Thursday, December 25, 2008

Silent Night

Silent Night

December 24th, 2008 by George Cardinal Pell

Christmas means Christmas carols; a marvellous invention.  Like many others I am prejudiced in their favour as I have been singing some of them for as long as I can remember.

My favourite is still “Silent Night” with its wonderful message and melody, accessible to young and old.

The words come from an 1816 German poem by the young Austrian priest Father Joseph Mohr.  He was assistant priest in the village of Mariapfarr, high in the Alps near Salzburg and his parish priest used to worry about him, because he was very social and loved to make jokes, drink and even sing dubious songs!

The whole country and his village, which was regularly isolated by snow during the long winters, had been through a bad period of military occupation by French and Bavarian soldiers.  The French Emperor Napoleon had only been defeated a year earlier at Waterloo by the English and German troops under the Duke of Wellington and Marshal Blucher and “Silent Night” was celebrating the new peace; the heavenly calm of that holy night when the Christ child was born.

Mohr himself had a difficult upbringing because he was born illegitimate in Salzburg, never knowing his soldier father who had moved on before he was born.  Blessed with a fine voice Mohr sang in the choir of St. Peter’s Church under the direction of Michael Haydn, brother of the great composer Franz Joseph Haydn.  He was ordained a priest after receiving the papal dispensation then required for illegitimates.

By the Christmas season of 1818 Father Mohr was in the neighbouring village of Oberndorf and it was only on Christmas Eve that he asked his close friend the village organist Franz Gruber to compose a tune for his peace poem.

Mohr desperately wanted a new carol for Midnight Mass and some versions about the birth of the music tell of Gruber struggling vainly through the hours of the night until finally inspiration came to him.

By a happy chance the Church organ had been damaged by floods, so the hymn was arranged for two voices and a choir in four part harmony accompanied by guitar.  The use of such a folk instrument was highly unusual then.

As Mary was scarcely mentioned Protestants happily sang the hymn.

The Trapp Family singers came to use it to conclude all their Christmas concerts.

Before Victoria was Queen of England, “Silent Night” was being sung in North America and at a special birthday recital for the young Princess Victoria.

Gruber died as a well known composer while Father Mohr continued as a country priest, dying without sufficient assets to pay for his funeral.

By World War One “Silent Night” was known everywhere and on Christmas Eve 1914 British and German troops, in a short unofficial truce, joined together in no-mans-land to sing “Silent Night”, an anthem of universal brotherhood.

May we still heed its message.

----

Silent night, holy night
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon Virgin Mother and Child
Holy Infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace
Sleep in heavenly peace

Silent night, holy night!
Shepherds quake at the sight
Glories stream from heaven afar
Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia!
Christ, the Saviour is born
Christ, the Saviour is born

Silent night, holy night
Son of God, love's pure light
Radiant beams from Thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth "

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

From Slate.com

The Hidden Man of Christmas

Putting St. Joseph back in the picture.

By James Martin Updated Tuesday, Dec. 23, 2008, at 7:01 AM ET

Christmas cards tend to fall into three categories: the family card (cheerful children in red and green sweaters), the secular card (snowmen, snowflakes, snowy villages), and the religious card. The religious card usually bears a portrait of the Virgin Mary gazing beatifically at the crib of her newborn son, Jesus. Behind her, the picture is just as some of the Gospels describe: shepherds, animals, maybe even the three wise men, though they actually were late on the scene.

 But where's St. Joseph? Where is the man to whom, according to the Gospel of Matthew, an angel announced the birth of Jesus? Where is the guy who married Mary even though she was already "with child," the man who helped to raise Jesus, the carpenter who taught Jesus his craft?

 He's off to the side or stuck in the back, behind a shepherd. And he's old, balding, and stooped, looking more like Mary's father than her husband. Sometimes, he's not there at all. Many Christmas cards show just Mary and Jesus. And how many carols even mention Joseph? He is at the Nativity scene and in American Christmas traditions. That's a loss since Joseph can be a powerful figure not only for fathers but also for the average believer.


Liesl Schillinger offered a slide show on the Nativity scene. Julie Bosman explained the history of the Church of the Nativity. Alan F. Segal, Larry Hurtado, and John S. Kloppenborg discussed the historical accuracy of the Gospels' stories of Jesus. Chloe Breyer asked, "What if Mary wasn't a virgin?"

 For a number of reasons, Joseph has presented something of a problem for the Catholic Church over the past two millennia. The miracle of Christmas was not only that God became human but also that this was accomplished through a virgin. Naturally, Mary is one of the stars of the story. But the emphasis on her virginity may have meant that her marriage to Joseph may have been an uncomfortable reality—after all, if they were married, didn't they, well, have sex? That flew in the face of what became an early tradition in the Catholic Church—Mary's "perpetual virginity."

 Better, then, to have Joseph in the background. Some scholars have posited that this is also the reason that he is portrayed as elderly in all those paintings, even though some experts estimate he was around 30 years old at the time of Jesus' birth. Lawrence Cunningham, a professor of theology at Notre Dame and author of A Brief History of the Saints, told me, "Nine times out of 10 in Christian art, Joseph takes on more of father-protector role rather than a husband. That was a way of solving the sexuality problem." Cunningham points out that in some paintings, Joseph is shown dozing off in the corner of the stable or even leaving the scene of the Nativity entirely, "out of modesty."

 But don't blame Western artists for giving Joseph short shrift. They didn't have much material to go on. Joseph is given no lines to speak in any of the Gospels, and he disappears entirely after Jesus' childhood. Significantly, he is absent during Jesus' public ministry and even at the Crucifixion, where Mary is featured prominently. This has led some scholars to believe that he must have died before the end of Jesus' earthly life.

 So what do we know about Joseph? Apart from his trade—he's called a tekton in the Gospels, which is usually translated as carpenter but is more likely a general craftsman—not much. But Pheme Perkins, a professor of the New Testament at Boston College and the author of the widely used textbook Reading the New Testament, says you can draw some interesting conclusions if you read the Gospels carefully.

 "The most obvious assumption in antiquity would have been that Joseph had been married before and was a widower," she said. "Most likely, an arrangement was made for him to find a young wife." This is the basis for the Catholic tradition that Jesus' "brother and sisters," who are mentioned in the Gospels, were from Joseph's first marriage. (Mainline Protestant churches are more comfortable with the possibility that Mary could have given birth to other children after the birth of Jesus.)

 And given that Mary seems not to have been forced to remarry after her husband's death—the tradition in first-century Palestine—Joseph must have been a good provider, too. "He must have left them well-off," Perkins said. However, she's not certain that his portrayal as an elderly man in so many works of Christian art necessarily had to do with sexuality. "We usually make revered figures older," she said. "If you look at most of the paintings of St. Peter and St. Paul, they look older, no matter what stage of life they're in."

 Though most of Joseph's life goes unmentioned in the Gospels, he carried out an astonishingly important task: raising the son of God. For the first years of Jesus' life, and perhaps into young adulthood, he would have learned much of what he knew about the Jewish faith from his mother and his foster father. Perhaps the practices Jesus learned alongside Joseph in the carpentry shop—patience, hard work, creativity—were put to good use in his later ministry. Joseph represents the holiness of the "hidden life," doing meaningful things without fanfare.

 Perkins and Cunningham both see Joseph as a central figure in the Nativity story, one who can speak to contemporary men and women. The Gospel of Matthew makes clear that he is a "righteous man" who does what God asks of him. After discovering Mary's pregnancy, Joseph thinks of "quietly" ending their marriage plans, so as not to "disgrace" her. But an angel reassures him in a dream. "Do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife," says the angel, who explains the unusual circumstances of the birth. Joseph's "righteousness" enables him to listen to God and carry out his difficult task.

His personality shines through wordlessly. "Here is a model of someone who represents all the virtues in the Hebrew Bible," says Perkins. "He is asked to do something shocking, but because he's righteous, he follows God's guidance. And it's no fun—not only to deal with that, but with the rest of the story—the flight into Egypt, too."

 

During that latter part of the Christmas story, when the holy family flees from the murderous King Herod, Joseph was responsible for protecting Mary and her son in extreme conditions. Moreover, says Perkins, "To have to take your family into Egypt—that's not a direction that Jewish stories want to go. It's the wrong way." She calls him a "model for how people can follow God through difficult times."

 Maybe it's time to take a fresh look at this "model" and restore him to his rightful place in the Christmas story. Remember his natural age. Reimagine him in our art. And recall his very human example of "following God through difficult times." That's something that can offer encouragement not only to fathers but to every believer.

 At the end of our conversation, Cunningham told me about one of his favorite paintings, by a Coptic nun, portraying the flight into Egypt. "It depicts the infant Jesus sitting on the shoulders of a young, robust Joseph," he said. "Mary is actually standing at one side and a servant on the other." St. Joseph is at the center of the picture.

 So the next time you're singing "Silent Night" and get to the part about the "Mother and child," don't forget about the fellow in the back, the guy who cared for them for the rest of his life, silently.

 

Saturday, December 20, 2008

St. Olaf Chapel Choir - What Sweeter Music

H/T InsideCatholic.com

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Advent Video

Just ran across this video. Hope you enjoy it. H/T Deacon Greg

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Triumph


Sean Hannity, Fox News
"H. W. Crocker III has indeed brought about a triumph with his concise and informative history. Here is a book for the general reader that provides a grand view of the Church's progress through time. Triumph is a book that will strengthen the faith of Catholics and give others an exciting and complete account of the two millennia of the Catholic Church. Magnificent!"

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Luke 21: 12-19

"a minor friar" has a short post on today's gospel. It bring to my attention the battle that we are in against the secularists and the pro-abortionists.

Jesus said to the crowd:
“They will seize and persecute you,
they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons,
and they will have you led before kings and governors
because of my name.
It will lead to your giving testimony.
Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand,
for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking
that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute.
You will even be handed over by parents,v brothers, relatives, and friends,
and they will put some of you to death.
You will be hated by all because of my name,
but not a hair on your head will be destroyed.
By your perseverance you will secure your lives.” 

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Quote - Tocqueville

In a Democracy, the people get the government they deserve- Alexis de Tocqueville

Ten Reasons Why Abortion is Evil

1. Abortion Offends God
Abortion is never a mere personal choice but a grave offense against God and His creation. The anti-abortion struggle has always been a religious battle and foremost in its ranks have been Catholics across the country. This is because Church teaching on abortion is clear and unequivocal: Abortion is murder. There are no exceptions allowed, no compromises possible.

2. The Unnoticed War
The continuing war on terror has lead to a renewed national consciousness of the high price of war, and, for many, a heightened desire for peace. Yet, despite all this concern, the most horrible war of all has gone all but unnoticed. This is a war going on within our own borders, and it has claimed 42 million American lives in the last 31 years.

This scourge is as horrible as anything terrorists can fathom, because it strikes at the very core of humanity and our country: the family. By destroying the most basic human bond of all—that between mother and child—abortion dissolves the precious glue that binds our nation together.

While mother and child are the first victims, there is not a single element of society that is not affected by abortion. Mother, child, father, husband, aunt, uncle, friend, sibling and grandparent alike suffer the scars of the abortionist’s scalpel. Peace abroad is meaningless without peace at home.

3. Life starts at the moment of conception
This is the definition given in any respectable medical textbook. To declare a beginning of life at any point after the fusing of a wife’s egg and a husband’s contribution is irrational and an exercise in sophistical chicanery. Only machines such as clocks and cars come into existence part by part. Living beings come into existence all at once and gradually unfold their world of innate potential. A living human begins to exist at the moment of conception, even though only as a cell. What is important is not the accident of size or weight but the essence – which is fully human. The unborn baby has a distinct, unchanging and unrepeatable genetic code, unique in all of history, from the moment of conception till death. Nothing is added except nutrition and oxygen.1

4. Mankind must protect life whenever possible
The first and foremost instinct of humans is preservation of life. This begins with self-preservation, and extends to all humanity through domestic bonds and realization of a like nature. "Pregnancy termination" stops the beating heart of a growing human being and is in direct contradiction to this most basic premise of human nature. It forsakes natural law, and has left America as a country unable to repopulate itself without the aid of mass immigration.

5. Abortion is an unsafe procedure
Compared with other medical procedures, the abortion industry is largely unregulated. Although there are no exact statistics for the number of women who die from botched procedures, LifeDynamics.com compiled a list of 347 women killed by legal abortions since 1973.2 Furthermore, according to the National Cancer Institute, an induced abortion raises a woman's chance of getting cancer before age 45, by 50%. If the abortion is performed after age 30, it increases 110%; if before age 18, it goes up 150%.

The Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer reports: "28 out of 37 worldwide studies have independently linked induced abortion with breast cancer. Thirteen out of fifteen studies conducted on American women report increased risk. Seventeen studies are statistically significant, sixteen of which found increased risk. Most of the studies have been conducted by abortion supporters."3

6. Embryonic stem-cell and human cloning research: a biogenetic Tower of Babel
In a cynical but logical progression, the culture of death is now bent on engendering human life so as to destroy it. Its new frontier is embryonic stem-cell and human cloning research. In the name of science and health, human life is destroyed at its very inception and "limited" cloning is used to produce usable cells that can be manipulated and harvested to aid the living. In short, the remaining ethical barriers that preserve human dignity and God's rights in Creation are steadily coming down. The biotech revolution has as its avowed goal not just curing disease but the construction of a "brave new world" of genetic engineering, changing the very makeup and design of man himself. We cannot permit the completion of this challenge to God, a new Tower of Babel, which will be like another Pandora's box, unleashing untold ethical and moral havoc on our nation.

7. Breaking the abortion cycle
Abortion is evil because it created a horrific abortion cycle that perpetuates this sin. The abortion mentality destroys the family by making it more difficult for new Americans who survive beyond the womb to find the family welded together by the indissoluble bond of marriage solely between a man and a woman. Children need families that will nurture them, guard their innocence and develop their personalities. In particular, all children must find within their homes the Faith that enables them to know, love and serve God in this world and be happy with Him forever in the next. As long as the traditional family remains in crisis, we will never sever the power lines that supply the abortion mills. As long as the Faith remains dead in souls, we will never wipe out the moral rot of sexual immorality, which is the contaminated soil where the abortion movement grows and flourishes.

8. Roe v. Wade: 31 Years of Lies
The 31st anniversary of the Supreme Court’s infamous Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion-on-demand calls to mind the biggest pack of lies ever set in motion - lies that have cost the lives of more than 42 million innocent babies cruelly torn from their mothers' wombs. How can such slaughter, numerically on par with Hitler's Germany or Stalin’s Russia, be tolerated by the present United States of America, a republic purportedly based on moral values and human rights?

9. Addressing an abortionist
Once you were an enchanting child, as all babies are. Today you are an abortionist, a killer of babies. Do you not regret your wicked deeds? Do you not see the innocent blood of our children that stains your hands and cries out to God? Have you no shame as did our first parents when they sinned against God? Why do you not turn to Him today, seek His forgiveness and His strength never again to murder the innocent? Would you not rather bring children into the world than destroy them? Children you could raise with respect for life to take the place of those you robbed from God?

10. The dangerous slippery slope
Yesterday it was contraception. Today it's abortion, the murder of unborn children, and same-sex "marriage." Will it be euthanasia tomorrow? Then what...? Once abortion is universally accepted, what logical arguments will stop euthanasia and other forms of murder?

Other helpful tidbits
- The unborn baby"s heart starts beating at 20 days4 and the brain gives off brainwaves at 40 days.5 If these factors are used by the law to determine death, why can't they be used to determine life?
- Babies can survive outside the womb at 21 weeks.6 
- By 14 weeks, the entire body surface, except the back and top of the head, are sensitive to pain.7 
- The embryo is not a blueprint that becomes a human being, any more than a paper blueprint becomes a house.8

1. http://www.abortionfacts.com/online_books/love_them_both/why_cant_we_love_them_both_10.asp.

2. http://www.lifedynamics.com//AboutUs/index.cfm?fuseaction=BlackmunWall

3. First Way Abortion Causes Breast Cancer, http://www.abortionbreastcancer.com

4. J.M. Tanner, G.R. Taylor, and the Editors of Time-Life Books, Growth, New York: Life Science Library, 1965.

5. H. Hamlin, "Life or Death by EEG," JAMA, Oct. 12, 1964, p. 120.

6. http://www.abortionfacts.com/online_books/love_them_both/why_cant_we_love_them
_both_13.asp.

7. S. Reinis & J. Goldman, The Development of the Brain C. Thomas Pub., 1980.

8. http://www.abortionfacts.com/online_books/love_them_both/why_cant_we_love_them
_both_11.asp.

H/T: TFP Student Action

 


Judgment Day

Today's Gospel, Mt 25:31-46, speaks of the Last Judgment.  Jesus reminds us that a separation will occur between those who did for the least and those who did nothing for the least.

When I think of the "least" I automatically think of the unborn.

Following the elections, abortion is the number one topic for Catholics with the threat of the president-elect on the passage of the Freedom of Choice Act, FOCA. Yet a majority of Catholics voted for Obama. What were they thinking?

I would think that most Catholics received the same training and formation as I have. They have been exposed to the same information as I have. And I have learned that abortion is an intrinsic evil. Even without this formation, we know in our hearts that abortion is evil. The killing of innocent children.

Have these Catholics who voted for pro-abortion Obama have no knowledge of the church's teaching? Have they no knowledge of the growth of the baby in the womb? Have they not seen pictures of babies before birth? Have they not seen pictures or videos of aborted babies?

And yet they had no compassion; pitiless; hardhearted.

Judgment Day is coming. What side will you be on?



Saturday, November 22, 2008

Quotes G. K. Chesterton

" I believe in getting into hot water; it keeps you clean."


"Only a live fish can swim against the current, the dead go with it"


“Be careful not to be so open-minded that your brains fall out.”


“Moral issues are always terribly complex for someone without principles." --G.K.Chesterton

Pope Benedict - General Audience - Justification

11/19/2008

Dear brothers and sisters, 

In the journey we are taking under the guidance of St. Paul, let us dwell today on a topic which was at the center of the controversies in the century of the Reformation: the question of justification.

How does man become just in the eyes of God? 

When Paul encountered the Risen Christ on the road to Damascus, he was a fully 'realized' man: irrepressible as to the justification that comes from the Law (cfr Phil 3,6), he surpassed most of his contemporaries in the observance of the Mosaic prescriptions and he was zealous in sustaining the traditions of the Jewish fathers (cfr Gal 1,14). The enlightenment of Damascus radically changed his existence: he started to consider all the merits that he had acquired in a most correct religious career as 'rubbish' in the face of knowing Jesus Christ (cfr Phil 3,8).

The Letter to the Philippians offers us a moving testimonial of Paul's passage from justice founded on the Law and acquired by observing prescribed acts, to a justice based on faith in Christ. He understood that what had until then appeared to him as gain was, in fact, a loss in front of God, and therefore, he decided to stake his entire existence on Jesus Christ (cfr Phil 3,7). The treasure hidden in the field and the precious pearl, into the acquisition of which one must invest everything, were no longer works done under the Law, but Jesus Christ, his Lord. The relationship between Paul and the Risen Lord became so profound as to lead Paul to maintain that Christ was not only his life but his living [non era piĆ¹ soltanto la sua vita ma il suo vivere], to the point that in order to reach him, even death would be a gain [cfr Phil 1,21). ["For to me, life is Christ, and death is gain".]

It was not that he deprecated life, but he understood that for him, living now had no other purpose - and therefore, he felt no other desire - but to to be with Christ, and as in a race, to be always with him. The Risen Lord had become the beginning and the end of his existence, the reason and the goal of his race. It was only his concern for the maturation of faith among those he had evangelized and his solicitude for all the Churches he had founded (cfr 2 Cor 11,28) that led him to slow down his pace towards his one Lord, in order to care for the disciples so that together they could all 'race' towards the goal. 

If in his previous observance of the Law, he could not be reproved as to his moral integrity, once he met Christ, he preferred not to make judgments about himself (cf 1 Cor 4,3-4) but limited himself to speaking about his pursuit of the One who had conquered him (cfr Phil 3,12). "I continue my pursuit in hope that I may possess it, since I have indeed been taken possession of by Christ".] 

It is precisely because of his personal experience of a relationship with Jesus Christ that Paul would now place at the center of his Gospel an irreducible opposition between two alternative courses towards justice: one built on the works of the Law, the other founded on the grace of faith in Christ

The choice between justification by the working of the Law and that by faith in Christ thi\us becomes one of the dominating themes throughout his Letters: "We, who are Jews by nature and not sinners from among the Gentiles, (yet) who know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified" (Gal 2,15-16).

To the Christians of Rome, he reiterated that "all have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God. They are justified freely by his grace through the redemption in Christ Jesus" (Rom 3,23-24), adding that "a person is justified by faith apart from works of the law" (ibid 28). 

Luther translated this point as "justified by faith alone". I will return to this point at the end of the catechesis. First, we must clarify what is this Law from which we have been liberated and what are the 'works of the Law' that do not justify

Already in the community of Corinth, there existed an opinion that would systematically return throughout history: it consisted in maintaining that the 'Law' referred to moral law, and that Christian freedom thus consisted in being liberated from ethics. Thus the catch phrase 'For me, everything is allowed' circulated among the Corinthians. It is obvious that this interpretation is wrong; Christian freedom is not libertinism. The liberation St. Paul speaks of is not liberation from doing good. What then is this 'Law' from which we have been liberated and does not save? 

For St. Paul, as for all his contemporaries, the word Law meant the Torah in its totality, that is, the five books of MosesThe Torah implied, in the Pharisaic interpretation - that which Paul had studied and made his own - an ensemble of behavior and actions that ranges from its ethical nucleus down to ritual and cultic observances which substantially determined the identity of the 'just' man

Especially circumcision, observances with regard to pure food and ritual purity in general, the rules on the observance of the Sabbath, etc. Actions that often figured even in the debates between Jesus and his contemporaries. All these observances which express a social, cultural and religious identity had become singularly important in the era of Hellenistic culture, starting with the third century before Christ. 

This culture, which had become the universal culture of that time - and was an apparently rational culture, a polytheistic culture, apparently tolerant - constituted a strong pressure for cultural uniformity and thus threatened the identity of Israel, which was politically constrained to enter the common identity of Hellenistic culture with a consequent loss of its own identity, and therefore also a loss of the precious heritage that was the faith of the Fathers, faith in the one God and God's promises.

Against this cultural pressure, which threatened not only Israelite identity, but also faith in the one God and his promises, it was necessary to create a wall of distinction, a shield of defense, to protect the precious heritage of faith - and this wall consisted of the observance of all the Jewish prescriptions. Paul, who had learned these observances precisely in their function as a defense of God's gift, of the heritage of faith in the one God, saw this identity threatened by the freedom of the Christians - and that is why he persecuted them

At the moment of his encounter with the Risen One, he understood that with the resurrection of Christ, the situation had radically changed. With Christ, the God of Israel, the one true God, became the God of all peoples. The wall - he says in the Letter to the Ephesians - between Israel and the pagans was no longer necessary: it is Christ who protects us against polytheism and all its deviancies. It is Christ who unites us with and in the one God. It is Christ who guarantees our true identity in the diversity of cultures. The wall was no longer necessary.

Our common identity in the diversity of cultures is Christ, and it is him who makes us just. To be just simply means to be with Christ and in Christ. And that is enough.

Other observances were no longer necessary. Therefore Luther's expression 'sola fide' (faith only) is true, if faith is not opposed to charity, to love

Faith is to look to Christ, entrust oneself to Christ, attach oneself to Christ, conform to Christ, to his lifeAnd the form of Christ, the life of Christ, is love: therefore, to believe in Christ and to conform to him is to enter his love

That is why St. Paul, in his Letter to the Galatians - where he developed above all his doctrine on justification - speaks of faith that works through charity (cfr Gal 5,14). Paul knows that the Law is present and fulfilled in the double love of God and of neighbor. 

Thus, in the communion with Christ, in the faith that creates charity, all of the Law is realized. We become just by entering into communion with Christ who is love. We will see this in the Gospel next Sunday, the solemnity of Christ the King. It is the Gospel of the judge whose only criterion is love. All he asks is this: Did you visit me when I was sick? When I was in prison? Did you give me food when I was hungry, did you clothe me when I was naked? Thus, justice is decided in charity, and at the end of that Gospel, we can almost say: sola carita, only love. 

But there is no contradiction between this Gospel and St. Paul. It is the same vision - that vision according to which communion with Christ, faith in Christ, creates charity. And charity is the realization of communion with Christ. Thus, united with him, we are just, and in no other way. In the end, we can only pray to the Lord that he may help us to believe. To truly believe - believing thus becomes life, union with Christ, a transformation of our life. 

Thus, transformed by his love, by the love of God and our neighbor, we can truly be just in the eyes of the Lord.

Here is how he synthesized the lesson in English:
In our continuing catechesis on Saint Paul, we now consider his teaching on our justification. Paul’s experience of the Risen Lord on the road to Damascus led him to see that it is only by faith in Christ, and not by any merit of our own, that we are made righteous before God. Our justification in Christ is thus God’s gracious gift, revealed in the mystery of the Cross. Christ died in order to become our wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption (cf. 1 Cor 1:30), and we in turn, justified by faith, have become in him the very righteousness of God (cf. 2 Cor 5:21). In the light of the Cross and its gifts of reconciliation and new life in the Spirit, Paul rejected a righteousness based on the Law and its works. For the Apostle, the Mosaic Law, as an irrevocable gift of God to Israel, is not abrogated but relativized, since it is only by faith in God’s promises to Abraham, now fulfilled in Christ, that we receive the grace of justification and new life. The Law finds its end in Christ (cf. Rom 10:4) and its fulfilment in the new commandment of love. With Paul, then, let us make the Cross of Christ our only boast (cf. Gal 6:14), and give thanks for the grace which has made us members of Christ’s Body, which is the Church.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Going the Distance for Life!

I'm in. Are you?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

An Open Letter to President-Elect Barack Obama

An Open Letter to President-Elect Barack Obama

November 14, 2008

President-elect Barack Obama,

As American Catholics, we, the undersigned, would like to reiterate the congratulations given to you by Pope Benedict XVI. We will be praying for you as you undertake the office of President of the United States.

Wishing you much good will, we hope we will be able to work with you, your administration, and our fellow citizens to move beyond the gridlock which has often harmed our great nation in recent years. Too often, partisan politics has hampered our response to disaster and misfortune. As a result of this, many Americans have become resentful, blaming others for what happens instead of realizing our own responsibilities. We face serious problems as a people, and if we hope to overcome the crises we face in today’s world, we should make a serious effort to set aside the bitterness in our hearts, to listen to one another, and to work with one another

One of the praiseworthy elements of your campaign has been the call to end such partisanship. You have stated a desire to engage others in dialogue. With you, we believe that real achievement comes not through the defamation of one’s opponents, nor by amassing power and using it merely as a tool for one’s own individual will. We also believe dialogue is essential. We too wish to appeal to the better nature of the nation. We want to encourage people to work together for the common good. Such action can and will engender trust. It may change the hearts of many, and it might alter the path of our nation, shifting to a road leading to a better America. We hope this theme of your campaign is realized in the years ahead.

One of the critical issues which currently divides our nation is abortion. As you have said, no one is for abortion, and you would agree to limit late-term abortions as long as any bill which comes your way allows for exceptions to those limits, such as when the health of the mother is in jeopardy. You have also said you would like to work on those social issues which cause women to feel as if they have a need for an abortion, so as to reduce the actual number of abortions being performed in the United States.

Indeed, you said in your third presidential debate, “But there surely is some common ground when both those who believe in choice and those who are opposed to abortion can come together and say, ‘We should try to prevent unintended pregnancies by providing appropriate education to our youth, communicating that sexuality is sacred and that they should not be engaged in cavalier activity, and providing options for adoption, and helping single mothers if they want to choose to keep the baby.’”

As men and women who oppose abortion and embrace a pro-life ethic, we want to commend your willingness to engage us in dialogue, and we ask that you live up to your promise, and engage us on this issue.

There is much we can do together. There is much that we can do to help women who find themselves in difficult situations so they will not see abortion as their only option. There is much which we can do to help eliminate those unwanted pregnancies which lead to abortion.

One of your campaign promises is of grave concern to many pro-life citizens. On January 22, 2008, the 35th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, when speaking of the current right of women in America to have abortions, you said, “And I will continue to defend this right by passing the Freedom of Choice Act as president.”

The Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) might well undermine your engagement of pro-life Americans on the question of abortion. It might hamper any effort on your part to work with us to limit late-term abortions. We believe FOCA does more than allow for choice. It may force the choice of a woman upon others, and make them morally complicit in such choice. One concern is that it would force doctors and hospitals which would otherwise choose not to perform abortions to do so, even if it went against their sacred beliefs. Such a law would undermine choice, and might begin the process by which abortion is enforced as a preferred option, instead of being one possible choice for a doctor to practice.

It is because of such concern we write. We urge you to engage us, and to dialogue with us, and to do so before you consider signing this legislation. Let us reason together and search out the implications of FOCA. Let us carefully review it and search for contradictions of those positions which we hold in common.
If FOCA can be postponed for the present, and serious dialogue begun with us, as well as with those who disagree with us, you will demonstrate that your administration will indeed be one that rises above partisanship, and will be one of change. This might well be the first step toward resolving an issue which tears at the fabric of our churches, our political process, our families, our very society, and that causes so much hardship and heartache in pregnant women.

Likewise, you have also recently stated you might over-ride some of President G.W. Bush’s executive orders. This is also a concern to us. We believe doing so without having a dialogue with the American people would undermine the political environment you would like to establish. Among those issues which concern us are those which would use taxpayer money to support actions we find to be morally questionable, such as embryonic stem cell research, or to fund international organizations that would counsel women to have an abortion (this would make abortion to be more than a mere choice, but an encouraged activity).

Consider, sir, your general promise to the American people and set aside particular promises to a part of your constituency. This would indicate that you plan to reject politics as usual. This would indeed be a change we need.

H.T Vox Nova

How Obama Got Elected... Interviews With Obama Voters

Cardinal Stafford Calls Obama Agenda Apocalyptic

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Bishops Statement

STATEMENT of the President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

“If the Lord does not build the house, in vain do its builders labor; if the Lord does not watch over the city, in vain does the watchman keep vigil.” (Psalm 127, vs. 1)
The Bishops of the Catholic Church in the United States welcome this moment of historic transition and look forward to working with President-elect Obama and the members of the new Congress for the common good of all. Because of the Church’s history and the scope of her ministries in this country, we want to continue our work for economic justice and opportunity for all; our efforts to reform laws around immigration and the situation of the undocumented; our provision of better education and adequate health care for all, especially for women and children; our desire to safeguard religious freedom and foster peace at home and abroad. The Church is intent on doing good and will continue to cooperate gladly with the government and all others working for these goods.
The fundamental good is life itself, a gift from God and our parents. A good state protects the lives of all. Legal protection for those members of the human family waiting to be born in this country was removed when the Supreme Court decided Roe vs. Wade in 1973. This was bad law. The danger the Bishops see at this moment is that a bad court decision will be enshrined in bad legislation that is more radical than the 1973 Supreme Court decision itself.
In the last Congress, a Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) was introduced that would, if brought forward in the same form today, outlaw any “interference” in providing abortion at will. It would deprive the American people in all fifty states of the freedom they now have to enact modest restraints and regulations on the abortion industry. FOCA would coerce all Americans into subsidizing and promoting abortion with their tax dollars. It would counteract any and all sincere efforts by government and others of good will to reduce the number of abortions in our country.
Parental notification and informed consent precautions would be outlawed, as would be laws banning procedures such as partial-birth abortion and protecting infants born alive after a failed abortion. Abortion clinics would be deregulated. The Hyde Amendment restricting the federal funding of abortions would be abrogated. FOCA would have lethal consequences for prenatal human life.
FOCA would have an equally destructive effect on the freedom of conscience of doctors, nurses and health care workers whose personal convictions do not permit them to cooperate in the private killing of unborn children. It would threaten Catholic health care institutions and Catholic Charities. It would be an evil law that would further divide our country, and the Church should be intent on opposing evil.
On this issue, the legal protection of the unborn, the bishops are of one mind with Catholics and others of good will. They are also pastors who have listened to women whose lives have been diminished because they believed they had no choice but to abort a baby. Abortion is a medical procedure that kills, and the psychological and spiritual consequences are written in the sorrow and depression of many women and men. The bishops are single-minded because they are, first of all, single-hearted.
The recent election was principally decided out of concern for the economy, for the loss of jobs and homes and financial security for families, here and around the world. If the election is misinterpreted ideologically as a referendum on abortion, the unity desired by President-elect Obama and all Americans at this moment of crisis will be impossible to achieve. Abortion kills not only unborn children; it destroys constitutional order and the common good, which is assured only when the life of every human being is legally protected. Aggressively pro-abortion policies, legislation and executive orders will permanently alienate tens of millions of Americans, and would be seen by many as an attack on the free exercise of their religion.
This statement is written at the request and direction of all the Bishops, who also want to thank all those in politics who work with good will to protect the lives of the most vulnerable among us. Those in public life do so, sometimes, at the cost of great sacrifice to themselves and their families; and we are grateful. We express again our great desire to work with all those who cherish the common good of our nation. The common good is not the sum total of individual desires and interests; it is achieved in the working out of a common life based upon good reason and good will for all.
Our prayers accompany President-elect Obama and his family and those who are cooperating with him to assure a smooth transition in government. Many issues demand immediate attention on the part of our elected “watchman.” (Psalm 127) May God bless him and our country.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Baby Got Book (OFFICIAL)

Thanks to a minor friar, I ran across this video. Hope you like.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

All Soul's Day - Purgatory

a minor friar has an interesting homily on Purgatory for All Soul's Day. You can see it here.

Fr. Corapi, Elections, Abortion

Crossed the Tiber has a great video (in several parts) by Fr. Corapi on the elections and abortion. See his post here.

Below is the first part.



Tuesday, October 28, 2008

An Election Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, You told us to give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and to God what belongs to God. Enlighten the minds of our people [in] America. May we choose a President of the United States, and other government officials, according to Your Divine Will. Give our citizens the courage to choose leaders of our nation who respect the sanctity of unborn human life, the sanctity of marriage, the sanctity of marital relations, the sanctity of the family, and the sanctity of the aging. Grant us the wisdom to give You, what belongs to You, our God. If we do this, as a nation, we are confident You will give us an abundance of Your blessings through our elected leaders. Amen.

Composed by Father John Anthony Hardon, S.J.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Friday, October 24, 2008

McCain Obama Dance-Off


Unbelievable McCain Vs. Obama Dance-Off - Watch more free videos

McCain Sign

This happened to me too.

Elena


The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education has a great post. See it here. As does Jill Stanek. Her post starts:

On October 22, after going through all the proper channels and receiving all the proper authorizations, theCornell University student group Cornell Coalition for Life posted a series of posters called the Elena Campaignin both the Art andEngineering quads, the latter display pictured left. These are, quoting a Students for Life of America press release, "a series of light-hearted educational signs with pictures and text detailing the biological development of an unborn child." Here's the 1st in the series of 6, for example:...Click here.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Saturday, October 18, 2008

La La Homilies


One of my pet peeves are what I call la la homilies. What I usually hear are quite bland, no spice.
In today's world, quite sadly for many, the Sunday homily is the only exposure Catholics get of the erudition on the Readings. This is the only on-going formation most Catholics are exposed to. And I think for far too many they are hearing poorly prepared sermons.
I try always to intently listen to the homily. It is part of my participation in the Mass. But far too often I am left wanting.
I'm sure preparing a good homily is hard work. But I think it is very important work. But you can tell, sitting in the pews, if there was work put into it or not. We realize if we are hearing fluff or the real thing.
Don't get me wrong. I do hear a good homily now and then. At times by Deacons. When I do, I will always make a point to say so to the Celebrant on the way out.
Perhaps I am wrong. Perhaps it is only occuring in my parish, my diocese. Once on vacation to a rural area, I've forgotten what State, I heard a really great homily. The Celebrant actually said the word "evil" and refered to the Devil.
On another occasion I was at a Lutheran Church for Sunday sevice. I believe I was with a Lutheran friend for some reason or another and the sermon was very well done and I told the Minister so on the way out. He commented that Catholics had great liturigies, but they (Lutherand) had great sermons. Why is that?
Which leads me back to a post I read by James H in the Opinionated Catholic Blog which can be found here. It refered to the Synod on the Word currently being held, and an article by Sandro Magister for www.chiesa, which can be found here. It goes on to include an address Pope Benedict made at the Synod which is a very good read relating to the importance of good homilies. I highly recommed everyone to read it.

Little Murders

Amy at the Charlotte was Both Blog quotes from a speech given by Archbishop Charles Chaput on October 17, 2008. Here is the quote:

Meanwhile, the basic human rights violation at the heart of abortion - the intentional destruction of an innocent, developing human life - is wordsmithed away as a terrible crime that just can’t be fixed by the law. I don’t believe that. I think that argument is a fraud. And I don’t think any serious believer can accept that argument without damaging his or her credibility. We still have more than a million abortions a year, and we can’t blame them all on Republican social policies. After all, it was a Democratic president, not a Republican, who vetoed the partial birth abortion ban - twice.

The truth is that for some Catholics, the abortion issue has never been a comfortable cause. It’s embarrassing. It’s not the kind of social justice they like to talk about. It interferes with their natural political alliances. And because the homicides involved in abortion are ”little murders” - the kind of private, legally protected murders that kill conveniently unseen lives - it’s easy to look the other way.

The one genuinely new quality to Catholic arguments for Senator Obama is their packaging. Just as the abortion lobby fostered ”Catholics for a Free Choice” to challenge Catholic teaching on abortion more than two decades ago, so supporters of Senator Obama have done something similar in seeking to neutralize the witness of bishops and the pro-life movement by offering a ”Catholic” alternative to the Church’s priority on sanctity of life issues. I think it’s an intelligent strategy. I also think it’s wrong and often dishonest.

It’s curious that nobody seems to worry about the ‘’separation of Church and state,” or religious interference in the public square, when the religious voices that speak up support a certain kind of candidate. In his book, Prof. Kmiec complains about the agenda and influence of what he terms RFPs - Republican Faith Partisans. But he also seems to pay them the highest kind of compliment: imitation. If RFPs are bad, is it unreasonable to assume that DFPs - Democratic Faith Partisans - are equally dangerous?

As I suggest throughout Render Unto Caesar, it’s important for Catholics to be people of faith who pursue politics to achieve justice; not people of politics who use and misuse faith to achieve power. I have no doubt that Prof. Kmiec belongs to the former group. But I believe his arguments finally serve the latter.

For 35 years I’ve watched thousands of good Catholic laypeople, clergy and religious struggle to recover some form of legal protection for the unborn child. The abortion lobby has fought every compromise and every legal restriction on abortion, every step of the way. Apparently they believe in their convictions more than some of us Catholics believe in ours. And I think that’s an indictment of an entire generation of American Catholic leadership.

The abortion conflict has never simply been about repealing Roe v. Wade. And the many pro-lifers I know live a much deeper kind of discipleship than ‘’single issue” politics. But they do understand that the cornerstone of Catholic social teaching is protecting human life from conception to natural death. They do understand that every other human right depends on the right to life. They did not and do not and will not give up - and they won’t be lied to.

So I think that people who claim that the abortion struggle is ”lost” as a matter of law, or that supporting an outspoken defender of legal abortion is somehow ”prolife,” are not just wrong; they’re betraying the witness of every person who continues the work of defending the unborn child. And I hope they know how to explain that, because someday they’ll be required to.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Prayer of St. Francis

This is a test post. Play Prayer of St. Francis.



Dana - Say Yes

Angelina


I just ran across a beautiful voice. I was searching YouTube for the Prayer of St. Francis and found her rendition see post below. I also played Hail Mary Gentle Woman. Her home page is here.

Prayer of St. Francis, sung by Angelina

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Dolores Hart

From Tom S.F.O.

Catholic Exchange has an interesting article/interview on/with Dolores Hart. It starts:


Once an in-demand Hollywood actress, Dolores Hart shocked the entertainment industry when she gave up everything to become a cloistered Benedictine Roman Catholic nun. She left her career, broke off her engagement to Los Angeles businessman Don Robinson, and pursued her vocation as a nun.


Find the rest here.


A Franciscan connection is that she played Clare in the 1961 movie Francis of Assisi.



Friday, September 26, 2008

Confession is like going to the Dentist

Standing on My Head by Fr. Dwight Longenecker has a good short article on Confession. It starts:

When people come to confession they often have something on their conscience which makes them feel guilty, ashamed or scared.

Most often this is something where they've lost control. Maybe it is a sin that is 'below the belt', something to do with food, drink or drugs, losing one's temper, being violent etc. This sin of passion makes them feel guilty or ashamed or scared, but despite their strong feelings it may not be the most serious sin, or the thing which is keeping them from God.

Read the rest here.

Compline - Liturgy of the Hours


I'm a fan of the Anchoress. She has recorded Compline - Night Prayer, for every day of the week. Her recordings are beautiful and meaningful. She has a great voice. You can find her Podcasts here.


Compline is prayed/recited just prior to bed. Don't forget to do a short examination of conscience before hand.

40 Days for Life

This is the time to stand up and join this effort.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

S.F.O. Life and Apostolic Activity

Browsing the Internet I ran across this article and thought I would share it in its entirely.

LIFE AND APOSTOLIC ACTIVITY
Emerenziana Rossato SFO
Franciscanism qualifies as a way of life,that is as an evangelic and fraternal experience.Starting from the SFO rule and the Constitutions we shall examine two highly existential moments:life and apostolate.

The second chapter of the new Constitutions deals with the "-Form of life and apostolic activity-". Both the Rule and the Constitutions underline the value and importance of the form of life associated with the apostolate for the Secular Franciscan. This is so because at the moment a secular franciscan takes the Rule seriously enough to conform her or his life to it, apostolic activity will become an important and logical consequence.

To give the Rule this power is linked to the certainty that at the bottom of it all there is a vocation, which is the key to everything. We have entered the SFO because of a vocation which is fundamental because it is a part of God's salvific plan for us, for whose fulfillment we should be ready to give our lives.

The initiative was His, not ours. It is God who calls and continues to call and at each call chooses, destines, places and guides a person. God calls for a certain purpose and furnishes the means to reach it. He calls for the benefit of the person but also for the benefit of the community. And it is the answer of the person that fulfills or not fulfills the will of Him who calls. So each fulfillment of a vocation will never be a small matter, but a fullness of grace.

Each vocation echoes and vibrates in the person concerned with particular accents of gifts, illuminations, talents, and sensibilities, different internal and external situations. We are called to deepen the components, the characteristics and the dimensions of our vocation in order to answer it well and not to eliminate it.

We gave our first affirmative reply with our Profession, the public ecclesiastical act that brought us into the Fraternity. We professed in the Church, creating a new bond. We professed the Rule, that is a way of life, and entered the Franciscan family. This personal reply asks for continual fidelity if we want to realize our vocation. We should often remember our given word, our solemn pledge and try to keep our promises.

Living our Profession is part of a personal dedication that precedes that of the community, just as the apostolic action of the Fraternity presupposes that of the single person linked to the conversion of our heart. Because it is not the SFO, but the single member which can be transformed. It is not the SFO as such that makes us what we are, but our own personal virtues. This is so even if it goes without saying that the strength of the Fraternity can stimulate new desires, renew our lives and give us franciscan happiness. It is the personal virtues of each one put together with those of the brothers and sisters that gives light, splendour and life to the Fraternity.

Living our vocation and our Profession presupposes the Rule, a great gift that tells us who we are, how we should live and what we must do.

The first Chapter describes our nature and our identity; the second, the form of life to acquire; the third, life in Fraternity. All three Chapters are essential. By realizing the third chapter, we can more easily live the second and reach the goals described in the first.

God's design for us is fulfilled through the Rule that shows the direction and the form our vocation should take to qualify as secular Franciscans. The Rule gives us a "-Form of Life-" in relationship to God, to human beings and to the whole creation.

It is good to note that the new Constitutions have no other purpose than to help us to understand the Rule, explaining its parts and indicating concrete solutions.

From the Rule's 26 Articles, sixteen regard the "-Form of Life-". It is this form of life we should realize, observing the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to the example of St. Francis of Assisi.

Therefore, passing from the Gospel to life and from life to the Gospel; looking for Christ in our brothers and sisters; being witnesses and instruments of the mission of the Church among people; conforming our way of thinking and acting to that of Christ; making prayer and contemplation the soul of our being and working; proclaiming love for the Virgin Mary and following her example; faithfully fulfilling our obligations in our state of life.

Therefore, the right use of possessions; purity of heart; fidelity to our vocation; the acceptance of our brothers; competently carrying out our responsibilities; initiatives in favour of justice; the spirit of peace; respect towards all creatures; faith in the presence of the divine seed in people and the transformative power of love and pardon; serenity in awaiting the final encounter with the Father.

The Constitutions reinforce and explain the Rule. They speak of the "-Form of Life-" in the first part of the Second Chapter, composed of 9 Articles: from 8 to 16.

The Constitutions stress the commitment made by our profession to live the Gospel according to Franciscan spirituality in our secular condition, according to the Rule of the SFO in a journey of conversion; open to the opportunities that come from society and from the Church; in the personal and communal dimensions of this journey (Const. 8).

Franciscan spirituality is called a plan of life centered on the person and on the following of Christ, rather than a detailed program to put into practice. It asks for study and love of the Gospel, to know and understand it as it is proclaimed by the Church (Const.9).

Christ, "-poor and crucified-", the greatest manifestation of the love of God for humanity, is for Secular Franciscans the book wherein we learn the way of living, loving and suffering; in which one discovers the value of contradictions, the meaning of the difficulties and the crosses, the Franciscan spirit of peace (Const. 10).

Mindful that the Holy Spirit is the source of their vocation, Secular Franciscans should desire above all things "-the Spirit of God at work within them-" (Const.11).

We are called by the Constitutions to live with faith the great gift Christ has given the revelation of the Father and to bear witness of it before all: in family life; in work; in joys and sufferings; in associating with all, brothers and sisters of the same Father; in our presence and participation in the life of society; in fraternal relationships with all creatures (Const. 12).
We need a spirit of continual conversion, both individually and in Fraternity that brings with it love for the renewal of the Church; love for the works of charity in the interactions with the brothers and sisters; love for penitential practices (Const. 13).

We are called to a faith-inspired reflection on the Church as the universal sacrament of salvation; on its mission in today's world; on the role of the Franciscan laity within the Church to foster its growth and the spreading of the Kingdom.

We are called to make the Eucharist the center of our lives and of the Fraternity; to give priority to the celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours; to find times of silence and recollection dedicated exclusively to prayer (Const. 14).

The constitutions urge us to live the spirit of the Beatitudes and, in a special way, the spirit of poverty that demonstrates confidence in the Father, reduces personal needs in favour of those most in need, effects interior freedom and promotes a more just distribution of wealth, attentive to the instructions of the Church and the demands of society (Const. 15).

We are urged to look at Mary as a model of listening to the Word and of faithfulness to one's vocation: we, like Francis, see all the gospel virtues realized in her. To Her then our intense love, imitation, prayer and filial abandonment (Const. 16).

Mary has given the Word flesh and bones, and went to Elizabeth. And as everyone in life has an "-Isaac-" to immolate, a "-leper-" to kiss, a "-wolf-" to tame, everyone has an "-Elizabeth-" to visit. "-Pray to Mary and run-", goes a Spanish saying. A good listener...