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.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

More Notre Dame/Obama reactions



"A sad day"

These are some of the latest comments by member of the U.S. Catholic hierarchy over the decision to invite President Barack Obama to speak at Notre Dame's commencement.

Speaking as the head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, this weekend Cardinal Francis George of Chicago said George said he had spoken with the administrative committee of the bishops' conference and corresponded with University president Fr. John Jenkins several times on the issue of Barack Obama speaking at the commencement.

"That conversation will continue .... whether or not it will have some kind of consequence that will bring, I think, the University of Notre Dame to its [the USCCB's] understanding of what it means to be Catholic," he said. "That is, when you're Catholic, everything you do changes the life of everybody else who calls himself a personal Catholic - it's a network of relationships.

"So quite apart from the president's own positions, which are well known, the problem is in that you have a Catholic university - the flagship Catholic university - do something that brought extreme embarrassment to many, many people who are Catholic," the cardinal said.

"So whatever else is clear, it is clear that Notre Dame didn't understand what it means to be Catholic when they issued this invitation, and didn't anticipate the kind of uproar that would be consequent to the decision, at least not to the extent that it has happened," said George.

He urged concerned Catholics "to do what you are supposed to be doing: to call, to email, to write letters, to express what's in your heart about this: the embarrassment, the difficulties."

Meanwhile, Archbishop John Nienstedt, the Archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis, said, “It is a travesty that the University of Notre Dame, considered by many to be a Catholic University, should give its public support to such an anti-Catholic politician. I hope that you [Fr. Jenkins] are able to reconsider this decision. If not, please do not expect me to support your University in the future.”

And Bishop R. Walker Nickless of Sioux City said, "I know many of you join me in surprise and anger that the University of Notre Dame - which for many is “the” example of a Catholic University - through its president, Father John Jenkins, has invited the most pro-abortion president of the United States not only to give the commencement address this year, but also to receive an Honorary Law Degree. This is in violation of the U.S. Bishops teaching that no honors ever be given by our Catholic institutions to those who support and promote the killing of innocent human beings through abortion. This is truly a sad day for the famous university dedicated to our Blessed Mother. I encourage those who care to write to Father Jenkins and express their displeasure with this invitation. May Father Jenkins have the courage to rescind this invitation and not be afraid of the possible embarrassment by admitting that he has made a bad decision. Catholic institutions of higher learning must always be places where the Catholic values we hold so dearly will always be supported and promoted - not where the culture of death is allowed to be honored or valued. Let us pray for those who work so hard to keep our Catholic institutions truly Catholic in all they do to promote the gospel of life."

As for the Cardinal Newman Society petition - more than 223,000 signatures as of 4:30 p.m. today.

Doing nuthin' - 1,000 times

I put up a joke earlier today (not a great one, I admit, but a joke).


It was my 1,000th post on this blog.

1,000 posts in four years. Not bad - though I am sure there are some gifted individuals who have post many more times over that span, and many of their posts are far more insightful or soul-stirring than mine.

So a not-so-good joke seemed appropriate.

Besides, I don't know how many times my wife has asked me as I sat that the computer writing blog entries, "What are you doing."


I'll just keep on doing nothing as long as I can get away with it - or until she finds something for me to do!

And tomorrow ...

Wife: "Whatcha doin' today?"
Husband: "Nothin'."
Wife: "You did that yesterday."
Husband: "I wasn't finished."


Monday, March 30, 2009

Archbishop Dolan on Notre Dame's "Mistake"

One of the latest members of the hierarchy to speak up on the Notre Dame mess is Archbishop Timothy Dolan of Milwaukee - who will soon be the Archbishop of New York.

In a television interview Sunday Archbishop Dolan, when asked if Notre Dame made a mistake when it invites President Obama to speak at and receive an award at its commencement this year, said:

"They did, and I say that as one who loves and respects Notre Dame. They made a big mistake."

He went on to say, "There’s a lot of things that President Obama does that we can find ourselves allied with and working with him on, and we have profound respect for him and pray with him and for him. But in an issue that is very close to the heart of Catholic world view, namely, the protection of innocent life in the womb, he has unfortunately taken a position very much at odds with the Church."

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Sunday, March 29, 2009

A D.U.I. test I might fail!

Nod to Tom at Tom S.F.O.

Obama's anti-life record ... so far

Tom Hoopes over that the National Catholic Register is compiling a list of Obama actions related to abortion and stem-cell research - dating back to his days as a State Senator.

Hoope's looking for other input - so if you have some actions and dates, contact him.

As it is, so far Obama's record is horrific.

March 28, 2001: Voted “No” to the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act in the Illinois Senate Judiciary Committee.

March 6, 2002: Voted “No” to the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act in the Illinois Senate Judiciary Committee.

April 4, 2002: Voted “No” to the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act on the Illinois Senate floor.

March 13-14, 2003: Voted “No” to the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act in the Illinois Senate after voting for an amendment that made it identical to the federal law of the same name.

2005-2008: 100% pro-abortion record in U.S. Senate.

July 17, 2007: Tells Planned Parenthood, “Well, the first thing I’d do, as president, is, is sign the Freedom of Choice Act,” which would wipe out all state laws regulating abortion.

Sept. 2, 2008: Obama campaign releases an ad putting abortion in the center of its effort.

Nov. 7, 2008: Rahm Emanuel, chief of staff; he earned a 100% pro-abortion voting record as a U.S. representative.

Nov. 24, 2008: Names Melody Barnes domestic policy advisor; she previously served on the boards of both Emily’s List and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

Nov. 22, 2008: Ellen Moran, White House communications director; she was executive director of the pro-abortion political committee Emily’s List.

Dec. 1, 2008: Nominates Sen. Hillary Clinton as secretary of State. Planned Parenthood’s Cecile Richards praises the pick on abortion grounds, saying: “Sen. Clinton understands that women’s quality of life directly affects the major issues confronting the globe: national security, environmental sustainability and global poverty.”

Dec. 11, 2008: Nominates Sen. Tom Daschle as Health and Human Services head. Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL (National Abortion Rights Action League) Pro-Choice America, says: “We appreciate his recent efforts to help defeat two abortion bans in South Dakota. We had a good working relationship with him.”

Dec. 12, 2008: Appoints Jeanne Lambrew to become the deputy director of the White House Office of Health Reform. A Planned Parenthood statement quoted by says: “She is one of the leading health-policy experts in the country, and someone who is an advocate for” abortion.

Dec. 17, 2008: Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar, Interior secretary; he scored only 28% with the National Right to Life Committee.

Jan. 5, 2009: Appointed David Ogden deputy attorney general; he’s a pornography lawyer who opposed the Children’s Internet Protection Act and has also fought for Planned Parenthood.

Dec. 17, 2008: Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, Agriculture secretary; Iowa Right to Life Committee Executive Director Kim Lehman, citing his record, said: “We definitely consider him anti-life.”

Jan. 5, 2009: Appointed Dawn Johnsen assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Counsel; she’s a former legal director for NARAL Pro-Choice America.

Jan 5, 2009: Appointed Thomas Perrelli associate attorney general. He was counsel to Michael Schiavo, who sought and received permission to starve and dehydrate his wife to death during Holy Week 2005.

Jan 23, 2009: Reversed the Mexico City Policy, allowing taxpayer dollars to go to organizations that perform and promote abortions overseas. In a Gallup Poll, just 35% approved of the action, making it his least popular move as president so far.

Jan 23, 2009: Released a statement pledging to work with Congress to restore funding to the U.N. Population Fund. In 2002, Secretary of State Colin Powell requested that Congress halt the funding, tying it to China’s “program of coercive abortion.”

Feb. 17, 2009: Signs stimulus package into law. The new law will fundamentally change the standard that Medicare follows in paying for medical care and, in so doing, may place seniors at risk of not receiving necessary, life-sustaining care.

Feb. 28, 2009: Nominates Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, a pro-abortion extremist who has been publicly rebuked by her bishop and who has ties to Kansas abortionist George Tiller, to head the Department of Health and Human Services.

Feb. 4, 2009: Signs into law the SCHIP reauthorization. The Senate rejected an amendment extending health benefits to the unborn. (As senator, Obama voted against that amendment.) Under SCHIP, states are granted the authority to decide which health plans and services can be offered to children. “It’s alarming that this has happened with virtually no public debate,” said Grace-Marie Turner of the Galen Institute. “Many people do not understand the implications of SCHIP as it is written.”

March 5, 2009: Holds a health-care summit; invites Planned Parenthood and Human Rights Campaign but no pro-life groups.

March 6, 2009: Creates a new position and appoints pro-abortion activist Melanne Verveer ambassador-at-large for Women’s Issues. Pro-lifers worry that the position was created to “promote abortion and overturn pro-life laws in nations across the world,” the Catholic News Agency reports.

March 9, 2009: Obama overturned President Bush’s restrictions on embryonic stem-cell research. Now, money from taxpayers can go to scientists who do fatal research on human beings created for the purpose. Obama stopped the Bush preference for proven, moral adult stem-cell therapies.

March 10, 2009: The Obama administration’s Health and Human Services department opens a 30-day review period with an eye to challenging freedom-of-conscience rights that help Catholic doctors opt out of practices they deem immoral.

March 17, 2009: Nominates David Hamilton U.S. circuit judge for the 7th Circuit; he’s a former ACLU leader who blocked pro-life legislation as a Clinton-appointed federal judge.

Stay tuned!

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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Cardinal DiNardo on the Obama/ND Scandal

The latest member of the hierarchy to address the Obama Notre Dame flap is Daniel Cardinal DiNardo of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston.

In his column in The Texas Catholic Herald he wrote:

"... I want to venture a comment on the recently released statement of the University of Notre Dame; that statement noted that the President has accepted an invitation to give the Commencement Address this year as well as receive an Honorary Law Degree. The news release then outlines the fact that a number of other Presidents have given the Commencement Address at Notre Dame and have thus highlighted, in effect, the university’s importance. I find the invitation very disappointing. Though I can understand the desire by a university to have the prestige of a commencement address by the President of the United States, the fundamental moral issue of the inestimable worth of the human person from conception to natural death is a principle that soaks all our lives as Catholics, and all our efforts at formation, especially education at Catholic places of higher learning. The President has made clear by word and deed that he will promote abortion and will remove even those limited sanctions that control this act of violence against the human person. The Bishops of the United States published a document a few years ago asking all Catholic universities to avoid giving a platform or an award to those politicians or public figures who promote the taking of unborn human life. Even given the dignity of Office of the President, this offer is still providing a platform and an award for a public figure who has been candid on his pro-abortion views. Particularly troubling is the Honorary Law Degree since it recognizes that the person is a “Teacher,” in this case of the Law. I think that this decision requires charitable but vigorous critique."

Hmm. "Charitable but vigorous critique."

UPDATE: 200,000 plus signatures on the main petition as of 7 P.M. sounds vigorous to me.

(Tip of the hat to Jean over at Catholic Fire.)

Fr. Richard "Reiki Master-Teacher" Hunt, SJ

As a teacher, I have over the years been subjected to various fad teaching methodologies. Seems like there was a new one every 5-7 years, with districts dishing out big bucks for speakers, books, training, etc. I found most of them were worthless. I took what I found useful - which was usually something I was already doing as part of sound traditional pedagogy (Yep, I took some of them there edumacation classes) - and just went on as before.

I've found the same thing in theological circles. Some new pop psychology fad or prayer method would be introduced, usually on retreat with a guest speaker and books for sale. Myers-Briggs, Enneagram, labyrinth, and so on. I was always cautious about them. After all, this involved more than just students' minds: It was my soul I was messing with.

One of the newer fads was Reiki therapy. I read a little about it, decided it was a crock, and avoided it.

Seems I'm not alone.

The Committee on Doctrine of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops this past week issued a document in which they said Reiki therapy "lacks scientific credibility. It has not been accepted by the scientific and medical communities as an effective therapy."

Further, "Reiki therapy finds no support either in the findings of natural science or in Christian belief. For a Catholic to believe in Reiki therapy presents insoluble problems."

Then comes the kicker: "Since Reiki therapy is not compatible with either Christian teaching or scientific evidence, it wold be inappropriate for Catholic institutions, such as Catholic health care facilities and retreat centers, or persons representing the Church, such as Catholic chaplains, to promote or provide support for Reiki therapy."

There's a Reiki Healing Center here in Rochester. Reiki, Animal Communication classes, Angel classes, crystal healing, the Merlin Astrology Report and Chart, reflexology, an ear-candling class, etc. All sorts of nifty new-agey stuff.

Alas, one of the teachers is Father Richard Hunt, SJ, who just happens to be the chaplain at the Rochester Institute of Technology. He is teaching a class on "The Power of Blessing." He is described on the Reiki Center website as: Father Richard Hunt S.J. a psychotherapist, healer, teacher, meditation instructor, spiritual director and Jesuit priest living in Rochester.

Rochester Catholic - to which I give a nod for raising this issue - uncovered this description of Father Hunt from a 2006 "Sound Healing" workshop:

Richard currently is Director of Catholic Campus Ministry at RIT. He is a psychotherapist (Marriage & Family Therapy) and Spiritual Director, a (sic) Richard has studied healing for 35 years with various teachers: he is a Reiki Master-Teacher, uses kinesiology and dowsing, he has studied and practices Tibetan, and Chinese healing methods, Christian laying-on-of hands, Therapeutic Touch, esoteric and psychic healing methods, he has trained as a shaman with a Native American healer, uses color, sound and music healing methods, Cymatics, Radionics, Rapid Eye Technology, EMF Balancing Technique, Spiritual Clearing, various healing instruments, etc. as well as some methods he developed.


We'll put all that aside. The bigger issue here is that the Bishops have suggest that folks representing the Church - I think a priest could be described as filling that role - and chaplains - one of Father Hunt's many titles - should not be involved with Reiki.

Admittedly, the document just came out. And I don't know Father Hunt. He may be a good and holy man, and a faithful son of the Church. So I wonder if he will soon be ending his affiliation with the Reiki Healing Center and describing himself as a Reiki Master-Teacher?

Maybe they'll give him a parting gift of some crystals, rock soap or a free "vibrational treatment" session.

And then maybe my old friend Baba Dada can take over the Reiki Center class. After all, he wise to all such ways, can talk the mantra, and is a trained Dada Master.

"There are those who say, `Be here, now.' I was there yesterday."

It's called miraculous for a reason

Prior to receiving the Margaret Sanger Award from Planned Parenthood, the billion-dollar abortion business, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was in Mexico where she stopped at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe. She left a bouquet of white flowers “on behalf of the American people,” which was a nice gesture.

But then ...

She asked who painted the miraculous image of Our Lady.


Okay, she's not Catholic. I'll give her a pass.

Monsignor Diego Monroy, the rector of the basilica, had taken her to view the famous image when she asked the question.

He responded: "God!"

Catechetical moment here: The image of Our Lady of Guadalupe was miraculously imprinted by Mary on the tilma (cloak) of St. Juan Diego in 1531. Among the unexplainable phenomena associated with it: The appearance on Mary’s eyes of those present in the room when the tilma was opened, and the image has not decayed in nearly 500 years. And it is linked with the pro-life movement.

When she left the basilica later, Mrs. Clinton reportedly said to some of the Mexicans gathered outside, “You have a marvelous virgin!”


Then it was off to Planned Parenthood, where I suspect virginity is not as highly valued. After all, it could interfere with lifestyle choices --- and profits.


Speaking of March Madness ...

The Notre Dame brouhaha continues, with more than 195,000 people signing one petition, and now three Bishops speaking up -

“Indeed, as a Catholic University, Notre Dame must ask itself, if by this decision it has chosen prestige over truth… Let us ask Our Lady to intercede for the university named in her honor, that it may recommit itself to the primacy of truth over prestige.”
Bishop John D'Arcy – Bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend

“It is a public act of disobedience to the Bishops of the United States.”
Bishop Thomas Olmsted – Bishop of Phoenix

“In my opinion, it is very clear that in this case the University of Notre Dame does not live up to its Catholic identity in giving this award and their leadership needs our prayerful support.”
Bishop Gregory Aymond – Bishop of Austin

I still wait to see what the students and alumni do, as they are the ones more immediately affected.

March Madness Mourning: Syracuse Loses

Okay, basketball season is over for me.

Syracuse lost in the Sweet 16 to Oklahoma. 84-71. It was not a pretty game to watch - if you're a Syracuse fan (or Coach Boeheim). But it least it wasn't the worst thumping of the night (Louisville over Arizona 103-64. Ugh.).

So ... When does baseball start?

I'm still dreaming of another Red Sox/Mets World Series.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Maggie's Dreaming

Maggie’s dreaming
of chasing rabbits
or of frolicking with Mollie long gone
or of playing Dog and Master tag.

Maggie’s dreaming
of patrolling the yard to protect us from
bird-feeder-marauding squirrels
or garden-munching wood chucks
or bird-prowling neighbor’s cat

Maggie’s dreaming
of barking full and loud at
strangers at the door
relatives at the door
the mailman at the mailbox
anyone walking by

Maggie’s dreaming
of leaping high to catch snowballs
or of tug of wars with rope or a rubber chicken
or of madly dashing through the yard
leaping into the swimming pool
and then madly dashing about again
and again … and again …

Maggie’s dreaming
of long pre-dawn walks
sniffing everything that needs to sniffed
or of sitting proudly in the back seat
her hair and lips rippling in the open window wind

Maggie’s dreaming
of her joints being flexible
or of her haunches being firm and full of spring
or of her eyes clear and sharp
or of her ears and nose keen

Maggie’s dreaming
what may be her final dreams
and I watch her dreaming
this was
all a


Reflecting on an anonymous comment

Back on March 7, I wrote about a local Wegmans store with a sign that read "Women's Health," below which, among sex-related items, was birth control.

On March 21, I noted that the sign had disappeared. I applauded the change, then added the wish that just as the Catholic-owned chain had stopped selling cigarettes on moral/ethical/health grounds that it might stop selling birth control.

Recently, "anonymous" posted this comment: If birth control was to stop being sold, which it will never, I would just get more abortions.

I have no way of knowing if anonymous has had one or more abortions already - or that anonymous is even a woman. It could just be someone's attempt to be clever.

But it could indeed be from a woman who might have had one or more abortions, and might consider more in the future. It could be from someone who is in pain because of what has been done and is avoiding those feelings. Or it could be from someone who while not yet having had one might do so or be party to one.

It could be from someone who considers herself or himself a good Catholic and who does is nor fully aware of or does not understand the Church's teachings. It could be someone who has not been properly catechised, or who stopped attending church, or who attends a church where the priest(s) have not made the Church's teachings clear. It could be a University of Notre Dame trustee for all I know.

My response was: anonymous - It saddens me to hear that you may have already had abortions. I will pray for you and your babies at this morning's Mass.

I did pray for anonymous and any babies who might have died. I prayed for all the men and women out there who are like anonymous.

I pray that anonymous and all the others like her/him might have a conversion of heart, and, if they have had abortions, that they might experience healing and forgiveness. I pray that they begin to recognize that no matter what they have done, no matter what they feel about themselves, God loves them.

Catholic "Honeymoon" With Obama is Over

George Wesolek says his honeymoon is over with President Obama - and should be for Catholic pro-lifers who voted for him.

Wesolek, the director of Public Policy/Social Concerns for the Archdiocese of San Francisco, wrote a piece for the Archdiocese's website in which he acknowledges some positive steps taken by the President in some areas - his "push for advancement on healthcare access," and his "offer of friendship to the Arab speaking world by his effort to communicate with them with a sense of reasonable dialogue," for example.

But ...

"My sense of apprehension and unease, however, has been around the life issues. Being pro-life and considering abortion as the preeminent social justice issue of our day, I have been warily watching President Obama's actions on these issues."

He says he "heard during the campaign from pro-Obama Catholics and Catholic organizations established to promote his candidacy that Obama would accomplish more than the previous administration to curtail abortions and promote life using `non-divisive' strategies. I have been eagerly looking for indications that this was indeed the case.

"I have not seen anything that would indicate a "pro-life" openness or even a small move in that general direction. On the contrary, I have seen just the opposite."

Instead, he says what we have seen is the "appointments of pro-abortion staff to key positions, there have been three policy shifts by Obama that have signaled clearly where he is on the issue of life and where he intends to go."

He cites The Mexico City Policy reversal, the impending reversal of the Federal Conscience Rights for Health Care Workers, and the "Reversal of the Ban on Federal Funding for Embryonic Stem Cell Research.

The stem cell decision, he argues "clearly delineates President Obama's intent regarding the life issues." He says "it demonstrates that, in his mind, these embryos either are not human life or they are human life of such a second-class nature that they are not worthy of respect and protection."

In addition, President Obama "rescinded an executive order that provided resources for innovative forms of adult stem cell research, the type of research that is ethical and very productive in terms of scientific results. This move ominously implies an ideological mindset that is unscientific and predisposed to follow the trail of embryonic research even though there are no cures and serious problems with this kind of approach."

But even as the President pursues this anti-life path, Wesolek says he has heard "no reaction from those pro-Obama Catholics and Catholic organizations that were and are apologists for Obama and his policies. These organizations - Catholics United, Alliance of Catholics for the Common Good, Network and others - provided Catholics with a scenario that painted Obama as `pro-life.' Some of them openly said that they were pro-life and would work to move policy in a pro-life direction under Obama."

And then he asks of these Obama supporters, "Where are they now? Where are there any policy initiatives that would blunt the irrevocable thrust of these Obama actions early in his presidency?

"The culture of death is making deeper inroads in our national policies and there is almost no response from Catholics who helped elect President Obama. It is time for them to step up to the plate."

(Thanks to the Catholic Key Blog for the heads up. This is a great blog showing what Catholic newspapers can do. )

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Bishop Olmsted on the ND fiasco

"A public act of disobedience to the Bishops of the United States."

That's how Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix described Notre Dame's decision to honor President Barack Obama.

In a letter Notre Dame's President, Holy Cross Father John Jenkins, he wrote:

Dear Fr. Jenkins,

I am saddened and heavy of heart about your decision to invite President Obama to speak at Notre Dame University and even to receive an honorary degree.

It is a public act of disobedience to the Bishops of the United States. Our USCCB June 2004 Statement “Catholics in Political Life” states: “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.” No one could not know of the public stands and actions of the president on key issues opposed to the most vulnerable human beings.

John Paul II said, “Above all, the common outcry, which is justly made on behalf of human rights — for example, the right to health, to home, to work, to family, to culture — is false and illusory if the right to life, the most basic and fundamental right and the condition for all other personal rights, is not defended with the maximum determination.”

I pray that you come to see the grave mistake of your decision, and the way that it undercuts the Church’s proclamation of the Gospel of Life in our day.

Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted
Diocese of Phoenix

I wonder if other bishops will speak out? I wonder if President Obama will suddenly not be able to speak - pressing matters? - rather than face a public relations disaster.

Last words

Pope John Paul II's last words were, "Let me go home to the Lord."

Given his deep spirituality and faith, and the suffering he underwent in the last years of his life, the words are fitting.

I've always hoped that when my time comes I might have something memorable or suitable to say. (Yes, I am morbid.)

It would be nice to think it would be something spiritual in nature. "Thank you, Lord," would be fine and simple. Or I could go mystical, smiling ecstatically and exclaiming something like, "Oh God, what harmonies!"

But if I was feeling pressed with demands as I sometimes do feel, it could be something like, "Peace, at last."

Maybe I'll be practical and responsible. "Don't forget to check the lights in the basement." Or, "The safety deposit box key is in my top dresser drawer."

Or I might try to be witty, though it's hard to top, "Frankly, I'd rather be in Philadelphia." How about, "Can this just be a practice run?" Or, "Just one more cup of coffee?"

Or perhaps I'll be Dadaesque: "Cheese."

More likely, though, it will be something like, "Oh, crap."

Good thing I don't plan to go for another 30-40 years.

What? What's that?

"Oh, crap...."

The Face of Jesus - Plus

Father Steve put this on the bulletin this week. Look closely at the image.

Notre Dame Cartoon

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Annunciation

Thank you Mary for saying, "Yes."

A Post-Graduate Dad

As I wander about the blogosphere, I encounter any number of blogs by mothers, fathers, and homeschoolers. They bring back memories of when my own were young.

I think back to days when I would tell them stories at bedtime: when they would fill my beard with barrettes (ouch); of Christmas carolling with the Girl Scouts (and ordering the cookies!); of sometimes being grumpy; countless school concerts, plays and awards ceremonies; cheering at soccer games, swim meets, and bowling and tennis matches; the sometimes harsh things I said; graduations; camping; the morning drive to schools (usually late); baking heart-shaped birthday cakes; homemade gifts and cards; making sure everyone had exactly the same amount in Christmas stockings and Easter baskets; singing in the car; and so much more.

Alas, one is now married, one is living in an apartment, and the third is a junior in college and is rarely around.

I am a post-graduate dad.

But I still pray about them, think about them, worry about them, brag about them, sometimes cry about them.

I'll never stop being their dad, no matter what.

Sort of like God will always be our Father, no matter what.

He just does a better job of it.

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Steubenville Portiuncula Plenary Indulgence

I've always wanted to visit the Franciscan University at Steubenville. Now I've got an added reason.

The Vatican has designated the Portiuncula Chapel there as a place where the faithful can receive a plenary indulgence—an elimination of the temporal punishment due to sin.

That designation was announced in a decree recently issued by the Vatican office of the Apostolic Penitentiary.

Even better, the decree makes reference to the pro-life movement, and it is not limited to a single day in the year, as is the case with many plenary indulgences.

According to the decree, the indulgence may be obtained at any of five times during the year, including two Franciscan dates - August 2, the feast of Our Lady of the Angels of the Portiuncula; and October 4, the feast of St. Francis of Assisi.

From the pro-life perspective, one of the days is January 22, the dedication of the Tomb of the Unborn Child located next to the Portiuncula.

In addition, one can obtain the indulgence on any day during the year of a person’s choosing, or while completing a “holy pilgrimage” to the Portiuncula with a group.

I've already spoken with the Good-Looking-One, and we are thinking of going there August 2, a Sunday. I might also talk about it with my SFO group, as we could possibly organize a group pilgrimage.

The Portiuncula Chapel is a replica of the church near Assisi that St. Francis repaired after Jesus commissioned him to “Go, rebuild my Church.”

The decree went into effect on February 11, 2009, and will remain in effect for seven years.

A plenary indulgence grants the complete remission of the temporal punishment due to sin, so that no further expiation is required in purgatory.

According to the decree, to gain the plenary indulgence one should “devoutly” visit the Chapel and pray for the intentions of the Holy Father including the Our Father and the Creed.

In addition, it is necessary that the Church’s ordinary conditions for receiving a plenary indulgence be met: Individuals must have the interior disposition of complete detachment from sin; have made a sacramental confession; and have received the Holy Eucharist. These must be completed within a week to 10 days before or after the visit to the Portiuncula.

You can obtain the plenary indulgence for yourself, or it may be applied to the souls of the faithful departed.

I know my own need and sinfulness, so the first visit will be for me. Buy if I am able to make more visits, there are other souls for whom I would like to pray.

What a wonderful opportunity.

Thank you, Lord!

Perpetual Adoration

I love to go to the St. Padre Pio Chapel to pray. But my parish has a wonderful opportunity for prayer that I have too often neglected - a perpetual adoration chapel.

People take turns throughout the day and night to pray. Yesterday and today I went in there after morning Mass to say my rosary, and to pray for some special intentions.

We are blessed to have this opportunity for prayer always there.

Sing, sing a song ...

At Mass this morning - hooray for a school break! - I spotted out choir director. After Mass I went over and asked if she ever gave voice lessons.

I have been thinking about getting some voice training for a while. I sing and play with the regular choir, and with Rock of Faith, and I find myself with all sorts of vocal problems - lack of control, uncertainty about range, straining. I had been thinking of going to a local music school to set up lessons, then I spotted Rita. Why not?

Alas, she said that she did not feel qualified to give such lessons. But she said she did know some other parish choir directors who are qualified. I said I'd rather pay them than someone at a music school.

She's going to give me a list tonight at choir practice.

If music is going to be one of the ways I serve God and the Church, I have an obligation to be the best musician I can be.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Obama/Notre Dame - Bishop won't attend now

Concerning President Barack Obama speaking at Notre Dame graduation, receiving honorary law degree

March 24, 2009

On Friday, March 21, Father John Jenkins, CSC, phoned to inform me that President Obama had accepted his invitation to speak to the graduating class at Notre Dame and receive an honorary degree. We spoke shortly before the announcement was made public at the White House press briefing. It was the first time that I had been informed that Notre Dame had issued this invitation.

President Obama has recently reaffirmed, and has now placed in public policy, his long-stated unwillingness to hold human life as sacred. While claiming to separate politics from science, he has in fact separated science from ethics and has brought the American government, for the first time in history, into supporting direct destruction of innocent human life.

This will be the 25th Notre Dame graduation during my time as bishop. After much prayer, I have decided not to attend the graduation. I wish no disrespect to our president, I pray for him and wish him well. I have always revered the Office of the Presidency. But a bishop must teach the Catholic faith "in season and out of season," and he teaches not only by his words — but by his actions.

My decision is not an attack on anyone, but is in defense of the truth about human life. I have in mind also the statement of the U.S. Catholic Bishops in 2004. "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." Indeed, the measure of any Catholic institution is not only what it stands for, but also what it will not stand for.

I have spoken with Professor Mary Ann Glendon, who is to receive the Laetare Medal. I have known her for many years and hold her in high esteem. We are both teachers, but in different ways. I have encouraged her to accept this award and take the opportunity such an award gives her to teach.

Even as I continue to ponder in prayer these events, which many have found shocking, so must Notre Dame. Indeed, as a Catholic University, Notre Dame must ask itself, if by this decision it has chosen prestige over truth.

Tomorrow, we celebrate as Catholics the moment when our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, became a child in the womb of his most holy mother. Let us ask Our Lady to intercede for the university named in her honor, that it may recommit itself to the primacy of truth over prestige.

That's the Statement of Bishop John M. D'Arcy of the Diocese of Fort Wayne.

Good for him.

Meanwhile, one petition asking for Notre Dame to withdraw the invitation has garnered more than 79,000 signatures as of 3:50 p.m.

So, who founded your church?


Catholic -- 33 -- Jesus Christ - Jerusalem
Orthodox -- 1054 -- Schismatic Catholic Bishops - Constantinople
Lutheran -- 1517 -- Martin Luther - Germany
Anabaptist -- 1521 -- Nicholas Storch & Thomas Munzer - Germany
Anglican -- 1534 -- Henry VII - England
Mennonites -- 1536 -- Menno Simons - Switzerland
Calvinist -- 1555 -- John Calvin - Switzerland
Presbyterian -- 1560 -- John Knox - Scotland
Congregational -- 1582 -- Robert Brown - Holland
Baptist -- 1609 -- John Smyth - Amsterdam
Dutch Reformed -- 1628 -- Michaelis Jones - New York
Congregationalist -- 1648 -- Pilgrims and Puritans - Massachusetts
Quakers -- 1649 -- George Fox - England
Amish -- 1693 -- Jacob Amman - France
Freemasons -- 1717 -- Masons from four lodges - London
Methodist -- 1739 -- John & Charles Wesley - England
Unitarian -- 1774 -- Theophilus Lindey - London
Methodist Episcopal -- 1784 -- 60 Preachers - Baltimore, MD
Episcopalian -- 1789 -- Samuel Seabury - American Colonies
United Brethren -- 1800 -- Philip Otterbein & Martin Boehn - Maryland
Disciples of Christ -- 1827 -- Thomas & Alexander Campbell - Kentucky
Mormon -- 1830 -- Joseph Smith - Palmyra, New York
Methodist Protestant -- 1830 -- Methodists - United States
Church of Christ -- 1836 -- Warren Stone & Alexander Campbell - Kentucky
Seventh Day Adventist -- 1844 -- Ellen White - Washington, NH
Salvation Army -- 1865 -- William Booth - London
Holiness -- 1867 -- Methodists - United States
Jehovah's Witnesses -- 1874 -- Charles Taze Russell - Pennsylvania
Christian Science -- 1879 -- Mary Baker Eddy - Boston
Church of God in Christ -- 1895 -- Various churches of God - Arkansas
Church of Nazarene -- 1850-1900 -- Various religious bodies - Pilot Point, TX
Assemblies of God -- 1914 -- Pentecostalism - Hot Springs, AZ
Four-square Gospel -- 1917 -- Aimee Semple McPherson - Los Angeles, CA
United Church of Christ -- 1961 -- Reformed and Congregationalist - Philadelphia, PA
Calvary Chapel -- 1965 -- Chuck Smith - Costa Mesa, CA
United Methodist -- 1968 -- Methodist and United Brethren - Dallas, TX
Harvest Christian -- 1972 -- Greg Laurie - Riverside, CA
Saddleback -- 1982 -- Rick Warren - California

Gay Marriage Gains More Support in NY

Back when I was a reporter, I covered New York Senator Chuck Schumer. He had a reputation for having an opinion on everything - which he was always willing to share. The running joke among reporters was that you should never stand between Senator Schumer and a camera or a microphone if you valued your safety.

Apparently that also applies to standing between him and a position.

Schumer had always said he supported civil unions but not gay marriage.

Well, it's now safer politically to support gay marriage (in New York, anyway). And then there was the example of New York's newest Senator, the pro-abortion "Catholic" Kirsten Gillibrand who in January announced that she had shifted her position from supporting civil unions to supporting gay marriage (never mind what the Church says on the issue). Homosexual rights groups were delighted at her switch.

Can't let her get all the loving - or press - eh, Schumer?

So Monday Schumer announced he too is changing his position. Gay marriage is fine with him.

As Senators, they have no direct say in New York law, but with their support, and that of Governor David Paterson, the agenda is advancing.

No Father Groeschel - but a fine time

Father Benedict Groeschel was supposed to celebrate a Mass and talk with the Rochester's Secular Franciscans - and lead a Lenten mission at a parish - but he took ill Saturday, was briefly hospitalized, and is now home resting under doctor's orders.

In his stead, Father Terry celebrated Mass with us, and Sisters Cecelia and Monica gave talks.

Fr. Terry's homily was filled with humor. One of his major points was that we all tend to cling to the past - past regrets, past hurts, past pain - and that these can hold us back. "God doesn't live in the past, so why should we?"

Sister Cecelia - of a seemingly perpetual smile - briefly talked about the history of the Franciscan Sisters of the Renewal, and shared some spiritual reflections about forgiveness, the need for silence and prayer, and the need for renewal of ourselves before we can renew the world.

She observed that prayer is going to be the force behind our preaching of the Gospel. Preaching is more than just words: We preach by how we live. It's those people who really live what they believe who inspire us.

Sister Monica humorously described her own path to her vocation - a path marked by falling away from the faith and great success in the business world, but of gradually being drawn back by a hunger, and a Secular Franciscan father who preached by his own life and example and helped her find her way.

She noted that she had been checking out various congregations, but had not heard of the Franciscan Sisters of the Renewal until 2004. Father Groeschel had a serious accident that year in Florida, and her father's house had become the base camp for the Friars in Florida while Father Groeschel was recovering. In a phone conversation her father mentioned that a women's congregation had also started. She visited them, and entered. She later told her story to Father Groeschel, who jokingly said of her, "I am the fruit of a very bad thing that happened to him."

It's ironic that another bad thing - illness - happening to Father Groeschel brought these sisters and Father Terry to us, but it made for a interesting and enriching afternoon. And the good sisters would sure be great for recruiting vocations!

Monday, March 23, 2009

A Huckabee Moment (2012 ...)

From Catholics for Huckabee.

Sr. Dorothy Stang Remembered

This Wednesday, HBO2 is going to broadcast a documentary about the murder of Sr. Dorothy Stang, SNDdeN, on February 12, 2005, in Brazil.

Sister Dorothy, 73, had been working for the rights of rural workers, and for preserving the rain forest in Brazil. She was opposed by wealthy landowners whom she apparently annoyed enough that they hired two gunmen to kill her.

In the documentary, They Killed Sister Dorothy, a defense lawyer for one of the two ranchers accused to ordering her death says, "She irritated a lot of people. In this region, if you irritate people, you don't live long."

A Dayton, Ohio, native, Sister Dorothy knew she was in danger, but she said, “I don’t want to flee, nor do I want to abandon the battle of these farmers who live without any protection in the forest. They have the sacrosanct right to aspire to a better life on land where they can live and work with dignity while respecting the environment.”

There have been so many Catholic martyrs in recent years - men and women who have died for trying to proclaim the Gospel through their actions and words, including fighting for human rights and human dignity.

As Pope Benedict said in his current visit to Africa: “When God’s word, a word meant to build up individuals, communities and the whole human family, is neglected, and when God’s law is 'ridiculed, despised, laughed at,' the result can only be destruction and injustice: the abasement of our common humanity and the betrayal of our vocation to be sons and daughters of a merciful Father, brothers and sisters of his beloved Son."

He went on to say we need God and his commandments, “not as a burden, but as a source of freedom: the freedom to become men and women of wisdom, teachers of justice and peace, people who believe in others and seek their authentic good.”

“God created us to live in the light, and to be light for the world around us!"

I don't get HBO2, so I'll have to wait to see it. But I will pray for her and her killers. And I will pray for all the other good men and women working to spread the faith and for basic human rights, even at the risk of their own lives.

Archbishop Chaput: Too many Catholics don't care

“Some Catholics in both political parties are deeply troubled by these issues. But too many Catholics just don’t really care. That’s the truth of it. If they cared, our political environment would be different. If 65 million Catholics really cared about their faith and cared about what it teaches, neither political party could ignore what we believe about justice for the poor, or the homeless, or immigrants, or the unborn child. If 65 million American Catholics really understood their faith, we wouldn’t need to waste each other’s time arguing about whether the legalized killing of an unborn child is somehow ‘balanced out’ or excused by three other good social policies.”


“We need to stop over-counting our numbers, our influence, our institutions and our resources, because they’re not real. We can’t talk about following St. Paul and converting our culture until we sober up and get honest about what we’ve allowed ourselves to become. We need to stop lying to each other, to ourselves and to God by claiming to ‘personally oppose’ some homicidal evil -- but then allowing it to be legal at the same time.”

Archbishop Charles Chaput speaking in Michigan on Saturday

Was he thinking of Planned Parenthood?

“How bitter the irony of those who promote abortion as a form of ‘maternal’ healthcare! How disconcerting the claim that the termination of life is a matter of reproductive health!” - Pope Benedict XVI

Father Groeschel to visit Secular Franciscans

Father Benedict Groeschel is in Rochester this week to give a Lenten Mission at a parish - and as part of that visit he will meet today with Secular Franciscans for a private Mass and talk.

I'm not sure what he will talk about. Some spiritual reflections? Some challenges for the two local Secular Franciscan groups? Some thoughts on future directions for the Secular Franciscan Order?

I am excited - not because he is a media personality, but because it will draw us local Secular Franciscans together and give us a spiritual booster shot. I love when we get to worship together.

He will be at my favorite Catholic bookshop tomorrow to sign books. It's a small shop, and I suspect that it will be crowded. So today's smaller, more private meeting will probably be my best chance to interact with him.
UPDATE: Father was taken ill and hospitalized on Saturday night. He is out of the hospital, but was unable to make the trip.


Sunday, March 22, 2009

Clare and Francis - thumbs up

We finally got to view the made-for-television movie Clare and Francis.

It is long - 200 minutes! - so although we started it last night we had to finish it today after Mass. But it does not seem "long." It is well done and engaging. The acting is great. It captures some of the youthful spirit of Francis without going overboard (like Brother Sun, Sister Moon sometimes does). Although it was made for Italian television, the English dialogue is natural and not stilted as you sometimes see in some dubbed movies. I get the impression they shot it in English as well as Italian. If it's dubbed, it's remarkably well-done.

The movie helps to give a realistic picture of Francis and Clare, and gives Clare equal billing as the title suggests. I also like that Francis's parents are portrayed in a more favorable light - too often his dad is made to seem a villain.

My only quibbles are that both actors seem too good looking( !), Clare does not seem to age (she looks the same at 10/11 as she does at 20 plus), and that Francis seems too healthy and well-fed until the end. But they are minor quibbles.

I highly recommend the movie.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Wegmans Update - A Welcome Change!

Back on March 7 I posted about a local Wegmans store having some birth control and related items under a sign that read "Women's Health."

Around that time, I went to another store, and did not see a similar sign.

Since then, I've gone to to a third store. No such sign.

Yesterday, I went back to the offending Wegmans. The sign was gone.


I wonder if someone at that store - or Wegmans corporate offices - reads this humble blog.

Whatever the reason, good for them.

Now if we could just get them to stop selling birth control the way they stopped selling cigarettes!

John Paul II: "How could I stand by and do nothing?"

"I'm often chided for talking about these things. But how could I fail to speak out? How could I fail to write about them? How could I stand by and do nothing?" - Pope John Paul II.

He spoke out because his faith compelled him to speak out whenever there was injustice or human rights were being violated. He spoke out about political oppression, economic exploitation, abortion, rampant capitalism, and more.

As Catholics, we are all called to speak out on these issues and other issues as well.

By the way, there are now reports that he could be beatified as early as 2010.

Notre Shame?

More on the Obama at Notre Dame scandal.

There's now a protest site called (no surprise) Notre Dame Scandal. Go there, get some addresses, write, sign a petition.

Get the word out to any Notre Dame alumni and donors you know.

This invitation appears to violate the U.S. bishops’ 2004 “Catholics in Political Life”: “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.”

Back when I was a student at St. John Fisher College, the school had invited the then-New York Governor Hugh Carey - a pro-abortion Catholic - to speak at our commencement in a year in which he was up for reelection. We protested loudly, and something mysteriously "happened" and we got a different speaker.

I hope this year's graduating class at Notre Dame also speaks up. If I were a 2009 ND graduate, I would boycott the ceremony if Obama is speaking. You get your degree and diploma anyway. If I were a faculty member, I would consider not being up on the stage.

Until then, "Jeer, jeer for old Notre Shame ..."


Obama to speak at Notre Dame

I've just learned that President Barack Obama will give the commencement at the University of Notre Dame May 17.

This is shameful. A university with Our Lady's name, a Catholic institution of higher learning, is honoring a man who is doing everything he can to promote abortion and embryonic stem cell research, and to deprive medical personnel the right to follow their consciences? What were they thinking?

I hope Notre Dame alumni flood the university with e-mails and letters to protest this.

Friday, March 20, 2009

An insensitive Obama attempt at humor

"It's like the Special Olympics or something."

That's what President Obama said on the Jay Leno show about his bad bowling.

How special. He did apologize, but this gives us a clue about the way he thinks.

He probably supports aborting those folks anyway. Don't want to "punish" normal people, right?

Governor Sarah Palin, who has a son with Down Syndrome, had a strong reaction:

“I was shocked to learn of the comment made by President Obama about Special Olympics,” Governor Palin said. “This was a degrading remark about our world’s most precious and unique people, coming from the most powerful position in the world.

“These athletes overcome more challenges, discrimination and adversity than most of us ever will. By the way, these athletes can outperform many of us and we should be proud of them. I hope President Obama’s comments do not reflect how he truly feels about the special needs community.”

Spring has sprung; Battlestar is done

Woke up this morning to ... Snow.

Ah, Spring in Rochester, NY.

The good thing was that it was also the last day before a week's break at school (yay).

And tonight two of the daughters are coming over to watch the final episode of Battlestar Galactica.

I actually used to watch the show regularly - until in one season it just got too brutal and dark. I stopped watching.

My daughters kept watching and they say it got back on course, so I started watching again occasionally.

As they don't have the Sci Fi channel and I do, I invited them over for pizza and science fiction.

Good thing Syracuse played earlier today in the NCAA tournament (a win) so I won't feel conflicted (as Adama has sometimes felt)!

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

New Mexico's Richardson Repeals Death Penalty

The death penalty lost some more ground.

New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, who has supported it in the past, has signed legislation to repeal that state's death penalty, effective July 1. According to AP, he said it was the "most difficult decision in my political life."

Difficult - but right.

In New Mexico now you get a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole for murders committed after the repeal takes effect.

Richardson said, "Regardless of my personal opinion about the death penalty, I do not have confidence in the criminal justice system as it currently operates to be the final arbiter when it comes to who lives and who dies for their crime."

Absolutely. Too many people have been unjustly sentenced. Too many have unjustly died.

And this gives the genuinely guilty even more time to repent. I believe everyone, no matter how vile their actions, should have every opportunity to realize what they have done and to seek God's forgiveness. Yes, they cut short someone's life, but killing the guilty when it is not necessary does not bring that person back. I would not want to see my brother's killers executed.

I applaud Governor Richardson's action. He was, by the way, my favorite of the Democratic contenders for President.

Palin wandering our way?

There's a report that Governor Sarah Palin might be coming to the Rochester area June 6.

She has been invited to take part in Founder's Day in Auburn in honor of Secretary of State William Seward. He's the one who arranged for the purchase of Alaska back in 1867 - it became known as "Seward's Folly."

Apparently she is seriously considering it.

It's a Saturday, which means I could go - depending on what is happening there. If there's some sort of public ceremony, I'll be there.

I might be voting for her again in a few years!


Planned Parenthood Caught Protecting Rapists Again - Twice

So when do we start cutting funds for this organization that permits violations of the law and helps to protect rapists?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

40 Days (Matt Maher)

The recessional song for Rock of Faith for this coming Sunday's 9 a.m. Mass - "40 Days" by Matt Maher.


"Shocked" about A.I.G. bonuses

Officials of the Obama administration and members of Congress are shocked at the massive bonuses being paid out by bail-out beneficiary A.I.G. - even though those bonuses have been well-known for a while.

I'm suddenly reminded of a scene from one of my favorite movies ...

Cardinal George: Protect Consciences

Protect the consciences of medical personnel who do not want to be involved with abortion - as thy might be under Obama administration rules. Here's more information.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Humor for St. Patrick's Day

Gallagher opened the morning newspaper and was dumbfounded to read in the obituary column that he had died. He quickly phoned his best friend Finney.
"Did you see the paper?" asked Gallagher. "They say I died!!"
"Yes, I saw it!" replied Finney. "Where are you callin' from?"

An Episcopal Bishop lands at in New York and asks the cab driver (an Irishman) to take him to "Christ's Church."
The cabby takes him to Saint Pat's.
The Bishop says, "I said to you very clearly, take me to Christ's Church. This isn't the place!"
The cabby replies, "Yer excellency, If he ain't here, he ain't in town!

O'Toole worked in the lumber yard for twenty years and all that time he'd been stealing the wood and selling it. At last his conscience began to bother him and he went to confession to repent.
"Father, it's 15 years since my last confession, and I've been stealing wood from the lumber yard all those years," he told the priest.
"I understand my son," says the priest. "Can you make a Novena?"
O'Toole said, "Father, if you have the plans, I've got the lumber."

The good Father was warning his listeners about the suddenness of death.
"Before another day is ended," he thundered, "somebody in this parish will die."
Seated in the front row was a little old Irishman who laughed out loud at this statement. Very angry, the priest said to the jovial old man, "What's so funny?"
"Well!" spoke up the oldster, "I'm not a member of this parish."

Monday, March 16, 2009

Rock of Faith singer in contest

Here's Micayla, one of our singers in Rock of Faith, in action -

She says of it - "My audition tape for the Oh say can you sing? Contest for USA Weekend Please rate me, and give me constructive comments!"

Pope John Paul II: A man in love with God

I have been reading A Life with Karol by Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, former secretary to Pope John Paul II.

The book gives a glimpse into the man who was pope. It's personal, and sometimes funny (as when they sneak out of the Vatican to ski).

But it also reveals the depth of Pope John Paul's deep spirituality.

In one section, Cardinal Dziwisz notes, "But even the time he set aside for work was peppered with prayers, with short bursts of prayer. So it was as if he never stopped praying throughout the day. It wasn't a rare occurrence for one of the secretaries to look for him and find him prostrate on the floor of the chapel, completely immersed in prayer. ..."

He then goes on to say:

"Mass, the Breviary, frequent visits to the Blessed Sacrament, plus moments of recollection, devotions, weekly Confession, and religious practices (he continued to keep the full fast even at an advanced age) were also fundamentally important parts of his daily spiritual life, by which I mean his constant intimacy with God. And let me say that there was nothing sanctimonious about any of this. He was in love with God. He lived on God. And every day, he would start over again. He always found new words to pray, to speak with the Lord."

He was in love with God.

Inspiring, and challenging. How often do I put off praying because I'm busy? How little time do I devote to conversing with God?

It's easy to see why so many say he will be declared a saint.


Local Church's Statues Desecrated

Saint Ann's Church in Hornell (in the Southern part of the Diocese of Rochester) was the target of vandalism, with the heads knocked off the statues of The Blessed Mother and St. Francis in the rose garden next to the church.

According to the Canisteo Valley, the pastor, Father Peter Anglaare, said the vandalism was noticed by a parishioner on Saturday.

The heads were still lying on the ground.

Stupid drunken of teenage "pranks?" Done out of hatred? Who knows.

I pray for those who did it.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Breaking the rules

Deacon Angelo preached today. He is not a polished or learned speaker, but I always appreciate his down-to-earth, heart-felt style, and his spiritual depth is always evident.

Today he spoke about the Ten Commandments, and about his youthful violation of a rule in his house. He had the congregation laughing with his tale of breaking curfew for an exciting night of … driving with friends from restaurant to restaurant all night to drink coffee and eat toast. And, of course, getting caught. He talked about sometimes not understanding his parents’ the rules then, but understanding them now that he is older and a parent himself.

As he spoke I began to think of a conversation I’d had just yesterday with the good-looking one. We had gone out to the St. John’s Religious Shoppe to check on something I’d order. Even though it was not in, we ended up as usual buying some things! We then went over to the St. Padre Pio Chapel where I said a rosary and she got invited to join the committee overseeing the Chapel (they obviously recognize talent!). After that, we stopped for coffee.

As we drank our coffee (with bagel and cinnamon bun, not toast) we talked about various spiritual matters. We both admitted that we had done things when we were young that we now regret and that we now recognize as foolish and sinful. We also admitted that we had had a sense even then that what we were doing was wrong, and perhaps that sense is what kept us from going too far.

Too bad we did not follow the rules. We both ended up hurting ourselves and others. But we were young, just like Deacon Angelo, and breaking the rules had a certain excitement to it. Besides, everyone else was doing those things - one excuse we used to use. We thought we knew better than our parents and the Church, or that the rules were outdated – other common excuses. Yet too often those exciting things ended up being the spiritual equivalent of endlessly driving around drinking coffee and eating toast.

As Deacon Angelo spoke, I recalled that conversation, and then I thought about the fact that God and the Church provide us with rules, much as loving parents do. Alas, so often we break those rules with a sense of excitement or with arrogance because we “know better,” only to discover later that there was a reason for the rules. So many of them are there because God loves us like a parent, and He only wishes the best for us.

And I reflected on the fact that spiritually, I am still a child. I do some things not because I love God, but because I want to please or I'm afraid of getting caught and being punished. I need rules because I am not mature enough in some areas to make right decisions.

Maybe that's why so often I've ended up with bad coffee and dry toast.

Fr. Thomas Green, Spiritual Writer, Goes Home

Father Thomas H. Green, SJ, died Friday at age 76.

A Rochester native, he entered the Jesuits and spent most of his career in the Philippines, where was the Spiritual Director of San Jose Seminary in Manila, and Professor of Philosophy and Theology at the Ateneo de Manila University and Loyola School of Theology.

He was a noted spiritual writer and lecturer. I've heard folks say that one of this nine books, When the Well Runs Dry, is a modern spiritual classic. I must confess I have not read it. I've also heard that it is not a book for spiritual novices - which I consider myself. Still, I will look for it.

I did get to hear him talk several times during his frequents visits back to Rochester, and was introduced to him. I admired his gentle ways and his clear explanations of complex ideas. I read one of his books, Weeds Among the Wheat. I enjoyed it, and being a wise guy joked that when I write my autobiography it will be called A Slug Among Weeds. I even considered that as a possible name for this blog.

His other books include Opening to God; Darkness in the Marketplace: The Christian at Prayer in the World; Prayer and Common Sense; The Friend of the Bridegroom: Spiritual Direction and the Encounter with Christ; and A Vacation with the Lord.

Rest in Peace, Father.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Blessed Virgin Mary - with a Talbot tune

Spiritual adoption - 8 Weeks

Exactly 8 weeks ago I began to pray each day for Anthony, the unborn child I have spiritually adopted.

Spiritual Adoption is a campaign to pray for children in danger of abortion. Each day you recite the following prayer from Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

“Jesus, Mary and Joseph, I love you very much. I beg you to spare the life of [baby’s name] the unborn baby that I have spiritually adopted who is in danger of abortion.”

The suggestion is that you give the child a name. I chose Anthony, for I began on the feast day of Saint Anthony. I will continue to pray for him and his parents for nine months.

At 8 weeks, as the picture above shows, Anthony has clearly visible arms and legs, and he has begun to develop fingers and toes. His eyelids and ears are also developing. His heart has been beating for three weeks.

The Sorrowful Hail Mary

The Sorrowful Hail Mary

Hail Mary, full of sorrows,
the Crucified is with thee;
thou art pitiable amongst women,
and pitiable is the Fruit of thy womb,
Holy Mary,
Mother of the Crucified,
implore for us, the crucifiers of thy Son,
tears of contrition,
now and at the hour of our death.


~~approved by Pope Pius IX in 1847

I had never seen this prayer before, but last night we prayed it at our Secular Franciscan meeting after completing the Stations of the Cross. The group's newsletter attributes the prayer to to St. Bonaventure. I really like the prayer.

Mary's pain at seeing what her divine Son was going through has always touched me. I am a father, and in lesser ways I have experienced pain as I've watched my daughters grow and sometimes face struggles. I've cried some times - as I can imagine Mary having done.

And I also think back to my own mother grieving the death of my brother in her own way. All of his clothes were shipped back from Alaska (where he died), and she washed, ironed, folded and put them all away. His death remained heavy on her heart from 1983 until her own death in 2005.

Mom always had a devotion to Mary. I wonder if she knew this prayer?

Now that I know it, I will say it for her.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Syracuse Basketball: Wow. Zzzzz...

I'm an early to bed/early riser sort.

Obviously I'm up early as usual today.

But bed time got delayed last night.

Syracuse 127, Connecticut 117. 6 overtimes. 1:22 a.m.

There are few things that will keep me awake that long. This was one of them. I have been a Syracuse fan as long as I remember.

Even if the Irish Catholic in me is uneasy about that name - Orange.

But hey, they did beat Connecticut - a school from the state that wanted to whack the Catholic Church recently!

And some of those shots were prayers.

Tonight at my Secular Franciscan meeting we will be saying the Stations of the Cross. I look forward to praying that way.

Then I look forward to getting home in time to watch Syracuse in the next round of the Big East tournament. More prayers, I suspect.

Lent and March Madness. Ah.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Luminous Mysteries for a dim bulb

I've been saying the rosary off and on for many years. This Lent I've made it a daily practice.
But I'm used to the old mysteries, and for some reason, the Luminous Mysteries promulgated by Pope John Paul II still do not click with me.

I don't know why. They are wonderful mysteries - The Baptism of the Lord, the Wedding Feast at Cana, the Proclamation of the Kingdom, the Transfiguration, the Last Supper.

It probably has more to do with my stolid ways than anything about them.

Earlier today, I started to say my rosary, and found myself thinking of the Joyful Mysteries that used to be said on Thursdays and suddenly I couldn't remember the first of the Luminous. I kept trying to remember, then finally had to stop and restart later.

Mea culpa.

Who is the patron saint of forgetfulness, anyway?
St. Anthony takes care of lost things, so maybe he does double duty.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Contemplatives "breathe" for us all

Pope Benedict XVI recently visited the Oblate Sisters of Santa Francesca Romana. He told them, "Your community, together with the other communities of contemplative life, is called to be a sort of 'spiritual lung' of society, so that the performance, the activism of a city, is not devoid of spiritual 'respiration,' the reference to God and his plan of salvation."

A "spiritual lung" and "spiritual `respiration'" - what wonderful images.

Pope Benedict went on to talk about the balance contemplatives provide for the world.

The contemplatives, by their prayers, breathe for all of us. Their ministry of prayer is as vital as those of preaching and working in the world.

I am not a contemplative, though I relish opportunities take time out to "breath." For though I am in the world, I, too, am called to pray.
Just south of Rochester is a Trappist Monastery, Our Lady of the Genesse (the home of Monks Bread). My wife and I, and sometimes I alone, go there to sit in the quiet of the chapel to pray and listen.

Closer to home, right here in Gates is the St. Padre Pio Chapel. While not home to a contemplative order, it is a quiet place to go and pray.

I am blessed to have them so near.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Planned Parenthood - and Infanticide

An undercover video by Students for Life shows a Planned Parenthood worker admitting that sometimes aborted babies are born alive, and are just allowed to die.


The sort of thing that President Obama wanted to allow when he was a state senator (a vote about which he lied).


Hello Right to Life Party

In 1973, I registered to vote - and with the Democratic Party. (Yes, I'm that old.)

I worked for Democratic candidates, I served on a Democratic city committee, I later helped to form a chapter of Democrats for Life.

But gradually that Party moved away from its core beliefs - and me.

In 2007, after 34 years, I switched to Republican. I did so holding my nose. There was lots about that Party that I did not like. Some of the local GOP elected officials did things with which I strongly disagreed. And I viewed President Bush (II) was the worst President in my lifetime and one of the worst in the history of our nation. Moreover, I felt the Party used pro-lifers rather than embraced them (though that was better than the kick in the pants we got from the Democrats!).

No, I did it so I could work for and vote for Mike Huckabee in the primary - and I hope to vote for him again in 2012.

But until that time, I have left major party enrollment behind.

I have registered as a member of the Right to Life Party.

The party was active in New York for many years, but ultimately got bumped off the ballot due to not getting enough votes for it gubernatorial candidate (that's the rule in New York). I may be the only Party member in my town.

But I don't care.

Since I find myself in disagreement with the two major parties, I am content to be part of a small Party with whom I share many beliefs.

And maybe I can get Huckabee cross endorsed on the ballot as the Right to Life candidate.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Cardinal Reacts to Obama's Stem Cell Decision

Cardinal Justin Rigali, chair of U.S. bishops' conference pro-life committee, has denounced President Obama's executive order to allow federal funding for embryonic stem cell research.

In a written response, Cardinal Rigali said, "President Obama's new executive order on embryonic stem cell research is a sad victory of politics over science and ethics.

"This action is morally wrong because it encourages the destruction of innocent human life, treating vulnerable human beings as mere products to be harvested.

"It also disregards the values of millions of American taxpayers who oppose research that requires taking human life. Finally, it ignores the fact that ethically sound means for advancing stem cell science and medical treatments are readily available and in need of increased support."

I wonder if the Diocese of Rochester and/or Bishop Matthew Clark will issue some response?

UPDATE: Bishop Clark did indeed respond, issuing a written statement.

"Since we believe that human life begins at conception, we also believe that the destruction of embryos — which are innocent human life — for such research is morally wrong. Instead, we encourage ongoing research on the use of adult stem cells, which has shown great promise and potential in medical treatment."

Catholic percentage in U.S. down - opportunity awaits

According to the new American Religious Identification Survey, 25.1% of Americans identified themselves as Catholics in 2008-- down from 26.2% in 1990.

And there were drops in 29 states - including New York (down 7%).

The declines are steepest in Montana, Louisiana, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut, while Texas, California, Arizona, Mississippi, and Kansas saw the greatest growth.

Overall, the number of Catholics did go up - 11 million in that span to 57 million. Researchers attribute that in part to the growing number of Hispanics in the Southwest - a region that saw growth.

Meanwhile, 15 % of respondents said they had no religion - up from 8.2 % in 1990.

We are not alone in declining - Christians who aren't Catholic also saw a drop.

Christians comprised 76 percent of U.S. adults in 2008 - that's down from some 86 percent in 1990.

Among the groups seeing a drop: Methodists, Lutherans and Episcopalians.

With so many souls adrift, isn't it time for a little evangelizing?

At some point, many of those souls may begin to thirst for more, and if the message of the Church is out there where they can hear and see it, they might find what they need to quench that thirst.

Preaching, living out our faith, being active in social ministry - those are among the ways we can keep that message out there. But so are the arts - poetry, music, drama, fiction, film, paintings, and more.

As Catholics, we need to witness more. We should not be afraid or ashamed of our faith.

Obama's Death March Continues

We knew he was going to do it, but now it's reality: Federal money - our money - being used for embryonic stem cell research.

And you know it's going to be on more than just "left-over" babies from fertility clinics (as if that justifies killing them anyway). You know some doctors will create babies just to harvest the stem cells because it's easier or cheaper.

I wonder what phase of the Culture of Death he will implement next?

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Sunday, March 08, 2009

Death Penalty Does Not Add Up

I have long been an opponent of the death penalty - even though my brother was murdered.

I have argued against it on moral and ethical grounds. I have argued that the Church considers it morally acceptable only under certain limited circumstance - circumstances that do NOT exist in the U.S.

None of those arguments seemed to resonate.

I have also argued that keeping a killer in prison for life is cheaper than executing him or her.

Apparently in these tough financial times that argument is finally hitting home.

According to a recent Associated Press article, "an increasing number of (states) are considering abolishing capital punishment in favor of life imprisonment, not on principle, but out of financial necessity."

Didn't some recent President say of other nations something like, "Sometimes money trumps morality"?

We're talking about "tens of millions of dollars" in savings, the article notes.

I believe that life imprisonment gives the killers every possible opportunity to reform and repent - even if it takes decades. And in some cases, it also prevents innocent people from being executed.

So if saving money is the way to get states to stop, fine. I'll live with that.

I believe that morality trumps money.