Friday, December 19, 2003

Bishop Wuerl on Faithful Citizenship in 2004 Election (Part 1)

Pittsburgh Prelate Outlines Importance of the Common Good.

Some feminists want to dump (the Blessed Virgin) Mary

This is so tiring. What have these people done to themselves make them so ridiculous?

The Filling Station

(Note: this was passed on to me the other day. Just thought I would share it.)

The old man sat in his gas station on a cold Christmas Eve. He hadn't been anywhere in years since his wife had passed away. He had no decorations, no tree, no lights. It was just another day to him. He didn't hate Christmas, just couldn't find a reason to celebrate. There were no children in his life. His wife had gone.

He was sitting there looking at the snow that had been falling for the last hour and wondering what it was all about when the door opened and a homeless man stepped through. Instead of throwing the man out, George, Old George as he was known by his customers, told the man to come and sit by the space heater and warm up.

"Thank you, but I don't mean to intrude," said the stranger. "I see you're busy. I'll just go"

"Not without something hot in your belly," George turned and opened a wide mouth Thermos and handed it to the stranger. "It ain't much, but it's hot and tasty. Stew. Made it myself. When you're done there's coffee and it's fresh."

Just at that moment he heard the "ding" of the driveway bell. "Excuse me, be right back," George said. There in the driveway was an old 53 Chevy. Steam was rolling out of the front. The driver was panicked.

"Mister can you help me!" said the driver with a deep Spanish accent. "My wife is with child and my car is broken."

George opened the hood. It was bad. The block looked cracked from the cold; the car was dead. "You ain't going in this thing," George said as he turned away.

"But mister. Please help...."The door of the office closed behind George as he went in. George went to the office wall and got the keys to his old truck, and went back outside. He walked around the building and opened the garage, started the truck and drove it around to where the couple was waiting.

"Here, you can borrow my truck," he said. "She ain't the best thing you ever looked at, but she runs real good."

George helped put the woman in the truck and watched as it sped off into the night. George turned and walked back inside the office.

"Glad I loaned 'em the truck. Their tires were shot too. That 'ol truck has brand new tires..." George thought he was talking to the stranger, but the man had gone. The thermos was on the desk, empty with a used coffee cup beside it.

"Well, at least he got something in his belly," George thought. George went back outside to see if the old Chevy would start. It cranked slowly, but it started. He pulled it into the garage where the truck had been. He thought he would tinker with it for something to do. Christmas Eve meant no customers. He discovered the block hadn't cracked, it was just the bottom hose on the radiator.

"Well, I can fix this," he said to himself. So he put a new one on. "Those tires ain't gonna get 'em through the winter either." He took the snow treads off of his wife's old Lincoln. They were like new and he wasn't going to drive the car.

As he was working he heard a shot being fired. He ran outside and beside a police car an officer lay on the cold ground. Bleeding from the left shoulder, the officer moaned, "Help me."

George helped the officer inside as he remembered the training he had received in the Army as a medic. He knew the wound needed attention. "Pressure to stop the bleeding," he thought. The laundry company had been there that morning and had left clean shop towels. He used those and duct tape to bind the wound.

"Hey, they say duct tape can fix anything," he said, trying to make the policeman feel at ease. "Something for pain," George thought. All he had was the pills he used for his back. "These ought to work." He put some water in a cup and gave the policeman the pills.

"You hang in there. I'm going to get you an ambulance." George said, but the phone was dead. "Maybe I can get one of your buddies on that there talk box out in your police car."

He went out only to find that a bullet had gone into the dashboard destroying the two way radio. He went back in to find the policeman sitting up.

"Thanks," said the officer. "You could have left me there. The guy that shot me is still in the area."

George sat down beside him. "I would never leave an injured man in the Army and I ain't gonna leave you." George pulled back the bandage to check for bleeding. "Looks worse than what it is. Bullet passed right through 'ya. Good thing it missed the important stuff though. I think with time your gonna be right as rain."

George got up and poured a cup of coffee. "How do you take it?" he asked.

"None for me," said the officer.

"Oh, yer gonna drink this. Best in the city." Then George added: "Too bad I ain't got no donuts."

The officer laughed and winced at the same time. The front door of the office flew open. In burst a young man with a gun.

"Give me all your cash! Do it now!" the young man yelled. His hand was shaking and George could tell that he had never done anything like this before.

"That's the guy that shot me!" exclaimed the officer.

"Son, why are you doing this?" asked George. "You need to put the cannon away. Somebody else might get hurt."

The young man was confused. "Shut up old man, or I'll shoot you, too. Now give me the cash!"

The cop was reaching for his gun.

"Put that thing away," George said to the cop. "We got one too many in here now."

He turned his attention to the young man. "Son, it's Christmas Eve. If you need the money, well then, here. It ain't much but it's all I got. Now put that pee shooter away."

George pulled $150 out of his pocket and handed it to the young man, reaching for the barrel of the gun at the same time.

The young man released his grip on the gun, fell to his knees and began to cry. "I'm not very good at this am I? All I wanted was to buy something for my wife and son," he went on. "I've lost my job. My rent is due. My car got repossessed last week..."

George handed the gun to the cop. "Son, we all get in a bit of squeeze now and then. The road gets hard sometimes, but we make it through the best we can."

He got the young man to his feet, and sat him down on a chair across from the cop. "Sometimes we do stupid things." George handed the young man a cup of coffee. "Being stupid is one of the things that makes us human. Comin' in here with a gun ain't the answer. Now sit there and get warm and we'll sort this thing out."

The young man had stopped crying. He looked over to the cop. "Sorry I shot you. It just went off. I'm sorry officer."

"Shut up and drink your coffee." the cop said.

George could hear the sounds of sirens outside. A police car and an ambulance skidded to a halt. Two cops came through the door, guns drawn.

"Chuck! You ok?" one of the cops asked the wounded officer.

"Not bad for a guy who took a bullet. How did you find me?"

"GPS locator in the car. Best thing since sliced bread. Who did this?" the other cop asked as he approached the young man.

Chuck answered him, "I don't know. The guy ran off into the dark. Just dropped his gun and ran."

George and the young man both looked puzzled at each other.

"That guy works here," the wounded cop continued.

"Yep," George said. "Just hired him this morning. Boy lost his job."

The paramedics came in and loaded Chuck onto the stretcher. The young man leaned over the wounded cop and whispered, "Why?"

Chuck just said, "Merry Christmas, boy. And you too, George, and thanks for everything."

"Well, looks like you got one doozy of a break there. That ought to solve some of your problems." George went into the back room and came out with a box. He pulled out a ring box.

"Here you go. Something for the little woman. I don't think Martha would mind. She said it would come in handy some day."

The young man looked inside to see the biggest diamond ring he ever saw. "I can't take this," said the young man. "It means something to you."

"And now it means something to you," replied George. "I got my memories. That's all I need."

George reached into the box again. A toy airplane, a racing car and a little metal truck appeared next. They were toys that the oil company had left for him to sell. "Here's something for that little man of yours."

The young man began to cry again as he handed back the $150 that the old man had handed him earlier. "And what are you supposed to buy Christmas dinner with? You keep that, too. Count it as part of your first week's pay." George said. "Now git home to your family."

The young man turned with tears streaming down his face. "I'll be here in the morning for work, if that job offer is still good."

"Nope. I'm closed Christmas day," George said. "See ya the day after."

George turned around to find that the stranger had returned. "Where'd you come from? I thought you left?"

"I have been here. I have always been here," said the stranger. "You say you don't celebrate Christmas. Why?"

"Well, after my wife passed away I just couldn't see what all the bother was. Puttin' up a tree and all seemed a waste of a good pine tree. Bakin' cookies like I used to with Martha just wasn't the same by myself and besides I was getting a little chubby."

The stranger put his hand on George's shoulder. "But you do celebrate the holiday, George. You gave me food and drink and warmed me when I was cold and hungry. The woman with child will bear a son and he will become a great doctor. The policeman you helped will go on to save 19 people from being killed by terrorists. The young man who tried to rob you will become a rich man and share his wealth with many people.

That is the spirit of the season and you keep it as good as any man."

George was taken aback by all this stranger had said. "And how do you know all this?" asked the old man."

Trust me, George. I have the inside track on this sort of thing. And when your days are done you will be with Martha again." The stranger moved toward the door. "If you will excuse me, George, I have to go now. I have to go home where there is a big celebration planned."

George watched as the man's old leather jacket and his torn pants turned into a white robe. A golden light began to fill the room.

"You see, George, it's My birthday. Merry Christmas."

Author Unknown

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Christmas is not complete without "Liturgical Dance"

Great News! NOT!

In ICD's Sunday Bulletin.

Seamstress Needed
We are in need of a couple of simple gowns to be made for our liturgical dancers for Christmas. They are cut out and ready to be sewn. Call Sally @ 980-2011 or Suzanne @ 240-3289 to volunteer. Thanks!

Christmas Novena at ICD

Tonight is the fourth night of ICD's Christmas Novena and the homilist is Msgr James Hanson, former pastor of Immaculate Conception-Dardenne, a wonderful priest who is currently pastor of St. Joseph's in Zell, MO. I hope to be able to see him tonight.

This will be a welcome relief after having two protestant ministers give talks at a Catholic Christmas Novena. I will be able to attend only a few of these. I should have posted this earlier. Here is the schedule as listed in the parish bulletin. Fr. Gerry Kleba, by the way, is pastor of St. Cronan's (previously highlighted in articles on this site) and Fr. Robert Zinser is the author of "The Fascinated God", (also on this site) the book wherein faith and reason are diametrically opposed and where authentic truth is lost in the process.

I hope to attend 2 of these in particular with recorder in hand!

So, are you a Nutritionist or a Surgeon?

Diogenes starts his essay thus:
"Among orthodox Catholics concerned about reform one can identify two main approaches to the job: nutrition and surgery.

"Nutritionists believe that the Church's ills can be cured by fresh air, moderate exercise, and green leafy vegetables. Surgeons believe the patient has an aggressive cancer that demands cutting and cautery -- the sooner the better. "
Myself, I lean toward surgery...And you?

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Martino...There he goes again....

Much has been said of the Cardinal's remarks of late.
It seems there are some at the Vatican who are concerned with Martino's embarassing remarks.

The New National Adult Catechism Revisited

The complete article is available from Catholic World Report here.
The following are excerpts from the article. (with permission)

The New National Adult Catechism Revisited
By Msgr. Michael J. Wrenn and Kenneth D. Whitehead
Nov. 01 (Catholic World Report)

Last year, in commenting on the draft National Adult Catechism (NAC) that will eventually be issued by the United States bishops (see CWR, December 2002), we offered the judgment that “the proposed volume is really quite good on the whole;” but we also judged that “some important modifications and corrections…need to be made.” Careful examination of the revision of this draft NAC that was completed in June 2003, and then circulated to the bishops for further comments, reveals that further improvements indeed have been made. The book really is quite good in some of the ways we will try to indicate. That is not the whole story, however.

The Introduction states that it is the express intention of this National Adult Catechism to challenge our contemporary American “culture of disbelief, relativism, subjectivism, and differences about morality.” Faced with these tendencies in our contemporary culture, Christians are required to exhibit “moral courage,” the document states. All this is very good.

To illustrate how the document at its best proceeds to do what its Introduction states its aim to be, we may take as an example Chapter 20, on the Sacrament of Holy Orders. ... this chapter contains a complete and excellent, if brief, treatment of the Catholic priesthood. In an era when the typical “new catechetics” has so often tended to downgrade the sacrament of Holy Orders in favor of an amorphous view of an egalitarian “Christian community,” the draft NAC strongly reaffirms the ordained priesthood as an indispensable component of the true Church as established by Jesus Christ.

And the fact is that very many of the chapters in the present draft NAC, like this Chapter 20, do reflect the authentic faith and practice of the Catholic Church. As now written, this text represents a marked improvement over just about everything that is out there except the CCC itself. The latter, however, is much lengthier, and as good as it is, it is not too adaptable to specific RCIA, adult education, or senior high school religious education courses as such. Thus the NAC could serve very real needs if it comes out right in its final form.

If this were all that needed to be said about this draft NAC, we would be on the verge of a new era in Catholic religious education in the United States, with a readable and usable text—one that actually expounds the complete and authentic Catholic faith and its normative practice—being now at long last made available to Catholics in this country. Unfortunately, however, in its present form, the text still contains elements that could seriously compromise that eventuality. In a number of places in the text, there is evidence of a kind of cultural timidity or political correctness in the face of some contemporary ideological trends. In some cases, the editors of the draft NAC seem to have been unwilling or unable to challenge contemporary culture with the fullness of the Catholic vision.

If our tone at times seems unduly negative or critical, we persist nevertheless, because we do not believe that the bishops of the United States can afford to issue an official teaching instrument that is anything less than 100 percent authentically Catholic; or that can in any way be compromised by our contemporary decadent American culture.

Having said this, we now turn immediately to the very first “story” in Part 1, Chapter 1, of the draft NAC, and we find that, incredibly, the supposed “exemplary Catholic” featured in this first story is none other than that lapsed monk, Thomas Merton, a one-time professed Catholic religious, who later left his monastery, and, at the end of his life, was actually off wandering in the East, seeking the consolations, apparently, of non-Christian, Eastern spirituality.

This chapter actually speaks about “those who have drifted away from the faith,” yet does not see the irony inherent in the fact that Thomas Merton was himself apparently one of these. ... The choice of Merton here surely resembles the recent choice of the pro-abortion Leon Panetta as a member of the bishops’ National Review Board on clerical sex abuse—one of those mistakes that ought not to have been made. And this will undoubtedly be the reaction of many Catholics if this particular story is retained in the final NAC draft; it will likely be taken as one more piece of evidence that the American bishops still don’t “get it.”

Most of the stories included in the text do not suffer from the same unsuitability. On the contrary most of them are quite well chosen, beginning with the sketch of John Carroll, the first United States bishop, and ending with the beloved Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen. As we have already noted, all of the American canonized saints and “blessed” are included, along with such truly exemplary Catholics such as Orestes Brownson or Dorothy Day (the latter, again, lived her dedicated Catholic life after having repented of her early profligacy and her sin of abortion).

With further regard to these stories, however, we are still obliged to ask whether it is appropriate to include such near-contemporary figures as Sister Thea Bowman, farm-labor organizer Cesar Chavez, or the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin. The Church wisely defers her beatifications and canonizations to a time after the deaths of those so honored, usually long after.

Turning from the introductory stories to the format of the draft NAC, we find ourselves obliged to point out yet another defect in the document. The editors apparently accept the premise of today’s radical feminists that the generic term “man” in English—meaning not an individual male but rather humanity in general— somehow does not include “woman.” Although this generic meaning has been standard in English for more than a thousand years, and is still shown in all dictionaries, it is of course the contention of modern radical feminism that “woman” is not included in the term, and hence there supposedly arises a need for so-called “inclusive language” that does explicitly include female members of the genus Homo Sapiens. Thus, “he who laughs last, laughs best” must be changed to become “he or she who laughs last, laughs best.” The demand for such inclusivity extends even to pronouns, and thus “to each his own” becomes “to each his or her own.” And so on.

The editors of the NAC, apparently in order to avoid having to use the generic term “man,” have composed virtually the entire narrative of the draft in the first person plural, using “we” and “us"—as if the principal aim of the editors was somehow to avoid at all costs the generic use of the word “man.” The result resembles an attempt to justify the slogan popular among “liberal” Catholics: “We are the Church.”

Most of the time, the reader does not particularly notice this use of the plural, except when reminded by a particularly clumsy locution or upon encountering such words as “humankind.” But it stands out in the unusual title of Chapter 6: “The Creation of Man and Woman,” and the subtitle with that chapter "The Fall of Man and Woman." Then, there recur in the narrative such stilted locutions as: “God created humans.” It seems indisputable that the editors of this document do not believe that “woman” is already included in the generic term “man.” In other words, they do accept the premise of the radical feminists. And it seems to be their clear intention to enlist all the Catholic bishops in the endorsement of this position.

Other Concerns
And speaking of expectations, a sentence that appears in Chapter 14 reading, “the faithful are expected to attend Mass” on Sundays and Holy Days, like the sentence that appears in Chapter 18, “we are expected to confess our sins,” should be changed to read that we are strictly obliged to do these things.

At the end of Chapter 28, Father Theodore M. Hesburgh should not be quoted—not only because the draft NAC should avoid citing near-contemporaries as a general rule, but also in this case because Father Hesburgh has been one of the principal leaders of those Catholic colleges and universities which have resisted (and continue to resist) the implementation of Pope John Paul II’s apostolic constitution Ex Corde Ecclesiae. It will be hard for the average Catholic to understand how the bishops could cite in one of their own teaching documents—and thus single out for special respect—a priest who for many years openly disregarded their authority.

In Chapter 29’s section entitled “Three Challenges for a Culture of Life,” the death penalty is simply equated with abortion, euthanasia, and “other life-threatening acts.” Later on, in the section specifically on the “Death Penalty,” little is explained beyond simply quoting CCC #2267.... There is great confusion among Americans today about all this issue. The NAC should attempt to explain the current teaching and its implications as clearly as possible.

The brief, two-paragraph discussion of homosexuality in Chapter 30, while correct in what it states on the subject, is nevertheless wholly inadequate considering the current situation in the United States. In view especially of the surprising and disconcerting success of the gay-rights movement, this topic needs to be treated much more fully. As it stands, the present treatment risks being classed with those who seem to stress that the most important aspect of the Catholic teaching on homosexuality is that there should be no “unjust discrimination” against homosexuals, and that they should be treated with “respect, compassion, and sensitivity.” This brief section fails to place homosexuality in it proper context as a serious disorder, and to emphasize that homosexual acts are always gravely sinful. “Unjust discrimination” against homosexuals is hardly the main problem in America today, where the full reality of “gay marriage” may be upon us, as it already is in Canada.

As we noted at the outset, the decision to base this document primarily on the Catechism of the Catholic Church was a very wise and happy one. An American document thus grounded has the potential to help restore and revitalize authentic Catholic faith and practice in the United States. It can be a fit instrument for handing on the faith to the next generation. But it has to be right.

[AUTHOR ID] Msgr. Michael J. Wrenn and Kenneth D. Whitehead have written and spoken frequently on catechetics, and are the joint authors of Flawed Expectations: The Reception of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (Ignatius, 1996).

I certainly recommend reading this entire article and the previous one from December 2002.

The Reverence due to the Holy Eucharist by Francis Cardinal Arinze

The Adoremus Web Site has posted the address of His Eminence, Francis Cardinal Arinze, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, delivered at the convention of "The Church Teaches Forum", Louisville, Kentucky, July 18, 2003.

It can be read here.

A couple of excerpts:
"To Jesus Christ, God and Man, in the sacrifice and sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, are due honor, reverence, adoration, thanksgiving, and love. At this opening of this year's convention of "The Church Teaches Forum", it is right that we should focus our reflection on reverence due to the Holy Eucharist. Many people have sadly noticed that in our churches there is a worrying decline in reverence. The matter is of great importance because of the central place of the Eucharistic Ministry in Catholic faith and life.

For due reverence to the Holy Eucharist, every Catholic needs proper initiation into this faith and continued growth in it. The Second Vatican Council, teaching on divine revelation and our duty to believe, takes up Saint Paul's phrase: "'The obedience of faith' (Rm 16:26; cf 1:5; II Cor 10:5-6) must be given to God who reveals, an obedience by which man entrusts his whole self freely to God, offering 'the full submission of intellect and will to God who reveals' (Vat I: Dei Filius, De Fide, DS 3008) and freely assenting to the truth revealed by Him" (Dei Verbum 5).

It matters therefore very much that the priest's gestures (at Holy Mass) should be genuine manifestations of Eucharistic faith and love. Although Christ is the chief celebrant who uses the ministry of the ordained priest as His instrument, the priest's behavior influences the entire congregation.

It is also important that the congregation show reverence.

The danger of horizontalism is very real in many Eucharistic celebrations. Some priests and people behave as if they come to Mass primarily to meet one another, to reaffirm one another and at times even to entertain one another. No. Such horizontalism is misplaced. We come to Mass primarily to adore God, to thank Him, to ask pardon for our sins and to make requests for our needs. We are not the center. God is.

Sometimes we see people desiring to return to the pre-1970 way of celebrating Mass. Generally the fault is on those who have introduced abuses and their own idiosyncrasies into the Mass, contrary to the clear directives of the Second Vatican Council (cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium, 22). If the Mass is celebrated with faith and reverence, and sung also in Latin sometimes, people's Catholic faith and piety will be adequately nourished.

This is a good article. The good Cardinal knows the problems and we should be hopeful that the solutions will be forthcoming.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

From greatness to decadence-The Catholic University of Louvain

Anyone familiar with Cardinal Danneels and the University of Louvain will certainly appreciate this article by Dr. Alice von Hildebrand.

Catholic meaning behind the carol: Twelve Days of Christmas?

I saw this interesting little item today.
Jay Maynes from Arizona has sent us this fascinating explanation of the meaning of the traditional Christmas carol. Can readers supply us with any more information?

From 1558 until 1829, Roman Catholics in England were not permitted to practice their faith openly. Someone during that era wrote this carol as a catechism song for young Catholics. It has two levels of meaning: the surface meaning plus a hidden meaning known only to members of their church. Each element in the carol has a code word for a religious reality which the children could remember.

The partridge in a pear tree was Jesus Christ.
Two turtle doves were the Old and New Testaments.
Three French hens stood for faith, hope and love.
The four calling birds were the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
The five golden rings recalled the Torah or Law, the first five books of the-Old Testament.
The six geese a-laying stood for the six days of creation.
Seven swans a-swimming represented the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, Contribution, Leadership, and Mercy.
The eight maids a-milking were the eight beatitudes.
Nine ladies dancing were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit-Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self Control.
The ten lords a-leaping--the ten commandments.
The eleven pipers piping stood for the eleven faithful disciples.
The twelve drummers drumming symbolized the twelve points of belief in the Apostles' Creed.

(From Independent Catholic News tel/fax: +44 (0)20 7267 3616 )

Snopes says that this is, in fact, false. You can read about it here.

Monday, December 15, 2003

The Fascinated God, again...

I wrote the pastor of our parish, thanking him for shedding some light on this book which concerned me some time ago. I read this in our parish bulletin on Sunday.
The theme of my retreat turned out to be a lot of reflection on the primal question of whether God is real as we profess our faith in God, or have science and human rationalization eliminated any need for including God in our understanding of our life and our universe.

I prayerfully responded to two books that I read there. One was by a priest who wrote, surprisingly, that God could not be considered a creator God because scientists have proven (so he says) that our universe could not have had a first cause, but just happened to come into existence with a "big bang".

With this as one of his premises (misguided as it was), he proceeded to disprove or undermine every pillar of our Christian faith--to the point where he had nothing left but "a fascinated god" who was interested in us human beings but could not do anything to help us, much less redeem us from sin and bring us to eternal life.

The author has put science ahead of what we believe to be God's revelation of truth to us through his Word and through the Church.

Reading this book made me want to argue with the author for sure, but mostly I felt sorry for him and sad that he had seemingly lost confidence in our Christian faith and our Catholic teaching about God.

The only problem I see now is that the priest who wrote the book, "The Fascinated God", has been invited to give a homily during our Christmas Novena, (along with a couple of protestant pastors)...Maybe he will be selling his book at a discount during his 'reflection'?