Saturday, December 13, 2008

Avery Cardinal Dulles (1918-2008)

The Church lost a giant yesterday with the passing of Avery Cardinal Dulles, SJ. Cardinal Dulles was the only American theologian to become a prince of the Church having bypassed the episcopate. he was a convert to Catholicism from a prominent Presbyterian family.

Born in Auburn, New York, on August 24, 1918, to John Foster Dulles and Janet Pomeroy Avery Dulles. His father later became the United States Secretary of State to whom Dulles International Airport is dedicated.

Avery Dulles became a Catholic in 1940 and entered the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) in 1946. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1956. After many years as an important influential theologian, he was elevated to the college of cardinals in recognition of his enormous contribution to Catholic theology. This elevation ordinarily comes with ordination as a bishop, but Dulles requested and recieved permission to decline this ordination.

Of his many works, Models of the Church, is one of his best known works. It was one of the first theological works I formally studied. However, he wrote prolifically on many issues.

I was fortunate to hear him speak last year on Divine Impassibility. The lecture, which was one of his very last, was simply brilliant.
I plan to travel to New York for the funeral and will report when I return.
Photo by Domini Sumus

Friday, December 12, 2008

Christmas Movies Sure Have Changed

Oh my! I am shocked and horrified at the latest Christmas special to air on TV "The Flight Before Christmas".
JP has a great love for all things Santa and has a special fondness for Rudolph so he got very excited when he saw this movie. I looked at the description and saw this: "A young reindeer who's never met his father and suffers from vertigo wants to follow in his hoofprints and become a part of Santa's high-flying team, so he takes lessons from a member of a Finnish family of aeralist squirrels". After reading the innocuous summary and seeing the G rating I felt comfortable watching it with JP.
I have never been so wrong!
  1. The little reindeer, Niko, asks his mother to tell him about how his parents met and learns that he is the result of a Christmas eve reindeer one night stand between his mother and a member of Santa's reindeer team.
  2. Niko then asks his mother if she misses his father and she says that she doesn't miss him and she already has one man in her life (presumably that man is Niko).
  3. The little reindeer longs to meet his father and tries desperately to fly. During one of his improvised flying lessons with Julius, a flying squirrel who serves as his father figure, Niko inadvertantly attracts the attention of a pack of wolves. The wolves follow him home and threaten the herd.
  4. Niko runs away and heads to Santa's fell. At the same time, the wolves are also heading there with a such more sinister intention. They plan on killing the reindeer and Santa. Then the leader plans on taking Santa's place and visiting all the children on Christmas so he can kill and eat them!

Thankfully, JP fell asleep well before the movie grew dark, but this is advertised as a fun Christmas movie for the family, not a violent nightmare in the making which promotes immorality.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Advent Conspiracy

H/T to Greg and Jennifer Willits (From Rosary Army).

Check out this awesome video.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Gangs, Rosaries, and Apostacy

There is something here that just doesn't seem right.

From the Dallas News.

Dallas school officials have reversed course and decided to allow students to display rosaries at school following a complaint from a Seagoville High School student.

School leaders told Tabitha Ruiz last month that she must remove or conceal the rosary she often wears around her neck because it is considered a gang symbol and violated the school district’s dress code. Tabitha, 16, said the policy violated her religious freedom.

The Liberty Legal Institute contacted the district on Tabitha’s behalf last week and called for the school board to scrap the rule, said Kelly Shackelford, an institute attorney.

Jon Dahlander, a Dallas school district spokesman, confirmed Wednesday that students, including Tabitha, will now be allowed to wear rosaries. He declined to comment on what prompted the change.

Tabitha’s mother, Taire Ferguson, said she’s happy her daughter will now be able to proudly display her rosary.

“She shouldn’t have had to hide it,” Ms. Ferguson said.

School leaders had said they banned rosaries because the Dallas Police Department identifies them as gang symbols, but a gang unit officer said just because a student wears a rosary doesn’t mean he or she is in a gang.

The Catholic Diocese of Dallas said rosaries are not meant to be worn as jewelry. Tabitha, who was raised Catholic and is now a nondenominational Christian, said she finds comfort in wearing it.

“I am happy that I can wear it,” Tabitha said Wednesday. “I don’t have to hide it anymore.”

It is a shame that a sacramental had become a gang symbol. There is also a Hispanic tradition of wearing the rosary, but this girl has apparently renounced the Catholic Church in favor of non-denominational Christianity. Leaving aside the ironic nuance that Roman Catholicism is the one and only non denominational Christianity, why would an apostate want to wear a rosary?

There is something that is just not right here. I hope and pray that her attachment to the rosary leads her back to the Church.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Fr. John C. Martins - R.I.P.

The Diocese of Fall River lost a good priest last week. Although he never served at a parish where I belonged or worked, Father Martins was very good friends with my childhood parish priest. Because of their friendship, he was one of the priests who had a great influence on my life.
I first met Fr. Martins when I was about 14 years old. At the time he was the most conservative priest knew. He would tell me long rants about the evils of the "modern" way of thinking and approaches to Catholicism. He was relentless in his attempt to impress upon his parishioners the importance of maintaining an active faith life and was never afraid to tell it to people like it is.

His influence caused me to question the squishy theology I was taught in CCD and gave me the courage to stand up to certain CCD teachers. I wish I could list all the ways he helped me, but this post would be unending.

I will miss this great priest, and dear friend who taught me to never be afraid to speak the truth.

Pe. Martins, levem-te os anjos ao paraíso; à tua chegada, recebam-te os mártires e introduzam-te na cidade santa de Jerusalém.

Rev. John Cipriano Martins, retired pastor of St. Anthony of Padua Church in Fall River, passed away on Friday.

Born in Sao Sebastiao, Terceira, Azores, he was the son of the late Joao M. and Rita (Ferreira) Martins. After studying at Angra Seminary in Terceira, he was ordained on April 10, 1955 by the late Prelate Rt. Rev. Bishop Manuel A. Carvalho.

Later that year his first assignment in this country was as a Curate at St. Anthony of Padua Church where he remained until 1965. At the time, he was the youngest priest in the Fall River Diocese. Fr. Martins went on to serve as Curate at St. Anthony Parish, E. Falmouth; Curate at St. Elizabeth, Fall River; Assistant Pastor at St. Anthony Parish, Taunton; Administrator at St. Peter Parish, Provincetown; Administrator (for 12 years) at Our Lady of Health Parish, Fall River; Pastor at Santo Christo Parish and returning to St. Anthony of Padua as Pastor in 1994.

He was the brother of Miquelina Fagundes, Rita Coelho and the late Maria Jose Paiva and uncle of Lucia Drumonde, Maria Coelho, Jose M. Paiva, Teresina Dinis, John C. Paiva, Marilou Gouveia and Anne Gendreau.

His concelebrated Funeral Mass will be offered in St. Anthony of Padua Church, Bedford St. on Thursday at 11:00 AM followed by his committal service at Notre Dame Cemetery Mausoleum.

His body will lie in state at the church on Wednesday from 3:00 to 8:00 PM. Please omit flowers.

Donations may be made in his memory to Diabetes Assoc., PO Box 1525, Fall River 02722.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Foolishness to Catholics

In class last week we were discussing the early Roman Martyrs, in particular Felicity and Perpetua. One woman in the class announced that she really didn't give her faith much importance but she thought that martyrdom was "the stupidest thing on earth". It wasn't so much what she said, as the contempt and anger she showed toward the martyrs that got to me.

Throughout history our world has been shaped by those who were willing to give their lives for what they believed in. Would this woman have shown such contempt for soldiers who lost thier lives in battle, or for those who died in the civil rights movement? I seriously doubt it.

Those are noble causes worth dying for, but to her and so many others, faith is something they can take or leave. As she said, her own faith didn't mean anything to her. God works in great and mysterious ways because there is a young Vietamese sister in my class who talked about Catholic martyrs in her country and throughout Asia. It was amazing to see the complete change of heart the woman had when she heard about current persecutions of Christians.

Here in America, we take our religious liberty for granted and in a way it can cause it to mean less to us. We need to spread the message of our suffering brother and sisters in faith to remind us how lucky we are to be able to choose to believe or not.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Settling In

After enjoying the last few weeks of no school and just about no work I am ready to get back into the trenches.
JP will be heading to school for the first time tomorrow. I started my new job today. I go back to school next week.

This weekend will be my last as a music director. I will still play for funerals, weddings, and one Mass a weekend, but my new title will be Coordinator of Youth Ministry and Child Protection. Like most ecclesial titles, it says very little about my actual duties.

I am looking forward to nurturing these young people and getting started in my new parish. Still, I must say that I don't know if the readings for next weekend should be a comfort or a sign of impending doom.

Jeremiah 20 is one of favorite scripture passages of all time because it describes vocation. It's never as easy as you thought it would be. It makes you want to pull your hair out. But you do it anyway because it is such a part of you that you can't imagine life any other way.

Still, I have a feeling I may be very much like Jeremiah (someone preaching a message which opposes the status quo).

Severl months ago someone asked me what I planned to do when I graduated and I said I would go wherever God sent me. I just didn't want to do anything with religious ed or youth ministry. God defiantely has a sense of humor.

In that regard I quote from the 2nd reading next weekend.

I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship. Do not conform yourselves to this agebut be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect. Rom 12:1-2.

So, I go out into service to where I am called, not where I planned or chose to be.

My first day went very well and I think I will enjoy this very much. Yes, it will be a challenge, but the opportunity to help form young people in the faith is a essential task.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

This Shouldn't Have to Happen!

I am heartbroken! Another church in my city has been torn down. Our Lady of Health was a parish where I worked on a semi-regular basis. The small church was beautiful in a simple sort of way. It had a polished wood ceiling, many niches which held statues, and a beautiful marble sanctuary. The church was renovated only a few years before the closure was announced.

Even more than the physical beauty of the building was the spiritual beauty. It was where countless people celebrated baptisms, weddings, and worshipped on a regular basis. In 1924, when the church was built, for the community of Portuguese immigrants, the church was the center of their lives. Sadly, most of their children and grandchildren do not have the fervor of their ancestors.

Despite that, there were still many faithful members of Our Lady of Health, but the parish was finding it increasingly difficult to cover expenses. In addition, with falling the numbers of clergy (especially Portuguese speaking clergy, it was difficult to staff the parish with a full time priest.

The Herald News has an article about the demolition here.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Boston to China To Australia

In the past I have mentioned on this blog that one of my cousins is a priest of the Neocatechumenal Way who had served in China, Macao, and Hong Kong for many years before returning to Massachusetts.

This week, he was chosen to write about his trip to World Youth Day with 50 young people to on Cardinal Sean O'Malley's blog. They took a roundabout path to Australia via China! Fr. Tony's anecdotes about the Chinese Church are fascinating as are the photos.

While in there, the pilgrims met with several bishops, including the ever cheerful Cardinal Zen, and learned their vocation stories; visited historic churches and pilgrimage sites; as well as engaged in street evangelization.

You can read about it here.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Extreme Makeover: Saint Style

The First Things Blog has an amusing post about what happens when people from foreign countries rely entirely on translation software.

This post is about what happens when journalists rely on spell check or don't have a clue what they are writing about. According to a CBS article, Pope John Paul II beautified Mother Teresa in 2003. Hmm...facelift, tummy tuck? What do you mean it's supposed to say beatified?

I will give the author the benefit of the doubt because Microsoft Word automatically "corrects" words. I had a frustrating experience while writing my lastest philosophy paper. Apparently I "misspelled" many words that Word just had to correct without asking permission. When I reread the paper, it didn't make any sense. It was frustrating to have to go back and correct the corrections.

Now, I know the auto correct feature can be turned off, but I was at the computer lab at school and had forgotted that the feature even existed.

St. Pius X and the Bells of St. Mark's

While searching for something else, I came across an odd article about St. Pius X and one of his last wishes. Apparently, the Make a Papal Wish Foundation wasn't around in 1912.

St. Pius X wanted to hear the bells from St. Mark's Square in Venice one last time before he died, so he arranged for a special phone call. He said, that the phone call would make him the "happiest in nine years". Unfortunately, his doctors were concerned that it would be too emotional an event for him and they cancelled the call.

Venice was not his home diocese, but his last assignment before being elected to the papacy. He spent 10 years there, and apparently developed a strong attachment to the archdiocese. The bells must have reminded him of an easier, freer time where it was easier to use his pastoral skills and minister directly to the faithful.

I wonder if he ever got to hear the bells before he died a little over two years later.

If you are interested the article is from the New York Times - April 25, 1912.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Fr. Damien May be Canonized Next Year


The Congregation of the Causes of Saints at the Vatican has voted to canonize Father Damien of Molokai to sainthood.

After the verification of two medical miracles, after decades of investigation into the life and works of Damien De Veuster, the Consisterie at the Vatican has at long last voted to elevate the Martyr of Molokai to its Pantheon of Saints. The measure now awaits the signature of Pope Benedict XVI.

Read the rest here.

Despite the heretical and offensive reference to the "Pantheon of saints" mentioned in the article, this is great news.

Monday, June 30, 2008

It's Official

As of September I will no longer be the Director of Music and Liturgy at my parish. I have accepted a position as Coordinator of Youth Ministry at a parish in the Archdiocese of Boston.

This new position will allow me to combine my love of liturgy and theology with a desire to help young Catholics grow in vibrant faith.

This parish has a history of being less than 100% orthodox, but I have been assured that my theological views won't be in conflict with the pastor's vision. Perhaps there is a desire to grow in orthodoxy.

I am both excited and scared, but after meeting the young people I am confident that they are looking to grow and mature in faith.

How 1930's are you?


As a 1930s wife, I am

Take the test!

Hmmm, interesting result. Definately not what I expected.

There is also a test for the men.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Prayer Request Update

It looks like I will have a change of ministries. I should know for sure by the beginning of July.
New parish, new city, new pastor, new ministry, new diocese. I'm scared, but I have to do what I have to do in order to be able to afford to stay in ministry.

Keep the prayers coming that I am not making a huge mistake.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Out of Context?

John Allen wrote an article on the happening at the USCCB debate on the new liturgical translations. He quotes Archbishop George Niederauer of San Francisco as saying

“It’s an imperfect sacramentary for an imperfect people, to be prayed by a celebrant who is also imperfect,” “I respect those who say let’s move forward and get a new sacramentary, before they all fall apart in the sacristy.”

Wow, with passion for excellence like that...
I really hope the quote means that the archbishop was merely suggesting that the bishops come to a consensus and not implying that errors and poor translations were unimportant.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Missing Crozier

Have you seen this crozier?

From the Gallup Independent:

Officials with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Gallup are asking for the public’s help in the return of a historical ceremonial item that was stolen in Gallup earlier this week.

A gold-plated crosier — a pastoral staff that symbolizes the governing office of a bishop — was apparently stolen from an unlocked pickup owned by one of Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted’s assistants sometime between Sunday and Wednesday evening, according to Lee Lamb, the communications director for the diocese.

On Thursday, Lamb released information about the theft with the expressed hope that publicity would result in the crosier’s return or recovery. The crosier is about 6 feet in length and is decorated with gold-plating and jewels, which Lamb believes are glass stones. The metal crosier, which resembles a shepherd’s staff with an ornate spiral crook, is very heavy and can be dismantled into several smaller sections for storage in a black carrying case. The crosier was taken in its case.

Lamb said he didn’t know the actual value of the crosier but estimated it would cost the diocese between $3,000 and $5,000 to replace it. However, its greater value may be rooted in it its history.

“Bishop Olmsted’s crosier dates back to 1940 when Pope Pius XII named Fr. Bernard T. Espelage, OFM, the Diocese of Gallup’s first bishop,” Lamb said in an e-mail....

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Roots and Wings?

Some people say that the best things we can give to our children are roots and wings. Roots, so they always have a place to call home, and wings so they can be free to explore the world on their own.

This week was a milestone in my household. I enrolled JP in one of our local Catholic schools this week. Just filling out the paperwork made me teary eyed. No, not because of the payment booklet which was being prepared for me, but because my little guy was so confident and excited.

I don't think there is anything about that school that he doesn't like. He especially loves his new uniform. We went to the uniform store so he could get fitted and he didn't want to take it off. He feels so grown up in it.

I know that when September comes, he will be fine and I will be the one crying. Until then, I will treasure the last few months where he is all mine.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Prayer Request

I have been absent from blogging for a while because there is a whole lot going on right now that I can't get into right now.

School has started up again and is going very well, even if it is more work than I planned on for this summer. I may also possibly have a new adventure which would fulfill so many of my dreams.

Please keep me in your prayers that this all works according to God's will.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Introducing Benedetto!

Thanks to the lovely people at the Rhode Island SPCA, my family welcomed a new furry member today. His name is Benny and he is 8 weeks old. He was born on March 19th (St. Joseph's Day). He is a brown tabby and white with a van pattern. His mother is a brown tabby domestic shorthair and his father is unknown. Whatever the mixture, this little guy has stolen our hearts.

If you are in the New England area, Benny has three adorable brothers who are also looking for homes.

All Photos by Domini Sumus

Monday, May 19, 2008

Fr. Spags

I found this in the newspaper last week. Please pray for his soul.

Dominic George Spagnolia, 70, of 41 Maple St. and a former Franklin resident, died peacefully at his home on Tuesday, May 6, 2008.

Born in Cambridge, October 24, 1937, a son of the late Domenic and Eloise (Nugent) Spagnolia, he was raised and educated in Belmont, and was a 1956 graduate of Belmont High School.

He is survived by his sister, Maryjanice Ingram and her husband, David of Saco, Maine; 2 nephews, Jason and Justin Ingram; and his devoted partner Richard Connor of New Bedford.

Relatives and friends are invited to attend his funeral Saturday, May 10th at 2:00PM at his late residence, 41 Maple St., New Bedford, and may call on Friday from 6-9PM and Saturday from 10AM to 2:00PM. Interment will take place in the family lot in Mt. Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge Monday at 11AM.

In lieu of flowers, donations in his memory sent to the Olive Branch, 10 Main St., Franklin, MA 02038 would be appreciated.

Funeral arrangements are under the care and direction of the Charles F. Oteri & Son Franklin Funeral Home, 33 Cottage St., Franklin.

Dominic George Spagnolia is Fr. D. George Spagnolia, a priest formerly of the Archdiocese of Boston who was removed from his pastorate, at St. Patrick's in Lowell, 6 years ago by Cardinal Law after allegations of homosexuality activity and sexual abuse of a child were made against him.

Fr. Spagnolia had been a main critic of Cardinal Law's, and his predecessors, handling of the sexual abuse crisis in Boston. Spagnolia was portrayed as a hero in the movie "Our Fathers" where he was played by Brian Dennehy.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

A Kingdom for a Kingdom

Would you trade an eternal kingdom for a almost non-existant chance to gain an earthly kingdom? I wouldn't but Autumn Kelly did.

Autumn Kelly is a Canadian woman who married Peter Phillips, the son of Princess Anne and is 11th in line for the British throne. Great Britan still holds to the archaic rule that anyone who becomes Catholic or marries a Catholic loses their claim to the throne. Kelly is a Catholic who renounced her faith and joined the Anglican church so Peter wouldn't lose his place in line. No matter what the media claims, she didn't have to renounce her faith. Other British royals have given up their unrealistic claims without problems. They aren't beheading anymore.

If either of them think Peter Phillips has any chance of becoming king, they are kidding themselves. Unfortunately, there is a real kingdom is in their reach, but the allure of gold and jewels and a royal life has seduced Autumn. I hope she has a happier life as a member of the royal family than the others who have gone before her.

Photo credit: AP Photo/Sang Tan, Pool

Wedding Season

Wedding Season is here. I have a wedding next weekend and I met with two couples this weekend. I am tired of the "traditional" wedding repertoire, but my attempts to persuade couples away from these tired selections is in vain. They all seem to want the soap opera wedding. I am often tempted to ask them if they also want what comes after. Yes, the soap opera or fairy tale wedding is lavish and some may consider it beautiful (I don't), but how many couples ask for the soap opera marriage?

Most of the couples who come through my office hold the delusion that love will get them through anything. They are so much in love that nothing could possibly ever rock them. As great as that feeling is, it's not reality.

We don't know what happened after Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, or Snow White married the prince, but we do know that their courtship left much to be desired. They fell madly in lust and decided to marry. They know nothing about each other, but they marry anyway. Then Prince Charming carries his bride off into the sunset on his white steed. We never find out what happens next, but I have my suspicions that it isn't happily ever after.

Couples getting married today do much of the same. The Church requires that couples participate in marriage prep classes and in my diocese they also must take the FOCCUS. Prospective brides and grooms tend to view this as an unfair hoop they must jump through to satisfy the Church. They never consider that this may help prevent future problems. The FOCCUS results are often frightening. Many couples have never discussed the simplest matters of faith, children, and finances.

I don't understand how a couple can marry without knowing anything about the other party. I have even met brides who didn't know what their fiances did for work! Still, they claim to be in love. They aren't! Then are in lust, infatuation, excitement, anything you want to call it.

Many couples walk into marriage blindly and their plan their wedding Masses the same way.

Couples: Reconsider the "traditional" wedding that you want and ask yourself if it really sends the message you want to say. Consider walking into the church together. The bride and groom are equal partners in marriage, but are unequal during the wedding. The tradition where the groom stands near the altar while the bride walks down the aisle with her father goes back to the days when a woman was considered the property of her father or husband. It is literally a delivery and transfer of property. Of course, that isn't how brides think of it. They see themselves as the princess. The center of attention. They are going to meet their prince at the altar.

When both the bride and groom walk in the procession together or with their parents, they demonstrate that they are equal partners. It's not all about the bride and she isn't becoming the property of the groom. They are entering to marriage as equals and are exercising their roles as the ministers of the Sacrament. Yes, a bride and groom marry each other with the priest there to solemnize and bless the bond.

Of course, that sort of wedding makes "Here Comes the Bride" sound a little ridiculous. The processional hymn which was played at my Nuptial Mass was also used as a processional at the Papal Mass in Washington DC. You can hear it here at 4:50. The hymn is "Go Up to the Altar of God" by Fr. James Chepponis. It was played at my wedding on organ, trumpet and tympani and it truly said how we intended to begin and live our marriage together.

Don't want into marriage blindly and don't allow your Nuptial Mass to be planned blindly according to traditions of questionable quality.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Puppy Names

I am looking for names for a male black lab puppy. We don't have him yet, but hope to have him soon. So far JP's favorites are Salty and Athanasius. Yeah, I know...quite a difference. He's an eclectic sort of kid. :-)

Put any suggestions in the combox.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Prayer Request

My blog was found today by someone in Texas who was searching for post-abortion care information. Please pray for this person and all those who have had abortions, are considering one, and will consider one in the future.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Pope Well After Fall

For all of you who have wondered why the Masters of Ceremonies hold the hem of the Holy Father's alb when he climbs stairs, here is your answer.

It's a long garment which needs to be lifted so one doesn't step on the alb and fall. It's something I have seen many times at Mass and Pope Benedict gave everyone an example of exactly how it can occur last Sunday at the Pentecost Mass.

Rome Reports has the story and video.

The good news: The Holy Father was unhurt and continued his day as planned.

Cardinals Face New Trial in Pollution Case

From USA Today:

Italy's top criminal court overturned the acquittals of a Vatican cardinal and another top churchman accused of environmental pollution involving a Vatican Radio transmission tower near Rome, news reports said Tuesday night.
The Court of Cassation ordered a new appeals trial for Cardinal Roberto Tucci, formerly head of the radio's management committee, and the Rev. Pasquale Borgomeo, its former director general, the ANSA and Apcom news agencies said.

Calls to lawyers and to Vatican Radio were not answered late Tuesday.

The two churchmen were acquitted last year after in an appeal of their 2005 conviction in a lower court, which sided with consumer groups representing people living near the tower who claimed its electromagnetic emissions were a health hazard and violated environmental limits.

The lower court had sentenced the two each to 10 days in jail, but sentences were immediately suspended during their appeals.

It was not known when the new appeals trial would take place, as the Court of Cassation must first publish its reasoning for the decision.

A Vatican-Italian government commission was set up as part of a 2001 agreement between both sides to monitor tower emissions. The Vatican has said that measurements show it has respected limits since signing the agreement.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Halfway There

I have finished my second year of college. When I first started it seemed like it was going to take forever. It didn't help that everyone in one of my first courses was a senior. Listening to them talk about graduation just made it feel like an endless process.

Now, here I am half way through. There is something about the halfway point that makes it seem like the end is coming too quickly. I am starting to check out grad schools and will be taking the GRE in just about a year. Wow!

I have two weeks off before I get back to school because I take summer classes, but I get the entire month of August off. I plan to spend the next two weeks reading things I actually want to read. So far, I have read two chapters of Archbishop Piero Marini's latest book, A Challenging Reform.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Convert Baptized by Pope Writes Book

Here are some excerpts which were published in Corriere della Sera from Magdi Christiano Allam's new book “Grazie Gesù. La mia conversione dall'islam al cattolicesimo” [Thank You Jesus. My Conversion from Islam to Christianity] . In the book, Allam, who converted from Islam to Catholicism recounts his road to conversion. In these excerpts he describes his baptism:
It was the best day of my life. Receiving the gift of the Christian faith on the day of Christ’s Resurrection from the hand of the Holy Father is a matchless privilege and inestimable blessing. For me, at the age of almost 56, it was a unique, unforgettable historic event that signalled a radical, definitive change with respect to the past. During the night of 22 March 2008, on the occasion of the Easter Vigil, at the solemn liturgy celebrated in the magnificence of the Basilica of St Peter’s, the cradle of Catholicism, I was reborn in Christ. At the end of a long, protracted struggle, lived out as a Muslim by reason of the legacy inherited from my parents and with a personal history of lacerating doubts and torments, there ignited within me, by divine will and responsible choice, the light of the true Christian faith. My spiritual metamorphosis unfolded from nine o’clock over three hours that seemed as if they would never end. I passed those hours in uncontrollable excitement, outwardly betrayed by my tingling nerves, over the radical nature of the life experience that was taking place inside me and, I admit, in part because of the cold that gripped me and stayed with me from the beginning of the imposing ceremony in the atrium of the Basilica, accompanied by rain and icy temperatures.

Inside the Basilica, the lights had been extinguished. I was outside with six other adult catachumens waiting to receive the sacraments of Christian initiation, seated on the part of the parvis most exposed to the wind. It was in that damp cold, which usually makes me a little agitated and means I have to concentrate more to listen, reflect, assess and elaborate concepts, that I began to relive the film of my inner life. Half a century was reviewed frame by frame and sliced up with the now uncompromising, now compassionate scalpel of religion, calm enough for one last unconscious confirmation of a decision already taken consciously yet at the same time with sufficient urgency to recompose the overall framework of my existence into a harmonious whole, joyfully to register the image of the long-awaited, soon to be accomplished, Event, as I reinterpreted my past while redefining and revolutionising my future. (...) From the atrium, Benedict XVI led the procession towards the altar after the deacon, chanting the Lumen Christi for the third time, had brought the splendour of light back to the Basilica.

Then began the crucial stage of my conversion to Christianity, to which evidently I was called by the grace of God that had accompanied me from my youngest days, bringing into my path a series of “coincidences” that were anything but fortuitous, concealing as they did the will of the Lord that discreetly comes to meet us without making its presence palpable. As I slowly walked down the nave at the rear of the procession, my mind at once went back to the key event that started me on the route of interior spirituality at the age of four, and would more than half a century later culminate in my conversion to Christ. It was September 1956. I still have clear in my mind the day on which my long travails began. I had burst into tears as my mother Safeya, aided and persuaded by the Caccias, the family of wealthy Italian textile magnates resident for generations in my native Cairo, handed me over to Sister Lavinia. She hid me under her habit so I would not see my mother entrusting me to the education and affection of the Combonian sisters and their devotion to St Joseph. Later on, from the last year of primary school to the last year of my scientific secondary school, I studied at the Salesian Don Bosco Institute.

For fourteen years, I lived in boarding schools run by Catholic religious orders (...) I was able to gain first-hand experience of the lives of women and men who had chosen to devote their lives to God in the Church by serving their neighbours, regardless of religion or nationality, and who bore witness to their Christian faith in works for the common good and the interest of the community. There I began to read the Bible and the Gospels with interest and involvement, particularly enthralled by the human and divine figure of Jesus. I was able to attend the church of St Joseph opposite the Combonian sisters’ school and the church of Don Bosco at the Salesian Institute. Every so often, I went to holy mass and once I actually approached the altar and received communion. From the religious point of view, it was an act without significance since I hadn’t been christened but it clearly signalled my attraction for Christianity and my desire to feel myself part of the Catholic community. (...) My conversion did not come about in a flash after some traumatic, joyful or sad event, nor was it merely a rational adherence prompted by reading sacred texts, or a purely intellectual confrontation with supporters or opponents of the Catholic faith.

Instead conversion was the ripe fruit of a long journey through a life of study and direct familiarity with the sources of wisdom but above all, with experiences of otherness that involved me entirely, slowly laying down in my soul and mind ever thicker layers of spiritual and rational adherence to the love and faith of Jesus. (...) Finally came the crucial moment of Baptism. I was being reborn in Christ and was about to take my first steps as an authentic Christian. I stood up and walked to the baptismal font, accompanied by my godfather. For the first time, I stood before Benedict XVI. I knew that at that precise moment, the destiny assigned to me by divine grace fifty-six years earlier, from my birth, was being fulfilled. I bowed with the respect and humility of a believer in the religious primacy of the Pope as Christ’s vicar on earth. I approached the font, stooped and Benedict XVI poured the blessed water over my head. “I baptise you in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost”. (...)

The moments immediately preceding my baptism and the baptism itself I experienced as an authentic liberation. For fifty-six years, I perceived myself as a Muslim and others around me identified me as a Muslim. At the age of fifty-six, I was born again as a Christian, cancelling out the Islamic identity that I have consciously and deliberately rejected. Inside me and outside, everything will change. Nothing will remain as it was before. For those who, like me, consider religious faith and the sphere of absolute, universal, transcendent values to be the foundation of life, thought and action, adherence to Christianity takes the form of a radical change in the whole of personality and existence. Naturally, it will take some time for this adherence to faith in Jesus to grow increasingly full and heartfelt. I feel like a child taking his first hesitant steps in his new Christian life. But I have a great desire to walk and run as a Christian! Thank you, Jesus.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Humans vs. Pre-Humans

Catholic News Service reports that in the May 5-6 edition of L'Osservatore Romano, was written by Italian evolutionary biologist Fiorenzo Facchini claims that although apes evolved pre-human creatures, but God that turned them into humans.

"The formation of human beings necessitated a particular contribution by God, though it remains that their emergence was brought about by natural causes" of evolution, it said.

Rather than saying that humans evolved from chimps, Faccini wrote,

"No, it might be better to say that at some point God willed a spark of intelligence to light up in the mind of a nonhuman hominid and thus came into existence the human as a being, as a subject capable of thought and the ability to decide freely," it said.

In other words, pre-humans did not become human until their recieved the breath of God.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Fire at Our Lady of the Lake

There is currently a fire burning in the main building at Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio, Texas. The fire was contained an hour and a half ago, but please keep those affected in your prayers.

WOAI TV reports:

Firefighters continue to battle a fire at Our Lady of the Lake University on the West Side.

The call came out just before 8 p.m. on the 400 block of SW 24th Street. Thirty-eight fire units have been dispatched to the scene.

The fire is believed to have started on the fourth floor of Main Building on the campus. The building was evacuated. Some people had to be treated for smoke inhalation. The flames appear to have consumed the roof of the building.

Firefighters have prevented the fire from spreading to other nearby buildings.

Students and staff gathered across the street from the school. Many were in tears as they watched the flames.

"This is definitely going to be a loss to the city of San Antonio," Chief Randy Jenkins.

A woman who was inside the building when the fire started told News 4 she did not smell any smoke prior to being evacuated. The student said they didn't think it was anything serious until they got outside and "saw the flames shoot up from nowhere."

The Red Cross has dispatched crews to help the firefighters. They are also sending a disaster relief team to the scene.

Firefighters went room-to-room to make sure everyone was evacuated. The San Antonio Fire Departrment said all of the students have been accounted for. accommodations are being made for the students who were displaced by the fire.

San Antonio Fire Department Chief Charles Hood said it was stubborn fire and that strong winds fueled the flames.

The university was founded in 1895 by the Sisters of the Congregation of Divine Providence, a religious order begun in 18th century Lorraine, France. Construction on the main campus began in 1895 and classes started in 1896.
Our Lady of the Lake University was the first San Antonio institution of higher education to receive regional accreditation.

Photo credit: AP Photo/San Antonio Express-News, William Luther

Monday, May 05, 2008

Toddler Theology - Part 2

Children have a knack for making adults look at things differently. All
the things that we take for granted are brand new to them. The wonder on
their faces when they see the ocean for the first time or find a shiny
rock should make us realize the wonders of creation.

Children also have a knack for coming up with incredibly deep thoughts
right at bedtime. I don't know if it's because the stimulation of the
world is finally turned off and they can think, or the stimulation of the
world is finally turned off and we are paying attention, or if they are
trying anything and everything to stay up for a few extra minutes.
Whatever the reason, sometimes these thoughts give me reason to think.

After several days of balking at the idea of bedtime prayers, JP was very
interested in praying tonight. He sat in my lap and we went through the
litany of petitions which he prays every night.

When that was finished he said, "Mama, I want to talk with Jesus. Can you
help me".

He then started to say the Glory Be. I helped him with the words he
couldn't remember and we moved on to the Our Father. He is just starting
to learn that one. He did his best to repeat after me and to add whatever
words he remembered.

Afterwards, he said, "Mama, I want to kiss Jesus".

So, I took his crucifix off the wall and handed it to him. He covered the
small bronze corpus with kisses, then holding the crucifix against his
cheek he said, "It's going to be ok, Jesus. I love you. My mommy will make
it all better".

JP then sat very quietly looking at the corpus. "Why doesn't he have his
clothes?" he said.

I tried my best to explain that bad people had taken his clothes. The look
of shock startled me. "They took his CLOTHES?" he said. "Why, was he bad?"

"No, JP", I said. "He was very, very good, and he tried to tell the bad
people to be good. They didn't like that".

After questioning and arguing about why Jesus lost his clothes, JP got
very quiet again and hugged the crucifix to his cheek. This time he said,
"Jesus, I want to be good and I promise I won't take your clothes."

Then he handed the crucifix back to me to return to the wall.

Even at the tender age of three, JP knows that taking someone's clothes
away was stripping them of the last shred of human dignity. I think I will
meditate on the stripping of Christ tonight.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Agca to Become Polish Citizen?

Sometimes I come across a story that is confusing. Other times the story is just plain odd. This one is a bit of both.

From the AP via Yahoo:

The Turkish gunman who shot and wounded Pope John Paul II is applying for Polish citizenship because he wants to live in the country of the late pontiff, whom he called his "spiritual brother."

But the Polish Foreign Ministry said the chances of Mehmet Ali Agca getting citizenship are "minimal" since he hasn't provided any "good service" to John Paul's mostly Catholic homeland.

Agca also wants to be transferred to a prison in Poland to serve the remainder of his sentence on a different conviction, lawyer Haci Ali Ozhan told The Associated Press.

"He has chosen Poland because it is country of the pope," Ozhan said. "Because the pope forgave him and paid close attention to him, we believe that the application will be accepted."

Agca shot and seriously wounded John Paul at St. Peter's Square at the Vatican on May 13, 1981. Two years later the pope met with Agca in an Italian prison and forgave him for the shooting.

Agca served 19 years in an Italian prison for the attack. He currently is serving a prison term in Turkey for killing prominent journalist Abdi Ipekci in Turkey in 1979 and is due to be released in 2010.

What motivated his crimes remains a mystery, but he belonged to an extreme right-wing Turkish organization, the Grey Wolves, which was involved in political murders in the 1970s.

In a petition addressed to Poland's devout Roman Catholic president, Lech Kaczynski, Agca said: "I shall be proud of becoming a member of the noble Polish nation, if my request to be granted Polish citizenship is accepted."

The petition to the president, who has the power to bestow or revoke Polish citizenship, was made available to the AP.

"I am not a stranger to your country because the national hero of Poland, Pope Karol Wojtyla, is my spiritual brother," Agca said, referring to John Paul by his birth name.

Agca's lawyer said he submitted the application to the Polish Embassy in Ankara on Thursday. It wasn't immediately processed, however, due to some missing paperwork. Ozhan said he would return next week to complete the application.

In Warsaw, Poland, the Foreign Ministry spokesman, Piotr Paszkowski, said officials had known for some time of Agca's plan but that chances of him being accepted were slim.

"The condition for according Polish citizenship is residence in Poland for at least five years, prior to applying," Paszkowski said. "I think that at least from this formal point of view the chances for Ali Agca receiving Polish citizenship are minimal."

Paszkowski said the five-year rule "can be waived if the foreigner seeking Polish citizenship has special merits for the country, has done good service to Poland."

"Agca rather has not."

John Paul is revered as a national hero in Poland. After he was shot, priests throughout the country led prayers for him amid fears he would not survive.

John Paul II died April 2, 2005, after serving as pope for almost 27 years.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

A Few Good Schools

Every so often something happens which makes me very proud of my school. Today was one of those days. Fr. Shanley has done an excellent job since he became president three years ago. In addition to the current solid faculty, the theology department has attracted theologians such as David Bentley Hart. The college has also hosted theology conferences such as was held last year featuring Avery Cardinal Dulles.

From the Providence Journal:
Emphasis added

When Pope Benedict XVI asked to address Catholic educators during his recent visit to the United States, there was much speculation that he would scold Catholic college presidents for failing to remain true to the mission of their institutions. As all of America learned, however, the Holy Father is not a scold. He is a teacher of hope who believes that “the noble goals of scholarship and education, founded on the unity of truth and in service of the person and the community, become an especially powerful instrument of hope.” I returned from my encounter with him filled with hope for Providence College and convinced that it is realizing his vision — and the vision of our Dominican Friar founders — for Catholic education.

Many of the themes addressed by Pope Benedict in his remarks resonate deeply with the mission of Providence College and remind us of the unique place that a Catholic college or university occupies in higher education. For example, Pope Benedict considers one of the church’s roles in the world as a service (diakonia) of truth. In a time where there is widespread doubt about objective truth, a Catholic college such as Providence College (whose motto is veritas, or truth) is seen as countercultural, based on the optimistic proposition that the human mind has been created by God to know the ultimate truth. In opposition to the view that there are only perspective-based points of view, we believe that students can integrate what they learn into a unified view of the whole; we reject the popular assumption that all claims to knowledge are fragments that do not fit together.

Pope Benedict further articulated that knowledge of the truth leads to an appreciation of the good, and that true freedom is not the aimless pursuit of novelty or personal satisfaction, but choosing to embrace the truth about the dignity of the human person as made in the image and likeness of God. Catholic colleges do not focus on students’ intellect alone but equally on their moral character. We explicitly help our students to come to know the good and recognize the dignity of the human person through studies in ethics and moral philosophy and through participation in meaningful community service.

Pope Benedict introduced the intriguing idea of “intellectual charity” as a particularly urgent imperative in Catholic education. He noted the Catholic educator’s call to “recognize that the profound responsibility to lead the young to truth is nothing less than an act of love.” Once this passion for the fullness of unity and truth is awakened in students, the pope observed, “young people will surely relish the discovery that the question of what they can know opens up the vast adventure of what they ought to do.” As a teacher and administrator, I have watched this discovery of God’s providence unfold in countless students. We succeed not when students find employment for employment’s sake, but rather when they know the value of work within the context of a meaningful life that is focused on communion with God and service to others.

One of the most controversial issues on a Catholic college campus is the meaning of academic freedom. Pope Benedict thoughtfully described it as the “freedom to search for truth wherever careful analysis of evidence leads you,” and affirmed that the coherence and identity of a Catholic institution depends on all aspects of its life being consistent with the truth. Rooted in the harmony of faith and reason, a Catholic college is fundamentally optimistic that such a search for truth — undertaken in accord with scholarly canons of inquiry — will not lead to conclusions that contradict faith. So academic freedom cannot be invoked in order to justify positions that contradict the faith — because truth cannot contradict itself.

The remark in the pope’s address that elicited a spontaneous round of applause from all present was his exhortation that Catholic education must remain “accessible to people of all social and economic strata.” In describing the history of Catholic education in America, Pope Benedict notes that Catholic education has “helped generations of immigrants to rise from poverty and take their place in mainstream society.” This aptly describes the historic mission of Providence College. We remain committed to inviting and enrolling applicants from underrepresented populations, including economically disadvantaged students from urban schools and first-generation college students. In recent years, we have reinvigorated this mission by removing the barrier of standardized testing for applicants and by devoting greater resources to need-based scholarships.

Spring is decision time for college-bound students and their parents, who, the Holy Father noted, “recognize the need for excellence in the human formation of their children.” One marvelous feature of the American higher-educational landscape is its rich diversity. Students can choose from a wide array of institutional characteristics and values: public and private, religious and secular, urban and rural, large and small, and so many others. The best way for Catholic education to serve America is by providing a distinctive educational option for students and their parents. Pope Benedict has defined those distinctive features. It is my responsibility to see that Providence College continues to embody them.

The Rev. Brian J. Shanley is president of Providence College.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Can't Say No?

There has been much fuss made about a recent photo shoot which featured Miley Cyrus (aka Hannah Montana).

I was not going to comment on it here, until I read an article which deeply concerned me. In the article Cyrus said of the photo, "I think it's really artsy," she told the magazine at the time. "It wasn't in a skanky way. Annie took, like, a beautiful shot, and I thought that was really cool. That's what she wanted me to do, and you can't say no to Annie." A CNN article quoted further, "And you can't say no to Annie. She's so cute. She gets this puppy dog look and you're like, 'O.K.'"

You can't say no to Annie? Why not? Because she is powerful? Because she will be sad if you do? If Miley Cyrus and her parents can't say no to a photographer, there is little hope for the rest of her life. Eventually there will be a cute boyfriend who will get the "puppy dog look" too and what will happen then.

Young stars need to be taught there their values can't be sold to the highest bidder. Perhaps Annie Leibovitz is an influential photographer who has the ability to help people advance in their careers, but she can certainly be told "no".

If Miley's dad, country star Billy Ray Cyrus, really wants to keep his daughter from following in the footsteps of so many other hollywood stars, he will start by teaching his daughter that the only one who you can't say no to God.

Furthermore, if Miley or her parents expressed any concert with the poses and Annie Leibovitz gave them the "puppy dog look" then she should be ahamed of herself.

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Angelicum

As I look forward to starting my junior year in one month, I have also started looking at graduate programs. I have grouped schools into four lists: possibilities, reaches, dreams, and not even in my nightmares.

The Angelicum is one of the dream schools. Unless I become a millionare there is no way I will be able to pack up my family and move to Rome for a few years, but oh how I want to. This is one of the reasons I shouldn't have put my education off for so many years. Maybe someday, when my kids are all grown and in school themselves I will be able to make the dream of studying with the Dominicans at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, but until then, I must console myself with this awesome ad.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Last Secret

I am halfway through reading the Last Secret of Fatima and I hate to have to put it down. I suspect I will finish it today if nothing interrupts me.

It's an easy read and written in a very interesting style. The book is an conversation/interview between Dr. Giuseppe DeCaril and Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone, the Vatican Secretary of State.

I am not a great lover of apparitions, but since I am of Portuguese descent, Fatima gets a special acceptance. Still, I read the writings of most Fatimists with much suspicion. Not so with this book.

The book tells the story of the Revelation of the 3rd secret of Fatima and provides a great deal of credible evidence to the non-existence of a 4th secret. (That is if you aren't a conspiricist). If you are convinced that the Vatican is hiding a 4th secret or has released a falsified 3rd secret, this book will do little to change your mind.

The book contains fascinating anecdotes and personal insights about Sr. Lucia and her personality.

Towards the end of the book. Cardinal Bertone takes on such issues as Medjugorje and Pope Benedict's now infamous Regensburg address. Even personal issues, such as his transfer from the Archdiocese of Genoa to Rome are mentioned. In essence, there is something for everyone in this book.

I have already underlined and taken notes on many pages. So far, my favorite quote is from the Cardinal Albino Luciani's (the future Pope John Paul I) account of his meeting with Sister Lucia.

We should pray the Holy Rosary. Naaman the great Syrian general, disdained the simple bath in the Jordan suggested to him by Elisha. Some people act like Naaman: "I am a great theologian, a mature Christian, who breathes the Bible with both lungs and sweats liturgy from every pore - and the tell me to pray the Rosary?" And yet the fifteen mysteries of the Rosary are biblical; the Pater, the Ave Maria, and the Gloria are Bible passages transformed into prayer, and they are good for the soul. Bible study solely for the sake of scholarship could puff up the soul and leave it in a state of sterile aridity. Bible scholars who have lost their faith are hardly a rare breed.

Perhaps my chosen quote is not the deepest or most Fatima based passage that I could have chosen, but see! There is something for everyone.

Place your order today. The book will be released on May 6th, just in time for the feast of Our Lady of Fatima.

Back to reading... check back tomorrow for more.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Simony of a Different Sort

Simony is a term which refers to the sale of sacraments and church offices. The sin recieved it's name from Simon Magus, also known as the Father of All Heresies, a magician who converted to Christianity, but afterwards desired the gifts of the Spirit which the bishops possessed and attempted to buy the office.

A man named Simon used to practice magic in the city and astounded the people of Samaria, claiming to be someone great. All of them, from the least to the greatest, paid attention to him, saying, "This man is the 'Power of God' that is called 'Great.'" They paid attention to him because he had astounded them by his magic for a long time, but once they began to believe Philip as he preached the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, men and women alike were baptized. Even Simon himself believed and, after being baptized, became devoted to Philip; and when he saw the signs and mighty deeds that were occurring, he was astounded.

Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent them Peter and John, who went down and prayed for them, that they might receive the holy Spirit, for it had not yet fallen upon any of them; they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid hands on them and they received the holy Spirit.

When Simon saw that the Spirit was conferred by the laying on of the apostles' hands, he offered them money and said, "Give me this power too, so that anyone upon whom I lay my hands may receive the holy Spirit." But Peter said to him, "May your money perish with you, because you thought that you could buy the gift of God with money. You have no share or lot in this matter, for your heart is not upright before God. Repent of this wickedness of yours and pray to the Lord that, if possible, your intention may be forgiven. For I see that you are filled with bitter gall and are in the bonds of iniquity." Simon said in reply, "Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may come upon me." Acts 8:8-25

That was then, this is now. Meet the new Simons.
From the Telegraph:

Roman Catholic schools are refusing to admit pupils who have been baptised late by parents anxious to get them into top-performing schools.

Parents are going through a "five-year epiphany" when their children reach school age, with a consequent dramatic increase in baptisms of older children.

Many schools are now refusing to accept such late baptisms. Some set the upper limit at 12 months, others within a few weeks of birth.

At St Joseph's RC primary in Maida Vale, London, said Peter Stanford, a governor, "if you have had your child baptised at two or three or four they won't get in."

At London Oratory, a grant-maintained Catholic school in Fulham where Tony Blair sent his two eldest children, the policy is only to admit children baptised no later than four months old.

Staff confirmed that it helped to weed out parents who were playing the system to gain admission. Last year the school had 700 children chasing 160 places. Its head teacher, David McFadden, said: "Our policy has never changed. There are a series of admission criteria, all of them based on canon law.

"The first criterion is based on Mass attendance. The next is to what extent the Catholic parents have met their obligations regarding the Church's sacramental practice, including baptism."

Another top Catholic school, Sacred Heart High, in Hammersmith, attended by Mr Blair's daughter Kathryn, specifies baptism within the "first few weeks of birth" to qualify for a place.

A 37-year-old hairdresser from Essex said she and her husband had converted to Catholicism two years ago to get their daughter into the local Catholic school.

"I did this purely for my children," said the woman, a mother of three who wished to remain anonymous. "I wasn't religious beforehand and I wasn't brought up in a religious family. I could count on one hand the number of times we'd been to church. But I felt very strongly that I wanted to give my children the best chance. That was my main priority."

The audacity of these parents to treat a sacrament as simply a means to a good education without any spiritual intentions is sickening. However, although I understand the point of view of the school administrators, I still think that to require that baptism occur within 4 months of birth is a bit excessive. I was not baptized until I was 6 months old. I know many church-going families who, rightly or wrongly, delayed baptism for numerous reasons.

Friday, April 25, 2008


Welcome to all those coming from the Ignatius Press link.
Thanks to Ignatius Press for this great surprise.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

My Papal Mass Experience - The Mass

Part 2 is available here.

The music began and the Cardinals began to process to the altar. The music was spectacular!

The Cardinals in Procession (The first three are DiNardo, O'Malley and Rigali)

If you look very closely, you will be able to see Pope Benedict's miter and staff next to the black wall.

Incensing the Book of the Gospels. The candles which were held at the ambo are visible.

The homily

The Mass was beautiful even though we were watching it on TV. At seemingly every opportunity those seated in the front of the stadium erupted into cheers of Be-ne-dic-to! There was an exceptionally excited group in the upper left level. Before Mass, they had been doing the wave. The bleachers were very quiet.

Communion in my area went very slowly. We were instructed to descend from the top down and to go to the left, down the stairs, through the corridor, around through the inside and back to our seats. It was not even close to the way the video explained it. By the time the Holy Father gave the final blessing only the people in the upper 8 rows had received the Eucharist. I was in the 5th row from the bottom. For some reason, we did not receive Communion.

After Mass, the Holy Father returned to the Popemobile and finally the electric energy returned to the bleachers. We were going to get to see him. The people went to the lower area in order to get a better view, since the wall was higher than the Popemobile. The NYPD in my section did not like that and ordered everyone to return to their seats, although the people in other areas were not ordered to move. The people returned to their seats, but because the group in front of me was refusing to move and was preventing my return to my seat, I was stuck there. The police were getting very testy and I thought someone was going to get arrested. Finally, someone in charge said we could stay at the wall.

Finally he came to my area.

People were screaming and waving the white and yellow handkerchiefs.

Bye-bye Papa!

The Mass was beautiful, the music was perfect, the homily was awesome. I have since watched the Mass online and we definitely missed out on so much beauty. I know that planning a Mass like this is a huge responsibility, but I hope those who have this responsibility in the future will take care to ensure that the people in the back get as beautiful a view as those in the front. Also, I hope they will realize that even looking at the Holy Father's back from a distance is more exciting than looking at a TV and knowing that the TV is blocking our view. I and those sitting near me would have not minded watching Pope Benedict celebrate Mass ad orientum. It would have created a much more prayerful environment and a sense that we were actually at Mass.

While watching the video I discovered that the Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Boston was severely reprimanded by the Secret Service for reaching out to the Holy Father and it even appeared the Pope Benedict, himself, was slapped by an agent. Bishops who reached out to shake hands with the Holy Father did not fare much better. I found security to be far too harsh. I know they had the best of intentions, but I doubt the Pope needs to be protected from his own bishops.

To those who think I am just bitter and ungrateful, I am not. I am delighted to have been there. It was a momentous and spectacular day that I am grateful to have been a part of. I simply think that everyone should have been given equal consideration. This was my 5th time seeing Pope Benedict (I was exceptionally close all 4 previous times); but for most of the people there, this was their first and likely only opportunity. A police officer told me that only 1/3 of the people in the stadium could see the altar. I don't know why the sanctuary was set up the way that it was, but there must have been a better option.

To those who have to plan Masses like this in the future: remember the folks in the cheap seats too! We don't mind facing the same way as the celebrant.

So, after all that, what was the best part of the Mass? For me, it was seeing the Holy Father and being united with Catholics of all ages and walks of life from all over the country. The theme of this Apostolic visit was Christ our Hope and my hope was definately renewed by the large numbers of young seminarians, priests, and sisters, as well as the large numbers of young laity. The church is alive, even if it is not obvious in your own parish.

Photos by Domini Sumus

My Papal Mass Experience - The Concert of Hope

Part 1 can be found here.

Ronan Tynan

By the time we reached our seats, a good portion of the Concert of Hope was already over. Although the concert sounded great on TV, the loud songs did not sound as good in person. I wish the songs would have played more of a role in preparing us for Holy Mass, but it was still awesome to hear so many musicians I admire.

Jose Feliciano

The paper birds were pretty at first

The real birds were better

Security was in full force.

When the concert was over, we waited for the Holy Father. The excitement was electric. We waited for the popemobile to emerge and finally...Papa!

As he made his way around the stadium we expected that he would make a complete lap so everyone would be able to see him up close, but he stopped in front of the altar and went into the locker room to prepare for Mass. Many of the people seated in my area began to grumble because they had been unable to even see him.

Photos by Domini Sumus

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

My Papal Mass Experience - Arriving

After only three hours sleep, at 5 am, I headed to the parking lot where I was to meet the bus. I checked in with the bus captain and boarded the large charter coach bus. There were three buses, and 137 pilgrims traveling from my diocese (My diocese recieved 100 tickets, but the Archdiocese of Boston graciously provided 37 extra tickets). We left for New York promptly at 6 am and I finished up on my sleep.

Around 10 am we were treated to the video Inside the Vatican. It was an appropriate foreward to the Papal Mass. As we approached Yankee Stadium it became apparent that we were at the end of a long stream of buses. It took half an hour to reach the parking lot and get off the bus. It was now 11 am. No problem! We still have an hour to get in the stadium, right!

We walked from the bus to the skybridge that lead to the stadium. Along the way volunteers were offering pilgrims free bottles of water and police officers reminded us to have our tickets out for a spot check. I was waved through with no problem.

As I climbed the stairs to the skybridge, I saw a simple sign on the stadium announcing the Pope's arrival. There were so many people in front of us that at times I wondered if the stairs and bridge would be able to support all the weight. I didn't need to worry. We crossed the bridge with no problems and I saw the mob of people. A police officer checked my ticket and told me which gate to enter (there would be fewer people there, she said). I walked to the gate and after half an hour I finally reached the gate. As I handed my camera and purse to the Secret Service another Secret Service agent barked, "Bleacher tickets will not be accepted at this gate!". What! I just waited in line for half an hour and now you tell me! I had asked before getting into line if this was the right line and I was assured that it was. I pleaded my case, but it was futile.

Now I only had 15 minutes to get into the stadium before the doors would be closed. I kept thinking about the other diocesan pilgrimages where pilgrims had been left disappointed. (My diocese has a poor record for getting pilgrims into events. Pilgrims to World Youth Day in Toronto never made it into the Papal Mass, Pilgrims to the Consistory in 2006 missed both the reception at the North American College and Cardinal O'Malley's Mass of Thanksgiving.) I got into the line that the Secret Service instructed me to enter. The line was huge, but my Portuguese heritage and my Roman experience taught me a lot about dealing with lines. Yes, I cut in front of several hundred people. To them, I apologize. I trust that if you had just spent half an hour in a line only to be told that the person who told you it was the right line was wrong, you would understand. ;-)

After having my purse and camera bag emptied and searched, I passed through the Secret Service check and entered the stadium around 12:05. I recieved a package containing an issue of Catholic Digest, the Gospel of John, an issue of NY Priest, a poncho, and a white handkerchief. I could hear the music from the Concert of Hope through the speakers. Now, where were the bleacher.

I couldn't find the bleachers anywhere, but as I looked through the openings onto the field the sanctuary was beautiful! I had to get a program from another entrance because we weren't given them at my entrance, actually the same entrance I had originally tried to enter. Yes, I had to pass that entrance to get to my seat. Makes sense, right? I finally found my seat and what a disappointment. I couldn't see a thing.
Part 2 can he found here.
Photos by Domini Sumus

Our Gift to the Holy Father

We have spent much time thinking of what the Holy Father gave us during his apostolic visit, but what about what we have given him. Yes, he has recieved a Seder plate, a skateboard, and a whole series of material gifts, but apparently we have given him something greater: faith.

Think you read something wrong? You didn't. On April 19th, Pope Benedict recorded an ad which is being aired on The Catholic Channel, a radio station operated by the Archdiocese of New York and broadcasted on Sirius Satellite Radio. The ad can be heard here. Click on "His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI speaks to American Catholics on The Catholic Channel".

What you hear in the finished ad was not the only version which was recorded. Vatican Radio reported on April 20th that the Holy Father deviated from the prepared script during a voice test and said, "I came to the United States to confirm my brothers and sisters in the faith, but I have to say that American Catholics are confirming me in my faith". Listen to the report here (27:16 on the audio feed).

Wow! What a thought! It is not one that surprises me, though. Pope Benedict's joy and vibrance was more obvious during this trip than at any other time. Now we know why. Not only was the Supreme Pastor feeding his sheep, but the sheep were also feeding the Pastor. Isn't that how it should be all the time.

Love your priests, care for your priests, feed your priests! Simple gestures, and sincere expressions of faith, and genuine love can go a long way in confirming our clergy in faith.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

JP and Chico

I have noticed certain bloggers scoffing at the Build A Bear papal T-Shirt. When I first heard about it I too wondered about the value of the item, but I was taught much about the mystery of evangelism yesterday.

My son has several stuffed animals from Build a Bear, so I thought that he would enjoy having the t-shirt since he was so disappointed that I was going to the papal Mass without him. I thought he would put it on one of the animals he already has. I was mistaken!

When he saw the shirt I noticed a light go on in his head. He then demanded that I take him to get another animals especially for the shirt. "They CAN'T wear the shirt! It's not right for them", he said. He was so insistent that yesterday I took him to Build a Bear. He refused to tell me what kind of animal he wanted, but he was a 3 year old on a mission. We walked into the store and he immediately grabbed an orange cat. Without saying a word he brought it to the girl who ran the stuffing machine and said, "I want this one". After the cat was stuffed, the girl asked JP what he was going to name his cat. The answer, "Chico!"

I was out foxed by a three year old. What better animal to wear a shirt with Pope Benedict's picture than an orange tabby cat named Chico?

When we got home JP pulled out his copy of Joseph and Chico and asked me to read it. I have to summarize the story to make it interesting for a three year old because it is written for a much older child, but JP loves the book. He asked me to read it to him twice today.

Taking a picture of Chico was a challenge' JP takes him everywhere, and Chico even keeps him company in bed.

Catholic Carnival 169

Suffering from Pope withdrawl? Get your B16 supplement in this week's Catholic Carnival in which we remember some of the papal events of the past week.

The Welcoming Ceremony:

I, Domini Sumus, present my post Benedict Makes People Sit Down, Shut Up, and Listen which is an newspaper article which features the almost prophetic thoughts of a priest and fellow blogger.

At A Catholic View, Christine presents links to all her coverage of Pope Benedict XVI's visit to the United States, including articles photos and videos in Papal Coverage.

Rick presents a look back at Pope John Paul the Great's visit to Washington in 1979, including photos, commentary on music, and a reproduction of the program from the Papal Mass on the Mall in The Pope Comes to Washington posted at Rick Sincere News and Thoughts.

The Mass at National's Park:

Uh-oh! Redneck Woman is fired up over at Postscripts from the Catholic Spitfire Grill. In Catholics and the Second Commandment she answers the seemingly timeless question, have Catholics really ignored the "Second" Commandment?

Sarah has company Just Another Day of Catholic Pondering. Guest blogger, Heather, presents her fourth installment where she tells about the Easter Vigil Mass and her experience as a newly-baptized member of the Catholic Church in Journey to Jesus Part Four

Think the image on the holy card is what it was really like? Michelle asks us to allow God to show himself to us in Let God Escape the Confines of the Holy Cards where she presents a reflection on images of the Good Shepherd with some advice on prayer from St. Ignatius and St. Gregory the Great posted at Philly Catholic Spirituality.

Meeting with Catholic Educators:

If you are like me, you don't know much about St. Anselm of Canterbury. Learn more about him though Jean's post St. Anselm of Canterbury: Favorite Quotes, Prayers, and Writings posted at Catholic Fire.

Marcel presents a break-down and analysis of the Pope's address to educators in Address from PBXVI to Educators posted at Aggie Catholics (aka Mary's Aggies)

Elena writes about her struggles and successes to transform her home into a domestic church in How to have a Domestic Church part 1 posted at My Domestic Church.

Ecumenical Prayer Service:

Denise contemplates the difference between offering a life boat to salvation and firing a shot across the bow when engaging in ecumenical dialogue in Man the Life Boats! posted at Catholic Matriarch in my Domestic Church aka Catholic Mom.

Mass with Clergy and Religious:

Fr. V at Adam's Ale asks "Is clericalism still alive and well?" He concludes that it may be lurking around in disguise, but not necessarily in the places you expect in I Want to Change My Answer.

The Meeting with Youth and Seminarians:

In Charisma or Charism which is posted at Apostolate of the Laity, David hopes that Pope Benedict's visit will allow Americans to pause and think about who they want to govern their culture.

In Girls Gone Mild, which posted at Contrariwise, Lindsay presents her impressive guest column about modesty, chastity, and the true roles of men and women in relationships which was published in her campus newspaper.

Theresa L. Twogood tells us about the immoral gift bags given to prom attendees in Bisbee Arizona in Coming To A School Near You Soon posted at OLIN e-Book e-Publishing.

The Mass at Yankee Stadium:

Kevin presents a reflection on the Mass readings for the fifth Sunday of Easter in CHRISTIAN FAITH, THE WORLD, AND HEAVEN posted at HMS Blog.

In The Living Stone We Stumble Upon, Joe also reflects on the readings from the fifth Sunday of Easter. In the second reading, the first pope shares his thoughts on Christ as cornerstone and as stumbling block. What lessons can we learn from Peter, a man who stumbled many times in his journey with Jesus. Posted at Ho Kai Paulos.

In Mother in the Night: Article at American Chronicle, Heidi presents an post includes a hyperlink to an article she wrote about the Blessed Mother and her protective care, which she experienced as a foster mother ...
and my Protestant sister experienced while she was in the middle of an abusive marriage posted at Behold Your Mother.

Heidi also submitted a second post from her blog Mommy Monsters. Here she provides a short promo about her new book "Behold Your Mother: Mary Stories and Reflections from a Catholic Convert." in "Behold Your Mother" YouTube video.

The Farewell Ceremony:

How do you see Jesus. Steven from Book Reviews and More presents an essay written at the beginning of a course called 'Jesus: Life and Legacy' my understanding and personal view of Jesus at the start of the term in Prophet, Priest and King; Lord, God and Friend, This is My Jesus!

The Crowd outside the Events:

Thinking of watching a movie? Tamika M. Murray presents an interesting, even though not particularly Catholic post in Freaky Friday-There Will Be Blood posted at PJSandAMovie.

James DeLelys promoted his book with a post on what is Love in WORDS » Articles posted at WORDS.

Photo credits:
1) Larry Downing/Reuters
2) Jim Bourg/Reuters

3) Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

4) AP Photo/Mike Segar, Pool

5) Gary Hershorn/Reuters

6) REUTERS/Erin Siegal

7) Domini Sumus

8) AP Photo/Stuart Ramson)
9) AP Photo/Stephen Chernin)