Postage for Pakistan and other parts of the planet

Friday, December 23, 2011

At long last, October & November 2011 saints news

The cause for sainthood of Bl. Francis X. Seelos ran into a slight road bump when it was announced that the Vatican’s board that reviews miracles will not consider the apparent healing of an Annapolis, MD, woman from esophageal cancer as the miracle needed for Bl. Francis’ canonization. In a Nov. 21 news release, the Redemptorists announced that a Vatican review panel agreed that while Mary Ellen Heibel’s disappearance of metastasized esophageal cancer in 2005 was extraordinary, it hesitated to confirm it as miraculous because Heibel died in 2009 of pneumonia – making it impossible to ascertain a “complete and definitive healing.”

A Capuchin priest in Denver has finished a manuscript he and others hope will promote awareness of and possibly lead to the opening of Julia Greeley’s beatification cause. He and other Denver residents have even formed the Julia Greeley Guild for this purpose.

Greeley was a slave who, upon emancipation, migrated to Denver and entered the Church in 1880. She was known especially for her great acts of charity, even though she herself was not at all wealthy. She was a domestic servant. “Greeley was often seen carrying firewood, clothes, or food down alleyways to someone in need. She begged for dresses from wealthy women and restored them for working class girls so they would be able to attend church or go to a social gathering. She also passed out Catholic literature to firemen, especially leaflets about the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which she became an apostle for after” her conversion.

Her charity and devotion extended to the point when she reportedly gave her own burial plot to a destitute man and participated in 40 hours of devotion, kneeling motionless and absorbed in adoration of the Eucharist.

Scottish Venerable’s cause gets publicity boost with star’s death

The death of British television legend Sir Jimmy Savile has re-ignited hopes for the beatification of the Scottish nun he always believed saved his life as a baby. The host of the famous British TV show “Top of the Pops,” which hosted the Beatles, Stones, Who, and other noted rock acts, attributed his recovery from a serious illness when he was two years old to the intercession of the Venerable Margaret Sinclair.

Sinclair was born in 1900 and brought up in poverty in an Edinburgh slum. She worked in a local biscuit factory and was active in the trade union movement before joining a cloistered order of Poor Clare nuns in London’s Notting Hill area in 1923.
Upon becoming a nun, she took the religious name Mary Francis of the Five Wounds. However, she died just two years later from tuberculosis at the age of 25.

She quickly gained a reputation as “Edinburgh’s wonder worker” and was declared venerable by Pope Paul VI in 1978. The papal declaration means that the Church found she lived a life marked by virtue.

Despite numerous claims of a miracle, such as Sir Jimmy’s, none have fully satisfied the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints. If a miracle is approved, it would pave the way for her beatification.

Pope canonizes three new saints

Pope Benedict canonized three new saints on October 23. Luigi Guanella, founder of three religious orders, including one in Chicago; Guido Maria Conforti, founder of the Xaverian Missionaries, who lived 1865-1931; and the Spanish religious Bonifacia Rodriguez Castro, 1837-1905, founder of the Servants of St. Joseph, a congregation originally dedicated to educating poor women.

An anniversary that sadly went unremarked upon in most places was beautifully commemorated on October 31 in Rome at its famous “bones” church. On that day no fewer than three cardinals commemorated the 42 Iraqi men and women, priests, religious, and laity, who lost their lives one year before when terrorists burst into Baghdad’s Our Lady of Salvation Church and opened fire. Because they were killed precisely for their religious faith, their beatification cause as martyrs is being sought in Rome. This does not require the same five year waiting period that is normally needed after someone’s death. Furthermore, if the Holy Father recognizes them as having died for the Faith, they will not need the usual miracle required for beatification. They will, however, need that miracle to receive universal recognition as saints. In other words, they can be declared blesseds, which means that, while they are in heaven, their veneration will be technically limited to their local diocese or nation. Canonization, on the other hand, would extend recognition of their presence in heaven to the universal Church.

Vatican investigators can expect to investigate a possible second miracle attributed to the intercession of Bl. John Paul II. The alleged miracle concerns the healing of a Mexican woman, Sara Guadalupe Fuentes Garcia who was suddenly cured of a life threatening tumor that blocked as much as 80 percent of her throat.

According to the woman who lives in the Yucatan, during the time relics of the late beloved pope were visiting, she had placed a photograph of Bl John Paul II on her chest and throat and prayed for his intercession with God to heal her.

The Vatican reveals that the Most Rev Juan Gomez Parada, Bishop of Yucatan is now investigating the incident and gathering medical documentation and independent testimonies. The extensive paperwork and detailed research he gathers from independent doctors and scientists will then be submitted to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in Rome.

If on further study and investigation, the miracle is recognized and approved by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, the verifying documents will be presented to the Holy Father, at which point an announcement of the canonization of Bl John Paul II can be expected.

On October 19, Archbishop Carlos Osoro of Valencia opened the beatification cause of Carmelite nun Maria Carmen Crespo Roig, who lived 65 years in Ontinyent’s Monastery of the Most Precious Blood.

Sister Maria Carmen Crespo Roig, or Teresa of the Incarnation, was born in Beniarres, Spain on March 25, 1912. “From a young age she was very involved in the life of her parish and worked tirelessly in its activities and movements,” the Archdiocese of Valencia said.

During the Spanish Civil War in 1936, she risked her life to help priests and nuns who were in need of assistance. In 1941, she entered the Carmelite convent at Ontinyent, “where she lived for the Church and the salvation of souls” until her death on Feb. 4, 2006.

John Moore, 61-years-young, of Gallup, NM, is on a 630-mile walk from the National Cemetery in Santa Fe to the hometown of the Servant of God Fr. Emil Kapaun to promote the beatification cause of the holy priest who died as a POW in a North Korean prison. Fr. Kapaun was a chaplain in the Korean Conflict who was captured in battle and who, despite starvation, torture, and other abuse, spent the rest of his earthly life ministering to his fellow POWs. Eventually, the maltreatment cost him his life. So great was his dedication to his fellow prisoners, that, after the POWs’ release, a Jewish soldier who’d been incarcerated with him, even sculpted a beautiful crucifix, a replica of which Moore carried on his back from New Mexico to Kansas.

The Archdiocese of New York has formally opened the beatification cause of Bishop James Walsh, co-founder of the Maryknoll Society. A complicating factor in helping the cause go forward is that it apparently is something of an afterthought. There are very few people still living who actually knew His Excellency, who died in 1936. As a result, his will be what is called an “historical cause,” which will mean that the proof given of his sanctity will depend less on eyewitness testimony and more on historical records such as news accounts, his writings, and other documents.

Bishop Walsh was born in Cambridge, MA, home of Harvard University, where he actually studied accounting. He eventually received his degree from nearby St. John’s seminary. He had done some post-seminary work with the Vincentians at St. Sulpice where he learned of a famous martyr in Vietnam, St. Théophane Vénard, MEP. The more he studied St. Théophane’s story, the more certain he became that the maxim “The blood of martyrs is the seed of the Church” was amongst the truest statements ever recorded. Recognizing that martyrs were often missionaries, he increasingly recognized the importance of evangelizing foreign nations. In 1903, he became diocesan director of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, where he had to raise money for overseas missions. There he further developed his thoughts on the importance of missionary work, even founding The Field Afar magazine to promote foreign evangelization work. That publication eventually became Maryknoll magazine, which I got as a kid, and which I really enjoyed. Finally, in 1911, with the approval of Pope St. Pius X, he and Fr. Thomas Price obtained approval for the Catholic Foreign Mission Society of America, which is now better known as the Maryknoll Fathers.

Parishioners and pastors around the country were made guilty of violating the 10th Commandment in mid-November when it was announced that St. Mary Church, a parish in Greeley, CO, had received a first class relic of Bl. John Paul the Great from no less than the late pontiff’s own secretary, Stanisław Cardinal Dziwisz. The relic was a drop of blood from the beatified pope, which makes it a first class relic , and it was given because the pastor, a native Pole wanted something personal of Bl. John Paul’s to have as a reminder of the impact of World Youth Day 1993, which did so much to change the Church in Denver and this nation, really.

Interestingly, if the archdiocese’s exorcist needs a powerful relic, he ought to ask the parish to borrow theirs. Several exorcists have reported that when John Paul II is called upon during this ancient rite against demonic possession, the demon screams in great anguish. He’s like St. Gemma Galgani and Bl. Mother Teresa in that respect.

Sixty-seven years to the day and minute after the Nazis caused his death by decapitation, Angelo Cardinal Amato, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints beatified His Excellency Carl Lampert, Apostolic Administrator for the Diocese of Innsbruck during World War II. After Hitler became Germany’s Chancellor (like our nation’s president), he set in wheels the annexation of Austria to help accomplish his vision of a pan-German state that would encompass all Germanic peoples regardless of national boundaries. Despite huge popular support for this, the Church by and large opposed this, and Bishop Lampert was a leader in this effort in his state of Tyrol. This set in motion the events that led to his martyrdom when the Nazis guillotined him on November 13 at 4:00 pm, along with Frs. Herbert Simoleit and Friederich Lorenz. He died saying, “Jesus and Mary.”

Bl. Carl was the youngest of seven children, and he lost his father at a very young age. At 20, he entered the Prince Archbishop Seminary in what is now Bressanone, Italy, but which was then Brixen, Austria, and received Holy Orders four years later. After a successful stint as a college chaplain, his bishop sent him to Rome to study canon law, where he not only earned his degree but the title “Monsignor.”

The Vatican made him essentially deputy bishop—or “pro-vicar”—of Innsbruck in 1936, and this is what led to his clashes with the Nazis. The regional governor was a rabid anti-Catholic Nazi named Franz Hofer, who began closing monasteries and convents and having consecrated persons arrested. Because Msgr. Lampert opposed him for this, he had him arrested. Then when diocesan priest, Bl. Otto Neururer, the first priest martyred by the Nazis, was murdered, Lampert had the news printed in the diocesan newspaper, which violated Nazi censorship rules, and so he was arrested again, and this time he was deported to first Dachau and then Sachenhausen, where his sentence consisted of hard labor. After three months, he was sent back to Dachau, where he spent another eight months. In August 1941, he was paroled to his home province. A year-and-a-half later, however, the Nazis once again arrested him on trumped up charges. In the ensuing trials, one court found him guilty, another innocent (after which the judge committed “suicide”), and another guilty again, after which the judges sentenced him to death. His beatification process has only been in process since 1997, which is a really short time. Fourteen years between the start of a process and beatification is really the blink of an eye.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Passing on a prayer request

I saw this prayer request via e-mail. It seems worth sharing. See what you think. And if you have the time and want to do a spiritual work of mercy, please pray for this soul.

Oh, Lord, heal this man’s soul. Heal his brokenness. Heal the damage. Heal the hurt, the shame, the fear, the wounds, and let him know to cast those on Your holy wounds, Lord. Let him know and feel the love You have for him, the plans for hope and welfare You have for him (cf. Jer 29:11), and that You have had a plan for him since before the dawn of time (cf., Jer 1:5; Eph 1:1-5). Let him know it’s OK to come in from the cold, that there are people who love him and want him to finally be happy. They want him to know that things can’t bring happiness. Only You can, You and the love You represent, the love You pour out through the gifts You gave us in baptism and confirmation, where they, of You, Holy Spirit, became full-fledged and powerful and activated in our souls. And that among these gifts are joy, love, peace, true happiness, and the grace to be truly happy with You in heaven for eternity.

Help us to show him, despite everything, the love we have for him and that awaits for him in ever greater abundance if only he will turn, to us, and most especially to You. Help him to resist his urge to push us away, Lord. Help him to welcome and fold himself into our embrace.

And Guadalupana, you told Juan Diego that you would protect him in the loving embrace of the crook of your arms, that you would enfold us in your protective mantle. Obtain from your Son the favor we now beseech of you, that He would expel the demons that torment and oppress and harass [Name], O Blessed Lady. Obtain from your divine Son deliverance from the demons that haunt and torment your beloved son [Name]. Pray for him, Madonna. Pray that he be healed, and pray a prayer of protection for [his wife]. Obtain for her from your Son strength, protection, and peace. Shield their beautiful child from the damage to her soul that this separation will otherwise bring. Protect this beautiful being made in God’s image and likeness from the wickedness and snares of the devil that too often situations like this put children into.

O Lord, You tell us in Malachi 4 You hate divorce. Let not [Name] sin again, Lord. Let him not tempt Your wrath. Give him a proper fear of You so he will not carry about this diabolical plan, this tempted plan, this evil plan, this plan that can come to no good.

Free Your servant [Name], whose namesake was so devoted to You and was thus made so powerful, thus showing forth so strongly Your power. Show Your power now, we humbly beseech Thee, O God of Power and Might, O Lord of Hosts. Thy will be done. Keep him safe from every foreign power. Restore him, we beg of Thee, O God, and renew in him a peaceful devotion so that he may love You with his heart and may serve You zealously with his works, may glorify You with praises and may magnify You with his life. Let [Name] know the justice and goodness of you, God our Father, and let him abjure the pride, anger, hurt, and resentment that feed on his soul to the detriment of all who love him.

Hear, O God of Israel, lover of human salvation, the prayer of your Apostles Peter and Paul and all the saints who, by Your grace, emerged as victors over the Evil One. Through their loving and tender intercession, may [Name] be liberated from the prince of darkness’ wiles and temptations and provocations toward self-pity and inwardness. Hear, holy God, the groanings of us, Your supplicants. Do not suffer your son [Name] to labor under this pain and darkness anymore. Do not suffer your servant [Name], whom Christ redeemed by His Precious, Sacred Blood, to labor under the sin that makes him captive of the father of lies. Do not suffer him, a temple of Your Holy Spirit by virtue of his baptism and confirmation, to allow into that temple through his actions the spirits that would damage him beyond hope.

Lord Jesus Christ, through Your overcoming of the temptation in the wilderness and through Your victory over death on the cross, You have given hope to all mankind. Give hope and peace and love to [Name] in this hour of his need, we humbly beseech Thee, O merciful God. For You alone are holy, Lord, You alone are the Highest, You alone are the Lord, Jesus Christ, Who lives and reigns with God the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever unto ages. Amen.

Mary, you who are the geberah to your Son, Who is King of kings and Lord of lords, you who are Theotokos, as defined by Your Son’s Bride, the Church, you who instill so much fear into the hearts of demons and all who do evil, do thou, we beseech thee, by God’s almighty power and through the honor shown you by Our Lord Jesus Christ – Who fulfills the law perfectly, including the commandment to honor His parents, and we understand that the Hebrew word for “honor, kaboda/kabbed literally means to glorify – that He can refuse you nothing you ask for the sake of His greater glory. And since nothing pleases Him more than the return of the prodigal, of the finding of the lost sheep, of the conversion of a lost soul (cf. Luke 15:7), please ask Him for that which will cause the greatest rejoicing in heaven, the return of our brother [Name] to his rightful place with his family and to his duties as an adopted son of God (cf. Gal 4:5), as he was fearfully made in the Triune God’s image and likeness.

Help him see that this is where his dignity lies, not in booze, not in womanizing, not in material possessions, or anything else, but in Jesus, as a son of God through adoption by virtue of Jesus’ blood, shed for him.

And, Lord Jesus, let that knowledge pierce his wounded heart just as St. Longinus sword pierced Your own Sacred Heart while You were lifted on the cross. Furthermore, may that knowledge thereby draw him into Your Sacred Heart, where he can find the healing he needs and be hid from the malignant enemy. Please, Lord Jesus, we humbly beg and beseech these things of You in Your Holy and Heavenly Name. God’s will be done and not ours. Amen.

St. Gemma, so powerful in your prayers against Satan, pray for us. Bl. John Paul II, pray for us. St. Therese of Lisieux, pray for us. Bl. Mother Teresa, pray for us. Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father, hear our prayer offered jointly by us in Your Name. Amen.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

It's a great day for a feast day

A Happy Feast of the Immaculate Conception to you and yours. If you think that the Immaculate Conception is when Mary conceived Jesus or have problems with it, etc., then please read here. It's quite persuasive and well-done.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The meaning of Advent

We often hear of the "meaning of Christmas." What about the period leading up to it, though, Advent? What is its meaning?

As we prepare for Christmas, it is important that we find time for self-contemplation and carry out an honest assessement of our lives. May we be enlightened by a ray of the light that comes from Bethlehem, the ligh of He who is "the Greatest" and Himself small, He Who is "the Strongest" but became weak. ~ Benedict XVI, Angelus address, Sunday, December 4, 2011

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Reason for the silence in November

One reason people regularly check this blog is for the saints news features. The site was silent for October, however, because I was in Rome leading a group of pilgrims. We got to have Mass with Joseph Cardinal Zen, see Florence, and do so many other wonderful things that could not have been planned if we tried. Truly magnificent. So October and November will be posted together tomorrow. Until then, have a blessed and fruitful Advent!

Bl. Miguel Pro and Liberation Theology: Kindred souls?

Patrick Madrid has this excellent post on his website about Bl. Miguel Pro. In response to a question in the combox about whether Bl. Miguel Pro was aligned with Liberation Theology, a heretical movement within the Church, I wrote the following:
"Liberation Theology" as such didn't develop until at least 30 years after Bl. Miguel Pro's death. The term wasn't even coined until 1971. Bl. Miguel's concern was for the poor and oppressed, especially the religiously oppressed (which was just about every faithful Catholic at the time). In other words, he was simply a good priest. The LT movement may have adopted him as a patron of sorts, but to me, that's simply expedient and convenient. It allows them to pretend at a veneer of orthodox respectability by claiming as their own one who probably never would have acceded to their bad theology, disobedience, and dissent. Am I wrong? I'm open to being corrected if so.
If you want to learn more about Bl. Miguel Pro, be sure to get the small, easy-to-read biography from TAN, titled, imaginatively enough, Blessed Miguel Pro. There's also his bio and that of another Cristero martyr, Bl. Jose Luis Sanchez del Rio in 39 New Saints You Should Know.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Catholic comedy and "Mass Appeal"

Saw this today in CMN's newsletter and found it fit for reposting.

The pilot episode of an original CatholicTV sitcom “Mass Confusion” will premier Thanksgiving night at 8:30 (Eastern) on the CatholicTV Network. Greg and Jennifer Willits, co-hosts of The Catholics Next Door, a daily three-hour talk show on Sirius XM’s The Catholic Channel and Mac and Katherine Barron from Catholics is a Small Town blog wrote the pilot and star in the show.  The shows about two Catholic families, each with a bunch of kids,” explained Willits.  “It’s about Jennifer and me with our kids, and our good friends Mac and Katherine Barron with their kids, and of course hilarity ensues.”

Father Robert Reed, who heads up CatholicTV believes that the show is a real winner.  “This type of programming has never been attempted,” explained Father Reed.  “Through Mass Confusion we’re bringing wholesome, funny and entertaining content to families that are hungry for this type of show.”

For more information see:

Monday, October 10, 2011

From the, "Why not? I have nothing else to lose" department

Based on this, the Dalai Lama seems to have given up any hope he ever had of getting back to his homeland or that the Chinese leaders would ever begin to act like rational human beings, rather than the power-at-all-costs monsters that they are. The Chinese don't take well to people who make them "lose face." Do you know what, though? It's often the only thing that works with them. Take the situation reported by Steve Mosher. He recounted in a recorded talk how a Chinese official was giving a news conference concerning China's forced abortion policy. Said Mandarin was asked whether if the one baby allowed a couple was born with birth defects, would they be allowed to euthanize that children. And the guy essentially said the court of international opinion hadn't made itself known on that. Now USAID, Peter Singer, PETA, and Planned Parenthood may have no issue with that sorta thing, but most people would. So China wants to save face and not be known for a nation with the barbarous policies that it has.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Readers, please tell me

Where are you from? If you from a foreign country, what is the nearest major city? If you live in the US or Canada, from what state or province do you view this page?

Also, what brought you here? Do you read regularly? What are your interests? Do you agree or disagree with the things you've found posted here?

Any feedback would be great and highly appreciated.

In Christ,
Look in the Mirror

In Germany, the Pope makes a good point

With so much of the ridiculousness (and here) of contemporary German Catholicism swirling around him (and the ridiculousness of contemporary Catholicism period), you almost are tempted to give B16 points for simply showing up for this visit to his homeland, especially since it is to the heart of German Protestantism and atheism. That he is able to do so and move the ball forward to the extent he is perpetually able, I find remarkable.

However, in this address, he makes a point that seems to bear more reflection:
Faced with a new form of Christianity, which is spreading with overpowering missionary dynamism, sometimes in frightening ways, the mainstream Christian denominations often seem at a loss. This is a form of Christianity with little institutional depth, little rationality and even less dogmatic content, and with little stability.
For those who can't figure what he's on about, he's talking about the evangelical movement, the new/emergent/emerging church movement, the megachurch movement, etc. It seems to me that evangelicalism as it is becoming will become the death knell of Christianity in the future. So much of it is founded on emotionalism. There is little taste for doctrine as such. Holding something as dogmatic is itself often held as anathema, and much of it is about what religion gives "me," and not what I bring worship, honor, service, and praise to my God, "who art all good and worthy of all my love."

I once had a fundamentalist criticize the Church's not inviting to the eucharistic table those who simply said, "I want to be Catholic." Why, he asked, do you make catechumens take anywhere from six months to two years of instruction to become officially Catholic? Well, simply put, it's because doctrine matters. It would be like saying back at one of the early Councils, "Eh, who cares if Jesus is wholly God and wholly man or simply God under the appearance of man or God's highest creature?" Had the Church not insisted on the the meeting of Christ's divinity and humanity as the hypostatic union, Christianity would today be a dead letter. Had the outcome of the Council of Nicaea not been what it was, the same would be true.

And yet the growth in Evangelicalism as a "non-denominational" denomination is an outgrowth of an idea that such dogmatism is no longer needed, if it ever was (and let's not kid ourselves: Calvary Chapel, etc., they're all very denominational with a strict set of beliefs, yet beliefs that can morph and change as times and circumstances require with no reference to the truth, e.g., Ron Bell and Rick Warren et al). It is not doctrine that is important, we're told, but one's personal relationship with Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. How else to explain, "Once saved, always saved," or, "I'm a good person, and Jesus and I love each other, and thus I will go to heaven," or "If Jesus was here today, He wouldn't bother with XYZ. He would just tell us to love one another."

If that's the case, why bother? It's an offshoot of what Miss Flannery O'Conner once said about the Eucharist: "Well, if it's a symbol, to hell with it." Dogma and doctrine are the glue that bind us together with our predecessors in the Faith, and they ensure we will pass on the faith handed down whole by the apostles to our progeny and beyond.

Megachurches and the new or emergent church movement may look impressive on paper now, but they are ultimately nothing more than today's fad, a flash in the pan. They are, in short, just another form of Modernism. Thus, they will only further undermine institutional Christianity than has already happened.

God help us and save us from this, please.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

I ask my Iranian friends again ...

If even half of this is true, I ask my Persian friends again: When will you come to realize that Islam is not incidental to your woes but the direct cause of them.

Bl. Bartolomeo Longo, pray for us.

Boy, did I need to read this. Do you?

This comes at just the right time. Are you just incredibly busy these days? I am, man, I tell ya. My life is way too stressful, and I'm looking for ways to cut back.

Let's see:
  • A huge campaign at work with even bigger pressure coming from those above me and those above them and those above them, and so on.
  • A manuscript that is due November 1, where my word limit is 40,000 words, and I'm about 10,000 words above that. And cutting words for me -- details, really -- is a hateful thing. Hateful. Still, I have to do that.
  • A pilgrimage to Rome that I'm leading that starts November 3. There are still so many loose ends to wrap up, it's mind numbing.
  • There are yard projects to finish before winter (rabbit hutch, winterizing the chicken coop), and there's no time to do so. Plus, my wife is pressing me to cull all our animals, which I don't want to do a) because I like our animals, especially my rabbits and b) I want to see if I can get animals alive through the winter.
  • I teach CCD.
  • I lead my parish's Bible study.
  • I do our family's grocery shopping.
  • I'm out of certain types of animal feed and am scrambling to feed them each day until I can get to the feed store.
  • We're (I'm) caring for our weekend neighbors farm animals during the week.
It's just nuts. So tonight, as much as I want to just work on my MS when I get home tonight, I'm going to play with one of the kids. That article I linked to above clinched it for me. Did it have any effect on you?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Three cheers for Lichtenstein

This is great. Somewhere in Western Europe they have stood up for life. However, not to be Debbie Downer, but it was just a six percent margin. How long will the culture of death liberal Catholicism that runs rampant in neighboring Austria and Switzerland be held at bay on this issue? In any event, a win's a win. Kudos to His Majesty Prince Alois, Liechtenstein's monarch. His threat of veto must have had a very positive influence.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Big Brother is watching you

Can you believe this? How have we devolved to this level?

You know what the funny thing about this sordid situation is? The very people who have set this in motion are those who cry "Christian Taliban!" and "theocracy" at the drop of a hat. When did an established Christian state -- Catholic or otherwise -- ever do something like branding a 3-year-old, thus jeopardizing or at least limiting their entire future? Dear God, help us.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

What do you do?

Have you ever felt your efforts on behalf of Christ are so much rubbish in the face of your manifest sins? What do you do in response? Truly, I am very deeply interested in your thoughts.

In His powerful and holy name.

Has the fat lady sung for Pat Robertson

In the Gospel of Matthew, Our Lord makes it very clear that "what God has joined, let no man rent asunder [i.e., tear apart]. In other words, man and woman upon marrying become a fabric. They are interwoven together like threads in a garment. And Our Saviour says the only reason to part is for "unchastity," from the Greek porneia, which is either taken to mean serious sexual unchastity or, as the Catholic Church has historically defined it, that the marriage was never valid in the first place.

Now Rev. Pat Robertson is saying you can divorce your spouse if he or she has Alzheimer's. What about "for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, forsaking all others"? How is the sola scriptura (i.e., the Bible as the sole rule of faith) authorized to overturn two millenia of Christian teaching? Where does he find this in Tradition or Scripture?

As depressing and disappointing as this is, I think it clearly shows what happens when we become a magisterium unto ourselves or reject the Church's legitimate magisterium. Eventually, traditional doctrine will slough off to become a religion made in the image of man and not a reflection of the one, true, triune God.

Please pray for this man's return to orthodoxy.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Hints of sunshine poking through the forest's darkness

I tend to be very cynical and fatalistic. However, Kathryn Lopez is right: There are signs of hope. It's not that Bob Turner shares my party affiliation. It's that he favors a traditional worldview that the so-called intelligentsia view as not only passe but bigotted. It's not. It's the truth, it's God's plan, and we ignore it our peril.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Canada has gone insane

Peter Singer must be proud. Taking the idea that newborns aren't persons and are thus not protected by the law, a judge in Alberta has found innocent a woman who admitted she had strangled ... a mother strangled ... her newborn baby. See more here.

New contraceptives even more dangerous than before

Hey, ladies, does getting a blood clot sound good to you? If not, see here.

What does this say to you?

The BBC reports that more Chinese attend church on Sundays than in all of Europe. Belloc famously said, "Europe is the Faith." Now maybe China owns that distinction, just it's starting to own everything else.

See here for more information.

Monday, September 12, 2011

9/11 aftermath - bit of unknown history

When the jihadists make a huge attack such as 9/11, etc., research the date. If you do, you'll usually see that something significant -- and usually bad for their side -- happened on that date, even if it was centuries ago. It's as if they see their choosing these dates as both advancing their cause and exacting revenge.

September 11 is no different. Vienna was theirs. It was in their grasp. That is, until Poland's King Jan (i.e., John) Sobieski came to the rescue. Christendom was saved. It also marks the the advent of drinking coffee in the West, but that's a different story.

Read more from Fr. Z in this short article here.

Warning: All potential converts to Catholicism

I'm reading this conversion story. As I'm doing so, it calls to mind a warning I'd like to give all thinking about coming into the Catholic Church. You've come to the point where you want to call the local parish and ask the priest some question. After you explain your situation, the first question you should ask, however, is, "Do you sometimes recommend that people should just strive to be the best Anglican they can be, the best Methodist, the best Muslim/Zoroastrian/Taoist, etc.? Or are you convinced the Catholic Church is the one, true Church founded by Jesus Christ on the apostles, and that all her teachings have been handed down from by the Christ through the apostles and their successors, especially the successors of Peter?" If he answers the former, thank him for his time and call another parish. Keep going until you find someone who affirms the latter. If he affirms the latter from the get go, proceed accordingly and good luck. Our prayers are with you!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

RIP - the last living connection to Bl. Emperor Karl I of Austria has gone

From my friend Br. Nathan Cochran, OSB, vice postulator for the cause of Emperor Karl I of Austria:

The family of Archduke Felix of Austria has requested the prayers for the repose his soul. He died earlier today, and his grandson reports: “His death was very quick. He didn’t suffer at all.  He just fell into a deep sleep. He was laughing and praying before he fell asleep and died.”

Archduke Felix was the last surviving child of Bl. Emperor Karl of Austria, King of Hungary and his wife the Servant of God Empress Zita of Austria, Queen of Hungary. He was born at Schoenbrunn Palace in 1916, and was married to Anne, the Duchess of Arenberg, who preceded him in death. He was an industrialist who made his long-term home in Mexico City. He had a marvelous sense of humor and spoke English with a Brooklyn truck driver’s accent.
May the soul of Archduke Felix and all the souls of the faithfully departed through the mercy of God rest in peace. Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. Amen.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Just curious

Is anyone actually reading this blog? My "stats" page tells me I get several hits most days (and, frankly, that's not why I do it, i.e., to get hits; I write because I need to). However, I notice a lot of my traffic seems to come from something called "TrafficFaker," which makes me wonder. Anyway, make it a great Sunday and have a blessed week.

Had you ever heard about this? I hadn't.

Have you ever heard about the devshirme, Christian boys -- and only Christian boys -- kidnapped/conscripted every 4-5 years in the Ottoman Empire and given highly specialized education, privileges, rank, and all the rest, although they were essentially slaves and they had to convert to Islam to stay in the system. Why do historians and such take such glee in throwing the Crusades and Inquisition in the face of the Church (even though the conventional wisdom on these is largely so very wrong) and say nothing, absolutely nothing about such an attrocity that lasted for several hundred years?

"Well, they were Catholics. They deserved it." Most weren't. Most were Greek or Serbian Orthodox. "Oh, well, whatever. They were Christians, and Orthodox ain't much better than Catholics, are they?" Why did they deserve it, though? "Because they were Christians. Don't you get it? They deserved whatever they got.... And you'll deserve whatever you get, too, buster."

"They will hate you for My Name's sake."

Friday, September 2, 2011

The approach of 9/11

On September 11, 2001, I was getting ready to go into work at the state Capitol. My boss called me and sounded very strange. "You can't go in," he told me. "What?" I asked him in an incredulous tone. "Why?" Thoughts started racing through my mind. "You haven't seen the television?" he asked me. "No," I replied. "Go turn it on. There's been an attack in New York, they think it might be a terrorist attack, and they're worried about an attack on the Capitol. They're not letting anyone go in."

Now I was really confused. I sorta stumbled to the television, wanting to see the news out of curiousity, not wanting to because if it was big enough to close down our distant although major state Capitol, it must be really, really big.

I turned on the set. The first tower had just been slammed into. Confusion, panic, fear, incredulousness, we saw this in the people pictured live at the scene, in the people broadcasting the news, and in those of us watching. Then the next plane hit. As I remember it, it was about 9:30 a.m. when the first tower collapsed (whether Eastern time zone or my own, I don't recall).

I couldn't believe it. This was one of the Twin Towers. When I was a kid -- I think it was in 1977 -- the remake of King Kong came out with Jessica Lange. The promotional posters showed that iconic shot of King Kong atop a skyskraper, and for the 1977 Kong, that skyscraper was one of the Twin Towers. I mean, c'mon, give me a break: This is the building up which climbed King Kong. For a brief instant, the part of me that is still 10-years-old thought, 'If it was strong enough for Kong, how could it collapse, right?'

But before our disbelieving eyes, it did collapse. Both of them did. In between the planes hitting and the final collapse, we saw it all, especially the people. No, not the people who were covered with dust, who were injured or grossly maimed or stumbling in a daze toward what they hoped was safety (but, hey, at that point, who actually knew?). No, it wasn't them. It was the people jumping. The most basic instinct in life is not food, is not sex, is not shelter. It is survival. Only something that is more motivating like love of Christ or love of country will make a person willingly give up their life. Those who jumped, they were not giving up their lives. They were doing the only thing that might have possibly saved their lives, the only thing that made sense. Think of jumping off a high dive or even from a two storie window. For the majority of us, that's a frightening or at least unnatural prospect. Now think of being 52, 78 floors above the ground. How bad, how hellish must it be behind you that you look at the prospect of jumping from that height as the better choice? Or was it fear, even cowardice, a fear of what it would be like to burn and die from what is coming toward you, so let's jump? And, again, how bad, how hellish must it have been behind you, to see that nightmare slowly creeping up like a demon, prowling its way closer, inch by inch, smacking its lips in anticipation of devouring you?

As I a boy, I lived for a time in Iraq. It was one of the best times of my life. I loved it there. And I grew to love Muslims there. I loved their generosity, their openness, their hearty laughter, their fatalistic look at life, their kindness, their common sense that meshed with their ability to be absolutely maddening. Growing up, I always stuck up for Muslims. As an adult, I did the same thing.

Until that day. Until 9/11. Until I saw celebrating in places not far from where I had lived as a boy, cretins dancing a jig glorifying death on cafe tabless and in the streets. Until I heard nary a word of condemnation from supposedly moderate Muslims. Until I heard cries of, "You deserved this." Until I heard the cries of mothers now unwillingly left to raise their children on their own. Until I heard the sobs of grown men over the loss of their soul mates, of fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, godparents, godfamilies, and even mere admiring acquaintances. Until I heard my own sobs, until I felt my own anger, which has not failed to be felt, to be acutely felt each and every time in the last 10 years I have seen those damnable scenes, listened with my soul and with horror to the retelling of stories of lives lost and forever damaged by the decision of 20 some insane men to serve as Satan's agents and to do so in the name of an all good God. Truly, this must rank as the greatest single blasphemy ever committed.

We are supposed to turn the other cheek. We are supposed to bless our enemies, to love them, and to bless those that curse you. By that measure, I obviously have a long way to go toward sanctity; it is not something of which I'm proud. I suppose that will change when I get over the disbelief that something like this could have happened 10 years ago on Sunday. God help us. God forgive us. God lead us, and God unite us all the world over under the love that is Jesus Christ and within the secure embrace of His Bride, the one, holy, apostolic, Catholic Church. We pray these things in the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ and through the intercession of His Blessed Mother, the Virgin Mary.

Beatification and canonization news for August

Funds needed

The cash-strapped canonization cause for Bl. Joseph Vaz has issued an appeal for donations. According to Asia News, Bishop Fernando Vianney of Kandy, president of the bishops’ Secretariat which deals with the canonization cause explained the Secretariat has submitted miracles to the postulator general, but the process of canonization of Bl. Joseph is at a “critical” stage.

To find out more, fill out the form at this page:

You can send donations to:

Bl. Joseph Vaz Secretariat
Bishop’s House
873 Peradeniya Road
Kandy, Sri Lanka

Sanctuary of Bl. Joseph Vaz
413, Sancoale
403710 Goa

Guatemalan pilgrimage

To help promote the canonization cause of the Servant of God Fr. Stanley Rother, 38 pilgrims from Arkansas and Oklahoma journeyed to the small village of Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala for the 30th anniversary of his death. On July 28, 1981, he was shot in the rectory of the parish here that he served for the last 13 years of his life.
According to the Little Rock diocesan newspaper Arkansas Catholic, Fr. Rother “was a farm boy from an ordinary town in western Oklahoma. He struggled as a student in his first year of studies at the seminary. He served the first five years of his priestly ministry without much notice in a series of little known Oklahoma towns. Then everything changed when Father Rother answered the call to serve at the mission in Guatemala, finding his heart’s vocation as a missionary to the Tzutuhil people.
“Rother was only 46 when he was shot to death in his rectory. “Padre Apla’s” as he was called in Tzutuhil, was so beloved by the people of Santiago Atitlan that they requested permission to remove his heart before his body was returned for burial to Okarche, Okla. His heart, both figuratively and literally, will always remain with his beloved Tzutuhil as part of the church’s altar.”

New Doctors in the offing?

Not counting St. Juan de Avila, who is a shoe-in, 17 saints are under consideration for declaration as doctors of the Church. According to the Chiesa website of the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, the candidates include six women: St. Veronica Giuliani, St. Hildegard of Bingen, St. Gertrude of Helfta, St. Bridget of Sweden, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, and Bl. Julian of Norwich.

Besides St. Juan, the men include: St. Gregory of Narek, St. John Bosco, Ss. Cyril and Methodius, St. Lorenzo Giustiniani, St. Antonino of Florence, St. Thomas of Villanova, St. Ignatius of Loyola, St. Vincent de Paul, St. Louis-Marie Grunion de Montfort, and St. Bernardino of Siena.

Saint once was lost but now is found

In early August, a lead container was uncovered thought to contain remains of St. Edburg, who was the daughter of a pagan King and born in around 620 AD.

According to the UK paper Daily Mail, "St Edburg was a nun at Castor, Northamptonshire, under her sister St Cuneburga, before building a monastery on land given to her by her father King Penda of Mercia.

She died in 650 AD and from 1182 her relics were kept at Bicester Priory, Oxfordshire, until 1500 when Pope Alexander VI ordered her remains to be removed and relocated to Flanders in Belgium."

The tomb was located when construction workers had made excavations for a large redevelopment project in Bicester, England.

Mass for the “Grunt Padre”

Finally, on Tuesday, September 6, Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the US Archdiocese for the Military Services will celebrate a memorial Mass in the crypt church at Washington, DC’s Basilica of the National Conception for the Servant of God Vincent R. Capodanno, a Maryknoll Father and Navy chaplain who was killed performing his duties for soldiers in Vietnam.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Women's suffrage

Thursday, August 25, was the 91st anniversary of American women gaining the right to vote. Here is the story of my meager brush with that moment in history.

It was election day in Chicago, 1995, and I was living in Lincoln Park. Daley's opponent was a clown. Literally That was actually his profession. Anyway, I hadn't voted that day. My choice was between Daley and a clown, so I wasn't sure I was going to make it to the polls that day (and I always vote, so that would have been a pretty big deal).

On my way home from work that day, shuffling down the street toward me was this woman, old enough to be the  little sister of Methusaleh. I had never seen her before, but she stopped me, a perfect stranger, and asked, "Have you voted yet?" I hemmed and hawed but basically said no.
Then she told me, "The first time I voted was the first election in which women had the right to vote." That would have been the presidential election in 1920 that put Warren Harding in the White House. She said she'd voted for Calvin Coolidge, even though he was only the VP candidate. Who knows? Maybe she voted for Harding because she liked Coolidge. Back then you had to be 21 to vote, right? So she had to have been born in at least 1899, and it was 1995. That meant she was at least 96.

In parting, she told me, "You make sure you vote," and I did.

Anyway, it was an amazing moment that, to have met someone who was amongst the first American women to vote and certainly one of the last alive. I was very lucky, and that night, I couldn't get it out of my mind what an incredible moment that had been.

A great way to start your Sunday ... or any day

Do yourself a favor: Listen to this. It's a great way to start off your Sunday. Oh, and ignore the first 30 seconds where Giovanni is speaking his native tongue, Italian. Indeed, check out Giovanni's channel. He's a master and a gift to both the Church and the world.

What you will never regret

In the days of college and early adulthood, I was promiscuous. My numbers -- my bedpost notches, if we're going to be even more crass -- are above those of the average heterosexual male (but a pale, barely distinguishable shadow of those experienced by upwards of 30-plus percent). I am only in vague contact with two of those women, both of whom I dated seriously, one of which to the point of engagement. She turned 44 yesterday, the other sometime earlier in the month. Happy birthday, sweeties. Seems all my significant girlfriends were born in August. Wonder what that means. Hmmm.

Anyway, I've a relative who's just graduated from college. She has committed several sins against chastity of late, and it makes me sad. She had such an excellent formation from her mother, and her siblings were good roll models in this respect, too. And yet there's this man who she knows is just using her for cheap thrills, and she doesn't care. That's what sin does to you. At first you're horrified by what you've done. Then it becomes habitual and you think, "What's the big deal."

She wrote recently to say loves me, and I responded thusly:
I love you, too, sweetheart. More than you can know, and that's why I have been praying and sacrificing for you per our last conversation. Please trust me. Don't repeat my mistakes, honey. Please be that rare young person who simply trusts the counsel of those older and more experienced, we who look back on our past with weeping sadness and regret at the tricks of ol' hairy hooves into which helped us all too eagerly fall. Remember, always remember, keep in mind constantly, the sacrifices your mom offered for you from the moment you were born, and especially those she made as she drew to that door. Don't let them be in vain, Ang. If you do, it will only be the spiritual equivalent of defecating on her grave as a piece of performance art with a large crowd in attendance.
As I have constantly told my teenage CCD students, "You will never regret your chastity, but you will always regret your giving in to your lust."

If you don't understand the philosophy behind chastity or the Church's teachings on this subject, then let me suggest you look into the Theology of the Body. Chastity is not some white knuckle thing where you have to squirm, grin, and bear it until that day -- which may or may not come -- when you get married. It is a gift, a beautiful gift, and it even exists in marriage, although in a different form. But to violate it, to fritter it away, it leads to so much else that is just poisonous in your life and your soul.

Please, take it from someone who knows.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Beatification and saints news from July

The saints and beati news over the last month has been pretty thin, but here is what we have:

On June 28, Pope Benedict XVI issued a decree of heroic virtue for Mother Laura Meozzi, who is now known as Ven. Laura Meozzi. She was from a noble Florentine family and went to Rome around 1895 to complete her medical studies, but while in school, she discerned a call to join the Salesian Sisters, and from 1898 through 1921, she worked in Sicily, before moving to Poland. When she arrived she had nothing, but trusting totally in God's providence, she made it known she would give help to whoever needed it: homeless, sick, persecuted, prostitutes, wayward children, orphaned and abandoned children, etc. When WWII broke out, she could have gone home to Italy, but she stayed behind. Some of her sisters were shipped off to concentration camps. After the war, she had to move further west in Pogrzebien, Poland, and she reestablished the novitiate in a castle the Germans had used to exterminate women and children. This is interesting because the Church has always gone to great lengths to establish itself in, say, former pagan temples or has built over these to physically demonstrate the triumph of Christ. So here, Ven. Laura established the novitiate of an order that helped mothers and children in a place where the occultic Nazis had murdered them.
It was announced in early July that at long last, the beatification cause of Queen Catherine of Aragon looks like it's getting off the ground. Here is where you can find more:
On July 1, the Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities of Syracuse, NY, announced the Vatican medical board that rules on miracles says there is no medical explanation for the reversal of a woman's allegedly fatal medical condition. Bl. Mariane's cause still must pass two more Vatican examinations before it is presented to the pope for final approval for canonization. The first is by a board of theologians who will determine if the healing was the result of prayer for Mother Marianne's intercession, and then by a committee of cardinals and bishops who will examine the entire case and give a final verdict.

On July 4, it was announced that the beatification cause of Ven. Pius XII, the Pope during WWII, may have its miracle. An Italian woman named Maria Esposito had contracted Stage IV Burkitt's lymphoma, a rare and particularly aggressive form of cancer. She suffered setback after setback, and after her family and she prayed for his intercession, she not only survived but was totally cured after a single, six-week cycle of chemotherapy. Her own oncologist says this is inexplicable.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Why reinvent the wheel?

Normally, I try to do my own thing here, but I thought the following commentary by Fr. Robert Sirico and comments by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf (in bold and in red) were so spot on, I'd simply copy and paste them. However ...

I once read that in 1948, the average federal tax burden on a family of four in the United States was $0.02 of every $1.00. Think about that. Let it soak in. Go find your pay stub. Look at what you paid to the federal government there and year-to-date. Now aggregate this to all the families in the United States. Is it any wonder why so many families in the United States are convinced the wife/mother have to work in order to simply make ends meet, much less get ahead? (And, yes, indulge themselves in SeaDoos, etc.)

And it has undermined the family in ways non-economic, as well. One of my fraternity brother's wife left him for a man with whom she worked. It was devastating. Yes, men have been doing to their wives this for eons, and this sort of thing could and maybe even would have happened given what must have been problems in the relationship. However, how much more of this goes on because couple decides "We must have this extra income for XYZ reason," and at some point down the road, husband and wife fall into a rough patch, either spouse knows someone else at work who seems more attractive/attentive/whatever, they can't see that the rough patch is just a passing phase that will go, come back, and go again ad nauseam for the rest of their lives, and pretty soon, an affair is in full bloom, it gets discovered, and the family is destroyed. Add into the mix Paul VI's admonitions in Humanae Vitae of what would happen if birth control became widely available, and each of the gazillion studies that show the societal consequences of the breakup of the nuclear family come into sharper focus.

And so it makes me wonder: Why isn't the USCCB more firmly pressing for tax relief for families so moms don't feel they have to go to work but can stay in the home (as many working moms have told me is the case)? Why aren't they insisting that the portion of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that abolished the family wage or any family considerations when employers seek to remunerate their workers be repealed? Why is it -- or has it historically been -- "SPEND, SPEND, SPEND!", even though overwhelming evidence shows this does more harm than good? Why have we so blithely ignored 2 Thessalonians 3:10, where St. Paul commands us, "If anyone will not work, let him not eat"? When has that factored into the equation?

And, yes, you don't hear this sort of "SPEND, SPEND, SPEND!" mantra that led one wag to call the USCCB "the Democratic Party at prayer" as much anymore if at all. However, nothing has replaced it (or have I missed something)? In any event, I pray that what Fr. Sirico has written is becoming the conventional wisdom amongst Church types. Government spending on the poor is not bad, but if we're going to use precious tax resources for that purpose, they ought to be verifiably effective and we shouldn't protect government spending on the poor just because it's government spending on the poor.

Anyway, would love to know what you think about the following or the above.

The Church as the Bride of Caesar
July 27, 2011 4:15 P.M.
By Fr. Robert A. Sirico
It is telling that the Washington Post report on the religious Left’s Circle of Protection campaign for big government describes the effort as one that would “send chills through any politician who looks to churches and religious groups as a source of large voting blocs,” because, in fact, this is not an honest faith-inspired campaign to protect the “least of these” from Draconian government cuts, as claimed. It is a hyper-political movement that offers up the moral authority of churches and aid organizations to advance the ends of the Obama administration and its allies in Congress
The Circle of Protection, led by Jim Wallis and his George Soros-funded Sojourners group, is advancing a false narrative based on vague threats to the “most vulnerable” if we finally take the first tentative steps to fix our grave budget and debt problems. For example, Wallis frequently cites cuts to federal food programs as portending dire consequences to “hungry and poor people.”

Which programs? He must have missed the General Accountability Office study on government waste released this spring, which looked at, among others, 18 federal food programs. These programs accounted for $62.5 billion in spending in 2008 for food and nutrition assistance. But only seven of the programs have actually been evaluated for effectiveness. Apparently it is enough to simply launch a government program, and the bureaucracy to sustain it, to get the Circle of Protection activists to sanctify it without end. Never mind that it might not be a good use of taxpayer dollars.

It is also telling that the group’s advertised “Evangelical, Roman Catholic, mainline Protestant, African-American, and Latino Christian leaders” who are so concerned about the poor and vulnerable in the current budget negotiations have so little to say about private charity, which approached $300 billion last year. [QUAERITUR: To what extent would a rise in interest rates coupled with the abolition of tax breaks for charitable giving impact help for the poor and other worthy efforts?] To listen to them talk, it is as if a prudent interest in reining in deficits and limiting government waste, fraud, and bloat would leave America’s poor on the brink of starvation. It is as if bureaucratic solutions, despite the overwhelming evidence of the welfare state’s pernicious effects on the family, are the only ones available to faith communities. This is even stranger for a group of people who are called to “love the neighbor” first and last with a personal commitment.

Although the Circle of Protection has been endorsed by a few Catholic bishops, the predictably left-leaning social justice groups, and Catholic Relief Services, the Catholic Church in America has long moved beyond the heady (and increasingly-distant) days of the 1980s when knee-jerk opposition to any reduction in government spending was the norm. That still holds, even if some of the staff and a few of the bishops at the Bishops’ Conference still imbibe such nostalgia.

The actions of Wallis and the co-signers of the Circle of Protection are only understandable in light of political, not primarily religious, aims. Wallis, after all, has been serving as self-appointed chaplain to the Democratic National Committee and recently met with administration officials to help them craft faith-friendly talking points for the 2012 election. And when Wallis emerged from that White House meeting, he crowed that “almost every pulpit in America is linked to the Circle of Protection … so it would be a powerful thing if our pulpits could be linked to the bully pulpit here.”

Think about that for a moment. Imagine if a pastor had emerged from a meeting with President George W. Bush and made the same statement. I can just imagine the howls of “Theocracy!” and “Christian dominionism!” that would echo from the mobs of Birkenstock-shod, tie-dyed, and graying church activists who would immediately assemble at the White House fence to protest such a blurring of Church and State.

But in the moral calculus of Jim Wallis and his Circle of Protection supporters, there’s no  problem with prostrating yourself, your Church, and your aid organization before Caesar. As long as he’s on your side of the partisan divide.

— Rev. Robert A. Sirico is president and co-founder of the Acton Institute in Grand Rapids, Michigan

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Transitions and my ever so brief brush with them

Two developments took place over the last week.

The first and more cheerful of the two is that Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver has been named to take over the See of Philadelphia. This is good news. It means that he will get the red hat and that the bench of American red hats is very strong. I can't think of any previous US cardinal with whom I'd have been comfortable being elected pope. Now with ++Dolan and ++Chaput as probable papabile, that has changed. ++Dolan would be marvelous, but ++Chaput would be absolutely phenomenal. With the possible exception of Cardinal Burke, he is quite possibly the brightest light in the American episcopal firmament.

My friend knows him well and, until September 8, works for him. He loves playing racquetball, and once, when my friend related a story of how someone woman with whom he had spoken told him she had converted in her heart simply upon seeing some bishop in his episcopal finery, ++Chaput said, "Oh, yeah, [Name]. That happens all the time," and said it like it was no big deal.

In 2003, I took a trip to Rome. During Bl. John Paul II's pontificate, if you knew the right people and could pull the right strings, you could get in to his private morning Mass. We did and we pulled, but, alas, it was not to be, as we got a message upon returning to our pensione that, well, it was not to be.

Had we gone, Mass would have been followed by a small receiving line, where we would have had a chance to receive a rosary blessed by him and say a few words. I told myself that if I got a chance to say one thing to him, it would have been, "If you want to cement your legacy, Holy Father, make Archbishops Pell and Chaput cardinals." Because, you know, popes and such are always calling moi for such pearls of wisdom. Oi vay.

In any event, ahem, Bl. John Paul II did make ++Pell a cardinal, and now it looks as though B16 will do the same at some point with ++Chaput. So it looks like, despite my ever-growing pride, God agreed with my assessment, at least insofar as it is good for the Church to have these two men as pope-makers and possibly even popes themselves.

The second note, and decidedly sad, is that Dr. Warren Carrol, founder of Christendom College, Seton High School, and Seton Homeschooling and author of a multi-volume history of Catholicism, has passed away in Front Royal, VA, at age 79. Dr. Carrol helped keep aflame my love of history and enabled me to see there were perfectly rational explanations for things such as the Inquisition and Crusades, etc.

I never formally met him. My only encounter with him was this past May, when my sister-in-law graduated from Christendom. At a reception afterward, there he sat against the wall with his walker sipping pink punch. He had evidently suffered a stroke some time before, and like many stroke victims, didn't have full use of his motor abilities. The punch spilled on the floor, and I helped clean it up and saved what I could for his further consumption. I had no idea who this man was.

A few minutes later, my newly graduated suocera came up to me and asked, "Did you see that old man against the wall with his walker?" "Yeah." "That's Warren Carrol." "No kidding. He doesn't look so great." "Yeah, he's had a stroke." I resolved to go up and introduce myself, but he was no longer there. Thus my brush with a good man who did great things for the Church. Hooray for me. Ain't I just soooooo special. OK, let's not answer that question.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Movie review: My Name is Khan

Ever since 9/11, I have burned with fury over what Muslims did to our nation that day. As I've written here, I've grown increasingly bewildered and frustrated and angry and scared over the actions of some Muslims, both against America and against my fellow Christians around the world. I am becoming acquainted with a religious in Pakistan, who tells me of the fear she encounters in dealing even with those Muslims whom she helps. Fear because one never can know when they will falsely accuse her of blasphemy against Muhammed or Islam.

However, tonight I realized how misplaced my growing and blanket antipathy of all Muslims has been misplaced, and the movie that did it for me is the remarkable-by-any-standard My Name is Khan.

This is a movie of great power and features tremendous acting. It has the complete menu one could want in a film: compelling, quick-paced, tragic, funny, uplifting, upbeat, tense ... In what is truly a masterwork, one experiences all of these emotions and feelings and then some.

The story centers on Rizvan Khan, an autistic man who comes to America. Through a tragic circumstance in his family, he sets out to tell the President of the United States, "My name is Khan, and I am not a terrorist."

This is a hard movie to describe, but suffice it to say you know a drama is special when it clocks in at two hours, forty-one minutes, and it doesn't at all seem that long. Every moment, the acting and story captivate you. Why wasn't Shahrukh Khan, the actor who plays the title role, nominated for an Academy Award? You never for a moment believe this is simply some actor playing someone with autism. Also, Rizvan's falling for the female lead Mandira is made so believable because of the incredible performance by the Indian actress Kajol. From top to bottom, this is a really well-done film. I can't say enough good things about it.

As for the effect it had on me, it made me realize my growing prejudice against all Muslims -- what else can I honestly call it? -- is no more rational than the jihadists hatred against "infidels" like me.

This isn't to say I am no less concerned about the jihadists or those who would make my children and me dhimmi. Not one bit. Only 10 years later, I realize I need to keep a more balanced view and approach. Being vigilant doesn't mean you become a vigilante or any shade thereof.

See this movie. You won't regret it.

Catholicism and homosexuality

This post is by a homosexual man who does not choose that distinction as his first identity. In the piece, he has many compelling things to say.

For instance, this chestnut puts it better than I've ever seen it put, and I've been working on this subject for probably 10+ years:
Is it hard to be gay and Catholic? Yes, because like everybody, I sometimes want things that are not good for me. The Church doesn't let me have those things, not because she's mean, but because she's a good mother. If my son or daughter wanted to eat sand I'd tell them: that's not what eating is for; it won't nourish you; it will hurt you. Maybe my daughter has some kind of condition that makes her like sand better than food, but I still wouldn't let her eat it. Actually, if she was young or stubborn enough, I might not be able to reason with her -- I might just have to make a rule against eating sand. Even if she thought I was mean.

So the Church doesn't oppose gay marriage because it's wrong; she opposes it because it's impossible, just as impossible as living on sand. The Church believes, and I believe, in a universe that means something, and in a God who made the universe -- made men and women, designed sex and marriage from the ground up. In that universe, gay marriage doesn't make sense. It doesn't fit with the rest of the picture, and we're not about to throw out the rest of the picture.
I also liked this:
So, yes, it's hard to be gay and Catholic -- it's hard to be anything and Catholic -- because I don't always get to do what I want. Show me a religion where you always get to do what you want and I'll show you a pretty shabby, lazy religion.
Read the whole piece. It's worth it.

I probably shouldn't say this, but ...

I was reading a news post about the release of Casey Anthony, accused (but acquitted) murderer of her daughter Cayley.

After her release, and as she was driving away, someone screamed thusly:

"A baby killer was just set free!" Bree Thornton, 39, shouted at the passing SUV.

I would love to ask Ms. Thornton this question: "Excuse me, but are you pro-life or 'pro-choice?'"

After all, as Rush Limbaugh and any number of others have noted, we are so outraged -- and rightly so -- what Casey is said to have done to this beautiful, defenseless little girl. And yet, the same thing is done to the tune of 1.2 million times per year to beautiful, defenseless little girls and boys, except that these happen to be in utero. Where are the hordes or protestors over this? How many people vigorously donating to Planned Parenthood have themselves in a lather over Casey Anthony but don't see any contradiction or cognitive dissonance between that outrage and their practical deification of the "right" to do what Casey is said to have done by women whose only difference from Casey is that they haven't yet given birth?

I would also love to find each and every person who spat in the face of a Vietnam vet and screamed "Baby killer!" and ask them the same question I would pose to Ms. Thornton.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

An ongoing, heartbreaking tragedy in Pakistan

Years ago, I can't remember where -- maybe it was National Geographic, maybe the Los Angeles Times -- I read about the "brick kiln" children. These were Pakistani children as young as three who for any number of reasons ended up as slaves making bricks.

Today, a woman religious who ministers to them sent me the following, which I cleaned up for language and readability.

This Sister originally started out in a convent but left a few years back because she did not believe her vocation was to teach in a classroom the rest of her life. Furthermore, she was also interested in the poor Christians and Muslims brick kiln children who, with their families, make bricks. The whole family earns $1 a day. They can never move on to something more profitable or less difficult because their owners have them laboring to pay off debts that most will hardly have brought down even after decades. It probably goes without saying that these children have no opportunity for schooling or any access to doctors. Indeed, their slave masters forbid their formal education. It takes away, after all, from their being able to work. Their life is one of total slavery and brutality.

This brave woman, however, has obtained permission to come to the Christian children in the evening to teach them their Christian faith. She also helps the poor Muslim community because, she relates, "not all the Muslims are bad. Many are very, very loving and friendly people," and, regardless, "they need help."

She is helping children, women, and young girls by providing them very basic needs such as food, clothing, and medicines. She also tries to provide the children with toys because they have no childhood. The "only things they know to play with is MUD, so I buy cheap toys for them." She also procures stationery, composition books, and note books because her team also helps the children learn to read and write.

To learn more about the huge tragedy, indeed, abomination of the brick kiln kids (numbering up to a quarter of a million children) read here and here.

Friday, July 8, 2011

The greatest bio in history

At work yesterday, management noted they wanted us to write or revamp our bios so they could put a story behind the voices our customers hear when they call.

I patently hate these sorts of things. The things I want to write, I can't, and the things that pass muster make me wonder, "Why is this anyone's business?" I'm an intensely private person (probably why I feel I have no one in the world with whom I can talk or to whom I can open up).

But I have to do it. Today, I made this first stab (mind you, not a word of it is true). See what you think:

NAME grew up in abject poverty in the woods of West Virginia, weaning himself on foraged roots, berries, and Nocturnal Oriental Tree Grubbing shrews, a species only found within a five mile radius of his birthplace, and which he singlehandedly helped place on the federal endangered species list (thankfully, the population has started to recover in recent years). While his parents were at the bar during the day and most nights, he ran with wolves, which is where he learned his world renowned and award winning survivor skills that have been regularly featured on ESPN, ESPN 2, ESPN Classic, "Delilah," and the Home Shopping Network, which sells a full range of his monogrammed survivalist products.

Unfortunately, these vaunted skills are also what landed him in the New York State Penitentiary at Sing Sing when he unwittingly fell in with a group of white supremacists whom he thought were simply folksy outdoorsmen like him.

Upon his release 15 years later, he received his degree in Symbology from Harvard University under Dr. John Langdon. Following graduation and three years of unemployment, he went to work in both the Johnson and Nixon Administrations as the aide-de-camp to Daniel Patrick Moynihan, after whom he named two of his 11 sons (with so many children, he had forgotten he had already given his first son this name by the time no. 9 came along).

This was followed by a brief, six day stint in the US Army in Vietnam, where he served as a liaison between the Green Berets and ARVN forces, where he was awarded the Bronze Star, the Silver Star, the Distinguished Service Medal, the Valor Under Fire Medal (which was especially created for him), and the Congressional Medal of Honor, 1st class.

After leaving the service with the rank of SP5, NAME moved his family of 16 back to West Virginia. There they farmed sheep, cattle, and smokable hemp.

Since coming to work for COMPANY in 1985 (before the company was even thought of), NAME has adapted well to life in Wisconsin well, although he says the wolves here speak a different dialect than the one he is accustomed.

His hobby is star gazing at noon, and he regularly competes in underwater nude ice fishing competitions in the Overly Hairy division. His sign is Taurus, he drives a Prius, and he loves Chinese noodles.