Monday, March 30, 2009

A Life Worth Living

The violet-shrouded processional cross was held aloft by crucifer. He walked in a solemn pace leading the gift bearers during the Offertory procession. Behind him, a man hunched over was clutching the basket carrying the Book of Prayer Intentions and tithes. He was white-haired, his face bearing the unmistakable features of someone with Downs Syndrome. The young people accompanying him matched his steps and after they handed over the gifts to Father and genuflected to the tabernacle, they helped him turn around and return to the rear of the church. He smiled up at the teenage boy who smiled back at him.

The morning light filtering through the stained-glass windows flashed off the Special Olympics silver medal that hung around his neck. This is Philip, a treasured and cherished member of our parish who each Sunday morning at the early morning Mass, helps to hand out worship programs. He is always dressed in a suit and he never fails to bring a smile to my face, no matter how harried my morning may have been so far. Every Sunday, he shows off his medal and every Sunday, we are privileged to touch it and smile at him to tell him how happy we are that he won it. He is a joy merely by his being. And after Mass, to break the Eucharistic fast, I run to the nearest donut place, there he is sitting and eating his donut with sheer pleasure.

He is a rebuke to our culture of death that worships the self and pleasure over even life itself. Do not inconvenience me with burdensome diseases or imperfections, is the mantra. Now, there are genetic tests that allow parents to see if the child in the womb is a carrier of some cancer. They are given the option of "terminating the pregnancy" as though that is an act of mercy. Better to terminate than to allow suffering.

Suffering. It is woven into the woof and warp of human existence. We cannot escape it. But our Catholic Faith teaches us that suffering can be redemptive, can be transformative. And far from being a degradation, can be a path to greater holiness.

Yet our culture rejects suffering. We see this manic drive in science to relieve human suffering. We throw money into research projects and government initiatives to answer this and that kind of human misery. And yet, are we really any better off? In our pursuit to cure, we raise pragmatism above moral considerations. After all, the motivation to relieve human suffering is noble and so whatever must be done, must be done. Humanity must not bear and should not bear the stain of suffering.

I was reading recently of the abortion statistic for Downs Syndrome babies. It's astoundingly high. There is a professor in one of our state universities who claims that to knowingly birth a baby with Downs Syndrome is child abuse. He is not alone as the statistics bear out, that people see this birth defect as reason enough to destroy a child. The rationale is, of course, the suffering and monetary burdens that a family will face.

What is an acceptable life? One born without diseases or potential for diseases? How then are we to ensure against social diseases such as drug abuse, eating disorders? My beautiful niece, born perfect, into a dual-income upwardly mobile family is one such case. She had everything that money could buy, but the one thing needed: her parents' love and affection. So she slipped into a whirlpool of drug abuse, bulimia, and sexual promiscuity. Why? She had everything by the world's standards. And by the world's standards she was pursuing The Life in all its glamorous appeal. In order to try to save her, hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent in her rehabilitation. And yet she lives in constant despair.

What a contrast to Philip. What is a life worth living? Dare we to make the judgment of what is and isn't a life worth living?

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Shrouded

The crucifix and statues are shrouded in our church. The only images left are those of the Stations of the Cross. It was a shock to me, even though I was there last night when the Altar Society had begun to cover up icons, statues, and reliquaries. The crucifix is so large and high that I did not stay for the whole process requiring yards and yards of fabric to be draped. In addition, watching people atop ladders makes me squeamish.

So this morning, when I walked in, the crucifix enshrouded in red with a circlet of thorns where Christ's head is beneath the veil, shocked me into remembrance that now, the Lenten fasts and penance must enter into a more intense observance.

I have fallen short once again of my Lenten ideals, but in what I have been able to persevere in love and obedience, the time has flown by. My prayer life has grown deeper. The twice-weekly prayer at the abortuary has increased my capacity for suffering. Early morning vigils through a cold winter will do that. And the humiliation of the world's rejection is necessary medicine for pride.

But I always returned to my home parish, entering into either the church or Adoration Chapel knowing that the statues and crucifix are there to help me de-compress, so to speak.

Today, those images are veiled. Today, we begin the torturous last days: The supreme yielding of a Beloved Son's will to the Father, the Suffering that brought about mankind's Redemption must necessarily precede Easter Joy.

I am grateful for the Church's liturgical celebrations that mark the footsteps of Christ in His Passion. The evangelical churches in town have begun their Easter dramas and cantatas, the mail campaigns to get people into the churches. In the eschewing of liturgy, there is an unsurprising need for people to re-enact the Holy Days of Christ's Passion. As if Easter couldn't be Easter without retelling.

So we're bombarded with colorful postcards inviting us, huge billboards that advertise Passion dramas. I am thankful for our Church's Tradition that never abandoned marking our year with our Salvation History. Indeed, the shrouding of familiar images plunges us and prepares us for what is to come. The Transfiguration has passed, soon it will be the Procession of the Palms, the Hosannas that quickly turn to condemnation and revilement, the painful Via Dolorosa.

Within the Death that killeth death is veiled the Resurrection, the Triumph of the Lord of Life. But first, must come agony, abandonment, suffering, humiliation. Christ asks all who desire to call themselves his disciples to accept the cross, to suffer and die to self.

For the next two weeks, the visual deprivation reminds me to pay attention, to take care with the days ahead that I not live them as though they are just routine. Now is the time of Salvation. Harden not your hearts.

Passiontide




As we enter into Passiontide, here is an eloquent picture courtesy of fra Lawrence Lew, O.P. of the English Dominicans. The article on The New Liturgical Movement was about the conical rose chasuble. The way the picture is framed and the beauty of the screen really took my breath away.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Death of a Catholic Southern Gentleman

I met him only once when our children's choir went to his elegant home last Christmas to sing carols for him. He sat in a Louis chair, dressed in a wool suit, an ascot around his neck. He rested his arms on the chair's arm rests. His fingers long and slender. At that moment he features reminded me of an El Greco figure, his face bearing long decades of living through sufferings and joys, yet retaining a deep contentment.

He was close to death just a few months before, yet pulled through. So we were happy to be there in his family room, surrounded by family mementos and the giant Christmas tree, a giant trainset underneath.

He delighted in the children's happy voices and clapped in rhythm with their singing. For weeks after our visit, he spoke again and again of his happiness at our coming. I often think about how little it takes to delight and how busy our lives are from seeing the power of such a corporal work of mercy.

On the Feast of the Annunciation, just a week after his Ninety-second Birthday, he fell asleep in the Lord. He died a faithful son of the Church, living through periods in this part of the South that is not especially friendly to Catholics. His beneficence to our parish is a legacy which I and my family have inherited along with fellow parishioners. Through his generosity, we are able to worship in so beautiful a space. What a debt we have in a time when ugliness is elevated, we can enter into God's house and see and smell and hear what it means to be Catholic.

His large and close-knit family will miss his gentle and sweet presence. His funeral this afternoon will be first to give praise to God and to pray for the repose of this gentleman's soul, and through the reverence of the worship, may his family be consoled.

Last night, his wake was in his home, a stark contrast to the modern way of "doing death". Those coming to pay respects saw the reminders of a life lived in Faith.

Rest in peace, sweet J.J. May Martyrs receive you and Choirs of Angels greet you at your coming into the holy city of Jerusalem. And with Lazarus who once was poor, may you have rest eternal. And may our imperfect songs and chants rise up to give glory to God whom you served so well in this earthly life.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Quieting Abp. Burke

~from The Catholic Thing. Our religious freedoms are continually being attacked. So I post these articles as part of being vigilant.
A reliable source tells me that someone representing the Obama administration is about to put pressure on the papal nuncio to the United States to get Archbishop Raymond Burke to be quiet. The Obama complaint is that Archbishop Burke, who is now head of the Apostolic Signatura in Rome, has supported another bishop in his chastisement of Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius for her support of abortion...

...But it’s not just questioning her fitness for office that offends Obama and his Catholics. They are also offended about Burke questioning Sebelius’s fidelity to the Catholic Church, for this strikes at the heart of their appeal to Catholics in the pews. Catholics who believe the Democratic answer to health care is more important than the murder of a million children a year desperately need the fiction that someone like Sebelius is a Catholic in good standing. Burke gives the lie to that assertion.

By trying to stop a bishop from commenting on internal Church matters, the Obama administration wades into dangerous waters. Archbishop Burke is the head of the Apostolic Signatura, the Vatican office that is charged with interpreting the Code of Canon Law. The proper reception of Communion is proper to the Code of Canon Law, and therefore proper to any bishop, and especially to Archbishop Burke.
As in, he's the Prefect of the Signatura. Hello? He has the ear of Pope Benedict XVI. And do these people seriously think that the Pope will say to Archbishop Burke, "You need to tone it down"? Really?

They haven't been paying attention to this Pope. And shows a particular blindness to the role that faith plays in the public square. Ah, that's where the rub is, isn't it? Push faith out of the public square. Marginalize faith so that everything then is possible. If Faith is relegated to the regions of emotion, and private at that, then you don't have to consult what your faith demands in the realm of morals because that's too unreliable. If you want to get things done, then rely on man's reason and experience. Faith is too squishy for public servants.

Youth Brigade

These are days that seriously try my patience. Here's the latest from our legislative overlords who think that a civilian brigade for youth is a good idea. Notice what the youth will be prohibited from doing. I haven't read the complete text but these are the sections that should trouble you and trouble deeply enough to take action.
Now we have HR 1388. The Bill was sponsored by Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) with 37 others. The Bill was introduced to the floor of the House of Representatives where both Republicans and Democrats voted 321-105 in favor. Next it goes to the Senate for a vote and then on to President Obama.

This bill’s title is called “Generations Invigorating Volunteerism and Education” (GIVE). It forms what some are calling “Obama’s Youth Brigade.” Obama’s plan is require anyone receiving school loans and others to serve at least three months as part of the brigade. His goal is one million youth!

...

SEC. 1304. PROHIBITED ACTIVITIES AND INELIGIBLE ORGANIZATIONS.

Section 125 (42 U.S.C. 12575) is amended to read as follows:

SEC. 125. PROHIBITED ACTIVITIES AND INELIGIBLE ORGANIZATIONS.

(a) Prohibited Activities- A participant in an approved national service position under this subtitle may not engage in the following activities:

(1) Attempting to influence legislation.

(2) Organizing or engaging in protests, petitions, boycotts, or strikes.


(7) Engaging in religious instruction, conducting worship services, providing instruction as part of a program that includes mandatory religious instruction or worship, constructing or operating facilities devoted to religious instruction or worship, maintaining facilities primarily or inherently devoted to religious instruction or worship, or engaging in any form of religious proselytization.
Here's the full text at GovTracker

Shades of indoctrination camps. Because this worked so well in the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany.

My friend Edmund C reminded me about Santayana. I wonder if he meant this statement: Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Abortion Pride Movement

~Calling for an Abortion Pride Movement. Sick.
While the Book of Proverbs may warn us that “pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall,” the political and social reality today is that pride is a necessary prerequisite for acceptance and equality. That is why the moment is ripe—more than ripe—for an Abortion Pride Movement....

...if one believes that life begins after conception—as do a wide majority of Americans, if polls on such issues as embryonic stem cell research are to believed—then the suffering caused by transforming an unwanted embryo into a living baby, who will either endure debilitating disease or will enter a deeply inhospitable home environment, is not at all a cause for pride...

...While choosing to terminate may be difficult for women under many circumstances and for many reasons, if they have made the correct choice for themselves, they should be proud that they have done so. And our society should be proud of them too. Our message should not be merely toleration or resigned acquiescence, but genuine joy that someone has made a decision for their own and for the collective good.
So, to prevent potential suffering, let's rip apart a baby from his mother's womb, limb from limb. Ah, yah, gotcha. This from a bioethicist.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Feast of the Annunciation


How fitting to pray to Our Lady on the Feast Day of the Annunciation for an end to the horrible practice of abortion. That a respect for life at its most vulnerable stage be restored to our blighted human race. Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God.

I'll be taking watch again at my usual time early tomorrow morning at the abortuary with my Sacred Heart and Guadalupe votive candles. I've added an extra hour to my watch. The Divine Office will be prayed. Please join me spiritually in praying for an end to abortion.

Pro-Lifers on Terrorist Watch List

~Via Jill Stanek:
Dept. Homeland Security puts pro-lifers on terrorist watch list

Fox News reported yesterday a Dept. of Homeland Security satellite, the MO Information Analysis Center, considers "anti-abortion activists" as potential domestic terrorists according to a leaked report

Raspberry Quote

~Fr. John Jenkins, president of Notre Dame University:
'We will honor Mr. Obama as an inspiring leader who faces many challenges -- the economy, two wars, and health care, immigration and education reform -- and is addressing them with intelligence, courage and honesty,' he said.
Really? Ripping babies from mothers' wombs and letting botched abortion victims die on the table is intelligent? Allowing for Frankenstein science to expand is courageous and honest?

Au contraire, Fr. Jenkins, these are in direct contradictions to our Catholic Faith.

But wait, there's more:
'It is of special significance that we will hear from our first African-American president, a person who has spoken eloquently and movingly about race in this nation. Racial prejudice has been a deep wound in America, and Mr. Obama has been a healer,' he said.
How about the 50 million dead babies since Roe v. Wade? That's a bleeding gaping mortal wound. A healer? Surely you jest!

Personal

Why am I so passionate about the pro-life cause? It's not because I personally have had one. But we have known those who have and seeing the devastation that happened in the wake of the choice to abort the babies only further cemented what I already fundamentally believed as an intrinsic evil.

When my husband and I had been married for only a few months, some university friends of ours called to ask if they could stay with us in the big city. She was pregnant and the nearest abortion facility was in our city. We said "Yes" and when they arrived, we spoke to them for several days trying to convince them to turn away from the path they had chosen.

They were unmarried and she was from a small farming community, on scholarship in the Art School. We said to her that she could stay with us, we would pay for all her medical expenses and adopt the baby. She could transfer to the Art School in the city and in essence, take advantage of the anonymity afforded by the city. Her grants would transfer to the school. Round and round we went for three days. On the fourth, they sneaked out very early in the morning and at lunch time, they returned. They went through with the abortion. She looked horrible and in terrible pain. He was whitefaced.

Then several years later, a relative and his wife were having a tumultuous pregnancy exacerbated by the instability of his wife. She was unhappy in the marriage and jumped on the possibility that the baby had abnormalities. Off she went to the abortion facility, the extended family begging her to not go through with the late-term abortion. We would care for the baby, we said. We would love the baby no matter what disabilities he might have. There was nothing we could do but stand by. She named the baby Jacob. The marriage did not survive and the effects of the divorce resonate to this day.

With my own miscarriages, I understood the sorrow that a mother naturally feels at the loss of a child. One moment I could feel the movements, the hiccups, the kicking feet. And then another, quiet, stillness. The guilt and the reproaches came, peace and acceptance coming only years later. These were wanted children.

What must it be like when in the stillness of the night, a mother who chooses her baby's destruction will hear that persistent voice in her head saying there is great loss?

Move forward several years, I am standing in front of the nearest abortion facility and watch as car after car drive up. Some cars are ordinary, others large SUVs and expensive imports. Young women with their mothers striding into the building, purposeful in "taking care of the problem". They throw back Project Rachel brochures out of their windows in disgust. Others flip their fingers at me. Sometimes, the men that come with them stare at me, contemptuous of the rosary draped around my folded hands.

This past week, families with young children walk in with the strollers. Activity is high, higher than usual. Economic instability reveals the fear that grips.

In all these years, I have not had the privilege of directly saving any babies. I am fine with that. Success is not what I seek, but only to be a witness at the line of no return. So I stand there in the rain, in the heat, in the cold praying my prayers, chanting "In Paradisum", speaking with God about the Little Martyrs who are returning into his arms of mercy, remembering the parents who made such a choice. The babies that I've spiritually adopted are prayed for at Mass, remembered on All Souls' Day, and at Mother's Day celebrations. I don't know their names. God does. Each year, my love grows for them, even though their numbers increase. Some nights, I am at the abortion facility, the world asleep, yet inside, there is activity. The floors are being swept and mopped, the instruments sterilized, and punctuating the end of another day, the smoke released when no one is around to see.

I don't know if God will ever grant me the joyful privilege of helping to turn a mother's heart. But for now, I cry and grieve, as Mary did at the foot of the altar. It is for me to pray and believe that the Lord of Life will triumph, has triumphed.

Infanticide Bill Introduced in Texas

~I'm not surprised, it's part of the slide into the abyss started by Roe v. Wade. But it's still breathtaking in its audacity. The murder defense of post-partum depression as allowable pushes us further down into the dark hole.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Laetare Jerusalem


Laetare Jerusalm; et conventum facite omnes qui diligitis eam: gaudete cum laetitia, qui in tristitia fuistis: ut exsultetis, et satiemini ab uberibus consolationis vestrae. Ps. Laetatus sum in his quae dicta sunt mihi: in domum Domini ibimus.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Planned Parenthood Coverup

~from the Mona Lisa Project. Papist Trucker hat tip to Philip Johnson

Live by the teleprompter...


...die by the teleprompter. Unreal.

Requiem for an Unborn Child

When you have a moment today, would you please pray for all the babies to be destroyed today, or already have been through abortions....just this day alone in the US, at least 3,000 little humans ripped from their mothers' wombs. I was at our local mill quite early and already, clients were arriving. Mill workers parked along the street where prayer vigil people normally park. I don't know if that was a tactic to block the pray-ers from finding parking. Or if the client appointments are so numerous that parking at the mill lot would have been congested.

Pray for the little souls, for the parents, and for conversion of heart for mill workers, abortionists, and mill owners.

If you ever go to pray in vigil at an abortuary, would you consider chanting "In Paradisum"? May God bless you.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Monday, March 16, 2009

Learning the Breviary

Here's a pdf of Learning the New Breviary by Fr. Bernard Hausmann, SJ, copyright 1961. Baronius Press is releasing it soon, so you might want to save up your pennies to buy a copy.

Ides

I completely missed out on the fact that yesterday was the Ides of March. Sometimes, I forget what the date is and my time is divided by which Sunday of the season we're in. That's how I define my life, Dear Readers. Third Sunday in Lent yesterday, Laetare Sunday this coming weekend.

So, catching up with favorite 'blogs this morning, I read this at Rome of the West, posted by Marcus. A little lesson in Roman calendars and a little Latin translation work for you. Enjoy!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Dedication of St. Thomas Aquinas College Chapel

~As you know, the chapel at St. Thomas Aquinas College in California was dedicated last weekend. It is a joy to see new buildings that one can truly say are beautiful. Photos courtesy of Duncan Stroik. Here's the portfolio link to the Chapel of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity of St. Thomas Aquinas College.




Procession


Baldacchino which reminds me of both San Pietro and Santa Maria Maggiore




Baldacchino and Dome


Detail, baldacchino








Confessional


Inside confessional

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Pope Benedict XVI's letter to Bishops

~Read here at WDTPRS with Fr. Z's comments.

Paris Fashions

It's that time of the year again, Dear Readers! The Paris Fashion Show for Fall and Winter. What do the creme de la creme creatives have for us? Have a look!

First, we have the organic look from Manesh Arora.


Cue up The Firebird Suite.


Hmmmm, where did I put that can of Raid? Has anyone got a large flyswatter?


Let's all whistle together: Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer...


I have always wanted an outfit that made me look like an armadillo. How 'bout you?

Next, we have the shabby chic. Use what you've got lying around your house.


Tablecloth chic. You don't even have to go to the fabric store.


Here you can recycle that yellow cellophane paper that wraps around your fruitbaskets. Let everyone know how clever you are.


And just in case next winter is as arduous as this winter's, this is how you wrap your quilt around you for a fashion statement.

New Motto for Connecticut

Time for a humor break. This week has been rather intense. So, The Divine Lamp is running a contest for a new state motto for Connecticut. Join in the fun here. The operative word is "humor". Laughter is still allowed during Lent. Some people seem to forget that.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Another pro-death nominee

~Calling Doug Kmiec, pick up the red courtesy phone. Yes, what was that you said about reducing abortions? You mean like this kind of move?
The Obama administration recently announced the creation of a new foreign policy position to focus on women's issues.

Melanne Verveer, an abortion advocate who served as chief of staff to former First Lady Hillary Clinton, will occupy the new post.

Her role as the new Obama ambassador to women abroad? Promote abortion and overturn pro-life laws in nations across the world.

Verveer was nominated to the post based on her close ties to Clinton and her experience as co-founder of Vital Voices Global Leadership. She will hold the rank of Ambassador-at-Large.

Verveer founded Vital Voices with assistance from pro-abortion former UN ambassador Madeline Albright to reaffirm the population and development goals of the United Nations conference in Beijing in 1995.

In 2005, while marking the ten year anniversary of Beijing, then-Senator Clinton applauded the role of Verveer's group and talked about the kind of measures needed to advance the interests of women. Clinton placed advancing abortion in third-world nations at the top of the list.
Read more

Kmiec again

This image was part of the USCCB poster in the Stop FOCA campaign. I'm using it everytime Doug Kmiec opines about how abortion will be reduced under this administration. Here's what his latest response is in US News:
...I am especially pleased that the President deliberately highlighted at the national prayer breakfast the abortion reduction expectations he has for this Office. I have great expectations for this Office, and I am looking forward to many constructive efforts that will involve many people at the most local levels in efforts that will assist their neighbors and involve us personally in our economic—which I believe must also be a cultural—recovery....

Of course, I am pleased that the FOCA [Freedom of Choice Act] "scare" has proven, as all of the President's strong supporters like me predicted, to be without foundation.[Methinks you speak too soon, Dougie. You didn't get the memo from those who said they'll introduce it soon. Oh, and how about bits and pieces of FOCA getting sneaked in here and there.] I continue to encourage the President's advisors to endorse the Pregnant Women's Support Act, or one of its companion measures, and specifically, the "life support center" provisions [you mean like Planned Parenthood?] which I helped in the drafting [how humble of you]. Of course, one of the first legislative achievements of this still very young administration was a reversal of the Congress' previous denial of the expansion of children's health care.

So the political antagonists of the President can "call me out" if they want [ooooh, calling for a duel?]; though, I think their time would be better spent seeing the larger picture [what can be larger than Life?] of the economic and related cultural challenges which face the nation and how the President brings great intelligence [You mean that famous intelligence that nominated all those stellar individuals to posts such as tax cheats, etc? Nice.] and open-mindedness to the needs of many who previously were invisible to the governmental process....

Response by Lawlor and McDonald

~from the sponsors of the Connecticut Bill altering how the Catholic Church is to be run in CT. Here's the duo explaining.
With that in mind, it would serve no useful purpose to have a conversation about changing the laws that govern existing Roman Catholic corporations until we know if any of these existing laws are constitutional. At the request of the proponents who are advocating this legislation, we have decided to cancel the public hearing for tomorrow, table any further consideration of this bill for the duration of this session, and ask the Attorney General his opinion regarding the constitutionality of the existing law that sets different rules for five named separate religions....

In the meantime, we think it would be most beneficial if the proponents who requested these changes and church officials meet together privately to see if they can come to a resolution on their own. Open and honest communication between these two groups could only help. For our part, we intend to reach out to representatives of the Catholic Conference and continue the discussion that began in 2008 on this issue. We hope they will agree to meet with us.
How about you keep your interfering nose out of the Church's affairs? How about the dissenting Catholics learn a bit about their Faith? How about....sigh, I've broken one of my Lenten disciplines of staying calm.

Planned Parenthood on Infanticide

CT Bill tabled

~via Catholic Fire, the noxious CT bill has been tabled so that the Connecticut Attorney General may review it. Read the whole thing at Hartford Courant.

The diocese is still going forward with the rally. So, if you're in CT, please go and show your support for our First Amendment rights.

New American Catholic Altar

~via The American Catholic, here's a cartoon from catholiccartoonblog that just about sums up Catholics in the public square who've jettisoned faith for political ascendancy. Congratulations, Tito says.

Voice of the Faithful link in CT Bill

~from NC Register by Tom Hoopes....getting to the heart of this piece of very bad legislation, we see, surprise, surprise, some dissenting Catholics.
Senate Bill 1098 was quickly labeled as payback to the bishops for the defense of marriage. But it may be worse than that: It may be part of a Voice of the Faithful strategy to “democratize” the Church. This is Voice of the Faithful’s plan that would gut the Church’s structure.

At annual meetings in Connecticut (at Fairfield University, for one place), Voice of the Faithful has been much more open about what it wants than it had been hitherto. Leaders in the movement dissent from bottom-line Catholic issues from women’s ordination to the sinfulness of homosexual acts to abortion. They also want to change Church structure (as a first step to changing Church doctrine, maybe?).

I’ve been told to expect professors from Fairfield University and Fordham to testify at the March 11 Hartford hearing—FOR the bill. They will make a historical “Catholic” case for a new parish structure that bypasses bishops. (Think Pelosi’s tangled logic on “when life begins” applied to the question “what is a parish?”)

Parish finance scandals will be used as a club to goad the Church to throw the baby — its very structure — out with the bathwater — the abuses of that structure.

This story
helps set the stage. Notice the Voice of the Faithful members quoted in it who aren’t identified as such.
That this bill was written by two trial lawyers, who very well know the Constitution, and yet propose it should let you know how much the Constitution means these days. Oh, and didn't they take an oath to defend the Constitution when they were sworn in as legislators? Hmmmm......

Abp Chaput on CT Bill

~from the Archdiocesan website:
Bigoted legislators, including some who claim to be nominally or formerly "Catholic," are thankfully uncommon. Most lawmakers, whatever their convictions, sincerely seek to serve the common good. But prejudice against the Catholic Church has a long pedigree in the United States. And rarely has belligerence toward the Church been so perfectly and nakedly captured as in Connecticut's pending Senate Bill 1098, which, in the words of Hartford's Archbishop Henry Mansell, "directly attacks the Roman Catholic Church and our Faith."

In effect, SB 1098 would give the state of Connecticut the power to forcibly reorganize the internal civil life of the Catholic community. This is bad public policy in every sense: imprudent; unjust; dismissive of First Amendment concerns, and contemptuous of the right of the Catholic Church to be who she is as a public entity. If Catholics want Caesar telling them how they're allowed to live their civil life as a community, this is exactly the kind of legislation to make it happen.

The legislative coercion directed against the Catholic community in one state has implications for Catholics in every other state. If bigots in one state succeed in coercive laws like SB 1098, bigots in other states will try the same.

I strongly encourage Catholics across the archdiocese to show their support for the bishops and faithful Catholic people of Connecticut by writing the Connecticut lawmakers behind SB 1098 and letting them know - respectfully and firmly - that this kind of prejudicial lawmaking violates common sense, damages the common good and offends Catholics around the country. One lesson we should learn from American history is this: If Catholics don't defend their Church, nobody else will.
Notice the word "bigot"? That's what this bill is. Bigoted against the Catholic Church.

Monday, March 09, 2009



O Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I adore thee profoundly. I offer thee the most precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, present in all the tabernacles of the world, in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges and indifferences by which He is offended. By the infinite merits of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg of thee the conversion of poor sinners.

Hearing in CT

...over the terrible bill interfering with the Catholic Church's internal affairs.

It's this Wednesday, March 11th. Bishop Lori is trying to mobilize people to show up in Hartford.

Day of Penance

...ESCR limitations that are to be rescinded, if not already by this posting.

My friend, Cathy at Recovering Dissident Catholic tweeted that she is praying so I thought I'd join her. Please consider joining us wherever you are.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Eroding the First Amendment

....even further than it already has been: Connecticut Bill

Comments at WDTPRS

Stay informed, be vigilant!

Friday, March 06, 2009

First Friday



Music for contemplation: Call to Remembrance by Richard Farrant.

From Thomas a Kempis' Prayers and Meditations on the Life of Christ


LORD JESUS CHRIST, Author of our Salvation, most gracious Giver of pardon, most patient in Thy long-suffering of man's wickedness, I bless Thee, and give thanks to Thee for all the pain, and for each several blow and bloody wound, so cruelly inflicted on Thy most precious and most tender Body; so that from the sole of the foot even to the top of the Head there was no soundness in Thee, but either a grievous wale, or an aching wound, or a stream of warm red Blood trickling down Thy whole Body.

I praise and glorify Thee with the worthiest adoration of which I am capable, and with all the powers of my soul laid at Thy Feet, for the generous outpouring of Thy precious Blood from Thy five sacred Wounds, and from all Thy other wounds, great and small, bleeding and sending forth a life-giving stream, more precious than any balm, to be an effectual remedy for all our sins. Ah ! most gentle Jesus, how cruelly wast Thou tortured and wounded by savage men, so that all Thy bodily strength being exhausted, and Thy veins wide-opened, scarcely a drop of Blood remained in Thee; but whatever of that sacred Stream, whether living or dying, Thou hadst in Thee, was all lovingly poured forth for our souls use, and as the price of our Salvation.

O ye five precious Wounds, pre-eminent tokens of surpassing love, full of Divine sweetness, whence the sinner takes good heart, keeping thereby his guilty conscience from driving him to despair ! In you is found the medicine of life, fullness of grace, plentiful forgiveness, boundless mercy, the gate which leads to the glory which is in store for us. Whatever pollution I incur, whatever sins of the flesh I commit, in your five fountains I may wash all away, and may be purified, and made faultless.

I praise and glorify Thee, O Christ, only and beloved Spouse of Holy Church, for that inestimable love, which moved Thee, to redeem my soul, by the covenant of Thy Own Blood, from the chains of Adam s sin, to cleanse it from all its sins, and to endow and adorn it with the merits of Thy Own holiness; that so, made holy by Thy grace, it might be found meet in this life to be joined and united to Thee, and hereafter to be made happy and glorious in the Kingdom of Thy excellent Majesty.

Mark carefully, O faithful soul, and see at what great and notable cost He redeemed Thee, Who, of His own unbought goodness, made thee, at the beginning, to His own image and likeness. For thou wast not redeemed from the guilt of original sin, nor from the many actual sins which, by the exercise of thy own free will, thou hast wickedly added thereto, with contemptible things, as gold or silver, but with the precious Blood of Christ, as of a Lamb unspotted and undefiled. And not only upon the Cross, for thy cleansing, did He shed His Blood; but He also vouchsafed to leave the same in the Chalice for thee to drink with faithful devotion in the Communion of that Sacrament, by which the daily sins of the world are purged and blotted out.

Alas ! of what terrible punishment will he be thought worthy, who shall have accounted the Blood of the Covenant of the Son of God an unholy thing, and shall not have paid the debt of thanksgiving which he owes to the Wounds of the Crucified. Be careful, then, to render thanks to Him Who has so loved thee, to Him Who has wrought for thee this His inestimable benefit, by at least one short prayer, or one devout meditatation, at some time, either of the day, or night. Many faithful soals, burning with love for Him, have rejoiced to shed their blood for Him: and yet more, taking part in His sufferings by using the rough ways of penance, have, for the Chalice of His Blood, humbly offered the waters of a bitter contrition.

Learn thou from their example to crucify thy flesh with its affections and lusts, manfully to resist temptation, and to bear until death the yoke of willing obedience ; to offer to Christ thy Redeemer, upon the altar of thy heart, in place of a martyrdom of blood, the sacrifice of a troubled spirit. Seek by diligent meditation to keep ever before thee the benefits purchased for thee by the Cross, and to find in the deep wounds of Jesus, as in the clefts of a rock, a hiding-place from the face of the enemy and the avenger.

Come to my help, O most gentle Jesus, in my every need, in every crisis of the strife. Stretch forth over me Thy hands, and with Thy right arm ever protect me ; put devotion in my heart, truth in my mouth, energy in my work. Purge me from all the corruption of my sins, heal my wounds with Thy precious Blood. Let no hidden thing of darkness, nothing impure, nothing that defiles, remain in me ; but may Thy sacred Blood, so abundantly shed, thoroughly cleanse me from all that is hurtful, and sanctify me wholly ; that so, when, at the last day, Thou shalt come in Judge ment, my spirit, and my soul, for the deliverance of which Thou didst endure so many and such grievous pains, and didst expend such boundless treasure, may be presented before Thee pure and undefiled.

Christ, the model of brotherly love



~by St. Aelred

The perfection of brotherly love lies in the love of one’s enemies. We can find no greater inspiration for this than grateful remembrance of the wonderful patience of Christ. He who is more fair than all the sons of men offered his fair face to be spat upon by sinful men; he allowed those eyes that rule the universe to be blindfolded by wicked men; he bared his back to the scourges; he submitted that head which strikes terror in principalities and powers to the sharpness of the thorns; he gave himself up to be mocked and reviled, and at the end endured the cross, the nails, the lance, the gall, the vinegar, remaining always gentle, meek and full of peace.

In short, he was led like a sheep to the slaughter, and like a lamb before the shearers he kept silent, and did not open his mouth.

Who could listen to that wonderful prayer, so full of warmth, of love, of unshakeable serenity – Father, forgive them – and hesitate to embrace his enemies with overflowing love? Father, he says, forgive them. Is any gentleness, any love, lacking in this prayer?

Yet he put into it something more. It was not enough to pray for them: he wanted also to make excuses for them. Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing. They are great sinners, yes, but they have little judgement; therefore, Father, forgive them. They are nailing me to the cross, but they do not know who it is that they are nailing to the cross: if they had known, they would never have crucified the Lord of glory; therefore, Father, forgive them. They think it is a lawbreaker, an impostor claiming to be God, a seducer of the people. I have hidden my face from them, and they do not recognise my glory; therefore, Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.

If someone wishes to love himself he must not allow himself to be corrupted by indulging his sinful nature. If he wishes to resist the promptings of his sinful nature he must enlarge the whole horizon of his love to contemplate the loving gentleness of the humanity of the Lord. Further, if he wishes to savour the joy of brotherly love with greater perfection and delight, he must extend even to his enemies the embrace of true love.

But if he wishes to prevent this fire of divine love from growing cold because of injuries received, let him keep the eyes of his soul always fixed on the serene patience of his beloved Lord and Saviour.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Care in Handling of Blessed Sacrament

~Dr. Blosser has posted this for our meditation.
Care in Handling the Blessed Sacrament

We have stated before a concept that seems as though it should be self-evident to Catholics, and even to non-Catholics: If we truly believe that the consecrated bread and wine are the Most Precious Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, then they deserve to be shown utmost respect. They should not be handled or distributed casually as though they were hors d’oeuvres.

The Rubrics and customs of the Extraordinary Form Mass are designed to do just that. It starts with the basics: If they are not in a collective motion involving the priest, the sacred ministers and altar servers genuflect when they cross the tabernacle, as a sign of reverence to our Lord reserved in the Blessed Sacrament.

Even the Tiniest Particle is Our Lord

Great care is taken after the Consecrations to ensure that no particle of our Lord’s Sacred Body, and no droplet of His Most Precious Blood, are scattered, trampled upon, spilled, or desecrated in any way. The celebrant holds his thumb and forefinger together from the Consecration to Holy Communion, lest any crumbs fall. The priest uses the paten to scrape off any particles there may be on the altar, and then wipes off the paten into the chalice, thereby ensuring that all particles of the Host are consumed....
Read the rest

During the Ablutions, it always strikes me how carefully our priest cleans the vessels. He takes his time and usually, communion music has ended so there's silence while he does this. I don't particularly like to program music to cover his actions. People enter into an attitude of prayer more easily when there is silence.

Shepherds like the Lord

~by Saint Asterius of Amasea

You were made in the image of God. If then you wish to resemble him, follow his example. Since the very name you bear as Christians is a profession of love for men, imitate the love of Christ.

Reflect for a moment on the wealth of his kindness. Before he came as a man to be among men, he sent John the Baptist to preach repentance and lead men to practise it. John himself was preceded by the prophets, who were to teach the people to repent, to return to God and to amend their lives.

Then Christ came himself, and with his own lips cried out: Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest. How did he receive those who listened to his call? He readily forgave them their sins; he freed them instantly from all that troubled them. The Word made them holy; the Spirit set his seal on them. The old Adam was buried in the waters of baptism; the new man was reborn to the vigour of grace.

What was the result? Those who had been God’s enemies became his friends, those estranged from him became his sons, those who did not know him came to worship and love him.

Let us then be shepherds like the Lord. We must meditate on the Gospel, and as we see in this mirror the example of zeal and loving kindness, we should become thoroughly schooled in these virtues.

For there, obscurely, in the form of a parable, we see a shepherd who had a hundred sheep. When one of them was separated from the flock and lost its way, that shepherd did not remain with the sheep who kept together at pasture. No, he went off to look for the stray. He crossed many valleys and thickets, he climbed great and towering mountains, he spent much time and labour in wandering through solitary places until at last he found his sheep.

When he found it, he did not chastise it; he did not use rough blows to drive it back, but gently placed it on his own shoulders and carried it back to the flock. He took greater joy in this one sheep, lost and found, than in all the others.

Let us look more closely at the hidden meaning of this parable. The sheep is more than a sheep, the shepherd more than a shepherd. They are examples enshrining holy truths. They teach us that we should not look on men as lost or beyond hope; we should not abandon them when they are in danger or be slow to come to their help. When they turn away from the right path and wander, we must lead them back, and rejoice at their return, welcoming them back into the company of those who lead good and holy lives.Be shepherds like the Lord

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Covenant

~by Bishop Aphraates (fourth-century Syriac writer, the "Persian Sage")

Law and covenant have been entirely changed. God changed the first pact with Adam, and gave a new one to Noah. He gave another to Abraham, and changed this to give a new one to Moses. When the covenant with Moses was no longer observed, he gave another pact in this last age, a pact never again to be changed.

He established a new law for Adam, that he could not eat of the tree of life. He gave to Noah the sign of the rainbow in the clouds. He then gave Abraham, chosen for his faith, the mark and seal of circumcision for his descendants. Moses was given the Passover lamb, the propitiation for the people.

All these covenants were different from each other. Moreover, the circumcision that is approved by the giver of those covenants is the kind of spoken of by Jeremiah: Circumcise your hearts. If God’s pact with Abraham was firm, so also is this covenant firm and trustworthy, nor can any other law be laid down, whether it originates outside the law or among those subject to the law.

God gave Moses a law together with his prescriptions and precepts, and when it was no longer kept, he made the law and its precepts of no avail. He promised a new covenant, different from the first, though the giver of both is one and the same. This is the covenant that he promised: All shall know me from the least to the greatest. In this covenant there is no longer any circumcision of the flesh, any seal upon the people.

We know, dearly beloved, that God established different laws in different generations which were in force as long as it pleased him. Afterward they were made obsolete. In the words of the apostle: In former times the kingdom of God existed in each generation under different signs.
Moreover, our God is truthful and his commandments are most trustworthy. Every covenant was proved firm and trustworthy in its own time, and those who have been circumcised in heart are brought to life and receive a second circumcision beside the true Jordan, the waters of baptism that bring forgiveness of sins.

Jesus, son of Nun, renewed the people’s circumcision with a knife of stone when he had crossed the Jordan with the Israelites. Jesus, our Saviour, renews the circumcision of the heart for the nations who have believed in him and are washed by baptism: circumcision by the sword of his word, sharper than any two-edged sword.

Jesus, son of Nun, led the people across the Jordan into the promised land. Jesus, our Saviour, has promised the land of the living to all who have crossed the true Jordan, and have believed and are circumcised in heart.

Blessed, then, are those who are circumcised in heart, and have been reborn in water through the second circumcision. They will receive their inheritance with Abraham, the faithful leader and father of all nations, for his faith was credited to him for righteousness.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Confession

Father Z has a poll on the last time you went to confession. He says this for you to think about in case you're feeling embarrassed:
Confession and absolution repairs that rupture and returns you to a state of friendship with God.

Awareness of mortal sin should drive you to a confessional.

In our weakness we will sometimes put off going to confession. Perhaps fear or embarrassment keeps us away. Time slips by. Days become weeks become months become years.

Then you die and go to your judgment.

So … maybe the priest is not friendly or the confession schedule is a little narrow…. so what? A better confessor is some distance away… so? It is a little hard… not convenient… too much to do…. And?

What is a moment of embarrassment, what is an interruption of your oh-so-important routine compared to the eternity of heaven or of hell?

You do not know the moment when your reckoning will come, friends.

Have you fallen into the trap, willingly or innocently, of going to "general absolution" without making a confession of your sins in the proper way?

The Sacrament of Penance heals your soul, strengthens you against sin, and – simply on the basic level of peace of mind – works wonders.
About a month ago, someone pulled me aside at church and wanted to talk about Confession. She revealed to me that she had not gone in thirty years and there was something she was too embarrassed to tell anyone. She, a cradle Catholic, believed that one does not have to go to a priest to confess one's sins. So I explained to her briefly what Grace and Sacraments are. What separation from God is and receiving the Eucharist unworthily means. I was very relieved to see her at Confession bringing her family with her the following week. She has been asking me lots of questions about the faith and her one constant remark is this: "Why didn't anyone ever tell me?"

The pitfalls of RCIA

~Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP has a post on the RCIA process and the pitfalls that an inquirer might face with parish RCIA programs. Perhaps the most common is the "faith sharing" focus that some programs have.
But RCIA is meant to be an introduction to the CATHOLIC faith not a year-long process of sharing feelings, impressions, and opinions about bullet-point theology and ecclesial politics. Many converts are left with the impression that the Catholic faith is simply a matter of joining a parish, signing up for duty as communion ministers, and occasionally going to Mass on Sunday. When the emphasis is placed on the subjective experience of the individual, the whole of the faith is lost in personal reflection and opinion. The strongest/weakest link in any RCIA program is the dedication of the teachers to the magisterium of the Church. Often these teachers are reluctant to present the more controversial elements of the faith for fear of being confronted by disagreement or disparagement. Tough. Teach the faith or find another ministry in the parish. [emphasis mine]
Fr. Powell has a three-year formation plan that you may view here. First year is Scripture and Patristics. Second year is the Medieval Period. Third year is Trent, Vatican I & II. So if you are in an RCIA program where the subjective reigns and are starving for something more substantive, do check out Fr. Powell's three-year plan. Actually, it's a good plan for all of us. We don't stop growing in our faith once we've completed the RCIA requirements. In addition, even cradle Catholics need to grow out of the ten-year-old's understanding of God and the Church. The book list is essential for any Catholic's library. Check it out.

He has taught us to pray


~by St. Cyprian

Dear brothers, the commands of the Gospel are nothing else than God’s lessons, the foundations on which to build up hope, the supports for strengthening faith, the food that nourishes the heart. They are the rudder for keeping us on the right course, the protection that keeps our salvation secure. As they instruct the receptive minds of believers on earth, they lead safely to the kingdom of heaven.

God willed that many things should be said by the prophets, his servants, and listened to by his people. How much greater are the things spoken by the Son. These are now witnessed to by the very Word of God who spoke through the prophets. The Word of God does not now command us to prepare the way for his coming: he comes in person and opens up the way for us and directs us toward it. Before, we wandered in the darkness of death, aimlessly and blindly. Now we are enlightened by the light of grace, and are to keep to the highway of life, with the Lord to precede and direct us.

The Lord has given us many counsels and commandments to help us toward salvation. He has even given us a pattern of prayer, instructing us on how we are to pray. He has given us life, and with his accustomed generosity, he has also taught us how to pray. He has made it easy for us to be heard as we pray to the Father in the words taught us by the Son.

He had already foretold that the hour was coming when true worshippers would worship the Father in spirit and in truth. He fulfilled what he had promised before, so that we who have received the spirit and the truth through the holiness he has given us may worship in truth and in the spirit through the prayer he has taught.

What prayer could be more a prayer in the spirit than the one given us by Christ, by whom the Holy Spirit was sent upon us? What prayer could be more a prayer in the truth than the one spoken by the lips of the Son, who is truth himself? It follows that to pray in any other way than the Son has taught us is not only the result of ignorance but of sin. He himself has commanded it, and has said: You reject the command of God, to set up your own tradition.

So, my brothers, let us pray as God our master has taught us. To ask the Father in words his Son has given us, to let him hear the prayer of Christ ringing in his ears, is to make our prayer one of friendship, a family prayer. Let the Father recognise the words of his Son. Let the Son who lives in our hearts be also on our lips. We have him as an advocate for sinners before the Father; when we ask forgiveness for our sins, let us use the words given by our advocate. He tells us: Whatever you ask the Father in my name, he will give you. What more effective prayer could we then make in the name of Christ than in the words of his own prayer?

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Temptation



~by St. Augustine

Hear, O God, my petition, listen to my prayer. Who is speaking? An individual, it seems. See if it is an individual: I cried out to you from the ends of the earth while my heart was in anguish. Now it is no longer one person; rather, it is one in the sense that Christ is one, and we are all his members. What single individual can cry from the ends of the earth? The one who cries from the ends of the earth is none other than the Son’s inheritance. It was said to him: Ask of me, and I shall give you the nations as your inheritance, and the ends of the earth as your possession. This possession of Christ, this inheritance of Christ, this body of Christ, this one Church of Christ, this unity that we are, cries from the ends of the earth. What does it cry? What I said before: Hear, O God, my petition, listen to my prayer; I cried out to you from the ends of the earth.’ That is, I made this cry to you from the ends of the earth; that is, on all sides.

Why did I make this cry? While my heart was in anguish. The speaker shows that he is present among all the nations of the earth in a condition, not of exalted glory but of severe trial.
Our pilgrimage on earth cannot be exempt from trial. We progress by means of trial. No one knows himself except through trial, or receives a crown except after victory, or strives except against an enemy or temptations.

The one who cries from the ends of the earth is in anguish, but is not left on his own. Christ chose to foreshadow us, who are his body, by means of his body, in which he has died, risen and ascended into heaven, so that the members of his body may hope to follow where their head has gone before.

He made us one with him when he chose to be tempted by Satan. We have heard in the gospel how the Lord Jesus Christ was tempted by the devil in the wilderness. Certainly Christ was tempted by the devil. In Christ you were tempted, for Christ received his flesh from your nature, but by his own power gained salvation for you; he suffered death in your nature, but by his own power gained glory for you; therefore, he suffered temptation in your nature, but by his own power gained victory for you.

If in Christ we have been tempted, in him we overcome the devil. Do you think only of Christ’s temptations and fail to think of his victory? See yourself as tempted in him, and see yourself as victorious in him. He could have kept the devil from himself; but if he were not tempted he could not teach you how to triumph over temptation.