Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Holy Innocents

Mt 2:13-18

When the magi had departed, behold,the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said,
“Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt,and stay there until I tell you.Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.”
Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed for Egypt. He stayed there until the death of Herod,that what the Lord had said through the prophet might be fulfilled, Out of Egypt I called my son. When Herod realized that he had been deceived by the magi, he became furious. He ordered the massacre of all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had ascertained from the magi. Then was fulfilled what had been said through Jeremiah the prophet: A voice was heard in Ramah, sobbing and loud lamentation; Rachel weeping for her children, and she would not be consoled, since they were no more.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Merry Christmas

Just a quick note to wish all my readers a happy and blessed Christmas season.

Remember, Christmas is more than just one day. The Christmas season continues until the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, on January 9th.

Friday, December 23, 2005

No, it's not a Santa hat

Here is Pope Benedict at his weekly audience last Wednesday. He is wearing a camauro, not a santa hat. A British reporter said on tv that he was wearing a santa hat in preparation for Christmas.

The camauro is the traditional winter hat worn by popes. However, it fell out of use after the papacy of Blessed John XXIII. Blessed Pope John XXIII can be seen wearing a camauro as he lies in state in his glass coffin.

Looking at the hat it isn't hard to figure out where the inspiration for the santa hat came from. After all, St. Nicholas was a bishop.

What is the world coming to?

I haven't been this disgusted in quite some time. Christmas ... yes, Christ's Mass, has become a profane, secular holiday. I believe the only reason it is promoted is because it is good for the economy.

We have dissected Christmas, and turned it into anything but a celebration of Jesus Christ. The last time I checked Christmas was about the birth of Jesus Christ.

I know there are many people who do not celebrate Christmas and that is fine. If someone wished me a happy Chanukah, or happy Kwanzza, I wouldn't be offended.

Why is it seemingly ok to seemingly promote other religions but not Christianty.

In Medford Massachusetts a middle school held a holiday concert. The children were instructed to call the Christmas tree a "Magical Tree". To me the term magical tree seems to refer to Wicca. Why is that ok? At this same concert, a Chanukah song was sung. Why were only the Christmas songs cut from the program? They even went to far as to change the red and green hats to white and green hats.

This whole situation reminds me of how the Communists and Nazis tried to wipe religion out of Europe.

Why Santa doesn't visit my house

People always ask me why I don't play Santa with my son. Here is a short list of my reasons.

1) Christ has been almost totally eliminated from Christmas in favor of Santa Claus. Our country is in a sad state when we have "Holiday Trees", "Seasonal Trees", and the worst of all "Magical Trees" For a country founded on Judeo-Christian values and beliefs, free public expression of Christianity almost seems illegal. However expression of paganism and witchcraft seems to be encouraged by popular culture.

2) How St. Nicholas went from a Catholic bishop who gave money to the poor to a jolly old elf is beyond me.

3) Santa reminds me of a secular god. Think about it. "He sees you when you're sleeping, he knows when you're awake. He knows if you've been bad or good.." The only one who knows if I've been bad or good is GOD.

There are a whole bunch of other reasons, but I am getting too upset to list anymore here. Maybe I will list some more tomorrow.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Building the Culture of Death

Governor Mitt Romney has caved into pressure and is dropping his fight to make Catholic and private hospitals exempt from the emergency contraception bill, in Massachusetts. I am very disappointed that he was unable to stand by his beliefs.
Planned Parenthood and others argue that the "morning after pill" doesn't result in an abortion. They claim that it only prevents the fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus. Hmmm, that is treading on a very fine line for me. When an egg if fertilized and fails to implant, it is called a "chemical pregnancy". Note the word pregnancy. If one believes that life begins at conception, then yes, it is an abortion pill. From the moment that the sperm and egg meet, a new human life is created. Life is not created at the moment of implantation. The morning after pill effectively kills this new life.
My other concern is that they say this pill may be taken up to 5 days after the sexual act is performed. Sperm can survive in the woman's reproductive system for up to 5 days, while the egg is only viable for 24-3 hours. Implantation takes place within 12-48 hours. What happens if the egg has already implanted? No one seems to want to talk about that. I hope to hear the answer soon. Also, what happens if the woman is already in the early stages of pregnancy, 2 weeks past conception, for example. I have many questions, but no one seems to want to give the answers.

Memorial Feast of Saint Juan Diego

I find it very appropriate that we celebrate the memorial feast of Saint Juan Diego today.
Our Lady of Guadelupe is the patroness of the unborn. Through Mary's yes, Jesus the savior was brought into the world. I pray that through our yes, we may bring God's message of life and love to all. I pray for the protection and safetly of all God's people, especially the most vulnerable members of society.

Abandoning Oneself To God Does Not Mean Loss Of Freedom

From the Vatican Information Service

VATICAN CITY, DEC 8, 2005 (VIS) - In the Vatican Basilica today, Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, Benedict XVI presided at a Eucharistic concelebration to mark the fortieth anniversary of the closure of Vatican Council II. Forty cardinals and 80 bishops concelebrated with the Holy Father.

At the start of his homily, the Pope recalled how Blessed John XXIII inaugurated the Council on October 11, 1962, which at the time was the Feast of the Divine Maternity of Mary, and how Paul VI closed in on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, December 8, 1965.

The moment in which Paul VI proclaimed Mary as the Mother of the Church "remains etched in my memory" said Pope Benedict. "The Council Fathers rose spontaneously from their chairs and applauded, paying homage to the Mother of God, to our Mother, to the Mother of the Church."

The Holy Father affirmed that Mary "not only has a special relationship with Christ, the Son of God Who, as man, chose to become her Son; but being totally united to Christ, she also belongs completely to us."

With reference to the designation "Immaculate," Benedict XVI pointed out how "today's liturgy clarifies the meaning of this word using two great images:" the announcement to Mary of the coming of the Messiah, and the struggle between man and the serpent, in other words, "between man and the powers of evil and death. It is, however, foretold that the 'descendant' of woman will one day triumph crushing the serpent's head, underfoot."

It emerges however that "man does not trust God," the Pope continued. "He harbors the suspicion that, in the end, God takes something from his life; that God is a competitor limiting our freedom, and that we will only be fully human when we have definitively put Him aside; that only in this way can we fully realize our freedom."

Man, he went on, "wants to draw from the tree of knowledge the power to create the world, to make himself a god at the same level as Him, and to triumph over darkness and death. He does not want to rely on love, which he sees as undependable, and so he relies solely on his own knowledge as giving him power. Rather than on love, he counts on power with which he seeks to control his own life autonomously," but in doing so "he trusts lies more than truth."

After highlighting the fact that love "is not dependency, but a gift that allows us to live," the Pope said: "Only if we live with one another and for one another can freedom develop. ... If we live contrary to love and contrary to truth - contrary to God - we destroy one another and we destroy the world."

Benedict XVI pointed out that "within each of us is a drop of poison," which we call original sin. "It is precisely on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception that the suspicion arises in us that a person who does not sin at all is, in the end, a little boring, that something is lacking in his or her life: the dramatic dimension of being autonomous."

Yet, he went on, "evil always poisons, it does not raise man but lowers and humiliates him, it does not make him greater, purer and richer, but damages him and makes him smaller. This, rather, is what we should learn on the day of the Immaculate Conception: that the man who abandons himself completely in the hands of God, does not become a puppet of God, ... he does not lose his freedom," but finds it.

"The closer man is to God, the closer he is to rest of mankind," said the Holy Father. "We see this in Mary. The fact that she is completely with God is the reason she is also so close to human beings. It is for this reason that she is able to be the mother of all consolation and all help."

The Virgin, he concluded, addresses us all saying "do not be afraid of Him! ... Commit yourself to God, and you will see that precisely because of this your life will become more extensive and illuminated, not boring, but full of infinite surprises, because God's infinite goodness never runs dry!"

Thursday, December 08, 2005

A Blessed Holy Day and a Wonderful Anniversary

Today is both the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception and the 40th anniversary of the closing of Vatican Council II.

I will begin by writing about the Holy Day. It is a day which, unfortunately, many people are confused by. The Immaculate Conception refers to Mary being conceived without original sin. It is often confused with the Virgin Birth or the Annunciation, both of which are about the birth and conception of Jesus. I think the reason for the confusion is that the readings at Mass tell the story of the Annunciation. The conception of Mary is not recorded in the Bible. That story come to us in the apocryphal Protoevangel or "Infancy Narrative" of James.
While many the Mass obligation has been circumstantially lifted on many Holy Days, the obligation of the Immaculate Conception remains. So, even if the feast falls on a Saturday or Monday it is a day of obligation.

Now, I will turn to the Second Vatican Council. Forty years have passed since the closing Mass of the council. Many Catholics today don't remember a time when the Tridentine Mass was heard and most young Catholics don't realize that there was ever a time when females couldn't be altar servers.
Whether the Church is better off now is debatable. I believe that Vatican II made great improvements in the Church, but the work is still not complete. Some changes were good, others not so good. We still have a lot of work to do. I pray that with the leadership of our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, that we will make great strides toward perfection.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

New Teen Magazine

Brandi Lee and Stephanie Murphy had some time on their hands and an idea: creating a magazine for girls that features fashions that won't break their teen budgets and won't reveal most of their young bodies.Their idea will take fruition when True Girl magazine hits mailboxes in early 2006. True Girl is a faith-based publication. Readers won't find photos or advertising about the most revealing fashions, or see photos of the "coolest boys" from around the country.

More information on the magazine is available online at:

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Common Sense During Cold and Flu Season

While there hasn't been the widespread panic over the flu season that there was last year, I thought it would be wise to mention the guidelines regarding the flu season.

Unfortunately, common sense is often uncommon, especially in a liturgical environment.

Basically that guidelines are as follows:
1) If you have a cold or flu, do not recieve from the chalice. (Yes, it is possible to spread disease through sharing cups. Even when the cup contains the blood of Christ.)

2) If you are a Eucharistic Minister and have a cold or flu, find someone else to serve in your place. It is unsanitary to distribute Communion with hands that have been coughed and sneezed on. (The same should apply to the priest)

3) If you have a cold or the flu, refrain from shaking hands at the sign of people. People won't be offended if you merely wave.

4) Most importantly, if you are ill....... stay home. The Sunday Mass obligation is removed if you are ill. Remember the days when sick people stayed in bed. That wasn't a bad idea. Nowdays, we have so many medications that make you feel better, even though you are spreading your virus everywhere you go.

5) If your priest is ill, and decides to get a Eucharistic Minister to serve in his place, don't give him a hard time about it. The rules say that Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist are to serve at Masses where there are insufficient clergy. They are also there to help the priest when he is unable to (or shouldn't) distribute Communion. Last year, a woman at my parish gave the pastor a tongue lashing because he delegated his station to an EM when he was ill with bronchitis.

Music and the Liturgy - from the Vatican Information Service


VATICAN CITY, DEC 5, 2005 (VIS) - For the occasion of a day of study dedicated to sacred music, currently being celebrated in the Vatican under the patronage of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Benedict XVI sent a Message to Cardinal Francis Arinze, prefect of that congregation.

In his Message, which is dated December 1, the Pope observes that "the meeting aims to correspond to the will expressed by the venerated John Paul II who, in a Chirograph issued for the centenary of the Motu proprio 'Tra le sollecitudini,' called on this dicastery to intensify its efforts in the field of sacred liturgical music. Echoing the call of my beloved predecessor, I would like to encourage those who cultivate sacred music to continue this journey. It is important to stimulate, as this symposium intends to do, reflection on the relationship between music and liturgy, while remaining attentive to practical applications and experimentation, and maintaining constant understanding and collaboration with national episcopal conferences."

The Holy Father concludes his Message by bestowing his apostolic blessing on all participants in the convention.

Have a Blessed Advent

In our secular society, which prepares for Christmas before Thanksgiving, or now, even before Halloween, Advent is that beautiful, yet often overlooked season of joyful expectation during which, we prepare for the exultant joy of Christmas season.

It is a time to look forward to the future and to reflect on the past. It is a time to remember that we are called to be a "Voice crying out in the desert" as the scripture says of St. John the Baptist. Is our message good news? It definately should be.

We are called to proclaim good news; to be a light to the world if everything we do.