Saturday, March 29, 2008

Treasures Found in a Choir Loft

Fr. Erik posts on the many horrific items he has found in his church have amused me greatly because I have found many similar items in the churches where I have served, but today I found a real treasure amidst the items destined for the dumpster.

The choir loft at my church has two closets which are filled with everything from 70's hymnals to old door frames. This morning I was clearing out some of the 70's hymnals when I found a thick black book covered with a homemade covering of black fabric. I opened it and found page after page of Gregorian chant. Real Gregorian chant, Latin, complete with 4 line staff and square notes!

I flipped to the front of the book and read the title: Antiphonarium Romanum. I have never seen one of these before, but its fascinating. Now I have to find a way to use it. I wish I knew how to read real Gregorian Chant. Time to learn, huh?
Update: Brian helped me with the first part of reading chant: identifying the key. From there I took my newfound knowledge and found a few good pages online. The first is very simple and explains the different neumes and groupings of neumes. The second is more technical and in depth.
It's official, I'm hooked. I still can't get used to the idea that notes placed one over the other to mean to sing the bottom one first and the upper one second, but I am getting it.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Books in the Mailbag

Thanks to the lovely people at Doubleday I am being tempted away from my studies by two books. Reviews will be forthcoming as soon as I am able to find time to read these books. I will be heading to the western part of the U.S. next week for vacation, so I will have plenty of time to read then. :-)

The first review will be of a book I blogged about previously: Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone's book "The Last Secret of Fatima" which will be released on May 6th. A preview copy has been sitting on my bookshelf for several weeks and words can't explain how tempting is has been to abandon my textbooks and read this instead.

The second is a book I had never heard of until I recieved the copy in the mail. I originally had hoped to blog on it for St. Patrick's Day, since it is a book of Irish blessings. "To Bless the Space Between us" was written by John O'Donohue, a priest who left his ministry for secular life. While I am neither a great fan of poetry or of priests who leave their ministry, after flipping casually through this book, I have found a few interesting poems.

The Pope, Cheese, and Green Scaly Skin

Sometimes I marvel at the things the media thinks is newsworthy. Often they are simply random facts, other times interesting bits of trivia, or odd stories. Other times I marvel at the media's ability to get things wrong, especially religious stories, and their ability to take religious stories out of context and blow them out of proportion.

This is one such story: My comments in red.

Vatican City, 28 March (AKI) - Pope Benedict XVI is a big fan of buffalo mozzarella cheese, and eats it often reported Italian daily Il Messaggero on Friday. (This is trivia, not news)

Pope Benedict XVI reportedly likes simple dishes and often receives buffalo mozzarella cheese as a gift from bishops from the Campania region in southern Italy where the best buffalo mozzarella is produced. (More trivia. I am sure many people from the Campania region give cheese as gifts to people from other areas.)

The cheese is given to Benedict's policemen, who later 'discreetly' take the cheese to his apartment, Il Messaggero reported. (Uh-oh! Smuggling cheese. Why do I have a mental image of a cop smuggling cheese into the papal apartment under a black trenchcoat.)

Recently there have been fears the highly popular mozzarella cheese may have been contaminated by dioxins and other chemicals from illegally dumped toxic waste. (Great, so now we find out that the pope may be the victim of cheese poisoning. All kidding aside, there have been issues with this.)

Japan and South Korea have in recent days halted imports of buffalo mozzarella, and there are fears other countries could suspend imports. (Again, this is true)

In the supermarket located inside Vatican City, the dairy section is full of mozzarella cheese products from the southern region of Campania. (Even more shocking than the Vatican not banning the cheese is the fact that their supermarket sells cheese)

Reportedly, the cheese is prized among priests and nuns who visit the supermarket everyday to restock convents, institutes and monasteries. (Shocking! Priests and nuns prize cheese. What do they do with it?)

The cheese, prized for its subtle flavour, costs twice as much as mozzarella made with cows' milk. It is eaten on top of pizza and also alongside prosciutto or with sliced tomatoes and basil. (Oh, they EAT it! By the way, I learned about the wonders of buffalo mozzarella in Rome. It makes regular mozzarella, well, I don't want to think about regular mozzarella.)

Reportedly, and mozzarella cheese is often found in his plate, said Il Messaggero. (As it is found on on the plates of most residents of Italy.)

My conclusion: It's a slow news day when the media runs a story about how the Pope likes cheese.

Tommorow's headline: Vatican reports that Pope Benedict sleeps in a bed. Sorry, that is a article we will never see because everyone knows that priests and nuns are cyborgs created by the Vatican in an underground crypt under Castel Gandolfo. As the Ironic Catholic says, we Catholics "shed our green scaly skin at night and curl in a fetal position while we lull ourselves to sleep humming Gregorian chant". Sometimes I really wonder if people think that.

Need Hangers?

This is completely off-topic, but I can't help myself. Plus, it fits into my next post.

I found this advice on an AOL page.

Closet Crisis: Not having enough hangers has created piles of clothing on the floor.Storage Solution: Stock up on good, solid hangers that will keep your clothing in line. Hate hanging clothes? Perhaps you can make it fun with these NFL Wooden Hanger, which are available in the sporting team of your choice.

Slaps head! No way! The solution to not having enough hangers is to buy more. I guess that means that the solution to not having any more food in the refrigerator is to buy more too. Wow, that will really make life easier. All this time I thought I either had to wait for the angels to bring me the things I need or just live without it. I guess that means there are stores too. That brings me to my next thought, where did all these clothes come from?

As for hanging clothes: there is no way hangers with football logos is going to make hanging clothes fun. If it does, then you are either 5 or you're crazy.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Fishers of Men Online

The Fishers of Men video is now available online through Catholic Online.

Click here to watch it.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter

As we celebrate of Resurrection of Our Lord,
I wish you God's best blessings.
Know that you are always in my prayers
and please remember me in yours.
Happy Easter!
He is Risen, Alleluia!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Vestments for the Papal Mass

I don't have a picture of the vestments which will be worn by the clergy at the Papal Masses in New York, but I know where they are coming from.

They are being made by Stadelmaier, a company which is known for their...ummmm...unique designs. Expect more of the same. Also, the owner of the company which is providing all the liturgical supplies has announced that the Holy Father will be wearing his own vestments.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Spy Wednesday

I have too much work to do right now to write my Spy Wednesday post, so it will remain trapped in my head.

I will let Clerical Whispers do the talking for me since his post is very similar to the one I intended to post.

Also, check out my post from last year which features Pope Benedict's thoughts on the Triduum.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The US Papal Visit Schedule

From VIS

The Holy See Press Office today published the programme of Benedict XVI's forthcoming apostolic trip to the United States of America, including his visit to the headquarters of the United Nations, due to take place from 15 to 21 April.

The Pope will depart from Rome's Fiumicino airport at midday on Tuesday 15 April and land at Andrews Air Force Base in Washington at 4 p.m. local time, where he will be greeted by U.S. President George W. Bush and his wife.

The welcome ceremony will be held at 10.30 a.m. on Wednesday 16 April, after which the Pope will make a courtesy visit to the U.S. president at the White House. That afternoon he will preside at the celebration of Vespers and hold a meeting with U.S. bishops at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington.

Benedict XVI will celebrate Mass at 10 a.m. on Thursday 17 April in the Nationals Stadium in Washington. At 5 p.m. on the same day he will participate in a meeting with representatives from Catholic universities at the Catholic University of America, also in Washington, then meet with representatives of other religions in the city's Pope John Paul II Cultural Centre.

On the morning of Friday 18 April, the Holy Father will travel from Washington to New York where, at 10.45 a.m., he is scheduled to address the General Assembly of the United Nations. That evening he is due to participate in an ecumenical meeting at the church of St. Joseph in New York.

At 9.15 a.m. on Saturday, 19 April, the Holy Father will celebrate Mass with priests and religious in St. Patrick's Cathedral. He will then lunch with bishops of the archdiocese of New York and, at 4.30 p.m., preside at a meeting with young people and seminarians at the seminary of St. Joseph.

On Sunday 20 April, Benedict XVI is to visit "Ground zero" where he will pray for the victims of the attacks of 11 September 2001. At 2.30 p.m. he will celebrate Mass at New York's Yankee Stadium.

The departure ceremony will be held at 8 p.m. on the same day, at New York's John Fitzgerald Kennedy international airport. The papal plane is due to land at the Roman airport of Ciampino at 10.45 a.m. local time on Monday 21 April.

Souvenirs, Get Your Papal Souvenirs

There is only one official place to get Papal Visit souvenirs online. The shop is not set up yet, but you can give your name and e-mail address to get notified when the store opens.

The address is

Happy Shopping!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Today is St. Patrick's day. Officially, there is no St. Patrick's day this year. Although when St. Joseph's Day was transferred to March 14th, some dioceses transferred St. Patrick's Day to March 14th or 15th. has some video up from the Mass. I'm in it, but you'll have to guess which one I am.

The Archdiocese of Boston was one of the dioceses that did not transfer the memorial, but chose to have a low-key celebration today. Here are a few pictures from this afternoon's Mass at the Cathedral.

Shamrocks were blessed during Mass and given to the faithful.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Sheet Music Bleg

Hi folks, I don't post many blegs here but this is a special request for a very special friend.

One of my friends us approaching the 25th anniversary of his priestly ordination. The Van Dessel Holy Holy (I believe from the Mass in Honor of St. Joseph) was sung at his first Mass and he would love for it to be sung again at his anniversary Mass.

If anyone knows where I can get the music for this piece I would be so grateful. Please, this would mean so much to this very good priest.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Papal Video Contest

I recently posted about the Papal Skateboard contest and in responding to a comment I said that there had to be a better way to get the kids involved. Well, I found it and it comes from D.C.

The Archdiocese of Washington is running a video contest. The video will be used to welcome the Holy Father. The contest is open to groups of five or more young people in grades K-12 living in the archdioceses of Washington, Baltimore, and the Diocese of Arlington. There will be at least three winning groups and each winning group will receive 15 tickets to the Mass at Nationals Park. Their videos may also be shown before the Mass.

Now that is how to get the youth involved! WTG Washington.

Unfortunately, the contest deadline is March 17th so anyone who wants to submit a video only has a few days left. Get more info here.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Iraqi Archbishop Murdered

Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho has become the latest Iraqi martyr. The body of the Chaldean archbishop of Mosul, was found this morning. Please pray for his soul and those of his murderers. Christians in Iraq are in particular danger and I believe the archbishop's murder was a tool used by the terrorists to force the Christians to leave.

From Asia News:

The Chaldean archbishop of Mosul had been dead for at least five days before his body was found this morning by some members of the Church, following information provided by the kidnappers themselves. This timeline is provided by the autopsy conducted on the body of Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho, found in an abandoned area outside of the city, which is in part used as a trash dump. This information comes to AsiaNews from sources close to the deceased bishop. Archbishop Rahho had been buried, says Bishop Warduni, auxiliary bishop of Baghdad.

There do not seem to be any signs of violence on the body of the prelate, who was kidnapped on February 29. He probably died because of the lack of medicines that he had to take regularly because of his serious health problems. But the causes of his death are still not clear.

Archbishop Rahho and the three men who were with him at the moment of the ambush join the long list of Christians killed in Iraq. Mosul confirms its place as the most dangerous city for the Christian community, the presence of which has dropped by two thirds since 2003. This diocese has paid a heavy tribute in blood. In 2007 alone, at least 13 Christians are believed to have been killed - including Fr Ragheed Gani, slaughtered on June 3 - as well as two priests and a kidnapped bishop. There have been many attacks on Christian targets. The latest wave of violence came from January 6-17, 2008, when a series of explosions struck the Chaldean Church of Mary Immaculate, the Chaldean Church of St. Paul, which was almost destroyed, the entryway to the orphanage run by the Chaldean sisters in al Nour, a Nestorian church, and the convent of the Dominican sisters of Mosul Jadida.

According to a list drawn up by AsiaNews, a total of 47 people died of violent causes in Iraq last year, at least 13 of them in Mosul alone.

Pope Benedict XVI has sent a telegram to Cardinal Emmanuel III Delly, patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans, Iraq.

In his telegram the Pope expressed his closeness "to the Chaldean Church and to the entire Christian community", and reaffirmed his "condemnation for an act of inhuman violence which offends the dignity of human beings and seriously damages the cause of the fraternal coexistence of the beloved Iraqi people".

The Holy Father gave assurances of his prayers for the archbishop "who was kidnapped just after he had completed the Way of the Cross" and invokes the Lord's mercy "that this tragic event may serve to build a future of peace in the martyred land of Iraq".

Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. also released the following declaration today:

"We had all continued to hope and pray for his release, something the Pope had requested on a number of occasions in his appeals.

"Unfortunately the most senseless and unjustified violence continues to be inflicted on the Iraqi people, and especially on the small Christian community to which the Pope and all of us are particularly close in prayer and solidarity at this moment of great suffering.

"It is to be hoped that this tragic event may once more - and more powerfully - underline the responsibility of everyone, and especially of the international community, for the pacification of so troubled a country".

NOTE: The details of the Asia News article are contradictory to the CNN report which states that the Archbishop's body did contain gunshot wounds.

Here is a brief biography of Archbishop Rahho:

Because of the conflict in Mosul, only a third of the area's Christians have remained, Archbishop Rahho denounced in November. For his little flock, the prelate still represented a "hope". The faithful recount to AsiaNews that the bishop had always said "that he wanted to remain in Iraq until the end, even if this meant death". His presence was an act of "resistance against terrorism and violence". Born in 1941, Faraj Rahho was a seminarian at the patriarchal seminary of Saint Simon. He then became the pastor of the church of Mar Elia. After a brief period of studies in Rome, he returned to Iraq. There, in the 1980's, he became the leader of the newly founded parish of St Paul in Mosul, until he was appointed as an archbishop in 2001. In 1989, he founded the Fraternity of Charity and Joy, with the aim of assisting sick people and guaranteeing them love and a dignified life. He also worked hard on behalf of young people. In the 1990's, when Iraq was under embargo, he instituted the "Youth Week", a successful initiative that later became a pastoral outreach for the entire diocese.

Photo source.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Welcome CNN Readers

Welcome to everyone coming from the CNN link.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Rate My Classmates

If you ask for for my class notes, you had better have been absent or at least have taken your own. I am also not your personal tutor. Do not then complain after getting my notes that there are certain gaps or information that you think is wrong.

If you don't like my notes, take your own. Oh yeah, that is what you are supposed to be doing.

It's not that I don't like helping my classmates, but I don't like being taken advantage of. I have one classmate who seems to think that she doesn't have to do the work, because I will help her. I work, have a 3 year old child, and am taking three classes this semester. Between midterms and Holy Week preparations, I am spread more than thin.

Please do your own class work and if I do help you out don't complain that you don't like my notes. This woman even had the nerve to tell me how she wants me to take notes for her next time so it will be easier for her to understand. She has to be kidding! I take notes for me to understand. Any sharing of said notes is done from the goodness of my heart and in the interest of Christian charity.

Vent over!

Papal Mass Ticket Drawing!

Don't have a ticket for the Papal Mass at Yankee Stadium? It's not too late.

The Catholic Channel, a satellite radio station operated by the Archdiocese of New York on Sirius, is running a contest. The winner will get airfare for two to New York, three nights in a hotel, two tickets to the Mass celebrated by Pope Benedict, and $250 spending money.

Enter here!

The contest ends on April 4th.

Monday, March 10, 2008

New Sins? Huh?

Sometimes the media makes me laugh, sometimes they make me cry. Today there was a little of both.

Imagine my shock when I found out that the Catholic Church considers abortion, contraception, and drug dealing to be sins. Oh and not just sins, they are NEW sins. Yep, that is what the Fox News headline said.

If you haven't heard of this before, you must be living under a rock because the media is eating it up. In reality, it is sheer foolishness. The things mentioned have always been sins, especially contraception and abortion.

Also, the portrayal of this as being an official Vatican proclamation seems to be the exaggeration of the year. It is not an official proclamation, and it does not come from the Pope. It was a simple interview which for some reason has exploded into a firestorm. The message of the interview is nothing new!

As for the ecological sins, when the world was created God entrusted humanity with the responsibility of caring for it. So yes, abusing and destroying the earth is a sin...and always has been.

Want the real story? CNS has a good article.

Catholic World News has an even better one. Emphasis mine.

When he finished his interview with L'Osservatore Romano, Archishop Gianfranco Girotti probably thought that his main message had been an appeal to Catholics to use the sacrament of Confession. Little did he know that the English-language news media would play the interview as a newly revised list of sins.

Archbishop Girotti, the regent of the Apostolic Penitentiary, spoke to the Vatican newspaper about "new forms of social sin" in our era. He mentioned such transgressions as destructive research on human embryos, degradation of the environment, and drug trafficking. Within hours, dozens of media sources were suggesting that the Vatican had radically revised the Ten Commandments, issuing a list of "new sins."


When a second-tier Vatican official gives a newspaper interview, he is not proclaiming new Church doctrines. Archbishop Girotti was obviously trying to offer a new, provocative perspective on some enduring truths. The effort backfired-- but in a very revealing way.

An ordinary reader, basing his opinion only on the inane Telegraph coverage, might conclude that a "sin," in the Catholic understanding, is nothing more than a violation of rules set down by a group of men in Rome. If these rules are entirely arbitrary, then Vatican officials can change them at will; some sins will cease to exist and other "new sins" will replace them. But that notion of sin is ludicrous.

Sin is an objective wrong: a violation of God's law. What is sinful today will be sinful tomorrow, and a deadly sin will remain deadly, whether or not Telegraph editors recognize the moral danger. The traditional list of deadly sins remains intact; nothing has replaced it. Greed, gluttony, and lust are as wrong today as they were a day or a year or a century ago. If Archbishop Girotti referred to "new" sins, it is because some of the offenses he named (such as genetic manipulation) were impossible in the past, and others (such as international drug trafficking) are much more prevalent today, in a global society. Insofar as people could have engaged in these activities a century ago, they would have been sinful then as well.

A sin is not a sin because simply an archbishop proclaims it so. Sin, the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us, "is an offense against reason, truth, and right conscience…" The precepts of "reason, truth, and right conscience" do not shift in response to political trends, nor do they change at the whim of Vatican officials.

The fundamental point of the L'Osservatore Romano interview was that Catholics need to recover a sense of sin, make use of the sacrament of Confession, and receive absolution for their offenses. Sin, the archbishop insisted, is a reality that man cannot escape.

Update: Welcome to everyone coming from the CNN link.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Know Your Latin Numbers?

Can you count to 20 in Latin! I can.

Try for yourself here.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Nashville Dominicans on PBS

H/T to the Dominican Friars blog.

The Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia, is a wonderful, growing, traditional order. I am blessed to encounter them on a regular basis.

They were featured last month on the PBS program Religion and Ethics Newsweekly. Check out the video. Transcript is also online.

Friday, March 07, 2008

The Papal...Skateboard?

Oh my...can't....stop....laughing. I know that there is probably a really good intention behind this, but they youth of the Archdiocese of New York are giving Pope Benedict a skateboard. Yes, a skateboard. Giving Pope John Paul II a skateboard would have made sense, but Pope Benedict? No way!

If you are between the ages of 11 -18 and live in the Archdiocese of New York, you are eligible to submit your artwork to the Papal Skateboard Art Design contest. The winner will recieve three tickets to the Youth Rally at St. Joseph's Seminary.

The winner will be commissioned to design the artwork of the Official Papal Skateboard, a gift to His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI from the youth of the Archdiocese of New York.
Contestants are limited to the use of only four (4) colors: Papal Gold, Black, White and Red. One winner will be determined by a panel of judges based on creativity and originality. The use of symbols such as the Papal Visit Logo, Papal Crest, and the motto "CHRIST OUR HOPE" are highly encouraged. The winner’s design will be used to decorate the convex side (bottom side) of the Papal Skateboard.

Check out the contest site for more info and an entry form.

I still can't stop laughing at the idea of giving Pope Benedict a skateboard. Between the skateboard and the big stick that President Bush gave him, he is going to wonder what Americans are thinking.

UPDATE: The Pope2008 blog has a take on this which I am embarassed to admit that I missed. The possibility for marketing these papal skateboards as souvenirs. Hmmm, I think it might work.

UPDATE 2: Ok, after watching the videos of the students and the priest who made all this happen I don't think it is as silly as I originally did. Don't count me in with the converted yet, I still can't get over the mental image of a skateboarding Pope Benedict, but I have softened to the idea of the gift.

God is a Red Sox Fan

Ok, so it might be a stretch, but it is pretty funny.

From AOL Fan House:
A quick glance of the Yankees' schedule in April reveals a pretty strange stretch: they're on the road for almost three straight weeks from the 8th through the 28th, with a random two-game home stand jammed in the middle against the Red Sox on the 16th and 17th. That makes for an awful lot of traveling and some angry Yankees. But why is the schedule so funny?

Turns out Pope Benedict XVI is coming to Yankee Stadium to say a mass on April 20th, which required that weekend's series with the Orioles to be flipped from New York to Baltimore. Since schedules are apparently incredibly delicate things, MLB didn't flip any other series to accommodate the Yanks. The result is a schedule that requires them to be in Tampa on the 15th, New York in the 16th, and Baltimore on the 18th. That's a bad week.

So the Pope is messing with their schedule, the Red Sox have won two World Series in the past four years, and Hank Steinbrenner is in charge. There's only one conclusion to draw from this whole scenario, really. God hates the Yankees.

College Meme

Stolen from the guys at Christus Vincit.

When you attended Providence College, where did you live?
Luckily for me, at home. I have never been one for the dorm environment. I like my privacy too much and the idea of sharing MY space with a stranger is very unsettling.

Who was/were your roommate(s)?
My husband and son. ;-)

Do you still talk to them?
I hope so.

Ever get in trouble in the dorms?

Something you remember when you lived on campus?
Luckily, I never lived on campus, unless you count the numerous hours spent in the cafeteria and library.

Your campus phone number or other number?
If I tell you, you will call me.

First party attended?
Party? Did I mention I am a Catholic geek? I don't have time for parties.

Favorite Pizza Place?
I can't think of it name of it. I guess that shows how often I go there.

Favorite place to go out to eat?
The cafeteria - I hate giving up my parking space. I never know if I will get one when I get back.

Did you go to the library?
Yes, yes, and yes. I spend so much time there that people know exactly what corner to find me in.

What was your Favorite Floor you'd always be on?
2nd floor in the library (Theology section) or the theology library in the basement of Siena.

Where did you buy your books?
From the campus store (expensive), the off campus bookstore (poor selection) and Amazon (takes forever to ship).

Play any sports?
Extreme paper writing. lol!

Ever attend a sporting event?

Ever attend a concert or comedic performance?
No, but there have been a few that interested me.

Favorite professor(s)?
Yes - Despina Prassas, she taught a class called "Growth in Christian Life". Don't let the title fool you. This was a class on Sacraments in the Early Church. I came away from that class with a much deeper understanding of the continuity of the celebration of the Sacraments. I wrote my term paper on the use of Sacred Chrism in the rite of Baptism.

She really did so much more than just teach. She inspired me to take my theological study as far as I can. Because of her example, I hope to follow in her footsteps and someday teach theology.

Have you ever spent the night on campus not in a residence?

Favorite night to go out on, and where did you go?
Friday, usually out to dinner at some random restaurant.

Where did you buy your coffee?
Dunkin, cafeteria coffee is AWFUL!

Favorite Year of Halloween?

Favorite memory?
They time Dr. Barry really believed that I was a CDF official sent to his class to investigate him for theological orthodoxy. He was.

Go see a play or been in one?

What did you hate about your college?
The price, feeling like the only theology/ministry major, dealing with professors who are a little less than orthodox (99% have been very good, but there are bad apples in every bunch).

What did you love most about it?
Studying topics I am interested in.

Where would you believe is the best location to live?
Absolutely, the Suites.

Graduated or still attending?
Still attending. I start my junior year in May.

Year of graduation?
Will be 2010.

Will you go back?
To school, yes. To PC, probably not.

How many parking tickets have you gotten there?
None, so far.

Finally, ever gotten arrested?

Tag you're it!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Because This is What Really Matters

We all know that Pope Benedict has nothing better to do than ban smoking, right? Thought so. It seems a group of doctors are going to attempt to convince the Holy Father to do just that.

Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction.

From the Fall River Herald News:

Reflecting the gravity and addictiveness of the health problem, two dozen area doctors and nurses are appealing to a higher authority to curtail cigarette use.

When Pope Benedict XVI visits the United States in April, they plan to come armed with a petition with thousands of names asking the pope “to declare the Vatican the world’s first country to ban tobacco in its entirety.”

They are asking the pope to also “condemn the production, distribution and sale” of cigarettes and all tobacco products.

They are citing nicotine’s addictive force and that more than 5 million deaths a year worldwide is traced to smoking.

“We are frustrated over the lack of action on the part of our leaders whose job it is to protect and advocate for the common good,” said Dr. Claude Curran, a city psychiatrist treating addicts and co-founder of Physicians and Nurses Against Tobacco.

Curran said they selected the pope not only for his religious, moral and spiritual leadership but because “he’s the head of a country. … He’s not only the Vicar of Christ. He’s also the defender of man,” Curran said. “Who’s going to protect us if he doesn’t?”

During the past few months, Curran and several others formed PANAT. “Many of us work in addiction medicine and we understand the damage caused by tobacco,” he said.

Their Web site,, contains a petition saying they’ll “implore” Benedict to join them by declaring the Vatican tobacco-free and support their aims.
The petition effort began a few weeks ago.

They plan to publish the petition in New England newpapers during Pope Benedict’s first visit to the country, to Washington, D.C., and New York City April 15-20.

Curran pointed to the World Health Organization’s report one month ago stating that smoking killed 100 million people worldwide in the 20th century with the prospect of the numbers increasing ten-fold this century.

“We hold in our hands the solution to the global tobacco epidemic that threatens the lives of 1 billion men, women and children during this century,” said Dr. Margaret Chan, WHO director general.

A WHO official that directs its tobacco-free initiative said the estimate of 5.4 million smoking-related deaths a year could rise to more than 8 million annually by 2030 if nothing is done.

While the WHO report advocates dramatic efforts to stop young people from starting smoking, helping others quit and reducing second-hand smoke, the PANAT activists attack the nicotine addiction problem.

“Nicotine causes changes in the way the brain works and nobody wants to admit it,” said Curran, a psychiatrist who has treated drug addicts in the city for the past decade.

“Chemicals that are addictive change the way the brain works,” he said. He said the changes to brain lesions from addictive chemicals are scientifically documented.
“Therefore, it’s neuro-chemical; it’s not a behavioral issue.”

People are dependent daily for the nicotine in tobacco or the caffeine in coffee “because the brain likes it,” Curran said. But he contrasts the daily lines of regular Dunkin’ Donuts coffee drinkers looking for their morning doses with addicted cigarette smokers this way:

“Six million people — the number of Jews that died in the Holocaust — don’t die every year because they drink coffee.” But they do from tobacco use.

The PANAT Web site gives an example of the nicotine implant on the brain and why smokers “don’t just quit” with a contrasting story about the excitement of riding a rollercoaster.

“The accelerations, twists and turns can be so thrilling and exhilarating that a group of friends at an amusement park may spend their whole day riding the rollercoaster,” it says. The next day, when they return to school or work, they might recollect the memories and fun to friends.

“They did not suffer irresistible urges or cravings to get back on the rollercoaster. They did not go back, day after day … to spend their life riding the rollercoaster. They did not overlook their health or responsibilities in order to get the ‘rollercoaster high’. “Not so with drug-induced euphorias,” PANAT says.

“What we want the tobacco industry to do,” said Curran, readily stating his treatment of addicts here has drawn controversy, “is to start reducing the nicotine in tobacco plants; so, within five years no one is inclined to smoke it” – or be addicted.

He said the government removed the cocaine from Coke, but with a world health care crisis won’t follow suit with tobacco products. “The reason,” he said, “is everyone is making so much money.”

“It is an indefensible, moral question that has to be addressed. The American health care system is on the brink of collapse,” said Dr. Roger Boshes, another city psychiatrist and PANAT co-founder.

“Heart disease, pulmonary disorders, lung cancer, these are all directly influenced by smoking,” Boshes said.

About 15 years ago, before Edward Bernays died at 103 years old, several PANAT members said they met the man often credited with being “the creator of public relations as we know it,” who immortalized the bacon and eggs breakfast among other accepted staples.

Working for the American Tobacco Co. in the 1920s, long before the health dangers of cigarette smoking became known and accepted, Bernays used female models and the Easter Day Parade in New York City to sell his product.

On his signal, the models lit Lucky Strike cigarettes in a successful effort to erase the stigma of women smoking, the wikipedia Web site documents.

“Group of Girls Puff at Cigarettes as a Gesture of Freedom,” read the New York Times headline of April 1, 1928.

Bernays, a nephew of Sigmund Freud, asked years ago by Curran and a couple others how to reverse the worldwide cigarette curse he helped bolster, planted the idea of petitioning the pope.

“Let us stomp out the ‘torches of freedom’ and bring something else to light: The eradication of tobacco,” PANAT says.

Yes, smoking is harmful and some theologians consider it to be objectively sinful, but...come on. Let's get real. There are bigger issues. The Vatican has already banned indoor smoking. In fact, many cardinals were unhappy during the conclave because they had to go up to the roof to smoke.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Church Sued, Schools Protected

H/T to Brian.

National Catholic Register has a interesting article about a new bill in Colorado which attempt to hold the Church liable for abuse which occured as long as 80 years ago.

Not outraged yet? Just wait. Jennifer Kraska, executive director of the Colorado Catholic Conference told NCR, “Since Jan. 1, 2006, 44 public school teachers have been charged with sexual contact with children. That number only reflects those who’ve been caught and turned in.”

So, what is the state doing about it? They are cracking down on priests who died decades ago. All this while Colorado law prevents the public schools from being sued. There is currently a fluff bill in the works to only allow immunity if the public school performed a background check.

Still not outraged?
Bill Donahue from the Catholic League listed the way abusers are treated in public school systems.

• Instead of punishing child molesters, they’re simply moved from place to place in the school system without anyone getting a heads-up.

• It takes almost a year-and-a-half to investigate claims of abuse in the public schools.
• If the accused public school teacher is guilty of touching a minor or accessing porn on a computer, he can continue working, provided he sees a shrink.

• Public school molesters who admit to their crimes are given a second chance.

• Investigators are not commissioned from the outside, but are all staffed from inside the public school system.

• Deals are routinely cut for accused public school molesters in secret, protecting the identity of the molester from the community.

• The accused public school molesters not only walk, they can walk away with cash settlements, health insurance and letters of recommendation.

Sound familiar? It should, but for some reason it's acceptable for public school teachers. That is not acceptable for ANYONE! Not for the Church, not for the schools, not for ANYONE!

Read the Register article here.

New Books by the Heirarchy

It seems there has been a number of books written lately by members of the heirarchy, so I decided to post at least a partial list of them here.

Two Popes, One Cardinal, and a Book

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone is just one of the latest Vatican officials to have a book waiting to roll off the presses. The former bishop of Genoa, and current Secretary of State was the undersecretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith when the last secret of Fatima was revealed. In his role with the CDF, Bertone assisted in the release of the secret.

For those hoping for a shocking revelation, you will be disappointed. It supports what has been previously revealed: the secret foretold of the May 31, 1981 assassination attempt of Pope John Paul II. Don't get disappointed, however, there are supposedly other revelations in this book, including the reasons why the secret was kept a secret.

So, what is different about this book? The introduction is written by Pope Benedict. A rare honor to be sure.

Time magazine also published an article about the book. You can read it here.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

A Papal Meal

People attending the Papal Youth Rally (and presumably the Mass at Yankee stadium will be fed).

From the SILive:

Tickets to the rally were distributed through parish schools and youth groups, religious-education programs and sports programs. The youths and their chaperones will also travel by bus and will have to be in place four or five hours before the pope's scheduled address.
To help them bide the time, there will be a concert from noon to 4 p.m. Every ticket-holder will be issued vendor credits good for one meal and a rain poncho -- no umbrellas will be allowed on the seminary grounds or at Yankee Stadium.

Schools, Sisters, and the World

This editorial appeared in the Herald News a few weeks ago. I thought it was worth sharing with all of you. It so eloquently describes how the loss of women willing to respond to the call of religious life affects the Church and the world.

You won’t find it in Scripture, your catechism or any of the sacred tomes that speak so eloquently of the possibility of eternal happiness, but let me give you a snippet of wisdom about the critically important bridge between the here and the hereafter: Salvation is free but religion costs money.
When nuns with the vow of poverty taught in the many Fall River schools now closed and filled with only memories, these holy ladies had no trouble fulfilling their vow of not accepting money. Miraculous medals were not legal tender. Paying teachers a living wage today has been a burden. Paying them well, almost impossible.
The Catholic Schools we see fading slowly from our midst were truly the first Global Positioning System for parents committed, whatever the cost, to setting their children on the direct road to paradise.

Read the rest here.

Saturday, March 01, 2008


Do you recognize this seminarian?
No? I bet you know him.
The New Liturgical Movement Blog has a fascinating series of posts filled with pictures and newpaper articles from the 1951 priestly ordination of a certain well-known German prelate. Check it out. You won't be disappointed.

Archbishop Rahhu Kidnapped

Pray for the archbishop of Mosul, Faraj-Farraj Rahhu, who has been kidnapped and his three companions who have been murdered. The kidnapping took place following the celebration of the Stations of the Cross at Holy Spirit Cathedral in Mosul.

Also, please remember in prayer all our soldiers who are risking and giving their lives to make Iraq a peaceful place for everyone.

Finally, please pray for all the people of Iraq, both Christian and Muslim.
Photo Source.

Invalid Baptisms

Made public today were the responses of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to two questions concerning the validity of Baptism conferred with certain non-standard formulae.

The first question is: "Is a Baptism valid if conferred with the words 'I baptise you in the name of the Creator, and of the Redeemer, and of the Sanctifier', or 'I baptise you in the name of the Creator, and of the Liberator, and of the Sustainer'"?

The second question is: "Must people baptised with those formulae be baptised 'in forma absoluta'?"

The responses are: "To the first question, negative; to the second question, affirmative".

Benedict XVI, during his recent audience with Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, approved these responses, which were adopted at the ordinary session of the congregation, and ordered their publication. The text of the responses bears the signatures of Cardinal Levada and of Archbishop Angelo Amato S.D.B., secretary of the dicastery.

An attached note explains that the responses "concern the validity of Baptism conferred with two English-language formulae within the ambit of the Catholic Church. ... Clearly, the question does not concern English but the formula itself, which could also be expressed in another language".

"Baptism conferred in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit", the note continues, "obeys Jesus' command as it appears at the end of the Gospel of St. Matthew. ... The baptismal formula must be an adequate expression of Trinitarian faith, approximate formulae are unacceptable.

"Variations to the baptismal formula - using non-biblical designations of the Divine Persons - as considered in this reply, arise from so-called feminist theology", being an attempt "to avoid using the words Father and Son which are held to be chauvinistic, substituting them with other names. Such variants, however, undermine faith in the Trinity".

"The response of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith constitutes an authentic doctrinal declaration, which has wide-ranging canonical and pastoral effects. Indeed, the reply implicitly affirms that people who have been baptised, or who will in the future be baptised, with the formulae in question have, in reality, not been baptised. Hence, they must them be treated for all canonical and pastoral purposes with the same juridical criteria as people whom the Code of Canon Law places in the general category of 'non- baptised'".


A Local Miracle for JPII?

Wow! A local man may be the recipient of a miracle through the intercession of the Servant of God, Pope John Paul II.

From the Standard Times:

With neck bent and gripping forearm crutches, Jose Amaral slowly climbed the stairs to the Bullard Street entrance of St. Anthony of Padua Church.

Once settled in the pew near the door, he stowed the crutches until it was time to receive Holy Communion. Then, with great devotion, he made the painful journey to the altar.

When Mr. Amaral was 19, he was diagnosed with spinal stenosis, which caused him great discomfort and pain.

"I also have had for years arthritis all over," he said.

In February 2003, Mr. Amaral's condition worsened. He collapsed at work and was diagnosed with cervical myelopathy, a stroke of the spine.

"The neurologist and neurosurgeon both said that there was considerable nerve damage. I've gotten progressively worse and had to have five surgeries."

On Jan. 26, Mr. Amaral was reading from a booklet of meditations on the Gospel when his eyes fell on the passages about Jesus curing the paralytic (Mark 2:1-12 and Luke 5:17-26).

"You remember the story," he said. "Jesus first healed the paralyzed man of his sins and then cured him of his physical paralysis."

Mr. Amaral said that he went to confession that afternoon so that Jesus could heal him of his sins.

"Something happened during that confession that I cannot explain," he said. "But I felt different."

Later that night, Mr. Amaral was thinking about the experience in the confessional, and his eyes lit upon a picture he had beside him of Pope John Paul II.

"Pope John Paul the Great, please help me," he prayed. "Help me to understand God's will."

Turning on the TV to EWTN, he watched the movie, "Witness to Hope," a biography of Karol Wojtyla, who became Pope John Paul II.

"That is when something came over me that is very difficult to explain," he said. "I just kept remembering the late pope's words, 'Be not afraid!'"

Over the next few days, Mr. Amaral said that he began to walk a little better with his forearm crutches.

"But I didn't say anything about it to anyone," he said. "I was very calm and peaceful."

On Jan. 30 at 3 p.m., Mr. Amaral prayed the Chaplet of Divine Mercy and looked over at Pope John Paul II's picture.

"I decided to get up and try to walk around without my crutches," he said. "I just walked back and forth, and I didn't stop — and I've never stopped since. My strength came all at once."

Mr. Amaral attended morning Mass on Feb. 2, and after the service, he approached the sacristy.

"I was taking off my vestments, and then all of a sudden I saw him," said the Rev. Roger Landry, pastor of St. Anthony's. "He was standing completely erect, and I had never seen him stand erect. I knew then as a person who had been trained as a scientist and worked at Mass. General for five years that the only way that happens is by direct intervention of the Lord."

The Rev. Landry said that his eyes welled up with tears and the men embraced and cried together.

"One of the most beautiful moments in my priestly life was when I saw him leaving the church, and this man whom I had never seen walk before, genuflected to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. I'll never forget that. Awesome."

Editor's note: The Rev. Landry has written a letter to the procurator at the Vatican relating Mr. Amaral's healing through the intercession of Pope John Paul II. A medically certifiable miracle is required for the late pontiff's canonization. Mr. Amaral visited his doctor last week and related that the physician had no scientific explanation for the healing. Last weekend, Mr. Amaral went shopping at the local Target for the first time and bought a pair of sneakers and a football.
If you are wondering, yes it is the Fr. Landry from EWTN and the Catholic Preaching site.