View from the choir

I am a Catholic layperson and Secular Franciscan with a sense of humor. After years in the back pew watching, I have moved into the choir. It's nice to see faces instead of the backs of heads. But I still maintain God has a sense of humor - and that we are created in God's image.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

No priest applied

On Sunday, Farther Steve mentioned at Mass that our local planning group of parishes in Gates will soon have to deal with the loss of a priest who is retiring. He said the priest will not be replaced by a resident priest.

At choir practice, we were told that the parish in question would have a pastoral administrator. But we were also told that the parish would have an administrator because when the opening had been advertised, no priest had expressed an interest in becoming pastor there.

It doesn't look like this is a matter of the Diocese foisting an administrator on the parish (unless there's some conspiracy types out there who want to speculate that the Diocese applied behind-the-scenes pressure so that it could advance some sort of anti-clerical agenda!)

It was simply that no priest expressed interest.

I don't know why no priest applied. Maybe all the eligible priests are happy in their current assignments and parishes and didn't want to change. Maybe the parish is facing some possible problems about which we are unaware and no priest wanted to deal with the headaches. Maybe they didn't like the color of the rugs in the rectory.

Whatever the reason, the priest shortage is hitting closer to home.

With only one ordination this year. And no more for the next few years.

As I've said before, we need an active, sustained, strong vocations program. We need to reach out to young people in multiple ways. We need inspiring priests and leaders. We need to make service to the Church look exciting and fulfilling, and not boring, or, worse, a battleground. Make wrong move, do the wrong thing, say the wrong thing, even innocently, - or fail to move, do or say something someone thinks you should - and chances are some faction on the left or right will go after you.

But even if the vocations increased, it will be years before we see more priests. This situation is now. And what happens if we lose two priests?

There's not much I can do except pray, and to encourge men to consider becoming priests.

Tomorrow's rosary is for an increase in vocations!

Keeping young people involved in Church

I was out at St. Leo's in Hilton for the Secular Franciscan Order Day of Recollection this past week. A parishioner was there getting ready for a separate gathering of the First Communion kids, and I asked how things were going at the parish.

She was enthusiastic. The pastor, Father Joseph Catanise, who arrived in 2005, has brought new life to the parish, she said. Attendance is up. Enthusiasm - like that lady's - is up.

Now that's just one parishioner, but I have met Father Catanise - he's actively involved with pro-life activities, and with the Secular Franciscans. He is a good preacher, and his Masses are "celebrated" not just said. During my visits to the parish for Franciscan meetings there always seems to be something going on, and there are a number of active parish groups (like the SFO fraternity).

One area I asked about is the teen Mass they have on Sunday evenings. I have not attended one of theirs, but I've heard the music is lively and contemporary - and the Mass is full of energy. Celebrated, not just attended.

I was reminded of this when I stumbled across an article on ZENIT about keeping young people involved in the Church.

In the article U.S. bishops' conference spokesman Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington spoke about a Pew Forum survey that revealed a key factor in whether or not one remains Catholic as an adult is whether or not one attends Mass as a child or teenager.

The study, “Faith in Flux: Changes in the Religious Affiliation in the U.S.,” was made public Monday by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

“The report highlights the importance of Mass attendance among children and teenagers,” the archbishop said. “Adolescence is a critical time in religious development and, as the poll shows, what happens in the teen years has a long-lasting affect. We have to help young people and their parents appreciate the importance of going to weekly Mass so teenagers know Jesus is there for them now and always."

Absolutely. That's why Masses like the one out in Hilton are important. I know some people don't like the music, for example, but that reaches some kids and some of them will stay involved if they like what they see and hear and they are then more open to the Spirit. At St. Theodore's we have Rock of Faith (admission here - I am a member of that group), which plays a more upbeat contemporary style of liturgical music that will hopefully reach young people. We play for the youth-oriented Masses (i.e. the Grade-level masses, Hands of Christ, Confirmation), and hope eventually to have some separate Masses specifically aimed at young people.

And if young people remain involved and active, they are more likely to consider a vocation in the Church.

I'm not an absolutist when it comes to music or liturgical styles. I was unhappy when the Diocese of Rochester took so long to approve the old Latin Mass back in the 90s, for example. It's not my style of worship, but it is meaningful to many people - including some young people - so I argued that it should be an option. I'm glad that it is - though I have no desire to attend such a Mass (and yes, I did go to a couple to check them out).

I also like to see traditional organ music, Gregorian Chant, Gospel music and more offered - because each might appeal to some people and enhance their worship. And I applaud when Churches offer various options for worship in addition to Mass - Benedictions, Eucharistic adoration, Stations of the Cross, Rosaries, and so on.

We are a "catholic" Church.

According to the study, The Catholic Church has a 68% retention rate, which is higher than most other Christian churches. The key reason people leave their church, the study reported, is that “they just gradually drifted away from the faith.”

Keep them active, keep them involved, give them something that helps to meet their spiritual needs, and they are less likely to drift. They are more likely to remain active lay people in the Church - and maybe we might see a few more priests, sisters, and brothers emerge from their ranks as well.

A good pastor is a help - so I'm happy for St. Leo's.

100 Days

President Barack Obama
should not be confused with Osama,
but his anti-life ways
lead to more deaths these days.

(I actually posted this last week over at Chesterton and Friends, but in honor of President Obama's first 100 days I'm posting it here as well.)

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Spiritus Christi, Grosswirth and Womenpriests

I usually avoid dealing with Spiritus Christi - the schismatic church that broke from the Diocese of Rochester and the Catholic Church, and in the process damaged the Diocese and a lot of people.

Me included.

I was extremely active in that parish until it went too far, so I left. A few years later, Father Callan and Mary Ramerman broke with the Church and led a couple of thousand people astray.

I lost many friends due to that break-up - and, sadly, an ex-wife who went with them. The events of that time period - along with liberal doses of my own pride and spiritual immaturity, and feelings of loss and betrayal - set me adrift spiritually for a couple of years. I thank God that I was able to find peace again in the Church.

Talking about that sect usually brings up too many memories, and I still care about so many of the people there, so, I usually refrain from saying too much.

In the last few days, though, I've stumbled across items in the news and on blogs that got me to thinking about Spiritus again.

On April 26 the womenpriests movement ordained two women in Philadelphia - one a priest, the other a deacon.

The deacon is my ex-wife, Chava Redonnet.

Someone sent me a news article with pictures. Father Callan and Ramerman were there. No surprise.

Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphi noted that the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith decried in 2007 that women who present themselves for ordinations at such ceremonies, and those "who falsely claim" to ordain them, are automatically excommunicated. Some of the Spiritus participants were excommunicated already.

Meanwhile, I also found mention at other sites that Ray Grosswirth, a self-described married priest and the media liaison of CORPUS, and a Rochester resident, had written about the ordination of some womenpriest bishops. I decided to check out his blog to find out what he had actually said.

I went there tonight and found him writing about the bishops, and the Philadelphia ceremony. I also found him announcing the following today:

"After several years of discernment, I officially joined Spiritus Christi Church in Rochester today. As you know, Spiritus Christi is independent of Vatican rule, which suits me perfectly at this point in my life."

No surprise there, either. Actually, I'm surprised that he did not end up there years ago. I don't know if he will be actively involved there, though he did note, "...I will now have the freedom to engage in my ministries without the Vatican and ultra-conservative Catholic groups worrying about every move I make that is geared toward church-reform."

Of course, in some cases it could be that they are worring not about him and his every move, but for him and his soul.

I did discover in his blog that he said he will now be available to preside at same-sex weddings if New York approves it - something I would also expect to see at Spiritus. Again, no surprise. If you're going to go in for breaking Church rules, you might as well go whole hog.

My ex-wife is still involved with Spiritus. I don't know if she will now be actively involved there in a ministerial role as a deacon, or, eventually, as a priest. It wouldn't surprise me.

I have nothing to say about that, other than that I feel a great sadness tonight.

And that I continue to pray for many lost souls damaged by that schism that they will eventually return to the Church or find the healing they need.

Sebelius Approved: Obama Death March Continues

The U.S. Senate voted 65-31 today to confirm pro-abortion Catholic Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius as Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Kansas Senator Sam Brownback - a pro-life Catholic - sadly voted yes.

Sebelius is extreme in her views on abortion, and is a supporter of and supported by late-term abortionist George Tiller.

Obama continues to deliver what he promised - to his pro-abortion supporters.

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St. Luchesius - First Secular Franciscan?

Today is the Feast of St. Luchesius of Poggibonsi, who, along with his wife, Blessed Buona dei Segni, were among the first - and possible were the first - Secular Franciscans.

He was reportedly indifferent to religion early in his life, more interested in amassing wealth in various trades - baker, money changer, grain speculator - and political power. But hen he was in hi 30's all his children suddenly died due to natural causes, and he changed, dedicating his life to serving the poor, sick and imprisoned. In 1221 St. Francis visited Poggininsi. Francis had either just formed or was about the form the Third Order (Secular Franciscans), and, whatever the case, St. Luchesius and his wife joined and entered fully into a life of even greater penance, prayer and service.

He was reportedly experienced ecstasies and levitations, and had the gift of healing. He died April 28, 1260.

He's the patron of of the "death of children" and of lost vocations.


Monday, April 27, 2009

ND Latest: Glendon turns down award

Yet another twist in the ongoing Notre Dame scandal. This one a real slap in ND's face.

Former Vatican ambassador Mary Ann Glendon has refused the university's Laetare Medal, which she would have received at the same ceremonies involving President Barack Obama being honored despite his pro-abortion views.

A pro-life feminist and Harvard professor, Glendon wrote to Notre Dame President Father John. Jenkins saying she could not speak alongside President Obama at the May 17th Commencement exercises.

In her letter, which she released to the public, Glendon said she was initially “profoundly moved” at the news that she would receive the Laetare Medal. But in March she learned that she would not be giving the commencement speech, but that President Obama would be doing so instead.

Glendon said Notre Dame's plans to award Obama an honorary degree would “disregard” the U.S. Bishop’s “Catholic’s in Political Life” document.

She criticized some of Father Jenkin's arguments concerning the controversy, including the one that her receiving the Laetare Medal would somehow "balance the event."

“A commencement is supposed to be a joyous day for the graduates and their families. It is not the right place, nor is a brief acceptance speech the right vehicle, for engagement with the very serious problems raised by Notre Dame’s decision—in disregard of the settled position of the U.S. bishops—to honor a prominent and uncompromising opponent of the Church’s position on issues involving fundamental principles of justice,” she wrote.

She also worried that this situation might encourage other Catholic institutions to ignore the U.S. Bishop’s teaching.

“It is with great sadness, therefore, that I have concluded that I cannot accept the Laetare Medal or participate in the May 17 graduation ceremony,” she concluded.

Good for her. Good for all the Catholics - lay and clerical - who have decided that they cannot participate in honoring pro-abortion politicians at Catholic colleges.

Meanwhile, the "petition" opposing Obama speaking at Notre Dame and receiving an honorary degree is up to 336,521 (as of 5 p.m.), some 47 bishops have spoken out, and there are reports that in just one week ND alumni have withheld more than $8 million in donations.

Phew. Wonder what will happen in the next 20 days!

Mafia Rosaries

One of the good things about Days of Recollection like Saturday's for Rochester-area Secular Franciscans was the opportunity for fellowship.

We talk about family, problems, the ideas presented that day, issues the Church or we are facing, the good food members brought to share, jobs, and so on.

At one point I was chatting with a few fellow Franciscans when the topic of a particular rosary campaign came up.

The campaign is for Bishop Clark and our Diocese.

I noted that I do pray for both, but ...

They gave me knowing looks, so I went on.

But, it seemed like this campaign is not so much intended for the Bishop as directed against him.

They acknowledged that when they read about it it made them feel uneasy, too.

The idea behind it seems to be that we don't like the way things are in the diocese, so we should pray to God to make the Bishop change, or remove him.

I jokingly said it almost came across as if they were asking for a "hit" on the Bishop Mafia-style.

I don't know if that is the intention of the campaign - but it's interesting that I was not alone in getting that impression. [Added later - If I had written this to say more accurately what I meant, I would have phrased it something like, "I'm not saying that literally killing the Bishop is the intention of the creator of the rosary campaign - but ...." I did mean the "hit" reference as a joke. Sorry if it came across as otherwise due to my poor wording.]

When I first read of the campaign, I thought of St. Francis's Admonition XXVI:

Blessed is the servant of God who exhibits confidence in clerics who live uprightly according to the form of the holy Roman Church. And woe to those who despise them: for even though they [the clerics] may be sinners, nevertheless no one ought to judge them, because the Lord Himself reserves to Himself alone the right of judging them. For as the administration with which they are charged, to wit, of the most holy Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, which they receive and which they alone administer to others—is greater than all others, even so the sin of those who offend against them is greater than any against all the other men in this world.

Fresh on my mind as we spoke at the Day of Recollection was one of the talks earlier that day in which Father Anthony cited the story of when St. Francis and his companions went to Pope Innocent III to gain his approval for what they were doing. The Pope, troubled by many such groups, perhaps a bit sarcastically and in short-temper, told them to go back to tending swine - which Francis and his companions joyfully, humbly and obediently did.

St. Francis proclaimed and modeled respect for those in spiritual authority over us.

I will continue to pray for Bishop Clark, as I always do. But I won't be taking part in this particular campaign.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Father Sudac

One of my commenters mentioned learning something new about the faith from reading about the Secular Franciscan Order Day of Recollection I'd attended on Saturday.

I learned something new myself on the Day.

Brother David told the story of his trip to Medjugorje to discern his vocation. As part of the trip, he visited the Croatian stigmatic priest, Father Zlatko Sudac, who, he was told, would give him his answer.

I had never heard of Father Sudac - and I did not know there were any stigmatics alive today.
Father Sudac not only reportedly has the stigmata - a cross on his forehead, wounds on his feet, wrists and side - he has the powers of discernment, prophecy and bilocation (being in two places at once).

So I looked up some information.

He was born on January 24, 1971. He is from the town of Vrbnik, on Krk island, in Croatia. He served in the Yugoslav army, then entered the seminary and was ordained June 29, 1998. He is a priest of the diocese of Krk, Croatia.

Father Sudac received the cross on his forehead in May 1999, on the Friday after the beatification of Padre Pio, the famed stigmatic priest. He was reportedly sent to the Gemelli Clinic in Rome, where, after an investigation it was concluded that his was not of human origin. He subsequently received the stigmata on his wrists, feet and side on October 4, 2000, the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi, the first stigmatic in the history of the Church.

Fr. Sudac lives at the Bethany Retreat Center, which is located in the village of Cunski on the island of Mali Losinj - which is where Brother David visited him. Brother David said that in a private meeting - just him, Father Sudac and a translator - the Croatian priest told him that his vocation was to be a priest, and when he asked what order, Father Sudac said the order was already on his mind. As I noted in my previous post, Brother David had encountered four snoring Gray Friars in Medjubgorje, and that at that moment he'd thought he would join their order. Father Sudac's words confirmed that notion.

I don't know if there have been any official investigations other than the visit to Gemelli.

Is it possible? Yes, just look at Sts. Francis and Padre Pio. It's pretty remarkable, and Brother David is certainly convinced. I must read more about Father Sudac. Have any of my fellow travelers met him?

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Secular Franciscan Day of Recollection

It was a lovely day of recollection for Rochester's two Secular Franciscan Order groups. Father Anthony Baetzold, CFR, offering reflections and celebrating Mass, and Brother David Valenzuela, a CFR seminarian, providing music for the Mass and Eucharistic adoration, and telling about his own path to joining the Gray Friars (it involved four snoring Friars!)

And yes church music fans, the CFR-led Mass featured GUITAR music.

Father Anthony noted that at the meeting in Assisi, Franciscans - including Secular Franciscans - were told to go back to their roots and to be not only witnesses thought their actions, the way they live and the way they dress - and the friars were told they should go back to wearing their habits in public! - but to actively proclaim the Good News.

"Even for the lay members it's not enough to be a witness," he said. "We should be ready to give an answer ... If people don't hear, how will they come to believe?"

He noted that we live in a post-Christian era, an era that is in many ways as pagan as the one the in which the original disciples lived, and so our call as Franciscans is the similar to the one those early disciples had: To preach.

"What is our call? To proclaim the Good News."

Pretty challenging.

Of course, the talks were also full of humor - as in the story of the snoring Franciscans.

Brother David explained that he had gone on a pilgrimage to discern his vocation (he was considering the Capuchins), and the first time he encountered Gray Friars was in Medjugorje during a long, long talk - he suggested the priest who was talking was using a calendar instead of a clock. After the talk went on for some time Brother David and his companions began to hear loud snoring from the back of the crowded room. When he went back to investigate, he found four Gray Friars asleep, snoring. But after he woke them and they hurried off, and even though he'd never even heard of them before, he realized that this was the order in which he belonged!

I have much to mull over from the day. Think I'll sleep on it, though.

Ad Quem Ibimus: My Recent Reading List

Up early, catching up on a few things before going off to the Secular Franciscan Day of Recollection.

On of the books I've been reading - I am usually reading two or three at the same time - is Archbishop Timothy Dolan's To Whom Shall We Go?: Lessons from the Apostle Peter.

The book uses Peter's actions and words for spiritual reflections and advice. The book is also full of anecdotes about Archbishop Dolan's life as a priest, a rector at the North American College in Rome, Archbishop of Milwaukee, and as a member of the Dolan clan.

The title comes from St. Peter's response to Jesus when as many followers left him he asked if the Apostles would also leave. Peter said "Lord, To whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life ...." "To whom shall we go" in Latin is Ad Quem Ibimus - which Archbishop Dolan chose as his Episcopal motto when he was named an axillary bishop in 2000.

I highly recommend the book.

I've also just finished rereading Chesterton's St. Francis of Assisi (another recommendation!), and am currently reading Anthony of Padua: Saint of the People - His Life, Legend, and Popular Devotions, a collection of articles edited by Father Jack Wintz, OFM. I had not known much about the saint, but at our church there is a statue of him holding Jesus, and after passing by it countless times I wanted to know a bit more about him. (The Good-Looking One and I also added the Italian film - with English subtitles - St. Anthony: The Miracle Worker of Padua, to our religious DVD/video collection. It's well done, by the way.)

New additions to the "What do I read next?" pile (or should I call it my ad quem ibimus pile!) are Archbishop Dolan's Called to be Holy and From the Angel's Blackboard: The Best of Fulton J. Sheen. So much to read, so little time.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Is it the weekend yet?

It was a long day at school.

A Friday. Warm. Sunny. Students full of twitches eyeing the great outdoors.

Trying to keep them on task amid repeated, "Can we have class outside?" "Please?"

I put on the nice Teacher tie, and we did venture out a couple of times. You can do that at a small school.

But there were also a couple of students facing consequences for various infractions this week. I had to put on the Principal tie to deal with them. Part of wearing that tie is supervising lunchtime detention.

Then I had to meet with a mother to explain why her son with a learning disability should probably not take a particularly challenging course next year with the rest of his classmates. Fortunately, after showing her some of the course material, she agreed that would be best.

After that I had to tell a teacher he might have to teach a different course next year due to scheduling (and as part of the switch I might have to give up a class I like and teach one about which I'm not too enthused). Then I had to call the head of the trustees to discuss some scheduling and budget issues, and some discipline issues than might involve calling in parents. Sigh.

Ah, but after school, some digging in the garden, a few minutes of a Mets game (up 3-1!), and a Franciscan day of recollection to look forward to tomorrow.

I need that day!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Dad's Rosary

A few years back, youngest daughter was trying to come up with a gift for her grandfather (my Dad). Somehow, the idea of a rosary came up, so she got him one.

He loved it. The rosary is one of the things that goes into his shirt pocket every day. He's at that stage where ALL his shirts have to have a pocket, into which always goes the rosary, his cell phone, a comb, and a small American flag that frequently threatens to poke him in the eye.

He used to say the rosary occasionally, though it was mostly just fingering it while someone else said the prayers. These days, he just takes it out every now and then to show to people and to say with a smile his granddaughter gave it to him.

One time when I arrived for my weekly visit he was agitated. He could not find the rosary. I had to search though every drawer until I found it. He was relieved, looked at it, then stuffed it into the bulging pocket.

Dad has a few other treasures in his room. The picture of my oldest daughter's wedding (he was unable to attend); the picture of the aircraft carrier he served on; the picture of me dressed as Santa's "helper" on my throne at the mall holding a small girl; a picture of my brother, dead now some 26 years; photos of a few other relatives; and multiple pictures of my mother. Sometimes I come into the room quietly and find him sitting in his wheelchair just staring in the direction of one of those pictures.

Each week we write out a few checks for bills, I show him his latest bank statement or give him his most recent Legion magazine, he tells me what he had for his for breakfast or lunch, or that they had a Mass or church services at the home in the last couple of days. I tell him news about the girls, my job, my wife. He often makes some passing comment about mom - "She was quite a lady." "Fifty good years." He mentions bingo or card games at the home, and sometimes he proudly presents me with some Christmas-related small statuette or stuffed animal he won that he's sure I would like.

Then we run out of things to say.

We have, however, fallen into the routine of playing cards again. Euchre. We used to play cards when I was young. He used to win most most of the time. These days, I win more often than he does. Sometimes he forgets what he made trump, or that it's his turn. But he still loves to play. So we play, the games providing topics for conversation. Your turn. Pick it up. Good hand. You got me.

And every now and then, sometimes totally out of the blue, he will mention the rosary, touch his pocket, and smile.


Christianophobia? Okay

CNA is reporting that in conjunction with the beginning of the World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance (WCAR) Monday, the Russian Orthodox Church has asked the conference to introduce the idea of “Christianophobia” into international laws concerning discrimination.

CNA goes on to quote Archpriest Georgy Ryabykh, deputy head of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations, as saying, "It is very important to the Russian Orthodox Church to raise the issue of introducing to the list of threats the notion of Christianophobia in addition to anti-Semitism and Islamophobia."

Archpriest Ryabykh noted that at the conference’s opening ceremony, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon mentioned anti-Semitism and Islamophobia but did not “say a single word about Christianophobia.”

The Archpriest went on to note there were many examples of “violations of Christians' rights, insults of their feelings [and] public distortion of the Christian teaching” which put “the notion of Christianophobia” into international circulation.

I've heard of anti-Catholic bias, but never this particular term.

But based on what I see in the culture and the news, yes, I've seen instances of it. Mockery and stereotyping of Christians is common here and in Western nations - just think of some of the things said about Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin in the last Presdential campaign - and in some places in other parts of the world Chrisitans are targets of violence and discrimination.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

ND Update - Bishop D'Arcy Offers a Strong Reprimand

Statement to the faithful

April 21, 2009

My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Recently, Father John Jenkins, CSC, in a letter of response to Bishop Olmsted of the Diocese of Phoenix, who had written him, critical of the decision to invite President Obama to speak and receive an honorary degree of law at Notre Dame, indicated that it was his conviction that the statement “Catholics in Political Life” (USCCB) did not apply in this matter. Father Jenkins kindly sent me a copy of his letter, and also at a later meeting, asked for a response.
In an April 15th letter to Father Jenkins, I responded to his letter.

Now the points made in his letter have been sent by Father Jenkins to the members of the Notre Dame Board of Trustees and have been publicized nationally, as well as locally in the South Bend Tribune. Since the matter is now public, it is my duty as the bishop of this diocese to respond and correct. I take up this responsibility with some sadness, but also with the conviction that if I did not do so, I would be remiss in my pastoral responsibility.

Rather than share my full letter, which I have shared with some in church leadership, I prefer to present some of the key points.

1. The meaning of the sentence in the USCCB document relative to Catholic institutions is clear. It places the responsibility on those institutions, and indeed, on the Catholic community itself.

“The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.” — “Catholics in Political Life,” USCCB.

2. When there is a doubt concerning the meaning of a document of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, where does one find the authentic interpretation? A fundamental, canonical and theological principal states that it is found in the local bishop, who is the teacher and lawgiver in his diocese. — Canon 330, 375 §§ 1 & 2; 380; 381 § 1; 391 § 1; 392, & 394 §1.

3. I informed Father Jenkins that if there was any genuine questions or doubt about the meaning of the relevant sentence in the conference’s document, any competent canonist with knowledge of the tradition and love for Christ’s church had the responsibility to inform Father Jenkins of the fundamental principle that the diocesan bishop alone bears the responsibility to provide an authoritative interpretation.

4. I reminded Father Jenkins that he indicated that he consulted presidents of other Catholic universities, and at least indirectly, consulted other bishops, since he asked those presidents to share with him those judgments of their own bishops. However, he chose not to consult his own bishop who, as I made clear, is the teacher and lawgiver in his own diocese. I reminded Father Jenkins that I was not informed of the invitation until after it was accepted by the president. I mentioned again that it is at the heart of the diocesan bishop’s pastoral responsibility to teach as revealed in sacred Scripture and the tradition. (“Lumen Gentium,” 20; and “Christus Dominus,” 2.) I reminded him that it is also central to the university’s relationship to the church. (“Ex corde ecclesiae,” 27 & 28; Gen. Norm., Art. 5, §§ 1-3.)

5. Another key point. In his letter to Bishop Olmsted and in the widespread publicity, which has taken place as the points in the letter have been made public, Father Jenkins declared the invitation to President Obama does not “suggest support” for his actions, because he has expressed and continues to express disagreement with him on issues surrounding protection of life. I wrote that the outpouring of hundreds of thousands who are shocked by the invitation clearly demonstrates, that this invitation has, in fact, scandalized many Catholics and other people of goodwill. In my office alone, there have been over 3,300 messages of shock, dismay and outrage, and they are still coming in. It seems that the action in itself speaks so loudly that people have not been able to hear the words of Father Jenkins, and indeed, the action has suggested approval to many.

In the publicity surrounding the points Father Jenkins has made, he also says he is “following the document of the bishops” by “laying a basis for engagement with the president on this issue.” I indicated that I, like many others, will await to see what the follow up is on this issue between Notre Dame and President Obama.

6. As I have said in a recent interview and which I have said to Father Jenkins, it would be one thing to bring the president here for a discussion on healthcare or immigration, and no person of goodwill could rightly oppose this. We have here, however, the granting of an honorary degree of law to someone whose activities both as president and previously, have been altogether supportive of laws against the dignity of the human person yet to be born.

In my letter, I have also asked Father Jenkins to correct, and if possible, withdraw the erroneous talking points, which appeared in the South Bend Tribune and in other media outlets across the country. The statements which Father Jenkins has made are simply wrong and give a flawed justification for his actions.

I consider it now settled — that the USCCB document, “Catholics in Public Life,” does indeed apply in this matter.
The failure to consult the local bishop who, whatever his unworthiness, is the teacher and lawgiver in the diocese, is a serious mistake. Proper consultation could have prevented an action, which has caused such painful division between Notre Dame and many bishops — and a large number of the faithful.

That division must be addressed through prayer and action, and I pledge to work with Father Jenkins and all at Notre Dame to heal the terrible breach, which has taken place between Notre Dame and the church. It cannot be allowed to continue.
I ask all to pray that this healing will take place in a way that is substantial and true, and not illusory. Notre Dame and Father Jenkins must do their part if this healing is to take place. I will do my part.

Sincerely yours in our Lord,
Most Reverend
John M. D’Arcy

Wow, not a lot of wiggle room for Father Jenkins!

Maybe President Obama needs to find a pressing matter that will keep him away ...

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Planned Parenthood: Concealing rape - AGAIN!

Lila Rose's latest, this time in Memphis.

Will Planned Parenthood, the billion-dollar abortion business, never learn?

Will we finally get around to cutting their government funding so it's not used for illegal activities (on top of the immoral ones)?

Archbishop Carlson: Vocations and Life Booster

Bishop Robert Carlson of Saginaw, Michigan, has been named the next Archbishop of St. Louis.

American Papist notes this of the archbishop designate -

I have some measure of personal experience with Bishop Carlson and here's what you should know:

Bp. Carlson is already a legend among Catholics in Michigan, for the following reasons.

He is a vocations magnet and cultivator par excellance, creating a culture of vocations in his diocese and supporting his candidates through their formation and education. Before he came to the diocese it had not had a vocation for four years. In the past two years Bp. Carlson has ordained eight men and there are more than 20 currently in formation.

He is a passionate defender of life, personally hopping on the bus with the young people of his diocese to attend the March for Life in DC whenever he is able. He will not shy away from speaking out in defense of life - that's a promise.

Wow, sounds great. Vocations and life. We need more bishops like that.

Meanwhile, our neighbor to the east has a new Bishop.
Bishop James Moynihan, formerly a priest of the Rochester diocese, had reached retirement age a while back, and Pope Benedict has now appointed Bishop Robert Cunningham, currently Bishop of Ogdensburg, to be the next Bishop of Syracuse. I don't know much about the new Bishop. I hope he's outspokenly pro-life.

Pro-choicers belong on terror list!

In the recent report on potential terrorist groups, the Homeland Security Department lists pro-lifers.

In an interview on CNN's State of the Union Sunday, the head of that department, Janet Napolitano, was asked to defend the line that links pro-lifers with violence - "groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion" - and was asked if her department was investigating pro-life groups. She declined to answer, but said such groups had a history of violence.

She said (I'm paraphrasing) President Obama encourages free speech and open discussion of controversial issues like abortion.

"On the other hand, at the very edge of the [abortion] debate, at the very edge are the extremist groups that have committed violent crimes," said Napolitano. "They've committed bombings and the like."

"And that is where you cross from constitutionally protected free speech, freedom of assembly, all the rights we cherish, into homeland security and law enforcement. When is that right not being exercised, it's being abused," she said.

But she could not document or name any such incidents.

Well, unlike the doctrinaire Napolitano, I was willing to do a little digging.

The National Abortion Federation lists what it describes as violence committed by pro-lifers.

As of March 2008 they say pro-lifers have been guilty of 147,867 incidents of violence. But of that total, 128,890 were for picketing! And I've been a number of protests as a reporter covering them, and as a participant. The pro-choice side consistently tends to be more rude, loud, and "violent."

Anyway, of real crimes by pro-lifers listed in the report - crimes which I do not defend - they cite 7 murders, 17 attempted murders, 41 bombings, 175 arsons, 96 attempted bombings/arson, 629 bomb threats, 1,353 incident of vandalism, 169 cases of assault & battery, and 399 death threats.

There are more, but I'll stick with those.

I deplore all such acts of violence.

But, to be fair (unlike Napolitano), I also checked out pro-choice violence.

According to Human Like International, pro-choicers have been charged with 2,661 incidents of violent crime (murder, attempted murder, kidnapping, sexual crimes, etc). HLI list 28 such crimes by pro-lifers.

Pro-choicers are nearly 10 times more likely to be guilty of such crimes than pro-lifers.

Who's more violent?

Of less serious crimes resulting in physical injury (such as assault), the pro-choicers committed 1,315 such incidents versus 169 such incidents by pro-lifers.

Who's more violent?

They finally beat the pro-lifers when it comes to property crimes (vandalism, bombings, etc.) 856 to 1,789.

So when it comes to crimes against property, the pro-lifers are more violent. But when it comes to crimes against people, the pro-choice side is overwhelmingly far more guilty.

If you tally these three categories above, the pro-choicers are linked with 4,832 incidents, while pro-lifers are linked with 1,986.

Overall, pro-choicers are more than twice as likely to be violent as are pro-lifers.

And that doesn't include the millions of women and the more than 50 million babies victimised by abortion itself.

Maybe Napolitano should place pro-choice groups on her list.

Maybe she should watch this video clip (caution, foul language):


Monday, April 20, 2009

Notre Dame Shame Update

I haven't said much about Notre Dame lately.

Here's 42 bishops who have (though Bishop Lynch's was a bit lukewarm):

Bishop John D’Arcy, Fort Wayne-South Bend
Cardinal Francis George, Chicago
Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, Galveston-Houston
Archbishop Timothy Dolan, Milwaukee (--> NYC)
Archbishop John Nienstedt, St. Paul-Minneapolis
Archbishop Eusebius Beltran, Oklahoma City
Bishop Edward Slattery, Tulsa
Archbishop John Myers, Newark
Archbishop Alfred Hughs, New Orleans
Bishop Joseph Martino, Scranton
and Auxiliary Bishop John Dougherty, Scranton
Bishop Thomas Doran, Rockford, Ill.
Bishop Thomas Olmsted, Phoenix
Bishop Gregory Aymond, Austin
Bishop Robert Lynch, St. Petersburg
Bishop R. Walker Nickless, Sioux City
Bishop Kevin Rhoades, Harrisburg, Pa.
Bishop William E. Lori, Bridgeport, CT
Bishop Robert Morlino, Madison WI
Bishop George Murry, S.J., Youngstown, OH
Bishop William Higi, Lafayette, IN
Bishop Anthony Taylor of Little Rock, AR
Archbishop Jose Gomez, San Antonio, TX
and Auxiliary Bishop Oscar Cantu
Bishiop Jerome Listecki, La Crosse, WI
Archbishop Edwin O'Brien, Baltimore MD
Bishop Alex Sample, Marquette MI
Archbishop Daniel Buechlein, Indianapolis
Bishop Robert Baker, Birmingham AL
Bishop Samuel Aquila, Fargo ND
Bishop Gerald Barbarito, Palm Beach FL
Bishop Fabian Brukeswitz, Lincoln NE
Bishop Richard Stika, Knoxville TN
Bishop Robert Finn, Kansas City
Bishop Joseph Latino, Jackson MS
Bishop Leonard Blair, Toledo OH
Bishop Gerald Gettelfinger, Evansville IN
Bishop George Lucas, Springfield IL
Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk, Cincinnati OH
Bishop Thomas Wenski, Orlando FL
Bishop Robert Vasa, Baker OR
Bishop Paul Coakley, Salina KS

Thanks to American Papist for compiling the list.

Meanwhile, the petition against President Obama's invite is up to 325,100 signatures as of late this afternoon.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Subscriptions - Hmmm, what now?

I just got a renewal notice from Dirty Linen. It's a good magazine devoted to "folk & world music." As good as it is, and as much as I enjoy skimming through it, I keep finding less and less to read in it.

And it's not cheap.

So I was thinking that maybe it's time to find a new periodical to add to my subscriptions.

I already receive two haiku-related periodicals - Frogpond and bottle rockets. Those are givens.

I also subscribe to Gilbert! (the magazine of the Chesterton Society), the St. Anthony Messenger (Franciscans), the Catholic Worker (I was briefly on the staff of one House of Hospitality and continue to support the local women's Catholic Worker House) and Catholic Digest. Those won't run out for a while, and I'm not about to drop any of them.

What else is out there? I'm looking for suggestions.

I used to subscribe to Commonweal, but got fed up with them. National Catholic Reporter (yeah, I know, it's a newspaper), and America long ago dropped off my subscription radar screen. So did Weird Tales (don't ask).

So, which way do I go?

Another haiku-related periodical? There are some great ones out there. Realms of Fantasy, which I used to get and still like?

How about another Catholic periodical? I'm a raging moderate, so I don't like the flamers on the far left or far right (i.e. National Catholic Reporter vs. The Wanderer), but is there something out there somewhat closer to the middle? Our Sunday Visitor? The National Catholic Register? U.S. Catholic? Nothing pedantic and too scholarly, though. Maybe a periodical devoted to Catholic arts and literature?


My checkbook awaits!

Anti-Life Editorial

The local specimen of the slowly dying print media has an editorial today about embryonic stem cell research.

The editorial in today's Democrat and Chronicle is headlined "For less suffering," with the subhead, "Lifting of stem cell restrictions provides promise." You already know where this one is going.

It begins with, "No longer hamstrung by a restrictive federal policy ..." and then proceeds all gung ho on the "promise" of finding cures (at the expense of killing those pre-born children).




Oh, it makes mention of the adult stem cell research and says that should continue - failing to mention that research on both lines has shown that the adult stem cell one is the one that is actually producing results.

No wonder they have steadfastly refused to cover pro-life events - unless some pro-choicers show up to protest.

Maybe they are hoping that embryonic stem cell research will somehow help to increase their own dwindling subscription levels, or, more importantly, revenues. Perhaps as they kowtow to the pro-choice dark side they will get more ads from Planned Parenthood, the billion-dollar abortion business.

Oh, and the "adult" entertainment industry.

Padre Pio Prayer Service for earthquake victims

St. Padre Pio Institute of Rochester will hold a Prayer Service Sunday, April 26 at St. Padre Pio Chapel, 141 Frank DiMino Way (off Manitou Road in the Town of Gates), for the April earthquake victims of L’Aquila, Italy.

The 4 p.m. Prayer Service will be lead by Deacon Angelo Coccia (my parish deacon) and music will be provided by the Father Beatini Choir.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

"My Chance" - a powerful pro-life song

"My Chance," a hauntingly powerful pro-life song from Jaime Thietten, won "Song of the Year" this March at the Momentum Awards. It's a side of the abortion debate that often gets overlooked - especially by the pro-choice side and their allies in the media.


We need more creativity like this!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Archbishop Dolan - Rooting for the Mets!

Archbishop Dolan, a rabid baseball fan, announced that although a Cardinal's fan in his youth, and a transplanted Milwaukee fan for the past few years, as Archbishop of New York he would be a Yankees fan.
Grinding and gnashing of teeth.

But tonight, the Archbishop showed up on television at the Mets/Milwaukeee game wearing a Mets cap (hooray!), and announcing that as Archbishop of New York he would root for the Mets ...

... oh, and the Yankees too.


Pope: Francis is a model for conversion

Pope Benedict is viewed as an intellectual sort, yet he is praising a mendicant poet who sometimes eschewed learning as a model for conversion.

Back in 2007 he said of St. Francis of Assisi , "It's not enough that they admire Francis: Through him they should be able to encounter Christ."

He noted that Francis converted from being a wild, selfish sort to someone who cared for the poor and sick and who loved Christ so absolutely that some people considered him deranged - but that also ended up with him getting the stigmata.

"He fell in love with Christ. The wounds of the crucified one wounded his heart before leaving their marks on his body on Mount La Verna. He could truly say with Paul: 'It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.'"

Ironically, on my trip (long flights) I reread Chesterton's St. Francis.

It's nice to know the pope - and Chesterton - and I are, if not on the same page, at least looking at it!

I'm back

Let's see, I go out of town for a conference for a couple of days and Obama asks Georgetown to get rid of Jesus while he's there, Governor Paterson proposes gay marriage in New York state, Archbishop Dolan is installed in New York City, as a pro-lifer I'm labeled a potential terrorist by the Obama administration, and Pope Benedict turns 82.

I'm almost afraid to go online to see what else I missed while having pedagogy drummed into my head.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Away for a few days

I have to go to an education conference - shudder - so I'll be out of town until late Thursday night. No posting until Friday.

Maybe by then they will have found President Obama's birth certificate.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Gianna Jessen - Aborted, But Alive

I interviewed her many years ago when she was just a teen speaking out against abortion.

An aborted teen.

Her mother went to Planned Parenthood, the billion-dollar abortion business, and had a saline abortion. But she lived.

She was just a "blob of tissue" - at least from Planned Parenthood's point of view (or, was she actually just another blob of profit?).

Now, she is a thorn in their side. And President Obama's.

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Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Morning Mass Music

At St. Theodore's, the choir, with a few friends, will be playing the following for Easter Mass:

Call to Worship: Hear the News This Easter Morn (with trumpet and bells)
Gathering: Jesus Christ is Risen Today
Gloria: Mass of the Angels and Saints (with trumpet and bells)
Responsorial Psalm: This is the Day (Joncas) (with bells)
Gospel Acclamation: Celtic Alleluia (with trumpet and bells)
Sprinkling:Come to the River
Gifts: Hallelujah Chorus (with trumpet)
--- Mass of Creation (with trumpet and bells)
--- Lamb of God (Holy Cross Mass)
Communion: Come and Eat This Living Bread (with bells)
Sending: Alleluia! Alleluia! (with trumpet)

He is Risen - Alleluia!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Holy Saturday - "The Harrowing of Hell"

He descended into hell ...

Friday, April 10, 2009

Stations for Life

There was no snow or rain. Temperatures were brisk - mid 40s - but not biting. The sun was shining.
This year's Stations of the Cross in Reparation for Abortion was one of the largest in a long time - perhaps in part due to the good weather, and maybe also because of the policies of the current administration.

More than 200 people processed from McQuaid Jesuit High School to a doctor's office where abortion are performed. We were led by ten priests and deacons, and a representative of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Rochester.
Before the march, there was a prayer service in the high school's packed chapel. Students at the school have a tradition of praying a rosary twice a week outside the doctor's office as well - and an invitation was issued to all of us to join them.

The emphasis today was on youth - with many young people in evidence at the service and march. Several of the young people spoke briefly about taking part in the March for Life in Washington earlier this year, describing it as an incredible experience.

Then we marched, praying the stations.

We prayed for the victims of abortion - the babies, the women, the fathers, their families, society - and for the doctor and his staff in the office.

We prayed for victims of other forms of violence - euthanasia, economic exploitation, war, neglect, injustice, the death penalty.

We prayed for seniors, prisoners, the poor, pro-lifers dealing with discouragement, the unwanted, those we view as enemies, and so many more.

As we prayed, a few people drove by and honked their horns. Amen.

But some also blared their horns. I saw one woman give us - including the children - the finger. One man slowed down and began yelling as he drove past something that sounded like, "Your God is an abortion."

I prayed for all of them.

And I prayed for the violence in myself. I have also helped to nail Him to the Cross by my words, actions, and thoughts. Forgive me Lord.


Thursday, April 09, 2009

Four Haiku to be Published!

The following four haiku of mine were accepted for a chapbook that will focus on the seasons:


Ash Wednesday
the check-out girl
wipes her forehead


clear summer night –
my ex-wife’s voice
when my daughter speaks

AUTUMN - previously published in bottle rockets, Vol. 7 #2 (2006)

leaving the vet’s
without my daughter’s cat –
chilly wind


after sunrise
one star still visible
Christmas Day

I had mentioned the ones I was submitting before, but it's nice to say four got in. The book comes out this summer. (The titles are for the seasons, not the poems.)

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Baseball senryu (haiku)

going ... going ... gone
far beyond the fence -
pitcher kicks the mound


More Baseball

And now my other team ... Boston 5, Tampa Bay 3.

Beckett was solid (I traded A-Rod for him for my fantasy team!).

I still hope for another dream World Series, Mets vs. Boston again.

Ah, but the season is young.


Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Happy Anniversary Franciscans!

This year marks the 800th anniversary of the recognition of the Franciscan Order by Pope Innocent III.

St. Francis presented his first rule to the Pope in 1209.

CNS reports that some 1,800 Franciscan friars from the various Franciscan branches from all over the world are expected to to gather in Assisi to mark that anniversary April 15-18.

They will have a special audience with Pope Benedict XVI at Castel Gandolfo.

Congratulations to all my fellow Franciscans!

Millions of Red Envelopes

More than two million.

That's what news reports are saying.

The White House was flooded by more than two million red envelopes protesting the administration's abortion polices.

Now some folks may have mailed more than one envelope (myself included), but still, more than two million envleopes sends a message.

Let us pray that President Obama listens.

Some Hopkins for Holy Week

The Habit of Perfection

Elected Silence, sing to me
And beat upon my whorlèd ear,
Pipe me to pastures still and be
The music that I care to hear.

Shape nothing, lips; be lovely-dumb:
It is the shut, the curfew sent
From there where all surrenders come
Which only makes you eloquent.

Be shellèd, eyes, with double dark
And find the uncreated light:
This ruck and reel which you remark
Coils, keeps, and teases simple sight.

Palate, the hutch of tasty lust,
Desire not to be rinsed with wine:
The can must be so sweet, the crust
So fresh that come in fasts divine!

Nostrils, your careless breath that spend
Upon the stir and keep of pride,
What relish shall the censers send
Along the sanctuary side!

O feel-of-primrose hands, O feet
That want the yield of plushy sward,
But you shall walk the golden street
And you unhouse and house the Lord.

And, Poverty, be thou the bride
And now the marriage feast begun,
And lily-coloured clothes provide
Your spouse not laboured-at nor spun.

-- Gerard Manley Hopkins

(Oh Lord, let me not be distracted by the world, by the senses, by desires, by all that would draw me from you. Let these final days of Lent prepare me for the glory of Easter.)

Monday, April 06, 2009

Play ball!

Mets 2, Cincinnati 1.

And the new bullpen held a lead for Johan Santana.

Ah, nice way to begin the 2009 season!


Sunday, April 05, 2009

Bishop Clark walks a different path

Next Friday at 9 a.m. we will hold our annual Good Friday Stations of the Cross in Reparation for Abortion. We start with prayer service and then march to an abortion facility while praying the Stations of the Cross. The service is at McQuaid Jesuit High School, where there is an active pro-life group.

Each year we get between 100 and 200 participants, including a number of priests and deacons. It's good to see them out there walking for life.

But in all the years I have gone, I don't recall Bishop Clark ever participating.

In this morning's bulletin, I learned that he will be taking part in a 2-mile "Ecumenical Walk of the Cross" from the Episcopal Church of the Ascension to Sacred Heart Cathedral that begins 9:15 a.m. on Good Friday.

I have nothing against ecumenical efforts, and I am glad to see the bishop has recovered enough from his surgery to walk that far.

But it disappoints me. I would love to see him take part in the pro-life Stations on Good Friday, even just once. He has been involved in a number of ecumenical efforts, but few related to abortion. He has three more Good Friday opportunities after this year - if his retirement takes place on schedule - so I hope he will join us.

This year would have been good time to do it, though, given the policies of the Obama administration. A lost opportunity for Bishop Clark to make a statement.

Haiku for a chapbook

Our local haiku group is putting together a chapbook with a focus on the seasons and New Years.

I'm submitting a few, two of which had been published before:

heat wave Mass -
moved by the spirit
and the fans

crisp autumn day –
red-tailed hawk scrutinizes
filled bird feeder

moonlit room –
the dog’s toys next to the box
that hold her ashes

Ash Wednesday
the check-out girl
wipes her forehead

April morning-
cardinals in conclave
at the bird feeder
- (bottle rockets, Volume 7, #2 2006)

leaving the vet’s
without my daughter’s cat –
chilly wind
- (bottle rockets, Volume 7 #2 2006)

New Year’s Day –
first resolution broken
before sunrise

I wonder if any of them will be accepted?

In searching for poems to submit, I realized how few haiku I'd written lately, and how few of my haiku are seasonal in nature. I tend toward senryu - "haiku" that make observations about human nature.


Saturday, April 04, 2009

Praying for Life - Dealing with a Dilemma

I went down to Planned Parenthood this morning for the pro-life prayer rally to be lead by Pastor Luke Robinson.

It was a cold, miserable day - 35 with mixed rain and snow, and a biting wind.

About 25 pro-lifers braved the weather to offer prayers and hymns, and to hear a few words from Pastor Robinson.

The last time we gathered there - when the weather was nicer - we had more than 100 people taking part in a prayer vigil. There were about 30 counter-protesters.

This time, the other side was represented by ...
(Hear any crickets?)

Pastor Robinson proclaimed "We are here, oh Lord, for every baby that is saved by people who stand (outside the clinics)."

He offered prayers not only for the victims of abortion - the women and the babies killed -but also the victims of violence, including those who died in the recent nursing home shooting, and the killing Friday of 13 people at a center for new immigrants in Binghamton.

He also prayed that the politicians who support abortion, the personnel in the clinics might themselves experience the mental anguish, the trouble sleep, the problems that some many women who have had abortions face so that they might begin to understand what they are doing and turn from the killing of babies.

And he asked God to shut down this Planned Parenthood clinic, and vowed that he would return to join us for a celebration when it does close.


I enjoyed the prayers. I was happy to say a rosary with some of the the other people there.

But I left saddened, and thinking.

I stopped taking pictures when a couple of the people brought out the aborted baby pictures. I prayed from that point on with my eyes closed or averted.

I don't like such images. They offend me on many levels.

The offend me because of the violence they reveal, the horrible things done to the poor babies.

They offend me because they are so horrible. I don't like graphic images (I've even been known to walk out of or turn off some movies).

But they also offend me because they are violent, and I don't want to be part of violence.

Yes, I know there are arguments for them. They do reveal what an abortion is like - and some people need images to help shock them into thinking about what is being done. People too often hide from reality, they seek to escape it - after all, isn't abortion on one level just another way to avoid dealing with a reality one does not want to face? So such graphic images may help to get some people to turn.

But in confronting, isn't there a danger that we are closing minds? Aren't we making it harder for others to convert?

As I watched vehicles go by, I thought about the children in some of them. As a parent I would have been angry had someone showed such things to my daughters when they were young.

And, sadly, when I have seen people display such images, there seems to be such anger on some of their faces.

Is this the most loving thing we can do?

I'm sure that there are people who will argue that it is. Sometimes you need to be hard to break through closed minds. We are trying to save lives and souls.

Indeed, I could easily fall into using such tactics myself -a part of myself that I don't like. I can come across as such an angry guy.

But I battle that tendency in myself, and I believe it is the wrong approach in the fight for life.

In my own stumbling way, I want to try to witness to God's love in all that I do and say.

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Abortion is a ... blessing????!

The Episcopal Church in the United States is in serious trouble. The appointment of Rev. Katherine Ragsdale as President and Dean of the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is another nail in the coffin.

Back in 2007, she declared:

These are the two things I want you, please, to remember – abortion is a blessing and our work is not done. Let me hear you say it: abortion is a blessing and our work is not done. Abortion is a blessing and our work is not done. Abortion is a blessing and our work is not done.

Abortion is a blessing? And later, abortionists are saints?

Only in a twisted Orwellian 1984 world where War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, and Ignorance is Strength.

This is the woman who will be training future Episcopal priests?

Apparently she used to post the full talk on her site - but took it down recently. Bad PR? Doing the Episcopal chicken dance?

Ah, but the full text is still posted on a NARAL site - unless they take it down also.

Here's a few excerpts.

If we were to find that, while we were here, Congress had acted to insure that abortion would always be legal, that would be a very good thing; but our work would not be done.

If we were suddenly to find a host of trained providers, insuring access in every city, town, village, and military base throughout the world, that would be a very good thing; but our work would not be done.

[The Obama administration objective?]

How will we know when our work is done? I suspect we’ll know it when we see it. But let me give you some sure indicators that it isn’t done yet:

- When doctors and pharmacists try to opt out of providing medical care, claiming it’s an act of conscience, our work is not done.

[Sound familiar?]

This isn’t particularly complicated. If your conscience forbids you to carry arms, don’t join the military or become a police officer. If you have qualms about animal experimentation, think hard before choosing to go into medical research. And, if you’re not prepared to provide the full range of reproductive health care (or prescriptions) to any woman who needs it then don’t go into obstetrics and gynecology, or internal or emergency medicine, or pharmacology. Choose another field! We’ll respect your consciences when you begin to take responsibility for them.

[Choose another field if you don't go along with our beliefs? Must their version of freedom of choice - but only our choice. We'll respect your consciences only when they force us to examine out own?]

And when a woman becomes pregnant within a loving, supportive, respectful relationship; has every option open to her; decides she does not wish to bear a child; and has access to a safe, affordable abortion – there is not a tragedy in sight -- only blessing. The ability to enjoy God’s good gift of sexuality without compromising one’s education, life’s work, or ability to put to use God’s gifts and call is simply blessing.

[God forbid that something inconvenient like a child interfere with a job, a promotion, or that ski trip to Vail, right?]

I want to thank all of you who protect this blessing – who do this work every day: the health care providers, doctors, nurses, technicians, receptionists, who put your lives on the line to care for others (you are heroes -- in my eyes, you are saints); the escorts and the activists; the lobbyists and the clinic defenders; all of you. You’re engaged in holy work.

Talk about Slavery and Ignorance. 1984 indeed.

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Friday, April 03, 2009

One new priest this year, then ...

Brian Carpenter is scheduled to be ordained a priest on June 6 of this year.

Unfortunately, there's not another ordination scheduled here in the Diocese of Rochester until after, hopefully, Barack Obama leaves office in 2013.

A four-year gap. No ordinations.

How many clerical deaths before then? How many other senior priests will becomes physically incapable of assisting in parishes and other ministries? What will the priestly numbers in the diocese be by then?

How many parishes will be closed or merged in the interim?

In his latest column, Bishop Matthew Clark says that he prays daily:

- that all of us will pray for vocations to the diocesan priesthood

- that we will invite and encourage boys and young men who have a spirit of service and talents that we would like to find in our priests to consider priesthood as a possibility for themselves

- that such generous and gifted individuals would be open to the possibilities of a priestly vocation and would be willing to explore that possibility with the assistance of our Vocations Office.

I believe in the power of prayer, but I think we need to do more.

Increasing the number of priests will take leadership that inspires, that fires up young men - the way Pope John Paul II did. It will take priests who are willing to reach out and invite. It will take creativity.

I see those in short supply these days.

How about a regular vocations show on our Catholic radio station?

How about youth rallies? With music?

How about a Catholic family camp like the one Madonna House offers in Canada?

How about a youth theater group?

How about working with the Irenaeus Center?

How about a Diocesan Youth Day?

How about priests regularly visiting our Catholic schools and high schools?

How about priests being involved with the pro-life movement where there are many young people of faith?

How about ministry projects involving high school and college students like the ones Glenmary does in Appalachia?

That's all just off the top of my head. I'm sure wiser folks can come up with more.

One ordination and then a four year gap. God help us.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Rev. Robinson to lead rally at Planned Parenthood

The local pro-lifers are preparing to rally at Planned Parenthood, the billion dollar abortion business, again.

Pastor Luke Robinson, a dynamic African American activist and pastor, will be speaking at Bethel Christian Fellowship April 3, and then will lead a Pro-life Rally at Planned Parenthood April 4.

Pastor Robinson electrified the crowd at the 2009 March for Life in Washington. He will focus on the topic Wake Up Rochester! Let’s be more than pro-life. Let’s be a VOICE! in his Friday talk at Bethel, 321 East Avenue, from 7-9 p.m.

On Saturday, he will take part in a 10-11 a.m. rally at Planned Parenthood, 114 University Avenue.

I took part in the last rally rally at Planned Parenthood (see my post of Feb. 28). It involved more than 100 prayerful pro-lifers, and a small but vocal group of counter-protesters.

Maybe we'll have an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Perhaps an abortion supporter will ask us who painted the original.


John Paul II - A Haiku

April morning
cardinals in conclave
at the bird feeder

Today is the anniversary of Pope John Paul II's death. I wrote the above haiku back then inspired by the events of that April.

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Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Happy Birthday to a Great American Icon


More Bishops on the Obama/Notre Dame Fiasco

They keep coming.

More bishops are speaking out against the University of Notre Dame's decision to invite President Obama to speak at this year's commencement and receive an honorary doctorate despite his staunch pro-abortion record.

Bishop Edward Slattery of Tulsa and Bishop Eusebius Beltran of Oklahoma City have joined their ranks.

Bishop Slattery wrote to Notre Dame's president, Father John Jenkins, urging him to drop plans to invite Obama.

"For President Obama to be honored by Notre Dame is more than a disappointment, it is a scandal,” Slattery said in his letter dated Tuesday.

"His being honored by Notre Dame will make it easier for a woman who contemplates abortion to submit herself to this cruel and deadly procedure. At the same time, the University of Notre Dame will have distanced itself from the bishops of the country who unanimously have asked that no politician promoting abortion be honored by any of our institutions.”

Bishop Beltran said he also sent a letter.

"President Obama, by word and action, has approved of abortion and other atrocities against human life. Therefore he deserves no recognition at a Catholic institution,” Bishop Beltran said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the petition is up over 227,000.

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Another reason for going to a penance service

Last night the Good-Looking One and I went to our parish penance service. It was then that I noticed something funny about my right front tire. Sure enough, it had a nail in it.

As soon as we got home, I called the nearby Sear Automotive Center (well-deserved plug here). They were closing up for the night, but one of the technicians was just finishing cleaning up and was willing to wait if I got there quickly.

I did. Tire fixed.

If I hadn't gone to the penance service I would not have spotted the problem, and when I went out this morning I would have had a very flat tire when I was supposed to be on the road to school. (My first period students probably wouldn't have minded!)

A simple thing, but a reason last night (and this morning) to say, "Thank you, Lord."

Oh, and "Thank You, Sears."