7.19.2011

From Denver to Philadelphia

Last month, we were greeted with the news the Archbishop Charles Chaput will be moving east to lead the people of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. While I have never met the man, I had the privilege of attending a pro-life Mass where he was the main celebrant several years ago. At that time he demonstrated a no-nonsense approach to the word of God, calling a spade a spade. I admired him greatly.



Prior to writing this post I spent some time looking at what the reporters have to say about this man. The sad part is that all of the secular news media is concerned about is the fact that he is going to be leading a diocese riddled with scandal and the grand jury's findings this past February. That is a shame. The man did not create the problem. Chaput has his gifts and talents and all the media can see is the bad. I guess it is true that good news doesn't sell.



The new archbishop has had to deal with the issue in Denver as well. As a priest, I am sickened that after 10 years we are still dealing with these sins. It hurts those of us that are trying to be the best priests we can be. I feel that the effects of this scandal will be with us for many more years.



Let us pray for Archbishop Chaput and the people of Philadelphia. May the grace of God bring the Archdiocese true peace and healing.



5.18.2011

Meatless Fridays?


By now you’re probably aware that the bishops of England and Wales have reinstituted Friday abstinence. The majority of CatholicCulture.org users probably applaud this development, as do I. This applause is prompted by a number of closely related considerations.

The first is that Friday abstinence symbolizes a renewal of ecclesial discipline. All discipline—whether discipline of formation or discipline of punishment—sends a message, but not all can serve as a symbol. If the Pope removes a wayward bishop from office, that sends a message to other bishops. If a bishop removes or laicizes a wayward priest, that sends a message to other priests. (I can remember observing to friends over thirty years ago that things won’t change rapidly until heads roll.) But the imposition of a visible and regular penitential pattern on the faithful is not only a discipline but a symbol. It symbolizes that Catholics ought to be characterized by a specific and publicly discernible corporate identity which distinguishes them from everyone else.

In a perfect world, there would be no need to go beyond the identity projected simply by living an exemplary Christian life, but then in a perfect world, there would be no need of Christ in the first place, let alone the scandal of his crucifixion. This brings me to a second consideration. In an imperfect world, we all need help, and among the many forms of help we need is the help of being habituated to reaffirm our Catholic identity without embarrassment. For example, the discipline of ashes imposes on us a visible identity once a year, though we may rush nervously home to clean up. Friday abstinence is only a small penitential sacrifice, but it is also both a corporate activity and visible mark of one’s Faith. If we follow this discipline we remind ourselves that we are part of something important, and insofar as others notice this peculiar habit, we remind them as well. As we do this repeatedly, we become less self-conscious concerning our special relationship with Christ, and more comfortable affirming it even in a bemused or hostile environment.

A third consideration is esprit de corps. When we do things in common with a group, we strengthen our ties with that group and increase both our commitment to it and our positive feelings about it. So too with the Church. Abstaining from meat on Friday may not be a spectacular penance, but it is in some measure a common affirmation of our membership on the team—our status as active, contributing members of the Body of Christ. Thus every group which wants to be cherished in the minds and hearts of its adherents, and desires moreover to thrive over time, establishes little traditions in which its members enjoy a common participation. These generate not only an increased sense of identity but a sense of positive commitment to the strength and importance of the group as a whole. The Church is no different with respect to this basic psychological reality, except that even as we increase our esprit de corps by our participation in the little marks and patterns of our Faith, she channels grace to us.

My fourth and final consideration is the benefit—even the necessity—of specific outward practices if we are to escape the tragedy of so much of contemporary spirituality. On every side, we find the worldly-wise affirming that they are definitely spiritual but not at all religious. By this they mean that they do not follow the narrow tenets and restrictive rules of any particular creed; instead, they follow the superior path of thinking high thoughts and keeping, as it were, a rosy outlook on life. This attitude not only deceives others; it deceives the self. Lofty as it sounds, it is really an excuse for not making any commitment to what God has revealed. It is an excuse to slide into any habit of thought we wish, and to live however we desire. Yet we are not purely intellectual like the angels; we must live a specific Faith in our bodies, or we will not live it at all. God has a plan for us, body and soul, a plan that involves a concrete and practical daily acceptance of His will. The hard edges of simple penitential practices enjoined by religious authority, however small in themselves, awaken us to this reality.

It will be interesting to see how quickly Catholics in England and Wales habituate themselves once again to the adoption of this particular penitential practice, or whether for most it will remain a dead letter. Time will tell. But it would be a very good thing if it were to take hold, simple as it is, and an even better thing if it were to spread to other countries that have similarly abandoned this venerable practice. May this tiny gesture initiate us afresh into what it means to root Catholicism in our very bones.

Taken from CatholicCulture.org by Dr. Jeff Mirus

5.06.2011

Happy Mother's Day!


Being a full-time mother is one of the highest salaried jobs…
since the payment is pure love.
Mildred B. Vermont

4.09.2011

Jelly Bean Prayer


Red is for the blood He gave.

Green is for the grass He made.

Yellow is for the sun so bright.

Orange is for the edge of night.

Black is for the sins we made.

White is for the grace He gave.

Purple is for His hour of sorrow.

Pink is for our new tomorrow.


An egg full of jelly beans, Colorful and Sweet

Is a prayer, a promise, A loved one's treat!!


Charlene Dickensen, 1997

3.26.2011

The Samaritan Woman

There comes a time in everyone's life where they have to deal with reality. We are good at pretending that everything is going well, even though it is quite the opposite. We can get really good at it, so much so, that we are able to fool others and possibly even ourselves.

The woman of this Sunday's Gospel has been living her life the same way for years. Of course, there was a different man every few years to change things up a bit, but basicly things were routine. All it takes was an encounter with Jesus to see her life for what it really was at the time. Hesitant at first He challenges her to look at her life, not with rose-colored glasses, but with 20/20 vision. It is a wonder she could see well enough to find the source that would quench her thirst for forgiveness. She could hear; hear the voice of refreshment.

Jesus tells the woman her story. For the first time she sees that it not a pretty picture. Living in the rut of sin can easily become the norm of anyone's life. Jesus opens the door, He gains her trust and she is renewed.

Many find their way to the confessional during this season of Lent. But many find it through rose-colored glasses. We need to hear the voice of the Master calling us to really look at our lives. Perhaps the best way to do this is through a good examination of conscience. A great place to start is right here.

3.18.2011

Chastity: A Gift


Catholics are called to be examples to others of chaste living. By cherishing the gift of our body and helping others to truly respect themselves, we show God how much we love Him.

Any young person who desires to be chaste or to recover a chaste lifestyle has the opportunity to take up the cross and follow Jesus. He has promised always to be there to help us. The Lord never abandons us, but we must be open to receiving his assistance.

Jesus asks us to pray constantly. This is necessary for anyone trying to live the virtue of chastity. Uniting ourselves to Christ in an ongoing relationship of prayer is the only way to succeed. This includes anything from the simple yet profound “Help me, Jesus” to more formal prayers such as the Rosary, or asking Mary, our Mother, and the Saints to help us by their intercession.

The Sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist help us on our journey to live chaste lives. If we commit a sin of impurity alone or with another person, the Sacrament of Reconciliation communicates to us God’s forgiveness and merciful love. All we need to do is approach his throne of mercy with sincere sorrow in Confession and we are assured that all our sins are forgiven. We can start anew with hope. The Eucharist is the summit of our faith because through the Sacrament we enter into an intimate union with Jesus Christ by receiving his body, blood, soul and divinity in Holy Communion. His body nourishes us and sanctifies our body.

3.08.2011

A Pastoral Letter


God’s Reasoning – Christ’s Reasoning

Brothers and Sisters,

For the Christian Community, Lent is a time to reflect upon the will of God the Father and how our Lord Jesus Christ accomplished it by his death on the cross. It is also an invitation for us to fulfill God’s will in all its aspects.

The Lord has several ways of revealing to us the different facets of God’s plan.

This year, the Lord has revealed something to us that has always been there, yet in the face of it, we felt helpless. We have not been paying enough attention to the fact that, in our society, the culture of marriage and the family has changed. We complain that things are different, yet we simply resign ourselves to this fact.

This year, the current discussion on the subject of divorce has helped us to realise not only to what extent this erodes everlasting marriage, but it has also led us to question this culture. Probably we are not even aware to what extent this has changed, and that in so doing, it has served as a deterrent to those who wish to marry and persevere in their marriage.

We need to consider this year as a sign of God’s providence, because, as Christians, we are faced with a great mission. We cannot put our minds at rest where the culture of marriage is concerned: we have been given a mission to build a new culture with respect to marriage. The Christian does not fear the lack of values in culture, just as the first Christians did not fear it either. We are challenged to fill this void with values inspired by the Word of God.

This forms part of the New Evangelization which is being deemed as a priority by various Popes: through the Church we come into contact with the Word of God, which is a source of great value. This Evangelization must be transmitted through the family.

God’s reasoning

The Christian is that person who has decided to follow Christ. The path, the map, is the Word of God. He lives the Word of God within the community which Christ founded – that is, the Church.

The Word of God reveals in a particular way, God’s plan for mankind. The Word of God is revealed through two principal expressions. The first is God’s logic of creation, the plan of the Creator. The second is the logic, the line of thought, of Jesus Christ: He was sent by God the Father to reveal to us, by his life and his teachings, how to live the ideal of creation in a world fraught with hardships and difficulties. If we make the same choices which Jesus made, we can never be confused when it comes to safeguarding the values of creation.

God is the Divine Creator. He created everything for a reason – with a plan so that creation would achieve its utmost aim. God is not a blind creator. He did not create without letting us know what to do with His creation. He created the human being in his image and likeness and placed him, at the centre of his creation. Every time that mankind veered from this ideal, the whole of humanity suffered: this is evident with regards to the dignity of every person, independent of race, colour, religion. This is revealed further in the respect and care for the environment.

In the same way, God has a plan for marriage and the family. This is the greatest gift which God gave to mankind. This plan bears takes into consideration the dignity of every person, man and woman, which does not stem from culture but stems from the fact that they were created equal in the image of God. This is God’s gift of the woman to the man and the man to the woman; the attraction which he instilled in the human being and which is transformed into an enduring love – becoming “one body”. God planned this in order that new beings would be born and raised within an atmosphere of love and stability (see Genesis Chapter 1 and 2). All the elements of this plan are so closely connected that when a marriage breaks down, all the benefits of this plan are lost.

According to this plan of God, an option which favours marriage and the family is an option in favour of mankind. Marriage breakdown statistics show that, in reality, although couples undergo much suffering, children are those who suffer the most.

The responsibility of mankind

God entrusted this plan for creation in the hands of mankind. The great responsibility which is placed on man’s shoulders is evident from the story of Adam and Eve. God did not only entrust everything to them, but he gave them the responsibility not to wander astray. This is the underlying meaning of the reference to the tree of good and the tree of evil which we find in Genesis (Chapter 3). This is the choice which is to be made by humanity in every age: whether to choose the path leading to God, or to do as they please, guided merely by human reasoning, which leads them away from God.

God does not only place this responsibility upon man’s shoulders but he also questions man about his actions regarding this plan. He asked Adam: “Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” God also asked Eve: “What have you done?” In Genesis chapter 4, 1-16, God also asks Cain, who had killed his brother, Abel: “Where is your brother Abel?” God asks why they did not follow his plan. The Christian must live his personal life within the community of the Church, fully-aware that he must answer to these questions. This is our responsibility, which we refer to as ‘conscience’!

Christ’s Reasoning

It is hard to live out these ideals within the context of our complex world. God the Father sent his Son to show us that though we live in a demanding world, it is possible to keep moving towards the ideal of creation.

Jesus Christ taught us to live with love in a world in which we are challenged by distractions within us and around us. Jesus demonstrated this by his self-giving, his forgiveness, his empathy towards those who were weak, his patient teachings to those he chose as his disciples. The option in favour of Divine Reasoning which is referred to above, must be linked to the value of love as Jesus taught us: one cannot live ‘true love’ by human reasoning only, by not putting God into the equation. True love must be based on the Christian teachings of Jesus Christ.

One episode in the life of the Lord Jesus clearly demonstrates God’s plan in the context of marriage and the family (Mt 19, 3-10). When confronted by a group of Pharisees on the subject of divorce, Jesus showed them that he was disappointed and hurt. In the same way God was hurt by the choice made by Adam and Eve. The Pharisees believed that they could create a better society built on the possibility of divorce rather than on the stability which marriage provides.

This refers us back to the fundamental choices of every Christian person: Do I believe and allow myself to be guided by the reasoning of God and his plan for Creation when he created man and woman in complete unity as “one body”, or am I led by human logic which is detached from God’s plan, leading to the destruction of this unity as a result of divorce? The reality experienced by other societies who opted for this human way of reasoning leads us to take a personal decision. We must discern whether a society in which there is divorce offers a better future than a society which has at its foundations, stable marriages which are worth investing in.

In this regard, the Christian must not be afraid to think differently from others, because he feels confident that even if he is alone in the eyes of the world on this point, he is not alone before God. It is a great consolation to know that the Christian makes his choice before God, even if there is a price to pay.

The love of Jesus

Adam and Eve’s failings are already pre-empted by another plan which God has in order to bring them back to his fold. God loves even those who are in a state of sin and he has another plan by which he brings them back to him. God said to Noah: “And behold, I now establish my covenant with you and your descendants after you…” (Gen 9,9), meaning that God has established a new covenant with mankind who is capable of becoming confused and falling into sin.

Jesus, who was sent by God the Father into this imperfect world, taught us and revealed to us God’s plan. Together with his preaching, he showed his love concretely towards those who failed, so as to encourage them to return on the right path. Jesus did not condemn the woman who was caught in adultery but he simply asked her to sin no more. In so doing, he shed light upon the love which God shows to those who fail, in order that they may have another opportunity to find hope in him.

As people who are following in Jesus’ footsteps, we should also follow his example with respect to marriage. Those couples who are enjoying the beauty of married life should respond to the call to look lovingly upon others who are suffering from the failure of their marriage and contribute towards giving them a helping hand.

Lent

Since this is so central to God’s plan, during Lent, we should focus upon this in order that we too may contribute towards its fulfillment. We wish to offer some recommendations as to how this may be lived out: you may reflect on your married life in the light of the nature of love that flows from the Cross of Jesus. In your married life, draw closer to one another in the Lord Jesus by attending mass together regularly on Sundays and through daily prayer. Integrate your Lenten sacrifices in your conjugal life: work to conquer any elements which are hindering your love. Bear witness to your marriage everywhere and without embarassment: display photographs of your husband/wife at your workplace; do not engage in any conversations that ridicule married life, or participate in any talk that belittles women.

We cannot imagine a more beautiful way to celebrate Lent than to offer our contribution towards strengthening Marriage and the Family, and to foster in our country a culture which has at its heart, the plan of God. We join you in this mission as we pray to God the Father, together with our Lord Jesus Christ and through the intercession of Our Lady, in order that we may build up this Plan as a gesture of worship to God the Father.

We impart upon you our pastoral blessing.

+ PAUL CREMONA O.P.

Archbishop of Malta

+ MARIO GRECH

Bishop of Gozo

2.17.2011

What's In A Name?


When it comes to Scripture, names are very important. In His ministry, Jesus changed the names of some of the Apostles to indicate a change that occured in them, like Peter. Other disciples changed their own names shedding their old identity with something new, for example Saul became Paul. Religious men and women in the the Church are often given new names to model their lives after. At Confirmation, the candidate is asked to choose a new name for the same reason.

Popes usually change their names, too. The present Holy Father stated shortly after His elevation "I chose to call myself Benedict XVI ideally as a link to the venerated Pontiff, Benedict XV, who guided the Church through the turbulent times of the First World War. He was a true and courageous prophet of peace who struggled strenuously and bravely, first to avoid the drama of war and then to limit its terrible consequences. In his footsteps I place my ministry, in the service of reconciliation and harmony between peoples, profoundly convinced that the great good of peace is above all a gift of God, a fragile and precious gift to be invoked, safeguarded and constructed, day after day and with everyone's contribution."

"The name Benedict also evokes the extraordinary figure of the great 'patriarch of western monasticism,' St. Benedict of Norcia, co-patron of Europe with Cyril and Methodius. The progressive expansion of the Benedictine Order which he founded exercised an enormous influence on the spread of Christianity throughout the European continent. For this reason, St. Benedict is much venerated in Germany, and especially in Bavaria, my own land of origin; he constitutes a fundamental point of reference for the unity of Europe and a powerful call to the irrefutable Christian roots of European culture and civilization."

The Pope appealed to St. Benedict for help "to hold firm Christ's central position in our lives. May he always be first in our thoughts and in all our activities!"