Saturday, October 13, 2007

Thoughts and Counsels - October 14

If he be blind who refuses to believe in the truths of the Catholic faith, how much blinder is he who believes, and yet lives as if he did not believe!

-St. Alphonsus
From Mary, Help of Christians
Part VI, Thoughts and Counsels of the Saints for Every Day of the Year
Compiled by Fr. Bonaventure Hammer, OFM (© 1909, Benziger Brothers)

Meditation for October 14, Inordinate Attachments

St. Theresa is sternly opposed to all excessive and effeminate desires to love and be loved, whether such desires be directed to superiors or to members in the community.

"The will is thereby gradually weakened," she explains, "and prevented from employing itself entirely in loving God. It hap­pens so seldom that strong particular friendships have as their goal a mutual helpfulness in loving God, that I believe it is the demon who causes them to be born."

And the Saint, who understood woman's heart, strongly discour­aged among religious the use of endearing expressions, often as tender as caresses. "I know," she remarks, "that it is a very common language among women, but I cannot tolerate your being womanish in any respect; I want you to be as virile as the strong­est men."

To a prioress who was too eager to make herself loved, she said: "An attachment of any kind, even though it would be for the prioress, is quite foreign to the spirit of a true Carmelite," and, we might add, of any religious. "God wants free spouses, that are bound to Him alone. Act like men of heart and not like weak women."

"I promise You, O Lord, to watch jealously over the gift of my heart to creatures, especially if I have any propensity to seek the sweetness of friendship inordinately. You alone are all my love. The rest counts only so far as it brings my heart nearer to You. Should the least un­justified and inordinate human attachment get between You and me, help me to end it immediately; make the severance of these ties and the amendment of my ways easy for me."
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

Giuliani could take a lesson in courage from Archbishop Burke

Colleen Carroll Campbell writes:
It's déjà vu all over again, as Yogi Berra would say:...When [Archbishop Raymond] Burke said John Kerry should not present himself for Communion, critics accused Burke of partisan motivations.

...[Recently he] said he would apply the same principle to Republican Rudy Giuliani...Writing recently in a prestigious Catholic journal, Burke — one of the world's foremost experts in church law — reiterated his support for the longstanding practice of denying Communion to Catholics who publicly and persistently flout church teaching on serious matters...

...The argument that respect for the sanctity of innocent life constitutes a purely religious conviction with no place in public policy would surprise the authors of our Declaration of Independence, which describes the right to life as "unalienable" and "self-evident." Similarly puzzling is the reluctance of pro-choice Catholic politicians to impose their "personal beliefs" with regard to abortion, since most show no such reticence on other issues...

The personally-opposed-but-publicly-supportive argument logically leads to one of two conclusions: Either such politicians agree with the church and consider abortion to be intrinsically evil but they lack the courage to act on their convictions; or they disagree with the church but lack the integrity to honestly proclaim their beliefs and accept the consequences that follow...

Giuliani may not have the courage of his convictions, but Burke does. Catholics concerned about the integrity of the faith and all voters concerned about truth in political advertising should be grateful for that.

Complete article here.

Gospel for Saturday, 27th Week in Ordinary Time

Old Calendar: St. Edward, king, confessor

From: Luke 11:27-28

Responding to the Word of God

[27] As He (Jesus) said this, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, "Blessed is the womb that bore You, and the breasts that You sucked!" [28] But He said, "Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!"


27-28. These words proclaim and praise the Blessed Virgin's basic attitude of soul. As the Second Vatican Council explains: "In the course of her Son's preaching she [Mary] received the words whereby, in extolling a Kingdom beyond the concerns and ties of flesh and blood, He declared blessed those who heard and kept the word of God (cf. Mark 3:35; Luke 11:27-28) as she was faithfully doing (cf. Luke 2:19_51)" ("Lumen Gentium", 58). Therefore, by replying in this way Jesus is not rejecting the warm praise this good lady renders His Mother; He accepts it and goes further, explaining that Mary is blessed particularly because she has been good and faithful in putting the word of God into practice. "It was a complement to His Mother on her "fiat", `be it done' (Luke 1:38). She lived it sincerely, unstintingly, fulfilling its every consequence, but never amid fanfare, rather in the hidden and silent sacrifice of each day" ([St] J. Escriva, "Christ Is Passing By", 177). See the note on Luke 1:34-38.

[Note on Luke 1:34-38 states:
34-38. Commenting on this passage John Paul II said: "`Virgo fidelis', the faithful Virgin. What does this faithfulness of Mary mean? What are the dimensions of this faithfulness? The first dimension is called search. Mary was faithful first of all when she began, lovingly, to seek the deep sense of God's plan in her and for the world. `Quomodo fiet?' How shall this be?, she asked the Angel of the Annunciation [...]."

"The second dimension of faithfulness is called reception, acceptance. The `quomodo fiet?' is changed, on Mary's lips, to a `fiat': Let it be done, I am ready, I accept. This is the crucial moment of faithfulness, the moment in which man perceives that he will never completely understand the `how': that there are in God's plan more areas of mystery than of clarity; that is, however he may try, he will never succeed in understanding it completely [...]."

"The third dimension of faithfulness is consistency to live in accordance with what one believes; to adapt one's own life to the object of one's adherence. To accept misunderstanding, persecutions, rather than a break between what one practises and what one believes: this is consistency [...]."

"But all faithfulness must pass the most exacting test, that of duration. Therefore, the fourth dimension of faithfulness is constancy. It is easy to be consistent for a day or two. It is difficult and important to be consistent for one's whole life. It is easy to be consistent in the hour of enthusiasm, it is difficult to be so in the hour of tribulation. And only a consistency that lasts throughout the whole life can be called faithfulness. Mary's `fiat' in the Annunciation finds its fullness in the silent `fiat' that she repeats at the foot of the Cross" ("Homily in Mexico City Cathedral", 26 January 1979).]
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 12, 2007

Thoughts and Counsels - October 13

He who submits himself to God in all things is certain that whatever men say or do against him will always turn to his advantage.

-St. Vincent de Paul
From Mary, Help of Christians
Part VI, Thoughts and Counsels of the Saints for Every Day of the Year
Compiled by Fr. Bonaventure Hammer, OFM (© 1909, Benziger Brothers)

Meditation for October 13, On Keeping a Secret

It is difficult for everybody to keep a secret, but according to general opinion it is particularly difficult for a woman. If certain knowledge I possess is what is called a natural secret, that is, infor­mation revealed to me by circumstances, I ought to keep it to myself.

If I received my information from someone who rightfully asked me not to speak of it at all, it is a confidential secret. In principle, if I am not qualified to receive the information I should not accept such confidences, but if someone absolutely insists on telling me, then I should not engage myself by promise to say nothing to anyone, for in certain cases it may be that the superiors have a right to be informed and I may have the obligation to inform them.

Prudent silence may be imposed on me by a promise regarding knowledge I previously acquired, whether through a natural or confidential secret. If I am asked to say absolutely nothing about it, it is a promised secret.

In any case the gravity of a violation of confidence is in propor­tion to the damage that might normally result from my indiscretion.

Does this mean that one can never reveal a secret? No. The reasons justifying silence can in some instances be overthrown by graver motives which demand divulgence.

Prudence must evaluate the interests at stake. As a general principle, if I wish to keep the confidence of others I must oblige myself not to say anything of the confidences reposed in me.

There are some persons who excel in extorting from another what he does not wish to tell. They pretend to know all about it that they might find out. Even the most discreet persons must at times re­proach themselves for having spoken too much; very few need ever regret having known how to keep still.
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

Fatima Apparition of 13 October 1917

The sun appeared with its circumference well defined. It came down as if to the height of the clouds and began to whirl giddily upon itself like a captive ball of fire. With some interruptions, this lasted about eight minutes. The atmosphere darkened and the features of each became yellow. Everyone knelt even in the mud....

-Fr. Manuel Pereira da Silva (in a letter to a friend)

Knights Templar win heresy reprieve after 700 years

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - The Knights Templar, the medieval Christian military order accused of heresy and sexual misconduct, will soon be partly rehabilitated when the Vatican publishes trial documents it had closely guarded for 700 years.

A reproduction of the minutes of trials against the Templars, "'Processus Contra Templarios -- Papal Inquiry into the Trial of the Templars'" is a massive work and much more than a book -- with a 5,900 euros (4,125 pounds) price tag...

Reuters was given an advance preview of the work, of which only 799 numbered copies have been made...

Expensive...but it certainly would be nice to be able to look through it.

Nobel Prize for Al Gore - Praise for Paganism and Abortion?

From AsiaNews:
The former US president offers doomsday forecasts that scientists find “very improbable” but their purpose is to praise the Gaia Cult and the Earth whilst attacking Christianity. For him birth control, including abortion, is the solution to pollution.

Bp. Trautman issues his own norms for the older form of Mass

From Fr John Zuhlsdorf:WDTPRS’s favorite critic of the Holy See’s liturgical translation norms, His Excellency Most Reverend Donald W. Trautman, the outgoing Chair of the USCCB’s liturgy office has determined it best to issue his own norms for the use of the 1962 Missale Romanum in the Diocese entrusted to him by the Supreme Pontiff, the Successor of Peter, the Vicar of Christ whose own provisions were published for the Universal Church in Summorum Pontificum.

Archbishop Burke Answers Faith Questions on Local Catholic Radio

Archbishop Raymond L. Burke now can be heard weekly on Covenant Network radio stations answering children’s questions about the Catholic faith and related topics...

The pre-taped show is called "Ask the Archbishop." Its host is native St. Louisan Patty Schneier.

"Ask the Archbishop" can be heard this month on WRYT (AM-1080) and KHOJ (AM-1460) Mondays at 4:30 p.m., Tuesdays at 2 p.m., Wednesdays at 7:30 a.m. and Fridays at 3:30 p.m...

In November the show will continue to run at its previously scheduled times Mondays and Tuesdays while also airing Thursdays at 7:30 a.m. and Saturdays at 9:30 a.m. . . .
Read more about this here.

Calling All Christians to Join the Catholic League's Boycott of Miller Beer

ANN ARBOR, MI —The Thomas More Law Center, a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, asked all Christians today to join the Catholic League’s national boycott of Miller Brewing Company for its despicable anti-Christian ad promoting the Folsom Street Fair, an open-air pagan sex orgy featuring homosexual depravity at its most base in San Francisco.

Moira Noonan to speak on the New Age, battle for souls

A Catholic who left and later returned to the faith after having been a disciple of New Age practices for 25 years will speak this month at two archdiocesan parishes.

Author Moira Noonan will talk about her experiences from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 27, at All Saints Parish, 6403 Clemens Ave. in University City. The gathering will close with Mass at 5 p.m.

Noonan will repeat her presentation from 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 28, at St. Vincent de Paul Parish, 1000 Rosati Court in Perryville.

Both events are free, with a freewill offering to be taken at each...

For more information or to reserve a space at either workshop, call Theotokos House of Prayer at (314) 832-4764. Leave your name and telephone number and your call will be returned.

Source: St Louis Review.

Oct. 13 Mass, movie mark 90th anniversary of Fatima

The 90th anniversary of the Fatima message will be commemorated with Mass Saturday, Oct. 13, and an exclusive showing of the new movie, "Call to Fatima."

Mass will be celebrated at 9 a.m. at St. Simon Church, 11011 Mueller Road in Green Park, followed by the film. The movie is free and open to the public.

The commemoration is being undertaken by the St. Louis Division of the World Apostolate of Fatima, a public international association of the faithful initially known as the Blue Army...

"Call to Fatima" was produced by the Euro Finance Group. It was approved by Portugal’s Fatima Shrine and the Carmel of Coimbra. That is the site where Sister Lucia (dos Santos), one of the three children to whom the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to in Fatima, lived for many years before her death in 2005...
More from the St Louis Review here.

Archbishop Burke: The Month of the Holy Rosary

The month of October has traditionally been dedicated to renewing our Rosary devotion. On Oct. 7, we observe the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, recalling the many times in history and in our own lives when we have prayed through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary using the Rosary and have witnessed God’s grace coming to our rescue.

In a special way, we recall the victory of the Christian world at the Battle of Lepanto. Faced with the threat of the destruction of Christian Europe by the Turks, Pope St. Pius V called upon the Confraternities of the Holy Rosary in Rome to pray the Rosary and have Rosary processions, asking God to give His strength to the Christian fleet. Our Lord worked a miraculous victory, on Oct. 7, 1571, to save His Church. In gratitude for our Blessed Mother’s intercession, the Holy Father, during the following year, instituted the Feast of Our Lady of Victory to be celebrated on Oct. 7. In 1573, Pope Gregory XIII, the successor of Pope St. Pius V, changed the title of the feast to Our Lady of the Rosary.

In our own time and place, we have been praying the Rosary for more than a year now, asking God to restore the respect for innocent and defenseless human life in the State of Missouri. We are praying especially for the protection and fostering of embryonic human life. Since the passage of Amendment 2 on Nov. 7, 2006, we must pray the Rosary, with even greater fervor, that our laws may once again protect the good of all by prohibiting the grave evils of human cloning and embryonic stem-cell research. (my emphasis)

To encourage the Rosary devotion, I reflect upon the Rosary itself and the method of praying the Rosary. My reflection is based upon Chapter III of the Servant of God Pope John Paul II’s apostolic letter on the Holy Rosary, which he published on the day marking the beginning of the 25th year of his service as Successor of St. Peter. . .
Continued here...

It's starting again...

Mrs. Fields bans Christmas from their products

From the American Family Association:
Mrs. Fields has become the first company to ban Christmas from their products and promotion for this year.

When Diane H. of Michigan called Mrs. Fields and asked to speak with a supervisor in customer service about why they banned Christmas, the supervisor told Diane that they do not offer anything with Merry Christmas because they don't want to offend anyone.

Take a look at Mrs. Fields Holiday Gift Preview by clicking here. In the "search" bar, type in the word "Christmas." But don't expect to find any reference to Christmas. (If you do, it has been added since this letter was written.)

Mrs. Fields wants the business of Christians who celebrate Christmas, but they don't mind if they offend Christians.

Take Action

1) Click here to send an email to Mrs. Fields. Tell the company that since they don't mind offending Christians, you will not be purchasing their products this Christmas. Ask them to please use Christmas in their promotion next year.

2) Please forward this to your friends and family and urge them not to buy Mrs. Fields cookies this Christmas.

3) Participate in our The Plan They Can't Ban Christmas project.

Archbishop Niederauer's Column for Oct 19

Statement released Oct. 11 by Archdiocese of San Francisco regarding archbishop giving communion to two “Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence”

Below is Archbishop George H. Niederauer's column for the Oct. 19 issue of Catholic San Francisco, the archdiocesan newspaper that is mailed to 85,000 households. This statement was provided to California Catholic Daily by Maurice E. Healy, director of archdiocesan communications.

A recent event that greatly concerns me needs some additional explanation -- and with it an apology.

On Sunday, October 7, 2007, I celebrated Mass at Most Holy Redeemer Parish here in San Francisco, during my first visit there. The congregation was devout and the liturgy was celebrated with reverence. I noticed no demonstration, no protest, no disruption of the Eucharist.

At Communion time, toward the end of the line, two strangely dressed persons came to receive Communion. As I recall one of them wore a large flowered hat or garland. I did not recognize either of them as wearing mock religious garb.

Afterward it was made clear to me that these two people were members of the organization "Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence," who have long made a practice of mocking the Catholic Church in general and religious women in particular. My predecessors, Cardinal William Levada and Archbishop John Quinn, have both denounced this group's abuse of sacred things many times in the past. Only last year, I instructed the Administrator of Most Holy Redeemer Parish to cancel the group's use of the hall on the parish grounds, once I became aware of it.

In the year and a half since I arrived in San Francisco, there have been several instances of offensive attacks on Catholic faith and devotional life. Only two weeks ago Catholic San Francisco carried my remarks condemning the derisive use of the image of the Last Supper on a poster printed by another local group.

Although I had often seen photographs of members of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, I had never encountered them in person until October 7th. I did not recognize who these people were when they approached me.

After the event, I realized that they were members of this particular organization and that giving them Holy Communion had been a mistake.

I apologize to the Catholics of the Archdiocese of San Francisco and to Catholics at large for doing so.

The manner of dress and public comportment of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence is deeply offensive to women religious and to the witness of holiness and Christian service that women religious have offered to the Church and to the world for centuries. The citizens of San Francisco have ample reason to be grateful to women religious for their unfailing support of those most in need, and to be deeply offended when that service is belittled so outrageously and offensively.

Someone who dresses in a mock religious habit to attend Mass does so to make a point. If people dress in a manner clearly intended to mock what we hold sacred, they place themselves in an objective situation in which it is not appropriate for them to receive Holy Communion, much less for a minister of the Church to give the Sacrament to them.

Therefore I conclude that the presence of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence at the Mass on October 7th was intended as a provocative gesture. In that moment I failed to recognize it as such, and for that, as I have said, I must apologize.
Source: California Catholic Daily

Worth Reading....

In the past two decades, California has been extravagantly ill-served by her bishops: a judgment based not merely on debatable religious criteria, but one obvious to any attorney, accountant, or law-enforcement officer -- Catholic or heathen -- who bothers to study the situation. The most positive possible reading of the calamity (the negative ones are un-uploadable) is that the California bishops themselves are atrocious judges of character, wholly incapable of distinguishing Catholics from pagans and criminals from men of integrity. So why doesn't the Nuncio wipe the slate clean and start over? He has the easiest sell in the world. No need to descend into personalities or sordid speculation about motive; all he has to do is underline to Rome the need for solvent dioceses headed by un-indicted ordinaries. If the Holy See took the point, any recommendation made by any California bishop would count as an eo ipso disqualification for office.

Put another way: if Fabian Bruskewitz were the Archbishop of San Francisco, would Most Holy Redeemer be in the headlines today?

Bishop Bruskewitz in California? Wouldn't that bring about the "last days" or something?

The entire post should be read as it is a followup on one from yesterday (I believe)...

Gospel for Friday, 27th Week in Ordinary Time

Old Calendar: St. Wilfrid (RM)

From: Luke 11:15-26

The Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Satan

(Now Jesus was casting out a demon that was dumb; when the demon had gone out, the man spoke, and the people marvelled.) [15] But some of them said, "He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the prince of demons"; [16] while others, to test Him, sought from Him a sign from Heaven. [17] But He, knowing their thoughts, said to them, "Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and house falls upon house. [18] And if Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? For you say that I cast out demons by Beelzebul. [19] And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges. [20] But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the Kingdom of God has come upon you. [21] When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are in peace; [22] but when one stronger than he assails him and overcomes him, he takes away his armor in which he trusted, and divides his spoil. [23] He who is not with Me is against Me, and He who does not gather with Me scatters."

[24] "When an unclean spirit has gone out of a man, he passes through waterless places seeking rest; and finding none he says, `I will return to my house from which I came.' [25] And when he comes he finds it swept and put in order. [26] Then he goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first."


14-23. Jesus' enemies remain obstinate despite the evidence of the miracle. Since they cannot deny that He has done something quite extraordinary, they attribute it to the power of the devil, rather than admit that Jesus is the Messiah. Our Lord answers them with a clinching argument: the fact that He expels demons is proof that He has brought the Kingdom of God. The Second Vatican Council reminds us of this truth: The Lord Jesus inaugurated His Church by preaching the Good News, that is, the coming of the Kingdom of God, promised over the ages in the Scriptures [...]. The miracles of Jesus also demonstrate that the Kingdom has already come on earth: "If it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the Kingdom of God has come upon you (Luke 11:20); cf. Matthew 12:28). But principally the Kingdom is revealed in the person of Christ Himself, Son of God and Son of Man, who came `to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many' (Mark 10:45)" (Vatican II, "Lumen Gentium", 5).

The strong man well armed is the devil, who has enslaved man; but Jesus Christ, one stronger than he, has come and conquered him and is despoiling him. St. Paul will say that Christ "disarmed the principalities and powers and made a public example of them, triumphing over them" (Colossians 2:15).

After the victory of Christ the "stronger one", the words of verse 23 are addressed to mankind at large; even if people do not want to recognize it, Jesus Christ has conquered and from now on no one can adopt an attitude of neutrality towards Him: he who is not with Him is against Him.

18. Christ's argument is very clear. One of the worst evils that can overtake the Church is disunity among Christians, disunity among believers. We must make Jesus' prayer our own: "That they may be one; even as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they may also be one in us, so that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me" (John 17:21).

24-26. Our Lord shows us that the devil is relentless in his struggle against man; despite man rejecting him with the help of grace, he still lays his traps, still tries to overpower him. Knowing all this, St. Peter advises us to be sober and vigilant, because "your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking some one to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith" (1 Peter 5:8-9).

Jesus also forewarns us about the danger of being once more defeated by Satan--which would leave us worse off than were before. The Latin proverb puts it very well: "corruptio optimi, pessima" (the corruption of the best is the worst.) And St. Peter, in his inspired text, inveighs against corrupt Christians, whom he compares in a graphic and frightening way to "the dog turning back to his own vomit and the sow being washed and then wallowing in the mire" (cf. 2 Peter 2:22).
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 11, 2007

Thoughts and Counsels - October 12

He who would be a disciple of Jesus Christ must live in sufferings; for "The servant is not greater than the Master."

-Ven John Tauler
From Mary, Help of Christians
Part VI, Thoughts and Counsels of the Saints for Every Day of the Year
Compiled by Fr. Bonaventure Hammer, OFM (© 1909, Benziger Brothers)

Meditation for October 12, Self Examination

Some time ago this crude saying was much quoted: "A healthy man does not know that he has a liver." And someone risked the analogy: "A healthy man does not know whether he has a soul," or, in other words, what is the use of self-examination? Live, go straight ahead, don't examine into your life but have good will and give some credit to human nature. When some difficulty arises it will be time enough for your conscience to become vigilant; meanwhile let it sleep. Do not question yourself.

We must agree with the spiritual masters in this matter. Exami­nation is useful, speaking at least for the generality of souls, espe­cially those in the first stages of the spiritual ascent - the purgative way and the illuminative way. But if the use of the examen is advisable, its abuse is a troublesome thing and should be avoided.

Certainly to torture one's conscience, unceasingly to drag the depths of one's soul only to pull out a few insignificant weaknesses is not just lost trouble but also a harmful exercise.

But to study one's self sincerely in order to know how one stands, to discover not only one's faults but the virtues that can be de­veloped, is neither a fatiguing nor a useless exercise. Not at all fatiguing: in fact, it requires only a few seconds. Not at all use­less: for it is doubtless the origin of generous resolutions. Not to know oneself is sometimes an advantage, but self-knowledge is equally valuable.

There is a time for everything. Examen can be carried too far; are not the best weapons sometimes misused? Learn to use examen well; that is to say, intelligently, soberly, serenely and vigorously.
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

New Documentary on Abortion

Few issues generate as much heat in the United States as the debate over abortion -- the subject of a powerful and graphic new documentary by controversial British filmmaker Tony Kaye.

"Lake of Fire," currently on limited release in the United States, unwinds over more than two and a half hours of interviews with some of the leading figures from the pro-life and pro-choice camps.

But it is the graphic and disturbing depiction of termination procedures, filmed like the rest of the movie in black and white, that marks the film out...

One scene depicts a doctor sifting through a surgical tray after performing a late-term abortion, where the grisly residue of an arm, a foot and part of a face can be clearly made out.

"It's about as shocking as any motion picture can ever get. It's illegal to film someone being killed," said Kaye...

Don't use embryos in stem cell research, Pope says

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Benedict appealed to scientists on Thursday to stop using human embryos in stem cell research, saying it violated "the dignity of human life".

The Vatican is a proponent of stem cell research as long as it does not harm human embryos, which the Catholic Church holds are humans from the moment of conception.

"The destruction of human embryos, whether to acquire stem cells or for any other purpose, contradicts the purported intent of researchers, legislators and public health officials to promote human welfare," the Pontiff said...

Massachusetts bishop issues warning to Jesuit college

Good news!
Worcester, Oct. 11, 2007 ( - A Massachusetts bishop has strongly criticized a Jesuit-run college in his diocese, hinting that he could withdraw the school's recognition as a Catholic institution.

Bishop Robert McManus of Worcester issued a statement on October 10, responding to protests from lay Catholics about plans for a conference at the College of the Holy Cross in which Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts will make presentations. Siding with the pro-life protestors, Bishop McManus disclosed that he had urged Holy Cross to cancel the conference plans.

In other Sacramento/Orange news...

VATICAN CITY, OCT 11, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Bishop Jaime
Soto, auxiliary of the diocese of Orange in California, U.S.A., as coadjutor
of Sacramento (area 110,284, population 3,381,449, Catholics 541,321,
priests 260, permanent deacons 127, religious 284), U.S.A.

Bishop William Weigand is now 70 years old...

Concerned Roman Catholics of America, Inc. (CRCOA) expresses concern over Bishop Soto's lack of concern of abortion and other pro-life issues:

Following in Cardinal Mahony's footsteps, the bishops of Orange have turned their minimal pro-life efforts over to a vast and active Peace and Justice Committee concentrating on issues including third world debt, hunger, healthcare for the uninsured, a "peace quiz" etc…

Bishop Jaime Soto has created a dynamic Deanery Program to tackle all the social justice issues…all issues except pro-life. His e-newsletter, issued in January lists two "Priority Issues" for 2006-2007. They are: 1. Immigration and 2. Abolition of the Death Penalty. (Bishop Jaime Soto's Diocese of Orange Peace and Justice Newsletter January 2007) Abolishing abortion is not listed. Pro-life is not even listed as a "Priority Issue". And of all the events listed for the upcoming 3 months for all the parishes (62) in all the Deaneries—NONE ARE ADDRESSING ABORTION OR PROLIFE! And the April 2007 e-newsletter from Bishop Soto is even worse. (Bishop Jaime Soto's Diocese of Orange Peace and Justice Newsletter April 2007) There were "Hunger and Justice Meetings", "Walk out of Poverty" at St. Pius parish, a showing of Democrat (and pro-abortion politician) Al Gore's movie—Inconvenient Truth—at Holy Family, and "an Immigration event" at St. John Neumann. NOTHING IN 6 MONTHS REGARDING PRO LIFE IN ANY OF THE 62 Diocese of Orange PARISHES.

There are NO events, letters, legislative issues or activities, speakers or educational evenings for pro life, even though they were instructed by the USCCB in their Pastoral Plan for Pro-Life Activities that Pro Life work MUST BE the place where ALL social justice work BEGINS and that ALL OTHER SOCIAL JUSTICE ISSUES RIGHTFULLY FALL BENEATH Pro Life.

Pro Life is NOWHERE on the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange website. No attention, no activities, no action, no time, no money, nothing. Pro life is not being addressed by Bishop Tod Brown, Bishop Jaime Soto nor the Deanery Program.

Is everyone praying that our Lord send us good shepherds to guide us?

Back in May 2005, Diogenes posted commentary on "documents from the Diocese of Orange reveal more heartbreaking stories of predation, mendacity, moral cowardice, grotesque refusal to face reality, and, most of all, a blood-freezing indifference to human suffering..." He quotes one, in particular:

It previously had been reported that Andersen was accused in 1983 of molesting a boy. Then-Bishop Johnson ordered him into therapy, but he remained at his Huntington Beach parish, St. Bonaventure, and in charge of the altar boys. Three years later, the priest faced up to 56 years in state prison after being convicted of 26 felony counts of child molestation, according to court documents.

The judge gave Andersen no prison time and instead ordered him to enter a Catholic rehabilitation center in New Mexico. Four years later, in 1990, Andersen was arrested in Albuquerque on suspicion of trying to sodomize a 14-year-old boy, and was ordered to serve six years in prison for violating his probation in the California case. ...

George Niederauer, Andersen's spiritual director at St. John's Seminary in Camarillo and now bishop of Salt Lake City, wrote to Luis A. Cardenas, an Orange County Superior Court judge at the time, and pleaded for leniency. Andersen "might well have misjudged what was appropriate physical expression especially given the atmosphere of adult-child contacts in our society at present," wrote Niederauer, adding that the boys might have misconstrued "wrestling" or "horse play" as sexual abuse.

Jaime Soto, now auxiliary bishop of Orange, also wrote to the judge, downplaying Andersen's crimes. "Our work brings us into intimate contact with people's lives," he wrote. "In a time when the exchange of simple affection within the most intimate of circles has become a rare commodity, our associations with others run the grave risk of being misunderstood by all parties including perhaps the priest himself."
We must pray that good shepherds are found and sent to the faithful, rather than the hirelings so many receive.

It is imperative that we pray daily for all of our bishops, priests, and consecrated religious. We must pray that Our Lord will guide them and protect them from the evil one. We must pray that they may accept the graces God bestows on them so that can share the authentic truth, the Goods News, Jesus Christ, with all of the faithful and with the world.

Homosexuality is just one of [God's] miracles we don’t understand...

St. Francis of Assisi Catholic church in Sacramento will hold interfaith service to honor memory of homosexuals supposedly killed for being ‘gay’

“It is not a coincidence,” said the PFLAG announcement, “that the service is held each year near National Coming Out Day,” Oct. 11. October, too, is Gay and Lesbian History Month. “Thus, this service reminds us that the history of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people has been fraught with injustice, hatred and violence.”

This article can be read here at California Catholic Daily and, in a related article, one can read that St. Francis of Assisi Catholic church in Sacramento is “Not the conservative Catholic Church”. Just what does that mean?

“Tolerant,” is one of the things St. Francis of Assisi church in Sacramento was frequently called in an online survey, “Why I Attend St. Francis,” found on the Franciscan parish’s web site...

“Inclusive” was another adjective survey respondents used to describe St. Francis church. One respondent noted that he likes to attend St. Francis “because it’s not the conservative Catholic Church.”

Yet another noted, “I love the liturgical dancing on special feast days.”

St. Francis church is also “progressive” and “open-minded,” ...
Tolerant, inclusive, progressive, and open-minded - when used with "liturgical dancing" and "Catholic church", you know you have arrived just this side of heaven...How 'inspiring.'

But rest assured, Sacramento Franciscan Fr. Larry Dunphy notes that ... "friars like himself 'are to be truly brothers, and a sign and a model of all human and creaturely relationships, because the one Father/Mother God is the origin of all these relationships.'"

What more could a "Catholic" ask for?

Gospel for Thursday, 27th Week in Ordinary Time

RM - Blessed John XXIII, pope
Old Calendar: Motherhood of the Blessed Virgin Mary

From: Luke 11:5-13

Effective Prayer

[5] And He (Jesus) said to them (the disciples), "Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, 'Friend, lend me three loaves; [6] for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him'; [7] and he will answer from within, 'Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything'? [8] I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him whatever he needs. [9] And I tell you, Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. [10] For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks find, and to him who knocks it will be opened. [11] What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; [12] or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? [13] If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!"


5-10. One of the essential features of prayer is trusting perseverance. By this simple example and others like it (cf. Luke 18:1-7) our Lord encourages us not to desist in asking God to hear us. "Persevere in prayer. Persevere even when your efforts seem barren. Prayer is always fruitful" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 101).

9-10. Do you see the effectiveness of prayer when it is done properly? Are you not convinced like me that, if we do not obtain what we ask God for, it is because we are not praying with faith, with a heart pure enough, with enough confidence, or that we are not persevering in prayer the way we should? God has never refused nor will ever refuse anything to those who ask for His graces in the way they should. Prayer is the great recourse available to us to get out of sin, to persevere in grace, to move God's heart and to draw upon us all kinds of blessing from Heaven, whether for the soul or to meet our temporal needs" (St. John Mary Vianney, "Selected Sermons", Fifth Sunday after Easter).

11-13. Our Lord uses the example of human parenthood as a comparison to stress again the wonderful fact that God is our Father, for God's fatherhood is the source of parenthood in Heaven and on earth (cf. Ephesians 3:15). "The God of our faith is not a distant Being who contemplates indifferently the fate of men--their desires, their struggles, their sufferings. He is a Father who loves His children so much that He sends the Word, the Second Person of the Most Blessed Trinity, so that by taking on the nature of man He may die to redeem us. He is the loving Father who now leads us gently to Himself, through the action of the Holy Spirit who dwells in our hearts" ([St] J. Escriva, "Christ Is Passing By", p. 84).

13. The Holy Spirit is God's best gift to us, the great promise Christ gives His disciples (cf. John 5:26), the divine fire which descends on the Apostles at Pentecost, filling them with fortitude and freedom to proclaim Christ's message (Acts 2). "The profound reality which we see in the texts of Holy Scripture is not a remembrance from the past, from some golden age of the Church which has since been buried in history. Despite the weaknesses and the sins of every one of us, it is the reality of today's Church and the Church in all times. 'I will pray to the Father,' our Lord told His disciples, 'and He will give you another Counsellor to be with you for ever.' Jesus has kept His promise. He has risen from the dead and, in union with the eternal Father, He sends us the Holy Spirit to sanctify us and to give us life" ([St] J. Escriva, "Christ Is Passing By", 12).
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 10, 2007

Thoughts and Counsels - October 11

"Thy will be done!"
This is what the saints had continually on their lips and in their hearts.­

-St. Alphonsus
From Mary, Help of Christians
Part VI, Thoughts and Counsels of the Saints for Every Day of the Year
Compiled by Fr. Bonaventure Hammer, OFM (© 1909, Benziger Brothers)

Meditation for October 11, The Maternity of Mary

Today is a special feast to celebrate the incomparable privilege of Mary's divine maternity.

The Gospel for the day is the same as that for the Feast of the Holy Family and, quite naturally, for the Mother is the whole family. *

In reality the maternity of Mary is at once double and single in character.

Double, for Mary is the Mother of the Whole Christ; not only of the Child Jesus, but of the Man Jesus in His fulness, the Head and the members. She is the Mother of the Savior according to the flesh and our mother according to grace. And because the Head and members, that is, Our Lord and we make but one Christ, the complete Body of Christ, plenarium corpus Christi, as St. Au­gustine says, the maternity of Mary, although dual in character, is nevertheless one. She is mother of the whole Christ.

Consider that Mary, having thus two types of children, her First Born, Jesus, the Son according to her flesh, and us the second, born according to grace, she was willing to sacrifice her First Born to save us her second born. Therein lay her mission, to prepare Jesus for the sacrifice and to offer Him to the Father at the foot of the Cross for our salvation, as she had already done in the Annuncia­tion and throughout her whole life, ratifying at every instant her Ecce Ancilla, as if to say, "Someone must serve, I am the one."

Today's liturgy speaks above all of the human maternity of Mary and of her role in connection with Jesus our Elder Brother: Behold a Virgin will bring forth a Son and He shall be called Em­manuel, but I will complete the thought, and not separating myself from Jesus, will understand that Mary is my own Mother also, since she is the Mother of the whole Christ.

"O Mother of beautiful love and of holy hope in whom is every grace of strength and of truth and every promise of virtue, I come to you. Be my Mother as much as possible for despite my desire, I can hardly dare claim to be your child."

* [Old calendar]
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

Bishop Sheridan Would Not Permit Plan B in Catholic Hospitals

COLORADO SPRINGS, October 10, 2007 ( - Colorado Springs Bishop Michael Sheridan spoke with yesterday about the use of the morning after pill in Catholic hospitals...

Asked if he would forbid the pill to be administered even in cases of rape, Bishop Sheridan noted the uncertainty around the action of the pill and said, "My opinion on moral questions is to err on the side of safety, rather in the other direction."

Bishop Sheridan concluded, "How could you continue to call yourself Catholic if you were doing things that were contrary to Catholic teaching even if you were being forced by the state to do them."
The answer is, you can't... for Bishop Sheridan!

Mortal Sin, Grave Matter, Fornication, and More

A recent comment from "outside observer" raised some interesting quesions and assertions. I'll try to respond. "outside observer's" comments are in RED.

Your line: "Objectively, it is a mortal sin" is absolutely false. It would be correct to say, however, that "Objectively, it is grave matter." Unless you know whether a person has "full consent of will" and "intent to do harm," you cannot know if it is a 'mortal sin.'

First, let's read from Fr. Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary:

MORTAL SIN. An actual sin that destroys sanctifying grace and causes the super­natural death of the soul. Mortal sin is a turning away from God because of a seriously inordinate adherence to creatures that causes grave injury to a person's ra­tional nature and to the social order, and deprives the sinner of a right to heaven.

The terms mortal, deadly, grave, and seri­ous applied to sin are synonyms, each with a slightly different implication. Mortal and deadly focus on the effects in the sinner, namely deprivation of the state of friendship with God; grave and serious refer to the im­portance of the matter in which a person offends God. But the Church never distin­guishes among these terms as though they represented different kinds of sins. There is only one recognized correlative to mortal sin, and that is venial sin, which offends against God but does not cause the loss of one's state of grace. (Etym. Latin mors, death.)

When speaking of a grave (mortal) sin in the objective sense, we refer to the act itself not the state of an individual's soul. The statement would, indeed, be false had I said that "Subjectively, it is a mortal sin," since that implies that one has committed a mortal sin and I can impute culpability and judge the state of his soul.

You rightly state that there are conditions required for the commission of a mortal sin. In fact there are three conditions which would constitute, subjectively, a mortal sin:
1) the matter itself is serious or grave;
2) there must be sufficient reflection; and,
3) there must be full consent of the will.

Let us return to your objection that my statement is "absolutely false." In support of my statement that "Fornication is, objectively speaking, a mortal (grave) sin, I submit the following:

The thirteenth ecumenical council, held at Lyons in France (1245), answered the challenge raised by some Eastern Christians influenced by Moslem morality. "Concerning fornication," it declared, "which an unmarried man commits with an unmarried woman, there must not be any doubt at all that it is a mortal sin, since the Apostle declares that 'fornicators and adulterers are cast out of the kingdom of God' (1 Cor. 6:9)." (my emphasis)

If my statement is "absolutely false," then you must also conclude that this ecumenical council was also wrong.

A century later, the ecumenical Council of Vienne (1311-12) condemned the Beghards and Beguines for claiming that sexual intercourse outside of marriage is not wrong, "since nature inclines to this."

In the seventeenth century, Pope Alexander VII censured the theory that a penitent "who had inter­course with an unmarried woman satisfies the precept of confession by saying, 'I committed a grievous sin against chastity with an un­married woman,' without mentioning the intercourse."

And before the end of the same century, Innocent XI condemned the idea that, since premarital intercourse injures no one and may be engaged in from sentiments of love, it is not contrary to the natural law. In the language of those who defended the practice, "Fornication by its nature involves no malice; it is an evil only because it is forbidden."

The same teaching on premarital relations continues in the Catholic moral doctrine of today.

The quotes and excerpts above are from The Catholic Catechism by Fr. John Hardon.

Secondly, the line "Intercourse is the divinely instituted means for married person to cooperate with God in procreating children" is past its time.

I certainly do not wish to diminish the unitive aspect of marriage which is essential. However, your position that "Intercourse is the divinely instituted means for married person to cooperate with God in procreating children" is "past its time" seems to be at odds with the Church.

Again, quoting Fr Hardon in his discussion on Christian marriage, we read:

Under pressure from their critics, Catholic theologians have sometimes been tempted to question the primacy of procreation of children in married life. But as often as the issue comes up, the traditional position is upheld and reiterated, that the first reason why God instituted marriage was to have children born into the world and reared in His knowledge and love. Thus in 1944, the Holy Office (over which the Pope himself is chairman), in answer to an inquiry, repeated the familiar teaching. Some years later, Pius XII further clarified the doctrine. (my emphasis)

As a natural institution and in virtue of the will of the Creator, marriage has for its first and intimate purpose not the personal perfection of husband and wife but the procreation and formation of new life (through education). The other ends of marriage are certainly willed by nature, but they have not the same excellence as the first and much less are they superior to it. In fact they are essentially subordinate.
(Pius XII, Address of October 29, 1951)

And St Augustine tells us that "The procreation of children is itself the primary, natural, legitimate purpose of marriage." (De Conjugiis Adulterinus, II, 12).

Since the time of Jesus to the turn of the century, the life span of a human crept up from 35 years to 41 years old. Since then, however, it has basically doubled. Science has improved as well.

I'm unclear where you want to go with this. Do you mean that being "open to life" when engaging in sexual intercourse is no longer necessary?

IF intercourse is, as you say above, the means to procreate, then there are a number of 'issues' here. NFP ("Natural Family Planning") tells us that there really is a small window of opportunity to produce a child - the prime target a mere 18 hours, with enough leeway to allow about 36 hours, roughly speaking, per month. There are times too during the month that, no matter what a couple does, a baby is not going to be conceived. Knowing our bodies and knowing the women's cycle means that a couple cannot produce a child for certain over a 2 week period. Is sex then just "mutual masturbation?" And after a woman has hit menopause ... again - no matter what you do, 'ya definitely ain't producin' no kids!'

First, if you read the comment I made carefully, I was quoting Fr John Hardon.
Second, if a couple is always "open to life," it makes little difference whether or not the married woman is able to conceive. The fact that both husband and wife give themselves totally and completely to each other (always open to life) does not frustrate the conjugal, procreative act.

So ... is sex supposed to be stopped while a woman is having her period? Once she hits menopause? What about women who have had their uterus or cervix removed because of cancer or other health problems? Isn't sex then just 'mutual masterbation,' because there is no chance of procreation, and therefore, according to your sources, this is simply "mutual selfishness?" [Please don't tell me that it's okay for the 70+ year old couple because they're "open" to procreation ...]

OK...while trying to ignore the picture you're painting and since I've already stated it above, I'll not state it again. However, it must be understood that deliberate contraceptive acts are those which can be viewed as 'mutual masterbation.' In each of the examples you've given, this is not the case.

Therefore, is it possible for a couple to have sex simply as an expression of their love for each other - knowing that no children can possibly come from it? -outside observer

Most certainly it is. And no one has stated otherwise. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church states:

2360 Sexuality is ordered to the conjugal love of man and woman. In marriage the physical intimacy of the spouses becomes a sign and pledge of spiritual communion. Marriage bonds between baptized persons are sanctified by the sacrament.

2366 Fecundity is a gift, an end of marriage, for conjugal love naturally tends to be fruitful. A child does not come from outside as something added on to the mutual love of the spouses, but springs from the very heart of that mutual giving, as its fruit and fulfillment. So the Church, which "is on the side of life"[150] teaches that "each and every marriage act must remain open 'per se' to the transmission of life."[151] "This particular doctrine, expounded on numerous occasions by the Magisterium, is based on the inseparable connection, established by God, which man on his own initiative may not break, between the unitive significance and the procreative significance which are both inherent to the marriage act."[152]

I hope this helps. And if I've misspoken on something, please feel free to comment.

San Francisco Archbishop Responds After Caught on Video Giving Communion to Homosexuals Dressed as Nuns contacted the office of Archbishop Niederauer for a response to the accusations. A statement by Archbishop Niederauer sent to by Archdiocesan communications director Maurice Healy says that the Archbishop did not notice any "mock religious garb."

"At Most Holy Redeemer Church Oct. 7, I noticed no protest, no demonstration, no disruption of the Sunday Eucharist," said Archbishop Nierderauer. "The congregation was devout and the liturgy was celebrated with reverence. Toward the end of the Communion line two strangely dressed persons came to receive Communion. I did not see any mock religious garb. As I recall, one of them wore a large flowered hat or garland."
. . .
Americans for Truth, an Illinois based national pro-family group has joined in the call to have Vatican authorities made aware of the scandal. Peter LeBarbara founder of the group encouraged "Catholics and other concerned pro-family Americans" to voice their concerns and provided the following contact information for Vatican authorities...
The complete article with contact information is available here.

More of Most Holy Redeemer (Video)

Fr John Molloy has again commented on the recent missed opportunity that Archbishop George Niederauer had when he celebrated Mass at Most Holy Redeemer parish.

He states that
once you look at this video of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence holding an obscene "bingo" in MHR's Ellard Hall, you will see why last Sunday's events were so blasphemous. Quamdiu Domine also has a video of last Sunday's Mass at MHR.
He is absolutely correct.

It appears that there is no leadership of the Catholic Church in San Francisco-the shepherd has run off and left the wolves to devour the sheep.

Pelosi defends refusal to put "God" on flag certificates

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi today defended the Architect of the Capitol's refusal to permit use of the word "God" on official certificates enclosed with flags flown over the U.S. Capitol.

This action by a professed "Catholic" comes after we were informed of this lunacy - Religious words such as 'God, Lord' banned by Architect of the U.S. Capitol

Will the discriminatory "G" word be banned by yet more enemies of the State?

Silver Jubilee - Monsignor R. Michael Schmitz

Via St Louis Catholic:
Wednesday, October 10, 2007 marks the silver jubilee of the ordination of Monsignor R. Michael Schmitz, Vicar General and U.S. Provincial Superior of the Institute of Christ the King, Sovereign Priest. Monsignor Schmitz was ordained by His Holiness, Benedict XVI (then-Cardinal Ratzinger). Monsignor Schmitz is well known in traditional Catholic circles as a powerful and profound speaker and as a tireless and charismatic supporter, defender, and evangelist for the Traditional Mass. Moreover, the Institute has experienced rapid growth and success in the United States under his watch.

"Queer nuns” get Communion From Abp. Niederauer

Men in drag dressed as nuns receive Blessed Sacrament from the archbishop himself at San Francisco parish

Archbishop George Niederauer gave Holy Communion to two men dressed in drag as nuns during an Oct. 7 visit to Most Holy Redeemer parish in San Francisco, witnesses who attended the Mass told California Catholic Daily.

Photos of the archbishop’s visit were taken by a member of the St. Joseph’s Men Society, and have been disseminated across the Internet. (California Catholic Daily publishes today with this story three of the photos, and hopes in the next few days to have links to video and audio tapes of the Mass.)

Woman and the Priesthood, Excerpts

Excerpts from this article are from the book, Women Priests & Other Fantasies, by Fr. Vincent Miceli, S.J. This article first appeared in Homiletic & Pastoral Review, August-September 1976...

Although this article is over 30 years old, it retains its relevance, particularly with the events that continue to this day.

Woman and the Priesthood

In the present exaltation of total liberation, the class struggle is perverting even the natural distinction between the sexes. Understandably, women's liberation movements have operated successfully in the politico-economic sphere to throw off their supposed "inferiority" so as to gain social power and equality with men. Success in the secular sphere has spurred these women groups to fight another alleged "inferiority," that is, their exclusion from priestly positions in the ecclesiastical power structure. Such groups see the Church as a religious power structure similar to the State as a political power structure. According to them, the Church places religious power exclusively in the hands of a male clergy even as once the State placed political power exclusively in the hands of male statesmen. But the time has come to force the Church to advance to the level of progress made by the State. Liberated in secular society with an opportunity to attain all State positions, women now seek liberation in the Church, with an opportunity to attain ordination in all degrees of the priesthood.

The tragic truth at the heart of this view of the Church is that it is a surrender to secularism, the philosophy that rinses reality of God and religion. The Church, however one views her, is not a purely natural society. She cannot be reduced to the secular categories suitable to describe the State. For, like her Divine Founder, her Gospel, her sacraments, the Church is an ineffable mystery precisely because she and they are graces of God's infinitely gratuitous love for man. Applying a priori concepts to the Church - like democracy, civil rights, equality, power-structure, etc. - is an attack on her very essence.

Such ideas mutilate her sacramental nature, her power, glory, beauty. They destroy her supernatural truth; they dissolve her transcendence before men's eyes, for they politicize her. Yet the truth is that the Church, in her essence, sacraments and structure, depends upon God's eternal Will, not on man's capricious desires. That is why this article hopes to convince the reader that the nonordination of women to the priesthood has nothing, absolutely nothing to do with any "inferiority" man or woman can imagine or concoct, no matter how plausible or pleasing the face of this falsehood may appear.

Fr Miceli then proceeds to trace the plan of God for the ministry of the priesthood in salvation history using Sacred Scripture. I could include excerpts of this at a later date if anyone is interested.

Certainly from our soundings in Holy Scripture we can safely say that women are not called by God to the ministry of the priesthood. The entire Old and New Testaments are weighted against a female priesthood. Yet Catholics know that the Protestant principle sola scriptura, i.e., that the doctrinal sufficiency for the faith comes solely from scripture, is a false, indeed dangerous and often bankrupt principle.

For Scripture must be interpreted by the living tradition of the ever-present teaching authority of the Church. Only then will it lead men to God in the fullness of truth and holiness. Now the Church has always seen the priesthood of Christ to be incarnational, representative and redemptive. The only begotten Son of the Father took on a physical particular human nature from Mary. That nature is male. He chose, ordained and sent out as his successors in the priesthood Apostles, all men. The Catholic Church, following the will and example of her Divine Founder, in a constant, clear, irreversible tradition, has chosen only men successors to these Apostles; every priest and bishop chosen by her for 2,000 years has been a man, representing and serving mankind before God.

And again, we will be reminded that the no one has a "right" to the priesthood, despite the claims that some continue to make:

There is no question here of worthiness or unworthiness, of inferiority or superiority. We are in the presence of divine mysteries, of God's sovereign pleasure and inscrutable counsels. We are dealing here with grace, a pure gift of God. In the realm of salvation, in the Church everything is grace. And man's salvation from first to last is the gift, the grace par excellence of God.

Changing God's plan to call woman priest and bishop can never be a matter of personal rights, human justice and equality. No one has any rights before God. And no one has a right to be a priest. The priesthood is not a profession left to one's option,; it is a vocation freely bestowed by God and ratified by his Church. Moreover, God's choice of men for the priesthood was no accident any more than his decision to send his Son to become man and save each person was an accident. God does not act from whim or caprice.

His choice of bread and wine at the Last Supper was no accident either. Accidents happen only to those who neither know nor can control all causes. But God knows and controls all causes...

Man is chosen to become a priest because man as head and source of the human race, is a natural symbol of Christ, head and source of all creation. Woman is chosen to be God-Bearer because woman as mother of all the living is the natural symbol of Mary, Mother of the Church an of the Church which begets all men in Christ. The special public vocation of man in the Church is to represent the Head, Christ. The special public vocation of woman in the Church is to represent the Church herself as Bride of Christ.

Some, who have been readers of this, or other blogs, will recall a statement by His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, when he was the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Some may even have purchased items from the Cardinal Ratzinger Fan Club. The saying to which I refer is, "Truth is not determined by a majority vote." In a similar way, Fr. Miceli tells us that opinion polls do not change the facts:

Socrates warns seekers of truth to beware of those who have "more zeal than knowledge." Now in an age that is intellectually out of tune and morally off its hinges, rational arguments will not persuade irrational and emotionally exalted persons.

This is certainly true. Many times we might feel as if we would be more successful in convincing an inanimate object of some objective reality and truth than we could by trying to have a rational discussion with some unreasonable fanatic.

Some women groups have already given fair warning that they will not be argued out of becoming priests. "We reject out of hand any arguments or efforts on theological or historical grounds," proclaimed the members of a Task Force chosen to study the status of women in a diocese in Pennsylvania.

The intelligent Christian answers the arguments of marching masses by calmly, firmly reiterating the truth in love, trusting in the power of the living Lord and the efficacy of his revealed word as taught by the Church. For theological arguments founded on propaganda and slogans must be answered theologically lest such specious reasoning seduce simple spirits. Moreover, no polls, no mere vote-taking, can change salvation facts already decided by God. Such statistics have no theological decisional value whatsoever, though they may indicate the extent of the profound disorder in faith among Christians.

In the cacophony of confused arguments hurled about in this age of global revolution, it has been stated that Jesus was victimized by the customs and prejudices against women prevalent in his first-century society. Culturally conditioned as he was, Jesus bowed to iron-clad social pressures in choosing only men for the priesthood. In another age, under more liberal conditions, he would have also chosen women for the ministerial priesthood. Hence, Jesus would be all for women priests today. Their hour has arrived.

Can this possible be true? Were Jesus' decisions or actions really culturally conditioned as so many have tried to lead us to believe?

This argument is founded on a fanciful, when not invidious, fallacy, namely that Our Lord was a peaceful conformist. Moreover, the advocates of this shaky view, while absolutely convinced that they understand past "cultures," seem to be totally innocent of their own cultural "conditioning," of their own surrender to the "culture of liberation, class struggle and egalitarianism." They forget too that, since Christ appeared in the "fullness of time," the appropriate age chosen by God - to the embarrassment of the twentieth century which considers itself the standard-setter for all times - they are presumptuous to assume that the conditions of a different age would have caused God to change his plans for the salvation of men.

The fact is that Christ often violently broke through the conventions of his surroundings. He vigorously cleansed the temple of accepted commercial conventions; he revoked the convenient custom of easy divorce, returning marriage to its pristine binding force; he scandalized many by speaking to Samaritans and especially the Samaritan women; he invited women to work with his band of disciples, something the Pharisees never allowed. Indeed the Pharisees themselves testified that Christ was no respecter of persons. They even accused Christ of breaking law upon Levitical law, for Christ despised their legalistic customs. In the end they claimed they crucified him as a law-breaker.

Was Christ unaware of women priests?

In his time priestesses were far more common in idolatrous Semitic and Greek religions than they are today. It is unreasonable to pretend, in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, that Jesus' choice of only men as priests was the one instance in his entire life when he committed an injustice for the sake of cultural expediency. The Rev. Dr. E. L. Mascall, commenting on this argument, writes:
"If the supporters of women priests are right, then Our Lord in instituting an exclusively male apostolate, was doing something which has deprived half the members of the Church from their legitimate rights for nearly 2,000 years. And it would be difficult in that case to feel very confident of either his moral or his intellectual integrity. And then it is difficult to see why we should attribute any authority to him at all."

Fr Miceli then proceeds to a discussion of St. Paul, who some suggest was the "Prince of Polarization." Some refer to the thoughts and writings of St Paul as the "time-conditioned, archaic, narrow-minded prejudices of a sexual neurotic." But as we know, many will distort the Scriptures to their own ends.

In his theology of women Paul bases his teaching on the dignity and role of woman in God's plan of salvation not on the account of the Fall, but on that of Creation: "Man did not emanate from woman, but woman from man. Man was not created for woman, but woman for man"...

What St. Paul's profound insights teach us is that sex is not an accidental characteristic of man and woman. A human person without sex is a strange abstraction. Sex entails the very identity of each person; sex plunges to the deepest mystery of each human person. St. Paul indicates this reality when he affirms that sexual sins involve persons up to the depth of their beings. He makes a sharp distinction between sins committed outside the body, i.e., outside the depth of one's being, and those committed against one's body, i.e., against what is destined for union with God as his temple and for resurrection and glorification with Christ. Hence the sexes, and the vocations pertaining thereto, are not interchangeable. Each person is called to serve God and his fellowman, accepting gladly the sex with which one is endowed and the vocation attached to that sex...

What St. Paul makes clear is that it is not in spite of nor without reference to their sexes that persons are called to serve God. Rather by accepting joyfully their very masculinity and femininity as an essential dimension of God's particular Providence, they attain their vocation to become saints and to bring others with them to sainthood.

Lest we forget, there is a complementarity in the fulfillment of God's plan for the salvation of the human family.

A final insight garnered from a reflective perusal of the New Testament's theology of woman gives a deeper appreciation of the significance and seriousness of masculinity and femininity. Despite its divinization of men and women through baptism which confers the common priesthood on all the faithful, the New Testament never grants women the graces of the ministry of the Holy Sacrifice, of the preaching of the word or of the discipline in the Church. These graces are reserved exclusively for men. Never is a woman chosen to be in public an authorized representative of Christ or his Church. To no woman does Christ ever make the promise to ratify in heaven what she has bound or loosed on earth. No woman is given the power of the keys. No woman is commissioned to perform the ministry of public preaching. Christ does not entrust the administration of the sacraments to women; neither does he commit the care of his flock to them. To no woman did Christ ever say: "He who hears you hears me and he who despises you despises me."

The New Testament clearly demonstrates the special importance women received from God and the accounts of the Resurrection are perfect for our understanding - for women the faithful women were the last to leave the tomb and the first to return. And Jesus first appears to them, not the Apostles. But Jesus tells them to go inform the Apostles, not the world.

Those Apostles, often rebuked by Christ as "men of little faith," they alone, and their male successors, are officially commissioned by Jesus to announce publicly to the world all he had done and taught and to make converts of all nations.

The agitation for women to be ordained priests is a sterile venture, an exercise in futility. Why?

Because, as we have seen, this project is of men, not of God. It will inevitably fail for its devotees are fighting even against God. The spirit behind the movement is one of prideful rebellion, of sitting in judgment on the ways of God. Such human self-centeredness founded on self-exaltation arises also from a naive, almost childish conviction that every revolutionary movement in Christian culture justifies a radical jettisoning of the entire Christian tradition.

For today every novel trend, it seems, has to develop a corresponding novel trend theology. The theology for women priests is the logical conclusion of the theology of revolution, of liberation, of violence. Its spirit is one of coarseness and vulgarity, an affront to Christian courtesy and piety.

Worse still, it is the diabolical fruit of the theology of "Christian Marxism." It can only destroy its enthusiasts, divide Christians and effectively kill charitable dialogue...

Do we know why God chose men only?

If the bearer, the icon, the minister of this unique priesthood is man and not woman, it is because Christ came as a man and not as a woman. Why man? In the last analysis no culture, no sociology, no political philosophy, no theology and, certainly, no ideology can give an adequate answer. Only an ardent faith in the revelation of God's intimate love for his Creation, his Chosen People and his Church will render men ready to accept his Providence for salvation joyfully and unquestioningly.

Final thoughts? should be remembered that the Church is not called upon to comply with any age in its fashionable prejudices; she is called upon to be faithful to the deposit of the truth possessed by her in her teachings and living traditions. It is not a question of progressive adaptation or reactionary obstinacy to ordain or refuse to ordain women. It is simply a question of obedience or disobedience to God's ordinances revealed in Scripture and the living traditions. The Church will remain faithful to God's ordinances for she is guided by the Holy Spirit.

Hence in the Roman Catholic Church women will never be ordained priests. In the context of all the agitation over this question Our Lord's words, commenting on a similar trivial commotion, apply most appropriately here: "Martha, Martha, thou art anxious and troubled about many things; and yet only one thing is needful. Mary has chosen the best part, and it will not be taken away from her."

Excerpts from Women Priests & Other Fantasies
by Fr. Vincent P. Miceli, S.J. (© 1985)

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Gospel for Wednesday, 27th Week in Ordinary Time

Old Calendar: St. Francis Borgia, Confessor

From: Luke 11:1-4

The Our Father

[1] He (Jesus) was praying in a certain place, and when He ceased, one of His disciples said to Him, "Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught His disciples." [2] And He said to them, "When you pray, say: `Our Father, hallowed be Thy name. Thy Kingdom come. [3] Give us each day our daily bread; [4] and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive every one who is indebted to us; and lead us not into temptation.'"


1-4. St. Luke gives us a shorter form of the Lord's Prayer, or Our Father, than St. Matthew (6:9-13). In Matthew there are seven petitions, in Luke only four. Moreover, St. Matthew's version is given in the context of the Sermon on the Mount and specifically as part of Jesus' teaching on how to pray; St. Luke's is set in one of those occasions just after our Lord has been at prayer--two different contexts. There is nothing surprising about our Lord teaching the same thing on different occasions, not always using exactly the same words, not always at the same length, but always stressing the same basic points. Naturally, the Church uses the longer form of the Lord's Prayer, that of St. Matthew.

"When the disciples asked the Lord Jesus, `Teach us to pray', He replied by saying the words of the `Our Father', thereby giving a concrete model which is also a universal model. In fact, everything that can and must be said to the Father is contained in those seven requests which we all know by heart. There is such simplicity in them that even a child can learn them, but at the same time such depth that a whole life can be spent meditating on their meaning. Isn't that so? Does not each of those petitions deal with something essential to our life, directing it totally towards God the Father? Doesn't this prayer speak to us about `our daily bread', `forgiveness of our sins, since we forgive others' and about protecting us from `temptation' and `delivering us from evil?'" ([Pope] John Paul II, "General Audience", 14 March 1979).

The first thing our Lord teaches us to ask for is the glorification of God and the coming of His Kingdom. That is what is really important--the Kingdom of God and His justice (cf. Matthew 6:33). Our Lord also wants us to pray confident that our Father will look after our material needs, for "your Heavenly Father knows that you need them all" (Matthew 6:32). However, the Our Father makes us aspire especially to possess the goods of the Holy Spirit, and invites us to seek forgiveness (and to forgive others) and to avoid the danger of sinning. Finally the Our Father emphasizes the importance of vocal prayer. "`Domine, doce nos orare. Lord teach us to pray!' And our Lord replied: `When you pray say: "Pater noster, qui es in coelis"... Our Father, who art in Heaven...'. What importance we must attach to vocal prayer!" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 84).

1. Jesus often went away to pray (cf. Luke 6:12; 22:39ff). This practice of the Master causes His disciples to want to learn how to pray. Jesus teaches them to do what He Himself does. Thus, when our Lord prays, He begins with the Word "Father!": "Father, into Thy hands I commit My spirit" (Luke 23:46); see also Matthew 11:25; 26:42, 53; Luke 23:34; John 11:41; etc.). His prayer on the Cross, "My God, My God,..." (Matthew 27:46), is not really an exception to this rule, because there He is quoting Psalm 22, the desperate prayer of the persecuted just man.

Therefore, we can say that the first characteristic prayer should have is the simplicity of a son speaking to his Father. "You write: `To pray is to talk with God. But about what?' About what? About Him, about yourself: joys, sorrows, successes, failures, noble ambitions, daily worries, weaknesses! And acts of thanksgiving and petition: and love and reparation. In a word: to get to know Him and to get to know yourself: `to get acquainted!'" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 91).

2. "Hallowed be Thy name": in this first petition of the Our Father "we pray that God may be known, loved, honored and served by everyone and by ourselves in particular." This means that we want "unbelievers to come to a knowledge of the true God, heretics to recognize their errors, schismatics to return to the unity of the Church, sinners to be converted and the righteous to persevere in doing good." By this first petition, our Lord is teaching us that `we must desire God's glory more than our own interest and advantage." This hallowing of God's name is attained "by prayer and good example and by directing all our thoughts, affections and actions towards Him" ("St. Pius X Catechism", 290-293).

"Thy Kingdom come": "By the Kingdom of God we understand a triple spiritual kingdom--the Kingdom of God in us, which is grace; the Kingdom of God on earth, which is the Catholic Church; and the Kingdom of God in Heaven, which is eternal bliss [...]. As regards grace, we pray that God reign in us with His sanctifying grace, by which He is pleased to dwell in us as a king in his throne-room, and that He keeps us united to Him by the virtues of faith, hope and charity, by which He reigns in our intellect, in our heart and in our will [...]. As regards the Church, we pray that it extend and spread all over the world for the salvation of men [...]. As regards Heaven, we pray that one day we be admitted to that eternal bliss for which we have been created, where we will be totally happy" ("ibid.", 294-297).

3. The Tradition of the Church usually interprets the "bread" as not only material bread, since "man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4; Deuteronomy 8:3). Here Jesus wants us to ask God for "what we need each day for soul and body [...]. For our soul we ask God to sustain our spiritual life, that is, we beg Him to give us His grace, of which we are continually in need [...]. The life of our soul is sustained mainly by the divine word and by the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar [...]. For our bodies we pray for what is needed to maintain us" ("St. Pius X Catechism", 302-305).

Christian doctrine stresses two ideas in this petition of the Our Father: the first is trust in Divine Providence, which frees us from excessive desire to accumulate possessions to insure us against the future (cf. Luke 12:16-21); the other idea is that we should take a brotherly interest in other people's needs, thereby moderating our selfish tendencies.

4. "So rigorously does God exact from us forgetfulness of injuries and mutual affection and love, that He rejects and despises the gifts and sacrifices of those who are not reconciled to one another" ("St. Pius V Catechism", IV, 14, 16).

"This sisters, is something which we should consider carefully; it is such a serious and important matter that God should pardon us our sins, which have merited eternal fire, that we must pardon all trifling things which have been done to us. As I have so few, Lord, even of these trifling things, to offer Thee, Thy pardoning of me must be a free gift: there is abundant scope here for Thy mercy. Blessed be Thou, who endurest one that is so poor" (St. Teresa of Avila, "Way of Perfection", Chapter 36).

"And lead us not into temptation": it is not a sin to "feel" temptation but to "consent" to temptation. It is also a sin to put oneself voluntarily into a situation which can easily lead one to sin. God allows us to be tempted, in order to test our fidelity, to exercise us in virtue and to increase our merits with the help of grace. In this petition we ask the Lord to give us His grace not to be overcome when put to the test, or to free us from temptation if we cannot cope with it.
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.