Saturday, October 23, 2004

Distorted Citizenship by Fr. Frank Pavone

We seem to have a major problem in the Church in the area of reading comprehension. The problem is most obvious when the reading material asserts the primacy of abortion among issues that voters have to consider in elections.

Statements of the Pope, various Vatican officials, committees and officials of the USCCB, and the entire body of US bishops, all point to abortion as the fundamental human rights issue of our day. Even Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, who during his life was a key spokesperson for the "consistent ethic of life," pointed out repeatedly that the fundamental right is the right to life.

To illustrate how profound the reading comprehension problem is, just take a look at the list of quotes I have added at the end of these remarks. Then determine for yourself whether they are clear or not.

Meanwhile, we have people in various positions within the Church saying that all the issues are equal. Excuse me, but not only does that violate Catholic teaching, it violates common sense. Ask any parent whether, among their daily activities caring for their children, all issues are of equal importance. In fact, you can ask the children themselves. They seem to know the answer better than some Church officials do.

I’ve been acquiring a whole file of letters sent out, often from offices of "social ministry" in various dioceses, which state that voters have to consider a wide range of issues. So far, so good. But then these letters say that no issue is more important than another. And that’s where the lack of reading comprehension reveals itself. Either they have never seen the quotes below, or they are deliberately ignoring them.

And neither is appropriate for a person who has the responsibility to convey Church teaching.

Two explanations can be offered for why some would distort the teaching.

The first is simply loyalty to the Democratic party. The problem has to be faced honestly that the loyalty of some Church ministers to the Democratic Party is deeper than their loyalty to Catholic teaching.

There is nothing wrong with belonging to a political party and being loyal to it. But when that party promotes the widespread, daily, legal killing of children, the voice of protest must be heard. Silence is not an option, neither for Democrats, Republicans, or anyone else - most certainly Catholics.

The second explanation for the reading comprehension problem is a legal concern. Unfortunately, the Church has been fed for decades with legal advice which is far more restrictive of the Church’s freedom than the IRS or the FEC has ever been. And this is wrong. Not only are the IRS/FEC restrictions on the Church minimal, but the enforcement policy is even looser.

No Church has ever lost its tax exemption by teaching about abortion, or the primacy of the right to life, or the duty of public officials and voters to advance the Culture of Life by voting. No Church has ever lost its tax exemption for doing what it exists to do, namely, convey the teachings of the Church.

No Church has ever lost its tax exemption for distributing materials that did not cover a wide-enough range of issues; in fact, no Church has lost its tax exemption for distributing voter guides, period.

Despite all this, various Church officials will go into all kinds of contortions to protect their assets from legal problems that they think will arise if the Church says that the right to life is primary among all the issues. Of course, the problem here is that this kind of legal advice, if it were accurate, would prove too much. Statements of the US Bishops themselves, like "Living the Gospel of Life" (1998), would constitute illegal activity under such an erroneous framework. The best way to describe the current problem with some of our attorneys is the bumpersticker that says "I Brake for Hallucinations."

The solution to all of this is for all of us, clergy and laity alike, to bear faithful witness to the teachings of the Church, no matter what the political implications may be. Bear witness to the consistent ethic of life, and to that which makes it consistent - the right to life. Proclaim that there are many rights, and proclaim the foundational right.

And be sure to keep your reading skills in top shape!

To read the quotes from the Church, Pope, and Bishops, visit this link:

Abortion: The Primary Issue According to Statements from the Pope and Bishops

Saturday, 29th Week In Ordinary Time

From: Luke 13:1-9

The Need for Repentance
[1] There were some present at that very time who told him of the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. [2] And he answered them, "Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered thus? [3] I tell you, No; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. [4] 0r those eighteen upon whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who dwelt in Jerusalem? [5] I tell you, No; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish."

Parable of the Barren Fig Tree
[6] And he told this parable: "A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. [7] And he said to the vinedresser, 'Lo, these three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down; why should it use up the ground?' [8] And he answered him, 'Let it alone, sir, this year also, till I dig about it and put on manure. [9] And if it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.'"

1-5. Our Lord used current events in his teaching. The Galileans referred to here may be the same as mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles (5:37). The episode was fairly typical of the times Jesus lived in, with Pilate sternly suppressing any sign of civil unrest. We do not know anything about the accident at Siloam other than what the Gospel tells us.

The fact that these people died in this way does not mean that they were worse than others, for God does not always punish sinners in this life (cf. Jn 9:3). All of us are sinners, meriting a much worse punishment than temporal misfortune: we merit eternal punishment; but Christ has come to atone for our sins, he has opened the gates of heaven. We must repent of our sins; otherwise God will not free us from the punishment we deserve. "When you meet with suffering, the Cross, your thought should be: what is this compared with what I deserve?" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 690)

3. "He tells us that, without Holy Baptism, no one will enter the Kingdom of heaven (cf. Jn 3:5); and, elsewhere, that if we do not repent we will all perish (Lk 13:3). This is all easily understood. Ever since man sinned, all his senses rebel against reason; therefore, if we want the flesh to be controlled by the spirit and by reason, it must be mortified; if we do not want the body to be at war with the soul, it and all our senses need to be chastened; if we desire to go to God, the soul with all its faculties needs to be mortified" (St John Mary Vianney, "Selected Sermons", Ash Wednesday).

6-9. Our Lord stresses that we need to produce plenty of fruit (cf. Lk 8:11-15) in keeping with the graces we have received (cf. Lk 12:48). But he also tells us that God waits patiently for this fruit to appear; he does not want the death of the sinner; he wants him to be converted and to live (Ezek 33:11) and, as St Peter teaches, he is "forbearing towards you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance" (2 Pet 3:9). But God's clemency should not lead us to neglect our duties and become lazy and, comfort-seeking, living sterile lives. He is merciful, but he is also just and he will punish failure to respond to his grace.

"There is one case that we should be especially sorry about--that of Christians who could do more and don't; Christians who could live all the consequences of their vocation as children of God, but refuse to do so through lack of generosity. We are partly to blame, for the grace of faith has not been given us to hide but to share with others (cf. Mt 5:15f). we cannot forget that the happiness of these people, in this life and in the next, is at stake. The Christian life is a divine wonder with immediate promises of satisfaction and serenity--but on condition that we know how to recognize the gift of God (cf. Jn 4:10) and be generous, not counting the cost" ([St] J. Escriva, "Christ Is Passing By", 147).
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland.

Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Bishops cite range of issues

Bishops cite range of issues

This is the excuse many use to support an avowed, unrepentant, committed supporter of violence against unborn children.

Here is a letter to the editor from a person who has not a clue and who sounds as if she is reading from a "Catholics for Kerry" talking points memo:
I am a Catholic. I will vote for John Kerry. I am guided by "Faithful Citizenship 2004," a voting guide issued by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, and thus endorsed by virtually all the bishops in the United States.
I would like to see the proof that virtually all US Bishops endorsed this. Can someone point to that proof, please?
The bishops caution Catholics that the "Christian faith is an integral unity, and thus it is incoherent to isolate some particular element to the detriment of the whole of Catholic doctrine. A political commitment to a single isolated aspect of the Church's social doctrine does not exhaust one's responsibility towards the common good."
The Holy Father has been been clear about this - all others rights (& issues) are meaningless if the inviolable right to life is not protected. Archbishop Burke recently re-confirmed this teaching. It is erroneous to believe that issues such as free/socialized health-care, increasing the minimum wage, and other such issues are as important as the right of the unborn to life.
In addition to the single issue or three issues emphasized by a few bishops to the exclusion of other issues, the bishops teach Catholics that they must consider the following: (a) reduction of nuclear weapons (Kerry will end the development of nuclear weapons); (b) the banning of anti-personal landmines (Kerry co-sponsored a landmine elimination and victim assistance bill); (c) provision of a just wage (Kerry will fight for a minimum wage of $7 an hour).

The bishops also say "Affordable and accessible health care is ... a fundamental human right and an urgent national priority. A priority of John Kerry is to provide "the range of high-quality, affordable plans available to members of Congress, and extend coverage to 95 percent of Americans."

Finally, the bishops say they "have raised serious moral concerns and questions about pre-emptive or preventive use of force," an official policy of the current administration.

Patricia Chaffee
St. Louis
This woman needs our prayers so that her mind might be enlightened because she has been deceived.


Archbishop Chaput: Faith and Patriotism

Archbishop Charles Chaput's Op-ed in the New York Times:
...I hear more lectures about how Roman Catholics must not "impose their beliefs on society" or warnings about the need for "the separation of church and state." These are two of the emptiest slogans in current American politics, intended to discourage serious debate.

Catholics have an obligation to work for the common good and the dignity of every person. We see abortion as a matter of civil rights and human dignity, not simply as a matter of religious teaching. We are doubly unfaithful - both to our religious convictions and to our democratic responsibilities - if we fail to support the right to life of the unborn child. Our duties to social justice by no means end there. But they do always begin there, because the right to life is foundational.

For Catholics to take a "pro-choice" view toward abortion contradicts our identity and makes us complicit in how the choice plays out. The "choice" in abortion always involves the choice to end the life of an unborn human being. For anyone who sees this fact clearly, neutrality, silence or private disapproval are not options. They are evils almost as grave as abortion itself. If religious believers do not advance their convictions about public morality in public debate, they are demonstrating not tolerance but cowardice.

As James 2:17 reminds us, in a passage quoted in the final presidential debate, "Faith without works is dead." It is a valid point. People should act on what they claim to believe. Otherwise they are violating their own conscience, and lying to themselves and the rest of us. (all emphasis is mine)
Great article by Abp. Chaput

Bishop Schmitt Calls Abortion 'Greatest Evil of Our Age'

As my brother’s keeper, I feel guilty that I have said nothing to the priests of our Diocese to encourage them to preach the Gospel of Life each Sunday and to make the defense of innocent human life a pastoral priority. I would hate to come before the Lord our God and say that I was a Shepherd but that I did nothing to teach the people about the evils of abortion. Because I am my brother’s keeper, I never want it to be said that I was willing to tolerate evil or any cooperation in it.

All evils are not equal. Abortion, representing as it does an attack on the most innocent of all human life and the most sacred of all human relationships, is so grave and profound an evil that it calls all men and women of good will to action.

And so, I want to reiterate what I have said: abortion is the greatest moral evil of our age. In light of that truth, a Catholic who deliberately votes for a candidate precisely because of the candidate’s permissive stand on abortion is guilty of formal cooperation in grave evil. When a Catholic does not share a candidate’s stand in favor of abortion, but votes for that candidate for other reasons, such an action can only be permitted in the presence of proportionate reasons. I cannot think of a value to put on innocent human life and the right to life; others, in conscience, may be able to.
Here is the letter of Bishop Bernard W. Schmitt, Bishop of Wheeling-Charleston

Archbishop Burke: all bishops should follow canon law

Burke quietly told about 200 people at the Pewaukee dinner that it should be routine for all bishops to withhold Holy Communion from Catholic politicians whose votes support abortion or euthanasia because canon law allows no other option when people stubbornly persist in such grave public scandals.

"People have asked me if I regret having taken the action that I did, and all of the publicity that has resulted, especially people who know that by nature I'm not very fond of controversy. And my response to that is, my only regret is that it took me so long to figure out what I needed to do and to do it."

South Deanery plan released

It is a recommendation — a draft proposal that is expected to be changed in its final form.

St. Agatha Parish would merge with the territorial parish of St. Wenceslaus and the 1962 Roman Missal Mass community would move to St. Frances de Sales Church. On a typical weekend the parish has 770 worshippers. Parish finances are seen as strong.
St. Louis Review article.

Friday, 29th Week in Ordinary Time

From: Luke 12:54-59

The Coming of Christ
[54] He (Jesus) also said to the multitudes, "When you see a cloud rising in the west, you say at once, `A shower is coming'; and so it happens. [55] And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, `There will be scorching heat'; and it happens. [56] You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearances of earth and sky; but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?"

[57] "And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right? [58] As you go with your accuser before the magistrate, make an effort to settle with him on the way, lest he drag you to the judge, and the judge hand you over to the officer, and the officer put you in prison. [59] I tell you, you will never get out till you have paid the very last copper."

56. Jesus' listeners knew from experience how to forecast the weather. However, although they knew the signs of the Messiah's coming announced by the prophets, and were hearing His preaching and witnessing His miracles, they did not want to draw the logical conclusion; they lacked the necessary good will and upright intention, and they just closed their eyes to the light of the Gospel (cf. Romans 1:18ff).

This attitude is also found to be very widespread in our own time, in forms of certain kinds of atheism denounced by the Second Vatican Council: "Those who willfully try to drive God from their heart and to avoid all questions about religion, not following the biddings of their conscience, are not free from blame" ("Gaudium Et Spes", 19).
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland.

Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

United Nations Chief Kofi Annan Endorses Human Cloning

Breaking with customary neutrality on highly contested issues, United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan has come out publicly in favour of human cloning for research purposes just as the General Assembly commenced two days of critical hearings on the issue.

The actions of this man are beyond contempt.

Here are more:
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan Supports Homosexual 'Marriage'

Kofi Annan Enthusiastically Accepts Award from Radical Abortion Promoters

35 Catholic Leaders Sign Open Letter to John Kerry

An open letter to John Kerry from over 35 of the brightest and most influential non-clergy Catholic leaders in the United States has been published in major newspapers across the country. The letter calls Kerry to account for his claim to hold the Catholic faith while he continues to support abortion.

Signatures include those of famed Catholic evangelist Scott Hahn, a Professor of Theology and Scripture at Franciscan University in Steubenville Ohio; Princeton Professor Robert George; Retired US Major General John Roth; and Former Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn.

The letter concludes, "As Americans and Catholics, both faith and reason lead us to President George W. Bush as the choice for life, compassion and justice for all. For that reason, we are urging fellow Catholics to join us in voting for the President on November 2."
Great work by this group of truly committed Catholics!!! Now if only more of our bishops and priest would follow suit.


If Pastor Preaches for Kerry, Remind Him of the USCCB's Guidelines

Political Activity Guidelines for Catholic Organizations, 15 March 2004

The Cardinals Win the Pennant!!!

We're off to the WORLD SERIES!

The Cardinals beat the Astros 5-2 this evening in game 7....We're off to Boston to play the Red Sox in Game 1 on Saturday night at Fenway Park.

This ought to be a great match up...the last time the Cardinals & Red Sox met was in 1967. These teams also played in the 1946 Series. And, St. Louis won both of the match ups.

The only thing I really missed was the voice of Jack Buck with Mike Shannon's announcing the National League Champs!

Kerry’s Auxiliary Bishops

George Neumayr has written the above titled article for The American Spectator. I can't say that I disagree with him. As a matter of fact, I can agree with his observations, as troubling as they are.

Here a couple of excerpts:
The presidential race is full of religious ironies, pitting a Protestant who quotes the Pope against a Catholic who rejects the Pope.

In one more irony and historical marker of clerical decadence, the Catholic candidate will receive a higher percentage of support from the Catholic episcopate than the Catholic laity...

They [the Catholic hierarchy] have no problem supporting an open heretic like Kerry, because their faith in Catholicism is as ambivalent as his.

For the Democratic bishops, infanticide and minimum wage are weighted the same.

The story, ['Vatican Denies It Responded To Lawyer Seeking Kerry’s Excommunication'] came from the Catholic News Service, the propaganda outlet the bishops use whenever they want to muddy an issue to the benefit of a pro-abortion Catholic.

Kerry has rejected Catholic teachings Martin Luther didn’t touch, yet CNS was frantic to dispel the notion that he is a heretic.
Hope I didn't spoil it...Here is the link.

And we must remember to keep our bishops and priests in our prayers.

Ed Peters: Retrospectives on the Balestrieri Matter

Perhaps it is too soon for retrospectives, events might not have come to rest yet. But here goes.
Details here.

Marc Balestrieri Update

Details are here.

Don't make us protect the Holy Eucharist from profanation!

Priests urge bishops not to deny politicians Communion over abortion

ST. FRANCIS, Wis. (CNS) -- An organization of priests in the Milwaukee Archdiocese has urged that the U.S. bishops not refuse Communion to Catholic politicians who support abortion legislation that is contrary to Catholic teaching. The priests made the comments in a letter to Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick of Washington as head of the U.S. bishops' Task Force on Catholic Bishops and Catholic Politicians...

The priests expressed concern that using the Eucharist as a sanction may cause confusion among the faithful.
That's right, it will cause confusion. Catholics might begin to think that sin is real, or that there might really be something special about the bread and wine which becomes consecrated at Mass. We certainly don't need anything like this in our parishes these days. Why - someone may even begin to question if there really is a....Hell! This would seem like a return to the Middle Ages! A turning back the clocks from our freedom to believe anything, post Vatican II.
Father Burkert, who is also pastor of St. Roman Parish in Milwaukee, said in his view, "if Jesus could share the Eucharist with Peter and Judas -- and they would both deny and betray him -- then maybe we could be as generous as Christ in extending the Eucharist."
Hey Padre, Peter hadn't sinned yet (by denying our Lord) and there is no definitive proof from the Gospels that Judas actually received the Eucharist.

CNS News Brief

What is taught in journalism these days? Anything meaningful?

The Post Dispatch is carrying this story:
Kerry is no heretic, says unnamed Vatican source.

The first paragraph caused me to spew my coffee all over my monitor and keyboard:
The Roman Catholic Church's official news service is quoting an unnamed Vatican official saying that John Kerry is "not a heretic" for his stance on abortion rights.
And I always thought the National Catholic Reporter was the "official news service" of the "Roman Catholic Church". Maybe the New York Times got this bit of information from the unnamed Vatican official as a bonus for writing the article?

The article continues, using the phrase "conservative Catholic" to describe both Marc Balestrieri and the group "DeFide". I supposed this would be opposed to a "heretical Catholic"?

The story is not up-to-date, which is probable why the Post printed it. If you like reading old news, which is also inaccurate, go here.

Yes, Catholic Brothers & Sisters, the Truth Is Controversial

The headline reads:
Catholics here get controversial voters guide
and we are pleased!!!
Since June, the Archdiocese of St. Louis has distributed 50,000 copies of a controversial voters guide to nearly half of its parishes. St. Louis is the only diocese in the country that ordered the guide to distribute to its parishes, according to Frank Norris, a spokesman for the organization that publishes the guide.

The message in the "Voter's Guide for Serious Catholics" is similar to part of the message in Archbishop Raymond Burke's recent pastoral letter and is at odds with parts of a voting guide published by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
I think it should be noted here, if memory serves, that the USCCB documnt, Faithful Citizenship, was published by the "Administrative Committee" of the USCCB - whatever that is...I could not find a reference in the 'Departments' section of the web site.
Faithful Citizenship: A Catholic Call to Political Responsibility was developed under the leadership of the Committees on Domestic and International Policy, with the Committee on Priorities and Plans, in collaboration with many other USCCB committees and offices. It was reviewed and approved in September 2003 by the Administrative Committee and is authorized for publication by the undersigned. [Msgr. William P. Fay]

The unfortunate aspect in all of this is the fact that Catholics who know and understand their faith, find nothing controversial in the Catholic Answers Voter's Guide for Serious Catholics but detect that a lack of prioritization of gravely sinful matters in the Bishops' guide to be troubling and confusing. It also seems that those who are opposed or ignorant of the Church's teaching on the grave moral issues discussed in the Catholic Answers Voter's Guide are the ones who are creating the controversy.

The Post provides this bit:
This spring, the conference's legal counsel issued a document warning Catholic organizations to be wary of "outside groups" and their "voter education materials."
It certainly is not because their materials are so wonderful. It's not as though the USCCB has a corner on Catholicism.

Later on in the article the mention this again, albeit in a different way.
The bishops' attorneys warned Catholic organizations: "Outside voter education materials should be approached with extreme caution." (italics theirs).
...or the IRS will get you! Actually, they follow up with this bit of wisdom and prescient knowledge:
"Among other things, the issues covered in outside voter education materials typically do not illustrate the wide range of issues of importance to the church, but rather reflect the issue focus of the preparing organization."
Much like the many "foci" (or "focuses") of the USCCB which do not need any discussion as it encompasses all that is good and true. Others can do a much better job with the proliferation of some of the useless documents emanating from the committees and subcommittees composed of completely objective, non-partisan, faithful, orthodox employees and others from the USCCB.

The Post then comments on the opinions of the chancellor of the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis:
"We did not feel that the publication complied with the necessary broad range of issues - it only mentions five," said [archdiocesan chancellor, William] Fallon.

"Secondly, if you finish reading it, you can only come to one conclusion, and that is, if you vote for John Kerry, you're going to go to hell."
Well, I guess I can agree with the chancellor on part of his statement. Those who voluntarily and freely vote for Kerry would by committing a mortal sin by encouraging and promoting the perpetuation of gross immorality, of unspeakable evils.

Why did Archbishop Burke approve the Catholic Answers Voter's Guide?
"'Faithful Citizenship' diminishes the specific issues the 'Voter's Guide for Serious Catholics' addresses as fundamental issues, and that Archbishop Burke set forth in his letter," said Molly Corcoran Kertz, director of the archdiocesan pro-life office. (my emphasis)

"He reviewed them all, and decided the 'Voter's Guide for Serious Catholics' was the most consistent," said Kertz.
Of course, some of our priests have refused to use it, preferring instead the "Catholic-Lite" voter guide - 'Faithful Citizenship'.

Article here.

Thursday, 29th Week in Ordinary Time

From: Luke 12:49-53

Jesus the Cause of Dissension
(Jesus said to His disciples,) [49] "I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled! [50] I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how I am constrained until it is accomplished! [51] Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division; [52] for henceforth in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three; [53] they will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against her mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law."

49-50. In the Bible, fire is often used to describe God's burning love for men. This divine love finds its highest _expression in the Son of God become man: "God so loved the world that He gave His only Son" (John 3:16). Jesus voluntarily gave up His life out of love for us, and "greater love has no man than this, that a man lays down his life for his friends" (John 15:13).

In these words reported by St. Luke, Jesus Christ reveals His abounding desire to give His life for love of us. He calls His death a baptism, because from it He will arise victorious never to die again. Our Baptism is a submersion in Christ's death, in which we die to sin and are reborn to the new life of grace: "We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life" (Romans 6:4).

Through this new life, we Christians should become set on fire in the same way as Jesus set His disciples on fire: "With the amazing naturalness of the things of God, the contemplative soul is filled with apostolic zeal. `My heart became hot within me, a fire blazed forth from my thoughts' (Psalm 38:4). What could this fire be if not the fire that Christ talks about: `I came to cast fire upon the earth, and would that it were already kindled' (Luke 12:49). An apostolic fire that acquires its strength in prayer: there is no better way than this to carry on, throughout the whole world, the battle of peace to which every Christian is called to fill up what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ (cf. Colossians 1:24)" ([St] J. Escriva, "Christ Is Passing By", 120).

51-53. God has come into the world with a message of peace (cf. Luke 2:14) and reconciliation (cf. Romans 5:11). By resisting, through sin, the redeeming work of Christ, we become His opponents. Injustice and error lead to division and war. "Insofar as men are sinners, the threat of war hangs over them and will so continue until the coming of Christ; but insofar as they can vanquish sin by coming together in charity, violence itself will be vanquished" (Vatican II, "Gaudium Et Spes", 78).

During His own life on earth, Christ was a sign of contradiction (cf. Luke 2:34). Our Lord is forewarning His disciples about the contention and division which will accompany the spread of the Gospel (cf. Luke 6:20-23; Matthew 10:24).
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland.

Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Theresa Heinz-Kerry Promises Acceptance of Gays Top Priority as First Lady

They can't impose their morality on anyone...if they have none.
But they can impose their immorality on everyone - like it or not.

Catholic Diocesan Lawyers Continue to Ban Voting Guides

According to documents obtained by Culture & Cosmos, officials of the Dioceses of San Bernardino and La Crosse have instructed pastors and parish administrators not to allow the distribution of "Voter's Guide for Serious Catholics," published by Catholic Answers. With two weeks remaining before election day, the dioceses' actions are another episode in the political drama surrounding the question of the Catholic vote.
This seems extremely strange to me, especially for the Diocese of La Crosse. Archbishop Burke, the former Bishop of La Crosse, has approved the distribution of the Voter's Guide here in St. Louis.
In a Aug. 20 letter from Diocese of La Crosse attorney James G. Birnbaum to pastors and administrators, Birnbaum said the "Voter's Guide" ought not to be distributed on parish grounds or during parish activities. The "Voter's Guide" cites papal and Vatican documents and identifies five issues it calls "non-negotiable": abortion, euthanasia, fetal stem cell research, human cloning and homosexual "marriage." Supporting any of these issues, according to the guide, would disqualify a candidate as a viable option for a faithful Catholic.

Birnbaum said the "listing of issues is too narrow to pass legal muster" according to the provisions of the tax code that govern non-profit organizations like churches. He said that a voter guide from the Wisconsin Catholic Conference that had not yet been published at the time the letter was written was the "only guide we believe is safe to distribute or rely upon at the parish level."
I wonder if this would be happening if Archbishop Burke were still there?


Voting for Known Pro-Abortion Candidates is a Sin

Responding to a question about voting for pro-abortion politicians and it's sinfulness, the Archbishop [Charles Chaput] explained:
"Does our voting for someone make us responsible for what that person does as a legislator or as a judge?…And the answer is yes, because we are in some ways materially -- we use the word "materially" -- cooperating in that person's activity because we've given [him or her] the platform to be elected."

"Now, if the person does something wrong, are we responsible for that? Well, if we didn't know they were going to something wrong, our participation is remote, but if we knew they were going to do something wrong and we approved of it, our responsibility would really be close, even if we knew they were going to do something wrong and we voted for them for another reason, we would still be responsible in some ways."

"The standing is that if you know someone is going to do evil and you participate in that in some way, you are responsible. So it's not…'if you vote this way, should you go to confession?' The question is, 'if you vote this way, are you cooperating in evil?' Now, if you know you are cooperating in evil, should you go to confession? The answer is yes."

"A lot of Catholic Democrats, whether they are clergy or laity, have used the "seamless garment" as an excuse to sideline the abortion issue, making it one among many others. And, we can't do that."
John Kerry has stated repeatedly that he will do everything possible to ensure that the "right to choose" an abortion is a fundamental right which he will protect.

John Kerry will only nominate individuals to the federal bench whose records demonstrate a respect for the full range of constitutional rights, including the right to privacy and the right to choose.

He is wrong on every one of the disqualifying/no-negotiable issues. It is clear that a Catholic who would vote for or support this man, would be cooperating in the promotion of legislation that would permit, prolong, or strengthen these evils. As such, it would be objectively sinful.


South City Deanery Church Closings...Updated

A sigh of relief settled over parishioners at St. Gabriel the Archangel Catholic church. The Archdiocese of St. Louis recommended the parish remain open, but many parishioners pointed out that not everyone will be so lucky.

The task force has recommended closing St. Mary of Victories, 744 S. Third St., and St. John Nepomuk, 1625 S. 11th St.

St. Agatha, 3239 S. 9th St., where Latin Masses are now celebrated will be closed and the parish merged with St. Francis de Sales, 2653 Ohio Ave.
But the Latin Mass will continue, from all accounts I have heard. Let me stress that, as far as I know, no official word to that effect has been issued.


Some "Sound Off" Comments

These were in the Post Dispatch this morning:
Freedom to vote

Many people, as well as myself, are shocked that Archbishop Burke has the nerve to tell the Catholic population how to vote. This is a free country, and people have the right to vote as they see fit.
I have a suggestion - read the Pastoral Letter. I have read it 3 times. Nowhere does he tell anyone how to vote. He gives us the teaching of the Church about those things which are evil in and of themsleves, as well as principles for informing our consciences so that we may vote with prudence.

And lest we forget, God gave everyone a free will to choose Him or to reject Him. We know the consequences of each choice.
Archbishop's letter

I can imagine the Republican Party's headquarters was ecstatic when the archbishop's letter was written, but I also wonder how much it cost them to have it written.
I heard reports from the RNC that there was a BIG party when the Archbishop released his letter, and they paid not one red Fr. Corapi has stated so many times, "You just can't fix stupid!"
Divisive leaders

Bush and Burke are the most divisive leaders I have ever known in my 75 years. Both are egotists who cannot tolerate anyone who questions their opinions or actions. Both say that God talks to them. I'll bet this is news to God.
My guess is that you will be quite surprised when leave this world for the next one which will be for eternity - and it seems that your departure time is getting nearer. I hope you don't feel the same way about our Lord since he was such a "divisive leader" as well? But then again, maybe you do.

So there we have it...of the three "Sound Off" comments regarding Archbishop Burke, all were nasty and negative. But rest assured, there is no agenda at the Post.

Again, I make a clarion call to keep praying for Archbishop Burke. Even those in his own flock turn against him for speaking that which Christ and the Church demands that we hear.


Washington exhibit pays tribute to women religious

"God's Women: Nuns in America," the newest exhibit at the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center in Washington, celebrates the impact religious sisters have had on American history and culture.

"It's meant to be a celebration of the women," Dan Callahan, director of the center, told the Arlington Catholic Herald, newspaper of the Diocese of Arlington, Va. The overarching theme of the exhibit is joy: The women called to serve God are filled with joy in their vocation, which reaches out to the people they serve and to society as a whole.

Unrepentant voter???

This is from today's "Town Talk" in the Post-Dispatch:
I AM A 46-year-old married Catholic woman who has been working all my life. I am totally disenchanted with Archbishop Burke and his comments about how we should vote. It's none of his business. We have soldiers that are dying every day in this war and stem cell research would greatly help many living, breathing Americans who are walking around with diseases like Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, lupus and muscular dystrophy. Why are the people who are ill with some kind grave disease or our soldiers any less important than an unborn fetus? I think Archbishop Burke needs to grow up and get in the real world and find out what life is like in the 21st century. I'm voting for John Kerry and it's not a sin. (my emphasis)
This woman apparently has some issues and some problems which are clouding her intellect.


And another one, titled "Vote your [malformed] conscience"

Vote your conscience

TO MY FELLOW Catholic voters: Please vote your conscience for whom you think will best help our country overcome all the problems that affect us, not just one. The decision to have an abortion boils down to only one person and that person is the woman who decides that she wants to have an abortion, whether it is legal or illegal. That will never change regardless of who is in political office. Archbishop Burke, please stop using this important election to divert attention away from the sex abuse scandal and the attempted cover-up.
This appears to be another professed Catholic who denies that the Church has the authority to teach authoritatively in matters of faith and morals. It is a most grievious sin to counsel others to ignore the infallible teaching of the Church with regard to direct abortion (or on any article of faith). Archbishop Burke has recently restated the constant teaching of the Church, confirmed again by the Holy Father, on the intrinsic evil of abortion, yet some, including priests, reduce the importance of the right to life to "just one of many issues".

These confused people are in dire need of grace. Pray that their minds might be enlightened and that their wills may be conformed to the will of Christ. There have always been those who have refused to follow our Lord. Keep them in your prayers so that they may be converted.

Another "Town Talk" post here.

At least it wasn't a Catholic priest who said it...

As for the words, "This is my body," Jesus said something similar in John 6:53-54 - "Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day." Such words, taken literally, gave rise to the accusation that the early Christians were cannibals. Of course they were not. Jesus was speaking figuratively, not literally, as he explained, "It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life" (John 6:63).

When it comes to the words of institution, we need to take them seriously, which means not taking them literally. "This is my body" is ultimately another way of saying: These are your brothers and sisters in the faith; treat them right.
This comes from a Presbyterian minister...At least we can be thankful it was not a quote from a priest.

However, having said that, we have this statement from a Catholic priest, in the same article:
On the other hand, the Rev. Kenneth Lasch, a retired priest who counseled with Haley's mother, said, "To think that, all of a sudden, God says I will not be present in a form other than wheat is a very literal and fundamentalist approach." He said, "The church needs to revisit this."
Of course, Fr. Lasch, is thankfully retired so, hopefully, and with God's blessing, his influence on other members of the faithful will be minimized.

Article here.

Diocese of Davenport prepares for Bankruptcy

If the Davenport Catholic Diocese files for bankruptcy protection this week - which officials have said they will do if they don't win a delay in a child sexual-abuse lawsuit - the claims of more than three dozen men who say priests abused them will be frozen.

The diocese has asked for a four-month delay in the first abuse lawsuit, which is set for trial Nov. 1. Bishop William Franklin said he would file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Friday if the delay wasn't granted. The bankruptcy case would be only the third such filing by a U.S. Catholic diocese.

Franklin said the diocese was contemplating major downsizing, including dismissal of many of his "dedicated staff" and the sale of the St. Vincent's Center.

Fr. William Faherty's Newest Book Reviewed

There was a review in the archdiocesan newspaper some time ago, but this is the first time I have seen it in the Post Dispatch. His book is titled, "The St. Louis erman Catholics".

As a noted St. Louis historian, Fr. Faherty has written a number of books and is a guest speaker on our local Catholic radio station here, WRYT AM1080.

Those of German ancestry might well enjoy this book, as should all of those interested in St. Louis history.
This short book about the history of St. Louis' German Catholics summarizes a lifetime of study of St. Louis and Catholicism. Beginning with the first expressions of religious faith in pre-American St. Louis

It is primarily a thoroughly researched examination of the rise of Catholicism among the German population in the years of rapid growth (1830-1870) and the consolidation of this development in the following years.

Faherty's work should take its place alongside Walter Erlich's two volumes on the history of Jews in St. Louis and Gary Mormino's similar history of the Italian-American experience here.
Full review here.

Wednesday, 29th Week in Ordinary Time

From: Luke 12:39-48

The Need for Vigilance and the Parable of the Steward (Continuation)
(Jesus said to His disciples,) [39] "But know this, that if the householder had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would have been awake and would not have left his house to be broken into. [40] You also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect."

[41] Peter said, "Lord are you telling this parable for us or for all?" [42] And the Lord said, "Who then is the faithful and wise steward, whom his master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the proper time? [43] Blessed is that servant whom his master when he comes will find so doing. [44] Truly I tell you, he will set him over all his possessions. [45] But if that servant says to himself, `My master is delayed in coming,' and begins to beat the menservants and the maidservants, and to eat and drink and get drunk, [46] the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will punish him, and put him with the unfaithful. [47] And that servant who knew his master's will, but did not make ready or act according to his will, shall receive a severe beating. [48] But he who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, shall receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much is given, of him much will be required; and of him to whom men commit much they will demand the more."

40. God has chosen to hide from us the time of our death and the time when the world will come to an end. Immediately after death everyone undergoes the Particular Judgment: "just as it is appointed for men to die once, and after that comes judgment..." (Hebrews 9:27). The end of the world is when the General Judgment will take place.

41-48. After our Lord's exhortation to vigilance, St. Peter asks a question (verse 41), the answer to which is the key to understanding this parable. On the one hand, Jesus emphasizes that we simply do not know exactly when God is going to ask us to render an account of our life; on the other--answering Peter's question--our Lord explains that His teaching is addressed to every individual. God will ask everyone to render an account of his doings: everyone has a mission to fulfill in this life and he has to account for it before the judgment seat of God and be judged on what he has produced, be it much or little.

"Since we know neither the day nor the hour, we should follow the advice of the Lord and watch constantly so that, when the single course of our earthly life is completed (cf. Hebrews 9:27), we may merit to enter with Him into the marriage feast and be numbered among the blessed (cf. Matthew 25:31-46) and not, like the wicked and slothful servants (cf. Matthew 25:26), be ordered to depart into the eternal fire (cf. Matthew 25:41)" (Vatican II, "Lumen Gentium", 48).
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland.

Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Balestrieri Response

To All Concerned,

This opinion is free to be released to all, because it is the truth. I expect the truth to be spoken and taught high and low in all circumstances, even if the consequences are dire in defense of the Faith and Sacraments.

During the last week in August of this year, I went to Rome to consult a dozen experts, both inside and outside the Vatican, with the goal of building support both theoretically and practically for the case filed against Senator John F. Kerry, in as much as he was a baptized Catholic publicly and stridently professing heresy.

Until then, I had consulted just about everyone except the Vatican in the matter. At the end of my trip, before leaving, I decided to go the the Palazzo del Sant'Ufficio, in the Vatican City State, and request an appointment with the Very Rev. Augustine di Noia, O.P., Undersecretary for the Congregation. This was on 30 August 2004, per Fr. Cole in his letter. Wholly unexpectedly, I "made contact" and was received by the Rev. Diaz Pedro Miguel Funes, 2nd Class "Addetto di Segreteria" as listed on page 1081 of the 2004 Edition of the Annuario Pontificio, the official directory of the Holy See.

As an official member of the Congregation, Fr. Funes explained to me that Fr. di Noia had just come back from the States, and was not available for a meeting. I explained to Fr. Funes that I was a Canon lawyer submitting these dubia strictly seeking a theoretical clarification of the two issues concerned, and confirmation of the conclusions of my research. No names were ever mentioned in the conversation. He and I had a one-half hour long meeting whereby I verbally submitted my dubia to the Congregation. He diligently took them down by handwriting. Fr. Funes then said he would transmit the dubia to Fr. di Noia.

Upon my return to the States, on 9 September 2004, I received a call at approximately 0800 from Fr. Basil Cole, O.P., explaining, I cite, that he had been "delegated" by the Very Rev. Augustine di Noia, O.P. to respond to my queries. That term had been used, as I noted in my journal. Fr. Cole asked me to clarify what the two dubia were which I submitted to the Congregation as he had received a fax from the Vatican which he said was difficult to read. At the completion of our conversation, he further stated that he would have a response for me completed in three days' time. I sent him an e-mail with the two dubia in Latin as my e-mail records show. I received the Response from Fr. Cole, O.P., as promised. We exchanged correspondence by e-mail on numerous occasions.

On 16 September 2004, I went to Washington D.C. to attend the Public Witness/Public Scandal conference at the National Press Club. A number of experts were gathered there for the stellar assembly of speakers. Being in the City, I then went on 18 September 2004 to visit Fr. Cole to thank him for the response, and receive confirmation of what I had personally understood as the doctrinal interpretation and consequences of the text of the Response. I explained that I was a Canon lawyer who was seeking this response in regards to a canonical case of heresy, and a possible doctoral dissertation based on the issues at hand. In conscience, I was honest, and described the purpose of the dubia having been submitted: canonical case of heresy, and possible doctoral dissertation on the exact topic. At no point in time, moreover, was any request for further information about those circumstances made to me. At the end of a very good meeting, Fr. Cole confirmed the interpretation contained in the Press Release of 18 October 2004. The theologian said explicitly that I was free to publish the document "to the whole world if I wanted to."

A short while after, I called Fr. Cole in Detroit, Michigan where he happened to be for a weekend, seeking a second verification of the scope of the document's use. He explicitly said to me that he was acting "under orders" in writing the document, and as such, he said that he had to defer to the Congregation.

Last Monday, I called Fr. di Noia at his private residence in Rome, in order to achieve absolute clarity in the matter about the scope of permission of use, as I did not want to take the risk of using a response which could easily fall into the public domain against the wishes of the Vatican. Having finally made contact, which I was attempting to do for more than a month, prior to releasing the document, the Undersecretary and I spoke. Fr. di Noia stated explicitly to me that he had read the text, that he thought the response was "excellent and solid." When I explained to him that Fr. Cole deferred to the Congregation regarding how the document could be used, Fr. di Noia stated, "The reply was prepared by Fr. Cole. As such, he is free to publish the text if he so chooses." I called Fr. Cole, upon di Noia's request, and informed him of the tenor of our conversation. Fr. Cole, upon hearing of the Undersecretary's clarification, stated, "Well by all means use it, no restrictions whatsoever."

From that moment onwards, I had no doubts about either the verbal approval given by both the Very Reverend Undersecretary and the Reverend Dominican Father, nor their word.

My phone, e-mail, and travel records all corroborate my rendering of the afore-cited facts. For anyone to claim otherwise is a misstatement of the facts.
Finally, Fr. di Noia told me verbally by phone that it was an "excellent and solid" response.

The Response was an unofficial response prepared by an eminent theologian, Father B. Cole, OP, after he had been delegated the task of responding to my dubia by the Undersecretary of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, the Very Reverend Augustine di Noia, OP. Fr. di Noia chose to respond to my request by referring the matter to Fr. Cole to answer in his stead. It is the content of the Response that matters, not the absence of the signatures of the Prefect and Secretary of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith on the Response.

I sincerely hope that in publicly denying any “official” or formal emanation of the text from the Vatican, which had never been claimed, that certain individuals not risk their salvation by denying the material, infallibly official, and sub gravi binding core conclusions of the Response.

"Utilius scandalum nasci permittitur, quam veritas relinquatur," Pope St. Gregory the Great once said. "Better for scandal to be permitted to be born, than for the Truth to be forsaken."
This certainly seems very different than the report from Catholic News Service...hmmm...What's the deal here, folks? Someone appears to be mistaken as to the facts.

Source here.

"No Injustice is of a Greater Magnitude than the Injustice of Abortion"

Our former Auxiliary Bishop Michael Sheridan, the current Bishop of Colorado Springs, spoke these words as he 'shared the history of the civil rights movement from slavery to the present and drew a correlation to the current plight of abortion during his homily at the Mass concluding the International Week of Prayer and Fasting October 11.'
He reminded those in attendance of the words of President Lincoln that "the law cannot give mankind the right to do what is morally wrong". More than a million babies have died each year in America since Roe vs. Wade, creating terribly violent times, "leading to a new kind of violence that shocks even the most hardened, that being the frequency with which children kill other children."

Remember to keep Bishop Sheridan in your prayers. Those committed to teaching the Truth need our prayers just as much as those who lack the necessary virtues to do likewise.

Article here.

An Interesting Observation....

...Vatican Has Not Denied Automatic Excommunication of John Kerry
News which broke yesterday about a Vatican consultant's response to a question about canon law application to Catholic politicians who support abortion, has created a media uproar and contradictory statements about the Vatican's involvement in the response.

This is observation, I think, was missed in the ensuing "hoopla" over the reports over the weekend and through today.

Also, Marc Balestrieri has posted his response to the "uproar" here. I am more inclined to believe his account rather than the anonymous "Vatican sources" supposedly contacted by Catholic News Service earlier.

Seven Conclusions of International Eucharistic Congress

Cardinal Jozef Tomko, the papal legate, presented these conclusions:

1. It is urgent to emphasize the importance of Sunday Mass, central part of the congress.

2. The feast and procession of Corpus Christi (the Body and Blood of Christ) must be emphasized again.

3. Eucharistic adoration in all its forms must be revalued, including nocturnal adoration.

4. Emphasize the importance of frequent and worthy Communion, coupled with the sacrament of reconciliation.

5. Encourage the spirit of mission, which stems from the Eucharist.

6. Share one's table and Mass with the poor, in the service of charity. Combine spiritual commitment with the need of the poor.

7. Renew faith, sacrifice, communion and service in the Eucharist, as a sign for the Catholic Church and the world.
I hope that these will be implemented here.

It is somewhat disconcerting that, at least here in St. Charles county, so few Corpus Christi processions are held. One would obviously think that, at least, the larger parishes would be happy to do this. I pray that more of the pastors of our parishes will take the recommendations to heart and do more to help develop a sincere devotion to our Lord and spend more time in company with Him in prayerful conversation, especially when He is alone in the tabernacles of our churches.


Marc Balestrieri's Response

This is his response (posted on Bettnet) regarding the various statements which have been issued of late.
This opinion is free to be released to any one you choose, because it is the truth. I expect the truth to be spoken and taught high and low in all circumstances.
The plot thickens some more....

Another Update From Ed Peters

Busy day, it seems. CDF has just denied issuing anything official in the Kerry heresy case. You can read my OCTOBER 19 update below, or go to: for the fuller story.

Update: October 19

Fr. Augustine DiNoia, op., undersecretary for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome, has denied that Dominican Fr. Basil Cole's letter to Marc Balestrieri represents an official Vatican determination of any aspect of the Kerry case. Catholic News Service article here. This will not surprise readers of the October 18 Canon Law Blog above. Cole himself has reiterated the private and unofficial character of his opinions.

It is a pity that a refined and thoughtful letter by a thinker of Fr. Cole's credentials was so mischaracterized (as if it were a Vatican determination on a key point in Balestrieri's case), and that so many people (eager perhaps for something finally to be done about the Kerry scandal) relied on those mischaracterizations (despite the plain wording of Cole's letter itself!) and circulated them uncritically.

Whatever else happens now (and I fear several repercussions actually), I think a gaff like this appears to be is going to make it even more difficult for Balestrieri to pursue his heresy case against Kerry, a case that was already facing some significant procedural and substantive canonical hurdles. Now, I yield to no man in my desire to see canon law used to, among many other things, protect the unborn, but I repeat that such efforts have to be undertaken with scrupulous regard for canonical correctness, lest debates about the intricacies of Church law and governance distract from our efforts to uphold the values that law and governance are meant to serve.
First, I would not trust much of anything which comes from the "Catholic News Service," particularly in this case. In many cases, they are no more reliable than the "Distorter", in my opinion.

Secondly, I think there is much more to this story than what we know so far. We can conclude quite easily, I believe, that someone is not being truthful. Questioning "Who" it is, however, is a question which doesn't seem prudent to answer at the present time. Someone, no doubt, is upset with response to the dubia.

I think we'll need to search for the "facts", first.

Vatican denies it responded to lawyer seeking Kerry's excommunication

An official at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said a California canon lawyer seeking a formal decree of heresy against Sen. John F. Kerry of Massachusetts, Democratic presidential nominee, has misrepresented his contact with the Vatican office.

"The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has had no contact with Mr. (Marc) Balestrieri," said Dominican Father Augustine DiNoia, undersecretary of the congregation.
The CNS writer, Cindy Wooden, continues later in the article:
The questions Balestrieri wrote in Latin and sent to the congregation asked whether the church's condemnation of abortion is a matter of Catholic faith and dogma for which opposition would constitute heresy.

When he wrote to the congregation, Balestrieri did not identify himself as the head of De Fide, he did not mention Kerry or politicians in general and he said he did not inform the congregation that he was trying to formally sue Kerry for heresy in the Archdiocese of Boston.
This is completely irrelevant and has no bearing on the letter or the responses being given now. The questions were quite clear and the fact that Balestrieri was involved in other issues should have no bearing on the answers to the questions, unless, of course, one is opposed to telling the truth or giving honest answers to honest questions.

It appears that there are a number of people trying to distance themselves from the story and to retreat from their obligations to fully enunciate and clarify the issues which Mr. Balestrieri has asked - and which many more Catholics would liked answered, as well.

What a pity...It appears that many are running from another perfect teaching moment.


Broken compass?

John Kerry's moral compass is broken. Nothing exhibits his wayward thinking more than his convoluted answer to the question on abortion during the debate at Washington University.

While flaunting his altar boy credentials, in the same breath he denounced a non-negotiable tenet of his Catholic faith. In other words, he was against abortion before he was for it.

Sandra Y. Smith
Des Peres
Another letter to the editor of the Post. Source. All emphasis above is mine.

I posted a comment on another blog recently about the Senator's refrain, "I was an altar boy," everytime a question arises concerning his "faith" (or lack therof). As I stated then, considering the numerous inaccuracies of his past statements, I am skeptical of his claim (altar boy) - especially considering the amount of study and discipline that was required to be an altar boy prior to the Mass of Paul VI. Just an observation.

Two city parishes learn of plans for closings

Two more Catholic churches and a grade school have been recommended for closing in the archdiocesan review of its parishes in south St. Louis and north St. Louis County.

They are Resurrection of Our Lord, 3900 Meramec Street, and St. Aloysius Gonzaga, 5608 North Magnolia Avenue. Resurrection's parishioners were told of the recommendation on Sunday; St. Aloysius' parishioners were informed last week.
More of the story here.

Tuesday, 29th Week in Ordinary Time

From: Luke 12:35-38

The Need for Vigilance and the Parable of the Steward
(Jesus said to His disciples,) [35] "Let your loins be girded and your lamps burning, [36] and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the marriage feast, so that they may open to him at once when he comes and knocks. [37] Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes; truly, I say to you, he will gird himself and have them sit at table, and he will come and serve them. [39] If he comes in the second watch, or in the third, and finds them so, blessed are those servants!"

35-39. In the preaching of Christ and of the Apostles we are frequently exhorted to be watchful (cf. Matthew 24:42; 25:13; Mark 14:34)--for one thing, because the enemy is always on the prowl (cf. 1 Peter 5:8), and also because a person in love is always awake (cf. Song of Songs 5:2). This watchfulness expresses itself in a spirit of prayer (cf. Luke 21:36; 1 Peter 4:7) and fortitude in faith (cf. 1 Corinthians 16:13). See the note on Matthew 25:1-13.

[The note on Matthew 25:1-13 states:
1-13. The main lesson of this parable has to do with the need to be on the alert: in practice, this means having the light of faith, which is kept alive with the oil of charity. Jewish weddings were held in the house of the bride's father. The virgins are young unmarried girls, bridesmaids who are in the bride's house waiting for the bridegroom to arrive. The parable centers on the attitude one should adopt up to the time when the bridegroom comes. In other words, it is not enough to know that one is "inside" the Kingdom, the Church: one has to be on the watch and be preparing for Christ's coming by doing good works.

This vigilance should be continuous and unflagging, because the devil is forever after us, prowling around "like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour" (1 Peter 5:8). "Watch with the heart, watch with faith, watch with love, watch with charity, watch with good works [...]; make ready the lamps, make sure they do not go out [...], renew them with the inner oil of an upright conscience; then shall the Bridegroom enfold you in the embrace of His love and bring you into His banquet room, where your lamp can never be extinguished" (St. Augustine, "Sermon", 93).]

35. To enable them to do certain kinds of work the Jews used to hitch up the flowing garments they normally wore. "Girding your loins" immediately suggests a person getting ready for work, for effort, for a journey etc. (cf. Jeremiah 1:17; Ephesians 6:14; 1 Peter 1:13). Similarly, "having your lamps burning" indicates the sort of attitude a person should have who is on the watch or is waiting for someone's arrival.
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland.

Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Canonist Ed Peters Comments on the Balestrieri Letter

Obviously, and despite some pretty dramatic press descriptions to the contrary, Cole’s excellent letter is not and plainly does not purport to be an official statement by the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, let alone is it an authentic interpretation (1983 CIC 16 § 1) of the canons in question (incl. 1983 CIC 750, 1321, 1331, 1364, and 1398) or an endorsement of the canonical case prompting the letter. Cole's letter is several steps removed from any kind of official Vatican decision in this case.

Cole’s theological analysis does, however, move us closer to the central canonical question raised in this matter, namely: whether advocacy of abortion, by a knowledgeable Catholic, in and of itself, is heresy. Now, for the reasons ably outlined by Cole, obstinate doubt or denial of Church teaching on abortion may well be regarded as heresy. But our concern is different: is disregard of Church teaching on abortion, perhaps even chronic contempt for it, necessarily heretical? Consider: If I deny the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, I commit heresy. But if I throw the Eucharist in the gutter, I commit the crime of sacrilege (1983 CIC 1367), not heresy (1983 CIC 1364).
Full article here.

Kerry said to be excommunicated

The current action could be significant as it could undercut the entire debate over denying Communion to pro-abortion politicians. An excommunicated Catholic may not receive any of the sacraments of the Church, including the Eucharist, marriage, and even Christian burial. The type of excommunication outlined in the new information is called latae sententiae, which means that it occurs automatically and does not require a formal pronouncement by any Church official.
I would certainly like to hear how Archbishop Burke views this from a canonical perspective...

Catholic World News Article.

The Holy Father Inaugurates the Year of the Eucharist

With a solemn Mass celebrated in St. Peter's Basilica, John Paul II early this evening opened the Year of the Eucharist, which will end in October 2005. The inauguration took place concomitantly with the closing of the 48th International Eucharistic Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico.
Another article, "The Eucharist is light among the shadows that threaten the world, the Pope says" is here.

Christmas Music (and more) from the Vatican

Music for the Liturgical Year in mp3 format.

Intellectual Dishonesty or Plain Ignorance?

A Letter from this morning's Post Dispatch
Cafeteria morality
Archbishop's Raymond Burke's cafeteria morality is a new concept. Am I allowed to vote only for a president who is responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands in a war based on fraud and deceit, a president who has lifted the ban on assault weapons that may result in the deaths of thousands of police, a president who has forced thousands of senior citizens to choose between eating or paying for the high cost of drugs under a Medicare drug law that prohibits the federal government from negotiating prices with the drug companies?

I am not aware that the pope has placed his imprimatur on cafeteria morality.

Donald Lundgren
Osage Beach
Tens of thousands of deaths from a war based on fraud & deceit? This has been refuted several times already.

The President lifted the ban on assault weapons??? Does this man even know that the ban primarily affected cosmetic characteristics only, such as bayonet lugs and flash hiders???...or that Congress refused to take this up, or that statistics had already demonstrated that the AWB did nothing do reduce crime?

Bush is responsible for higher drug prices? Okay...The president is a convenient scapegoat.

And finally, is Archbishop Burke really engaged in a sort of "Cafeteria Morality"? I think we can safely assume that Mr. Lundgren has not read the Archbishop's Pastoral Letter. The Pastoral Letter gives us the principles we need, especially today, to confront the evil around us and to work as Christians, in promoting the common good.

I can only hope that someone would be kind enough to give a copy of the Archbishop's pastoral letter to Mr. Lundgren and that he would read it prayerfully.


I sometimes wonder if someone at the Post-Dispatch gets a special pleasure from printing letters of this nature. If it wasn't so sad, it would certainly be good for a laugh.

Oct 18, Feast: St. Luke, Evangelist

From: Luke 10:1-9
The Mission of the Seventy Disciples
[1] After this the Lord appointed seventy others, and sent them on ahead of Him, two by two, into every town and place where He Himself was about to come.
[2] And He said to them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.
[3] Go your way; behold, I send you out as lambs in the midst of wolves.
[4] Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and salute no one on the road.
[5] Whatever house you enter, first say, `Peace be to this house!'
[6] And if a son of peace is there, your peace shall rest upon him; but if not, it shall return to you.
[7] And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages; do not go from house to house.
[8] Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you;
[9] heal the sick in it and say to them, "The Kingdom of God has come near to you.'"

1-12. Those who followed our Lord and received a calling from Him (cf. Luke 9:57-62) included many other disciples in addition to the Twelve (cf. Mark 2:15). We do not know who most of them were; but undoubtedly some of them were with Him all along, from when Jesus was baptized by John up to the time of His ascension--for example, Joseph called Barrabas, and Matthias (cf. Acts 1:21-26). We can also include Cleopas and his companion, whom the risen Christ appeared to on the road to Emmaus (cf. Luke 24:13-35).

From among these disciples, our Lord chooses seventy-two for a special assignment. Of them, as of the Apostles (cf. Luke 9:1-5), He demands total detachment and complete abandonment to divine providence.

From Baptism onwards every Christian is called by Christ to perform a mission. Therefore, the Church, in our Lord's name, "makes to all the laity an earnest appeal in the Lord to give a willing, noble and enthusiastic response to the voice of Christ, who at this hour is summoning them more pressingly, and to the urging of the Holy Spirit. The younger generation should feel this call to be addressed in a special way to themselves; they should welcome it eagerly and generously. It is the Lord Himself, by this Council, who is once more inviting all the laity to unite themselves to Him ever more intimately, to consider His interests as their own (cf. Philippians 2:5), and to join in His mission as Savior. It is the Lord who is again sending them into every town and every place where He Himself is to come (cf. Luke 10:1). He sends them on the Church's apostolate, an apostolate that is one yet has different forms and methods, an apostolate that must all the time be adapting itself to the needs of the moment; He sends them on an apostolate where they are to show themselves His cooperators, doing their full share continually in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord their labor cannot be lost (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:58)" (Vatican II, "Apostolicam Actuositatem", 33).

3-4. Christ wants to instill apostolic daring into His disciples; this is why He says, "I send you out", which leads St. John Chrysostom to comment: "This suffices to give us encouragement, to give us confidence and to ensure that we are not afraid of our assailants" ("Hom. on St. Matthew", 33). The Apostles' and disciples' boldness stemmed from their firm conviction that they were on a God-given mission: they acted, as Peter the Apostle confidently explained to the Sanhedrin, in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, "for there is no other name under heaven by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).

"And the Lord goes on," St. Gregory the Great adds, "Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and salute no one on the road.' Such should be the confidence the preacher places in God that even if he is not provided with the necessities of life, he is convinced that they will come his way. This will ensure that worry about providing temporal things for himself does not distract him from providing others with eternal things" ("In Evangelia Homiliae", 17). Apostolate calls for generous self-surrender which leads to detachment; therefore, Peter, following our Lord's commandment, when the beggar at the Beautiful Gate asked him for alms (Acts 3:2-3), said, "I have no silver or gold" ("ibid.", 3:6), "not so as to glory in his poverty", St. Ambrose points out, "but to obey the Lord's command. It is as if he were saying, `You see in me a disciple of Christ, and you ask me for gold? He gave us something much more valuable than gold, the power to act in His name. I do not have what Christ did not give me, but I do have what He did give me: In the name of Jesus Christ, arise and walk' (cf. Acts 3:6)" ("Expositio Evangelii Sec. Lucam, in loc".). Apostolate, therefore, demands detachment from material things and it also requires us to be always available, for there is an urgency about apostolic work.

"And salute no one on the road": "How can it be", St. Ambrose asks himself, "that the Lord wishes to get rid of a custom so full of kindness? Notice, however, that He does not just say, `Do not salute anyone', but adds, `on the road.' And there is a reason for this.

"He also commanded Elisha not to salute anyone he met, when He sent him to lay his staff on the body of the dead child (2 Kings 4:29): He gave him this order so as to get him to do this task without delay and effect the raising of the child, and not waste time by stopping to talk to any passer-by he met. Therefore, there is no question of omitting good manners to greet others; it is a matter of removing a possible obstacle in the way of service; when God commands, human considerations should be set aside, at least for the time being. To greet a person is a good thing, but it is better to carry out a divine instruction which could easily be frustrated by a delay ("ibid.").

6. Everyone is "a son of peace" who is disposed to accept the teaching of the Gospel which brings with it God's peace. Our Lord's recommendation to His disciples to proclaim peace should be a constant feature of all the apostolic action of Christians: "Christian apostolate is not a political program or a cultural alternative. It implies the spreading of good, `infecting' others with a desire to love, sowing peace and joy" ([St] J. Escriva, "Christ Is Passing By", 124).

Feeling peace in our soul and in our surroundings is an unmistakable sign that God is with us, and a fruit of the Holy Spirit (cf. Galatians 5:22): "Get rid of these scruples that deprive you of peace. What takes away your peace of soul cannot come from God. When God comes to you, you will feel the truth of those greetings: My peace I give to you..., peace I leave you..., peace be with you..., and you will feel it even in the midst of troubles" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 258).

7. Our Lord clearly considered poverty and detachment a key feature in an apostle. But He was aware of His disciples' material needs and therefore stated the principle that apostolic ministry deserves its recompense. Vatican II reminds us that we all have an obligation to contribute to the sustenance of those who generously devote themselves to the service of the Church: "Completely devoted as they are to the service of God in the fulfillment of the office entrusted to them, priests are entitled to receive a just remuneration. For `the laborer deserves his wages' (Luke 10:7), and `the Lord commanded that they who proclaim the Gospel should get their living by the Gospel' (1 Corinthians 9:14). For this reason, insofar as provision is not made from some other source for the just remuneration of priests, the faithful are bound by a real obligation of seeing to it that the necessary provision for a decent and fitting livelihood for the priests are available" (Vatican II, "Presbyterorum Ordinis", 20).
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland.

Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Oct 21, ICD Catholic Voter Information Night


On Thursday, October 21st, at 7pm, in the ICD Parish Hall, I (Fr. Robert Reiker) will be addressing the issue of a responsible Catholic being a responsible voter in the upcoming election on November 2nd. This will be followed by a question-answer period.

One of our greatest blessings as a citizen of the United States of America is our right to participate in the political decisions of our nation. Elections are a time for discussions and decisions about political issues and moral values. The U.S. bishops offer Catholic principles for Catholic voters to consider in a document entitled "Faithful Citizenship: A Catholic Call to Political Responsibility".

Archbishop Burke has issued a pastoral letter on Catholics voting that was in your October 1st issue of the St. Louis Review and also available on-line at Please take time to read this letter and the materials sent to every ICD home.
This was in Sunday's Bulletin.

Immaculate Conception Parish
7701 Highway N
Dardenne Prairie, MO 63366

Vatican Responds (unofficially) to Balestrieri Heresy Dubia

***** Originally posted 10/16/04 @ 1:36am *****

Fr. Basil Cole, OP, STD, in response to a request by Very Reverend Augustine DiNoia, OP, the undersecretary of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, sent a letter to MarC Balestieri, a canon lawyer who filed a heresy charge against John Kerry.

That response can be read here. Mr. Balestieri was to appear on EWTN's "The World Over" with Raymond Arroyo. I missed it but will try to catch one of the re-runs .

***** Updated *****

After watching the interview with Mr. Balestrieri, all I can say is it looks like things may really start heating up.

The responses to his dubia are clear:

The Church's teaching against abortion is of Divine and Catholic Faith. It requires the assent of theological faith. Obstinate denial or doubt of this teaching results in the mortal sin of heresy and automatic excommunication.

Likewise, one who believes or supports the so-called "right to choose (an abortion)" is also guilty of heresy, a mortal sin, and may incur automatic excommunication.

This is devastating news for those like Kerry, who, while claiming to be personally opposed, support a woman's "right to choose" - he has already incurred automatic excommunication. Also those Catholics who support the pro-choice (anti-life) movement are guilty of heresy and automatically excommunicated. (per the letter)

Mr. Balestieri stated he is now ready to file 4 more complaint charges of heresy. He said he was selecting those who are the most notorious Catholics who support abortion and cause grave scandal to the faithful. He named four:
Ted Kennedy
Tom Harkin
Mario Cuomo
Susan Collins

My guess is all of those on American Life League's Deadly Dozen will be subject to a charge of heresy.

This is something (heresy and automatic excommunication) which many have believed should have been resolved years ago. The Code of Canon Law seems pretty clear, but then it's a canonical issue that must be resolved through the proper channels, I suppose.

One should read:
Ad Tuendam Fidam ,
Professio Fidei,
The Doctrinal Commentary on the Concluding Formula of Profession Fidei,
and/or this Summary of Categories of Belief in Professio fidei.

The fireworks will certainly be interesting to watch.

**** Updated 10/17/04 @ 4:30pm
I finished watching a re-run of the EWTN interview and Mr. Balestrieri stated that he was ready to file 4 additional charges of heresy, not 40 as I had previously posted...

Will the silence of most U.S. Catholic Bishops ... elect a Presidential candidate... who promotes procured abortion and supports same-sex marriage?
Sixty million U.S. Catholic laity is scandalized and confused by the refusal of most Bishops to dutifully govern and correct pro-abortion candidates.

The Democrat Presidential candidate, John Kerry, proclaimed recently to all Americans that he is a 'faithful Catholic' in good standing, yet promised that if elected:

"I will not overturn Roe v Wade; I will not appoint judges hostile to 'choice;' I will allow poor women to have free abortions; I will never outlaw abortion; I will increase American taxpayer's dollars on population control efforts around the world."

Is the silence of this majority of Bishops sending a loud, clear message to all Americans that being pro-abortion is not a grave offense against God?

Could another reason be U.S. Bishops fear losing more money donated in weekly offertory collections? Do some U.S. Bishops fear offending powerful Democrat parishioners?
Article here.

Some Political Issues Should Be More Important Than Others for Catholics

How can someone consistently prolife hold some life issues to be more important than others? The answer is simple. Some threats to human life are more immediate, more far-reaching, and graver than other threats.

protecting the right to life has a practical priority over the right to a certain condition or standard of life, even though the latter is also important. Why? Because unless you’re alive, we can’t talk meaningfully about the conditions of your life. Unless you have the right to life, it’s nonsense to talk about having other rights. Pope John Paul II put it this way:
The common outcry, which is justly made on behalf of human rights—for example, the right to health, to home, to work, to family, to culture—is false and illusory if the right to life, the most basic and fundamental right and the condition for all other personal rights, is not defended with maximum determination (Christifideles Laici, no. 38). [my emphasis, LRS]
Catholics have an obligation to form their consciences according to the teaching of the Church. That teaching allows a wide range of conscientious judgments on a number of important, political issues. Abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell experimentation, human cloning, and same-sex marriage are not among those issues. On these subjects there is but a single legitimate “Catholic position.” When it comes to legal support for these issues, one can be Catholic or “prochoice,” but not Catholic and “prochoice.”
This is an excellent article by Mark Brumley to help explain the hierarchy of issues to others.



Canon lawyer Marc A. Balestrieri announces on EWTN that the Vatican has joined his heresy case against John Kerry

On October 15, 2004, Marc A. Balestrieri, the young canon lawyer who boldly denounced Senator Kerry as a heretic in an ecclesiastical proceeding, appeared on the Eternal World Television Network’s The World Over with Raymond Arroyo to announce that he had received confirmation from the Vatican that support for abortion is heresy.

On August 30, 2004, with his heresy case against Senator Kerry stalled in the Boston Archdiocese, Mr. Balestrieri made a written request to the Vatican’s Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith to confirm the principles on which his heresy case is based.

At the request of the undersecretary of the Congregation, Mr. Balestrieri received a letter dated September 11, 2004 unofficially responding to his request that he made public on October 15.

That letter concluded:

”To commit the sin of heresy, you do not have to deny solemnly defined truths of the faith only. It suffices to deny truths contrary to the manifest understanding of the Sacred Scriptures, such as denying the truth of any of the ten commandments Thomas himself occasionally calls people heretics who deny the manifest and obvious sense of biblical texts. This isn’t to say that moral teachings cannot be defined because some very few have been defined solemnly by the Church especially the Council of Trent on marriage, and against polygamy.

“So, if I obstinately deny by teaching and preaching, or doubt that abortion is not intrinsically evil, I commit the mortal sin of heresy. All things being equal, I am automatically excommunicated according to the provision of Can. 1364, § 1, provided that the presaumptions of knowledge of the law and penalty (Can 15, § 2) and imputability (Can. 1321, § 3) are not rebutted in the external forum:

With due regard for can. 194, § 1, n. 2, an apostate from the faith, a heretic or a schismatic incurs automatic excommunication….


”It should be obvious from all that I’ve said that for anyone to maintain a right to abortion piggybacks on the heresy and becomes part of its darkness,

“Consequently, if a Catholic publicly and obstinately supports the civil right to abortion, knowing that the Church teaches officially against that legislation, he or she commits that heresy envisioned by Can. 751 of the Code. Provided that the presumptions of knowledge of the law and penalty (Can. 15, § 2) and imputability (Can. 1321, § 3) are not rebutted in the external forum, one is automatically excommunicated according to Can. 1364, § 1.”


The Archbishop of Boston should declare without further delay that Senator Kerry is an excommunicated heretic and urge him to recant and repent.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bushops should unanimously resolve to end the public scandal of giving Holy Communion to pro-abortion “Catholic” politicians.

And the bold Mr. Balestrieri is owed a great debt of gratitude not only by Catholics but by all persons of good will who disdain manipulation, obfuscation and intimidation and want to know the truth about politicians.

At the least, Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony should rehire and promote Mr. Balestrieri.
The full article by Michael Gaynor for Catholic Citizens of Illinois is here.

John Paul II Renews Universal Call to Holiness

John Paul II says the message and life of St. Seraphim of Montegranaro (1540-1604) is an "eloquent witness of the universal vocation to holiness."

How Should U.S. Catholics Vote in the Elections?

Bishops Focusing Attention on a Critical Question

29th Sunday in Ordinary Time

From: Luke 18:1-8

Persevering Prayer. Parable of the Unjust Judge
[1] And He (Jesus) told them a parable, to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.
[2] He said, "In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor regarded man;
[3] and there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him saying, `Vindicate me against my adversary.'
[4] For a while he refused; but afterward he said to himself, `Though I neither fear God nor regard man,
[5] yet because this widow bothers me, I will vindicate her, or she will wear me out by her continual coming.'
[6] And the Lord said, "hear what the unrighteous judge says.
[7] And will not God vindicate His elect, who cry to Him day and night? Will He delay long over them?
[8] I tell you, He will vindicate them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?"

1-8. The parable of the unjust judge is a very eloquent lesson about the effectiveness of persevering, confident prayer. It also forms a conclusion to Jesus' teaching about watchfulness, contained in the previous verses (17:23-26). Comparing God with a person like this makes the point even clearer: if even an unjust judge ends up giving justice to the man who keeps on pleading his case, how much more will God, who is infinitely just, and who is our Father, listen to the persevering prayer of His children. God, in other words, gives justice to His elect if they persist in seeking His help.

1. "They ought always to pray and not lose heart." Why must we pray?

"Prayer is in fact the recognition of our limitation and our dependence: we come from God, we belong to God and we return to God! We cannot, therefore, but abandon ourselves to Him, our Creator and Lord, with full and complete confidence [...].

"Prayer, therefore, is first of all an act of intelligence, a feeling of humility and gratitude, an attitude of trust and abandonment to Him who gave us life out of love.

"Prayer is a mysterious but real dialogue with God, a dialogue of confidence and love.

"For the Christian, in fact, prayer acquires a particular characteristic, which completely changes its innermost nature and innermost value. The Christian is a disciple of Jesus; he is one who really believes that Jesus is the Word Incarnate, the Son of God who came among us on this earth.

"As a man, the life of Jesus was a continual prayer, a continual act of worship and love of the Father and since the maximum_expression of prayer is sacrifice, the summit of Jesus' prayer is the Sacrifice of the Cross, anticipated by the Eucharist at the Last Supper and handed down by means of the Holy Mass throughout the centuries.

"Therefore, the Christian knows that his prayer is that of Jesus; every prayer of his starts from Jesus; it is He who prays in us, with us, for us. All those who believe in God, pray; but the Christian prays in Jesus Christ: Christ is our prayer!

"It must be humbly and realistically recognized that we are poor creatures, confused in ideas, tempted by evil, frail and weak, in continual need of inner strength and consolation. Prayer gives the strength for great ideas, to maintain faith, charity, purity and generosity. Prayer gives the courage to emerge from indifference and guilt, if unfortunately one has yielded to temptation and weakness. Prayer gives light to see and consider the events of one's own life and of history in the salvific perspective of God and eternity. Therefore, do not stop praying! Let not a day pass without your having prayed a little! Prayer is a duty, but it is also a great joy, because it is a dialogue with God through Jesus Christ! Every Sunday, Holy Mass: if it is possible for you, sometimes during the week. Every day, morning and evening prayers, and at the most suitable moments!" (John Paul II, "Audience with Young People", 14 March 1979).

8. Jesus combines His teaching about perseverance in prayer with a serious warning about the need to remain firm in the faith: faith and prayer go hand in hand. St. Augustine comments, "In order to pray, let us believe; and for our faith not to weaken, let us pray. Faith causes prayer to grow, and when prayer grows our faith is strengthened" ("Sermon", 115).

Our Lord has promised His Church that it will remain true to its mission until the end of time (cf. Matthew 28:20); the Church, therefore, cannot go off the path of the true faith. But not everyone will remain faithful: some will turn their backs on the faith of their own accord. This is the mystery which St. Paul describes as "the rebellion" (2 Thessalonians 2:3) and which Jesus Christ announces on other occasions (cf. Matthew 24:12-13). In this way our Lord warns us, to help us stay watchful and persevere in the faith and in prayer even though people around us fall away.
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland.

Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.