Saturday, June 10, 2006

Trinity Sunday - Hungering after Justice

"Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations." St. Matthew, 28:19.

In a quaint little village far up in the mountains of Switzerland there lived years ago an old man who had spent his life working in ivory. His hair was white; his shoulders bent. But his eye was bright and his hand steady, as he fashioned out the hard, white ivory daisies, violets and butter­cups.

From his window he could look for miles over the valley. That long look rested his eyes; but it also was his inspiration, for it let him see the beautiful storms, the gorgeous sunsets, and especially the glorious flowers pinned to the steep hillsides.

One day a visitor chose six of his flowers to take to her daughters in America. As she placed them against the soft velvet of her dress, they seemed so real that she exclaimed with admiration:

"They are perfect, just perfect. How can you make them so real?"

"No, madam," the old carver replied. "They are not perfect. I wish I could make just one perfect one. For thirty years I have tried to make a flower like God has made, but something is always missing. When I bring in a flower from the field and set it beside my own, I see how imperfect my workmanship is. However, I have honestly and laboriously tried, and it is worthwhile giving one's life trying to make a perfect thing, don't you think?"

The mother brought the flower pins home to her daughters, and tried her best to give them the message and spirit of the man who made them. His name, by the way, was Hans Klatt.

Years later one of these daughers was known as a wonderful, ideal mother, patient, courteous and loving. When a friend asked the secret of her well-­known goodness, the young mother brought out the flower pin her mother had brought from Switzerland, and briefly told the story of the man who made it. She concluded by quoting the old carver's words:

"It is worthwhile giving one's life in trying to make a perfect thing."

Then she added:
"Through the years that sentence has been a challenge. I cannot be a perfect mother; I cannot expect to have perfect children. But I can keep on trying for that. Like Hans Klatt, I want to give my time and talent to making a beautiful life, as perfect a life as possible."

That young mother was living the spirit of the Fourth Beatitude: "Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for justice, for they shall be filled." St. Matthew, 5:6.

The meaning of these words is this: Blessed are they who strive stren­uously after truth and spiritual perfection, for they shall attain it, they shall be satisfied, they shall be filled by the beatific vision of God in heaven.

1. Justice means the whole range of Christian virtue. In that complete sense St. Joseph was called a "just man." St. Matthew, 1:19.

2. St. Bernardine of Siena explains that this justice renders­
A. To God:
i. The honor due Him as creator.
ii. The love we owe Him as Redeemer.
iii. Filial fear of Him as our judge.

B. To neighbors:
i. Obedience to superiors, at home, at work and at school.
ii. Agreement with and understanding of equals.
iii. Kindness to and consideration of inferiors.

C. To ourselves:
i. By purity of heart.
ii. By guarding the tongue.
iii. By discipling the body.
3. Those who hunger and thirst after justice are those­
A. Who aim at and strive for all the Christian perfections.
B. Who strive to become just, if they are not already so.
C. Who continue to advance in-virtue, once they are on the right road.
D. Who daily try to grow in love of God and man.
E. Who prefer virtue and spiritual goods to food and drink for the body.
F. Who seek only the will of God and the good of souls.
G. Who desire and work that the laws of justice be observed.
H. Who yearn and pray and labor for the conversion of sinners, and the triumph of the Church.

4. Such a holy hunger and thirst bring blessings:
A. It controls the lower passions.
B. It fixes the mind on higher and more lasting things.
C. It stirs the heart and will to work for God.

Today Christ tells us to go and teach all nations all that He has commanded. This we are to do in the name and in the power of the Blessed Trinity, whom we especially honor today.

Many of you, I am sure, want to be more perfect; you want to be more like the divine, attractive Model who spoke from the mount nearly 2000 years ago, who speaks to us today, telling us that they are blessed, they are truly and spiritually happy who try, who strive, who hunger and thirst in their effort to be more like the divine Model. In a word, they try to be more perfect. Their efforts will not be in vain.

Occasionally you may feel discouraged in your striving for spiritual success. Remember the Swiss carver. For thirty years he tried to chisel out of ivory, figures like the perfect flowers of the field. He kept on trying, even though he saw so much difference. ­

There is an infinite difference between ourselves and Christ, yet we keep on trying, we keep hungering and thirsting to be like Him; and, as He prom­ises us in the Fourth Beatitude, we shall have our fill. Our spiritual striv­ings shall be satisfied. Amen.
Adapted from Prayers, Precepts and Virtues
by Fr. Arthur Tonne, OFM (©1949)

Trinity Sunday - Scandal

"Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you." St. Matthew, 28:19.

There lived years ago a famous potter by the name of Josiah Wedgwood. He was especially renowned for his beautiful vases. One day there came to his pottery a wealthy customer. Wedgwood asked his office boy, a lad of fifteen years, to show the visitor through the plant. The stranger was just as filthy as he was wealthy, filthy in his talk and remarks. He cursed and swore. At first the lad was shocked, but gradually he began to laugh at his guest's remarks.

Accidentally Wedgwood heard some of this off-color conversation. The famous potter picked up an unusually beautiful vase. He called attention to the variety of colors and the gorgeous designs. The visitor was delighted. He reached out to look at it himself. Just as he touched it the potter let it fall to the ground-purposely. The precious vase broke into a hundred pieces.

"What's the idea?" shouted the visitor. "I wanted to buy that vase."

"Friend," replied the old potter sternly, "there are things more precious than any vase, things that can never be restored once they are ruined. I can make another vase like that, but you can never make another clean heart, another simple faith like that which you have taken from the boy working for me."

What an effective way to show the wickedness of scandal. Giving scan­dal is breaking the beautiful vase of a clean mind and an upright life. When we consider the Fifth Commandment we must realize that the words, "Thou shalt not kill," forbid us to injure our neighbor in body or soul.

To destroy a soul is much worse than to destroy a body.

Yet, scandal, or giving bad example, is one of the most frequent sins. It is far-reaching in its evil effects.

Scandal means any word, act, or omission which can or does cause another to commit sin. It is not necessary to have the intention of giving bad example. It is sufficient that the thing done or omitted be such as to lead others into sin.

Neither is it necessary that the thing done be sinful, as long as it has the appearance of sin. Nor is it required that the person scandalized be good or innocent, or that he actually fall into sin.

Scandal is direct when it is intended to lead others into sin. It is indi­rect when it is not intended to lead others into sin, but is an occasion for sin. Scandal may be given by words or actions which are not bad, but which may be misunderstood as bad by those who are weak. Even from such scan­dal we are bound to refrain.

1. We scandalize in words when we speak, for example, against religion or the clergy, or when we blaspheme, curse, swear, or indulge in immodest talk. That is the type of scandal of which the rich visitor in my story was guilty. He is guilty of scandal in words who makes known to others evils of which they were ignorant, who commands, advises, promises, praises or threatens others into sin, which they would otherwise not have committed.

Here we think of those who recommend birth control, espe­cially to young couples, and of those who suggest certain unprincipled doc­tors for illegal and unnatural operations.

2. We scandalize in action when our conduct knowingly leads others to evil, when we provide occasion for sin which others would not otherwise have. Examples of this are working on Sunday, misbehaving in church, quarreling in public, violating the laws of fast and abstinence before others, indecency in dress and behavior.

3. Scandal is given by omission when we neglect to do what is required. Examples are missing Mass on Sunday, neglecting confession and Com­munion, failing to train children in their religion, or to correct and watch over them.

In a word, scandal is given whenever the Commandments of God or of His Church are publicly broken. No wonder our Lord cried out: "Woe to the world because of scandals!" St. Matthew, 18:7.

4. Scandal in itself is an exceedingly serious sin, because­:
A. It harms the soul of our neighbor. Murder kills the body; scandal kills the soul.

B. Even after the death of the scandal-giver his evil work continues.

C. It is the work of the devil himself.

5. The seriousness of scandal depends on three things­:
A. The intention - he who intends bad example is more guilty than he who does not intend it.

B. Scandal is more serious on the part of those in authority, especially parents, priest, bishops, politicians, and teachers.

C. The evil which results from it.

Listen to our Lord speak of scandal:
"Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it were better for him to have a great millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depths of the sea." St. Matthew, 18:6.

Scandal-givers twist the words and wishes of Jesus as He tells us to go and make disciples of all nations. The scandal-giver goes out and makes disciples, not for Christ, but for the devil. Like the visitor at the pottery, he destroys something more beautiful and precious than the most valuable vase - he destroys a soul.

Examine yourself today. Don't do the work of the devil. Work for Christ. Amen.
Adapted from Talks on the Commandments
by Fr. Arthur Tonne, OFM (© 1948)

Trinity Sunday - The Recipient of Confession

"Go, therefore, and make disciples of a11 'ations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son; and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obew all that I have commanded you." St. Matthew, 18:19.

Bishop Curtis of Wilmington, Delaware, was one of the most illustrious American converts to the Church. In an address on how he became a Catholic he started with the blunt statement: "Confession made a Catholic of me."

When he was pastor of a prominent Anglican parish in New York City, his bishop came to officiate at some solemn ceremony. The afternoon before the solemnity Reverend Curtis requested his bishop to hear his confession. The latter put, him off. In the evening the penitent repeated his request but the bishop told him to wait until morning. Next morping the pastor again expressed his desire to go to confession. The bishop objected: "Reverend Curtis, why do you want to go to confession anyway? It is all right for the laity who desire it, but we of the clergy should be able to do without it."

Curtis was not satisfied; He felt the need of telling his sins and having them forgiven. He found his way to St. Mary's Catholic Seminary where he begged the rector to hear his confession. That good priest, gracious and smiling, explained to Curtis that his Anglican bishop was right in refusing to hear his confession, because he had no power to forgive sins. This statement startled Reverend Curtis, so the rector went on to explain that Anglican orders were no orders. They were invalid. Neither an Anglican bishop nor an Anglican priest could forgive sin.

This set Curtis thinking. He studied, he thought; he prayed; he led a Christ-like life. Soon he realized that the only sin-forgiving Church was the Catholic Church. He became a Catholic, a priest, and later an illus­trious bishop.

The story of his conversion contains some important illustrations of our subject for today - the penitent, the one who goes to confession. Who may and must go to confession? Every baptized person who has committed venial or mortal sin after Baptism. The penitent must perform the acts required for a good confession, namely, contrition, telling of his sins, and satisfaction. Of these we will speak more fully in the future. Today we would like to speak of the Holy Trinity in relation to the penitent.

By Baptism the soul has become the temple of the Holy Trinity­ - Father, Son and Holy Spirit. By sin the soul has dethroned, driven out, dishonored the Holy Three Whom we honor today.

By Confirmation the soul has been strengthened with the gifts of the Holy Trinity. By sin they are lost, and by confession they are revived and again begin to work.

By Holy Communion the soul becomes the special tabernacle not only of the second Person, Jesus Christ, but also of the Father and the Holy Spirit who are ever present with Him. By sin we drive out this Trinity. By confession we invite them to return.

And it is in the name of the same Holy Three that the priest gives absolution: "I absolve thee from thy sins, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." With the Trinity evicted, the soul is dark and cold and helpless. Sin causes the heavenly Father to keep a displeased distance; it causes the loving Son to leave the untrue heart for which He gave His all; it compels the Holy Spirit to depart from His temple, the human body.

The human heart becomes a ghost house. It is like a palace from which the King has been driven out. It is like a home from which loved ones have been evicted, where the hearth fire has burned out, where the win­dows are smashed and broken. Oh, how such a heart hungers for the light and warmth and cheering presence of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Confession, established by an all-merciful God, brings the Trinity back to the soul.

Just as the Anglican bishop in our story could not give absolution from sins because he had not received the power from Christ and the Apostles, so too the Anglican minister, Reverend Curtis, could not receive absolution until he became a Catholic, until he became a member of the society which Christ Himself established.

Everyone who has arrived at the use of reason is bound by the law of confession. People arrive at the use of reason at various times, but the rule can be laid down that children are bound to go to confession as soon as they are able to distinguish good from evil and are capable of freely choosing one or the other, and, of course, provided they have actually sinned.

The Church also commands all tne faithful to confess their sins at least once a year. This confession need not be made during the Easter time, but because Easter Communion is commanded during Easter time, it is practical to make one's Easter confession during that same period.

Strictly speaking, only those who have committed a mortal sin are obliged by this law. A bad or sacrilegious confession does not fulfill the law. If you have not yet made your annual confession, you must do so as soon as possible, even though the Easter time closes with this feast of the Holy Trinity.

Better yet would be the praiseworthy practice of going to confession, at least, monthly. This practice enable ones to grow in grace and virtue. It helps us in our path to holiness. We receive graces to help us turn our faults and vices into virtue.

Like the Reverend Curtis all sinners have the desire to tell their sins to someone who has the power to take them away, definitely and forever. Like him, all who sin realize that they have driven out the Holy Trinity. They long to have those loving Three return to their hearts.

Jesus tells His Church to go and baptize the world in the name of the Trinity. As we keep this glorious feast may we resolve anew never to offend Them, never to dishonor Them, never to make Them leave our hearts by mortal sin.

But should that be our misfortune, we will hurry to invite the Trinity back by a sincere and contrite confession. Then every confession day will be a feast of the Holy Trinity, a day when we honor, as we always should honor the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Adapted from Talks on the Sacraments
by Fr. Arthur Tonne,OFM (© 1947)

EPA Celebrates Gay And Lesbian Pride Month (with your tax dollars)

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), your tax supported agency of the federal government, is currently promoting June as Gay and Lesbian Pride Month.

The theme for the month is "Pride, not Prejudice."

The EPA Office of Civil Rights, Diversity Program for Sexual Orientation, is sponsoring an opening event to be held on June 14. On June 28 EPA will hosts Gilles Marchildon, Executive Director for Egale Canada (Equality Canada) as a guest speaker.

Karen Higginbotham, Director, Office of Civil Rights, states there will be other activities in which the homosexual lifestyle will be celebrated in EPA offices across the country.

I thought you might like to know that the EPA, funded by your tax dollars, has joined the push for the homosexual agenda.

To see the official notice which went out to all EPA employees, click here.

Take Action
Send your email to Stephen L. Johnson, EPA Administrator, and to President George W. Bush, to protest the tax-funded EPA celebrating this destructive and unhealthy lifestyle. Forward this to your friends and family.

Our children's future is at stake. Thanks for caring enough to get involved.

Email the EPA and President Bush Now!

Apparently the agency has too much time on its hands and too much money in its budget...this government promotion of sexual deviancy is repugnant and needs to be stopped.

Alter Christus - Zeal for Devotion to the Sacred Heart

I. Every priest ought to be an apostle of the Sacred Heart, if he wants to reap the maximum result of his labours.

There are many helps to the priest in his ministry; zeal to spread the devotion to the Sacred Heart is one of them. If he neglects it, he leaves idle a great capital wherewith he might trade most successfully...

How many priests are saddened by their powerlessness to achieve the good they dream of; they complain of, and lament over, the barrenness of their apostolate, the difficulty of bringing souls to Christ, and of making Him truly reign in those that are His.

To feel such regrets, and feel them keenly, is a grace. Unhappy the priest who remains untouched by what wrung the Heart of Jesus with sorrow... But a sign of the sincerity of our regret is the keenness not to leave untried any means to remedy the evil. The efficacy of this devotion has been experienced by many holy priests.

Indeed, it expresses the essence of Christianity under its deepest, most appealing and most powerful aspect: God is love, and He wants our love.

"Deus caritas est."

"Sic Deus dilexit mundum ut Filium suum unigenitum daret."
"Dilexit me et tradidit semetipsum pro me."
"Diliges Dominum Deum tuum ex toto corde tuo..."
"Ama et fac quod vis."
In the Sacred Heart we find the concrete, telling, human sign of God's love and a moving appeal for love.

Thus, while constituting a special devotion, it has at the same time a universal character: it is the whole of religion, and, in a sense, it is in all other devotions, since all the mysteries of our faith are but particular expressions of the love of God... "This most blessed sign (the Sacred Heart) and the devotion inspired by it contain the sum total of all religion and the norm of perfect life" (Pius XI, in the encyclical Miserentissimus Deus).

Let us remember the powerful help Our Lord has promised to those devoted to His Sacred Heart:
For the priest himself: there is the first promise that applies to him as to everybody: "I will give them all the graces necessary in their state of life". And the tenth promise, explicitly to him: "The gift of touching the most hardened hearts".

For the faithful: we know the promises, for the sinner, for the tepid, for the fervent, for the families and houses, in afflictions, in trials and in death: truly magnificent promises. And if we are tempted to fear exaggerations in the way St Margaret ­Mary has recorded her revelations, let us call to mind the words in which the sacred liturgy unfolds for us the ­designs of Christ when His Heart was pierced on the Cross; "Ut apertum Cor divinae largitatis sacrarium torrentes nobis funderet miserationis et gratiae" (Preface of the Mass of the Sacred Heart).

II. Am I a fervent apostle of the Sacred Heart? Is my zeal a burning one: one that fills me with an habitual longing for the reign of the Sacred Heart, and makes me seize every opportunity to spread it? ... For, surely, the measure­ of my zeal will be one of the determining factors that will settle the measure of the Sacred Heart's blessings.

A point of comparison; many of us have seen, in our midst, a priestly soul truly consumed with such a zeal: Fr Matheo Crawley. Well, let us ask ourselves: What is my zeal for the Sacred Heart, compared to his? ...

It may be objected: his case is quite a special one: he was at Paray-le-Monial in the Chapel of the Apparition - ­he was cured, there, miraculously - he felt, there, a distinct call to spread the devotion to the Sacred Heart.

Granted the extraordinary degree in which it all happened; granted also the peculiarity of his mission, to which we are not called. But as to the sources of his burning zeal: are we so far from enjoying like privileges?

Have we not our own Paray-le-Monial, in our church or chapel, where Jesus truly present is ever ready to reveal Himself to souls that long for Him? Have we not seen, with the eyes of the soul, at times, something of the Apparition of the Sacred Heart, when we looked with faith at the taber­nacle, when we recalled to mind (while reciting slowly the Litany of the Sacred Heart) all His titles to our adoration and love and confidence and generosity, above all when we held Him in our hands and lifted Him up for the adoration of men in the Mysterium Fidei?

As to being cured by the Sacred Heart, like Fr Matheo: barring the miracle of a sudden bodily cure, each one of us surely has experienced in his soul the healing power of the Sacred Heart, "pax et reconciliatio nostra", "vita et resurrectio nostra",... in his soul, and in the souls of penitents and sinners.

And the secret inspirations urging us to be apostles of the Sacred Heart? Let each one scan the history of Christ's dealings with his soul, in moments of special fervour and devotion: who is the priest who has not again and again heard the voice of the Master, asking him to be a messenger of His Love, and to spread that Fire which He came to cast on earth and yearns to see enkindled? ...

III. Examine and resolve: What shall I do this month of June to reap more abundant fruit from the devotion to the Sacred Heart in my ministry:

For my flock:
Can I not put new life in the practices already established in my parish or school;
Can I perhaps add something, with due prudence and everything con­sidered;
In my sermons and catechisms, in private direction (confessional, conversations) am I on the look-out for chances to draw souls to the Sacred Heart? ...

For myself:
Am I doing, as far as circumstances permit, what I recommend to others;
Have I remained faithful to what were my practices of devotion in times of fervour; if not, why not?
Do I feel confident that the last promise of the Sacred Heart applies to me:
"Those who shall promote this devotion, shall have their names written in my Heart, never to be blotted out."?
Adapted from Alter Christus, Meditations for Priests
by F.X. L'Hoir, S.J. (1958)
Meditation 30.

Please pray for our priests and pray for vocations to the priesthood.

Trinity Sunday - The Holy Trinity

"Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." St. Matthew, 28:19

"1 believe in the Holy Spirit." Creed.

During the Civil War General Smith of the army of the South was returning to his command with a contingent of his men. While he was gone the password had been changed. Smith and his men knew that it had been changed, but they did not know what change had been made. They also knew that if they went forward without the new password they would be fired upon and killed.

The general asked for a volunteer, someone to sacrifice his life to save the rest. A soldier stepped out of the ranks, a Catholic young man. After explaining the certain danger the hero would have to face, General Smith, gave the lad a piece of paper on which he had written: "Send me the pass­word." The soldier would be shot, searched, and the paper would be dis­covered. Bravely the young man set out, and reached the outposts.

"Who goes there?" shouted the guard.

"A friend," answered the soldier.

"Give the countersign," ordered the guard.

But the hero advanced without answering. At once rifles were raised and aimed. Feeling that his last moment had come, the soldier quickly made the sign of the cross. To his surprise the rifles were lowered. The making of the sign of the cross saved that soldier, for - the sign of the cross was the password that day, given to the army by the Catholic com­mander, General Beauregard. ­

By that same sign the soldier of Jesus Christ gets through the lines into heaven. Not that the mere making of the cross over our persons will open the gates of heaven to all of us. By no means. But, the sign of the cross, reverently and thoughtfully made, reminds us of some of the great­est mysteries and truths of our faith: of the Trinity; of the Incarnation; of the Redemption. Especially it reminds us of the Holy Trinity.

On this Trinity Sunday we pay special honor to the mystery of the Holy Trinity, the reyealed truth that there are three Persons in one God. Again and again Sacred Scripture speaks of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Bible tells us that these three are one and equal - one God. It is a mystery, something above and beyond all human under­standing, yet not against reason. We cannot explain how this can be, but we can explain what the Trinity means.

First and foremost we must ever keep in mind that there is and can be only one true God. From the very beginning God made it crystal clear that there is only one Creator, that there is only one Lawgiver, that there is only one Judge. In Deuteronomy, 4:39, God declared: "Know that the Lord He is God, and there is no other." In Chapter 32:39, He repeated that idea: "There is no other God besides me." In the new revelation we find the same truth: "That they may know Thee, the only true God." St. John, 17:3.

Reason confirms revelation. Reason proves the existence of God. And reason tells us there can be but one God. It is against reason to suppose more than One Supreme Being. The unity and order in the world point to only one Creator. The voice of conscience declares that there is only one Lawgiver, as His law is one and the same everywhere. The history and testimony of nations show that even among gods they adored one as supreme.

If there were more than one God, His perfections would be limited. Two or more cannot be supreme. One limits the other. To believe that there is only one true God is necessary for salvation.

At the same time there are three Persons in this one God: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. They are distinct from each other, as the Gospel speaks of them separately.

This teaching on the Trinity is indicated already in the Old Testament. In Genesis, 1:26, we read: "Let us make man to our image and likeness." "Adam is become one of us." Genesis, 3:22. "Let us go down there and confound their tongue." Genesis, 11:7.

Despite these and other references in the Old Law, however, the teaching was still obscure. It was reserved for God the Son to reveal it fully, that the new Testament might be more excellent than the Old, and that all danger of idolatry might be removed from the Jews, who were prone to worship false gods.

The greeting of the angel at the Incarnation referred to three separate Persons. At our Lord's baptism three Persons are mentioned. When Jesus told the apostles to babtize He told them to do it in the name of the three divine Persons.

This has been the clear and constant teaching of the Catholic Church. It is found in her art and architecture, in her sacraments, prayers, and history.

Especially is the Trinity found in our two most frequently used prayers, the "Glory be to the Father," and the "Sign of the Cross." By this simple ceremony and prayer the truth of the Trinity, which is beyond the understanding of the keenest intellects of all time, is brought home, made inti­mate, made near and dear, made practical, to the smallest child, to the unlettered, as well as to thinkers and theologians.

We should make that sign of the cross with increased thought and devotion. It reminds us of the Holy Trinity. It brings the blessings of the Trinity. It asks the protection of the Trinity.

May the blessings of that same Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, descend upon everyone of you and remain with you forever. Amen.
Adapted from Talks on the Creed
by Fr. Arthur Tonne, OFM (© 1946)

Gospel for Saturday, 9th Week in Ordinary Time

From: Mark 12:38-44

Jesus Censures the Scribes

[38] And in His (Jesus') teaching He said, "Beware of the scribes, who like to go about in long robes, and to have salutations in the market places [39] and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, [40] who devour widow's houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation."

The Widow's Mite

[41] And He sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the multitude putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. [42] And a poor widow came, and put in two copper coins, which make a penny. [43] And He called His disciples to Him, and said to them, "Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. [44] For they all contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, her whole living."


38-40. Our Lord reproves disordered desire for human honors: "We should notice that salutations in the marketplace are not forbidden, nor people taking the best seats if that befits their position; rather, the faithful are warned to avoid, as they would evil men, those who set too much store by such honors" (St. Bede, "In Marci Evangelium Expositio, in loc."). See also notes on Matthew 23:2-3, 5, 11 and 14.

41-44. Our Lord uses this little event to teach us the importance of things which apparently are insignificant. He puts it somewhat paradoxically; the poor widow has contributed more than all the rich. In God's sight the value of such an action lies more in upright intention and generosity of spirit than in the quantity one gives. "Didn't you see the light in Jesus' eyes as the poor widow left her little alms in the temple? Give Him what you can: the merit is not in whether it is big or small, but in the intention with which you give it" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 829).

By the same token, our actions are pleasing to God even if they are not as perfect as we would like. St. Francis de Sales comments: "Now as among the treasures of the temple, the poor widow's mite was much esteemed, so the least little good works, even though performed somewhat coldly and not according to the whole extent of the charity which is in us, are agreeable to God, and esteemed by Him; so that though of themselves they cannot cause and increase in the existing love [...] yet Divine Providence, counting on them and, out of His goodness, valuing them, forthwith rewards them with increase in charity for the present, and assigns to them a greater Heavenly glory for the future" (St. Francis de Sales, "Treatise on the Love of God", Book 3, Chapter 2).
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, June 09, 2006

Vocations to religious life and priesthood begin with parents

Excerpts from Bishop Vasa's column:
A recent issue of L’Osservatore Romano, the weekly Vatican newspaper carried this headline: “A key to holy priests? Holy parents.” That headline led into Pope Benedict’s reflection of May 7, 2006, in which, among other things, he said: “The priest’s mission is irreplaceable, and even if in some regions a scarcity of clergy is being recorded, we must never doubt that God continues to call boys, young men and adults to leave everything and dedicate themselves totally to preaching the Gospel and to the pastoral ministry.”
. . .
Then we come to the paragraph that gives rise to the headline: “Moreover, let us not forget that Christian marriage is in all respects a vocation to holiness, and that the example of holy parents is the first favorable condition for the flourishing of priestly and religious vocations.”
. . .
If it is true, as the Holy Father offers, that “the example of holy parents is the first favorable condition for the flourishing of priestly and religious vocations,” then clearly prayer for vocations needs to be coupled with a very strong emphasis on the vocation of parents to holiness. The home, with holy parents, without a doubt, needs to be a nursery of priestly and religious vocations. It is in the home where those first inklings of a call to service in religious life are received, heard and fostered. This necessarily involves parents who have a deep and abiding faith and who are eager to respond affirmatively and encouragingly to their sons and daughters when they hint that perhaps they would like to pursue a religious vocation.
We are reminded to pray for vocations to the priesthood and religious life and to pray fot holy families.

Beijing bans “Da Vinci Code”

Leadership Changes Coming to Minneapolis/St Paul Archdiocese

A search is underway for a 'co-adjutor' Archbishop for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS has confirmed...Sources tell 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS that Archbishop Harry Flynn has asked the Vatican for a co-adjutor as he prepares to retire within the next two years...A source close to Flynn tells 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS that Flynn asked for a coadjutor several months ago.

The names being mentioned include Auxiliary Bishop Richard Pates who serves under Flynn now, Bishop Samuel Aquila of Fargo and Bishop Blase Cupich of Rapid City.

HT to Darla for the link.

History and Catholic Education


Anyone who thinks learning Church history is irrelevant should think again.

I’ve had people with 12 years of Catholic schooling tell me that "The Da Vinci Code" was a tremendous education for them. "I was never taught this stuff in Catholic school," they say.

One reason why so many Catholics swallow Dan Brown’s whoppers is that they are ignorant of Church history. I was.

After my own 12 years of Catholic schooling, I had no clue who, say, Arius and St. Athanasius were. That’s a bit like not knowing about Benedict Arnold and George Washington after years of classes in American history.

That I went to arguably the best Catholic high school in the St. Louis area only amplifies this scandal. Any Catholic parent, teacher or priest dismayed at the widespread acceptance of Brown’s lies and blasphemies and wondering why should look first in the mirror.

Paul S. Rhodes
Collinsville, Ill.
An enlightening indictment of Catholic education. Hopefully, this will change as more parents and others become aware of the failures to adequately prepare children, not only in the faith, but in Catholic history and apologetics.

Paul is a frequent contributor to discussions at CatholicStLouis

Source: St Louis Review

Confirmation and Service Hours?

Why does my grandchild have to work before being confirmed?

My grandchild was nearly unable receive the Sacrament of Confirmation because he did not fulfill the service hours necessary to be confirmed. Why are service hours required to receive confirmation?

The Catholic Church does not require service hours to receive any sacrament. The only requirement for the Sacrament of Confirmation is that the individual be baptized.

The Church also desires to catechize individuals regarding the sacraments. In recent years the trend in the United States and in some other countries is to wait until adolescence to confer confirmation in the hope that this will allow the young people to receive more instruction about this particular sacrament.

Each parish develops a preparation program for confirmation. Some catechists establish a certain number of service hours to teach the children the importance being a Christian servant...
Of course, many do this on their own authority or due to requirements set by others who really have no authority to set such conditions.
...One would hope that this type of service is presented as an opportunity rather than a burden for the young person.

But confirmation itself is not only about what we do for others. It is about what God does for us. The gift of confirmation is given freely as a special outpouring of the Holy Spirit as it was to the Apostles at Pentecost.

The Spirit that dwells through confirmation gives us wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord. These gifts from God help us mature through grace. Maturity for the Christian is coming to know and love God and our neighbor.
Father Keller is an associate pastor at the St. Louis Cathedral Basilica Parish and assistant director of the archdiocesan Office of Worship.

Send questions on matters of faith to be answered by priests of the St. Louis Archdiocese to Dear Father, c/o St. Louis Review, 20 Archbishop May Drive, St. Louis, MO 63119, or fax to (314) 792-7534, or e-mail to

Emphasis added above.

Source: St Louis Review.

Vatican Appeals Ruling in Molestation Case

As earlier reported about a federal judge permitting a a lawsuit against the Vatican, the Vatican, as expected, appealed this ruling.
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - The Vatican filed an appeal Thursday to a federal judge's ruling refusing to dismiss a lawsuit that claims the Holy See bears responsibility for a priest who was transferred from city to city even though he was known to be a molester.

McBrien Carries On Task of "Dissing" Bishop Finn, Obedient Catholics

In a column titled "Sources of demoralization" from the Tidings, the weekly rag of the LA Archdiocese, Richard McBrien, expounds on Dominican Timothy Radcliffe's recent LA Religious Education Congress talk on the polarization in the Church and carries on the task started by the National Catholic Reporter in demonizing Kansas City Bishop Robert Finn for, it seems, his orthodoxy and fidelity to the Church.

In McBrien's eyes, there are 4 groups of Catholics:
1. Ultra-conservatives (who have never accepted the ecclesiology of Vatican II, especially as it applies to the liturgy),

2.Moderate liberals,

3.Moderate conservatives (who basically accept the conciliar ecclesiology but favor a more cautious approach to ongoing renewal and reform than their moderate counterparts on the left) and,

4. Ultra-liberals, or radicals (for whom words like "hierarchy" carry no practical meaning).

Middle of the road Catholics, somtimes referred to as 'Centrist' Catholics, "believe that the Church needs to be concerned with both outreach and identity, creativity and tradition."

McBrien (with Andrew Greeley) lays blame for much of the division at the feet of Pope Paul VI and the encyclical Humanae Vitae.

Here he begins the setup:
Catholics of the far right, and bishops who share and enforce their ecclesiology, insist that obedience is one of Catholicism's primary virtues and that the teaching of the hierarchy, and especially the pope's, is the only sure guide to saving truth.

Is this a subtle attempt to reject Vatican I's Pastor Aeternus and the affirmation of the gift of infallibility?

And yet the new bishop of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Robert Finn, a member of Opus Dei, has been dismantling much of what had been put in place by his three immediate predecessors: Charles Helmsing (1962-77), John Sullivan (1977-93), and Raymond Boland (1993-2005). . .Did they lead their flocks astray or throw them to the wolves? Were they grievously wrong in their pastoral teachings, policies and appointments? If so, how is a Catholic to know when any bishop is to be respected and obeyed, and when he is not?

As an alleged theologian, McBrien should be able to provide us the answer to his questions but he doesn't...I think one can conclude what he is really trying to imply.

Cardinal Rigali: Glorify God in Your Body

From the beginning of time, man and woman had a deep sense that the human body is sacred. Created in the divine image, the body is to be treated with respect. The People of Israel particularly gave evidence to this. The reverence with which they viewed the act of sexual intimacy as well as the procreative aspect associated with sexual love set the Israelites apart from other cultures in the ancient world.
In his mission to the Gentiles, Saint Paul had to confront many pagan practices, including rampant sexual immorality. Many parts of the ancient Mediterranean world were infamous for their debauchery.

Vatican Excommunicates Four Chinese Bishops

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican on Thursday excommunicated two bishops ordained by China's state-controlled church without the pope's consent, escalating tensions as the two sides explore preliminary moves toward improving ties.

The Vatican also excommunicated the two bishops who ordained them, saying church law mandates excommunication for bishops involved in ordinations without Vatican approval.

Gospel for Friday, 9th Week in Ordinary Time

From: Mark 12:35-37

Christ the Son and Lord of David

[35] And as Jesus taught in the temple, He said, "How can the scribes say that the Christ is the son of David? [36] David himself, inspired by the Holy Spirit, declared, `The Lord said to the Lord, Sit at My right hand, till I put Thy enemies under Thy feet'. [37] David himself calls Him Lord; so how is He his son?" And the throng heard Him gladly.


35-37. Jesus here bears witness, with His special authority, to the fact that Scripture is divinely inspired, when He says that David was inspired by the Holy Spirit when writing Psalm 110. We can see from here that Jews found it difficult to interpret the beginning of the Psalm. Jesus shows the messianic sense of the words "The Lord said to my Lord": the second "Lord" is the Messiah, with whom Jesus implicitly identifies Himself. The mysteriously transcendental character of the Messiah is indicated by the paradox of His being the son, the descendant, of David, and yet David calls Him his Lord. Cf. note on Matthew 22:41-46.

[Note on Matthew 22:41-46 states:
41-46. God promised King David that one of his descendants would reign forever (2 Samuel 7:12ff); this was obviously a reference to the Messiah, and was interpreted as such by all Jewish tradition, which gave the Messiah the title of "Son of David". In Jesus' time this messianic title was understood in a very nationalistic sense: the Jews were expecting an earthly king, a descendant of David, who would free them from Roman rule. In this passage Jesus shows the Pharisees that the Messiah has a higher origin: He is not only "Son of David"; His nature is more exalted than that, for He is the Son of God and transcends the purely earthly level. The reference to Psalm 110:1 which Jesus uses in His argument explains that the Messiah is God: which is why David calls Him Lord--and why He is seated at the right hand of God, His equal in power, majesty and glory (cf. Acts of the Apostles 33-36; 1 Corinthians 6:25).]
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, June 08, 2006

Alter Christus - A Burning Zeal for Souls

This is one of the virtues recommended to the priest by the Holy Father. His pressing exhortation, one of the most stirring pages of the encyclical, is like a clarion-call to strenuous action: zeal must be a consuming fire, - coming from the burning Heart of Jesus, - fanned in us by the sight of perishing multitudes, - driving us to the utter dedication of our life to an intense apostolate.


The Sacred Heart of Jesus is the main source of ardent zeal for the priest. He must "take flame from that heavenly fire that burns in the Heart of Jesus; that fire that seeks only to inflame apostolic hearts and through them cast fire on all the earth. Like the zeal of Jesus. . . the zeal of the priest for the glory of God and the salvation of souls ought to consume him" (Encyclical).

To get, then, in us that consuming fire, we must make the Heart of Jesus the constant object of our meditation: study in His life the manifestations of His love for men, from the Incarnation to the Last Supper and to Calvary; ponder over the moving utterances in which He revealed His ardent longing for the salvation of all; treasure up, as addressed to us, the universal mission He gave His apostles to bring all men to the true fold.

Still more directly productive of that zeal in us will be the constant endeavour to live united to Christ, so that we may share the very feelings of His Sacred Heart: by every means that makes us grow in sanctifying grace (our bond of union with Him); most of all by intimate contact with the Euchar­istic Heart of Jesus, in holy Mass and Communion, in visits to the Blessed Sacrament; by frequuent and loving remembrance of Him, even in the midst of our active ministry: "Christum habitare per fidem in cordibus vestris".

* Do I detect in my zeal that characteristic of a burning fire?

If I have reason to lament the coldness of my zeal, is it not because I fail to keep close to the "Fornax ardens caritatis" in meditations, reading of the Gospels, in my cult of the holy Eucharist?

Let me (as another Christ) not frustrate the designs and longings of the Sacred Heart: "I have come to cast fire on the earth, and what will I but that it be kindled?"


The fire of our zeal must be fanned constantly by the sad plight of multitudes sitting in darkness and in the shadow of death. How appealingly the Holy Father emphasizes this! "The Good Shepherd said: 'And other sheep I have that are not of this fold; them also I must bring', and again, 'See the countries for they are white to the harvest'. How can a priest meditate upon these words and not feel his heart enkindled with yearning to lead souls to the Heart of the Good Shepherd? How can he fail to offer himself to the Lord of the harvest for unremitting toil? Our Lord saw the multitudes 'lying like sheep that have no shepherd' . .. How can a priest see such multitudes and not feel within himself an echo of that divine pity which so often moved the Heart of the Son of God? - a priest, We say, who is conscious of possessing the words of life and of having in his hands the God-given means of regeneration and salvation." (Enc.)

This applies with special force to us here, in these mission lands. We need not be told that the greater part of mankind still ignores God and Christ whom He has sent: we see it around us. And of those within the fold we know from daily experience how weak and faltering many are in their faith. The danger is lest we become gradually indifferent to what is so familiar to us: we remain unmoved and cold at what filled the Heart of Jesus with pity and compassion.

* Am I really feeling an apostolic anguish at the paganism that surrounds me, at the weakness in faith of so many Christians?

Let me stir up my spirit of faith: Christ has shed His blood for each one of those souls; He has made me His priest that I may be the instrument of their salvation.

Seek always to grow in my love of them, even as Christ has loved them, so that I may say after St Paul: "Testis est Deus quomodo cupiam omnes vos in visceribus Christi".


If the priest's zeal is indeed burning like a fire, it will con­sume all selfish preoccupations, "make him forget himself and all earthly things", it will "powerfully urge him to dedicate himself utterly to his sublime work, and to search out means ever more effective for an apostolate ever wider and better" (Enc.).

Who can fail to see the urgency of such an all-absorbing, wide-awake activity for the priests in the world of today and of tomorrow? They are, and will be more and more, "engaged in the peaceful but bitter warfare of truth against error, of light against darkness, of the Kingdom of God against the kingdom of Satan" (Enc.).

Piety is indispensable, but not enough; indeed, without zeal it is scarcely genuine. Cf. the severe words of Michonneau: "How can we call a man who lacks the passion for souls a 'good priest', a 'holy priest' simply because he is regular and punctual and has a soothing way of judging all things - so soothing indeed that he soothes within himself those problems which should make his heart bleed and haunt his sleep? . . . Such a priest may be faithful to all his spiritual exercises; but his spiritual life is not real contact with God; it is mere ritualism, material fidelity to a schedule of practices and duties. . . His is an impoverished and shallow spirituality, where the caritas Christi urget nos has no place - a spirituality that is not priestly."

* Let me examine seriously what my apostolic activity amounts to. Is it truly all-absorbing: not cramped by other pursuits foreign to my priestly mission, by selfish attachment to ease and comfort, by pusillanimous fear of difficulties and failures?

Does it make me fervent and generous in prayers and sacrifices for souls, eager and prompt to seize all oppor­tunities to bring them to Christ, ready to adapt my apostolate to changing circumstances and needs?

Am I determined to give myself no rest as long as I have strength to spend myself for souls? "Me oportet operari opera ejus qui misit me, donec dies est."

Adapted from Alter Christus, Meditations for Priests
by F.X. L'Hoir, S.J. (1958)
Meditation 6.

Please pray for our priests and pray for vocations to the priesthood.

Ugh...Blogger down most of the day!

The Pope's Appointments for June 8

VATICAN CITY, JUN 8, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

- Appointed Bishop Michael Francis Burbidge, auxiliary of Philadelphia, U.S.A., as bishop of Raleigh, (area 82,524, population 4,073,983, Catholics 188,101, priests 138, permanent deacons 37, religious 118), U.S.A. He succeeds Bishop Francis Joseph Gossman, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese, the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

- Appointed Msgr. Daniel E. Thomas of the clergy of the archdiocese of Philadelphia, U.S.A., pastor of the parish of Our Lady of the Assumption, as auxiliary of the same archdiocese (area 5,652, population 3,875,021, Catholics 1,479,895, priests 1,048, permanent deacons 224, religious 3,733). The bishop- elect was born in Philadelphia in 1959 and ordained a priest in 1985.

Source: Vatican Information Service

Youth Ministry in the Early Church

Though, as Mike Acquilina observes, there were no ski trips, pizza parties, or dances, the Fathers and the bishops and priests of the early Church were quite successful with teens and young adults. Mike tells us that this success due, in part, to the wild promises of the Fathers:

They promised young people great things, like
lower social status,
public ridicule,
severely limited employment opportunities,
frequent fasting,
a high risk of jail and torture, and maybe, just maybe,
an early, violent death at the hands of their pagan rulers.

The Fathers looked young people in the eye and called them to live purely in the midst of a pornographic culture. They looked at some young men and women and boldly told them they had a calling to virginity. And it worked. Even the pagans noticed how well it worked.

A very good read this is...Can it work today? Most certainly. It may be one of the very few ways to really motivate Catholics, both young and old - reminding them that if we are to be true followers of Christ, we must be prepared to take up our cross as He did and that we are very likely to see those promises fulfilled.

May all Christians recognize true meaning of Peter’s primacy

Pope Benedict XVI talked about the primacy intended by Jesus and recognized by the apostles. He said a spontaneous prayer so that “entrusted to poor human beings, the primacy may be always exercised in its original sense as desired by the Lord, that it may be recognized by our brothers not yet in full communion with us.”

SNAP Releases Details of Jefferson City Diocese Settlement

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Jefferson City agreed to pay more than $60,000 to a man who accused a former Mid-Missouri priest of sexual abuse. The settlement stems from an accusation against John Degnan, 81, who retired in 2001 [after 40 years of service].

The settlement was reached in October but only publicly disclosed last week by the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests [SNAP], a victims’ advocacy group. National Director David Clohessy of St. Louis criticized the diocese for not sharing the agreement with parishioners.
This isn't really news as Clohessy seems to criticize every diocese and every bishop.

Judge: Suit Against Vatican Can Proceed

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - A federal judge ruled Wednesday that a sex abuse lawsuit against the Vatican can move forward with its claim that the Holy See bears responsibility for a priest who was transferred from city to city even though he was known to be a molester.

Another self-indulgent, publicity-seeking, activist judge?

Just retire and say good-bye, already...

Excerpts from a transcript of Wolf Blitzer's conversation with Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, former archbishop of Washington:
[Wolf] BLITZER: So just explain. You think that you could live with -- you could support civil unions between gays and lesbians, but you wouldn't like them to get formally married, is that right?

MCCARRICK: Yes. I think -- I think basically the ideal would be that everybody was -- was able to enter a union with a man and a woman and bring children into the world and have the wonderful relationship of man and wife that is so mutually supportive and is really so much part of our society and what keeps our society together. That's the ideal.

If you can't meet that ideal, if there are people who for one reason or another just cannot do that or feel they cannot do that, then in order to protect their right to take care of each other, in order to take care of their right to have visitation in a hospital or something like that, I think that you could allow, not the ideal, but you could allow for that for a civil union.

But if you begin to fool around with the whole -- the whole nature of marriage, then you're doing something which effects the whole culture and denigrates what is so important for us. Marriage is the basic foundation of our family structure. And if we lose that, then I think we become a society that's in real trouble.

What a guy! We could live with "civil unions"??? Maybe he can, but as I recall the Church has said no. Such statements as this tend to show support for committing grave, mortal sins against chastity.

This ongoing failure of the cardinal to speak clearly and unambiguously brings to mind this from Revelation (Apocalypse) 3...

Letter to the Church of Laodicea
[14] And to the angel of the church of Laodicea, write: These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, who is the beginning of the creation of God: [15] I know thy works, that thou art neither cold, nor hot. I would thou were cold, or hot.

[Note on 14] "The Amen,"... that is, the true one, the Truth itself; the Word and Son of God. The beginning-- that is, the principle, the source, and the efficient cause of the whole creation.

[16] But because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold, not hot, I will begin to vomit thee out of my mouth.

The Navarre Bible commentary on these passages states, in part:

14. Laodicea was a city on the border of Phrygia, about 75 kilometers (45 miles) south-west of Philadelphia. It is also mentioned by St Paul when he suggests to the Colossians that they exchange his letter to them for the one he sent the Laodiceans (cf. Col 4:16).

15-16. The prosperity Laodicea enjoyed may have contributed to the laxity and lukewarmness the church is accused of here (Israel tended to take the same direction when living was easy: the people would become forgetful of Yahweh and adopt an easy-going lifestyle: cf., e.g., Deut 31:20; 32:15; Hos 13:6; Jer 5:7).

The presence of hot springs close to the city explains the language used in this passage, which amounts to a severe indictment of lukewarmness. It shows God's repugnance for mediocrity and bourgeois living. As observed by Cassian, one of the founders of Western monasticism, lukewarmness is something that needs to be nipped in the bud: "No one should attribute his going astray to any sudden collapse, but rather [...] to his having moved away from virtue little by little, through prolonged mental laziness. That is the way bad habits gain round without one's even noticing it, and eventually lead to a sudden collapse. 'Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall' (Prov 16:18). The same thing happens with a house: it collapses one fine day due to some ancient defect in its foundation or long neglect by the occupiers" ("Collationes", VI, 17).

Spiritual lukewarmness and mediocrity are very closely related: neither is the route Christian life should take.

As Monsignor Escriva puts it, "'In medio virtus'.... Virtue is to be found in the middle, so the saying goes, warning us against extremism. But do not make the mistake of turning that advice into a euphemism to disguise your own comfort, calculation, lukewarmness, easygoingness, lack of idealism and mediocrity.
Perhaps, it's time for the good cardinal to go into seclusion for prayer and reflection and stay away from cameras and microphones. This way, he can avoid speaking in ways which are either contrary to that which the Church professes or, at best, so 'nuanced' as to be worthless, 'lukewarm' platitudes of ambiguity.

Gospel for Thursday, 9th Week in Ordinary Time

From: Mark 12:28-34

The Greatest Commandment of All

[28] One of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that He (Jesus) answered them well, asked Him, "Which commandment is the first of all?" [29] Jesus answered, "The first is, `Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one; [30] and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.' [31] The second is this, `You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these." [32] And the scribe said to Him, "You are right, Teacher; You have truly said that He is one, and there is no other than He; [33] and to love with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength, and to love one's neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices." [34] And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, He said to him, "You are not far from the Kingdom of God." And after that no one dared to ask Him any question.


28-34. The doctor of the law who asks Jesus this question is obviously an upright man who is sincerely seeking the truth. He was impressed by Jesus' earlier reply (verses 18-27) and he wants to learn more from Him. His question is to the point and Jesus devotes time to instructing him, though he will soon castigate the scribes, of whom this man is one (cf. Mark 12:38ff).

Jesus sees in this man not just a scribe but a person who is looking for the truth. And His teaching finds its way into the man's heart. The scribe repeats what Jesus says, savoring it, and our Lord offers him an affectionate word which encourages his definitive conversion: "You are not far from the Kingdom of God." This encounter reminds us of His meeting with Nicodemus (cf. John 3:1ff). On the doctrinal content of these two commandments cf. note on Matthew 22:34-40.

[Note on Matthew 22:34-40 states:
In reply to the question, our Lord points out that the whole law can be condensed into two commandments: the first and more important consists in unconditional love of God; the second is a consequence and result of the first, because when man is loved, St. Thomas says, God is loved, for man is the image of God (cf. "Commentary on St. Matthew", 22:4).

A person who genuinely loves God also loves his fellows because he realizes that they are his brothers and sisters, children of the same Father, redeemed by the same blood of our Lord Jesus Christ: "This commandment we have from Him, that he who loves God should love his brother also" (1 John 4:21). However, if we love man for man's sake without reference to God, this love will become an obstacle in the way of keeping the first commandment, and then it is no longer genuine love of our neighbor. But love of our neighbor for God's sake is clear proof that we love God: "If anyone says, `I love God', and hates his brother, he is a liar" (1 John 4:20).

"You shall love your neighbor as yourself": here our Lord establishes as the guideline for our love of neighbor the love each of us has for himself; both love of others and love of self are based on love of God. Hence, in some cases it can happen that God requires us to put our neighbor's need before our own; in others, not: it depends on what value, in light of God's love, needs to be put on the spiritual and material factors involved.

Obviously spiritual goods take absolute precedence over material ones, even over life itself. Therefore, spiritual goods, be they our own or our neighbor's, must be the first to be safeguarded. If the spiritual good in question is the supreme one for the salvation of the soul, no one is justified in putting his own soul into certain danger of being condemned in order to save another, because given human freedom we can never be absolutely sure what personal choice another person may make: this is the situation in the parable (cf. Matthew 25:1-13), where the wise virgins refuse to give oil to the foolish ones; similarly St. Paul says that he would wish himself to be rejected if that could save his brothers (cf. Romans 9:3)--an unreal theoretical situation. However, what is quite clear is that we have to do all we can to save our brothers, conscious that, if someone helps to bring a sinner back to the way, he will save himself from eternal death and cover a multitude of his own sins (James 5:20). From all this we can deduce that self-love of the right kind, based on God's love for man, necessarily involves forgetting oneself in order to love God and our neighbor for God.]

30. This commandment of the Old Law, ratified by Jesus, shows, above all, God's great desire to engage in intimate conversation with man: "would it not have sufficed to publish a permission giving us leave to love Him? [...]. He makes a stronger declaration of His passionate love for us, and commands us to love Him with all our power, lest the consideration of His majesty and our misery, which make so great a distance and inequality between us, or some other pretext, divert us from His love. In this He well shows that He did not leave in us for nothing the natural inclination to love Him, for to the end that it may not be idle, He urges us by His general commandment to employ it, and that this commandment may be effected, there is no living man He has not furnished him abundantly with all means requisite thereto" (St. Francis de Sales, "Treatise on the Love of God", Book 2, Chapter 8).
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, June 07, 2006

Confiteor - I Confess

"I have acknowledged my sin to Thee, and my injustice I have not con­cealed." Psalm 31:5.

The story is told of a mother whose son died fighting for his country. When the dreadful news arrived from the War Office, she was inconsolable. Again and again she expressed the prayerful wish:
"Oh, I wish I could see him again, if only for five minutes."

Someone asked her later for just what five minutes of the boy's life she would like to have him, supposing her prayer could come true. That was a difficult choice for her to make, as the boy was twenty-four years old. Would she like to see him in his sweet babyhood? Would it be the time when he started off to school? Would she like to see him again as he won honors at graduation? Perhaps she would like to see him going bravely into battle.

No, none of these times did the mother choose. She said:
"I would have him as he was one day when he ran in from the yard to ask foregiveness for being naughty. He was so small and so sad. He was perspiring and crying at the same time. The tears and perspiration made streaks down his muddy face. And he fairly flew into my arms, so hard that it hurt me."

To that mother the most memorable moments in the life of her son were those when he came to ask her forgiveness, those few moments when he realized that he had hurt the feelings of his loving mother by his dis­obedience.

Who will say that our own moments of sorrow and contrition are not the most precious in the sight of our heavenly Father? As Christ tells us:
"There will be joy in heaven over one sinner who repents, more than over ninety-nine just who have no need of repentance." St. Luke, 15:7.

With that thought in mind we would like to consider the Confiteor of the Mass. It is a general confession of sins made by both priest and people. Humbly, publicly, contritely we admit in the sight and hearing of all that we have sinned. The Confiteor is divided into two clearly distinct parts:

1. "I confess to almighty God, and to you to blessed Mary ever Virgin, to blessed Michael the archangel, to blessed John the Baptist, to the holy apostles, Peter and Paul, to all the saints, and to thee, Father, that I have sinned exceedingly, in thought, word, and deed."

[Novus Ordo translation: I confess to almighty God and to you my brothers and sisters, that I have sinned exceedingly, in my thoughts and in my words; in what I have done and in what I have failed to do.]

Here everyone strikes his breast three times as he says:
"through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault."

Then all continue:

"Therefore I beseech the blessed Mary, ever Virgin, blessed Michael the archangel, blessed John the Baptist, the holy apostles Peter and Paul, all the saints, and thee, Father, to pray to the Lord our God for me."

In the past Franciscans added the name of St. Francis. The Dominicans added St. Dominic; The Benedictines added St. Benedict.

2. It is proper that we admit our guilt to Mary and the saints:
A. Mary is "the Mother of Mercy" and "Refuge of Sinners."
B. St. Michael is the chief of the heavenly spirits.
C. St. John the Baptist was the forerunner of our Lord.
D. Saints Peter and Paul were the leaders of the early Church. They are usually linked together.

3. Praying the Confiteor the priest bows down profoundly to express with his body the sorrow of his soul. Bowing also helps the soul to humble itself. He joins his hands to show recollection of mind and devotion. The priest strikes his breast three times. In the breast is the heart, seat and source of all good and all evil. The three-fold striking of the breast shows the intensity, the sincerity, and the force of his contri­tion. It also shows sorrow for three kinds of sin - in thought, word, and deed.

After we have confessed our guilt, we ask the saints and their Queen and the faithful around to pray for the celebrant.

4. While the priest remains bowed, the servers, in the name of the people ask God to have mercy on the priest:

"May Almighty God be merciful to you, and, forgiving you your sins, bring you to life everlasting. Amen."

5. Then the servers bow down and recite the Confiteor in the name of the people. When they finish, they remain bowed, as the priest prays over them and the congregation:

"May Almighty God be merciful to you, and, forgiving you your sins, bring you to life everlasting. Amen.

"May the Almighty and merciful Lord, grant you pardon, absolution, and remission of your sins. Amen."

6. I suggest that all of you join with the servers in saying the Confiteor, that you repeat the words at least silently, that you strike your breast, that you sign yourself with the cross, as the priest prays for forgiveness for all.

The sign of the cross reminds us strongly that we are taking part in the Sacrifice of the Mass, that it is from Christ's death on the cross that all blessings and mercy come.

Watch the priest at Mass. Pray the Confiteor. Enter into its spirit. We are all like little children before our heavenly Father. Run to Him in contrition and sorrow. Bow before Him in repentance for your sins. Seek His forgiveness.

Our repentance is pleasing to God, just as the repentance of the little boy in our story was the most pleasing memory of his mother.
Adapted from Talks on the Mass
by Fr. Arthur Tonne, OFM (© 1950)

"Catholic" Senators Who Voted Against Marriage Protection

The following are the professed "Catholic" Senators who voted against the Marriage Protection Amendment in a procedural vote today:

Joseph Biden of Delaware
Maria Cantwell of Washington
Susan Collins of Maine (R)
Richard Durbin of Illinois
Tom Harkin of Iowa
Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts
John Kerry of Massachusetts
Mary Landrieu of Louisiana
Patrick Leahy of Vermont
Barbara Mikulsi of Maryland
Patty Murray of Washington
Jack Reed of Rhode Island
Ken Salazar of Colorado
John Sununu of New Hampshire (R)

All of these Senators are Democrats except two who are Republicans [listed as (R)].

A Possible Addition to One's Reading List

Stories of liturgical and musical malpractice abound. Where Catholics gather to lament the state of the Church, the game of choice is "Can you top this?"

It can be very funny, in a sad sort of way. The malpractice is evident not only in liturgical and musical antics but also in the bare ruined choirs of churches stripped to the austere specifications of "worship spaces " designed to facilitate the community's encounter with itself.

Encounter with the Other is a decidedly secondary consideration, if it is considered at all.

The tabernacle of the Real Presence is moved either somewhere off to the side or into a closet-sized space down a side corridor, as though to pose a challenge to those really determined to engage in eucharistic adoration.

Not for nothing are the church renovations of recent decades sometimes referred to as wreckovations. All this is painfully true, and there will no doubt be cause for legitimate complaint far into the future. . . .
An excerpt from Catholic Matters: Confusion, Controversy, and the Splendor of Truth by Fr. Richard John Neuhaus...

The game of which he speaks, "Can you top this?" is truly sad when one is discussing the numerous aberations during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. How glorious, though, is it when one is discussing a beuatifully adorned church where reverence is the order of the day and where Holy Mass is celebrated in a prayerful and pious manner? There are two ways to play ""Can you top this?"...Wouldn't it be nice if more were of the latter type?

Alleged Victim Says Parish Didn't Do Enough

Another accusation of molestation by a priest. This allegation stems from an episode from 25+ years ago and the priest has been dead for over 20 years. Nonetheless, a suit has been filed against the St Louis Archdiocese and Archbishop Raymond Burke.

A Missouri man spoke publicly for the first time Thursday about the alleged sexual abuse he suffered while attending All Saints Catholic School in St. Peters.
The alleged victim has filed suit in St. Louis Circuit Court against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. Louis and Archbishop Raymond Burke.

The complaint states Fr. Louis Kertz sexually abused him in 1981. Kertz died of cancer in 1985. He was 62.
The victim is said to have told his parents of the alleged fondling incident after returning home from being with the priest attending a movie at a drive-in.

The story also states that the victim is in his late 30's so the he must have been between 11 and 15 years. He asks his parents if the priest's actions were normal...Even though hindsight is 20/20, how can a parent not call the police over an incident like this? I can only imagine the restraint that would be required to keep from confronting and thrashing such a pervert, collar or not...I certainly would be unable to let something like this fester while not doing something about it.

[The victim] said his mother sought out another priest, Fr. Don Wester. The man said his mother explained what her son had revealed to her and the priest said her son was not the first to accuse Kertz of abuse.

The family believes that the priest did not do enough to address the issue. It seems to me that the parents didn't either.

SNAP is on the case...

...of a St Louis Community College employee accused of sexual misconduct in Orange County, California...
A 25-year-old woman filed suit Tuesday in Superior Court in Orange County, Calif., alleging that a St. Louis County man sexually abused, molested and raped her in 1998, before he became the music director at St. Louis Community College at Meramec.

Larry Stukenholtz is accused of abusing the girl, then 17, while he was the choir director at Mater Dei High School, a Catholic school in Santa Ana, Calif.
Stukenholtz works in St Louis for the Community College system. He denied the accusations and said that he was unaware of any allegations against him while he was at Mater Dei.

Never fear - SNAP is on this case like white on rice! The fact that the man is not a priest is unimportant - this happened at a Catholic school!
At a news conference on the edge of campus Tuesday, Barbara Dorris, outreach director for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, asked the college to suspend Stukenholtz and to reach out to the people who have come in close contact with him. Dorris said the Catholic Church was concealing information about wrongdoing.
GUILTY - until proven innocent...SNAP's solution always appears to be the "Shoot first, ask questions later approach." Does SNAP take as much interest in the numerous sexual abuse cases occurring in the public school sector or in Protestant churches, or is it's interest merely in the Catholic realm.

Now had this been a female teacher having her way with an underage male student, we could well see that behavior lauded and displayed on TV.

Personally, I advocate locking up child molesters and throwing away the key - IF they survive long enough to make it to jail.

Lajolo and Kasper, Two New Additions to Team Ratzinger

They occupy key positions in the curia, having been appointed by John Paul II. But they fully support the new course charted by pope Ratzinger. Here is what has changed with them in the areas of ecumenism and relations with Islam

by Sandro Magister

Embracing a New Faith?

A growing number of Latinos are redefining themselves through Islam, attracted by a devoutness, simiplicity and way of treating women that they prefer to the machismo culture they were raised in.

Many are rejecting the Catholic faith in which they were they are made aware of their Islamic roots...

Latin Mass in Washington DC

The ringing of bells. Latin wafting high into the church rafters. Women's heads draped in lace.

There is a solemn aura to 9 a.m. Sunday Mass at Saint Mary Mother of God, a D.C. parish on Fifth Street NW where hundreds of Catholics who long for ancient ritual gather each week to celebrate what is among the most traditional and complex of Roman Catholic rites: the Tridentine Mass.

The sounds are few and particular. Latin is the language of prayer, and the only ones who speak it during the service are the nearly inaudible priest and the Gregorian Chant Choir that performs on the third Sunday of each month. Robed altar servers -- there are as many as 10 -- ring bells several times during the hour-long service. Pews creak and shoes shuffle as some 400 people kneel and stand, kneel and stand. . .

A decent article from the Washington Post...To see a panoramic photo of a recent Mass at Saint Mary and hear music from the service, click here.

Gospel for Wednesday, 9th Week in Ordinary Time

From: Mark 12:18-27

The Resurrection of the Dead

[18] And Sadducees came to Him (Jesus), who say that there is no resurrection; and they asked Him a question, saying [19] "Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man's brother dies and leaves a wife, but leaves no child, the man must take the wife, and raise up children for his brother. [20] There were seven brothers; the first took a wife, and when he died left no children; [21] and the second took her, and died, leaving no children; and the third likewise; [22] and the seven left no children. Last of all the woman also died. [23] In the resurrection whose wife will she be? For the seven had her as wife."

[24] Jesus said to them, "Is not this why you are wrong, that you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God? [25] For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in Heaven. [26] And as for being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God said to him, `I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'? [27] He is not God of the dead, but of the living; you are quite wrong."

18-27. Before answering the difficulty proposed by the Sadducees, Jesus wants to identify the source of the problem--man's tendency to confine the greatness of God inside a human framework through excessive reliance on reason, not giving due weight to divine Revelation and the power of God. A person can have difficulty with the truths of faith; this is not surprising, for these truths are above human reason. But it is ridiculous to try to find contradictions in the revealed word of God; this only leads away from any solution of difficulty and may make it impossible to find one's way back to God. We need to approach Sacred Scripture, and, in general, the things of God, with the humility which faith demands. In the passage about the burning bush, which Jesus quotes to the Sadducees, God says this to Moses: "Put off your shoes from your feet, for the place on which you stand is holy ground" (Exodus 3:5).
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.

Thomas More Law Center Asks Ninth Circuit To Halt Destruction of the Mt. Soledad Cross

ANN ARBOR, MI – Today, the Thomas More Law Center, a national, public interest law firm, filed an urgent motion in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, seeking a stay of Federal District Court Judge Gordon Thompson’s May 3 order to the City of San Diego to remove the Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial cross within 90 days or face fines of $5,000 per day. Unless the Ninth Circuit stays this court order, the City will be forced to remove the cross by August 1.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Something has gone awry....

...All sidebar items are at the bottom...Not certain what happened, but I hope to have it fixed soon.

New Missouri Sexual Predator Law...

Will Missouri Abortion Clinics be charged with a felony if they fail to report cases where underage sex has occurred?

Maybe, according to a report by LiteSiteNews:
...[the] new law makes it a felony if a person, or an organization, including abortion clinics, omit to inform the authorities if someone they know is a sexual offender, or if they help that person hide from the authorities.
Planned Parenthood was exposed in covering cases of statutory rape back in 2002 by Life Dynamics, Inc.

Missouri Democratic Party Endorses Killing of Cloned Embryos for Research

As if abortion and infanticide are not enough, Democratic Party of the State of Missouri has officially endorsed the ballot measure to allow embryonic stem cell research and "therapeutic" cloning, which results in the killing of even more innocent human life.

Of course, the ballot measure redefines human cloning so as to create confusion among voters. These ghouls have decided that human cloning is to be defined as implanting a cloned embryo in a woman uterus. So one might ask, "What is a 'cloned' embryo"?

... the measure does permit embryonic stem cell research -- a process anti-abortion groups believe ends human life at its earliest stages.
Not only do Pro-life (anti-abortion) groups believe that it ends human life but this is a FACT confirmed by biological science - Facts which many refuse to accept.

We live among pagans and heathens and death peddlers. We evidently are not praying enough.

For good, solid information see Missourians Against Human Cloning:

New Vatican summary of teachings on sexuality

VATICAN CITY, JUN 6, 2006 (VIS) - The Pontifical Council for the Family, founded 25 years ago by John Paul II with the Motu Proprio "Familia a Deo Instituta," and presided by Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, today published a document entitled: "Family and Human Procreation."

The text, according to an explanatory note written by Fr. Abelardo Lobato O.P., consultor of the pontifical council, "is destined to be an object of study, both for its doctrine and in its pastoral application." The document opens with "an introduction to the theme of the relationship between ... the family and procreation."

And from Catholic World News:
Jun. 06 ( - The Pontifical Council for the Family has issued a new major document entitled Family and Human Procreation, explaining Church teaching on a range of controversial issues including abortion, contraception, homosexuality, genetic manipulation, and divorce.
The document argues that "responsible procreation" always occurs within the context of marriage and family life. It decries the growing acceptance of single-parent households and homosexual unions, and in particular the demands for government recognition of same-sex "marriage" and the right of homosexuals to adopt children.

Passing Off Lies as the Truth

That's what the LA Times is doing with this article:

Faithful, Yet Not Traditional Catholics
Doctrinal differences, social issues, scandals lead congregations away from church hierarchy.

Now, let that sink in a bit..."FAITHFUL, Yet Not Traditional CATHOLICS"

As you read the article, observe to whom these people are FAITHFUL:

Like Catholic priests everywhere, Bishop Peter Hickman dons a white tunic each Sunday to celebrate Mass in a sanctuary laden with incense and crosses.

"Marriage promotes growth," says Hickman, 50, who has fathered five children, been married three times and divorced twice. "People who've never been married have a hard time knowing themselves."
If marriage promotes growth, then multiple marriages must promote a superabundance of growth...

Here we have a man, unable to be FAITHFUL to his wife, (the first woman he married), who has taken up adulterous relationships twice (objectively speaking) and who pretends to be a Catholic priest. And we are to infer that he "knows" himself, while others do not. Probably from the growth of knowledge of multiple marriages.

An then, what are we to make of Jesus, who never married, or of those who followed Him, living a consecrated life of celibacy and virginity. We all know that Jesus was quite confused, having a "hard time knowing {Himself]"...And the Saints who lived lives of heroic virtue, in consecrated celibacy or virginity, lives of total self giving to God - did they, too, have a "hard time knowing themselves"?

The church he has pastored for more than 20 years, St. Matthew in Orange, operates much like any other Catholic church, and offers what appear to be the same sacraments. Yet it ordains female, married and openly gay priests, recognizes divorce, accepts birth control and premarital sex, blesses same-sex unions and, most important, rejects the authority of the pope.

It's a bit of a stretch - in fact, beyond belief - to claim that his church "operates much like any other Catholic church" - in actuality, it operates more like any other lost protestant denomination which engages in similar practices. It has no valid sacraments, save perhaps Baptism, and this is, no doubt, questionable.

"We dream of a Catholic Church that's open to everyone," Hickman said in a recent Sunday sermon. The Roman Catholic hierarchy, he said, "betrays the Gospel they are called to preach. We pray they will be delivered from the demonic hold they have been caught up in."

It's as if the poor man really doesn't understand - the Church IS open to everyone - everyone who wishes to follow Christ.

He may as well demand from God Almighty that He open heaven to all while He does away with hell. But then, maybe Hickman and company believe they are all gods. They have, after all, rejected Christ by rejecting the Church He founded and keeps alive, animated and protected by the Holy Spirit.

While he may have a point in that some in the Church hierarchy "betray the Gospel", one must wonder why he does not number himself among the betrayers? The Gospels are quite clear to some, but these who have exalted themselves as self-appointed arbitors of truth and authentic "Catholicism", have deceived themselves or have been deceived by the same demonic forces from which they claim to pray from deliverance.

"Our Catholic identity is very important to us," Hickman says, "but the Catholic Church no longer has a monopoly on sacraments." Speaking to his congregation, Hickman goes even further, saying the Roman church hierarchy has betrayed the Gospel.

Twice in the article we read about this betrayal. The LA Times must be trying to get that point across to the readers. But I digress.

If "Catholic identity" was as important as he claims it to be, then he would not be rejecting the Catholic Church. The only thing which is truly important to such people is the ability to abuse one's freedom, intellect and conscience. When one imbibes daily of the tasty poisons of schism. heresy, and apostacy, one cannot help but be affected and infected.

"Faithfulness"...what we read about in the article...This "faithfulness" is not a fidelity toward our Lord or to His Church, but is a sick and perverted love of self - a narcissism posing as something virtuous, a self-love which excludes truth and the grace of God.

St Louis is the home of one of the ECC communities. Recently, Marek Bozek (the exommunicated priest hired to "pastor" St Stanislaus Church) commented that what this group was doing was "very Catholic"...By their fruits you will know them, eh?