Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Help Feed Our African Brothers And Sisters

I heard this story on Relevant Radio today. For just one dollar, you can feed an entire family for a week. Next time you are eating a nice dinner, think of the people in Africa with nothing....and do something about it!

For info click here.

"And whoever gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he shall not lose his reward" (Matthew 10:42).
Quote Of The Day

A precious pearl is more valuable than bread; but in the case of hunger bread would be preferred to it.

-St. Thomas Aquinas
In Memoriam

by Dong-Keun Keum (

The Vatican is busy preparing a memorial commemorating the first anniversary of the death of Pope John Paul II on April 2. Tens of thousands of people are expected to attend a candlelight prayer meeting in St. Peter’s Square, Vatican City that evening.

Mourners will gather near a window used by the former Pope and pay tribute to his memory. The current Pope Benedict XVI will participate in the event.

There are still the pictures of Pope John Paul II posted up all over the Vatican and Rome, which indicates how much people still respect him. Some places have pictures of Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI side by side.

With the memorial event ahead, Pope Benedict delivered a message left by Pope John Paul II on March 26 as part of a sermon he wrote for a mass right before he died.

In a mass titled “Love and Hope,” Pope John Paul II worried that evil power, selfishness and fear seem to prevail the world. “Our lord has given mankind love, which enables us to forgive, reconcile and hope,” he wrote.

Rome is seeing a flood of books and documentaries on the achievements of Pope John Paul II. In one book, a bishop who was close to the Pope revealed that he had had Parkinson’s disease for five years.

After the Pope’s death, his mausoleum has become as popular a tourist attraction as the Colosseum. It is expected that more worshipers will flock to his mausoleum, commemorating the first anniversary of his death. Poland, the home country of Pope John Paul II, has named this week the “week of infinite gratitude” in honor of the former Pope by order of Poland’s Parliament.
From The Desk Of Karl Keating

March 28, 2006


Dear Friend of Catholic Answers:

Edward N. Peters teaches at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in the Archdiocese of Detroit. An accomplished canon lawyer, Ed worked for a decade in the dioceses of Duluth and San Diego. I got to know him while he was here and count him as a friend.

He hosts a well-done blog called "In the Light of the Law":

Ed's most current posting on the blog is about whether there should be a new retirement age for bishops, who, under current rules, are expected to tender their resignations when they reach 75. Not a few such bishops, as we know, end up staying past 75. Ed offers this reflection:

"[T]he main reason we will see fewer arch/diocesan bishops retiring at 75 is practical: there is a serious shortage of good men, and a vacant see is a bigger problem than is a see held by a man who is over 75. Doubtless, elderly bishops deserve to retire; privately, I imagine, many of them want to retire. But the Church cannot afford to let them go. The bishop crunch is in full swing, and it will be with us for quite some time."

Ed's blog reminded me that he had written about this eleven years ago, in the November 1995 issue of the "Homiletic & Pastoral Review." I retrieved that issue from the library and read his piece again. (The only bad part of the 1995 article is the photograph of the writer: He looked then just as he looks today. I hate it when my friends don't age in step with me.)

In "HPR" Ed outlined his thesis this way:

"The question I want to consider now is simply: during the three years from 2005 to 2007, where will be find 45 men 'outstanding for their solid faith, good morals, piety, zeal for souls, wisdom, prudence, and other virtues and talents, possessing advanced degrees or true expertise in Scripture, theology, canon law ...' (1983 CIC 378) to fill those episcopal slots?" He noted that from 2005 to 2007 no fewer than 45 American bishops would reach retirement age.

Not seeing how the vacancies easily could be filled, Ed proffered several ways to alleviate the problem:

1. Reduce the number of openings by consolidating episcopal sees. "Surely there are some contiguous dioceses which, on their own, are barely surviving but which, if merged with each other, would be on much more stable footing."

2. Reduce the number of auxiliary bishops. The U.S. has been top-heavy with these "assistant bishops." Ideally, a diocese should have just one bishop. That may not be practical for dioceses that have hundreds of thousands or even millions of Catholics in them, but it does seem that for years Rome was on an auxiliary bishop binge.

3. Bring in foreign priests to serve as American bishops.

4. Currently-serving bishops should single out the best priests serving under them and should give them special training that might make them "episcopabile."

5. Lay Catholics should be encouraged to offer to the Church their own recommendations concerning priests who, to their thinking, might make good bishops.

Here we are, eleven years later, and Ed says that "the bishop crunch is in full swing." The above alleviants either were not tried or, if tried, did not make much of a dent in the problem. The reader of Ed's blog is left with the sense that maybe we'll just have to accept that more and more dioceses will be headed by men over age 75.

I have a different take on the matter than does Ed. Let me make a parallel to the much-vaunted vocations shortage. I don't think there has been such a shortage.

With Archbishop Elden Curtiss (writing on the issue about the same time that Ed's original article came out), I think that the vocations shortage largely has been manufactured, chiefly by seminary staffs themselves.

Many good men have been eased out of seminary formation because they have been deemed too "rigid" or some such thing. I personally know several who, after being booted out of their original seminaries, were accepted in other dioceses, went on to ordination, and now have been serving successfully as priests.

Over the years I have learned of many seminarians who had to keep a low profile to have any hope of reaching ordination, and I have learned of distressingly many who wore their orthodoxy or piety on their sleeves and suddenly found themselves back in the secular world.

Just as there is no true lack of vocations to the priesthood, so I think there is no true lack of good candidates for the episcopacy. Let me mention one possible source.

Ed and I are members of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars, an organization of several hundred orthodox Catholic professors, writers, and (as in my case) public nuisances.

Judging from the attire of those who attend the annual FCS convention, I'd say that most of the members are priests. Most of them have advanced degrees. Many possess what canon 378 calls "true expertise" in fields such as Scripture, theology, or canon law. They also seem to have the virtues called for by that canon: "solid faith, good morals, piety, zeal for souls, wisdom, prudence."

About not a few of the priests in the FCS the members have been asking one another for years, "Why hasn't that guy been made a bishop?" Only a simple soul would say, "Well, the Vatican must know something about him that disqualifies him." I appreciate that sign of confidence, but, frankly, I think it's misplaced. In the last three decades the U.S. has been blessed with some wonderful episcopal appointments--and plenty of episcopal disappointments.

At a moment's notice I could name ten outstanding bishops in the American hierarchy--and ten men who never should have accepted the miter. As much as I would like to think that the selection of bishops for America has gone swimmingly, the fact is that it has not. I have reason to think that many priests in the FCS would have done better than have many of today's bishops.

That reservoir of future bishops is still there. While not every priest in the FCS would make a good bishop, I suspect that several dozen would. And FCS is just one organization where you can find orthodox priests to choose from. You no doubt could list others.

So, Ed and I disagree, but I agree with him to this extent: If Rome maintains the existing methodology for selecting bishops for the U.S., then, yes, we will have a crunch. But if Rome takes a fresh approach, then, I think, the crunch will evaporate like the dew.

Until next time,


Monday, March 27, 2006

Habeo Eruditio*

Today I registered for classes and now I'm even more excited about starting grad school!

My classes are as follows:


Philosophy of the Human Person


Principles of Biblical Studies II

Theology of the Church

Christian Moral Principles


Biblical Foundations (taught by Scott Hahn!)

Vatican II (taught by Alan Schrek, who I met last night!)

Lectio Divina & Sacred Scripture

Did I mention that I was excited?!

*a very poor translation of "I have classes."
Canonize Pius XII Now!

Check out the Society That Thinks Pius XII Rules.

And yes, this is a shameless plug. ;-)

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Saint Columba Vs. Saint Peter

In the 600's in England, there arose a controversy over when Easter should be celebrated. There were arguments for the date Rome celebrated or the date when Ireland did.

To settle the question at issue, in AD 664, King Oswiu summoned a great council to meet in the hall of St. Hilda's Abbey at Whitby. To this, now famous, 'Synod of Whitby' came Colman, St. Aidan's successor in the see of Lindisfarne and St. Wilfred the Elder, Abbot of Ripon.

The discussion which followed was lengthy. Bishop Colman showed the indomitable pride and tenacity of the Celtic race, and Wilfred the eloquence, vehement and persuasive, which distinguished him.

The arguments on either side would now be considered poor enough and the controversy ended with St. Columba being put forward, on the one hand, and St. Peter, on the other, as the authority for the two lines of action.

When Wilfred quoted the text, "Thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church.....and I will give thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven". Oswiu turned to Colman and asked whether it was true that our Lord had said that to St. Peter. Colman could not but confirm this.

So the monarch went on,"Can you show that any authority was given to Columba?" This of course hecould not do.

"Then you both agree," resumed Oswiu," that it was St. Peter who received the keys from our Lord." Both disputants assented.

"If it be so," said the King, "I cannot gainsay the power of him who keeps the keys, lest, haply, coming to heaven's gate, St. Peter should deny me the help of his office and refuse to let me into bliss."

And so the King, with the assent of all present, agreed that the changes advocated by Wilfred should be adopted.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

I Love Steubenville!

I took an official tour of Steubenville today and when we were done with mass, we gathered outside of the church to get ready to go to lunch. While we where waiting, I overhead someone walk by casually talking about Davidic Covenants. Even being at a Catholic University, this struck me as odd. People don't just randomly talk about Davidic Covenants as they walk across campus. So I turned around to see who it was, and sure enough it was Scott Hahn talking with Mike Aquilina! I can't wait to start classes!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Thomas Aquinas's Five Proofs On The Existence Of God

Does God exist?

Objection 1. It seems that God does not exist; because if one of two contraries be infinite, the other would be altogether destroyed. But the word "God" means that He is infinite goodness. If, therefore, God existed, there would be no evil discoverable; but there is evil in the world. Therefore God does not exist.

Objection 2. Further, it is superfluous to suppose that what can be accounted for by a few principles has been produced by many. But it seems that everything we see in the world can be accounted for by other principles, supposing God did not exist. For all natural things can be reduced to one principle which is nature; and all voluntary things can be reduced to one principle which is human reason, or will. Therefore there is no need to suppose God's existence.

On the contrary, It is said in the person of God: "I am Who am." (Exodus 3:14)

I answer that, The existence of God can be proved in five ways.

The first and more manifest way is the argument from motion. It is certain, and evident to our senses, that in the world some things are in motion. Now whatever is in motion is put in motion by another, for nothing can be in motion except it is in potentiality to that towards which it is in motion; whereas a thing moves inasmuch as it is in act. For motion is nothing else than the reduction of something from potentiality to actuality. But nothing can be reduced from potentiality to actuality, except by something in a state of actuality. Thus that which is actually hot, as fire, makes wood, which is potentially hot, to be actually hot, and thereby moves and changes it. Now it is not possible that the same thing should be at once in actuality and potentiality in the same respect, but only in different respects. For what is actually hot cannot simultaneously be potentially hot; but it is simultaneously potentially cold. It is therefore impossible that in the same respect and in the same way a thing should be both mover and moved, i.e. that it should move itself. Therefore, whatever is in motion must be put in motion by another. If that by which it is put in motion be itself put in motion, then this also must needs be put in motion by another, and that by another again. But this cannot go on to infinity, because then there would be no first mover, and, consequently, no other mover; seeing that subsequent movers move only inasmuch as they are put in motion by the first mover; as the staff moves only because it is put in motion by the hand. Therefore it is necessary to arrive at a first mover, put in motion by no other; and this everyone understands to be God.

The second way is from the nature of the efficient cause. In the world of sense we find there is an order of efficient causes. There is no case known (neither is it, indeed, possible) in which a thing is found to be the efficient cause of itself; for so it would be prior to itself, which is impossible. Now in efficient causes it is not possible to go on to infinity, because in all efficient causes following in order, the first is the cause of the intermediate cause, and the intermediate is the cause of the ultimate cause, whether the intermediate cause be several, or only one. Now to take away the cause is to take away the effect. Therefore, if there be no first cause among efficient causes, there will be no ultimate, nor any intermediate cause. But if in efficient causes it is possible to go on to infinity, there will be no first efficient cause, neither will there be an ultimate effect, nor any intermediate efficient causes; all of which is plainly false. Therefore it is necessary to admit a first efficient cause, to which everyone gives the name of God.

The third way is taken from possibility and necessity, and runs thus. We find in nature things that are possible to be and not to be, since they are found to be generated, and to corrupt, and consequently, they are possible to be and not to be. But it is impossible for these always to exist, for that which is possible not to be at some time is not. Therefore, if everything is possible not to be, then at one time there could have been nothing in existence. Now if this were true, even now there would be nothing in existence, because that which does not exist only begins to exist by something already existing. Therefore, if at one time nothing was in existence, it would have been impossible for anything to have begun to exist; and thus even now nothing would be in existence--which is absurd. Therefore, not all beings are merely possible, but there must exist something the existence of which is necessary. But every necessary thing either has its necessity caused by another, or not. Now it is impossible to go on to infinity in necessary things which have their necessity caused by another, as has been already proved in regard to efficient causes. Therefore we cannot but postulate the existence of some being having of itself its own necessity, and not receiving it from another, but rather causing in others their necessity. This all men speak of as God.

The fourth way is taken from the gradation to be found in things. Among beings there are some more and some less good, true, noble and the like. But "more" and "less" are predicated of different things, according as they resemble in their different ways something which is the maximum, as a thing is said to be hotter according as it more nearly resembles that which is hottest; so that there is something which is truest, something best, something noblest and, consequently, something which is uttermost being; for those things that are greatest in truth are greatest in being, as it is written in Metaph. ii. Now the maximum in any genus is the cause of all in that genus; as fire, which is the maximum heat, is the cause of all hot things. Therefore there must also be something which is to all beings the cause of their being, goodness, and every other perfection; and this we call God.

The fifth way is taken from the governance of the world. We see that things which lack intelligence, such as natural bodies, act for an end, and this is evident from their acting always, or nearly always, in the same way, so as to obtain the best result. Hence it is plain that not fortuitously, but designedly, do they achieve their end. Now whatever lacks intelligence cannot move towards an end, unless it be directed by some being endowed with knowledge and intelligence; as the arrow is shot to its mark by the archer. Therefore some intelligent being exists by whom all natural things are directed to their end; and this being we call God.

Reply to Objection 1. As Augustine says: "Since God is the highest good, He would not allow any evil to exist in His works, unless His omnipotence and goodness were such as to bring good even out of evil." This is part of the infinite goodness of God, that He should allow evil to exist, and out of it produce good.

Reply to Objection 2. Since nature works for a determinate end under the direction of a higher agent, whatever is done by nature must needs be traced back to God, as to its first cause. So also whatever is done voluntarily must also be traced back to some higher cause other than human reason or will, since these can change or fail; for all things that are changeable and capable of defect must be traced back to an immovable and self-necessary first principle, as was shown in the body of the Article.
Be Careful What You Pray For

At a time when everyone in Syracuse wished for the death of Dionysius, an old woman kept praying for his safety and continued survival. When the tyrant found out about this he asked her why she did it. She replied, "When I was a little girl we were ruled by an evil tyrant and I kept praying that he would die. When he was killed his successor was still more oppressive, and I kept wishing for his rule to end. Then we began to have a third ruler who was even worse-you. And so if you are taken from us a worse ruler will take your place."
On The Rank Of Bishop And (The Pope)Who Is Highest In That Rank

It is evident, however, that although the people are divided into different dioceses and cities, just as there is one church there also must be one Christian people. Just as the particular people of one church must have one bishop who is head of all the people, so also the whole Christian people must have one who is head of the whole church.

Likewise if the church is to be united, all the faithful must agree on the faith. But there are many questions concerning matters of faith. Because of the difference of opinions, the church would be divided unless it was kept in unity by the decision of one person. Thus one person must be over the whole church in order to keep it united. But it is obvious that Christ never failed to give what is necessary to the church that he loves and for which he sheds his blood. The Lord says of the synagogue, "What more is there that I should have done for my vineyard, and have not done." There is no doubt therefore that it is by Christ's command that one person is over the whole church.

Futhermore no one doubts that the government of the church is ordered in the best way, since this has been done by the one through whom "Kings rule and legislators make just laws." The best government of a society is one that is ruled by one person. This is clear from the end of government which is peace. Peaceful unity among his subjects is the end of the ruler, and one ruler, rather than many rulers, is a more proximate cause of unity. It is clear therefore that the government of the church is so arranged that one person is over the whole church.

This then refutes the presumptuous error of those who try to withdraw from obedience and subjection to Peter and do not recognize his successor, the Roman Pontiff, as the pastor of the universal church.

-St. Thomas Aquinas from the Summa Contra Gentiles.
Meditation On Catholicism And Protestantism

In my meditations on Catholicism and Protestantism, it seems to me that the Reformers have watered down the True Faith and are trying to live life with only half (in some cases a lot less) of God's revealed Truth. A couple of points that come to mind are Justification and God's Divine Providence.

As Catholics, we believe that we are saved by Faith AND Works.
Protestants however, fall short and say we are saved only by Faith.
The Protestant view is contrary to Scripture and God's intent.
We see in Dueteronomy that God's law tells us that we are to believe in God. We are also called to obey the law. Christ is the perfection of the law. One can't say that they have faith and not obey the law, because by having faith they have obeyed the law.
Jesus himself tells us in the Gospels that we will be judged by the deeds we do. If we say "Lord, Lord" and not do the works of charity we are called to do, then we are damned. For even the demons say "Lord, Lord."
Faith without works is dead. Plain and simple.

As for God's Divine Providence, Catholics believe that God pre-destines and yet we also have free will.
Some Protestants say we do not have free will, but everything we do has been fore-ordained by God.
Once again, the Protestant view limits God's plan.
We can't say how we have the freedom of free will and yet God has pre-ordained all existence. That is one of God's mysteries.
We do know, however, that God has left the choice entirely up to us to acknowledge him or not. If there were no free will, everyone would believe in God. Why would God not want his creation to believe in Him?
Likewise, if we did not have free will, there would be no sin in the world. For why would God want us to be separated from Him, since that is what sin does?

Monday, March 20, 2006

Your Prayers

I ask your prayers for my Uncle John, who found out this week that he has cancer.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

The Original Irish And Dangerous

He may not have been Irish by birth, but he had an Irish heart through and through!

The Apostle of Ireland, St. Patrick is one of the world's most popular saints.

Patrick was born around 385 in Scotland, probably Kilpatrick. His parents were Calpurnius and Conchessa, who were Romans living in Britian in charge of the colonies.

As a boy of fourteen or so, he was captured during a raiding party and taken to Ireland as a slave to herd and tend sheep. Ireland at this time was a land of Druids and pagans. He learned the language and practices of the people who held him.

During his captivity, he turned to God in prayer. He wrote
"The love of God and his fear grew in me more and more, as did the faith, and my soul was rosed, so that, in a single day, I have said as many as a hundred prayers and in the night, nearly the same." "I prayed in the woods and on the mountain, even before dawn. I felt no hurt from the snow or ice or rain."

Patrick's captivity lasted until he was twenty, when he escaped after having a dream from God in which he was told to leave Ireland by going to the coast. There he found some sailors who took him back to Britian, where he reunited with his family.

He had another dream in which the people of Ireland were calling out to him "We beg you, holy youth, to come and walk among us once more."

He began his studies for the priesthood. He was ordained by St. Germanus, the Bishop of Auxerre, whom he had studied under for years.

Later, Patrick was ordained a bishop, and was sent to take the Gospel to Ireland. He arrived in Ireland March 25, 433, at Slane. One legend says that he met a chieftain of one of the tribes, who tried to kill Patrick. Patrick converted Dichu (the chieftain) after he was unable to move his arm until he became friendly to Patrick.

Patrick began preaching the Gospel throughout Ireland, converting many. He and his disciples preached and converted thousands and began building churches all over the country. Kings, their families, and entire kingdoms converted to Christianity when hearing Patrick's message.

Patrick by now had many disciples, among them Beningnus, Auxilius, Iserninus, and Fiaac, (all later canonized as well).

Patrick preached and converted all of Ireland for 40 years. He worked many miracles and wrote of his love for God in Confessions. After years of living in poverty, traveling and enduring much suffering he died at Saul (where he had built the first church), Downpatrick, Ireland, 17 March, 461.

In the Middle Ages Ireland became known as the Land of Saints, and during the Dark Ages its monasteries were the great repositories of learning in Europe, all a consequence of Patrick's ministry.

Patrick used the shamrock to explain the Trinity, and has been associated with him and the Irish since that time.

Patrick was a humble, pious, gentle man, whose love and total devotion to and trust in God should be a shining example to each of us. He feared nothing, not even death, so complete was his trust in God, and of the importance of his mission.

He is the patron of Ireland, the archdiocese of Boston, and fear of snakes.

I hate snakes! I love St. Patrick!! I wish he had driven all the snakes from America.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!!!
Give Ireland Back To The Irish

Give Ireland Back To The Irish
Don't Make Them Have To Take It Away
Give Ireland Back To The Irish
Make Ireland Irish Today

Great Britian You Are Tremendous
And Nobody Knows Like Me
But Really What Are You Doin'
In The Land Across The Sea

Tell Me How Would You Like It
If On Your Way To Work
You Were Stopped By Irish Soliders
Would You Lie Down Do Nothing
Would you give in or go berserk

Give Ireland Back To The Irish
Don't Make Them Have To Take It Away
Give Ireland Back To The Irish
Make Ireland Irish Today

Great Britian And All The People
Say That All People Must Be Free
Meanwhile Back In Ireland
There's A Man Who Looks Like Me

And He Dreams Of God And Country
And He's Feeling Really Bad
And He's Sitting In A Prison
Should He Lie Down Do Nothing
Should Give In Or Go Mad

Give Ireland Back To The Irish
Don't Make Them Have To Take It Away
Give Ireland Back To The Irish
Make Ireland Irish Today

-By Paul McCartney
I Came To The Irish

I came to the Irish people to preach the Gospel and endure the taunts of unbelievers, putting up with reproaches about my earthly pilgrimage, suffering many persecutions, even bondage, and losing my birthright of freedom for the benefit of others.

If I am worthy, I am ready also to give up my life, without hesitation and most willingly, for Christ's name. I want to spend myself for that country, even in death, if the Lord should grant me this favor.

It is among that people that I want to wait for the promise made by him, who assuredly never tells a lie. He makes this promise in the Gospel: "They shall come from the east and west and sit down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob." This is our faith: believers are to come from the whole world.

-from the Confession of Saint Patrick
Never Stop Defending The Faith

There is a discussion going on with some Protestants over at Titusonenine about the usual things Protestants disagree with about the Catholic Faith. Have a look and feel free to add to the defense.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

I Love Being (Almost) Catholic!

I just finished watching the movie "Becket". Thomas Becket was the prime example of God's transforming and sanctifying grace! It's great to know that we have defenders of the faith like him within the communion of saints.

It also great to be a part of the True Faith. I can't wait until Easter! Would that all God's sheep returned home!
A Letter To An Inquirer

A great post from the Pontificator.

The Salty Vicar has published the following letter he recently received from an individual inquiring into the Episcopal Church:

I am seeking to learn more about the Episcopalian Church. I am currently taking RCIA classes at my local Catholic church and want badly to convert but am assailed with doubts for the following reasons: the Church’s stance on divorce, birth control, abortion, homosexuality and women as priests. I am a liberal and cannot and will not betray my conscience by accepting the teachings of the Church hierarchy that I view to be implicitly wrong. I love Christ will all my heart and long to serve him, but don’t know if I can reconcile my personal belief system with these teachings, not to mention the overall alarmingly conservative outlook of many Catholics. I know that many former Catholics have become members of the Episcopalian Church. Do you know of any yourself? Is it true that many have become members since Pope Benedict took his place in the Holy See?

I have encountered some Catholics online who are progressive and share my views but they seem to be the minority, alas. I’m feeling pretty lost right now and I don’t know where I can find a home, so to speak, a church that will accept and embrace my views. I love so many aspects of Catholicism, the dignity of Mass, the sacraments, the emphasis on social justice, but don’t want to feel as if I’m living a lie but rejecting other teachings. Does the Episcopalian Church offer the sacrament of Reconciliation? I don’t know if I could stand to leave this behind. Thanks for taking the time to read this.

* * * * *

Dear Inquirer,

I applaud your commitment not to betray your conscience “by accepting the teachings of the Church hierarchy” that you believe to be wrong. The Catholic Church teaches that the conscience is the voice of God and therefore a person should and must obey his conscience, even though it is possible that he may have misheard the divine voice. “It is never lawful,” Cardinal Newman writes, “to go against our conscience.” However, we also have a moral obligation to inform and train our conscience. How are we to do so?

You write that you disagree with the Catholic Church’s positions on divorce and remarriage, birth control, abortion, homosexuality, and the male priesthood. May I suggest that you bracket these convictions for a moment and consider a more fundamental question: Is the Catholic Church who she claims to be? This question must be asked and answered before you can reasonably address the specific teachings of the Catholic Church, for if the Catholic claim is true, then you will be forced to reconsider your present beliefs. Let’s be honest. Given the beliefs and values of our culture, you would be a remarkable person indeed who did not disagree with the Catholic Church on the issues you mention. Since your birth you have breathed in a spirit of inclusivity, relativism, and anti-authoritarianism. You are a grandchild of the sexual revolution. You have been indoctrinated in a worldview that is hostile to the Catholic faith. The teaching of the Catholic Church on sexual morality is especially offensive to secular culture. The Catholic Church now exists in the United States as a counter-cultural community. May I suggest that this counter-cultural stance be considered as one piece of evidence in favor of the claim that the Catholic Church speaks to the world with divine authority and truth. How easy it would be for her to conform to contemporary sensibilities. How the cultural elites would applaud if she would just affirm the permissibility of abortion or gay marriages. Yet the Catholic Church will not accommodate. She knows she is entrusted with a solemn responsibility—to guard the faith once delivered to the saints and to pass it on intact to future generations.

For the Catholic, the decision to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and the decision to accept the authority of the Church is one decision. They cannot be separated, for the risen Christ will not be separated from his mystical body. We love to manufacture religions that express our own ideological and religious preferences. As Luther once remarked, “Every man is born with a Pope in his belly.” The grace of the Catholic Church, with all her weaknesses, sins, and failures, is that she confronts me as other. She is not, and refuses to be, a projection of my ego. She simply is. She speaks with a voice that is not my own. She challenges me with the authority of God. Here is one meaning of the ancient Christian dictum extra ecclesiam nulla salus: outside the Church there is no salvation. The Church saves me. She saves me from the sin of self because she cannot be assimilated into my self; I must be assimilated into her. I am the one who must change. I am the one who must be willing to submit my intellect to her wisdom and knowledge. Incorporated into the Catholic Church I am simultaneously incorporated into the glorified and risen Christ and brought into the ecstatic life of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

If the Catholic Church is who she claims to be, then she speaks to me with an authority that binds my conscience. Because she is indwelt and guided by the Holy Spirit, she is protected from error in her formal teachings. She speaks truth. She can be relied upon. And so I trust her and seek to think with her. I do not ask her, must not ask her, to accept my views; she asks me to accept her views. One enters the Catholic Church in order to change; one enters the Catholic Church to be changed.

When I became Catholic just under a year ago, I made this profession: “I believe and profess all that the holy Catholic Church believes, teaches, and proclaims to be revealed by God.” Believe me when I tell you that this was one of the hardest moments in my life. I had been an Episcopal priest for twenty-five years. As my friends will tell you, I have strong convictions about a great many things and especially about matters theological. If nothing else, I am opinionated. Yet with that surrender to the magisterial authority of the Church came true intellectual liberation. Finally, for the first time, I had a knowledgeable and faithful guide. As Chesterton wrote, “To become a Catholic is not to leave off thinking, but to learn how to think.”

Is the Catholic Church who she claims to be? Is she the Church of Jesus Christ? This is the question that you must answer.

If I may, I recommend the following writings: George Weigel, Letters to a Young Catholic; Richard John Neuhaus, Catholic Matters; G. K. Chesterton, The Catholic Church and Conversion; and John Henry Newman, “Faith and Private Judgment.”

God bless you in your journey.

Yours in Christ,
Alvin Kimel
Only The Church

"Being a lover of freedom, when the revolution came in Germany, I looked to the universities to defend it, knowing that they had always boasted of their devotion to the cause of truth; but, no, the universities immediately were silenced. Then I looked to the great editors of the newspapers whose flaming editorials in days gone by had proclaimed their love of freedom; but they, like the universities, were silenced in a few short weeks...Only the Church stood squarely across the path of Hitler's campaign for suppressing truth. I never had any special interest in the Church before, but now I feel a great affection and admiration because the Church alone has had the courage and persistence to stand for intellectual truth and moral freedom. I am forced thus to confess that what I once despised I now praise unreservedly."

-Albert Einstein

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Thanks Be To God

...And thanks to all who have prayed for my acceptance to grad school! Today I received my letter of acceptance to Franciscan University of Steubenville!

Monday, March 13, 2006

John Henry Newman: The Great Converter

Newman is called the greatest convert to the Catholic Church. He was responsible on his own for the conversion to the Catholic Church the following:

  • 636 English Nobleman.

    • 700 British Clergyman.

      • 1100 of their wives and children.

        • 700 professionals.

          • 612 of these young men became priests.

            • 164 of the women became nuns.
            • Newman was also a big influence in my decision to convert!

                Like A Kid In A Candy Shop

                Today I went to visit the Franciscan University of Steubenville. Unfortunately they are on Spring Break, so I didn't get to have a real visit. The campus is great though. They also have a great library.

                While I was in the library, I had an epiphany..."I wonder if a non-student can check out books from here?" So I went to the desk to inquire and sure enough I could!

                I now have a library card to Franciscan University's library and I feel like a kid in a candy shop! I checked out an audio series of Scott Hahn's study of the book of Romans called, "Romanism in Romans."

                Now, whether I get accepted or not, I have access to a plethora of knowledge!

                ....although, I still hope I get accepted.
                No Dispensation For Pittsburgh

                I just saw this note on the Diocese of Pittsburgh website:

                During Lent, Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are days of fast and abstinence. The Fridays of Lent are days of abstinence. Abstinence means that Catholics 14 and older are required to refrain from eating meat.

                When St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Friday of Lent, as is the case this year, we need to be remember that the saint’s feast is not considered reason for dispensation from the rule of abstinence.

                Next Friday, March 17, is a Lenten Friday and remains a day of abstinence.

                It's a sad day for us Irish in Pittsburgh!
                Lucky are those in dioceses where the bishop has granted a dispensation!

                ...On another note, I have noticed that there has been an increase in traffic to this blog today. Most of the viewers have found my site looking to see if their diocese is granting a dispensation. I expect traffic to increase as St. Patrick's day nears.

                So if you are a first timer to this blog: Welcome and God bless!
                This Is Past Absurd...

                It's downright heretical!

                Hat tip to American Papist.

                Sunday, March 12, 2006

                This Is Truly Absurd!

                This ranks up there with churches serving espresso drinks in the middle of service.

                Make sure you look at all 7 pictures.
                The Pallium

                From Catholic Encyclopedia.

                The modern pallium is a circular band about two inches wide, worn about the neck, breast, and shoulders, and having two pendants, one hanging down in front and one behind. The pendants are about two inches wide and twelve inches long, and are weighted with small pieces of lead covered with black silk. The remainder of the pallium is made of white wool, part of which is supplied by two lambs presented annually as a tax by the Lateran Canons Regular to the Chapter of St. John on the feast of St. Agnes, solemnly blessed on the high altar of that church after the pontifical Mass, and then offered to the pope. The ornamentation of the pallium consists of six small black crosses -- one each on the breast and back, one on each shoulder, and one on each pendant. The crosses on the breast, back, and left shoulder are provided with a loop for the reception of a gold pin set with a precious stone. The pallium is worn over the chasuble.

                The use of the pallium is reserved to the pope and archbishops, but the latter may not use it until, on petition they have received the permission of the Holy See. Bishops sometimes receive the pallium as a mark of special favour, but it does not increase their powers or jurisdiction nor give them precedence. The pope may use the pallium at any time. Others, even archbishops, may use it only in their respective dioceses, and there only on the days and occasions designated in the "Pontificale" (Christmas, the Circumcision, and other specified great feasts; during the conferring of Holy orders, the consecration of abbots, etc.), unless its use is extended by a special privilege. Worn by the pope, the pallium symbolizes the plenitudo pontificalis officii (i.e. the plenitude of pontifical office); worn by archbishops, it typifies their participation in the supreme pastoral power of the pope, who concedes it to them for their proper church provinces. An archbishop, therefore, who has not received the pallium may not exercise any of his functions as metropolitan, nor any metropolitan prerogatives whatever; he is even forbidden to perform any episcopal act until invested with the pallium. Similarly, after his resignation, he may not use the pallium; should he be transferred to another archdiocese. He must again petition the Holy Father for the pallium. In the case of bishops, its use is purely ornamental. The new palliums are solemnly blessed after the Second Vespers on the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, and are then kept in a special silver-gilt casket near the Confessio Petri until required. The pallium is conferred in Rome by a cardinal-deacon, and outside of Rome by a bishop; in both cases the ceremony takes place after the celebration of Mass and the administration of the oath of allegiance.

                It is impossible to indicate exactly when the pallium was first introduced. According to the "Liber Pontificalis", it was first used in the first half of the fourth century. This book relates, in the life of Pope Marcus (d. 336), that he conferred the right of wearing the pallium on the Bishop of Ostia, because the consecration of the pope appertained to him. At any rate, the wearing of the pallium was usual in the fifth century; this is indicated by the above-mentioned reference contained in the life of St. Marcus which dates from the beginning of the sixth century, as well as by the conferring of the pallium on St. Cæsarius of Arles by Pope Symmachus in 513. Besides, in numerous other references of the sixth century, the pallium is mentioned as a long-customary vestment. It seems that, from the beginning, the pope alone had the absolute right of wearing the pallium. Its use by others was tolerated only in virtue of the permission of the pope. We hear of the pallium being conferred on others, as a mark of distinction, as early as the sixth century. The honour was usually conferred on metropolitans, especially those nominated vicars by the pope, but it was sometimes conferred on simple bishops (e.g. on Syagrius of Autun, Donus of Messina, and John of Syracuse by Pope Gregory the Great). The use of the pallium among metropolitans did not become general until the ninth century, when the obligation was laid upon all metropolitans of forwarding a petition for the pallium accompanied by a solemn profession of faith, all consecrations being forbidden them before the reception of the pallium. The object of this rule was to bring the metropolitans into more intimate connection with the seat of unity and the source of all metropolitan prerogatives, the Holy See, to counteract the aspirations of various autonomy-seeking metropolitans, which were incompatible with the Constitution of the Church, and to counteract the evil influences arising therefrom: the rule was intended, not to kill, but to revivify metropolitan jurisdiction. The oath of allegiance which the recipient of the pallium takes today originated, apparently, in the eleventh century. It is met with during the reign of Paschal II (1099-1118), and replaced the profession of faith.
                Schuylkill County Priest On The Road To Sainthood


                Local clergy are asking the Vatican to consider for sainthood a priest from Schuylkill County who spent 15 years in gulags for trying to spread Christianity in the atheist Soviet Union.

                The Diocese of Allentown recently shipped to Rome three wooden crates of what they believe is substantive evidence detailing the Rev. Walter J. Ciszek's life of "heroic virtue."

                The crates contain six cardboard boxes of documents, including sworn testimony from 45 witnesses, and thousands of typed pages of Ciszek's meditations and writings. As ancient traditions dictate, the boxes were sealed with cord and red wax, and stamped with Bishop Edward P. Cullen's signet ring.

                A review of the documents, which took more than 16 years to compile and organize, begins Tuesday.

                Monsignor Anthony Muntone, pastor of St. Elizabeth of Hungary Church in Whitehall Township, will go to Rome next week to open the boxes and present the evidence and plead on Ciszek's behalf for beatification, which is the next step in the canonization process.

                "It has been an enormously time-consuming task," Muntone said Friday. "Next we will go back to closely examining the claims of miracles."

                Ciszek (pronounced Chih-zeck) is on track to become the first saint from the Allentown diocese. He is the only person from the region under review for sainthood, diocesan officials said.

                Before Ciszek can be beatified, the Vatican will need proof of one miracle. A second miracle is needed for canonization in the case of those who have died naturally, as did Ciszek.

                The drive to have him declared a saint began five years after his death in New York in 1984.

                Born in Shenandoah in 1904, Ciszek was ordained in 1937 in Rome and sent to a parish in eastern Poland, only to flee with his flock to the Soviet Union as the Nazi blitzkrieg advanced in 1939-40. There, he was charged as a Nazi spy and a Vatican agent. He spent so much time in prison, where he was beaten, drugged and starved, that his family and the Jesuits believed him dead.

                Five of those years were in solitary confinement at Moscow's infamous Lubyanka prison. His spirit and faith unshaken, he continued to celebrate Mass in the labor camps of Siberia, where he was sent until being released in 1955.

                Ciszek was allowed to return to the United States in 1963 in exchange for two Soviet spies. He continued counseling, and gave retreats and talks while in residence at Fordham University in New York.

                One of the most recent American saints is Mother Katharine Drexel, who founded the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament in lower Bucks County and was canonized in 2000. John Neumann, a saint canonized in 1977, was bishop of Philadelphia in the 1850s, when the Lehigh Valley was part of that diocese.

                Wednesday, March 08, 2006

                Mean What You Profess

                I've been thinking alot lately about the Nicene Creed and all that we say in it.

                The part I've been thinking about the most is, "We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church."

                As a Catholic there is no problem with saying this, because we know that "One Holy Catholic and Apostolic" are the marks of the Church.

                The Church founded by Jesus who passed it down to the Apostles to the Fathers to the present day.

                The Catholic Church.

                What concerns me, is that as an Anglican, I said this creed every Sunday. I would say this line of the creed and not really think about it. But now that I am becoming Catholic, it doesn't make sense that I would truthfully be able to say that line as a member of any other denomination than that of the Catholic Church.

                The main reason is because of the word "One" in the line of the creed. We believe in "One" Church. Not two, or three, or four, or so forth, but ONE.

                When other Churches split from the One Catholic Church, there no longer was ONE Church. There was Anglican, Lutheran, Presbyterian....

                In the Anglican Communion alone there isn't ONE Church. There is the Episcopal Church of AMERICA, the Church of ENGLAND, the AFRICAN Church, the CANADIAN Church, and so on.

                With Catholics, there isn't a separate church in every country. There is ONE Church throughout the world. That's why Catholics can faithfully say that we believe in ONE Church.

                Now Anglicans might say to me that the line in the creed says that "We believe in One Holy CATHOLIC" Church. And we all know that Catholic in the creed means "universal", so we are all the universal Church under Christ.

                However, they fail to see the "ONE" that precedes the "CATHOLIC" in the line. Catholic does mean "universal", it's true, but the line says "One Universal." If you call yourself the Church of England and the Church of America and the Church of Canada, you may be universal...but you are not ONE.

                The Catholic Church is universal and one.

                The Catholic Church is the fullest expression of the Christian Faith. Each time a group breaks away from the Catholic Church they lose something of the True Faith handed down from Jesus.

                Let us also not forget that it was the Catholic Church who came up with the creed in the first place at Nicaea in 325.

                The Catholic Church is the One TRUE Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.

                Now, I am aware that this blog is read by Anglicans and I write this post not to attack or look down upon you, but rather to challenge you to think about your faith and the words you say in the creed. I challenge you to really see what it is that you left in leaving the Catholic Church. The Church founded by Christ.

                May all who have left (by choice or by being born into another denomination) the One True Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church return home to the fullness of faith in Christ. Amen.

                Monday, March 06, 2006

                Pro-Life Victory in South Dakota

                From Yahoo News.

                By CHET BROKAW, Associated Press Writer

                PIERRE, S.D. - Gov. Mike Rounds signed legislation Monday banning nearly all abortions in South Dakota, setting up a court fight aimed at challenging the 1973
                U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion.

                The bill would make it a crime for doctors to perform an abortion unless the procedure was necessary to save the woman's life. It would make no exception for cases of rape or incest.
                Planned Parenthood, which operates the state's only abortion clinic, in Sioux Falls, has pledged to challenge the measure in court.

                Rounds issued a written statement saying he expects the law will be tied up in court for years and will not take effect unless the U.S. Supreme Court upholds it.

                "In the history of the world, the true test of a civilization is how well people treat the most vulnerable and most helpless in their society. The sponsors and supporters of this bill believe that abortion is wrong because unborn children are the most vulnerable and most helpless persons in our society. I agree with them," Rounds said in the statement.

                The governor declined all media requests for interviews Monday.

                The Legislature passed the bill last month after supporters argued that the recent appointment of conservative justices John Roberts and
                Samuel Alito have made the U.S. Supreme Court more likely to overturn
                Roe v. Wade.

                South Dakota's abortion ban is to take effect July 1, but a federal judge is likely to suspend it during a legal challenge.

                Rounds has said abortion opponents already are offering money to help the state pay legal bills for the anticipated court challenge. Lawmakers said an anonymous donor has pledged $1 million to defend the ban, and the Legislature set up a special account to accept donations for legal fees.

                Under the new law, doctors could get up to five years in prison for performing an illegal abortion.

                Rounds previously issued a technical veto of a similar bill passed two years ago because it would have wiped out all existing restrictions on abortion while the bill was tied up for years in a court challenge.

                The statement he issued Monday noted that this year's bill was written to make sure existing restrictions will be enforced during the legal battle. Current state law sets increasingly stringent restrictions on abortions as pregnancy progresses. After the 24th week, the procedure is allowed only to protect the woman's health and safety.

                About 800 abortions are performed each year in South Dakota. Planned Parenthood has said other women cross state lines to reach clinics.
                Nun Defends Man Some Called 'Hitler's Pope'


                BY NAVID IQBAL

                MADISON -- Pope Pius XII did not condemn the Nazis during the Holocaust because he wanted to save lives, the Morristown-based author of a new book about the pope said at Drew University on Sunday afternoon.

                If the pope had condemned the Nazi Party outright, "the Nazis would have gone after him. He would have been kidnapped," Sister Margherita Marchione said during a book-signing of her latest work, "Crusade of Charity: Pius XII and POWs (1939-1945)." (Paulist Press 2006)

                "All the people he saved would have been caught."

                Marchione, a resident of Villa Wash, a Religious Teachers Filippini academy in Morristown, has been an outspoken advocate for the canonization of Pius XII, which would elevate the controversial pope to sainthood. Her new book discusses the letters written to the pope by family members who were prisoners of war during World War II.

                At 84, her efforts to clear Pope Pius' record have led some people to call her the "the fighting nun," said Regina Mezei, the president of the New Jersey Chapter of the Fulbright Association, which organized the event hosted at Drew University.

                Marchione, standing at about 5 feet tall, just cleared a podium as she spoke to more than 60 people at Mead Hall on Sunday before signing copies of some of the 50 books she has authored. At the end of the 45-minute talk, a tear settled on her cheek.

                She received resounding applause from the crowd, which included some Drew University students, educators and fellow Fulbright alumni.

                When the Holocaust occurred, she was a 19-year-old teacher in Baltimore, she said in response to a question. She said she and others here did not know what was going on overseas.

                "Really, it was shameful," she said. "We didn't know anything at all."

                In 1957, Marchione, a Little Ferry native, met Pius XII. Forty years later, she became his defender -- so much so that she wants to see something beyond Pope Benedict XVI's initiation last year of the process by which he would become a saint.

                The beleaguered record of the late pope would be "cleared"through federal recognition, she said. She said she would try to get her book or other scholarship that defends Pope Pius XII into the Congressional Record.

                Marchione's latest book describes the wartime humanitarian efforts of Pope Pius, who continues to be blamed for ignoring Jewish persecution during the Holocaust. Even at what would have been the 130th birthday of Pope Pius, which was marked earlier this week, a polemic about his role -- or lack of one -- during the Holocaust rages on.

                Marchione said criticism of the pope began after he criticized communism. A communist newspaper, she said, printed an article that questioned why he kept silent.

                The pope also had been criticized in fiction such as Rolf Hochhuth's 1963 play, "The Deputy," which later was made into a movie.

                The criticism ignited again in the late 1990s. Books such as "Hitler's Pope: the Secret History of Pius XII," (Penguin 1999) written by Roman Catholic author John Cornwell, accused Eugenio Pacelli -- who became Pius XII in 1939 -- of sympathizing with the Nazis and of helping Adolf Hitler come to power.

                Like Marchione, other scholars dispute these contentions.

                In 2005, Rabbi David G. Dalin, a history teacher at Ave Maria University, wrote "The Myth of Hitler's Pope: How Pope Pius XII Rescued Jews from the Nazis" (Regnery Books), which argued against Cornwell's contentions. Dalin suggested that Pius XII should even be named a righteous Gentile on Israel's Holocaust memorial.

                "No one did more to save Jewish victims of the Holocaust"than the Vatican, Marchione said on Sunday.

                She said the Vatican had developed a "an underground railroad" that helped prisoners of war communicate with their loved ones. The POW families sent nearly 2 million letters to the Vatican appealing for help. The stories of these letters make up the crust of "Crusade of Charity."

                The late pope, Marchione said, "resented, rebelled and contacted the Nazis" as they were capturing Jewish people in Rome to send to the Auschwitz death camp. Pope Pius XII threatened to publicly condemn the Nazis, who stopped the deportation after one day due to his threat, Marchione said. She said many Jewish men even showed their appreciation to the church by joining the Vatican Army, which grew from 400 at the start of the war to 4,000 when it ended.

                "He so provoked the Nazis they called him a mouthpiece for the Jewish war criminals," she said.

                While he condemned "specific acts of the Nazis," he could not make a broader condemnation because it would jeopardize the Jews and others who were rescued by the Church, Marchione said.

                "All experts agreed if the pope had more directly attacked the Nazis, more lives would have been lost," she said.

                "There were limits to the power of the Vatican in face of a world power with military domination over a continent."

                Evidence such as this is what disputes the claim that Pope Pius, who died in 1958, was an anti-Semite, Marchione said.

                "In the name of justice, Pius XXII's efforts must be acknowledged," she said. "He directed the greatest rescue program in the history of the Catholic Church."

                Sunday, March 05, 2006

                Man With March Mission: Calling Catholics Back

                From Catholic Online.

                FITCHBURG, Mass. (The Catholic Free Press) - Joseph Brisebois is a man with a mission. He wants to bring people back to church.

                There are plenty of Catholics in Fitchburg, he said to The Catholic Free Press, official newspaper of the Diocese of Worcester, Mass. But many of them aren’t coming to Mass.

                So Brisebois organized “March with Christ,” a six-week Lenten series at Immaculate Conception Parish that will emphasize the basic, unchanging truths of our Catholic faith.

                “This is to bring us back to tradition,” said Brisebois, adding that many Catholics have forgotten what they learned as children.

                Pious practices, such as saying a family rosary, have gone by the wayside. So have nightly prayers and saying grace before meals. And many Catholics no longer go to confession.

                “People say, ‘I learned this stuff as a kid, but I don’t remember it,’” Brisebois stated. “There isn’t enough continuing Catholic education for adults. Nurses and teachers all have to be recertified and they have to do continuing education. Why shouldn’t we?”

                The title of the series, “March with Christ,” is a play on the month it will run. Visiting priests and seminarians will speak about Catholicism on five consecutive Thursday evenings at 7 p.m., beginning March 2. The sixth segment is part of an annual three-day Lenten mission shared with two other parishes in their cluster; St. Francis of Assisi and St Anthony di Padua.

                Brisebois, a burly 41-year-old father of four, is the son of the late Deacon Roland R. Brisebois. Joseph freely admits he was once a lapsed Catholic, frequently skipping Mass, sometimes for extended periods.

                Now a daily communicant, he experienced a sense of peace upon returning to the faith. “I know that when I came back to Immaculate Conception it was like finding that comfortable sweater in the back of the closet, but I realized the buttons were missing, and the buttons were the empty pews,” he recalled.

                In fact, he was struck by the low attendance. “I thought, somebody’s got to do something about those numbers,” he said, adding that the call to respond came during last year’s Diocesan Eucharistic Congress at the Worcester DCU Center.

                Brisebois was inspired by a talk titled “Why St. Dominic Wept: The Holiness of the Mass” by Dominican Father Peter M. Girard. During Father Girard’s talk, Brisbebois realized he needed to evangelize. “It wasn’t until then that I decided I wanted to get more involved. It was funny, but that little voice in my head said, ‘What are you going to do?’”

                Also, around the same time, Brisebois noticed his 15-year-old daughter, Danielle, questioning her faith. She still believed in Christ and in the teachings of his Church. But she wondered why she didn’t see more Catholics her age.

                So Brisebois and his wife, Elizabeth, took their daughter to St. Joseph’s Oratory in Montreal, to show her there were still many devout Catholics.

                I decided at that time that I wasn’t doing enough,“ he said. “I needed to do whatever I could to show her that Catholicism is alive, but we needed to do something to revitalize the faith in this area.”

                One final factor propelled Brisebois into action: It was the thought that his beloved parish, which he attended as a child and where his Dad once served, could possibly close because so many Catholics had stopped practicing.

                So he approached his pastor, Father Thien X. Nguyen, about organizing “March with Christ.” Father then formed a Lenten Program Committee to coordinate the event. Brisebois is the chairman.

                We formed this committee to discuss ways to bring Catholics throughout the city back to church, according to Father Nguyen.

                “The first year I came to Immaculate, I established rosary, Mass and benediction,” he said, referring to the Wednesday and Friday night devotions in his chapel. “Now we are focused on reaching out to those who abandoned the church, and who need to come back to the church.”

                The committee invited visiting priests to Immaculate because it’s Lent, and “March with Christ” is an expanded version of the typical Lenten mission.

                One of the featured speakers is Father Girard from the Monastery of the Mother of God in West Springfield, the same priest who spoke at the diocesan Eucharistic Congress. He will once again speak on St.Dominic and the Mass. Another Dominican, Father John Paul Walker, will talk about forgiveness and the necessity of confession.

                Priests and seminarians from the Legionnaires of Christ will preach on traditional Catholic topics, which include: “The Last Four Things: Death, Judgment, Heaven and Hell;” “True Devotion to Mary - Shortcut to Jesus” and “Why We Need to be Catholic for Salvation.”

                Brisebois sees the “March with Christ” series as an inspiring adult education course. He hopes it provides an impetus for a local restoration of Catholicism.

                The series will be heavily advertised, as Brisebois wants to draw a crowd. He’s blanketing the northern half of the Worcester Diocese with printed fliers. He’s also purchasing newspaper ads in the local Sentinel Enterprise, as well as in the Telegram & Gazette.

                In addition, he’s asking regular Massgoers to attend, and to bring a lapsed Catholic with them.

                Brisebois is confident “March with Christ” will bring multitudes of Catholics into his stately red brick church, perched on a bluff overlooking the city’s Nashua River. He’s convinced some of them will join his parish, once they realize what they’re missing.

                Actually, he expects his series to help parishes throughout the region, as returning Catholics often flock back to their childhood church. “

                This is not just for Immaculate Conception,” he stressed. “This is for the entire area.”

                “What we’re looking to do with this speaker series is to rekindle Jesus’ flame in the hearts of those people who don’t even realize it’s there anymore,“ he said. “At the end of this series, we hope that by extending an open invitation to everyone that some of our fallen-away Catholics will find that flame again, and come back and help our cause.”

                What a great thing Joseph Brisebois is doing! We need more people to step up and (re)educate people about their faith. Please pray for him, the speaker series, and all Catholics who have left the faith.

                Friday, March 03, 2006

                Good News For The Irish

                At least in some dioceses, anyway. Certain bishops have issued a Meat Indult on St. Patrick's Day since it falls on a Friday this year. Here is the list so far:

                -Cardinal Rigali (Bishop of Philadelphia) has granted a dispensation from the Lenten obligation to abstain from eating meat on Friday, March 17, 2006 because of the Feast of Saint Patrick. The Cardinal encourages those who wish to take advantage of this dispensation to perform some other Lenten work of piety or charity.

                -In the archdiocese of Boston, Cardinal-designate Sean Patrick O'Malley has granted the indult (there'd be a revolt if he didn't).

                -In the diocese of Lincoln, Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz has granted the indult, while stipulating that "those who make use of such an indult should substitute five decades of the rosary instead of observing the abstinence." Novel.

                -In the diocese of Sioux City, Bishop Walker Nickless will not grant the indult -- a release from the chancery makes explicit note that 17 March remains a day of abstinence. As Nickless' parents ran a butcher shop in Denver, you would think that he'd be eager to help a brother out.

                -Bishop Carl Mengeling of Lansing has dispensed from the obligation, on the condition that the faithful "choose another weekday of the Second Week of Lent as a day of abstinence from meat, in substitution for the observance" on Paddy's.

                -In Erie, Bishop Donald Trautman has granted the indult, "only provided that [the faithful] observe abstinence on the day before, March 16, as a substitute. For those not substituting March 16 as a day of abstinence, St. Patrick’s Day remains a day of abstinence."

                -In Cincinatti, Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk has granted the dispensation, suggesting that those who take it perform some other penitential act.

                -Word from Harrisburg is that Bishop Kevin Rhoades has not conceded the indult, despite St. Patrick's place as patron of the local church and of its cathedral (a shamrock graces the middle of the diocesan arms).

                Does anyone know if Bishop Wuerl of Pittsburgh is planning to grant one?

                Hat tip to Whispers in the Loggia.
                Pray Constantly

                "Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you" (1 Thess. 5:16-18).

                "And he prays 'constantly' (deeds of virtue or fulfilling the commandments are included as part of prayer) who unites prayer with the deeds required and the right deeds with prayer. For the only way we can accept the command to 'pray constantly' (1 Thess. 5:17) as referring to a real possibility is by saying that the entire life of the saint taken as a whole is a single great prayer. What is customarily called prayer is, then, a part of prayer."


                I once heard it told that a monk's work and all that they do during the day is their prayer. Origen takes this a bit further in saying that the entire life of a saint is one great prayer.

                May we all strive this season of Lent to follow the example of the saints by making our lives a prayer to God, in hope that it will continue after the season has finished until the end of our lives! For that truly would be a wonderful gift to our Lord this Easter as we commemorate His resurrection and defeat over death brought on by our sins.
                Quote Of The Day

                "Man, who if he lacks God lacks everything."

                -Cardinal-elect Antonio Cañizares
                Interview With "Little Ratzinger"

                ROME, MARCH 1, 2006 ( Archbishop Antonio Cañizares of Toledo, Spain, is one of the 15 Church figures scheduled to receive a cardinal's hat at the consistory on March 24.

                In this interview with ZENIT, the 60-year-old archbishop of Toledo explains what is implied in being a cardinal and what it means for his ministry as primate of Spain.

                Q: A cardinal is he who sheds his blood for the Pope. What does this mean in the present-day context?

                Archbishop Cañizares: To be a cardinal is reflected in the [red] color that implies giving witness with the Pope of the faith unto death, if necessary. It is to give witness of the living God and, with Peter, to confess that Jesus Christ is the only Savior, the only hope for the whole of humanity.

                It implies living with the Pope, servant of servants, in a life of service and full commitment without any reservations, to spend oneself and exhaust oneself for the hard works of the Gospel, to lose one's life so that the world will believe.

                It is to serve in communion, in unbreakable unity with the Successor of Peter; it is to defend the dignity of the injured and poor man, to give him to Jesus Christ.

                It is a very beautiful mission, a grace to be able to be associated with the Holy Father in his ministry of confirming the faith, in his ministry of concern for all the Church and of love for all, with that love of which Benedict XVI has spoken to us so beautifully in his encyclical.

                Q: Benedict XVI knows that you are called the "little Ratzinger." Is it because of your total attunement with his faith and thought?

                Archbishop Cañizares: The Holy Father is very amused by this expression.

                I think it is because of the resemblance of the white hair and because of having been before bishop secretary of the doctrinal commission in Spain and to that attunement that God has granted me with the thought of the then-Cardinal Ratzinger, attunement and communion in the faith itself and in the great concerns for man, who if he lacks God lacks everything.

                It is also attunement and communion in the great love and passion for the Church, in the search for truth that makes us free, a truth that comes to us by Tradition and for the same reason is attunement in faithfulness to Tradition, which is the only way to open oneself to the future and to make possible the emergence of a renewal of the Church and society.

                I learned a lot in the years I worked by his side as member of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. It is a gift of God to have worked for him and a gift of God to feel so profoundly linked to Peter in the figure of Benedict XVI.

                I know that only in this way will I walk in the Church and not take steps in vain.

                Q: With you as cardinal the Spanish Church is closer to Rome. How will the Church benefit from this reinforcement with the See of Peter?

                Archbishop Cañizares: It will benefit in the measure that I am entirely faithful to the mission, in the measure that I fulfill that service of communion with the Pope and of help so that his teachings for the Church and humanity will reach my homeland.

                And this Pope, who knows the Councils of Toledo so well, knows well what it has meant and what it means that, from Toledo, the unity of the peoples of Spain around the Catholic faith should be revived, which is its most proper root and from where a new vitality will come for this noble country which has accomplished so many epic achievements: the evangelization of America, the cultural work, the great testimonies of the saints and, in our days, the resurgence of new charisms such as Opus Dei and the Neocatechumenal Way.

                Q: What is the priority that the Church in Spain must set itself so that all Spaniards rediscover the beauty of the Gospel?

                Archbishop Cañizares: There is no other answer than the proclamation of the Gospel, to undertake again with joy and determination a new evangelization, like that of the early times, with all courage, with the word and with silent testimony. The future of man is in Jesus Christ.

                Q: The last legacy of John Paul II to Spain is the convocation of the World Meeting of Families in Valencia. As a native of Valencia and now cardinal, what do you hope for from this event?

                Archbishop Cañizares: In his last visit to Spain, John Paul II left us a great message. Evangelized Spain, evangelizing Spain -- this is its path.

                It is not possible to fulfill it without the evangelization of the family. The World Meeting of Families, next July, presided over by Benedict XVI, his successor, is united to this message of the Pope.

                As a concretization of this instruction stands the determined impulse of an evangelization of young people so that they will not be afraid of Jesus Christ, so that they will open themselves to him.

                Youth and family -- here is where the future lies, a future so long as, and to the degree that, they are rooted in Jesus Christ.

                A huge and thankful hat tip to American Papist for alerting me to not only this interview, but also to Archbishop Cañizares. Does anyone else feel the excitement that I get reading the soon-to-be Cardinal's answers? It's like the first time I read Cardinal Ratzinger's books! It is very comforting and joyous to know that we have such great leaders in the Catholic Church!

                Thursday, March 02, 2006

                An Exhortation to Martyrdom

                Therefore, I beseech you to remember in all your present contest the great reward laid up in heaven for those who are persecuted and reviled for righteousness’ sake, and to be glad and leap for joy on account of the Son of Man, just as the apostles once rejoiced when they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for His name. And if you should ever perceive your soul drawing back, let the mind of Christ, which is in us, say to it, when it wishes to trouble that mind as much as it can, “Why are you sorrowful, my soul, and why do you disquiet me? Hope in God, for I shall yet give him thanks.” I pray that our souls may never be disquieted, and even more that in the presence of the tribunals and of the naked swords drawn against our necks they may be guarded by the peace of God, which passes all understanding, and may be quieted when they consider that those who are foreigners from the body are at home with the Lord of all. But if we are not so strong as always to preserve calm, at least let not the disquiet of the soul be poured forth or appear to strangers, so that we may say to Him, “My God, my soul is disquieted in me.” The Word exhorts us to remember also what is said in Isaiah as follows, “Fear not the reproach of men, and be not dismayed at their contempt.” For since God clearly rules over the motion of heaven and what is in it and over what is accomplished on earth and sea by His divine skill -the births, origins, foods, and growths of all the different animals and plants- it is foolish to close our eyes and not look to God, but instead turn our eyes toward the fear of those who will soon die and be handed over to judgment according to their deserts.


                While many of us don't have to worry about martyrdom, there are many people in other countries who die for their faith daily. Some examples are Christians in China or Christians living among muslims in the Middle East. Most people reading this blog may not face the persecution that those Christians are going through, however many have experienced a subtler form of persecution: anti-Catholicism. Many people who are anti-Catholic aren't against Catholicism, but rather what they perceive Catholicism to be. The problem is so widespread that there is even a book out called Anti-Catholicism in America: The Last Acceptable Prejudice.

                As Catholics (or soon to be), we should never be afraid to defend our faith when someone attacks it. Rather, we should look at it as an opportuniy to educate non-Catholics. We would also do well to educate more Catholics. All of the Catholics I have talked to who have left to join a Protestant church or non-denominational church have done so because they misunderstood Catholic teaching. So they go and talk to a non-Catholic who reinforces their false view of Catholicism. The late John Paul the Great called for a "New Evangelization" at the beginning of this millenium, however I think we should rather call for a "New Catechisis." For, how can we evangelize if we don't know our faith?

                So learn and defend your faith! "And if you should ever perceive your soul drawing back, let the mind of Christ, which is in us, say to it, when it wishes to trouble that mind as much as it can, 'Why are you sorrowful, my soul, and why do you disquiet me? Hope in God, for I shall yet give him thanks.'”