Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Update on Obama denies Militant Pro-abortion Record

Obama continues to deny his involvement in pro-abortion legislation as evidenced in his interview with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday.

Via IRFL Daily News:

Specifically referencing partial-birth abortions, Obama insisted that he "strongly believe[s] that the state can properly restrict late-term abortions. I have said so repeatedly." If so, why would he so vigorously criticize the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act upheld last year by the Supreme Court?

Because it had no health exception, he said. Obama goes the extra mile, telling Wallace this federal law was in service of what pro-lifers "oftentimes" try to do: "polarize the debate…"

Justice Kennedy, who wrote the majority decision last year, demolished the allegation that the lack of a health exception represented an unconstitutional burden on the right to abortion. [See "Separating the Wheat from the Chaff"--www.nrlc.org/news_and_Views/April07/nv042607.html] Unfortunately, Wallace did not follow up.

It is not just his supposed opposition to "late-term abortions" out of which he wiggled. There is the entirety of his across-the-board support for abortion. It is so uniform that it compelled columnist Nat Hentoff to conclude in a piece published today that "Mr. Obama is an extremist" on abortion
. (Fr. Philip Powell, OP posts on this here.)

Doesn't matter how out of the mainstream the Abortion Establishment's proposal is, Obama's in favor: federal subsidies, cloning human embryos, and the most radical pro-abortion legislation you can think of--the "Freedom of Choice Act," which is Roe v. Wade on steroids--to name just a few. Likewise if the same cadre opposes something, such as parental involvement, so does the dutiful junior senator from Illinois.

But Obama has also taken a road less traveled, except by those most in the tank for the Abortion Lobby. As an Illinois state Senator he first obstructed and then voted against the Born Alive Infant Protect Act which was very similar to the federal Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, which President Bush signed into law in 2002. Even if a baby somehow survived an abortion attempt, Obama had no mercy.

And, without going through it all again, there were Obama's recent oafish, cruel, but revealing remarks in which he said that were one of his daughters to make a "mistake" and become pregnant, "I don't want them punished with a baby."

Obama will assure the public six days a week and twice on Sunday (as he told Wallace) that "my goal is to get us out of this polarizing debate where we are always trying to score cheap political points and actually get things done." We must be no less diligent in correcting Obama's trail of misrepresentations and out-and-out lies.

LifeSite News:
Obama Criticizes Federal Partial Birth Abortion Ban

Read the complete transcript of Barack Obama on 'FOX News Sunday' here.

Related Posts:

Obama's Love Affair with Planned Parenthood

Barack Obama: The Most Anti-Catholic Presidential Candidate

Keyes --- A "Powerhouse" and Champion of Human Rights


The times they are a changin'


Obama is really in a pickle!


NOW SUPPORTS PRO-DEATH OBAMA


Alan Keyes on Barack Obama


Obama: One of the greatest performers of all time


Barack Obama Promotes Abortion, Slams Abstinence in Iowa Speech

Must - Read Posts:

The Sex Life of Obama's 12-year-old daughter by Jill Stanek

Obama Wants This Woman Dead from Some Have Hats

Is Obama a Cult? from First Things

What Planet is This Guy on? By Mary Kay Hastings

Alan Keyes on Barack Obama

Obama: One of the greatest performers of all time

WHY JESUS WOULD NOT VOTE FOR BARACK OBAMA by Jill Stanek

"Born Alive Veterans for Truth" by Jill Stanek

Update: Fr. Frank Pavone's abortion videos online at Catholic Fire here.

Is Barack Obama Bamboozling us?

Via Roman Catholic Blog.



A look at Obama's pattern of "borrowing" rhetoric from uncredited sources. Is Obama a plagiarist? See for yourself.

New Booklet Outlines Frightening Facts about Contraception

Via LifeSite News: Without a single reference to a Church document or a passage of Scripture, a new booklet from author Victor Claveau demonstrates that popular contraceptives, considered hallmarks of our modern culture and signs of civilized man's technological conquest of nature, kill at least 6 million US children a year, subject women to a host of harmful side effects, subvert the meaning of sex and family life, and have played a key role in a black genocide.

Claveau's 28-page "'Birth Control and Abortifacients' begins with a detailed analysis of the various standard methods of contraception, noting their abortifacient action and harmful side effects on women.

Claveau pays particular attention to the popular birth control pills that have been widely accepted, even by professedly "pro-life" women, as a means to reduce the sort of unwanted pregnancies that often end in abortion.

Birth control pills artificially flood a woman's body with high levels of hormones in order to produce three main effects on her body: First, the hormones can suppress ovulation, thus preventing the formation of eggs. Second, the hormones can thicken the cervical mucus, thus preventing sperm from reaching the egg. Third, the hormones can alter the uterine lining, thus preventing the fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus that provides the newly formed zygote with the oxygen and nutrients he needs to live. More

Materialistic Nun (or Monk) Meme

I found this at Some Have Hats.

What 10 (non-religious) items would you take with you to the convent? (Or the monastery?) We will assume that the implied privileges would come with the items. Here are mine:

1. a laptop
2. my CD Player and CD's
3. My DVD Player and DVD's
4. one cosmetic/personal hygiene kit (lifetime supply)
5. my library
6. my Juice Plus+ (lifetime supply)
7. my La-Z-Boy recliner
8. my bed
9. my massage therapist
10. my husband
(It would get awfully lonely there without him.)

I sound like a perfect candidate for the monastery/convent, don't I?

Dorothy Day: Don't Call Me a Saint



For more information on Dorothy Day and this documentary, go here.

Your Opportunity To Make Powerful Pro-life Statement

I have been blogging about Wichita's late-term abortionist George Tiller for some time now and most of you know that he is aptly known as "the world's notorious late-term abortionist." He has openly admitted killing babies up until the day before delivery and boasts of more late-term killing experience of anyone outside Communist China.

Now you have the opportunity to make a powerful pro-life statement by signing Kansas Coalition for Life's Signature Ad. This ad is scheduled to be published in the Wichita Eagle on Mother’s Day, 2008, and other publications throughout the year as the budget allows.

The ad makes the following bold declaration:

Every human being is created by God, and has an inherent right to life and liberty. Therefore, like William Wilberforce and those who signed the petition to stop the English Slave Trade 200 years ago, we the undersigned urge those in public office, or in any position of power and influence, to stop taxpayer funding of organizations that promote abortion, and to help build a world where all human life is treated with justice, dignity, and love.

To learn more and to sign the ad, Go Here.

Quote of the Day

"I cannot tell you one thing that happens in an abortion clinic that is not a lie."

~ Carol Everett, Ex- Abortion Clinic Owner

CELEBRATIONS TO BE PRESIDED BY THE POPE: MAY - AUGUST

MAY
- Saturday 3: At 6 p.m. in the Roman basilica of St. Mary Major, recitation of the Rosary
- Sunday 11: Pentecost Sunday. Mass at 10 a.m. in the Vatican Basilica.
- Saturday 17 and Sunday 18: Pastoral visit to Savona and Genoa, Italy.
- Thursday 22: Solemnity of Corpus Christi. Mass at 7 p.m. in the basilica of St. John Lateran, followed by a procession to the basilica of St. Mary Major for Eucharistic blessing.

JUNE
- Saturday 14 and Sunday 15: Pastoral visit to Santa Maria di Leuca and Brindisi, Italy.

-Saturday 28: At 6 p.m. in the Roman basilica of St. Paul's Outside-the- Walls, First Vespers for the solemn opening of the Pauline Year

- Sunday 29: Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles. Mass at 9.30 a.m. in the Vatican Basilica. Blessing and imposition of the pallium on metropolitan archbishops

JULY
- Saturday 12 to Monday 21: Apostolic trip to Australia for World Youth Day in Sydney.

AUGUST
- Friday 15: Solemnity of the Assumption, Mass at 8 a.m. in the parish church of St. Thomas of Villanova in Castelgandolfo.

Pope Benedict Recalls His US Visit

An excerpt: "I had the opportunity to pay homage to that great country, which from its beginnings was built on the foundation of a harmonious union between religious, ethical and political principles, and which still constitutes a valid example of healthy laicism, where the religious dimension, in the diversity of its expressions, is not only tolerated but turned to advantage as the 'soul' of the nation and the fundamental guarantee of the rights and duties of human beings".

Entire Story.

BENEDICT XVI's PRAYER INTENTIONS FOR MAY


Pope Benedict's general prayer intention for May is: "That Christians may use literature, art and the mass media to greater advantage in order to favor a culture which defends and promotes the values of the human person".

His mission intention is: "That the Virgin Mary, Star of evangelization and Queen of the Apostles, may still guide today with maternal affection the missionaries, both men and women, throughout the world, just as she accompanied the Apostles in the early stages of the Church".

One Sure Sign of Sickness

Fed Ex stops by with a package, you've been been married for 16 years, and sign for it with your maiden name.

It's just a cold -- but my brain doesn't seem to be working well now -- hence, the mindless, but fun quizzes to dull the brain and relax the body. Quizzes get the endorphins going for me.

What kind of cereal are you?




You Are Muesli



You are broad minded and cosmopolitan.

Your tastes are varied and numerous.



You like many types of things. You definitely aren't picky.

The only thing you can't stand is being bored.



You're the kind of person who can't have the same breakfast often.

Your breakfast is unpredictable, unique, and very varies.

What kind of music are you?




You Are Classical Music



You are a somewhat serious person who enjoys studying subjects deeply.

Art of all kinds interests you, and a good piece of art can really effect you emotionally.

You are inspired by human achievement, and you appreciate work that takes years to accomplish.

For you, the finer things in life are not about snobbery - they're about quality.

At the Foot of the Cross



Music video from Robert Galea. "At the Foot of the Cross" taken from his WHAT A DAY album.

Beautiful B16 Photos

Flickr User Christus Vincit posts the best photos of Pope Benedict XVI.

Via New Advent and The Curt Jester.

St. Pius V, "Pope of the Rosary"


Michael Ghislieri was born near Alessandria in Italy in 1504. He was a poor shepherd boy, who entered the Dominican Order at the age of 14 and was ordained a priest at the age of 24. He taught theology and philosophy for sixteen years and developed a reputation as a gifted teacher and preacher.

Michael led an austere and holy life in the monastery: he fasted, performed penance, spent long hours of the night in meditation and prayer, and traveled in silence on foot without a cloak.

After being ordained a bishop and named a Cardinal, he became pope at the age of 62, taking the name of Pope Pius V. His holiness and austerity continued in the papacy. He refused to wear the ornate and flowing garments of previous popes, but insisted upon wearing his white Dominican habit even as head of the Church. To this day, the pope wears white, a custom begun by this Dominican pontiff.

His reign, though short, was one of the most fruitful of the sixteenth century. During his six year pontificate, Pius ordered the establishment of seminaries for the training of priests, published a new missal (which remained in use for 400 years), and set up Confraternity of Christian Doctrine classes for the young. He also attempted to uphold the Church's political authority against various European nations. Queen Elizabeth's interference with Church affairs in England led to her excommunication; the pope also struggled against the ambitions of the Holy Roman Emperor and King Philip II of Spain.

Perhaps the most famous success of his papacy was the miraculous victory of the Christian fleet in the battle of Lepanto on October 7, 1571. The island of Malta was attacked by the Turkish fleet, and nearly every man defending the fortress was killed in battle. The pope sent out a fleet to meet the enemy, requesting that each man on board pray the Rosary and receive communion.

Meanwhile, he called on all of Europe to recite the Rosary and ordered a 40 hour devotion in Rome during which time the battle took place. The Christian fleet, vastly outnumbered by the Turks, inflicted an impossible defeat on the Turkish navy, demolishing the entire fleet.

In memory of the triumph he declared the day the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary because of her intercession in answering the mass recitation of the Rosary and obtaining the victory. He has also been called ‘the Pope of the Rosary’ for this reason.

Pope Pius V died seven months later on May 1, 1572. He is enshrined at Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome, and was beatified by Clement X in 1672, and canonized by Clement XI in 1712.

For more information, see the Catholic Encyclopedia.

Today's Intercessory Prayers


Today, I am praying for the following special intentions:

John Michael Talbot and his community: several of their structures burned to the ground last night

Carol, a young wife and mother who has cervical cancer.

A minor who is pregnant by a con artist she still trusts.

An end to abortion and all sins against human life.

An end to tragedies like this.

For this special intention.

All the prayer requests at One Came Back.

Catholic Carnival 170 is up!

This week's Carnival is being hosted by Steven at Book Reviews and More. Steven has done a superb job with images (such as the one at the left) and the theme to create a beautiful Carnival post.

Here are just a few of the great posts you'll find there:

Denise Hunnell presents The Most Confusing Sacrament--This Was A Surprise! posted at Catholic Matriarch in my Domestic Church aka Catholic Mom.

Aggie Catholics (aka Mary's Aggies) writes about In-Vitro Fertilization and Catholics she ponders about the morality of in-vitro fertilization and Catholic teaching.

Sarah in a post As We Enter Your First Spring from just another day of Catholic pondering shares a letter to her 6-month-old daughter to try and capture the wonder of seeing the new world through her daughter's eyes.

Be sure to go to Steven's blog and check out all the posts -- you'll be glad you did!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Another Blogger Birthday


Happy Birthday, Christine!

Praying for a day filled with special blessings.

In the love of Jesus and Mary,

Jean

Happy Birthday, Marie!


Have a beautiful birthday, Marie!

I'm praying for birthday blessings for you today.

In His love,

Jean

Around the Blogosphere

"Pills or dinner?" was the subject heading of Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards' email alert yesterday.

The premise is ridiculous: that due to rising prices of artificial female steroids, i.e., birth control pills, college nyphomaniacs are being forced to choose between illicit sex and eating.

Here's what happened. Legislators passed the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 to save $40 billion over 5 years. A consequence, according to U.S. News & World Report:

A quirk in a new federal law, designed to save taxpayers money on Medicaid reimbursements for drugs, has effectively persuaded pharmaceutical companies to stop selling their products to these [university] pharmacies at deeply discounted rates. (If companies continue to offer such discounts, the law stipulates, they will also receive lower payments from Medicaid.)
Shock: the government isn't buying the whining. In response to one request to restore the loophole, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid wrote, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

We believe that there are already programs in place by which manufacturers can continue to make available drugs to the indigent and underinsured ...

Absolutely true. Read more from Jill Stanek.


The Last Secret of Fatima is a new book by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican Secretary of State that is mainly a discussion of his three visits with Carmelite nun and seer Sister Lúcia of Jesus and of the Immaculate Heart. This book will be coming out on May 6th.

Not many books get an introduction written by Pope Benedict XVI, but this one does. The Last Secret of Fatima delves into the story of Fatima, the three secrets, and the various controversies that surround them - especially the third secret. Though Fatima is not the only focus of this book. The book is actually an interview by an American Adrian Walker a theologian living in Europe and who was also the translator for the English version of Pope Benedict's XVI. In some ways this book is similar to the book length interviews by Peter Seeward of then-Cardinal Ratzinger, except much more focused on one topic. Read the rest of this great review by The Curt Jester.


Last Saturday after Confession, Joey and I visited Pauline Books and Media as we sometimes do. We went looking for a movie to add to our growing Catholic movie collection. We didn't expect to be greeted by a new sister there who greeted Joey with "Have you thought about being a priest"? That opening line led to an interesting conversation with Sister Beatrice.

She asked me if I was familiar with Cardinal Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan of Vietnam. Of course, I answered in the affirmative. We talked about the impressive writings of Cardinal Van Thuan while he was in prison. We both agreed that when he described celebrating Holy Mass on the palm of his hand as the altar with the consecration of the tiny piece of bread and small yet miraculous wine he was able to get a hold of, was the most moving of his memoirs. If you aren't familiar with his writings, the above story can be found in Testimony of Hope. More from Esther at A Catholic Mom in Hawaii.

I wasn’t going to write about this because - while I know it gets a lot of Catholic blood running - I can’t get that excited about it.

But between some emails I’ve gotten from angry Catholic readers, confused (or smuppity) non-Catholic readers, and a few internet forum comments I’ve read that display both astounding anti-Catholic bigotry or a clear lack of understanding, I feel like I should. Here’s a can of worms I’d prefer not to open, but in doing so, I’ll stick to the Q&A style, since they reflect (or are directly taken from) my email.

For the uninitiated, there is a scandal of sorts brewing because former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani received Communion at the Yankee Stadium mass celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI. Note that Nancy Pelosi, John Kerry and Ted Kennedy all took communion at the mass at National’s Stadium without all this brouhaha. The reason we’re hearing about Rudy is because Robert Novak, took NY’s Cardinal Egan and DC’s Archbishop Wuerl to task, publicly scolding them for the fact that these grown-up Catholics, Pelosi, Kerry, Kennedy and Giuliani, communed. Read more at The Anchoress.

70+ Christendom Students Pray at DC Planned Parenthood

From LifesiteNews:

Sacrificing their precious sleep and leisure time, more than 70 students from Virginia's Christendom College filled the lawns outside a D.C. Planned Parenthood (PP) clinic on Saturday morning to prayerfully battle abortion and support a handful of student sidewalk counselors offering information on crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) to women entering and exiting the facility. Saturday's "Mega-Shield" event was the culminating event of the semester for Shield of Roses, a Christendom pro-life group comprised of students who travel about an hour and fifteen minutes each Saturday morning to the nearest PP facility. Most of the students attend a 7am Mass offered on campus before piling into school vans or personal vehicles.

Paul Wilson, the current student head of Shield of Roses, promotes Shield on campus and leads a program of prayer that includes 20 decades of the Rosary, traditional hymns, and the chaplet of Divine Mercy. Members of the college choir also sing beautiful polyphonic pieces that sharply contrast with the insults and profanity sometimes thrown at the group by passers-by.

About two decades ago, a doctor told Wilson's mother that her healthy college sophomore would be born retarded and should thus be aborted. His mother's decision to choose life has given Wilson a special motivation to work on behalf of those threatened by abortion.

"It's painful to watch people go in there [PP]," Wilson told LifeSiteNews.com. "Evil has to be confronted."

Wilson and fellow Shield members' commitment to prayer is rooted in their conviction that it is only "through God that we can do anything at all."

In addition to the many students focused on prayer, a number of students take part in sidewalk counseling. More

St. Catherine of Siena: Woman on Fire



Today is the feast of my Confirmation saint, St. Catherine of Siena, Caterina di Giacomo di Benicasa (1347 - 1380). As a mystic, activist, reformer, contemplative, and Doctor of the Church, she is one of the most prominent figures in Christian history.

“I, CATHERINE, … write to strengthen you in the precious blood of the Son of God, desiring to see you consumed in the fire of his charity….”

That is the way Catherine of Siena, the fiery young lay Dominican of the mid-14th century, might well have chosen to introduce herself to today's 21st century readers. It was typical of this Dominican saint always to think and speak of herself only in connection with Christ and to present herself that way to others. She was a mystic (who had visions beginning at the age of seven) and a doctor of the Church -- a gifted, powerful and highly influential woman of her time.

We celebrate Catherine of Siena as an international political figure and a feminist hero. We think of her as Eleanor Roosevelt with a halo. We envision her dressed in a 14th century tailored suit, traversing Europe to tell popes and emperors how to conduct their business.

This portrayal contains a germ of truth. But only a germ. Catherine did work mightily to reconcile warring popes and emperors. She did most of the work, however, through letters and on her knees.To get a more accurate view of Catherine, imagine a scruffy, not so-respectable version of Mother Teresa. Catherine was not a nun, however, but a member of the Dominican Third Order. Thus she followed the life pattern of the Friars Preachers as layperson. Think of her as an old - fashioned Italian matriarch, pious but sharp-tongued, who scandalized as many people as she influenced.

Picture this short frail lady, garbed in worn, rough clothes, in some of her typical daily activities which included:

Managing a large household of followers, all of whom called her "Mama."
Living in poverty and begging with her disciples for everything they needed.
Fasting severely (living only on the Eucharist) but always seeing that her friends were well fed. Cooking food, baking bread, and sometimes praying for a miraculous delivery of food.

Praying for many hours at a time, at times seeming to become weightless when deep in prayer. People claim to have seen her floating a few inches off the ground.

Reading the thoughts and knowing the temptations of her associates, even at long distances. She saw people's secret sins and confronted these people, urging them to repent. She touched hearts so effectively that the Friars Preachers had to designate three priests to handle the confessions of her penitents.

Interceding fiercely for hardened criminals in Siena's jails. Even blasphemous prisoners embraced the gospel when she visited them.

Caring for the sick. God healed plague victims when she prayed for them or touched them.

Finally, offering advice to popes and princes. However, she was not so much an international politician as she was a spiritual director, and her venue was not the entire world but a small quadrant in northern Italy. The issue that concerned her most was not governmental but ecclesiastical. Catherine's passion was for the Church At the age of 33, she offered herself as a victim soul to bring about unity within the Church.

~ Excerpted in part from Mystics and Miracles, Bert Ghezzi, Loyola Press, 2002.

For More biographical information see Catholic Encyclopedia, Women for Faith and Family, and Catholic Culture.

A Few of my favorite quotes from St. Catherine of Siena:

"Love is the most necessary of all virtues. Love in the person who preaches the word of God is like fire in a musket. If a person were to throw a bullet with his hands, he would hardly make a dent in anything; but if the person takes the same bullet and ignites some gunpowder behind it, it can kill. It is much the same with the word of God. If it is spoken by someone who is filled with the fire of charity- the fire of love of God and neighbor- it will work wonders."

"Everything comes from love, all is ordained for the salvation of man,God does nothing without this goal in mind."

"Merit consists in the virtue of love alone, flavored with the light of true discretion without which the soul is worth nothing."

"Strange that so much suffering is caused because of the misunderstandings of God's true nature. God's heart is more gentle than the Virgin's first kiss upon the Christ. And God's forgiveness to all, to any thought or act, is more certain than our own being."

Here
is an excerpt from The Dialogue (Catherine's dialogue with God in which God is speaking to her) which is just beautiful!

Prayer

Holy Spirit, come into my heart, by your power I journey to You, God, and grant me charity with fear. Protect me, o Christ, from every evil thought, warm me with Your sweet love, so that each burden seems light to me. My holy Father and my sweet Lord, help me always in all my endeavors, Christ love, Christ love.

~Composed and written by St. Catherine at Rocca d'Orcia in 1377, after miraculously having learned to write.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Cardinal Egan reprimands Giuliani for Papal Mass Communion

Photo: Giuliani in line to receive Holy Communion at Papal Mass (courtesy of AP)

Cardinal Egan released a statement today addressing the fact that Rudy Giuliani received Communion at the Papal Mass in New York. This is the first time a Cardinal, let alone a bishop, has addressed a pro-abortion Catholic politician receiving Communion since Archbishop Burke publicly stated that he would deny John Kerry Communion should he present himself in his diocese.

The following is a statement issued by Edward Cardinal Egan:

“ The Catholic Church clearly teaches that abortion is a grave offense against the will of God. Throughout my years as Archbishop of New York, I have repeated this teaching in sermons, articles, addresses, and interviews without hesitation or compromise of any kind. Thus it was that I had an understanding with Mr. Rudolph Giuliani, when I became Archbishop of New York and he was serving as Mayor of New York, that he was not to receive the Eucharist because of his well-known support of abortion. I deeply regret that Mr. Giuliani received the Eucharist during the Papal visit here in New York, and I will be seeking a meeting with him to insist that he abide by our understanding.”

Read the full story at LifeSite News and Catholic News Agency.

Reactions:

Fr. Frank Pavone: "The Catholic faith is not simply about one's private and confidential relationship with God. It's public, as evidenced by the fact that Mr. Giuliani received Communion in public. Mr. Giuliani's support of legal abortion is also public. That's why Cardinal Egan's remarks are entirely appropriate, as is his expectation that Mr. Giuliani abide by those remarks."

Judie Brown, ALL President: "Today a great blessing came to our attention as we received word of the remarkable statement of Edward Cardinal Egan, Archdiocese of New York, regarding the sacrilegious behavior of former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. When we wrote to the Archbishop several days ago asking him to address this, we were confident that he indeed would right this terrible wrong."

"American Life League is grateful to Cardinal Egan for his statement, and we are hopeful that he will reiterate the need to enforce Church law, specifically Canon Law 915, so that all of his ordained priests, deacons and Eucharistic ministers understand that no public figure who supports abortion should ever get away with such a despicable act again."

"Canon Law 915 states, 'Those ... who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Communion.'"

"The act of abortion is a grave sin. Those who are in public life —claim to be Catholic— and support abortion are indeed persisting in a grave sin. American Life League's Crusade for the Defense of Our Catholic Church has been asking American Bishops to enforce Canon 915 since our campaign began in 2003. We are indeed gratified that Cardinal Egan has seen this as a priority as well. Protecting Christ from sacrilege is an honor and we applaud Cardinal Egan for making this clear."

My reaction: Ditto to the above. Thank you for Cardinal Egan, Lord!

St. Gianna Beretta Molla, Wife, Mother, Doctor, Pro-life Witness


October 4, 1922 – April 28, 1962

If you must choose between me and the baby, no hesitation; Choose—and I demand it—the baby, Save him!”

Gianna Beretta Molla was an Italian doctor, wife, and mother who refused to have either an abortion or hysterectomy when she was pregnant with her fourth child. Doctors had discovered in the second month of her pregnancy a fibroma tumor in her uterus. As a doctor, Gianna knew the consequences of not fully treating the fibroma. She chose the life of her child over her own.


On the morning of April 21, 1962, a healthy baby girl was born, Gianna Emanuela.

Despite all efforts and treatments to save both of them, on the morning of April 28, amid unspeakable pain and after repeated exclamations of “Jesus, I love you. Jesus, I love you», the mother died of septic peritonitis. She was 39 years old.

Her funeral was an occasion of profound grief, faith and prayer.

Gianna was beatified by Pope John Paul II on April 24, 1994, during the international year of the family and was canonized on May 16, 2004.

“Conscious immolation", was the phrase used by Pope Paul VI to define the act of Blessed Gianna, remembering her at the Sunday Angelus of September 23, 1973, as: “A young mother from the diocese of Milan, who, to give life to her daughter, sacrificed her own, with conscious immolation”. The Holy Father in these words clearly refers to Christ on Calvary and in the Eucharist.



What is her special gift to the culture of life?

"The Church celebrates her new saint at a cultural moment when "choice" rarely means self-gift — making our lives the gift to others that our own lives are to us. "

"Saint Gianna Beretta Molla made a choice: a choice for love, even unto death, because she knew that "choice" in the truly human sense means freely choosing the good. May her prayers at the Throne of Grace strengthen us in living and defending the gospel of life."

~ George Weigel

For more information on St. Gianna, go to the Vatican website here.

Prayer

O Jesus, I promise You to submit myself to all that You permit to befall me, make me only know Your Will. My most sweet Jesus, infinitely merciful God, most tender Father of souls, and in a particular way of the most weak, most miserable, most infirm which You carry with special tenderness between Your divine arms, I come to You to ask You, through the love and merits of Your Sacred Heart, the grace to comprehend and to do always Your holy Will, the grace to confide in You, the grace to rest securely through time and eternity in Your loving divine arms.

~ St. Gianna Beretta Molla

St. Louis Marie de Monfort, Apostle of Devotion to Our Holy Mother

Totus Tuus Totus tuus ego sum, et omnia meatua sunt, O Virgo, super omnia benedicta.

Translates as: I am all yours, and all that is mine is yours, O Virgin, blessed above all.

Louis de Montfort's life is inseparable from his efforts to promote genuine devotion to Mary, the mother of Jesus and mother of the church. Totus tuus was Louis's personal motto; Karol Wojtyla (Pope John Paul the Great) chose it as his episcopal motto.

Born to a poor family in 1673 in the Breton village of Montfort, as an adult, Louis identified himself by the place of his baptism instead of his family name, Grignion. After being educated by the Jesuits and the Sulpicians, he was ordained as a diocesan priest in 1700.

He preached parish missions throughout western France, walking from city to city. His years of ministering to the poor prompted him to travel and live very simply, sometimes getting him into trouble with church authorities. In his preaching, which attracted thousands of people back to the faith, Father Louis recommended frequent, even daily, Holy Communion (not the custom then!) and imitation of the Virgin Mary's ongoing acceptance of God's will for her life.

Louis founded the Missionaries of the Company of Mary (for priests and brothers) and the Daughters of Wisdom, who cared especially for the sick. His book, True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, has become a classic explanation of Marian devotion. He also wrote The Secret of the Rosary, which is the first work to describe the method by which the Rosary is prayed today. Louis died in Saint-Laurent-sur-Sevre, where a basilica has been erected in his honor. He was canonized in 1947.

Read more about his life here and in the Catholic Encyclopedia.

A Few of My Favorite St. St. Louis de Montfort Quotes:

"Pray with great confidence, with confidence based on the goodness and infinite generosity of God and upon the promises of Jesus Christ. God is a spring of living water which flows unceasingly into the hearts of those who pray."

“We fasten our souls to Your hope, as to an abiding anchor. It is to Her that the saints who have saved themselves have been the most attached and have done their best to attach others, in order to persevere in virtue. Happy, then, a thousand times happy, are the Christians who are now fastened faithfully and entirely to Her, as to a firm anchor!” (Treatise on True Devotion, n. 175).

"The cross is the greatest gift God could bestow on His Elect on earth. There is nothing so necessary, so beneficial, so sweet, or so glorious as to suffer something for Jesus. If you suffer as you ought, the cross will become a precious yoke that Jesus will carry with you."

"Mary alone gives to the unfortunate children of unfaithful Eve entry into that earthly paradise where they may walk pleasantly with God and be safely hidden from their enemies. There they can feed without fear of death on the delicious fruit of the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They can drink copiously the heavenly waters of that beauteous fountain which gushes forth in such abundance."

"She [Mother Mary] is an echo of God, speaking and repeating only God. If you say "Mary" she says 'God'."

"If you put all the love of all the mothers into one heart it still would not equal the love of the Heart of Mary for her children."

Hymns in the Life and Writings of Montfort

Litany to St. Louis de Montfort

Read the Fire Prayer of St. Louis in which St. Louis de Montfort pleads for apostles to remedy the present-day crisis of the Church that he foresaw.

Why St. Louis Marie de Montfort is so Special to me

About ten years ago on the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes I made my Consecration to Jesus through Mary via the St. Louis de Montfort method. I can't even begin to tell you about all the graces I have received since then. A few years later, when I renewed my consecration, my husband Bill, also made his consecration via this method. When I presented a talk to our parish on the Blessed Virgin Mary and her various apparitions, I shared the deep love Karol Wojtyla had for our dear Mother as a result of consecrating himself to her as a young factory worker in Krakow during World War II and how this love and devotion effected him his entire life and his teachings as Pope John Paul II. In my research for this presentation, I also discovered that St. Louis preached in the same area of France where my ancestors lived, and, although I don't know how he interacted with them, I would like to think that his teachings and his great love and devotion for Our Blessed Mother impacted them in a powerful way and that they, too, shared this love of Our Lady, surrendering their hearts totally to her.

Why not consider making your consecration to the Blessed Virgin Mary? To learn more, go here.

To read the works of St. Louis de Montfort, go here.

A must read biography is St. Louis de Montfort Apostle of Mary for Today by Father John A. Hardon, S.J. Archives.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

2008 WORLDWIDE PENTECOST NOVENA PRAYER

Thursday, May 1 - Sunday, May 11
For A Renewed Descent of the Holy Spirit In Our Day

“As we give thanks for past blessings, and look to the challenges of the future, let us implore from God the grace of a new Pentecost for the Church in America. May tongues of fire, combining burning love of God and neighbor with zeal for the spread of Christ’s Kingdom, descend on all present.”Pope Benedict XVI, Papal Visit to the United States, April 19, 2008

Our world is in great danger. It is under constant threat from unprecedented acts of terrorism and war, disasters of nature, economic crises, mass hunger, moral decline, attacks on human rights and the sanctity of human life.

As people of faith, we know we are engaged in a colossal battle between the Gospel of Life and the “culture of death.” We are deeply concerned, but not without hope. More and more people realize that our world needs conversion. More and more people realize that our efforts alone will not be enough. We need the help of heaven.

As the great feast of Pentecost approaches, this is the opportune time for a mass appeal to the Lord to send again and anew His Holy Spirit over our wounded world. Let us respond to and extend the call of our beloved Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI for a “new Pentecost” for the entire Church and world.

This is the time to gather around Mary, as the Apostles did in the Upper Room 2,000 years ago, in praying for a New Pentecost in our day. We share the deep inspiration that the Lord entrusted our time and our world in a special way to the Immaculate Heart of His Mother. Remembering her promises, we make an urgent call on her motherly advocacy. Through the power of her maternal intercession as Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix, and Advocate, the Lord will work miracles and send His Holy Spirit.

Please join us in praying the Pentecost Novena Prayer, starting Thursday, May 1 (Solemnity of the Ascension) to Sunday, May 11 (Solemnity of Pentecost).

PRAY THE HOLY ROSARY EVERY DAY.

Add to it from among these prayers:“Come Holy Spirit, come by means of the powerful intercession of The Immaculate Heart of Mary, Your well-beloved spouse.”

Pray the following powerful prayer:“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Father, send now your Spirit over the earth. Let the Holy Spirit live in the hearts of all nations,that they may be preserved from degeneration, disaster and war.

May the Lady of All Nations, the Blessed Virgin Mary, be our Advocate. Amen.”
The beautiful Pentecost prayer of the Church:“Veni Sancte Spiritus…”
Pray as your heart leads you…

Prayer can change the world. Prayer is great in the eyes of the Lord and will also lift up your own life. International lay leaders, as well as cardinals, bishops, clergy, and religious have given their support to the prayer novena. Among the most noteworthy supporters are Mother Angelica, foundress of the worldwide Catholic network EWTN; Ambassador Howard Dee, former Philippine Ambassador to the Vatican; Michael O’Brien, renowned Canadian novelist and social commentator; and Sister Briege McKenna, O.S.C., an Irish Sister of St. Clare, who has an international ministry to priests and bishops.

Please join us. Time is short. Let us use this time of mercy! Please feel free to distribute and translate.

http://www.mariansolidarity.com/

Via Half the Kingdom.

ALL honors Pro-life Giant



American Life League pays tribute to Wellington Mara, former owner of the World Champion New York Giants and a pro-life hero.

What Kind of Pet Would You Be?

Via Esther.




You Would Be a Pet Cat



Independent and aloof, you don't like to be dependent on anyone.

And as for other people, you can take them or leave them. You often don't care.

You live your life by your own rules. And you have deep motivations that no one truly understands.



Why you would make a great pet: You're not needy or greedy... unlike other four legged friends.



Why you would make a bad pet: You're not exactly running down to greet people at the door



What you would love about being a cat: Agility and freedom



What you would hate about being a cat: Being treated like a dog by clueless humans

Best Films of the Past Month

My favorites have been:

1. Expelled -- No Intelligence Allowed **** A Must See

2. The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep (DVD) ***

3. Nim's Island ***


I've read some great reviews of Expelled -- No Intelligence Allowed. I particularly enjoyed the review of Expelled at Libertas, who comments, "We all know there’s a war against religion in America. We all know it’s a hostile and unrelenting war. We knew this long before the ACLU sued to have Christmas trees removed from firehouses. Under the guise of a separation of church and state — which is written nowhere in the Constitution — freedom of religion is under assault by hostile atheists desperate for a godless theocracy. But did you know this hostility extends to science and academia?" Go here to read the rest.

For teens, I would refer you to Joey's review here. Adults will want to check out the following posts: Darwin's Kool-Aid: A Review Of Ben Stein's "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed" at Roman Catholic blog, Expelled: No Intelligence at Steve Ray's blog. Be sure to check out what Jill Stanek has to say on this film in "Expelled from Expelled."

As for The Water Horse, read Leticia's review here. Asymmetric Catholic writes a good review of Nim's Island here.

My Boyfriend's Back & More

It's true -- my boyfriend aka my dh Bill is back! PTL! Alleluia! After living and working in a different area of the state since the end of January -- he's home and I'm rejoicing! He has a job right here in town so we won't be moving! This is the answer to prayer. Thank you, Lord!





Which of these videos do you prefer? I think I like the music on the original but like the dancing on the American Dreams version -- it's joyful and energetic. I am joyful at the moment, but not too energetic with this cold.

In case you're wondering why I haven't been posting here as much as I normally do, I have had lots going on -- unpacking the items we had packed for moving, his moving back home, etc. I have had computer geeks coming and going and am scheduled to have a major overhaul on my computer by the "Geek Squad" this week. I am also starting a new business as well as continuing my freelance writing assignments. Lots of changes going on here, but blogging will continue as usual, so stay tuned for more...

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Reflection: Pope Benedict XVI



Room of Tears is a beautiful video on the Holy Father's acceptance of the papacy in 2005. The new popes all get dressed in a room off the Sistine Chapel before being presented to the world. They often weep as they ponder the responsibility.

Thanks be to God for the gift of our dear Papa!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

B16 Supplement and More at the Catholic Carnival



Domini Sumus, the host of this weeks' Catholic Carnival, cleverly asks: "Suffering from Pope withdrawal? Get your B16 supplement in this week's Catholic Carnival in which we remember some of the papal events of the past week."


There are some great posts there -- click here to read them.

Women's Rights

What Is The First And Foremost Right Of All Women?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Pope Benedict: The Man and His Message

My heart aches from missing the later part of the Holy Father's visit due to family emergencies as well as the breakdown of my computer -- which didn't work at all for the later part of the visit and then has worked off and on this week for only short spurts of time. I managed to catch glimpses of him on EWTN during this time, but it just wasn't enough for me.

Thankfully, I found this concise, well-written, and very enlightening editorial from the National Catholic Register to fill me in on what I missed, to interpret the events for me, and to point out the significance of his visit. Most importantly --this editorial helps me to understand who Pope Benedict really is and what he wants me to do to build the kingdom of Christ in the world.

The World Meets Benedict

As we launched Pope2008.com, our blogsite covering the papal events; as we put together stories for the Register; as we planned features for our sister publication, Faith & Family magazine, as our own Circle Press published the book Benedict of Bavaria; one thing became very clear: The world already knew Pope Benedict XVI.

After all, he had been Pope since 2005 — nearly the equivalent of a full presidential term. Before that he headed the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for decades. We already knew that the old canards about him weren’t true. He was caricatured as a stern figure hurling anathemas. That wasn’t him.

We already knew him, from his first encyclical, as a deep thinker about love, and, from his next, as the “Pope of hope.” We already knew him as the brave Christian witness who traveled to Istanbul in the wake of Muslim fundamentalist riots. And we already knew him as a lover of the liturgy who wanted nothing more than to deepen Catholics’ worship.

But there were some things we didn’t know. We had to see him for ourselves, in our churches and on our streets, to learn them.

We didn’t know that he had a profound pastoral touch. As we followed the Holy Father around Washington and New York, we kept finding people who were moved by their encounters with the Pope. He would lock eyes with them, touch them gently, and communicate peace wordlessly.

We also didn’t know that Benedict’s deep concern for the victims of abuse was such that he would want to make it the centerpiece of his visit. He mentioned it in formal remarks at least six times on his trip, and his visit with victims of abuse — a seventh instance of the theme — caught almost everyone off guard.

We also didn’t know Benedict’s immense, “John Pauline” optimism. The previous Pope spoke of great things to come. He promoted the New Evangelization, which for him was nothing less than the re-Christianization of the Western World. He organized the Great Jubilee for the whole Church. He told us to prepare for the new springtime of the faith.


But Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger had predicted a chastened, smaller church. When he became Pope Benedict, we felt a bit as if our high hopes were a dream we once had, but had outgrown.

We didn’t know Benedict would come to us and revive them all, calling us once again to the New Evangelization in a “great jubilee” for America to prepare for the new springtime of the faith. We also didn’t know how much Benedict loves America, though we could have known it. It was there to read in more than one interview. But all of that seemed abstract — until we saw him bound down the airplane stairs, delighted and eager to be here.

Throughout his stay, one of the most common observations commentators made was that Benedict was clearly glad to be here. He never seemed tired in public; the reports of those who witnessed the last event of each day matched those who witnessed the first: He was a sprightly, alert and engaged man.

He was very forthright about his feelings for America, also.

When he spoke at the White House, he praised America’s founding principles. At each of his Masses, he reminded us that the Church’s presence in America is the result of the Holy Spirit’s efforts. At Yankee Stadium, he even gave Americans our marching orders: Build the Kingdom of Christ in the world.

First: Build the Kingdom in business, media, science, education; everywhere. “Praying fervently for the coming of the Kingdom also means being constantly alert for the signs of its presence, and working for its growth in every sector of society.”

Second: Build the Kingdom first in yourself, through a passionate love for Christ that looks at the Church supernaturally. “It means facing the challenges of present and future with confidence in Christ’s victory and a commitment to extending his reign,” he said. “It means not losing heart in the face of resistance, adversity and scandal.”

Third: Build the Kingdom through an integral, authentic life, not a compartmentalized one. “It means overcoming every separation between faith and life, and countering false gospels of freedom and happiness,” he said. “It also means rejecting a false dichotomy between faith and political life, since, as the Second Vatican Council put it, ‘there is no human activity — even in secular affairs — which can be withdrawn from God’s dominion.’”
“The World Meets Benedict” suddenly seems to fit after all. We did meet Pope Benedict XVI in a new way this year.

But for that meeting to be more than just a touching memory, we need to take up the Pope’s challenge. We need to do as he says, to make sure that the world meets someone far, far more compassionate, wise and brave than Pope Benedict.

Next, the world needs to meet the one his visit was named for: Christ our hope.

Saint Quote of the Day

"Let nothing disturb thee; Let nothing dismay thee; All things pass; God never changes. Patience attains All that it strives for. He who has God finds he lacks nothing: God alone suffices."

~ St. Teresa of Avila

Papal Quote of the Day

The ultimate foundation of the value and the dignity of man, of the meaning of his life, is the fact that he is God's image and likeness!

~ Pope John Paul II

I've Got the Computer Blues



Computer woes continue, despite the fact that I have had a reliable and trustworthy expert computer repairman here working on my Dell computer for the past two days. Apparently when a Windows program was previously installed there was a problem and we need a patch to repair it. In the meantime, this multi-tasker can only open one or two programs at a time until it's fixed. What a pain. Can anyone relate to what I'm talking about?

Monday, April 21, 2008

Fire Bill Maher

by Judie Brown

When we launched our new website, http://www.firebillmaher.com/, we had no idea that it would generate so much interest! In fact we launched the site just hours before Mr. Maher was allegedly going to apologize for the awful comments he made about Pope Benedict XVI and the Catholic Church.

I suppose that you heard about these comments but, in case you did not know what Mr. Maher said on April 11, here is a précis for you:

Bill Maher called the Catholic Church "a child-abusing religious cult."
Bill Maher lied when he said Pope Benedict "used to be a Nazi."
Bill Maher said the Catholic Church is "the Bear Stearns of organized pedophilia."
Bill Maher libelously alleged that before becoming pope, Benedict "wrote a letter instructing every Catholic bishop to keep the sex abuse of minors secret until the statute of limitations ran out."
Bill Maher said that the Catholic Church's attitude is, "We're here, we're queer, get used to it."

A video clip of his rant, which lasted three minutes, is on the website noted above. So last Friday night everyone watched – well, not everyone because most of us had already canceled our HBO subscriptions – hoping that a humble apology would be forthcoming. Well, forget it!

As we pointed out in our Saturday press release, Maher was recalcitrant. He did not apologize but instead used the opportunity to heap more scathing commentary onto what is already a disastrous, not to mention unacceptable, situation. We have no alternative other than to continue to recruit organizations to join with us in demanding that Maher be fired and to do all we can to expose this hate speech for precisely what it is: anti-Catholic bigotry of the worst kind.

I note that William Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, said today that, "We accept Maher’s apology for accusing the pope of being a Nazi. Too bad he didn’t stop there ... It would be great if Maher gave up his Catholic-bashing obsession once and for all.”

We at American Life League invite Mr. Donohue to join with us. While we, for obvious reasons, did not accept a single word of Maher’s non-apology, we would welcome the Catholic League’s assistance in our campaign to see that Maher is taken off the air, period.

We also ask that you invite your family and friends join with us. So please, if you know people who subscribe to HBO, urge them to cancel their subscription. They can take the money they save and donate it to a pro-life cause. Ask them to visit http://www.firebillmaher.com/ and sign the petition. Ask them to pray that Time-Warner gets the message and has the decency to remove Maher from the airwaves sooner rather than later.

Related Story: Bill Maher Refuses To Apologize

St. Anselm of Canterbury: Favorite Quotes, Prayers, and Writings

Today is the optional memorial of St. Anslem of Canterbury, Benedictine Monk, Bishop, Theologian, Philosopher, and Doctor of the Church. St. Anslem (b. 1033, Aosta, Lombardy; d. 1109, Canterbury, Kent) is generally considered to be the founder of the philosophical school of Scholasticism, for his attempt to analyze and illumine the truths of faith through the aid of reason. He was a major figure in the intellectual life of the Middle Ages, and a major political and ecclesiastical force as well. To learn more about him, go here.

Here are a few of his gems:

"O God, let me know you and love you so that I may find joy in you; and if I cannot do so fully in this life, let me at least make some progress every day, until at last that knowledge, love and joy come to me in all their plenitude. While I am here on earth let me know you fully; let my love for you grow deeper here, so that there I may love you fully. On earth then I shall have great joy in hope, and in heaven complete joy in the fulfillment of my hope. "

"From the moment of her fiat Mary began to carry all of us in her womb."

"The Mother of God is our mother. May the good mother ask and beg for us, may she request and obtain what is good for us."

"No one will have any other desire in heaven than what God wills; and the desire of one will be the desire of all; and the desire of all and of each one will also be the desire of God."

"I have written the little work that follows... in the role of one who strives to raise his mind to the contemplation of God and one who seeks to understand what he believes."

"I acknowledge, Lord, and I give thanks that you have created your image in me, so that I may remember you, think of you, love you. But this image is so obliterated and worn away by wickedness, it is so obscured by the smoke of sins, that it cannot do what it was created to do, unless you renew and reform it. I am not attempting, O Lord, to penetrate your loftiness, for I cannot begin to match my understanding with it, but I desire in some measure to understand your truth, which my heart believes and loves. For I do not seek to understand in order that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this too I believe, that "unless I believe, I shall not understand." (Isaiah 7:9)

~ From the Preface to the Proslogium, in St. Anselm: Basic Writings (La Salle: Open Court Publishing, 1962)

A Prayer Of Anselm

My God, I pray that I may so know you and love you that I may rejoice in you. And if I may not do so fully in this life let me go steadily onto the day when I come to that fullness ...Let me receive That which you promised through your truth,that my joy may be full

A Song Of Anselm

Jesus, as a mother you gather your people to you: you are gentle with us as a mother with her children; Often you weep over our sins and our pride: tenderly you draw us from hatred and judgement.You comfort us in sorrow and bind up our wounds: in sickness you nurse us, and with pure milk you feed us. Jesus, by your dying we are born to new life: by your anguish and labor we come forth in joy. Despair turns to hope through your sweet goodness: through your gentleness we find comfort in fear. Your warmth gives life to the dead:your touch makes sinners righteous. Lord Jesus, in your mercy heal us: in your love and tenderness remake us. In your compassion bring grace and forgiveness: for the beauty of heaven may your love prepare us.

Prayer (traditional language)

Almighty God, who didst raise up thy servant Anselm to teach the Church of his day to understand its faith in thine eternal Being, perfect justice, and saving mercy: Provide thy Church in every age with devout and learned scholars and teachers, that we may be able to give a reason for the hope that is in us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Prayer (contemporary language)

Almighty God, who raised up your servant Anselm to teach the Church of his day to understand its faith in your eternal Being, perfect justice, and saving mercy: Provide your Church in every age with devout and learned scholars and teachers, that we may be able to give a reason for the hope that is in us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Happy Birthday, Mother!



Have a beautiful birthday, Mother Angelica!



You are dearly loved by all of us!


Back online with a Dell, Dude!

I'm back online viewing things through my 19" Dell flat screen monitor. This is the first time I've had a flat screen monitor and I really like it! I can see what I'm creating much better and don't have to sit 6" away from the monitor anymore. Those chiropractic adjustments on my neck add up, especially when you don't have health insurance. Even my shoulders and back aren't as tense and that is a wonderful advantage for someone like me, who struggles with the pain of FMS and OA. It certainly has its health advantages.

As for the price, I didn't do any comparison shopping -- there wasn't time -- I just stopped by Best Buy, which usually has the best prices on electronics in this part of the country.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Sorry, Everyone!

I apologize for not posting daily as I normally do. Thursday evening, a quick flash of light came across my screen, then everything went dark as my 10 year old monitor died. I will be out shopping today for a new monitor and resume regular blogging as soon as possible. I'm praying for a monitor that will last just as long, if not longer and that I will get it at a good price.
More to come....

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Holy Father speaks of Hope and Repentance in Homily

As he celebrated Mass for a congregation of over 45,000 people in a Washington baseball stadium, Pope Benedict XVI emphasized the virtue of hope-- the subject of his encyclical Spe Salvi-- and the call to repentance and conversion.

Greeted by thunderous applause when he arrived at Nationals Park, the Pope presided at a liturgical celebration that featured music drawn from a wide variety of sources, prompting one television commentator to describe the liturgy as "consciously multicultural."

In his homily the Pontiff observed that the American people have always valued the virtue of hope, preserving their confidence even in times of trial. That confidence is tested today, he said, as "we see clear signs of a disturbing breakdown in the very foundations" of our culture. He exhorted Christians to approach this crisis with a firm reliance on the power of faith.

In the Christian understanding, the Pope said, hope is based on the realization that Christ has brought man the possibility of redemption. He reminded his massive congregation that the forgiveness of sins is available particularly through the sacrament of Penance, and encouraged the practice of frequent confession. "To a great extent," the Pope said, "the renewal of the Church in American depends on the renewal of the practice of penance and the growth in holiness which that sacrament both inspires and accomplishes."

Pope Benedict once again acknowledged the pain caused by the sex-abuse scandal in the US, and the suffering of the victims. "Nor can I adequately describe the damage that has occurred within the community of the Church," he added.

~ excerpted from CWN

Pope's Speech to the Bishops



Papal Address 2
USA - WASHINGTON - 16.04.2008
National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
Meeting with the Bishops of the United States


2-Original text

Dear Brother Bishops,


It gives me great joy to greet you today, at the start of my visit to this country, and I thank Cardinal George for the gracious words he has addressed to me on your behalf. I want to thank all of you, especially the Officers of the Episcopal Conference, for the hard work that has gone into the preparation of this visit. My grateful appreciation goes also to the staff and volunteers of the National Shrine, who have welcomed us here this evening. American Catholics are noted for their loyal devotion to the see of Peter. My pastoral visit here is an opportunity to strengthen further the bonds of communion that unite us. We began by celebrating Evening Prayer in this Basilica dedicated to the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a shrine of special significance to American Catholics, right in the heart of your capital city. Gathered in prayer with Mary, Mother of Jesus, we lovingly commend to our heavenly Father the people of God in every part of the United States.

For the Catholic communities of Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Louisville, this is a year of particular celebration, as it marks the bicentenary of the establishment of these local Churches as Dioceses. I join you in giving thanks for the many graces granted to the Church there during these two centuries. As this year also marks the bicentenary of the elevation of the founding see of Baltimore to an Archdiocese, it gives me an opportunity to recall with admiration and gratitude the life and ministry of John Carroll, the first Bishop of Baltimore - a worthy leader of the Catholic community in your newly independent nation. His tireless efforts to spread the Gospel in the vast territory under his care laid the foundations for the ecclesial life of your country and enabled the Church in America to grow to maturity. Today the Catholic community you serve is one of the largest in the world, and one of the most influential. How important it is, then, to let your light so shine before your fellow citizens and before the world, "that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven" (Mt 5:16).

Many of the people to whom John Carroll and his fellow Bishops were ministering two centuries ago had travelled from distant lands. The diversity of their origins is reflected in the rich variety of ecclesial life in present-day America. Brother Bishops, I want to encourage you and your communities to continue to welcome the immigrants who join your ranks today, to share their joys and hopes, to support them in their sorrows and trials, and to help them flourish in their new home. This, indeed, is what your fellow countrymen have done for generations. From the beginning, they have opened their doors to the tired, the poor, the "huddled masses yearning to breathe free" (cf. Sonnet inscribed on the Statue of Liberty). These are the people whom America has made her own.

Of those who came to build a new life here, many were able to make good use of the resources and opportunities that they found, and to attain a high level of prosperity. Indeed, the people of this country are known for their great vitality and creativity. They are also known for their generosity. After the attack on the Twin Towers in September 2001, and again after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Americans displayed their readiness to come to the aid of their brothers and sisters in need. On the international level, the contribution made by the people of America to relief and rescue operations after the tsunami of December 2004 is a further illustration of this compassion. Let me express my particular appreciation for the many forms of humanitarian assistance provided by American Catholics through Catholic Charities and other agencies. Their generosity has borne fruit in the care shown to the poor and needy, and in the energy that has gone into building the nationwide network of Catholic parishes, hospitals, schools and universities. All of this gives great cause for thanksgiving.

America is also a land of great faith. Your people are remarkable for their religious fervor and they take pride in belonging to a worshipping community. They have confidence in God, and they do not hesitate to bring moral arguments rooted in biblical faith into their public discourse. Respect for freedom of religion is deeply ingrained in the American consciousness - a fact which has contributed to this country's attraction for generations of immigrants, seeking a home where they can worship freely in accordance with their beliefs.

In this connection, I happily acknowledge the presence among you of Bishops from all the venerable Eastern Churches in communion with the Successor of Peter, whom I greet with special joy. Dear Brothers, I ask you to assure your communities of my deep affection and my continued prayers, both for them and for the many brothers and sisters who remain in their land of origin. Your presence here is a reminder of the courageous witness to Christ of so many members of your communities, often amid suffering, in their respective homelands. It is also a great enrichment of the ecclesial life of America, giving vivid expression to the Church's catholicity and the variety of her liturgical and spiritual traditions.

It is in this fertile soil, nourished from so many different sources, that all of you, Brother Bishops, are called to sow the seeds of the Gospel today. This leads me to ask how, in the twenty-first century, a bishop can best fulfill the call to "make all things new in Christ, our hope"? How can he lead his people to "an encounter with the living God", the source of that life-transforming hope of which the Gospel speaks (cf. Spe Salvi, 4)? Perhaps he needs to begin by clearing away some of the barriers to such an encounter. While it is true that this country is marked by a genuinely religious spirit, the subtle influence of secularism can nevertheless color the way people allow their faith to influence their behavior. Is it consistent to profess our beliefs in church on Sunday, and then during the week to promote business practices or medical procedures contrary to those beliefs? Is it consistent for practicing Catholics to ignore or exploit the poor and the marginalized, to promote sexual behavior contrary to Catholic moral teaching, or to adopt positions that contradict the right to life of every human being from conception to natural death? Any tendency to treat religion as a private matter must be resisted. Only when their faith permeates every aspect of their lives do Christians become truly open to the transforming power of the Gospel.

For an affluent society, a further obstacle to an encounter with the living God lies in the subtle influence of materialism, which can all too easily focus the attention on the hundredfold, which God promises now in this time, at the expense of the eternal life which he promises in the age to come (cf. Mk 10:30). People today need to be reminded of the ultimate purpose of their lives. They need to recognize that implanted within them is a deep thirst for God. They need to be given opportunities to drink from the wells of his infinite love. It is easy to be entranced by the almost unlimited possibilities that science and technology place before us; it is easy to make the mistake of thinking we can obtain by our own efforts the fulfillment of our deepest needs. This is an illusion. Without God, who alone bestows upon us what we by ourselves cannot attain (cf. Spe Salvi, 31), our lives are ultimately empty. People need to be constantly reminded to cultivate a relationship with him who came that we might have life in abundance (cf. Jn 10:10). The goal of all our pastoral and catechetical work, the object of our preaching, and the focus of our sacramental ministry should be to help people establish and nurture that living relationship with "Christ Jesus, our hope" (1 Tim 1:1).

In a society which values personal freedom and autonomy, it is easy to lose sight of our dependence on others as well as the responsibilities that we bear towards them. This emphasis on individualism has even affected the Church (cf. Spe Salvi, 13-15), giving rise to a form of piety which sometimes emphasizes our private relationship with God at the expense of our calling to be members of a redeemed community. Yet from the beginning, God saw that "it is not good for man to be alone" (Gen 2:18). We were created as social beings who find fulfillment only in love - for God and for our neighbor. If we are truly to gaze upon him who is the source of our joy, we need to do so as members of the people of God (cf. Spe Salvi, 14). If this seems counter-cultural, that is simply further evidence of the urgent need for a renewed evangelization of culture.

Here in America, you are blessed with a Catholic laity of considerable cultural diversity, who place their wide-ranging gifts at the service of the Church and of society at large. They look to you to offer them encouragement, leadership and direction. In an age that is saturated with information, the importance of providing sound formation in the faith cannot be overstated. American Catholics have traditionally placed a high value on religious education, both in schools and in the context of adult formation programs. These need to be maintained and expanded. The many generous men and women who devote themselves to charitable activity need to be helped to renew their dedication through a "formation of the heart": an "encounter with God in Christ which awakens their love and opens their spirits to others" (Deus Caritas Est, 31). At a time when advances in medical science bring new hope to many, they also give rise to previously unimagined ethical challenges. This makes it more important than ever to offer thorough formation in the Church's moral teaching to Catholics engaged in health care. Wise guidance is needed in all these apostolates, so that they may bear abundant fruit; if they are truly to promote the integral good of the human person, they too need to be made new in Christ our hope.

As preachers of the Gospel and leaders of the Catholic community, you are also called to participate in the exchange of ideas in the public square, helping to shape cultural attitudes. In a context where free speech is valued, and where vigorous and honest debate is encouraged, yours is a respected voice that has much to offer to the discussion of the pressing social and moral questions of the day. By ensuring that the Gospel is clearly heard, you not only form the people of your own community, but in view of the global reach of mass communication, you help to spread the message of Christian hope throughout the world.

Clearly, the Church's influence on public debate takes place on many different levels. In the United States, as elsewhere, there is much current and proposed legislation that gives cause for concern from the point of view of morality, and the Catholic community, under your guidance, needs to offer a clear and united witness on such matters. Even more important, though, is the gradual opening of the minds and hearts of the wider community to moral truth. Here much remains to be done. Crucial in this regard is the role of the lay faithful to act as a "leaven" in society. Yet it cannot be assumed that all Catholic citizens think in harmony with the Church's teaching on today's key ethical questions. Once again, it falls to you to ensure that the moral formation provided at every level of ecclesial life reflects the authentic teaching of the Gospel of life.

In this regard, a matter of deep concern to us all is the state of the family within society. Indeed, Cardinal George mentioned earlier that you have included the strengthening of marriage and family life among the priorities for your attention over the next few years. In this year's World Day of Peace Message I spoke of the essential contribution that healthy family life makes to peace within and between nations. In the family home we experience "some of the fundamental elements of peace: justice and love between brothers and sisters, the role of authority expressed by parents, loving concern for the members who are weaker because of youth, sickness or old age, mutual help in the necessities of life, readiness to accept others and, if necessary, to forgive them" (no. 3). The family is also the primary place for evangelization, for passing on the faith, for helping young people to appreciate the importance of religious practice and Sunday observance. How can we not be dismayed as we observe the sharp decline of the family as a basic element of Church and society? Divorce and infidelity have increased, and many young men and women are choosing to postpone marriage or to forego it altogether. To some young Catholics, the sacramental bond of marriage seems scarcely distinguishable from a civil bond, or even a purely informal and open-ended arrangement to live with another person. Hence we have an alarming decrease in the number of Catholic marriages in the United States together with an increase in cohabitation, in which the Christ-like mutual self-giving of spouses, sealed by a public promise to live out the demands of an indissoluble lifelong commitment, is simply absent. In such circumstances, children are denied the secure environment that they need in order truly to flourish as human beings, and society is denied the stable building blocks which it requires if the cohesion and moral focus of the community are to be maintained.

As my predecessor, Pope John Paul II taught, "The person principally responsible in the Diocese for the pastoral care of the family is the Bishop ... he must devote to it personal interest, care, time, personnel and resources, but above all personal support for the families and for all those who … assist him in the pastoral care of the family" (Familiaris Consortio, 73). It is your task to proclaim boldly the arguments from faith and reason in favor of the institution of marriage, understood as a lifelong commitment between a man and a woman, open to the transmission of life. This message should resonate with people today, because it is essentially an unconditional and unreserved "yes" to life, a "yes" to love, and a "yes" to the aspirations at the heart of our common humanity, as we strive to fulfill our deep yearning for intimacy with others and with the Lord.

Among the countersigns to the Gospel of life found in America and elsewhere is one that causes deep shame: the sexual abuse of minors. Many of you have spoken to me of the enormous pain that your communities have suffered when clerics have betrayed their priestly obligations and duties by such gravely immoral behavior. As you strive to eliminate this evil wherever it occurs, you may be assured of the prayerful support of God's people throughout the world. Rightly, you attach priority to showing compassion and care to the victims. It is your God-given responsibility as pastors to bind up the wounds caused by every breach of trust, to foster healing, to promote reconciliation and to reach out with loving concern to those so seriously wronged.

Responding to this situation has not been easy and, as the President of your Episcopal Conference has indicated, it was "sometimes very badly handled". Now that the scale and gravity of the problem is more clearly understood, you have been able to adopt more focused remedial and disciplinary measures and to promote a safe environment that gives greater protection to young people. While it must be remembered that the overwhelming majority of clergy and religious in America do outstanding work in bringing the liberating message of the Gospel to the people entrusted to their care, it is vitally important that the vulnerable always be shielded from those who would cause harm. In this regard, your efforts to heal and protect are bearing great fruit not only for those directly under your pastoral care, but for all of society.

If they are to achieve their full purpose, however, the policies and programs you have adopted need to be placed in a wider context. Children deserve to grow up with a healthy understanding of sexuality and its proper place in human relationships. They should be spared the degrading manifestations and the crude manipulation of sexuality so prevalent today. They have a right to be educated in authentic moral values rooted in the dignity of the human person. This brings us back to our consideration of the centrality of the family and the need to promote the Gospel of life. What does it mean to speak of child protection when pornography and violence can be viewed in so many homes through media widely available today? We need to reassess urgently the values underpinning society, so that a sound moral formation can be offered to young people and adults alike. All have a part to play in this task - not only parents, religious leaders, teachers and catechists, but the media and entertainment industries as well. Indeed, every member of society can contribute to this moral renewal and benefit from it. Truly caring about young people and the future of our civilization means recognizing our responsibility to promote and live by the authentic moral values which alone enable the human person to flourish. It falls to you, as pastors modelled upon Christ, the Good Shepherd, to proclaim this message loud and clear, and thus to address the sin of abuse within the wider context of sexual mores. Moreover, by acknowledging and confronting the problem when it occurs in an ecclesial setting, you can give a lead to others, since this scourge is found not only within your Dioceses, but in every sector of society. It calls for a determined, collective response.

Priests, too, need your guidance and closeness during this difficult time. They have experienced shame over what has occurred, and there are those who feel they have lost some of the trust and esteem they once enjoyed. Not a few are experiencing a closeness to Christ in his Passion as they struggle to come to terms with the consequences of the crisis. The Bishop, as father, brother and friend of his priests, can help them to draw spiritual fruit from this union with Christ by making them aware of the Lord's consoling presence in the midst of their suffering, and by encouraging them to walk with the Lord along the path of hope (cf. Spe Salvi, 39). As Pope John Paul II observed six years ago, "we must be confident that this time of trial will bring a purification of the entire Catholic community", leading to "a holier priesthood, a holier episcopate and a holier Church" (Address to the Cardinals of the United States, 23 April 2002, 4). There are many signs that, during the intervening period, such purification has indeed been taking place. Christ's abiding presence in the midst of our suffering is gradually transforming our darkness into light: all things are indeed being made new in Christ Jesus our hope.

At this stage a vital part of your task is to strengthen relationships with your clergy, especially in those cases where tension has arisen between priests and their bishops in the wake of the crisis. It is important that you continue to show them your concern, to support them, and to lead by example. In this way you will surely help them to encounter the living God, and point them towards the life-transforming hope of which the Gospel speaks. If you yourselves live in a manner closely configured to Christ, the Good Shepherd, who laid down his life for his sheep, you will inspire your brother priests to rededicate themselves to the service of their flocks with Christ-like generosity. Indeed a clearer focus upon the imitation of Christ in holiness of life is exactly what is needed in order for us to move forward. We need to rediscover the joy of living a Christ-centred life, cultivating the virtues, and immersing ourselves in prayer. When the faithful know that their pastor is a man who prays and who dedicates his life to serving them, they respond with warmth and affection which nourishes and sustains the life of the whole community.

Time spent in prayer is never wasted, however urgent the duties that press upon us from every side. Adoration of Christ our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament prolongs and intensifies the union with him that is established through the Eucharistic celebration (cf. Sacramentum Caritatis, 66). Contemplation of the mysteries of the Rosary releases all their saving power and it conforms, unites and consecrates us to Jesus Christ (cf. Rosarium Virginis Mariae, 11, 15). Fidelity to the Liturgy of the Hours ensures that the whole of our day is sanctified and it continually reminds us of the need to remain focused on doing God's work, however many pressures and distractions may arise from the task at hand. Thus our devotion helps us to speak and act in persona Christi, to teach, govern and sanctify the faithful in the name of Jesus, to bring his reconciliation, his healing and his love to all his beloved brothers and sisters. This radical configuration to Christ, the Good Shepherd, lies at the heart of our pastoral ministry, and if we open ourselves through prayer to the power of the Spirit, he will give us the gifts we need to carry out our daunting task, so that we need never "be anxious how to speak or what to say" (Mt 10:19).

As I conclude my words to you this evening, I commend the Church in your country most particularly to the maternal care and intercession of Mary Immaculate, Patroness of the United States. May she who carried within her womb the hope of all the nations intercede for the people of this country, so that all may be made new in Jesus Christ her Son. My dear Brother Bishops, I assure each of you here present of my deep friendship and my participation in your pastoral concerns. To all of you, and to your clergy, religious and lay faithful, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of joy and peace in the Risen Lord.


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1. The Holy Father is asked to give his assessment of the challenge of increasing secularism in public life and relativism in intellectual life, and his advice on how to confront these challenges pastorally and evangelize more effectively.

I touched upon this theme briefly in my address. It strikes me as significant that here in America, unlike many places in Europe, the secular mentality has not been intrinsically opposed to religion. Within the context of the separation of Church and State, American society has always been marked by a fundamental respect for religion and its public role, and, if polls are to be believed, the American people are deeply religious. But it is not enough to count on this traditional religiosity and go about business as usual, even as its foundations are being slowly undermined. A serious commitment to evangelization cannot prescind from a profound diagnosis of the real challenges the Gospel encounters in contemporary American culture.

Of course, what is essential is a correct understanding of the just autonomy of the secular order, an autonomy which cannot be divorced from God the Creator and his saving plan (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 36). Perhaps America's brand of secularism poses a particular problem: it allows for professing belief in God, and respects the public role of religion and the Churches, but at the same time it can subtly reduce religious belief to a lowest common denominator. Faith becomes a passive acceptance that certain things "out there" are true, but without practical relevance for everyday life. The result is a growing separation of faith from life: living "as if God did not exist". This is aggravated by an individualistic and eclectic approach to faith and religion: far from a Catholic approach to "thinking with the Church", each person believes he or she has a right to pick and choose, maintaining external social bonds but without an integral, interior conversion to the law of Christ. Consequently, rather than being transformed and renewed in mind, Christians are easily tempted to conform themselves to the spirit of this age (cf. Rom 12:3). We have seen this emerge in an acute way in the scandal given by Catholics who promote an alleged right to abortion.

On a deeper level, secularism challenges the Church to reaffirm and to pursue more actively her mission in and to the world. As the Council made clear, the lay faithful have a particular responsibility in this regard. What is needed, I am convinced, is a greater sense of the intrinsic relationship between the Gospel and the natural law on the one hand, and, on the other, the pursuit of authentic human good, as embodied in civil law and in personal moral decisions. In a society that rightly values personal liberty, the Church needs to promote at every level of her teaching - in catechesis, preaching, seminary and university instruction - an apologetics aimed at affirming the truth of Christian revelation, the harmony of faith and reason, and a sound understanding of freedom, seen in positive terms as a liberation both from the limitations of sin and for an authentic and fulfilling life. In a word, the Gospel has to be preached and taught as an integral way of life, offering an attractive and true answer, intellectually and practically, to real human problems. The "dictatorship of relativism", in the end, is nothing less than a threat to genuine human freedom, which only matures in generosity and fidelity to the truth.

Much more, of course, could be said on this subject: let me conclude, though, by saying that I believe that the Church in America, at this point in her history, is faced with the challenge of recapturing the Catholic vision of reality and presenting it, in an engaging and imaginative way, to a society which markets any number of recipes for human fulfillment. I think in particular of our need to speak to the hearts of young people, who, despite their constant exposure to messages contrary to the Gospel, continue to thirst for authenticity, goodness and truth. Much remains to be done, particularly on the level of preaching and catechesis in parishes and schools, if the new evangelization is to bear fruit for the renewal of ecclesial life in America.

2. The Holy Father is asked about "a certain quiet attrition" by which Catholics are abandoning the practice of the faith, sometimes by an explicit decision, but often by distancing themselves quietly and gradually from attendance at Mass and identification with the Church.

Certainly, much of this has to do with the passing away of a religious culture, sometimes disparagingly referred to as a "ghetto", which reinforced participation and identification with the Church. As I just mentioned, one of the great challenges facing the Church in this country is that of cultivating a Catholic identity which is based not so much on externals as on a way of thinking and acting grounded in the Gospel and enriched by the Church's living tradition.

The issue clearly involves factors such as religious individualism and scandal. Let us go to the heart of the matter: faith cannot survive unless it is nourished, unless it is "formed by charity" (cf. Gal 5:6). Do people today find it difficult to encounter God in our Churches? Has our preaching lost its salt? Might it be that many people have forgotten, or never really learned, how to pray in and with the Church?

Here I am not speaking of people who leave the Church in search of subjective religious "experiences"; this is a pastoral issue which must be addressed on its own terms. I think we are speaking about people who have fallen by the wayside without consciously having rejected their faith in Christ, but, for whatever reason, have not drawn life from the liturgy, the sacraments, preaching. Yet Christian faith, as we know, is essentially ecclesial, and without a living bond to the community, the individual's faith will never grow to maturity. Indeed, to return to the question I just discussed, the result can be a quiet apostasy.

So let me make two brief observations on the problem of "attrition", which I hope will stimulate further reflection.

First, as you know, it is becoming more and more difficult, in our Western societies, to speak in a meaningful way of "salvation". Yet salvation - deliverance from the reality of evil, and the gift of new life and freedom in Christ - is at the heart of the Gospel. We need to discover, as I have suggested, new and engaging ways of proclaiming this message and awakening a thirst for the fulfillment which only Christ can bring. It is in the Church's liturgy, and above all in the sacrament of the Eucharist, that these realities are most powerfully expressed and lived in the life of believers; perhaps we still have much to do in realizing the Council's vision of the liturgy as the exercise of the common priesthood and the impetus for a fruitful apostolate in the world.

Second, we need to acknowledge with concern the almost complete eclipse of an eschatological sense in many of our traditionally Christian societies. As you know, I have pointed to this problem in the Encyclical Spe Salvi. Suffice it to say that faith and hope are not limited to this world: as theological virtues, they unite us with the Lord and draw us toward the fulfillment not only of our personal destiny but also that of all creation. Faith and hope are the inspiration and basis of our efforts to prepare for the coming of the Kingdom of God. In Christianity, there can be no room for purely private religion: Christ is the Savior of the world, and, as members of his Body and sharers in his prophetic, priestly and royal munera, we cannot separate our love for him from our commitment to the building up of the Church and the extension of his Kingdom. To the extent that religion becomes a purely private affair, it loses its very soul.

Let me conclude by stating the obvious. The fields are still ripe for harvesting (cf. Jn 4:35); God continues to give the growth (cf. 1 Cor 3:6). We can and must believe, with the late Pope John Paul II, that God is preparing a new springtime for Christianity (cf. Redemptoris Missio, 86). What is needed above all, at this time in the history of the Church in America, is a renewal of that apostolic zeal which inspires her shepherds actively to seek out the lost, to bind up those who have been wounded, and to bring strength to those who are languishing (cf. Ez 34:16). And this, as I have said, calls for new ways of thinking based on a sound diagnosis of today's challenges and a commitment to unity in the service of the Church's mission to the present generation.

3. The Holy Father is asked to comment on the decline in vocations despite the growing numbers of the Catholic population, and on the reasons for hope offered by the personal qualities and the thirst for holiness which characterize the candidates who do come forward.

Let us be quite frank: the ability to cultivate vocations to the priesthood and the religious life is a sure sign of the health of a local Church. There is no room for complacency in this regard. God continues to call young people; it is up to all of us to to encourage a generous and free response to that call. On the other hand, none of us can take this grace for granted.

In the Gospel, Jesus tells us to pray that the Lord of the harvest will send workers. He even admits that the workers are few in comparison with the abundance of the harvest (cf. Mt 9:37-38). Strange to say, I often think that prayer - the unum necessarium - is the one aspect of vocations work which we tend to forget or to undervalue!

Nor am I speaking only of prayer for vocations. Prayer itself, born in Catholic families, nurtured by programs of Christian formation, strengthened by the grace of the sacraments, is the first means by which we come to know the Lord's will for our lives. To the extent that we teach young people to pray, and to pray well, we will be cooperating with God's call. Programs, plans and projects have their place; but the discernment of a vocation is above all the fruit of an intimate dialogue between the Lord and his disciples. Young people, if they know how to pray, can be trusted to know what to do with God's call.

It has been noted that there is a growing thirst for holiness in many young people today, and that, although fewer in number, those who come forward show great idealism and much promise. It is important to listen to them, to understand their experiences, and to encourage them to help their peers to see the need for committed priests and religious, as well as the beauty of a life of sacrificial service to the Lord and his Church. To my mind, much is demanded of vocation directors and formators: candidates today, as much as ever, need to be given a sound intellectual and human formation which will enable them not only to respond to the real questions and needs of their contemporaries, but also to mature in their own conversion and to persevere in life-long commitment to their vocation. As Bishops, you are conscious of the sacrifice demanded when you are asked to release one of your finest priests for seminary work. I urge you to respond with generosity, for the good of the whole Church.

Finally, I think you know from experience that most of your brother priests are happy in their vocation. What I said in my address about the importance of unity and cooperation within the presbyterate applies here too. There is a need for all of us to move beyond sterile divisions, disagreements and preconceptions, and to listen together to the voice of the Spirit who is guiding the Church into a future of hope. Each of us knows how important priestly fraternity has been in our lives. That fraternity is not only a precious possession, but also an immense resource for the renewal of the priesthood and the raising up of new vocations. I would close by encouraging you to foster opportunities for ever greater dialogue and fraternal encounter among your priests, and especially the younger priests. I am convinced that this will bear great fruit for their own enrichment, for the increase of their love for the priesthood and the Church, and for the effectiveness of their apostolate.

Dear Brother Bishops. with these few observations, I once more encourage all of you in your ministry to the faithful entrusted to your pastoral care, and I commend you to the loving intercession of Mary Immaculate, Mother of the Church.


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Before leaving, I would like to pause to acknowledge the immense suffering endured by the people of God in the Archdiocese of New Orleans as a result of Hurricane Katrina, as well as their courage in the challenging work of rebuilding. I would like to present Archbishop Alfred Hughes with a chalice, which I hope will be accepted as a sign of my prayerful solidarity with the faithful of the Archdiocese, and my personal gratitude for the tireless devotion which he and Archbishops Philip Hannan and Francis Schulte showed toward the flock entrusted to their care.

Via USCCB’s Papal Visit Blog