Thursday, January 31, 2008
While the two feasts are among the 14 solemnities marked with special care in the Catholic Church, they do not take precedence over the commemoration of Christ's suffering, death and resurrection. Therefore in 2008 the feast of St. Joseph will be celebrated March 15, the day before Palm Sunday, and the feast of the Annunciation will be celebrated March 31, the Monday after the second Sunday of Easter, which also is Divine Mercy Sunday.
Regarding the feast of St. Patrick:
The Bishop has agreed to join the Bishop of the Hartford Province and assign the optional memorial of St. Patrick to Friday, March, 14.
Inquiries have been received concerning the optional memorial for St. Patrick (March 17), which falls on the Monday of Holy Week. As a result of the above mentioned change for the Solemnity of St. Joseph, a memorial for St. Patrick may be celebrated on Friday, March 14. The Bishop is prepared to issue a dispensation for those celebrating this optional memorial Friday, March 14, which is a Friday during the Lenten Season. Any social activities taking place around the feast of St. Patrick should be most sensitive to the solemn nature of Holy Week which observes the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of the Lord.
It is the first time in almost 100 years that the feast of St Patrick will not be celebrated March 17. In 1913, the same conflict occurred, and in that case the church marked the feast April 1.
According to historians, March 17 is the traditional date given for the death of St. Patrick, and his feast has been celebrated on this day since the seventh century.
The next time St. Patrick's Day will fall during Holy Week will be 2160
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
The church has since been
I am not known for keeping a neat choir loft, but I have that luxury because I have a LOFT! My mess is not visible. Whenever I have worked in a parish with a visible choir area I have made a point to keep it as neat and clean as possible. The last thing the congregation needs is the distraction of looking at a mess.
Now to the organ! The music director at this parish only begrudgingly plays the organ. He makes it very clear that he is a pianist, not an organist. First, he changed the presets to some of the strangest I have ever seen. Then, the volume of the organ was set so loud it probably blew out the ears of the congregations. I left with a headache and I was very far away from the speakers. Therefore, it only makes sense that the expression pedal was non-functioning. Also, the crescendo pedal was useless, since there were only about two stops attached to it.
Oh the beautiful music that used to come out of that organ! With some difficulty I was able to make it sound decent, but with the volume set at the decible level of a Guns N' Roses concert it was difficult.
My one victory: To the dismay of the parish secretary, I successfuly nixed Wind Beneath My Wings from the request list. Unfortunately, it was replaced by On Eagles Wings. What's the fascination with wings? The secretary even asked if I would play a CD with Wind Beneath My Wings. NO!
I didn't make it to the choir loft, but I expect that the pipe organ is no longer there - another victim to the renovations. One thing that did fall victim was the old confessionals, where I used to store my sheet music and microphone stands. There are gone, all in the name of progress. One bright spot: the reredos and old altar still remain. I guess there is still hope, and the changes to the organ aren't permanent. Still sad though.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Extracts from the Message are given below:
"Each year, Lent offers us a providential opportunity to deepen the meaning and value of our Christian lives, and it stimulates us to rediscover the mercy of God so that we, in turn, become more merciful toward our brothers and sisters. In the Lenten period, the Church makes it her duty to propose some specific tasks that accompany the faithful concretely in this process of interior renewal: these are prayer, fasting and almsgiving. For this year's Lenten Message, I wish to spend some time reflecting on the practice of almsgiving, which represents a specific way to assist those in need and, at the same time, an exercise in self-denial to free us from attachment to worldly goods. The force of attraction to material riches and just how categorical our decision must be not to make of them an idol, Jesus confirms in a resolute way: 'You cannot serve God and mammon'.
"Almsgiving helps us to overcome this constant temptation, teaching us to respond to our neighbour's needs and to share with others whatever we possess through divine goodness. This is the aim of the special collections in favour of the poor, which are promoted during Lent in many parts of the world. In this way, inward cleansing is accompanied by a gesture of ecclesial communion, mirroring what already took place in the early Church.
"According to the teaching of the Gospel, we are not owners but rather administrators of the goods we possess: these, then, are not to be considered as our exclusive possession, but means through which the Lord calls each one of us to act as a steward of His providence for our neighbour".
"In the Gospel, Jesus explicitly admonishes the one who possesses and uses earthly riches only for self. ... In those countries whose population is majority Christian, the call to share is even more urgent, since their responsibility toward the many who suffer poverty and abandonment is even greater. To come to their aid is a duty of justice even prior to being an act of charity.
"The Gospel highlights a typical feature of Christian almsgiving: it must be hidden. ... This understanding, dear brothers and sisters, must accompany every gesture of help to our neighbour, avoiding that it becomes a means to make ourselves the centre of attention".
"In today's world of images, attentive vigilance is required, since this temptation is great. Almsgiving, according to the Gospel, is not mere philanthropy: rather it is a concrete expression of charity, a theological virtue that demands interior conversion to love of God and neighbour, in imitation of Jesus Christ".
"In inviting us to consider almsgiving with a more profound gaze that transcends the purely material dimension, Scripture teaches us that there is more joy in giving than in receiving. ... Every time when, for love of God, we share our goods with our neighbour in need, we discover that the fullness of life comes from love and all is returned to us as a blessing in the form of peace, inner satisfaction and joy".
"What is more: St. Peter includes among the spiritual fruits of almsgiving the forgiveness of sins. ... As the Lenten liturgy frequently repeats, God offers to us sinners the possibility of being forgiven. The fact of sharing what we possess with the poor disposes us to receive such a gift".
"Almsgiving teaches us the generosity of love. ... In this regard, all the more significant is the Gospel story of the widow who, out of poverty, cast into the Temple treasury 'all she had to live on'".
We find this moving passage inserted in the description of the days that immediately precede Jesus' passion and death, who, as St. Paul writes, made Himself poor to enrich us out of His poverty; He gave His entire Self for us. Lent, also through the practice of almsgiving, inspires us to follow His example. In His school, we can learn to make of our lives a total gift; imitating Him, we are able to make ourselves available, not so much in giving part of what we possess, but our very selves. Cannot the entire Gospel be summarised perhaps in the one commandment of love? The Lenten practice of almsgiving thus become a means to deepen our Christian vocation. In gratuitously offering himself, the Christian bears witness that it is love and not material richness that determines the laws of his existence, Love, then, gives almsgiving its true value; it inspires various forms of giving, according to the possibilities and conditions of each person".
Here is the complete message:
FOR LENT 2008
“Christ made Himself poor for you” (2 Cor 8,9)
Dear Brothers and Sisters!
1. Each year, Lent offers us a providential opportunity to deepen the meaning and value of our Christian lives, and it stimulates us to rediscover the mercy of God so that we, in turn, become more merciful toward our brothers and sisters. In the Lenten period, the Church makes it her duty to propose some specific tasks that accompany the faithful concretely in this process of interior renewal: these are prayer, fasting and almsgiving. For this year’s Lenten Message, I wish to spend some time reflecting on the practice of almsgiving, which represents a specific way to assist those in need and, at the same time, an exercise in self-denial to free us from attachment to worldly goods. The force of attraction to material riches and just how categorical our decision must be not to make of them an idol, Jesus confirms in a resolute way: “You cannot serve God and mammon” (Lk 16,13). Almsgiving helps us to overcome this constant temptation, teaching us to respond to our neighbor’s needs and to share with others whatever we possess through divine goodness. This is the aim of the special collections in favor of the poor, which are promoted during Lent in many parts of the world. In this way, inward cleansing is accompanied by a gesture of ecclesial communion, mirroring what already took place in the early Church. In his Letters, Saint Paul speaks of this in regard to the collection for the Jerusalem community (cf. 2 Cor 8-9; Rm 15, 25-27).
2. According to the teaching of the Gospel, we are not owners but rather administrators of the goods we possess: these, then, are not to be considered as our exclusive possession, but means through which the Lord calls each one of us to act as a steward of His providence for our neighbor. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us, material goods bear a social value, according to the principle of their universal destination (cf. n. 2404)
In the Gospel, Jesus explicitly admonishes the one who possesses and uses earthly riches only for self. In the face of the multitudes, who, lacking everything, suffer hunger, the words of Saint John acquire the tone of a ringing rebuke: “How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses to help?” (1 Jn 3,17). In those countries whose population is majority Christian, the call to share is even more urgent, since their responsibility toward the many who suffer poverty and abandonment is even greater. To come to their aid is a duty of justice even prior to being an act of charity.
3. The Gospel highlights a typical feature of Christian almsgiving: it must be hidden: “Do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,” Jesus asserts, “so that your alms may be done in secret” (Mt 6,3-4). Just a short while before, He said not to boast of one’s own good works so as not to risk being deprived of the heavenly reward (cf. Mt 6,1-2). The disciple is to be concerned with God’s greater glory. Jesus warns: “In this way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven” (Mt 5,16). Everything, then, must be done for God’s glory and not our own. This understanding, dear brothers and sisters, must accompany every gesture of help to our neighbor, avoiding that it becomes a means to make ourselves the center of attention. If, in accomplishing a good deed, we do not have as our goal God’s glory and the real well being of our brothers and sisters, looking rather for a return of personal interest or simply of applause, we place ourselves outside of the Gospel vision. In today’s world of images, attentive vigilance is required, since this temptation is great. Almsgiving, according to the Gospel, is not mere philanthropy: rather it is a concrete expression of charity, a theological virtue that demands interior conversion to love of God and neighbor, in imitation of Jesus Christ, who, dying on the cross, gave His entire self for us. How could we not thank God for the many people who silently, far from the gaze of the media world, fulfill, with this spirit, generous actions in support of one’s neighbor in difficulty? There is little use in giving one’s personal goods to others if it leads to a heart puffed up in vainglory: for this reason, the one, who knows that God “sees in secret” and in secret will reward, does not seek human recognition for works of mercy.
4. In inviting us to consider almsgiving with a more profound gaze that transcends the purely material dimension, Scripture teaches us that there is more joy in giving than in receiving (cf. Acts 20,35). When we do things out of love, we express the truth of our being; indeed, we have been created not for ourselves but for God and our brothers and sisters (cf. 2 Cor 5,15). Every time when, for love of God, we share our goods with our neighbor in need, we discover that the fullness of life comes from love and all is returned to us as a blessing in the form of peace, inner satisfaction and joy. Our Father in heaven rewards our almsgiving with His joy. What is more: Saint Peter includes among the spiritual fruits of almsgiving the forgiveness of sins: “Charity,” he writes, “covers a multitude of sins” (1 Pt 4,8). As the Lenten liturgy frequently repeats, God offers to us sinners the possibility of being forgiven. The fact of sharing with the poor what we possess disposes us to receive such a gift. In this moment, my thought turns to those who realize the weight of the evil they have committed and, precisely for this reason, feel far from God, fearful and almost incapable of turning to Him. By drawing close to others through almsgiving, we draw close to God; it can become an instrument for authentic conversion and reconciliation with Him and our brothers.
5. Almsgiving teaches us the generosity of love. Saint Joseph Benedict Cottolengo forthrightly recommends: “Never keep an account of the coins you give, since this is what I always say: if, in giving alms, the left hand is not to know what the right hand is doing, then the right hand, too, should not know what it does itself” (Detti e pensieri, Edilibri, n. 201). In this regard, all the more significant is the Gospel story of the widow who, out of her poverty, cast into the Temple treasury “all she had to live on” (Mk 12,44). Her tiny and insignificant coin becomes an eloquent symbol: this widow gives to God not out of her abundance, not so much what she has, but what she is. Her entire self.
We find this moving passage inserted in the description of the days that immediately precede Jesus’ passion and death, who, as Saint Paul writes, made Himself poor to enrich us out of His poverty (cf. 2 Cor 8,9); He gave His entire self for us. Lent, also through the practice of almsgiving, inspires us to follow His example. In His school, we can learn to make of our lives a total gift; imitating Him, we are able to make ourselves available, not so much in giving a part of what we possess, but our very selves. Cannot the entire Gospel be summarized perhaps in the one commandment of love? The Lenten practice of almsgiving thus becomes a means to deepen our Christian vocation. In gratuitously offering himself, the Christian bears witness that it is love and not material richness that determines the laws of his existence. Love, then, gives almsgiving its value; it inspires various forms of giving, according to the possibilities and conditions of each person.
6. Dear brothers and sisters, Lent invites us to “train ourselves” spiritually, also through the practice of almsgiving, in order to grow in charity and recognize in the poor Christ Himself. In the Acts of the Apostles, we read that the Apostle Peter said to the cripple who was begging alms at the Temple gate: “I have no silver or gold, but what I have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, walk” (Acts 3,6). In giving alms, we offer something material, a sign of the greater gift that we can impart to others through the announcement and witness of Christ, in whose name is found true life. Let this time, then, be marked by a personal and community effort of attachment to Christ in order that we may be witnesses of His love. May Mary, Mother and faithful Servant of the Lord, help believers to enter the “spiritual battle” of Lent, armed with prayer, fasting and the practice of almsgiving, so as to arrive at the celebration of the Easter Feasts, renewed in spirit. With these wishes, I willingly impart to all my Apostolic Blessing.
From the Vatican, 30 October 2007
Excerpts from the Providence Journal:
In a New York Times story about the renewed interest in the Latin (or Tridentine) Mass (“Latin Mass Draws Interest After Easing of Restrictions,” Nov. 10), a professor at the Weston Jesuit School of Theology offered an intriguing caveat. Referring to the enthusiasts for the “old” mass, the Rev. John F. Baldovin commented, “A lot of them think this is the way to go, back to the future, because it is really going to revive Catholicism. You can produce a Tridentine mass, but can’t reproduce the world it came from.” Since this quotation concludes the article, many readers may imagine Father Baldovin’s words to be the final say.
In some ways he’s right.
But I wonder whether nostalgia is the only explanation for the fascination with the Latin Mass. I wonder whether this fascination might not be a part of a much larger cultural trend: our modern hunger for mystery. I mean by mystery our encounter with what is “other” — what Rudolph Otto called the mysterium tremendum, the numinous. That “other” which provokes in us both terror and fascination: the sense of the holy.
Unfortunately, the last few centuries in the West have not been fond of mystery, especially the century just ended. And in the 1960s two things in particular coincided to try to banish the numinous altogether... To be religious is another way to be a nice person...
Second, the reduction of religion to moralism found an unwitting ally in those committees that sought to “reform” religious worship — to simplify the language, to return to some imagined primitive idea of how-it-used-to-be, to stress the communal nature of church or synagogue. All good ideas, perhaps. But in our drive to make modern worship demotic, we forgot several things.
The human response to the numinous can never be the work of a committee. Poetry can never be pre-programmed. Like making love, rites and rituals demand time, attention and humility. Moreover, even if we could dismantle or alter a mystery, we risk sawing off the very limb on which we’re sitting...
And so we return to Fr. Bladovin’s caveat. True enough, restoration of the Latin Mass is not going to revitalize the Catholic Church in America.
But those who dismiss the renewed fascination with the Latin Mass simply as a matter of nostalgia or of curiosity would do well to consider. Whatever the motives of these seekers, their actions remind us that there just might be more things in heaven and earth than were ever dreamt of by a liturgical committee.
Read the complete article here.
Monday, January 28, 2008
The youngest son of a noble family was traditionally given to the Church, so Thomas was brought to the Benedictine Abbey of Monte Cassino, most likely with the hope that he would eventually become the Abbot there. However, war broke out in 1240 and the Abbey was closed. Thomas went to study and the University of Naples. In Naples, Thomas Aquinas encountered two things which changed the course of his life and Catholicism: the writings of Aristotle, and the Dominicans.
The Order of Preachers had opened a friary in Naples in 1231. Although there were only two friars living there at the time Thomas was there, one had a profound influence on Thomas. John of San Guiliano, introduced Domincan prayer, study and preaching to Thomas.
Although Thomas felt called to the Dominicans, his family had other plans. They thought it a mendicant's life was beneath him and desired for him to enter the Benedictines and eventually become the Abbot of Monte Cassino. After discovering that he had joined the Dominicans, his father kidnapped Thomas and locked him up, hoping the would change his mind. While under house arrest, Thomas studied the Sentences of Peter Lombard (another driving force in Thomas' writings) and helped his sister discern a vocation to the Benedictines. As a sort of final test, his brothers brought a prostitute to Thomas. Thomas did not succumb to temptation, but kept her at bay by brandishing a flaming stick and burning a cross on the wall.
Finally, his family realized that there was nothing they could do to prevent Thomas from following his vocation.
In this case, Thomas family desired for Thomas to choose his vocation based on what would bring honor, wealth, and prestige rather than what would give honor, praise, and glory to God. Yes, to be the Abbot of Monte Cassino could be the fulfilment of one's true vocation, but not if one's sights were on the externals. How often do we decide what God must want from us or others rather than letting Him tell us Himself? Many times, what God asks of us is not what we want or what we think should be, but He has His reasons. In addition, as the story of St. Thomas Aquinas shows, God has ways of making the events which prevent His plans from becoming realized way of furthering and deepening his will.
In the end, few remember the name of the Benedictine who became the Abbot of Monte Cassino, but St. Thomas Aquinas has become a driving force is Catholic theology. All this from a man who summed up his immense contributions to the faith and study of theology as "straw".
When one reads the Summa Theologiae or sings one of the five beautiful hymns which Thomas wrote, the thought enters the mind, "How can he have thought this was straw? This is extraordinary!" Yes, it is and I am sure that Thomas knew what an immense contribution he made, but he had seen something better. He had seen a glimpse of the things yet to come. What a comfort! How spectacular must the presence of God be, if it makes the works of St. Thomas seem like straw.
Below is one of the hymns which St. Thomas wrote, Adoro Te Devote. I have posted the Latin first and the English translation below. Yes, if the prayer in verse seven is granted even partially everything in the world will seem like straw.
Adoro te devote, latens Deitas,
Quae sub his figuris vere latitas;
Tibi se cor meum totum subiicit,
Quia te contemplans, totum deficit.
Visus, tactus, gustus in te fallitur,
Sed auditu solo tuto creditur;
Credo quidquid dixit Dei Filius,
Nil hoc verbo veritatis verius.
In Cruce latebat sola Deitas.
At hic latet simul et humanitas:
Ambo tamen credens, atgue confitens,
Peto quod petivit latro paenitens.
Plagas, sicut Thomas, non intueor,
Deum tamen meum te confiteor:
Fac me tibi semper magis credere,
In te spem habere, te diligere.
O memoriale mortis Domini,
Panis vivus vitam praestans homini:
Praesta meae menti de te vivere,
Et te illi semper dulce sapere.
Pie pellicane Iesu Domine,
Me immundum munda tuo Sanguine:
Cuius una stilla salvum facere
Totum mundum quit ab omni scelere.
Iesu, quem velatum nunc aspicio,
Oro, fiat illud, quod tam sitio,
Ut te revelata cernens facie,
Visu sim beatus tuae gloriae. Amen.
and the translation by E. Caswall
O Godhead hid, devoutly I adore Thee,
Who truly art within the forms before me;
To Thee my heart I bow with bended knee,
As failing quite in contemplating Thee.
Sight, touch, and taste in Thee are each deceived;
The ear alone most safely is believed:
I believe all the Son of God has spoken,
Than Truth's own word there is no truer token.
God only on the Cross lay hid from view;
But here lies hid at once the Manhood too:
And I, in both professing my belief,
Make the same prayer as the repentant thief.
Thy wounds, as Thomas saw, I do not see;
Yet Thee confess my Lord and God to be:
Make me believe Thee ever more and more;
In Thee my hope, in Thee my love to store.
O thou Memorial of our Lord's own dying!
O Bread that living art and vivifying!
Make ever Thou my soul on Thee to live;
Ever a taste of Heavenly sweetness give.
O loving Pelican! O Jesu, Lord!
Unclean I am, but cleanse me in Thy Blood;
Of which a single drop, for sinners spilt,
Is ransom for a world's entire guilt.
Jesu! Whom for the present veil'd I see,
What I so thirst for, O vouchsafe to me:
That I may see Thy countenance unfolding,
And may be blest Thy glory in beholding. Amen.
Saturday, January 26, 2008
So, here is is my recipe for Portuguese Kale Soup. One thing to keep in mind is that this recipe has been handed down through many generations of large families. If you follow this recipe perfectly, you will get a lot of soup. Enough to feed a family of 10.
18 cups of water
1 1/2 lbs or more of beef shank center cut meat (with bone)
2 cans of red kidney beans
1 small cabbage
1 large bunch of kale or collard greens (I use collards)
5 large potatoes
1 lb chourico or linguica sausage (2 links of chourico or 1 link of linguica)
3 tsp black pepper
1 tbs salt
1 tsp salt
Place water in 8 qt pan
add beef shank
heat to boiling and let simmer for 1 1/2 hours
Peel potatoes and cut into small cubes
chop cabbage and kale into pieces small enough to eat
add kidney beans, salt, kale, cabbage, potatoes, chourico, salt and pepper to the water and beef shank.
Let boil for 1/2 an hour. Longer if potatoes are still hard.
If you want to make traditional Holy Ghost Soup add pieces of portuguese bread (Italian bread also works well for this) to the soup and flavor the soup with a sprig of mint. Don't leave the sprig in the soup because the flavor will become strong quickly.
Note: Portuguese Holy Ghost soup is traditionally served in parish halls following the final (Mordomia) Holy Ghost crowning which I will write about at another time.
Another note: I realize that most of you live in areas where Chourico and Linguica are not easily available. I don't know how you survive, but you don't have do be deprived any longer.
You can purchase this wonderful sausage here:
I know that 5 lbs might seem like a lot, but there are so many uses. Chourico can be boiled with potatoes for a delicious sausage meal, it can also be ground and fried with onions and green peppers for a wonderful sandwich filling. I also bake chourico and cook chourico with my roast beef. Chourico is also my favorite pizza topping. In essence, there are very few recipes that can't be made tasier with a little chourico.
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
The Portuguese Medical Association, defying threats by the socialist government's health minister to begin criminal proceedings against it, has re-elected its president, Pedro Nunes, who has defied the government's order to change the Association's ethical code to allow abortion.
In his victory speech, Nunes promised to maintain the independence of the Medical Association from the government, signaling his resolve to preserve the association's ethical code.
The Association does not "have to do the work of the government nor the work of the opposition," said Nunes, and added that his organization should not fear to criticize what it believes to be worthy of criticism. "Doctors are on the side of the Portuguese," he said.
The Portuguese code of ethics states that "doctors must maintain respect for human life from its beginning", and "the practice of abortion or euthanasia constitutes a grave ethical failure".
Following the government's decision to decriminalize all first-trimester abortions in 2007, socialist health minister Antonio Correia de Campos ordered the Medical Association to eliminate the prohibition against abortion from its ethical code in October. He was supported by the Portuguese Attorney General, who had issued a legal opinion condemning the passages.
However, Nunes refused, insisting that it was an internal matter, and that the government had no authority to intervene in the affairs of the Association. Although Correia claimed he was filing a criminal complaint in November, no action has yet been taken against the group.
The group's presidential election was seen as a referendum on the abortion issue, because Nunes was the only candidate who promised from the beginning to maintain the ethical code. His main rival, Miguel Leão, wanted to change to code to comply with the government's demands.
The issue of the ethical code made the recent elections the most intense and bitter in memory. Although Nunes' pro-abortion rival garnered the most votes in the first round, the January 17th runoff between Leão and Nunes resulted in Leão's resounding defeat, 56 to 44 percent.
Nunes' current term will last until 2010.
A little over two weeks later, at 7 weeks after conception I had another ultrasound. This machine wasn't as good as the other machine, so the images weren't as clear, but it was still clear to my husband and I. This was a human! Still, I had no idea the twists and turns which were in store for me.
I refused most of the prenatal tests which I was pressured to allow because I didn't want to be placed in a position where I was tempted to make a decision that I didn't want to make. That may sound dumb, but I knew that if there was something wrong, I would be pressured by family, friends and society in general to abort. To me not having to make the decision meant I couldn't make the wrong choice. Despite my best efforts, God had other plans.
17 weeks after conception, I had another ultrasound. This time there was no doubt. I watched him smile, purse his lips, and even scratch his head. This was when I discovered that this beautiful child was a boy. We named him immediately. A few days later we got devastating news: I needed to get a special ultrasound because there was a kidney deformity. I scheduled an appointment with the perinatologist and had another ultrasound. Once again I saw JP's beautiful features on the screen. Then we met with the doctor. He explained what was wrong and that it could correct itself or could be surgically repaired after birth, or even in utero if necessary. Then she began to tell us that this was a marker for Down Syndrome. She presented all sorts of statistics, then handed my pamphlets on abortion. "I'm going to step out while you decide what you want to do", she said. My husband and I just looked at each other, we both knew this baby was going to be born.
When the doctor returned we told her that we were not aborting. She said, "We can do it right now. You don't even have to come back. Let me explain to procedure to you and I'll give you a few more minutes." I said, "No, I am not getting an abortion". Then she said, Well, take the papers home, look them over, and call me back. Take your time, you don't have to decide today". My husband stood up, threw the pamphlets on the desk and said, "What part of this don't you get? No abortion! We already told you no. Don't ask us again. We aren't killing our baby!"
The doctor didn't get it because she repeated, "I understand that is how you feel now, but you can always change your mind." He said, "Don't worry we won't and we won't be back" and we stormed out of the office. The doctor and the staff seemed puzzled. I wondered how many people they had pressured into abortions they didn't want to have.
The craziest part of the story is that there was only a 5% chance of Down Syndrome. 5% chance! That means there was a 95% chance of everything being just fine.
JP was born 18 weeks later, and he was very sick. However, it didn't have anything to do with either Down Syndrome or his kidneys. It turned out that he had neither problem. JP was very sick because an overdose of Pitocin which was given to speed labor. JP was born without a heartbeat. The doctors worked frantically to resuscitate him. Ironic that they used the word resuscitation because that implies admission that he had been alive prior to birth. There was no ontological change which occurred during the birth process except the change from alive to dead and alive again. It was a traumatic week as I watched this little boy suffer attached to machines which kept him alive, countless tests, and simply being separated from him.
He survived everything without any damage. He is a beautiful, perfect, intelligent three year old who is sitting next to me right now trying to add to this post. I could have missed out on playing with trucks, sloppy kisses, tight hugs, and muddy shoes if I had listened to that doctor who was completely wrong both morally and medically.
From the Boston Globe:
Thomas J. Flatley, the self-made billionaire who has been unloading a portion of his real estate empire, has sold to the Archdiocese of Boston for less than $100 a property with an assessed value of $14 million that will become the church's new administrative headquarters.
The archdiocese is now renovating the 140,000-square-foot office building, which sits alongside Interstate 93, and is planning to move 250 to 300 employees from Brighton and several other sites into the Braintree office park sometime this summer.
The archdiocese announced last May that it was planning to move into the Braintree building, at 66 Brooks Drive, but declined to reveal the details. The Globe pieced together a picture of the transaction from filings with the Norfolk County Registry of Deeds, the secretary of state's office, and the Braintree assessor's office.
According to the documents, a company controlled by Flatley sold the property in November for less than $100 to a company established that same day by the archdiocesan chancellor, James P. McDonough. Two days later, the McDonough-controlled company sold the property, again for less than $100, to the archdiocese.
Neither the archdiocese nor Flatley would respond to questions about the transaction, nor would they say whether there were any other elements to the deal. But, in response to an inquiry by the Globe, the archdiocese issued a statement from Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley saying that Flatley "has long exemplified a strong commitment to supporting the good works of the archdiocese."
"We are blessed for all he has done to help build up our local church," O'Malley said. "He made it possible for us to select the new location for our pastoral center and we are grateful to him as we make plans to move in the months ahead."
Flatley, whose net worth is estimated at $1.3 billion by Forbes magazine, has been a significant donor to the archdiocese for years. His foundation, which has reported more than $200 million in assets, gave $913,000 to the archdiocese in 2006, and has given millions to Catholic organizations over the years.
The archdiocese declined to say how much it will spend renovating the Braintree building, but said "the cost to complete the renovations and upgrades are reasonable, given the size of the building."
The archdiocese said it will disclose the costs in its annual financial report in 2009, and that the money will come from the proceeds of the sale of the archdiocese's Brighton property to Boston College.
O'Malley will have a suite of offices on the top floor of the new building, with a sweeping view of the Blue Hill Cemetery, but will also maintain an office at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston's South End. The Cathedral is considered the spiritual seat of the archdiocese, and O'Malley lives and sometimes works at its rectory.
The archdiocese is hoping to retire the word "chancery," often used to describe the church headquarters, and begin calling it the "pastoral center."
"In calling the new location the pastoral center, we are demonstrating in a real and tangible manner our commitment to the people of God, here in the archdiocese, as we continue in our work to heal and rebuild our local church," the archdiocese's vicar general, the Rev. Richard M. Erikson, said in a statement. (...)
Read the complete article here.
It didn't make sense to me to sell the chancery building and pay rent for a building, but this changes everything. I don't know Mr. Flatley's intentions in doing this, but I am grateful for his generosity.
Monday, January 21, 2008
It is a passage from the Mystagogical Catechesis of St. Cyril of Jerusalem which dates back to approximately 347 A.D. In the catechesis on the Rites Before Baptism, Cyril writes:
However, thou art bidden with arm outstretched to say to him as though actually present "I renounce thee, Satan". I wish to say, wherefore ye stand facing to the west; for it is necessary. Since the west is the region of sensible darkness and he being darkness, has his dominion also in darkness, ye therefore, looking with a symbolical meaning towards the west, renounce that dark and gloomy potentate.
Cyril then continues by describing the meaning of the each line of the renunciation of sins. Afterwards, he writes:
When therefore thou renouncest Satan, utterly breaking all covenant with him, that ancient league with hell, there is opened to thee the paradise of God, which He planted toward the east, whence for his transgression our first father was exiled; and symbolical of this was our turning from the west to the east, the place to light. Then thou wert told to say, "I believe in the Father, and in the Son, and in the Holy Ghost, and in one Baptism of repentance."
Imagine my shock when I first read this. Cyril of Jerusalem's Mystagogical Catechesis rocked my Liturgical understanding. I still don't know if I think Mass should be celebrated ad orientum, but I will tell you that I think baptisms should.
I recommend the Mystagogical Catechesis, especially the one on baptism, of which I am most familiar. I haven't read the one on the Eucharist yet, but I am sure it is just as good. In fact, I wrote a term paper based on the Mystagogical Catechesis which compared the use of Chrism as he describes and to how it is used in the modern rite and ended up concluding the we don't use nearly enough Chrism. That wasn't the paper I set out to write, but the evidence was irrefutable.
Respectfully, it seems that the proponents of both sides of this discussion have missed an important point. The priest standing at the altar in the position prescribed by the 1962 Roman Missal is not "turning his back of the people", but "standing with the people in prayer". When he says, "Te igitur, clementissime Pater ... rogamus, ac petimus, uti accepta habeas et benedicas haec + dona, haec + munera, haec + sancta sacrificia" illibata ... " [We therefore humbly pray and beseech you, most merciful Father ... to accept and bless these + gifts, these + presents, this holy and unblemished Victim ..." he is not speaking in some form of the royal We", but uniting himself with the members of the congregation in the normal grammatical first person plural: We, not Me!
On the other hand, the priest who stands behind the altar facing the congreation, is, by his stance, separating himself from the people for whom he is celebrating the Eucharist, not uniting himself with them.
Interesting thought! The priest who faces the congregation from behind the altar is separating himself from the congregation while the priest who faces the same direction as the congregation is uniting himself with them. Now, I know he wasn't the first person to make this distinction, but I thought he was the perfect source to highlight since he isn't the typical person to make a comment like this.
For more from Fr. John, check out his blog: Bear Witness to the Light.
The Holy Father then referred to reforms in the ecclesiastical study of philosophy, reforms that "will not fail to highlight the metaphysical and sapiential dimensions of philosophy". He also mentioned the possibility of "examining the suitability of reforming the 1979 Apostolic Constitution 'Sapientia christina', ... the 'magna charta' of ecclesiastical faculties which serves as the basis upon which to formulate criteria to assess the quality of those institutions, an assessment required by the Bologna Process of which the Holy See has been a member since 2003.
"The ecclesiastical disciplines", he added, "especially theology, are today subjected to new interrogations in a world tempted, on the one hand, by a rationalism which follows a false idea of freedom unfettered by any religious references and, on the other, by various forms of fundamentalism which, with their incitement to violence and fanaticism, falsify the true essence of religion ".
Faced with the educational crisis, Benedict XVI proceeded, "schools must ask themselves about the mission they are called to undertake in the modern social environment". Catholic schools, "though open to everyone and respecting the identity of each, cannot but present their own educational, human and Christian perspective". In this context, he said, they face a new challenge, that of "the coming together of religions and cultures in the joint search for truth". This means, on the one hand, "not excluding anyone in the name of their cultural or religious background", and on the other "not stopping at the mere recognition" of this cultural or religious difference.
The Pope went on to refer to another theme being examined by the plenary assembly, that of reforming the document "Ratio fundamentalis institutionis sacerdotalis" for seminaries, issued in 1970 and updated in 1985. Any reform, said the Pope, "will have to highlight the importance of the proper correlation between the various dimensions of priestly formation in the perspective of Church-communion, following the indications of Vatican Council II. ... The formation of future priests must, furthermore, offer them guidance and help to enter into dialogue with contemporary culture.
"Human and cultural formation must, then, be significantly reinforced and sustained also with the help of modern sciences, because certain destabilising social factors that exist in the world today (such as the situation of separated families, the educational crisis, widespread violence, etc.), render new generations fragile".
The Pope concluded his talk by highlighting the need for "adequate formation in spiritual life so as to make Christian communities, particularly in parishes, ever more aware of their vocation, and capable of providing adequate responses to questions of spirituality, especially as posed by the young. For this to happen, the Church must not lack qualified and responsible apostles and evangelisers".
Saturday, January 19, 2008
Msgr. Joseph Champlin, one of the most beloved priests in the history of the Diocese of Syracuse, died on Thursday, January 17, 2008. He was 77 years of age. Msgr. Champlin had been battling a rare form of cancer called Waldenstrom’s Disease.
Father Joseph Champlin was born on May 11, 1930 and educated in the public schools of New York State before graduating from Phillips Academy at Andover, Massachusetts in 1947. After studying at Yale and Notre Dame, he began and continued his journey to the priesthood at seminaries in Rochester, New York. He was ordained February 2, 1956, for the diocese of Syracuse and during 50 years of priestly ministry, Father Champlin has served as pastor in three parishes within his diocese, including rector of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception from 1995-2005. Currently, semi-retired, he was the sacramental priest at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church in Warners, New York.
From 1968-1971 he served as Associate Director in the Liturgy Secretariat for the National Conference of Catholic Bishops. Father Champlin edited for the American Bishops Faithful to Each Other Forever: “A Catholic Handbook of Pastoral Help for Marriage Preparation.”
Father Champlin has traveled more than two million miles here and abroad during these years lecturing on liturgical and pastoral matters as well as conducting retreats for priests and missions for parishes.
Father Champlin is most remembered for his prolific writings and his frequent lectures. He has written 50 books with over twenty million copies of his publications in print. For many years, he authored a weekly column on the liturgy and worship distributed by the NC News Service and has also appeared in about a dozen videos and made numerous television appearances. His most popular volume is Together for Life in both English and Spanish, now with over nine million copies in circulation (Ave Maria Press/Liguori).
Father Champlin has lectured widely on stewardship and sacrificial giving with a manual, Grateful Caretakers of God’s Many Gifts, including attractive companion fliers “Grateful Giving” and “Taking a Step” (Liturgical Press). In addition, Liturgical Press published a booklet by Father Champlin called: A Way of Life, “Four small group faith sharing sessions on Stewardship, Sacrificial Giving, or Grateful Caretaking.”
In November, 2003, Ave Maria Press released Slow Down: “Five Minute Reflections to De-Stress Your Days” – a compilation of 101 radio spots broadcast locally. In 2004, Alba House published From Time to Eternity and Back, a personalized account of his struggle with Waldenstrom’s Disease, a rare form of bone marrow cancer.
Two books, The Breaking of the Bread: “An Updated Handbook for Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion” and The Eucharist: A Mystery of Faith, were released by Paulist Press in the fall of 2004.
He completed a thorough update of What It Means to be Catholic (St. Anthony Messenger Press). In addition, a sequel to Slow Down entitled Take Five, Preparing for Eternity: “A Catholic Handbook for End of Life Concerns” and a Beginners Guide for Reading the Bible (Ave Maria Press). Catholic Book Publishing issued in 2006, A Catholic Perspective on the Purpose Driven Life. Three of his works have been published by Liguori in Spanish: El Via Crucis Con el Papa Juan Pablo II (Stations of the Cross with Pope John Paul II), De la muerte a la vida (From Death to Life) and Juntos Para Toda La Vida (Together For Life with Rite of Marriage cards as well). The last book has consistently been at the top of best selling Catholic Spanish books list. Scheduled for 2008 is “A Process for Parish Evangelization” a practical and detailed process with accompanying materials (St. Anthony Messenger Press).
Ten years ago, Father Champlin founded the Guardian Angel Society, a non-profit effort to assist children in the Central New York area from diverse below poverty level homes with their education. During that decade the Society has raised $2 million, distributed $1.5 million and aided over 150 youngsters to have a better chance at life. Seven of those graduates are now studying at prestigious colleges including Clarkson, Georgetown, Notre Dame and Syracuse University.
He also appears frequently on Sirius Satellite Radio at 6:40 a.m. on Tuesday mornings.
Funeral arrangements are as follows:
Calling hours: Tuesday, January 22, 3:00-7:00pm
Vigil Service: Tuesday January 22, 7:00pm
Funeral Mass: Wednesday, January 23, 10:30am
All are in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception
Please note: Father Champlin's remains will not be present for the Calling Hours or Funeral. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that it is a "noble and meritorious act" (#2296) for persons to donate their entire bodies to science or to a medical school for use by students studying to become physicians. Msgr. Champlin made that choice and donated his body to Upstate Medical Center. However, this process requires the body to be transferred immediately after death to the medical institution. Consequently, having his body and an open casket, present for the funeral service, traditional for priests, clearly was not possible.
For more information, contact Danielle E. Cummings, Assistant Chancellor/Director of Communications at 315.470.1476.
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
That is not what this post is about. At the end of the article, there is a quote which proved how confused the commenter is about faith and morality:
The Reverend Bruce McCoy, of Canaan Baptist Church in Oakville, said the controversy really just comes down to what the writer's intent was.
While I have no doubt that Philip Pullman intended to use the trilogy to subvert the faith of young children, in all honesty, intent has very little to do with it. One is not permitted to commit evil even if he has a good intention.
Image this: A drunk driver kills a family, but the judge lets him off because he didn't intend to kill anyone. When's the last time this happened and if it did would it be right?
Here is another one: A company uses cheap foreign labor to manufacture children's products resulting in the death of several infants. They didn't intend to kill or hurt anyone.
Ready to let them off the hook? I didn't think so.
I don't care what Mr. Pullman's intent was. The only thing that really matters is the outcome. His books have the potential to harm the faith of young children whose "GPS system" is just being set. I want my children's "GPS" to be set to heaven. Where Pullman intends to set it isn't the issue, the issue is where he sets it to.
Rev. McCoy sounds like a typical relativistic Christian. There is no good or evil, it all depends on intentions and circumstance. Well, I am here to tell him and everyone else who will listen that that point of view is BULL!
Jesus Christ said in Matthew 18:6:
‘If any of you put a stumbling-block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea.
That is more than enough for me.
The Holy Father highlighted how, four years before his death, St. Augustine had appointed a successor, Heraclius, as bishop of Hippo, because he "wished to dedicate the years that remained to him to a more profound study of Holy Scripture".
"What followed were four years of extraordinary intellectual activity" during which time the saint also "intervened to promote peace in the African provinces which were being assailed by barbarian tribes from the south", said the Pope. He then quoted St. Augustine's own words - "it is a higher glory to stay war itself with a word, than to slay men with the sword, and to procure or maintain peace by peace, not by war" - and highlighted how the siege of Hippo by the Vandals in 429 brought great suffering to the saint.
"Though he was old and tired, Augustine remained at the breach, comforting himself and others with prayer and meditation on the mysterious designs of Providence. ... If, indeed, the world grows old, Christ is ever young, and so I invite you: 'Do not refuse to be rejuvenated with Christ, Who tells you not to fear as 'your youth will be renewed like that of the eagle'," said Pope Benedict quoting from the sermons of Augustine. "Hence Christians must not be dejected but make every effort to help those in need", he added.
After recalling how "Augustine's house-monastery used to open its doors to welcome his colleagues in the episcopate who came asking for hospitality", the Holy Father noted that the Doctor of the Church, finally free of commitments, took advantage of his time "to dedicate himself with greater intensity to prayer. He used to say that no-one, bishop, religious or lay person, however irreproachable their behaviour, could face death without adequate penance, and it was for this reason that he continually and tearfully repeated the penitential psalms which he had so often recited with his people".
The bishop of Hippo died on 28 August 430, said the Pope, "at some uncertain date his body was transferred to Sardinia and thence, around 725, to the basilica of San Pietro in Ciel d'Oro in Pavia, where it rests today".
"We discover him 'living' in his writings", said Pope Benedict. "When I read the works of St. Augustine, I do not get the impression that here is a man who died more or less 1600 years ago, rather that he is man of today, a friend, a contemporary who speaks to me, to us, with his fresh and topical faith".
In the saint's works, "we see the permanent relevance of his faith, of the faith that comes from Christ, the eternal Word incarnate, Son of God and Son of man. And we see", the Holy Father concluded, "that this is not yesterday's faith, even though it was preached yesterday, it is today's because Christ really is - yesterday, today and forever - the Way, the Truth and the Life. Thus St. Augustine encourages us to entrust ourselves to this ever-living Christ and so find the path of life".
Monday, January 14, 2008
I finally finished "The Apostles". It's an awesome book that I recommend for everyone to read. It is written in a way that is very easy to read, yet it is filled with great insight and interesting details. While it is not groundbreaking and does not introduce anything new, unlike so many modern works, it introduces traditional teaching about the apostles and the early church in a simple way without being watered down.
Here is a quote which deserves to be repeated over and over again.
The saints have not 'fallen from Heaven'. They are people like us, who also have complicated problems.An even greater passage appears in the ninth chapter "Peter the Apostle". Pope Benedict explains the subtle message behind John 21:15. That blew me away as I read the page over and over. I'll make you read the book for that one, though. Let me just say that much is lost in the translation we hear at Mass and I now feel cheated because of it. I hope that someday I will hear a homily based on the real text.
Holiness does not consist of never having erred or sinned. Holiness increases the capacity for conversion, for repentance, for willingness to start again, and, especially for reconciliation and forgiveness.
Wednesday, January 09, 2008
The Pope made it clear that he intended to dedicate this catechesis to St. Augustine's biography, leaving the saint's numerous works to be considered in coming weeks. It could be affirmed, said the Holy Father, that "all the threads of Latin Christian literature lead to Hippo" and that "many of the subsequent developments in Christianity, and in Western culture itself, lead out from this city of Roman Africa where St. Augustine was bishop from 395 to 430".
The author of the "Confessions", that "extraordinary spiritual autobiography ... with its great concern for the mystery of the self, for the mystery of God hidden in the self", was born in Tagaste in the year 354, the son of Patricius and of St. Monica. His mother educated him in the Christian faith, which the saint would later abandon despite his persistent interest in the figure of Christ.
Augustine studied rhetoric and grammar, a subject he went on to teach. While in Carthage, he read Cicero's "Hortensius" because although he had abandoned the practices of the Church he still always sought the truth. The book "awoke in him the love of wisdom", but "being convinced that without Jesus it is not possible to discover the truth", and as "Hortensius" contained no mention of Christ, he began to read Sacred Scripture.
However his encounter with the Bible left him disappointed, not only because of the poor Latin style of the translations, but also because "the content matter itself did not satisfy him. In the biblical accounts of wars and other human vicissitudes, he did not find that exalted philosophy," or "that splendour of the search for truth which characterises it", said the Pope.
Yet Augustine did not want to live without God and continued to seek "a religion that responded to his desire to find truth ... and to draw close to Jesus". For this reason he was attracted by Manichaeism, the followers of which claimed that theirs was a "completely rational religion". Their dualist morality attracted the future bishop of Hippo who was convinced he had found the right fusion between "rationality, search for truth, and love for Jesus Christ"; yet Manichaeism proved incapable of resolving the saint's doubts.
When Augustine moved to Milan he began to frequent the sermons of Ambrose, as a way of improving his own rhetoric. The bishop of Milan taught "a typological interpretation of the Old Testament, as the road that leads to Jesus Christ". Thus it was that Augustine "discovered the key to understanding the beauty, and even the philosophical profundity, of the Old Testament, and he came to understand all the unity of the mystery of Christ in history, and the synthesis between philosophy, rationality and faith in the Logos, in Christ the eternal Word made flesh".
Augustine converted to Christianity on 15 August 386, "the end of a long and painful interior journey", and was baptised on 24 April 387. Ordained a priest in 391 following his return to Africa, he became a bishop four years later. "In his tireless pastoral commitment", said the Pope, "he was an exemplary bishop, ... he supported the poor, ... concerned himself with the formation of the clergy and the organisation of monasteries and convents", and in a very short space of time became "one of the most important exponents of Christianity of that time".
"The bishop of Hippo", the Holy Father went on, "exercised a huge influence in his guidance of the Catholic Church in Roman Africa" and stood up against "tenacious and disruptive religious movements and heresies such as Manichaeism, Donatism and Pelagianism".
Pope Benedict recalled how "Augustine entrusted himself to God every day, until the end of his life", and how shortly before his death "he asked for the penitential psalms to be written in large letters and hung on the wall so he could see and read them from his bed". The bishop died on 28 August 430.
Saturday, January 05, 2008
Please keep that in mind and buy lots of stuff. ;-)