Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Reid thinks Bin Laden is Dead

From Channel 4 KRNV.com:

"Nevada Senator Harry Reid thinks Osama Bin Laden was killed in last month's earthquake in Pakistan.

Speaking Wednesday on News 4's Nevada News Makers, Reid says he was informed today that Bin Laden may have died in the October temblor.

'I heard today that he may have died in the earthquake that they had in Pakistan, seriously.' Reid says that if that is the case, 'that's good for the world.'"

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Plenary Indulgence for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception

Perhaps his first encyclical will be Marian in scope?
 
From the Vatican Information Service:
 
 "December 8," the text reads, "will mark 40 years since Servant of God Paul VI, Supreme Pontiff, who had already proclaimed the Virgin Mary as Mother of the Church, in closing Vatican Council II dedicated great praise to the Virgin who, as Mother of Christ, is Mother of God and spiritual Mother to us all.

 

  "On this Solemnity, the Supreme Pontiff Benedict XVI, when he renders public homage of praise to Mary Immaculate, has the heartfelt desire that the entire Church should join with him, so that all the faithful, united in the name of the common Mother, become ever stronger in the faith, adhere with greater devotion to Christ, and love their brothers with more fervent charity. From here - as Vatican Council II very wisely taught - arise works of mercy towards the needy, observance of justice, and the defense of and search for peace."

 

  For this reason, the decree continues, the Holy Father "has kindly granted the gift of Plenary Indulgence which may be obtained under the usual conditions (sacramental Confession, Eucharistic communion and prayer in keeping with the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff), with the soul completely removed from attachment to any form of sin, on the forthcoming Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, by the faithful if they participate in a sacred function in honor of the Virgin, or at least offer open testimony of Marian devotion before an image of Mary Immaculate exposed for public veneration, adding the recitation of the Our Father and of the Creed, and some invocation to the Virgin."

Monday, November 28, 2005

Crowds Flock to View Bloody Tears of Statue


The most viewed image on Yahoo images over the weekend...

From Foxreno.com:

Crowds have begun gathering at a tiny Catholic Church on the outskirts of Sacramento to view an outdoor statue of the Virgin Mary that appears to be shedding tears of blood.

Members of the parish -- the Vietnamese Catholic Martyrs Church on Jackson Road -- first noticed the tears last Wednesday, but the statue was wiped clean by one of the parish's priests, fearing it was the work of someone playing a prank.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Pope's Angelus for Today


Referencing today's Gospel reading...

From Asia News Italy:

The Gospel invites us today to remain vigilant in anticipation of Christ’s second coming. Jesus says: ‘Keep awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come’ (Mk 13:35-37). The short parable about the master who leaves for a trip and the servants charged with keeping watch, highlights the importance of being ready to welcome the Lord when, unexpectedly, he comes. The Christian community anxiously awaits his “manifestation” and the apostle Paul, writing to the Corinthians, exhorts them to trust in God’s faithfulness and to live in such a way as to be found ‘faultless’ (cfr 1 Cor 1:7-9) on the day of the Lord. Therefore, it is very opportune that the Liturgy should put the words of the Psalm on our lips at the beginning of Advent: ‘Show us Lord, your mercy, and give us your salvation’ (Ps.84:8)

“We may say that Advent is the time in which Christians should reawaken in their heart the hope of being able, with God’s help, to renew the world. From this point of view, I want to call to mind, today too, the Constitution of the Second Vatican Council Gaudium et Spes about the Church in the modern world: Christian hope is deeply pervasive in its text. I refer in particular to no. 39, entitled “New earth and new heaven”. Here we read: “We are taught that God is preparing a new dwelling place and a new earth where justice will abide (cfr 2 Cor 5:2; 2 Pt 3:13)… the expectation of a new earth must not weaken but rather stimulate our concern for cultivating this one”. We will find the good fruits of our work again when Christ hands over his eternal and universal Kingdom to his Father. The most Holy Mary, Virgin of Advent, enables us to live this time of grace vigilant and hardworking as we wait on the Lord.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

First Sunday of Advent, Year B


Mark 13:33-37
P. Prepare
Watch!
1. Jesus presents this teaching on the Mount of Olives just before the Passion.
2. "No one knows the day nor the hour" is the preceeding verse of the Gospel.
3. Christians are to be constantly in a state of expectation of the Lord's return no matter how delayed he may seem.
4. The gospel contains a mini parable, comparing the vocation of a Christian to a "doorkeeper"...interestingly two of North America's most holy men of the last century both worked as "porters or doorkeepers": Canada's (and New England's) Blessed Andre Besset and the U.S.'s Venerable Solanus Casey...might this be interpreted as some sign that the Lord's comign is nearer now? On any account it was the "doorkeepers" one job to watch for the coming of a anyone. (one might also reflect on last Sunday's Gospel and the coming of the Lord under his many guises).
5. The doorkeeper is given "charge"...the Greek word exousia which also can mean "power"
6. What is said is underscored not to be just for the Apostles but for everyone...."Watch!"

R. Read
Read Mark 13:33-37 slowly. What strikes you as you read the selection? You might want to read it again before you go to Mass on Sunday.
A. Attend
Listen to all of the readings at Mass. How do the First Reading and Responsorial Psalm add to what the Gospel says? What speaks to you as you hear the Gospel proclaimed? What in the homily touches you or adds to what you were already thinking?
Y. Yield
How can you keep watch? Read the stories of Solanus Casey and Brother Andre...how did they watch for Christ as doorkeepers in their lives? How might you celebrate this Advent season by watching more intensely for Christ?

Here is a suggestion:
Pray the Divine Office throughout the day (all seven hours) as a way of "keeping watch" for Christ both in his future Second Coming but also as he comes to you in the guise of the poor.

Put the Mass back into Christmas!

Worried about the secularization of Christmas? Give the gift that calls to mind the presence of Christ available to all...and explains how in detail to those who have not heard or do not understand...and another that helps those who "get" the gift that is being offered daily by Our Lord to "get" the most from it!

Everyday can be Christmas! (except Good Friday)

Put the Mass back into your family and friends Christmas by giving them the tools necessary... tape it to the back of that ipod or whatever gift they think they want...

Friday, November 25, 2005

Like a Deer...



Snow and cold, cold wind here, but in the midst of the ravages of nature... a peaceful sight.

So to in the battle between the Kingdom of God and our fallen nature, we know who wins, so why not put our trust in Him.

From Psalm 42:

Like the deer that yearns for running streams,
so my soul is yearning for you, my God.

My soul is thirsting for God, the God of my life;
when can I enter and see the face of God?

Put the Mass Back in Christmas!

Okay, originally this was a post questioning the authenticity of the document banning gays from the priesthood...but after reading comments it just struck me that it is all straw...what really matters is what you and I are doing with the awesome gift that we have been given and how are we sharing that gift?

Worried about the secularization of Christmas? Give the gift that calls to mind the presence of Christ available to all...and explains how in detail to those who have not heard or do not understand...and another that helps those who "get" the gift that is being offered daily by Our Lord to "get" the most from it!

Everyday can be Christmas! (except Good Friday)

Put the Mass back into your family and friends Christmas by giving them the tools necessary... tape it to the back of that ipod or whatever gift they think they want...

Bush Planning for Intergalatic War?

Of course if the secrecy is so unparalled, how does the President even know about it and given the intelligence given to him before Iraq one wonders about the sanity of those giving the info.

From Former Canadian Minister Of Defence Asks Canadian Parliament Asked To Hold Hearings On Relations With Alien "Et" Civilizations - Yahoo! News:

Hellyer revealed, 'The secrecy involved in all matters pertaining to the Roswell incident was unparalled. The classification was, from the outset, above top secret, so the vast majority of U.S. officials and politicians, let alone a mere allied minister of defence, were never in-the-loop.'

Hellyer warned, 'The United States military are preparing weapons which could be used against the aliens, and they could get us into an intergalactic war without us ever having any warning. He stated, 'The Bush administration has finally agreed to let the military build a forward base on the moon, which will put them in a better position to keep track of the goings and comings of the visitors from space, and to shoot at them, if they so decide.'

Gay Bishop Robinson Weighs In...

He is right (because of course this is what has been going on), but that points to a bigger problem that the men going through the system are more concerned about getting "ordained" than they are in following the Truth, the Way and the Life!

From New York Post Online Edition: news:

U.S. Anglican Bishop Gene Robinson, who is gay, said yesterday that a new Vatican document barring homosexuals from becoming priests unless they've resisted their sexual tendencies for three years will force people to sin — by lying.

'It's very clear that if you want to be a priest in the Roman Catholic Church and you know you're gay, you have to lie about it,' said Robinson.

Why There are Only 12 of us Florida Marlin Fans

Here is a team that has won two World Series in its short existence, yet has had horrible owners who are not creative enough to fill the stands nor get community support behind them, but on the contrary put the few fans that they have through this every couple of years...a fire sale where they dump the team to give the Florida fans a triple AAA team. Now which of you triple AAA francise sites wants to replace your minor league team with this one?
Personally I think ownership should have been stripped from Wayne H. when he did this, now that Jeffrey L. is doing it (after his genius handling of the Montreal Expos) I think baseball should take the team away from him also.

The one hopeful sign if you are one of the twelve faithful fans, like I am, is that in getting rid of Carlos Delgado (traded to the Mets) we replace him with Jesus Delgado...there has to be some messianic hope here that a team that once again is being crucified will rise again and confound the baseball gods (little 'g').

Father Reese, S.J. Weighs In

Gays in clergy widespread, Vatican decisions made in ignorance, scholar says...

From Catholic Online:

With the much-anticipated Vatican document on gays in seminaries soon to be published, a visiting scholar at a Jesuit university has written that homosexuality in the priesthood is widespread and that the church’s decisions about gay clergy are being made in without proper study or understanding.

Father Reese, currently a visiting scholar at Jesuit-run Santa Clara University in Santa Clara, Calif., resigned as editor in chief of America magazine in May 2005 after, according to Jesuit officials in Rome, repeated complaints from then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, who objected to the magazine's treatment of sensitive church issues.

The Italian news agency ADISTA published the Italian text of the Vatican document Nov. 22, a week before it was expected to be released at the Vatican. A Vatican spokesman did not confirm or deny the authenticity of the text, entitled "Instruction on the Criteria of Vocational Discernment Regarding Persons With Homosexual Tendencies in View of Their Admission to the Priesthood and to Sacred Orders."

Father Reese noted Nov. 21 that, while “estimates of homosexuality among priests have ranged from 10 percent to 60 percent,” U.S. bishops have discouraged research into clergy sexual orientation or activity because of the bad publicity that would result.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Pray the Sunday Readings


First Sunday of Advent, Year B
Mark 13:33-37

P. Prepare
Watch!
1. Jesus presents this teaching on the Mount of Olives just before the Passion.
2. "No one knows the day nor the hour" is the preceeding verse of the Gospel.
3. Christians are to be constantly in a state of expectation of the Lord's return no matter how delayed he may seem.
4. The gospel contains a mini parable, comparing the vocation of a Christian to a "doorkeeper"...interestingly two of North America's most holy men of the last century both worked as "porters or doorkeepers": Canada's (and New England's) Blessed Andre Besset and the U.S.'s Venerable Solanus Casey...might this be interpreted as some sign that the Lord's comign is nearer now? On any account it was the "doorkeepers" one job to watch for the coming of a anyone. (one might also reflect on last Sunday's Gospel and the coming of the Lord under his many guises).
5. The doorkeeper is given "charge"...the Greek word exousia which also can mean "power"
6. What is said is underscored not to be just for the Apostles but for everyone...."Watch!"

R. Read
Read Mark 13:33-37 slowly. What strikes you as you read the selection? You might want to read it again before you go to Mass on Sunday.
A. Attend
Listen to all of the readings at Mass. How do the First Reading and Responsorial Psalm add to what the Gospel says? What speaks to you as you hear the Gospel proclaimed? What in the homily touches you or adds to what you were already thinking?
Y. Yield
How can you keep watch? Read the stories of Solanus Casey and Brother Andre...how did they watch for Christ as doorkeepers in their lives? How might you celebrate this Advent season by watching more intensely for Christ?

Here is a suggestion:
Pray the Divine Office throughout the day (all seven hours) as a way of "keeping watch" for Christ both in his future Second Coming but also as he comes to you in the guise of the poor.

From the Office of Readings

We all are sinners...to me this is a given. We begin every liturgy with a call to remember our sinfulness before God.

Today's Office of Readings features the Second Letter of St. Peter:

The Lord knows how to rescue godly men from their trials, and how to keep the wicked under punishment for the Day of Judgment, especially those who follow their filthy bodily lusts and despise God's authority.


Now, how does this passage jive with those who think that following Christ has nothing to do with sexuality? Or that every desire that we feel is good? Where is discernment of spirits in the lives of those who act as though following Christ requires no repentance, no change of heart, no turning away from something toward someone?

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Document Released

Pretty much what had been leaked...

Read it at Catholic World News (CWN)

An excerpt:

"It would be gravely dishonest if a candidate were to hide his own homosexuality to enter, notwithstanding everything, to Ordination. An attitude so inauthentic does not correspond to the spirit of truth, allegiance, and availability that must characterize the personality of he who believes to be called to serve Christ and His Church in the priestly ministry."

Monday, November 21, 2005

A Sign?

I received a note from my friend Father Stan Fortuna over the weekend informing me that he was in Liseux praying to Saint Therese for me and my intentions. Awesome!

Michael at One



Thanks grammy and grampy...

Sunday, November 20, 2005

2005-2006 Bowl Dates

There are a lot of things that make this prediction by college football experts rather laughable--partly because they are wrong about everything: there will be no bowl game in New Orleans, Tennessee isn't bowl eligible and Pittsburgh is one game away from being bowl ineligible itself. Goes to show what the experts know:

From 2005-2006 Bowl Dates:

"NOKIA SUGAR BOWL - New Orleans, Louisiana
January 1, 2006, at 8:30 p.m. ET ABC
Louisiana Superdome 75,000
BCS (SEC Champion if not in national title) vs. BCS
CFN Projection: Tennessee vs. Pittsburgh
also considered: Auburn, Florida, Georgia, LSU, Louisville, Michigan, Ohio State"

Friday, November 18, 2005

Role of the Laity

From Mary Jane in the Comments:
 
I believe one of the problems with the "role of the laity" in the the post-Vatican II Church has been the spread of the belief that the role only finds its expression in what gets done in the church buildings or organizations. And you can end up with people whose entire lives revolve around that address - very often to the great neglect of family, friends, co-workers, and the whole wide world that is waiting to learn about Christ. For some folks, it's as though good deeds don't count unless they're done in an ecclesiastical environment. (A corollary is that service to the poor is the only one that gets brownie points, whereas loving those God puts right under your nose isn't worth working on.)

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

A New Concentrated Effort?

This from an editorial of a student run paper...

From Working for Loyola - The Phoenix - Discourse:

The call to remove this ad was prompted by a new crackdown in the Catholic Church. Since Pope Benedict XVI was elected, the church has begun a concentrated effort to make sure church-affiliated bodies were presenting the unified, constant message of the Church. Members of the administration have told me, independently, of this new 'heightened sensitivity' to opinions contrary to the teachings of the Church.

Great Quote

From Jean Pierre De Causade
God reveals Himself to the humble in the lowliest of disguises, but the proud who never look beyond the surface, fail to find Him even in His greatest manifestations.

And:
Without God everything is nothing, with God nothing is everything.

The Decline of the Laity

I was reading a Russian Orthodox theologian last night and something struck me...the real crisis in the Church today is that despite Vatican II's call for the laity to once again recognize their mission is that since Vatican II the laity as the leaven of the church has almost disappeared.

Read Raymond Arroyo's new biography Mother Angelica : The Remarkable Story of a Nun, Her Nerve, and a Network of Miracles. Who was the inspiration for the young Rita to eventually become Mother Angelica? It wasn't a priest. It wasn't a nun. It was a lay woman.

Who inspired Thomas Merton? Laypeople.

It is true that the sacramental life of the church is entrusted to the Bishops and priests but the mystical life of the church is open to anyone...in fact even the most primary Sacrament of the church can be celebrated by anyone (in cases of emergency anyone can baptize...male or female, even unbelievers). Some diabolical twist has happened since Vatican II where people who want to lead holy lives have been drawn into doing so in a frustrating environment where they really don't belong and meanwhile the once rich heritage of lay apostolate and holiness has almost disappeared--Russel Shaw wrote an excellent book on this a few years ago entitled Ministry or Apostolate?: What Should the Catholic Laity Be Doing

Do you want to make a difference in the Catholic Church? Then begin by turning to the Triune God and asking him through the merits of his son's passion to send the Holy Spirit into your life and to make you a light that shines before all. Go to mass, pray before the Blessed Sacrament but then take Our Lord with you back home, in your workplace, and in your neighborhood. Make your life a witness.

This Sunday's gospel is about judgment and you'll notice that what we will be judged on has everything to do with how well we recognize Christ in the everyday visitations that have nothing to do with Church but everything to do with bringing "Thy Kindom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven."

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

"I Have a Feeling I've Eaten Here Before"

The "Why Catholics Give" has sparked a lively debate...
 
From Commentor Roseberry:
 
In my own town I have seen more than one altar (complete with carvings of host and chalice) serving as the cash desk at commercial establishments. At a downtown fish restaurant, the stained glass windows from our former seminary have been installed, and the old wooden communion rail separated the buffet area from the tables. This prompted a local journalist to say, as he stepped to the buffet, "I have a feeling I've eaten here before."

Monday, November 14, 2005

Amy and My Books Make Great Christmas Gifts

From Amy:

I've redone and updated our bookstore, and have rashly included a new special offer:

All 15 titles in the bookstore for $150.00, shipping included. I thought that some of you might want to make a gift to your parish library or local Newman Center (well, the later sans the children's saints' books, but you surely have some worthy child in your life who could use those)

Go here for the goods.

Why Catholics Give

I'm tired of hearing the oft repeated refrain that we Catholics have something to learn about giving from our non-Catholic friends.
 
Take a look around you, in your city or town and take a good look at all those large Catholic buildings...churches, schools, hospitals, nursing homes, seminaries, religious houses...how did they ever get built?
 
From the generous giving of Catholics.
 
Now, take another look. How have they been used? Is the giving that built them dried up because many of those who were given so much have taken what was given and tried to go "professional" and make a "profit"? One is likely to take a walk (if they live in the Northern U.S.) among the ruins of Catholicism...abandoned orphanages, closed seminaries, closed religious houses, sacred buildings that now serve as a restaraunt mocking the former building's occupants by having waitresses walk around in short modified friar's habits.
 
Another meaning of the parable we heard yesterday might be to see the distributor of the cash as the laity and the servants as the servant leaders of the church. What have they done with what has been given? How have they used it?
 
I still find Catholics to be the most generous givers out there, those who find Catholics aren't giving to their particular church or ministry might want to ask themselves why these generous givers aren't choosing to give to them.

Families of Murdered Men to Hold News Conference at Bishop's Conference

Not even a note from the Bishop?
 
 
"We haven't had a card, a note, a phone call from our own bishop, so we have to try to get their attention another way," said Tom O'Connell. His son, Dan, and intern James Ellison were shot and killed on Feb. 5, 2003, at the O'Connell funeral home in Hudson.

The Rev. Ryan Erickson, a priest in Hudson at the time, probably killed the men because O'Connell was about to confront the priest over allegations that he sexually abused a teenage boy, a judge ruled last month. Erickson, who had been moved twice by his bishop after the killings, hanged himself last December.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops opens its annual fall meeting in Washington today. Most of the sessions are closed to the public.

"They have their charter saying they will protect young people from abuse, but what are they doing?" Tom O'Connell said Sunday.

At their news conference in Washington, 10 members of the two families will ask that each bishop disclose far more information about alleged abusers and their misdeeds, publicly acknowledge their mistakes, meet with abuse victims and support laws in every state to lift criminal and civil statutes of limitations in child sex-abuse cases.

"They won't talk with us privately," said O'Connell, who with the Ellisons has asked to meet with Pope Benedict on the issues. "Maybe we can get their attention by speaking publicly."

Rochester Bishop Addresses Homosexual Issue

Bishop Matthew Clark to Homosexual Priests and Future Priests:
 

* homosexual priests who spend themselves each day in faithful, loving ministry to God's holy people. We deeply value your ministry.

* to gay young men who are considering a vocation to priesthood. We try to treat all inquiries fairly. You will be no exception.

* to all who may have been confused or misled by premature and narrow reporting of the visitation and rumored document. It is always better to deal with fact than with rumor and half-truths.

 

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Daddy Gator has Burn't Down the House he Built

From Mike Bianchi in the Orlando Sentinel:

How does it feel, Gators?

How does it feel to be Ray Goff?

How does it feel to be Phil Fulmer?

How does it feel to be Peyton Manning?

How does it feel to be Curley Hallman, Bill Curry, Brad Scott and Gerry DiNardo?

Now the Florida Gators are just like every other coach, player and program that has felt the guile and style of Stephen Orr Spurrier. Now, he has ruined their season, too, just like he has ruined so many seasons for Southeastern Conference teams from the Louisiana lowlands to the summit of Rocky Top.

Except this one is the rockiest of bottoms. This one hurts most of all because it was Spurrier, the ultimate Gator, tearing apart the very program he put together. This was college football fratricide.

Daddy just burned down the family house...

...And now the inevitable comparisons begin. Zook's UF team threw six touchdown passes and beat South Carolina 48-14 last year. The last Spurrier-coached Florida team beat South Carolina 54-17. And the first time Meyer plays here, the Gamecocks turn the Gators into chicken feed.

I guess this Spurrier guy can still coach a little, huh? Don't look now, but Spurrier still has never lost a Florida-South Carolina game. In fact, he led the Gamecocks to their first win over the Gators since 1939. That's when Lou Gehrig made his famous farewell speech at Yankee Stadium and told the world, "I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth."

From the look of giddy pleasure on his face, Spurrier might have argued that point Saturday.

"I feel so fortunate to be coaching this team," he said. "This is neat. We're defying logic. I knew we had a chance to make history here, I just didn't know we would be making it so fast."

Two weeks ago, the Gamecocks won at Tennessee for the first time ever. And now they've scored more points than they ever have against Florida and defeated the Gators for the first time in 66 years.

Ah, 1939 -- the same year The Wizard of Oz came out.

It only seems fitting, because Urban Meyer is quickly finding out that, "Toto, I don't think we're in Utah anymore."

Meanwhile, the ol' ballcoach is taking South Carolina on a wild and wondrous journey somewhere over the rainbow.

And they would have won the SEC East had they won...

Hard to be impressed with Urban Meyer's first year as the UF head coach. He has taken a team loaded with talent and managed to squeak wins out against Vanderbilt and other lesser talented teams, while at the same time losing to the likes of South Carolina.

Spurrier who could have been coaching the Gators if he hadn't been asked to particpate in interviews like the other candidates (were there ever any other candidates besides Meyer?)...has taken a team with no talent and beat the likes of Florida, Tennesee and came close to beating Georgia.

Why would anyone think that the genius who hired Ron Zook to replace Spurrier in the first place would do any better the second time around--even when given the opportunity to hire Mr. Gator back again?

By the way the USF Bulls are on track to be in the BCS this year...while two of the big three won't be...

Friday, November 11, 2005

Will Ban, Won't

Italian Press reports new document will ban "practicing" homosexuals (I might add that this says absolutely nothing, since practing heterosexuals also are banned from being ordained celibate priests).
 
 
The Church cannot admit to the priesthood those who practice homosexuality, have deeply rooted homosexual tendencies or those who support the so-called 'gay culture,"' the newspaper quoted the document as saying.

In recent months there have been numerous leaks about the contents of the document but Il Giornale's report by its respected religious affairs correspondent Andrea Tornielli appeared to be the first with direct quotes.

Benedict has them Guessing

From Reuters:
 
But the private Pope, according to several well-placed Vatican prelates who spoke on the condition of anonymity, is another matter.

"The style inside the Vatican now is totally different," said a monsignor. "He is keeping a lot of us guessing."

John Paul would invite visitors to his private mass early every morning and engage them afterwards at breakfast on a host of issues facing the Church and the world.

Before his health declined, John Paul's dinners were legendary for their cultural exchange and lively intellectual banter.

Benedict, by contrast, has precious few visitors to his private apartments apart from his close staff. So, hints of what is on his mind or of impending decisions rarely trickle out.

As private and reserved as he was before his election, he spends much of his private time in the evening reading, and occasionally relaxes by playing the piano.
 

Thursday, November 10, 2005

New Bishop for Sioux City

I think this is the first "ordinary" appointed by Pope Benedict in the
United States.

From Vatican Information Service:

Msgr. Ralph Walker Nickless, vicar general and pastor of the parish of
Our Lady of Fatima in the archdiocese of Denver, U.S.A., as bishop of
Sioux City (area 37,587, population 468,549, Catholics 94,186, priests
150, permanent deacons 36, religious 86), U.S.A. The bishop-elect was
born in Denver in 1947 and ordained a priest in 1973.

Wednesday, November 9, 2005

P.R.A.Y. The Sunday Gospel


Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
Matthew 25:14-30

P. Prepare
A Man Going on a Journey
1. This parable follows the parable of the ten virgins from last Sunday’s Gospel.
2. It is both a parable of discipleship (how we are serving in God’s Kingdom) and of future judgment (how we will be judged when Our Lord returns).
3. In this parable of the kingdom all are not equal, rather each servant is entrusted with talents commensurate with their ability…literally their power (dynamis)
4. A “talent” was the largest denomination in Greek currency, roughly equivalent to 10,000 denarii. In another parable we are told that one denarius is one day’s wage. We might equate a talent with a million dollars in our economy. The point here being that even one “talent” was equivalent to a persons lifetime of earning. What should not be lost on the modern reader is that “talent” was money, not aptitude.
5. Each servant is entrusted with this enormous gift, i.e. each Christian believer has been given everything they need in life freely from Our Lord whose salvation is a gift to us.
6. The master leaves no instruction on what to do with the money that he leaves to his servants before going on his journey. In the end the accounting will relate to how the master is thought of and how this propels the good servants to use their talents versus the wicked one.
7. “Immediately” the good servants put the money they have received to use and make more, the bad servant buries it in the ground (might this be an indication of believing in death more than life—already a sign of living not with belief in the resurrection and return of Jesus but rather fearing that he will not return and death is the true end?) St. John Chrysostom interpreted this behavior as “selfishness” an unwillingness to help others.
8. It was considered “safe” to bury money in the ground to protect it from thieves, but this behavior is condemned by Jesus. His followers are to let their light shine before all. Belonging to the Kingdom is all about risk because it is belief in the power of the cross not fear of those who can take one’s life but rather fear of him who after our life has been taken can cast us into Gehenna.
10. In the parable the master returns “After a long time”…a theme that at least in Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus return, his second coming doesn’t happen when his disciples expect (in Matthew 24 an immediate return is forecast, in 25 a later than expected return is forecast—we know neither the day nor the hour).
11. The confession of the servant acknowledges that what they made of their talents (life?) was made possible first of all because of the gift of the talent in the first place from the Lord. His response “Well done, my good and faithful servant” echoes what every disciple desires and echoes the sentiments of those who felt “joy” at the funerals of both Pope John Paul II and Blessed Mother Teresa who stand as modern examples of the good servants in this parable. Notice the response of the Lord to the second servant entrusted with less talents at the beginning of the parable is the same.
12. One might take the “wicked, lazy servant” as those who believe that God is so all powerful that they literally do not matter. Yet the point of the Gospel is that while God is all powerful he has humbled himself and given us a mission. Our prayers, good works all empowered by Him do matter and we can not stand back asking God why he delays in returning when he has empowered us to do His will on this earth. What are we doing with the power that God has entrusted us? Do we pray like everything depends upon our prayers? Do we work and speak out like everything depends upon our efforts and voice? Or do we wait for those good and faithful servants to do this for us?
13. The wicked servant seems to think that his action was “good” even though it leads to his condemnation. This parable attacks humility when it is used as a pretense for not acting and as a way of using God as a foil for our own inactivity.
14. The wicked servant is cast out into the darkness. Might there be a psychological interpretation for the fruit of a life lived not for others but for self? One does not feel that they have used their lives wisely.
R. Read
Read Matthew 25:14-30 slowly. What strikes you as you read the selection? You might want to read it again before you go to Mass on Sunday.
A. Attend
Listen to all of the readings at Mass. How do the First Reading and Responsorial Psalm add to what the Gospel says? What speaks to you as you hear the Gospel proclaimed? What in the homily touches you or adds to what you were already thinking?
Y. Yield
How can you take the gift of your Baptism and use it daily to add to the Kingdom of God? Where can you bring healing to others? Who needs your prayers? Who needs the money that God has entrusted to you? How can you take what you have been given and have more to give Our Lord when he returns?

Tuesday, November 8, 2005

The Jewish Pope

Pope John Paul was Half Jewish...
 
 
A Manchester historian has claimed that Pope John Paul II was Jewish.

Yaakov Wise says his study into the the maternal ancestry of Karol Josez Wojtyla (John Paul II's real name) has revealed startling conclusions.

Mr Wise, a researcher in orthodox Jewish history and philosophy, said the late Pope's mother, grandmother and great-grandmother were all probably Jewish and came from a small town not far from Krakow.
 

Monday, November 7, 2005

St. Felix of Nicosia

From Father Benedict Groeschel:

Why pick this humble soul, who had been beatified over a century ago, for sudden notoriety and papal recognition? The answer is that he was profoundly devoted to the Blessed Sacrament, as were the other four people who were canonized with him at the end of the year of the Eucharist. I suspect there are other reasons as well. We live in a time that considers itself quite sophisticated. Everyone has an opinion, and all sorts of people have opinions that fall far outside the view of generally accepted Catholicism, or even of orthodox Catholic faith. One of those awaiting beatification at this time is Cardinal Newman, perhaps the greatest literary genius of the nineteenth century. A number of other extremely intelligent and intellectual people are in line as well. Why choose the humble Felix, whose vocation was that of an efficient beggar and friend of the sick, the poor, and the humble souls of his fairly humble city?

I think the answer is God’s Providence. God is telling us something. He is reminding us that the meek are blessed, that they shall inherit the earth, and that the poor in spirit enter the kingdom of heaven. Most of us have never even met a peasant brother or, in fact, any peasant. A peasant makes his living directly from the soil or the sea. No one today is identified as a peasant, although thousands of migrant workers might very well receive this noble classification. And yet, about ninety-eight percent of the people who read this message are descendents of European peasants. They were a great army of people who put the Catholic Church on the map during the immigration.

My Irish great-grandmother, Susie Murphy, who was only one generation from being a peasant herself, used to say, “Put a beggar on horseback, and he’ll ride himself to hell.” Catholicism in America is a rather dismal scene now with the collapse of most religious orders, apostasy among a great many Catholic colleges and universities, scandals in the priesthood and lack of faith and acceptance of some of the principal moral and dogmatic teachings of the Church. If we ask where we are headed, we may come to the conclusion that my great-grandmother was right in her homespun assessment of human nature.

The canonization of Saint Felix of Nicosia isn’t going to make a great splash. It wasn’t carried in any of the major newspapers. Unfortunately, little is probably known among the poor immigrants in the United States who would rejoice and be glad if they knew of this man and realized that “one of their own” received the Church’s highest honors. Just as Pope Pius XI used the beatification of Saint Conrad of Parzham to remind the Germans during Hitler’s time that they were not the master race, so this canonization may remind us all that it is the poor in spirit and the humble who enter the kingdom of heaven. If we want to get there ourselves, we had better — one way or another — get in line.

Ancient Christian Church Found in Israel


Dates back to the third century, at the Biblical site of Armageddon! Here is a picture of the inscription found:

From Yahoo News:

MEGIDDO PRISON, Israel - Israeli prisoner Ramil Razilo was removing rubble from the planned site of a new prison ward when his shovel uncovered the edge of an elaborate mosaic, unveiling what Israeli archaeologists said Sunday may be the Holy Land's oldest church.

The discovery of the church in the northern Israeli town of Megiddo, near the biblical Armageddon, was hailed by experts as an important discovery that could reveal details about the development of the early church in the region. Archaeologists said the church dated from the third century, decades before Constantine legalized Christianity across the Byzantine Empire.

Sunday, November 6, 2005

Tornado Hits Parts of Indiana and Kentucky

Wind roared here last night too, although we are a long, long ways from Evansville (about six hours by car). Our power was out for eleven hours.

I'm always amazed when locals talk about how safe it is here compared to Florida, Louisana or California, USA Today recently rated our area as one of the ten most dangerous (largely because one of the deadliest tornados ever touched down between here and South Bend and destroyed several towns that no longer exist.

From the New York Times:

At least 22 people were reported killed and more than 200 were injured today when a tornado hit parts of Indiana and Kentucky in the dead of night.

The tornado formed along a line of severe thunderstorms after midnight and roared east of Evansville through Henderson County, Ky., touching down around 2 a.m., the authorities said.

Saturday, November 5, 2005

November-Momento Mori

This is the month in the church's calendar when we remember those who have "fallen asleep" and at the same time remember our own mortality and the judgment that awaits us. This Sunday's reading combines both themes.

Pope Benedict praying before the tomb of John Paul II:

Friday, November 4, 2005

Nude Ad in Catholic Weekly?

From ANSA.IT:

Italy's best-selling weekly, the Catholic-oriented Famiglia Cristiana, is being looked at in a new light this week after it published its first ever picture of a naked female bottom .

The magazine's unprecedented move did not go unnoticed in Italy, partly thanks to national newspapers, most of which carried an article on it on Thursday. One daily even put the news on its front page .

The picture, part of an advertisement for bathroom ventilators, showed the steamed up glass of a shower cubicle through which the central part of a woman's body could be seen from behind .

Thursday, November 3, 2005

A Great Quote

From a fan of When Did We See You, Lord? by Bishop Robert Baker and Father Benedict Groeschel who got turned on to Jean Pierre de Caussade as a result of a quote in that book. He found another quote that he likes and now I do too:

At every event we should exclaim: "It is the Lord." (John 21:7).

A New Feature--P.R.A.Y. This Sunday's Gospel


One of the features that I mention in How To Get The Most Out Of The Eucharist is something I call "P.R.A.Y.":

What are some concrete steps we can take that will help us get the most from the Word of God? Here are a few that can easily be remembered by using the word P.R.A.Y. ...

P ... Prepare by studying Scripture and coming to a better understanding of how Catholics approach and interpret the Word... The less familiar we are with the Word that we hear proclaimed at the Eucharist, the more likely we are to be distracted by what we hear rather than fed.

R ... Read the Mass readings beforehand... If we read beforehand we can better listen when the readings are being proclaimed, and it is more likely that we will truly hear what God wishes to say to us.

A ... Attend to what is being read to us at the Eucharist. Listen in a way that acknowledges that God wishes to speak to you at this Mass...

Y ... Yield to what God is asking of you and respond with a "yes." Every celebration of the Eucharist is a renewing of the covenant between God and us. God waits for our response.

Beginnning this week, I offer an outline for those interested in preparing for the upcoming Sunday's Gospel by hightlighting this P.R.A.Y. model here:

Thirty Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
Matthew 25:1-13
P. Prepare
Of Foolish Virgins and the Bridegroom
1. This parable of Jesus' is only found in Matthew's Gospel.
2. Most Kingdom parables have are concerned with the present, this one is concerned with the future. "The Kingdom of heaven will be like..."
3. The wedding practice mentioned in the parable was not the norm in Jesus' day. Bridesmaids did not wait for the groom, nor were latecomers rejected. We might infer from this that the Kingdom's way is not our way.
4. Although the virgins appear the same at the beginning, some our proven to be foolish at the appearance of the groom.They are wrong in thinking that the groom will come soon (obviously the groom is Jesus and the second coming is his appearance) but in fact the wise virgins do not expect a quick coming of the groom and are prepared with extra oil for their lamps.
5. The foolish virgins, i.e. followers of Christ think that accepting the invitation is enough but more is demanded.
6. What does the "reserve oil" represent:
Augustine thought it was love which is God's gift but our responsibility. Chrysostom took it to be almsgiving and our treatment of the needy (which will come up again in the same chapter of Matthew's Gospel).
7. In Matthew's Gospel being a disciple of Jesus is tough. How does this conflict with our view of what following Jesus means? Are we more like the foolish virgins who think our relationship with Jesus is enough?
8. Throughout Matthew's Gospel Jesus envisions there being two types of Christians within the Church: those who take seriously the constant repentance and those who do not.
9. The Father's interepreted the virgin's sleep as death which reminds me of a homily I once heard about the priest never seeing a U-Haul trailer attached to a hearse, but it turns out that in this parable we do take it with us and will what we take be enough?
10. In the parable the groom finally arives in the middle of the night (when it is darkest, in a culture that did not have electricity and having the "light" was an absolute necessity to venturing out).
11. At the moment of his coming the Church suddenly becomes very individualistic, as in other parables of Judgement--all now depends upon what we did, not our group. Here the Church is communal, we are to help one another but at the moment of Judgement it is all changed.
12. There comes a moment when it is too late to repent--the message of the parable is don't wait until it is too late, and be prepared, take stock of what you are doing with the relationship that you have with Christ. Is your lamp burning? Are you running on "Full"?
R. Read
Read Matthew 25:1-13 slowly. Several times if necessary. Then think about it. You might want to read it again before you go to Mass on Sunday.
A. Attend
Listen to all of the readings at Mass. How does the First Reading and Responsorial Psalm add to what the Gospel says? What speaks to you as you hear the Gospel proclaimed? What in the homily touches you or adds to what you were already thinking?
Y. Yield
How can you recommit your life to Jesus and be ready for his coming? What concrete steps can you take this week to be aglow with His love? Ask Jesus to fill you in the Eucharist.

Pope to Strip Universities of Catholic Title?

From a Talk Given at Notre Dame by the Secretary of the Vatican Congregation of Education.

From LifeSite.Net:


The Vatican's number two education official predicts that Pope Benedict XVI will follow a path of "evangelical pruning" of secularized Catholic colleges and universities, declaring them no longer Catholic.
Archbishop Michael Miller, secretary of the Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education and former president of the University of Saint Thomas in Houston, addressed officials and faculty at the University of Notre Dame on Monday.
Miller said that his prediction was based on an examination of the new Pope's writings and approach. The Pope has argued "that it might be better for the Church not to expend its resources trying to preserve institutions if their Catholic identity has been seriously compromised," Miller said.
In the Holy Father's view, "the measure of an institution can be judged by its Catholic integrity," Miller said. If the institution secularizes, "it might be a matter of truth and justice that such an institution is no longer upheld. . . . [I]f a Catholic institution is no longer motivated by a Catholic identity, it is better to let it go."

Wednesday, November 2, 2005

Feast of All Souls


From the Office of Readings:

Death was not part of nature; it became part of nature. God did not decree death from the beginning; he prescribed it as a remedy. Human life was condemned because of sin to unremitting labour and unbearable sorrow and so began to experience the burden of wretchedness. There had to be a limit to its evils; death had to restore what life had forfeited. Without the assistance of grace, immortality is more of a burden than a blessing.

The soul has to turn away from the aimless paths of this life, from the defilement of an earthly body; it must reach out to those assemblies in heaven (though it is given only to the saints to be admitted to them) to sing the praises of God. We learn from Scripture how God’s praise is sung to the music of the harp: Great and wonderful are your deeds, Lord God Almighty; just and true are your ways, King of the nations. Who will not revere and glorify your nature? You alone are holy; all nations will come and worship before you. The soul must also desire to witness your nuptials, Jesus, and to see your bride escorted from earthly to heavenly realities, as all rejoice and sing: All flesh will come before you. No longer will the bride be held in subjection to this passing world but will be made one with the spirit.

Above all else, holy David prayed that he might see and gaze on this: One thing I have asked of the Lord, this I shall pray for: to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, and to see how gracious is the Lord.


St. Ambrose after the death of his brother.

On the Beach in Sydney

Tuesday, November 1, 2005

Pope's All Saints Angelus


Will visit the tomb of Pope John Paul II as well as other popes.

From Asia News Net Italy:

The new life received in Baptism is not subject to the corruption and power of death. For those who live in Christ, death is the passage from an earthly pilgrimage to the homeland of heaven, where the Father welcomes all his children “of every nation, race, people and language” as we read today in the Book of Revelation (7:9). This is why it is very meaningful and appropriate that after the feast of All Saints, all the faithful who have died are commemorated tomorrow. The “communion of saints” which we profess in the Creed, is a reality which is built down here, but which will be manifested fully when we see God “as he is” (1 Jn 3:2). It is the reality of a family tied by profound links of spiritual solidarity, which unite the faithful who have died to those who are pilgrims in the world. A bond which is mysterious but real, fed by prayer and by participation in the sacrament of the Eucharist. The souls of the faithful meet in the mystical Body of Christ, overcoming the barrier of death, praying for each other, realizing in charity an intimate exchange of gifts. Through this dimension of faith may be understood also the practice of offering prayers of suffrage for the deceased, especially the Eucharistic sacrifice, a memorial of the Easter of Christ, who opened the road to eternal life for believers.

Uniting myself spiritually with those going to cemeteries to pray for their deceased ones, I too will go tomorrow afternoon to ray in the Grotte Vaticane at the tombs of the popes, which crown the sepulchre of the Apostle Peter, and my thoughts will be especially for the beloved John Paul II. Dear friends, the tradition of these days of visiting the tombs of our deceased ones is an occasion to think about the mystery of death without fear, and to cultivate that incessant watchfulness which allows us to face it serenely. The Virgin Mary, the Queen of Saints who we turn to now with filial confidence, will help us in this.

A Moment Frozen in Time

We spent part of last week attending the National Catholic Youth Conference in Atlanta. One moment from all that I experienced continues to stay with me, perhaps I might say even to haunt me. While Joseph, Katie and I were walking back toward the exhibit area where Amy and Michael were, we suddenly notice a quiet and people stopping (in an environment that was much like walking through midtown Manhattan on a weekday). Then enmasse young and old dropped to their knees.

Advancing were youth holding signs "Silence and Kneel"…everyone obediently did so as cassocked men holding candles, one swinging incense advanced in front of a coped priest with humeral veil wrapped around the base of a monstrance held the Eucharistic Body of Our Lord aloft.

Those who have seen the movie "The Mission" with one of the best scenes ever filmed about the spiritual life will remember Jeremy Irons playing a priest holding the monstrance in the midst of battle all around him, himself falling and an indigenous man picking up the monstrance and continuing the procession. That is what popped into my mind as I instructed young Joseph to make the sign of the cross as Jesus passed in our midst.

I'll bet that when all is said and done, I'm not alone in this being a moment that will be remembered by all. What is more I have realized that these Catholic prayer moments are the solid foundation that most Catholics never forget--long after they have forgotten most of what they were taught.

There is a lesson here for those of us who try to pass on the faith to our children--introduce them to Christ, like disciples on the road to Emmaus let Christ the stranger teach them, open the Scriptures to them so that they might recognize him in the breaking of the Bread--that they may pick up his Presence and carry it through the streets of life where a battle wages.

Such catechesis is the lesson plan of saints--may all the saints pray that we might take up that charge!

New Mass Translation

Whenever the new ICEL translation of the Mass is approved, (it could be as soon as next year), much catechesis will be needed. This translation will be radical--but very good! The aims of the translation are to put it back in line with the Scriptures that the Latin and most other translations preserve. The opportunities to use this time of transition before the translation appears to catechize and teach people about the Mass are endless. If you are in a position to catechize your parishioners begin doing so now…do not wait until the last moment!

The bishops of this country had a number of issues with the first new translation that was done by the new ICEL committee. interestingly the latest does not give into most of those "issues" but rather explains the rich theological significance of the changes and particular choice of words. So instead of "Let us prepare ourselves to celebrate the sacred mysteries" "Let us acknowledge our sins that we may be made ready to celebrate" is defended because as the Bishop's reply the action of the Mass is as much God's as it is ours and "prepare" makes it sound as if it is all our work. That one little snippet shows why this new translation will facilitate the beginning of a great renewal within Catholic liturgical life in the English speaking world.

Before anyone blames Pope Benedict for this--remember this is a Pope John Paul II initiative.