Saturday, May 26, 2007

The Priest at Prayer, May 27

Second Part
The Priestly Ministry

The First Ministerial Duty

First Meditation - The Nature of Prayer

What is prayer? "Elevatio mentis in Deum," says St. Augustine: a raising up of the mind to God. It is the lifting up of the deepest and most spirimal part of our being, the mind, until God and the soul are linked together in intimate communication. It is the mind's loftiest and most generous soaring.

According to St. Chrysostom prayer is the act whereby mortal and transitory beings are taken up to the immortal Life of God through dealings with Him the most intimate and familiar.

If we listen to St. Bernard, it is a private audience we are given with the Eternal King seated on His starry throne attended by an immense retinue of blessed spirits, the soul being like a dirty little toad - "ranuncula vilis" - emerged from its infested pool and allowed to scale the heights of the royal palace where God reigns in the splendours of sanctity amid the angels and the just.

Or as St. Teresa gracefully puts it: "Prayer is nothing but a simple friendly affair, it seems to me; a conversing frequently and alone with the One who we know loves us. And if you don't love Him - because for love to be real and for friendship to be lasting certain conditions must be fulfilled - then, it (prayer) means that, realising how much it concerns you to have His friendship and how much He loves you, you undergo the ordeal of being often with One who is so different from you." (Life of St. Teresa, chap. viii.)

What is prayer? It is the most powerful weapon the Creator has placed into the hands of man. Even between man and man there is no power more irresistible than the humble request.

Israel and Amalec were fighting: while Moses with hands raised to heaven prayed, Israel won, but as soon as Moses lowered his hands and ceased to pray, Israel suffered defeat.

Another time, when the holy prophet besought the angered Jehovah to forgive the people their crimes, the answer was: Leave me alone, that my wrath may be kindled against them, and that I may destroy them. (Exod. xxxii, 10.) "Leave me alone" - as though the agonising plea of the great leader were mightier than the Almighty Himself: And Josue, by prayer, holds back the restless chariot of the sun; and Elias for three years suspends the rain, "lays a ban on heaven itself". (Ecclus. xlviii, 3)

Should the Old Testament not suffice, let us hear Christ's promise:
Therefore I say unto you, all things whatsoever you ask when you pray, believe that you shall receive, and they shall come unto you. (Mark xi, 24)

Happy our lot, once we win over our distrustful hearts to the truth of this divine promise!

The practice of prayer, so excellent and powerful, is the priest's first ministerial duty.

How often the Lord commanded in the Old Testa­ment: let the priest pray!

In the New Dispensation it is our daily duty: to pray in the Mass, to pray in the Canonical Hours, to pray in the administration of the Sacraments, to pray in every liturgical function. The framework, the pith and sub­stance, of the entire Catholic liturgy and of Catholic worship is prayer; and this is the spirit that has animated the Church from her origins.

The Apostles voice their conviction through the voice of Peter that they have a greater obligation to pray than to distribute alms among the poor: "It is too much that we should have to forgo preaching God's word, and bestow our care upon tables." (Acts vi, 2)

And is it not too much that I should forgo preaching God's word and praying, no, not for the sake of feeding the hungry, but rather for the sake of idling my time away, of running after my sports and pastimes, or, at least, after worldly interests?

On earth I am God's Apocalypse who
"came and took his stand at the altar, with a censer of gold; and incense was given him in plenty, so that he could make an offering on the golden altar before the throne of God, out of the prayers said by all the Saints." (Apoc. viii, 3)

Will it be the right thing for me to have that censer, from which the pleadings of mankind rise up to God, extinguished and thrown into a corner?

I resolve to turn my heart into a censer of continually burning prayer which with its fragrance may appease the divine Justice and incline Him to love and mercy.

When could I so much as dream that my poor heart was to render such noble service?
Adapted from The Priest at Prayer
by Fr. Eugenio Escribano, C.M. (© 1954)
Translated by B.T. Buckley, C.M.

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

Reflections for Pentecost

A Reflection for Pentecost

The Gifts of the Holy Spirit

A Pentecost Reflection by Marcellino D'Ambrosio

The Holy Spirit and Confession


Friday, May 25, 2007

Gospel for Saturday, 7th Week of Easter

Memorial: St. Philip Neri, Priest

From: John 21:20-25

Peter's Primacy (Continuation)

[20] Peter turned and saw following them the disciple whom Jesus loved, and who had lain close to His breast at the supper and had said, "Lord, who is it that is going to betray You?" [21] When Peter saw Him, he said to Jesus, "Lord, what about this man?" [22] Jesus said to him, "If it is My will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? Follow Me!" [23] The saying spread abroad among the brethren that this disciple was not to die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he was not to die, but, "If it is My will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?"


[24] This is the disciple who is bearing witness to these things, and who has written these things; and we know that his testimony is true.

[25] But there are also many other things which Jesus did; were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.


20-23. According to St. Irenaeus ("Against Heresies", II, 22, 5; III, 3, 4) St. John outlived all the other Apostles, into the reign of Trajan (98-117 A.D.). Possibly the evangelist wrote these verses to dispel the idea that he would not die. According to the text, Jesus does not reply to Peter's question. The important thing is not to be curious about what the future will bring but to serve the Lord faithfully, keeping to the way He has marked out for one.

24. This is an appeal to the testimony of the disciple "whom Jesus loved" as a guarantee of the veracity of everything contained in the book: everything which this Gospel says should be accepted by its readers as being absolutely true.

Many modern commentators think that verses 24 and 25 were added by disciples of the Apostle, as a conclusion to the Gospel, when it began to be circulated, a short time after St. John completed it. Be that as it may, the fact is that both verses are to be found in all extant manuscripts of the Fourth Gospel.

25. St. John's account, written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, has as its purpose the strengthening of our faith in Jesus Christ through reflecting on what our Lord said and did. Like the Fourth Gospel, we shall never be able to capture the full richness and depth of our Lord's personality. "Once one begins to be interested in Christ, one's interest can never cease. There is always something more to be known, to be said--infinitely more. St. John the Evangelist ends his Gospel making this very point (John 21:25). Everything to do with Christ is so rich, there are such depths for us to explore; such light, strength, joy, desire have their source in Him. [...] His coming to the world, His presence in history and culture and [...] His vital relationship with our conscience: everything suggests that it is unseemly, unscientific and irreverent ever to think that we need not and cannot advance further in contemplation of Jesus Christ" ([Pope] Paul VI, "General Audience", 20 February 1974).
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.

The Priest at Prayer, May 26

Second Part
The Priestly Ministry

The Ministry in General

Second Meditation - Exercise of the Ministry

What are my ministerial duties? Those deriving from the Orders I have received and from my appointment.

Each tree, each being, is expected to give its own specific fruit: the olive-tree, olives; the vine, grapes; and of the doctor is required healing; of the lawyer, the defence of justice in lawsuits; and of the priest, the offering of the Great Sacrifice, the administration of the Sacraments, the announcing of the word of God, and prayer, voiced in the name of the Church. This is why we are priests; for this we were ordained; this is what is imperiously demanded of us by God, by souls, by society, and by our priestly attire.

Have these been the fruits I have yielded up to now? If fruits of another species, no matter how exquisite they may seem, I shall be but a freak of a tree that fails to fulfill the Creator's precept that each fruit tree yield fruit after its kind. I should be like a vine-stock bearing, let us say, lemons. And if I bore no fruit at all, that would be worse still. I should be cursed with sterility, and eventually Every tree that doth not yield good fruit shall be cut down and cast into the fire. (Matt. iii, 10)

It is not enough for just a few of the branches to bear fruit: they must all do so, otherwise they will be pruned as useless and harmful to the vitality of the others that do give fruit. In like manner, I must not content myself with exercising one or two of my minis­terial duties, no more, and despise or dodge the rest, or exercise them only once in a while.

And how many pious and zealous priests easily get the idea that they have striven sufficiently in days gone by for the Glory of God, and brought to a successful issue an adequate number of tasks; so now, in the evening of their lives, it is only right they should enjoy a well-earned rest and gloat inactively over past endeavours!

These were not the sentiments of the Apostle of the Gentiles:
"May you live as befits his servants, waiting con­tinually on his pleasure; may the closer knowledge of God bring you fruitfulness and growth in all good." (Cor. i, 10)

"And in its service I suffer hardship like a criminal, yes, even imprisonment; but there is no imprisoning the word of God." (II Tim. ii, 9)

Our Lord Himself expressed His Mind also on this point:
I must work the works of Him that sent me, whilst it is day; the night cometh, when no man can work. (John ix, 4)

Does my sloth and laziness try to hasten the night of my life, and turn my noon into darkness, against God's Will? Fruit trees are not always bearing fruit, you'll say perhaps, they have only one autumn in the year. Yes, but in our lives there was also a winter and a spring: those long years in which slowly, step by step, we prepared for Holy Orders; but once ordained, our autumn has begun, and God comes to us every day looking for fruit.

And will the priest be the only man without his years of rest and retirement? Will he never be pensioned off? Is there no superannuation for him? No, definitely; never. You may be forced to retire from active work because of waning physical strength or old age or bad health, but even then there still remains something to accomplish; for instance, the duty of reading the Office.

For the genuine minister of Christ the time for resting is not to be found in this life; to him more than to anyone else apply the words of the Apocalypse:
"Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord. Yes, for ever henceforward, the Spirit says, they are to have rest from their labours." (Apoc. xiv, 13.)

In future, this is how I am going to exercise the ministry:

1. With real affection, proving therein my love for my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. I shall begin my various duties by trying to picture the Redeemer saying to me, as He said to the Prince of the Apostles: Dost thou love me more than these? Feed my lambs. . . . feed my sheep. John xxi, 15)

2. With promptness and zest. I do not wish to hear one day before the Divine Tribunal what was said to Capharnaum: It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of Judgement.­(Matt. x, 15) I do not wish to see myself judged and confounded by the doctor who rushes out to patients at all hours of the night, or by the soldier who keeps the country's flag flying amid the storm and stress of battle, amid wounds and death.

3. Disinterestedly. It may be all right for a stone mason, a road mender, or a miner, to work merely for the wages; but a curse on the priest who in everything he does will not fix his gaze first and foremost on the eternal reward!
Adapted from The Priest at Prayer
by Fr. Eugenio Escribano, C.M. (© 1954)
Translated by B.T. Buckley, C.M.

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

God's Beautiful Creation

This is from an email I received on the Hubble telescope's top ten greatest space photographs. Today I will list five, with the remaining ones to come later. Not only do we witness God's marvelous handiwork here on earth in everything we can see, hear, feel and so on, but His glory is manifested throughout the entire universe!

The Sombrero Galaxy - 28 million light years from Earth - was voted best picture taken by the Hubble telescope. The dimensions of the galaxy, officially called M104, are as spectacular as its appearance. It has 800 billion suns and is 50,000

The Ant Nebula, a cloud of dust and gas whose technical name is Mz3, resembles an ant when observed using ground-based telescopes. The nebula lies within our galaxy between 3,000 and 6,000 light years from Earth.

In third place is Nebula NGC 2392, called Eskimo because it looks like a face surrounded by a furry hood. The hood is, in fact, a ring of comet-shaped objects flying away from a dying star. Eskimo is 5,000 light years from Earth.

At four is the Cat's Eye Nebula, which looks like the eye of disembodied sorcerer Sauron from Lord of the Rings.

The Hourglass Nebula, 8,000 light years away, has a pinched-in-the-middle look because the winds that shape it are weaker at the centre.

Representatives Challenge Papacy and Hint at Old Heresies

Eighteen U.S. congressmen issued a May 10 communiqué titled: “Catholic Members of Congress Express Concern Over Church Sanctions.” Rep. Rosa De Lauro and 17 other Catholic representatives signed the document protesting the use of ecclesiastical sanctions against pro-abortion legislators. Their arguments are analogous to those used by advocates of “constitutional churches” in times past. The TFP article, “U.S. Congressmen Challenge Papacy and Hint at Old Heresies" begins:

On May 10, Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and 17 other Catholic U.S. Representatives issued a communiqué expressing their concern over the “Pope’s statement warning Catholic elected officials that they risk excommunication and would not receive communion for their pro-choice views.”1

It is quite possible that these Democratic congressmen reviewed the declaration hastily and signed on to it without realizing its full gravity.

Nevertheless, the statement raises concerns, for it suggests a state of revolt toward the Papacy and insinuates State supremacy over the Catholic Church. In so doing, the document suggests something of the errors of Gallicanism2 and Jansenism,3 which centuries ago took France under Philip the Fair,4 and Austria under Joseph II,5 to the brink of schism.

Illegal Alien Statistics

Via email:
While we may need to reform our immigration policies (again), it seems only reasonable (and mandatory) that we secure our borders first.

So often, we get caught up in a debate over political semantics and end up ignoring the hard-shell realities of what we're talking about.

According to, here are some of the realities that Flake-Gutierrez would airbrush out of the picture:

Number of Illegal Aliens in the Country

Money Wired to Mexico City since January, 2006

Cost of Social Security Services for Illegal Aliens since 1996

Number of Children of Illegal Aliens in Public Schools

Cost of Illegal Aliens in K-12 Since 1996:

Number of Illegal Aliens Incarcerated

Cost of Incarcerations Since 2001

Number of Illegal Aliens Fugitives

Skilled Jobs Taken by Illegal Aliens

Figures can trick your eyes. Take particular note that items above in dollars - These reflect BILLIONs not Millions of dollars -- and that item 3 above exceeds one-third of a TRILLION dollars.

Can you imagine how much it will cost taxpayers if we triple the number of Illegals entering this country!

So what's in a Billion anyway?

Granted... this is from the US perspective! The next time you hear a politician use the word "billion" in a casual manner, think about whether you want the "politicians" spending your tax money.

A billion is a difficult number to comprehend, but one advertising agency did a good job of putting that figure into some perspective in one of its releases.

A. A billion seconds ago it was 1959.

B. A billion minutes ago Jesus was alive.

C. A billion hours ago our ancestors were living in the Stone Age.

D. A billion days ago no-one walked on the earth on two feet.

E. A billion dollars ago was only 8 hours and 20 minutes, at the rate our government is spending it.

And while we are the subject, an article in the New York Post, "Rewarding Lawbreakers" by Kris W. Kobach, has a few more interesting items:

...the text is now circulating on Capitol Hill, and the content is astonishing. Just when it is becoming clear that overwhelming majorities of Americans - of all parties and all races - say they want to see stronger enforcement of our laws, the bill would take the country full speed in the opposite direction.

As promised, the bill will legalize most of the 12 million to 20 million illegal aliens now in the country via a new "Z visa." Each would pay $3,000 - only slightly more than the going rate to be smuggled into America.

But provisions buried in the fine print are far more outrageous. Here's a sampling:

1) To qualify for the Z-visa amnesty, an illegal alien need only have a job (or be the parent, spouse, or child of someone with a job) and come up with a scrap of paper suggesting he was in the country before Jan. 1 of this year. Any bank statement, pay stub, or similarly forgeable record will do.

Expect a mass influx unlike anything this country has seen before, once the 12-month period for accepting Z visa applications begins. These rules are an open invitation to sneak in and present a fraudulent piece of paper indicating that you were already here.

2) Supporters of the bill call the Z visa "temporary" - neglecting to mention that it can be renewed indefinitely until the visa holder dies. Thus, we have the country's first permanent temporary visa. On top of that, it's a super-visa - allowing the holder to work, attend college or do just about anything else.

Are you a law-abiding alien who's interested in switching to this privileged status? Sorry. Only illegal aliens can qualify.

3) Many criminals and terrorists will find it easy to get a Z visa. The bill allows the government only one day to conduct a so-called "background check" on the applicant. If the (already overstretched) feds can't find anything in that single day, the alien gets a probationary visa that lets him roam at will and seek employment legally.

Plainly, the bill's authors don't have a clue how the government maintains info on criminals and terrorists. It has no single, searchable database of all dangerous people. Much data exists only in paper records that can't be searched in 24 hours. Other information is held by foreign governments.
The article is continued here.

We know that something must be done, but this isn't the way to do it...

Pink Sisters Offer Novena to Sacred Heart June 7-15

by Jean M. Schildz, Review Staff Writer

The Pink Sisters will offer a Sacred Heart Novena particularly for families Thursday-Friday, June 7-15, at Mount Grace Convent Chapel in North St. Louis.

The novena will include daily consecration of families to the Sacred Heart during 7:30 p.m. Mass in the chapel, 1438 E. Warne Ave. in the College Hill neighborhood. The chapel is wheelchair accessible, and a security guard will be on duty.

The Holy Spirit Adoration Sisters, as the cloistered contemplative community is more formally known, have resided at Mount Grace Convent for 79 years.

The congregation recently announced a $3 million renovation and expansion project at the site. Work began earlier this spring. Mount Grace Convent Chapel will remain open throughout the expected one-year reconstruction period.

This will be the 49th year the Pink Sisters have hosted the Sacred Heart Novena, noted religious superior Sister Mary Gemma Robinson, SSPSAP.

The decision was made to focus on families during the novena, she said, because "our whole Catholic religious development begins with the family, so the families are very important. That’s why the emphasis is put on the sanctification of the family."

The nine days of prayer will culminate in 24 consecutive hours of eucharistic prayer for all people, and in particular for families. The novena will end with two Masses June 15 on the Feast of the Sacred Heart.

The chapel will continue to open to the public at 5:30 a.m. daily during the novena. Daily Mass also will be offered at 7 a.m. Vespers and Benediction during the novena will take place at 4 p.m. June 15. All are welcome to join the sisters in praying the Liturgy of the Hours at 5:45, 8:30 and 11:45 a.m. and 12:45 p.m. daily.

Masses during the novena will be celebrated at 7:30 p.m., with the exception of June 15, when a noon Mass also will be celebrated.

The novena Mass schedule of celebrants is as follows:

* Thursday, June 7, Father Lawrence A. Herzog, pastor, Little Flower;

* Friday, June 8, Father Mark C. Ullrich, pastor, Our Lady of the Holy Cross;

* Saturday, June 9, Father Edward M. Rice, pastor, St. John the Baptist;

* Sunday, June 10, Msgr. Richard F. Stika, pastor, Annunziata;

* Monday, June 11, Archbishop Raymond L. Burke;

* Tuesday, June 12, Father Andrew J. O’Connor, chaplain, Nazareth Living Center;

* Wednesday, June 13, Msgr. Henry J. Breier, secretary to the archbishop;

• Thursday, June 14, Msgr. Robert J. Gettinger, pastor, St. Augustine;

* Friday, June 15, noon Mass, Father Thomas J. Santen, pastor, St. Joseph (Manchester); and 7:30 p.m. closing Mass, Auxiliary Bishop Robert J. Hermann.

For more information, call the Pink Sisters’ prayer intention line at (314) 381-5686.

Conference highlights enduring influence of Latin language

Rome, May. 25, 2007 ( - A two-day conference on the future of the Latin language opened in Rome on May 25, with academics, politicians, and journalists discussing the role of the language in forming European identity.

The conference-- co-sponsored by the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences and the Italian National Research Council-- will highlight the contributions of Latin to the formation of a common scientific and cultural literature in Europe.

Boston Archdiocese Sells Land, Will Move

BOSTON -- The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston announced a $65 million dollar deal on Thursday to sell its administrative headquarters in Brighton to Boston College to complete a money-saving move to the suburbs.
* * *
The administrative offices, with about 200 employees, are expected to relocate by next summer to a 140,000-square-foot modern building in Braintree that is owned by The Flatley Companies, whose founder Thomas Flatley is a major supporter of the Catholic Church and a member of the archdiocese's Finance Council. Some other archdiocese employees in the Boston area are expected to move eventually to the Braintree location.

The Devil Made Me Do it...

Two articles reveal that accepting personal responsibility for one's own actions is a thing of the past...These days, one should always look to blame someone or something else whenever possible...that is, after all, the immature and childish thing to do.

Manatee County church's ex-treasurer gets one-year sentence
A woman previously convicted of embezzling money from the Postal Service was sentenced Thursday to a year in jail for a similar crime against a church.

Sally Hackle, 46, was ordered to continue to pay more than $37,000 in restitution to Living Lord Lutheran Church. She also received 15 years of probation as part of her sentence.
. . .
After her July 2006 arrest, Hackle sought psychiatric help, and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.

At the sentencing, Hackle's psychologist, Roxane Dinkin, said Hackle's spending sprees were driven by impulse.

Contributing factors to Hackle's mental health problems included prior physical abuse and two bouts with cancer, Dinkin said.[ my emphasis]
Sufficient reasons to explain her propensity to embezzle, yes?

An in another article, "Hancock's family sues Shannon's, others", one wonders if anyone in the family is of sound mind or if alcohol is a factor in this bizarre turn of events?

ST. LOUIS — Mike Shannon's sports bar knowingly served liquor to Cardinals relief pitcher Josh Hancock long after he was drunk, his father says in a wrongful death lawsuit over a fatal crash.

Toxicology tests made public Thursday from Hancock's autopsy reconfirmed his blood alcohol at 0.157 — almost twice the legal maximum to drive — and revealed no other drugs in his system.

The suit seeks unspecified damages "over $25,000" from Mike Shannon's Steaks and Seafood, the owner and driver of a parked tow truck that Hancock hit, and the driver of a car the wrecker had stopped to help.

Nobody else was injured when Hancock, 29, rammed a rented SUV into the back of the tow truck in the left lane of westbound Highway 40 near the Compton Avenue overpass shortly before 1 a.m. April 29.

And Hancock was also speeding and talking on his cell phone when he ran into the tow truck which did have its emergency lights flashing...But where is the family attempting place the blame? Everywhere but where it truly belongs...The family should ignore the advice of the slithering lawyer whom they have retained and move forward with their lives, being thankful that Hancock killed no one else in his drunken binge...But that action would indicate that one is capable of doing what is right, that one is mature enough to recognize and accept "personal responsibility".

To underscore the stupidity of the lawsuit, the complaint states:
"The intoxication of Joshua Morgan Hancock on said occasion was involuntary."
Involuntary? That's right - witnesses will surely testify that Hancock was dragged to the bar and intravenously given alcohol even while he violently protested...

I feel secure that now I can rely on the saying, "the devil made me do it", or that I can find a quack psychotherapist who will support the notion that I'm suffering from some sort of brain malfunction to excuse my future wrongdoings or lapses in responsibility or personal accountability. Isn't life great!

A Local Case of Spiritual Sickness and Disease

From the Post Dispatch:
A former St. Charles youth pastor who admitted pasting photos of the heads of teenagers from the congregation onto scenes of adult pornography was sentenced to two years in federal prison Thursday for possession of child pornography.

A Grace Baptist Church pastor became suspicious in 2005 after he walked in on Michael L. Gulley using a computer. St. Charles police later found the heads of minors from the church that had been electronically cut from digital pictures that Gulley had taken and pasted on pictures of naked adults engaged in sex, court documents state.

Gulley lived on the grounds of the church, at 3601 Ehlmann Road, for more than a year, but then moved to Brentmoor Court in St. Charles County.

Gulley, 45, pleaded guilty in March to one felony count of possession of child pornography.

Homosexual Priest Takes Time Off to Reflect

A PARISH priest who admitted trawling gay websites to meet young men has been allowed time off by his diocese to consider his future.

The small parish of Feakle in east Clare rallied around Fr Michael Hogan (56), urging him not to leave, as the Bishop of Killaloe, Dr Willie Walsh, said he had accepted Mr Hogan's request for a period of time out "in order to reflect on his position".

The disgraced priest left his home [Wednesday] morning as Fr James O'Brien, from nearby Flagmount, celebrated morning Mass with parishioners as they tried to come to terms with the shocking news.
. . .
The priest from Puckane, Co Tipperary, has served in the area for the last four years and has admitted to using the gay website for private rendezvous with other gay men.

Pre-Natal Testing and Consumerism

A disabled student in my class at Cal this semester – who has a prenatally screenable genetic condition -- told a story about her relationship with her mother about her disability. My student is twenty but her mother is still trying to conceive a "normal" child and has had several abortions of fetuses with my student's condition.

This is devastatingly painful for this young woman. She is clearly getting the message that she failed her mother by being born "defective." Even though this student is successful enough to attend the university, only a "normal" child would please her mother, who keeps trying and testing years later to get the "valid" child she wants.
More here on a Pro-abortion, feminist scholar says why she opposes pre-natal diagnosis and selective abortion from California Catholic Daily.

Fr. Trigilio: CCC Responds to 18 Democrats

Catholic Clergy Respond to 18 Democrats
Contact: Rev. Fr. John Trigilio, Jr., President, Confraternity of Catholic Clergy, 717-957-2662

MARYSVILLE, Penn., MAY 24 / Standard Newswire/ -- The Confraternity of Catholic Clergy denounces the recent attempt by 18 Democrat members of Congress to rebuke Pope Benedict XVI in a public letter issued on May 14. That letter was self-incriminating of those who signed it as it betrayed a complete lack of priorities on the part of the politicians if not a distorted view at least. The CCC is not only an association of priests and deacons dedicated to ongoing formation (spiritual, theological and pastoral, in a fraternal setting), it is also composed of tax-paying, voting citizens of this nation. As fellow Americans and as Catholic Christians, we resent these 18 members of Congress interfering with the pastoral duty and obligation of the Pope. As the supreme pastor of the universal church, it is his prerogative to continue the three-fold ministry of Christ (priest, prophet & king) by sanctifying, teaching and shepherding. The Pope, therefore, has every right to "teach" the faithful on the immorality and evil as he sees it and has every right to discipline those who refuse to abide by the laws of God.

Abortion and euthanasia are contrary to the Divine Law and to Natural Law, regardless of which nation, state or municipality 'legalizes' these. Even though the Supreme Court issued their infamous Dred Scott and (1857) and Plessy v. Furguson (1896) decisions, slavery and racial segregation remained unjust, evil and immoral, despite their apparent 'legality' by the highest court of the land. Likewise, Roe v. Wade (1973) may have 'legalized' abortion across the land, but its inherent injustice to the unborn human child remains a moral and civil evil upon our country.

Anyone who supports abortion is a formal cooperator in evil while those who 'personally oppose abortion but uphold a woman's right to choose abortion' are material cooperators in evil. When he was still Cardinal Ratzinger, Pope Benedict sent a letter to the US Bishops in 2004 which said
"a Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in evil, and so unworthy to present himself for holy Communion, if he were to deliberately vote for a candidate precisely because of the candidate's permissive stand on abortion and/or euthanasia."
He also said that Catholic politicians who consistently campaign and vote for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws are formal cooperators in evil and they are "not to present themselves for Holy Communion." Our words and actions make us worthy or unworthy. Church law merely ratifies our decision by telling us to refrain from Communion when we should not be taking it. [emphasis added]

# # #

Fr Euteneuer: The Advocate vs. The Accuser

In a few months I will publish a book on exorcism and deliverance by which I hope to educate the Church Militant on the reality of spiritual evil and the truth of the Church’s power against it. On this weekend where our Church celebrates Pentecost, the great Feast of the Holy Spirit, I offer an excerpt from this upcoming book to highlight the influence of the Holy Spirit in defending our cause against the accusing spirit of the devil. If we are to fight for the salvation of souls, we must know our enemy and experience God’s love as the protective shield against all his evil.

The following excerpt is taken from the chapter entitled, “The Devil, His Minions, and His Activities.”

Gospel for Friday, 7th Week of Easter

Optional Memorial: St Bede the Venerable, Priest and Doctor
Optional Memorial: St Gregory VII, Pope
Optional Memorial: St Mary Magdalen de Pazzi

From: John 21:15-19

Peter's Primacy

[15] When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?" He said to Him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love You." He said to him, "Feed My lambs." [16] A second time He said to him, "Simon, son of John, do you love Me?" He said to Him, "Yes, Lord, you know I love You." He said to him, "Tend My sheep." [17] He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love Me?" Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, "Do you love Me?" And he said to Him, "Lord, You know everything; You know that I love You." Jesus said to him, "Feed My sheep. [18] Truly, truly I say to you, when you were young, you girded yourself and walked where you would; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish to go." [19] (This He said to show by what death he was to glorify God.) And after this He said to him, "Follow Me."


15-17. Jesus Christ had promised Peter that he would be the primate of the Church (cf. Matthew 16:16-19 and note on the same). Despite his three denials during our Lord's passion, Christ now confers on him the primacy He promised.

"Jesus questions Peter, three times, as if to give him a triple chance to atone for his triple denial. Peter has learned his lesson from the bitter experience of his wretchedness. Aware of his weakness, he is deeply convinced that rash claims are pointless. Instead he puts everything in Christ's hands. `Lord, You know well that I love You" ([St] J. Escriva, "Friends of God", 267). The primacy was given to Peter directly and immediately. So the Church has always understood--and so Vatican I defined: "We therefore teach and declare that, according to the testimony of the Gospel, the primacy of jurisdiction over the universal Church of God was immediately and directly promised and given to Blessed Peter the Apostle by Christ our Lord. [...] And it was upon Simon Peter alone that Jesus after His resurrection bestowed the jurisdiction of chief pastor and ruler over all His fold in the words: "Feed My lambs; feed My sheep" ("Pastor Aeternus", Chapter 1).

The primacy is a grace conferred on Peter and his successors, the popes; it is one of the basic elements in the Church, designed to guard and protect its unity: "In order that the episcopate also might be one and undivided, and that [...] the multitude of the faithful might be kept secure in the oneness of faith and communion, He set Blessed Peter over the rest of the Apostles, and fixed in him the abiding principle of this twofold unity, and its visible foundation" ("Pastor Aeternus, Dz-Sch 3051"; cf. Vatican II, "Lumen Gentium", 18). Therefore, the primacy of Peter is perpetuated in each of his successors: this is something which Christ disposed; it is not based on human legislation or custom.

By virtue of the primacy, Peter, and each of his successors, is the shepherd of the whole Church and vicar of Christ on earth, because he exercises vicariously Christ's own authority. Love for the Pope, whom St. Catherine of Siena used to call "the sweet Christ on earth", should express itself in prayer, sacrifice and obedience.

18-19. According to Tradition, St. Peter followed his Master to the point of dying by crucifixion, head downwards, "Peter and Paul suffered martyrdom in Rome during Nero's persecution of Christians, which took place between the years 64 and 68. St. Clement, the successor of the same Peter in the See of the Church of Rome, recalls this when, writing to the Corinthians, he puts before them `the generous example of these two athletes': `due to jealousy and envy, those who were the principal and holiest columns suffered persecution and fought the fight unto death'" ([Pope] Paul VI, "Petrum Et Paulum").

"Follow Me!": these words would have reminded the Apostle of the first call he received (cf. Matthew 4:19) and of the fact that Christ requires of His disciples complete self-surrender: "If any man would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up the Cross daily and follow Me" (Luke 9:23). St. Peter himself, in one of his letters, also testifies to the Cross being something all Christians must carry: "For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in His steps" (1 Peter 2:21).
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, May 24, 2007

The Priest at Prayer, May 25

Second Part
The Priestly Ministry

The Ministry in General

First Meditation - The Priest's Chief Occupation

St. Paul writes to Timothy:
"So much I tell thee by letter. . . . that thou mayest be in no doubt over the conduct that is expected of thee in God's household. By that I mean the Church of the living God. . . .(1 Tim. iii, 15)

The Church is God's Household, a House built by Him, arranged by Him, with a wisdom immeasurably superior to the wisdom which Solomon revealed in the construction and furnishing of his royal palaces, and which so amazed and overwhelmed the Queen of Sheba.

But can you conceive of a house well ordered and wisely ruled where there is a large redundant staff of servants and stewards who have nothing to do but to kill time and vegetate in idleness under the shade of their master's protection?

So it stands to reason, Lord, that I, as steward and Minister of Thy Household, have a task allotted to me, and if I do not carry it out I am a disgrace to Thy holy dwellings. Thou couldst repeat for my benefit the words of reproach Thou didst speak through the lips of the Prophet to Sobna, the prefect of the Temple: What dost thou here, or as if thou were somebody here? . . . the shame of the house Of thy Lord. {Is. xxii, 15-18)

At our ordination we received the four Minor Orders and the three Major Orders, and each Order was instituted and conferred upon us for a specific purpose; each is but the Divine Power communicated to us for the exercise of a spiritual ministerial duty. This presupposes an office, an obligation, and a life-long one as far as our strength allows, because the "Character" of the Sacrament of Holy Orders is indelible. We are in priestly harness for life.

Thus the great Apostle exhorted his chosen pupil Timothy:
"A special grace has been entrusted to thee; prophecy awarded it, and the imposition of the presbyters' hands went with it; do not let it suffer from neglect." (l Tim. iv, 14)

Woe to the unfaithful servant who, having received the talent to trade with and multiply, through indolence or cowardice buries it underground! It was not precisely the wicked servant but the unprofitable one that the order was given to cast out into exterior darkness where there would be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Cfr. Matt. xxv, 30)

Is it possible, O Lord, that I am that unprofitable servant who has wasted and squandered Thy riches and lawful gains?

We became priests in answer to a calling. Which of us will swear that when he mounted the altar steps he had no vocation, and that instead of entering the sanctuary by the proper door he sneaked in from the back? Who among us would patiently bear to be called a "sneak" by the manner of our entry into the priesthood, or a "gate-crasher" into the sanctuary?

No, dear Jesus, I was really convinced that I heard Thy call, and those who numbered me among Thy Household staff were also convinced, and the Prelate who laid his hands on me was convinced; otherwise they would all have rejected me as an intruder.

I had a vocation. And what is this vocation? A special calling from God to consecrate myself to the priesthood. But would God have called me to a life of idleness, to the mere enjoyment of honor and benefice? Or did Jesus Christ institute a sort of honorary priesthood? Did He allow His Heart to be pierced by a lance on Calvary that there might issue forth a Sacrament destined to confirm me in sloth? That certainly is not His idea:
You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you and appointed you, that you should go and bring forth fruit, and your fruit should remain. (John xv, 16.)

To live more contented each day with my state, and to esteem its occupations higher than those of any other walk of life, as being more useful to the neighbor, holier for myself, nobler in themselves and more ennobling to those who exercise them. These priestly occupations shall therefore take pride of place in my life, in my preferences, in my appreciations, in the intensity and time I give to them. Any other occupation, however congenial to me, I shall subordinate to those of my priesthood, and, if they prove a handicap, I shall forgo them entirely. Can I affirm, hand on heart, that, so far, I have lived up to this wise maxim?

My ministry is loftier and worthier than the exercise of any art or craft or profession, and yet so many people sacrifice to these their pleasure, time and very life. Shame on me if I account as little less than wasted the time I have to spend on my priestly duties!
Adapted from The Priest at Prayer
by Fr. Eugenio Escribano, C.M. (© 1954)
Translated by B.T. Buckley, C.M.

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

Importing a Slave Class...

...or, as I heard on the radio the other day, "The Democrat Voter Importation Act of 2007"

From Ann Coulter's column, we read, in part:
...No law is ever enforced 100%.

We can't catch all rapists, so why not grant amnesty to rapists? Surely no one wants thousands of rapists living in the shadows! How about discrimination laws? Insider trading laws? Do you expect Bush to round up everyone who goes over the speed limit? Of course we can't do that. We can't even catch all murderers. What we need is "comprehensive murder reform." It's not "amnesty" -- we'll ask them to pay a small fine.

If it's "impossible" to deport illegal aliens, how did we come to have so much specific information about them? I keep hearing they are Catholic, pro-life, hardworking, just dying to become American citizens, and will take jobs other Americans won't...
* * *
We fought a civil war to force Democrats to give up on slavery 150 years ago. They've become so desperate for servants that now they're importing an underclass to wash their clothes and pick their vegetables. This vast class of unskilled immigrants is the left's new form of slavery.

Will a controversial deacon be ordained a priest by Bishop Serratelli?

Raise your hand if you remember the "Society of St John" (SSJ)?

Matt Abbott has posted a letter, written by Jeffrey M. Bond, Ph.D., president of St. Justin Martyr House of Studies, which was sent to Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli, of the Paterson, N.J., Catholic diocese:

The letter reads, in part:

'Your Excellency,

'The purpose of this letter is to bring to your attention certain facts concerning Deacon Joseph Levine who, according to the web site of the Diocese of Paterson, is to be ordained a priest at St. John the Baptist Cathedral in Paterson, New Jersey, on May 26, 2007. It is to be hoped that, upon examination of these facts, you will become convinced that Deacon Levine must never be permitted to work in a parish or ever be ordained a priest.

'My knowledge of the character of Deacon Levine stems from my experience as President of the St. Justin Martyr House of Studies, a civil corporation in the state of Pennsylvania the purpose of which was to establish the College of St. Justin Martyr. The College of St. Justin Martyr was initially part of the overall project proposed by the now suppressed Society of St. John (SSJ), a public association of the faithful erected in the Diocese of Scranton by former Bishop of Scranton, James C. Timlin. The SSJ, to which Deacon Levine belonged, hired me in May 2000 to found a liberal arts college in Shohola, Pennsylvania where the SSJ planned to build a Catholic city.
There are also excerpts of additional correspondence which might leave one with the impression that the Diocese of Paterson has no intention of doing what seems to be the proper action in this matter...

In a followup email to Ken Mullaney, general counsel to the Paterson diocese, Mr Bond writes:

...I know you have been contacted by two other witnesses, Dr. Russell Buss and Rev. Richard Munkelt, both of whom have first-hand knowledge of the fact that Deacon Levine knew SSJ priests were sharing their beds with boys. Yet Deacon Levine failed to denounce this immoral behavior, and he even accepted the position of superior general of the SSJ and used his position to defend and protect those priests whom he knew had been sleeping with boys under their spiritual direction. Moreover, as superior general, Deacon Levine deliberately deceived Catholic donors as to the feasibility of the SSJ's proposed city in Shohola, PA, and he defamed those of us who sought to expose this fraud and the immorality of the SSJ priests. No objective investigation of Deacon Levine's actions and words can ignore his culpability in these matters.

'Is it your position, then, that a deacon in a position of authority who defends and protects priests charged with homosexual abuse — when he has prior knowledge of their sleeping in the same bed with minors — is fit to become a Catholic priest himself? I would appreciate a direct answer to this direct question. Or do you contest that these are indeed the facts in this case?' [my emphasis]

Anyway, it seem that the fireworks are in place and fuses are lit. All that we're waiting for is the show to begin...

An interesting read to say the least. And BTW, if anyone recalls the last Bishops' meeting, some were quite upset with the way Bishop Serratelli responded and acted toward Archbishop Burke when he attempted to make his interventions regarding the groups Courage and Encourage in the document, Ministry to Persons with a Homosexual Inclination: Guidelines for Pastoral Care...

Archdiocese of Boston Considers Move to Suburbs

Archdiocese may move to suburbs, irking Boston
May 24, 2007
Associated Press

BOSTON — A decision by the Roman Catholic Boston Archdiocese to consider a money-saving move to the suburbs is drawing criticism from Boston Mayor Tom Menino, who claims leaving the city will hinder the church's charitable mission.

Archdiocesan officials are in the final stages of negotiating a deal to move their headquarters from the outlying Brighton neighborhood to a four-story building in Braintree.

The proposed move, first reported in the Boston Herald, is part of an ongoing effort to resolve a financial crisis caused in part by the clergy sexual abuse scandal.

"The people most in need of charitable services provided by the church and archdiocese are here in our urban neighborhoods," Menino said in a statement. "To move the Archdiocese of Boston out of Boston raises serious concerns about the future mission and role of the church in serving this community."

"Catholic Homosexual" Activists Challenge Church Authority

CHICAGO, May 24 /PRNewswire/ -- The Rainbow Sash Movement (RSM) announced today that they will be challenging the practices of the Catholic Church's hierarchy on Pentecost Sunday, May 27. RSM members wear a simple 2-inch wide ribbon of rainbow colors across their shoulders, and respectfully present themselves to receive communion in Cathedrals and parishes across the nation.

Bishops have withheld communion from people wearing the rainbow sash in prior appearances by the RSM. According to Joe Murray, US Convener for the RSM, individual parishioners have taken it upon themselves to share their hosts with ribbon-wearing churchgoers, acts which infuriated the Bishops who could do nothing about it.

"Out of fear and their own homophobia," says Murray, "Church officials have chosen to go against their own teaching, that individual conscience is paramount in guiding the individual to spirituality. These ill-advised bishops cannot possibly know our hearts when they deny us communion. They are desecrating the Holy Eucharist by making it a weapon of division and exclusion.

WHO is making the Holy Eucharist a source of division? Those who publicly profess and advocate objectively sinful behavior and scandal - those who wear the "sash"... If I were to approach the priest for Holy Communion wearing a shirt which advocated "safe sex" and the "always use a condom" message emblazoned on it, should I be surprised if the priest admonishes me to come back after removing the shirt, repenting, and going to confession?

"When we wear a rainbow sash, we are honestly expressing who we are."

If one chooses to publicly proclaim an acceptance of morally reprehensible behavior, then one must suffer the ensuing consequences...One should also seek to enlighten one's mind with the truth and adhere to the teachings of the Church, lest one doom himself to an eternity of hell and scandalize others in the process.

"Bringing our honesty into the Church is a way of asking the Bishops to include all the Children of God into the Body of Christ, and to stop thinking they can make decisions for God.
Christ Himself told us that the past was narrow and that we must suffer by taking up our crosses with Him. He also told us that if we love Him, we will keep His Commandments - ALL of them...He gave us no exemptions because we may not like this or that commandment.

"These Bishops need to be reminded they are pastors, while they call themselves Princes. Try finding that in the scriptures!"

Which bishop calls himself a "prince"?

Murray questions why the Church hierarchy, which sets anti-gay and anti-war policies, gives communion to soldiers in uniform, but denies the Body of Christ to gays.
Is it not a leap of logic to equate practicing homosexuals advocating gravely sinful behavior with soldiers who are defending our country?

"...They [American bishops] condemn our lifestyle as one of indulgence and profligacy, but fight our ability to commit to a partner in a civilly performed marriage. They are still demanding a 13th century lifestyle where they are the arbiters of right and wrong. They need to stop talking about us, and start talking to us. My partner of 27 years and I agree, they are hopelessly out of touch."

God is truth and the Church reminds us and educates us in that truth. There are many who wish to deny the existence of an absolute truth, good and evil, right and wrong. Such has been the predicament of mankind since our first parents were persuaded by Satan's lies that they, too, could be like God.

Those who are "hopelessly out of touch" are those they who refuse to accept God's will and choose instead to fashion their own "morality" based upon immorality and sinfulness while attempting to force others to accept as good something which is intrinsically evil and which is a sure means to everlasting damnation.

May I show Christian charity by praying for Murray and those whose minds have been clouded by sin and whose hearts are hardened and opposed to the loving mercy of Jesus.

Atheist Donates $22.5 Million for Catholic Education

May 23 (Bloomberg) -- Philanthropist and retired hedge-fund manager Robert W. Wilson said he is giving $22.5 million to the Archdiocese of New York to fund a scholarship program for needy inner-city students attending Roman Catholic schools.

Wilson, 80, said in a phone interview today that although he is an atheist, he has no problem donating money to a fund linked to Catholic schools.

"Let's face it, without the Roman Catholic Church, there would be no Western civilization," Wilson said. "Shunning religious organizations would be abhorrent. Keep in mind, I'm helping to pay tuition. The money isn't going directly to the schools."

"...without the Roman Catholic Church, there would be no Western civilization..."

A man who evidently "gets it" - who understands history and who also understands the importance of a good education. It would be praiseworthy to keep him in your prayers - perhaps the Holy Spirit is moving him to full conversion?

House Democratic Leaders to Kill Funding for Abstinence Ed Programs

From an AFA email:
The Democratic leaders of the House Energy & Commerce Committee have reportedly decided to kill the abstinence education program this year in favor of so-called “comprehensive” programs that emphasize “safe sex” and contraception.

Abstinence education programs have been shown to effectively reduce the risks of out-of-wedlock pregnancy and the incidence of sexually transmitted diseases. They teach teenagers that saving sex until marriage and remaining faithful afterwards is the best choice for health and happiness. However, the Democratic leadership wants to replace that message with federally-funded contraceptive sex education programs that fail to teach young people about the dangers of STDs and extra-marital sex, as well as the inefficiency of contraception. As a result, we could end up with programs like Boulder High School in Colorado where a guest speaker told students as young as 14 to go have sex.

The National Abstinence Education Association is touting a new Zogby International poll that shows American parents favor abstinence education over comprehensive sex education by a two-to-one margin. Click here for more information on the survey.

Congressman Lee Terry who serves on the House Energy & Commerce Committee has written a strong letter urging his Congressional colleagues to fund abstinence education programs in their current form.

The promotion of virtues, such as chastity, is no longer the American way. Those controlling society want you to accept and embrace vice over virtue, evil over good, wrong over right, death over life.

To contact your representative about this, click here.

Judge Opens LA Archdiocese Up to Huge Payouts

Citing an alleged misrepresentation by Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, a judge ruled Wednesday that four people can seek punitive damages against the Los Angeles Archdiocese for failing to protect them from a priest they accused of sexual abuse.

The ruling, the first of its kind in the Los Angeles clergy sexual abuse scandal, could increase pressure on the archdiocese to reach a settlement with its accusers.

More than 500 people have alleged that they were abused by priests in the archdiocese, and many also have alleged that the church knew about the danger but failed to act.

If all of them are granted permission to seek punitive damages, Mahony could face a potentially enormous payout.

"Conjugal" Visits?

Just as if they were married
California prisons to offer "overnights" for same-sex partners

In response to an American Civil Liberties Union demand, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has requested a statewide policy change allowing prisoners with [homosexual] domestic partners “conjugal” visits like those married prisoners have with their spouses.

It's sickening that the State would be so accomodating...State sanctioned perversion and sexual deviancy. California is lost - the new Sodom...

Gospel for Thursday, 7th Week of Easter

From: John 17:20-26

The Priestly Prayer of Jesus (Continuation)

(Jesus lifted His eyes to Heaven and said,) [20] "I do not pray for these (My disciples) only, but also for those who believe in Me through their word, [21] that they may all be one; even as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me. [22] The glory which Thou hast given Me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, [23] I in them and Thou in Me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that Thou hast sent Me and hast loved them even as Thou hast loved Me. [24] Father, I desire that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, may be with Me where I am, to behold My glory which Thou hast given Me in Thy love for Me before the foundation of the world. [25] O righteous Father, the world has not known Thee, but I have known Thee; and these know that Thou hast sent Me. [26] I made known to them Thy name, and I will make it known, that the love with which Thou hast loved Me may be in them, and I in them."

20-23. Since it is Christ who is praying for the Church His prayer is infallibly effective, and therefore there will always be only one true Church of Jesus Christ. Unity is therefore an essential property of the Church. "We believe that the Church founded by Jesus Christ and for which He prayed is indefectibly one in faith, in worship and in the bond of hierarchical communion" ([Pope] Paul VI, "Creed of the People of God", 21). Moreover, Christ's prayer also indicates what the basis of the Church's unity will be and what effects will follow from it.

The source from which the unity of the Church flows is the intimate unity of the Three Divine Persons among whom there is mutual love and self-giving. "The Lord Jesus, when praying to the Father `that they may all be one...even as we are one' (John 17:21-22), has opened up new horizons closed to human reason by implying that there is a certain parallel between the union existing among the Divine Persons and the union of the sons of God in truth and love. It follows, then, that if man is the only creature on earth that God has wanted for its own sake, man can fully discover his true self only in a sincere giving of himself" (Vatican II, "Gaudium Et Spes", 24). The unity of the Church is also grounded on the union of the faithful with Jesus Christ and through Him with the Father (verse 23). Thus, the fullness of unity--"consummati in unum"--is attained through the supernatural grace which comes to us from Christ (cf. John 15:5).

The fruits of the unity of the Church are, on the one hand, the world believing in Christ and in His divine mission (verses 21, 23); and, on the other hand, Christians themselves and all men recognizing God's special love for His faithful, a love which is a reflection of the love of the Three Divine Persons for each other. And so, Jesus' prayer embraces all mankind, for all are invited to be friends of God (cf. 1 Timothy 2:4). "Thou hast loved them even as Thou hast loved Me": this, according to St. Thomas Aquinas, "does not mean strict equality of love but similarity and like-motivation. It is as if He were saying: the love with which You have loved Me is the reason and the cause of Your loving them, for, precisely because You love men do You love those who love Me" ("Commentary on St. John, in loc."). Besides noting this theological explanation, we should also ponder on how expressively Christ describes His ardent love for men. The entire discourse of the Last Supper gives us a glimpse of the depth of Jesus' feelings--which infinitely exceeds anything we are capable of experiencing. Once again all we can do is bow down before the mystery of God-made-man.

20. Christ prays for the Church, for all those who, over the course of centuries, will believe in Him through the preaching of the Apostles. "That divine mission, which was committed by Christ to the Apostles, is destined to last until the end of the world (cf. Matthew 28:20), since the Gospel, which they were charged to hand on, is, for the Church, the principle of all its life for all time. For that very reason the Apostles were careful to appoint successors in this hierarchically constituted society" (Vatican II, "Lumen Gentium", 20).

The apostolic origin and basis of the Church is what is termed its "apostolicity", a special characteristic of the Church which we confess in the Creed. Apostolicity consists in the Pope and the Bishops being successors of Peter and the Apostles, holding the authority of theApostles and proclaiming the same teaching as they did. "The sacred synod teached that the bishops have by divine institution taken the place of the Apostles as pastors of the Church, in such wise that whoever listens to them is listening to Christ and whoever despises them despises Christ and Him who sent Christ (cf. Luke 10:15)" (Vatican II, "Lumen Gentium", 20).

21. Union of Christians with Christ begets unity among themselves. This unity of the Church ultimately redounds to the benefit of all mankind, because since the Church is one and unique, she is seen as a sign raised up for the nations to see, inviting all to believe in Christ as sent by God come to save all men. The Church carries on this mission of salvation through its union with Christ, calling all mankind to join the Church and by so doing to share in union with Christ and the Father.

The Second Vatican Council, speaking of the principles of ecumenism, links the Church's unity with her universality: "Almost everyone, though in different ways, longs for the one visible Church of God, a Church truly universal and sent forth to the whole world that the world may be converted to the Gospel and so be saved, to the glory of God" ("Unitatis Redintegratio", 1). This universality is another characteristic of the Church, technically described as "catholicity". "For many centuries now the Church has been spread throughout the world, and it numbers persons of all races and walks of life. But the universality of the Church does not depend on its geographical distribution, even though this is a visible sign and of motive of credibility. The Church was catholic already at Pentecost: it was born catholic from the wounded heart of Jesus, as a fire which the Holy Spirit enkindled.

"In the second century the Christians called the Church catholic in order to distinguish it from sects, which, using the name of Christ, were betraying His doctrine in one way or another. `We call it catholic', writes St. Cyril, `not only because it is spread throughout the world, from one extreme to the other, but because in a universal way and without defect it teaches all the dogmas which men ought to know, of both the visible and the invisible, the celestial and the earthly. Likewise because it draws to true worship all types of men, governors and citizens, the learned and the ignorant. And finally, because it cures and heals all kinds of sins, whether of the soul or of the body, possessing in addition--by whatever name it may be called--all the forms of virtue, in deeds and in words and in every kind of spiritual life' ("Catechesis", 18, 23)" ([St] J. Escriva, "In Love with the Church", 9).

Every Christian should have the same desire for this unity as Jesus Christ expresses in His prayer to the Father. "A privileged instrument for participation in pursuit of the unity of all Christians is prayer. Jesus Christ Himself left us His final wish for unity through prayer to the Father: `that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me' (John 17:21).

"Also the Second Vatican Council strongly recommended to us prayer for the unity of Christians, defining it `the soul of the whole ecumenical movement' ("Unitatis Redintegratio", 8). As the soul to the body, so prayer gives life, consistency, spirit, and finality to the ecumenical movement.

"Prayer puts us, first and foremost, before the Lord, purifies us in intentions, in sentiments, in our heart, and produces that `interior conversion', without which there is no real ecumenism. (cf. "Unitatis Redintegratio", 7).

"Prayer, furthermore, reminds us that unity, ultimately, is a gift from God, a gift for which we must ask and for which we must prepare in order that we may be granted it" ([Pope] John Paul II, "General Audience", 17 January 1979).

22-23. Jesus possess glory, a manifestation of divinity, because He is God, equal to the Father (cf. note on John 17:1-5). When He says that He is giving His disciples this glory, He is indicating that through grace He makes us partakers of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). Glory and justification by grace are very closely united, as we can see from Sacred Scripture: "Those whom He predestined He also called, and those whom He called He also justified, and those whom He justified He also glorified" (Romans 8:30). The change grace works in Christians makes us ever more like Christ, who is the likeness of the Father (cf. 2 Corinthians 4:4; Hebrews 1:2-3): by communicating His glory Christ joins the faithful to God by giving them a share in supernatural life, which is the source of the holiness of Christians and of the Church: "Now we can understand better how [...] one of the principal aspects of her holiness is that unity centered on the mystery of the one and triune God. `There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call, one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of us all, who is above all and through all and in all' (Ephesians 4:4-6)" ([St] J. Escriva, "In Love with the Church", 5).

24. Jesus concludes His prayer by asking that all Christians attain the blessedness of Heaven. The word He uses, "I desire", not "I pray", indicates that He is asking for the most important thing of all, for what His Father wants--that all may be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth (cf. 1 Timothy 2:4): which is essentially the mission of the Church--the salvation of souls.

As long as we are on earth we share in God's life through knowledge (faith) and love (charity); but only in Heaven will we attain the fullness of this supernatural life, when we see God as He is (cf. 1 John 3:2), face to face (cf. 1 Corinthians 13:9-12). Therefore, the Church has her sights fixed on eternity, she is eschatological: that is, by having in this world all the resources necessary for teaching God's truth, for rendering Him true worship and communicating the life of grace, she keeps alive people's hope of attaining the fullness of eternal life: "The Church, to which we are all called in Christ Jesus, and in which by the grace of God we acquire holiness, will receive its perfection only in the glory of Heaven, when will come the time of the renewal of all things (Acts 3:21). At that time, together with the human race, the universe itself, which is so closely related to man and which attains its destiny through him, will be perfectly reestablished in Christ (cf. Ephesians 1:10; Colossians 1:20; 2 Peter 3:10-13)" (Vatican II, "Lumen Gentium", 48).

25-26. God's revelation of Himself through Christ causes us to begin to share in the divine life, a sharing which will reach its climax in Heaven: "God alone can give us right and full knowledge of this reality by revealing Himself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, in whose eternal life we are by grace called to share, here below in the obscurity of faith and after death in eternal light" ([Pope] Paul VI, "Creed of the People of God").

Christ has revealed to us all we need to know in order to participate in the mutual love of the Divine Persons--primarily, the mystery of who He is and what His mission is and, with that, the mystery of God Himself ("I made known to them Thy name"), thus fulfilling what He had announced: "No one knows the Father except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him" (Matthew 11:27).

Christ continues to make known His Father's love, by means of the Church, in which He is always present: "I am with you always, to the close of the age" (Matthew 28:20).
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Priest at Prayer, May 24

The Priest and the Eternal Truths

The Mercy of Christ

Second Meditation - The All-Merciful Christ

How will our Divine Lord welcome a heart returning to Him contrite for past disorders and humbled at the prospects of His Justice? With a Compassion befitting the great and merciful God that He is.

When the Son of God came down to earth - tamquam Sponsus procedens de thalamo suo - from the brightness of His Glory to the obscurity of the Virgin's womb, His Divine Immensity "dwindled to human infancy," He seems to be in a hurry to divest Himself before our eyes of the mantle of His sovereign Majesty; He speeds to earth, not with thunder and lightnings, not to open the sluices of the ocean - for Sinai and the Deluge were not so effective! - He comes to earth in search, not of the pure and noble remnants of our race, not to a hidden Noe or a persecuted Elias; He comes in search of sinners:
I came not to call the just, but sinners, to repent­ance. (Luke v, 32)

Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. (1 Tim. i, 15)

John the Baptist, the last prophet of the Old Cove­nant, was a second Elias filled with the idea that the Messiah was to come to avenge, One whose axe was put to the root of the tree, whose winnowing-fan was ready to purge the threshing-floor clean in order to gather the wheat and consume the chaff in unquenchable fire; but no sooner does he set eyes on Jesus than his mind seems to undergo an abrupt change. Who would have imagined that those very lips which had been preaching punishment and austere penance would suddenly break out into an expression of the utmost tenderness?

Behold the Lamb of God! Behold him who takes away the sin of the world! (John i, 29)
From the rock flowed honey.

The idea launched by the Precursor was well con­firmed by Jesus, in His actions, His sayings, and His parables.

In Jesus's actions. Why not search for them by read­ing the Gospel? What repentant sinner ever went to Him and was not welcomed with a thrill of fatherly emotion?

Now it is a woman caught in the act of adultery whom His mercy shields from the shower of stones prescribed by the implacable Law, and on whom He imposes no other penalty than to allow her penitential future to be steeped in the ineffable sweetness of His parting words:

Neither will I condemn thee; go, and now sin no more. (John viii, 11)
Now it is the woman notorious for her light conduct, who in anxious fear takes refuge under the shadow of His compassion, and finds herself rehabilitated and defended from her accusers by the irresistible eloquence of the Divine Word. Now it is the publican, a public swindler, whom Jesus goes out of His way to meet and welcome an invitation from; the man who receives Jesus with the fragrant kiss of fourfold restitution for any ill­gotten gains. Now it is the good thief, who with three words from a cross next to Thine, O Jesus, steals away Thy very Heart, Thy forgiveness, and Thy Father's Kingdom closed until then even to the just! Prodigious Mercy Thine, that would be accompanied on Thy entry into the Kingdom by a criminal executed on the public gallows, as if he were Thy knight-companion!

Thou didst implore pardon even for those who sought it not, did not desire it. And lifted up on the cross of ignominy, it would seem as if Thy first and most urgent need was for Thee to pour all Thy strength into that sublime appeal:
Father, forgive them!

Even those who were crucifying Thee and heaping insults upon Thy wounds....Father, forgive them.

In Jesus's doctrine. The Name He chose for Himself is redolent of Mercy, and distils the virgin honey of His Divine Compassion: ­

Thou shalt call his name Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins. (Matt. i, 12)

Only the life of Jesus, all steeped in loving-kindness and pity for sinners, enables us to grasp the exact mean­ing of the text:

Go then and learn what this meaneth: "I will have mercy and not sacrifice." (Matt. ix, 13)

Those ritualistic Jews, O Jesus, did not believe in Thee; they knew more about their vain sacrifices and empty rites than about Thy ineffable Pity towards the delinquent children of Adam!

It is not those who are in health that have need of the physician, it is those who are sick; therefore, Jesus, the Physician of souls, comes to heal the worst and
most rebellious of diseases. And, in order to feel for us, He, the Sinless One, wished to suffer the consequences of sin:
abandonment by God:
Deus, Deus, meus, ut quid dereliquisti me? (Matt.xxvii, 46):
shame and confusion:
­and he began to fear and to be heavy... (Mark xiv, 33),
and remorse:
to grow sorrowful and sad. (Matt. xxvi, 37),
and every pain that a human being is capable of in body and soul. All because He became a Victim for our sins:

" Christ never knew sin, and God made Him into sin for us." (II Cor. v, 21)

And He stooped so close to the human heart in its greatest wretchedness that the Apostle could write:
"And so He needs must become altogether like His brethren; He would be a High Priest Who could feel for us and be our true representative before God." (Heb. ii, 17)
Abundant clarity is now shed, O Lord, on the lesson Thou gavest to Peter:
Thou shalt forgive thy brother, not seven times, but seventy times seven.

Thou, my Model of forgiveness, art therefore ready to forgive me four hundred and ninety times, which means, always, whenever I return to Thee contrite and humble.

Should these actions and sayings not suffice, I still have the loveliest of parables that came from the lips of the Master of the parable. St. Luke records them in his fifteenth chapter - "the sinner's chapter" - which we, who have so often sinned and in our bitterness of soul are ready to sin many times more, would do well to read and take into our blood.

Lord, those three parables in that chapter are Thy own Self-defence; Thou didst invent them to ward off the accusation which rankled most in the minds of Thy adversaries:

"This man converses with sinners and eats with them":

and they explain Thy conduct, a conduct that to them seemed outrageous. Because Thou art the "Good Shepherd," Thou runnest after the lost sheep; because Thou art a "Father," Thou knowest how it pains to lose a child whose rearing cost so much pain and toil and love; because Thou art even the "Woman in love" who cherishes the ten golden coins given her by the bridegroom on their wedding day, Thou art an eager­ness to find them when lost.

In order to show me what kind of a Heart Thou hast for sinners, it was not enough, O Lord, to compare Thyself to a simple shepherd, who possesses no treasure beyond his little flock; it was not enough to compare Thyself to a tender-hearted father; no, Thou must needs delve into the heart of a woman, of a woman in love, and compare with hers Thy anxious solicitude while rummaging for the lost treasure: my soul lost among the refuse of my sinfulness; my soul, a drachma of little intrinsic worth, but treasured for the love Thou Thyself hast deposited therein.

I say to you that even so there shall be joy in heaven upon one sinner that does penance. (Luke xv, 7)

The sweetness of these words could melt a heart of stone. They are, dear Lord, the refrain closing those three magnificent stanzas of chapter fifteen, wherein, O Sovereign Troubadour of Heaven, Thou hast sung the praises of Thy eternal Pity. How could I so much as dream that my poor soul's return to Thee had power to move Thee so deeply, to produce in Thee such intense delight, as to rally all Heaven together to join with Thee in festive thrill and cheer? How shall I, who have given Thee so much displeasure throughout my long sinful life, refuse Thee at last this moment of delight? My sincere conversion will be a festive occasion not only for Thee, but for all Thy angels and saints as well!

Have words ever sprung from Christ's lips so reveal­ing of His love for us? Do I not grasp their meaning? Or do I fail to understand what it is to love?

I shall very frequendy take the whole of chapter fifteen of the Gospel according to St. Luke for the subject of meditation, especially when I am aware of having fallen into grievous sin. That chapter has been the Divine Fisherman's net that has caught many a soul in its meshes.
Adapted from The Priest at Prayer
by Fr. Eugenio Escribano, C.M. (© 1954)
Translated by B.T. Buckley, C.M.

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

It's the "End of the line for embryos" in California

California Supreme Court refuses to hear appeal in case challenging the state’s stem cell research institute.

State bond money for embryonic stem cell research may now flow unhindered into the coffers of research institutions. On May 17, the California Supreme Court rejected an appeal from opponents of the Citizens Oversight Committee, which, under the 2004 ballot initiative, Proposition 71, is tasked with disbursing funds from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine for research requiring the killing of embryos.
* * *
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision, saying it “reaffirms voters’ will to keep California on the forefront of embryonic stem cell research.”
It appears that "mob rule," coupled with the complete absence of common sense and right reason is sufficient grounds for keeping California on the forefront of creating and exterminating innocent human life - for the sole purpose of "research" and financial gain. How sick and demented can society really become?

The Summer Issue of "Sacred Music"

Here is the contents of the Summer 2007 issue of Sacred Music. You can join the CMAA and receive this issue and three more for $30.

Et Erit In Pace Memoria Ejus † Richard J. Schuler | Robert Skeris
On the Apostolic Exhortation | William Mahrt

The Life and Meaning of the Sequence | By Lázló Dobszay
Ornamented Chant in Spain | Lorenzo Candelaria

The Alternatim Alternative | Susan Treacy
Psallat Ecclesia | Sequence for the Dedication of a Church

The Young Will Discover Chant: An Interview with Msgr. Schuler | Thomas Woods

Sacramentum Caritatis | Benedict XVI
Why We Sing Gregorian Chant | Lawrence Donnelly
The Problem of Utility Music | Gary Penkala
With the Mind of the Church | Susan Treacy
The Church’s Abundant Heritage | Helen Hull Hitchock

The Momentum and the Moment | Jeffrey Tucker
The Forum on Music and Christian Scholarship
Study Tour in 2008

Hymns or “Hymns”? | Kurt Poterack

George Weigel:The Pope on abortion, politicians, and communion

Flying to Brazil on May 9, Pope Benedict XVI was asked whether he supported the excommunication of Mexican legislators who had voted to legalize abortion.
And anyone who has followed the story from that point is aware of some of the confusion which ensued.
First, it is the settled conviction of the Catholic Church that a legislator’s facilitating abortion through a vote to legalize or fund the procedure puts that legislator outside the communion of the Church. . .

Second, Benedict’s answer indicates that he will support the actions of those bishops who deem it a pastoral necessity to order that politicians in this position of estrangement from the Church not be given Holy Communion. . .

And third, the Pope’s answer suggests that he is prepared to leave the pastoral judgment on these cases to the discretion of the local bishops, who are presumably better-informed about the circumstances than he is: and by “circumstances,” I do not mean “balancing” serious (and, some would argue, canonically required) sanctions against wayward politicians with other prudential considerations, but the specific circumstances of Legislator X. All of which is to say that Pope Benedict seems unlikely to issue a universal edict on the subject. would be helpful if the Holy See would, on some future occasion (and not six months from now) underscore that a) deliberate legislative facilitation of abortion is a grave evil that puts one outside the communion of the Church and thus renders the reception of Holy Communion a dishonest act, and b) that, when local bishops choose to forbid obstinate politicians from receiving Holy Communion for this reason, they will receive the full support of the Holy See.