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?