we're making amends for the crimes that brought us to the situation in our lives at this point." It is not possible, during a one-day visit, to know whether these inmate actors have become penitent and sorrowful for their sins, or whether they have changed, as many are quick to tell a reporter. Some believe they are innocent. Acting Through Past Pain Many of the inmates interviewed, however, say their roles in this play have deeply affected them. Serey Kong, playing the Virgin Mary, is serving 15 years for armed robbery. Born in Cambodia, Kong was raised in New Orleans from the time she was 2. Now 31, Kong has spent a third of her life in the Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women in St. Gabriel, an hour-and-a-half bus ride away. She is one of 19 women in the play. Kong says the role of Mary has helped her deal with a trauma she experienced as a teenager that she'd never spoken about, until now. "They say Mary is 14, 15, something like that, and when I was that age, I came up pregnant," she says. "I ended up having an abortion. And Mary gave birth to God, and, I don't know, doing this part is kinda healing for me in a sense, with the abortion I had at 14." The Life of Jesus Christ was staged over three days in May inside the rodeo arena at the Louisiana State Penitentiary. About 1,200 people saw the production: prisoners in jeans and T-shirts, relatives, church groups and a few curious members of the public. They applauded appreciatively in the sticky Southern heat. The title role is played by New Orleanian Bobby Wallace. "I been here for two armed robberies, and I have 66 years flat and I have two years left before I go up for parole," says the man who portrays Jesus. In the Last Supper scene, Wallace wears prison shower slippers and a tunic of white muslin donated to the production, telling his "disciples" to "teach the world as I have taught you." Wallace, along with many of the male actors, is a member of the Angola Drama Club and a student of the Baptist Theological Seminary — the first prison seminary of its kind in the nation. Wallace says he was surprised when he was selected for the lead role during a two-week acting workshop, but he's grateful. "Jesus was considered to be a criminal. He was being punished for what he believed in, let me say that. I identify with him on some parts, because he was condemned," Wallace says. A Change Of Scenery Angola Prison — also known as "The Farm" for the birthplace of the slaves who once worked this ground when it was a plantation — is unique in American penology. At 28 square miles, it is the largest maximum-security prison in the United States and has the nation's largest number of lifers. Tucked in a bend of the Mississippi River, the rolling green fields and placid lake inside the prison boundaries can be a surprising sight for inmates from other prisons. "When I get to leave [the Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women], it's like I'm free," says Michelle Allen, who is serving a life sentence at the St. Gabriel prison as a habitual offender. She plays the leper who's healed by Jesus. Her effusive description of Angola might not be shared by the lifers here, or the men on death row, locked up 23 hours a day in a cell block down by the river. But Allen appreciates any change of routine. "The scenery is beautiful. Just to be able to walk and stretch, just to be able to sit on something different, to look at something different," she says. Plus, Allen says, it's nice to be around men. "After being locked up 16 years, who wouldn't want to be around a man?" she says. David Sonnier Jr., from Jeanerette, La., plays the Devil in Angola Prison's production of The Life of Jesus Christ. He was convicted of aggravated rape and is serving a life sentence. Deborah Luster/for NPR David Sonnier Jr., from Jeanerette, La., plays the Devil in Angola Prison's production of The Life of Jesus Christ. He was convicted of aggravated rape and is serving a life sentence. Drawing From Real Life David Sonnier Jr. plays the devil. A bearded man with thick features, Sonnier is one of the few white inmates in the play. He's from Jeanerette, La., and was convicted of aggravated rape, now serving a life sentence. His character is hauntingly effective. "It's a challenging role because you have to play all that is evil ... Every one of us ... we do have those demons that come to us and tell us, do this, do that, I will give you this," he says. "Basically, that's where I'm at with that scene. Just to take him and make him as unholy as possible and as evil as I can make him sound." In a similar vein, Levelle Tolliver draws from his turbulent life to play the betrayer of Jesus. Tolliver is serving a life sentence for murder. His anguished portrayal of Judas Iscariot creates one of the most hair-raising scenes of the production. "I was a murderer, I was a thief, I was a conniver. I was all those things, I've committed all kinds of sins ... and that's how I relate to the character which I'm playing," Tolliver says. "Because that's what Judas was — Judas was a conniver." He says to get into character, he thinks about "a lot of the wrong things I did, a lot of the hurt I've caused a lot of people." The Curtain Closes This passion play was first performed on the grounds of a Scottish castle. An assistant warden at Angola named Cathy Fontenot heard about it and decided it would be a good fit. Community theater director Suzanne Lofthus came over from Edinburgh to Angola to oversee the production. She met the cast after the first day's performance. The men and women actors — separated when they're off-stage — were beaming. "As we say in Scotland, you were pure dead brilliant," she told them. The inmate director is Gary Tyler, who was convicted at 17 for shooting a 13-year-old white boy in a trial his advocates say was tainted with racial prejudice. He is 38 years into a life sentence. Tyler has been president of the Angola Drama Club for more than two decades. The club normally performs a couple of skits a month for inmate audiences; there's never been anything on the grand scale of The Life of Jesus Christ. "Hearing the response from the audience and being able to feel the exhilaration and excitement from you all, this is my response to all of you: A job well done," he told the cast. The special circumstances of the play do not, however, allow the cast to circumvent that most familiar routine of prison life: the head count. A beefy guard shouts out the name of their dormitory — "Oak1! Oak1" — as Jesus, the apostles, the Pharisees, the shepherds, Pontius Pilate, Barabbus and all the rest wait their turn to be counted, so the guards can make sure that no one has escaped.

On the road: Belmont Abbey

We left Atlanta yesterday morning and arrived in Greensboro; the home of my son and daughter in law.  I'll be posting more later on our visit.  Along the way yesterday afternoon we exited I-85 to visit Belmont Abbey and College.  Just minutes off the interstate this beautiful Benedictine facility is home to a monastery, an abbey basilica and a college.  It is over 130 years old.  I took a few pictures that I hope to post later on this trip.  Read more about this authentically Catholic institution:

Opus Dei

St. Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer

St. Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer
St. Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer

Feastday: June 26
Died: June 26, 1975
Beatified By: Pope John Paul II
Canonized By: Pope John Paul II

Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer was born in Barbastro, Spain, on January 9, 1902, the second of six children of Jose and Dolores Escriva. Growing up in a devout family and attending Catholic schools, he learned the basic truths of the faith and practices such as frequent confession and communion, the rosary, and almsgiving. The death of three younger sisters, and his father's bankruptcy after business reverses, taught him the meaning of suffering and brought maturity to his outgoing and cheerful temperament. In 1915, the family moved to Logrono, where his father had found new employment.

Beginning in 1918, Josemaria sensed that God was asking something of him, although he didn't know exactly what it was. He decided to become a priest, in order to be available for whatever God wanted of him. He began studying for the priesthood, first in Logrono and later in Saragossa. At his father's suggestion and with the permission of his superiors at the seminary he also began to study civil law. He was ordained a priest and began his pastoral ministry in 1925.

In 1927, Fr. Josemaria moved to Madrid to study for a graduate degree in law. He was accompanied by his mother, sister, and brother, as his father had died in 1924 and he was now head of the family. They were not well-off, and he had to tutor law students to support them. At the same time he carried out a demanding pastoral work, especially among the poor and sick in Madrid, and with young children. He also undertook an apostolate with manual workers, professional people and university students who, by coming into contact with the poor and sick to whom Fr. Josemaria was ministering, learned the practical meaning of charity and their Christian responsibility to help out in the betterment of society.

On October 2, 1928, while making a retreat in Madrid, God showed him his specific mission: he was to found Opus Dei, an institution within the Catholic Church dedicated to helping people in all walks of life to follow Christ, to seek holiness in their daily life and grow in love for God and their fellow men and women. From that moment on, he dedicated all his strength to fulfilling this mission, certain that God had raised up Opus Dei to serve the Church. In 1930, responding to a new illumination from God, he started Opus Dei's apostolic work with women, making clear that they had the same responsibility as men to serve society and the Church.

The first edition of The Way, his most widely read work, was published in 1934 under the title Spiritual Considerations. Expanded and revised, it has gone through many editions since then; more than four million copies in many different languages are now in print. His other spiritual writings include Holy Rosary; The Way of the Cross; two collections of homilies, Christ Is Passing By and Friends of God; and Furrow and The Forge, which like The Way are made up of short points for prayer and reflection.

The development of Opus Dei began among the young people with whom Fr. Josemaria had already been in contact before 1928. Its growth, however, was seriously impeded by the religious persecution inflicted on the Catholic Church during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). The founder himself suffered severe hardships under this persecution but, unlike many other priests, he came out of the war alive. After the war, he traveled throughout the country giving retreats to hundreds of priests at the request of their bishops. Meanwhile Opus Dei spread from Madrid to several other Spanish cities, and as soon as World War II ended in 1945, began starting in other countries. This growth was not without pain; though the Work always had the approval of the local bishops, its then-unfamiliar message of sanctity in the world met with some misunderstandings and suspicions-which the founder bore with great patience and charity.

While celebrating Mass in 1943, Fr. Josemaria received a new foundational grace to establish the Priestly Society of the Holy Cross, which made it possible for some of Opus Dei's lay faithful to be ordained as priests. The full incorporation of both lay faithful and priests in Opus Dei, which makes a seamless cooperation in the apostolic work possible, is an essential feature of the foundational charism of Opus Dei, affirmed by the Church in granting Opus Dei the canonical status of a personal Prelature. In addition, the Priestly Society conducts activities, in full harmony with the bishops of the local churches, for the spiritual development of diocesan priests and seminarians. Diocesan priests can also be part of the Priestly Society, while at the same time remaining clergy of their own dioceses.

Aware that God meant Opus Dei to be part of the mission of the universal Church, the founder moved to Rome in 1946 so as to be close to the Holy See. By 1950 the Work had received pontifical approvals affirming its main foundational features-spreading the message of holiness in daily life; service to the Pope, the universal church, and the particular churches; secularity and naturalness; fostering personal freedom and responsibility, and a pluralism consistent with Catholic moral, political, and social teachings.

Beginning in 1948, full membership in Opus Dei was open to married people. In 1950 the Holy See approved the idea of accepting non-Catholics and even non-Christians as cooperators-persons who assist Opus Dei in its projects and programs without being members. The next decade saw the launching of a wide range of undertakings: professional schools, agricultural training centers, universities, primary and secondary schools, hospitals and clinics, and other initiatives, open to people of all races, religions, and social backgrounds but of manifestly Christian inspiration.

During Vatican Council II (1962-1965), Monsignor Escriva worked closely with many of the council fathers, discussing key Council themes such as the universal call to holiness and the importance of laypersons in the mission of the Church. Deeply grateful for the Council's teachings, he did everything possible to implement them in the formative activities offered by Opus Dei throughout the world.

Between 1970 and 1975 the founder undertook catechetical trips throughout Europe and Latin America, speaking with many people, at times in large gatherings, about love of God, the sacraments, Christian dedication, and the need to sanctify work and family life. By the time of the founder's death, Opus Dei had spread to thirty nations on six continents. It now (2002) has more than 84,000 members in sixty countries.

Monsignor Escriva's death in Rome came suddenly on June 26, 1975, when he was 73. Large numbers of bishops and ordinary faithful petitioned the Vatican to begin the process for his beatification and canonization. On May 17, 1992, Pope John Paul II declared him Blessed before a huge crowd in St. Peter's Square. He is to be canonized-formally declared a saint-on October 6, 2002.