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.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Obama Beware: The PUMAs are out!

The PUMAs are the Hillary supporters who are not happy about the Obama nomination. Some are voting McCain.

The above cartoon is from a PUMA site.

Bishop Tobin - No to abortion vote

"I don't know about you, dear reader, but I could never vote for a candidate - of any party for any office - who supports laws that promote or allow the death of thousands of children in the hideous crime of abortion. I just don't want that on my conscience."

-- Bishop Thomas T. Tobin, Oct 31, Rhode Island Catholic

In the rest of the column he takes on the notion of "equality" of social issues. Abortion, he contends, takes precedence.

Religion and politics

"Those who believe that religion and politics aren’t connected don’t understand either.”

- Mahatma Gandhi

A taste of an Obama Administration?

A television news reporter asks Joe Biden tough questions - and the Obama campaign cuts off all access for the station.

Now, three newspapers that endorsed McCain - The New York Post, the Dallas Morning News and the Washington Times - have all been kicked of Obama's campaign plane just days before the election.

Then there's all the sudden illegal investigations of "Joe the Plumber" by Ohio supporters of Obama who also happen to be public officials - all because he asked Obama a tough question that revealed some of Obama's economic ideas.

This all fits in with Obama's pattern of concealing or only partly revealing any awkward or potentially politically damaging truth.

I can't wait to see - or not see? - how much he will share with the American people if he's elected (legally, or otherwise).

Planned Parenthood, Infanticide ... and Obama

Check out this video. Just another reason why pro-lifers and Catholics can't support Obama.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Mother Teresa and Secular Saints

After finishing the biography of Fr. Solanus Casey, I decided it was time to get out that copy of Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light that I had bought and added to my pile of books to be read.

The book, based on the "private writings of the `Saint of Calcutta,'" caused a stir a while back because it dealt with her dark night - a concept the secular media had a hard time understanding.

I am only a little way in, but I already find it stimulating and inspiring.

"With permission of my confessor, I made a vow to God - binding under Mortal Sin - to give God anything that He may ask of me, `Not to refuse him anything.'"

To be so dedicated, so committed, so trusting, so in love with God.


I have also be reading Secular Saints by Joan Cruz. It's a collection of short pieces on 250 canonized and beatified lay people - including a number of Secular Franciscans.

Last night I read about Blessed Bonavita the blacksmith, who with the Sign of the Cross could work wonders. He was known for giving away his clothes to the poor, and using his income to feed the hungry, visit prisons and bury the dead.

He reportedly would get lost in contemplation, one time so much so that he didn't even notice his town (Lugo) was on fire - but when he finally realized what was happening he made a Sign of the Cross and the flames went out.

I love stories like that.

There was something about him that resonated with me. I went to look up more on him on line. Alas, so far I have found nothing in English.

The writer in me is intrigued. The subject of a story? A poem? Maybe a play?

God's blacksmith? Hmm.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Bishop Martino - Abortion a primary issue

Bishop Joseph Martino of Scanton has issued the following pastorla letter to be put in all parish bulletins and read aloud at Homily time this Sunday in his diocese.

In it, he addresses the primacy of the abortion issue above other important issues - countering an argument made by some Catholics trying to justify their support for the radically pro-choice Obama.

"Health care, education, economic security, immigration, and taxes are very important concerns. Neglect of any one of them has dire consequences as the recent financial crisis demonstrates. However, the solutions to problems in these areas do not usually involve a rejection of the sanctity of human life in the way that abortion does. Being “right” on taxes, education, health care, immigration, and the economy fails to make up for the error of disregarding the value of a human life."

I wish letters like this were being published in every diocese this Sunday.

Here's the full text. ----

Respect Life Sunday

My brothers and sisters in Christ,

The American Catholic bishops initiated Respect Life Sunday in 1972, the year before the Supreme Court legalized abortion in the United States. Since that time, Catholics across the country observe the month of October with devotions and pro-life activities in order to advance the culture of life. This October, our efforts have more significance than ever. Never have we seen such abusive criticism directed toward those who believe that life begins at conception and ends at natural death.

As Catholics, we should not be surprised by these developments. Forty years ago, Pope Paul VI predicted that widespread use of artificial contraceptives would lead to increased marital infidelity, lessened regard for women, and a general lowering of moral standards especially among the young. Forty years later, social scientists, not necessarily Catholics, attest to the accuracy of his predictions. As if following some bizarre script, the sexual revolution has produced widespread marital breakdown, weakened family ties, legalized abortion, sexually transmitted diseases, pornography, same-sex unions, euthanasia, destruction of human embryos for research purposes and a host of other ills.

It is impossible for me to answer all of the objections to the Church’s teaching on life that we hear every day in the media. Nevertheless, let me address a few. To begin, laws that protect abortion constitute injustice of the worst kind. They rest on several false claims including that there is no certainty regarding when life begins, that there is no certainty about when a fetus becomes a person, and that some human beings may be killed to advance the interests or convenience of others. With regard to the first, reason and science have answered the question. The life of a human being begins at conception. The Church has long taught this simple truth, and science confirms it. Biologists can now show you the delicate and beautiful development of the human embryo in its first days of existence. This is simply a fact that reasonable people accept. Regarding the second, the embryo and the fetus have the potential to do all that an adult person does. Finally, the claim that the human fetus may be sacrificed to the interests or convenience of his mother or someone else is grievously wrong. All three claims have the same result: the weakest and most vulnerable are denied, because of their age, the most basic protection that we demand for ourselves. This is discrimination at its worst, and no person of conscience should support it.

Another argument goes like this: “As wrong as abortion is, I don't think it is the only relevant ‘life’ issue that should be considered when deciding for whom to vote.” This reasoning is sound only if other issues carry the same moral weight as abortion does, such as in the case of euthanasia and destruction of embryos for research purposes. Health care, education, economic security, immigration, and taxes are very important concerns. Neglect of any one of them has dire consequences as the recent financial crisis demonstrates. However, the solutions to problems in these areas do not usually involve a rejection of the sanctity of human life in the way that abortion does. Being “right” on taxes, education, health care, immigration, and the economy fails to make up for the error of disregarding the value of a human life. Consider this: the finest health and education systems, the fairest immigration laws, and the soundest economy do nothing for the child who never sees the light of day. It is a tragic irony that “pro-choice” candidates have come to support homicide – the gravest injustice a society can tolerate – in the name of “social justice.”

Even the Church’s just war theory has moral force because it is grounded in the principle that innocent human life must be protected and defended. Now, a person may, in good faith, misapply just war criteria leading him to mistakenly believe that an unjust war is just, but he or she still knows that innocent human life may not be harmed on purpose. A person who supports permissive abortion laws, however, rejects the truth that innocent human life may never be destroyed. This profound moral failure runs deeper and is more corrupting of the individual, and of the society, than any error in applying just war criteria to particular cases.

Furthermore, National Right to Life reports that 48.5 million abortions have been performed since 1973. One would be too many. No war, no natural disaster, no illness or disability has claimed so great a price.

In saying these things in an election year, I am in very good company. My predecessor, Bishop Timlin, writing his pastoral letter on Respect Life Sunday 2000, stated the case eloquently:

Abortion is the issue this year and every year in every campaign. Catholics may not turn away from the moral challenge that abortion poses for those who seek to obey God’s commands. They are wrong when they assert that abortion does not concern them, or that it is only one of a multitude of issues of equal importance. No, the taking of innocent human life is so heinous, so horribly evil, and so absolutely opposite to the law of Almighty God that abortion must take precedence over every other issue. I repeat. It is the single most important issue confronting not only Catholics, but the entire electorate.

My fellow bishops, writing ten years ago, explained why some evils – abortion and euthanasia in particular – take precedence over other forms of violence and abuse.

The failure to protect life in its most vulnerable stages renders suspect any claims to the ‘rightness’ of positions in other matters affecting the poorest and least powerful of the human community. If we understand the human person as ‘the temple of the Holy Spirit’ – the living house of God – then these latter issues fall logically into place as the crossbeams and walls of that house. All direct attacks on innocent human life, such as abortion and euthanasia, strike at the house’s foundation [emphasis in the original]. These directly and immediately violate the human person’s most fundamental right – the right to life. Neglect of these issues is the equivalent of building our house on sand. Living the Gospel of Life: A Challenge to American Catholics, 23.

While the Church assists the State in the promotion of a just society, its primary concern is to assist men and women in achieving salvation. For this reason, it is incumbent upon bishops to correct Catholics who are in error regarding these matters. Furthermore, public officials who are Catholic and who persist in public support for abortion and other intrinsic evils should not partake in or be admitted to the sacrament of Holy Communion. As I have said before, I will be vigilant on this subject.

It is the Church’s role now to be a prophet in our own country, reminding all citizens of what our founders meant when they said that “. . . all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” The Church’s teaching that all life from conception to natural death should be protected by law is founded on religious belief to be sure, but it is also a profoundly American principle founded on reason. Whenever a society asks its citizens to violate its own foundational principles – as well as their moral consciences – citizens have a right, indeed an obligation, to refuse.

In 1941, Bishop Gustave von Galen gave a homily condemning Nazi officials for murdering mentally ill people in his diocese of Muenster, Germany. The bishop said:

“Thou shalt not kill!” God wrote this commandment in the conscience of man long before any penal code laid down the penalty for murder, long before there was any prosecutor or any court to investigate and avenge a murder. Cain, who killed his brother Abel, was a murderer long before there were any states or any courts or law. And he confessed his deed, driven by his accusing conscience: “My punishment is greater than I can bear. . . and it shall come to pass, that every one that findeth me the murderer shall slay me” (Genesis 4:13-14)”

Should he have opposed the war and remained silent about the murder of the mentally ill? No person of conscience can fail to understand why Bishop von Galen spoke as he did.

My dear friends, I beg you not to be misled by confusion and lies. Our Lord, Jesus Christ, does not ask us to follow him to Calvary only for us to be afraid of contradicting a few bystanders along the way. He does not ask us to take up his Cross only to have us leave it at the voting booth door. Recently, Pope Benedict XVI said that “God is so humble that he uses us to spread his Word.” The gospel of life, which we have the privilege of proclaiming, resonates in the heart of every person – believer and non-believer – because it fulfills the heart’s most profound desire. Let us with one voice continue to speak the language of love and affirm the right of every human being to have the value of his or her life, from conception to natural death, respected to the highest degree.

October is traditionally the month of the Rosary. Let us pray the Rosary for the strength and fortitude to uphold the truths of our faith and the requirements of our law to all who deny them. And, let us ask Our Lady to bless our nation and the weakest among us.

May Mary, the mother of Jesus, the Lord of Life, pray for us.

Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Reverend Joseph F. Martino, D.D., Hist. E.D.Bishop of Scranton

Monday, October 27, 2008

A Letter from Biden's Bishop

Senator Joe Biden's new Bishop, Bishop W. Francis Malooly, published the following letter in the Wilmington News Journal:

In his interview with The News Journal published Oct. 19, Sen. Joe Biden presents a seriously erroneous picture of Catholic teaching on abortion. He said, “I know that my church has wrestled with this for 2,000 years,” and claimed repeatedly that the Church has a nuanced view of the subject that leaves a great deal of room for uncertainty and debate.

This is simply incorrect. The teaching of the Church is clear and not open to debate. Abortion is a grave sin because it is the wrongful taking of an innocent human life. The Church received the tradition opposing abortion from Judaism. In the Greco-Roman world, early Christians were identifiable by their rejection of the common practices of abortion and infanticide.

The Didache, probably the earliest Christian writing apart from the New Testament, explicitly condemns abortion without exceptions. It tells us there is a “way of life” and a “way of death” and abortion is a part of the way of death. This has been the consistent teaching of the Church ever since.

It was also the position of Protestant reformers without exception. It was the teaching of Pope John XXIII as well as Pope John Paul II. It is the teaching of Pope Benedict XVI and the bishops of the Church, including me as shepherd of this diocese.

Some ancient and medieval theologians did see a difference between early abortions and ones that occurred later in term because with the limited medical knowledge of the time they did not know then what we scientifically know now: that a fetus is a living human being from conception.

Nevertheless, they universally condemned all abortions.

Of course, we now know that a fetus is a living human being from the very start. Thus, abortions take innocent human lives no matter when they occur. Since there is no gradation in the Church’s teaching on abortion, there is no way the medically obsolete division of pregnancy into three trimesters by Roe v. Wade can have any bearing on the rightness or wrongness of abortion. Taking an innocent life in the womb is wrong at any stage of pregnancy.

The Declaration of Independence lists life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as God-given rights. Life is listed first, and it is the principal function of the state to protect the lives of citizens. This understanding of the state’s primary obligation to protect human life is also fundamental to Catholic social doctrine to which the senator points. Without life all other rights are meaningless.

This Sunday, all the parishes in the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington will pray the Litany of St. Thomas More, martyr and patron saint of statesmen, politicians and lawyers. We will ask St. Thomas More to intercede so all statesmen and politicians may be courageous and effective in their defense and promotion of the sanctity of human life. We hope Sen. Biden will carefully listen to the Church’s 2,000 years of testimony on abortion and that he will join in the defense and promotion of the sanctity of life.

Most Rev. W. Francis Malooly, bishop, Catholic Diocese of Wilmington


Even his own Bishop is taking Biden to task.

Given his reaction to a television reporter over the weekend, I wonder if Biden will like the tough questions about not being true to his Church's teachings he might be asked when he meets his Maker?

I wonder if he will ask if Jesus is kidding him?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

50 U.S. Bishops: No to Obama

The Tablet has an interesting article by Rocco Palmo claiming that 50 U.S. Bishops - about one fourth of the total - have said that the most important issue for Catholics when voting should be abortion.

A quarter of America's bishops have said that the most important issue for voters in the forthcoming presidential election is abortion - comments that may help boost the fortunes of Republican candidate John McCain.

Some 50 out of the nation's 197 active bishops have published articles or given interviews during the run-up up to the election urging abortion as the key issue on which voters should decide which way to vote. ...

Bishop Robert Hermann of St. Louis, for example, wrote in St. Louis Review, that "the issue of life is the most basic issue and must be given priority over the issue of the economy, the issue of war or any other issue."

He said "Saving our children or killing our children. This is the overriding issue facing each of us. All other issues ... have to take second place to the issue of life."

As I've been saying all along, the other issues are important, but the killing of approximately 1 million children a year trumps the others.

Texas Bishop: Catholics should not vote for Obama

From Catholic World News:

A retired US bishop has issued a public statement declaring that Catholics cannot in good conscience vote for Barack Obama in this year's presidential election.

"A Catholic cannot be said to have voted in this election with a good conscience if they have voted for a pro-abortion candidate. (Barack Obama) is a pro-abortion candidate," said Bishop Rene Gracida, the retired head of the Corpus Christ, Texas diocese.

Bishop Gracida's statement has been released as a potential radio advertisment by pro-life activist Randall Terry.

Flawed Presidential Polls - a possible surprise?

I went to a Huckabee site (the guy I was supporting way back when) ( and came across this from Hillbuzz --

I was having dinner a night ago with a friend of mine who is a statistician for a well-regarded private polling company. They do some work for Republicans in California, but most of the work they do is for Democrats or Democrat-leaning operations (Unions, etc.). Anyway, her shop was retained to do a few Presidential polls for targetted states on behalf of a union so the union could decide where to spend their ad dollars for the last week. They did Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada and Missouri. After mocking the hell out of the voter id spreads used by Rassmussen, Zogby, etc. (and this is coming from a committed Dem who will be voting for Barry O) she said the results of their polling lead her to believe that McCain will definitely win FL, OH, NC, MO and NV. She says Obama definitely wins New Mexico. She said that Colorado and New Hampshire were absolute dead heats. She said she thinks there is a 55% chance Obama holds on in Pennsylvania and a 75% chance McCain wins Virginia. She absolutely laughed at the public polls showing Obama leading Virginia–and pointed out that all of those polls rely on Dem turnout being +4 and as much as +7, when in 2006, Republicans actually had the advantage by +3. She also pointed out that the numbers for Obama in SWVA look absolutely awful and that McCain is running 10 points better then Allen did in NoVa.

Anyway, her companies conclusion is that the election will come down to Colorado, New Hampshire and the Republican leaning district in Maine, which in her opinion might very well decide the Presidency (apparently the district in Nebraska that Obama thought he might be able to get is now off the table). She said she has very little doubt that the public polling is part of a “concerted voter suppression effort” by the MSM. She said IBD/TIPP was the only outfit doing public polling that was “worth a bucket of warm piss”.


Hmm. A surprise? Or just wishful thinking?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

NY Bishops on voting

"It is the rare candidate who will agree with the Church on every issue. But as the U.S. Bishops' recent document Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship makes clear, not every issue is of equal moral gravity. The inalienable right to life of every innocent human person outweighs other concerns where Catholics may use prudential judgment, such as how to meet the needs of the poor or to increase access to health care for all." - N.Y. State Catholic Bishops, 2008

Poster boys?

Joe the Plumber

Bill the Bomber

With which campaign is each one linked?

Secular Franciscan Order Aspirant

Before last night's Secular Franciscan Order meeting, I told the head of the group that I did indeed wish to begin the process.

I am now an aspirant.

One who aspires - seeks a goal.

The word is Middle English, from Middle French or Latin; Middle French aspirer, from Latin aspirare, literally, to breathe upon, from ad- + spirare to breathe.

The practical goal is to become a professed member of the Secular Franciscan Order. But the real goal is to grow spiritually. That is something that I have longed for, knowing that I need support and guidance along the way.

Sadly, because the formation group has already been meeting for a while - the professions will take place next summer - I must wait a while to begin that part of the process until a new group forms (which would require more new aspirants join as I am currently the only one), or until they start me as a class of one.

Typically, the process involves three stages - Orientation (which I guess I'm in), Inquiry, and Candidacy. All together, they take about two years. Given that the professions here seem to take place in August, I'm looking at 2010 at the earliest, or 2011.

Whatever the case, however long it takes, I have begun.


Friday, October 24, 2008

Beyond elections

It's so easy to get caught up all the politicking. It's also easy to get put off because of all the lies, half truths, distortions, spins, and so on. Even more, it's so easy to grow depressed because something that appears so clearly wrong seems on the verge of prevailing.

But moments like this can serve to remind us that as important as elections are, as important as the issues are, as important as fighting for what is right in our society is, ultimately, our goal is not what we can achieve in this world, but rather, on what is eternal.

That does not mean that we should simply give up and let the world be the world. Our faith compels us to fight, and fight with all our might. We must fight to win not because winning is the end, but rather, because we must do what is right.

And in seeking what is right we must remember that we cannot reform others - that they must do themselves. Our real goal is to reform ourselves, to try to be as perfect followers of Christ as we can be.

Moreover, we have to have faith that God can use even seeming defeats to reach us and others. Our faith, our crazy "irrational" dada faith, tells us that we have to trust in Him.

Elections in this world are important, but even more important is eternal life.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A letter to Barack Obama (excerpts)

A letter allegedly written to Barack Obama was sent to me. I do not know if it was actually ever sent to him - it could be just one of those internet things - but even if it wasn't it does raise some questions and pulls together some interesting points, especially when it comes to Barack Obama's loose ways with the truth.

I'm posting part of it here -

*The New York Times carried a story on Saturday, October 4, 2008, that proved you had a significantly closer relationship with Bill Ayers than what you previously admitted. While the issue of your relationship is of concern, the greater concern is that you lied to America about it.

*The Chicago Sun reported on May 8, 2008, that FBI records showed that you had a significantly closer relationship with Tony Rezko than what you previously admitted. In the interview, you said that you only saw Mr.Rezko a couple of times a year. The FBI files showed that you saw him weekly. While the issue of your relationship is of concern, the greater concern is that you lied to America about it.

*Your speech in Philadelphia on March 18, 2008, about "race" contradicted your statement to Anderson Cooper on March 14 when you said that you never heard Reverend Wright make his negative statements about white America.While your attendance at Trinity Church for 20 years is of concern, the greater concern is that you lied to America on March 14.

*In your 1st debate with John McCain, you said that you never said that you would meet with the leaders of Cuba, Venezuela, Iran, and North Korea without "preparations" at lower levels ... Joe Biden repeated your words in his debate with Sarah Palin ... while the video tape from your debate last February clearly shows that you answered "I would" to the question of meeting with those leaders within 12 months without "any" preconditions.While your judgement about meeting with enemies of the USA without pre-conditions is of concern, the greater concern is that you lied to America in the debate with McCain.

*On July 14, 2008, you said that you always knew that the surge would work while the video tapes of you from more than a year ago show that you stated that the surge would not work. While your judgement about military strategy as a potential commander-in-chief is of concern, the greater concern is that you lied to America on July 14.

*You now claim that your reason for voting against funding for the troops was because the bill did not include a time line for withdrawal, while the video tapes of you from more than a year ago show that you voted against additional funding because you wanted our troops to be removed immediately... not in 16 months after the 2008 election as you now claim. While your judgement about removing our troops unilaterally in 2007 is of concern, the greater concern is that you lied to America about your previous position.

*You claim to have a record of working with Republicans while the record shows that the only bill that you sponsored with a Republican was with Chuck Lugar ... and it failed. The record shows that you vote 97% in concert with the (Democratic Party) and that you have the most liberal voting record in the Senate. You joined Republicans only 13% of the time in your votes and those 13% were only after agreement from the (Democratic Party). While it is of concern that you fail to include conservatives in your actions and that you are such a liberal, the greater concern is that you distorted the truth.

*In the primary debates of last February, 2008, you claimed to have talked with a "Captain" of a platoon in Afghanistan "the other day" when in fact you had a discussion in 2003 with a Lieutenant who had just been deployed to Afghanistan. You lied in that debate.

*In your debates last spring, you claimed to have been a "professor of Constitutional law" when in fact you have never been a professor of Constitutional law. In this last debate, you were careful to say that you"taught a law class" and never mentioned being a "professor of Constitutional law." You lied last spring.

*You and Joe Biden both claimed that John McCain voted against additional funding for our troops when the actual records show the opposite. You distorted the truth.

*You and Joe Biden claim that John McCain voted like both of you for a tax increase on those making as little as $42,000 per year while the voting record clearly shows that John McCain did not vote as you and Joe Biden. You lied to America.

*You and Joe Biden claim that John McCain voted with George W. Bush 90% of the time when you know that Democrats also vote 90% of the time with the President (including Joe Biden) because the vast majority of the votes are procedural. You are one of the few who has not voted 90% of the time with the president because you have been missing from the Senate since the day you got elected. While your absence from your job in the Senate is of concern, the greater concern is that you spin the facts.

*During your campaign, you said: "typical white person." "They cling to their guns and religion." "They will say that I am black." You played the race card. You tried to label any criticism about you as racist. You divide America.

*1. You lied to America. You lied many times. You distorted facts. You parsed your answers like a lawyer.
*2. You distorted the record of John McCain in your words and in your advertisements.
*3. You had associations with some very bad people for your personal political gains and then lied about those associations.
*4. You divide America about race and about class.

*Mr. Obama, John McCain does not have as much money as your campaign to refute all of your false statements. And for whatever reasons, the mainstream media will not give adequate coverage or research about your lies, distortions, word parsing, bad associations, race baiting, lack of operational leadership experience, and generally dishonest character. The media is diverting our attention from your relationships and ignoring the fact that you lied about those relationships. The fact that you lied is much more important than the relationships themselves .... just like with Bill Clinton and Richard Nixon ... Monica Lewinski and Watergate were not nearly as bad as the fact that those men lied about the events ... false witness ... perjury . Your relationships and bad judgements are bad on their own . But your lies are even worse.


Now, to be fair, McCain has also been guilty of playing fast with the truth. This has not been a a election year of which we can be proud. But my sense is that Obama has a major problem with the truth.

And being a pro-lifer - an area that is not dealt with in the letter - I am afraid of what he might do.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

SFO's Blessed Contardo Ferrini

I neglected to post this October 20.

Blessed Contardo Ferrini was born in Milan, Italy, on April 4, 1859, the son of a teacher. A scholar himself, Ferrini earned a doctor in law degree and was given a government scholarship to study abroad. In Berlin, he studied Roman-Byzantine law, achieving international fame.

After returning to Italy, he taught in various higher institutions of learning and eventually at the University of Pavia.

Even as he was achieving academic success, he was noted for his faith, publicly living out his faith and defending the church, and attending daily Mass at a time when that was not a common practice. Ferrini insisted that "Learning is not the road to God."

He took a private vow of celibacy, and was known to comment, "Law is my wife." Having mastered a number of languages, he read the books of the Bible in their original languages.

He did not cling to worldly or academic success, He observed, "Our life must reach out towards the Infinite, and from that source we must draw whatever we can expect of merit and dignity."

In 1886 he joined the Secular Franciscan Order, remaining with the order until his death. Like Francis, he loved the beauties of nature. He often climbed the Alps, writing of his experiences, "God also speaks to man in the clouds on the mountain tops, in the roaring of the torrents, in the stark awfulness of the cliffs, in the dazzling splendor of the unmelting snow, in the sun that splashes the west with blood, in the wind that strips the trees bare."

He was also active with the St. Vincent de Paul Society.

In 1900 he developed heart problems. In the the fall of 1902, he went to his country house at Suna to rest, but contracted typhus. He died on October 17, 1902. He was just 43.

Pope Pius XI conferred on him the title Venerable in 1931, and Pope Pius XII beatified him in 1947.

40 Days - Another Baby Saved

The 40 Days for Life Campaign in Rochester has another reason to celebrate: Another young lady who ventured into Planned Parenthood came out, approached the members of the campaign praying there, and announced she was going to have her baby. They gave her literature, including information about where she can get help.

That makes four lives saved here.

Hundreds have been saved nationally. Alleluia!


Monday, October 20, 2008

Franciscan wisdom from Blessed Solanus Casey

"So often people hope to find happiness in money or the things money buys. If only they would stop running around, acquiring this or that, instead of seeking happiness only where it can be found - in love of God. They are so foolish." - Venerable Solanus Casey, O.F.M. Cap

Saturday, October 18, 2008

40 Days: Praying PP out of business

To mark the midpoint in the 40 Days for Life campaign (technically, last Monday) in Rochester, we celebrated a Mass at Our Lady of Victory Church, then processed to Planned Parenthood's headquarters.

The Mass was concelebrated by the parish's administrator, Father Ron Antinarelli, and Father Joe Catanise, who has been active in the 40 Days campaign. More than 100 people crowded into the church.

After the Mass, participants gathered outside the church where they were addressed by 40 Days coordinator Jose Rivera.

We then marched through downtown Rochester praying the rosary. Along he way we got a thumbs up from a bus drive wearing a tau cross.

At Planned Parenthood, vigil participants waited,

then were joined by the processors for prayers,
and final words from Jose (far right).
He announced that at least 3 babies had been saved locally because of the campaign.
Hundreds have been saved nationally.


Quoting Obama: A baby as punishment

Friday, October 17, 2008

Processing to Planned Parenthood

Tomorrow (October 18) to mark passing the midpoint in the 40 Days for Life campaign, we will meet at Our Lady of Victory Church at 200 Pleasant St. in Rochester for a 12:10 Mass, then to process to the Planned Parenthood offices at 114 University Avenue.

I sent out releases to the local media - it remains to be seen whether we will be covered at all. I hope to take some pictures and to write up something to post.

But the more important thing is praying for an end to abortion. Nationwide, a reported 268 babies have been saved.

268 lives that would likely have ended if not for the campaign.


Wednesday, October 15, 2008


the old dog stumbles
more on this morning's walk -
first hard frost

Monday, October 13, 2008

New Franciscan saints

Pope Benedict presided over the canonization of two Franciscans Sunday:

Saint Mary Bernard (Verena) Bütler, who founded the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of Mary Help of Sinners and served the Lord in South America;

Saint Alphonsa of the Immaculate Conception, a Franciscan Clarist nun, who is India’s first canonized saint.

Here's some biographical information:

40 Days for Life: Midway

Today marks Day 20 of 40 Days for Life.

I was down at Planned Parenthood this morning, praying with fellow vigil participants (three Knights of Columbus from Hilton), saying a rosary, then praying a version of the Jesus Prayer ("Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a sinner.")

I also prayed individually for each person driving into the Planned Parenthood Parking lot.

So far in Rochester, two babies have been reported saved. The last number I heard nationally was 114 saved.

Yesterday a church choir was there praying and singing Gregorian chant! On Saturday, a girl who had an abortion and immediately regretted it received counseling and support.

This coming Saturday there will be a Mass to mark the midpoint, then a procession to Planned Parenthood. The Mass is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. at Our Lady of Victory Church, 200 Pleasant Street, in Rochester.


Saturday, October 11, 2008

Obama not a legal citizen!?

This video has two allegations - Obama was not born in the U.S., and as a child became an Indonesian citizen and did not seek naturalization when he came back to the U.S. The allegation is that under either circumstance he would not be eligible to be President. The claims are now part of a lawsuit. I believe the Keny birth story has been refuted (or at least put into doubt) since the filing. I don't know about the Indonesia citizenship part.

Still - Hmm.

Palin hits Obama on abortion

"In both parties, Americans have many concerns to be weighed in the votes they cast on Nov. 4th. In times like these, with wars and a financial crisis, it’s easy to forget even as deep and abiding a concern as the right to life. And it seems our opponent hopes that you will forget. Like so much else in his agenda, he hopes you won’t notice how radical his ideas and record are until it’s too late. But let there be no misunderstanding about the stakes.

A vote for Barack Obama is a vote for activist courts that will continue to smother the open and democratic debate we need on this issue, at both the state and federal level.

A vote for Barack Obama would give the ultimate power over the issue of life to a politician who has never once done anything to protect the unborn.

As Sen. Obama told Pastor Rick Warren, it’s above his pay grade. For a candidate who talks so often about “hope,” he offers no hope at all in meeting this great challenge to the conscience of America.

There is a growing consensus in our country that we can overcome narrow partisanship on this issue, and bring all the resources of a generous country to the aid of both women in need and the child waiting to be born. We need more of the compassion and idealism that our opponent’s own party, at its best, once stood for. We need the clarity and conviction of leaders like the late Gov. Bob Casey. He represented a humanity that speaks to all of us — no matter what our party, our background, our faith, or our gender.

And no matter your position on this sensitive subject, I hope that spirit will guide you on Election Day. I ask you to vote for McCain-Palin on the Nov. 4th, and help us to bring this country together in the rational discussion of compassion and life.” - Governor Sarah Palin


Obama is an extremist on the abortion issue - one reason why no Catholic should vote for him.

My advice is if you can't vote for McCain for other reasons, so be it. Find a third party candidate you can support. Write in a candidate. But do not vote for Obama.

Obama facing RICO?

Could the campaign of Barack Obama be implicated in the reported RICO investigations of ACORN for voter fraud? (Probably not, but it's always fun to speculate. And Clinton supporters are apparently behind the suit, so you never know!)

But if it did happen, that would mean all of the leading candidates would have ethical or legal shadows now that the Palin/trooper report is out!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Franciscan Reading - Father Solanus

As part of my Franciscan education, I am reading Catherine Odell's updated biography of Blessed Father Solonus Casey, Father Solanus: The Story of Solanus Casey, O.F.M Cap.

I had heard of him, and had stumbled across the book a few times over the years, so I finally decided to dive in.

It's not heavy reading, but on the whole it is informative and enjoyable. Spiritually, it is moving me to look at how I treat others (always a major failing with me). I wish I had more of his kindly spirit and humility.

And I like his beard.

"You cannot grow a beard in a moment of passion." - G. K. Chesterton

SFO Blessed: Mother Mary Angela of the Felicians

Blessed Mother Mary Angela Truszkowska was born Sophia Camille Truszkowska in Kalisz, Poland, on May 16,1825. She had health problems as a child, and was largely educated at home. Her father, a judge, had a large library, which aided in her education. He also helped her to develop a deep concern for the poor and social justice. Her family was very devout, and early on she was drawn to prayer.

As a young woman, she devoted herself to working for the poor and needy. Her spirituality was strengthened by a deep passion for Jesus in the Eucharist. She also had devotions to Mary and St. Francis of Assisi, eventually becoming a Third Order (Secular Order) Franciscan.

On November 21, 1855, Sophia and her cousin (a fellow Third Order Franciscan) dedicated themselves to do the will of her Christ while kneeling before an icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa. The day is considered the foundation day of the Congregation of the Sisters of St.Felix of Cantalice (the Felician Sisters).

She served as the superior general of the congregation for three terms, stepping down at age forty-four years because of increasing deafness. She remained active for the next 30 years until she died October 10, 1899.

Pope John Paul II beatified her April 18, 1993.

An Obama bombshell a-building?

As the Presidential race enters its final weeks, the scrutiny of Obama is intensifying.

That may be due in part to Republican and McCain campaign fears that they may lose in a big way.

It could be that FOX News and all the conservative radio/television talking heads are getting scared that we might just end up with Obama and have begun to rally behind McCain, and are throwing everything they can at Obama.

But it could also be that all the investigations are starting to bear fruit, and that some of the Obama smokescreens are starting to clear.

Obama's pattern has been to act like a little kid when accused. Deny and downplay - until forced to tell more. But only telling as much of the truth as he is forced to tell.

We saw that with the Rev. Wright and Tony Rezco situations earlier this year. Now more is coming out about his relationship with Bill Ayers (that "mad bomber" who initially was just some guy in his neighborhood). The relationship extended over years and was much more involved than we were initially led to believe. Now Obama says it was only years later that he discovered Ayers' darker side - sort of like it allegedly took 20 years for him to actually pay attention to what Rev. Wright was saying (or could it be only after investigations revealed more of the truth that Obama was forced to admit more?).

Ah, but there's more.

His ties to ACORN in Chicago - funneling money their way and assisting them, providing training, etc. Then the use of an ACORN affiliate in Ohio, initially covering up what they were doing and how much was given, but then having to amend campaign financial reports as the truth came out. ACORN is now under investigation across the nation for voter fraud. Did ACORN carry out illegal activities on behalf of the Obama campaign, and were they limited to just Ohio? Did Obama engage in or support some of these illegal activities himself when he was helping ACORN in Chicago?

Tick tick tick.

We know he funneled money to ACORN and Ayers associated groups in Chicago, but how much? How was that money used?

Tick tick tick.

It has now been revealed that Obama was part of an ACORN lawsuit in 1998 to force Citibank to make the kind of substandard loans that helped to lead to the current crisis. How widely known is this? Could there be more suits that he was party to?

Tick tick tick.

There are rumors that Rezco might do some talking to help with his sentence. What might he say?

And now - through no fault of Obama, but still the timing is bad - we have Minister Louis Farrakhan basically anointing Obama the Black Muslim Messiah. (The right-wing bigots will have a field day with that!)

What other problems are percolating beneath the surface?

Maybe nothing. Or maybe something is about to blow up and ruin his campaign.

Was that fear I saw in Keith Olbermann's feverish Obama-worshipping eyes?

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Vote racist! (ah, satire)

Bill Donohue has offered a bit of satire that every Catholic who is thinking of voting for Obama should read....

I believe racism is an unspeakable evil, yet I support David Duke, who is pro-racism. I do not support him because he is pro-racism, but in spite of it. Is that a proper choice for a committed Catholic?

As someone who has worked with minorities all his life, I answer with a resounding yes. Despite what some say, the list of what the Catholic Church calls "intrinsically evil acts" does not begin and end with racism. In fact, there are many intrinsically evil acts, and a committed Catholic must consider all of them in deciding how to vote.

Last November, the U.S. bishops released "Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship," a 30-page document that provides several examples of intrinsically evil acts: abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem-cell research, torture, racism, and targeting noncombatants in acts of war.

Duke's support for racist rights has led some to the conclusion that no Catholic can vote for him. That's a mistake. While I have never swayed in my conviction that racism is an unspeakable evil, I believe that we have lost the racism battle -- permanently. A vote for Duke's opponent does not guarantee the end of racism in America. Not even close. ...

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Secular Franciscan and Pro-Choice???

I often read other blogs, with particular attention paid recently to ones associated with the Secular Franciscans.

The vast majority of the SFO blogs are pro-life. Most say they cannot vote for Obama because of his position on abortion. A few do support Obama, but tend to skirt the abortion issue. I can see why they support him - especially given the policies of the Bush administration, and some of Obama's stances on other issues, but the blatant support for abortion overshadows his other positions in my mind,

However, one blog that I've actually read off and on for a while not only openly supports Obama, but the blogger said, when asked how he could support such a staunchly pro-choice candidate, that not only did he do so, but that he himself is pro-choice.

I was surprised - and saddened.

He defended his position. I posted a response.

"I am simply reminding you that the Church teaches abortion is always morally wrong - a non-negotiable. Thus it is questionable that one can claim to be a faithful Catholic and pro-choice. It is at the least an issue to be discussed with one's confessor.

Moreover, the Pope and the bishops have pointed out that in assessing candidates, abortion outweighs other important issues.

Finally, the Rule of the Secular Franciscan Order states: They have been made living members of the Church by being buried and raised with Christ in baptism; they have been united more intimately with the Church by profession. Therefore, they should go forth as witnesses and instruments of her mission among all people, proclaiming Christ by their life and words.
Called like Saint Francis to rebuild the Church and inspired by his example, let them devote themselves energetically to living in full communion with the pope, bishops and priests, fostering an open and trusting dialogue of apostolic effectiveness and creativity." (Chapter II The Way of Life, 6)

It hardly seems to me that openly countering a non-negotiable teaching of the Church by declaring oneself pro-choice is a way to live out the Rule, to be a witness of the Church, or to be in full communion with the pope and the bishops who have been very clear in their pronouncements on this issue.

I am saddened by this, and concerned for you."

I simply cannot imagine one being a Secular Franciscan yet being pro-choice and going against a clear teaching of the Church. That seems so antithetical to the spirit of St. Francis.

40 Days: Another life saved

This from the Rochester 40 Days for Life campaign:

We had our second 'reported' baby saved today!!! Martha and other prayer volunteers witnessed when a lady came out from the facility and told Martha how she "couldn't do it!" After seeing the prayer volunteers on the sidewalk she realized that she couldn't go through with the abortion!!!

One life at a time. One prayer at a time.

UPDATE: According to one report, the campaign has saved 113 lives nationally so far.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Choose: Catholic or pro-abortion

Monday, October 06, 2008

Vote Dada

As we near the election, I can take comfort - or frustration - in the fact that here in New York my vote does not count.

Obama will win this state by at least a million votes no matter how I vote.

My vote is pointless.

What better argument for the Dada Party? A pointless vote for a pointless cause.

And rather than feel frustration or comfort, I can feel like fish.


Secular Franciscan Saint: Mary Frances of the Five Wounds

October 6 is the Feast of Mary Frances of the Five Wounds of Jesus. She was born Anna Maria Gallo on March 25, 1715, in Naples, Italy into a middle class family. As a child, she began to spend hours in prayer. She worked in the family gold lace weaving business – apparently working long hours – and was mistreated by her father.

When she was 16, the son of a wealthy family wanted to marry her. Her father said yes, but she refused, and her father reportedly beat her with a rope, locked her in her room, and fed her only bread and water. She continued to refuse, and asked permission to declare herself a consecrated virgin and to enter the Franciscan Third Order (Secular Franciscans). With pressure form a priest, and maybe feeling guilty about the way he had been treating her, her father finally agreed. She was received into the order September, 8, 1731, taking the name of "Mary Frances of the Five Wounds of Jesus."

Devoted to the Passion of Jesus, whom she considered her heavenly spouse, she is credited with having the stigmata, feeling the pains of the Passion, though apparently she had prayed that she would have no outward signs of the wounds of Christ.

As a consecrated virgin she continued to live at home, and the suffering she experienced due to the stigmata was augmented by mistreatment and at the hands of her father and sisters. She also imposed penances on herself, including strict fasts, hair shirts, and other disciplines.

She reportedly had the gifts of prophesy and miracles.

She died October 6, 1791, and was declared Venerable by Pope Pius VII on May 18, 1803. She was beatified by Pope Gregory XVI on November 12, 1843, and canonized by Pope Pius IX on June 29, 1867.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Franciscan calendar

I am a lover of biographies. I am fascinated by how people live their lives and the models they can provide for me.

It's natural, then, that in exploring the Franciscan Secular Order I am curious about the lives of Franciscan Saints and Blesseds.

There's lots of them in all three orders (Secular being the "Third" order).

Some are famous. Others are not. Some I know little about. About many I know next to nothing.

Everybody knows Francis and Clare. Many people know at least something about Thomas More, Padre Pio or Maximilian Kolbe.

But what about Solanus Casey? Matt Talbot? Raymond Lull?

I would be interested in writing about them. I am a writer. Hmm. Maybe this is a way to use my abilities? A book about Franciscan Saints and Blesseds? Or even just about Secular Franciscan ones?

Maybe one has already been produced. Food for thought - and research.


A GOP McCain/Palin related oops

I had been in touch with the local GOP headquarters asking if there was a McCain/Palin office. I wanted to get a button.

They said there was no separate office, but that I could get materials through them. They asked if I wanted a lawn sign. I said no, because my wife supported Obama (sigh) and we had to talk first before I did something like that.

We did talk, briefly, and I said I'd like to get one, but that she was more than welcome to get an Obama sign and we could be like America - 50/50. But no final decision was made. I did not call to get one.

Yesterday, we took some friends out the the Hilton Apple Festival and returned home with them to find a McCain/Palin sign on our lawn!

I said that I had asked not to have one yet. My wife was upset. She said that she did not want it on the lawn. So my friend - an Obama supporter himself - walked over and proceeded to pull it out. I objected: What right did he have to pull something out of my lawn?

Anyway, I said I wanted the sign up, but that she was free to get an Obama sign. She was still not happy.

I am annoyed at the local GOP: They did what I asked them NOT to do.

Later, I did put the sign back up, but will take it down. (Myself.) It's away from the window so she does not have to look at it all the time, but she is still not pleased. It's her lawn too.

Too bad the local GOP did not listen to my wishes. They might have been able to have a sign there if my wife and I could have talked first and come to a compromise.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Transitus - Celebrating Francis

Last night we went to the Transitus celebration of the two Rochester area Secular Franciscan groups.

The Transitus is a commemoration and celebration of the passing of St. Francis from this life to eternal life the evening of October 3 some 800 years ago. October 4 is celebrated as his feast day because the passing took place after sunset on the 3rd, so in traditional church reckoning considered the 4th (by the same reckoning that allows us to attend Mass on Saturday evening and still fulfil our Sunday obligation).

Last night's celebration included a Mass at which were read the accounts of his death, and John 13: 1-17, which he asked his Franciscan brothers to read to him as he lay dying. Father Catanese celebrated the Mass with a chalice and a paten he had gotten is Assisi.

One of the Secular Franciscans also brought a cross containing a first-class relic of St. Francis, as well as first-class and third-class relics of other saints (I didn't get the entire list, but two of the were St. Maximilian Kolbe and St. Faustina).

Afterwards, we gathered for some refreshments and conversation.

The group I have been attending is called the Glory of Yahweh, and questions were raised about whether the group will have to change its name due to the recent Vatican ruling about the use of the name Yahweh in the liturgy and liturgical songs (having read the statement, it does not appear to me that it applies to groups).

There was also talk of the vice presidential debate. Lots of Palin (and McCain) supporters!

Several people asked if my wife was also considering joining the Secular Franciscans. No, it's not her style of spirituality. But I can always pray.

Of course, first I have to commit to the SFO!

Overall, a lovely Mass and celebration.


A Franciscan groaner

The Franciscan Friars were behind on their belfry payments, so they opened up a small florist shop to raise funds.

Since everyone liked to buy flowers from the men of God, a rival florist across town thought this was unfair. He asked the good fathers to close down, but they would not.

He went back and begged the Friars to close. They politely but firmly said no.

So the rival florist hired Hugh MacTaggart, the roughest and most vicious thug in town to "persuade" them to close. Hugh beat up the Friars and trashed their store, saying he'd be back if they didn't close up shop.

Terrified, they did so, thereby proving that: Hugh, and only Hugh, can prevent florist Friars.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Democrats - Party of Death?

In an interview with Italian episcopal conference's daily newspaper Avvenire, Archbishop Raymond Burke observed, "At this point, the Democratic Party risks transforming itself definitively into a `party of death' due to its choices on bioethical issues, as Ramesh Ponnuru wrote in his book The Party of Death: The Democrats, the Media, the Courts and the Disregard for Human Life.

And I say this with a heavy heart, because we all know that the Democrats were the party that helped our Catholic immigrant parents and grandparents to better integrate into and prosper in American society. But it's not the same anymore."

(I was a life-long Democrat. I even tried to help get Democrats for Life off the ground. I quit the party last year, saddened and disgusted by what it was doing and advocating.)

As for denying Catholic politicians Communion because of their public stances on abortion, Burke said, "Mine was not an isolated position. It was shared by Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Denver [Colorado], by Bishop Peter J. Jugis of Charlotte [North Carolina], and by others. But it is true that the bishops' conference has not taken this position, leaving each bishop free to act as he believes is best. For my part, I always have maintained that there must be a united position in order to demonstrate the unity of the Church in facing this serious question.

Recently, I have noticed that other bishops are coming to this position. Above all, following some evidently poor statements on the part of the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, and of the Democratic candidate to vice president, Senator Joe Biden, who, while presenting themselves as good Catholics, have represented Church teaching on abortion in a false and tendentious manner."

(Ah, Biden, the Catholic. He admits he believes life begins at conception, but he support a woman's right to kill the child. That's murder.)

There more to the interview at Zenit (

I can't any Catholic voting in good conscience for the Obama/Biden ticket given their stances - especially Obama's extreme position on abortion.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

NY Bishops: Pro-life takes priority in voting

New York's Bishops - including Rochester's Bishop Matthew Clark - have said that abortion is a primary concern when voting.

In "Our Cherished Right, Our Solemn Duty" they declare:

It is the rare candidate who will agree with the Church on every issue. But as the U.S. Bishops’ recent document Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship makes clear, not every issue is of equal moral gravity. The inalienable right to life of every innocent human person outweighs other concerns where Catholics may use prudential judgment, such as how best to meet the needs of the poor or to increase access to health care for all.

The right to life is the right through which all others flow. To the extent candidates reject this fundamental right by supporting an objective evil, such as legal abortion, euthanasia or embryonic stem cell research, Catholics should consider them less acceptable for public office. As Faithful Citizenship teaches, “Those who knowingly, willingly, and directly support public policies or legislation that undermine fundamental moral principles cooperate with evil.”

I added the bold. The point is clear though: Abortion outweighs other issues.

I still can't figure out how those who claim to be Catholic - especially those claiming to be pro-life - can vote for Obama given the circumstances. If McCain was also pro-choice, or monumentally wrong on other issues, I could imagine holding one's nose and doing so. But he is not. He and Obama may differ on issues, but on many of these issues the differences are not enough to outweigh Obama's extreme position on abortion.

I'd love to see highlights from this in all parish bulletins.

(Full statement at:


Taking the plunge?

I've attended two Secular Franciscan meetings. Tomorrow night I will be attending the Transitus celebration for St. Francis.

I am leaning toward officially beginning the formation process. So many things seem to be nudging me that way. I may find along the way it is not the vocation for me, but I won't know until I try.

Keep me in your prayers. Please.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Some political humor (at Obama's expense)

Chuckles provided by Curt Jester -