Prayer for a Blessing on the New Year

O sacred and adorable Trinity,
hear our prayers on behalf of our holy Father the Pope,
our Bishops, our clergy,
and for all that are in authority over us.
Bless, we beseech You,
during the coming year,
the whole Catholic Church;
convert and unbelievers;
soften the hearts of sinners
so that they may return to Your friendship;
give prosperity to our country and peace
among the nations of the world;
pour down Your blessings upon
our friends, relatives, and acquaintances,
and upon our enemies, if we have any;
assist the poor and the sick;
have pity on the souls of those
whom this year has taken from us;
and do be merciful to those
who during the coming year
will be summoned before Your judgment seat.
May all our actions be preceded
by Your inspirations and carried on by Your assistance,
so that all our works,
having been begun in You,
may likewise be ended through You. Amen.


Rejoice, Rejoice To You Shall Come Emmanuel!

The past Sunday we celebrated the third week of Advent. Boy, did I make an spectacle of myself. No, I didn't fall from a ladder, slip on ice or drink too much. I simply showed up to do Mass wearing pink -- or should I use the correct term ROSE. The compliments from so many women as they departed from Mass took me aback. But what does the rose colored candle in the Advent Wreath or the rose colored vestment mean?
This particular Sunday is known as "Gaudate Sunday." The words "joy" and "rejoice" appear several times in the readings. Joy is an elusive feeling for most of us. We have moments of joy associated with special events in our lives, celebrations, or spontaneous moments of pure fun. But sustaining joy -- for most of us -- seems exhausting or impossible. The joy that the readings speak about, however, is not a temporary feeling that is determined by the circumstances around us. This joy comes from being completely confident that God is with us -- protecting, redeeming, justifying and guarding us. This is the joy that we are hoping and longing for. This is the joy that we hope that will be ours completely one day.


Tearing Down & Building Up

You are God’s household, built on the foundation with Jesus himself as the cornerstone. Ephesians 2:19-20
Talk of building up and tearing down can bring tensions to the surface in any group. What is to remain and what should be swept away? Preservation and plans for growth seem to conflict. Strong opinions and deep loyalties begin to surface. This week the former fire struck Saint Patrick Rectory will be torn down in order to make parking lot. One can only imagine all that the walls of the building would say if they could utter a word.

Paul’s words to the believers at Ephesus remind us that God is also involved in demolition and construction. God was in the process of “closing down” the temple that stood in Jerusalem. In fact, in A.D. 70, the Roman siege of Jerusalem ended in the physical demolition of the temple. With it the structure of old loyalties and convictions would fall.

But a new temple is under construction. This temple is the church, and it includes all believers in Christ as living building blocks. This building is magnificent and secure. The glorious structure that comes together fits the intentions of the Lord. Each believer, each building block, complements all the others, and all belong together as they connect to Christ, the cornerstone.

Our lives are often marked by personal building projects. But as wonderful as our own initiatives can be, we know that God’s buildings (us) replace the structures made with our own hands. The products of our earthly lives will one day be replaced by all things made new.


Origin of Advent

The exact time when the season of Advent came to be celebrated is not precisely known. Of course, it was not in practice before the celebration of the Nativity and Christmastide began; the earliest evidence shows that the feast of the Nativity of Our Lord was established within the later part of the 4th century. There are homilies from the 5th century that discuss preparation in a general sense, but do not indicate an official liturgical season. A Synod held in 590 established that Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from November 11th until the Nativity would be offered according to the Lenten rite. This and other traditions, such as fasting, show that the period of time now established as the Advent season was more penitential (similar to Lent) than the liturgical season as we know it today.

A collection of homilies from Pope St. Gregory the Great (whose papacy was from 590-604) included a sermon for the second Sunday of Advent, and by 650 Spain was celebrating the Sundays (five at the time) of Advent. So it seems the liturgical season was established around the latter part of the 6th century and first half of the 7th century. For the next couple of centuries, Advent was celebrated for five Sundays; Pope Gregory VII, who was pope from 1073-85, reduced the number to four Sundays.


The Real Meaning Of Thanksgiving

Once again we have a national holiday based on a religious occasion. And once again, we have people who are all too ready to reap the reward of a vacation day (long weekend) based on religion. Yet, many of those do not even acknowledge the One who has blessed them with so much., cherish these days of rest and relaxation.
In a recent discussion this very topic came up. In a world where believers have to weigh what they say and do at every turn out of "secular-correctness", why is it that the non-practicing contingent still takes the priviledge of such holidays? For example, why does the atheist or agnostic not demand that on such holidays they want to work. Yes, I know, who wants to work when there is an option to do otherwise.
The politically correct world forces us to remove all references to God out of the public arena, but no one seems to challenge the holidays based on Him. Fools! Celebrate God's blessings in your life, not just today, but everyday. Happy Thanksgiving!


Catholic Bishops Will Fight Obama On Abortion

BALTIMORE - The nation's Roman Catholic bishops vowed Tuesday to forcefully confront the Obama administration over its support for abortion rights, saying the church and religious freedom could be under attack in the new presidential administration.

In an impassioned discussion on Catholics in public life, several bishops said they would accept no compromise on abortion policy. Many condemned Catholics who had argued it was morally acceptable to back President-elect Obama because he pledged to reduce abortion rates.

And several prelates promised to call out Catholic policy makers on their failures to follow church teaching. Bishop Joseph Martino of Scranton, Pa., singled out Vice President-elect Biden, a Catholic, Scranton native who supports abortion rights.

"I cannot have a vice president-elect coming to Scranton to say he's learned his values there when those values are utterly against the teachings of the Catholic Church," Martino said. The Obama-Biden press office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Archbishop Joseph Naumann of the Diocese of Kansas City in Kansas said politicians "can't check your principles at the door of the legislature."

Naumann has said repeatedly that Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, a Catholic Democrat who supports abortion rights, should stop taking Holy Communion until she changes her stance. "They cannot call themselves Catholic when they violate such a core belief as the dignity of the unborn," Naumann said Tuesday.

The discussion occurred on the same day the bishops approved a new "Blessing of a Child in the Womb." The prayer seeks a healthy pregnancy for the mother and makes a plea that "our civic rulers" perform their duties "while respecting the gift of human life."

Chicago Cardinal Francis George, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, is preparing a statement during the bishops' fall meeting that will press Obama on abortion. The bishops suggested that the final document include the message that "aggressively pro-abortion policies" would be viewed "as an attack on the church."

Along with their theological opposition to the procedure, church leaders say they worry that any expansion in abortion rights could require Catholic hospitals to perform abortions or lose federal funding. Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Chicago said the hospitals would close rather than comply.

During the campaign, many prelates had spoken out on abortion more boldly than they had in 2004, telling Catholic politicians and voters that the issue should be the most important consideration in setting policy and deciding which candidate to back.

Yet, according to exit polls, 54 percent of Catholics chose Obama, who is Protestant. The new bishops' statement is meant to drive home the point in a way that cannot be misconstrued. "We have a very important thing to say. I think we should say it clearly and with a punch," said New York Cardinal Edward Egan.

But some bishops said church leaders should take care with the tone of the statement. Bishops differ on whether Catholic lawmakers should refrain from receiving Communion if they diverge from central church beliefs. Each bishop sets policy in his own diocese.

"We must act and be perceived as acting as caring pastors and faithful teachers," said Bishop Blase Cupich of Rapid City, S.D. Dr. Patrick Whelan, a pediatrician and president of Catholic Democrats, said angry statements from church leaders were counterproductive and would only alienate Catholics.

"We're calling on the bishops to move away from the more vicious language," Whelan said. He said the church needs to act "in a more creative, constructive way," to end abortion. Catholics United was among the groups that argued in direct mail and TV ads during the campaign that taking the "pro-life" position means more than opposing abortion rights. Chris Korzen, the group's executive director, said, "we honestly want to move past the deadlock" on abortion. He said church leaders were making that task harder.

"What are the bishops going to do now?" Korzen said. "`They have burned a lot of bridges with the Democrats and the new administration."

Associated Press


Barack Obama Promises to Sign FOCA

What Choice will you make? http://www.FightFOCA.com


Prayer for Election Day

O God, we acknowledge You today as Lord,Not only of individuals, but of nations and governments.

We thank You for the privilege
Of being able to organize ourselves politically

And of knowing that political loyaltyDoes not have to mean disloyalty to You.

We thank You for Your law,
Which our Founding Fathers acknowledged

And recognized as higher than any human law.
We thank You for the opportunity that this yearputs before us,
To exercise our solemn duty not only to vote,
But to influence countless others to vote,
And to vote correctly.

Lord, we pray that Your people may be awakened.
Let them realize that while politics is not theirsalvation,
Their response to You requires that they be politicallyactive.
Awaken Your people to know that they are not called to bea sect fleeing the world

But rather a community of faith renewing the world.
Awaken them that the same hands lifted up to You in prayer
Are the hands that pull the lever in the voting booth;
That the same eyes that read Your Word
Are the eyes that read the names on the ballot,
And that they do not cease to be Christians
When they enter the voting booth.

Awaken Your people to a commitment to justice,
To the sanctity of marriage and the family,
To the dignity of each individual human life,
And to the truth that human rights begin when Human LivesBegin,
And not one moment later.

Lord, we rejoice today
That we are citizens of Your kingdom.
May that make us all the more committed

To being faithful citizens on earth.
We ask this through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
From Catholic Online Prayers



From the Catholic Bishops Conference in Pennsylvania.

October is Respect Life Month – a special time each year when we prayerfully reflect on how each person at every stage of life deserves dignity and respect, and when we remind ourselves of the need to protect the most vulnerable among us.

It is also a time when we must pause to give thanks to God for the freedom we enjoy as Americans and as citizens of Pennsylvania to participate in civic life. Recognizing our responsibility to promote the common good, we encourage our Catholic citizens, after they have formed their consciences in accord with right reason and Church teaching, to take the opportunity that our democracy affords them to influence the choices their government bodies will make in the future.

We encourage our Catholic people to read and study the document of our United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship: A Call to Political Responsibility from the Catholic Bishops of the United States http://www.faithfulcitizenship.org/. This document provides a good overview of Catholic teaching on important issues affecting public policy in our nation and here in Pennsylvania, reminding us that the core of Catholic moral and social teaching is respect for the life and dignity of every human person.

We wish to reiterate that the intentional destruction of innocent human life, as in abortion and euthanasia, is not just one issue among many. Time and time again, we bishops have taught that the right to life is the most basic and fundamental human right and must always be defended. Intrinsic evils can never be supported. Catholic teaching does not treat all issues as morally equivalent. The protection of human life from conception until natural death is the preeminent obligation of a truly just society.

The Catholic Church teaches a consistent ethic of life which includes important teaching also on issues of war and peace, economic justice, care of the needy and vulnerable, education, stewardship of the Lord’s creation, etc. We have a moral obligation to defend human life and dignity, to protect the poor and the vulnerable, and to work for justice and peace. At the same time, however, we must never forget the words of our late Holy Father, Pope John Paul II. He wrote, “Above all, the common outcry, which is justly made on behalf of human rights – for example, the right to health, to home, to work, to family, to culture – is false and illusory if the right to life, the most basic and fundamental right and the condition for all other personal rights, is not defended with maximum determination.” (On the Vocation and Mission of the Lay Faithful, no. 38)

We encourage the Catholic citizens of Pennsylvania to study carefully the Church’s teaching as they prepare for Election Day. We bishops do not endorse any candidate or party. Our role is to teach and form consciences. Above all else, we seek to ensure that the message of the Gospel is heard and upheld. Many of the issues facing our nation and our Commonwealth have important moral and ethical dimensions. We urge our Catholic faithful to be informed and guided by the moral truths of our faith and to exercise faithful citizenship.

May the Holy Spirit guide us with His manifold gifts! May God bless our nation and our Commonwealth with His abundant grace!
(c) 2008


After The Fight -- Making Up

Susan Stith, the Family Life Director for the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, PA gives fighting couples some guides toward making up. When you’ve had a falling out or feel distance between you, how do you come back together and reconcile? The following might help:

  • Ask yourself if there are unfinished issues with your parents that you have super-imposed on this issue with your partner?
  • Talk it out using the Speaker-Listener technique. (One person speaks, the other listens and then paraphrases what they heard. The speaker confirms whether the listener heard correctly. Only after the listener gets it right does the speaker go on, or the listener asks for “the floor” and shares his/her own thoughts.)
  • Remember the rules. Don’t jump prematurely into identifying a specific solution until you’ve respectfully heard and been heard.
  • Put out the Unity Candle you used at your wedding or reception (or use another symbolic item) to signify that you’re calm enough to talk.
  • Apologize for your part. This doesn’t mean that your beloved is blameless, just that you are expressing sorrow for any way that your actions or words may have hurt your relationship, even unintentionally.
  • The Sacrament of Reconciliation can help you to forgive yourself and heal.
  • Seek professional counseling when the two of you aren’t making any headway in resolving the issue and it is infecting other parts of your marriage; you are feeling hopeless; you tend to distance rather than tackle the issue and the distance is growing; physical or verbal violence is being used (in this case, go to counseling separately).
  • In marriage, using lovemaking as a substitute for talking things out can bury the issue instead of resolving it. However, lovemaking after you have reconciled is a wonderful way to celebrate.


How Does Pornography Harm Us?

Children, teens and young adults are being victimized by an industry that objectifies people by eliminating the human dimension of their lives. Everyone involved in the pornography industry— whether its production, distribution, sale or use—“cooperates and, to some degree, makes possible this debasement of others” because sexuality “is reduced to a demeaning source of entertainment and even profit.” How can we expect our young people to practice chastity when they are bombarded daily with messages that tell them to do otherwise? This violates the sexual latency of children and promotes teen/college-age promiscuity, resulting in out-of-wedlock/crisis pregnancies and the spread of STDs at epidemic levels.

Within marriage, addiction to pornography can destroy intimacy. Eventually, the husband or wife who views pornography can lose the ability to relate on a personal and intimate level with the real person of his or her spouse.

Pornography addiction is defined as “a psychological addiction to, or dependence upon, pornography, theoretically characterized by obsessive viewing, reading, and thinking about pornography and sexual themes to the detriment of other areas of one’s life.” The statistical evidence, as well as the testimony of experts in the field of sexual addiction, shows that pornography is the foremost addiction in the world today due to its pervasiveness and its growing level of acceptability in our culture.

Addressing Porn Addiction on a Natural Level Pornography addiction is a multi-dimensional problem requiring a multi-faceted solution. Such addiction involves the mental, emotional, physical, relational, and spiritual components of a human being.

In his book Healing the Wounds of Sexual Addiction, Dr. Mark Laaser explains that sexual addiction is a result of trauma or wounds experienced over the course of one’s life. Emotional, spiritual or physical abuse during childhood, inflicted by family and the culture at large, can trigger an addiction in adulthood as an attempt at “self-medication” in response to the trauma. There are practical measures that offer significant hope for those struggling with pornography.

Here are five ways that those addicted to pornography can begin the recovery process:
1. Decide to get well and resolve to stop viewing all forms of pornography.
2. Remove all sources of temptation that may prevent one from healing.
3. Be willing to make sacrifices, which may involve changing current duties or habits.
4. Become familiar with the process by which one begins to repeat addictive behavior.
5. Find a support group or a network of “solid” people to help in one’s recover.
Taken from Pornography: What's the Problem by Mark Houck

Prayer of St. Theresa of the Child Jesus to the Holy Face

O Jesus, who in Thy bitter Passion didst become "the most abject of men, a man of sorrows", I venerate Thy Sacred Face whereon there once did shine the beauty and sweetness of the Godhead; but now it has become for me as if it were the face of a leper! Nevertheless, under those disfigured features, I recognize Thy infinite Love and I am consumed with the desire to love Thee and make Thee loved by all men.

The tears which well up abundantly in Thy sacred eyes appear to me as so many precious pearls that I love to gather up, in order to purchase the souls of poor sinners by means of their infinite value. O Jesus, whose adorable face ravishes my heart, I implore Thee to fix deep within me Thy divine image and to set me on fire with Thy Love, that I may be found worthy to come to the contemplation of Thy glorious Face in Heaven. Amen.


5000 Hits..... WOW!

Inaugerated on July 8, 2007, this blog was intended to keep my week somewhat busy and 14 months laters there have been over 5000 hits! Awesome! Thank you to all of you who have been regular visitors to this blog.
I leave tomorrow for Florida for a retreat/vacation, hopefully I will be able to publish a post during my time away. I promise to pray for all of you.


Not Just Cosmetic Changes Are Needed

These past two days have been full of the "lipstick" debate. Did he intend to say what he said? Did he mean what he said? Frankly, I do not think that he did. I think he was trying to get the audience's attention, as any good speaker tries to do. This blog entry will not be political, but rather ethical.

I do believe that Senator Obama realized that he struck a funny with the crowd when they made the connection to the Governor Palin's "lipstick" comment. It was at that time that I believe that his pride and saving face took control and he continued with the speech. When he realized his goof, he should have returned to the subject and said that was not what he wanted to infer. Instead, he ignored the issue and now it will not go away.

As an impromptu public speaker, who is not tied to notes, I sometimes say something that I didn't think about before the words passed my lips. Most times they are good, sometimes they are bad. Even though I whisper a prayer so that my words will come out prudently, other meanings can be conveyed. But, as a disciple of Jesus, one has the duty to take responsibility for his/her actions and words. When one refuses to correct their mistakes if they can, then their integrity has to be questioned.


Happy Birthday, Mary!

Mary's Birth; Master of the Pfullendorf Altar
The Churches of the East and the West celebrate liturgies in honor of Mary's birth from the sixth and seventh centuries on. The origin of the liturgy is traced to the consecration of the church in Jerusalem on the spot known as the shepherd's field and thought to have been the home of Mary's parents. The basilica was named in honor of St. Ann.

By the seventh century the liturgy was also celebrated in Rome where it had been introduced by monks from the East. From there, it spread throughout the West, and by the thirteenth century the liturgy had developed to a solemnity with a major octave (eight days of commemoration prior to the liturgy) and a solemn vigil which prescribed a fastday.
The date, September 8, was chosen as the 8th day (an octave) after the former Byzantine New Year. Although Mary's birth was celebrated on various dates throughout the centuries, September 8 predominated. The feast celebrating Mary's Immaculate Conception, December 8, (a liturgy instituted later) was set to correspond to nine months before Mary's birth. Just as the Annunciation (March 25) is nine months from the Birth of Our Lord.

In the East, Mary's birthday is celebrated as one of the twelve great liturgies. The title for the liturgy in the East: "The Birth of Our Exalted Queen, the Birthgiver of God and Ever-Virgin Mary." The present feast forms a link between the New and the Old Testament. It shows that Truth succeeds symbols and figures and that the New Covenant replaces the Old. Hence, all creation sings with joy, exalts, and participates in the joy of this day. ... This is, in fact, the day on which the Creator of the world constructed His temple; today is the day on which, by a stupendous project, a creature becomes the preferred dwelling of the Creator.

The responsory for the liturgy proclaims: our birth, Birthgiver of God, announced joy to the whole world. From you came the Sun of Justice, Christ our God. He released the curse and gave the blessing.


Don't Drive Faster Than Your Guardian Angel Can Fly

The Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI recently spoke regarding bad driving habits. Hey, he may even have reformed me.
"Today I would like to propose another prayer intention, given the news we receive, especially during this period, of numerous road accidents. We must not get used to this sad reality! Human life is too precious and it is too unworthy of man to meet death or become an invalid due to causes that could mostly be avoided. There is certainly a need for a greater sense of responsibility, above all by drivers, as accidents are often caused by excessive speed and imprudent conduct. Driving on public roads calls for moral and civic sense. Indispensable to fostering this is authorities' constant endeavor to prevent, keep watch and restrict. Moreover, as the Church, we feel directly involved at the ethical level: Christians must above all make a personal examination of conscience on their own conduct as drivers; moreover, communities should educate everyone to consider traffic as a field in which life must be protected and love of neighbor concretely exercised."


No, Idiot Is Not Too Strong Of A Word


To Catholics of the Archdiocese of Denver:
Catholic public leaders inconvenienced by the abortion debate tend to take a hard line in talking about the "separation of Church and state." But their idea of separation often seems to work one way. In fact, some officials also seem comfortable in the role of theologian. And that warrants some interest, not as a "political" issue, but as a matter of accuracy and justice.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is a gifted public servant of strong convictions and many professional skills. Regrettably, knowledge of Catholic history and teaching does not seem to be one of them.

Interviewed on Meet the Press August 24, Speaker Pelosi was asked when human life begins. She said the following:
"I would say that as an ardent, practicing Catholic, this is an issue that I have studied for a long time. And what I know is over the centuries, the doctors of the church have not been able to make that definition . . . St. Augustine said at three months. We don't know. The point is, is that it shouldn't have an impact on the woman's right to choose."

Since Speaker Pelosi has, in her words, studied the issue "for a long time," she must know very well one of the premier works on the subject, Jesuit John Connery's Abortion: The Development of the Roman Catholic Perspective (Loyola, 1977). Here's how Connery concludes his study:
"The Christian tradition from the earliest days reveals a firm antiabortion attitude . . . The condemnation of abortion did not depend on and was not limited in any way by theories regarding the time of fetal animation. Even during the many centuries when Church penal and penitential practice was based on the theory of delayed animation, the condemnation of abortion was never affected by it. Whatever one would want to hold about the time of animation, or when the fetus became a human being in the strict sense of the term, abortion from the time of conception was considered wrong, and the time of animation was never looked on as a moral dividing line between permissible and impermissible abortion."

Or to put it in the blunter words of the great Lutheran pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer:
"Destruction of the embryo in the mother's womb is a violation of the right to live which God has bestowed on this nascent life. To raise the question whether we are here concerned already with a human being or not is merely to confuse the issue. The simple fact is that God certainly intended to create a human being and that this nascent human being has been deliberately deprived of his life. And that is nothing but murder."

Ardent, practicing Catholics will quickly learn from the historical record that from apostolic times, the Christian tradition overwhelmingly held that abortion was grievously evil. In the absence of modern medical knowledge, some of the Early Fathers held that abortion was homicide; others that it was tantamount to homicide; and various scholars theorized about when and how the unborn child might be animated or "ensouled." But none diminished the unique evil of abortion as an attack on life itself, and the early Church closely associated abortion with infanticide. In short, from the beginning, the believing Christian community held that abortion was always, gravely wrong.

Of course, we now know with biological certainty exactly when human life begins. Thus, today's religious alibis for abortion and a so-called "right to choose" are nothing more than that - alibis that break radically with historic Christian and Catholic belief.

Abortion kills an unborn, developing human life. It is always gravely evil, and so are the evasions
employed to justify it. Catholics who make excuses for it - whether they're famous or not - fool only themselves and abuse the fidelity of those Catholics who do sincerely seek to follow the Gospel and live their Catholic faith.

The duty of the Church and other religious communities is moral witness. The duty of the state and its officials is to serve the common good, which is always rooted in moral truth. A proper understanding of the "separation of Church and state" does not imply a separation of faith from political life. But of course, it's always important to know what our faith actually teaches.

+Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap.
Archbishop of Denver

+James D. Conley
Auxiliary Bishop of Denver


Patience Is A Virtue...I Think

"There is no way that you can make everyone happy." This statement has been said to me many times since my new assignment in McAdoo, however I have come to believe that perhaps communal happiness is more probable when patience is part of the process.

Since my arrival, I have tried to maintain a wait and see approach to my decision-making skills. So far, so good. I recently read an article which said that strong leadership in any organization requires many virtues, but one characteristic of effective leaders that you don’t often hear about is patience. Leaders require patience because they deal with people, not machines. People have many quirks and are reluctant to change. It takes patience to effectively work with people and accomplish the organization’s goals and objectives. Although there are appropriate times to be impatient and push an agenda, the astute leader knows that patience is very often his or her secret weapon in getting things done.

In thinking about patience, it is apparent that there are many layers to this virtue, but I have long said that the best way to attain this quality is to make time in one's schedule for meditation. Our hectic and activity-filled days must include time for prayer and silence. This is the way that we come to listen to God and feel less pressured. As a recovering perfectionist, I have found that the more time I devote to prayer and meditation, God rewards me with more patience.


Pope Pius XII On Vocations

The choice of candidates for the priesthood recommended by Canon Law to pastors of souls must be the particular task of all priests, who have not only to render humble and generous thanks to God for the inestimable gift they have received but in like manner must hold nothing dearer or more pleasing than to find and prepare a successor for themselves among those young men whom they know to be equipped with the necessary qualifications. To succeed more efficaciously in this, every priest must make an effort to be and to show himself an example of the priestly life which for the young men whom he approaches and among whom he looks for signs of the divine call can constitute an ideal for imitation.

This wise and prudent selection must go on always and in all places not only among the young men who are already in the seminary but also among those who are studying elsewhere, and particularly among those who partake in the various activities of the Catholic apostolate. These last, even though they enter the priesthood at a later age, are often equipped with greater and more solid virtues because they have already been tried and have strengthened their souls by contact with the difficulties of life and have already collaborated in a field which is also the realm of priestly activity.
MENTI NOSTRAE (Apostolic Exhortation To The Clergy Of The Entire World On the Development of Holiness in Priestly Life) Pius XII


Ode To A Priest

While cleaning out my new residence, I found a clipping with the following article written by Mrs. M Hotz from an unknown vocation publication dated April 28, 1968.

He alone, of all God's creatures, must walk alone. Never to know the joy of sharing the days accomplishments or frustrations with a loved one. To counsel and guide the young ones, but never to hold within his own loving hands, the small trusting hands of his own creation. Within his heart must burn the fire of Love. Love for his people, but from whom he must stay apart. Understanding, pity and guidance for their daily joys and troubles, and still no one to care for his. Love for the beauty of a summer night, winter's snow, or a pounding surf along a golden shore, but no one to express it to.

Yes, he walks alone, this Priest of ours. Cassock blowing in the wind, soul reaching for God. For as alone as he may seem, deep within him is the knowledge that he is not really alone. God is there with him always. Understanding his momentary feeling of loneliness. Walking with him on a summer night or along a golden shore. Guiding him as he guides his people. Filling him with the pure joy and contentment of communion with God and the knowledge that he is never really alone, this Priest of ours.


They Will Know We Are Christians By Our Love

For as long as I can remember that song has been played an important part of my life. Of course there will be those critics that say the song is to "sing-songy", but I like the message it tries to convey.

"We are one in the Spirit, We are one in the Lord," it seems almost incredulous that we need to be reminded of that fact, but yet we do. For the past three weeks I have watched my new congregation sit facing the altar as I presided over the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. I watch as people that have lived in the same community for their entire lives are now invited to become a different type of community and I am poised to lead it.

As a living community we should be one in the Spirit. Even though, we might not like the way things are we are supposed to count on God , particularly His Spirit, to get us through -- and He will. So often in our lives things change and we accept them because we we are not really in charge. While free will gives us the opportunity to make a bad or good choice, if we are truly a follower of Christ then, we should allow Him to be in charge of our lives. But it is hard. I know that too well after 13 moves in 16 years.

As a living community we should be one in the Lord. Somewhere in my Catholic education I was taught that "Church" is not a building, "Church" is the people of God. When one's faith revolves around a building, instead of the Eucharistic Lord housed in it, our understanding of the God who created us is put into question. As a priest, who is committed to the Catholic Church for life, I feel sad that many of our houses of worship are closing.

It means that something is not right. Could it be that since the 1960's families are no longer as large as they once were? Could it be that parents are no longer attending Mass themselves or allowing teenagers to "find their own spirituality"? Could it be that the Church, while trying to invite more people into the fold by up-dating its liturgy, has alienated those who were complacent with the way things were before?

I pray each day that the merger and consolidation of our parishes in our diocese will bring forth great fruit. I do so because I am one member of a living community in the Spirit and our Lord.


"What Will Separate Us From The Love Of Christ?"

This coming Sunday, the second reading taken from Paul's letter to the Romans, asks this question. The short answer is NOTHING!

Looking at the lives of the saints indicates that we cannot be stagnate in our life of grace. Passivity cannot rule our lives. The disciples came to the Lord when the multitude was there listening to Him and they ask how Jesus intended to satisfy their hunger. Jesus simply says that they should feed the throng themselves. Taken off guard, the disciples then scrounge for what little they have, and once Jesus blesses the bread and fish the mass is not only satisfied, but full.

The Father wishes us to be completely full -- not just physically, but spiritually. Change is an inevitable part of every life. The disciples wanted desperately to be followers and Jesus demanded them to be leaders. Of course, He gave the people their fill, but it was the disciples that had to gather the materials needed to make it happen.

Each day we are called to gather necessary ingredients for His Kingdom. We are called to lead, confident that the love of Christ is not separated from us. Not today, not ever! Christ's love for us does not end.


First Week Through....Thank the Lord!

Well, I made it through the moving and the first week. The Opening Mass of the Church of All Saints was full and was met with tears, laughter and applause. The lighting of the new Easter Candle and the procession into the church with the patron saint statues was both inspiring and breath-taking. I am fortunate to be the pastor of such a faith-filled community.

The move is not without its challenges, but with the prayers of all who read these words the planted mustard seed will grow into a tall living bush to welcome all who nest in the pews. Thank you and please continue to pray for our community and be assured of mine for you. May we strive to BECOME SAINTS TOGETHER.


In Support Of Our Priests

Taken from the Pottsville Republican Herald 7/3/08

To the Editor:
The priests of our diocese who are affected by the recent announcement of parish closings have an enormous task ahead of them. As they work through the many pastoral and administrative tasks associated with closing a parish and moving on to a new one, these same priests continue to minister to their flocks and avail themselves to serve our needs. The parish closings seem to uncovered much of human nature that is uncomplimentary to those who view themselves as Christian, yet alone Catholic.

The reaction of some is like a living tabloid full of rumor, mistruths and supposition. The members of our clergy are good and decent men who are being asked to carry out an extraordinary task while, at the same time, expected to bring us together in faith during this difficult time. I think they deserve better treatment than they are getting from those who have chosen an opposing side.

Has ethnicity or a particular church building taken precedence over the fact that we are supposed to be one body in Christ? In the midst of the sadness, anger and turmoil surrounding the parish closings, our priests need to know they do not have to go it alone. They need our kindness and compassion, they deserve our respect and they should have our support.

I, for one, am going to do whatever I can to let them know they are appreciated and loved for who they are.

J. D.
As one who is in such a position, "Thanks, J.D."


America Is Great Because...

The Fourth of July is more than just a government holiday meant to promote love for country. It is certainly that, but it’s not just Americans who have cause to celebrate on July 4.

The date commemorates the signing of the Declaration of Independence, which, with the Constitution that was built upon it, didn’t just create a new political order in America: They inspired a worldwide movement of liberty and human rights.

On his recent visit to the United States, Pope Benedict XVI gave a kind of “catechesis on America” and explained some of the reasons why he considers America great.

America is great because it connects freedom with faith.

Often times we think of America’s freedom as if it were primarily an economic freedom or even a freedom from morality. But at the White House on April 16, Pope Benedict reminded us that American freedom has always been tied to morality and religion.

Think of it this way: A gathering of juvenile delinquents has to be watched carefully. If they are gathering near your house, you know you need to guard your things and lock your doors. But a gathering of nuns can be given total freedom. We trust that they won’t get out of hand or take our things, so we allow them to do whatever they want.

The same dynamic has always been true of America, said the Pope. “From the dawn of the republic, America’s quest for freedom has been guided by the conviction that the principles governing political and social life are intimately linked to a moral order based on the dominion of God the Creator,” he said. “The framers of this nation’s founding documents drew upon this conviction when they proclaimed the ‘self-evident truth’ that all men are created equal and endowed with inalienable rights grounded in the laws of nature and of nature’s God.”
He linked freedom and virtue.

“Freedom is not only a gift, but also a summons to personal responsibility,” he said. “The preservation of freedom calls for the cultivation of virtue, self-discipline, sacrifice for the common good and a sense of responsibility towards the less fortunate.”

He quoted two men who linked freedom and truth. First, Pope John Paul II, who said: “in a world without truth, freedom loses its foundation.” Second, George Washington. “President Washington expressed in his Farewell Address, that religion and morality represent ‘indispensable supports’ of political prosperity.”

He summed up: “Democracy can only flourish, as your founding fathers realized, when political leaders and those whom they represent are guided by truth and bring the wisdom born of firm moral principle to decisions affecting the life and future of the nation.”

America is great because it has welcomed immigrants.

Later that day, he spoke again about America’s greatness to U.S. bishops at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. This time it wasn’t the nation’s freedom but its immigration that he praised.

Pope Benedict noted that the willingness of America to welcome immigrants allowed Catholicism to take root here. And the willingness of the Church to work with the faithful from around the world helped build the Church’s faith, hope and charity.

First, he pointed out, the immigrant Church increased Americans’ sensitivity to the needs of the poor and, therefore, their charity.

“Brother bishops, I want to encourage you and your communities to continue to welcome the immigrants who join your ranks today, to share their joys and hopes, to support them in their sorrows and trials, and to help them flourish in their new home. This, indeed, is what your fellow countrymen have done for generations,” he said, and quoted the poem inscribed on the Statue of Liberty. “From the beginning, they have opened their doors to the tired, the poor, the ‘huddled masses yearning to breathe free.’ These are the people whom America has made her own.”
He spoke about how this care for the poor showed itself in recent times of trial, citing the attack on the Twin Towers in September 2001, Hurricane Katrina and international aid.
Immigration has also increased the country’s faith, said the Holy Father.

“Your people are remarkable for their religious fervor and they take pride in belonging to a worshipping community,” he told the bishops. “They have confidence in God, and they do not hesitate to bring moral arguments rooted in biblical faith into their public discourse. Respect for freedom of religion is deeply ingrained in the American consciousness — a fact which has contributed to this country’s attraction for generations of immigrants, seeking a home where they can worship freely in accordance with their beliefs.”

The next day, at the Nationals Stadium Mass, the Holy Father said America’s welcoming of immigrants is also responsible for the prevalence in America of the virtue of hope.
“Americans have always been a people of hope: Your ancestors came to this country with the expectation of finding new freedom and opportunity, while the vastness of the unexplored wilderness inspired in them the hope of being able to start completely anew, building a new nation on new foundations,” he said, noting that injustices left American Indians and slaves out of that hope.

“Yet hope, hope for the future, is very much a part of the American character,” he said. “And the Christian virtue of hope – the hope poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, the hope which supernaturally purifies and corrects our aspirations by focusing them on the Lord and his saving plan — that hope has also marked, and continues to mark, the life of the Catholic community in this country.”

America is great because it has applied its entrepreneurial mindset to the Church’s life.

Before he became Pope Benedict, Cardinal Ratzinger had said in the 2002 interview book God and the World that “it is particularly in the American sphere that people are taking up Catholicism as a whole and trying to relate it anew to the modern world.”

He echoed those words in his April 21 homily at Yankee Stadium:
“We think of the strong faith which built up the network of churches, educational, healthcare and social institutions which have long been the hallmark of the Church in this land. We think also of those countless fathers and mothers who passed on the faith to their children, the steady ministry of the many priests who devoted their lives to the care of souls, and the incalculable contribution made by so many men and women religious, who not only taught generations of children how to read and write, but also inspired in them a lifelong desire to know God, to love him and to serve him.”

Finally, in this election year, he pointed out that Catholics can play a key policy role in a democracy like America’s.

“In this land of religious liberty, Catholics found freedom not only to practice their faith but also to participate fully in civic life, bringing their deepest moral convictions to the public square and cooperating with their neighbors in shaping a vibrant, democratic society,” he said. “Today’s celebration is more than an occasion of gratitude for graces received. It is also a summons to move forward with firm resolve to use wisely the blessings of freedom, in order to build a future of hope for coming generations.” Amen.
from the Editors of the National Catholic Reporter.


June 29th: Feast of SS. Peter & Paul

Lord our God, encourage us through the prayers of Saints Peter and Paul. May the apostles who strengthened the faith of the infant Church help us on our way of salvation. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Bishops' Latest Stem Cell Statement

WASHINGTON, D.C., JUNE 16, 2008 (Zenit.org). - U.S. bishops noted that stem cell research has captured the imagination of many in our society, but affirmed that the deliberate killing of innocent human beings is gravely immoral.

The prelates addressed the controversy surrounding embryonic stem cell research in a statement approved at their spring meeting.The bishops first explained what stem cells are and why they have generated so much interest in the scientific community.

"Scientists hope these biological building blocks can be directed to produce many types of cells to repair the human body, cure disease, and alleviate suffering," they noted. "But some scientists are most intrigued by stem cells obtained by destroying an embryonic human being in the first week or so of development. Harvesting these 'embryonic stem cells' involves the deliberate killing of innocent human beings, a gravely immoral act."


Oh No, Not Again!!

Thirteen times in sixteen years... I think I have it down to a science by now. Should I call the process "MOVEOLOGY"? In the past I have stated that perhaps they should give me stock in U-Haul since I keep them in business.

Seriously though, these moves really call me to re-examine what I possess in this life and what really means something. People are truly generous to me. I thank God for them. Unfortunately, I can easily fall victim to materialism and I am fully aware of that while in this process.

This past week I started getting rid of those things that I haven't used for sometime. Boy, what a weight off my shoulders! ( Not to mention off the U-Haul.) I must say have been good at giving things away to others and to the impending Garage Sale this weekend at Saint Ann. What I have left seems to be dramatically reduced from what I started with when I came here.

However, I cannot fool myself into believing that I will not suffer from the same ailment in the future. Building those silos and barns to house our belongings only traps us from the real important things in life. (Check out Barn-Building.)

I ask for your prayers so that I can be judicious with my duties of what to keep and what to rid myself of in the coming days.


A Father's Day Prayer

Let us praise those fathers
who have striven to balance the
demands of work, marriage, and children
with an honest awareness of both joy and sacrifice.

Let us praise those fathers who,
lacking a good model for a father,
have worked to become a good father.

Let us praise those fathers who
by their own account
were not always there for their children,
but who continue to offer those children,
now grown, their love and support.

Let us pray for those fathers who
have been wounded by the neglect
and hostility of their children.

Let us praise those fathers who,
despite divorce, have remained in their children's lives.

Let us praise those fathers whose children are adopted,
and whose love and support has offered healing.

Let us praise those fathers who,
as stepfathers, freely choose the obligation of fatherhood
and earned their step children's love and respect.

Let us praise those fathers who
have lost a child to death,
and continue to hold the child in their heart.

Let us praise those men who have no children,
but cherish the next generation as if they were their own.

Let us praise those men who have "fathered" us
in their role as mentors and guides.

Let us praise those men who
are about to become fathers;
may they openly delight in their children.

And let us praise those fathers who have died,
but live on in our memory and
whose love continues to nurture us.
Kirk Loadman


Where Is McAdoo?

Church of All Saints, McAdoo
This past week I received a new assignment as pastor of All Saints Parish in McAdoo. One can say that I am the founding pastor, since it is part of the consolidation process that the Diocese of Allentown is undergoing. The Catholics of three towns (McAdoo, Tresckow and Keylares) will come together to form this new parish as of July 15, 2008. It will be located at the former Saint Patrick site. I ask for your prayers for all those affected by the closures in our diocese. By the way, McAdoo is four miles south of Hazleton, Pennsylvania.


We Remember....Thanks!

By Mark A. Wright, HMC(SS)
22 June, 2000

I first saw him on a park bench
I've seen him every day
Sitting in a shady grove
Where my children come to play
Sometimes he feeds the birds and squirrels
Or whittles little toys
Sometimes he just sits and smiles
At the laughing girls and boys
And I never paid him any mind
'Till one day just this year
I noticed that he wore a frown
And on his cheek ... a tear.

Well I asked him why he seemed so down
He looked up, began to say
I lost half my friends 60 years ago today
He told me of the terror
As he fought to reach dry land
By the time the beachhead was secure
Half his friends lay in the sand.

That was just in one long day
He fought on for 4 years more
And the 60 years from then to now
Have not dimmed His sights of war
He said they have reunions
Just to keep in touch and share
And for each comrade who has gone on
They leave an empty chair

Well, His park bench has been empty now
About 6 months or so
And if I'd never took the time
Then I never would've known
That sitting on that simple bench
With bread crumbs and little toys
Was a man who gave his all
To guarantee my daily joys
So give thanks to all the men and women
Who're still here or have gone before
And made the highest sacrifice
In both Peace time and in War
Because they bought our freedom
Paid their own blood, sweat, and tears
Then endured the heartache of those empty chairs
For all these years.

So please do not ignore them
Or speed by without a care
'Cause you never know
When you might pass by
A hero, unaware.


Whatever Happened to Corpus Christi Processions?

The weekend we honor the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ -- Corpus Christi. As a child I remember my parish, named after this awesome gift, having Eucharistic Processions. Today, only a few parishes have these spiritual events and one could ask "Why?" The short answer is the people of God. Our world today is filled with all types of distractions -- computers, sporting events and occupational over-time. These remove us from the reality that is our Lord.
The Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy: Principles and Guidelines gives us some food for thought this day.

160. The Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ is observed on the Thursday following the solemnity of the Most Blessed Trinity. [In the United States it is observed on the Sunday following Trinity Sunday.] This feast is both a doctrinal and cultic response to heretical teaching on the mystery of the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, and the apogee of an ardent devotional movement concentrated on the Sacrament of the Altar. It was extended to the entire Latin Church by Urban IV in 1264.

Popular piety encouraged the process that led to the institution of the feast of Corpus Christi, which reciprocally inspired the development of new forms of Eucharistic piety among the people of God.

For centuries, the celebration of Corpus Christi remained the principal point of popular piety’s concentration on the Eucharist. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, faith, in reaction to various forms of Protestantism, and culture (art, folklore and literature) coalesced in developing lively and significant expressions Eucharistic devotion in popular piety.

161. Eucharistic devotion, which is so deeply rooted in the Christian faithful, must integrate two basic principles:
the supreme reference point for Eucharistic devotion is the Lord’s Passover; the Pasch, as understood by the Fathers, is the feast of Easter, while the Eucharist is before all else the celebration of Paschal Mystery or of the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Christ; all forms of Eucharist devotion must have an intrinsic reference to the Eucharistic Sacrifice, or dispose the faithful for its celebration, or prolong the worship which is essential to that Sacrifice.

Hence, the Rituale Romanum states “The faithful, when worshipping Christ present in the Sacrament of the Altar, should recall that this presence comes from the Sacrifice of the Eucharist, and tends towards sacramental and spiritual communion” (169).

162. The procession on the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ is, so to speak, the “typical form” of a Eucharistic procession. It constitutes, in fact, a prolongation of the celebration of the Eucharist: immediately after Mass, the Host, which was consecrated at that Mass, is carried outside of the church, so that the Christian people might “give public witness to its faith and devotion regarding the Most Blessed Sacrament” (170).

The faithful understand and appreciate the values inherent in the Corpus Christi procession: they are aware of being “the People of God” that walks with its Lord, proclaiming faith in him who has become truly “God-with-us”.

It is necessary, however, to ensure that the norms governing Eucharistic processions be observed (171), especially those ensuring respect for the dignity and reverence of the Blessed Sacrament (172). It is also necessary to ensure that the typical elements of popular piety, such as the decoration of the streets and windows, the homage of flowers, the altars upon which the Blessed Sacrament will be placed at the stations along the route, and the hymns and prayers “should be so arranged that all may manifest their faith in Christ and devote their attention to the Lord alone” (173), and exclude all forms of competition.

163. The Eucharistic procession is ordinarily concluded with Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. In the specific case of the Corpus Christi procession, the blessing constitutes the solemn conclusion of the entire celebration: the usual priestly blessing is replaced by the blessing with the Blessed Sacrament.

It is important that the faithful understand that this blessing with the Blessed Sacrament is not a form of Eucharistic piety that stands on its own, but that it is the concluding moment of a sufficiently long act of worship. Hence, liturgical norms prohibit “exposition merely for the purpose of giving the blessing” (174).


Trinity: The Preacher's Nightmare?

How does one describe a mystery? How does one define the undefinable? When it comes to the Most Holy Trinity that can easily be the case for the preacher. Each year when I get to this celebration I feel a mental block. What is something new that I can add to what I have said before? Nothing!

Father, the Creator. Son, the Redeemer. Holy Spirit, the Sanctifier. Okay, I knew that.

Father, the Lover. Son, the Beloved. Holy Spirit, the Love! Something novel? Perhaps.
But the important fact remains that we who are baptized into our Lord Jesus Christ share in that love. How truly blessed we are!


Happy Mother's Day!

In honor of the one who gave birth to me. Thanks, Mother.

Come Holy Spirit!

Today is a very important and memorable day for me since Pentecost was the feast I celebrated at my First Mass. While the day brought many anxieties, the reliance on the Holy Spirit to get me through gave me a great peace. It is amazing that 16 years later the items that caused that uneasiness are things of the past, but there are others to take their place. I have faith that they will continue to subside with the awesome gift from the Father and the Son. Come, Holy Spirit!


It's All About Who?

I am not the "Proud Parent of an Honor Student," I believe that "An Abortion Stops A Beating Heart," and I hope and pray that I preach "Jesus Saves." However, recently while driving I was behind a VW Beetle which had the above sticker attached to the bumper. What does this statement say to the world?

This "princess mentality" speaks volumes on what is wrong with our society today. (Pardon me if you are actually of royal lineage.) To live in a world that is rooted in community is what our Lord desires of us. Even though He is aware that we do not always get along, even though we fail to live up to His expectations, we are are still loved.

Of course, if God the Father was the one driving the Bug, that would be a different story.


"Christ Our Hope" Website

Thanks to Dave for directing me to the following website dedicated to our Pope's journey to our country. Check it out at http://www.uspapalvisit.com/.


Addressing the Bishops of the USA

During his visit to the US, His Holiness has several times referred to the sexual abuse crisis of minors in the Church by priests. This is what he had to say to the Bishops when he met with them at the National Basilica in Washington DC.

"Among the countersigns to the Gospel of life found in America and elsewhere is one that causes deep shame: the sexual abuse of minors. Many of you have spoken to me of the enormous pain that your communities have suffered when clerics have betrayed their priestly obligations and duties by such gravely immoral behavior. As you strive to eliminate this evil wherever it occurs, you may be assured of the prayerful support of God’s people throughout the world. Rightly, you attach priority to showing compassion and care to the victims. It is your God-given responsibility as pastors to bind up the wounds caused by every breach of trust, to foster healing, to promote reconciliation and to reach out with loving concern to those so seriously wronged.

Responding to this situation has not been easy and, as the President of your Episcopal Conference has indicated, it was “sometimes very badly handled”. Now that the scale and gravity of the problem is more clearly understood, you have been able to adopt more focused remedial and disciplinary measures and to promote a safe environment that gives greater protection to young people. While it must be remembered that the overwhelming majority of clergy and religious in America do outstanding work in bringing the liberating message of the Gospel to the people entrusted to their care, it is vitally important that the vulnerable always be shielded from those who would cause harm. In this regard, your efforts to heal and protect are bearing great fruit not only for those directly under your pastoral care, but for all of society.

If they are to achieve their full purpose, however, the policies and programs you have adopted need to be placed in a wider context. Children deserve to grow up with a healthy understanding of sexuality and its proper place in human relationships. They should be spared the degrading manifestations and the crude manipulation of sexuality so prevalent today. They have a right to be educated in authentic moral values rooted in the dignity of the human person. This brings us back to our consideration of the centrality of the family and the need to promote the Gospel of life. What does it mean to speak of child protection when pornography and violence can be viewed in so many homes through media widely available today? We need to reassess urgently the values underpinning society, so that a sound moral formation can be offered to young people and adults alike. All have a part to play in this task – not only parents, religious leaders, teachers and catechists, but the media and entertainment industries as well. Indeed, every member of society can contribute to this moral renewal and benefit from it. Truly caring about young people and the future of our civilization means recognizing our responsibility to promote and live by the authentic moral values which alone enable the human person to flourish. It falls to you, as pastors modelled upon Christ, the Good Shepherd, to proclaim this message loud and clear, and thus to address the sin of abuse within the wider context of sexual mores. Moreover, by acknowledging and confronting the problem when it occurs in an ecclesial setting, you can give a lead to others, since this scourge is found not only within your Dioceses, but in every sector of society. It calls for a determined, collective response.

Priests, too, need your guidance and closeness during this difficult time. They have experienced shame over what has occurred, and there are those who feel they have lost some of the trust and esteem they once enjoyed. Not a few are experiencing a closeness to Christ in his Passion as they struggle to come to terms with the consequences of the crisis. The Bishop, as father, brother and friend of his priests, can help them to draw spiritual fruit from this union with Christ by making them aware of the Lord’s consoling presence in the midst of their suffering, and by encouraging them to walk with the Lord along the path of hope (cf. Spe Salvi, 39). As Pope John Paul II observed six years ago, “we must be confident that this time of trial will bring a purification of the entire Catholic community”, leading to “a holier priesthood, a holier episcopate and a holier Church” (Address to the Cardinals of the United States, 23 April 2002, 4). There are many signs that, during the intervening period, such purification has indeed been taking place. Christ’s abiding presence in the midst of our suffering is gradually transforming our darkness into light: all things are indeed being made new in Christ Jesus our hope."


Good Friday

You chose the cross with every breath,
The perfect life, the perfect death:
You chose the cross
A crown of thorns You wore for us,
And crowned us with eternal life:
You chose the cross
And though Your soul was overwhelmed with pain,
Obedient to death You overcame.

I'm lost in wonder, I'm lost in love,
I'm lost in praise for evermore
Because of Jesus' unfailing love
I am forgiven, I am restored.

You loosed the cords of sinfulness
And broke the chains of my disgrace:
You chose the cross.
Up from the grave victorious
You rose again so glorious:
You chose the cross
The sorrow that surrounded you was mine,
Yet not my will but Yours be done You cried.


Maudy Thursday

Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, "Take, eat; this is my body." And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, "Drink of it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I shall not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom" Matthew 26:26-29


Past, Present and Future

As I mentioned some time ago, the Diocese of Allentown is going through a time of consolidation and restructuring of our parishes. It is a hard thing to go through for a bishop, priests or the laypeople in general. But it is a necessity. Small parishes do not receive the maximum benefit of a larger community. One could argue that smaller parishes are more intimate, homey and comfortable. However, Jesus told His disciples to "go out" into the world preaching the good news and "baptize all nations". Staying in our smaller world does not lead us to where the Lord wants us. Please pray for the people who are effected by the decisions of restructuring and consolidation. Jesus is calling us to be one big family rooted in love.

As a priest I pray that I can lead others move beyond the comfortable walls that shelter them in order to embrace a life in service and charity. I know of some of my brother priests live out their ministry with little change. The "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" mentality doesn't reflect a life in renewal and Christ. It seems that they live in the yesterday, and when crises hits they respond in today, but when the calmness of the situation occurs they revert once again to yesterday. Jesus does not surround Himself with the mundane or ordinary, rather He constantly strives to motive us to grow in the Spirit, reaching out to others.

Looking at only the PAST invites no growth. Looking at only the PRESENT hides learning and hinders hope. Looking only at the FUTURE neglects preparedness for tomorrow. A balance of all three seems to be the ingredients for the perfect life. If only we do so with more trust in Him.


Prayer Before The Crucifix

"O good and dearest Jesus, I kneel before your face. With all my heart I ask you to place in my heart more faith, hope and charity. Give me a true sorrow for my sins and a strong will to do better With great sorrow and grief I look upon your five wounds and think about them. Before my eyes are the words that the prophet David said of you, O good Jesus: "They have pierced my hands and feet They have numbered all my bones."

Prayer Source: Holy Lent by Eileen O'Callaghan, The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minnesota, 1975


Almsgiving Is Not a Dirty Word

Our Holy Father's Lenten message took a different turn this year. For years, the Lenten season for Catholics has been one to focus on three tasks and make them part of our daily practice: Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving. In our material and consumer-oriented world we have increasingly made the latter a naughty word. Pope Benedict attempts to alter that way of thinking.

"...I wish to spend some time reflecting on the practice of almsgiving, which represents a specific way to assist those in need and, at the same time, an exercise in self-denial to free us from attachment to worldly goods. The force of attraction to material riches and just how categorical our decision must be not to make of them an idol, Jesus confirms in a resolute way: “You cannot serve God and mammon” (Lk 16,13). Almsgiving helps us to overcome this constant temptation, teaching us to respond to our neighbor’s needs and to share with others whatever we possess through divine goodness. ... According to the teaching of the Gospel, we are not owners but rather administrators of the goods we possess: these, then, are not to be considered as our exclusive possession, but means through which the Lord calls each one of us to act as a steward of His providence for our neighbor. ... When we do things out of love, we express the truth of our being; indeed, we have been created not for ourselves but for God and our brothers and sisters (cf. 2 Cor 5,15)."


Making An ASH Out Of Oneself

Yes, that is what we do. Almost everyday we rise from our beds, we begin a new day filled with choices. Good and bad choices. Of course bad choices lend themselves to sin. On this day, perhaps more than any other day of the year (except Good Friday) we should be conscious of our sinfulness and in a particular way admit it by displaying the ashes in the form of the cross on our foreheads. In short we let the world know we are rooted in SIN and desire to move in a different direction.

Ash Wednesday is the day that we NAME our sins, CLAIM them as belonging to us so that we can TAME them. NAME, CLAIM, TAME. For some 1100 years Christians have been celebrating this day. In modern times we no longer run around wearing itchy sack cloth, but this one day of the year, when we smudge our faces with palm residue, we put the other 364 (or 365 for leap year) days into perceptive.

May your Lent be truly a time to rediscover, renew and recharge your life in and with the Lord.


Suffering and Redemption

Why does God allow suffering to be part of our lives? When we hear the word "suffering", we hear it in negative terms. It is difficult to experience and possibly more difficult to watch another go through it. Often we want to end it on our say so.

However, it should be comforting to reflect upon the fact that God Himself entered into human suffering through the Incarnate Son who suffered and died so that we could overcome death. We must remember that both suffering and death came into the world with our first parents and their sin. Yet, because of the Son's obedience to the Will of God in these afflictions, we are given redemption.

In baptism we are made one with Christ and join in His suffering on the Cross and thereby assist in the work of Salvation for the whole world. The suffering that we experience brings a grace-filled opportunity to offer prayer for oneself, our loved ones, and our world-wide family. Jesus is with us in our suffering, because we have and are sharing in His.

For those whose faith is little or lost completely, suffering never seems to make sense. Some may even begin contemplating suicide. Why should one endure pain and suffering when death is the end of all meaning and purpose? The immorality of harming the great good of human life should be apparent even to those without faith. Sacred Scripture speaks directly against intending one's death, especially to end suffering. It is with deep faith in Jesus Christ that one can learn to offer up their pain for others -- moving from selfishness to love.