Monday, August 31, 2015

Abbot and Saint; a patron for many

St. Giles, Abbot

Image of St. Giles, Abbot


Feastday: September 1
Patron of beggars; blacksmiths; breast cancer; breast feeding; cancer patients; disabled people; Edinburgh (Scotland); epilepsy; fear of night; noctiphobics; forests; hermits; horses; lepers; mental illness; outcasts; poor peoples; rams; spur makers; sterility
Birth: 650
Death: 710

St. Giles, Abbot (Patron of Physically Disabled) Feast day - September 1
St. Giles is said to have been a seventh century Athenian of noble birth. His piety and learning made him so conspicuous and an object of such admiration in his own country that, dreading praise and longing for a hidden life, he left his home and sailed for France. At first he took up his abode in a wilderness near the mouth of the Rhone river, afterward near the river Gard, and, finally, in the diocese of Nimes.
He spend many years in solitude conversing only with God. The fame of his miracles became so great that his reputation spread throughout France. He was highly esteemed by the French king, but he could not be prevailed upon to forsake his solitude. He admitted several disciples, however, to share it with him. He founded a monastery, and established an excellent discipline therein. In succeeding ages it embraced the rule of St. Benedict. St. Giles died probably in the beginning of the eighth century, about the year 724

Fifty years a Bishop; the man who would have been a great Pope

Cardinal Francis Arinze: 50 years as a Bishop

2015-08-30 Vatican Radio
Yesterday Saturday 29 August 2015, Francis Cardinal Arinze, 82, marked fifty years as a Bishop. In an interview with Vatican Radio’s English Africa Service to mark to the milestone, Cardinal Arinze was in high spirits.
Although now retired and living in the Vatican, Cardinal Arinze is very much sought after and continues to travel, take on speaking engagements and he writes. He has just completed two books, one of which is about Blessed Cyprian Michael Iwene Tansi.
The Cardinal is also proud and very upbeat about the state of the Church in his country of origin, Nigeria. “How would you explain this faith (of the Nigerian Catholic Church)? The people believe; the clergy is motivated; the religious are quite a number and they serve the people; the lay people are wonderfully committed!” he exclaims. He puts it down to divine providence.
At fifty years as a Bishop in the Catholic Church and as one of its Cardinals what are his sentiments today?  “What comes to mind spontaneously is gratitude to God…also gratitude to all the people who have helped me along the way since I was ordained priest in 1958 and Bishop in 1965. No one is a priest or Bishop or Cardinal for himself. It is always for the Church, for others. It is they that we serve and it is with them that we move along. To all these people I remain grateful,” he says.
If he were to name a secret to his illustrious apostolate, what would it be? “I don't have a big secret in the sense of hidden but perhaps big, in the sense of Jesus Christ, himself, in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist,” Cardinal Arinze responds.
The Cardinal says that it is the Lord Jesus principally in the Holy Mass that he celebrates every day who motivates him…but also Jesus Christ in, “in the tabernacle…Christ in the Holy Eucharist is my secret. Along with Christ is his (Jesus’) Blessed Mother, Mary, whom he gave us on the cross and who in turn gave us Christ on Christmas day,” he explains.
Cardinal Arinze says that the resurrection and the presence of Christ, “with the Apostles between Ascension day and Pentecost –the first novena,” is a source of great consolation to him. It is a reassurance that Jesus continues to be with us, even to this day.  Our Lord Jesus was with the Apostles, “on Pentecost day when the Church was made manifest to the world and was with the early Church after Pentecost. So, Jesus and Mary are my secret, “he finally reveals.
The state of the Catholic Church in Nigeria, his country of origin, is very important to Cardinal Arinze. It fills him with great joy.
“We thank God that he has given strong faith to the Church in Nigeria. How would you explain this faith? The people believe; the clergy is motivated; the religious are quite a number and they serve the people; the lay people are wonderfully committed!  The lay apostolate is very well-organised at the provincial, diocesan and parish levels. It is very encouraging, “the Cardinal says.
Asked why this is so when so many Catholics in the world are struggling in their faith? Cardinal Arinze says, “The Strength of the Church in Nigeria can be attributed (first) to divine providence because God is the director general of the work of evangelization. Second, African traditional religions were a providential preparation for Christianity in Nigeria. In other words, the traditional religions of the people, before the arrival of Christianity and before the arrival of Islam (predisposed the people for the kind of evangelization that came afterwards). The people of Africa with traditional religions believed in one God; they honoured the ancestors and honoured good spirits and tried to avoid the evil spirits. The (Africans) had a religion with prayer, with sacrifice and with a priesthood. When Christianity arrived, especially the Catholic faith, it was like midday Sunshine to a people who were looking for light at 4 O’clock in the morning,” Cardinal Arinze affirms.
He goes on to commend Irish missionaries who were among the earliest in Nigeria. “Another explanation is the good work done by the missionaries especially the Irish missionaries. The Irish were very methodical. They promoted good Catechetical Sacramental preparation and they attended to families,” he emphasises.
Cardinal Arinze also credits his own people, the Nigerians, for the manner in which they received the message of Christ. “We very much thank God for the local people’s response. The first Catechists who were near the missionaries; those who gave missionaries land and helped them with the (local) languages and then the first priests and the religious and the first bishops and the present ones, lay people and families... I believe for all these reasons, the Church in the country is rather strong,” Cardinal Arinze says.
It has often been said that Cardinal Arinze’s life, from the start, was greatly influenced by Blessed Cyprian Michael Iwene Tansi whom he knew personally. When asked about this, the Cardinal says, “Blessed Cyprian Michael Iwene Tansi is the first priest that I ever knew. He began our parish in Onitsha, in 1940. He baptised me. My first confession was at his hands; first communion from his hands; he prepared me for confirmation and I was his Mass Server in 1945.” He continues, “The area where Blessed Tansi worked has many vocations to the priesthood and religious life because of the person he was,” the Cardinal says.
According to Cardinal Arinze, Blessed Tansi was a model priest. He promoted the Catholic faith and schooling for children. He championed women’s issues often standing up against entrenched local traditional customs. Blessed Tansi also promoted family life.
“Fr. Tansi was also known for asceticism. He ate very little,” says Cardinal Arinze and tongue-in-cheek adds, “His cook did not have much work.”
Later, Tansi became a Cistercian Monk at Mount Saint Bernard Monastery in Nottingham, England. He joined the Cistercians of the Strict Observance sometimes called the Trappists. Tansi took on the name Cyprian when he became a monk. He was a diocesan priest for 13 years and a Monk for 14 years. He died in 1964 and was beatified by Pope St. John Paul II on 22nd March 1998, in Nigeria.
Of the beatification, Cardinal Arinze says, “One million or two million people were at that Mass. We are now looking forward to a miracle so that Tansi can be canonised. I have written a book about him and this book is expected this year.”
Several events are lined up for the celebration of Cardinal Arinze’s golden jubilee as a Bishop. There will be Mass at the ‘Altare della Cattedra’ in St Peter’s Basilica on the evening of 26 October 2015. This will be a day following the closure of the Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the Family, scheduled to take place in the Vatican from 4 October to the 25 October. The timing of the golden jubilee Mass in St. Peter’s should provide opportunity for friends of the Cardinal to be present. Priests, the religious, friends and the Nigerian community in Italy will certainly attend.
Apart from other smaller private functions, the big jubilee celebration that should crown all celebrations is probably the one scheduled for Onitsha, Nigeria on 28 November. It is the last day of the liturgical year. Many people in Nigeria will certainly not want to miss that one.
Cardinal Francis Arinze, Prefect emeritus of the Congregation of Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, was born on 1 November 1932 in Eziowelle, a city of the Archdiocese of Onitsha, Nigeria. He was ordained priest during a ceremony which took place at the Church of the Pontifical Urban University in Rome on 23 November 1958. On 29 August 1965 he was ordained coadjutor Archbishop of Onitsha Archdiocese and became the substantive Archbishop two years later. In 1984 Pope St. John Paul II asked him to head, as pro-president, the Secretariat for Non-Christians (now the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue). He was created Cardinal on 25 May 1985.
Since the year 2005, Cardinal Arinze holds the title of Cardinal-Bishop of Velletri-Segni.

Condolences from Pope Francis to Caribbean victims of Erika

Pope Sends 'Heartfelt Condolences' to Loved Ones of Hurricane Erika Victims

Says 'Deeply Saddened' to Hear Tragic Loss of Life, Construction in Dominica

Vatican City, ( Staff Reporter              

Pope Francis has expressed his "heartfelt condolences" to the loved ones of the victims of Hurricane Erika, which to date has claimed at least 20 lives in the Caribbean.
In a condolence telegram sent to Bishop Gabriel Malzaire of Roseau, Dominica, by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin on his behalf this morning, Pope Francis expressed these condolences to the victims' relatives, as well as his prayers for those providing rescue and relief services.
Among the storm's victims, most have been from the small island nation of Dominica in the eastern Caribbean where heavy rains and winds swept away bridges, homes, and roads.  More than 50 people are still missing in the island nation in the wake of the tropical storm. Though Erika has hit other Caribbean nations and has lost some of its intensity, Florida is on high alert awaiting its arrival.
The telegram underscored how Francis was "deeply saddened" to learn of the tragic loss of life and destruction in the wake of the hurricane.  "In commending the deceased to God's loving mercy," it concluded that the Holy Father invokes blessings of perseverance, hope and peace upon the grieving families and all those affected by the disaster.

Pope Francis, ABC News and what should be must see TV

Pope Francis Holds 'Virtual Town Hall' with ABC News

Aug 31 2015 - 4:50pm | Catholic News Service
David Muir of ABC's 'World News Tonight' with Pope Francis in Rome
Pope Francis held a "virtual town hall" with Catholics in Chicago, Los Angeles and McAllen, Texas, in advance of his Sept. 22-27 visit to the United States.
The town hall was arranged by ABC News, which was to air portions of the meeting during its "World News Tonight" program Aug. 31, with an hourlong version of its "20/20" newsmagazine called "Pope Francis & the People" airing 10-11 p.m. EDT Sept. 4. ABC News said the event would also the event will be posted in its entirety in both English and Spanish on
Pope Francis engaged via satellite with students at Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Chicago, homeless men and women and those working with homeless people in Los Angeles, and members of a McAllen parish located near the U.S.-Mexico border.
"We were allowed inside the Vatican for an hour with Pope Francis, where he greeted us as he prepared for his trip," said David Muir, "World News Tonight" anchor, in a 90-second "special report" that aired midday on ABC.
"He told me he's ready, and he delivered a couple of messages to the American people before his historic visit, saying, 'For me it is very important to meet with all of you, the citizens of the United States, who have your history, your culture, your virtues, your joys, your sadness, your problems, like everyone else. That's why this trip is important, for me to draw close to you, in your path, your history,'" Muir said of the pope.
Muir added, "He went on to say, 'I'm praying for you all, and I ask you to please pray for me.'"
The pope allowed us to visit so we could connect him with people in other parts of the country where he won't be able to visit," Muir said. "He took questions and heard stories of struggle. He also spoke in English in some of his answers, at one point asking a teenager in Chicago fighting adversity to please sing for him. And she did." Pope Francis, a native Spanish speaker, will celebrate Mass in Spanish during his U.S. visit.
"Today was an unforgettable day in the 20-year history of Cristo Rey Jesuit High School," said a tweet from the school after the town hall ended. Chris Meyer, the school's director of technology, tweeted, "A glorious morning at Cristo Rey Chicago," advising in a separate tweet there would be "powerful stories" on the Sept. 4 broadcast.
"The pope did not shy away from some key issues," Muir added, although he did not disclose what issues they were, inviting viewers to watch "World News Tonight" and the "20/20" installment.

The post that is so long overdue, coming clean with my addiction

Now that I have your attention!  But I truly do have an addiction and just saying it today is therapeutic.  Many of you don't know me, have never seen me in person.  Others have and a few have known me for quite some time.  I have no idea what those folks would tell you if asked to describe me but I'm guessing one word that comes to mind would be big.  Yes indeed, I am a big boy.

I wasn't always a big fella but the reality is over the years I have packed on the pounds.  Looking back, you never know why or even how this all started.  I know when I moved to Abita Springs in January 1996, I weighed 240.  For a guy that stands 5'11" that is big, but manageable.  My thoughts were I've just bought this place with 10 acres so this should be the ideal place to lose some weight.  Slowly but surely, over these past 19 years, I've done nothing but gain weight.

I'm ok confessing the truth because I feel like I need to.  Maybe I'm looking for some tangible accountability.  As the weight continued to pile on, I reached an all time high of 338 lbs. and a 54 inch waist.  Yes, over time, I developed high blood pressure, type-2 diabetes, sleep apnea, rheumatoid arthritis, damaged knees and an occasional flare up of irregular heart rhythm.  Medications are wonderful but in reality, they just help you live with the diseases not cure the diseases..

Something called a hernia and subsequent surgery helped me drop down to a slightly more comfortable 320.  I had hoped that this would be a catalyst to some weight loss.  It was not.  I gained back some weight and settled in around 328.  More than once, I had to admit that I was addicted to bad food choices and that was just who I am and what I do.  What?  Yep, that's how I felt.

A couple of months ago while visiting my family in North Carolina my son took me aside and gave me the talk.  He told me that despite what anyone else says or does, I had to take control of my life and lose some weight.  It was heartfelt and true, and it impressed me yet still I found myself driving to Bud's Broiler and craving a #4 with hickory sauce and fries lathered with cheese and same hickory sauce.  If we bought doughnuts for the office, some how, some way, I had two or three.  My favorite thing to drink was diet soda, at least it said diet, right.  Guess what, I easily consumed 150-200 ounces of that stuff every day.  I maybe drank 1 bottle of water in the same day; maybe.

A couple of weeks ago I saw a post on Facebook from a Deacon friend who had lost 38 pounds and was off more than half his meds; many the same that I am now forced to take.  I commented on his post and to my surprise I was contacted directly by his "health coach".  We had a great talk and just last week, I began a journey to better health and am following a eating plan that makes sense.  Now I've said this before, I'm starting a diet!  This is really a life choice and a choice to live.  You see I must be able to say out loud and admit to others that if I do nothing, I will die a relatively young man.

The week before I started the "plan" I made some simple decisions.  I eliminated sodas and other stuff and went on an 80 ounces of water plan, eliminated all fast food, started eating healthier protein.  Then last week I began the "plan" which for now means 5 meal replacements a day and one healthy meal of protein and green vegetables.  In these past two weeks, starting out at 318.5 I now weigh 305.  First let me share with you that being almost 340 could not have been more miserable.  Miserable!  Physically, mentally, being huge is not fun.  It's really like the old tears of a clown thing.  Yet I had to admit that this is all on me.  All me!

305 is a lot better than almost 340 but it is not healthy and it still feels bad.  305 is not going to fix my medical problems but it does give me hope.  Let me be real, being fat impacts every aspect of your life because it's just darn unhealthy.  Losing this recent weight though has given me not only hope but a determination that I have not felt, interiorly in like forever.

Some of my short term goals are to lose 75 pounds by my daughters wedding in April, drop some important inches off my waist, get healthy.  Long-term, whatever that may be, is to one day get below 200 lbs.; something that I have not seen since the early eighties.  But it's one pound, one inch at a time.  I think I will see below 300 within a week and a half.  That will be a big day.  I first remember toping the 300 pound mark about 13 years ago.  I want to get below this mark and stay there forever.

The eating "plan" is fairly easy and manageable.  I won't lie to you, I still want a Bud's Broiler, or pizza or doughnut.  Most of what I eat now is tasty, some not so much.  But I'm trying to change my dynamic from living to eat to eating to live.

I'm a busy man, between work, home life, and my ministry as a Permanent Deacon I've allowed myself to eat on the run, in my car, pulling in and out of places like McDonalds, Sonic, Burger King.  Those days need to be over and hopefully they are. 

So why am I telling YOU all of this.  Because for me, I must!  I have to admit, I am addicted to bad eating, I am way to fat, unhealthy and I need to live!  Not only do I want to grow old but I want to really live while living.  This is kind of my story and my opportunity to be held accountable.  And it's my opportunity to ask you to pray for me as this journey will be hard, indeed it will! 

Now don't look for boring daily updates here but from time to time allow me to let you know my ups and downs, well, hopefully my downs when it comes to weight and inches.

And realize that everyone has some struggle.  Heavy people are struggling, even when you come across those of us who are always appearing happy and extrovert.  It's still a struggle.  Thanks for your listening "ear" and let's see what God has in store for me!

Tomorrow is the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, says Pope Francis

Pope designates Sept. 1 as World Day of Prayer for Care of Creation
By Cindy Wooden Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Like their Orthodox brothers and sisters, Catholics formally will mark Sept. 1 as the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, Pope Francis has decided.
The day of prayer, the pope said, will give individuals and communities an opportunity to implore God's help in protecting creation and an opportunity to ask God's forgiveness "for sins committed against the world in which we live."
Pope Francis announced his decision to add the annual prayer day to the Catholic calendar in a letter to Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, and to Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.
The text of the letter, dated Aug. 6, was released by the Vatican Aug. 10.
Pope Francis said he was instituting the prayer day for Catholics because he shares the concern of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, who initiated a similar prayer day for the Orthodox Church in 1989.
Metropolitan John of Pergamon, who represented the patriarch at the public presentation June 18 of Pope Francis' encyclical, "Laudato Si'," had suggested there that all Christians join in prayer Sept. 1.
"This would mark a step toward further closeness among them," he had said.
Pope Francis said Christians want to make their special contribution to safeguarding creation, but to do that they must rediscover the spiritual foundations of their approach to earthly realities, beginning with an acknowledgment that "the life of the spirit is not dissociated from the body or from nature," but lived in communion with all worldly realities.
The ecological crisis, he said, is a summons "to a profound spiritual conversion" and to a way of life that clearly shows they are believers.
Quoting his encyclical, he said, "living our vocation to be protectors of God's handiwork is essential to a life of virtue; it is not an optional or a secondary aspect of our Christian experience."
The annual World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, Pope Francis said, will be a time for individuals and communities to "reaffirm their personal vocation to be stewards of creation, to thank God for the wonderful handiwork which he has entrusted to our care, and to implore his help for the protection of creation as well as his pardon for the sins committed against the world in which we live."
The pope asked Cardinal Koch to consult with and work with the Catholic Church's ecumenical partners and the World Council of Churches to make sure the prayer day becomes a sign of Christians' commitment to work together to safeguard creation "in order to be more credible and effective."
He entrusted to the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace the task of working with Catholic bishops' conferences and environmental organizations to publicize and coordinate the specifics of the celebration.
"I invoke upon this initiative the intercession of Mary, mother of God, and of St. Francis of Assisi, whose Canticle of the Creatures inspires so many men and women of goodwill to live in praise of the Creator and with respect for creation," he said.

Praying with the Pope' special intentions for September


  • Universal: That opportunities for education and employment may increase for all young people.

  • Evangelization: That catechists may give witness by living in a way consistent with the faith they proclaim.

A Saint from when England was Catholic

St. Aidan of Lindisfarne

Image of St. Aidan of Lindisfarne


Feastday: August 31
Death: 651

Aidan of Lindisfarne, born in Ireland, may have studied under St. Senan before becoming a monk at Iona. At the request of King Oswald of Northumbria, Aidan went to Lindisfarne as bishop and was known throughout the kingdom for his knowledge of the Bible, his learning, his eloquent preaching, his holiness, his distaste for pomp, his kindness to the poor, and the miracles attributed to him. He founded a monastery at Lindisfarne that became known as the English Iona and was a center of learning and missionary activity for all of northern England. He died in 651 at the royal castle at Bamburgh.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

It takes Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition and the Magisterium to behold the fullness of truth and the deposit of faith

I just addressed this topic yesterday, although briefly, in my homily for this weekend!  Here, a brother Deacon expounds beautifully and, I believe, accurately, on the subject of Sacred Tradition.  Yes, we Catholics believe heart in soul in the Bible and we encourage the faithful to read and pray the Scriptures!!!  But without Sacred Tradition and the teaching authority known as the Magisterium, it is not enough.  Sola Scriptura is in and of itself non-Scriptural.  My brother deacon has a length article and I reproduce below, in it's entirety.  Yes it's a bit long but oh so worth the read!

Here it is:

The Holy Bible and Sacred Tradition comprise the Word of God

"St. Jerome Writing" (detail) by Caravaggio
“St. Jerome Writing” (detail) by Caravaggio
“Deacon Mike, why do we believe that it belongs to the Church to interpret the bible? Can’t we just read the bible for ourselves? The guys I do bible study with say that we (Catholics) add things that are not there.”
A young man who participates in a “non-denominational” bible study recently asked me this question. This question comes up from time to time, so I thought we might look at the question again in a slightly larger context.

Sola Scriptura

One of the “pillars” or founding principles of the Protestant Reformation is the teaching of Sola Scriptura. Simply defined, Sola Scriptura is the belief that the Bible alone is the sole rule of faith for the believer. In other words, if a teaching is not contained in the Bible, then it is to be rejected as having no authority over the individual Christian. Therefore, according to Sola Scriptura, the Church’s teachings (or a pastor’s—or anyone’s teachings, for that matter) are true only as far as they are found in the bible. Another aspect of Sola Scriptura is that each believer, guided by the Holy Spirit, will be led to the proper interpretation and understanding of what he reads in the Bible.
There are several problems with this teaching:
  • First, Sola Scriptura is not found anywhere in the Bible, therefore, by its own definition it is untrue.
  • Second, the Bible teaches a far different doctrine; God’s revealed word consists of both Divine Revelation in written form (Sacred Scripture) and Divine Revelation in oral form (Sacred Tradition) and the interpretation of Divine Revelation is entrusted to the Church’s teaching office (Magisterium).
  • Finally, it is clear from both the Bible and history, that Christians who lived prior to the Protestant Reformation had a decidedly different experience and understanding of the place of the Bible in the Church.

Approach to the Question

In examining the question of whether the Protestant teaching of Sola Scriptura is true, we need to take the following approach:
  • First, we will look at what the Bible has to say about the rule of faith and the private interpretation of its contents. This is only reasonable if we expect to reach the hearts and minds of those who hold to Sola Scriptura. After all, that is their approach.
  • Second, we will look at the experience of the first Christians and see how they received and made use God’s Word. This will include, to a limited degree, commenting on the experience of the period from after the death of the last apostle to the Reformation and then to the experience of Protestants over the last, nearly five-hundred years.

What Does the Bible Say about Sola Scriptura?

As already mentioned, the Bible says nothing directly supporting this Protestant teaching, but it has a lot to say in opposition to it. But let’s begin with a passage that is often cited by Protestants in support of it.
One of my closest childhood friends was a devout and zealous Presbyterian. James and I often spent hours together debating our respective beliefs. I particularly wanted to persuade him that Sola Scriptura was false because it is so critical to Protestantism.  If this one pillar is untrue, then it is open-season on many other Protestant doctrines because they are built upon this foundational belief. Invariably, James would point to two verses above all others to support his case. For example:
“All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that one who belongs to God may be competent, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
Observe carefully, that these verses say that scripture is “useful” (I believe his translation said “profitable”). The Catholic Church would agree fully, scripture is indeed useful and profitable, but those verses do not even imply that scripture is the only source “useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training.” Quite the contrary, the Bible says that there is another source that is the “pillar and foundation of truth.”
“I am writing you about these matters, although I hope to visit you soon. But if I should be delayed, you should know how to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of truth” (1 Timothy 3:14-15).
Catholics do not depend upon an isolated text for their proof of a teaching. Instead, the context of the passage within its surrounding chapters, book, testament, and even in relation to the whole of the Bible is important. The Church calls this principle of reading and understanding the meaning of what the bible says the Canonical Approach. That the Protestant reading of 2 Timothy 3:16-17 is taken out of context is demonstrated by also reading 1 Timothy 3:14-15.

What is this “Church” that is the pillar and foundation of truth?

The passage from 1 Timothy refers to the Church, so let’s look at what that Church is. We will look at two, longer passages from St. Matthew’s Gospel:
“When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say that the Son of Man is?’ They replied, ‘Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter said in reply, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’ Jesus said to him in reply, ‘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 16:13-19).
“If your brother sins (against you), go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have won over your brother. If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, so that ‘every fact may be established on the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church. If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector. Amen, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven…” (Matthew 18:15-18).
In the first passage from Matthew 16, we witness Jesus establishing His Church and entrusting it with authority. It is outside the scope of this article to dive deeply into the meaning of the images of the keys, binding and loosing, Peter’s name-change or even the great rock and location of this event at Caesarea Philippi. It is sufficient to see that the Church was founded by Christ. And it is also important to understand that this Church is something more than an invisible collection of believers—no it is much more than that.
In the passage from Matthew 18, we see that it is an institution that Jesus instructed to exercise the authority He entrusted to it. If all efforts to resolve a problem are unsuccessful, even after three have gathered to attempt it, then the problem is to be brought to the Church; and the Church will provide a binding resolution. This is contrary to what most of my Protestant friends would acknowledge, even if it is seen in their practice.

What does the bible teach about private interpretation of the Scriptures?

Matthew 18 speaks, at least indirectly to the matter of who has the authority to interpret what the Bible contains. In taking the above, very short overview of verses from the Bible, we have to look at other passages that expressly address private interpretation of the Bible and the consequences of doing so.
“We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven while we were with him on the holy mountain. Moreover, we possess the prophetic message that is altogether reliable. You will do well to be attentive to it, as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. Know this first of all, that there is no prophecy of scripture that is a matter of personal interpretation, for no prophecy ever came through human will; but rather human beings moved by the holy Spirit spoke under the influence of God” (2 Peter 1:18-21 NAB).
St. Peter states that “we possess the prophetic message that is altogether reliable.” But how is it reliable given that he also says that “there is no prophecy of scripture that is a matter of personal interpretation”? How can so many well-meaning Christians—of our day and days past—whose hearts are aflame in their love for Christ; whose lives are devoted to the service of their fellow-man because of that love; how can these good people disagree with such certainty on doctrines that are central to our salvation, if this message is reliable?
The answer is that their very belief in and exercise of private interpretation has torn the unity of the Church and resulted in the very uncertainty of their many differing beliefs.
St. Peter speaks to this as well.
“And consider the patience of our Lord as salvation, as our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, also wrote to you, speaking of these things as he does in all his letters. In them there are some things hard to understand that the ignorant and unstable distort to their own destruction, just as they do the other scriptures. Therefore, beloved, since you are forewarned, be on your guard not to be led into the error of the unprincipled and to fall from your own stability” (2 Peter 3:15-17).
Very clearly, St. Peter warns against private interpretation of the Bible and even cites examples of people who practice it to their own destruction. What stronger warning could we need? Some might say that the oral teaching of the Apostles is of higher standing than that of their successors.  But this is untenable and contrary to the practice recorded in the Pastoral Epistles of the New Testament which instructs bishops, such as Timothy, to teach others what they have received from the Apostles.

What was the experience of Early Christians—and Later Christians Too?

Consider the following points often overlooked by many today.
  • The first book of the New Testament was not written until the late 40s A.D. at the earliest.
  • St. John’s Gospel was not written until the 90s A.D. or later.
  • The bible itself records that the official teaching of the Church, exercised in the form of a Church Council, and not the private interpretation of individual Christians, answers questions of faith. (cf. the Jerusalem Council; Acts of the Apostles, Chapter 15)
  • There was not a definitive list (or canon) of books accepted as Sacred Scripture until the late 300s A.D. and later. (Local Council of Hippo in 393; Local Council of Carthage in 397; Letter of Pope Innocent I in 405)
  • Protestant reformers removed portions of the Old Testament that had been held by the Catholic Church to be a part of the canon of scripture for centuries. Where did they receive that authority? They relied upon the “authority” of Jewish rabbis exercised 60+ years after the Crucifixion and Pentecost; 60+ years after when Jesus had established His Church and authorized it to teach. Martin Luther even wanted to remove the Epistle of James and the Apocalypse (Book of Revelation). He was prevented from doing so by the other reformers.
  • It is estimated that fewer than ten percent of those who lived in the Roman Empire could read. Even if the people had been more literate, there was no printing press, and therefore, no easy or affordable access to the written word prior to the invention of the printing press in the fifteenth  century.
So, the earliest Christians lived before there was a New Testament. And it was 300+ years after the writing of the New Testament before Christians had a definitive witness of the Catholic Church regarding the list of books that were a part of the Bible. Who decided which of the hundreds of writings by the apostles and their successors would form that canon of Scripture? It was the Catholic Church, in the decisions of its councils and the teaching of its Popes that gave witness to what books should be considered a part of the Bible. And it was not until the fifteenth century that the printing press made it possible to own a copy of the Bible, even if the owner could not read. How could the Bible be the sole rule of faith during all that time?
It has already been mentioned that the private interpretation of the Bible that came from the Reformation in the 1500s A.D. has resulted not in unity of faith and belief, but just the opposite; non-Catholic Christianity is comprised of more than thirty thousand denominations  by Protestantism’s own counts.
Christians today should read the Bible and read it prayerfully, meditating on its contents. One who honestly and humbly seeks and embraces the Truth who is the Word of God cannot help but be transformed by Him.  But this is not how we arrive at an orthodox belief, apart from the Church. It must be acknowledged that the vast majority of Christians who have lived, received and experienced Sacred Scripture the way it was intended: proclaimed and taught within the Liturgy of the Church, which has always claimed the authority to interpret and teach. The apostles established local churches; they formed them and taught them, they appointed bishops to continue their work once they were gone.  For centuries, it was the handing down of the Word of God in oral form—Sacred Tradition—that was the manner in which these Christians received the Word of God.  This is simply a historical fact. It is also supported by St. Paul writing in the bible:
“Therefore, brothers, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught, either by an oral statement or by a letter of ours” (2 Thessalonians 2:15).
St. Paul also writes, “So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes by the preaching of Christ” (Romans 10:17).
Protestants might object that Jesus warned not to follow tradition.
“You have nullified the word of God for the sake of your tradition. Hypocrites, well did Isaiah prophesy about you when he said: ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines human precepts’” (Matthew 15:6-9).
However, the traditions that Jesus condemns are those that “nullify” the Word of God. Sacred Tradition does not nullify the Word of God; it is a part of the Word of God as demonstrated by the Jerusalem Council recorded in Acts 15.

What Does the Catholic Church Teach?

Simply look at the following sequence:
  • In prior times, God spoke to us through prophets in varied ways and through a succession of covenants.
  • In present times God spoke to us through His Son.
  • Divine Revelation was fulfilled, completed and perfected in the person of Jesus Christ, the Word of God. We await no further Divine Revelation.
  • Jesus Christ gave this perfected revelation (the Deposit of the Faith) to the apostles.
  • The deposit (word of God) has been passed on (transmitted) to us in writing (Sacred Scripture) and oral preaching (Sacred Tradition) from the apostles through their successors (the bishops).
  • It is not by scripture alone that we receive God’s word. (cf. 2 Th 2:15)
  • The authority to interpret and teach the Word is entrusted to the Church’s Magisterium. (cf. 1 Tim 3:15; Matthew 16; Matthew 18; 2 Peter)
The above can be found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and in Dei Verbum, the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation that was issued by the Second Vatican Council which has this to say about the Word of God. “The Church has always venerated the divine Scriptures just as she venerates the body of the Lord, since, especially in the sacred liturgy, she unceasingly receives and offers to the faithful the bread of life from the table both of God’s word and of Christ’s body.” (Dei Verbum #21)
Indeed, the Catholic Church holds the written Word of God in such high esteem, that she has painstakingly seen to it that it was preserved and handed on from generation to generation, all the way down to our own. The Church gives witness to the Word of God, that which has been handed on as Sacred Scripture and that which has been handed on as Sacred Tradition; faithfully teaching with the authority of Christ.

Pope Francis says beware of those who call themselves "Very Catholic"

Francis: Catholics who judge, criticize offer 'counter-witness' to Jesus

 |  NCR Today

Pope Francis has strongly criticized Catholics who brag that they are perfect followers of the church's teachings but then criticize or speak ill of others in their faith communities, saying they cause scandal and even offer a "counter-witness" to Jesus.
"We all know in our communities, in our parishes, in our neighborhoods how much hurt they do the church, and give scandal, those persons that call themselves 'Very Catholic,'" the pontiff said Sunday.
"They go often to church, but after, in their daily life, ignore the family, speak ill of others, and so on," he continued. "This is that which Jesus condemns because this is a Christian 'counter-witness.'"
Francis was speaking Sunday in an off-the-cuff moment during his weekly Angelus address in St. Peter's Square, which focused on one of Jesus' teachings about the role of the proscribed laws of the faith of his time.
The Gospel for the day, taken from Mark, sees Jesus questioned by Pharisees about why his disciples did not follow Jewish law regarding the cleansing of hands before eating. Jesus calls the Pharisees hypocrites, quoting the prophet Isaiah and saying they honor God with their lips but not their hearts.
Jesus' response to the Pharisees, Francis said Sunday, "has the force of a prophetic pronouncement."
"They are words that might fill us with admiration for our teacher," said the pope. "We feel that in him there is the truth and that his wisdom liberates us from prejudices."
But then the pontiff sharply warned that Jesus words apply also to Christians today.
"Caution!" Francis exhorted the crowds in the Square. "With these words, Jesus also wants to put us, today, on guard against considering that the exterior observance of the law may be sufficient to be good Christians."
"As it was for the Pharisees, there also exists for us the danger of considering our place as better than others for the only fact of observing the rules or customs, even if we do not love our neighbor, [even if] we are hard of heart or prideful," said the pontiff.
"The literal observance of the precepts is something sterile if it does not change the heart and is not translated into concrete attitudes," he said, giving examples: "Opening yourself to the encounter with God and God's word in prayer, searching for justice and peace, giving help to the poor, the weak and the oppressed."
Exterior attitudes, Francis said, are determined by what's in our hearts.
"The exterior attitudes are the consequence of what we have determined in the heart," said the pope. "Not the opposite! With outside attitudes, if the heart does not change we are not true Christians."
"The border between good and evil doesn't pass outside of us but rather inside of us," the pontiff continued. "And we can ask ourselves: Where is my heart?"
"Jesus said your treasure is that where your heart is," said Francis. "Which is my treasure? Is it Jesus and his doctrine? Then the heart is good. Or is your treasure another thing?"
Beginning the Angelus prayer, the pope said they would ask Sunday that the Lord grant those present "a pure heart, free of every hypocrisy."
"This is [what] Jesus says to the Pharisees: Hypocrites," said Francis. "Because they say something and then do another."
The pontiff said they would pray for hearts free of hypocrisy "so that we may be able to live according to the spirit of the law and arrive at its end, which is love."
After saying the Angelus Sunday, Francis prayed both for Christians facing persecution in the Middle East and for the 71 migrants who were found dead last week in a truck in Austria.
He called on the international community to find a way to bring an end to the violence in the Middle East and to prevent such crimes as those in Austria, saying "they offend the whole human family."

Saturday, August 29, 2015

She gave us the Little Sisters of the Poor

St. Jeanne Jugan

Image of St. Jeanne Jugan


Feastday: August 30
Birth: 1792
Death: 1879
Beatified By: Pope John Paul II  Canonized By: Pope Benedict XVI

Jeanne Jugan was born on October 25, 1792 in a small fishing village of Brittany, France. She was the sixth of the eight children of Joseph and Marie Jugan. When she was three and a half, her father was lost at sea. Her mother struggled for years to keep the family together in their one room earthen-floored cottage. When Jeanne was about 16, she became the kitchen maid of the Viscountess de la Choue, a kind-hearted Christian woman, who took her on visits to the sick and the poor on and around her estate. Jeanne learned by example, the meaning of truly Christian charity and a refinement of manners not customary among those of the peasant class. When she was about 25, Jeanne took a job in the crowded hospital in the town of Saint Servan. After six years of devoted toil at the hospital, she was so worn out that she had to leave this work. She went to work for a good Christian woman named Mlle. Lecoq. Daily, the two women spent hours in prayer, and they assisted at Mass. They also instructed the town's children in their catechism. They also cared for the poor and other unfortunates until the elderly woman died. In 1837, the forty-five year old Jeanne and a seventy-two year old woman named Francoise Aubert rented part of a humble cottage. They were joined by Virginie Tredaniel, a seventeen year old orphan and the three formed a community of prayer. They taught catechism and assisted the poor. Whatever they had left over from their earnings, they gave to the poor. At age 47, with the approval of Francoise and Virginie, Jeanne turned her attention to the most pitiful of the poor-abandoned old ladies. In 1839, she brought home a blind widow named Anne Chauvin. Jeanne gave up her own bed to provide sleeping quarters for their guest. Henceforth, she was to share intimately in the sufferings of the poor, even physically, considering herself one of them. This characteristic is expressed in the name that eventually developed for Jeanne's charitable work: The Little Sisters of the Poor. As the number of guests grew, so also did her little community. Jeanne wrote a somple rule for them and herself. Putting aside personal pride, theLittle Sisters daily went out door to door asking for food, clothing and money. In 1879 Jeanne was eighty-seven. At this time the community she had founded had 2,400 Little Sisters and had spread across Europe and across the Ocean. Toward the end of August, she was given the Last Sacraments. Her last words were, "O Mary, my dear Mother, come to me. You know I love you and how I long to see You!" After her peaceful death, Jeanne was buried in the graveyard at the motherhouse. She was beatified in Rome on October 3, 1982

Oh what a night

Tonight my daughter and her fiancée were celebrated at a grand engagement party in Slidell.  Both families came together along with close friends and all the "players" in the wedding.  What a night.  It truly is getting real.  Sometime in the next 8 months, my #1 daughter is going to be a married young lady.  Incredible.  Where did the time go?

To the happy couple:

Wendy Talbot's photo.

Homily 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

There is a famous song from Fiddler on the Roof with a one word title: tradition!  Traditions play a part in our life, our relationships and our family.  I once heard this story of a mother, a talented cook, who shared her cooking expertise with her grown daughter. She showed her the recipe for a perfect baked ham, the secret being to carefully slice about 1 inch from each end of the ham. The daughter asked why? The response from mom: that’s how my momma taught me!  When grandma came for a visit, the granddaughter related the cooking lesson so she naturally asked why did you teach mom to slice the ends of the ham? Well, she replied, that is how my mom taught me. Totally frustrated, she asked more forcefully, but why does cutting the ham make such a difference. Grandma replied it doesn’t make a difference my mom had to slice the ends of the ham so it would fit in her pan!  Ah, tradition!

Tradition literally means passed on, handed down. Many things we do in our personal lives, among our families are based in traditions.  We even have traditions regarding our spiritual life.

As people of faith, do we cling to mere human traditions or do we rely on the Sacred Tradition entrusted to the Church?

After a six week sojourn in the Gospel of John we return to St. Mark's Gospel today.  We hear the Pharisee’s and the scribes objecting to the disciples not closely following the traditional washing ritual. This is not just simply washing up or doing the dishes, this is a purification rite that the religious leaders of the day have made more complicated. The Pharisee’s and scribes were more interested in the outward appearance, the showiness of the ritual and paid little attention to the motivation of the heart. They were misusing the traditions of God and being hypocrites by imposing their rules and regulations.

Jesus, of course, knows what is on the inside; he knows the hearts of all. Jesus never criticized the law or the rituals; he criticized the man made interference with God’s law and the hypocrisy of the ritual. After all, if the inside, which Jesus tells us can produce such an impressive list of sins, is not clean; if the heart cares little about a relationship with Him, then all the outward appearances; all the detail to tradition means little.

Is this relevant to us today? Do we belong to a church that has rituals and traditions? Are we following God’s law or those of man? Difficult questions that beg careful answers! First, we know that Jesus came to earth and established a church. The church indeed needs rules and regulations. He established a church on the first Pope, Peter and has allowed for successors all the way to Pope Francis. And we have a teaching authority, called the Magisterium, which is the Pope and all the Bishops who cooperate with him in guiding the church under the influence of the Holy Spirit. The Bishops are the successors to the original Apostles. Our current Bishop is Archbishop Gregory Aymond.

But what does this have to do with us? We are obligated to follow the teaching authority of the church but we are also obligated to develop an interior relationship with God. God wants our hearts. He wants a personal relationship with each of us. He wants us to be the same on the inside as we appear to be on the outside. He wants us to look and act the same inside Church and outside in the parking lot. He wants us to interiorly know why we make the sign of the cross, genuflect, stand, kneel and sit. If someone asks you why do you Catholics do that; can we answer them or do we simply say, I’ve always done it that way, my mom told me to or everyone else does that way too. Maybe we can ask ourselves; why do we do it. Is it mere tradition or does it flow naturally from a sincere interior and a clean heart that wants to love, obey and worship God.

We also are called to live out our faith by our response to each other. Do we live out from our interior the call to serve our brother and sister in need? St. James puts it best in our 2nd reading today: be doers of the word not just hearers of the word. Are we doers?

In just a little while we will approach the Eucharist and proclaim amen when we hear “Body of Christ”, “Blood of Christ”. Do we say amen because we always say amen or do we believe with a clean heart?  Our amen is our yes; our yes to Jesus and our yes to the Sacred Traditions of Holy Mother Church.  And Sacred Tradition is everything handed on from Jesus to Hi Apostles, to those who followed, through every generation.  In the week ahead can we prayer with this Scripture three times and ask ourselves, do I follow mere tradition or do I understand Sacred Tradition?  Do I seek to do more and learn more so I can develop that personal relationship with Jesus Christ?  Is my inside just as clean and pure as my outside appearance.  Is my nice shiny holy appearance real; does it come from a clean heart?

Cut the ends off that perfect ham if you must, just remember that is a tradition of man.  Love and follow Jesus Christ on the inside and the outside; follow the Sacred Tradition of His Church!

Tradition!  Tradition!!

Today is the Feast Day of the death of John the Baptist

(†31 A.D.)

Saint John the Baptist was called by God to be the precursor of His divine Son. In order to preserve his innocence spotless, and to improve upon the extraordinary graces which he had received in his earliest infancy, he was directed by the Holy Spirit to lead an austere and contemplative life in the wilderness. There he devoted himself to the continuous exercise of devout prayer and penance.

When Saint John was thirty years old, the faithful minister of the Lord began to discharge his mission. Clothed with the garments of penance, he announced to all men the obligation weighing upon them of washing away their iniquities with the tears of sincere compunction. He proclaimed the Messiah, who was of his own age but whom he had never seen, when one day Jesus came to be baptized by him in the Jordan. Saint John was received by the poor folk as the true herald of the Most High God, and his voice was, as it were, a trumpet sounding from heaven to summon all men to avert the divine judgments. Souls were exhorted by him to prepare themselves to reap the benefit of the mercy offered them.

When the tetrarch Herod Antipas, in defiance of all laws divine and human, married Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip who was yet living, Saint John the Baptist boldly reprimanded the tetrarch and his accomplice for so scandalous an adultery. Herod, motivated by his lust and his anger, cast the Saint into prison. About a year after Saint John had been made a prisoner, Herod gave a splendid entertainment to the official world of Galilee. Salome, a daughter of Herodias by her lawful husband, pleased Herod by her dancing, to the point that he made her the foolish promise of granting whatever she might ask. Salome consulted with her mother as to what to ask, and that immoral woman instructed her daughter to demand the death of John the Baptist, and that the head of the prisoner should be immediately brought to her on a platter. This barbaric request startled the tyrant himself; but governed by human respect he assented and sent a soldier of his guard to behead the Saint in prison. Thus died the great forerunner of our blessed Saviour, some two years after his entrance upon his public ministry, and a year before the death of the One he announced.

Yes, today we mark 10 years later; we survived Katrina but we need to keep moving forward

10 years ago on Sunday morning, August 28th I was engaged in an epic battle with my wife.  Katrina was going to hit tonight or early tomorrow morning and the latest update screamed Category 5.  Anyone and everyone raced to the cameras to tell viewers across southeast Louisiana to get out.  Winds in that monster storm would be in excess of 175 mph.  I wanted to go, Wendy thought we should stay.  It was chaos.  We had no plan but finally me and my daughter persuaded Wendy to go.  After all, I told her, we would be back in 24-36 hours.  We took off at noon, in 3 cars, with my mom and Wendy's mom along for the ride.  Did I mention we also took 3 dogs and 3 cats.  I had never experienced anything like this.  We ran into precious little traffic, until we hit Meridian Mississippi, where I-20 and I-59 combine.  Thankfully, before dark, we found a hotel room in a nice town, Cullman Alabama.

We slept all right that night, despite animals in the room, but early TV reports from back home told us what we really did not expect: we would not be going home today or tomorrow.  In fact, we moved north, driving all the way to Greensboro to be with our son.  It would be 5 full days before we would venture back home.  We loaded up with a generator, supplies, food, gasoline and off we went.  As soon as we hit the Hattiesburg Mississippi area, about 80 miles north of my home and 135 miles north of New Orleans, we knew it would be bad.  The tree damage there along the interstate was intense.  Entering Louisiana, it only grew worse.  Arriving at home, all we could do was praise God, precious little damage.  But the reality of settling in to a home with no electricity for who knows how long was intimidating.  The generator helped us keep the TV going and a single window AC set up in my bedroom.  We would start up that generator every day for over 3 weeks before we received power.  Slowly but surely some things came back; gas stations, our local church, the bank where I worked.  We had survived!

New Orleans was devastated; both her devastation and recovery well documented.  Places like St. Bernard, lower Plaquemines, south Slidell and the Mississippi Gulf Coast were almost washed away.  Even our neighbors here on the Northshore suffered tree damage that ruined homes.  Today, everybody wants to commemorate and remember.  I do not.  I want to keep moving forward.  I know this much, living off a generator for 3+ weeks is something I never want to do again.  And understanding that so many had it so much worse than we did, I never want them to experience that kind of horror, grief and disappointment again.

Still, we live in southeast Louisiana.  Still, New Orleans sits below sea level.  Still, hurricanes and tropical storms exist.  One is blowing around Cuba even as we speak.

We survived, we endured, we move on, we are better.  That's enough for me.

This is a pretty comprehensive article with multiple links in case you want to remember, or learn more, about Katrina:

Friday, August 28, 2015

Convert, Martyr, Saint

St. Sabina

Image of St. Sabina


Feastday: August 29

St. Sabina's feast day is August 29th. We know St. Sabina only through legend, and there is some question as to it's trustworthiness. Even the century in which she lived is unknown. Supposedly Sabina was converted to Christianity by her Syrian servant Serapia. During the persecution of Emperor Hadrian, Serapia suffered martyrdom for her Christian Faith. It is believed that St. Sabina was murdered for the Faith about a month later. The reknowned basilica on the Aventine in Rome is dedicated to and named after her. Some sources hold that Sabina herself had it constructed in the third or fourth century. In an age when our Faith is ridiculed as being outmoded, we take heart in the lives of so many martyrs, like St. Sabina, who gave their lives under terrible conditions to defend and sustain their Faith. This confers on us a strong desire to persevere in God's love.

Why the heck not? Send your kids to Catholic school, live the values of the Catholic faith!

Illinois diocese to ask Catholic-school parents to make commitment to support Church, follow moral teachings

Catholic World News - August 27, 2015
The Diocese of Springfield, Illinois, is weighing a policy that would require parents of parochial-school students to agree that they will attend Mass every Sunday and contribute to the support of the Church. The proposal is raising hackles among some non-Catholic parents of children in diocesan schools. The proposed “Family School Agreement,” which has been circulated in draft form to pastors and school principals, calls for parents to attend Mass regularly and to work “toward the goal of giving at least 8% of their income to the parish.” (A spokesman for the diocese acknowledged that the 8% figure was an “aspirational” goal.) The agreement has been tentatively approved by Bishop Thomas Paprocki, but not finalized pending responses from the pastors and principals. The Family School Agreement is not designed to force parents to become Catholics, explained Jonathan Sullivan, the diocesan spokesman. The purpose is to ensure that the families involved in parochial schools are willing to cooperate in the work of distinctively Catholic education, raising children in accordance with the principles of Church teaching. Parents of children in the diocesan schools would be asked to sign the Family School Agreement, committing themselves to abide by the teachings of the Church. Those families living in situations incompatible with Church moral teachings would be asked to meet with their pastors to discuss their situations.

Hello Friday night, I've been waiting for you

Ah Friday night, nothing particularly amazing about you this week, just good to see you.  For me Friday night does not mean the end of the work week, or the beginning of a care-free do whatever you want when you want kind of weekend.  For me, this Friday night does not bring an exciting date or fun-filled evening.  Yet you are very satisfactorily welcomed.

I just came inside from cutting grass.  Many of you who have read this blog over the years know that this is a task I generally despise.  Tonight I was stunned by both the beauty and pleasant feel air of late August.  Usually, an evening cutting grass in late August is met by 95 degrees and 95% humidity.  Not tonight; pleasant temps and lower humidity joined hands with a nice north breeze.  I'm not sure if I have ever been able to say that about an August evening cutting grass.

Friday evening appeals to me tonight because it still signals a kind of end to a chaotic and interesting week that was.  You probably recall that my week began in the hospital as my wife Wendy had a cardiac scare Sunday morning.  All is well today, thanks be to God, and she was discharged Monday evening at 7 PM once doctors had read all the tests and declared them normal.  Thanks to my wife's moxie, I was actually able to work all day Monday as she underwent tests, all of which she has been through before.  After work, I attended our church parish school of religion(PSR), in her stead to cover open house for her 1st grade class.  After that was over, it was discharge time.  It was good to have her back home.

After another robust day at work Tuesday, I hurried home to participate in an important conference call for our Permanent Diaconate office.  All I can say here is that the call concerns a project that will help us in the Archdiocese of New Orleans to clearly communicate the mission, the call and the identity of the Permanent Deacon.

By Wednesday it was work all day, prison ministry by night.  Everyone who has ever visited this blog absolutely knows I love, love, love my ministry at Rayburn Correctional Center.  On this night my main mission was to assist our Priest in Mass and then meeting with some of the men facing release in the not too distant future.  On my way home, I noticed I was logged out of Facebook and being prompted to not only sign in, but to confirm my identity.  Yes, after a great day, I was stripped of my Facebook identity, told I could never use Deacon in my profile or page unless my first name is Deacon.  I've already discussed what I think about this but in case you missed it I think it stinks!

I had the pleasure of attending the 4th degree K of C meeting last night where I now serve as their Chaplain.  All these Knights are inspirational in their love for the Church and the desire to serve the people of God in works of charity.  And tonight, it was cut the grass.

In light of the Facebook kerfuffle, this is as good a time as any to remind my readers that the Permanent Deacon is all about who he is, not just what he does!  And you can see, he can do plenty.

I guess this is a good time to mention that all of this transpired as the Deacon began a really important lifestyle change, aka, a diet.  Details will come later, but I can tell you this is serious! Wendy and I are tired of being big, sick and slow so we will see.  For now, just pray for us!

How about the days to come?  Tomorrow is a big event in the life of my family; the engagement party for Elizabeth & Mark!!  Dieting may be challenge.  I am looking forward to seeing this big night in the engagement journey of my #1 daughter and her fiancée.  Sunday I will have my 3rd Baptism at St. Jane's since my return.  This will occur after the 11 PM Mass.  I love Baptisms!

So thanks for coming around Friday night; thanks for being that perfect evening for some peace & quiet and reflection!!

I hate hurricanes and tropical storms

Does anyone really know what this storm or any other storm is really going to do??

I vote NO!

This is why I hate August and part of September too:

WDSU News's photo.

Michael Voris again draws ire of prominent Catholic Bishop

Philly archbishop labels two Catholic groups 'destructive'
By Matt C. Abbott

Many Catholics who use the Internet are familiar with Michael Voris of and Michael Hichborn, formerly of American Life League and now president of the Lepanto Institute. And most of the Catholics who are familiar with Mr. Voris and Mr. Hichborn typically either ardently support them, or vocally oppose them. (Personally I've had friendly communications with both men over the last few years.)

But at least one member of the hierarchy here in the U.S. is not a fan of theirs: Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia.

A brief background: The Lepanto Institute and have reported "that the World Meeting of Families leadership team (including the president, Robert Ciarrufoli) is infested with pro-abortion, pro-gay 'marriage' money men and politically influential people.

"For instance, current Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf is proudly hailed by Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards as "[the] first governor in the history of this country who is also a former Planned Parenthood escort." Wolf also appointed a Planned Parenthood executive to his transition team, and has never shown the least sign of repenting of his association with the abortion giant."

(Also, according to "The World Meeting of Families leadership roster is packed full of members of the Philadelphia Democratic establishment, which generally runs pro-choice. Mayor Michael Nutter and Gov. Tom Wolf are both listed as honorary co-chairs. Other notable politicos include Comcast vice president David Cohen – a top fundraiser for President Obama – who is listed as a co-chair of the organization's executive leadership cabinet, as is Comcast honcho Brian Roberts, who has given at least $76,000 to Democrats since 2006.")

When the Archdiocese of Philadelphia originally got wind of this report, its communications office issued the following statement:
    The Lepanto Institute and Church Militant have proven once again that they are not interested in presenting information in any useful way. Neither the World Meeting of Families-Philadelphia 2015 nor any of its leadership supports Planned Parenthood. The sole desire of both Lepanto and Church Militant is to create division, confusion, and conflict within the Church. Actions of that nature run contrary to Christian tradition. Their reports are not to be taken seriously.
In an email to me, Archbishop Chaput added the following statement:
    Both Lepanto and Church Militant sow division wherever they tread. They do not seem to acknowledge the need to work with civic society and its representatives on a project like the World Meeting of Families. And we are not going to spend/waste time arguing with them. They are sincere, but also destructive. No one on our leadership team supports abortion or Planned Parenthood.
Mr. Hichborn had this to say via email:
    The last time I wrote an article about the World Meeting of Families, Ken Gavin [communications director for the archdiocese] read me the riot act for not contacting the archdiocese first. This time, I wrote and called several times since last Thursday, sending them all the information I had written in the article, including additional information on the executive cabinet of the WMOF, which I will be publishing either later this week or next week. In addition to writing the archdiocese, I wrote to Ciaruffoli himself, but didn't receive a response from him, either.

    So for the archdiocese to say that I am 'not interested in presenting information in any useful way,' is not only disingenuous, it makes them guilty of the very things they accuse me of. This could very easily have been discussed before publication, and if there was any reasonable explanation to be given, I would have been willing to even kill the story. But instead, they chose to ignore me and the concerns I sent them for whatever reason.
Interestingly, Archbishop Chaput recently wrote a (somewhat) veiled public response to Archbishop Blase Cupich of Chicago regarding abortion in general and the Planned Parenthood scandal in particular.

Archbishop Cupich had written:
    While commerce in the remains of defenseless children is particularly repulsive, we should be no less appalled by the indifference toward the thousands of people who die daily for lack of decent medical care; who are denied rights by a broken immigration system and by racism; who suffer in hunger, joblessness and want; who pay the price of violence in gun-saturated neighborhoods; or who are executed by the state in the name of justice.
Archbishop Chaput subsequently wrote:
    Here's a simple exercise in basic reasoning. On a spectrum of bad things to do, theft is bad, assault is worse and murder is worst. There's a similar texture of ill will connecting all three crimes, but only a very confused conscience would equate thieving and homicide. Both are serious matters. But there is no equivalence.

    The deliberate killing of innocent life is a uniquely wicked act. No amount of contextualizing or deflecting our attention to other issues can obscure that....

    A case is sometimes made that abortion is mainly a cultural and moral issue, and politics is a poor solution to the problem. The curious thing is that some of the same voices that argue against political action on the abortion issue seem quite comfortable urging vigorous political engagement on issues like health care, homelessness and the environment.
© Matt C. Abbott

New Mexico Nun on path to Sainthood?

Sister Blandina Segale, Nun Who Confronted Billy the Kid, Faces First Sainthood Test

"The fastest nun in the West."

<span class='image-component__caption' itemprop="caption"><span style="color: rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588); font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: 29.536003112793px; background-color: #efefef;">Pamphlets and prayer cards of Sister Blandina Segale sit on a table at the Catholic Center in Albuquerque, N.M. as an Archdiocese of Santa Fe panel listens to evidence about Segale on possible Sainthood on Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2015.</span></span> Pamphlets and prayer cards of Sister Blandina Segale sit on a table at the Catholic Center in Albuquerque, N.M. as an Archdiocese of Santa Fe panel listens to evidence about Segale on possible Sainthood on Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2015.Share on Pinterest
An Italian-born nun who confronted Billy the Kid, calmed angry mobs and helped open New Mexico territory hospitals and schools faced her first test for the long road to sainthood on Tuesday.
Supporters and researchers presented their case before the Archdiocese of Santa Fe at a ceremonial "first inquiry" in Albuquerque on why Sister Blandina Segale should become a saint. The public inquiry, headed by former Archbishop Michael Sheehan, was aimed at determining if there was enough evidence to move her case through the largely secret process at the Vatican.
Witnesses said Segale fought against the cruel treatment of American Indians and sought to stop the trafficking of women as sex slaves. They also testified that in death, Segale has helped cancer patients and poor immigrants who have prayed to her for help.
Victoria Marie Forde of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati said documents showed Segale went out of her way to provide assistance to Italian-American immigrants and protect Mexican Americans facing violence in western territories.
"Sister Blandina as a canonized saint will lead and strengthen thousands of others to see that they, too, can fight injustice with compassion and untiring ingenuity," she said.
Last year, the archdiocese received permission from the Vatican to open her sainthood cause. It's the first time in New Mexico's 400-year history with the Roman Catholic Church that a decree opening the cause of beatification and canonization has been declared in the state, church officials said.
Segale, a nun with the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati, came to Trinidad, Colorado, in 1877 to teach poor children and was later transferred to Santa Fe, where she co-founded public and Catholic schools.
During her time in New Mexico, she worked with the poor, the sick and immigrants. She also advocated on behalf of Hispanics and Native Americans who were losing their land to swindlers.
Her encounters with Old West outlaws later became the stuff of legend and were the subject of an episode of the CBS series "Death Valley Days." The episode, called "The Fastest Nun in the West," focused on her efforts to save a man from a lynch mob.
But her encounters with Billy the Kid remain among her most popular and well-known Western frontier adventures.
According to one story, she received a tip that The Kid was coming to her town to scalp the four doctors who refused to treat his friend's gunshot wound. Segale nursed the friend to health, and when Billy went to Trinidad to thank her, she asked him to abandon his violent plan. He agreed.
Tales she wrote in letters to her sister later became the book "At the End of the Santa Fe Trail."
Peco Chavez, a lawyer who investigated historic claims about Segale stopping a mob attack, said he found evidence the event occurred, but documents couldn't verify if Segale intervened.
"But she was in Trinidad at that time," he said.
Later, Segale founded St. Joseph's Hospital in Albuquerque before returning to Cincinnati in 1897 to start Santa Maria Institute, which served recent immigrants.
Her work resonates today, with poverty, immigration and child care still being high-profile issues, said Allen Sanchez, president and CEO for CHI St. Joseph's Children in Albuquerque, a social service agency Segale founded.
Officials say determining whether Segale qualifies for sainthood could take up to a century. The Vatican has to investigate her work and monitor for any related "miracles."
Those miracles could come in the form of healings, assistance to immigrant children detained at the U.S. border or some other unexplained occurrences after devotees pray to her, officials said.