Saturday, November 30, 2013

Advent 2013 begins tonight with your parish vigil Mass; welcome to Advent

When Does Advent 2013 Begin?


An Advent wreath with a central Christmas candle on a home altar. (Photo © Scott P. Richert)
An Advent wreath with a central Christmas candle on a home altar.
(Photo © Scott P. Richert)
Question: When Does Advent 2013 Begin?
The season of Advent, the time of preparation for the coming of Christ at Christmas and the start of the liturgical year in the Roman Catholic Church, begins on a different date each year. When does Advent 2013 begin?
Answer: Advent 2013 begins on the First Sunday in Advent, December 1, 2013.
You can find a full schedule of all the Sundays and all major feasts during Advent 2013 in the Catholic Liturgical Calendar for Advent 2013.

Friday, November 29, 2013

The 1st Apostle to follow Jesus; "come and see"

St. Andrew

St. Andrew
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.

LSU Tigers 2013; the year that was

How did we arrive at the end of the LSU season already?  Was it not just a short time ago we were anticipating another great effort from our gridiron Tigers?  LSU was coming off a tough bowl loss at the end of last year, and, more importantly, the loss of so many defensive stalwarts to the NFL.  Still, it looked like another year where LSU could compete against Alabama again for a SEC West title.  Early games were ok, they played a bunch of no names and executed well enough, although there was some evidence the defense would not be quite as stout.  The biggest difference early on was the improved play of QB Zach Mettenberger. Of course throwing to the likes of Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry made that improvement a bit easier!

The Auburn game would be the first big test but LSU popped the tigers from the plains.  A huge 1st half and and impressive running game paced LSU in their 1st encounter with an elite SEC team.  But then came Georgia, actually a little less impressive this year but the game was there and LSU's defense never showed up to play.  Despite a Mettenberger led offense that put 41 points on the board, the LSU defense surrendered 44; unacceptable.  LSU would bounce back an win games they should win and then came Ole Miss; that's right Ole Miss.  On the road, LSU failed to respond to a decent but not great team from Oxford, losing 27-24, primarily because they spotted Ole Miss a 10-0 halftime lead.  With Alabama, Texas A&M and Arkansas left, LSU already suffered 2 losses.  No way would LSU ever be considered for the elite goals Tiger faithful want: a chance at a BCS championship, beating Alabama, winning the SEC West and at least competing for SEC championship.  In mid October, all of that was gone. 

Of course Alabama destroyed LSU, turning a sometimes competitive game into a 21 point blow out.  3 losses with 2 games to go and most would predict A&M would tack loss #4 on the Bayou Bengals.  After all, here comes Johnny Football!  Not so Johnny, not so!  LSU played their best game, especially defensively and blew out the Aggies 34-10.  The stage was set for today's encounter with Arkansas to beat up on a weak 3 win team.  Not so LSU, not so.  Arkansas dominated this game, took a halftime lead and still was leading until the final minute fifteen when a backup QB hit a little used receiver to cap a 99 yard drive and steal victory from the jaws of defeat, penalties, miscues, poor Les Miles coaching and back breaking injuries, most notably to Mettenberger and Beckham.

Still it would be a win and here LSU sits 9-3 with a chance to perhaps face a top notch 2013 opponent like Baylor in the Cotton Bowl.  That is still to be determined.  Still, as frustrating as 2013 was, I am saddened that it is over, marking time that soon, all football will be done and the excitement of everything fall, football season will be behind us.

I love LSU football and I wish the student athlete well.  As for Les Miles, I just don't know if under his leadership, we can return to those lofty goals stated earlier.  Perhaps 8-4, 9-3, a nice bowl win here and there is all we can expect.  I know many college programs long for that; but we are LSU Tigers damn it and we should strive for more.

For now at least there is this:

Cardinal Dolan on difference between anti-gay and pro-traditional marriage

Catholic cardinal: Church 'caricatured' as anti-gay

A top Roman Catholic cardinal says he regrets that the church is portrayed as "anti-gay" for supporting traditional marriage between a man and a woman.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York, told NBC News that the church has been "out-marketed" on the issue by an array of people, including politicians.
"We've been caricatured as being anti-gay," Dolan said in an interview airing Sunday on NBC's Meet the Press. "And as much as we'd say, 'Wait a minute, we're pro marriage, we're pro traditional marriage, we're not anti anybody,' I don't know.
"When you have forces like Hollywood, when you have forces like politicians, when you have forces like some opinion-molders that are behind it, it's a tough battle," he said.
Illinois recently became the 16th state to legalize same-sex marriage, with the new state law set to take effect on June 1, 2014.
Comments by Pope Francis apparently had an impact on Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan and other legislators when the state House of Representatives voted earlier this month to pass legislation allowing gay marriage, according to the Chicago Tribune.
"If a person is gay and seeks God and has goodwill, who am I to judge him," Pope Francis said in July.
Dolan, known for his outspokenness, earlier this year called for Catholics to be more conciliatory toward gays and lesbians who may feel left behind by the church's opposition to homosexuality and same-sex marriage.
The legal battle over same-sex marriage has moved to states, following the U.S. Supreme Court's decision striking down a tenet of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
"I think I'd be a Pollyanna to say that there doesn't seem to be kind of a stampede to do this," Dolan told David Gregory of Meet the Press. "I regret that. I wish that were not the case for the states."

Pope announced a year dedicated to consecrated life in 2015

Meeting with the Superiors General: Pope announces 2015 to be dedicated to consecrated life

Vatican City, 29 November 2013 (VIS) – The Union of Superiors General held its 82nd General Assembly in the Salesianum in Rome from 27 to 29 November. The story of three experiences provided the basis for reflections and encounters focusing on the challenges of leadership in the light of the Magisterium and following the example given by Pope Francis. The Holy Father chose to meet with the Superiors for three hours, rather than the short encounter envisaged: no address was prepared in advance, but instead a long, colloquial and fraternal discussion took place, composed of questions and answers.
The first group of questions related to the identity and mission of consecrated life. A radical approach is required of all Christians, the Pope stated, but religious persons are called upon to follow the Lord in a special way: “They are men and woman who can awaken the world. Consecrated life is prophecy. God asks us to fly the nest and to be sent to the frontiers of the world, avoiding the temptation to 'domesticate' them. This is the most concrete way of imitating the Lord”.
When asked about the situation of vocations, the Pope emphasised that there are young Churches which are bearing new fruit. This naturally gives rise to a re-evaluation of the inculturation of charism. The Church must follow the example of Matteo Ricci in asking forgiveness for and looking with shame upon apostolic failures caused by misunderstandings in this field. Intercultural dialogue must press for the introduction persons of various cultures, expressing different ways of living charism, in the governance of religious institutes.
The Pope insisted upon the importance of formation, which he presented as founded upon four fundamental pillars: spiritual, intellectual, communitarian and apostolic. It is indispensable to avoid every form of hypocrisy and clericalism by means of a frank and open dialogue on all aspects of life: “formation is an artisanal craft, not a form of policing”, he commented; “its aim is to form religious persons with a tender heart, not acid, not like vinegar. We are all sinners, but not corrupt. Sinners are to be accepted, but not the corrupt”.
When asked about brotherhood, the Pope said that this has a great force of attraction, and presupposes the acceptance of differences and conflicts. At time it is difficult to live in fraternity, but without it no fruit may be borne. In any case, “we must never act like managers when faced with a brother's conflict: conflict instead must be caressed”, said the Pope.
A number of questions were asked regarding the relationships between religious persons and the particular Churches to which they belong. The Pope confirmed that he had experience of the possible problems: “We bishops must understand that consecrated persons are not helpers, but rather charisms which enrich dioceses”.
The final questions regarded the frontiers of the mission of consecrated persons. “They must be sought on the basis of the charisms”, answered the Pope. Situations of exclusion remain the first priorities. Alongside these challenges he mentioned the cultural and educational mission in schools and universities. For the Pope, the pillars of education are “transmitting knowledge, transmitting methods, transmitting values. By these means, faith is communicated. The educator must measure up to those he educates, and must give careful thought to how to proclaim Jesus Christ to a changing generation”.
Before taking leave of the 120 Superiors General present, the Pope announced that 2015 would be a year dedicated to consecrated life. He added, “Thank you for what you do and for your spirit of faith and your service. Thank you for your witness and also for the humiliations through which you have had to pass”.

Black Friday in the USA: Baby Jesus must be so proud!

I wake up on this glorious Friday after an equally glorious Thanksgiving Day preparing for a quick day at work and watching the morning news.  Of course my eyes were greeted by sights of folks rushing into department stores, literally grabbing items off the shelves, some scrapping with fellow shoppers.  So far there has been only one report of injuries, that in Chicago.

I get the argument about great bargains and stretching a buck on behalf of the family.  Remember, I too am a dad and grandpa. I love all things Christmas!  I love all things Christmas if it brings honor and glory to the One Christmas is all about.  My goodness, all this consumerism and retail havoc making must surely make the Baby Jesus proud!

Think about your role in all of this.  We all are quick to blame the retailers who offer crazy hours and insane bargains.  These would not exist if we, as a people, place priority on this, over celebrating the birth of Christ, the true Christian meaning of giving and receiving and the real gift of presence, the gift of our selves, one to the other, as children of God, remembering His coming to us as man.

Black Friday in and of itself is not evil.  What we have allowed it to become most certainly is!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

3rd century Bishop & Martyr and Saint

St. Saturninus

St. Saturninus
St. Saturninus
Feastday: November 29

St. Saturninus Bishop of Toulouse and Martyr November 29 A.D. 257     St. Saturninus went from Rome by the direction of pope Fabian, about the year 245, to preach the faith in Gaul, where St. Trophimus, the first bishop of Arles, had some time before gathered a plentiful harvest. In the year 250, when Decius and Gratus were consuls, St. Saturninus fixed his episcopal see at Toulouse. Fortunatus tells us, that he converted a great number of idolaters by his preaching and miracles. This is all the account we have of him till the time of his holy martyrdom. The author of his acts, who wrote about fifty years after his death, relates, that he assembled his flock in a small church; and that the capitol, which was the chief temple in the city, lay in the way between that church and the saint's habitation. In this temple oracles were given; but the devils were struck dumb by the presence of the saint as he passed that way. The priests spied him one day going by, and seized and dragged him into the temple. declaring that he should either appease the offended deities by offering sacrifice to them, or expiate the crime with his blood. Saturninus boldly replied: "I adore one only God, and to him I am ready to offer a sacrifice of praise. Your gods are devils, and are more delighted with the sacrifice of your souls than with those of your bullocks. How can I fear them who, as you acknowledge, tremble before a Christian?" The infidels, incensed at this reply, abused the saint with all the rage that a mad zeal could inspire, and after a great variety of indignities, tied his feet to a wild bull, which was brought thither to be sacrificed. The beast being driven from the temple, ran violently down the hill, so that the martyr's scull was broken, and his brains dashed out. His happy soul was released from the body by death, and fled to the kingdom of peace and glory, and the bull continued to drag the sacred body, and the limbs and blood were scattered on every side, till, the cord breaking, what remained of the trunk was left in the plain without the gates of the city. Two devout women laid the sacred remains on a bier, and hid them in a deep ditch, to secure them from any further insult, where they lay in "wooden coffin" till the reign of Constantine the Great. Then Hilary, bishop of Toulouse, built a small chapel over this his holy predecessor's body Sylvius, bishop of that city towards the close of the fourth century, began to build a magnificent church in honor of the martyr, which was finished and consecrated by his successor Exuperius, who, with great pomp and piety, translated the venerable relics into it. This precious treasure remains there to this day with due honor. The martyrdom of this saint probably happened m the reign of Valerian, in 257.

And night descends on Thanksgiving Day

I'm very full and content as I look through the living room window at majestic dusk skies on this Thanksgiving Day.  Year after year these special days roll by with memories of past celebrations and hope of celebrations to come.  We reminisce about loved ones growing older or those who are no longer physically with us.  We can't believe how the young ones grow, some overnight into adulthood, while others come along and join our families.

Traditions last and others begin anew.  Turkey or ham, dressing or stuffing, pies or cakes.  We all are sitting around about now, stuffed, thankful for a short afternoon nap.  The football doesn't even have to be that great; yet we watch because we always did.  Today, I actually watched hours of Thanksgiving themed reruns of the Walton's.  I love that show; mostly because it reminds me of another time and calls to mind memories of my grandma and my mom, for some strange reason.

I began the day at Mass along with about 150 fellow Catholics at Most Holy Trinity.  On my way to Mass I passed right in front of my home parish, St. Jane de Chantal, and spied a full to the max parking lot of friends and neighbors.  At both of these parishes, God was worshipped and thanks was given.  At some point today, I am glad that most of us gave Him the thanksgiving!

So now what?  Tomorrow is a Friday; they call it black Friday because it's all out war just to save a buck or two for Christmas giving.  I guess going to work tomorrow, albeit it for only 4 hours, does not sound so bad when compared to retail shopping mayhem.  LSU will be playing a big football game; my daughter will be in that number at world famous "Death Valley".  This weekend brings more chores as we prepare for the 1st ever visit to our home of #1 grandson Calvin; now just 14 days away.  Sunday I will be in full Deacon mode with two Masses to assist at and a Baptism of a beautiful baby girl of good family friends!

I hope your Thanksgiving was memorable; filled with all you wanted it to be!  I hope you found plenty of time to include God in your holiday today and that we will remember to include Him in every day!  Advent starts Sunday; may we all begin to prepare for our remembrance of Jesus coming to us in flesh, to wash away our sins and open paradise for everlasting life!

Hannukkah? This year starts on Thanksgiving = Thanksgivukkah

What is Hanukkah?

With a Medley of Chanukah Links

Chanukah -- the eight-day festival of light that begins on the eve of the 25th of the Jewish month of Kislev -- celebrates the triumph of light over darkness, of purity over adulteration, of spirituality over materiality.
More than twenty-one centuries ago, the Holy Land was ruled by the Seleucids (Syrian-Greeks), who sought to forcefully Hellenize the people of Israel. Against all odds, a small band of faithful Jews defeated one of the mightiest armies on earth, drove the Greeks from the land, reclaimed the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and rededicated it to the service of G-d.
When they sought to light the Temple's menorah (the seven branched candelabrum), they found only a single cruse of olive oil that had escaped contamination by the Greeks; miraculously, the one-day supply burned for eight days, until new oil could be prepared under conditions of ritual purity.
To commemorate and publicize these miracles, the sages instituted the festival of Chanukah. At the heart of the festival is the nightly menorah (candelabrum) lighting: a single flame on the first night, two on the second evening, and so on till the eighth night of Chanukah, when all eight lights are kindled.
On Chanukah we also add the Hallel and Al HaNissim in our daily prayers to offer praise and thanksgiving to G-d for "delivering the strong into the hands of the weak, the many into the hands of the few... the wicked into the hands of the righteous."
Chanukah customs include eating foods fried in oil -- latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiot (doughnuts); playing with the dreidel (a spinning top on which are inscribed the Hebrew letters nun, gimmel, hei and shin, an acronym for Nes Gadol Hayah Sham, "a great miracle happened there"); and the giving of Chanukah gelt, gifts of money, to children.
Click here for the complete story of Chanukah, and here for a comprehensive "How To" guide for the observances and customs of Chanukah.

Thanksgiving in USA but the universal Church remembers the Saint of the Miraculous Medal

St. Catherine Laboure

St. Catherine Laboure
St. Catherine Laboure
Feastday: November 28
Beatified By: May 28, 1933 by Pope Pius XI
Canonized By: July 27, 1947 by Pope Pius XII

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 28.

President Abraham Lincoln proclaims Thanksgiving!

Abraham Lincoln's Thanksgiving Proclamation

Washington, D.C.
October 3, 1863

By the President of the United States of America. A Proclamation. The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union. In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed. Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth. By the President: Abraham Lincoln

George Washington and Giving Thanks

Wisdom Of The Day: George Washington (Thanksgiving Day Special)

President George Washington
Presidential Thanksgiving Day
November 26, 1789

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 favor, and Whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint committee requested me to “recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanks-giving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many single favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.”
Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the Service 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 sincere and humble thanks, for His kind care and protection of the People of this country previous to their becoming a Nation, for the single and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of His providence, which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war, for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed, for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted, of the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have to acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge and in general for all the great and various favors which He hath been pleased to confer upon us.
And also that we may then unite in most humble offering our prayers and supplications to the Great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions, to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually, to render our national government a blessing to all people, by constantly being a government of wise, just and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed, to protect and guide all Sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace and concord. To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us, and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone know to be best.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Then the Vatican weighs in on the embassy controversy; no big deal


Vatican downplays controversy over U.S. embassy move

By Dan Merica and Eric Marrapodi, CNN
Washington (CNN) - When the State Department announced it was moving its Vatican embassy to a compound shared with the U.S. Embassy in Italy, some former ambassadors and conservative American Catholics were outraged.
Former ambassadors to the Holy See said moving that embassy would diminish the stature of the mission and conservative Catholic activists seized on the issue.
Addressing the growing controversy in Rome, the State Department arranged a briefing for reporters on Monday with an unnamed senior official who said the purpose for the move was to save money and increase security.
A spokesman for the Vatican said the move was well within the Holy See's requirements for embassies and that relations with the United States are far from strained.
The Rev. Thomas Rosica, a Canadian priest who works with the Vatican's press office, said the Vatican requires foreign embassies to the Holy See be separate from the country's mission to Italy, have a separate address and have a separate entrance.
Both Rosica and the senior State Department official said the proposed U.S. move satisfies those requirements.
Rosica also praised Ken Hackett, the new U.S. ambassador to the Holy See, telling CNN that "at this critical time in history, he brings eminent credentials to represent the United States to the Vatican."
He added there "a very good feeling right now" between the two countries.
Another Vatican official, not authorized to speak on the record about diplomatic relations, told CNN the Holy See understands security concerns are an issue for some countries and this move is "an exception, not the ideal, but not the end of the world."
The State Department contends the move from a free-standing building to a more secure compound that currently includes the U.S. Embassy and the U.S. Mission to the United Nations is a must following attacks on other American embassies.
The State Department official dismissed complaints that the move was hurting the U.S. relationship with the Vatican, telling reporters the embassy to the Holy See will be much closer to the Vatican and there will be "no reduction in diplomatic staff. There’s no reduction in ambassadors, there’s no reduction in mission."
"The plan is to have the U.S. mission to the Holy See relocate to a building" inside the current U.S. government compound, said the official. "We figure that we will save about $1.4 million a year in lease and operating costs in moving them."
Additionally, the official said the security of the current U.S. Embassy to the Holy See is "not in a building that has the kind of physical security protection that we would like it to have" but that the new building affords diplomats with better security.
For Francis Rooney, the former U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See under President George W. Bush, the proposed move is a slight to the Vatican.
Rooney told CNN that a freestanding, separate embassy shows more value to the relationship and that he worries the move will create "a perception among foreign governments and other missions that the United States does not value its relationship with the Holy See."
"It is going to depreciate the prestige of the mission to relocate" he said.
In response to the Vatican's statement that relations between it and the United States are fine, Rooney said the Holy See is "bending over backwards not to disagree with the Department of State’s decision" and that privately "they wouldn't want it to happen."
Not all former U.S. ambassadors to the Holy See agree with Rooney, however.
Ambassador Miguel H. Diaz, who served as Obama's first ambassador to the Holy See, said those who disagree are not basing their opinion on fact and information.
"I firmly believe that these issues have to be based on facts and not politicized in any way," he said. "It is absolutely, 100 percent incorrect, it is absolutely erroneous, to interpret this decision in any way as the intention of the Obama administration to undermine or diminish the relationship between the United States and the Holy See."
He continued: "This was done for security and financial reasons, not in any way to undermine and diminish the importance of the Holy See."
Just as quickly as ambassadors like Rooney and Diaz weighed in, a number of contrastive Catholics began to assail the Obama administration for the move.
"The public perception is going to be a downgrading of the importance of the Holy See," Bill Donohue, head of the conservative Catholic League. "It smacks of an animus."
Donohue and others contend that by moving the embassy into a compound with other embassies, the United States is distancing itself from the Vatican and harming relations. He also finds it hard to believe the Obama administration would make a decision based on security and cost.
"When you have a track record that is not exactly Catholic-friendly, the people like myself are going to ask what is going on here," he said. "This is the first time in six years this administration has ever been concerned with saving money. I am not surprised they found it at the Vatican."
Chris Hale, who helped run Catholic outreach for Obama's 2012 campaign, said the reaction of conservative Catholics is "another attempt to politicize another issue and create a fight that isn't there."
"This is in no way signaling the administration’s desire to not work with Pope Francis," he said. "I think (conservative Catholics) are concerned with the narrative of Pope Francis being a progressive and they are trying to push any narrative the creates a perceived divide between Pope Francis and President Obama."
In attempt to quell any controversy, earlier on Wednesday, the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See posted on its Facebook page that reports that claim the "embassy to the Holy See is closing, that our Ambassador’s position is being cut, and/or that his residence is moving … are untrue."
The embassy, according to the Facebook post, will make the move in "early 2015."

The war on Catholicism continues by the Obama administration

Obama’s call to close Vatican embassy is ‘slap in the face’ to Roman Catholics

People crowd St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, on occasion of the celebration of the Easter mass Sunday, March 31, 2013. Pope Francis is celebrating his first Easter Sunday Mass as pontiff in St. Peter's Square, which is packed by joyous pilgrims, tourists and Romans. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)People crowd St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, on occasion of the celebration of the Easter mass Sunday, March 31, 2013. Pope Francis is celebrating his first Easter Sunday Mass as pontiff in St. Peter's Square, which is packed by joyous pilgrims, tourists and Romans. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)


The Obama administration, in what’s been called an egregious slap in the face to the Vatican, has moved to shut down the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See — a free-standing facility — and relocate offices onto the grounds of the larger American Embassy in Italy.
The new offices will be in a separate building on the property, Breitbart reported.

And while U.S. officials are touting the relocation as a security measure that’s a cautionary reaction to last year’s attacks on America's facility in Benghazi, several former American envoys are raising the red flag.
It’s a “massive downgrade of U.S.-Vatican ties,” said former U.S. Ambassador James Nicholson in the National Catholic Reporter. “It’s turning this embassy into a stepchild of the embassy to Italy. The Holy See is a pivot point for international affairs and a major listening post for the United States, and … [it’s] an insult to American Catholics and to the Vatican.”
Mr. Nicholson — whose views were echoed by former envoys Francis Rooney, Mary Ann Glendon, Raymond Flynn and Thomas Melady — also called the justification for closing the existing facility a “smokescreen,” Breitbart reported.
“That’s like saying people get killed on highways because they drive cars on them,” he said in the report. “We’re not a pauper nation … if we want to secure an embassy, we certainly can.”
Moreover, the existing facility has “state of the art” security, he said.
Mr. Flynn, meanwhile, said the administration’s announcement reflects a hostility toward the Catholic Church.
“It’s not just those who bomb churches and kill Catholics in the Middle East who are our antagonists, but it’s also those who restrict our religious freedoms and want to close down our embassy to the Holy See,” he said in the National Catholic Reporter. “[There’s no] diplomatic or political benefit to the United States” from the relocation at all, he added.
Catholic Vote, a publication for the Church community, called the move “an unmistakable slap in the face” that clearly communicates that the United States cares little for the diplomatic facility.
And Mr. Nicholson went on, as Breitbart reported: “It’s another manifestation of the antipathy of this administration both to Catholics and to the Vatican — and to Christians in the Middle East. This is a key post for intermediation in so many sovereignties but particularly in the Middle East. This is anything but a good time to diminish the stature of this post. To diminish the stature of this post is to diminish its influence.”

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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Bishop of Salzburg; canonized almost 800 years ago

St. Vergil of Salzburg

St. Vergil of Salzburg
St. Vergil of Salzburg
Feastday: November 27
700 - 784

One of the most learned men of his time, St. Vergil of Salzburg (fl. VIII Century) was born in Ireland and undertook a journey to Europe in 743. He spent two years at the court of Pepin the Short and travelled to Bavaria to make peace between the French king and Duke Odilo. Odilo appointed Vergil abbot of St. Peter's, and St. Boniface of Mainz twice complained to Pope Zachary of Vergil's "unorthodox" views. In the first matter, a question of baptismal validity, the pope sided with Vergil and agreed that baptisms are valid even if the priest mispronounces the formula. In the second, the pope censured Vergil, who may have written a cosmology under the name of Æthicus Ister, for believing that people exist in the Antipodes but took no drastic action. In 767, Vergil was appointed Bishop of Salzburg, where he dedicated the first cathedral. He translated the relics of St. Rupert to the cathedral, where he may also have translated relics of St. Samthann and of St. Bridget of Ireland. Vergil established monasteries in his diocese and sent missionaries to Carinthia and Styria. The Apostle to the Slovenes, Vergil was canonied in 1233 by Gregory IX.

Supreme Court to consider faith based legal challenges to Obama-care

Justices will hear contraception challenge to Obamacare

Religious cases are among dozens challenging the health care law's mandate that insurance plans offer free coverage of contraceptives.

WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court added a new legal challenge Tuesday to the legislative and political battles raging over President Obama's embattled health care law.
The justices agreed to consider whether for-profit corporations whose owners oppose abortion on religious grounds must abide by the law's mandate that health insurance policies include free coverage of government-approved forms of contraception.
It's the first legal challenge to reach the high court since it upheld the law 17 months ago in a 5-4 decision written by Chief Justice John Roberts. While a loss for the government wouldn't strike down the law itself, conservatives still seething over Roberts' rescue of Obamacare say the case offers Roberts an initial chance to rule against it.
Beyond its attachment to the health care law, however, the legal challenge is significant in its own right because it will answer a fundamental question with far-reaching consequences: Can corporations pray? Until now, no court has granted religious rights under the First Amendment's "free exercise clause" to for-profit businesses.
The corporations whose lawsuits were chosen over some 40 others say, in essence, that they do pray. The cases were filed by Hobby Lobby, a chain of more than 500 arts-and-crafts stores with about 13,000 full-time employees, and Conestoga Wood Specialties, a Lancaster, Pa., woodworking business run by a Mennonite family.
Hobby Lobby, an Oklahoma City-based company founded by David Green in 1970, closes on Sundays and funnels millions of dollars in profits to ministries. Its website proclaims its commitment to "honoring the Lord in all we do by operating the company in a manner consistent with biblical principles."
To avoid promoting alcohol, for instance, Hobby Lobby doesn't sell shot glasses. And to avoid promoting abortion, it doesn't cover drugs or devices which it claims are capable of terminating a pregnancy, including the after-sex drugs Plan B and Ella and two types of intrauterine devices. The government and abortion rights groups say those drugs and devices only postpone ovulation.
Norman and Elizabeth Hahn operate Conestoga Wood with their three sons, and they "integrate their faith into their daily lives, including their work," says their brief to the high court.
"Both cases represent a broad diversity in which families in America practice their faith as they try to earn a living, all the way from Mennonites making wood cabinets to the Green family operating a chain store," said Matt Bowman of Alliance Defending Freedom, which is representing Conestoga.
The health care law says companies with 50 or more workers that offer health insurance must cover contraceptives as part of a preventive care package for women. Churches and other houses of worship were excluded from the mandate, and some religious institutions, such as universities, were allowed to have insurers offer the benefit directly.
"We believe this requirement is lawful and essential to women's health and are confident the Supreme Court will agree," White House press secretary Jay Carney said Tuesday. "These steps protect both women's health and religious beliefs, and seek to ensure that women and families -- not their bosses or corporate CEOs -- can make personal health decisions based on their needs and their budgets."
The law's defenders say the exclusions should not extend to corporations like Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood. "Corporations don't pray … they don't have a religious conscience," says David Gans of the Constitutional Accountability Center, a liberal law firm and advocacy group. "These are all human attributes that don't apply to corporations."
Combined with smaller companies and those who did not change their insurance plans since the law was implemented, up to one-third of Americans are covered by exempt plans. But larger for-profit corporations must comply or face fines of $100 per day per employee, which could total $475 million a year in Hobby Lobby's case. An alternative -- dropping employee health insurance altogether -- would cost $26 million in annual penalties.
Hobby Lobby says that's a violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, passed by Congress in 1993 to protect "a person's exercise of religion" from government intrusion. Conestoga Wood also alleges that the mandate violates its right under the Constitution to freely exercise its religious beliefs.
"As the federal government embarks on an unprecedented foray into health care replete with multiple overlapping mandates, few issues are more important than the extent to which the government must recognize and accommodate the religious exercise of those it regulates," Hobby Lobby argues in its brief.
The Supreme Court already has established that corporations have free-speech rights. In Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (2010), the justices struck down government restrictions on corporate and union political advertising.
But a generation earlier in 1990, the court ruled in an Oregon case that the government does not have to protect religious beliefs when they conflict with existing laws. That case led Congress to pass the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in an effort to tilt the balance back toward individuals.
Now comes the question that subjected Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney to ridicule last year: Are corporations people?
Appeals courts have split down the middle, virtually forcing the Supreme Court to settle the matter. Two federal circuit courts have said private companies should be able to sidestep contraception coverage on religious grounds, including Hobby Lobby. Two have said the companies must comply with the contraception mandate, including Conestoga Wood. And one ruled earlier this month that companies cannot exercise religious beliefs in that way, but their owners can.
"The court took this case because there is a wide and rapidly deepening circuit split on these important issues," said Kyle Duncan of The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which represents Hobby Lobby. "People who run a commercial business also have religious liberty rights."
The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled for Hobby Lobby in a case from Oklahoma, where the company is based. The court said the Obama administration "has given us no persuasive reason to think that Congress meant 'person' ... to mean anything other than its default meaning in the Dictionary Act — which includes corporations regardless of their profit-making status."
But Marcia Greenberger, co-president of the National Women's Law Center, warns a decision for the companies could subject other forms of health care to religious freedom challenges, including end-of-life care and coverage for HIV/AIDS.
In a dissent this month from another decision against the contraception policy, Judge Ilana Rovner of the 7th Circuit appeals court raised similar warnings for stem cell therapy, unpaid family leave for gay parents and even traditional medicine, depending on company owners' religious beliefs.
The U.S. solicitor general's office warned in its brief asking the Supreme Court to take the case that a victory for the companies would transform the Religious Freedom Restoration Act "from a shield for individuals and religious institutions into a sword used to deny employees of for-profit commercial enterprises the benefits and protections of generally applicable laws."
While most Supreme Court experts had predicted the justices would grant the Hobby Lobby case, the court may have added Conestoga's challenge because that company is owned directly by a family, rather than a trust.
"It's a really significant case," says Josh Blackman, an assistant law professor at South Texas College of Law and author of a recent book on the constitutional challenges to Obamacare.

Pope Francis' Apostolic Exhortation: Evangelii Gaudium: The Joy of the Gospel!



Eternal newness [11-13]


The scope and limits of this Exhortation [16-18]



Taking the first step, being involved and supportive, bearing fruit and rejoicing [24]


An ecclesial renewal which cannot be deferred [27-33]






No to an economy of exclusion [53-54]
No to the new idolatry of money
No to a financial system which rules rather than serves
No to the inequality which spawns violence
Some cultural challenges
Challenges to inculturating the faith
Challenges from urban cultures


Yes to the challenge of a missionary spirituality [78-80]
No to selfishness and spiritual sloth
No to a sterile pessimism
Yes to the new relationships brought by Christ
No to spiritual worldliness
No to warring among ourselves
Other ecclesial challenges


A people for everyone [112-114]
A people of many faces
We are all missionary disciples
The evangelizing power of popular piety
Person to person
Charisms at the service of a communion which evangelizes
Culture, thought and education
II. THE HOMILY [135-144]

The liturgical context [137-138]
A mother’s conversation
Words which set hearts on fire


Reverence for truth [146-148]
Personalizing the word
Spiritual reading
An ear to the people
Homiletic resources


Kerygmatic and mystagogical catechesis [163-168]
Personal accompaniment in processes of growth
Centred on the word of God



Confession of faith and commitment to society [178-179]
The kingdom and its challenge
The Church’s teaching on social questions


In union with God, we hear a plea [187-192]
Fidelity to the Gospel, lest we run in vain
The special place of the poor in God’s people
The economy and the distribution of income
Concern for the vulnerable


Time is greater than space [222-225]
Unity prevails over conflict
Realities are more important than ideas
The whole is greater than the part

Dialogue between faith, reason and science [242-243]
Ecumenical dialogue
Relations with Judaism
Interreligious dialogue
Social dialogue in a context of religious freedom



Personal encounter with the saving love of Jesus [264-267]
The spiritual savour of being a people
The mysterious working of the risen Christ and his Spirit
The missionary power of intercessory prayer


Jesus’ gift to his people [285-286]
Star of the new evangelization

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