Monday, December 27, 2004

Happy Feast Day of St. John!

Today is the feast day of the patron saint of my Community -- the Congregation of St. John--and what a beautiful feast day it has been. Two women made their Oblature today in our local monastery, consecrating their lives to God, taking vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience.

Brief Biography of St. John

Jesus chose St. John, a fisherman, during his first year of ministry. He traveled everywhere with Jesus and became so close to Him that he became known as the "beloved disciple", "the disciple whom Jesus loved" (John 13:23). John reclined on the chest of Jesus at the Last Supper and he was the only the only one of the twelve apostles not to forsake Our Lord and Savior in the hour of His Passion, but remained with Him until the very end, standing at the foot of the cross. It was there that Jesus appointed him the "Son" of Mary, when He uttered, "Woman, behold your son.... Behold, your mother" (John 19:26b, 27b). John then took her into his home, where he lovingly cared for her. Upon hearing of the Resurrection, he was the first to approach the tomb; when he met our risen Lord, at the Lake of Tiberias; he was the first to recognize Him.

Following the death of Jesus, he preached the gospel in Jerusalem and at Ephesus. John is the author of the fourth Gospel, three Epistles, and the Book of Revelation.

John died in 101 at Ephesus (Turkey).

He is the patron saint of authors, booksellers, book publishers, and editors. He is also the patron saint of friendships.

Quote: St. John and the Eucharist

"The whole Gospel of St. John reveals that to us; it is the last Gospel, the Gospel of the heart of Jesus, of his wounded heart. It is in fact amazing how the whole Gospel of St. John is centered around the mystery of the Eucharist. St. John describes five meals ... : Cana - the whole world understands Cana -, the multiplication of loaves - which is marvelous -, the meal of thanksgiving at Bethany - which is not easy to comment on because of the presence and opposition of Judas - the Last Supper, with the washing of feet, and the last little meal - the Anglo-Saxon meal, on the shore of lake Tiberias, where Jesus calls his disciples."

" These five meals speak of or lead to the Eucharist, and they all teach us that Jesus wants to devote himself to us as forcefully as possible: in a festive meal, in a thanksgiving meal, or in a meal taken on the road, where, because of work to be done, we hardly have time to stop, remaining for only a few minutes in order not to waste any time. The five meals teach us everything including five ways of attending Mass. Sometimes we attend Mass but don't have much time: this is why there are brief, simplified prayers in the new liturgy. When we have more time, we can have a wedding banquet. What we need to understand is that Jesus wants us to desire receiving him, to desire receiving this gift. With St. Augustine, let us realize that we are not the ones who transform the body of Christ into our own body, nor the ones who transform the heart of Jesus into our own heart. No, it is Jesus, the living bread, the source of life, light and love, who transforms our heart into his own heart, our body into his own body. That is why the Eucharist is a promise of Glory: we already live the mystery of Glory in a prophetic way."

~ The Wine of the New Covenant, Father Marie-Dominique Philippe, O.P., Founder of the Congregation of St. John

For more Information about the Community of St. John, go to http://www.stjean.com/ and http://www.childrenofhope.org/ .

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

The Meaning of the Season is the Birth of Jesus Christ

The ‘holidays’ exist because of Christmas the holy day

(Denver Catholic Register) The people of Denver elected John Hickenlooper as their mayor because they saw in him the common sense that guides every good leader. He earned their confidence last week. In the face of a strong and unhappy public response, he reversed his decision to retire the “Merry Christmas” lights on City Hall. “Merry Christmas” will remain part of Denver’s public celebration of the holidays for at least the foreseeable future.
Mayor Hickenlooper deserves the thanks of the city. He certainly has the gratitude of Denver’s Catholic community.
Looking back on the events of the last two weeks, a fight over “Merry Christmas” would have baffled our parents. Roughly 80 percent of Americans are Christians. The United States has the highest church-going rate in the developed world. The public institutions and founding documents of the country are filled with Christian language and ideas. Our nation just went through an election that showed, once again, that most Americans root their key political decisions in their moral convictions. And they root their moral convictions in their religious beliefs.
The idea that religion can be exiled from public life is not just strange and illogical. It’s deeply offensive.The overwhelming majority of Americans celebrate Christmas — not a bland and generic set of “holidays.” And for the vast majority of Americans, Christmas has a distinctly religious, Christian identity rooted in Scripture. Publicly ignoring this fact is not a form of “inclusion” or “tolerance.” On the contrary, it’s a deliberate act of intolerance and exclusion against Christians.
Lumping Christmas together with the winter solstice and other seasonal celebrations has only two purposes: to devalue and marginalize the sacred nature of the season; and to reduce Christian influence on the culture. Religious believers are right to be upset about that. Christmas may also be a secular “holiday,” but that’s only because it is first and foremost a religious holyday embedded in the moral heritage of Americans since our nation’s founding.
Public institutions and leaders have the obligation to respect the beliefs of the people they serve. Publicly acknowledging and revering Christmas for what it really is — a time of both secular and religious celebration penetrated by Christian meaning — in no way imposes anyone’s church on anybody. Rather, to not show public respect for the religious identity of Christmas is a form of bigotry against most American voters.
This has been a year of surprises for American Catholics and other Christians — not all of them happy. The lumps began with a hostile public debate over “The Passion of the Christ,” continued through a divisive political campaign, and now conclude in Scrooge-like attempts to cut the word “Christmas” from our public discourse. No other religious community would be subjected to this kind of treatment — and remember, American Christians are in the majority.
The lesson for all of us is simple. Separating our personal religious faith from our public life and actions doesn’t work. All that results is a smaller and smaller space where our religious beliefs are safe from criticism. Living that way is not discipleship. That’s not the courage and confidence Jesus called us to when He told us to be “leaven in the world” and to “make disciples of all nations.”
This December, I have a modest proposal. Let’s scrub the expression “Happy Holidays” from our vocabulary. We don’t need it. We don’t celebrate a generic excuse for gift-giving. We celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.
So let’s say it — and mean it — with all our hearts: Merry Christmas.

~ Archbishop Chaput

I am writing "Merry Christmas" on every letter I mail out during the Season and am using birthday stamps on my Christmas cards, to which I add the name "Jesus" to let as many people as I can that He is the reason for the season and it is His birthday we're celebrating. Cards I receive that say "Happy Holidays" get filed in the trash.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

NEW STUDY SHOWS POST-ABORTION SUPPORT GROUPS WORK

(The Elliot Institute News Vol.2, No. 12 -- Dec. 7, 2004 )

A new study published in the journal Research on Social Work Practice has highlighted the importance of faith-based post-abortion support groups in helping women heal after abortion. The researchers found that women who went through post-abortion support groups with a spiritual component experienced a significant decrease in symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and feelings of shame. More than 80 percent of the 35 women in the study reported that their religious beliefs and spiritual intervention played a strong to very strong role in the groups they attended. The researchers recommended that social workers screen women for symptoms of post-abortion grief and make referrals to organizations offering post-abortion help.

Study Citation: SD Layer, C Roberts, K Wild, J Walters. Postabortion Grief: Evaluating the Possible Efficacy of a Spiritual Group Intervention. Research on Social Work Practice, Vol. 14, No. 5, 344-350 (2004). http://rsw.sagepub.com/cgi/content/refs/14/5/344.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

THOMAS: One Vote is Too Close For Comfort on Stem Cell Legislation

OPINION - That was close. Too close for comfort.(The Leader) The Illinois Senate, by ONE vote, defeated House Bill 3589--a bill that would have allowed for government funded human cloning and experimentation on human embryos and fetuses, regardless of the age of the embryo or fetus. That means, had this passed, it would have been perfectly legal to take a 9 month old, unborn fetus, kill it, experiment with it, and harvest its "adult" stem cells for biotechnological reasons.I'll give the sponsors and supporters of this Frankenstienesque bill the benefit of the doubt. I'll presume that they never intended to provide the state funded legal basis for creating a market for mass fetus production. I'll presume they had all "good intentions" as the feel-good end that justifies the mad scientist means. But, ultimately, it is usually not the well-meaning, softhearted, well-intentioned public servants who exploit the law for their own gain. As a consequence, however, it is rarely the public servant who seriously considers the ramifications.And, make no mistake, there are dire ramifications to what this bill would have allowed. The goal of immortality is no longer the domain of Vincent Price mad scientist characters in movies.

Transhumanism--the belief that human beings, with the proper technology, have the ability to transcend age, disease, this planet and, ultimately, death--is a real-life growing worldview. The leading transhumanist website lists, among its core values, this statement: "Transhumanism advocates the well-being of all sentience (whether in artificial intellects, humans, posthumans, or non-human animals) and encompasses many principles of modern humanism."Translated to English, this is the belief that human beings are simply one of the animals of the universe and, apparently, simply part of an intellectual continuum that includes artificial intelligence.In a worldview, universe view (if you will), where human beings hold the same relative value as a microprocessors or sheep, growing humans inside other humans for the purpose of killing humans and experimenting on humans, for the sole purpose of trying to find out if some humans might live better or live longer, seems perfectly normal. Passing legislation like House Bill 3589 would have further opened the doors to the real-life Dr. Arcanes (remember Swamp Thing?) of the transhuman and posthuman movements. Thank God for the one vote that provided the margin to defeat this Bill.Thank God? It's more than the transhumanists would do. I could find no reference to, or acknowledgement of, any form of supreme being, let alone the God of the Bible, in any of the transhuman or posthuman material I've researched. And, why should there be? If we are indistinguishable, in value, from other forms of life or other forms of intelligence, then we certainly can't be paramount among God's creations (as He says we are). In fact, if God did not order the universe, there can be no God.My atheist friends will have no problem with this portion of the transhuman worldview. But, for most of us, we would stand in strong opposition to this worldview. Yet, far too many believers seem to support this transhuman agenda of embryonic stem cell research, cloning, genetic combination, etc.Like most issues, this one seems to break along liberal/conservative lines, but it really shouldn't. This should break along lines of faith. If you believe that God created the universe and has placed an order to all that is in it, then liberal or conservative, you must rethink your support for legislation like House Bill 3589. It was defeated by ONLY one vote. Certainly there will be efforts to revise and resubmit this type of legislation.It will be relatively easy, I would think, to re-craft a bill that would sway just one vote. Let's not let that happen. I call on all those who believe in a sovereign God to contact your state senators and representatives and voice your opposition to this bill not on political grounds, but standing on faith. Most of our elected state officials profess belief in God. We need to admonish them to vote that way on the next version of House Bill 3589. One vote is far too close for comfort.

(c) 2004 IllinoisLeader.comBy: Scott ThomasSource: The LeaderPublish Date: December 01, 2004

Online at: http://ifrl.org/IFRLDailyNews/041202/4






Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Evening Prayer Service for Healing of Abortion

Tonight, I attended a beautiful evening prayer service sponsored by the Rachel Network for anyone whose life has been touched by abortion – for those who have had abortions, for family members, friends, and counselors. It was open to those of all denominations, but had a distinctively Catholic flavor in that it focused on God’s inner healing, love, and forgiveness, and mercy. The candlelight service, which included scripture readings, melodic, meditative music and imagery focusing on the healing power of God’s forgiveness, individual reflection, and prayers culminated with individual prayer with a deacon and his prayer partner, counseling with a pro-life specialist, and the sacrament of Reconciliation.

This event was so touching – the answer to many prayers. Let us continue to pray for all those who attended the service tonight and for those who suffer from the pain and the trauma of abortion – that they will be healed spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically. Lord, have mercy on us and on the whole world! Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us!
Our Lady of Fatima
"Heaven's Key to Peace"

"Heaven’s Key to Peace"is a riveting, one-hour documentary which explains how the world can achieve lasting world peace.

It will air in the United StatesWednesday, December 8, 2004 on PAX TV Network at11:00 a.m. (Central/Mountain)12 Noon (Eastern/Pacific) and11:00 p.m. (Central/Mountain)12:00 Midnight (Eastern/Pacific)

It will air in Canada on Vision TV Saturday, December 4, 2004 at5:00 p.m. Pacific, 6:00 p.m. Mountain7:00 p.m. Central, 8:00 p.m. Eastern, 9:00 p.m. Atlantic, 9:30 p.m. NFLDand Wednesday, December 8, 2004 at12 noon Pacific, 1:00 p.m. Mountain2:00 p.m. Central, 3:00 p.m. Eastern, 4:00 p.m. Atlantic, 4:30 p.m. NFLD

You can honor Our Lady on The Feast of Her Immaculate Conception (and the 150th Anniversary of the Solemn Proclamation of this Dogma of Catholic Faith) by watching this all-important national TV viewing. If you have cable, please check your local listings for PAX or Vision TV in your area.

Call 1-800-263-8160 or visit www.fatima.org for more details.

If you are watching this on satellite - Direct TV (channel 255) or EchoStar (Dish) (channel 181) then you will see PAX TV at 12 noon Eastern time, 11:00 a.m. Central time, 10:00 a.m. Mountain time and 9:00 a.m. Pacific time. The night program will play on December 8, at 11:00 p.m. Central time, 10:00 p.m. Mountain time, 9:00 p.m. Pacific time and 12 Midnight on the East Coast.

This is a program I am certainly looking forward to watching.