Saturday, February 02, 2008

Just for Today, February 3

Nature covets to know secrets and to hear news; but grace cares not for the hearing of news and curious things, because all this springs from the old corruption, since nothing is new or lasting upon earth. She teaches therefore to restrain the senses.
-Bk. III, ch. liv.

One day she gave me a striking proof of her interior mortification. I had received a very interesting letter, which had been read at recreation in her absence. That evening she asked if she might read it, so I gave it to her. When she returned it, I asked her opinion on a subject which must have given her much pleasure, but she appeared embarrassed, and then admitted:
"Our Lord asked this sacrifice from me because of the undue eagerness I showed the other day, and so I did not read it."
-Conseils et Souvenirs
For more information, see this post.
Adapted from Just For Today(©1943 Burns & Oates)
Nihil Obstat: Reginaldus Phillips, S.T.L.,Censor deputatus
Imprimatur: Edwardus Myers, Vic. Cap.

Thoughts and Counsels - February 3

There is nothing more unreasonable than to estimate our worth by the opinion of others. To­day they laud us to the skies, tomorrow they will cover us with ignominy.

-Ven Louis of Granada
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 February 3, Without Reserve

A Mother Foundress once said to her daughters, "When God asks for a sample give Him the whole piece." This is a well-put thought which presupposes a generous soul speaking to generous daughters.

As though He dreaded asking too much at one time, God gradu­ally reveals how much He requires of our love. He gives only a sign, a proposal, an indication. He is waiting to see how we will react.

If we begin at once to draw back, to show our fear and dis­pleasure, if we are disconcerted, God may hesitate to insist. He asks a more complete sacrifice, a total surrender; we withdraw coldly, and perhaps even indicate in no uncertain terms that He is mistaken, He really ought not treat us this way. Even the sample is too much to give.

If, on the contrary, God sees that we will not refuse the sacrifice He asks - declining health, unpleasant work, continued arid­ity, or who knows what else He might ask - that we simply beg for strength to hold on and correspond fully to His expectation, God will reserve to Himself the right to play the game as He sees fit.

Do not imagine Him a maliciously traitorous sort of person, who is going to profit by our generous spirit in order to send us the worst possible trials and to ask what is beyond our strength.... No! if He judges it fitting to beg the whole piece, it is not always with the intention of having us carry out His request, but in many cases, solely to give us the merit of a full acquiescence. He will often be satisfied with that and will treat us in His goodness as He did Abraham: He will demand the sacrifice of our Isaac, and when the offering is prepared, He will be content to have a ram.

Our God is good; never, even when He asks a sacrifice.
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

Caveat lector: Fr. Maciel was not "suspended"

Dr Edward Peters reminds us:
The death of Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado occasions revisiting the numerous accusations of sexual misconduct made against founder of the Legionaries of Christ over the years. These accusations culminated in a 2006 investigation by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which dicastery declined, however, to subject the elderly Maciel to a canonical trial and instead invited him to a "reserved life of prayer and penance, renouncing every public ministry." The analysis I offered at the time of that unusual directive from CDF still stands....

More by Dr. Peters here.

Gospel for Feb 2, Feast of the Presentation of the Lord

Old Calendar: Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary

From: Luke 2:22-40

The Purification of Mary and the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple

[22] And when the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they (Joseph and Mary) brought Him (Jesus) up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord [23] (as it is written in the law of the Lord, "every male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord") [24] and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, "a pair of turtle-doves, or two young pigeons."

Simeon's Prophecy

[25] Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. [26] And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ. [27] And inspired by the Spirit he came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law, [28] he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said, [29] "Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to Thy word; [30] for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation [31] which Thou hast prepared in the presence of all peoples, [32] a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for the glory to Thy people Israel."

[33] And His father and His mother marvelled at what was said about Him; [34] and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, His mother, "Behold this child is set for the fall the rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against [35] (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed."

Anna's Prophecy

[36] And there was a prophetess Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Ahser; she was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years from her virginity, [37] and as a widow till she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshipping with fasting and prayer night and day. [38] And coming up at that very hour she gave thanks to God, and spoke of Him to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.

The Childhood of Jesus

[39] And when they had performed everything according to the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own city, Nazareth. [40] And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon Him.

22-24. The Holy Family goes up to Jerusalem to fulfill the prescriptions of the Law of Moses--the purification of the mother and the presentation and then redemption or buying back of the first-born. According to Leviticus 12:2-8, a woman who bore a child was unclean. The period of legal impurity ended, in the case of a mother of a male child, after forty days, with a rite of purification. Mary most holy, ever-virgin, was exempt from these precepts of the Law, because she conceived without intercourse, nor did Christ's birth undo the virginal integrity of His Mother. However, she chose to submit herself to the Law, although she was under no obligation to do so.

"Through this example, foolish child, won't you learn to fulfill the holy Law of God, regardless of personal sacrifice?
"Purification! You and I certainly do need purification. Atonement and, more than atonement, Love. Love as a searing iron to cauterize our soul's uncleanness, and as a fire to kindle with divine flames the wretchedness of our hearts" ([St] J. Escriva, "Holy Rosary", Fourth Joyful Mystery).

Also, in Exodus 13:2, 12-13 it is indicated that every first-born male belongs to God and must be set apart for the Lord, that is, dedicated to the service of God. However, once divine worship was reserved to the tribe of Levi, first-born who did not belong to that tribe were not dedicated to God's service, and to show that they continued to be God's special property, a rite of redemption was performed.

The Law also laid down that the Israelites should offer in sacrifice some lesser victim--for example, a lamb or, if they were poor, a pair of doves or two pigeons. Our Lord, who "though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that by His poverty you might become rich" (2 Corinthians 8:9), chose to have a poor man's offering made on His behalf.

25-32. Simeon, who is described as a righteous and devout man, obedient to God's will, addresses himself to our Lord as a vassal or loyal servant who, having kept watch all his life in expectation of the coming of his Lord, sees that this moment has "now" come, the moment that explains his whole life. When he takes the Child in his arms, he learns, not through any reasoning process but through a special grace from God, that this Child is the promised Messiah, the Consolation of Israel, the Light of the nations.

Simeon's canticle (verses 29-32) is also a prophecy. It consists of two stanzas: the first (verses 29-30) is an act of thanksgiving to God, filled with profound joy for having seen the Messiah. The second (verses 31-32) is more obviously prophetic and extols the divine blessings which the Messiah is bringing to Israel and to all men. The canticle highlights the fact that Christ brings redemption to all men without exception--something foretold in many Old Testament prophecies (cf. Genesis 22:18; Isaiah 2:6; 42:6; 60:3; Psalm 28:2).

It is easy to realize how extremely happy Simeon was--given that many patriarchs, prophets and kings of Israel had yearned to see the Messiah, yet did not see Him, whereas he now held Him in his arms (cf. Luke 10:24; 1 Peter 1:10).

33. The Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph marvelled not because they did not know who Christ was; they were in awe at the way God was revealing Him. Once again they teach us to contemplate the mysteries involved in the birth of Christ.

34-35. After Simeon blesses them, the Holy Spirit moves him to further prophecy about the Child's future and His Mother's. His words become clearer in the light of our Lord's life and death.

Jesus came to bring salvation to all men, yet He will be a sign of contradiction because some people will obstinately reject Him--and for this reason He will be their ruin. But for those who accept Him with faith Jesus will be their salvation, freeing them from sin in this life and raising them up to eternal life.

The words Simeon addresses to Mary announce that she will be intimately linked with her Son's redemptive work. The sword indicates that Mary will have a share in her Son's sufferings; hers will be an unspeakable pain which pierces her soul. Our Lord suffered on the cross for our sins, and it is those sins which forge the sword of Mary's pain. Therefore, we have a duty to atone not only to God but also to His Mother, who is our Mother too.

The last words of the prophecy, "that out of many hearts thoughts may be revealed", link up with verse 34: uprightness or perversity will be demonstrated by whether one accepts or rejects Christ.

36-38. Anna's testimony is very similar to Simeon's; like him, she too has been awaiting the coming of the Messiah her whole life long, in faithful service of God, and she too is rewarded with the joy of seeing Him. "She spoke of Him," that is, of the Child--praising God in her prayer and exhorting others to believe that this Child is the Messiah.

Thus, the birth of Christ was revealed by three kinds of witnesses in three different ways--first, by the shepherds, after the angel's announcement; second, by the Magi, who were guided by a star; third, by Simeon and Anna, who were inspired by the Holy Spirit.

All who, like Simeon and Anna, persevere in piety and in the service of God, no matter how insignificant their lives seem in men's eyes, become instruments the Holy Spirit uses to make Christ known to other. In His plan of redemption God avails of these simple souls to do much good to all mankind.

39. Before their return to Nazareth, St. Matthew tells us (2:13-23), the Holy Family fled to Egypt where they stayed for some time.

40. "Our Lord Jesus Christ as a child, that is, as one clothed in the fragility of human nature, had to grow and become stronger but as the eternal Word of God He had no need to become stronger or to grow. Hence He is rightly described as full of wisdom and grace" (St. Bede, "In Lucae Evangelium Expositio, in loc.").
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, February 01, 2008

Just for Today, February 2

The saints and friends of Christ served the Lord in hunger and thirst; in cold and nakedness; in labour and weariness; in watchings and fastings; in prayers and holy meditations; in persecutions and many reproaches.
-Bk. I, ch. viii.

A priest had said in a letter to her that Our Lady had not experienced physical suffering.

"Looking at Our Lady this evening, I realized that this was not true. She suffered in body as well as in soul. She suffered from the fatigue of her journeys, from cold and heat, from hunger and weariness. She often fasted. She knows only too well what it is to suffer."
-Novissima Verba
For more information, see this post.
Adapted from Just For Today(©1943 Burns & Oates)
Nihil Obstat: Reginaldus Phillips, S.T.L.,Censor deputatus
Imprimatur: Edwardus Myers, Vic. Cap.

Thoughts and Counsels - February 2

Mary's sorrow was less when she saw her only Son crucified, than it is now at the sight of men offending Him by sin.

-St. Ignatius
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 February 2, The Presentation

The Presentation, we are told, is a joyful mystery. Considering the exterior, it is. Here is a young mother smiling on her baby, an old man making with faith and recollection an offering accord­ing to the ritual, two or three words exchanged briefly in a low voice, and that is all.

But if we look deeply into the souls of the participants, what a tragic drama; a Child offering Himself to be crucified in thirty-three years, a mother wholly aware of the martyrdom her Little One will endure, Simeon giving utterance to the most terrible words a mother could hear: Behold this child is set for the fall, and for the resurrection of many in Israel. He tells Mary, the mother, that a threatening career awaits her Little One. Many faithful souls will follow Him but many others will reject Him. What a future awaits this Child! That was what Simeon meant by a sign of contradiction. A sword will pierce her own heart, her life will have but one purpose - to prepare her Child for a future martyr­dom.

This day, so often chosen for making and renewing vows, is above all else a feast of sacrifice. Simeon performs the ritual of oblation; in her heart, Mary offers Jesus for crucifixion and Jesus offers Himself to His Father for the salvation of the world.

"Take Me in Your arms, offer me, include me in Thy oblation. O sorrowful Mother, O sorrowful Jesus, teach me to be generous; I am so cowardly sometimes. I would willingly offer a couple of turtle doves, but it is much too hard to offer myself. But You do not want my pos­sessions, You want my very self, not what belongs to me, but what is a part of me. I offer myself, take all."
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

Starting tomorrow...

Novena to Our Lady of Lourdes for a True Traditional Restoration of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Minneapolis, MN

Novena to Our Lady of Lourdes

Be blessed, O most pure Virgin, for having vouchsafed to manifest your shining with life, sweetness and beauty, in the Grotto of Lourdes, saying to the child, St. Bernadette: "I am the Immaculate Conception." A thousand times we congratulate you upon your Immaculate Conception. And now, O ever Immaculate Virgin, Mother of mercy, Health of the sick, Refuge of sinners, Comforter of the afflicted, you know our wants, our troubles, our sufferings deign to cast upon us a look of mercy.

By appearing in the Grotto of Lourdes, you were pleased to make it a privileged sanctuary, whence you dispense your favors, and already many have obtained the cure of their infirmities, both spiritual and physical. We come, therefore, with the most unbounded confidence to implore your maternal intercession. Obtain for us, O loving Mother, the granting of our request. request Through gratitude for your favors, we will endeavor to imitate your virtues, that we may one day share your glory.
Our Lady of Lourdes, Mother of Christ, you had influence with your divine son while upon earth. You have the same influence now in Heaven. Pray for us; obtain for us from your Divine Son our special requests if it be the Divine Will. Amen.

Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us.
Saint Bernadette, pray for us.

O Mary Immaculate, Our Lady of Lourdes, virgin and mother, queen of heaven, chosen from all eternity to be the Mother of the Eternal Word and in virtue of this title preserved from original sin, we kneel before you as did little Bernadette at Lourdes and pray with childlike trust in you that as we contemplate your glorious appearance at Lourdes, you will look with mercy on our present petition and secure for us a favorable answer to the request for which we are making this novena.

(make your request)

O Brilliant star of purity, Mary Immaculate, Our Lady of Lourdes, glorious in your assumption, triumphant in your coronation, show unto us the mercy of the Mother of God, Virgin Mary, Queen and Mother, be our comfort, hope, strength, and consolation. Amen.

Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us.
Saint Bernadette, pray for us.

Be blessed, O most pure Virgin, for having vouchsafed to manifest yourself shining with light, sweetness and beauty, in the Grotto of Lourdes, saying to the child Saint Bernadette: "I am the Immaculate Conception!" O Mary Immaculate, inflame our hearts with one ray of the burning love of your pure heart Let them be consumed with love for Jesus and for you, in order that we may merit one day to enjoy your glorious eternity. O dispenser of His graces here below, take into your keeping and present to your Divine Son the petition for which we are making this novena.

(make your request)

O Brilliant star of purity, Mary Immaculate, Our Lady of Lourdes, glorious in your assumption, triumphant in your coronation, show unto us the mercy of the Mother of God, Virgin Mary, Queen and Mother, be our comfort, hope, strength, and consolation. Amen.

Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us.
Saint Bernadette, pray for us.

"You are all fair, O Mary, and there is in you no stain of original sin." O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee. O brilliant star of sanctity, as on that lovely day, upon a rough rock in Lourdes you spoke to the child Bernadette and a fountain broke from the plain earth and miracles happened and the great shrine of Lourdes began, so now I beseech you to hear our fervent prayer and do, we beseech you, grant us the petition we now so earnestly seek.

(make your request)

O Brilliant star of purity, Mary Immaculate, Our Lady of Lourdes, glorious in your assumption, triumphant in your coronation, show unto us the mercy of the Mother of God, Virgin Mary, Queen and Mother, be our comfort, hope, strength, and consolation. Amen.

Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us.
Saint Bernadette, pray for us.

O Immaculate Queen of Heaven, we your wayward, erring children, join our unworthy prayers of praise and thanksgiving to those of the angels and saints and your own-the One, Holy, and Undivided Trinity may be glorified in heaven and on earth. Our Lady of Lourdes, as you looked down with love and mercy upon Bernadette as she prayed her rosary in the grotto, look down now, we beseech you, with love and mercy upon us. From the abundance of graces granted you by your Divine Son, sweet Mother of God, give to each of us all that your motherly heart sees we need and at this moment look with special favor on the grace we seek in this novena.

(make your request)

O Brilliant star of purity, Mary Immaculate, Our Lady of Lourdes, glorious in your assumption, triumphant in your coronation, show unto us the mercy of the Mother of God, Virgin Mary, Queen and Mother, be our comfort, hope, strength, and consolation. Amen.

Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us.
Saint Bernadette, pray for us.

O Mary Immaculate, Mother of God and our mother, from the heights of your dignity look down mercifully upon us while we, full of confidence in your unbounded goodness and confident that your Divine Son will look favorably upon any request you make of Him in our behalf, we beseech you to come to our aid and secure for us the favor we seek in this novena.
(make your request)

O Brilliant star of purity, Mary Immaculate, Our Lady of Lourdes, glorious in your assumption, triumphant in your coronation, show unto us the mercy of the Mother of God, Virgin Mary, Queen and Mother, be our comfort, hope, strength, and consolation. Amen.

Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us.
Saint Bernadette, pray for us.

O glorious Mother of God, so powerful under your special title of Our Lady of Lourdes, to you we raise our hearts and hands to implore your powerful intercession in obtaining from the gracious Heart of Jesus all the helps and graces necessary for our spiritual and temporal welfare and for the special favor we so earnestly seek in this novena.

(make your request)

O Lady of Bernadette, with the stars of heaven in your hair and the roses of earth at your feet, look with compassion upon us today as you did so long ago on Bernadette in the Grotto of Lourdes.

O Brilliant star of purity, Mary Immaculate, Our Lady of Lourdes, glorious in your assumption, triumphant in your coronation, show unto us the mercy of the Mother of God, Virgin Mary, Queen and Mother, be our comfort, hope, strength, and consolation. Amen.

Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us.
Saint Bernadette, pray for us.

O Almighty God, who by the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary did prepare a worthy dwelling place for your Son, we humbly beseech you that as we contemplate the apparition of Our Lady in the Grotto of Lourdes, we may be blessed with health of mind and body. O most gracious Mother Mary, beloved Mother of Our Lord and Redeemer, look with favor upon us as you did that day on Bernadette and intercede with him for us that the favor we now so earnestly seek may be granted to us.
(make your request)

O Brilliant star of purity, Mary Immaculate, Our Lady of Lourdes, glorious in your assumption, triumphant in your coronation, show unto us the mercy of the Mother of God, Virgin Mary, Queen and Mother, be our comfort, hope, strength, and consolation. Amen

Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us.
Saint Bernadette, pray for us.

O Immaculate Mother of God, from heaven itself you came to appear to the little Bernadette in the rough Grotto of Lourdes! And as Bernadette knelt at your feet and the miraculous spring burst forth and as multitudes have knelt ever since before your shrine, O Mother of God, we kneel before you today to ask that in your mercy you plead with your Divine Son to grant the special favor we seek in this novena.

(make your request)

O Brilliant star of purity, Mary Immaculate, Our Lady of Lourdes, glorious in your assumption, triumphant in your coronation, show unto us the mercy of the Mother of God, Virgin Mary, Queen and Mother, be our comfort, hope, strength, and consolation. Amen.

Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us.
Saint Bernadette, pray for us.

O glorious Mother of God, to you we raise our hearts and hands to implore your powerful intercession in obtaining from the benign Heart of Jesus all the graces necessary for our spiritual and temporal welfare, particularly for the grace of a happy death. O Mother of our Divine Lord, as we conclude this novena for the special favor we seek at this time.

(make your request)

We feel animated with confidence that your prayers in our behalf will be graciously heard. O Mother of My Lord, through the love you bear to Jesus Christ and for the glory of His Name, hear our prayers and obtain our petitions.
O Brilliant star of purity, Mary Immaculate, Our Lady of Lourdes, glorious in your assumption, triumphant in your coronation, show unto us the mercy of the Mother of God, Virgin Mary, Queen and Mother, be our comfort, hope, strength, and consolation. Amen.

Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us.
Saint Bernadette, pray for us.

HT to PC for the tip!

Archbishop Burke Addresses Catholic Identity

From the St Louis Review:
St. Louis Review staff writer Jennifer Brinker recently met with Archbishop Raymond L. Burke to speak about events in the media concerning the archbishop and St. Louis University basketball coach Rick Majerus, who had recently spoken publicly in favor of abortion rights and embryonic stem-cell research.

The conversation also provided the archbishop with an opportunity to speak about the importance of Catholic identity and how the faithful can best maintain that identity.

Why were you concerned about responding to the comments made by St. Louis University basketball coach Rick Majerus that he favors abortion rights and is pro-embryonic stem-cell research?

There are two levels of concern that I had in addressing the issue. Here is someone who makes a point to identify himself as a Catholic and then takes positions that are contrary to some of the most sacred teachings of the Church — teachings with regard to the inviolable dignity of every human life from the moment of its beginning. It gives scandal to other people, Catholics and nonCatholics alike, if they hear a Catholic give an interview to the media, saying that I am proud to be a Catholic but at the same time I hold these views. Then there is a second level, which is that (Majerus) represents a Catholic institution. He is a very prominent member of the St. Louis University community. Whatever his personal positions may be in regard to procured abortion or embryonic stem-cell research, he’s obliged as a public figure from a Catholic university to show respect for the teachings of the Church. For him to say these things brought my concern to a new level.

If he had been of another faith, would this have been different for you?

No, in a certain sense it would not have been different. He still represents a Catholic institution, and so even though he might belong to some faith or belief that accepts procured abortion, he would be obliged to respect the fact that the Catholic Church — and really, this pertains to the natural moral law — teaches that abortion is an intrinsic evil; and therefore he would not publicly espouse such positions.

So it comes down to the fact that he made these public statements. But let’s say for example he was of another faith and he said, "I’m for abortion rights," but he was talking among his friends and family. That would be a different scenario, right?

Of course it would. But take for example, what would you think as Catholic parents who have a son or daughter who goes to a Catholic university, and one of the real personalities of the university, a person who is seen to represent the university, is publicly espousing abortion rights? You’d say to yourself, well, this isn’t just.

There are some other things that have come up in the media about you and Mr. Majerus. The Review wanted to provide you the opportunity to set the record straight on this issue. The first issue was whether he should be denied Communion or even excommunicated. Did you bring up any of those things with the members of the media?

I did not raise the questions of denying him Holy Communion or excommunication, but representatives of the media raised them with me. When it was brought up to me, I said that is a matter that first has to be dealt with pastorally with the individual.

So are you suggesting he should speak with you or another priest about the matter? Would you be open to meeting with him?

Oh, of course. The question was asked, "This person who is a prominent figure at a local Catholic university has made these declarations. What do you think?" And I simply said it’s not possible to hold these positions, and I’m deeply concerned about it. But I also said I was confident that the university would address the situation and correct it. I also did not mix myself into the administration of the university. I expressed confidence that the university would do the right thing.

Comments have been made that you were angry or spoke out strongly about what Mr. Majerus had to say. What were you feeling when you heard what he said to a reporter while attending a political rally?

What I felt most of all was just a profound sadness. At a time when in the Church we need to give such a strong witness to the dignity of human life and the Respect Life Apostolate, this counter witness is being given. I was very sad. Did it upset me? Yes, it did. And my main concern was to correct any perception that it’s acceptable for Catholics to be in favor of procured abortion or embryonic stem-cell research. And above all, no Catholic institution could have its representatives espousing such positions. When people take a position at a Catholic institution, there’s a certain sacred trust involved there.

People say it’s a matter of freedom of speech. It’s not a question of freedom of speech. Academic freedom is something quite different. It gives you a freedom to make declarations within your particular area of competence, and according to the canons (laws) for investigation of the truth. It doesn’t give you a kind of heightened freedom to make declarations that are contrary to the truth.

I’d like to use this situation with Mr. Majerus as a springboard to talk about Catholic identity in general. We hear it in other scenarios, like, "I don’t want to be told how to vote." Or, "Why is it so important that we speak out against abortion?" What do you think a Catholic should have done in this kind of a situation, where a Catholic was presented with an opportunity to say something publicly?

First of all, it can be a wonderful occasion for someone from the media to ask you to give a witness to the truth about the inviolable dignity of unborn human life and the dignity of the infant in the womb. If there is a Catholic who for some reason is struggling with his or her adherence to this, then the correct thing to do is to be silent — certainly not to expound error or to air doubts that you’re trying to resolve in your own mind. But to seek the help of a spiritual director to clarify these things.

What if a Catholic were to say, "Archbishop Burke, I’m not struggling with it. I think abortion rights are important." How do you respond to that?

My response to that is you are in a very serious state of error and that you need to get the help to rectify your conscience. Your conscience is wrongly formed. And you need to get whatever help it takes to form your conscience properly in accord with the Church’s teaching, and in this case, with the natural moral law.

What do we need to believe in order to be Catholic? For example, when we recite the Nicene Creed at Mass, that’s something fundamental to our faith. But beyond that, are there other elements of our faith that we are bound to believe in?

We are held to believe whatever has been taught by the Church and declared by the Church to be a doctrine of the faith. All of those doctrines are connected in some way with the fundamental articles of the faith, which we profess in the Profession of Faith. Of course, the Nicene Creed doesn’t contain any of the moral teaching of the Church. Those are all things handed down either in the natural moral law or divine revelation, and further defined by the Church.

Can you give some examples of some of those teachings that go beyond the Creed?

The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception for instance; the moral teaching on the intrinsic evil of procured abortion; or the intrinsic evil of homosexual acts.

Catholics who seem to hold beliefs that go against the Church’s teachings often say that they are "doing the right thing," or "following their conscience." Does this come down to an issue of free speech?

Sometimes the primacy of the conscience is misunderstood. If you mean that the conscience has primacy — in the sense that whatever I feel or think becomes then the right thing to do — that’s false. The primacy of the conscience is related essentially to the primacy of the truth. In other words, your conscience has primacy in as much as it is conformed to the truth, and as much as it is properly informed.

For example, let’s say there is someone who espouses a position on procured abortion — that isn’t right. He can’t say that it is right simply because he holds it in his conscience. He has a duty to inform his conscience about the fact that here we are speaking about a human life. And, therefore, the only response we can make to that human life is to safeguard it and protect it. The primacy of the conscience is strictly correlated to the primacy of the truth.

Should Catholics make public statements against Church teachings, such as speaking at a rally?

When you make a public statement at a rally for instance, or any other kind of public forum, you lead other people astray with regard to what the Church teaches. You can lead astray Catholics, and you also can lead nonCatholics into error about what the Church teaches. And you even can influence them to do things that are gravely wrong. And this is what we call scandal: when you do something which leads other people into error or even into committing a sin. This is a very serious matter when a Catholic publicly espouses a position contrary to the faith.

And how does that differ from private statements made to friends and family?

With regard to conversations with family and friends, there, too, one must be careful if a person is having doubts or questions about something and is discussing this privately with another family member whom he trusts and can help him to deal with this doubt. But if you’re in a family gathering, and say there are young people there for example, and you espouse a teaching or a moral doctrine contrary to the Church, you can lead other people astray — either influence them to think wrongly about either a doctrine or a moral issue, or even lead them to do something wrong. We have to be very attentive in all of our conversations — that our words give glory to God and express our love of God and neighbor at all times. And if something we are saying is not giving glory to God and not expressing the love of God and our neighbor, then it shouldn’t pass our lips.

What do you think about the responsibility of Catholic public figures when speaking in the public arena?

Public figures, they really have so much more possibility to give a strong witness and an effective witness to the truth of the faith. I think for instance during the battle to defeat Amendment 2, those (Major League) baseball players took out an ad to say this isn’t fair to treat human embryos in this way. It had a terrific impact. Or the physicians who went around the state and talked to people, explaining to them what’s involved in embryonic stem-cell research. This is so important, because we look up to our public figures.

It seems now, more than ever, it’s difficult to be a Catholic. I think people are now starting to see that, especially with your presence here. Do you want to speak on that?

Oftentimes, members of the faithful have commented to me that it’s really a challenge these days to be a Catholic. For instance, they’ll be in social settings, even settings where a greater part of the people are Catholic, where there’s some discussion that is contrary to the Church’s teaching. And it isn’t easy for them to speak up and to defend the Church’s teaching. And yet, that’s what they’re called to do. I have had doctors, lawyers, workers of all kinds who say in their workplaces that people come in and say, ‘What is this about the Catholic Church?’ They might be the only person in the conversation who is upholding the Church’s teaching. And it isn’t easy.

I think many people are beginning to reflect on the fact that these are precisely the moments to give witness to Christ and his teaching. And maybe the people at the time ridicule you or simply reject what you say or even say that your position is medieval, but nevertheless you have given a witness. And that witness remains.

People sometimes say to me, ‘I’m not very eloquent,’ or, ‘I never studied theology,’ and these people are talking about things like the ordination of women for example. I say to them to use whatever words you have, but defend what you understand to be the Catholic faith. That’s what you’re called to do. That’s how witness is given to Christ, and that’s how people hear the truth and are led to change their thinking. It isn’t easy, and I understand that.

People laugh when I say this, but basically, I’m a quiet person. I’m not a person who likes to be making all kinds of public declarations; and yet I know that as archbishop that’s my responsibility. If I, who am supposed to be a sentinel for the faithful and to guard them against error, don’t give a warning when gravely wrong things are being said in public, I have a lot for which to answer. All of us, we have occasions in our homes, in social settings, in our work, to give this witness. It’s critical today, because the world is so confused about so many of the most fundamental truths. And if we as Catholics remain silent, we’re failing at a service we’re called to give the world — to speak the truth with love.

Finally, you mentioned it’s your responsibility as the shepherd of your flock to guide situations where there’s some kind of confusion about the teachings of the Church. We don’t always see that with all of our bishops. I know a number of people who have said, "Why is our archbishop saying this, but another bishop somewhere else isn’t doing anything at all?" What do you say to that?

I don’t know what all those other situations are (personally), and that’s strictly speaking not my business. I think what we ought to do in the archdiocese and I have to do as archbishop is say, ‘Are these situations that need to be addressed in our archdiocese?’ If they are, the archbishop better be addressing them, or he’s failing in his duty. And he shouldn’t worry about whether he appears to be different from some other bishops. We don’t know what all those situations are and what judgments those bishops are making. But sometimes people say to me, you seem to be unusual, and I’m not. I don’t think I am. I say to myself, let’s look at the situation. Is there something unusual about a bishop saying that it’s wrong to be in favor of procured abortion? I’m a Roman Catholic priest and bishop. What else would you expect me to say?

Calling Hudson, McGrath, Lears, et al...

Vatican symposium to weigh women's role

Rome, Feb. 1, 2008 ( - The Pontifical Council for the Laity has organized an international conference on the status of women, to take place in Rome next week, marking the 20th anniversary of the apostolic letter Mulieris Dignitatem by Pope John Paul II.

The conference, which will draw more than 250 from 49 countries for sessions February 7 through 9, will discuss the different but complementary aspects of motherhood and fatherhood, the balance between work and family life, and the increasing presence of women in prominent positions in society and in the Church...
Ooops, nevermind. Women priestesses doesn't appear on the bad!

Vatican official: Church should reconsider Communion in the hand

It's about time!

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments said he thinks it is time for the Catholic Church to reconsider its decision to allow the faithful to receive Communion in the hand.

Archbishop Albert Malcolm Ranjith Patabendige Don, the Vatican official, made the suggestion in the preface to a book about the Eucharist by Auxiliary Bishop Athanasius Schneider of Karaganda, Kazakhstan.

In the newly released preface to the book, Archbishop Ranjith wrote, "The Eucharist, bread transubstantiated into the body of Christ and wine into the blood of Christ -- God in our midst -- must be received with awe and an attitude of humble adoration."

The archbishop said the Second Vatican Council never authorized the practice of Catholics receiving Communion in the hand, a practice that was "introduced abusively and hurriedly in some spheres" and only later authorized by the Vatican....
After this novelty and abuse had become widespread ...

Dateline Nairobi – A Report from the Vatican's Men on the Ground

From Chiesa:
The most in-depth analysis of the conflict that has broken out in Kenya appeared in "L'Osservatore Romano", written by a missionary working in the area. The real reasons for this fratricidal war among Christians

by Sandro Magister

Q&A with Archbishop Chaput on Proposed Bill

Archbishop Charles Chaput called House Bill 1080 an "attack on religious identity" in his weekly column appearing in last week's Denver Catholic Register. He subsequently answered questions about the bill in an e-mail exchange with the Rocky Mountain News:

Q: The most straightforward interpretation of your column suggests that you will shut down Catholic Charities if this bill - or any bill - passes which restricts your ability to hire or fire based on Catholic religious standards. Is that a correct reading of what you will do?

Chaput: No. Catholic Charities will continue its core mission to the poor with or without public funds. If the government wants to carry the burden it currently asks religious-affiliated groups to carry, that's the government's business, and so are the costs and problems that go along with it.

What I actually said is that Catholic Charities "is an arm of Catholic social ministry. When it can no longer have the freedom it needs to be 'Catholic,' it will end its services." At this point, HB 1080 is only a bill; a bad bill - but not yet the law. If HB 1080 were to become law, that would be the time for us to make service decisions based on the content of the law. But if you're asking me whether I meant what I said about closing services rather than compromise our religious identity, I most certainly did.

Legionaries of Christ Leader Maciel Dead at 87

The Rev. Marcial Maciel Degollado, the charismatic founder of the religious order Legionaries of Christ, who was disgraced toward the end of his life by Vatican censure over sexual abuse accusations dating from the 1950s, is dead at the age of 87.

According to the Legionaries of Christ, the powerful Mexican priest died Wednesday of natural causes in the United States. His death was reported for the first time Thursday. The Rome-based Legionaries has a presence in Connecticut: Its U.S. headquarters is in Orange and it has operated a seminary in Cheshire.

Gospel for Friday, 3rd Week in Ordinary Time

Feast of St. Brigid, Virgin (Ireland) (NZ, Opt. Mem.)
Old Calendar: St. Ignatius, bishop and martyr;

From: Mark 4:26-34

Parables of the Seed and of the Mustard Seed

[26] And He (Jesus) said, "The Kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed upon the ground, [27] and should sleep and rise night and day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he knows not how. [28] The earth produces of itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. [29] But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest is come."

[30] And He said, "With what can we compare the Kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it? [31] It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; [32] yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade."

The End of the Parables Discourse

[33] With many such parables He spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; [34] He did not speak to them without a parable, but privately to His own disciples He explained everything.


26-29. Farmers spare no effort to prepare the ground for the sowing; but once the grain is sown there is nothing more they can do until the harvest; the grain develops by itself. Our Lord uses this comparison to describe the inner strength that causes the Kingdom of God on earth to grow up to the day of harvest (cf. Joel 3:13 and Revelation 14:15), that is, the day of the Last Judgment.

Jesus is telling His disciples about the Church: the preaching of the Gospel, the generously sown seed, will unfailingly yield its fruit, independently of who sows or who reaps: it is God who gives the growth (cf. 1 Corinthians 3:5-9). It will all happen "he knows not how", without men being fully aware of it.

The Kingdom of God also refers to the action of grace in each soul: God silently works a transformation in us, whether we sleep or watch, causing resolutions to take shape in our soul--resolutions to be faithful, to surrender ourselves, to respond to grace--until we reach "mature manhood" (cf. Ephesians 4:13). Even though it is necessary for man to make this effort, the real initiative lies with God, "because it is the Holy Spirit who, with His inspirations, gives a supernatural tone to our thoughts, desires and actions. It is He who leads us to receive Christ's teaching and to assimilate it in a profound way. It is He who gives us the light by which we perceive our personal calling and the strength to carry out all that God expects of us. If we are docile to the Holy Spirit, the image of Christ will be found more and more fully in us, and we will be brought closer every day to God the Father. `For whoever are led by the Spirit of God, they are the children of God' (Romans 8:14)" ([St] J. Escriva, "Christ Is Passing By", 135).

30-32. The main meaning of this parable has to do with the contrast between the great and the small. The seed of the Kingdom of God on earth is something very tiny to begin with (Luke 12:32; Acts 1:15); but it will grow to be a big tree. Thus we see how the small initial group of disciples grows in the early years of the Church (cf Acts 2:47; 6:7; 12:24), and spreads down the centuries and becomes a great multitude "which no man could number" (Revelation 7:9). This mysterious growth which our Lord refers to also occurs in each soul: "the Kingdom of God is in the midst of you" (Luke 17:21); we can see a prediction of this in the words of Psalm 92:12: "The righteous grow like a cedar in Lebanon." To allow the mercy of God to exalt us, to make us grow, we must make ourselves small, humble (Ezekiel 17:22-24; Luke 18:9-14).
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, January 31, 2008

Preparing for Lent, The Example of Christ

"Unto this, indeed, you have been called, because Christ also has suffered for you, leaving you an example that you may follow in his steps." 1 Peter, 2:21.

Some years ago a clergyman in Topeka, Kansas, wrote a book called "In His Steps." It attempted to show how people living today can and must walk in the way that Christ has trod. It brought the example of our Lord right down to the lives of modern business men, the modern laborer, the modern mother, the modern journalist. The book was a best seller. People liked the idea of putting the life of Christ into present-day language and modern application.

Although the book gave us nothing new, it did make very up to date one of the all-time classics, "The Following of Christ." And it did pose an all-important question:
"What would Jesus Christ do under each condition which confronts the man of today?"

Prior to this a British author had come out with a work entitled, "If Christ Came to Chicago?" Both authors were accused of a lack of reverence. Yet, there is no irreverence in trying to find the steps of Christ in twentieth century life. There is no disrespect in asking ourselves:

"What would Christ do in my position? How would Jesus act in this situa­tion? What would Jesus do today and now?"

That is one reason the Son of God came to this earth - to give us an ex­ample which we might follow. One of the principal reasons for Lent is the chance to do just that in a special way at a special time.

Why Lent? Why do we fast and deny ourselves, why do we attend spe­cial services, say more prayers and better prayers for forty long days? We do it because Christ did it.

"Unto this, indeed, you have been called, because Christ also has suf­fered for you, leaving you an example that you follow in his steps."

The same Spirit that led Christ into the desert, leads us into the land of self-denial. The same Spirit that called Christ, is calling you, for we read:
"Now Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan, and was led about the desert by the Spirit for forty days, being tempted all the while by the devil." St. Luke, 4:1.

Listen to that same call. Answer that call. Follow His example, for -

"Yet on the plains of common life
"Through all the world of men,
"The voice that once said, 'Follow Me,'
"Speaks to our hearts again."

Picture Christ in the full bloom of His manhood, starting out into that barren, desolate desert. No tree to cast a shade; no spring to quench the thirst; no couch on which to lie; nothing of what the body craves - nothing but burning sand, jagged rocks and thorny bushes. No sign of life but the howling of wild beasts.

Into this wilderness went our Master. There, away from the maddening crowd, away from all that would turn His mind to things of sense, in sol­emn stillness Jesus speaks to His heavenly Father. There He remains for forty days, forty days of the most rigorous fasting, forty days of conversa­tion with His Father, forty days without the simplest comforts of the body.

Because our Savior spent those forty days in penance, we try to do the same. For us, for you and for me, He fasted and prayed and suffered. But He wants us to do our share. He wants us to follow Him. He wants us to follow the call of the Spirit. He tells us:
"If anyone wishes to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me." St. Matthew, 16:24.

Oh, yes, gladly we sit with Jesus at the marriage feast of Cana, gladly we stand with Him at the seaside, eagerly we crowd about Him as He multi­plies the loaves and fishes, as He heals our ills and forgives our sins. Why is it we can be brave and friendly with Him as He teaches and heals and blesses, and then - then desert Him when He starts out for the wilderness?

No such fair-weather friends will we be! Rather, we will enter on these desert days, these days of Lent, walking in the footsteps of our Lord, shar­ing His great pains in a little way, imitating His strict fast according to our ability, praying and speaking to God from our narrow hearts.

For forty days our Lord fasted. He ate nothing. For this reason Mother Church asks those who can to fast also, to cut down on food and drink, in imitation of Jesus.

But, kind Mother that she is, the Church realizes that many of us, weak children of Adam, working for our bread in the sweat of our brow, or even worse, not being able to work when we want to, cannot keep the strict fast from food.

Accordingly she dispenses those who work hard, the sick and convalescent, and others who have some valid excuse. However, do not take it upon yourself to dispense yourself. Ask your priest either in or out of the confessional to dispense you and to give you some other penance as a substitute. Too often lukewarm Catholics excuse themselves from fasting and then do no penance at all. Everybody must do some penance.

There is another form of fasting, spiritual fasting. What a lovely way to fast, you may say. Lovely, but not so easy. By spiritual fasting I mean fasting from sin. This fast we must keep all year, and all our lives, but par­ticularly during this season of penance. Fast from sin, cries the Church, fast from sin.

We can fast with our eyes. Do sexy and suggestive scenes find their way through your eyes into your soul? Are your glances at the opposite sex occasions, serious occasions, of sin to you? An impure picture, be it in newspaper, magazine or book, be it in photograph or print or TV, that you take into your heart through your eyes is a breaking of this spiritual fast.

Here is a test: Would I read this passage or dwell on this picture if my mother or father, or my one and only were at my side? If you would not read it then, do not look at it now - or later. Even if no human being sees you, God does see you. Think of Christ in the desert giving up the sight of every­thing pleasant and lawful for you. For His sake give up the sight of what is unlawful.

It is in this spirit that many followers of Christ give up movies during Lent, even good movies. They do penance with their eyes.

There is also a fasting with the tongue. Not merely abstaining from food and drink or certain tasty things like candy, but abstaining from filthy lan­guage, from suggestive stories and speech, from cursing and swearing, and from uncharitable talk. When such words come to your tongue, swallow them. Tell our Lord, who was silent in the bitter silence of the desert forty days - tell Him that you will choke back the wrong word for His sake. Fast with your tongue.

Let your ears join in this fast. Close them to the kind of talk I just men­tioned. Open them to the word of God. Open them to the commands of your parents or superiors, the advice and instruction of your teachers, the corrections of your true friends and of your spiritual leaders, your priests and your bishop. Make your ears do penance by listening to Lenten sermons. The value of doing penance with your eyes and ears and tongue is pointed out by St. Francis de Sales:

"Believe me, the mortification of the senses - of the sight, the hearing, the tongue - is more beneficial than to wear a chain of iron and a hair-shirt."

Before you leave the presence of God tonight, tell Him just how you are going to fast this Lent. Don't simply say: "O God, I'm sorry for my sins. I will do something to make up. I will do something to share in the suffer­ings of Christ."

No, be definite; be practical. Tell our Lord:
"O Lord, I am sorry for my sins. To prove my sorrow I will fast with
my eyes by cutting out all unlawful reading and shows, and also by not looking at movies which might even be lawful. I will fast with my tongue by stopping all unkind and indecent speech. I will fast with my ears by closing them to what is impure and unkind, and opening them to what will do my soul some good, to Your voice and the voice of those who serve You."­

Then ask God to help you keep your resolve. Often repeat your resolution. Every morning and evening make your promise again. With the help of Christ who spent forty similar days in checking His ears, His eyes, and His tongue, you will be making a fast that is pleasing to Almighty God and profitable to yourself, here and in the happier life to come.

Christ went into the desert not only to do penance, but also to pray. As we follow our Savior into the wilderness we see Him day after day going without food, without drink, without any human comfort. We also see Him frequently raising His magnificent eyes to heaven. Often we come upon Him kneeling beside a rock or a tree, talking to His heavenly Father. The greater part of those forty days Christ spent in prayer. Would you be Christ's follower? Then you too must pray, especially during Lent.

The best prayer is Holy Mass. It is the best prayer and the best sacri­fice combined. It is the uniting in one service all the sufferings, all the teachings of our Lord. No one can measure the value of a single Mass. Yes, we Catholics appreciate the Mass. Most of you deserve a pat on the back for your faithfulness to Sunday Mass.

But, during Lent we want to do more. Many of you can come during the week. It will mean sacrificing some sleep, but I know you will make that sacrifice once you bring home to yourself this fact: Jesus spent forty days without a decent place to lay His holy head, and I don't love Him enough to give up a little sleep for Him.

Mass reminds us of the desert; Mass is the Last Supper all over again; Mass is Gethsemane; Mass is the passion; Mass is Calvary; Mass is the cru­cifixion; and Mass is Easter Sunday - all made present to us again.

In that first Lent Christ not only did penance and prayed, He also thought and meditated. Meditation is simply prayer without words, prayer of the soul and mind and heart. It is talking to God with the tongue of the spirit, and hearing Him answer with the ears of the soul.

Meditation is for the sanest and most sensible people, even though it sends the soul soaring through the skies. Thought is necessary in the ma­terial world. It is even more needed in the spiritual world. On every ship there must be someone to think out the problems and map the course and see that the ship pursues that course. Otherwise the vessel drifts aimlessly and will never make port.

Everyone of you is captain of your own ship - your soul. Either you will sail it or wreck it. To meet the problems of every day you must think. I once heard a great psychiatrist of the University of Chicago declare abou't thinking:
"People who think two minutes a month, will be the leaders."

Yes, men who meditate will be masters of their souls. Am I asking you to spend hours doing nothing but sit with your head in your hands, gazing over the ocean of thought? No, but I am asking everyone of you to sit down each day - and think. Sisters and priests have a definite time set apart daily for spiritual thinking. Here is how to do it.

Read a paragraph or two from a religious book or pamphlet. Close the book and think about what you read. Thinking means putting two or more ideas side by side. We have just heard that Lent is a time of penance and prayer in imitation of Christ Himself. On the one hand we have the in­spiring picture of Christ, the thought of His prayer and His penance. On the other, stand we, a distressing thought, with our poor prayers and our paltry penances. Compare yourself with Christ and you are thinking.

Picture Christ in the desert comparing His life there with the life His heavenly Father wanted Him to lead. Jesus spent days in this spiritual thinking. We can surely spend a few minutes each day thinking about God and ourselves, and how we stand with God, in the light of the Great Ex­ample, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Master.

To think you should have quiet, you ought to be alone. You ought to be alone often, because alone you came into the world, alone you leave it, and alone, pitifully alone, will you stand before the Supreme Judge. To get acquainted with yourself, you must be alone with yourself, at least alone with your thoughts. Don't fear that being alone with your thoughts is to be lonely. A certain poet puts it: "Alone, but yet not lonely."

And that keen convert, Cardinal Newman, tells us: "I am never less alone than when alone."

Get acquainted with yourself. Talk to you. That is thinking, that is meditation, that is what Jesus did in the desert, and that is what He wants us to do during part of these forty days.

Let us do a little thinking about what happens on Ash Wednesday. When the priest puts ashes on your head, he speaks the solemn, serious words: "Remember man that thou art dust and unto dust thou shalt return."

Ashes tell us more loudly than words that death will reduce our bodies to a little handful of dust or ashes. Ashes remind us that this body, no mat­ter how beautiful, no matter how brawny, no matter how healthy, will break down, will wither and die and turn to ashes.

A pessimistic thought, cries the worldling. Why cloud life with such a gloomy idea? But is this such a gloomy thought? No, because we followers of Christ know for certain that the body dies, but the soul lives on; the body is mortal but the soul is immortal; the body rots but the soul takes on a new brilliance, a higher and better life. Ash-Wednesday brings m mind those sobering lines of Grey's Elegy, or Song in a Country Churchyard:

"The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power,
"And all that beauty, all that wealth e'er gave,
"Await alike the inevitable hour­
"The paths of beauty lead but to the grave."

In mock beauty these lines tell us that rather distressing truth: You must die. You must go back to the earth from which you came. But, beside these lines of Grey, we place the hopeful, uplifting lines of Longfellow, which tell us the soul lives on:
"Life is real, life is earnest,
"And the grave is not its goal.
"Dust thou art to dust returnest
"Was not spoken of the soul."

As Jesus finished His forty days of prayer and penance, He was tempted three times. Some say He was tempted constantly during that first Lent. You, too, can expect to be tempted during Lent, tempted to go back on your Ash-Wednesday promises, tempted to go back on your Lenten resolutions, tempted to give up fasting, tempted to go back to your sins, tempted to quit attending Mass and receiving Holy Communion frequently or even daily.

Do you want to be a true follower of Christ? Then, like our Lord, brush those temptations aside. To do this, think of Christ in the desert and beg for the grace and strength to walk in His footsteps, for He has left you an example that you may follow in His steps.

The Magnificent Christ! Who so powerful, so royal, so humble, so he­roic, so loving, so unselfish as the King we follow? What can keep us from giving Him our love, our service, our devotion? With St. Paul -
"I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things pres­ent, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans, 8:39.

We will follow Him; we will be true to Him. Like Judas, we may have betrayed Him; like Peter, we may have denied Him; like Magdalen, we may have offended Him; like Pilate, we may have condemned Him; like Herod, we may have insulted Him. But, all is forgiven and forgotten. We are going back to Him, to Christ, not to a Caesar or Napoleon, not to a Hitler, a Mussolini or a Stalin, no, but back to Christ, to swear loyalty to Him, to follow Him, cost what it may, for He - Christ - Christ alone is our leader. Amen.
Adapted from With Christ Through Lent
by Fr. Arthur Tonne, OFM (©1951)

Just for Today, February 1

Nature desires to be taken notice of, and to do such things as may procure praise and admiration. Grace teaches us to restrain the senses, to avoid vain com­placency and ostentation, humbly to hide those things which are worthy of praise and admiration, and from everything, and in every knowledge, to seek the fruit of spiritual profit, and the praise and honour of God.
-Bk. III, ch. liv.

When my divine Master bade me give to whomsoever asks of me, and not ask that what has been taken be restored to me, it seems to me that He was speaking of spiritual as well as earthly possessions. Neither are my own property: I have renounced the latter by my vow of poverty, and the former are only lent to me by God, who is at liberty to withdraw them without my having any right to complain.

One's own deep and original reflections, living flames that spring from the mind and heart, are a personal treasure to be jealously guarded. For instance, if I share with some Sister a light I have received in prayer, and she passes this on as her own, I feel that she has robbed me. In the same way, if at recreation a witty remark is appropriated by another and repeated before the Community, the original owner of the saying feels that she has been defrauded of what is hers, and though she does not claim it at the time, yet she takes good care that the authorship becomes known.

But I have been given the grace to be as detached from the treasures of my mind and heart as I am from those of this world. If I happen to think or say anything that pleases my Sisters, I take it as a matter of course if they appropriate it: the thought came from the Holy Ghost, for St Paul assures us that without His inspiration we cannot even call God our Father (Rom. viii, 15). He is at liberty to communicate through me a good thought to another soul, and I cannot consider it as mine.
-The Story of a Soul (L'Histoire d'une Âme)
For more information, see this post.
Adapted from Just For Today(©1943 Burns & Oates)
Nihil Obstat: Reginaldus Phillips, S.T.L.,Censor deputatus
Imprimatur: Edwardus Myers, Vic. Cap.

Thoughts and Counsels - February 1

The most perfect and meritorious intention is that by which, in all our actions, we have in view only the good pleasure of God and the ac­complishment of His holy Will.

-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 February 1, Undivided Love

"There are three degrees of perfection:
The first, to detest evil for love of the Beloved;
the second, to do good for the sake of the Beloved whom we wish to please;
and the highest of all, to love only the Beloved." (St. Albert the Great.)

I must aspire to this highest degree of perfection if I wish to ar­rive at the ideal demanded by my religious life in its noblest and fullest sense.

I must permit not even the appearance of a division of my heart's affections. "Love only the Beloved." Jesus has a right to all. I have no room for another love.

When St. Agnes was asked to give herself to earthly love she an­swered, "That is impossible, I have already given my heart; I be­long to someone else; I am no longer free."

Virginal love demands this uncompromising spirit which is its most beautiful character. A young wife is not only faithful to her husband, but she attempts even the impossible to prove her love. It requires only little things to reveal love - a bouquet here, a lit­tle attention there... mere trifles in themselves--but they are the eloquent language of that magnificent force - love.

We would do well to add to the words of St. Albert, "love only the Beloved" the counsel, "neglect nothing to show your love to your Beloved."

"O Jesus, Love of my soul, grant that I may know how to prove my love with more than words. You wish not merely beautiful, emotional words, but actions which are the living, effective proofs of the divine. exclusiveness of a tried love."
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

St. Francis de Sales Oratory Schedule

Saint Francis de Sales Oratory
2653 Ohio Avenue
St. Louis, Missouri 63118

Friday, February 1, St. Ignatius of Antioch, First Friday
Votive Mass of the Most Sacred Heart
7:30 a.m. Confessions
8:00 a.m. Mass
6:00 p.m. Confessions
6:30 p.m. Solemn High Mass and Benediction

Saturday, February 2, Purification of Our Lady - Candle Mass
8:00 a.m. Blessing of Candles, Procession Solemn High Mass, Blessing of St. Blaise

40 Hours Devotion
Sunday, February 3 - Tuesday, February 5, 2007

All Faithful who adore the Blessed Sacrament at least for half an hour may receive a plenary indulgence under the ordinary conditions: Confession, Communion, Prayer in the intention of the Holy Father, Detachment from any sin. If these conditions are not fulfilled the church grants a partial indulgence

Sunday, February 3, Quinquagesima
7:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Confessions
8:00 a.m. Mass with Organ
10:00 a.m. Pontifical High Mass with His Excellency, The Most Rev. Robert Hermann, Auxiliary Bishop in St. Louis; Votive Mass of the Holy Eucharist; Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, Litany of the Saints and Procession for the Beginning of the 40 Hours Devotion
18:00 p.m. Vespers; Reposition

Monday, February 4, St. Andrew Corsini
7:30 a.m. Confessions
8:00 a.m. Mass, Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament
11:30 a.m. Confessions
12:10 p.m. Mass at St. Joseph's Altar
5:00 p.m. Confessions
6:30 p. m. Solemn High Mass: Votive Mass of the Holy Eucharist

Tuesday, February 5, St. Agatha
7:30 a.m. Confessions
8:00 a.m. Mass, Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament
11:30 a.m. Confessions
12:10 p.m. Mass at St. Joseph's Altar
5:00 p.m. Confessions
6:30 p. m. Solemn High Mass: Votive Mass of the Holy Eucharist

Litany of the Saints and Procession for the Closing of the 40 Hours Devotion, Benediction

Ash Wednesday
Wednesday, February 6
7:30 a.m. Confessions
8:00 a.m. Mass with Blessing and distribution of the ashes
11:30 p.m. Mass with Blessing and distribution of the ashes
6:30 p.m. Confessions
6:30 p.m. Solemn High Mass, Benediction and distribution of the ashes

Thursday, February 7, Feria, Comm. St. Romuald, First Thursday
7:30 a.m. Confessions
8:00 a.m. Mass Votive Mass of Jesus Christ the Eternal High Priest
6:30 p.m. Confessions
6:30 p.m. Eucharistic Adoration and Benediction

Friday, February 8, Feria, Comm. St. John of Matha
7:30 a.m. Confessions
8:00 a.m. Mass
6:00 p.m. Confessions
6:30 p.m. Mass: Votive Mass of the Crown of Thorns
After Mass: Stations of the Cross

Saturday, February 9, Feria, Comm St. Cyril and St. Apolonia
7:30 a.m. Confessions
8:00 a.m. Mass

Sunday, February 10, First Sunday of Lent
7:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Confessions
8:00 a.m. Mass
10:00 a.m. High Mass

Archbishop says he will close Catholic Charities rather than compromise Church teaching

Like its sister organization in California did, Catholic Charities in Colorado is facing the prospect of a state law that would require it to violate Catholic teaching. But, unlike his brother bishops in California, Denver’s Archbishop Charles Chaput has said he will shut down his Church’s charitable organization rather than submit.
Writing in the Jan. 23 Denver Catholic Register, the archdiocesan newspaper, Archbishop Chaput said the bill “would attack the religious identity of religious nonprofits serving the wider community.” Since Catholic non-profits “play a major role in serving the needy through organizations like Catholic Charities -- in fact, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Denver is the largest non-government human services provider in the Rocky Mountain West -- Catholics will bear a disproportionate part of the damage,” said Chaput.
Though Colorado Catholic Charities “does not proselytize,” said Chaput, it also “has no interest at all in generic do-goodism; on the contrary, it’s an arm of Catholic social ministry. When it can no longer have the freedom it needs to be ‘Catholic,’ it will end its services.

“This is not idle talk. I am very serious,” said Chaput.
A bishop with a backbone...and because of this, he (and others) will need our fervent prayers. The forces of evil are busily at work to render impotent the teachings of the Church and the natural moral law. State tyranny and its incessant push to legitimize homosexuality must be opposed - something California bishops could learn by this example.

Scientific Progress Must Respect Human Dignity

VATICAN CITY, 31 JAN 2008 (VIS) - This morning, Benedict XVI received participants in the plenary session of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which is being held this week in the Vatican.

The Pope recalled how last year the congregation published "two important documents presenting ... certain clarifications necessary for the correct functioning of ecumenical dialogue, and of dialogue with the religions and cultures of the world".

The first of these documents, "Responses to some Questions Regarding Certain Aspects of the Doctrine on the Church", confirms that "the one and only Church of Christ has subsistence, permanence and stability in the Catholic Church and, consequently, that the unity, indivisibility and indestructibility of the Church of Christ is not invalidated by separations and divisions among Christians"....

Benedict XVI invited the members of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to give particular attention to "the difficult and complex problems of bioethics". In this context, he indicated that the "Church's Magisterium certainly cannot and should not intervene on every scientific innovation. Rather, it has the task of reiterating the great values at stake, and providing the faithful, and all men and women of good will, with ethical-moral principals and guidelines for these new and important questions.

"The two fundamental criteria for moral discernment in this field", he added, "are: unconditional respect for the human being as a person, from conception to natural death; and respect for the origin of the transmission of human life through the acts of the spouses".....

Scratch this college off the list...

Catholic University Extols Pro-Abortion Alumnus Nancy Pelosi

WASHINGTON, January 30, 2008 ( - Despite its Catholic mission, Trinity University in Washington, D.C., continues to extol two of its pro-abortion alumnae, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius. Both public officials identify themselves as Catholics, but reject Catholic teaching on serious moral issues.

"It runs contrary to the very purpose of a Catholic university to applaud the pursuit of power for gravely immoral ends," said Patrick J. Reilly, President of The Cardinal Newman Society. "By deliberately associating itself with vocal advocates of what Pope John Paul II called a 'Culture of Death,' Trinity University has taken the low road...."
It's amazing that colleges like this are still in existence.

More at LifesiteNews here.

Catholic Church numbers in Norway swell with arrival of Poles

Oslo (ENI). Norway's government has praised the country's small Roman Catholic Church for its role in supporting more than 100 000 labour migrants from Poland and other eastern European countries. "We have become increasingly aware of the crucial role the Catholic Church is playing in responding to this challenge," Bjarne Haakon Hansen, the government minister for labour and social inclusion told Oslo's Catholic Bishop Bernt Eidsvig earlier in January, the Vaart Land newspaper reported....

Naked Man Ad Riles Boston Catholics

BOSTON -- A fitness club ad running in Boston magazine that depicts nuns sketching a naked man has triggered protests among some members of the Bay State's Catholic community.

The ad for the Equinox Fitness Club is running in this month's issue and some Catholic organizations blasted the photo saying it was offensive.

C.J. Doyle of the Catholic Action League of Massachusetts said the ad shows contempt for the Catholic religion...

Gospel for Jan 31, Memorial: St. John Bosco, priest

Old Calendar: St. John Bosco, confessor

From: Mark 4:21-25

Parables of the Lamp and the Measure

[21] And He (Jesus) said to them, "Is a lamp brought in to be put under a bushel, or under a bed, and not on a stand? [22] For there is nothing hid, except to be made manifest; nor is anything secret, except to come to light. [23] If any man has ears to hear, let him hear." [24] And He said to them, "Take heed what you hear; the measure you give will be the measure you get, and still more will be given you. [25] For to him who has will more be given; and from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away."


21. A "bushel" was a container used for measuring cereals and vegetables. It held a little over eight liters (two gallons).

22. This parable contains a double teaching. Firstly, it says that Christ's doctrine should not be kept hidden; rather, it must be preached throughout the whole world. We find the same idea elsewhere in the Gospels: "what you hear whispered, proclaim it upon the house-tops" (Matthew 10:27); "Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to the whole of creation..." (Mark 16:15). The other teaching is that the Kingdom which Christ proclaims has such ability to penetrate all hearts that, at the end of time, when Jesus comes again, not a single human action, in favor or against Christ, will not become public and manifest.

24-25. Our Lord never gets tired of asking the Apostles, the seed which will produce the Church, to listen carefully to the teaching He is giving: they are receiving a treasure for which they will be held to account. "To him who has will more be given...": he who responds to grace will be given more grace and will yield more and more fruit; but he who does not will become more and more impoverished (cf. Matthew 25:14-30). Therefore, there is no limit to the development of the theological virtues: "If you say `Enough,' you are already dead" (St. Augustine, "Sermon 51"). A soul who wants to make progress in the interior life will pray along these lines: "Lord, may I have due measure in everything, except in Love" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 247).
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, January 30, 2008

Just for Today, January 31

How can a life be loved that hath so great bitterness, that is subject to so many calamities and miseries? How can it be called life, since it begets so many deaths and plagues?
-Bk. III, ch. xx.

We must therefore have patience, and wait for the mercy of God till iniquity pass away, and this mortality be swallowed up by immortal life.
-Bk. I, ch. xxii.

It grieved me to see her so ill, and I often said: "How sad life is!" but she would at once correct me: "Life is not sad, but joyful. If you said: How sad is our exile! I could understand; it is a mistake to call what will pass away life. We should only apply that beautiful word to what will never die, to heavenly things; and as we already enjoy a foretaste of them upon earth, life is not sad but cheerful and very bright."
-Conseils et Souvenirs
For more information, see this post.
Adapted from Just For Today(©1943 Burns & Oates)
Nihil Obstat: Reginaldus Phillips, S.T.L.,Censor deputatus
Imprimatur: Edwardus Myers, Vic. Cap.

Thoughts and Counsels - January 31

It is folly not to think of death. It is greater folly to think of it, and not prepare for it.

-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 January 31, The Secret of Success

St. John Bosco spent some years in working on a farm. One day while sowing seed with his master, the Angelus rang; John stopped and knelt down.

"What are you doing there, my boy? Get up and get to work!"

John answered that it is prayer which renders work fruitful. "lf we pray while sowing two seeds, four ears grow. If we sow four seeds without praying, only two ears grow."

This advice is worthwhile. Only too often we work untiringly but with too little supernatural spirit. God grant that my exercises of piety may not suffer too much from this excessive activity. We need not be surprised that the results are not in proportion to the work.

There is nothing surprising in it. "lf we pray while sowing two seeds, four ears grow." Where there is union with God, true de­tachment from self, and a purely supernatural motive for work which is in reality only the continuation of prayer, there is, even if appearances do not indicate it, a true spiritual fruitfulness.

"lf we sow four seeds" neglecting to pray while throwing them into the furrow, that is if the work is not actuated by faith, re­nunciation, union with Our Lord, the results, even though they seem successful, will be only mediocre; "only two ears will grow."

"St. John Bosco, who so clearly points out the secret of success in work, grant that by your example I may supernaturalize all my works, and put as much as possible of the divine into my human activity."
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

Clinton's Faith, Family and Values

My latest Clinton email states, in part:

Faith, Family and Values
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Hillary - Faith, Family and Values

[snip lies]

In Florida , Hillary won a significant victory in the highest turnout Democratic primary in the state’s history.

Hillary’s winning coalition was large, broad, and diverse including all faith groups.

Catholic (24% of total)
Clinton – 63
Obama – 22

Protestant (27% of total)
Clinton – 45
Obama – 33

Jewish (9 % of total)
Clinton – 58
Obama – 26

[snip anecdotal claims of Clinton's faith beliefs]

24% of the votes cast in the Florida Democratic Primary were from Catholics - and 99% of these votes were cast for promoters of the murder of innocent unborn children. Unbelievable! Yet one more reason why cloning should be banned - these professed Catholics are clones of Judas!

Statistical source: MSNBC

The Sponsors of the Peter Phan Lecture Are...

From Catholic Action Network, we read:

Peter Phan will be in St. Louis Feb. 8th

Join CAN [Catholic Action Network] at Forest Park Community College in the Highlander Lounge at 7:00 pm for "Being Religious in A Religiously Plural World: Challenges and Opportunities of Interreligious Dialogue"

Fr. Phan was scheduled to speak at the Aquinas Lecture this year. His lecture was canceled and he will now be speaking in St. Louis on February 8th. This event is co-sponsored by Catholic Action Network, CTSA [Center for Theology and Social Analysis], and FOSIL.
They call themselvs "Catholic," and we wonder "why?"

[Thanks to thetimman for the correction...I knew what it was, but copied and pated the wrong group. My apologies...]

As an aside, the "women's led liturgy" for November 24 has yet to be posted at Catholic Action Network. CAN states:
This liturgy was focused on the Women Martyrs of Central America with Inter-Faith Committee on Latin America(IFCLA), a fellow Justice and Peace Shares organization.

If it was so interesting, one would think it would have been discussed by now.

The January 26th "liturgy" at St Cronan's was about "Prophetic Obedience" - a term widely used by the deluded women pretending to be priests/priestesses. There is a call for help, though, as we read:

Women are welcome to preside and give the homily.
If you are interested please contact
Megan Heeney at 314-721-2977.

If you are interested in helping to prepare the liturgy or
share any talent you might have please let Megan know.
We always need readers, singers and musicians.

All women and men are invited
to join us in prayer.

We meet on the fourth Saturday of the month at 10:00
pm at St. Cronans. The next liturgies will be February
23rd, March 22nd and April 26th.

There will be a Winter Retreat February 2-3
e-mail Megan at

Ree and Elsie are co-pastoring the Thérèse of Divine
Peace Inclusive Community February 3, 2007. The
Thérèse community will meet in Hope Chapel at the First
Unitarian Church of Saint Louis, 5007 Waterman
Avenue. Please join us!

All dissenting Catholics are welcome...

Read it and weep, here. And most importantly, let us remember to keep these people in our prayers, and offer reparations for them, especially as we enter into the season of Lent.