Postage for Pakistan and other parts of the planet

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Where to fix the compass

A good priest I know from the Diocese of La Crosse, Fr. Joseph Hirsch recently wrote the following in the diocesan newspaper for the Feast of St. John the Baptist (all the way back in June). I wish I could remember this every day as my days would be much better. Check it out and see if you don't agree:

In your vocation in life, there will be many things that will take you away in many different directions. Stay close to the Lord, because He alone really knows the purpose that he has for you. 

Oh, I have my preferences, but my preferences are so puny and my comfort zone is so little.  What God wants to do for you is so much bigger, but it’s risky and it will involve great trust.

Therefore, if you are to follow John the Baptist, follow Isaiah, follow David, follow all the other people, the saints of the Old and New Testament, don’t ask God to simply do what fits your preference, but say, "God, what is my greatness, for I’m fearfully yet wonderfully made?  What do you want me to do?” 

On that adventure, He will lead you in a way that will not just impact your life, but many others: and that is His story.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Short 'n' Sweet Movie Review

If you have Netflix or similar service, make sure to put the 1940 Alfred Hitchcock film Foreign Correspondent on your list. It is superb. Very good acting (one man got a supporting actor Academy Award nomination for his efforts), amazing suspense (but not over the top like some films), action sequences that wouldn't be seen for another 30+ years, and phenomenally stupendous dialogue. It's the funniest suspense movie I've ever seen, mostly because of the dialogue (although there are a few sight gags here and there, too).

The story revolves around reporter Johnny Jones who is sent to England by the New York Globe on the eve of WWII. He's to get an interview with a Dutch cabinet minister who is working to avert war, and he is to use the help of Stephen Fischer, head of England's peace movement. However, Jones discovers Fischer is actually a German spy ... at the same moment he's about to ask him for his daughter's hand in marriage.

Foreign Correspondent. Don't miss it.

Just a reminder ...

I am trying to raise funds for sending off all the materials in my storage unit that are earmarked for foreign missions. Since I am moving soon and cannot afford to take these items with me, I must send them off before I leave.

Therefore, would you please, please help me in this worthy project to build up the Church?

Whether it be $0.05 or $500 or $5,000 (which would more than take care of things), please donate something.

The Catholic Christian missions that will get these educational, medical, nutritional, catechetical, sacramental, and theological materials are:
  • the Catholic parish in Toba Tek Singh, Pakistan (Immaculate Conception)
  • Sr. Shamim, a woman religious who works with that parish's nearby brick kiln (read: slave) children
  • the Diocese of Faisalabad, which is in the midst of a three-year effort to get all of its Catholic more familiar with Scripture and better equipped to spread the gospel (if you've ever read how tough it is to be a Christian of any sort in that nation, you know they have their work cut out for them)
  • the Diocese of the Solomon Islands' Marriage and Family apostolate
  • a couple of Indian seminaries
  • and St. Michael's, the main seminary in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Whether you have a $1 million or a widow's mite, any donations will help build up the Church in these places. I'm not looking for someone to do it all for me, but I can't do it all on my own. Just click on the "Donate" button at the top of the page.

You have until July 26, because I have to send whatever I can the next day.


Saints News for June

And this being a little more timely ...

Three new US Venerables 

Many have heard that Archbishop Fulton Sheen has been declared “venerable,” but so have two other Americans.
The most recognizable is Bishop Frederic Baraga, who is best known as the “Snow Shoe Priest” because he served as bishop of what is now northern Michigan, including the Upper Peninsula, and back then, with no roads and often frozen water ways, he had to travel on snowshoes.
            The other is Sr. Miriam Teresa Demjanovich, an American native of Bayonne, NJ, and a sister of the Sisters of Charity of St. Elizabeth. The daughter of Slovak immigrants, she went to college, graduated with honors as a literature major and taught before entering her order. She continued to teach even after entering the order, and even gave spiritual conferences, but became ill and died at age 26. 

Cause of Australian woman, who was India’s first nun doctor, opened in Bangalore 

The archdiocese of Bangalore, India, has opened the beatification cause of India’s first woman doctor nun, who was actually Australian. Sr. Mary Glowrey, a Jesus, Mary, and Joseph Sister, was born in the city of Victoria in 1887, and attended the University of Melbourne, where she received the highest marks in her surgery courses.
Arriving in India in 1920, the archbishop of Madras put her straight to work as a medical missionary. She founded the Catholic Hospital Association of India in 1943 so that Catholic teaching would be respected in the practice of medicine. That organization is now one of the world’s largest NGOs. Sr. Mary inspired the founding of the founding of India’s first Catholic medical school. According to one news source, she treated 100,000 patients each year. 

Cause Opens for First Opus Dei Female Numerary  

The papal prelature of Opus Dei has opened the cause for movement’s first female numerary, Dora del Hoyo. She began her labors for the Work in the early 1940s, when she served on the domestic staff at an Opus Dei-run female student residence in Madrid, which is how she met St. Josemaria Escriva.
In 1946, she became the movement’s first “numerary assistant,” and her job was to take care of various Opus Dei centers’ domestic duties. Later that year, St. Josemaria asked her to move to Rome to be his coworker in building up the order throughout the world. She lived in Rome until she passed in 2004. She is best remembered for not drawing attention to herself and yet being someone whom everyone loved and felt drawn to because of her humility, love, and faith. It is said she treated everyone like family.  

Chilean engineer’s cause moves to the Vatican 

A Chilean engineer and Schöenstatt movement member is having his cause for beatification investigated by a group of Vatican theologians.
His name was Mario Hiriart, and although family was not devout, a Schöenstatt priest helped him not only take his faith more seriously, but to try and answer the question, “How do we renew the world in Christ?”
This idea so captivated him that he became a consecrated layman of the Brothers of Mary, which belongs to the Schöenstatt movement.
After college, Mario worked as an engineer for an elite Chilean development company. But he discerned he’d be most effective in renewing society for Christ by teaching university students than by working in an office, and so he became a professor at the Catholic University of Chile. Ironically, his being so hell-bent on holiness for youth caused discord even within Schöenstatt.
Therefore in 1964 at age 33, he traveled to Milwaukee, to meet with Schöenstatt founder Fr. Joseph Kentenich. Along the way, doctors diagnosed him with stomach cancer. He died the day after meeting with Father (who is also a Servant of God). 

“The Return of Saint Oda” 

A really interesting article on the return of a saint to the calendar after she had been taken off. 

First Indian laymen set on the road to canonization 

And, finally, on the next-to-last day of the month, Pope Benedict placed two Indian laymen on the road to canonization.
He did this by first recognizing 18th century Hindu convert Devasahayam Pillai as a martyr. The Church claims he was martyred because he would not revert to Hinduism. Some historians say this is baseless, however. On the other hand, a blind Hindu boy received his sight after having a vision of Mr. Pillai. In any event, this recognition means he now becomes known as Bl. Devasahayam. He is the first Indian lay blessed.
Evidently, Benedict also took the unusual step of personally naming Puthenparampil Thommachan a Servant of God. Mr. Thommachan was a husband and father of two and is known, according to the UCAN news agency, “for popularizing the Franciscan Third Order in the state of Kerala. He began leading a life of piety at the age of 28 and gathered a group of lay people who prayed for sinners and engaged in charitable works. He died in 1907 at the age 72.”

Saints News for May

A little (?) late but hopefully worth the wait ...

South African man up for beatification

There is a new beatification cause on the scene, that of a South African businessman named Benedict Daswa. He is up for beatification because in 1990, after a series of lightning strikes hit his village, his neighbors wanted to pool resources to hire a witch doctor would then tell them which of them was the cause of these calamities.
Because Daswa was a devout Catholic, one who devoted a considerable amount of free time to his parish, he refused to take part in such superstitious nonsense. He told fellow villagers that his faith forbade him to do any such thing. As a result, his superstitious neighbors lynched him by pouring boiling water on him, beating him with sticks, and stoning him.
When he died 22 years ago, he was 46 and the father of eight.
Bishop João Rodrigues of Tzaneen has submitted an 850 page report to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints and has asked Pope Benedict to declare Mr. Daswa a martyr, which would automatically make the Church consider him a blessed. 

Decrees from the Congregation for the Causes of Saints 

On May 10, the Holy Father approved miracles for the Servant of God Tommaso da Olera and the Servant of God Maria Troncatti, which will ultimately result in their beatification. He also confirmed that several Servants of God were martyred for the Faith, including: 

  • Servants of Gods Frederic Bachstein and thirteen companions of the Order of Friars Minor, killed in hatred of the faith at Prague, Czech Republic in 1611.
  • Servants of God Raimundo Castano Gonzalez and Jose Maria Gonzalez Solis, professed priests of the Order of Friars Preachers, killed in hatred of the faith at Bilbao, Spain in 1936. Servants of God Jaime Puig Mirosa and eighteen companions of the Congregation of the Sons of the Sacred Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, and Sebastian Llorens Telarroja, layman, killed in hatred of the faith in Spain between 1936 and 1937.
  • Servant of God Odoardo Focherini, Italian layman, killed in hatred of the faith at Hersbruck, Germany in 1944.
Because they were martyrs, these people will soon be declared blessed without needing a miracle.  

Finally, the following people were declared Venerable: 

  • Servant of God Raffaello Delle Nocche, Italian bishop of Tricarico and founder of the Sisters Disciples of the Eucharistic Jesus (1877-1960).
  • Servant of God Frederic Irenej Baraga, Slovene American, first bishop of Marquette (1797-1868).
  • Servant of God Pasquale Uva, Italian diocesan priest and founder of the Congregation of Sisters Handmaidens of Divine Providence (1883-1955).
  • Servant of God Baltazar Manuel Pardal Vidal, Spanish diocesan priest and founder of the Secular Institute of the Daughters of Mary’s Nativity (1886-1963).
  • Servant of God Francesco Di Paola Victor, Brazilian diocesan priest (1827-1905).
  • Servant of God Jacques Sevin, French professed priest of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) and founder of the Catholic Scouts of France and of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Cross of Jerusalem (1882-1951).
  • Servant of God Maria Josefa of the Blessed Sacrament (nee Maria Josefa Recio Martin), founder of the Congregation of Hospitaller Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (1846-1883).
  • Servant of God Miriam Teresa Demjanovich, an American native of Bayonne, NJ, and professed sister of the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity of St. Elizabeth (1901-1927).
  • Servant of God Emilia Engel, German member of the Secular Institute of Sisters of Maria of Schöenstatt, (1893-1955).
  • Servant of God Rachele Ambrosini, Italian lay woman (1925-1941).
  • Servant of God Maria Bolognesi, Italian lay woman (1924-1980).
  • Servant of God Felix Francisco Jose de la Concepcion Varela Morales, Cuban diocesan priest (1788-1853).
Hildegard of Bingen declared a saint ... again. 

This post by blogger Thomas J. McDonald appeared sometime last month on and puts it really well: 

In some quarters, there’s this idea that Hildegard of Bingen is not really a saint, and that this is somehow PROOF! of the horrible awful sexism of the Church. Except that Hildegard IS a saint, and even has a feast day (September 17). The problem is that her cause was one of the earlier ones to fall under the official process of canonization, which was still being developed. It dragged on for centuries before the Church just went ahead and added her name to the Roman Martyrology (the official book of saints) in the late 15oos, which means that she was a de facto saint even without an official declaration.
In 1173, Pope Alexander III ruled that the process of “making saints” had to become more formal, and was a function reserved to the Holy See. He was pushed to do this not as some kind of naked power grab, but because the process was more open to corruption when left to the bishops. People who were anything but saintly were being proclaimed saints, either because of local pressure on the bishop or plain old corruption. Hildegard died only 6 years after Alexander’s ruling, leaving her case in limbo between the old process and the new.
Just to clear matters up, today Benedict formally proclaimed what the Church has held for over 400 years (longer than it has held that Joan of Arc is a saint): Hildegard of Bingen is indeed a saint. This was just a formal precursor to what is likely to come next: a declaration that St. Hildegard is a Doctor of the Church, meaning she has made a significant contribution to the faith through her through “eminent learning” and sanctity. 

Fr. John Zuhlsdorf, better known as Fr. Z at the blog “What Does the Prayer Really Say?” puts it like this:

This is a typical case of “equivalent canonization.” But what does that mean?
In his work De Servorum Dei beatificazione et de Beatorum canonizatione, Benedict XIV [he reigned 1740-58, and is probably the most brilliant pope before John Paul II or Benedict XVI] formulated the doctrine on equivalent canonization; when the Pope enjoins the Church as a whole to observe the veneration of a Servant of God not yet canonized by the insertion of his feast into the Liturgical Calendar of the Universal Church, with Mass and the Divine Office. With this Pontifical act, Benedict XVI perceives the extremes of a true canonization, that is, of a definitive judgment from the Pope on the sanctity of a Servant of God.
This judgment, however, is not expressed with the usual formula of canonization, but through a decree obliging the entire Church to venerate that Servant of God with the cultus reserved to canonized saints. Many examples of this form of canonization date back to the Pontificate of Benedict XIV; for example, Saints Romualdo (canonized 439 years after his death), Norbert, Bruno … John of Matha, Felix of Valois, Queen Margaret of Scotland, King Stephen of Hungary, “Good King” Wenceslaus (who was really just the Duke of Bohemia), and Pope Gregory VII.

Cause for American priest who served Koreans, Filipinos kept alive 

The cause of the beatification of an amazing American priest, Fr. Al Schwartz, is being aggressively promoted by the sisters of the Congregation he founded.
Fr. Schwartz knew early on he wanted to be a priest, and so he entered seminary at age 14 in 1944, and was ordained 13 years later in 1957 at age 27 in St. Martin Church, Washington, DC.
            After receiving Holy Orders, he went to study at Catholic University in Louvain, Belgium. During school breaks, he would join and help the poor in rag pickers’ camps. This and a pilgrimage to the Vatican approved Shrine of Our Lady of Banneux, where the Holy Mother of God had appeared as “the Virgin of the Poor” (January 15-March 2, 1933) with a message of “I come to relieve suffering.... [b]elieve in me and I will believe in you” helped him decide he would spend his ministry in service of the poor “in fulfillment of her message.”
His first assignment Korea, where half of the working age population consisted of the unemployed, widows, orphans, veterans, and many others who were starving and/or diseased. Many were selling things that had practically no value or were stealing to survive.
When he saw all of this, Father praised God. This was exactly what he had hoped for since he could serve Christ in the poor. Established a Boystown and a Girlstown for war orphans in Korea (he later established similar institutions in Mexico).
Not long after, he got hepatitis and had to return home. However, he had so identified with the less fortunate that he was so poor, he had to beg a ship’s captain to bum a ride. After his arrival in the US and still sick, he would go to any parish that would have him on Sundays to ask parishioners for financial help.
When he returned, he became pastor of a parish in a very poor Korean neighborhood. Out of this experience, he realized he needed help, called on the women in the Legion of Mary, and from their assistance came the founding of the Congregation of the Sisters of Mary to serve the poor, built hospitals for patients too poor to afford regular medical care, residences for the elderly med, unwed mothers, mentally retarded children, the handicapped, and the homeless. Seventeen years after founding the Congregation founded a priestly order called Brothers of Christ. Three years later, received an award from the Philippines for his work, and the award’s written rationale noted he personally raised 75 percent of his various organization’s $8 million annual budgets. The then-archibishop of Manila, Jaime Cardinal Sin, invited him at this time to establish his work amongst the Pilipino people. So he brought the Sisters of St. Mary to a parish in Manila. Got children out of slums built schools and homes.
“Cardinal Jaime Sin, then archbishop of Manila, reportedly invited Schwartz to help the Philippines church’s apostolate to children and youth. About 30 percent of the 98 million Filipinos live below the poverty line, and 26.5 percent of children under 5 are malnourished, Save the Children reports. “Education is the only hope for children to break free of poverty,” the Sisters of Mary maintain.”
In 1989, Fr. Al was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s Disease (also known as, ALS). As the disease progressively crippled his body and he became immobile and confined to a wheelchair, he learned to find joy in his humiliating circumstances. Offered up his suffering. Spent much of his day in adoration before the tabernacle, prayed many rosaries, heard confessions, and preached at Masses, mostly about “the virtues of truth, justice, chastity, charity and humility, penance and fortitude. His love for God and the poor consumed him. He did not only help the poor but also he lived poorly.”
Fr. Schwartz died in 1992, and his cause was taken up in 2005. Now, 20 years after his death, the sisters of his congregation are making a big push with limited resources to get the word out.   

Spanish lay catechist’s cause for beatification moves to Rome 

The Diocese of Orihuela-Alicante, Spain, has completed its investigation phase of the beatification cause of Spanish catechist Rebeca Rocamora and therefore has sent it to the Vatican for its review. Rebeca was born in 1975, and she was this pretty little blue eyed, blond haired girl. At age 10, she became profoundly ill  and instead of constantly griping about it, she just impressed everyone by how much she tried to always be just an example of joy and humility despite the discomfort and pain brought by her sickness.
Then she got another illness, and this, too, never went away. And this was how she spent the last 10 years of her life, dying on Pentecost Sunday, May 26, 1996. Her bishop opened her cause in 2009 because she lived a life of joyful youth and service to God, even if it was from her sickbed. 

Opus Dei introduces cause for married father of five and pediatric medicine pioneer

The personal prelature of Opus Dei has introduced the beatification cause of Dr. Ernesto Cofiño, a Guatemalan pediatrician. Born in 113 years ago this past Tuesday, June 5, he studied Medicine at the prestigious Sorbonne University in Parish, graduating with honors in 1929. Four years later, he married Clemencia Samayoa, and their union gave them five children.
One thing that set Dr. Cofiño apart was that his concern for patients did not end with their physical health. Rather it extended to all parts of their lives.
This was born out of his strong Catholic faith in Our Savior and his love for the Church’s social teaching, which he not only promoted but actively lived in his care for the poor, including street children, both unwed and married mothers, and orphans. He didn’t just write a bunch of checks. Instead, he nursed sick children back to health, he helped build clinics and social assistance centers with his own labor, and did the same with low income housing.
According to the news release announcing the opening of his cause, Dr. Cofiño was “heroic in helping organize training and educational programs for women from very poor backgrounds and other works of charitable assistance, continuing this work right up to his ninety-second year.” He did this, it is said, because he was “determined to make the Church’s social teaching a reality.”
Professionally, he pioneered many innovative practices and research projects in the medical care of Guatemalan children, and his expertise earned him the chair of Pediatrics in the Medical Faculty at the University of San Carlos, where he taught for nearly a quarter century.
Possibly his greatest example for us is that, as someone who was so greatly respected in secular society, he never lost an opportunity to say that life begins at conception and ends at natural death. Dr. Cofiño was a daily communicant and a weekly penitent who had a profound devotion to Our Lady, which drew him to pray the Rosary every day.
Much of this impressive life of faith stemmed from his becoming a supernumerary for Opus Dei from 1956 until his death in Guatemala City in 1991. 

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issues norms on discerning validity of apparitions/locutions 

            Although written in 1978 and promulgated by the Servant of God Paul VI at that time, a document by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on how to discern the validity of apparitions and locutions was distributed only to priests.
However, at the Synod of Bishops in 2008, the Synodal Fathers expressed concern that so many people around the world were claiming to have had supernatural apparitions and the like. Therefore, they decided the Church should issue some norms so the average person would have at least some way of determining not whether warnings about this, that, or the other forthcoming calamity were of a supernatural origin, because apparitions of Mary and even Our Lord can come from Satan (as Fr. John Hardon said of Bayside, a rejected apparition site, “There’s something appearing at Bayside, but it’s not the Virgin Mary.”). Rather, it would help all Catholics discern whether they were valid apparitions as the Church judges validity.
In his introductory note to the newly reintroduced instruction, CDF Prefect William Cardinal Levada wrote a really good explanatory note. It said, “The criterion for judging the truth of a private revelation is its orientation to Christ Himself. If it leads us away from Him, then it certainly does not come from the Holy Spirit, Who guides us more deeply into the Gospel, and not away from it. Private revelation is an aid to this faith, and it demonstrates its credibility precisely because it refers back to the one public revelation. Ecclesiastical approval of a private revelation essentially means that its message contains nothing contrary to faith and morals; it is licit to make it public and the faithful are authorised [sic] to give it their prudent adhesion.”
And, of course, it’s important to remind ourselves that we should give no credence to any apparition until it receives episcopal approval or, in some cases where there are disputes, Vatican approbation.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Fortnight for Freedom quote of the day

The Church, then, considers martyrdom as an exceptional gift and as the fullest proof of love. By martyrdom a disciple is transformed into an image of his Master by freely accepting death for the salvation of the world—as well as his conformity to Christ in the shedding of his blood. Though few are presented such an opportunity, nevertheless all must be prepared to confess Christ before men. They must be prepared to make this profession of faith even in the midst of persecutions, which will never be lacking to the Church, in following the way of the cross. ~ Second Vatican Council's Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium 42

Building up the Church in Pakistan, the Solomon Islands, Ethiopia, and India

For those of you who have been here before, you'll notice that under this blog's name is a PayPal "Donate" button. Now while I'm not adverse to people who appreciate the work I've done sending me consideration for that, there is a much more altruistic reason for my putting that button there.

At my last job, I would sometimes come into possession of certain obsolete Catholic Christian products. Rather than see them go into the dumpster, I took them, put them in my storage unit, and would send them in small packages to parishes, dioceses, apostolates (i.e., ministries), or seminaries in Third World Countries where they spoke English but where they could never afford these sorts of materials. This then expanded into my purchasing or people giving me school books, medicines, clothing, and food.

When my income was regular, I would send one package with each paycheck. Considering that a medium Priority Mail box is somewhere between $45-50, you can see why I never really made much of a dent in those boxes taking up all of that space in my storage unit.

My problem is that I'm moving half way across the country after almost six great years in my current location, and I still have a ton of stuff in that unit (I've only sent off maybe one shipment since becoming self-/unemployed).

I cannot afford to take these items with me (we're going to have to leave behind so much to begin with), and I obviously cannot afford to ship them to their intended overseas recipients all by myself.
For instance:
  • I have medicine and school materials needed by "brick kiln" (read: slave) children in Pakistan
  • I have beautiful vestments, vestment materials, and sacramentals needed by seminaries in India
  • I have badly, badly, badly needed morality materials needed by the Diocese of the Solomon Islands
  • I have children's clothing needed by just about all of these places.
  • Finally, I have Bible study materials needed by the Diocese of Faisalabad, Pakistan, and the main seminary for Catholic Ethiopians (both Latin and Eastern rite) in Addis Ababa (one Ethiopian man in Washington, DC, told me when I asked about the state of seminary instruction in his country, "It's abominable. A well-formed layman in the US knows more about their faith than does a newly ordained priest in my country. It's because they are so poor and can't afford quality materials."). When I sent a donated full-set of The Great Adventure Bible Timeline DVDs, a 24-part tour of Scripture that make it all make sense by putting all of the pieces together, the seminary rector sent me the most touching thank you note.

If everybody receiving this e-mail donated just $5, I could more than easily cover the cost. Of course, not everyone is going to, so if you can chip in $10, $20, or even $50, that would be great. But even if you donate $1 or 50 cents, I will take it. Every bit helps. And I pledge, promise, commit to giving any extra money to the local food pantry, which, in an area as economically depressed as this one, is a worthy cause in and of itself.

Can I ... Scratch that: Can your fellow Christians/human beings in impoverished parts of the world count on just a little support from you?

So click on the "Donate" button at the top of the page, and know you have done something good for the less fortunate and have activated your faith so that, as we read in the Epistle of James, your faith is not one that is dead.

IMPORTANT: To facilitate packing the moving truck, etc., I'll need to have your donations no later than 23 July 2012. On behalf of these people, thank you. Thank you very much.

P.S. If you have questions, please communicate them to me in the combox.