Friday, February 29, 2008

Hello Washington Post Readers

Just a special hello to all those coming from the Washington Post link.

Thanks for stopping by, don't be a stranger.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

DC Papal Mass Ticket information

Baltimore is recieving 2,500 tickets. Requests are no longer being accepted.

Washington will be distributing tickets through parishes. Contact your pastor ASAP if you are interested in attending.

Richmond is getting 400 tickets. Apply through your parish or online. Tickets will only be given to members of parishes in the diocese. Deadline: March 7th.

Arlington is getting 600 tickets. Tickets are being distributed through individual parishes. Contact your pastor to request tickets.

Sambi on the Papal Visit and The Best Dressed Bear

Looking for more Papal Visit info, including ticket information? click here.

It seems that lately I have been blogging all Papal Visit all the time. Maybe it's because 90% of my hits have been by people looking for info on the papal visit, maybe it's because I still can't believe I have a ticket reserved for me, maybe it's because test related insanity has set in. Anyway, please forgive me for yet another Papal Visit related post.

From USA Today:

Archbishop Pietro Sambi, the veteran Vatican diplomat who serves as the Holy See's U.S. ambassador, knows exactly why the world will see — but not hear — Pope Benedict XVI's visit to the bedrock at Ground Zero during the pope's first visit to the USA.
The silence is Sambi's idea.

"This will be a moment of solidarity with those who died and their families. He will walk alone to indicate the loneliness of those who went to their deaths and the loneliness of the survivors. He will light a lamp. He will pray silently and make a public prayer (the only portion to be broadcast) for the remembrance of those who died, and for peace.

"There must be only silence and prayer here because not a single word will be enough to be convincing. Nothing will be adequate to touch the loneliness of those who died there and those who lost someone. Silence and prayer are what is required."

It is Sambi's job to know what is required, spiritual or political or trivial, to make a success of the shy, scholarly pope's visit. When Benedict comes to Washington and New York April 15-20, he will be reaching out to all Americans, not only Catholics.

Sambi, 69, is a model of Italian charm who engages visitors with warm hazel eyes and expressive hands emphasizing his conversation. He has a 40-year résumé of serving in world hot spots: Jerusalem, Cuba, Indonesia and more.


Now, the nuncio wants to correct many people's image of Benedict, drawn from when the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger headed the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, enforcing John Paul II's strict vision of Catholic teachings.

'Simple man, human and warm'

"Anyone who lives by first impressions will simply see very quickly they were wrong about this Pope Benedict," Sambi says. (I will attest to that!)

"The great surprise for people will be that the professor is a very simple man, human and warm in the ways in which he expresses himself. He came down from the chair of the teacher and accepted the role of preacher."

Indeed, Vatican watchers calculate that Benedict is outdrawing the immensely popular John Paul II when he speaks to the faithful in St. Peter's Square during Wednesday general audiences and his noon prayer and reflections on Sundays.


"Hope is the transcendent theme. A person or a people without hope is already dead," Sambi says. "In his humble, simple, kind way, this pope is bringing us this clear message: that the way to happiness is to know that God loves you, and because God loves you, you love your neighbor."


Sambi also is engaged in the fine points of making Benedict, who will turn 81 while in Washington, welcome and comfortable.

The shining black Yamaha baby grand piano is tuned in case the pianist pope wants to relax playing Mozart. It stands in one of the upstairs reception rooms at the nunciature, the Vatican Embassy's home and offices, across busy Massachusetts Avenue from the vice president's residence.

If Benedict wants to take one of his twice-daily walks, Sambi has mapped out a sylvan route where birds will drown out urban clamor.

But there are no plans for the German-born pope to have Bavarian pastries for his birthday luncheon. This will be an Italian meal, Sambi says, catered by Cafe Milano, a trendy Georgetown restaurant.

It's one more taste of American life for Benedict, who keeps an astute eye on popular culture.

Young people are drawn to the pope's message of "obedience to God as the way to happiness" and away from the self-centeredness of modern life, Sambi says.

"If you stop believing that you are God, it will be easy to believe in Him." (Awesome quote. I am saving that one)

Catholics believe the pope is infallible in questions of faith and morals, but "he very rarely makes infallibility an issue. There is so much absolutism, so much infallibility in each of us, the pope uses it very little by comparison."

Sambi, eyes twinkling, repeats, "People will be surprised."

I have no doubt that the hearts of many people will be changed by this visit.

On a related note, the souveniers are already making an appearance:
Six Washington, D.C.-area Build-A-Bear Workshop stores will be selling souvenier teddy bear T-shirts. The shirt costs $6, and a portion of the shirt sales will help pay for the pope's trip.

Archbishop Wuerl on the Papal Visit

H/T to Thomas Peters (American Papist) for making this video available. Check out his You Tube page for more great video from this Theology on Tap session.

Listen carefully! The Archbishop has a very important message which I wish more people would get. It's not about the man, it's about the office.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Papal Mass (DC) Update

The Archdiocese of Washington has announced that letters have been mailed to nearly 120 dioceses in the United States that had requested tickets on Monday, February 25.

Nearly 14,000 tickets are being distributed to these dioceses, including 6,000 for the Diocese of Arlington and 2,500 for the Archdiocese of Baltimore. Quantities for the 140 parishes within the Archdiocese of Washington are scheduled to be shared with the parishes on Friday, February 29.

How tickets are distributed within a parish will be decided at the parish level. While the quantities are being announced now, the actual tickets to the Mass will be provided closer to the event. More than 45,000 people are expected to attend the Mass, Pope Benedict’s first major, public event in the United States.

For more information, visit or keep checking back here as I will continue to post updates as I recieve information.

Update: A special hello to all those coming here from the Washington Post link.

Check out my other Papal Visit related posts here.

Monday, February 25, 2008

How much do you remember?

You paid attention during 97% of high school!

85-100% You must be an autodidact, because American high schools don't get scores that high! Good show, old chap!

Do you deserve your high school diploma?
Create a Quiz

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Save the Earth? Not!

Ethanol will save destroy the world.
Remember when ethanol was going to save the world? Well, guess what. Ethanol is actually worse for the earth than fossil fuels. At least, that is what Science Magazine says.

According the the article "replacing fossil fuels with corn-based ethanol would double greenhouse gas emissions over the next three decades."

Wow, that is an interesting statement. It seems that while the world was crowing about the new miracle fuel, an important item was forgotten. Ethanol doesn't just appear. Corn must be raised on farms, it must be picked, it must be processed, and so forth. The result, ethanol is worse for the world than oil.

Read more here.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Doctor Surrenders License after Abortion Death

From Cape Cod Today:

Five months after 22-year-old Laura Hope Smith died on his operating table during an abortion, Rapin Osathanondh, a Hyannis gynecologist , has relinquished his medical license in the wake of a criminal investigation and disciplinary action by the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine.

Woman's mother kept the heat on newspaper and DA's office

Smith was reportedly 13 weeks pregnant when she underwent the abortion Sept. 13 last year at the Women Health Center office of Dr. Rapin Osathanondh.

Mother was sought out and interviewed by a Cape Cod Times reporter two days after her daughter’s death, but the article never ran.“I don’t want Laura’s death swept under the rug,” her mother said. Eileen and Tom Smith adopted their Honduran-born daughter at age 5. “If Laura had died falling off a bike or in a car accident, it would have been in the paper the next day. This is a political hot potato,” Laura's mother said.

The Board had moved to suspend Osathanondh's license pending further investigation, declaring him to be a "risk to public safety." In a surprise move yesterday, Osathanondh instead permanently surrendered his license, and will not practice medicine again anywhere.

“If Laura had died falling off a bike or in a car accident, it would have been in the paper the next day" the mother

On Monday, the Boston Medical Examiner's office declared that the cause of Smith's death was "cardiac pulmonary arrest during anesthesia during a voluntary termination of pregnancy."

Left Boston Hospital under a cloud
Threatened nurses, complaint ignored

As we reported last October, Dr. Osathanondh left Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston in 2001 following complaints that during a staff meeting he threatened to “execute” five nurses. He was not prosecuted for the alleged threats, according to Boston Herald reports. Mrs. Smith said her daughter apparently died on the abortion table. Firefighters found her non-responsive when they answered the emergency call, according to the report she read.

Smith was brought by ambulance to Cape Cod Hospital. Pending the autopsy, the cause of her death is still not officially listed. Cape and Islands District Attorney Michael O’Keefe said his office “reviews all deaths of this nature.” However, he’ll have to first receive the state medical examiner’s autopsy report, which may be released by late October.

Calls to Osathanondh's clinic revealed that it is not accepting patients, but is referring women to other clinics.

Laura Smith had sought an abortion from Osathanondh on September 13, 2007, at his office, Women's Health Center, in the Cape Cod town of Hyannis. Smith was placed under full anesthesia when only Osathanondh and a non-medical receptionist were present. When Smith suddenly stopped breathing, the receptionist phoned 911 but gave very little information to the dispatcher. Smith died later that day.

Met with mother, immediately "smelled a rat"

Ten days after Smith's death, Osathanondh met with Smith's mother, Eileen, and showed her medical records that caused her to believe that his negligence was responsible for Laura's death.

"While nothing can bring back Laura and her baby, we take great comfort in knowing that Osathanondh will never again hurt another woman or kill another innocent child"Operation Rescue, a "Pro Life" organization, first broke the news of Laura's death, then worked with Eileen to apply public pressure to authorities so that Laura's death was not covered up. Cape Cod TODAY ran a story on these facts on October 17, 2007 after the local daily newspaper had failed to respond to the mother's requests for news of her daughter's death. "I feel like this was a group effort and you were part of it!" Eileen Smith told Operation Rescue after receiving news of Osathanondh's license surrender.

"While nothing can bring back Laura and her baby, we take great comfort in knowing that Osathanondh will never again hurt another woman or kill another innocent child," said Operation Rescue spokesperson Cheryl Sullenger. "We commend Eileen Smith on her tireless dedication to seeking justice for Laura, in spite of the personal grief and huge obstacles that she had to overcome."

"Most of the time authorities just want to sweep abortion complications and deaths under the rug, slap the abortionist on the wrist, and send him on his merry way. That certainly would have happened in this case if not for Eileen's determination and for groups like ours that kept Laura's death on the front burner."

and from the Cape Cod Times:
A gynecologist who came under scrutiny after a patient died following an abortion in his Hyannis clinic resigned his medical license yesterday.

As a result of his resignation, Dr. Rapin Osathanondh, whose primary practice was in Brookline, can no longer practice medicine in Massachusetts, nor can he reapply for the license at a later date.

Dr. Rapin Osathanondh
Medical school: Mahidol University, Siriraj Hospital, Thailand, graduated 1967

Post-graduate training:

Siriraj Hospital, Thailand, general surgery, 1967-1968

UMass Memorial Medical Center, intern, 1968-1969

Caritas St. Elizabeth's Medical Center, resident, general surgery, 1969-1970Brigham & Women's Hospital, resident, obstetrics and gynecology, 1970-1973 Brigham & Women's, Harvard Medical School, fellow, 1973-1975Ford Foundation, fellow, 1975-1977

Board certification: American Board of Medical Specialties, obstetrics and gynecology

Source: Massachusett Board of Registration in Medicine
The reasons why the former Harvard fellow resigned his medical license are not public, according to a Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine spokesman. However, medical board spokesman Russell Aims described the action as "disciplinary," adding that because the doctor chose to resign, members of the board are constrained from discussing the case or the underlying cause of the resignation.

Aims said Osathanondh's name and a notice about his resignation will be sent to national data banks that track doctors' licenses.

Messages left at Osathanondh's offices in Brookline and Hyannis yesterday were not returned.

Laura Smith of Sandwich, 22, died Sept. 13 after going to Osathanondh's Hyannis office for an abortion. Smith's mother, Eileen filed a complaint against Osathanondh with the medical board late last year.

Laura Smith was pronounced dead at Cape Cod Hospital after being taken there by ambulance. Her mother said she was 13 weeks pregnant when she sought an abortion.

In her medical board complaint, Smith questioned what kind of drugs, including anesthesia, Osathanondh used on her daughter and whether there was anyone with medical training to assist Osathanondh during the abortion procedure.

Some of those questions remain unanswered because Smith has not been allowed complete access to her daughter's medical records, and the results of the autopsy performed in September are still pending as the state Medical Examiner's office awaits toxicology tests.

Smith has filed a claim in Barnstable Superior Court to obtain the medical records and autopsy results. Smith's Boston-based attorney, David Angueria, said he plans to press the court harder for the release of the medical records now that Osathanondh has resigned.

"I cannot say exactly what led the board to take the action it did (to accept the resignation), but something the doctor did obviously led them to take that action," Angueria said.

"For the time being, we are acting under certain constraints because we don't have all the information we're seeking."

Angueria said once he has a complete autopsy report in hand, he will consult with experts before taking further legal steps.

In a telephone interview from her New Jersey home yesterday, Eileen Smith said she was "overjoyed" with the medical board's decision to accept Osathanondh's resignation.

"I am thrilled beyond belief. I feel like Laura finally got justice. ... I'm grateful to the medical board," she said.

The state medical examiner has determined Laura Smith's cause of death as "cardiac pulmonary arrest during anesthesia for voluntary termination" of a pregnancy, her mother said.

The manner of death is still pending, Smith said.

Manner of death — the way in which the cause of death came about — is a key factor in whether Osathanondh could face a criminal charge.

Cape and Islands District Attorney Michael O'Keefe said his office is treating the case as an unattended death, a term that is applied to cases the state medical examiner investigates under state law. He spoke with the state medical examiner a few days ago and some blood tests are pending, he said.

O'Keefe said he will consult with an anesthesiologist about the results of the toxicology reports.

Eileen Smith said she is satisfied with O'Keefe's handling of the case.

"He's been very sensitive and it has been reassuring to know the DA's office is following this," Smith said.

"My hope is the district attorney will prosecute. There are certain things that (Osathanondh) should have done that he didn't do. He must be held accountable."

Ten days after her daughter's death, in an effort to understand what had happened, Smith met with Osathanondh in the lobby of the Boston Harbor Hotel.

Osathanondh said her daughter had a suction-type abortion and she was anesthetized during the procedure, according to Smith. She saw a waiver her daughter signed, the permissions she gave and the list of drugs she was given, Smith said.

"After what had happened, I expected to meet a monster. Instead, I met this tall, thin, soft-spoken Asian man, who if I had not known what he'd done, might be someone I'd invite to dinner," Smith said. "But I do know what he did and I am relieved that he will no longer practice medicine. Laura's death will not be in vain if it saves the lives of other young women."

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Religious E-Cards

I know that I often send e-cards to my cyber-friends and I prefer to send religious themed cards for religious holydays, but I sometimes have a hard time finding them in the mix of Santa Clauses and Easter Bunnies.

I recently found out that has a selection of religious Easter e-cards. The artwork leans to the semi-traditional and the cards contain scripture verses from the KJV Bible or a quote from one of the Church Fathers or a protestant theologian. is the largest free ecards web site in the world, with over 20,000 proprietary ecards celebrating more than 3,000 everyday, special occasions & events. According to Comscore Media Metrix they are also in the top ten fastest growing websites for December 2007 .

One interesting card in the one with the image of the Divine Mercy and a quote from St. Augustine.

I hope they create more cards with Catholic images and quotations from Catholic translations of Scripture and quotations from the Church fathers.

Catholic Blog Awards

Consider nominating We Belong to the Lord for the Catholic Blog Awards.
Registration is required to nominate, but is free. In order to progress to the final voting, a large number of nominations must be submitted.
Please vote!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Diocese Interviews Liturgical Musicians

The Rhode Island Catholic interviewed a few liturgical musicians from around the diocese. There were a few interesting comments both good and bad.

The good:
It is important, Berbercik asserted, that choirs and cantors not try to steal the show. The music they perform is meant to be inviting, “we try not to turn that music into a performance, it’s a presentation or a participatory song,” she said. She is wary of any choir or cantor that is too invested in their individual performance. She compared liturgical music to the national anthem, which at many public events has become an opportunity for one singer to showcase, or showboat, their individual talents, rather than a communal experience for everyone to participate in. “We lose our love of the song because we detach from it,” she said, “we’re distracted by somebody going overboard.” (Unfortunately they failed to mention that first and foremost choirs and cantors should not try to steal the show because the music is worship, not a concert. God should be the focus of the Mass, not the muscians.)

The bad:
“I don’t go too contemporary because most of the parishioners like their old chestnuts,” said Stott. But, he added, it is important not to rule any music out, the selections “should be a mixed bag because that’s what the tradition of church music has become.” Others see putting an emphasis on contemporary music as a chance to bridge generations and reach out to younger audiences. “You want to keep people coming to church and I feel that if you want the young people you really have to do the contemporary music,” said Labréche. Berberick said that when choosing music at her parish she tries to “touch upon each generation” and “keep in mind other cultures.” (Sometimes music does need to be ruled out. As for contemporary music, all the guitar strumming that was done when I was a kid sure kept my generation at Mass. @@)

Finally, a comment I can agree with:

In the end, everyone agrees that music adds too much to the Mass to be ignored. “Music gets inside you in a different way that spoken word does,” said Rashed, “If you want the Liturgy to enter people’s hearts and minds, you better use some music.” (Yes! And it's all the more reason to be careful when selecting Liturgical music.)

Read the article here.

Middle Name Meme

Tagged by Brian and Jason

1. You have to post the rules before you give your answers.
2. You must list one fact about yourself beginning with each letter of your middle name. (If you don't have a middle name, use your maiden name or your mother's maiden name).
3. At the end of your blog post, you need to tag one person for each letter of your middle name. (Be sure to leave them a comment telling them they've been tagged.)

I have a collection of middle names, so I will pick my first middle name.

M - Maria was the first name of both my grandmothers.

A - (St.) Anthony of Padua and I are related.

R - Rome is one of my favorite places in the world.

I - Incense should be used at every Mass.

A - Azores is where my father is from.

I tag the first FIVE people who read this.

Papal Visit Update

The deadline for tickets to the Papal Events in New York in most dioceses was last Friday, but some tickets may still be available for the Mass at Nationals Stadium in Washington DC. The Archdiocese of Washington reports that there are 45,000 tickets for the Mass but demand for the tickets is so high that two Popemobile rides through the streets of DC have been added to the papal schedule. The exact route will be finalized and released at a later date.

The Archdiocese of New York reports that there were over 180,000 requests for the 90,000 tickets which were available for the Mass at Yankee Stadium, the Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral, and the meeting with youth at St. Joseph's Seminary in Yonkers. Approximately 58,000 tickets were granted for the Mass at Yankee Stadium.

I can't imagine having the responsibility of planning this event, but here is a little peek in at the man who is in charge.

Maybe the hardest part of Mark G. Ackermann's job is reading the letters that come in every day from people pleading for any chance to be close to their pope.

"They're heart-rending stories of people who have been through great tragedy and just want to be somewhere near the Holy Father," he said.

The problem is that there have been more than 180,000 requests for 90,000 total tickets for the six events that will take place in New York when Pope Benedict XVI visits from April 18-20.


Ackermann is executive director of the archdiocesan Office of the Papal Visit, a temp job that packs a decade's worth of responsibility.

Reporting directly to Cardinal Edward Egan, he is in charge of planning for every papal minute from when Benedict arrives at John F. Kennedy International Airport from Washington on April 18 to when he lifts off on Shepherd One about 8 p.m. April 20, heading for Rome.

It is a unique job that covers everything from planning security with the Secret Service and a litany of government agencies to preparing 550 priests and deacons to give Communion to 58,000 people at Yankee Stadium in 15 minutes.

"We've literally had walk-throughs at the stadium to figure out who is going to be where, how people are going to get out of their row - I was going to say pew - to receive Communion and get back to the same seat," he said in his office at the archdiocese's headquarters.


It's not surprising that Ackermann believes that Pope Benedict's stop at Ground Zero on the morning of April 20 promises to be the most poignant part of the papal visit.

"The Holy Father will actually go down and touch bedrock, spend a period of private prayer, bless the area and then visit with 24 individuals, some of whom lost loved ones in the attacks on our country," he said.

Ackermann leads a 50-person Papal Visit Task Force that is kicking into high gear for an eight-week stretch that promises to fly by.

He spends about 20 percent of his time on security issues, working with the Secret Service, other federal agencies that he won't identify, the New York City and Yonkers police departments, the papal security team and others.

"New York has been through a lot; this region has been through a lot," he said. "The level of preparedness - people have no idea - when a major event happens is overwhelming."

Then there are the protocol people from the White House, the State Department, the Vatican, city and state agencies.

Then there are the logistics. A database, growing by the day, will include the names of every person ticketed to every event. It's a requirement of the Secret Service.

For the pope's youth rally at St. Joseph's Seminary in Yonkers on April 19, more than 20,000 youngsters from across the region will be bused to Yonkers Raceway. From there, they will be shuttled to the seminary, where Secret Service will be waiting to check bar-coded tickets.

"Nationally known entertainment" is being lined up for both the seminary and Yankee Stadium, Ackermann said.

More than 800 buses will descend on the stadium April 20, bringing representatives from all 195 dioceses in the United States. After hours of waiting, they'll see Benedict celebrate Mass from a stage above second base - assisted by more than 200 cardinals and bishops and some 800 priests.

And that's not all.

About 250 Christian leaders from across the country have to get to St. Joseph's Church in Manhattan on April 18 for an ecumenical prayer service.

A good 2,500 priests, deacons and nuns will fill St. Patrick's Cathedral on April 19, when Benedict becomes the first pope to celebrate Mass there.

Hundreds of volunteers are being enlisted (and checked out) for all the events.

Every step the pope will take - every left turn, every right turn - is choreographed in a big book that Ackermann keeps close at hand. But who's to say Benedict won't get out of line, like when John Paul II popped out of St. Patrick's in 1995 and walked down 50th Street?

"In this post-9/11 world, I'm not sure we'll see that kind of spontaneity, but not every step can be choreographed," Ackermann said.

Ackermann will be near the pope's side the whole time, of course, but he can't be more specific than that. Security reasons.

And when Benedict leaves and the Office of the Papal Visit evaporates? On April 22, Ackermann has to give a speech in Calgary about emergency preparedness for hospitals. He committed to it more than a year ago.

Then he will take a non-temp job with the archdiocese, which he prefers not to identify for now. He has more immediate concerns.

Like the 100,000 ponchos he'll need in case the pope brings rain.

I am exhausted just reading about it, and please no RAIN!

Update: The Archdiocese of New York has two more tickets which they are holding a drawing for. Anyone can enter. Click here for more info.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Instruction for Opening Sainthood Causes

In the Holy See Press Office this morning, Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins C.M.F., prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, presented the Instruction "Sanctorum Mater" for conducting diocesan or eparchial enquiries in the causes of saints.

Cardinal Saraiva was accompanied by Archbishop Michele Di Ruberto and Msgr. Marcello Bartolucci, respectively secretary and under-secretary of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

In his remarks, the cardinal affirmed that the aim of the document "is to contribute to ensuring that current norms for the diocesan inquiry of a cause of beatification and canonisation are applied with ever greater care".

The Instruction is divided into six sections, said Cardinal Saraiva, going on to explain: "The first draws attention to the need for a true reputation of holiness before beginning a process, and explains the duties and roles of the petitioner, the postulator and the competent bishop. The second part describes the preliminary phase of the cause which extends as far as the 'Nihil Obstat' of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. The third section concerns the instruction of the cause. The fourth part concentrates on the gathering of documentary proof and the fifth on the gathering of proof from witnesses. Finally, the sixth section of the document outlines the procedures for the closing of the inquiry".

The cardinal then went on to consider the reasons for the publication of the document, pointing out that 25 years have passed since the promulgation by John Paul II of the Apostolic Constitution 'Divinus Perfectionis Magister', and of the 'Normae servandae' by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. Since then, he said, "in some dioceses, certain provisions of the law have not always been understood and, consequently, not been put into practice with the necessary meticulousness, the which has sometimes made it necessary for the congregation to supply clarifications or to ask diocesan curias to correct errors".

Furthermore, he added, "dioceses do not always have access to specialised individuals with practical experience of the various procedures involved in a cause of canonisation". For this reason, "it is evident that a practical document, such as this Instruction, was useful, indeed necessary".

"When the current legislation on causes of saints came into force", said the cardinal outlining another reason for the publication of the present document, "an unfounded idea became widespread that the traditional methodology ... had been substituted by some kind of historical-critical investigation". And he identified the reason for this confusion in "the fact that the term 'inquisitio' used in Latin (the only official text) to designate the procedure of the diocesan phase of a cause of canonisation was translated in Italian as 'inchiesta' (inquiry)". This Instruction, then, highlights "the importance of procedure" in causes of beatification and canonisation, "and accurately highlights the norms that must be observed".

Turning to the last reason for which the document was published, Cardinal Saraiva noted how, "in the move from the earlier legislation to that in force today, it was unclear to some people that a serious and rigorous verification of the fame of sanctity or martyrdom, undertaken in dioceses, is a prior requirement of absolute importance. Hence, a procedure must not be begin without irrefutable proof that the Servant of God ... is held to be a saint or martyr by a considerable number of faithful, who invoke him or her in their prayers and attribute graces and favours to his or her intercession".

Thus far during the pontificate of Benedict XVI, there have been 20 beatification ceremonies during which 563 Servants of God were beatified (36 confessors and 527 martyrs), including 48 diocesan priests, 485 male and female religious, and 30 lay people, for a total of 509 men and 54 women.

The prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints has presided at 31 ceremonies, 18 in Italy and 13 in other countries (Mexico, Portugal, Brazil, Spain, France, Poland and Austria).

The canonisation ceremonies celebrated thus far during the pontificate of Benedict XVI number four (three in Rome and one in Brazil), during which 14 people were canonised (two bishops, four priests, five male religious and three female religious).

The current total of saints and blesseds of this pontificate is 577.


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Papal Visit

Just a reminder that time is running out. Only 61 days until Shepherd One touches down on American soil.

I have my tickets, do you?
If not, contact your local diocese ASAP!

Friday, February 08, 2008

Is Eating Meat on Friday a Mortal Sin?

One comment that I hear often during Lent is, "God won't send me to Hell because I ate meat."

The person who makes that statement is usually shocked when I respond by saying, "You know, I agree. You are right".

That usually gets their attention long enough, then catechesis begins.

First: God doesn't send anyone to Hell. We get their on our own.
Second: Eating meat on a Friday during Lent is not a sin, but the attitude of a Catholic who chooses to is.

Abstaining from meat is not a doctrine or a dogma of the Church. It is a practice much like priestly celibacy. The Church has chosen to enforce this practice because of the great benefit which it gives to individual Catholics and the Church as a whole. The Church has had 2,000 years to develop these practices. It doesn't create them on whims, serious thought and prayer goes into them.

So, where does sin come in? Simply put, the person sins by eating meat on a Friday during Lent because the individual presumes to know better than the Church. The Church has spent 2,000 years thinking about these topics. How much time have you spent? I thought so.

So, is it a mortal or a venial sin? Well, that depends on the attitude of the carnivore.

Basically what I want to say in this post is that it's not about meat at all. It's about denying ourselves, uniting with other Catholics in a common practice, and being obedient to Church law. There is so little that the Catholic Church requires of her members, not eating meat on 8 days isn't that much of a sacrifice. Just remember, you could be ordering a Ramadan meal or keeping Kosher all year long.

On a related note: Remember the Meat Police?

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Papal Mass Tickets

For those interested in attend the Papal Mass at Yankee Stadium I have the following ticket information.

Boston will be getting 3,000 tickets. Tickets will be distributed to people registered in parishes located in the Archdiocese. Bus transportation to New York has also been arranged.

Charlotte will be getting 100 tickets. Anyone can apply, but the diocese has already recieved over 150 requests. Tickets will be granted through a lottery.

Chicago will be getting 100 tickets. Pastors at each of Chicago’s 363 parishes have been asked to submit four nominees. Winners will be chosen by lottery.

Syracuse will be getting 500 tickets. There are no tickets remaining.

Philadelphia is getting an undisclosed number of tickets, but I assume it is 3,000. The application period ended on Jan 24th.

Louisville is getting 650 tickets. All tickets have been reserved.

Fall River recieved 100 tickets. All tickets have been reserved.

Based on this information I will assume that dioceses celebrating bicentennials will recieve 3,000 tickets and other dioceses will recieve 100 tickets.

Ticket information for the Mass in Washington DC has not been released yet.

Check out the event website for details.

Update: For those who can't get tickets, the Archdiocese of Boston is building a website which will have full coverage of all the papal events. It's not up yet, but the address will be:

Update: Dallas has 150 tickets to the Mass in Washington and 10 tickets to the Mass in New York for parishioners on parishes in the diocese.

UPDATE: (March 10, 2008) The Archdiocese of New York is running a contest where one lucky person will win a trip to New York and two tickets to the Pontifical Mass at Yankee Stadium. More info here.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Adventure of the Priesthood

Yesterday afternoon, the Holy Father visited Rome's Major Pontifical Seminary for the occasion of the feast of its patroness, Our Lady of Trust. After presiding at Vespers, the Holy Father expressed his joy at having the opportunity, as Bishop of Rome, to visit "his seminary".

"Because the gift of being adoptive children of God has illuminated your lives", the Pope told the seminarians, "you have felt the desire to share this with others. That is why you are here, to develop your filial vocation and prepare yourselves for your future mission as apostles of Christ. ... Savouring the joy of life with God the Father means that you feel the ever more urgent need to become messengers of the Gospel of His Son, Jesus".

"All this cannot but induce great trust, because the gift received is amazing, it fills us with wonder and sates us with intimate joy. And thus you are able to understand the role Mary has in your lives. ... Just as 'the Son was born of woman', of Mary Mother of God, the fact that you are children of God means you have her as mother".

The Pope then addressed the parents of the future priests, saying "you are probably the most surprised of all about what has happened and is happening to your children. You had perhaps imagined for them a mission different from the one for which they are now preparing. ... Let us look to Mary. The Gospel helps us to understand that she too asked herself many question about her Son Jesus, and reflected on Him for a long time.

"It is inevitable that the vocation of children in some way also becomes the vocation of the parents", he added. "You have found yourselves participating in your sons' marvellous adventure. Indeed, although it may appear that a priest's life does not attract the interest of the majority of people, in reality it is the most interesting of adventures and the most necessary for the world: the adventure of demonstrating and realising the fullness of life to which everyone aspires. It is a very demanding adventure and could not be otherwise because a priest is called to imitate Jesus".

The Holy Father then went on to refer to two aspects that characterise the lives of seminarians. In the first place, that of listening to the voice of the Lord which, he said, "requires an atmosphere of silence. For this reason the seminary offers time and space to daily prayer; it pays great attention to liturgy, to meditation on the Word of God and to Eucharistic adoration. At the same time, it asks you to dedicate long hours to study: by praying and studying, you can create within yourselves the man of God that you must become and that people expect a priest to be".

The Pope went on: "There is also another aspect to your lives: ... the community aspect, which is of great importance. ... Your communion is not limited to the present but also concerns the future. The pastoral activity that awaits you must see you acting together united in a single body, an 'ordo' of priests who, with the bishop, watch over the Christian community".

"All this serves as a reminder that God calls you to be saints, and that sanctity is the secret of real success in your priestly ministry. From this moment on, sanctity must be the final goal of all your choices and decisions. Entrust this desire and this daily commitment to Mary, Mother of Trust".

"Follow your journey at the seminary with your hearts open to truth, to transparency, and to dialogue with those who guide you, and this will enable you to respond simply and humbly to the One Who calls you, freeing yourselves from the risk of pursuing a personal project of your own".


Sunday, February 03, 2008

Beautiful Ave Maria

Wow, I love this!

H/T to Fr. V.

These young ladies are members of a singing group called Seraphim and this version of Ave Maria is from their newest CD titled Hail Queen of Heaven.

Want more?

I ONLY work here

To all the DRE's, Pastors, and Pastoral Associates out there:

If you are planning to have a visiting choir sing for a Mass, PLEASE take the common courtesy to ask or at the very least TELL the music director/organist so she can plan accordingly and doesn't look like a complete idiot as strange people take over the choir loft.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

The Ministry of the Congregation

It seems that most Catholics have forgotten about the ministry of the congregation. We have become so obsessed with "doing" something at Mass that just being at Mass is seemingly considered insignificant.

Last night my husband and I had dinner at a very nice little Portuguese restaurant. It is a family owned place where the tables are placed as close as possible to each other in order to fit as many people as possible into the restaurant. Towards the end of our dinner a party of four was seated on the side of us. They entered into a long, and loud conversation about a funeral. Apparently the mother of one of the women had recently died. While I did not try to listen on their conversation, given that she was sitting close enough for me to touch her, it was hard to not overhear. A few of the quotes that caught me attention were, "It was so nice, every grandchild had something to do during the Mass. I didn't want them to just sit there."

But that isn't why I am writing this post. The next quote is, "My grandaughter sang for the Mass. I couldn't believe it when I heard her. I knew she had a nice voice, but I didn't think she could really sing. I was shocked that she was so good. I only asked her because I didn't want her to be the only one without something to do".

Comment #1) Simply having a "nice voice" doesn't make someone qualified to sing at Mass.
Comment #2) If you didn't think she was good, you shouldn't have asked her to sing.
Comment #3) What's wrong with being part of the congregation?
Comment #4) No one is supposed to "just sit there" at Mass. They are supposed to pray and respond.

Yes, it is nice when family members can perform certain functions during the Mass, but I don't understand the obsession families have with getting everyone involved. Especially when they are putting them in roles where they are unprepared and unqualified. Personally, I am tired of funerals where "my sister's friend's daughter's friend's cousin with a really nice voice" comes to sing. Usually the person doesn't have a nice voice and many times they can barely sing on key. In addition, they seldom know the hymns and sometimes ask me to teach it to them. Add to that the "singers" who are close family members such as grandchildren who start crying in the middle of the hymn and it's a recipe for disaster.

My advice to everyone is: leave the funeral music to the professionals.

I am lucky that my parish has a policy on visiting musicians. They MUST be employed as liturgical musicians in a Catholic parish, and I MUST get a bench fee. Oh, and I do check up on them. However, even with that policy, a few still slip by. People claim to be employed in parishes when they are not and I have even had priests lie and tell me that certain people are employed when they are simply substandard choir members or not even attached to the parish in any way.

So, what is the deal with the obsession with "doing something"? I think we have focused so much on the ministry of lector, cantor, EMHC, etc, while we ignored the ministry of the congregation. In essence we have set ourselves up to literally preach to the choir. The congregation does not just sit there. They have an active role in the Mass. They sing the hymns which are appropriate to them, they respond to the prayers of dialogue, the proclaim the acclamations, most importantly they like everyone else in the Mass, they worship the Lord in Word and Sacrament. So much for just sitting there.

To all of you who make up the congregation, you are needed. Don't let anyone think you are just sitting there.

Friday, February 01, 2008

E is for Excellent

Brian at Christus Vincit has given me the Excellent award.
The is the easy part. the hard part is that I have to give the award to to ten other bloggers.
My choices are:
The rules: By accepting this Excellent Blog Award, you have to award it to 10 more people whose blogs you find Excellent Award worthy. You can give it to as many people as you want but please award at least 10. Thank you out there for having such great blogs and being such great friends! You deserve this! Feel free to award people who have already been awarded…

The Zaire Use Liturgy

I came across an interesting post at Rubrics and Ritual about the Zaire Use Liturgy. I had never heard of the Zaire Use, but I was familiar with some of the different liturgical practices of various countries.

I wonder what a Mass according to these rubrics would look like. It seems, at least on paper, to be a rather reverent celebration of the Eucharist, but I realize that theory and practice are very different things. While I cringe at the idea of the priest dancing around the altar, dance is often an important part of african sacred celebrations. I can respect that if it truly is an element which is of great importance to the people. Better Catholics dancing around the altar truly worshipping God, then not worshipping the one true God. The problem lies when liturgists assume that because something is acceptable in one culture that it is acceptable in another. Dance is not an essential part of European (yes, as Americans we have been inculturated into what at least used to be European culture) culture.

No matter your opinion, it's an interesting liturgy.

Founder of the Legionaries of Christ Remembered

Fr. Marcial Maciel, the founder of the Legionaries of Christ and Regnum Christi passed away in the United States on January 30th at the age of 87. Unconfirmed reports say that he was in Naples, Florida at the time, but the location of his death has not been released.

Born in Mexico, Fr. Maciel was ordered by Pope Benedict to retire to a life of "prayer and penitence" in 2006 after allegations surfaced that he had sexually abused nine boys and young men. Fr. Maciel denied the allegations and asserted his innocence. The allegations against him never went to trial because they were long past the statute of limitations.

The Legionaries of Christ were founded in 1941 when the Catholic Church was being persecuted in Mexico by an anti-clerical government.
the formerly underground movement now has 600 priests and 2,500 seminarians worldwide. There are also thousands of laity who are members of Regnum Christi.

Below is posted an official message regarding the death of Fr. Maciel.

To the members of the Regnum Christi Movement

My dear friends in Christ:

"And the Word was made flesh!" These were the last words that Nuestro Padre left written. He knew that the Incarnation gave meaning to all our lives. As we know, ever since his childhood and adolescence, our Lord granted him the grace of clearly perceiving the relative value of time in the face of eternity. He always taught us that Christ is the center, the only reason of our existence: "…in the great Mystery of his Presence in the Eucharist… we can touch him and almost feel him as our Brother and Father, Friend and Redeemer. Thus… he has willed to draw us to Himself until the joyful day when, breaking all bonds, free in his total plenitude, we will be able to contemplate him in the life to come" (LNP, March 11, 1975).

Within the deep sadness and sorrow that this news gives us, I also have the joy of telling you that Nuestro Padre has reached the end of his earthly pilgrimage. With the peace that always filled his soul, he departed for his eternal destiny on January 30 in the United States.

Certainly, although we all knew this moment had to come, on a human level it still causes us deep sadness. His departure hurts us in the deepest part of our soul. On the other hand, Nuestro Padre always spoke to us of hope, and when he talked about death, he always talked about the Resurrection. And so, we are not going to stay only in the sadness of the moment or in the tears of the heart. Today we must listen to St. Paul's exhortation: "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice" (Phil 4:4). We must rejoice with the supernatural joy of the one who lives by faith and hope, carrying in our hearts the joy of being united to Christ the Good Shepherd, and walking at his side like the pilgrims on the way to Emmaus, with a firm stride toward eternity.

As he often told us, he didn't want us to focus on him: "If only you could see not me, but God's plan"; he wanted us to go to Christ. It is around the tabernacle and in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament that we will be most deeply united, with the strength and singular significance of charity. This will be the best way of remembering him and of keeping him always in our hearts.

There is so much that we would like to say. But I believe that what we all want now is the silence to contemplate and thank, to suffer and trust with the joy of one who believes and hopes in the midst of a sorrow that can't be expressed in words. Let us unite ourselves to the Blessed Virgin; she will guide our minds toward the depths of the mystery that surrounds us, and will always fill us with her peace. Nuestro Padre had explicitly asked me to be accompanied at the hour of his death by an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, who has always been his faithful and loving Mother. May she help us to continue our mission of total service to the Catholic Church we love so much, in full and filial loyalty to the Holy Father.

The funeral will be celebrated in an atmosphere of prayer, in a simple and private way. We will accompany him with the prayers that we will all be offering for his eternal repose.

Profoundly united to all of you in prayer and in the mission we share, I remain your affectionate servant in Christ,

Alvaro Corcuera, LC

Update: Fr. Maciel died in Houston, Texas.