Merry Christmas, Everyone!

Finished with my Christmas Masses, I now have some time to sit and reflect upon the days events. It seems to my that we are very fortunate people. I mean that...we are fortunate people. When I ponder the event that we celebrate, the birth of our Lord, I cannot help but focus on the meager beginning of the Incarnation. Spend some time thinking about that for yourself. Oh how we get ourselves so wrapped up in the little things of life. Merry Christmas and God's Blessings!


Immaculate Conception: St. Anne's Love

Some non-Catholic Christians criticize Catholics for our devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. They are afraid that celebrations like today's take away glory from Jesus Christ, the one Lord of life and history, the one Savior. They are afraid that because we give so much veneration and respect to Jesus' Mother, we will fail to give enough respect to Jesus himself.

But those are foolish fears. Have you ever known anyone who resented compliments being given to their mother? Jesus himself, in fact, started devotion to Mary, by choosing her to bring him into the world. After all, he could have become incarnate just by forming himself from the clay of the earth, as he had done with Adam. But instead, he chose to give himself a human mother, to whom he was devoted, following his own commandment to "honor your father and mother." And he passed that devotion onto his Church, by entrusting his disciples to her care while he hung on the cross.

True devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, then, does not distance us from Christ; it brings us closer to him. Today's celebration is a perfect example of how that happens. Today we commemorate and celebrate two things:
•first, the conception of Mary in her mother's womb (Saint Anne);
•and second, the dogma (officially defined in 1854 by Pope Pius IX, after being believed and celebrated by the whole Church for centuries) explaining that that conception was "immaculate", that Mary was protected from the stain and effects of original sin from the very first moment of her existence.

Why did God give Mary such a unique privilege? Because of Christ, and because of us.


There Was a Time: An Advent Poem

There was a time when there was no time,
When darkness reigned as king,
When a formless void was all that there was
in the nothingness of eternity,
When it was night.
But over the void and over the night Love watched.
There was a time when time began.
It began when Love spoke.

Time began for light and life, for splendor and grandeur.
Time began for seas and mountains, for flowers and birds.
Time began for the valleys to ring with the songs of life,
and for the wilderness to echo with the wailing of wind
and howling of animals.
And over the earth, Love watched.

There was a time when time began to be recorded.
A time when Love breathed and a new creature came to life.
A new creature so special that it was in the image and likeness of Love
Of Love who is God.
And so man was born and the dawn of a new day shone on the world.
And over man, Love watched.

But there came a time when the new day faded.
A time when man who was like God tried to be God.
A time when the creature challenged the creator.
A time when man preferred death to life and darkness to light.
And so the new day settled into twilight.
And over the darkness, Love watched.

There was a time of waiting in the darkness.
A time when man waited in the shadows,
And all creation groaned in sadness.
There was waiting for Love to speak again--for Love to breathe again.
And kings and nations and empires rose and faded in the shadows.
And Love waited and watched.

Finally, there came a time when Love spoke again.
A Word from eternity--a Word
Spoken to a girl who belonged to a people not known by the world
Spoken to a girl who belonged to a family not known by her people
To a girl named Mary.
And all creation waited in hushed silence for the girl's answer.
And Mary spoke her yes.
And Love watched over Mary.

And so there came a time when Love breathed again
When Love breathed new life into Mary's yes.
And a new day dawned for the World
A day when light returned to darkness, when life returned to dispel death
And so a day came when Love became man--a mother bore a child.
And Love watched over Love--a Father watched His Son.

And, lastly, there came a time when you and I became a part of time.
Now is the time that you and I wait.
Now we wait to celebrate what the world waited for.
And as we wait to celebrate what was at one time, we become a part of that time
A time when a new dawn and a new dream and a new creation began for man.
And as a part of time, Love waits and Love watches over us.

Fr. Joseph Breighner


Lincoln's Thanksgiving Proclamation

Washington, D.C.
October 3, 1863

By the President of the United States of America.
A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.

In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.

Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln
William H. Seward,Secretary of State


Catholic Campaign For Human Development?

Thank you Bishop Barres for being only one of four bishops in the US to not take up this collection this year. May we pray that other bishops will follow suit.

Where Have All The Crosses Gone?

The leader of the Greek Orthodox Church is ready to convoke an extraordinary synod to strategize how to combat a European Court of Human Rights decision that ruled crucifixes in schools are a violation of rights.

"Majorities also have rights," Ieronymos II said in a statement that L'Osservatore Romano reported.

His statement responds to the Nov. 3 ruling from the rights court, which decided in favor of a mother who protested the crucifix in her children's school. The court found that the presence of crucifixes in schools "restricted the right of parents to educate their children in conformity with their convictions."


A Pensacola, Florida abortion clinic closed Oct. 30, just as the 40 Days for Life prayer vigils being held at the site were drawing to an end. The clinic was facing a state fine for an expired license. The facility had been the site for three "40 Days."

“There had been an abortion clinic in that location for 25 years,” said David Bereit, national director of 40 Days for Life. “People have prayed there that abortions would cease, and it was during the fall 40 Days for Life campaign -- the peaceful, prayerful presence of faithful Christians -- that it was finally announced that this facility, where untold numbers of unborn children perished, was closing.

"That is not just a coincidence. God works in mysterious ways, and this is indeed an answer to prayer!”


Harrisburg Bids Farewell To Bishop Rhoads

The announcement came as a shock to the faithful of Harrisburg that their beloved Bishop has been chosen to lead the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend. The Bishop has been out-spoken on various topics pertinent to Catholic teaching. Most recently, the Notre Dame honoring President Obama at this past summer's commencement ceremony. Rhoads now shepherds the diocese that is home to ND. Could this be the Holy Father's hand being played on the topic? Our prayers are with Bishop Rhoads, and the dioceses of Harrisburg & Fort-Wayne-South Bend.


In Definition Of Marriage

The U.S. bishops are praising Maine's voters for speaking out in favor of the truth of marriage and repealing a state law that would have allowed same-sex "marriage." Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, the chairman of the U.S. bishops' Ad Hoc Committee for the Defense of Marriage, said this in a statement released on behalf of the U.S. episcopal conference.

Maine is the 31st state to oppose gay "marriage" at the polls. Five states now allow the unions.
"The people of Maine voted to uphold the true nature of marriage as the union of one man and one woman,..."Marriage is an institution which precedes all others, whether political or religious. It deserves the state’s reinforcement and protection," said Kurtz.

While the archbishop acknowledged that the Church's opposition to gay "marriage" is hard for some to accept, he urged "all to respect it...the Church "stands for the basic rights of all people," he continued, and noted that it speaks out against discrimination or unjust treatment of any group of people. But the issue of marriage, "has nothing to do with denying basic rights to anyone, though it is often framed in such terms."

"In fact, protecting marriage is safeguarding the rights of our most dependent and vulnerable among us -- our children, who deserve to be welcomed as a gift of spousal love and not to be intentionally deprived of a mother and a father," Archbishop Kurtz said.

"Sadly, the attempts to redefine marriage today ignore or reject the unique identity and gifts of man and woman," said Archbishop Kurtz. "Such a dismissal only fosters confusion about what it means to be human. "Protecting marriage between one man and one woman is a matter of justice. It is a matter of truth. Law should be at the service of truth and justice. Laws based on untruths are unjust."

Archbishop Kurtz invited all to work toward making marriages stronger, and to not attempt to redefine it: "Marriage must be protected and promoted today for what it is and what it is meant to be: the lifelong, exclusive union between husband and wife." "There are many ways to uphold the basic human rights of all people," he added, "but sacrificing marriage can never be one of them."

Check out TIME this week.


Pray For The Poor Souls In Purgatory

O Almighty and Eternal Father, as by your will we pray for the souls in purgatory. I dedicate to you through the most pure hands of Mary, all the masses that are offered today, for your glory and for the release of the souls in Purgatory. I humbly beg you to forgive them their sins, through the grace of your beloved Son and to have mercy on them.

In reparation for the failures of these souls to show you praise, love, honor and gratitude, and for the merits which they failed to gain, I offer to you all the praise, love, honor, gratitude, and suffering with which your Son praised you while He was on Earth.

In reparation for all the negligence and indifference showed by these souls, I offer you the ardent eagerness with which Your Son accomplished all his deeds on Earth, deeds which endure and glorify you in all the Holy Masses.

In reparation for all the mistakes and faults of these souls, I offer you all the virtues of your Son, which continue to glorify you in all the Holy Masses.

In expiation of the sins of these souls, I offer you the divine Blood which your Son spilled while on earth, and which He still offers to you for us in all the holy Masses.

As recompense for all the punishments and tortures which these souls suffer, I offer you the terrible suffering and death of your beloved Son, which are renewed by him in all the holy Masses.

For the liberation of these souls from the darkness of sin, I offer you the merits which your Son had on earth, and which he still offers in all the holy Masses.

Finally to appease your strict justice, I offer you all the virtues of the most Holy Mother of God and all your saints, who suffered greatly to make up for what the souls in purgatory failed to fulfill. May the merits which they obtained, united with the suffering and death of your beloved Son, attain for the souls in purgatory everlasting freedom and peace. Amen.


Saint Bernard's Joy

Only Jesus is "joy to the heart," says Benedict XVI, citing words from St. Bernard of Clairvaux. The Pope offered a reflection on the 12th-century saint, highlighting the abbot's personal relationship with Christ. "Only Jesus -- insists Bernard in face of the complex dialectical reasoning of his time -- only Jesus is 'honey to the mouth, song to the ear, joy to the heart,'" the Holy Father said. He recalled another line from the abbot: "'When you discuss or speak, nothing has flavor for me, if I have not heard resound the name of Jesus.'"


This weekend I am the Assistant Spiritual Director for the 80th Women's Weekend of Cursillo in the Allentown Diocese. Please pray that the ladies will find this "short course" in our faith a valuable experience. DeColores!


Thank a priest this weekend!


Year For Priests: Offer Illness For Priests

The president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry is urging sick people to offer their sufferings for the holiness of priests. Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski made this appeal in a letter sent to the sick and suffering and to priests who care for them. The prelate noted the Year for Priests which is under way and said: "I invite you, dear sick brothers and sisters, to unceasingly address your prayers and the offering up of your sufferings to the Lord of life for the holiness of your well loved priests, so that they can with devotion and pastoral charity perform the ministry that is entrusted to them by Christ, the physician of bodies and souls."


"The longer I live, the more I realize
the impact of attitude on life.
Attitude, to me, is more important than facts.
It is more important than the past,
than education, than money,
than circumstances, than failures, than successes,
than what other people think, say or do.
It is more important
than appearance, giftedness or skill.
It will make or break
a company... a church... a home.
The remarkable thing is
we have a choice every day
regarding the attitude we embrace for that day
We cannot change our past...
we cannot change the fact
that people will act in a certain way.
We cannot change the inevitable.
The only thing we can do
is play the one string we have,
and that is our attitude...
I am convinced that life
is 10% what happens to me
and 90% how I react to it.
And so it is with you...
we are in charge of our Attitudes”

by Charles Swindoll


Anti-Catholic Sentiment Again in "2012"?

The movie trailer for 2012 can be veiwed by some as another anti-Catholic statement by the secular movie-town elite. Case in point:

At the 20 second mark we've got the arms of the Jesus the Redeemer statue in Rio De Janiero falling off and then the whole thing falling over completely.

34 seconds in you see like fifty thousand people with candles standing in St. Peter's Square looking up at the Pope who's looking down at them.

36 seconds in you've got a crowd of people all making the sign of the cross.

50 seconds there's an image of St. Peter's Basilica toppling.

52 seconds
cut to Cardinals inside praying only to look up at the art on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel to see it breaking apart and presumably crushing them.

54 seconds
those people who were praying with candles outside are now screaming and running. Why? Because the dome of St. Peter's is crashing down on top of them and then rolling over them crushing a few thousand people as it rolls essentially on top of the camera blacking everything out.

Doesn't the Catholic Church do anything good? What about the aid it gives to the world's crisis situations, the largest charitable health care provider, etc. Some day the voice of the Church needs to be heard.


God opens doors.
Look back and thank God.
Look forward and trust God.
Look around and serve God.
Look within and find God!
God closes doors
no man can open
and God opens doors
no man can close.


Sacramentality Of Marriage

Today's readings spoke to us regarding the sanctity of the Sacrament of Marriage. It is in these readings that Jesus stipulates that husbands should not divorce their wives. The question then arises as to why the Church allows so many previously married couples to receive a Declaration of Nullity (Annulments).

The simple truth is that one must look at the Sacramentality of the Marriage, not just the legality of the union. To be a Sacrament, the Marriage must contain three clear conditions. First, the couple must recognize that a marriage is permanent, lasting until death. This means that the couple must have no intention to end the marriage; therefore, pre-nuptual agreements are out of the question since they place a condition upon the union and the possibility of the marriage failing. Second, the couple must intend to be faithful to one another. Fidelity is something that causes many marriages to fail, but it does not simply mean another individual becoming involved in the relationship. There are many other distractions that cause one to be unfaithful: addictions, possessions, job, etc. Finally, the couple must have an agreed openness to life, meaning that they do and intend to have children by this marriage (procreation).

These three conditions, when shared and honored between the couple demonstrate to the Church that the Sacrament of Marriage is indeed there. Where all three are not present the Sacrament is in question. Check the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops website at http://www.foryourmarriage.org


Pope Benedict XVI approved the date and theme for the next International Eucharistic Congress, to focus on the Eucharist as communion with Christ and with one another.
The Vatican press office reported today that the Pope approved the June 10-17, 2012, conference theme. The event will be held in Dublin, Ireland.

A communiqué explained that the theme is inspired in No. 7 of "Lumen Gentium": "Really partaking of the body of the Lord in the breaking of the Eucharistic bread, we are taken up into communion with Him and with one another. 'Because the bread is one, we though many, are one body, all of us who partake of the one bread' (1 Corinthians 10:17). In this way all of us are made members of His Body, (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:27) 'but severally members one of another' (Romans 12:5)."

In fact, this 50th Eucharistic congress will take place precisely on the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, which, according to Dublin's Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, was "a moment of renewal and further reflection on the teaching of the Church and of her self-understanding as Body of Christ and People of God."


Just For the Fun Of It

Obama Anti-Catholic? Pro-Abortion?

Since taking office, President Obama has been labeled ANTI-CATHOLIC and pro-abortion. Some argue that not to be the case, yet the questions still linger when he has done the following:
• He has filled his administration with prominent pro-abortion Catholics, including Kathleen Sebelius, Ken Salazar, and Leon Panetta. Catholics Tom Daschle and Bill Richardson were also nominated, but backed out. And don’t forget Vice President Joe Biden!
• The Obama team is working closely with George Soros who funded “Catholic” dissident groups such as Catholics United and Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good. And President Obama recently named Alexia Kelley from Catholics in Alliance to a plum position in his faith-based initiative office.
• Obama has named anti-Catholic bigot Henry Knox to his faith-based advisory council. Knox has called the Pope a “discredited leader,” and claimed that members of the Knights of Columbus who helped pass the California marriage amendment were “foot soldiers of a discredited army of oppression.”
• When speaking earlier this year at Georgetown, Obama staffers demanded that the monogram ‘IHS’ on the pediment over the stage be covered up. IHS is a traditional abbreviation for the name of Christ.
These points are fact. Yet, we are told that our President is not prejudice. Jesus warned his followers, "Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves." (Matt. 7:15) Yes, there are wolves in the Catholic Church that effect the lives of rest of the fold. While the appointments of these so-called "Catholics" look good to the "Average Jane in the pew", the truth will be revealed. It continously amazes me how most liberals state that they are fighting for the under-dog, but still the most vulnerable have no voice.


Remembering 9-11

Alan Jackson sings "Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning"


Benedict On Eloi's Voice

Rembrandt Van Rijn - Philosopher in Meditation

"People need to carve time out of their busy day to dedicate to silent prayer or meditation in order to hear what God has to say," said Pope Benedict XVI in this week's audience address. We allow ourselves to become completely caught up in their daily activities and concerns, forgetting that Jesus should be the focus of their lives. It is important to learn how to achieve an inner silence in order to listen to God's voice, he said.

The faithful must take time out of their day to seek out a quiet place, "a sort of sitting parlor, where God can speak to us," he said. One can learn God's word and the right path to take in life through quiet prayer and meditation, he said. All Christians, not just contemplative religious, must cultivate this intimate union with Christ, Pope Benedict said.

"We shouldn't let ourselves be completely absorbed by our daily activities, problems and worries, forgetting that Jesus must truly be at the center of our lives," he said.


The Moral Value Of Health Care

The bishop of Fargo, Bishop Samuel Aquila, is outlining four principles for Catholics to take into account when analyzing the moral value of a health care reform proposal. In a statement released Aug. 29, he addressed the current debate in the U.S. legislature over various health care reform proposals.

The Bishop affirmed that the Church "ought to always promote wider and more complete access to health care," but clarified that this "does not mean that in practice the Church ought to support each and every plan which is proposed by civil leaders."

The first, he stated, is that "any provisions for actions which deny the dignity of human life, especially abortion, euthanasia, whether passive or active, and embryonic stem-cell research must be excluded from all health care plans."

As a second principle, the bishop affirmed, "the freedom of consciences must be safeguarded."

Third: "Access to health care ought to be available to all people, including the poor, legal immigrants, the handicapped, and especially the elderly and unborn members of society."

Lastly, "the means of providing access to health care should be governed by the principle of subsidiarity, being reasonably and equitably distributed among members of society."


Lost and Found: Episode One The Early Church

Keep the creative teaching coming Dr. Russ. Good mesasage!


Hearing Vs. Listening

Each day many of us use words in our language that mean something other than what is intended. For example: Do you think there is a difference between hearing and listening? Stereotypically, women have asked their husbands for decades, "Do you hear me?" when they should have been asking "Are you listening to me?"
If you said there is a difference between these two words, then you are right, there is! Hearing is simply the act of perceiving sound by the ear. If you are not hearing-impaired, hearing simply happens. Listening, however, is something you consciously choose to do. Listening requires concentration so that your brain processes meaning from words and sentences. Listening leads to understanding and learning.

Most people tend to be "hard of listening" rather than "hard of hearing." Perhaps we should be more conscious of our listening to God. Speak, Lord, I'm listening!


Bishops Offer Healthcare Site

WASHINGTON, D.C., AUG. 17, 2009 (Zenit.org).- As the U.S. president and Congress continue to consider health care reform, the nation's bishops are offering a Web page to support a package that protects human dignity.

The site includes letters from bishops to Congress, videos, facts and statistics, frequently asked questions, and links for contacting legislators.

Richard Doerflinger, associate director of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities, describes how abortion relates to the health care reform debate. Kathy Saile, director of Domestic Social Development, outlines the bishops' general position and concerns.

The page also contains facts and statistics about Catholic health care in the United States, which includes 624 hospitals, 164 home health agencies, and 41 hospice organizations.

Bishops' health care site: http://www.usccb.org/healthcare


Bishop Barres Visits OLPH

Monsignor Sacks, Bishop Barres & Me
Photo: Ralph K. Sullivan

A Lost Soul: FOUND


What Is Truth?

Nikolai Ge (1890)
The other day I was in a lively discussion with someone who told me that I "do not hold back anything" when it comes to the truth. It amazes me how often people want to "know" the truth, but they do not want to "hear" the truth. I think that this is really based on society's pressure upon us to conform to the understanding of political correctness.

Pontius Pilate asked the question of Jesus as we see above, "What is Truth?". The definition of "truth" is the conformity to fact or actuality. And yet there is no single definition on which all scholars or philosophers agree and there is great debate as to whether truth is absolute or relative or objective or subjective. And of course, truth can be sought after in many areas of life.

Jesus told His disciples that He was "the Way, the Truth and the Life". Not only was He the Truth, but He spoke the Truth. As a minister of the Word, I am often perplexed by the people in the pew and their understanding of what Jesus says. Maybe it is the lack of the minister to preach the challenging message of the Gospel. Maybe it is our "couldn't care less attitude" to make it part of our life. Maybe it is the fact that we have allowed the society to instill in us the lack of love for our neighbors because of our unwillingness to be hurt in the relationship.

The truth needs to be expressed now more than the ever before. Of course, it must be tempered with love and care as Jesus Himself did. If we are genuine with ourselves then we will do what God commands of us and hear the direction He gives us to do better each day, for Him.


A Prayer To The Mother Of God

You saw the windstorm flames descend,
Fishermen moving inland to mend
The hopes of men with heaven to hear
Now we embark on ground swells to fear;
We sail to water's end:
O Star of the Sea, be near,
Shining guardian, guiding friend.

Lead us by fire through trackless night;
Release our eyes from shadowed sight:
Maid, who can make --- from little --- all
And fructify the barren fall
With prayer from heaven's height,
To you in hope we call,
O Mother of the Lord of light.

Treasure room, where the Spirit King
Has hid a brilliant, priceless thing;
Celestial mine, producing gold
That gives true value to the mold
Of time: Sweet Mary, sing,
And let God's poor be told
Of aid good men and angels bring.

Your spark of pulsing glory grew
To warm this wintry world anew;
You set the Morning Star in place
From out of Jacob's darkened race
And pondered visions through
The light on Moses' face:
O Maid of grace, we look to you.

Through your transparency we gaze.
In awe at clouded heights, ablaze
With conversing splendor yet serene
In majesty; your glass is clean;
No interposing haze
But ours obscures the scene:
O loyal Queen, we join your praise.

For you are now what we would be,
Eternal flesh by heaven's degree;
Whose earthly mien, so chaste and fair,
Still trembles on the Maytime air:
O Virgin, lead us free
From sin and hell's despair;
In lands of unlikeness let us see.

Show us the Child of dawn, we pray,
As Simeon saw your piercing day
And hailed the life-restoring sun;
And if some healing work begun
Too late should meet delay,
O Mother, let it run
On feet of resurrected clay.

Surely your Son will not deny
The prayer you offer with our cry
Of need, whose blood in oneness beat
From Nazareth to the doleful street
That led to a sunless sky:
God's refuge and retreat,
Be with us now and when we die.

Abyss of love, conceiving night,
Where none can fathom depth or height:
Exalted lowliness, the bride
Of Him who rules the timeless tide
Of seas beyond our sight:
O Virgin, be our guide
Till we have reached the lands of light.

From One Shepherd, One Flock by Oliver Barres


Pope Benedict On Health Care

The health-care debate is a perfect example of why Pope Benedict XVI’s encyclical on the economy is called Caritas in VeritateCharity and Truth.
Think of it this way: Psychologists who have attempted to care for people’s mental health without regard to the reality of sin end up leaving people at the mercy of the worst psychological disasters. A medical community that rejects the sacredness of human life ends up killing more people — embryos and the elderly — than they save.
And economists who reduce people to economic entities — ignoring human love and the truth about the human person — find that they just make problems worse.
Health care is a perfect example. Charity and truth are why we have health care in the first place. The modern health-care system started with Christ’s command to “heal the sick.” Dedicated religious invented hospitals. Catholic nuns and brothers staffed them and allowed them to proliferate. Health care was affordable to all who needed it because, at its heart, it was a service of charity that responded to the dignity of the human person.
At the beginning of the 20th century, Catholic organizations provided education and health care that were practically free. At the beginning of the 21st century, the atheistic movements that worked so hard to unshackle society from the chains of the Church are faced with a society searching for, and not finding, lifelines to replace the ones the Church once provided.
Of course, there are plenty of other factors in the health-care situation America faces.
In order to head off labor unions, employers in the early 20th century started to add benefits, among them medical plans. Today, it is an expectation that employers will provide health-care benefits. That, in turn, means that health-care costs have been hidden from consumers for years: The money for the insurance comes out of their paycheck (and their employer’s account) before they see it.
The litigation explosion in the past 50 years in America has also caused a new dynamic in health care: Providers have to pay huge malpractice insurance rates, a cost they pass on to the medical insurers, who pass it on to you and me and our employers — or to prospective employers if we lose our job.
Yet health care remains a right. “The political community has a duty to honor the family, to assist it, and to ensure especially,” says the Catechism (No. 2211), “in keeping with the country’s institutions, the right to medical care, assistance for the aged, and family benefits.”
That doesn’t mean that all health care must be government-provided. After all, the Catechism is careful to use that phrase “in keeping with the country’s institutions” and also stresses the right to private ownership, housing and emigration — none of which are expected to be provided at government expense.
What, then, does it mean? How can we ensure the right to medical care in the face of our gargantuan, overpriced mess of a health-care system?
Pope Benedict’s encyclical gives his fundamental answer. “Love — caritas — is an extraordinary force which leads people to opt for courageous and generous engagement in the field of justice and peace. … Development, social well-being, the search for a satisfactory solution to the grave socioeconomic problems besetting humanity, all need this truth.”
In particular, Catholic social thought has translated this love and truth into the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity.
The principle of solidarity means we ought to love our neighbor, feed the poor, clothe the naked, and care for the sick.
On the one hand, the market alone will not achieve solidarity. “In fact, if the market is governed solely by the principle of the equivalence in value of exchanged goods, it cannot produce the social cohesion that it requires in order to function well,” writes the Holy Father (No. 38). He emphasizes: “Without internal forms of solidarity and mutual trust, the market cannot completely fulfill its proper economic function.”
On the other hand, “Solidarity is first and foremost a sense of responsibility on the part of everyone with regard to everyone,” he writes, “and it cannot therefore be merely delegated to the State.”
The principle of subsidiarity, on the other hand, is the Catholic belief that the person closest to a need has the strongest ability — and clearest duty — to provide care.
These two principles are at the heart of the health-care question: We are meant to help each other, and the person closest to the problem is responsible for assistance.
Pope Benedict XVI is careful not to place this responsibility solely on the shoulders of the marketplace or the state.
He nicely distinguishes between an over-reaching state on the one hand, and a laissez-faire approach on the other, when he writes (No. 58), “The principle of subsidiarity must remain closely linked to the principle of solidarity and vice versa, since the former without the latter gives way to social privatism, while the latter without the former gives way to paternalist social assistance that is demeaning to those in need.”
These two principles are helpful when assessing the health-care legislation being proposed in Washington.
Questions to ask: Does the proposal help us expand health care? In other words, does it allow us to cut the true factors that drive health-care costs — or does it kowtow to those who are responsible for those costs, for instance trial lawyers and pharmaceutical companies?
Also: Does the proposal put decisions about assistance in the hands of those closest to the need? Or does it move those decisions to Washington?
Of course, all of those questions are moot if a health-care proposal fails to protect the right to life. Health care that pays for abortion or pressures older patients to forgo necessary treatment isn’t a health-care system at all, but a death machine.
No matter how it is structured or how many benefits it provides to people, Catholics must oppose any legislator who proposes or supports a death machine.
Love and truth demand that.
Taken from National Catholic Register 08/02/09


The Man In The Glass

When you get what you want in your struggle for self
And the world makes you king for a day,
Just go to a mirror and look at yourself,
And see what That man has to say.

For it isn't your wife or family or friend
Who judgement upon you must pass;
The man whose verdict counts most in the end
Is the one staring back from the glass.

Some people may think you a straight-shootin' chum
and call you a person of place
But the man in the glass says you're only a bum
If you can't look him straight in the face.

He's the man to please, never mind all the rest
For he's with you clear up to the end,
And you've passed your most dangerous, difficult test
If the man in the glass is your friend.

You may fool the whole world down the pathway of years
And get pats on the back as you pass,
But your final reward will be heartaches and tears
If you've cheated the man in the glass.


The Retirement of Bishop Cullen

For the last eleven years Bishop Edward P. Cullen shepherded the Diocese of Allentown. To some the bishop was looked at, and to some degree still is seen, as an uncaring administrator who consolidated and closed parishes without concern for the people of God. I believe this is an unfair criticism. As soon as the bishop was seated in the diocese he knew that he would have to take on challenges that his predecessors did not attempt, primarily the restructuring of parishes.

However, Bishop Cullen did not start his leadership there. Instead, he turned his attention on prayer and asked the parishes of the diocese to initiate the RENEW program. Following this, the Church of the United States was forced to deal with the child sexual abuse by priests scandal. 2001 was not a great year for the diocese and the universal Church. Through it all Bishop Cullen did what he had to do by getting rid of priests where there was sufficient evidence of inappropriate conduct.

Once found in compliance with the norms of the Dallas Charter, the Bishop set his sights on having a campaign. It was entitled "Strengthening Our Future in Faith." Not only did it reach its goal, but surpassed it several times over. Today, our diocese and parishes benefit from this achievement.

That brings us again to the biggest and most difficult task Bishop Cullen was faced with -- the restructuring of our diocesan parishes. While he was not able to complete the process as bishop, it is well underway. Some are unhappy that their "church" was closed, but truth be told our faith was never supposed to be wrapped up in a building or ethnicity. Our faith should be something that we do, not where we do it. With the number of vocations to the priesthood declining, with the number of non-practicing Catholics increasing and with the demographics of the northern part of the diocese and inner city population shifts, one cannot argue that we needed to close churches. Bishop Cullen gave us the opportunity to be more alive in our faith, not allowing it to wither and decay, only to be thrown into the fire.

Let us pray that Bishop Cullen will enjoy his retirement and experience true peace.


Highlights of the Barres Ordination

Click here on the link for highlights of the day's events.


A New Era In The Diocese Of Allentown

Last night as we celebrated Solemn Vespers with Bishop Cullen and Bishop-Elect Barres, one could not help but ponder the challenges which await the new bishop of the Allentown Diocese. Of course, with such events come pomp and circumstance, however the "honeymoon" will be short lived for this shepherd. As with any public official, religious or political, the critics will soon circle --- "Where the body is, there the vultures will be gathered together." Luke 17:37

Lord, Jesus Christ,
You sent Your apostles to proclaim
the Good News with Peter as their head,
and You strengthened them
with the Holy Spirit.

Remind us that our bishops are
appointed by the same Spirit
and are successors of the Apostles
as pastors of the souls.

Together, with the Pope
and under his authority,
they have been sent throughout the world
to continue Your work.

Help our Bishop
to teach all members of the Diocese,
to sanctify them in truth
and give them Your nourishment.

Make us obey His teachers
and love him as the Church
obeys and loves You.

May we remain united with him,
growing in faith and love,
and attain eternal life with You. Amen.

Today as we witness the ordination and installation, I will be praying that the cares of the diocese do not weigh heavily upon Bishop Barres. May he be able to rest in the peace of the Spirit each night and wake to the guidance of the same Spirit each day.

Ad Multos Annos, Bishop Barres!


Boxer: Children Need Their Rights

Recently, I came across a story regarding Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., a Jewess, who is hurriedly urging adoption of a United Nations treaty she says provides for "basic human rights" for children but opponents argue would destroy parental rights to raise their children as they choose.

The U.N. Convention of the Rights of a Child (CRC) dictates the following:

  • Parents would no longer be able to administer reasonable punishments (i.e. spankings) to their children.

  • A murderer aged 17 years, 11 months and 29 days at the time of his crime could no longer be sentenced to life in prison.

  • Children would have the ability to choose their own religion while parents would only have the authority to give their children advice about religion.

  • The best interest of the child principle would give the government the ability to override every decision made by every parent if a government worker disagreed with the parent's decision.

  • A child's "right to be heard" would allow him/her to seek governmental review of every parental decision with which the child disagreed.

  • According to existing interpretation, it would be illegal for a nation to spend more on national defense than it does on children's welfare.

  • Children would acquire a legally enforceable right to leisure.

  • Teaching children about Christianity in schools has been held to be out of compliance with the CRC.

  • Allowing parents to opt their children out of sex education has been held to be out of compliance with the CRC.

  • Children would have the right to reproductive health information and services, including abortions, without parental knowledge or consent.

The government would decide what is in the best interest of a children in every case, and the CRC would be considered superior to state laws. Parents could be treated like criminals for making every-day decisions about their children's lives. Welcome to 1984!


Obama's Catholic Outreach?

Deal Hudson was director of Catholic outreach for George W. Bush's presidential campaigns. Recently, he was asked about President Obama's approach to issues important to Catholics and the details are outlined in this week's U.S. News Weekly.

Hudson thinks Obama's "common ground" talk on abortion is disingenuous because the "president has rolled back the ban on federal funding for abortion providers abroad, supports rescinding the federal ban on government-funded abortion in the District of Columbia, and hasn't ruled out covering abortion through healthcare reform."

Regarding the meeting between the Holy Father and Obama, Hudson says, "It was misleading of the president to speak to the Holy Father about committing to abortion reduction when he knew the healthcare bill would include funding for abortion services and when he was on the record for supporting federal funding for abortions in the District of Columbia. I think those two things taken together will make his promise to the Holy Father a political mistake that will come back to haunt him when it's held up to scrutiny down the road."

"The Pope surprised Obama by handing him the bioethics document on human dignity, whose opening line is: 'Human life should be respected from the moment of conception until death'."

"Obama has made many overtures to the Catholic community, from sitting down with Catholic reporters before meeting with the pope to appointing a well-respected Catholic to be his surgeon general. Sonia Sotomayor and/or surgeon general nominee Regina Benjamin are presented as Catholics, but the part of their story that the White House highlights is something that is compelling from another direction."

"The administration knows in both cases that, once the Catholic issues are explored, there are going to be problems [because of the nominees' liberal positions]. But in both cases, they know they can be offset. In the case of the surgeon general, it was her rebuilding of a clinic to help the poor. That's something very appealing to Catholics. And they know Catholics are very sensitive on Sotomayor to the struggle of a minority woman to navigate the byways of a male-dominated establishment. They have thought carefully about how they are going to offset the expected criticism of these pro-choice Catholic nominees by having stories ready that they know will appeal to Catholics and blunt criticism from the pro-life side."

"The contrast between John Kerry's Catholic outreach and Obama's is night and day. We know that Kerry's inner circle did not take the advice they were getting from their Catholic advisers. There have been Catholic Democrats who've worked for Democratic presidential elections going back four or five elections. And they had this attitude that all American Catholics were post-Vatican II Catholics, that we know what the Vatican thinks but we know that American Catholics believe something else, and we're going to appeal to that something else. It was an undertone of we're on the side of the dissenters."

"Obama campaign Catholic outreach director, Mark Linton realized that the kind of Catholics who'd voted for Bush were not the kind of Catholics who are moved by invocations of American dissent on contraception, reminders of the sex abuse scandal, and this whole plethora of smart-alecky talk about the Catholic Church in America."

"Bush got the Catholic vote by showing respect for the Catholic Church and its leadership and some basic issues of importance to Catholics. And so Obama's advisers packaged him as someone who is going to do what he can to seek the same ends politically that the church wants the government to seek. It's an undertone of respect."

Catholics today "don't like the old evangelical, more stringent-type message. So the plan is going to be one more finger in the dike of the eventual realization that the president misled the Holy Father. The policy itself is the funding of abortion and the appointment of pro-choice Catholics."


There Is No Indispensible Man

Sometime when you're feeling important;
Sometime when your ego's in bloom
Sometime when you take it for granted
You're the best qualified in the room,
Sometime when you feel that your going
Would leave an unfillable hole,
Just follow these simple instructions
And see how they humble your soul.

Take a bucket and fill it with water,
Put your hand in it up to the wrist,
Pull it out and the hole that's remaining
Is a measure of how you will be missed!

You can splash all you wish when you enter,
You may stir up the water galore,
But stop and you'll find that in no time
It looks quite the same as before.

The moral of this quaint example
Is do just the best that you can,
Be proud of yourself but remember,
There's no indispensable man.

Saxon N. White Kessinger

Thank You!

A BIG THANK YOU to all of you who have been with me and my wanderings over the past two years. I am told that this is an accomplishment for a blog, especially one by a Catholic priest. I am truly edified by this milestone. May God bless you all!

Saint Jean Marie Vianney [1786-1859]

The message of the Holy Curé of Ars for us today, the model of the parish priest, summed up in a few points…

Man of prayer
Long moments spent before the tabernacle, true intimacy with God, total abandonment to his will, a transfigured gaze ... so many elements that struck those who met him and allowed people to perceive the depth of his prayer life and of his union with God. Not to speak of his great joy and his true friendship with God: “I love you, Oh my God, and my only desire is to love you until my life’s last breath”. A friendship that implies reciprocity, like two pieces of wax, J. M. Vianney explained, that, once fused together, can no longer be separated or identified; this is what happens to our soul with God when we pray…

The beating heart: celebrating and adoring the Eucharist
“He is there!” exclaimed the Holy Curé looking at the tabernacle. Man of the Eucharist, celebrated and adored: “There is nothing greater than the Eucharist”, he exclaimed. Perhaps what struck him the most was to realize that his God was there, present for us in the tabernacle: “He is waiting for us!”. Coming to the realization of the real presence of God in the Blessed Sacrament was perhaps one of his greatest graces and one of his greatest joys. Giving God to men and men to God: the Eucharistic sacrifice soon became the heart of his days and of his pastoral ministry.

Obsessed with the salvation of men
It is perhaps what best summarizes who the Holy Curé was during his 41 years in Ars. Obsessed with his own salvation and with that of others, especially of those who came to him or who were entrusted to him. As Pastor, God will “hold him accountable”, he said. So that each person might appreciate the joy of knowing God and of loving him, of knowing that He loves us … for this J. M. Vianney labored without rest.

Martyr of the confessional
Beginning in 1830, thousands of people will come to Ars to confess with him, and more than 100,000 in the last year of his life … As many as 17 hours per day, confined to his confessional in order to reconcile men with God and among them, the Curé of Ars is a true martyr of the confessional, underlined John Paul II. Conquered by God’s love, enraptured before man’s vocation, he considered the folly that existed in wanting to separate oneself from God. He wished that everyone might be free to relish in God’s love.

At the heart of his parish, a man of authentic sociality
“No one knows all that the Holy Curé did in terms of social works,” relates one of his biographies. Seeing in each of his brothers the presence of the Lord, he did not rest in assisting them, helping them, alleviating their sufferings and their wounds, creating the conditions so that each one felt free and fulfilled. Orphanage, schools, caring for the poorest and the sick, tireless builder … nothing escapes him. He accompanies families and strives to protect them from all that could destroy them (alcohol, violence, selfishness…). In his village, he tries to consider the person in all his dimensions (human, spiritual, social).

Patron of all the pastors of the universe
Beatified in 1904, he will be declared the same year, on 12 April, patron of the priests of France by Saint Pius X. In 1929, four years after his canonization, Pope Pius XI will declare him “patron of all of the pastors of the universe”. Pope John Paul II will confirm this recalling on three occasions that “the Curé of Ars remains for all countries a model without equal, both of the realization of the ministry as well as the holiness of the minister”. “Oh, the priesthood is really something great!”, exclaimed Jean Marie Vianney, because it can give God to men and men to God; he is the witness of the Father’s tenderness towards all and the author of salvation.

The Curé of Ars, a great brother in the priesthood, to whom every priest of the world can come to entrust his ministry or his priestly life.

A universal call to holiness
“I will show you the way of Heaven”, he had responded to the pastor who showed him the road to Ars, that is, I will help you become a saint. “Where the saints pass, God passes with them!” he will later explain. In the end, he invited everyone to let themselves be made holy by God, to use every means to find this union with God, here below and for eternity.


Success For In-Wedlock Children

Catholics have a special capacity and responsibility to help society recapture the waning value of bearing children within marriage, insists a consultor to the Pontifical Council for the Laity. Helen Alvaré, a senior fellow of law for the Culture of Life Foundation, noted the nearly 40% out-of-wedlock birthrate in the United States. "The implications for our society loom large," Alvaré affirmed. "According to empirical data published over the last several decades in leading sociological journals, these children, on average, will suffer significant educational and emotional disadvantages compared to children reared by their married parents."


A Day Of Freedom And Faith

They paid a heavy price. Five of them were captured by the enemy, labeled as traitors and they were tortured before they died. Twelve men had their homes ransacked and burned. Two lost their sons serving the army and another had two sons captured. Nine of them fought and died from wounds or hardships incurred during the war. When they did what they did, they pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor. They knew full well that the penalty for doing it could be death if they were captured. This was no group of foolish zealots. Twenty-four of them were lawyers and jurists. Eleven were merchants. Nine were farmers. They were men of means who were well educated.

Who were these men? They were the signers of the Declaration of Independence. One could take pause and say who would do the same today. While I am certain that there are some good men and women who lead our country in this age, we seem to hear only the bad, opportunistic and self-centered maneuverings of our elected officials. How many of them would deal with consequences that our fore-fathers did?

Related to this day of freedom, one can also reflect upon our freedom of faith. As Catholics, we are fortunate people. To have the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ available to us each day is a true gift, a freedom we do not cherish as often or as reverently as we should. Most Catholics state that their faith is important to them, yet our pews have fewer people in them, the lines to the confessionals are no more than three people long and the mere thought of getting into a lively discussion over what Catholicism is, is a frightening experience. It seems to me that those of us who make the claim to be Catholic, might well ready themselves for the day when we will have to ask ourselves whether we will put of lives on the line for what we say we believe and hold true. Can we stand up as these framers of this beautiful document did and face those who attack us?


Saint Cyril of Alexandria

Today, the universal Church celebrates the optional memorial of Saint Cyril of Alexandria. A pope during the 5th century, he is credited with the defining the role of the Blessed Mother within the faith. As a doctor of the Church, an individual recognized with having particular importance regarding matters of faith, Cyril was a key figure during the Council of Ephesus in 431. At the time there were great controversies centering around Jesus as the Christ.

When it comes to the Blessed Mother, Cyril was the first to use the term "Theotokos" to refer to her. Literally, the English translation is "God-bearer" meaning that Mary was the Mother of Jesus, who was both human and divine. This was a decreed doctrine of our faith at the Council.

Through his homilies and writings, Cyril consistently tried to show the love between Jesus and Mary. At the wedding feast at Cana, Jesus honored His mother by following her lead to aid the wedding couple in their dilemma. On the cross, Jesus seems to be concerned with His mother will be cared for over the pain He was enduring.

Perhaps we can use this feast day as another reminder to honor both our earthly and heavenly mothers.


Archbishop Calls Priesthood More Than a Job

Brothers and Sisters,
Grace to you and peace in the name of Jesus, the "great priest over the house of God" (Hebrews 10:21). From 19 June this year, the Feast of the Sacred Heart, till 19 June next year, Pope Benedict has invited the whole Church to celebrate a Year of the Priesthood. For all of us it will be a time to focus upon the mystery of the ministerial priesthood and the great gift it is at the heart of the Church.

We begin to understand the mystery when we see that Jesus is the only priest. By Baptism, the whole Church is drawn into the mystery of Christ's priesthood, and from within the Church some men are called by Christ to share in that mystery as ordained priests. But what does it mean to say that Jesus is a priest? In religions that know a priesthood, the prime function of priests is to offer sacrifice. This sacrifice takes many forms, but in Jesus it is unique. He sacrifices himself on the Cross. He is both the priest and the victim. On Calvary, we see the perfect self-sacrificing love which is eternally the heart of the Trinity and therefore the heart of all things. Between the Father and the Son there is an eternal dynamic of perfect self-sacrificing love which overflows into the creation and into the human heart as the Holy Spirit who draws all into that eternal dynamic. On the Cross, the eternal self-sacrificing love enters time; and into that same love the whole Church is drawn from age to age as a priestly people. But some men are called into that love in a special way for the building up of the priestly people. When Jesus calls a man into this mystery of self-sacrificing love as a priest, he is calling him above all to live the mystery of the Cross. As the Bishop says in the Rite of Priestly Ordination: "Model your life on the mystery of the Lord's Cross". If this does not happen, if the priesthood is not an experience of self-sacrificing love, then inevitably it will become a kind of loveless clericalism, more concerned with power and prestige than with the priesthood of the crucified Lord.

At the altar, which is the epicentre of the priesthood, the priest speaks words which are not his own. He gives his body over so that the words of Christ can be spoken: "This is my body given for you". The bread becomes the Body broken for the life of the world. "This is my blood poured out for you": the wine becomes the Blood which is shed for the life of the world. Christ calls priests not only to speak these which are his words, but also to live the mystery of the Body and Blood which is his own sacrifice. Again as the Bishop says in the Rite of Ordination: "Imitate what you celebrate".

The call of Jesus is total, as was his death on the Cross and his Resurrection from the dead. His call claims the mind, the heart, the soul and the body of a man - which is why the ministerial priesthood is much more than a job. The priesthood is hard work, but it is not just a job. It is a job and a marriage rolled into one with something extra as well. That something extra is a special call to holiness. In the Bible, to be holy "as I the Lord your God am holy" (Leviticus 19:2) means to be separate for the sake of service - not just separate for the sake of being separate, but separate for service. Again, if service is not there, then the priesthood will decay into clericalism.

The priest serves primarily by living the mystery of the Lord's Cross, sacrificing himself in love for the building up of the Church. Through this Year we will celebrate and ponder the gift of the ministerial priesthood. We will pray for the priests we have and give thanks for their tireless service of which only God can take the full measure. We will also ask the Lord to send us more priests who can fill the Church with the glory of Christ by emptying themselves in his name. Each parish will think of ways to celebrate the Year of the Priesthood, and there is also a committee considering ways in which we can celebrate the Year in the Archdiocese. May the gift of this Year lead us all to know and love more deeply the mystery of the priesthood of Jesus who "has appeared once for all...to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself" (Hebrews 9:26).

+ Mark Coleridge
Archbishop of Canberra and Goulburn, Australia
9 June 2009


Year For Priests

This year is the 150th anniversary of Saint John Vianney's death in 1859 and Pope Benedict is using this occasion to declare a Year dedicated to the mission of the priest. In the past several years the priesthood has taken a beating. The scandalous behavior of some of my fellow ministers of altar have disgraced us and the Church as a whole.

Yet, there are good and faithful priests in the world. Imperfect, as we are, the challenge to be a model in today's world sometimes cannot be met without great struggle and pain. Perhaps that is why the Holy Father has chosen to support the priests in this way.

Our Lady, Mother of Sorrows
pray for Priests,
your special sons.
Strengthen their faith and love of Jesus
in the Most Blessed Sacrament,
so that they may turn to Him
for the grace they need to live
a life faithful to their calling.
Bring comfort,
consolation and courage
to those who are suffering
under the weight of the Cross.
Give them the love of your Son
and zeal for the honor and glory of God,
and the salvation of souls. Amen.


Welcome Bishop-Elect Barres!

The Most Reverend W. Francis Malooly, Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington, made the following statement on the appointment of the Rev. Msgr. John O. Barres as Bishop of Allentown.

“Today, three bishops of the Diocese of Wilmington - the seventh bishop, Bishop Robert Mulvee, now retired Bishop of Providence; Bishop Emeritus Michael Saltarelli, the eighth bishop; and myself, the ninth bishop - are very proud.

Our spiritual son and brother in priesthood, Monsignor John O. Barres, has been named Bishop-elect of the Diocese of Allentown by our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI.

In Bishop-elect Barres, the Church of Allentown will receive a shepherd who is deeply spiritual, exceptional in his theology and dedicated to his ministry.

In my first year in the Diocese of Wilmington he has shepherded and guided me around the diocese. In that time I have seen his pastoral concern, much like The Curé of Ars. When we would enter a church before a Saturday or Sunday Mass and he would see people standing in line for the Sacrament of Reconciliation, he would immediately go into one of the other confessionals to help minister that sacrament.

You receive a bishop with a missionary spirit not unlike Saint Paul. He is always looking to see how he can invite others to experience the Lord in their lives. You will quickly discover why, for twenty years of priesthood, he has been one of the most loved and respected priests of our diocese.

We are saddened to lose his ministry here in Wilmington. We are delighted that the Church Universal, and especially the Diocese of Allentown, will benefit from his assignment today.”


Happy Mother's Day!

Dear Loving Father,
We ask You to bless
our Mothers with the unmistakable gift
of Your love this Mother's Day.
May we honor them in word and deed,
and teach our children to do the same.
On this beautiful day,
we thank you for Jesus' selfless gift
of His Mother Mary to be our Mother as well.
May we honor her,
draw close to her,
and help her bring His kingdom to earth.
Through Mary's intercession,
may all Mothers be blessed today
and every day,
for they are truly an awesome gift to us!
In Jesus' name we pray.

The Vine And The Branches

For centuries we have had this metaphor of the relationship between us and Jesus Christ -- the Vine and the branches. It is not hard to understand who is who in the equation, however, it might be difficult for us to understand what exactly it entails.

Jesus makes it quite clear to His disciples that just following Him is not enough. Rather, one must take the gifts and talents given and use them appropriately as a sign of being that disciple. For example, one cannot claim to be a follower and no longer reach out to those in need. Generosity is good, but the giving of self is better. Money does make things happen, but love transforms.

Question: What do you find yourself attached to right now in life? Answer: Possessions, money, career, sex, drugs, alcohol or Christ? Think hard!