Friday, December 21, 2012

Martin Seligman: The new era of positive psychology

Positive Psychology 

I ran across an interesting article in Our Sunday Visitor (OSV) on positive psychology. Positive psychology is the study of happiness. Psychology traditionally focused on dysfunction—on people with mental illness or other psychological problems and how to treat them. Positive psychology, by contrast, is a relatively new field that examines how ordinary people can become happier and more fulfilled.
As a Franciscan, we are the people of Franciscan joy, this interested me. The article focused on the four levels of happiness presented in “Healing the Culture” by Fr. Robert J. Spitzer, a Jesuit. Now I won’t hold that against him, though one would think this topic belonged to a Franciscan.
The four levels are:
  1. Bodily Pleasure. Food, drugs, sex. (L1)
  2. Competitive Advantage. (L2)
  3. Loving and Serving Other People. (L3)
  4. Loving and Serving God. (L4)

Before I expand on the four levels I’ll turn to an article in Psychology Today. It says, “Positive psychology is the scientific study of what makes life most worth living. It is a call for psychological science and practice to be as concerned with strength as with weakness; as interested in building the best things in life as in repairing the worst; and as concerned with making the lives of normal people fulfilling as with healing pathology.” In my twenties I subscribed to this magazine as I was interested in how I and others tick. I think this branch of psychology has taken a great leap. The article goes on to list the following as to what has been learned recently:
• Most people are happy.
• Happiness is a cause of good things in life and not simply along for the happy ride. People who are satisfied with life eventually have even more reason to be satisfied, because happiness leads to desirable outcomes at school and work, to fulfilling social relationships, and even to good health and long life.
• Most people are resilient.
• Happiness, strengths of character, and good social relationships are buffers against the damaging effects of disappointments and setbacks.
• Crisis reveals character.
• Other people matter mightily if we want to understand what makes like most worth living.
• Religion matters. [My emphasis. It took them a long time to realize this.]
• And work matters as well if it engages the worker and provides meaning and purpose.
• Money makes an ever-diminishing contribution to well-being, but money can buy happiness if it is spent on other people.
• As a route to a satisfying life, eudaimonia trumps hedonism. [I had to look this one up, eudaimonia: a contented state of being happy and healthy and prosperous.]
• The "heart" matters more than the "head." Schools explicitly teach critical thinking; they should also teach unconditional caring.
• Good days have common features: feeling autonomous, competent, and connected to others.
• The good life can be taught.
So L1 is concerned with bodily pleasures. This of a baby. He/she is all about bodily pleasure: contentment, warmth, touch, food, diaper change. The problem with L1 is that it brings happiness that doesn't last long. If you are hungry and eat you receive happiness until your full. You also build up a tolerance this is where addiction comes to play or obsession/compulsion. This brings on pain, not happiness, to oneself and others.  Becoming obese, or an alcoholic, or as they say a sex maniac.
L2, Competitive Advantage is basically about money, keeping up with the Jones’ or rather surpassing them. But it manifests in other ways as well, power, popularity, status,  and fame. Here we see happiness though victory. “I beat out Ed for that promotion;” “I’m prettier than her.” It could be winning an award, being chosen to a good school, first in class, elected class president, prom king/queen, getting a date with that hottie, etc. We know the adage “He who dies with the most toys wins.”
Most of these things are good in themselves and we should try to exceed, encourage our children and others. But does in bring lasting happiness? Many people think that having and spending money brings happiness. But when studied this is not necessarily true. Once you have your basic needs met, more doesn't necessarily bring happiness. Shelter: we might live in an apartment or live in a million dollar home, yet we both have shelter. Clothing: We have that winter coat, some have a mink, we’re both warm. Great wealth doesn't mean great happiness; just look at St. Francis.
The OSV article points out, “Soon after having achieved a particular level of wealth or having purchased the desired product, the happiness recently enjoyed will fade and disappear.”
“Think about your last birthday. Do you still have the thrill of opening your gifts?” You probable hardly recall what you received.
Now the flip side of all this wealth, fame, power gained it it’s effect. Think of how many celebrities go down the drain: Michael Jackson. He had it all, did he not? So many others dying from drug addiction. .. Others, power going to their head, divorce, legal actions, rehab. “Happiness cannot be found in bodily pleasures, money, fame, popularity or power. Level one and level two cannot deliver happiness.”
Before I go on to L3 and L4, I wanted to mention that I also ran across a YouTube video by Martin Seligman: The new era of positive psychology. It is 23 minutes long but interesting.  See my next post. Martin has a number of books. I just bought “Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment”
The article points out that psychologists find the happiest people have”
  1. Meaningful activity
  2. Good relationships with others
  3. Strong religious ties
So it seems the key to happiness is in loving ourselves, others and God. Well, we knew that, didn't we? So we need not neglect L1 and L2. We just need to put them in their proper place. This brings to my mind our great Catholic tradition of fasting, humility, almsgiving, Confession, Adoration, etc. So we have the key to true happiness. We just need to work on it a little. Self-indulgence is a nice treat but should not be our focus.
To finish up, I ran across a neat exercise that I started to do myself. Each night think of three things that made you happy that day. Best to journalize. This will remind us of God’s constant gifts. My first one last night was:  1. My boss was not at work today. Now that is happiness!
O.K. I’m off to McDonald’s.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Take the Christmas Pledge!

Take the Christmas Pledge!

My Christmas Pledge with Prayer to the Infant Jesus

I Promise . . .
1. To make my Christmas a holy day with Christ-----not a holiday without Him.
2. To observe Christmas as the birthday of Christ-----not  to give and receive material gifts. 
3. To remember that the real symbols of Christmas are the Star, the Stable and the Crib-----not Santa Claus and his reindeer.
4. To teach my children that "Santa Claus" is the nickname of St. Nicholas-----who gave to the poor in honor of Christ.
5. To help one poor family-----in honor of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, the Holy Family of Bethlehem.
6. To send Christmas cards mindful of Him, the Infant Savior-----not decorated only with candy canes, dogs, ribbons, and wreaths.
7. To make room in my home for Him-----with a Christmas Crib to remind me that He was born in a stable.
8. During the Christmas season, in a special way, to honor Mary, His mother-----who kept the first Christmas vigil beside the manger.
9. To begin Christmas by leading my family to His altar-----to receive the Bread of Life.
10. Today and every day, to give "Glory to God in the highest"-----to work and pray for "Peace on earth, to men of good will."

Nihil Obstat: Joseph A. M. Quigley, Censor Librorum
Imprimatur, + John J Krol, D.D., J.C.D., Archbishop of Philadelphia, March, 1964

Prayer to the Infant Jesus
Come to me, O Divine Savior, vouchsafe to be born in my heart. Grant that, taught by Thine example, and assisted by Thy grace, I may be poor in spirit and humble of heart. Keep me chaste and obedient. I wish to live but for Thee, and to do all things purely for love of Thee.

O Mary, my Advocate and Mother, obtain by thy prayers forgiveness of my past offenses and holy perseverance unto death. St. Joseph, do thou also pray for me, that I may become daily more pleasing to Jesus. Amen.

Merry Christmas to all, especially to those who have touched my life in this last year.

I Love This - Father goes into baby crib!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Year of Faith – Reflection II

Year of Faith – Reflection II

Since the Bears are losing and I lost interest in the game, and since I have a new PC after all the aggravations of a vicious virus in both my PC and laptop, since it has been a while, I thought I would take some time to write another reflection based on some current events.

Perhaps you are not aware–and I wonder why you would be with the Catholic news blackout by the mainstream media–there was a Synod of Bishops in October to discuss the many current issues facing the Church. There were 49 Cardinals, 71 Archbishops, 127 Bishops, and 14 Priests. There were also 72 collaborators, included among them many non-Catholics. So if you had not heard of this it shows we need to support the Catholic media and I will add I think our parishes can do a better job keeping us informed.

The theme of this synod was “The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian faith.”  The New Evangelization is not a focus of bringing non-Christians to the faith, as much as it is an outreach to bring back those who have left the church. Especially in this Year of Faith, it also means re-evangelizing ourselves; to read Scripture more, to become familiar with the Vatican II documents and the Catechism. You may say, “Hey, I’m a Catholic. I go to Mass;” or something like it. Well, we are all in need of ongoing formation. Not just as Franciscans, but as Catholics too. “Why” you might ask? Very simply, we are living in a very secular society with a government doing its best to get rid of God in the public forum. Here is a test: Do you feel uncomfortable talking about your faith in public, to family and friends? Aware of it or not, we are affected by the secular society, in the news, in movies, in our acceptance of political correctness.  For many Catholics things that were abhorrent to them 30 years ago, became less so 20 years ago, 10 years ago it was “well if they don’t bother me,” or “keep it in private.” And now, it is acceptance. There is also a lot of indoctrination especially in schools.

I would say this rejection of Catholic faith, morals, and teachings began with the rejection of Humane Vitae and the Church’s teachings on the Pill. If we can reject that, we have already opened the door; it is easy to reject other teachings. Just like sin. Commit a sin once and it is easier to commit that sin again. I've recently said in a discussion group at my parish that it is not for the Church to conform to our wishes/demands, but for us to accept and conform to the Magisterium’s teachings. This is our Rule, this is our life, and this is our duty.

Is the problem serious? You bet it is. Pew Research learned that 62% of Catholics who attend Mass weekly believe abortion should be illegal. What, only 62%? My God, it should be 100%. Of those who attend Mass less frequently the number drops to only 27% who believe it should be illegal. The same holds true for same-sex “marriage.”

Many Catholics leave the church, I believe, for entertainment and go to mega-churches or just stay at home and watch TV. Sports seems more important to many than Church.

Our house is divided. There are the pro-life Catholics, mostly conservative, believe abortion is the greatest evil of our time; and there are the social-justice Catholics, mostly liberal, who want to help the poor and the marginalized (and from what I’ve seen are mostly pro-abortion). The truth of the matter is that there is no social justice without the right to life. How any Catholic/Christian/humanist/moral person can say it is O.K. to kill babies in the womb is beyond my comprehension? If you reject life you reject the Church, as the Church is nothing if it is not about the dignity of life. I would say a lot of this is ignorance of what the Church teaches. Many form their opinion from the media, from friends and co-workers. They are not hearing it from the pulpit. As Catholics and Franciscans we must embrace both sides of the coin. We must be pro-life and we must be concerned for the poor.

How very blessed we are that we live in a country based on Christian values although we are losing that foundation. Think of being born in a communist country like Russia or other Eastern countries that suppressed the church and taught and indoctrinated there is no god. Now that they have their freedom it is difficult for them as they have lost their faith roots.

I think an answer to this, in part, is the restoration of some of our beautiful traditions; Adoration and the Rosary. How very blessed I am sitting/kneeling face to face with God. How very disheartening it is to attend a Holy Hour and see only a dozen people in church, if that church has a Holy Hour or Adoration at all. Bring on J.M.J., St. Joseph, litanies, novenas, Adoration, Holy Hours, and First Fridays; let’s learn from the saints. Let’s bring back the beauty and awe of the sacred arts. Let’s bring back the Sacred. As we are sent at the end of every Mass, let’s bring the Gospel to others, let’s evangelize and let’s evangelize ourselves. How every blessed we are to have the True Presence, the Eucharist.

Have a happy Advent and Christmas. Let’s Rejoice!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

On Sowing and Reaping ...

Here are a few basic principles concerning sowing and reaping:

1. We reap what we sow. You can't sow hatred and reap love. You can't sow unbelief and reap faith. You can't sow bitterness and reap forgiveness. You can't sow selfishness and reap friendship.

2. Sometimes, we reap what others have sown. Somebody paid the price for the things we enjoy and often take for granted. We have electric lights because Thomas Edison worked through the night. Our family values and traditions were passed along from our parents and grandparents. Every building was constructed at a price. Somebody was willing to pay it.

3. Occasionally, we reap the painful consequences from what others have sown. A choice to drive drunk can shatter a stranger's family. A dishonest employee can bring great dishonor to the business owner. An abusive parent can damage and harm the parent for life. A thief can leave the victim penniless.

4. We reap more than we sow. The mighty oak is just a little nut that held his ground. Small, daily investments bring a tremendous harvest in the end. One seed, planted in good soil, produces a thousand seeds. One good deed planted in God's love, produces a thousand deeds.

5. It usually takes a while between the sowing and the reaping. There is no such thing as instant success. It takes a lifetime. Patience is virtue. Do not be weary in well doing. Sooner or later, what you do will catch up to you – both good and bad. If at first you don't see results, remember that the first growth is underground.

6. The more we sow, the more we grow. Don't just sow a little bit and quit. Keep on sowing and you'll keep on reaping! Sow in the unexpected places, and you will discover unexpected results. It's never too early or too late to start sowing.

An article from Pastor Mark O. Wilson, Hayward, Wisconsin.

Monday, December 3, 2012


I had to pass this on. Who said there are no more prophesies?

This was 47 years ago. April 3, 1965. An amazing prediction.

Do you remember the famous ABC radio commentator Paul Harvey?

Millions of Americans listened to his programs which were broadcast over 1,200 radio stations nationwide.

When you listen to this, remember, the commentary was broadcast 47 years ago on April 3, 1965.

It's short...less than three minutes. You will be amazed.

This video ..... should certainly be heard by everyone.. Have sound on...

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Book Recommendation: Will Many Be Saved

This book was recommended to me. Though I have not read it yet, I did run across an article about it in Our Sunday Visitor Catholic Newspaper. I think it is an important topic for our times.
It starts:

Author explains urgency of New Evangelization Book explores Vatican II teaching about salvation and how it relates to evangelization efforts today.

By Mary DeTurris Poust - OSV Newsweekly, 11/25/2012
Knowing who will or will not get into heaven is a tricky subject for most people of faith, but author Ralph Martin tackles it head on in his new book, “Will Many Be Saved? What Vatican II Actually Teaches and Its Implications for the New Evangelization” ($24, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.). Martin recently spoke to Our Sunday Visitor via email from Rome, where he was serving as a theological expert during the Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization.
Our Sunday Visitor: Why did you feel this book was necessary at this time?
Ralph Martin: I’ve been concerned for a long time that a presumption that virtually everyone is saved has taken hold in the minds of many Catholics. This obviously undermines motivation for evangelization, not to mention holiness and obedience to the Word of God. The teaching of Vatican II has been very much misunderstood on this point, and the book tries to clearly and decisively set the record straight. It is, indeed, possible under certain conditions for those who have never heard the Gospel to be saved, but as the Constitution on the Church from Vatican II says in Section 16, “very often” these conditions are not met and peoples’ salvations are at risk unless they hear the Gospel and respond.
OSV: We hear the term “New Evangelization” a lot in the Church today, and yet I think many Catholics are still unsure of what that means. Can you explain “New Evangelization” to the person in the pew?
Martin: First of all let’s define evangelization. I think the best definition I know is that given by Blessed John Paul II in his encyclical “Mission of the Redeemer” (Redemptoris Missio):
“The proclamation of the Word of God has Christian conversion (in original) as its aim: a complete and sincere adherence to Christ and his Gospel through faith ... Conversion means accepting, by a personal decision, the saving sovereignty of Christ and becoming his disciple” (No. 46).
Evangelization in its broad sense can refer to everything that the Church does, but the core definition has to do with conversion — helping people come to faith in Christ and surrender their lives to him.
The best definition of “New Evangelization” is again given by Blessed John Paul II in his encyclical. He makes a threefold distinction. Primary evangelization is directed toward those who have never heard the Gospel before. Pastoral care is directed toward those living in some relationship with Christ. “New Evangelization or re-evangelization” is directed toward those from traditionally Christian cultures or backgrounds “where entire groups of the baptized have lost a living sense of the faith, or even no longer consider themselves members of the Church, and live a life far removed from Christ and his Gospel” (No. 33).
The New Evangelization is new in whom it is addressed to, those who may have been baptized or practiced their faith at one time, but now are no longer living a relationship of friendship with Christ. It is also new in terms of who does it: us! And it is new in the cultural situation in which it is conducted — a de-Christianized culture where respect for God and his ways are no longer honored, but rather mocked and attacked.
This doesn’t mean we all need to be preachers. Evangelization can be a very simple sharing of our faith with someone who asks a question; or passing on a book on the spiritual life to someone who would benefit from reading it; or inviting someone who would benefit by hearing more about the faith to a parish mission talk, etc.
Read the rest here.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving Reflection 2012

Thanksgiving Reflection 2012

Alright, let’s face facts. We, looks like the minority, are not happy with the recent elections, at least some of us. More than that, we have a gut feeling things will now get even worse. There are many concerns that we can to little about: violence in the streets, job security, the falling economy and the rising debt, secularization of society, cafeteria and non-practicing Catholics, social engineering, rampant pornography, neck deep in taxes, decline of morals and values, lost kids. I could go on. Have I set the mood?

Thanksgiving is a national holiday, not a religious one. Oh really? It might not be on the church calendar, and other than turkey’s, pilgrims, atheists, and the self-absorbed, many of us, most of us, spend some time in thanking God for everything we have; many tell of their blessings over dinner, some get down on their knees, some go to church. It might be a good idea to make a list–kind of a reverse examination of conscious, recount you blessings, not sins. So yes, I would conclude this is a religious holiday.

Do you have indoor plumbing, HDTV, cable/satellite TV, central air/heating, a cell phone, a car, personal computer, and home? Who will be sitting around the Thanksgiving table– family, friends? O.K., I concede, some of us will be alone, but that can be a personal choice as well. Health? Yes, as we get older that becomes an issue. Many times it is a blessing. It tells us something is wrong that needs attention. Perhaps there is a new baby or grandchild. Perhaps someone did you a kindness, gave or loaned money at a critical time.

What I am getting at is the concept of more and less. I learned a long time ago there will be someone who has more and someone who has less. Some are richer, some are poorer. Some have more health, some less. The sun shines on everyone and it rains on everyone.

Did you make that list? Have you thanked God for all those things?

Gratitude. I saw a picture yesterday of an old woman embracing and kissing a World War II solder sitting in a Jeep when Rome was freed. I can’t think of a better visualization of gratitude. We can’t hug God but we can visit Him in church or before the Blessed Sacrament, we can simply talk to Him.

Right around the corner is another holiday, one that is more or less forgotten. Nativity scenes are banned, Christmas greetings are frowned upon by many business and they will also be open that day. You can’t find religious Christmas card in the store–sorry, I meant holiday cards. Amidst the shopping, wrapping, and decorating, how many remember the reason for the season?

Now that is something to be thankful for! Because, through Jesus’ nativity, abandonment, humiliation, torture, death and resurrection, we have been given salvation. All we need to do is lead a good life, avoid sin. Love God and your neighbor. Wow!

So, those people around the Thanksgiving Day table–be sure to give them a huge hug and take a moment to thank God for sending His Son to us. Let’s display some gratitude!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Regarding the Recent Elections...

I made a note during the recent presidential debates and noted the questions from the women and young males were; what will you do for me? Not what will you do for the nation. Candy Crowley was totally biased.

Friday, October 19, 2012


Oct. 22 is the Feast of Blessed JPII. Let’s make a prayer to him and ask his help to encourage our youth to become more involved with their faith, for he had a strong connection with the youth while he was with us.

“Without God, man ultimately chooses selfishness over solidarity and love, material things over values, having over being.” Pope Benedict XVI, at the Marian shrine of Loreto. How very true.

From Our Sunday Visitor: “Praise for Noble Prize – The awarding of this year’s Nobel Prize in medicine to John B. Gurdon and Shinya Yamanaka, two pioneers of adult stem-cell research, has been praised by Catholics. The Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community said the award should encourage institutions to switch funding from embryonic stem-cell research to adult stem-cell research.” Yes, let’s leave the little ones alone, they need not give up their lives to harvest their stem-cells for research.

Movie recommendation: October Baby. Loved it. A baby having survived an abortion attempt is adopted. As a teenager, when she learns the truth and that she is adopted she searches for her natural mother. I won’t say anything else about it. Hope you will watch it. Good story, well done.

Book recommendation: Rediscovering Catholicism by Matthew Kelly. I thought it was great. So much so I bought several copies to hand out to friends. I still have a few left. Let me know if you would like one. My parish, St. Stephens passed our CDs on the same subject awhile back which led me to get the book. You can learn more at

Year of Faith: Have you thought about doing anything for the Year of Faith? We are affected by the secular society and godlessness all around us, don’t think we are not. Have you sat down and thought about you faith and your relationship with the Lord? I would like to make one suggestion here. For a little while put aside the black and white printed words and the memorized prayers and have a little conversation with Jesus, not as Lord, but as friend. Tell Him what is on your mind, what is troubling you. Perhaps, take a little walk doing this, see Jesus walking next to you and just talk to him. No, people won’t think you’re crazy talking to yourself – they can’t tell the difference anyway with so many people talking on the phone using blue tooth or ear phones. Even better, sit for some time, face to face, with Jesus before the Blessed Sacrament.

Lastly, I’m sure we have all decided by now who we are going to vote for. This election is so very important to us as Catholics. So first do vote. That is our responsibility as a citizens and now more so as Catholics. Try to find out who it is you are voting for. Do they reflect our morals and values?

Blessings to all!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Received this in today’s email and thought I would share it. Read, obviously, to the rhythm of T‘was the night before Christmas.


T ‘was the night before elections
And all through the town,
Tempers were flaring
Emotions all up and down

I, in my bathrobe,
With a cat in my lap,
Had cut off the TV,
Tired of political crap.

When all of a sudden,
There arose such a noise,
I peered out my window,
Saw Obama and his boys.

They had come for my wallet,
They wanted my pay,
To give to others,
Who had not worked a day!

He snatched up my money,
And quick as a wink,
Jumped back on his bandwagon,
As I gagged in the stink.

He then rallied his henchmen,
Who were pulling his cart,
I could tell they were out
To tear my country apart!

'On Fannie, on Freddie,
On Biden and Ayers!
On Reid, On Pelosi',
He screamed at the pairs!

They took off for his cause,
And as they flew out of sight,
I heard him laugh at the nation,
Who wouldn't stand up and fight!
So I leave you to think,
On this one final note,

The Geezer Manifesto?

Received this in my email today. You should get a kick out of it regardless of your political party, well maybe not.

Some of us are Older than the "Baby Boomers” getting ready to retire. Others have been retired for some time. We walk a little slower these days and our eyes and hearing are not what they once were.

We have worked hard, raised our children, worshiped our God, and grown old together. Yes, we are the ones some refer to as being over the hill, and that is probably true. But before writing us off completely, there are a few things that need to be taken into consideration.

In school we studied English, history, math, and science, which enabled us to lead America into the technological age.

Most of us remember what outhouses were, and many of us with first-hand experience. We remember the days of telephone party lines, 25-cent gasoline, and milk and ice being delivered to our homes.

For those of you who don't know what an icebox is, today they are electric and referred to as refrigerators.

A few even remember when cars were started with a crank.
Yes, we lived those days.

We are probably considered old fashioned and outdated by many. But there are a few things you need to remember before completely writing us off.

We won World War II, fought in Korea and Viet Nam. We can quote The Pledge of Allegiance, and know where to place our hand while doing so.

We wore the uniform of our country with pride and lost many friends on the battlefield. We didn’t fight for the Socialist States of America we fought for the "Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave."

We wore different uniforms but carried the same flag. We know the words to the Star Spangled Banner, America, and America the Beautiful by heart, and you may even see some tears running down our cheeks as we sing.

We have lived what many of you have only read about in history books and we feel no obligation to apologize to anyone for America.

Yes, we are old and slow these days but rest assured, we have at least one good fight left in us. We have loved this country, fought for it, and died for it, and now we are going to save it. It is our country and nobody is going to take it away from us.

That is an oath we plan to keep. There are those who want to destroy this land we love but, like our founders, there is no way we are going to remain silent.

It was the young people of this nation who elected Obama and the Democratic Congress. You fell for the "Hope and Change" which in reality was nothing but "Hype and Lies." You have tasted socialism and seen evil face to face, and have found you don’t like it after all.

You make a lot of noise, but most are all too interested in their careers or "Climbing the Social Ladder" to be involved in such mundane things as patriotism and voting.

Many of those who fell for the "Great Lie" in 2008 are now having buyer’s remorse. With all the education we gave you, you didn't have sense enough to see through the lies and instead drank the 'Cool-Aid.' Now you’re paying the price and complaining about it. No jobs, lost mortgages, higher taxes, and less freedom. This is what you voted for and this is what you got. We entrusted you with the Torch of Liberty and you traded it for a paycheck and a fancy house.

Well, don’t worry youngsters, the Gray Haired Brigade is here, and in 2012 we are going to take back our nation.

We may drive a little slower than you would like but we get where we're going, and in 2012 we're going to the polls by the millions. This land does not belong to the man in the White House or to the likes of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. It belongs to "We the People" and "We the People" plan to reclaim our land and our freedom.

We hope this time you will do a better job of preserving it and passing it along to our grandchildren. So the next time you have the chance to say the Pledge of Allegiance, Stand up, put your hand over your heart, honor our country, and thank God for the old geezers of the "Gray-Haired Brigade."

Come on guys. Let’s get this circulating.
Gray-Haired Brigade Member
I am another Gray Haired Geezer signing on.

Life is too short for drama or petty things, so laugh hard, love truly and forgive quickly.
Live While You Are Alive.
Forgive now those who made you cry.
You might not get a second time. 

Biden was wrong on HHS mandate, says Archbishop Chaput |

Biden was wrong on HHS mandate, says Archbishop Chaput |

Monday, October 15, 2012

Gianna Jessen Abortion Survivor in Australia

A great speech given by Gianna Jessen, and abortion survivor in Australia. Very touching, very real. From 2008, still so very poignant.

Part 1

Part 2

God bless!

The Nurse, The Extremist, The Survivor

Perhaps one of the best pro-life ads ever.

H/T The American Spectator

Obama's "Catholic Plan"

This video goes back to 2009, but it is most relevant today especially in light of the upcoming elections.

YouTube has had 3.4 million hits for this video.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Elections 2012 – Catholic Conference of Illinois

Elections 2012 – Catholic Conference of Illinois

This is the third of four bulletin inserts to offer guidance and reflection points from Illinois’ Catholic Bishops in preparation for the elections of November 6, 2012. The first insert was an introduction to this effort. The second insert discussed the expectations of a well-formed conscience. (Go to for a copy of the first and second insert.)

“Christ…fully reveals man to man himself and makes his supreme calling clear.”
–Gaudium et Spes, 22

As followers of Jesus Christ, we understand the human person in light of the mystery of the Incarnation. HUMAN DIGNITY flows both from our origin (being created in the image and likeness of God) and from our ultimate destiny, which is communion with God. Legitimate concern for the material well-being of all must never eclipse our concern for their spiritual and moral well-being. [Matthew 10:28]

The preciousness of every human being demands our concern for well-being of all, beginning with those closest to us for whom we bear the greatest responsibility, and with a special concern for the weakest and most vulnerable among us and for future generations.

The moral imperative to respond to the fundamental needs of our neighbors—needs such as food, shelter, basic health care, education, and meaningful work—is universally binding on our conscience, but may be legitimately fulfilled by a variety of means. These responsibilities cannot be simply delegated to the State.1

As the Catechism reminds us, “It is not the role of the Pastors of the Church to intervene directly in the political structuring and organization of social life. This task is part of the vocation of the lay faithful, acting on their own initiative with their fellow citizens.”2 Relying on well-formed consciences, Catholics citizens must use prudence in responding to these needs and serving the COMMON GOOD.

While there may be many legitimate ways to address the needs of our neighbors, there are some actions which are always and everywhere immoral. As Catholics, we must recognize that not all issues carry the same moral weight. The continuing slaughter of innocent children through legal abortion—to take the most appalling example of such “intrinsic evil”—is a grave offense against God and our own human dignity, and cries out for justice. Accordingly, “the moral obligation to oppose intrinsically evil acts has a special claim on our consciences and our actions.”3

Those who knowingly, willingly and directly support public policies or legislation that protect and perpetuate such injustice cooperate with that grave evil. Candidates who promise to support the common good, while at the same time glossing over their support for intrinsic evils such as abortion, perpetrate a lie. Catholic candidates who do so are also a cause of scandal among the faithful.

Finally, two other issues of particular importance in this election year demand our attention. The first is marriage: the permanent, faithful relationship of a man and a woman as husband and wife is the root of a family and the foundation for all of society. The decline of marriage in our culture has already inflicted untold spiritual and material costs upon society and individuals alike. Attempts to redefine marriage are contrary to the natural and moral law and only serve to further erode this fundamental institution. The defense of marriage is a matter of social justice. The second issue—which is of such pressing importance that the final insert, beginning on October 28th, will address it specifically—is religious freedom. Additional information can be found on the Catholic Conference of Illinois website, or at

1 Caritas in Veritate, 38
2 CCC, 2442
3 Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, 37

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Year of Faith - Pope Benedict's Homily

From News VA

(Vatican Radio) On Thursday Pope Benedict XVI celebrated Mass marking the 50th anniversary of the Opening of the Second Vatican Council and launching the Year of Faith.
Below the full text of the Holy Father’s Homily:

Dear Brother Bishops,Dear brothers and sisters!

Today, fifty years from the opening of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, we begin with great joy the Year of Faith. I am delighted to greet all of you, particularly His Holiness Bartholomaois I, Patriarch of Constantinople, and His Grace Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury. A special greeting goes to the Patriarchs and Major Archbishops of the Eastern Catholic Churches, and to the Presidents of the Bishops’ Conferences. In order to evoke the Council, which some present had the grace to experience for themselves - and I greet them with particular affection - this celebration has been enriched by several special signs: the opening procession, intended to recall the memorable one of the Council Fathers when they entered this Basilica; the enthronement of a copy of the Book of the Gospels used at the Council; the consignment of the seven final Messages of the Council, and of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which I will do before the final blessing. These signs help us not only to remember, they also offer us the possibility of going beyond commemorating. They invite us to enter more deeply into the spiritual movement which characterized Vatican II, to make it ours and to develop it according to its true meaning. And its true meaning was and remains faith in Christ, the apostolic faith, animated by the inner desire to communicate Christ to individuals and all people, in the Church’s pilgrimage along the pathways of history.

The Year of Faith which we launch today is linked harmoniously with the Church’s whole path over the last fifty years: from the Council, through the Magisterium of the Servant of God Paul VI, who proclaimed a Year of Faith in 1967, up to the Great Jubilee of the year 2000, with which Blessed John Paul II re-proposed to all humanity Jesus Christ as the one Savior  yesterday, today and forever. Between these two Popes, Paul VI and John Paul II, there was a deep and profound convergence, precisely upon Christ as the centre of the cosmos and of history, and upon the apostolic eagerness to announce him to the world. Jesus is the centre of the Christian faith. The Christian believes in God whose face was revealed by Jesus Christ. He is the fulfilment of the Scriptures and their definitive interpreter. Jesus Christ is not only the object of the faith but, as it says in the Letter to the Hebrews, he is “the pioneer and the perfecter of our faith” (12:2).

Today’s Gospel tells us that Jesus Christ, consecrated by the Father in the Holy Spirit, is the true and perennial subject of evangelization. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach the good news to the poor” (Lk 4:18). This mission of Christ, this movement of his continues in space and time, over centuries and continents. It is a movement which starts with the Father and, in the power of the Spirit, goes forth to bring the good news to the poor, in both a material and a spiritual sense. The Church is the first and necessary instrument of this work of Christ because it is united to him as a body to its head. “As the Father has sent me, even so I send you” (Jn 20:21), says the Risen One to his disciples, and breathing upon them, adds, “Receive the Holy Spirit” (v.22). Through Christ, God is the principal subject of evangelization in the world; but Christ himself wished to pass on his own mission to the Church; he did so, and continues to do so, until the end of time pouring out his Spirit upon the disciples, the same Spirit who came upon him and remained in him during all his earthly life, giving him the strength “to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed” and “to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord” (Lk 4:18-19).

The Second Vatican Council did not wish to deal with the theme of faith in one specific document. It was, however, animated by a desire, as it were, to immerse itself anew in the Christian mystery so as to re-propose it fruitfully to contemporary man. The Servant of God Paul VI, two years after the end of the Council session, expressed it in this way: “Even if the Council does not deal expressly with the faith, it talks about it on every page, it recognizes its vital and supernatural character, it assumes it to be whole and strong, and it builds upon its teachings. We need only recall some of the Council’s statements in order to realize the essential importance that the Council, consistent with the doctrinal tradition of the Church, attributes to the faith, the true faith, which has Christ for its source and the Church’s Magisterium for its channel” (General Audience, 8 March 1967). Thus said Paul VI.

We now turn to the one who convoked the Second Vatican Council and inaugurated it: Blessed John XXIII. In his opening speech, he presented the principal purpose of the Council in this way: “What above all concerns the Ecumenical Council is this: that the sacred deposit of Christian doctrine be safeguarded and taught more effectively […] Therefore, the principal purpose of this Council is not the discussion of this or that doctrinal theme… a Council is not required for that… [but] this certain and immutable doctrine, which is to be faithfully respected, needs to be explored and presented in a way which responds to the needs of our time” (AAS 54 [1962], 790,791-792).

In the light of these words, we can understand what I myself felt at the time: during the Council there was an emotional tension as we faced the common task of making the truth and beauty of the faith shine out in our time, without sacrificing it to the demands of the present or leaving it tied to the past: the eternal presence of God resounds in the faith, transcending time, yet it can only be welcomed by us in our own unrepeatable today. Therefore I believe that the most important thing, especially on such a significant occasion as this, is to revive in the whole Church that positive tension, that yearning to announce Christ again to contemporary man. But, so that this interior thrust towards the new evangelization neither remain just an idea nor be lost in confusion, it needs to be built on a concrete and precise basis, and this basis is the documents of the Second Vatican Council, the place where it found expression. This is why I have often insisted on the need to return, as it were, to the “letter” of the Council – that is to its texts – also to draw from them its authentic spirit, and why I have repeated that the true legacy of Vatican II is to be found in them. Reference to the documents saves us from extremes of anachronistic nostalgia and running too far ahead, and allows what is new to be welcomed in a context of continuity. The Council did not formulate anything new in matters of faith, nor did it wish to replace what was ancient. Rather, it concerned itself with seeing that the same faith might continue to be lived in the present day, that it might remain a living faith in a world of change.

If we place ourselves in harmony with the authentic approach which Blessed John XXIII wished to give to Vatican II, we will be able to realize it during this Year of Faith, following the same path of the Church as she continuously endeavors to deepen the deposit of faith entrusted to her by Christ. The Council Fathers wished to present the faith in a meaningful way; and if they opened themselves trustingly to dialogue with the modern world it is because they were certain of their faith, of the solid rock on which they stood. In the years following, however, many embraced uncritically the dominant mentality, placing in doubt the very foundations of the deposit of faith, which they sadly no longer felt able to accept as truths.

If today the Church proposes a new Year of Faith and a new evangelization, it is not to honor an anniversary, but because there is more need of it, even more than there was fifty years ago! And the reply to be given to this need is the one desired by the Popes, by the Council Fathers and contained in its documents. Even the initiative to create a Pontifical Council for the promotion of the new evangelization, which I thank for its special effort for the Year of Faith, is to be understood in this context. Recent decades have seen the advance of a spiritual “desertification”. In the Council’s time it was already possible from a few tragic pages of history to know what a life or a world without God looked like, but now we see it every day around us. This void has spread. But it is in starting from the experience of this desert, from this void, that we can again discover the joy of believing, its vital importance for us, men and women. In the desert we rediscover the value of what is essential for living; thus in today’s world there are innumerable signs, often expressed implicitly or negatively, of the thirst for God, for the ultimate meaning of life. And in the desert people of faith are needed who, with their own lives, point out the way to the Promised Land and keep hope alive. Living faith opens the heart to the grace of God which frees us from pessimism. Today, more than ever, evangelizing means witnessing to the new life, transformed by God, and thus showing the path. The first reading spoke to us of the wisdom of the wayfarer (cf. Sir 34:9-13): the journey is a metaphor for life, and the wise wayfarer is one who has learned the art of living, and can share it with his brethren – as happens to pilgrims along the Way of Saint James or similar routes which, not by chance, have again become popular in recent years. How come so many people today feel the need to make these journeys? Is it not because they find there, or at least intuit, the meaning of our existence in the world? This, then, is how we can picture the Year of Faith: a pilgrimage in the deserts of today’s world, taking with us only what is necessary: neither staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money, nor two tunics – as the Lord said to those he was sending out on mission (cf. Lk 9:3), but the Gospel and the faith of the Church, of which the Council documents are a luminous expression, as is the Catechism of the Catholic Church, published twenty years ago.

Venerable and dear Brothers, 11 October 1962 was the Feast of Mary Most Holy, Mother of God. Let us entrust to her the Year of Faith, as I did last week when I went on pilgrimage to Loreto. May the Virgin Mary always shine out as a star along the way of the new evangelization. May she help us to put into practice the Apostle Paul’s exhortation, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teach and admonish one another in all wisdom […] And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Col 3:16-17). Amen.

Year of Faith

Year of Faith

Thursday, 10/11/2012, started the Year of Faith called by Pope Benedict XVI. I'm wondering how I could make this time meaningful to me. I hope to occasionally blog some of my thoughts. The Year of Faith commemorates the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Ecumenical Council in the Vatican, and the twentieth anniversary of the Catechism of the Catholic faith.

The USCCB tells us this: “The upcoming Year of Faith is a ‘summons to an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord, the One Savior of the world’ (Porta Fidei 6). In other words, the Year of Faith is an opportunity for Catholics to experience a conversion – to turn back to Jesus and enter into a deeper relationship with him. The ‘door of faith’ is opened at one’s baptism, but during this year Catholics are called to open it again, walk through it and rediscover and renew their relationship with Christ and his Church.”

I think, for most of us, especially myself, we can participate in this Year of Faith into two ways: 1) to catechize ourselves, to learn our faith in a more deeper sense, and; 2) to evangelize others, to bring others to our faith. I think the first is important because we live in a very secularized society. Know it or not, it has an effect on us, in the TV we watch, in the secular books we read, in common conversations. God has been kick-out of the public forum. Our children cannot pray in school, it is not politically correct to discuss our faith in public. Yet, that is exactly what we are called to do. To do so, we need to know the subject matter, it would be hard to make any arguments at all if we do not know the very faith that we profess; and sadly, many of us don't know our faith. Our religious education more or less stopped in the eighth grade unless we were blessed to attend a Catholic high school. Few of us read Scripture as a family and talked about what we read. We are fed at Sunday Mass by the readings and a homily, if that homily was well prepared, but how many of us Catholics do attend Mass regularly?

There are so many souls out there looking to be filled, to satisfy that inner emptiness, and many don't know what that emptiness is. They fill this void with alcohol or drugs, pornography and material things – the more the better. But it does not fill them, and so they think more alcohol or more drugs will fill that need. We worry about our physical health, our mental health, our emotional health, but how much time and effort we spend on our spiritual selves. Those seeking to fill that void only need to turn to God. That longing for the Other, our Creator, is built within us by the very act of our creation and the infusion of our souls at conception. That void is simply filled when we turn away from ourselves and focus on God and our fellow man. Joyful we are when we experience that right relationship with God, when we do something, no matter how simple, for another without expectation of repayment.

Many of us have not been happy with all the changes stemming from Vatican II. It seems there were too many changes too quickly, it seems we were on a runaway train; at times it seems we were changing for the sake of change. Certain elements in the church were not satisfied; they wanted more and more change. Some things that have bothered me are the loss of the sacredness, the relegation of the Tabernacle away from the central focus to some side room, the building of new churches looking more like theaters around, Perpetual Adoration and holy hours. Yet I have no doubt that the Holy Spirit was working with the Pope and the Bishops during the Council leading the church in the direction the Spirit wanted it to go. I miss the Latin, though I didn't understand it, I had to follow along in my Missile. It was comforting matter were in the world we were we would hear the same words. But there were so many at Mass who prayed their personal devotions or the rosary during the Mass and not the Sacrifice that was being offered. Our attention was only brought to focus with the ringing of the bells at the Consecration. I miss the church bells, the incense, and like I said the feeling of holiness and sacredness in the presence of God in church.

We are in a period of correction. In some ways John Paul II and Benedict XVI have put on the brakes. In the long run I see a very vibrant church with true and active Catholics.

So I will begin this Year of Faith by reading some of the Vatican II documents, starting with the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation (Dei Verbum). I will try to be a more public Catholic and look for opportunities to call others to faith.

I hope you will make this year meaningful, and I hope you'll join me in my efforts to learn my faith more deeply and to call others to grow in their relationship with God.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

37 Days

I've committed myself along with many others to pray for the elections 40 days prior. This is day 37 before the elections. We all need to do our part and discern who we should be voting for. And we need to accept the responsibility of our citizenship to vote. There are so many critical issues at stake. We should all have a well-formed conscience and should be in-formed regarding the issues so we can make the proper decisions.

This time is also important because October is Respect Life month. I ask everyone that if you have not given this much thought lately to do so during this month. I am overwhelmed when I focus on the reality of 1.5 million abortions a year in the United State. That number is so hard to grasp. 166 babies lose their life each hour of each day. I wonder why it is often called a pro-life cause, or a pro-life movement. Life is a gift from God, be it at conception or ones last hour, be it poor or rich, perfect or disabled, wanted or unwanted. Our humanity makes us pro-life, so it is not a movement or a cause; it is intrinsic to our very nature. It is ingrained in our very souls. Would not anyone of us do what was necessary to protect a young child in danger, up to and including giving our very life for it? It is natural, it is morally and ethically right.

There will be many opportunities to exhibit our values this month. On Sunday October 7th  all across this nation so many committed people will participate in the Life Chain. I encourage you to find where in your area the Life Chain will be located and to give an hour to pray and silently, publicly witness for the unborn.

Many churches will be displaying white crosses on church grounds in October representing these children lost every hour of every day. Find one in your area, come, drive by and be touched. Better yet, stop and pray.

Being committed to respect for life, now and then I am reminded why I do this. Tonight I watched a wonderful movie entitled “October Baby.” If you have not seen it, I wholeheartedly encourage you to do so. And keep watching to see the vignette during the start of the credits at the end of the movie.

Please join me in prayer for the elections, our nation and for the babies these last 37 days before the elections.

Thanks for reading my musings. My blessings to all of you.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Venerable Fulton J. Sheen on Politics

Venerable Fulton J. Sheen on Politics

By Patti Maguire Armstrong, 9/8/2012

It’s campaign time again – a season of anxiety. Pro-lifers vote for life; something that trumps all else. Those defending a mother’s right to abort her unborn baby, get downright angry at the thought of candidates minding someone else’s business – the business being the life of a baby. Protecting traditional marriages labels one a hater. Then, the HHS Mandate has become a line in the sand that unites all bishops against politicians that seek to twist Catholic arms of business owners who refuse to minimize mortal sin.

At the core, it’s those who follow their religious convictions pitted against those who say religious beliefs have no place in politics.   Although it would seem to be a more modern argument, it has been around as long as Christianity has been.

Sheen: A Lesson on Politics

Regarding  religion and politics, I was recently taken aback while reading Characters of the Passion (Liguouri/Triumph), a book written by Bishop Fulton J. Sheen in 1947.  He takes a look at the characters that played a role in the Passion of Jesus Christ and relates them to our modern world.  No one today would call 1947 modern, but the lessons of the Passion held true in 1947 and still do today.

In Chapter 3, “Pilate: A Lesson on Political Power”, Sheen discussed public opinion as it relates to politics.    He stated, “Those who have their finger on the pulse of contemporary civilization have probably noted that there are two contradictory charges against religions today.  The first is that religion is not political enough; the other is that religion is too political.  On the one hand, the Church is blamed for being too divine, and on the other, for not being divine enough.  It is hated because it is too heavenly and hated because it is too earthly.”  Same old, same old.

Sheen portrayed the political/religious process as Jesus stood before the political Pontius Pilate and the religious Annas and Caiaphas.  Christ was accused of being too religious before Anna and Caiaphas.  Under the veil of mock indignation at the supposed insult to God’s majesty, Christ was declared too religious, too concerned with souls, too infallible and too Godly.  After all, they cornered him into declaring Himself to be God.

Sheen writes:

“Because He was too religious, He was not political enough.  The religious judges said that He had no concern for the fact that the Romans were their masters, and that they might take away their country (John 11:47-48). By talking about a spiritual kingdom, a higher moral law, and His divinity, and by becoming the leader of a spiritual crusade, He was accused of being indifferent to the needs of the people and nation’s well being.”


Likewise, pro-lifers are accused of being too religious.  Who are they to know the mind of God…to know when life really begins? We are accused of trying to force our religion on others, of being fanatics, of being downright dangerous to a free society.

Ultimately, Jesus was sent into the political arena, to Pontius Pilate. There, religious charges would not have prevailed.  So instead, he was accused of being too political. Jesus is charged with meddling in national affairs; that He was not patriotic enough.  “We have found this man perverting our nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, and saying that he is Christ the king” (Luke 23:2).

Sheen explained:

“And so throughout history, these two contradictory charges have been leveled against the Person of Christ in His Body the Church.  His Church was accused of not being political enough when it condemned Nazism and Fascism; it is accused of being too political when it condemns Communism. It is the second charge that needs specific consideration, namely, that the Church is interfering in politics.  Is this true?  It all depends upon what you mean by politics.  If by interference in politics is meant using influence to favor a particular regime, party, or system that respects the basic God–given rights and freedom of persons, the answer is emphatically No! The Church does not interfere in politics.  If by interference in politics is meant judging or condemning a philosophy of life that makes the party or state, or the class, or the race, the source of all rights, and that usurps the soul and enthrones party over conscience and denies those basic rights for which the war was fought, then answer is emphatically Yes! 

Read the rest here.

Franciscan Places – Le Celle

Franciscan Places – Le Celle

The "Celle" Hermitage

Le Celle Hermitage near Cortona

Known as Le Celle, this Franciscan hermitage is just five kilometers from Cortona at the feet of Mount Sant’Egidio. In 1211 St Francis along with a few of his followers built the first nine cells of the hermitage and the place has taken the name of Celle ever since. Before their arrival there were only a few small hermit’s cottages and peasant dwellings, along with a small chapel that had been built during the Longobard invasions and dedicated to the Archangel Michael.

This is believed to be the place where, in May 1226, four months before his death, St Francis dictated his Will. Following the death of the saint in Assisi, in October of the same year, Brother Elias withdrew permanently to the Le Celle hermitage in 1239 and carried out a number of improvements and restoration works that ensured the hermitage became a Franciscan property in every right. Brother Elias is in fact considered responsible for having broken up the stone of the caves and created a chapel that was formerly used as a dormitory by the monks. Behind there is the small cell where St Francis lived. The walls built under Brother Elias are rough but solid, and the hermitage contains eight small rooms large enough for a bed, a table and a chair – the essential furnishings prescribed by St Francis himself for a Franciscan hermitage, where the prime importance was to lead a life given over to contemplation.

After Brother Elias’s death in Cortona in 1253, the Franciscan order fell into a complicated series of internal divisions. The hermitage was occupied by a community of "Spirituali", or "Fraticelli", until they were banished in 1363 after suffering excommunication from Pope John Giovanni XXII. Le Celle stood abandoned until 1537, when it was granted by the Bishop of Cortona to the recently founded Third Order of Franciscans, known as the Capuchins. The hermitage was considerably enlarged by the Capuchins, who in 1634 erected a new chapel to take the place of the ancient chapel dedicated to St Michael. This new chapel was consecrated to St Anthony of Padua and reflects the simple, unpretentious architectural and decorative style of the Capuchins. Unadorned by works of art, the chapel still has wooden altars.

Currently the hermitage is inhabited by seven friars who continue to practice the preaching of St Francis

Board: The convent is able to offer lodgings to those contemplating a vocational life and who are willing to take part in all of the community’s activities. Near the convent there are some 40 bed spaces available in houses for independent groups of visitors.

Spiritual retreat: Le Celle is able to offer a period of solitary prayer to priests for a minimum period of one week and lasting up to a month if necessary. This facility is available in a small hermitage above the convent itself.