Postage for Pakistan and other parts of the planet

Thursday, September 20, 2012

What is a saint?

On my Facebook "Like" page today, I got a great question from a new ... what would you call such a person? Liker? Well, you get the drift.

She asked, "What is considered a saint?"

Here is my answer:
Based on their reading of certain phrases of St. Paul the Apostle, most Protestants consider any Christian -- themselves included -- to be a "saint."
Indeed, we can all hope to be thought of in that way, and, really, as disciples of Our Lord Jesus Christ, we should settle for nothing less. To be a saint should be our constant goal, no? 
However, to properly understand what it means to be a "saint," we need to look at what the word actually means.  
Saint comes from the Latin "sanctos," and it wouldn't surprise me if that was a corruption of the Greek "agios." Regardless, all three words mean the same thing: Holy. From this we get "hallowed," "holiday" (literally, "holy day"), etc.  
The connection is much clearer in the Romance languages such as Spanish or Italian. In Italian, for instance, Saint Paul is "San Paolo." You can see the root "san" in "sanctus."  
Therefore, the basic answer for a Catholic Christian (or Orthodox/Assyrian/Coptic/Ethiopian/Byzantine/Syro-Mallobar/Syro-Malankar/Melkite/Maronite/Chaldean, etc. Christians, that is, those belonging to all the ancient churches) is that a saint is someone who is definitively, without a doubt, proof positive in heaven before the Beatific Vision (i.e., the triune God). At least their soul is, since until the Second Coming, souls and bodies are separate, obviously.  
So while I appreciate our Protestant brothers and sisters' perspective, I would hesitate to call myself a saint (i.e., holy). I see evidence of my sinfullness too many times per day to do so.  
However, by perserverance in God's grace, I pray, hope, and fully expect to become a saint. The world may never know it, but who cares? After all, the 10,000+ canonized saints and blesseds are only those we know about. There are many, many, many more, obviously. 
Does that help? If not (or you simply want to learn more, want scriptural proof texts for the above, etc.), please let me know, and I'll do my best to help. I can also recommend some good websites and other resources.
Same goes for you. Let me know. Have a great day!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Ballad of St. Joseph of Copertino, God's Trumpet

With the life of St. Joseph of Copertino, we have all the markings of a great drama. Why no one has made his life into a hit movie is a mystery.  

If there was a movie, it would go something like this: 

As the opening credits fade and the film opens, we meet Felice Desa, a master wagon maker and a trusted member of the Duke of Copertino’s court. By God’s grace, he got married to a girl named Franceschina (aka, “Anna”) Donata, a beautiful, hard-working, holy woman from a wealthy family. Life was good.  

Then the father made a generous but ultimately unwise move. He cosigned on a friend’s loan for 1,000 ducats. Sadly, his friend defaulted on the loan, and the creditors came after Felice, took him to court, and won their lawsuit. The once prospering family was now impoverished and shamed in the community’s eyes. They lost everything, including their nice home. They had to move into what one might gloriously call a barn, but that is like calling a single-wide mobile home missing its siding a “McMansion.”  

Keep in mind the context here: It is summer 1603. The average person, therefore—rich, middle, or poor—essentially lives the same way they have for thousands of years. Infant mortality is high. Hundreds of thousands of persons are left widowed or orphaned. Shelter—even in the best of homes—will neither keep you cool in the summer nor totally warm in the winter.  

But most don’t live in the best of homes. They live in chink-strewn hovels. To improve their lot or, more typically, just to get by, they often take loans from lenders who only give their loans with predatory, exorbitant interest rates. This is true despite the Church’s having placed usury—the charging of such interest rates—under the deadly sin of greed.  

So this gives us the context for how Joseph entered the world. Like the Lord he would come to serve, he was born in a stable. Again, this is where his family moved after falling into financial ruin. His mother was probably around 32 at the time and had already given birth to five other children, two of whom were dead. Another one, a boy named Pietro, would be dead before he reached adulthood. She and her husband were hiding there in this shack outside the city walls to escape the lenders who were after Felice to make good on his debts.  

Felice, however—his health wasted by the chagrin and depression he felt over his being ruined—died shortly after his youngest son’s birth. Had he lived, maybe he could have made a go of things again. As it was, however, his death essentially condemned his widow and children to life in that stable.  

Now, as stables went, it was reasonably nice. It had a fireplace and two rooms, a main room and a bedroom. Sadly, it was also the nicest creature comfort that marked young Joseph’s life, because his childhood was characterized by pervasive starvation. Given what we know about the need a young child’s mind for adequate nutrition to achieve optimal brain development, was the perpetual, gnawing hunger that defined his youth the cause of his later intellectual problems? It is not improbable.  

The future saint’s young years were also beset by diseases that often marked him as a target. For instance, he constantly fought with scabies and bug sores.  

These were minor, however, compared to some of his other illnesses. His health was always so bad that his mother Franceschina took her small little boy on several occasions to the nearby Convent of St. Francis to ask God for a miracle.  

Our Lord Jesus Christ never gave her the sort of miracle we think of when we think of miracles. He did, however, preserve Giuseppe’s life, and through a Capuchin monk consecrated to Him, no less. And that, given all the little guy was up against in a material sense, was a miracle.  

This teaches us something: God answers our prayers. Sometimes He says, “No,” sure. However, even when He says, “Yes!” it’s not always in the way we expect or even notice.  

Therefore, don’t get down on God just because things aren’t working out the way you expect or want them to. All of us need to remember, it’s “Thy will be done.” Totally, right? Because the prayer doesn’t say, “Thy will be partly done, and my will be partly done: Let’s meet halfway,” or “My will be done.” Rather, it’s “Thy will be done.” Period.  

In any event, as he grew into adolescence, the young boy tried apprenticing to a shoemaker and to a carpenter but failed in both. His next apprenticeship in a store was better. However, shortly after taking it, his father’s creditors obtained from the regional court an order saying that once Joseph legally became an adult, he would have to labor for them until he paid off the debt, both the principal and the interest of his father’s loan. Given the usurious interest rate, this would have effectively equated to a lifetime of slavery.  

However, Joseph had one thing in his favor that many in his situation did not.  

The law said that such a ruling did not bind him if he became a priest or monk. As it happened, Joseph had an uncle who was not only a Franciscan friar but a priest whose superiors placed him in charge of building a convent in the town of Grottella. Correspondingly, his uncle, Fr. Franceschino Desa, his father’s brother, brought him to live with him as a lay brother.  

However, before this could happen, he developed a gangrenous ulcer that plagued him for five years.  

Then, after his arrival at the convent, he was judged to be an imbecile, a simpleton. His uncle was forced to send him home to his mother.  

Once there, the bullies began picking on him, giving him the nickname, “Pippo Bocca Aperta,” which essentially translates to “slackjaw,” as in a mentally retarded person whose mouth is open all the time.  

In fairness, this is how he looked when he prayed before the various sacred images in his town’s St. Francis Church, so amazed was he by God’s grandeur. It was not the posture of an idiot but of one falling in love with Christ. So though their judgment may have seemed apt, these ill-hearted people were mocking what they didn’t know. It’s a salutary lesson for us all that we don’t mock something we may not fully understand.  

He next turned to the Reformed Franciscans at Casole, but they rejected the possibility that a seemingly moronic individual could a vocation.  

Joseph did not quit, however. He was convinced Jesus had given him a vocation, so he went to Galatone, the same place where the Capuchin friar had nursed him back to health. And it was here that his request for entrance as a brother was accepted. He was 17-years-old.  

Sadly, during his novitiate year, his novice master told him to go home, not because of his low IQ, but because of his bad health, which was distracting for the others. Understand that his fellow brothers did not lack charity. It wasn’t like he had non-stop coughing fits that irritated them to the last straw. Rather, when he got sick, which was regularly, the sickness made him look a little crazy.  

He was also a total klutz. Joseph was always causing some disaster. Part of it was his naturally clumsiness. This condition was aggravated, however, by his sudden ecstasies, which often came when he was carrying plates and bowls that he then proceeded to drop on the tiled floors. One wonders if he didn’t almost bankrupt the monastery in this way. 

Kicked out of yet another convent, Joseph was angry. You can imagine why. We can almost feel his level of disappointment. Making matters worse, while he had come in with little, he left with nothing. He had no shoes (friars often went barefoot out of poverty), and since he had to leave behind his habit, he wore only a loincloth. Seeing him this way, shepherds figured him for a bum—and aren’t bums always bandits?—and thus sicked their dogs on him. They would have beat him but he just barely got away.  

To make matters even worse, when he returned home, he did not receive unconditional love or compassion. Instead, his uncle Franceschino and mom berated him for being a loser.  

Thanks to Fr. Giovanni Donato Caputo, his mom’s brother, though, he regained entrance to Grottella but as neither a monk nor a candidate for Holy Orders. This was a problem because he had reached adulthood, and his father’s creditors were now looking for him. 

Therefore, he spent his days here praying and weeping before Our Lady’s image in the convent church. A friar let him sleep on a couch in the basement, and other friars snuck him food. At night, he would creep up to the church, go before the Virgin’s icon, and weep some more while whipping himself for his sins. Most of us would probably blame God if this happened to us. He blamed his peccadilloes, his sinfulness, his bad choices, the times when he’d been unfaithful. When was the last time any of us—myself included, mind you—did any sort of mortification for our sins, even though they were undoubtedly more scarlet than St. Joseph’s?  

In any case, it began to happen that people would unexpectedly come upon him in the church and see him in ecstasy (i.e., in ecstatic prayer). By not just mentally assenting to but actually willing union of his sufferings to the cross, Joseph's cross had become the means to his greatest joy, a more perfect and utterly joyful union with the Sacred Heart of Jesus. If you want to know what gave him the ability to enter into ecstasy (and his prayer-induced ecstasies were most likely the ultimate source of his later ability to levitate), this is a great place to look.  

It just goes to show that, while it's dreadful to endure and something we naturally want to avoid and end as quickly as possible, suffering is only without meaning if we allow it to be so. It is our choice to turn our crosses into an extended vacation in Nightmareland or into something that transcends the pain and becomes the type of joy experienced by St. Joseph. 

Seeing with their own eyes what an obviously saintly man was in their midst, these friars eventually accepted him as a lay brother. In this way, God turned Joseph’s tears of sadness into tears of joy.  

This was in 1625 when St. Joseph was 22-years-old. Two years later, he made his religious profession. On January 30, the local bishop ordained him to the minor orders. Less than a month later, the bishop ordained him a subdeacon. And less than a month after that, St. Joseph of Copertino became a deacon upon passing an exam with flying colors. 

Well, actually, God gave him more than a little help. Not being very book smart, Joseph had never been able to explain any Gospel passage except for one. At his examination, the bishop randomly turned to Luke 11:27, the passage which reads in part, “Blessed is the womb that bore thee.” That, wonder of wonders, was the one passage Joseph could explain.  

Consider all this less than intelligent man had been through, and now, because of God’s ineffable grace, he was an ordained deacon. 

Over the next year, he diligently studied for the priesthood. This was easy work for his classmates, but not for him. Far from it.  

However, the bishop giving the exam queried the first postulant, who answered him so perfectly, His Excellency assumed that all the other seminarians were as equally well-prepared. As a result, he passed them as a group without asking any of them another question. And so it was that on March 18, 1628, two days shy of the year anniversary of his diaconate ordination, St. Joseph received Holy Orders.  

Despite his confreres calling him Brother Ass for his curt lack of diplomacy, his inability to reason in a logical fashion, and for his total clumsiness, Fr. Joseph of Copertino’s fame soon spread far and near. Outweighing all other concerns were his poverty and defense of the poor against those who oppressed or took advantage of them because they had greater power, his complete and unassailable faith, his fantastic spiritual direction, and, after a two-year Dark Night of the Soul, the miracles that attended him on an increasingly regular basis. 

At first, people came to watch him fall into a state of ecstasy while praying. Then, one day, as he processed into the Church of St. Francis for Mass, his body lifted into the air and touched down right in front of the altar. Then the same thing began happening whenever anyone said the names “Jesus” or “Mary.” Once, God lifted him up into an olive tree.  

As you might imagine, the people were astounded. Wouldn’t you be? I know I would. Astounded? Hmmph. I would probably be a little scared. 

Regardless, the levitations became more frequent. Sometimes he would just hover in the air, sometimes his body plummeted to the ground like a dead weight. At first, these prodigies happened outside of Mass, but then they increasingly happened during the Holy Sacrifice.  

Not surprisingly, people began to flock to the Shrine of Our Lady of Grottella. Some came filled with faith to touch the hem of his garment, seeing in St. Joseph of Copertino a remarkable reservoir of Christ’s grace. Others thought the whole thing was a big fake, so they would jab him with big pins or place lit candles next to his skin to see if it would provoke a reaction. It never did, but some people were intent on trying until something happened. Therefore, the friars often had to appoint a guardian for Fr. Joseph so he wouldn’t come out of his ecstasies on the verge of dying.  

Soon people were not only bringing themselves or their sick but their livestock, as well. After all, if this man was so blessed by God that he could levitate, then certainly God would hear his prayers for miracles on their behalf. And God evidently did by the score. It is also said he could talk with the animals. 

Like Padre Pio in our own time, despite all of this evidence of sanctity, some nonetheless accused him of being a fraud. This was in 1636, and by 1638, he was brought before the Holy Roman Inquisition, which some have said marks the beginning of his Calvary.  

While the authorities adjudicated his case (during one court appearance, he began levitating), his superiors sent him to live in seclusion at Assisi, where he spent the next 14 years. Despite the exile, miracles continued to flow from his prayers to Our Lord. And to these he added prophecy, for instance name the date of Pope Urban VIII’s death. 

In all these ways, Our Lord used a man who could barely write, who trembled with anxiety when he had to read aloud, and who was usually not articulate by any stretch. Yet when he spoke of God, it was as if the song of angels burst forth in such melodious praise that the most learned of theologians couldn’t hold a candle to his eloquence. The only explanation is that Our Lord simply infused him with this knowledge.  

Take one example. A contemporary theologian at St. Bonaventure University in Rome wrote Fr. Joseph and complimented him for so expertly proclaiming the mysteries of theology. This professor could not understand how to reconcile the complexity of teaching the sacred sciences with the simplicity demanded of him as a Franciscan. What did Friar Joseph advise? 

St. Joseph of Copertino wrote back, “When you put yourself to studying or writing, pray, ‘Lord, you’re Spirit and I the trumpet. But without Your breath, nothing resounds.’” 

Because the move to Assisi did not stop people from coming to see this man while his case was still open, thus causing even greater controversy than before, the Holy See moved him first to a hermitage where he was not to leave his cell. News got out, however, that he was in the neighborhood, and soon villagers from all around came to be near him.  

As a result, the authorities next transferred him to Fossombrone where Pope Alexander VII pronounced him innocent. At that point, he made his last transfer to Osimo monastery, where he spent the last seven years of his life. 

It was here that he became sick and remained ill until 1663. He could not hold down food, and he suffered amazingly high fevers. All the time, he suffered bleedings under barber/surgeons’ razors in an effort to cure him. Not surprisingly, he did not get better. What is surprising is that he continued to levitate and perform other miracles. 

Things got so bad that on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, September 8, 1663, he received viaticum. Later that evening, he begged for the Sacrament of the Sick.  

Ten days later, St. Joseph of Copertino saw his last miracle. His face to began to shine, to glow, and with a smile on his face, he went to the house of his Father. He was 60 years old. 

After roughly 60 years, he was declared venerable, and then on July 16, 1767, the anniversary of St. Francis of Assisi’s canonization, Pope Clement XIII declared him a saint.  

In the intervening years, St. Joseph of Copertino was proclaimed patron of students and those taking tests and, not surprisingly, of military pilots. So you Top Guns out there, keep this guy’s number in your cell phone’s contact folder.  



Thursday, September 13, 2012

Saint for the Day

Need to give a speech or make a presentation today? Do any form of public speaking? Why not ask for the intercession of today's saint for the day, the Church Father, St. John Chrysostom. Chrysostom isn't his surname but nickname. It means "golden tongued." Have a great feast!

At this crucial moment, don't we need to take a deep breath?

I did an Internet search today. I wanted to find what the Bible says about the principle that we always assume good will on the part of others, that this is the charitable and thus necessary thing to do (1 Cor 13).

The Catholic Church is always teaching this because it best reflects Christ and leads to peace and better understanding than simply assuming your interlocutor or whoever is acting purposefully to make your life a living hell, things worse, whatever.

Well, I didn't find the exact words, "assume good will." However, I did find the following Scripture quotes:
“This is the one I esteem: He who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at My Word.” Isaiah 66:2
Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.” 1 Corinthians 10:24
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others as better than yourselves.” Philippians 2:3
Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgement, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.” Romans 12:3
Who is wise and understanding among you?  Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.” James 3:13
Watching the news this morning on Fox News, I see little evidence of this assuming good will always. For his stating what is evident to me, that we can't see Egypt as either an ally or enemy at this point since we don't know exactly happened in Cairo or how, the President -- of whom I'm no fan -- was accused of being vascilating, of not having a clear plan, and of this being more proof of his poor leadership, etc.

I agree he vascilates, plays Hamlet, doesn't have a clear plan, shows poor leadership, and all the rest. But until we see otherwise, let's assume good will on his part right now.

Then there was objective proof that reporters colluded during the Romney press conference to try and get a "gotcha!" moment out of him for injecting politics into situation in a way no candidate ever has. Peggy Noonan herself took exception with this. I agree with her.

Furthermore, having been a GOP campaign operative who posed as a news reporter during a McCain campaign speech in the 2000 election when I worked as a volunteer for the George W. Bush campaign, what the reporters did doesn't perturb me at all.

I was furiously taking notes on everything Sen. McCain said, and Dan Walters a moderate (and suspected GOP) columnist for the Sacramento Bee leaned over and helpfully offered to let me copy down the one thing that all the real reporters there considered to be the "money" quote. I thanked him but demured. I had been given the task by my former boss on the Herschensohn campaign to see what he said about X issue, and getting that statement was my focus. The money quote all the other reporters wanted had nothing to do with that.

Yet the collusion between reporters at yesterday's Romney presser was supposedly proof of the mainstream media/MSM's bias against him, of their being "in the bag for Obama," etc. Maybe. Maybe, however, as liberal and former NPR reporter Juan Williams said this morning on Fox, reporters simply want to make sure they get their tough questions answered.

For instance, if you're a reporter imbedded with a campaign, you're less concerned with getting a scoop than you are with struggling to get an interesting take out of the same old story, which plays itself out day after day after grueling, boring day until that first Tuesday in November.

It goes like this: Candidate makes campaign stop designed to make him/her look absolutely perfect. Candidate makes stump, canned statement that often says nothing different than what he/she said yesterday and every day for the past however many months.

Yet, you have a legitimate question about that candidate's statements/positions. Other reporters have the same question(s). Candidate ducks question to get out his/her yet-again-regurgitated five-point plan on how to improve XYZ issue. However, this doesn't serve their primary duty, which is to help their employer sell papers, get more viewers or listeners, etc. So they coordinate to make sure that the candidate doesn't get a free pass, that he/she doesn't fly under the radar unscathed, that he/she has to somehow answer the question or look really foolish/slimy for not doing so.

Presented with this perfectly viable perspective, the show's hosts this would hear nothing of it. Nor would several of their guests. "It's proof the MSM's bias! Rahhhrrrrrr!!!!! Foam at the mouth! Fulminate! Contribute nothing to a rational discourse! Denigrate! Assume ill will!"

No. As Christians, in charity, we need to assume good will. The Catholic Church is unflinching in her insistence on this, because you don't know someone's mind. You don't know their hearts.

If we are serious about changing the tone in this nation's body politic -- and I pray we are -- we cannot do it without being charitable and assuming good will always. If we have proof there is ill will, that's another thing. But it's a pretty high standard to get that level of proof.

What do you think? USA? India? China? North Korea? Russia? India? Germany? UK? Weigh in. Empty com boxes are such a drag.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Interesting November conference on modern martyrs at Notre Dame

This looks interesting, and I pray the opportunity to be there.

Especially for those of you for whom the persecution is a pressing one (as it is for me), let me encourage you to investigate this a little more deeply.

Cardinal sins of/must haves for religion reporters

Recently, Michelle Boorstein of the Washington Post did a piece on the USCCB's lobbyist, who is retiring after several decades of work being the bishops' mouthpiece on Capitol Hill.
There were the typical faux pas you'd expect to find from someone from the mainstream media reporting on the Catholic Church. Rather than get mad about it, however, I thought, 'Maybe this is just ignorance. Maybe she and the others just don't know.' We always assume good will, right?
So in the interest of constructive criticism, I need to gently take our friends who report on religion for these cardinal sins, which also seem to represent "must have" features for their pieces.
Cardinal sin/must have feature that it borders on being a commandment (depending on your perspective) #1
Every piece has to have a quote from a) Fr. Thomas Reese, SJ; b) Fr. Richard McBrien; c) Sr. Joan Chittester, OSB/someone else from the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (the LCWR is the umbrella group for women's religious orders; because of the pervasive dissent and sometimes outright heresy within its ranks, the Vatican recently conducted an investigation of it).
Good news! Boorstein didn't do this. Furthermore, the fact that she didn't was such a refreshing change from what most of her peers do when writing a piece on the Catholic Church, that it bears mentioning.
Cardinal sin/must have feature that it borders on being a commandment #2
Every piece must only quote so-called progressive Catholics, namely those who dissent from the Church on X, Y, or Z issue or all of the above (e.g., birth control, abortion, fill-in-the-blank), and then some.
Was Rep. Chris Smith unavailable? Rep. Jeff Fortenberry? What about someone from a think tank/advocacy group that could at least lay some claim to being "compassionate conservative"? National Right to Life? Democrats for Life? Scott Hahn? Curtis Martin? Peter Kreeft? Robert P. George? I mean, there are any number of faithful, orthodox Catholic voices out there. Yet, at best, they get one quote out of five-plus in a piece. What usually happens is their perspective gets synopsized, and typically falsely so.
Cardinal sin/must have feature that it borders on being a commandment #3
Thou shalt not quote an orthodox, faithful to the Magisterium Catholic. (See above.)
Cardinal sin/must have feature that it borders on being a commandment #4
Thou shalt synopsize the opposing (i.e., orthodox/faithful) position and usually in a shoddy fashion.
She wrote, "Traditionalists feel isolated as polls show most Catholics approve of contraception and same-sex marriage."
Nothing could be further from the truth. She's right about the polls. However, the vast majority of faithful/orthodox Catholics who are paying attention knows that we're gaining ground.
Furthermore, as the JPII generation assumes their own pastorates and as the Pope appoints more universally faithful bishops, they will fill the vaccuum of the last 40 years in terms of teaching what the Church actually teaches on such issues. 
Reporters have to understand that it's not like the Catholic faithful have been taught what the Church teaches from a rational perspective and found the Church wanting. Rather, they haven't been taught it at all or have had that teaching belittled, mischaracterized, and held in contempt ... from the pulpit, no less.
Cardinal sin/must have feature that it borders on being a commandment #5
Thou shalt confuse issues on which the Church's Magisterium say are non-negotiable issues with those in which reasonable Catholics approaching an issue with good will can disagree (e.g., "Progressive" Catholics vs. Rep. Paul Ryan et al).
As Cardinal Dolan noted in Katherine Jean Lopez's recent piece, the best way to help the poor is to help the economy. So if even His Eminence is sympathetic to Rep. Ryan's prescriptions, why can't other Catholics be? And yet the so-called "moderate" Catholics impugn Rep. Ryan et al as being against "gospel values" for not wanting to lay more taxes upon the rich/middle class.  
Incidentally, you can get information on what those five non-negotiables are from Catholic Answers (, Ascension Press' The Five Issues That Matter Most ($1.00 if you call 800-376-0520), or Bishop Thomas Olmstead's short Q&A book, Catholics in the Public Square ($5.95, 800-932-3826 or
Cardinal sin/must have feature that it borders on being a commandment #6
Thou shalt position those who focus on the poor but dissent from the Church's other moral teachings as the good/moderate Catholics, and those who quietly help the poor and are faithful to all of the Church's moral teachings (without fail) as traditionalist, archtraditionalist, conservative, ultra-conservative, etc. (and paint them -- subtly or no -- as troglodytes).
We are not. We are Catholic, plain and simple. We believe and assent to everything in the Catechism, nothing more, nothing less. Indeed, as noted Catholic speaker Curtis Martin has said, "If you reject even one of the Church's teachings, you're not a liberal Catholic, you're not a conservative Catholic, you're just not Catholic."
Cardinal sin/must have feature that it borders on being a commandment #7
If you can only give the perspective of one side, make it the "moderate," liberal, progressive side. And don't make the core issues clear.  
Boorstein writes, "Carr is well aware that both sides feel the other is missing the core issue." 
What are those core issues? For faithful Catholics, the core issue is this: Without the right to life, all other rights -- real or perceived -- have no meaning. The bishops have said as much themselves.
Cardinal sin/must have feature that it borders on being a commandment #8
Thou shalt assume that faithful, orthodox Catholics have checked their brains at the door and accept Church teaching like mindless zombies.
I used to be "pro-choice." I used to use contraception. I used to favor so-called "gay rights." I no longer do. This is not because I checked my brain at the door. Rather, after reading both sides and weighing the arguments, I not only became convinced the Church had it right (after 2,000 years, you would hope so!), that she had the truth. It was also because I saw her teachings were beyond beautiful, primarily because they are not of the Church but from God Himself. Thus no one has the right to alter them or wish them away for the sake of personal convenience or any other reason. It seems most reporters, however, laugh at such a notion. That's a tragedy. It belittles and invalidates not only hundreds of millions of believing Catholics around the globe (dissent is a phenomenon largely confined to America and Europe), but some of the smartest men and women whoever lived, people who were certainly much smarter than they themselves can claim.
Thoughts? Additions? Subtractions? Remeber: No matter how hot under the color something here might make you, be charitable. (Sorry, btw, for the color change. It's one of  the reasons why I'm thinking of ditching It's platform makes it hard to easily transpose text written in a different platform (e.g., Word, an e-mail, Notepad, etc.)

Saints News for August 2012

Beneficiary of saint’s miracle to miss his canonization? 

A Filipino woman who came out of a coma due to the intercession of soon-to-be canonized Pedro Calungsod probably won’t be able to attend the martyr’s canonization next month in Rome.  

The situation, say canonization trip leaders, is that the long travel involved would likely stress the woman’s acute asthma too much.  

The lady had been in a severe coma and few thought she would ever come out of that, much less continue living. But her doctor asked Bl. Pedro Calungsod for his intercession, and the woman recovered in a way medical professionals cannot explain.  

Whether this woman gets to attend the canonization Mass or not, it seems the real take away here comes from the doctor. All this person did was to say a simple little prayer asking for a saint’s intercession. It shows that no action of ours is too little for God to use in bringing graces and blessings to another person’s life.  

Copacabana is not just a night club 

The diocesan phase has finished for the beatification process for a Bolivian priest who carved the statue representing his nation’s patroness, Our Lady of Copacabana. If his cause is successful, the Servant of God Fr. Francisco Tito Yupanqui, a 15th century priest from the Aymara Indian tribe, would become Bolivia’s first saint.  

Fr. Yupanqui was a direct descendant of the Incan Emperor Huyana Cupac who asked for baptism after receiving instruction from Dominican friars. A few  years later, he became a priest.   

Fr. Yupanqui wanted an image of Our Lady his people could venerate and which might in turn stoke their faith in Christ. So he set about to make one himself, even though he had no experience in sculpting. His first attempt in clay, however, was what you might expect from someone with no experience, and the pastor of the church to whom he had given it placed the sculpture in a back corner of Copacabana’s sacristy. 

It’s sad, because Fr. Yupanqui had put so much love, time, and effort into crafting this small figure, and now it was being seen by no one. You can imagine how humbling that must have been for him.  

His relatives, though, told him that if this was what he thought God was calling him to do, to not give up. They encouraged him to go to the provincial capital of Potosi, which was a center for the arts, so that he could learn from the very best sculptors.  

So he did, and studying under these people, he became an expert wood carver. Before he set about sculpting a new statue, he celebrated Mass to ask for the grace to do well. (We always have to get those graces.) 

Sadly, when he finished, the people back home again decided they didn’t want it. Well, Fr. Yupanqui was having none of it. He decided to make the statue a travelling, pilgrim one. Everywhere he took the figurine, people began reporting miracles after praying for Our Lady’s intercession before this beautiful image.  

As a result, the statue came back home, and a shrine was built for it, making it the third oldest Marian shrine in the Americas after Guadalupe in Mexico and Cocharcas in Peru. 

This Aymaran Indian priest showed great “perseverance because he promised the people of Copacabana that he would make a bust of the Virgin Mary, despite opposition from some who said, ‘What can an Indian do? Impossible. We need to bring a professionally made statue from Spain.’” He makes us ask, “What am I doing to persevere for Our Lord and the increase of His kingdom on earth?”

Cause for late Knights of Malta prince to commence soon 

As you may know, canon law requires a five-year period between a person’s death and the initiation of their cause for beatification. Well, on February 7, 2013, it will have been exactly five years since the passing of Grand Master and Prince Fra’ Andrew Bertie of the Order of Malta (better known as the Knights of Malta), and judging by the looks of things, it is a good bet the Order won’t waste any time in introducing his cause.

Fra Andrew was the youngest son of the 7th Earl of Abingdon and descended from English royalty on both sides of his family. After his education, he taught foreign languages and joined the Order of Malta in 1956. Thirty-two-years later, in 1988, he became the Order’s Grand Master, succeeding Bl. Gerard Sasso, and his reign was known for clearly adhering to the Knights’ motto, “Defence of the Faith and Service of the Poor.” 

Now, even though the cause cannot officially open for a few months yet, the Order is already in the process of collecting the testimony of those who knew Fra Andrew.

Monday, September 3, 2012

It's about time

If you know the history of the conflict between Polish Catholics (especially those of the Byzantine/Ukrainian rite) and the Russian Orthodox Church, you know what a sad, sordid, sorry history it is. But now both sides are looking to move beyond the past, to bury the hatchet in the spirit of Christ's dying for our sins, and working to make the world more conformed to His loving, merciful image in an age that desperately needs that. See here.

50 Shades of Grey

Women and porn! Right on! See here. It's about time, baby! Yeah!

This looks really cool

Up for an apocalyptic epistolary novel set in a Benedictine monastery being attacked by literary zombies? And each chapter being mailed (yes, via post) each week? Then look no further. This looks totally cool!

Cardinal Dolan eats with ... gasp! ... De-mo-crats!

Did you catch His Eminence Timothy Cardinal Dolan's benediction closing last week's Republican National Convention? It was a beautiful prayer that hit many themes near and dear to social conservatives' hearts. ( still has it up on their page, I believe.)

If you are one of them, you can be forgiven for wondering why --- as several conservative Catholics have called upon him to do --- Cardinal Dolan will not cancel the quadrennial Alfred Smith Dinner, which gives a prominent platform to both presidential candidates. You might also be scratching your head on why he has decided to pray at the Democratic National Convention this week in Charlotte, North Carolina.

After all, the Democrats willfully trumpet abortion in their party platform, wrapped up in fuzzy language, though it may be. They're pushing for the direct undermining of marriage. The list can and does go on.

But His Eminence strikes the right chord in response. It's not only thoughtful and reasonable, it's Christ-centered. And as the head of the Catholic Church in what is arguably the world's capital and as head of this nation's bishops conference, that last consideration is the most important. Disagree? Go ahead, but make your case from the Gospels. I don't know if you can do so. On the other hand, I know the Cardinal definitely can.