Saturday, June 30, 2007

For Truth and Love of the Church in China

From Asia News Italy:

With the ‘Letter to Chinese Catholics’ published today, Benedict XVI launches the Church and society in China into the third millennium. Putting together “truth and love” the Pope accurately identifies the problems Christians and the Chinese state have to face and moves towards a solution that guarantees a fruitful future for China and the world.
Only the head of the Catholic Church could have written this kind of letter, touching every aspect of the Church’s life in China and its society, with sympathy and understanding even for its political leaders, but also with great clarity about what is necessary and indispensable for the Church, claiming independence in spiritual matters vis-à-vis the system, asking Chinese bishops, priests and faithful to preserve and pass on to the next generations the great treasure which the Catholic faith.
Thoughtfully and in cordial participation, Benedict XVI shares the cries and dismay of Christians “at God's silence in the face of the persecutions,” praising the fidelity of so many “witnesses of the faith, “ “the hope of the Church for the future!” At the same time he looks mercifully even upon those bishops and priests who are illegitimate and in ambiguous situations, urging everyone to live in open unity with the pontiff, to forgive one another, to pastorally work together for mission and the good of Chinese society.
In a loving and open attitude he demands in the name of the Catholic faith the right for the Holy See to appoint its bishops. He calls on underground bishops to seek official government recognition and on official bishops to overcome their fear and publicly acknowlede their ties with the Pope so that bishops and the faithful alike can become reconciled. He especially urges the Chinese Church as a whole to go beyond the defensive mode persecution imposed on it, and try instead evangelising Chinese society, Asia and the whole world by giving itself the necessary means—bishops’ conference, pastoral councils and diocesan administrations—that the task entails. This will mark as it were the end of the time of emergency, and allow the Church of China to become an integral and active part of the universal communion.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Pope Formally Announces Year of St. Paul 2008-2009

From CNS:

Pope Benedict XVI announced a special jubilee year dedicated to St. Paul, saying the church needs modern Christians who will imitate the apostle's missionary energy and spirit of sacrifice.

The pope said the Pauline year will run from June 28, 2008, to June 29, 2009, to mark the approximately 2,000th anniversary of the saint's birth.

He made the announcement while presiding over a vespers service at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls in Rome June 28, the eve of the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, patron saints of Rome.

"Dear brothers and sisters, as in the (church's) beginning, today, too, Christ needs apostles ready to sacrifice themselves. He needs witnesses and martyrs like St. Paul," the pope said.

The Pauline year will feature numerous special liturgies and events in Rome, the pope said, but should also be celebrated in local churches and in the sanctuaries, religious orders and other institutions that have a special link to St. Paul.

In a special way, the Pauline year will be ecumenical, reflecting the saint's commitment to the unity and harmony among all Christians, he said. The pope's announcement was met with applause in the crowded basilica.


Also see: Pope Benedict said to plan examination of St. Paul's Tomb

Letter to Catholic Chinese on Saturday

From The International Tribune:

Pope Benedict XVI's eagerly awaited letter to Roman Catholics in China will be released on Saturday, the Vatican said, the pontiff's latest effort to reach out to Beijing and bring all of China's faithful into the Vatican's fold.

A Vatican statement issued Friday said the pope's letter — addressed to bishops, priests and lay faithful in China — would be released at noon Saturday (1000 GMT).

Thursday, June 28, 2007

New Bishop for Superior

Peter F. Christensen

Confirmation on the Motu Proprio from Vatican

Today's Vatican News Service confirms what many news agencies are reporting that the Secretary of State met with selected bishops from around the world to present the forthcoming Motu Proprio to them, along with the Holy Father's letter of explanation. In Italian:


Given below is the text of a communique released today by the Holy See Press Office concerning Benedict XVI's forthcoming "Motu Proprio" on the use of the Missal promulgated by Blessed John XXIII in 1962.

"Yesterday afternoon in the Vatican, a meeting was held under the presidency of the Cardinal Secretary of State in which the content and spirit of the Holy Father's forthcoming 'Motu Proprio' on the use of the Missal promulgated by John XXIII in 1962 was explained to representatives from various episcopal conferences. The Holy Father also arrived to greet those present, spending nearly an hour in deep conversation with them.

"The publication of the document - which will be accompanied by an extensive personal letter from the Holy Father to individual bishops - is expected within a few days, once the document itself has been sent to all the bishops with an indication of when it will come into effect."

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Catholic News Site

Pew Sitter...sort of the way the Diocese Report used to be, although much more positive...

Pope: Avoiding the Temptation to Deny the Divinity of Jesus

By looking to St. Cyril...from Asia News Italy:

“Denying Christ’s divinity”, which was at the centre of Aryan heresy, “is still today a temptation for Christians”. In order to counter this “integral catechesis” is needed, through which the faithful can teach Christianity “which truly involves our entire existence and which makes us credible witnesses of Jesus Christ, truly God and truly man”. That was the objective which Saint Cyril of Jerusalem aimed to achieve in the IV century but which is still valid today, and which was also at the heart of the Pope’s reflection during his general audience today, centred on the figures of the early Church and the relevant aspects of their teachings in today’s world.

Cyril of Jerusalem, a fundamental figure above all for his catechesis, was the early father of the Church to whom Benedict XVI dedicated his one hundredth general audience of his pontificate. Encounters which have given him the opportunity to speak directly to 2, 280,100 people.

The over 10 thousand people, who took part in the audience, where spared the June heat and divided between St. Peter’s basilica and the Paul VI audience hall.

The Pope recalled that Cyril bishop of Jerusalem in the IV century, “against his will”, was involved in the “controversies” of the Eastern Church, but the Pope particularly underlined his work as a teacher of the faith, author of 24 catechesis, a true “introduction to Christianity” and “still today model of the journey to being Christian”.

Cyril, unjustly accused of Aryanism, while he was instead “a man full of faith”, met with exile three times before he was allowed to return for good to Jerusalem in 378 “bringing peace and unity once again among the faithful”.

His catechesis was not only intellectual but “a journey of learning how to live in the Christian community” and his teaching is “an integral catechesis which involves the body, soul and spirit, an emblem even for the Christians of today”. In short in his teaching “doctrine and life are not two distinct entities but one existential journey”. The objective which we must attempt to reach even today remains: “learning a Christianity that really involves our entire existence”.

Reshuffling the Curia/New Position for Archbishop Foley

- Accepted the resignation from the office of grand master of the Equestrian Order of the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, presented by Cardinal Carlo Furno, upon having reached the age limit.
- Appointed Archbishop John Patrick Foley, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, as pro-grand master of the Equestrian Order of the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem.
- Appointed Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, secretary of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA), as president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Catholic Church in Manila Lays Down Dress Code for Mass

From Gulf News:

The Archdiocese of Manila has issued a dress code that calls on the faithful to present themselves in formal and more conservative attire when attending mass, a local paper said....

Male Catholics should wear "long-sleeved polo shirts, collared shirts, or t-shirts paired with either slacks or jeans", the circular directed, advising against wearing caps, basketball jerseys, tank tops, and shorts to church.

Women were told to stick to dresses, long gowns, or collared blouses as against spaghetti-strap tops, tank tops, short skirts, skimpy shorts and sleeveless shirts with plunging necklines, the MLA stipulated.

German Pastor Jailed for Abortion Comments

From Canada Free Press:

Last week, a German court sentenced a 55-year old Lutheran pastor to one year in jail for "Volksverhetzung" (incitement of the people) because he compared the killing of the unborn in contemporary Germany to the holocaust.

German Pastor Jailed for Abortion Comments

From Canada Free Press:

Last week, a German court sentenced a 55-year old Lutheran pastor to one year in jail for "Volksverhetzung" (incitement of the people) because he compared the killing of the unborn in contemporary Germany to the holocaust.

Motu Proprio Released on Papal Elections

Pope Benedict is reverting back to the pre-Pope John Paul II revisions...Father Z has the summary.

Also he notes that the release date for that "other" Motu Proprio is now July 6th

Vatican II According to McBrien

This stuff is so silly it defies belief. After Vatican II what people believe no longer center on truth according to Notre Dame's Fr. McBrien, from The Tidings:

There were always Protestants attracted to the Catholic Church in the pre-Vatican II era for biblical, theological or historical reasons, all of which were carefully laid out in Father John O'Brien's writings. With the Second Vatican Council, however, and with the ecumenical movement which the council and the popes had endorsed, it became practically impossible to present the Catholic Church any longer as "the one, true Church" and all other denominations as awash in error and falsehoods.

And so the traditional apologetical tactics --- "demonstrating" that Catholicism alone is right, while Protestantism is completely wrong --- were generally abandoned. If Protestants became Catholics in the late 1960s or in the '70s and early '80s, it was mainly for family reasons, or because they intended to marry a Catholic, or because they had grown familiar and spiritually comfortable with Catholic worship.

In the past two-and-half decades, however, we have seen something of a reversion to the pre-Vatican II approach. Many seeking entrance into the Catholic Church today do so as an act of rejecting their Protestant past and of embracing "the truth" found only in Catholicism.

Vatican II According to McBrien

This stuff is so silly it defies belief. After Vatican II what people believe no longer center on truth according to Notre Dame's Fr. McBrien, from The Tidings:

There were always Protestants attracted to the Catholic Church in the pre-Vatican II era for biblical, theological or historical reasons, all of which were carefully laid out in Father John O'Brien's writings. With the Second Vatican Council, however, and with the ecumenical movement which the council and the popes had endorsed, it became practically impossible to present the Catholic Church any longer as "the one, true Church" and all other denominations as awash in error and falsehoods.

And so the traditional apologetical tactics --- "demonstrating" that Catholicism alone is right, while Protestantism is completely wrong --- were generally abandoned. If Protestants became Catholics in the late 1960s or in the '70s and early '80s, it was mainly for family reasons, or because they intended to marry a Catholic, or because they had grown familiar and spiritually comfortable with Catholic worship.

In the past two-and-half decades, however, we have seen something of a reversion to the pre-Vatican II approach. Many seeking entrance into the Catholic Church today do so as an act of rejecting their Protestant past and of embracing "the truth" found only in Catholicism.

Monday, June 25, 2007

USA Today: Are There Really 69 Million Catholics?

Plus instructions on how to formally declare yourself a defector....

From USA Today:

Are there really more than 64 million U.S. Roman Catholics?

That's what the 2007 Official Catholic Directory, due out this week, will say. But what about the dead, the double-counted and the disgruntled ex-Catholics — all of whose names may still plump up parish rolls?

Yes, there are probably "ghosts" in the lists, says demographer Mary Gautier, senior researcher for the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, in Washington, D.C. The center analyzes data for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

CARA's analysis counts 64.4 million Catholics in 2006, up from 63.9 million in 2005. (The directory's overall totals are higher because they include Puerto Rico, Guam and American protectorates.)

Totals are up, with minor fluctuations — 1% a year for the past 25 years, Gautier says. "But counting Catholics is more art than science."

And this:

Although no one knows how many global Catholics have discovered the forms and mailed exit letters to their priests, "we see a traffic spike every time the pope says something unpopular," site manager Raffaele Carcano told Wired.

No, they're not getting unbaptized. It's impossible.

"You may not practice, you may not believe. You may not belong to a parish. But technically, you're always a Catholic," says Monsignor Michael Servinsky, a canon law expert and the vicar general for the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, Pa.

"We used to get letters all the time from Jehovah's Witnesses asking to be taken off the baptismal registry, but we never did it because you can't be unbaptized. We did make note in the registry and stop counting them as practicing Catholics," says Servinsky.

A 1983 revision of canon law for the first time permitted born Catholics and converts to formally leave the church. There tend to be three reasons why people want to leave, Servinsky says: conversion; a wish to marry a non-Catholic and still have the marriage recognized; and, in some European countries, a gambit for lowering income taxes by no longer having a percentage designated for the church.

But the Vatican found that the 1983 code didn't specify the exit process and it befuddled bishops, canon lawyers and judicial vicars. So in March, the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts elucidated a procedure for the Actus Formalis Defectionis Ab Ecclesia Catholica.

Motu Proprio Update

According to Father Z's sources it is being printed.

Motu Proprio Update

According to Father Z's sources it is being printed.

Sunday, June 24, 2007


Cool Gadget

Want to map out your daily walk/run? Find out how far it is?
Or are you traveling and looking to map out a dialy job/walk?

This is way cool...Google Maps Pedometer

"A Life Completely Oriented Toward Christ"

In days where "orientation" often means something entirely different, the Pope on the Feast of the Birth of John the Baptist points out the orientation that all humans should share. From Asia News Italy:

An Angelus entirely dedicated to the figure of John the Baptist, “witness” of Christ and of the “truth without compromise”, was proclaimed by the pope today in St Peter’s Square, because he “knew how to remain faithful to Christ and to be a courageous witness of his truth and his love for all”.
Speaking to many pilgrims – some gathered with umbrellas and fans to find relief from the great heat – Benedict XVI underscored the value of John the Baptist “whose life was completely orientated on Christ, as was His mother, Mary”.
In fact of all the saints for whom the “dies natalis” (day of their death, that is their heavenly “birth”) is celebrated, the birthdays of John the Baptist and Mary are also celebrated
“By commemorating his birth – explained the pope – we are celebrating Christ, the realisation of all the promises made by the prophets, of which John the Baptist was the greatest, called to “prepare the way” for the Messiah ( Mth 11,9-10)”.
The pontiff recalled that “each of the Gospels begin narrating Christ’s public life with the story of his baptism in the river Jordan by John the Baptist” and he adds “My book Jesus of Nazareth also finds its source in Christ’s baptism in the river Jordan, an event of enormous resonance at the time”.
The event of Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist, allowed the latter to know “the full reality of Jesus of Nazareth” and to “make him known to Israel’ (Jn 1,31), indicating him as the Son of God and mankind’s redeemer: ‘This is the lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world’ (Jn 1,29)”.
Another important element in the life of the Baptist is that he bore “witness to the truth without compromise”. And listing the many battles that the Church sustains in its defence of life, the family, religious freedom, human rights, Benedict XVI adds: He denounced the transgression of God’s commandments, even when the transgressors were powerful. Such as when he accused Herod and Erodiade of adultery, he paid with his life thus sealing with his martyrdom his service to Christ, who is Truth in person. We invoke his intercession together with the Virgin Mary, so that the Church of our times remains faithful to Christ and bears courageous witnesses of his truth and love for all”.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Humorous Take on the Commandments of the Road

From the Curt Jester:

The following are some of the highlights of the new document.

  • If you are carjacked one mile, go with him two.
  • If yor are hit, turn the other signal.
  • Do not let your air bag become puffed up like the Pharisees
  • Let not the sun go down on you road rage
  • Carry your cross daily, or at least have one hanging from your rear view mirror.
  • When you enter a freeway that is backed up, go and move to the lowest place and not try to merge into the front. For every one who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.
  • Do not talk about your Honda so that it can be said of you "That he did not say it of his own Accord."
  • Hydroplaning is not the same thing as walking on water, avoid it.
  • Before Jesus peformed the miracle at Cana, he appointed a designated driver.
  • Do not say "Are we there yet", but rather "It is good to be here."

In other news Sammy Hagar has been excommunicated for not being able to drive 55.

We can look forward to new documents in the future from the Pontifical Council for Transportation. Another document called "Sacrificial suffering and airline food" is rumored to be in the works.

    Where is the Outrage from the Media?

    Remember when the Taliban blew up the Budhist religious shrine? It made news everywhere. Now in China:

    Henan government: destroy the sanctuary of Our Lady of Carmel in Tianjiajing

    Faithful from the diocese of Anyang have launched an appeal through AsiaNews: “We ask all our brothers and sisters in the Lord – they say – to pray for us and spread our message to all the faithful of the world”.

    Looking for Catholic News Everyday

    New Advent Blog

    The Catholic Report

    New Oxford Review Newslink (only seems to be updated on weekdays)

    Catholic World News (only seems to be updated on weekdays)

    Spirit Daily

    And where I get most of my linked news stories from iGoogle News which you can customize and use to gather news with keywords.

    Catholic Tube

    You got your Youtube....we've got our Catholic Tube

    Video's of homilies, Fr. Stan Fortuna explaining the Mass, etc.

    Friday, June 22, 2007

    A Beatiful Meditation on the Symbolism of the "Apse" of a Church

    From Vultus Christi:

    An Opening Onto the Kingdom of God

    It was only after several visits to the sanctuary of Our Mother of Perpetual Help that I looked, and saw, and understood the significance of the mosaic in the apse. The apse of a church generally symbolizes an opening onto the Kingdom of God. An apse is, in some way, more window than wall, even when it is solid. This explains the meaning of the images traditionally found in the apse of our churches: Christ in glory; Christ in majesty; Christ seated on a rainbow and on the clouds of heaven. Looking closely at the image in the Church of Sant'Alfonso, I see that, at the heart of the apse that symbolizes the inbreaking of the Kingdom of God, there is another opening: the wound in the Sacred Side of Christ.

    Pilgrimage to the Heart of Christ

    The iconography of the Church of Sant'Alfonso suggests that every pilgrimage to the image Our Mother of Perpetual Help becomes, by her maternal mediation, a pilgrimage to the wounded Side of Christ and — through the wound in His Side — into the Holy of Holies that is His Sacred Heart. I think that my Redemptorist friend, Father Scott, would agree.

    The Open Side of Christ

    The Child held fast in His Mother's embrace is the "Beautiful One" (Is 63:1) "clothed in a robe sprinkled with blood, and His Name is called the Word of God" (Ap 19:13). Just as His Mother's Heart was open to receive Him in His littleness and weakness, so is His wounded Side open to receive us in our littleness, in our weakness, and even in our sin. So is His Blood poured out to cleanse, to refresh, and to heal. The way to the Heart of Jesus passes through the Heart of His Mother.

    The Answer to Bishop Trautmann's Concerns

    About John and Mary Catholic's ability to comprehend the liturgical texts is answered by Father Z in an entertaining post, backed up with good research as usual (including pictures of baby food), read and enjoy.

    Thursday, June 21, 2007

    Hacker With Harry Potter Ending Inspired by Pope Benedict?

    Gives Pope Benedict XVI as his inspiration! If you are interested in a spoiler check here:

    Yes, we did it. We did it by following the precious words of the great Pope Benedict XVI when he still was Cardinal Josepth Ratzinger.

    For a Catholic guide to Harry Potter The Mystery of Harry Potter: A Catholic Family Guide:


    Accidently Like a Catholic--The Warren Zevon Story



    (Michael Dubruiel died less than 2 years after writing this post. See the sidebar on the right for more information.)


    My introduction to Warren Zevon came in the early 1980's when I was in a record store in Gainesville, FL looking for a new album that had just came out (I don't remember what the album was). While in the store I was caught up with the album they were playing over the PA system..a singer was singing about being in Hawaii and abandoned by his girl to the "Hula, Hula" boys with a refrain in Hawain. It piqued my interest. I listened on to the next song which was about going to Memphis, Graceland to be exact and digging up the king and begging him to sing about those heavenly mansions Jesus mentioned and imagining him (Elvis) walking on the water with his diet pills.

    I was hooked.

    Who was the artist? I asked the guy at the counter.

    Warren Zevon.

    The album?

    The Envoy Which only recently has been made availble on CD. Thus I was introduced to Warren Zevon.

    I became a big fan, there is something about a certian class of artists, usually more know for their songwriting than their singing that has always categorized my favorite singers. People as diverse as Tom T. Hall, David Alan Coe, John Prine, Matraca Berg, Neil Young, Neil Diamond and Warren Zevon have long been my favorites. In some ways Zevon was the most diverse of all of them. One minute you were apt to hear a classical string piece introducing some twangy anthem to "playing that dead band's song...all night long" (the dead band referring to another of my long time favorites Lynyrd Skynrd's "Sweet Home Alabama" the next some hard rocking tune. Zevon in many ways defies definition.

    I'll Sleep When I'm Dead: The Dirty Life and Times of Warren Zevon in some ways is just as quirky a biography as the singer was in life. When my copy first arrived I was disappointed, because it didn't seem like a biography at all, but rather a collection of interviews, journal entries, reminicences. But like the genius that the book is about, I soon found their was a genius to what Crystal Zevon (Warren's second ex-wife) had put together. Here is the gripping and moving tale of the real Warren Zevon told from every angle, by people who both loved and hated hiim. The details read like a life long confession--mostly of failures, but with glimmers of grace here and there. The stories behind many of the songs co-written by Warren Zevon are here and as this became my lunch time reading over the past month, I found myself going back and listening to the music from the different periods of his life.
    I saw Warren perform live once, with Amy and a few friends at Clearwater Beach on the Fourth of July back in the 1990's. No band, just him in some bike shorts and his twelve string guitar belting out all the hits--no mention in the journal entries of that performance, but there are of many--many times revolving around the endless hook-ups with women that he had fleeting affairs with.

    One of the most intriquing elements of the bio, that is very minor in the book but is there throughout his life is Zevon's fascination with the Catholic Church. In Spain he tries to convince then wife Crystal that they convert--she's reluctant, so nothing happens. Later when asked by someone what his religion he says, "Catholic." He attends Mass with a woman whom he sleeps with in the same apartment building, another time when troubled in Ireland he finds a Catholic Church and enters during Mass emerging afterwards and writing in his journal of the experience "Peace be with you" which seems to be something that eluded him throughout his life--hence the song title and book title "I"ll sleep when I'm dead." Perhaps the worst part of this flirtation with Catholicism happens when he is diagnosed with terminal cancer and given only three months to live and visits a Catholic priest with a friend only to be told that he does not have time enough to convert (for non-Catholics and Cathoilcs out there--this must be some reference to the RCIA process which normally takes about nine months to complete, but the priest was wrong to say this--but may not have understood the situation).

    As a Warren Zevon fan I loved this book. As a Catholic I wished that Warren might have fell into the hands of a saintly priest or Catholic who might have given him the tools to redeem all of the demons that tormented his soul and kept him from committing to anything but death in his life. To paraphrase another author, we all are either living to sleep or sleeping to rise--unfortunately Warren was haunted by death (see the skulls that dominate his album art--complete with dangling cigarette), but somewhere in the midst of it all I think the grace that haunted him might have won out in the end.

    Warning for the prudish--this book contains all the gore one might expect from someone involved in rock and roll--but in the midst there are glimmers of those heavenly mansion Jesus mentioned...

    Priest and Companion Missing

    From KNBC:

    Police in Portland, Ore., asked for the public's help Wednesday in finding a Jesuit priest from Orange, Calif., and a traveling companion from Alameda County who were last seen while on vacation two weeks ago.

    Neither the Rev. David Schwartz, 52, an associate director at the Loyola Institute for Spirituality, nor Cheryl Gibbs, 61, described as friends for 20 years, returned to their respective workplaces on Monday, triggering notice to police, said Portland police Sgt. Brian Schmautz.

    Police went to a hotel on Thursday where the two were last seen on June 7 and searched. Schmautz did not disclose the name of the hotel.

    The two are described as avid hikers and lovers of the outdoors.

    "Most of the property was in the room," Schmautz said. The types of things that were taken were those for a day hike, including wallets and a maroon four-door 2005 Toyota Corolla with the California license plate No. 5MKN560, Schmautz said.

    There was no evidence of foul play, but "what we believe is they found themselves in trouble" while on a day hike outside of Portland, Schmautz said.

    Archaeologist Sparks Hunt for Holy Grail

    From the Telegraph:

    Alfredo Barbagallo, an Italian archaeologist, claims that it is buried in a chapel-like room underneath the Basilica of San Lorenzo Fuori le Mura, one of the seven churches which Christian pilgrims used to visit when they came to Rome.

    Mr Barbagallo based his claim on two years spent studying mediaeval iconography inside the basilica and a description of a particular chamber, in a guide to the catacombs written in 1938 by a Capuchin friar named Giuseppe Da Bra.

    The friar describes a room of about 20 square metres with a vaulted roof ceiling. "In the corner of a wall-seat there can be seen a terracotta funnel whose lower part opens out over the face of a skeleton," he wrote.

    Wednesday, June 20, 2007

    Pope's Catechesis: St. Athanasius


    I watched it live on EWTN this morning at 5:00 a.m., no translation, so it was like being there.


    From the Vatican Information Service:


    Benedict XVI dedicated his catechesis during this morning's general audience to the figure of St. Athanasius of Alexandria (circa 300-373), calling him a "column of the Church," and a "model of orthodoxy in both East and West." Before the audience, which was held in the Paul VI Hall, the Pope visited the Vatican Basilica where he greeted faithful gathered there.

    After noting how St. Athanasius' statue was placed by Bernini, alongside statues of other doctors of the Church (St. John Chrysostom, St. Ambrose and St. Augustine), around the cathedra of St. Peter in the apse of the Vatican Basilica, the Pope described the Alexandrian saint as a "passionate theologian of the incarnation of the 'Logos,' the Word of God," and "the most important and tenacious adversary of the Arian heresy which then threatened faith in Christ by minimizing His divinity, in keeping with a recurring historical tendency which is also evident in various ways today."

    Athanasius participated in the Council of Nicaea, when bishops established "the symbol of faith ... which has remained in the tradition of the various Christian confessions and in the liturgy as the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed." There it is affirmed that "the Son is 'of one substance' with the Father, precisely in order to highlight His full divinity which was denied by the Arians. ... The fundamental idea behind St. Athanasius theological labors was precisely that God is accessible, ... and that though our communion with Christ we can truly unite ourselves to God."

    Nonetheless, the Arian crisis did not end with the Council of Nicaea "and on five occasions over a period of 30 years, ... Athanasius [bishop of Alexandria from 328] was forced to abandon his city, spending 17 years in exile." In this way, however, "he was able to support and defend in the West ... the Nicene faith and the ideals of monasticism."

    This saint's most famous work "is his treatise 'On the Incantation of the Word'," in which he affirms that the Word of God "was made man that we might be made God; and He manifested Himself by a body that we might receive the idea of the unseen Father; and He endured the insolence of men that we might inherit immortality."

    Athanasius is also the author of meditations upon the Psalms and, above all, of one of the most popular works of ancient Christian literature, "the 'Life of St. Anthony,' the biography of St. Anthony Abbot which ... made a great contribution to the spread of monasticism in East and West."

    The life of Athanasius, like that of St. Anthony, the Pope concluded, "shows us that 'those who draw near to God do not withdraw from men, but rather become truly close to them'."

    English Translation?

    Hat tip to Father Z who wonders if they are doing these translations on Babelfish....


    From "GUIDELINES FOR THE PASTORAL CARE OF THE ROAD":

    PART FOUR
    THE PASTORAL CARE OF THE HOMELESS (Tramps)

    Priest Plows into Restaurant

    From KVUE:

    Smithville's La Cabana restaurant hopes to attract drive-by traffic from Highway 71, but not drive-in traffic.

    But Gina Chronis says that's exactly what happened Monday night when a truck driven by a 61-year-old Smithville priest made an unexpected entrance.

    "They were panicking, shocked. And they were telling me what happened and asked for direction," said Chronis. "Instead of using the brakes, he used the accelerator as he was coming into the building."

    Chronis says of the 13 people inside the dining area 6 people in had to be transported to the hospital.

    Meanwhile the driver of the crash, father Karel Fink, was arrested on DWI charges.

    He is the priest at St. Paul's Catholic Church in Smithville, which serves some 280 families.

    The church declined comment but Austin bishop Gregory Aymond released a statement.

    "My heartfelt concern and prayers are extended to those hurt by this accident and I am sorry for the incident."

    It goes on to detail that father Karel "recently returned from treatment for alcoholism. Obviously he needs more treatment to continue his recovery," said Aymond.

    Cardinal Keeler up and Walking After Brain Surgery

    From the Baltimore Sun:

    He walked in his hospital room several times yesterday, said Sean Caine, an archdiocese spokesman. The 76-year-old prelate also celebrated Mass in his room.

    Surgeons inserted a shunt Monday to release excess cerebrospinal fluid that had built up in his brain's ventricles.

    Bizare--Liturgical 'go-go' dancing?

    From Matt C Abbot:

    A reader sent me the following photos of three girls (I've omitted their faces) — dressed rather provocatively — who, er, danced at a recent Franciscan Jubilee Mass for a group of women religious at the cathedral in the Joliet, Ill., Catholic diocese.

    Click on Matt's name for the rest.

    Tuesday, June 19, 2007

    Vatican Releases 10 Commandments for Drivers

    From "GUIDELINES FOR THE PASTORAL CARE OF THE ROAD":

    Resorting to our Heavenly Intercessors should not make us forget the importance of the sign of the cross, to be made before setting out on a journey. With this sign we put ourselves directly under the protection of the Holy Trinity. Indeed, this directs us above all to the Father, as origin and destination. In this regard, we recall the words of the psalm: “For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways” (Psalms 91 [90]:11).
    The sign of the cross thus entrusts us to our guide, Jesus Christ (cf. John 8:12). The Emmaus encounter (cf. Luke 24:13-35) reassures us that the Lord meets everyone along the road, lodges in the houses of those who invite him, travels with us and sits beside us.
    Finally, the sign of the cross takes us back to “the Holy Spirit, who is Lord and gives Life”
    [25]. To those who call on him, he illuminates the mind and grants the gift of prudence to reach one’s destination. This is confirmed by the hymn, Veni Creator: “Ductore sic te praevio, vitemus omne noxium” (“If you are the one who guides us, we will avoid anything that might harm us”).
    60. During a journey it is also beneficial to pray vocally, especially taking turns with our fellow travellers in reciting the prayers, as when reciting the Rosary
    [26] which, due to its rhythm and gentle repetition, does not distract the driver’s attention. This will help to feel immersed in the presence of God, to stay under his protection, and may also give rise to a desire for communal or liturgical celebration, if possible at “spiritually strategic” points along the road or railway (shrines, churches and chapels, including mobile ones).
    We have drawn up a special “decalogue” for them, in analogy with the Lord’s Ten Commandments. These are stated here below, as indications, considering that they may also be formulated differently.

    I. You shall not kill.
    II. The road shall be for you a means of communion between people and not of mortal harm.
    III. Courtesy, uprightness and prudence will help you deal with unforeseen events.
    IV. Be charitable and help your neighbour in need, especially victims of accidents.
    V. Cars shall not be for you an expression of power and domination, and an occasion of sin.
    VI. Charitably convince the young and not so young not to drive when they are not in a fitting condition to do so.
    VII. Support the families of accident victims.
    VIII.Bring guilty motorists and their victims together, at the appropriate time, so that they can undergo the liberating experience of forgiveness.
    IX. On the road, protect the more vulnerable party.
    X. Feel responsible towards others.

    Never Thought I'd Post Anything Pro-Hilary Here

    But, I have to admit this is pretty ingenious, even includes Amy's favorite Johnny Sachs...Hilary Spoofs "Sopranos" Finale

    Feast of St. Romuald

    Founder of the Camaldolese Monks who have a monastery in Big Sur.


    A "Brief Rule" from Wikopedia:


    Sit in your cell as in paradise. Put the whole world behind you and forget it. Watch your thoughts like a good fisherman watching for fish, The path you must follow is in the Psalms — never leave it.
    If you have just come to the monastery, and in spite of your good will you cannot accomplish what you want, take every opportunity you can to sing the Psalms in your heart and to understand them with your mind.
    And if your mind wanders as you read, do not give up; hurry back and apply your mind to the words once more.
    Realize above all that you are in God's presence, and stand there with the attitude of one who stands before the emperor.
    Empty yourself completely and sit waiting, content with the grace of God, like the chick who tastes nothing and eats nothing but what his mother brings him.

    Teaching Young Priests How To "Read" Mass in Latin

    There are schools forming out there, Father Z reports.

    Episcopal Priest Converts to Islam

    while remaining Christian?



    A veteran Episcopal priest says she became a Muslim just over a year ago and now worships at a mosque Fridays – but that hasn't stopped her from donning her white collar Sunday mornings.
    "I am both Muslim and Christian, just like I'm both an American of African descent and a woman. I'm 100 percent both," Rev. Ann Holmes Redding told the Seattle Times.
    Redding, a priest for more than 20 years, until recently was director of faith formation at St. Mark's Episcopal Cathedral in Seattle, the paper reported. Now, she's telling the world about her adherence to Islam, provoking bewilderment from Christians and Muslims.

    US News and World Report Muses About Liturgical Fights

    on the horizon....ironically seen as a battle between old (liberals) versus young (conservatives).

    From US News and World Report:

    Given the fierce fight that preceded Vatican II—the liturgical and doctrinal reforms of the mid-1960s that sought to make the church more accessible—a similar war would seem needed to overturn them. But a movement is building at seminaries nationwide to do just that: In addition to restoring the Latin mass, young priests are calling for greater devotion to the Virgin Mary, more frequent praying of the rosary, and priests turning away from the congregation as they once did. Perhaps most controversially, they also advocate a dimished role for women, who since Vatican II have been allowed to participate in the mass as lay altar servers and readers.

    Such changes would seem to aggravate the church's growing attendance problems(in 2003, 40 percent of Roman Catholics said they had attended church in the past week, down from 74 percent in 1958) as well as enhance its air of exclusivity—the notion of Catholicism as the only true faith. Yet proponents of the movement argue that just the opposite holds: More people will attend mass if the traditions are richer and the doctrine stricter. The Latin mass, they say, would restore a sense of community they believe was diluted when the church allowed local culture to override tradition. In Chicago alone, mass is now said in some 50 languages.

    Monday, June 18, 2007

    Novena to Our Lady of Perpetual Help Begins Tomorrow!

    Prayed from June 19-27th...(pages 156-159 of The Church's Most Powerful Novenas)


    Father Mark reminds his readers at Vultus Christi:

    I invite the readers of Vultus Christi to join me in making the Novena in Preparation for the Feast of Our Mother of Perpetual Help on June 27th. This is also the perfect moment to obtain an icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help and put it in in a place of honour in your home. Images of Our Mother of Perpetual Help are readily available from the Redemptorist Fathers nearest you.

    Things change when a family, a community, or a person living alone, begin to live under the compassionate gaze of Our Mother of Perpetual Help. By accepting the icon of the Mother of God into our homes, we accept her also into our hearts and so fulfill what is written concerning Saint John, the Beloved Disciple of the Lord: "And from that hour, the disciple took her to his own" (Jn 19:27).

    Cardinal Angelo Felici Dies

    Pope Benedict will preside at the funeral Mass, from the Boston Herald:

    The 87-year-old Vatican diplomat and former head of the Congregation for Saints Causes spent the greater part of his life in the Vatican’s foreign service. Born in a town near Rome, Felici studied Canon Law before joining the Vatican’s Secretariat of State, where he worked for 19 years.
    In 1967, Pope Paul VI sent him on a mission to Jerusalem after the Six-Day War between Arabs and Israel is. Before heading the Vatican department responsible for candidates for sainthood, Felici served as papal nunzio, or Vatican ambassador in the Netherlands, Portugal and France. He was named a cardinal by Pope John Paul II in 1988.

    Catholic School, Convent Desecrated in Gaza

    From IOL:

    A school and convent belonging to the Gaza Strip's tiny Roman Catholic community were ransacked, burned and looted during clashes around a major security headquarters, the head of the community said on Monday.
    Crosses were broken, a statue of Jesus was damaged, and prayer books were burnt at the Rosary Sisters School and nearby convent, said Father Manuel Musallem, head of Gaza's Latin church.
    The damage took place on Thursday, but wasn't reported until days later because of the chaos that has prevailed since Islamic Hamas militants wrested power in Gaza, Musallem said. The religious compound is located near a key security headquarters Hamas captured on Thursday on the final day of its Gaza takeover.

    Sunday, June 17, 2007

    "Its All There"

    Tony Soprano Didn't Just Get Whacked, He Practically Had a Funeral (Genius...inaccuracies about the Mass, but I think close to what was in Chase's mind).

    The Pope in Assisi

    I began to watch the live coverage of this at 4:00 a.m. this morning, but fell asleep during the Gospel, here is what I missed (and I suspect you did too)from Asia News Italy:

    Francis’ conversion to Christ, “the desire to ‘transform himself’ in Him” is key to understanding the life of the saint from Assisi, which has become the model and ideal for the commitment on many modern day themes: “the search for peace, safeguarding nature, promotion of dialogue between men. Francis is a true master of all these things. But he is because based in Christ. Christ in fact is “our peace” (Eph 2, 14). Christ is the very centre of the cosmos, because through him all things were made ( Jn 1, 3)”.
    By centring the Poor man from Assisi in Christ, Benedict XVI re-vindicated the figure of Francis from attempted ideological and religious manipulation, which tends to portray him as an ephemeral ecologist in love with nature, or as a “soft hearted” soul, open to everything and everyone, an “excessive interlocutor”, forgetful of his Christian identity and of the Gospel.
    Since early this morning the Pontiff has been on a pilgrimage to the Franciscan sites of Assisi to celebrate the 800th anniversary of Saint Francis’ conversion.
    After a short pause at the Rivotorto, where St. Francis lived with the first brothers for about two years, he passed on to the sanctuary of St Damian, where Francis received the call of the cross to go and “make his Church whole again”, and the Church of St May Magdalene, the memorial of Saint Francis’ service to the lepers.
    During the homily in the square below the basilica, the Pope traced the personality and conversion of Francis referring to the figures of the converted described today in liturgy of the word, on the XI Sunday of the year.
    He recalled above all the personage and sin of David, fallen “low” and “blinded by his passion for Bethsabe”. Francis, continued Benedict XVI, perhaps did not sin as David, but – according to his own accounts as laid out in his testament - “above and beyond single episodes, his conceiving and pursuit of vain dreams of earthly glory was sinful”: His “naturally generous soul” did not allow him to dominate “the physical disgust” when faced with lepers. “By serving the lepers, by kissing them – underlined the Pope – he was not merely making a philanthropic gesture, it was not just a 'social conversion’, no, it was a religious experience, commanded by the initiative of God’s grace and by love for God….man is truly realised by the measure in which he lives with God and in God, recognising and loving him in his fellow man”.
    The Pontiff then went on to compares Francis and the apostle Paul, the first who speaks of “stigmata” on his body, thus clearly marking the ecclesial nature of their commitment, not as simple bearers of good values or activists. “In the discussion over how to live in an upright way, or how to live the Gospel – affirmed the Pope – in the end, the arguments of thought to no twin; the reality of life has the final word, communion lived and suffered with Christ, not just in thoughts or in words, but to the very depths of existence involving the body and the flesh. The bruises which emerge from a long story of passion and torment are the witness of Christ’s cross on the body of Saint Paul, they are his stigmata”. And turning again to Francis he adds: “his journey was the daily strain to become like Christ. He fell in love with Christ. The wounds of the cross pained his heart, before they marked his body on the Verna. He really could say together with Paul: ‘I no longer live, it is Christ who lives in me’”:
    The third figure recalled by the Pope is that of the sinner whom Christ forgives because “they have greatly loved”. “In Christ – adds the Pope – God gifts us love and asks us for love”. And he adds: “My dear brothers and sisters what else was the life of Francis converted if not a great gesture of love? His passionate prayers reveal this, rich in contemplation and praise, his tender embrace of the Child in Greccio, his contemplation of the passion in a Verna, his "living according to the way of the Sacred Gospel” (2 Test 14: FF 116), his choice of poverty and his search for Christ in the face of the poor. This is his conversion to Christ, to the very point of wanting to ‘transform himself’ into Him, becoming in him a complete image, which explains his typical way of life making it relevant in all times regarding the great themes of today, such as the search for peace, safeguarding nature, the promotion of dialogue between all men. Francis is a true master of these things. But he is because based in Christ. Christ in fact is “our peace” (Eph 2, 14). Christ is the very centre of the cosmos, because through him all things were made (Jn 1, 3)… Christ is the divine truth, the eternal "Logos", in which all "dia-logos" finds its foundation. Francis profoundly incarnates this “Christological” truth which is at the very root of human existence, of the cosmos and of History”.
    Dwelling on this relationship between Logos and dialogue, Benedict XVI defined the sense of the Assisi meeting launched by John Paul II in October 1986, gathering together the representatives of the great religions to pray for peace. According to some that encounter was a “selling short” of the Christian identity in the name of an impossible unity with other religions; for others, the following development of the Church, and of the Church of Benedict XVI, so careful of Christian identity, was a “betrayal” of Assisi. According to the Pope, that encounter 20 years ago was a “prophetic intuition and a moment of grace”. “The choice of celebrating this encounter in Assisi – underscored the Pontiff – was suggested by the witness of Francis as a man of peace, whom many regard with esteem and affection, even those of other religions and cultures. At the same time the light of the Poor man from Assisi over that initiative was a guarantee of its Christian authenticity, in so far as his life and his message are visibly based on the choice of Christ, rejecting outright all temptations of religious indifference, which has nothing whatsoever to do with true inter-religious dialogue. The ‘spirit of Assisi’, which since that event has continued to spread throughout the world, opposes the spirit of violence, the abuse of religion as a pretext for violence. Assisi tells us that faithfulness to ones own religious convictions, faithfulness above all to Christ crucified and risen, is not expressed by violence and intolerance, but in sincere respect of the other, in dialogue, in a message which appeals for peace and reconciliation”. Saint Francis is thus a model for all Christians of a true evangelical behaviour, capable of “uniting acceptance, dialogue and respect for all with the certainty of faith which each Christian …..is called to cultivate, announcing Christ as the way, truth and life of mankind (Jn 14, 6), the true Saviour of the world”

    Celebrating "Bridges"

    As told by Rocco

    Open Book/Annunciations Bestseller's List

    For June 2007
    (as of June 17, 2007)

    What Books People who Read Amy's Open Book blog and Michael's Annunciation blog are buying this month.

    1. Jesus of Nazareth by Pope Benedict XVI

    2. The Apostles by Pope Benedict XVI

    3. Loyola Kids Book of Saints (Loyola Kids) by Amy

    4. The Secrets of Rome: Love and Death in the Eternal City by Corrado Augias

    5. (tie) The How-To Book of the Mass: Everything You Need to Know but No One Ever Taught You by Michael

    5. (tie) The Church's Most Powerful Novenas by Michael

    Friday, June 15, 2007

    Jewish author honored for book on friendship with pope

    From Philadephia.com:

    Several Roman Catholic Church leaders gathered for ceremonies to honor a Jewish author's friendship with the late Pope John Paul II and her ability to touch other's lives.
    Lena Allen-Shore, of Philadelphia, an adjunct professor at Gratz College, began a close acquaintance with the pope when he responded to a letter she wrote in 1979, weeks after his election as the first Polish pope. They met several times, and she wrote "Building Bridges," about their childhoods outside Krakow, Poland, and their different paths, which did not cross until old age.
    "She entered and survived the Holocaust," Cardinal William Keeler of Baltimore told a gathering at the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center in Washington, D.C., marking the release of the third edition of "Building Bridges." Keeler recalled how Allen-Shore masqueraded as a Catholic in her native Poland during World War II, vowing to devote herself to "building bridges" if she survived.
    Archbishop Pietro Sambi, the papal representative to the United States, described John Paul's account of childhood in Poland. "He said that when he was 15, he saw a great number of his Jewish friends disappearing" at the hands of the Nazis, "and he said, 'I could do nothing. But now I can do something,'" Sambi said.
    The new edition of "Building Bridges" includes a note John Paul wrote when the first edition was published, saying, "Thank you for seeing deep into my thoughts and understanding the intentions guiding my actions," and praising Allen-Shore for writing "with heart."

    The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

    From Vultus Christi:

    The gates forbiddenbecame the open portal,the lover’s embrace,the safeway, the only way, for no one comes to the Father (cf. Jn 14:6)except through this door’s thresholdof given-flesh and outpoured-blood.Here David’s song reveals the mystery:the house become a heart,the heart become a house.“It was there that Your people found a home,prepared in Your goodness, O God, for the poor” (Ps 67:11).
    “Go out quickly to the streetsand lanes of the city,and bring in the poor and maimed and blind and lame” (Lk 14:21).“Go out to the highways and hedges,and compel people to come in” (Lk 14:23)that my house, my heart, may be filled.“The lost I will seek out,the strayed I will bring back,the injured I will bind up,the sick I will heal” (Ez 34:16).
    Cross the threshold by night with faith’s unseen feet;with hope a lamp for your steps,enter by desire;dwell therein by love,and with John the beloved and those of his lineage“have power to comprehendwhat is the breadth and lengthand height and depth,and know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledgeto be filled with all the fullness of God” (cf. Eph 3:18-19).
    The pierced Heartis Love’s last proof.“For while we were still weak,while we were yet sinners” (cf. Rom 5:6, 8),the door was opened in Love’s side.Plunge then, fearless, into the tide of water and of blood.Wash your soul’s disfigured facein the torrent of purity that to the image restores likeness,giving loveliness to the unlovely,There every bruise is bathed in love;there, every old, unsightly thingmade fresh, and new.This is love’s reparation,for only love can repair what Love has made.“Behold,” Love says, “I make all things new” (Rev 21:5).
    Love’s joy is the one sheepsought and found and prized above all others“on a day of clouds and thick darkness” (Ez 34:12),Love’s joy is Love’s Heartopened for the sake of all, inhabited by the foolish to shame the wise,and by the weak to shame the strong (cf. 1 Cor 1:27).Love chose “what is low and despised in the world,even things that are not” (1 Cor 1:28)and in these is the mercy of His Heart displayed.
    Others come knocking, saying, “Lord, Lord, open to us”but their greatness, their shining certitudes,not their sins, prevent their entering in.“Truly, I say to you, I do not know you” (Mt 25:12)who have not known my Heart of mercy,who have not needed my repairing,nor known nor believed in love (cf. 1 Jn 4:16).
    Only this one thing does Love ask:that, “out of the depths” (Ps 129:1), we believe in Love,and, preserved by Love,never despair of Mercy’s Heart.These are “thoughts of His Heart to all generations” (Ps 32:11).Come, then, to the water that washes every impurityand quenches every thirst. Come, be repaired, restored in the Blood.If you would be delivered from death, come (cf. Ps 32:19).If you would be fed in famine, come (cf. Ps 32:19).If you would be loved, come.

    Ruth Graham Dies

    From The Washington Post:

    Ruth Bell Graham, who pursued a vigorous if reclusive Christian ministry for six decades in the shadow of her famous husband, the Rev. Billy Graham, died June 14 at her home near Montreat, N.C. She was 87.

    Mrs. Graham had been bedridden for two years and in recent days had suffered complications from pneumonia.

    The Decline of the Sabbath

    Less praying, more working and playing.

    From the Wall Street Journal:

    For many Americans, Sunday is unlike any other day of the week. They spend its luxurious hours curled up in bed with the paper, meeting friends for brunch, working off hangovers, watching golf, running errands and preparing themselves for the workweek ahead. But Sunday is also, for many, the Sabbath--a special day for religious reasons. Not that you would notice.

    "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy," we are told in Exodus. Of all the gifts Jews gave the world, that of a weekly day of rest is certainly one to be cherished. And yet the Sabbath is now marked more by its neglect than its keeping. Or so says Christopher Ringwald in his new book "A Day Apart."

    Mr. Ringwald notes that in the late 18th century, states banned entertainment, hunting or unnecessary travel on Sundays. The Second Great Awakening in the early 1800s spread Sabbath-keeping to the frontiers. Church membership doubled, Sunday schools proliferated and long sermons dominated the morning. It was unthinkable that the general store would remain open on the Sabbath. "Nothing strikes a foreigner on his arrival in America more forcibly than the regard paid to the Sabbath," Alexis de Tocqueville wrote in 1840. "Not only have all ceased to work, but they appear to have ceased to exist." The so-called blue laws that were a part of American culture--closing down bars and preventing the sale of liquor on Sunday--were commonplace well into the 20th century.

    But the Sabbath today is at odds with commercial culture. To generalize shamelessly from personal experience: My brother-in-law, who manages a national retail store in Colorado, works on Sundays, following church. He was shocked recently to find out he is now required to open the store on Easter Sunday. Easter used to be the one Sunday each year when retail stores closed. No longer.

    The Moral Implications of Ecology

    Meeting between former Vice President Al Gore and Patriarch Bartholomew in Turkey. From Asia News Italy:

    The Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople was also present at the conference. He was the first religious leader to have initiated since 1991 various events to promote environmental protection. This role was underlined by Gore, who made a personal visit to the Phanar to speak with Bartholomew whom he described as “the green patriarch” thanking him for his example to Christians and the world as a whole.

    Gore then quote the Patriarch, saying “the imposition of modern society which is totally disinterested in human impact on the environment not only impedes sustainable development it is also un just”. (NT)

    Moscow Patriarch, Pope may Meet Next Year

    From Catholic News:

    Holy See spokesman on ecumenical issues, Cardinal Walter Kasper, says that there is hope that Pope Benedict may meet Moscow Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II in what would be a groundbreaking meeting.

    The International Herald Tribune reports that the meeting could take place within a year according to Cardinal Kasper.

    Latest Motu Proprio Date

    From the Italian Petrus, Rorate Caeli gives us the translation:

    The Papal "Motu Proprio" for the liberalization of the Latin Mass according to the Tridentine rite of Saint Pius V is ready, is about to be translated into several languages and will be published right before the departure of Benedict XVI for the summer vacation. [Rorate note: The Pope's early vacation this summer will be spent in a small villa owned by the Diocese of Treviso, in the tiny hamlet of Lorenzago di Cadore, Province of Belluno, in the Veneto region, in the July 9-27 period.]

    For everyone who will be confused endlessly by this, Amy has a Motu Proprio Tip Sheet.

    Thursday, June 14, 2007

    Rumors Floating About Pittsburgh's New Bishop

    From the Post Gazette:

    Some dark horses have surfaced through other sources. If the nuncio has consulted Pittsburgh priests, he has heard that auxiliary Bishop Paul Bradley has been doing an excellent job as administrator for the past year, and that the priests would choose him.

    A source with ties to Rome says that the name of Bishop John Gaydos, 63, of Jefferson City, Mo., has been floated by at least one power broker there. The same goes for Bishop Robert Baker, 63, of Charleston, S.C. On the local front, Archabbot Douglas Nowicki, 62, of St. Vincent Archabbey gets buzz from Catholics involved with education, but the feedback from elsewhere is that the Benedictine Order wants to keep him in their own ranks.

    Warning:Spoiler Alert---What Really Happens at the End of the Sopranos


    Lots of theories, alternative endings on Youtube and then this:

    The Last Sopranos Finale Review Ever

    Debating the Embryo’s Fate

    From the Fr. Tadeusz Pacholczyk in the Boston Pilot:

    The debate over embryonic stem-cell research continues to escalate in our country, and remains a topic of significant public interest. Because of this growing public interest, I am often invited to participate in public debates on stem-cell research and cloning. My sparring partners are usually other scientists, politicians, or public policy experts. The debates are typically held at universities or colleges, and audiences generally have the opportunity to ask questions of both sides afterwards. Having participated in a number of these debates over the past few years, I’ve been surprised by how often certain arguments are trotted out with great solemnity, as if they were obviously right and true, even though a casual observer can quickly recognize their notable flaws and inadequacies.Recently I had the opportunity to debate a stem-cell researcher at a gathering of physicians at the New York Academy of Medicine. Our discussion was cordial and civil, even though we clearly disagreed with each other’s positions. Not infrequently, such discussions tend to take the form of a dispute over the relative merits of the two major categories of stem cells: adult vs. embryonic (adult stem-cell research does not require the destruction of young human embryos while embryonic stem-cell research generally does). I did my best to avoid letting our discussion slip into a polemic about what might work best, about efficiency, even though this was one of the key arguments used by my opponent. He stressed how embryonic stem cells appear to have certain desirable characteristics, and may one day be able to work better than adult stem cells, and if cures end up being derived from embryonic stem cells in the future, then, in effect, it must be ethical to do such research, and to destroy human embryos. This argument in one form or another has been put forward widely by the media, and has won over many Hollywood personalities, patient advocacy groups, and Washington politicians. In responding to this argument during our debate, I recounted a little story from when I traveled to the Philippines to give a lecture about stem cells. It was my first time in that country, and I was struck by the contrasts I saw. On the one hand, segments of the Philippine society were doing very well. On the other, I witnessed startling poverty. One day, as we drove along a boulevard lined with people living in hovels made out of cardboard boxes, I noticed a boy, a street child, rummaging through piles of trash for food. His clothes were dirty, and he seemed quite frail. It looked like he did this on a daily basis in order to survive. As I watched him, the rhetorical thought flashed through my mind, patterned on the language of embryonic stem cell advocates: “…he’s so small, so insignificant: what if a cure for Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and diabetes could be developed to benefit all of suffering mankind, by promoting scientific research that depended on killing just a single little boy like him, who, after all, is living no better than an animal? He’s probably just going to die anyway in his difficult circumstances…” After sharing this Philippine experience with my audience at the debate, I asked them a question: “Could a scientific research program like that ever be ethical?” The obvious answer to that question reminds us how ethics must always come before efficiency. Taking the lives of young humans (whether as little boys or little embryos) cannot be pronounced ethical simply because it might result in huge benefits to older, more powerful, or more wealthy humans. The fact remains that objective moral limits constrain all areas of human endeavor, including the practice of the biological sciences. Whenever the siren-call of healing and progress is blaring in our ears, we are obliged to be particularly attentive to those absolute moral boundaries.A second argument that comes up quite often in debates about the embryo is the so-called argument from wastage. The starting point for this argument is the medical observation that most pregnancies don’t survive and are flushed from a woman’s body. One well-known embryology textbook summarizes it this way: “The total loss of conceptuses from fertilization to birth is believed to be considerable, perhaps even as high as 50 percent to nearly 80 percent.” The fact that most embryos don’t survive is then taken and used as a justification for destroying embryos to get stem cells. As another opponent of mine once put it during a debate at Southern Methodist University in Texas, “If Mother Nature destroys so many embryos naturally, why shouldn’t we be able to as well? Why get all worked up about using frozen embryos in research, when so many early embryos die naturally from miscarriages?” But the difference between a natural miscarriage and the intentional destruction of embryos is precisely the difference between the unfortunate case of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome vs. the unconscionable case of smothering an infant with a pillow. What Mother Nature does and what I freely choose to do as an acting person are two separate realities, not to be confused. To put it dramatically, the fact that Mother Nature sends tsunamis that claim the lives of thousands of victims doesn’t somehow make it OK for me to shoot a machine gun into a crowded stadium and claim thousands of victims of my own.Another tactic that is sometimes used during debates about the human embryo is to try to dissipate the energy of the argument over many options. I participated in a debate at Rutgers University in New Jersey where one of my opponents suggested that if I am so concerned about protecting embryonic humans, then I need to be equally concerned about protecting older humans by doing everything in my power to stop various wars and armed conflicts around the world. In my reply to his argument, I stressed the significant differences between the decision to go after an enemy during an armed conflict, and the decision to go after human embryos for their stem cells. Embryonic humans are always absolutely innocent and helpless, and therefore can never be willfully and directly targeted. In wartime, however, the situation is clearly more complex because the parties involved are no longer innocent, and self-defense has always been recognized as a legitimate moral choice when unjust aggression arises.

    Wednesday, June 13, 2007

    Feast of Saint Anthony

    Dom Marco reports on his visit to a Roman Church dedicated to the saint:

    Together with two good friends I went on a little pilgrimage this morning to the Basilica of Sant'Antonio on the Via Merulana. The church was full of devotees of Saint Anthony. There were lines at all the confessionals. At the entrance to the basilica was a Franciscan priest with an aspergillum, giving a blessing to the faithful as they entered. Blessed lilies were much in evidence but they were artificial ones in cellophane packaging! I said the Gloria Patri seven times in honour of the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost in the life and works of Saint Anthony. And like the other pilgrims gathered around the statue of Saint Anthony in festal array, I presented my petitions to the glorious Wonderworker. Viva Sant'Antonio!

    Does Watching TV Damage Character?

    From Human Events:

    The report, The Media Assault on American Values, reveals that media messages appear to be undermining the pillars of America’s cultural edifice: strength of character, sexual morality and respect for God. The report is based on findings of a major scientific survey commissioned by CMI, a division of the Media Research Center.

    The National Cultural Values Survey reveals a striking correlation between greater exposure to television and permissive moral views. Heavy television viewers (four hours or more per evening) are less committed to character virtues like honesty and charity, and more permissive about sex, abortion and homosexuality. Light television viewers (one hour or less per evening) are more likely to attend religious services and live their lives by God’s principles.

    New Book Answers Critic

    One of Pope Benedict's loudest critics of his recent book Jesus of Nazareth is former Catholic (now Jewish) scholar Geza Vermes who wrote in his review of the book in the Times:
    Another recurrent theme in Ratzinger’s perception of Christ is that Jesus
    intended the Gospel to be preached to all the nations. If so, did he just forget
    Jesus’ sayings that contradict the universality of the apostolic mission,
    namely, that both Jesus and his disciples were sent only to the “lost sheep of
    Israel” (Matthew x, 5-6; xv, 24).

    In a new book that will be released in July and is now available for ordering on Amazon-- The Apostles. The Pope answers this criticism, as well as providing an excellent overview of what can be known from Scripture and Traditions about the first followers of Jesus--as well as what lessons we can derive from their example. Here is an excellent follow-up to Jesus of Nazareth.

    If you go to The Apostles Amazon page, you can buy both Jesus of Nazareth and The Apostles for $25.14!

    Tuesday, June 12, 2007

    Visions of Mary in South Africa?

    From iol.com:

    The 17-year-old Benoni girl who has attracted thousands of visitors after claiming to have had visions of the Virgin Mary is to be investigated by the Catholic Church.

    Father Barney McAleer on Tuesday confirmed that the church would investigate the claims of Francesca Zackey, but said this would be done in the same manner that other revelations of this kind were handled by the church.

    "This kind of thing can take years," he said.
    According to McAleer, the Catholic church "is used to these sorts of things, they happen all around the world".

    He referred to the claims made by Zackey as the experience of a private revelation or message, which could be described as a manifestation similar to those reported by other religions.


    Another Story: South African Teen Claims to Have Visions of Virgin Mary:

    Zackey is the youngest of four daughters in a devoted Catholic Lebanese family. Underneath a long black sweater, the teenager was wearing a zip-up sweat shirt printed with the word "punk".
    "She's always been a different child, very bold," said Bridget Zackey, the girl's mother, who had a blue string of rosary beads wrapped around her right hand. She said the visions seemed to come at an opportune time for her daughter who has just finished school and was going through a transitional period in her life. "I think this is her calling."
    The teenager said she first saw the Virgin Mary on May 7, interrupting the family's evening meal.
    "My brother-in-law asked for an encyclopedia, and as I was replacing the book back, I just smelt the strongest fumes of roses and it just hit me, and I fell to my knees and I started crying the tears of joy," she said.
    Zackey said she called her family to the bookshelf and they also smelled roses. Then she said she was compelled by the "Holy Spirit" to go to her bedroom where she saw the Virgin Mary sitting on the right side of her bed.
    "She had ice blue eyes, brown hair, long brown hair, and an ice blue cloak. Her hands were open, there was light coming out of her hands," Zackey said.
    Zackey said at first she was scared by the visions, but "then the Holy Spirit took over" and gave her strength.
    In her visions, the mother of Jesus Christ called on the teenager to write a book documenting her visions and start a youth prayer group.
    "She said to me that she wants people to pray with their hearts. She said: 'I want you to open your house for seven days and I want you to put statues where I have been,"'.
    Zackey said she had had about 20 visions of the Virgin and each site is marked with candles, idols of Mary and roses.

    Sen. Brownback at Catholic Men's Conference in SC

    Asks: “Is [Rape] Made Any Better by Killing an Innocent Child?”

    From Lifesite:

    In a talk to the National Catholic Men’s Conference this past weekend, Senator Sam Brownback criticized the commonly held notion that abortion should always be allowed in cases of rape, reports the Associated Press.

    “Rape is terrible. Rape is awful,” Brownback said to the approximately 500 conference attendees, but then asked, “Is it made any better by killing an innocent child? Does it solve the problem for the mother that’s been raped?”

    “We need to protect innocent life. Period.”

    The June 9th conference was hosted by St. Joseph’s Covenant Keepers. The president of the conference, Steve Wood, in introducing Senator Brownback criticized politicians who call themselves Catholic, but who in their public life repudiate fundamental Catholic teachings, specifically on abortion.

    “I don’t know about you,” said Wood, “but this stuff by many Catholic politicians who say, ‘I’m personally opposed, but.’ But what? You should have the integrity to be consistent in both personal and public life.”

    Tucson Priests One Step Away from Sainthood

    From AZStarnet.com:

    Two Carmelite priests who once worked in Tucson are among 498 martyrs of the Spanish Civil War who will be beatified in Rome this fall.

    Beatification is the second to last step toward sainthood.

    The Rev. Lucas Tristany and the Rev. Eduardo Farré — both priests with the Discalced Carmelite Friars who lived and worked in Tucson — will be among 498 martyrs of 20th century Spain who will be beatified Oct. 28.

    Monday, June 11, 2007

    Sopranos Non-Ending or Ending


    Fade to black...

    *The "therapy" ending. Given that the show has centered on therapy for eight years and the recurring theme of therapy is "what does it mean to you?"--it ends with a "you fill in the blank or black" as it were...

    *The "song" ending. Music has always been a big part of this show and the choice of Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" gives one a hint at the ending:

    Workin' hard to get my fill
    Everybody wants a thrill
    Payin' anything to roll the dice
    Just one more time
    Some will win
    Some will lose
    Some were born to sing the blues
    Oh, the movie never ends
    It goes on and on and on and on


    ...which also hints at a movie, we've been told won't happen. But this last show introduced so many new plot lines as to almost be laughable.

    *The nuclear explosion-nihilist ending...hinted at were the terrorist warnings of the last episodes. Perhaps the fade to black indicated a nuclear explosion and the destruction of Newark?

    *The coward's ending--not willing to take a stand, three diferent endings were shot, none of them were aired.

    *The buy the DVD ending...all three endings will be available on the DVD version of the season that won't be available in true Sopranos fashion for another two years.

    *The cat ending...we were in the last scene given a peak at what the cat was looking at and saw.

    *Then there is this..Tony Soprano died "you wouldn't even know it had happened: everything would just go black," from a conversation with Bobby on the boat about getting whacked.

    Knoxville Bishop may be New Archbishop of Louisville

    From the Courier Journal:

    Joseph Kurtz, 60, head of the Knoxville diocese since 1999, could be announced as the new head of the larger, Louisville archdiocese as early as Tuesday, according to an article Philadelphia-based Tablet writer Rocco Palmo posted Saturday on his blog, Whispers in the Loggia.

    Kelly retired last year when he turned 75, but remains on the job until Pope Benedict XVI names a replacement.

    Cecelia Price, a spokeswoman for the Louisville archdiocese, said she couldn’t comment.

    Blair 'may become a Catholic deacon'

    From The Daily Mail:
    Tony Blair has discussed becoming a Roman Catholic deacon when he quits office.
    The revelation comes as he prepares to meet the Pope amid speculation that he will use the audience in the Vatican to announce his conversion.
    In his last foreign engagement, just days before he leaves Downing Street for the final time, the Prime Minister will visit Pope Benedict XVI in what officials say will be a "highly significant" personal mission.

    Sunday, June 10, 2007

    Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ

    I have written a lot about the Mass--without ever really intending to do so. First, I wrote about the Mass in The How-To Book of the Mass: Everything You Need to Know but No One Ever Taught You--this book has done so well that I was asked to write a follow-up to it. That book How To Get The Most Out Of The Eucharist, probably should have been titled "How to Offer Your Sacrifice at Every Mass." Then this year, A Pocket Guide to the Mass, which is part of the "A Pocket Guide" series. Each book is different and offers a slightly different way to open oneself up to the riches that are being bestowed upon us by fulfilling the Lord's command to "Do this." Thanks to everyone who has read any of the three and offered very positive reviews of them.

    Saturday, June 9, 2007

    President Bush Meets the Pope

    From the Chicago Tribune:

    Inside, the pope gave the visiting president a 17th Century lithograph of St. Peter's Square and a gold medallion, and the president gave the pope a walking stick that a homeless man in Dallas had inscribed with the Ten Commandments. The pope also was heard to inquire about the president's recent meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, in which they had discussed a defensive missile shield for Europe.
    "Sometimes I'm not poetic enough to describe what it's like to be in the presence of the Holy Father,'' Bush, who had visited Pope John Paul II during the president's re-election campaign in 2004, said during an interview with European press before departing for this weeklong tour of Europe.
    "It is a moving experience. And I have not been in the presence of this particular Holy Father. Obviously, three visits with the last great man, and I'm looking forward to this,'' Bush said of Benedict XVI. "I'm looking forward to hearing him. He's a good thinker and a smart man. I'll be in a listening mode.''

    Peggy Noonan on the Sopranoes

    The greatness of "The Sopranos."

    Friday, June 8, 2007

    Bush to Shine Spotlight on Sant 'Egidio Groups

    From Pravda (of all places):

    On the surface, a Bush meeting with Sant'Egidio seems implausible. The organization is at the forefront of the international anti-death penalty movement, working city by city to generate support for a worldwide moratorium on capital punishment.

    Spokesman Mario Marazziti acknowledged there was an obvious clash of cultures regarding capital punishment. Bush allowed 152 executions while he was governor of Texas, the U.S. state that executes more inmates than any other.

    But Marazziti said Saturday's encounter - which the White House requested - should still be constructive. Sant'Egidio's other social justice initiatives - such as running schools for the poor, soup kitchens for the hungry and home visitations for the elderly - are the type of faith-based programs that Bush often embraces.

    "We will try not to be naive, to be respectful ... but at the same time sincere, to find all the ways in which poverty can be fought and human dignity can be supported," Marazziti said.

    One area where the two find common ground is fighting AIDS in Africa, and that is expected to be a focus of Saturday's discussion, Marazziti said.