Saturday, July 25, 2009

Gospel for the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time

From: John 6:1-15

The Miracle of the Loaves and Fish

[1] After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias. [2] And a multitude followed Him, because they saw the signs which He did on those who were diseased. [3] Jesus went up into the hills, and there sat down with His disciples. [4] Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand. [5] Lifting up His eyes, then, seeing that a multitude was coming to Him, Jesus said to Philip, "How are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?" [6] This He said to test them, for He Himself knew what He would do. [7] Philip answered Him, "Two hundred denarii would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little." [8] One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, said to Him, [9] "There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what are they among so many?" [10] Jesus said, "Make the people sit down." Now there was much grass in the place; so men sat down, in number about five thousand. [11] Jesus then took the loaves, and when He had given thanks, He distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted. [12] And when they had eaten their fill, He told His disciples, "Gather up the fragments left over, that nothing may be lost." [13] So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten. [14] When the people saw the sign which He had done, they said, "This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world!"

[15] Perceiving then that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, Jesus withdrew again to the hills by Himself.
1. This is the second lake formed by the river Jordan. It is sometimes described in the Gospels as the "Lake of Gennesaret" (Luke 5:1), because that is the name of the area on the north-eastern bank of the lake, and sometimes as the "Sea of Galilee" (Matthew 4:18; 15:29; Mark 1:16; 7:31), after the region in which it is located. St. John also calls it the "Sea of Tiberias" (cf. 21:1), after the city of that name which Herod Antipas founded and named after the Emperor Tiberius. In Jesus' time there were a number of towns on the shore of this lake--Tiberias, Magdala, Capernaum, Bethsaida, etc.--and the shore wasoften the setting for His preaching.

2. Although St. John refers to only seven miracles and does not mention others which are reported in the Synoptics, in this verse and more expressly at the end of the Gospel (20:30; 21:25) he says that the Lord worked many miracles; the reason why the evangelist, under God's inspiration, chose these seven must surely be because they best suited His purpose--to highlight certain facets of the mystery of Christ. He now goes on to recount the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and the fish, a miracle directly connected with the discourses at Capernaum in which Jesus presents Himself as "the bread of life" (6:35, 48).

4. St. John's Gospel often mentions Jewish feasts when referring to events in our Lord's public ministry--as in the case here (cf. "The Dates of the Life of our Lord Jesus Christ", in the "The Navarre Bible: St. Mark", pp. 49ff, and "Introduction to the Gospel according to St. John", pp. 13ff above).

Shortly before this Passover Jesus works the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and the fish, which prefigures the Christian Easter and the mystery of the Blessed Eucharist, as He Himself explains in the discourse, beginning at verse 26 in which He promises Himself as nourishment for our souls.

5-9. Jesus is sensitive to people's material and spiritual needs. Here we see Him take the initiative to satisfy the hunger of the crowd of people who have been following Him.

Through these conversations and the miracle He is going to work, Jesus also teaches His disciples to trust in Him whenever they meet up with difficulties in their apostolic endeavors in the future: they should engage in them using whatever resources they have--even if they are plainly inadequate, as was the case with the five loaves and two fish. He will supply what is lacking. In the Christian life we must put what we have at the service of our Lord, even if we do not think it amounts to very much. He can make meager resources productive.

"We must, then, have faith and not be dispirited. We must not be stopped by any kind of human calculation. To overcome the obstacles we have to throw ourselves into the task so that the very effort we make will open up new paths" ([St] J. Escriva, "Christ Is Passing By", 160).

10. The evangelist gives us an apparently unimportant piece of information: "there was much grass in the place." This indicates that the miracle took place in the height of the Palestinian spring, very near the Passover, as mentioned in verse 4. There are very few big meadows in Palestine; even today there is one on the eastern bank of the Lake of Gennesaret, called El-Batihah, where five thousand people could fit seated: it may have been the site of this miracle.

11. The account of the miracle begins with almost the very same words as those which the Synoptics and St. Paul use to describe the institution of the Eucharist (cf. Matthew 26:26; Mark 14:22; Luke 22:19; 1 Corinthians 11:25). This indicates that the miracle, in addition to being an _expression of Jesus' mercy towards the needy, is a symbol of the Blessed Eucharist, about which our Lord will speak a little later on (cf. John 6:26-59).

12-13. The profusion of detail shows how accurate this narrative is--the names of the Apostles who address our Lord (verses 5,8), the fact that they were barley loaves (verse 9), the boy who provided the wherewithal (verse 9) and, finally, Jesus telling them to gather up the leftovers.

This miracle shows Jesus' divine power over matter, and His largesse recalls the abundance of messianic benefits which the prophets had foretold (cf. Jeremiah 31:14).

Christ's instruction to pick up the leftovers teaches us that material resources are gifts of God and should not be wasted: they should be used in a spirit of poverty (cf. note on Mark 6:42). In this connection Paul VI pointed out that "after liberally feeding the crowds, the Lord told His disciples to gather up what was left over, lest anything should be lost (cf. John 6:12). What an excellent lesson in thrift--in the finest and fullest meaning of the term--for our age, given as it is to wastefulness! It carries with it the condemnation of a whole concept of society wherein consumption tends to become an end in itself, with contempt for the needy, and to the detriment, ultimately, of those very people who believed themselves to be its beneficiaries, having become incapable of perceiving that man is called to a higher destiny" ([Pope] Paul VI, "Address to Participants at the World Food Conference", 9 November 1974).

14-15. The faith which the miracle causes in the hearts of these people is still very imperfect: they recognize Him as the Messiah promised in the Old Testament (cf. Deuteronomy 18:15), but they are thinking in terms of an earthly, political messianism; they want to make Him king because they think the Messiah's function is to free them from Roman domination.

Our Lord, who later on (verses 26-27) will explain the true meaning of the multiplication of the loaves and the fish, simply goes away, to avoid the people proclaiming Him for what He is not. In His dialogue with Pilate (cf. John 18:36) He will explain that His kingship "is not of this world": "The Gospels clearly show that for Jesus anything that would alter His mission as the Servant of Yahweh was a temptation (cf. Matthew 4:8: Luke 4:5). He does not accept the position of those who mixed the things of God with merely political attitudes (cf. Matthew 22:21; Mark 12:17; John 18:36). [...] The perspective of His mission is much deeper. It consists in complete salvation through transforming, peacemaking, pardoning, and reconciling love. There is no doubt, moreover, that all this makes many demands on the Christian who wishes truly to serve his least brethren, the poor, the needy, the outcast; in a word, all those who in their lives reflect the sorrowing face of the Lord (cf. "Lumen Gentium", 8)" ([Pope] John Paul II, "Opening Address to the Third General Conference of Latin American Bishops", 28 January 1979).

Christianity, therefore, must not be confused with any social or political ideology, however excellent. "I do not approve of committed Christians in the world forming a political-religious movement. That would be madness, even if it were motivated by a desire to spread the spirit of Christ in all the activities of men. What we have to do is put God in the heart of every single person, no matter who he is. Let us try to speak then in such a way that every Christian is able to bear witness to the faith he professes by example and word in his own circumstances, which are determined alike by his place in the Church and in civil life, as well as by ongoing events.

"By the very fact of being a man, a Christian has a full right to live in the world. If he lets Christ live and reign in his heart, he will feel--quite noticeably--the saving effectiveness of our Lord in everything he does" ([St] J. Escriva, "Christ Is Passing By", 183).
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.

Principles and Practices - July 26

Pride Forgets

More directly than any other vice, pride attempts to reverse the relationship of Creator and creature by setting up the latter in the place of the former. Every gift, talent, sense, and faculty comes from God: to Him alone then, be the praise and the thanksgiving. Remember that you are but an 'atom in immensity: a second in eternity.'

-Rev. J. Degen.
From Principles and Practices
Compiled by Rev. J. Hogan of The Catholic Missionary Society
Published by Burns Oates & Washbourne Ltd., Publishers To The Holy See
Nihil Obstat; Eduardus J. Mahoney, S.T.D. Censor deputatus.
Imprimatur; Edm. Can. Surmont, Vicarius generalis.
First printed in 1930

Thoughts of St Augustine for July 26

THE world smiles with its multitudes of objects - beauteous, strong, diversified: more beautiful is he who made them, stronger and brighter is he who made them, sweeter is he who made them.
Click here for more information.
From Thoughts of St Augustine for Every Day
by Kathleen Mary Balfe (© 1926)
Nihil Obstat: Georgius D. Smith, S.T.D
Imprimatur: Edm. Can. Surmont

Thoughts from St Alphonsus for Every Day-July 26

By attention to the mortification of self-love we shall become Saints in a short time. When you are contradicted, give up your opinion with cheerfulness, unless the glory of God require that you maintain it. If you receive a letter, restrain your curiosity, and abstain from opening it for some time. A thousand acts of this kind may be performed every day.
From Thoughts from St Alphonsus for Every Day
Compiled by Rev. C. McNeiry, C.SS.R.
Imprimatur: Joseph Hull, C.SS.R., Prov. Angl. Sup.
Nihil Obstat: Innocentlus Apap, O.P., S.T.M., Censor Deptutatus.
Imprimatur: Edm. Can. Surmont, Vicarius Generalis.
Westmonasterii, Die 9a Junii, 1927.
First published 1927

Friday, July 24, 2009

Gospel for July 25, Feast: St. James, Apostle

From: Matthew 20:20-28

The Mother of the Sons of Zebedee Makes Her Request

[20] Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to Him, with her sons, and kneeling before Him she asked Him for something. [21] And He said to her, "What do you want?" She said to Him, "Command that these two sons of mine may sit, one at Your right hand and one at Your left, in Your Kingdom." [22] But Jesus answered, "You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?" They said to Him, "We are able." [23] He said to them, "You will drink My cup, but to sit at My right hand and at My left is not Mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by My Father." [24] And when the ten heard it they were indignant at the two brothers. [25] But Jesus called them to Him and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. [26] It shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant, [27] and whoever would be first among you must be your slave; [28] even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many."
20. The sons of Zebedee are James the Greater and John. Their mother, Salome, thinking that the earthly reign of the Messiah is about to be established, asks that her sons be given the two foremost positions in it. Christ reproaches them for not grasping the true--spiritual-- nature of the Kingdom of Heaven and not realizing that government of the Church He is going to found implies service and martyrdom. "If you are working for Christ and imagine that a position of responsibility is anything but a burden, what disillusionment awaits you!" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 950).

22. "Drinking the cup" means suffering persecution and martyrdom for following Christ. "We are able": the sons of Zebedee boldly reply that they can drink the cup; their generous _expression evokes what St. Paul will write years later: "I can do all things in Him who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:13).

23. "You will drink My cup": James the Greater will die a martyr's death in Jerusalem around the year 44 (cf. Acts 12:2); and John, after suffering imprisonment and the lash in Jerusalem (cf. Acts 4:3; 5:40-41), will spend a long period of exile on the island of Patmos (cf. Revelation 1:9).

From what our Lord says here we can take it that positions of authority in the Church should not be the goal of ambition or the subject of human intrigue, but the outcome of a divine calling. Intent on doing the will of His Heavenly Father, Christ was not going to allocate positions of authority on the basis of human considerations but, rather, in line with God's plans.

26. Vatican II puts a marked emphasis on this "service" which the Church offers to the world and which Christians should show as proof of their Christian identity: "In proclaiming the noble destiny of man and affirming an element of the divine in him, this sacred Synod offers to cooperate unreservedly with mankind in fostering a sense of brotherhood to correspond to this destiny of theirs. The Church is not motivated by an earthly ambition but is interested in one thing only--to carry on the work of Christ under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, for He came into the world to bear witness to the truth, to save and not to judge, to serve and not to be served" ("Gaudium Et Spes", 3 cf. "Lumen Gentium", 32: "Ad Gentes", 12; "Unitatis Redintegratio", 7).

27-28. Jesus sets Himself as an example to be imitated by those who hold authority in the Church. He who is God and Judge of all men (cf. Philippians 2:5-11; John 5:22-27; Acts 10:42; Matthew 28:18) does not impose Himself on us: He renders us loving service to the point of giving His life for us (cf. John 15:13); that is His way of being the first. St. Peter understood Him right; he later exhorted priests to tend the flock of God entrusted to them, not domineering over them but being exemplary in their behavior (cf. 1 Peter 5:1-3); and St. Paul also was clear on this "service": though He was "free from all men", He became the servant of all in order to win all (cf. 1 Corinthians 9:19 ff; 2 Corinthians 4:5).

Christ's "service" of mankind aims at salvation. The phrase "to give His life as a ransom for many" is in line with the terminology of liturgical sacrificial language. These words were used prophetically in Chapter 53 of Isaiah.

Verse 28 also underlines the fact that Christ is a priest, who offers Himself as priest and victim on the altar of the cross. The _expression "as a ransom for many" should not be interpreted as implying that God does not will the salvation of all men. "Many", here, is used to contrast with "one" rather than "all": there is only one Savior, and salvation is offered to all.
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.

Reading for July 25, Feast: St James, Apostle

Saturday, 16th Week in Ordinary Time

From: 2 Corinthians 4:7-15

The Trials He Has Experienced

[7] But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us. [8] We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; [9] persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; [10] always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. [11] For while we live we are always being given up to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh. [12] So death is at work in us, but life in you.

He Is Sustained By Hope in Heaven
[13] Since we have the same spirit of faith as he had who wrote, "I believed, and so I spoke," we too believe, and so we speak, [14] knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. [15] For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.
7-12. In contrast to the greatness of the Gospel--the "treasure" entrusted to them by God--St. Paul emphasizes the limitations of its ministers: they are "earthen vessels" (v. 7). To illustrate this he describes the afflictions and persecution to which he finds himself subjected and in which God's grace always comes to his aid.

In some way these sufferings of the Apostles and of all Christians reproduce in their lives the sufferings of Christ in his passion and death. In his case his suffering opened the way to his glorification after the Resurrection; similarly his servants, even in this life, are experiencing an anticipation of the life they will attain in heaven; this helps them overcome every kind of affliction.

7. St. Paul again stresses that the effectiveness of all his apostolic activity comes from God (cf., e.g., 1 Cor 1:26-31; 2 Cor 3:5); he it is who places his treasures in poor earthenware vessels. The image the Apostle uses--which is reminiscent of the clay which God used to make Adam (cf. Gen 2:7)--helps Christians realize that through grace they bear in their souls a wonderful treasure, God himself; like earthen vessels they are very fragile and they need to be put together again in the sacrament of Confession. As a gloss on these ideas St Escriva taught that Christians by bearing God in their souls are enabled to live at one and the same time "in heaven and on earth, divinized: but knowing that we are of the world and made of clay, with the frailty that is typical of clay--an earthenware pot which our Lord has deigned to use in his service. And whenever it has got broken, we have gone and riveted the bits together again, like the prodigal son: 'I have sinned against heaven and against you...'" (quoted in Bernal, "Monsignor Escriva de Balaguer").

8-9. The Apostle's words assure the Christian that he or she can always count on God's help: no matter what trials they have to undergo, victory can be attained with the grace of God as happened in St. Paul's case. "God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with temptation will also provide you the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it" (1 Cor 10:13). Moreover, St. Paul's example reminds us that more or less severe suffering and tribulation will be a normal thing in the lives of Christ's followers; theirs will never be a comfortable, trouble-free life. "If it is your ambition to win the esteem of men, if your desire is to be well-regarded and seek only a life of ease, you have gone astray [...]. In the city of the saints, entrance is given and rest and eternal rule with the King, only to those who have made their way along the rough, narrow way of tribulation" (Pseudo-Macarius, "Homilies", XII, 5).

10-11. As happened in St. Paul's case, in their daily lives Christians must relive the sufferings of Christ through self-denial and penance: this is part of following Christ and imitating him. "The Christian vocation is one of sacrifice, penance, expiation. We must make reparation for our sins--for the many times we turned our face aside so as to avoid the gaze of God--and all the sins of mankind. We must try to imitate Christ, 'always carrying in the body the death of Christ', his abnegation, his suffering on the cross, 'so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our bodies' (2 Cor 4:10). Our way is one of immolation and, in this denial, we find "gaudium cum pace", both joy and peace" (St. J. Escriva, "Christ Is Passing By", 9).

Self-denial, mortification, does not have to be something overt; it should be practiced in the ordinary circumstances of life--for example, by being punctual for appointments, carefully fulfilling one's duties, treating everyone with as much charity as possible, accepting little setbacks in a good-humored way (cf. St. J. Escriva, "Friends of God", 138).

10. "The death of Jesus": more exactly, the "dying" of Christ: the Greek word refers to the situation of someone who is dying.

12. In the Apostles, and also in other Christians, the paradox of Jesus' life is verified: his death is the cause of life for all men. "Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone, but if it dies, it bears much fruit" (Jn 12:24). Afflictions and tribulations, physical and moral pain, daily self-denial and penance, cause Christ's disciple to die to himself and, if united to the sufferings of his Master, they become a source of life for others through the communion of saints.

13-18. The Apostle explains where he gets the strength to bear all the tribulations of life--from his hope in the resurrection and his expectation of being in heaven with those to whom he is writing (v. 14). There is nothing selfish about this desire for heaven: it helps us to stay true to the faith and it enables us to see all the sufferings of this life as something transitory and slight (v. 17), a necessary step to heaven and a way to obtain incomparably greater happiness. "If we wish to enjoy the pleasures of eternity," St. Alphonsus reminds us, "we must deprive ourselves of the pleasures of time. 'Whoever would save his life will lose it' (Mt 16:25) [...]. If we wish to be saved, we must all be martyrs, either by the tyrant's sword or through our own mortification. Let us have this conviction--that everything we suffer is nothing compared with the eternal glory that awaits us. 'I consider the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us' (Rom 8:18). These momentary afflictions will bring us eternal happiness (cf. 2 Cor 4:17)" ("Treasury of Preaching Material", II, 9).

13. The Apostle's faith leads him to keep on preaching, despite all the difficulties this may involve. There is nothing else he can do: he is convinced that his faith is what can save the world and he cannot but strive to spread it. If he acted otherwise it would mean his faith was asleep and he did not truly love others. "When you find that something has done you good," St. Gregory the Great explains, "try to bring it to the attention of others. You should, therefore, desire others to join you on the ways of the Lord. If you are going to the forum or the baths, and you meet someone who is not doing anything, you invite him to go along with you. Apply this earthly custom to the spiritual sphere, and as you make your way to God, do not do so alone" ("In Evangelia Homiliae", 6, 6).

14. What inspires St. Paul's apostolic activity and enables him to bear all the difficulties it involves, is his firm belief in resurrection in glory, the basis and cause of which is Christ's resurrection. He also has the hope of sharing this happiness in heaven, in the presence of God, with all the faithful for whose salvation he is working on earth.

15. After reminding the Corinthians that all the sufferings he has been speaking about he has borne for their sake (cf. 4:5), St. Paul tells them what motivates him most--the greater glory of God, to whom the faithful should turn in deep gratitude (cf. 1:11; 9:12). This should be man's primary attitude to God--one of profound adoration and thanksgiving for all his benefits, as we are daily reminded in the Preface of the Mass.

"If life's purpose were not to give glory to God, how contemptible, how hateful it would be" (St. J. Escriva, "The Way", 783).
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.

Principles and Practices - July 25

What Is the Secret?

The spirit of a saint is like a delicate and exquisite perfume, that can scarcely be defined, though enjoyed by all. It is a cordial that refreshes, an elixir that quickens, different from all others, though one cannot say how.

-Cardinal Wiseman.
From Principles and Practices
Compiled by Rev. J. Hogan of The Catholic Missionary Society
Published by Burns Oates & Washbourne Ltd., Publishers To The Holy See
Nihil Obstat; Eduardus J. Mahoney, S.T.D. Censor deputatus.
Imprimatur; Edm. Can. Surmont, Vicarius generalis.
First printed in 1930

Thoughts of St Augustine for July 25

FAITH opens the door to intelligence, while unbelief closes it.
Click here for more information.
From Thoughts of St Augustine for Every Day
by Kathleen Mary Balfe (© 1926)
Nihil Obstat: Georgius D. Smith, S.T.D
Imprimatur: Edm. Can. Surmont

Thoughts from St Alphonsus for Every Day-July 25

GOD could have sent an angel, a seraph, to redeem man. But, aware that man, had he been redeemed by a seraph, would have had to divide his heart, by partly loving his Creator and partly his redeemer, he who would possess the entire heart and the entire love of man, "wished to be both our Creator and Redeemer."
From Thoughts from St Alphonsus for Every Day
Compiled by Rev. C. McNeiry, C.SS.R.
Imprimatur: Joseph Hull, C.SS.R., Prov. Angl. Sup.
Nihil Obstat: Innocentlus Apap, O.P., S.T.M., Censor Deptutatus.
Imprimatur: Edm. Can. Surmont, Vicarius Generalis.
Westmonasterii, Die 9a Junii, 1927.
First published 1927

Thursday, July 23, 2009

News Updates, 7/24

Health care rationing conflicts with Catholic teaching
...Catholic teaching is that the value of the life of a teenager and the value of the life of an 85-year-old are equal. Each of these lives is of inestimable worth...Such a system [of rationing care] violates Catholic principles because it does not evaluate the proportionate vs. disproportionate nature of the care being denied. An individual has a moral obligation to pursue and a health care provider has a duty to provide ordinary or proportionate care. Care that is found to be beneficial to a patient and does not impose undue burden on the patient or others is deemed proportionate...

Gallery invites patrons to deface the Bible
Publicly-funded exhibition brings obscene responses

Hearings held for new U.S. ambassador to Vatican
Miguel Humberto Diaz before Senate Judiciary Committee

Atheists choose 'de-baptism' to renounce faith
Mock ceremony has been performed in at least four states

Omaha Catholic archdiocese installs new bishop
George Lucas (no, not that one!) from Illinois diocese

Vatican cardinal slams Spanish abortion law
'Medicine must be for curing and not for killing'

Russia to reintroduce religious education
Catholic faith will not be included in the project

Priest's last words: 'I forgive you'
Friend tells of Spanish cleric murdered in Cuba

Straight believers find a home in 'gay churches'
'I kid you not, they treat us like royalty'

Catholic nurse forced to assist with abortion
Hospital had known of her moral and religious objections

NY Catholic Nurse Sues Hospital after Forced to Participate in Late- Term Abortion
Alliance Defense Fund attorneys filed a lawsuit Tuesday against Mount Sinai Hospital on behalf of a Catholic nurse who was forced to participate in a late-term abortion under the threat of disciplinary action, including possible termination and loss of her license. The hospital has known of her religious objections to abortion since 2004

Other Issues

Spitzer: Fed is a Ponzi Scheme, Inside Job, it is Outrageous
MSNBC's explanatory take on how the Federal Reserve "bailed" the system out and why the Fed is so keen on perpetuating the secrecy...More here

Program Linked to First Lady Michelle Obama Accused of Patient 'Dumping'
The program began in 2006 as the brainchild of first lady Michelle Obama when she was the VP at the University of Chicago Medical Center...

$190,000 withdrawn in $20 bills
Irate bank customer hits back

Ear, nose, and throat surgeons to Obama: Sometimes the tonsils have to come out, champ
Ghoulish, unethical, profit-seeking quacks would say that, though, wouldn’t they? Let’s see what they think once they’ve got a community organizer with four years of federal policy experience riding herd on them. There’s a new sheriff in town, bloodsuckers!
[Obama knows absolutely nothing except community organizing - or so we are told! He is, however, intent on destroying the best health care system in the world and killing the old, weak, and "unproductive" members of society. He is the devil incarnate - and the sooner he is removed from his usurpation of the office of POTUS, the better for this country!]

California Lawmakers Reach Out To Toyota
Members of California's congressional delegation are asking Toyota Motor Corp., officials what they could possibly do to help keep an automotive plant open in Fremont that employs 4,500 people. Toyota has decided to liquidate its stake in the California manufacturing plant, which it jointly operated with General Motors, a Japanese news agency reported Thursday. The plant was established in 1984...

Dobbs Tells Roland Martin To Pipe Down During Obama Birth Debate [YouTube]
Lou Dobbs is getting a lot of flak from the "left wing media" because he wants President Obama to present an authentic birth certificate, even though he believes he's a citizen...

The Fourteenth Amendment and a “natural born citizen”
A common misunderstanding of “natural born” citizenship comes from the Fourteenth Amendment, but a strict reading of the fourteenth amendment is quite clear that this only conveys an at birth naturalized citizenship. Those born in the United States at the time of adoption and afterwards were only citizens. Those who wrote the amendment knew exactly what they were doing. Because of the distinctive use of “natural born citizen” and “citizen,” in Article II, Section 1 the simple fact that being born in the United States does not make one a “natural born citizen,” it only makes one “a citizen.”
[Obama is NOT a "natural born citizen" even if born in Hawaii]


Republics are created by the virtue, public spirit, and intelligence of the citizens. They fall, when the wise are banished from the public councils, because they dare to be honest, and the profligate are rewarded, because they flatter the people, in order to betray them.
-Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution, 1833

Gospel for Friday, 16th Week in Ordinary Time

Optional Memorial: St Sharbel Makhluf, Priest

From: Matthew 13:18-23

Parable of the Sower. The Meaning of the Parables (Continuation)
(Jesus said to His disciples,) [18] "Hear then the parable of the sower. [19] When any one hears the Word of the Kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in hies heart; this is what was sown along the path. [20] As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is he who hears the Word and immediately receives it with joy; [21] yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the Word, immediately he falls away. [22] As for what was sown among thorns, this is he who hears the Word, but the cares of the world and the delight in riches choke the Word, and it proves unfruitful. [23] As for what was sown on good soil, this is he who hears the Word and understands it; he indeed bears fruit, and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty."
Chapter 13 of St. Matthew includes as many as seven of Jesus' parables, which is the reason why it is usually called "the parable discourse" or the "parabolic discourse". Because of their similarity of content and setting these parables are often called the "Kingdom parables", and also the "parables of the Lake", because Jesus taught them on the shore of Lake Gennesaret. Jesus uses these elaborate comparisons (parables) to explain certain features of the Kingdom of God which He has come to establish (cf. Matthew 3:2)--its tiny, humble origins; its steady growth; its worldwide scope; its salvific force. God calls everyone to salvation but only those attain it who receive God's call with good dispositions and who do not change their attitude; the value of the spiritual benefits the Kingdom brings--so valuable that one should give up everything to obtain them; the fact that good and bad are all mixed together until the harvest time, or the time of God's judgment; the intimate connection between earthly and heavenly as pects of the Kingdom, until it reaches its point of full development at the end of time.

On Jesus' lips, parables are exceptionally effective. By using parables He keeps His listeners' attention, whether they are uneducated or not, and by means of the most ordinary things of daily life He sheds light on the deepest supernatural mysteries. He used the parable device in a masterly way; His parables are quite unique; they carry the seal of His personality; through them He has graphically shown us the riches of grace, the life of the Church, the demands of the faith and even the mystery of God's own inner life.

Jesus' teaching continues to provide every generation with light and guidance on moral conduct. By reading and reflecting on His parables one can savor the adorable humanity of the Savior, who showed such kindness to the people who crowded around to hear Him--and who shows the same readiness to listen to our prayers, despite our dullness, and to reply to our healthy curiosity when we try to make out His meaning.

19. He does not understand because he does not love--not because he is not clever enough: lack of love opens the door of the soul to the devil.
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.

Reading for Friday, 16th Week in Ordinary Time

Optional Memorial: St Sharbel Makhluf, Priest

From: Exodus 20:1-17

The Ten Commandments

[1] And God spoke all these words, saying, [2] "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

[3] "You shall have no other gods before me.

[4] "You shall not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; [5] you shall not bow down to them or serve them; for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, [6] but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.

[7] "You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.

[8] "Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. [9] Six days you shall labor, and do all your work; [10] but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your manservant, or your maidservant, or your cattle, or the sojourner who is within your gates; [11] for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and hallowed it.

[12] "Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which the LORD your God gives you.

[13] "You shall not kill.

[14] "You shall not commit adultery.

[15] "You shall not steal.

[16] "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

[17] "You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his manservant, or his maidservant, or his ox, or his ass, or anything that is your neighbor's."
20:1-21. "Decalogue" comes from the Greek, meaning "ten words" (cf. the literal sense of Deut 4:13). It consists of the Ten Commandments or moral code, recorded here and in Deuteronomy 5:6-21. The Decalogue is dealt with in a very special way here: for one thing, it is embedded in the account of the theophany, slotted in between 19:19 and 20:18; for another, attached to the concise commandments (identical in Exodus and Deuteronomy) are other more elaborate commandments (giving reasons and explanations) which differ as between the two versions. The fact that the Decalogue (and not any other legal code of the Pentateuch) is repeated practically verbatim in Exodus and Deuteronomy and has from ancient times been reproduced separately, as the Nash papyrus (2nd century BC) shows, indicates the importance the Decalogue always had among the people of Israel as a moral code.

On the supposition that the versions in Exodus and Deuteronomy can be reduced to a single original text, the variations between them can be explained in terms of the applications of the commandments to the circumstances of the period when each version was made; the final redaction, which we have here, is the one held to be inspired. The apodictic form (future imperative, second person: "You shall not kill") is that proper to biblical commandments and it differs from the casuistical type of wording that Israel shares with other Semitic people, as can be seen from the Code of the Covenant (chaps 21-23).

The Ten Commandments are the core of Old Testament ethics and they retain their value in the New Testament. Jesus often reminds people about them (cf. Lk 18:20) and he fills them out (cf. Mt 5:17ff). The Fathers and Doctors of the Church have commented on them at length because, as St Thomas points out, all the precepts of the natural law are contained in the Decalogue: the universal precepts, such as "Do good and avoid evil", "which are primary and general, are contained theirin as principles in their proximate conclusions, while conversely, those which are mediated by the wise are contained in them as conclusions in their principles" ("Summa Theologiae", 1-2, 100, 3).

The commandments tend to be divided up in two different ways: thus, Jews and many Christian confessions divide the first commandment into two--the precept to adore only one God (vv. 2-3) and that of not making images (vv. 3-6); whereas Catholics and Lutherans (following St Augustine) make these commandments one and divide into two the last commandments (not to covet one's neighbor's wife: the ninth; and not to covet his goods: the tenth).

There is nothing sacrosanct about these divisions (their purpose is pedagogical); whichever way the commandments are divided, the Decalogue stands. In our commentary we follow St Augustine's division and make reference to the teaching of the Church, because the Ten Commandments contain the core of Christian morality (cf. the notes on Deut 5:1-22).

20:2. Hittite peoples (some of whose political and social documents have survived) used to begin peace treaties with an historical introduction, that is, by recounting the victory of a king over a vassal on whom specific obligations were being imposed. In a similar sort of way, the Decalogue begins by recalling the Exodus. However, what we have here is something radically different from a Hittite pact, because the obligation that the commandments imply is not based on a defeat but on a deliverance. God is offering the commandments to the people whom he has delivered from bondage, whereas human princes imposed their codes on peoples whom they had reduced to vassalage. The commandments are therefore an expression of the Covenant. Acceptance of them is a sign that man has attained maturity in his freedom. "Man becomes free when he enters into the Covenant of God? (Aphraates, "Demonstrationes", 12). Jesus stressed the same idea: "My yoke is easy, and my burden is light" (Mt 11:30).

20:3-6 "You shall love God above all things" is the wording of the first commandment given in most catechisms (cf. "Catechism of the Catholic Church", 2083) summarizing the teaching of Jesus (cf. Mk 12:28-31, which quotes the text of Deuteronomy 6:4-5. In the ten commandments this precept covers two aspects -- monotheism (v. 3) and the obligation not to adore idols or images of the Lord (vv. 4-6). Belief in the existence of only one God is the backbone of the entire Bible message. The prophets will openly teach monotheism, holding that God is the sovereign Lord of the universe and of time; but this ban on other gods itself implies the sure conviction that there is only one true God. "You shall have no other gods before [or, besides] me", implies a belief in one God, that is monotheism.

The ban on images was something that marked Israel as different from other peoples. The ban not only covered idols or images of other gods, but also representations of the Lord.

The one true God is spiritual and transcendent: he cannot be controlled or manipulated (unlike the gods of Israel's neighbors). On the basis of the mystery of the incarnate Word Christians began to depict scenes from the Gospel and in so doing they knew that this was not at odds with God's freedom nor did it make for idolatry. The Church venerates images because they are representations either of Jesus who, being truly man had a body, or of saints, who as human beings were portrayable and worthy of veneration. The Second Vatican Council recommended the veneration of sacred images, while calling for sobriety and beauty: "The practice of placing sacred images in churches so that they be venerated by the faithful is to be maintained. Nevertheless their number should be moderate and their relative positions should reflect right order. For otherwise the Christian people may find them incongruous and they may foster devotion of doubtful orthodoxy" ("Sacrosancturn Concilium", 125).

20:5-6. "A jealous God": an anthropomorphism emphasizing the uniqueness of God. Since he is the only true God, he cannot abide either the worship of other gods (cf. 34:14) or worship of idols. Idolatry is the gravest and most condemned sin in the Bible (cf. "Catechism of the Catholic Church", 2113). Those in charge of worship in the temple are described as being "jealous" for the Lord (cf. Num 25:13; 1 Kings 19:10, 14), because they have to watch to ensure that no deviations occur. When expelling the money-changers from the temple (Jn 2:17), Jesus refers to this aspect of priests' responsibility; "Zeal for thy house has consumed me" (Ps 69:9).

On the Lord's merciful retribution, cf. the note on Ex 34:6-7.

20:7. Respect for God's name is respect for God himself. Hence this prohibition on invoking the name of the Lord to gain credence for evil, be it at a trial (by committing perjury), or by swearing to do something evil, or by blasphemy (cf. Sir 23: 7-12). In ancient times, Israel's neighbors used the names of their gods in magical conjuration; in such a situation the invoking of the Lord's name is idolatrous. In general, this commandment forbids any abuse, any disrespect, any irreverent use of the name of God. And, to put it positively, "The second commandment 'prescribes respect for the Lord's name'. Like the first commandment, it belongs to the virtue of religion and more particularly it governs our use of speech in sacred matters" ("Catechism of the Catholic Church", 2142).

20:8-11 Israel's history evidently influenced the formulation of the sabbath precept, given that the usual apodictic mode is not used and that the prescriptions concerning this day are very well developed.

The commandment includes three ideas: the sabbath is a holy day, dedicated to the Lord; work is forbidden on it; one reason for it is to imitate God, who rested from creation on the seventh day.

The sabbath is a holy day, that is, different from ordinary days (cf. Lev 23:3) because it is dedicated to God. No special rites are prescribed but the word "remember" (different from "observe" in Deuteronomy 5:10) is a word with cultic associations. Whatever the etymology or social origin of the sabbath was, in the Bible it is always something holy (cf. 16:22-30).

Sabbath rest implies that there is an obligation to work on the previous six days (v. 9). Work is the only justification for rest. The Hebrew word "sabat" actually means "sabbath" and "rest". But on this day rest acquires a cultic value, for no special sacrifices or rites are prescribed for the sabbath: the whole community, and even animals, render homage to God by ceasing from their labors.

20:12 The fourth is the first commandment to do with interpersonal relationships (the subject of the second "table" as ancient Christian writers used to term these commandments: cf. "Catechism of the Catholic Church", 2197). Like the sabbath precept, it is couched in a positive way, its direct reference is to family members. The fact that it comes immediately after the precepts that refer to God shows its importance. Parents, in effect, represent God within the family circle.

The commandment has to do not only with young children (cf. Prov 19:26; 20:20; 23:22;; 30:17), who have a duty to remain subject to their parents (Deut 21:18-21), but to all children whatever their age, because it is offenses committed by older children that incur a curse (cf. Deut 17:16).

The promise of a long life to those who keep this commandment shows how important it is for the individual, and also the importance the family has for society. The Second Vatican Council summed up the value of the family by calling it the "domestic church" ("Lumen Gentium", 11; cf. John Paul II, "Familiaris Consortio", 21).

20:13. The fifth commandment directly forbids vengeful killing of one's enemy, that is, murder; so it protects the sacredness of human life. The prohibition on murder already comes across in the account of the death of Abel (cf. Gen 4:10) and the precepts given to Noah (cf. Gen 9:6): life is something that belongs to God alone.

Revelation and the teaching of the Church tell us more about the scope of this precept: it is only in very specific circumstances (such as social or personal selfdefense) that a person may be deprived of his or her life. Obviously, the killing of weaker members of society (abortion, direct euthanasia) is a particularly grave sin.

The encyclical "Evangelium Vitae" spells out the Church's teaching on this commandment which "has absolute value when it refers to the 'innocent person'. [...] Therefore, by the authority which Christ conferred upon Peter and his Successors, and in communion with the Bishops of the Catholic Church, 'I confirm that the direct and voluntary killing of an innocent human being is always gravely immoral'" (John Paul II, "Evangelium Vitae", 57).

Our Lord taught that the positive meaning of this commandment was the obligation to practise charity (cf. Mt 5:21-26): "In the Sermon on the Mount, the Lord recalls the commandment, 'You shall not kill' (Mt 5:21), and adds to it the proscription of anger, hatred and vengeance. Going further, Christ asks his disciples to turn the other cheek, to love their enemies (cf. Mt 5:22-28). He did not defend himself and told Peter to leave his sword in its sheath (cf. Mt 26:52)?" ("Catechism of the Catholic Church", 2262).

20:14. The sixth commandment is orientated to safeguarding the holiness of marriage. In the Old Testament there were very severe penalties for those who committed adultery (cf. Deut 22:23ff; Lev 20:10). As Revelation progresses, it will become clear that not only is adultery grave, because it damages the rights of the other spouse, but every sexual disorder degrades the dignity of the person and is an offense against God (cf., e.g., Prov 7:8-27; 23:27-28). Jesus Christ, by his life and teaching, showed the positive thrust of this precept (cf. Mt 5:27-32): "Jesus came to restore creation to the purity of its origins. In the Sermon on the Mount, he interprets God's plan strictly: 'You have heard that it was said, "You shall not commit adultery." But I say to you that every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart' (Mt 5:27-28). What God has joined together, let not man put asunder (cf. Mt 19:6). The tradition of the Church has understood the sixth commandment as encompassing the whole of human sexuality" ("Catechism of the Catholic Church", 2336).

20:15. Because the Decalogue is regulating inter-personal relationships, this commandment condemns firstly the abducting of persons in order to sell them into slavery (cf. Deut 24:7) but obviously it covers unjust appropriation of another's goods. The Church continues to remind us that every violation of the right to property is unjust (cf. "Catechism of the Catholic Church", 2409); but this is particularly true if actions of that type lead to the enslavement of human beings, or to depriving them of their dignity, as happens in traffic in children, trade in human embryos, the taking of hostages, arbitrary arrest or imprisonment, racial segregation, concentration camps, etc. "The seventh commandment forbids acts or enterprises that for any reason--selfish or ideological, commercial or totalitarian -lead to the "enslavement of human beings", to their being bought, sold and exchanged like merchandise, in disregard for their personal dignity. It is a sin against the dignity of persons and their fundamental rights to reduce them by violence to their productive value or to a source of profit. St Paul directed a Christian master to treat his Christian slave 'no longer as a slave but more than a slave, as a beloved brother...both in the flesh and in the Lord' (Philem 16)" ("Catechism of the Catholic Church", 24 14).

20:16. Giving false testimony in court can cause one's neighbor irreparable damage because an innocent person may be found guilty. But, given that truth and fidelity in human relationships is the basis of social life (cf. Vatican II, "Gaudium Et Spes", 26), this commandment prohibits lying, defamation (cf. Sir 7:12-13), calumny and the saying of anything that might detract from a neighbor's dignity (cf. Jas 3:1-12). "This moral prescription flows from the vocation of the holy people to bear witness to their God who is the truth and wills the truth. Offenses against the truth express by word or deed a refusal to commit oneself to moral uprightness: they are fundamental infidelities to God and, in this sense, they undermine the foundations of the covenant" ("Catechism of the Catholic Church", 2464).

20:17. The wording of this precept is different from that in Deuteronomy: there the distinction is made between coveting one's neighbor's wife and coveting his goods (cf. Deut 5:21). "St John distinguishes three kinds of covetousness or concupiscence: lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes and pride of life (cf. 1 Jn 2:16). In the Catholic catechetical tradition, the ninth commandment forbids carnal concupiscence; the tenth forbids coveting another's goods" ("Catechism of the Catholic Church", 2514).
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.

Principles and Practices - July 24

Regularity Is Essential

As the natura1 life must be fed, developed, and disciplined if it is to attain to its full strength and usefulness, so must the spiritual life. And as the natural life, if neglected, will run to seed, so will the spiritual life.

From Principles and Practices
Compiled by Rev. J. Hogan of The Catholic Missionary Society
Published by Burns Oates & Washbourne Ltd., Publishers To The Holy See
Nihil Obstat; Eduardus J. Mahoney, S.T.D. Censor deputatus.
Imprimatur; Edm. Can. Surmont, Vicarius generalis.
First printed in 1930

Thoughts of St Augustine for July 24

LET charity be born in you, if it be not born already; and if it is born let it grow and be fostered and nourished.
Click here for more information.
From Thoughts of St Augustine for Every Day
by Kathleen Mary Balfe (© 1926)
Nihil Obstat: Georgius D. Smith, S.T.D
Imprimatur: Edm. Can. Surmont

Thoughts from St Alphonsus for Every Day-July 24

To bear with patience excessive heat or cold is a very useful mortification. You can, at least on one day of the week, accept as a penance from the hands of God the cold or heat of the seasons.
From Thoughts from St Alphonsus for Every Day
Compiled by Rev. C. McNeiry, C.SS.R.
Imprimatur: Joseph Hull, C.SS.R., Prov. Angl. Sup.
Nihil Obstat: Innocentlus Apap, O.P., S.T.M., Censor Deptutatus.
Imprimatur: Edm. Can. Surmont, Vicarius Generalis.
Westmonasterii, Die 9a Junii, 1927.
First published 1927

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

News Updates, 7/23

Irish report identifies 450 victims of priest abuse
Archdiocese of Dublin says 152 clerics involved

Liberal academic: Pope is right about AIDS, condoms
Harvard prof says abstinence promotion is best weapon

Suspended priest to run for Philippines presidency
Panlilio to seek dispensation from his priestly obligations

AIDS study: role of gay sex underestimated in Africa
Lancet medical journal says cause has been ignored

Swoop smashes international marriage scam
Slovakian brides and Nigerian bridegrooms arrested in UK

Poll: NH voters oppose 'gay marriage' law
Conducted by Research 2000 for liberal blog

Pope uses tape recorder as writing tough with cast
Pontiff broke right wrist last week during vacation

Conn. priest moonlights as fashion designer
Blending traditional and modern, spiritual and commercial

Other Issues

Police Union Condemns Obama's Comments
President Obama's Wednesday night criticism of Cambridge, Mass., police has drawn a rebuke from the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP)...

Reid Postpones Health Care Vote Until After August Recess, House Mulls Timetable
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for the first time Thursday said that the full Senate will not vote on the legislation until after the August recess. He told reporters it's more important to get it right than to ram through an incomplete bill...

Democrats Block GOP Health Care Mailing
Democrats are preventing Republican House Members from sending their constituents a mailing that is critical of the majority’s health care reform plan, blocking the mailing by alleging that it is inaccurate. House Republicans are crying foul and claiming that the Democrats are using their majority to prevent GOP Members from communicating with their constituents...
[Marxism is alive in well in the Democrat Party]

Lou Dobbs says Obama has no proof of a valid birth certificate yet

Look Here to See What’s in the Health Care Bill: CHILLING!
Take a look at what actually is in the Health Care bill. Obama makes disingenuous comments like "You'll still keep your doctor" or "You'll keep your existing health care." He is either lying to us or he has no idea what is in it. Take a peek at the full report, or look at some of the highlights here:
Pg 30 Sec 123 of HC bill – a Government committee will decide what treatments/benefits a person may receive.

Pg 29 lines 4-16 in the HC bill - YOUR HEALTHCARE WILL BE RATIONED!

Pg 59 HC Bill lines 21-24 Government will have direct access to your bank accts for election funds transfer

Pg 170 Lines 1-3 HC Bill Any NONRESIDENT Alien is exempt from individual taxes.
PLUS SO MUCH MORE!!! A Must Read! Government thuggery at it again!

US strike may have killed bin Laden's son
One of Osama bin Laden's sons may have been killed by a US missile strike in Pakistan earlier this year, National Public Radio reported...

Who really is Barack Obama?
Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution of the United States states, "No person except a natural born citizen of the United States shall be eligible to the Office of the President." If this is the law of the land, why is Barack Hussein Obama hiding all references to much of his past, and why has he never produced his birth certificate? In fact, a study from the United States Justice Foundation has released information showing that Obama has spent upwards of $950,000 in campaign funds with 11 law firms in 12 states for legal resources to block disclosure of any of his personal records. Gary Kreep of that foundation stated that the investigation is still going on and the final report will be provided to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Holder has refused to comment...

States, Look Out! (IBD Exclusive Series: Government-Run Healthcare: A Prescription For Failure)
Reform: What if there are too few millionaires to pay for a big expansion of tax-paid health care coverage? Congress may then adopt its tried-and-true Plan B, dumping the burden on lower levels of government...

Obama: Cambridge police acted 'stupidly'
After spending most of an hour patiently reiterating his arguments for changing the health insurance system, B. Hussein Obama turned his press conference sharply toward an iconic moment in American race relations: The arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. earlier this week by the Cambridge Police...
[He said this after stating that he didn't know the facts of the case...What a pathetic liar.]

"Turban" Durbin: No pre-recess vote on healthcare
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) on Wednesday acknowledged for the first time that a pre-recess vote on healthcare reform is unlikely. “We’re going to take a little longer to get it right,” Durbin told The Hill when asked about the oft-stated goal of a vote on or before Aug. 7, when a monthlong Senate recess begins. “Initially we had hoped for a full vote by then, but I don’t think it’s going to be possible.”...

[R]eligion, or the duty which we owe to our creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence; and therefore all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; and this is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love, and charity towards each other.
-Virginia Bill of Rights, Article 16, June 12, 1776

Gospel for Thursday, 16th Week in Ordinary Time

Optional Memorial: St Bridget, Religious

From: Matthew 13:10-17

Parable of the Sower (Continuation)
[10] Then the disciples came and said to Him (Jesus), "Why do You speak to them in parables?" [11] And He answered them, "To you it has been given to know the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven, but to them it has not been given. [12] For to him who has will more be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away. [13] This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. [14] With them indeed is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah which says: `You shall indeed hear but never understand, and you shall indeed see but never perceive. [15] For this people's heart has grown dull, and their ears are heavy of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should perceive with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and turn for me to heal them.'

[16] But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. [17] Truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it."
10-13. The kind of Kingdom Jesus was going to establish did not suit the Judaism of His time, largely because of the Jew's nationalistic, earthbound idea of the Messiah to come. In His preaching Jesus takes account of the different outlooks of His listeners, as can be seen in the attitudes described in the parable of the sower. If people were well disposed to Him, the enigmatic nature of the parable would stimulate their interest; and Jesus later did give His many disciples a fuller explanation of its meaning; but there was no point in doing this if people were not ready to listen.

Besides, parables--as indeed any type of comparison or analogy--are used to reveal or explain something which is not easy to understand, as was the case with the supernatural things Jesus was explaining. One has to shade one's eyes to see things if the sun is too bright; otherwise, one is blinded and sees nothing. Similarly, parables help to shade supernatural brightness to allow the listener to grasp meaning without being blinded by it.

These verses also raise a very interesting question: how can divine revelation and grace produce such widely differing responses in people? What is at work here is the mystery of divine grace--which is an unmerited gift--and of man's response to this grace. What Jesus says here underlines man's responsibility to be ready to accept God's grace and to respond to it. Jesus' reference to Isaiah (Matthew 13:14-15) is a prophecy of that hardness of heart which is a punishment meted out to those who resist grace.

These verses need to be interpreted in the light of three points: 1) Jesus Christ loved everyone, including people of His own home town: He gave His life in order to save all men; 2) the parable is a literary form designed to get ideas across clearly: its ultimate aim is to teach, not to mislead or obscure; 3) lack of appreciation for divine grace is something blameworthy, which does merit punishment; however, Jesus did not come directly to punish anyone, but rather to save everyone.

12. Jesus is addressing His disciples and explaining to them that, precisely because they have faith in Him and want to have a good grasp of His teaching, they will be given a deeper understanding of divine truths. But those who do not "follow Him" (cf. note on Matthew 4:18-22) will later lose interest in the things of God and will grow ever blinder: it is as if the little they have is being taken away from them.

This verse also helps us understand the meaning of the parable of the sower, a parable which gives a wonderful explanation of the supernatural economy of divine grace: God gives grace, and man freely responds to that grace. The result is that those who respond to grace generously receive additional grace and so grow steadily in grace and holiness; whereas those who reject God's gifts become closed up within themselves; through their selfishness and attachment to sin they eventually lose God's grace entirely. In this verse, then, our Lord gives a clear warning: with the full weight of His divine authority He exhorts us--without taking away our freedom--to act responsibly: the gifts God keeps sending us should yield fruit; we should make good use of the opportunities for Christian sanctification which are offered us in the course of our lives.

14-15. Only well-disposed people grasp the meaning of God's words. It is not enough just to hear them physically. In the course of Jesus' preaching the prophetic words of Isaiah come true once again.

However, we should not think that not wanting to hear or to understand was something exclusive to certain contemporaries of Jesus; each one of us is at times hard of hearing, hard-hearted and dull-minded in the presence of God's grace and saving word. Moreover, it is not enough to be familiar with the teaching of the Church: it is absolutely necessary to put the faith into practice, with all that that implies, morally and ascetically. Jesus was fixed to the wood of the Cross not only by nails and by the sins of certain Jews but also by our sins--sins committed centuries later but which afflicted the Sacred Humanity of Jesus Christ, who bore the burden of our sins. See the note on Mark 4:11-12.

16-17. In contrast with the closed attitude of many Jews who witnessed Jesus' life but did not believe in Him, the disciples are praised by our Lord for their docility to grace, their openness to recognizing Him as the Messiah and to accepting His teaching.

He calls His disciples blessed, happy. As He says, the prophets and just men and women of the Old Testament had for centuries lived in hope of enjoying one day the peace the future Messiah would bring, but they had died without experiencing this good fortune. Simeon, towards the end of his long life, was filled with joy on seeing the infant Jesus when He was presented in the temple: "He took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said, `Lord now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace, according to Thy word; for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation'" (Luke 2:28-30). During our Lord's public life, His disciples were fortunate enough to see and be on close terms with Him; later they would recall that incomparable gift, and one of them would begin his first letter in these words: "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our own eyes, which we have looked upon and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life; [...] that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you may have fellowship with us; and our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing this that our [or: your] joy may be complete (1 John 1:1-4).

This exceptional good fortune was, obviously, not theirs but of special merit: God planned it; it was He who decided that the time had come for the Old Testament prophecies to be fulfilled. In any event, God gives every soul opportunities to meet Him: each of us has to be sensitive enough to grasp them and not let them pass. There were many men and women in Palestine who saw and heard the incarnate Son of God but did not have the spiritual sensitivity to see in Him what the Apostles and disciples saw.
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.

Reading for Thursday, 16th Week in Ordinary Time

Optional Memorial: St Bridget, Religious

From: Exodus 19:1-2, 9-11, 16-20b

The Israelites Arrive in Sinai (Continuation)

[1] On the third new moon after the people of Israel had gone forth out of the land of Egypt, on that day they came into the wilderness of Sinai. [2] And when they set out from Rephidim and came into the wilderness of Sinai, they encamped in the wilderness; and there Israel encamped before the mountain.

[9] And the Lord said to Moses, "Lo, I am coming to you in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with you, and may also believe you for ever."

Then Moses told the words of the people to the Lord.

The Theophany on Sinai
[10] And the Lord said to Moses,"Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their garments, [11] and be ready by the third day; for on the third day the Lord will come down upon Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people.

[16] On the morning of the third day there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled. [17] Then Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God; and they took their stand at the foot of the mountain; [18] And Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire; and the smoke of it went up like the smoke of a kiln, and the whole mountain quaked greatly. [19] And as the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him in thunder. [20] And the Lord came down upon Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain;
19:1-25. This chapter is written as part of a magnificent liturgy is which the events of Sinai are re-enacted for the reader. The sacred author, then, does not seek to provide an exact, scholarly report on what happened there; what he is providing, rather, is a theological interpretation of the real contact which took place between God and his people.

As in other important sections of this book, it draws on the great traditions of Israel but combines them so skillfully that they have become inseparable; only now and then can one identify traces of particular traditions. The text as it now stands is all of a piece. In this chapter there is a prologue (v. 9), summing up what follows, and the theophany proper (vv. 10-25).

19:1-2. This method of calculating time (v. 1) is one of the traces of the Priestly tradition, always keen to give dates a symbolic meaning (cf. 16:1 and 17:1). Three months is a very brief stage in the prolonged sojourn in the Sinai: in this way time becomes a sign of the religious importance of the events.

19:10-25. This description of the theopany on Sinai contains features of a solemn liturgy in order to highlight the majesty and transcendence of God. Verses 10-15 cover as it were the preparation for the great event, and vv. 1620 the event itself.

The preparation is very detailed: ritual purification in the days previous, ablutions and everything possible done to ensure that the participants have the right dispositions, even a ban on sexual intercourse (cf. Lev 15:16ff) as a sign of exclusive concentration on God who is coming to visit. Also, the fact that the people have to keep within bounds is a tangible way of showing the transcendence of God. Once Jesus Christ, God made man, comes, no barrier will any longer to imposed.

The manifestation of God took place on the third day.; The smoke, the fire and the earthquake are external signs of the presence of God, who is the master of nature. The two trumpet blasts (vv. 16, 19), the people's march to the foot of the mountain and then standing to attention – all give a liturgical tone to their acknowledgment of the Lord as their only Sovereign. All these things and even the voice of God in the thunder convey the idea that this awesome storm was something unique, for what was happening this special presence of God on Sinai, could never happen again.

Israel will never forget this religious experience, as we can see from the Psalms (cf. Ps 18:8-9; 29:3-4; 77:17-18; 97:2ff). In the New Testament, extraordinary divine manifestations will carry echoes of this theophany (cf. Mt 27:45; 51; Acts 2:2-4).
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.

Principles and Practices - July 23

The Sole End

Nought here below has any existence save for the glory of God; a fundamental truth ignored too often and even at times rejected by mankind, when it should be the guiding principle of men's lives.

-Paulin Giloteaux.
From Principles and Practices
Compiled by Rev. J. Hogan of The Catholic Missionary Society
Published by Burns Oates & Washbourne Ltd., Publishers To The Holy See
Nihil Obstat; Eduardus J. Mahoney, S.T.D. Censor deputatus.
Imprimatur; Edm. Can. Surmont, Vicarius generalis.
First printed in 1930

Thoughts of St Augustine for July 23

Do not therefore boast of your faith alone, you who have come to the feast. Have a care that it is the right sort of faith, and then you are proved to have on the nuptial robe.
Click here for more information.
From Thoughts of St Augustine for Every Day
by Kathleen Mary Balfe (© 1926)
Nihil Obstat: Georgius D. Smith, S.T.D
Imprimatur: Edm. Can. Surmont

Thoughts from St Alphonsus for Every Day-July 23

NOTHING else that we offer to God can con­tent him as long as we reserve our own will. If you had two servants, one of whom laboured continually, but always according to his own will, the other performed less work, but was obedient to all your directions - you would certainly entertain a great regard for the latter, and little or no esteem for the former.
From Thoughts from St Alphonsus for Every Day
Compiled by Rev. C. McNeiry, C.SS.R.
Imprimatur: Joseph Hull, C.SS.R., Prov. Angl. Sup.
Nihil Obstat: Innocentlus Apap, O.P., S.T.M., Censor Deptutatus.
Imprimatur: Edm. Can. Surmont, Vicarius Generalis.
Westmonasterii, Die 9a Junii, 1927.
First published 1927

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

News Updates, 7/22

Fr. Fessio explains circumstances of firing
Ave Maria University dismissed Jesuit a second time

Retired priest arrested in alleged molestation
Escaped prosecution six years ago in a similar case

Beatings, arrests of priests and faithful in Vietnam
Catholics had erected cross and altar at church site

Lay Catholic group gets infusion of donations
Voice of the Faithful said it was close to shutting down
[How long will hi last?]

Two priests charged over Indian nun murder
Seventeen years after death of Sr. Abhaya of Kerala

U.S. bishops: Respect life in health care reform
A 'moral imperative and a vital national obligation'

Bolivian bishops respond to attacks by president
Evo Morales sees Church as threat to his plans for power

NRO: Pope's encyclical challenging for Left and Right
Commentators missed point of the Obama-Benedict meeting

Archdiocese paying $3.9 million to sexually abused
Bishop admitted to keeping priests' crimes secret

Other Issues

ATF to Montana: 'You will respect our authoritah!'
[Hopefully, Montana will respond to Fed jackbooted thugs, "Go pound sand!...Let's not forget, "rights" come from our Creator NOT from the government which is to be SUBSERVIANT to the People! Moronic control freaks!]

Liberal defenders of Obama in full retreat on Birth Certificate
Progressives now say US Born requirement for Presidency should be abolished...
All of a sudden, the issue of concientious objecter Major Stefan Cook has thrust the Obama birth certificate issue into the national limelight. It’s moved from so-called “fringe” blogs and news websites such as World Net Daily, Free Republic, Gateway Pundit, Atlas Shrugs and Libertarian Republican, into the mainstream media. On Monday Fox News did a segment on it for their 5:00 pm News Hour. CNN’s Lou Dobbs covered the story yesterday. And even CBS and the LA Times have done articles on it. And today, another Big Enchillada of the Liberal Media: National Public Radio...
[Of course, -most- misunderstand the real issue, that of being qualified as a "natural born citizen" as required by the Constitution; rather than whether Obongo is 'citizen' or not...Did he really enroll at Occidental as a foreign born student, for instance? Sooner or later the truth will come out - let us pray that it is sooner!]

A House Divided and Plea for Resolution: Formal Demand for Congressional Inquiry upon the Honorable Congressman Robert Goodlatte of the State of Virginia
Re: The Constitutional Authority of Barak Hussein Obama to Hold and Occupy the Office of the President of the United States of America and by which He Commands the Armed Forces.

Chairman Obama: 'Time for Talking is Over' But I Have No Idea What's in This Bill
Just in case you have any illusions that the health care reform Obama's pushing is meant to be constructed with anything other than reckless abandon and just enough haste and favors to get the government-run plan running for the "greater good," enjoy these tidbits from last night's conference call with liberal bloggers. First, as the boss pointed out this morning (in a blog post that may soon be making its appearance in a White House press briefing), Obama thinks the "time for talk is through."

Seniors Who Put Obama in Office Will Lose the Most
As Obama continues to press his plan for federally-mandated healthcare that clearly is meant to morph into a single-payer, socialist healthcare program, those who have the most to lose should face the fact that they elected him by staying home last November.

Commercial construction down 71% in June

California budget deal to free 27,000 inmates

Ohio man jailed in Missouri for chewing out a tele-marketer

Obama Regulatory Czar's Confirmation Held Up by Hunting Rights Proponent
Chairman Obama's nominee for "regulatory czar" has hit a new snag in his Senate confirmation process -- a "hold" by Texas Sen. John Cornyn, who's says he's not convinced that Harvard professor Cass Sunstein won't push a radical animal rights agenda, including new restrictions on agriculture and even hunting...

Palin to feds: Alaska is sovereign state; Constitutional rights reasserted in growing resistance to Washington

Our American way of life is being destroyed [Letter]
Wake up, folks, we're going over a cliff like migrating lemmings. We are losing the American way of life that was a model for all the industrialized countries on the planet. The Obama administration has been feeding us the best of political prestidigitation.

While they focus our attention with feel-good rhetoric, they are dragging our country into Third World status by doing things completely at odds with what they say. The nonsense that "We saved 100,000 jobs" should be "We have lost only 2 million jobs instead of 2 million and 100,000."...


"What country can preserve its liberties if its rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon and pacify them."
--Thomas Jefferson to William Stephens Smith, 1787

Gospel for July 22, Memorial: St. Mary Magdalene, Disciple of the Lord

Old Calendar: St. Mary Magdalen, penitent

From: John 20:1-2, 11-18

The Empty Tomb
[1] Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. [2] So she ran, and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him."

The Appearance To Mary Magdalene
[11] But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb; [12] and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. [13] They said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?" She said to them, "Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him." [14] Saying this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. [15] Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom do you seek?" Supposing Him to be gardener, she said to Him, "Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away." [16] Jesus said to her, "Mary." She turned and said to Him in Hebrew, "Rabboni!" (which means Teacher). [17] Jesus said to her, "Do not hold Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, I am ascending to My Father and your Father, to My God and your God." [18] Mary Magdalene went and said to the disciples, "I have seen the Lord"; and she told them that He had said these things to her.
1-2. All four Gospels report the first testimonies of the holy women and the disciples regarding Christ's glorious resurrection, beginning with the fact of the empty tomb (cf. Matthew 28:1-15; Mark 16:1ff; Luke 24:1-12) and then telling of the various appearances of the risen Jesus.

Mary Magdalene was one of the women who provided for our Lord during His journeys (Luke 8:1-3); along with the Virgin Mary she bravely stayed with Him right up to His final moments (John 19:25), and she saw where His body was laid (Luke 23:55). Now, after the obligatory Sabbath rest, she goes to visit the tomb. The Gospel points out that she went "early, when it was still dark": her love and veneration led her to go without delay, to be with our Lord's body.

11-18. Mary's affection and sensitivity lead her to be concerned about what has become of the dead body of Jesus. This woman out of whom seven demons were cast (cf. Luke 8:2) stayed faithful during His passion and even now her love is still ardent: our Lord had freed her from the Evil One and she responded to that grace humbly and generously.

After consoling Mary Magdalene, Jesus gives her a message for the Apostles, whom He tenderly calls His "brethren". This message implies that He and they have the same Father, though each in an essentially different way: "I am ascending to My Father"--My own Father by nature--"and to your Father"--for He is your Father through the adoption I have won for you and by My death. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, shows His great mercy and understanding by gathering together all His disciples who had abandoned Him during His passion and were now in hiding for fear of the Jews (John 20:19).

Mary Magdalene's perseverance teaches us that anyone who sincerely keeps searching for Jesus Christ will eventually find Him. Jesus' gesture in calling His disciples His "brethren" despite their having run away should fill us with love in the midst of our own infidelities.

15. From Jesus' dialogue with Mary Magdalene, we can see the frame of mind all His disciples must have been in: they were not expecting the resurrection.

17. "Do not hold Me": the use of the negative imperative in the Greek, reflected in the New Vulgate ("noli me tenere") indicates that our Lord is telling Mary to release her hold of Him, to let Him go, since she will have another chance to see Him before His ascension into Heaven.
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.

Principles and Practices - July 22

When You Fail

I would have you know that we must never cease to make good resolutions, even though we may be well aware that, generally speaking, we do not carry them into effect; yea, even if we should see that it will be out of our power to do so when the opportunity offers. Indeed, we must make them with still more firmness than if we felt within ourselves courage enough to succeed in our enterprise, saying to Our Lord: 'It is true that I shall not have strength enough to do or to bear such and such a thing of myself, but I rejoice in my infirmity, because it will be Thy strength which will do it in me.

-St. Francis de Sales.
From Principles and Practices
Compiled by Rev. J. Hogan of The Catholic Missionary Society
Published by Burns Oates & Washbourne Ltd., Publishers To The Holy See
Nihil Obstat; Eduardus J. Mahoney, S.T.D. Censor deputatus.
Imprimatur; Edm. Can. Surmont, Vicarius generalis.
First printed in 1930