Monday, December 8, 2008

First Catholic University in India Opens

Although this piece is from the same portion of the world as the last post, it is about a vastly different subject and source.
From the Indian Catholic Newspaper:

The Don Bosco University, India’s first Catholic university, was opened by Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi on Saturday at a prayerful function in Guwahati. "Let all involved in the project be filled with the spirit of Don Bosco and the mission of empowering youth with necessary skills and knowledge," wished Gogoi while opening the university.

Archbishop Thomas Menamparmbil of Guwahati released the DBU Brochure and presented it to the Chief Minister. Salesians are known for their schools and colleges in north east India and have set up the region’s first college, St. Antony’s college, in Shillong in 1934.

The college is also the world’s first university college Salesians have opened. The Salesians now have 27 colleges and over one hundred Technical Schools.

Hundreds of Salesian centers serve people across the country [of India] helping people for non formal courses, agricultural development, literacy and to shelter for street children. The newly opened university plans to link and upgrade Salesian educational facilities with its government approved and nationally recognized system.

“This is the first catholic university in India. The project has been sanctioned by the Rector Major and his Council. The Government of India has welcomed the move to set up a Catholic University in India. The Ecclesiastical authorities in India have been very positive in their attitude to the setting up of a Catholic University in India,” said a Salesian web site.

While the Chancellor-designate of the new University, Fr. Joe Almeida welcomed the guests, Fr. Stephen Mavely, the Vice Chancellor, gave a short account of the evolution of the dream of a University. K. Sudha Rao, former vice chancellor of Karnataka State Open University, in the key note address stressed the need of a University in the cultural context of the North East.

Twilight Years

When one imagines their twilight year in a realistic fashion, the possibility of having to use diapers might come to mind. Improper muscle function can be a problem. An inability to self-feed might also be an issue with which the household might have to deal.

That's why it is so nice to have someone with whom to share those difficulties.

I just have to question if it is a good idea to share your second childhood with your newborn first child.

That is what a 70 year old Rajo Devi and her husband Bala Ram, 72, have decided to do.

On November 28th Rajo Devi, post-menopausal for roughly 20 years, delivered a girl who had been conceived by in vitro fertilization treatment at Hisar Fertility Center in Haryana, India. The baby girl weighed in at slightly more than 3 pounds at birth. Both mother and child are said to be doing well. Click HERE for more on this.

May God bless them while the angels watch over them.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A Babe in a Manger - A Priest at His Prayers

A baby merely hours old was found lying in a church's creche in southern Germany

"I was in the church shortly after midday to pray and I heard the baby crying," said Father Thomas Rein, parish priest at St. Peter and St. Paul Catholic Church in Poettmes.

"We prepared the crib in the pre-Christmas period so children could lay fresh straw in it and ponder on the meaning of Jesus and Lo! There really was a Jesus-child in it!" Fr. Rein said excitedly.

"His cries saved his little life; I would not have noticed him otherwise."

The priest noted a serious concern for the babe's welfare because the church's temperature was below 55 degrees F, "It was only 12 degrees C in the church. There were fears that he could have hypothermia."

Neuburger Pediatric Clinic nurses and emergency staff have named the little one Peter. He is said to be doing well.

Police are only saying that they believe the mother is 38-year-old Romanian woman. The woman is thought to have lived in the Poettmes.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

50,000,000 Pennies Mark 50,000,000 Abortion Deaths

Mississippi Memorial Uses 50 Million Pennies to Mark 50 Million Abortion Deaths

Jackson, MS (LifeNews.com) -- A group of pro-life advocates in Mississippi found out as they collected 50 million of the coins for a unique memorial to mark the deaths of unborn children since Roe v. Wade allowed unlimited abortions in 1973.

The Mississippi Baptist Convention put together this one-of-a-kind visual reminder of the number of babies who have died from abortions. The group collected pennies from church congregations across the state and erected a large glass house to store all the pennies the size of a backyard storage shed.

Called the Memorial to the Missing, the penny-filled structure contains a plaque that encourages visitors to the Baptist convention's headquarters -- and the legislature across the street -- to respect life. Full story at LifeNews.com

So All May Eat - Pay as You are Able - Cafe

The Washington Times' Chris Gergen and Gregg Vanourek shown a spotlight on a wonderful nonprofit restaurant located in Denver, Colorado called "SAME Cafe." It is well worth a read. Here is a snippet of Gergen and Vanourek's article:

The 'pay as you can' cafe

This holiday season, many are thinking of those who are less fortunate. Taking that sentiment several steps further, Brad and Libby Birky of Denver have created a nonprofit restaurant called SAME (So All May Eat) Cafe with a "pay as you can" pricing model.

Yes, you read that correctly. Instead of standard menu-based pricing, a donation box is set in the corner, and people are expected to pay what they can. Those who can't afford to pay are asked to help with manual labor: washing dishes, mopping the floor and the like. Those who can afford it often pay a bit more to contribute to the social mission.

The Birky family wanted to do something dramatically different after putting in years of volunteering at various food banks and shelters, where canned food is the standard fare and handouts sometimes are dispensed with cold detachment. At SAME, their philosophy is that everyone - regardless of economic status or station in life - deserves the chance to eat healthy food while being treated with dignity and respect.

SAME is not a soup kitchen. The volunteers are vigilant about asking customers to contribute something, whether money or labor. There also is a spirit of the place, a welcoming family atmosphere.

Isn't that something? If you'd like to read the complete article please click HERE.

THe Holy Father's December Intentions

Papal Intention for Culture of Life

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 1, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is praying this month for the expansion of the culture of life.

The Apostleship of Prayer announced the general intention chosen by the Pope: "That, faced by the growing expansion of the culture of violence and death, the Church may courageously promote the culture of life through all her apostolic and missionary activities."

The Holy Father also chooses an apostolic intention for each month. In December, he will pray that especially in mission countries, Christians may show through gestures of brotherliness that the Child born in the grotto in Bethlehem is the luminous Hope of the world."

Pastoral Care

Rev. Joseph Illo of St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Modesto, CA recently sent his parishioners a letter which discussed the potential need for the Sacrament of Reconciliation for individuals who voted for Barack Obama in the recent presidential election.

In part, Fr. Illo said:

If you voted for a pro-abortion candidate, I cannot say for certain is you should refrain from Holy Communion. I don't know what you were thinking. But voting for a candidate who promises "abortion rights," even is he promises every other good thing, is voting for abortion. It is a grave mistake, and probably a grave sin. No issue can compare withe the legalized destruction of a mother's child. I am writing because I love you and I care about your relationship with God. I am also writing because God requires this of me as a Catholic priest...

You've gotta love a pastor who for the salvation of his parishioners knowingly set himself up for the furor of our moral relativistic society. Kudos and thanks to Fr. Illo!!!!!

By the way, the emphasis in the above paragraph is in the original text. To read the whole letter, click HERE.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Special Holiday Postmarks




Would you like your little ones to receive a letter from Santa with an actual "North Pole" postmark?

If so, place the sealed, stamped and addressed letter inside a larger envelope that is addressed to:

North Pole Christmas Cancellation Postmaster
5400 Mail Trail
Fairbanks, AK 99709

Be sure that both envelopes bear the appropriate postage so the addressee of the inner envelope receives the Santa mail with the "North Pole, Alaska" cancellation.

Special holiday postmark designs may also be had by routing your Christmas cards through these post offices:

Bethlehem, PA 18016
Carrollton, MO 64633
Christmas Valley, OR 97641
Holly, CO 81047
Holly, MI 48442
Hope, ID 83836
Hope, KS 67451
Hope, MN 56046
Nazareth, PA 18064
Noel, MO 64854
Saint Joseph, MI 49085
Saint Marys, WV 26170
Santa, Claus, IN 47579
Santa, ID 83866
Star, ID 83669
Star, MS 39167
Star, TX 76880
Starlight, PA 18461

Place your addressed cards in a larger envelope that has been addressed to the Postmaster of the office you wish to cancel your cards. At the bottom left corner mark it "Attention: Christmas Re-Mailing."

To have the your mail reaches the ultimate destinations before December 25th, plan so that the package/envelope reaches the cancelling post office by the 15th and be sure to use the proper postage - inside and out.

For a full list of U.S. Post Offices with holiday-based names, please click HERE. Not all on this list will have holiday design cancellations. However, the Post Offices actually listed above are to have a special design.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Bushmen Appeal to Pope

Survival International had the following article on their web site:

The Kalahari Bushmen have appealed to the Pope to support them in their struggle to return to their land, as the Vatican established diplomatic relations with Botswana earlier this month.

A Bushman spokesman said today, ‘We beg the Pope to help, to pray for us so that the government changes its attitude towards us and respects our rights as indigenous peoples of this land.’

The establishment of diplomatic relations was initiated by Botswana’s former president Festus Mogae. He was the architect of the government’s controversial policy to forcibly evict the Bushmen from their ancestral lands in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve.

Despite Botswana’s High Court having affirmed the Bushmen’s rights to live in the reserve in 2006, the government of the new president General Ian Khama continues to violate their rights. It has also given the company Gem Diamonds permission to mine diamonds on their land.

Not one Bushman has received a hunting permit, despite the High Court ruling that it was unlawful for the government to withhold permits. Nor are the Bushmen allowed to access the water borehole on their land. The lack of hunting and water has made life extremely difficult for the Bushmen.

Dom Erwin Kräutler, Bishop of Xingu, Brazil, said today, ‘In the 21st century it is more vital than ever that the Catholic Church support indigenous peoples throughout the world in the struggle for their rights.’

On 1 July, the Pope Benedict XVI expressed his solidarity and support for the indigenous peoples of Raposa-Serra do Sol in Brazil when he met them in the Vatican and declared ‘We will do everything possible to help protect your land.’

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

One Day Advent Retreat

Holiness or Hecticness? Praying in Advent.
One Day Retreat

U.S. National Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes
Emmitsburg, Maryland
December 13, 2008
10 - 3
Fr. Jack Lombardi, Grotto Chaplain, will be conducting a day retreat entitled “Holiness or Hecticness? Praying in Advent.” on Saturday, December 13th from 10 am to 3 pm. The day will include Confessions, Spiritual Conferences, Mass and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.

Fr. Jack, a kind and thoughtful priest, is an experienced retreat master committed to sharing the way of Our Lord with His people. You won't want to miss this opportunity to relax, reflect and refocus as we prepare for the celebration of our Savior's birth.
All are welcome!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Feast of Christ the King

Jesus answered, "You say I am a king."
(John 18:37)

Window - St. Joan of Arc Roman Catholic Church, Hershey, PA


When the Son of Man comes in his glory,and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him.
(Matthew 25:31-32)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Powerful Essay by the Mother of a Trisomy 13 Child

Below is a piece from UK's Times Online. Unfortunately, there was no byline. Written in first person, one is left to assume it was written by the mother of the child who had Patau's Syndrome.

It was all too easy to lose my son
Victoria Lambert terminated her pregnancy because the baby was disabled, but is now troubled by how readily society accepts such action

When I see boys at my daughter’s school, all gangly limbs and scruffy hair, I wonder what my own son would have looked like. He would be nine now. He would have blond hair and blue eyes – his father and I share that colouring. He might have my prominent chin; definitely a grin all his own.

My son would also be unable to speak, walk or possibly even think for himself. He would have extra digits and a heart defect. The first child I conceived had Patau’s syndrome – also known as trisomy 13 – which affects 1 in 10,000 children. The condition typically results in death before birth, at birth or in the following few days.

Those with the syndrome can survive, though rarely do, into young adulthood, and that possibility has been enough to fuel my dreams. Over the years, I’ve allowed my imagination to run unchecked: I’ve seen him playing conkers, glued to a PlayStation, eating pizza.

Yet all this can only ever be conjecture, for I had a termination in my 13th week of pregnancy, two weeks before the turn of the millennium. It was an experience that has scarred me in ways I could never have foreseen. Put simply: my decision and its consequences have tortured me for the past nine years.

I’ve been unable to talk about it easily, unless with drink in hand, let alone write about the experience. I have felt out of step with the rest of the world, where the validity of abortion is a given and to admit to being uneasy about it seems to make you a traitor to any notion of “sisterhood”. But what has isolated me most, and this is the crucial point, is an overwhelming sense of shame.

Almost from the moment I awoke from the anaesthetic, I have deeply regretted my decision. Whichever way I looked at it, it felt then and it feels now like murder. When I signed the consent form that permitted staff to perform a termination, I killed my first child. Why? Because he would have been born disabled.

What a terrible admission that is. Although I suspect a few other women may be quietly nodding their heads in recognition, I’m not sure the majority of people will understand or sympathise with me. Some will find my action abhorrent; some do not approve of anyone criticising abortions.

The underlying issue is that society has changed in its attitude towards disability. After all, antenatal testing (and its consequences) is now so commonplace that when it was revealed last month that a new blood test had been developed that could detect Down’s syndrome, the news was greeted with what seemed to be universal delight.

“Science takes some stress off would-be parents,” was the New Scientist magazine’s take. And it’s true that significantly fewer women will endure invasive procedures – amniocente-sis or chorionic villus sampling (CVS) – that carry a distinct risk of miscarriage. In fact, recent research suggests that in the course of detecting and preventing the birth of 660 Down’s babies, 400 healthy foetuses are lost each year.

What no one seems to address is why this test – and the others – exists. The orthodoxy may be that it helps to prepare a couple for the possibility that their baby’s future will not be as they envisaged. But anyone who has been given a result that differs from the norm knows the expectation is that the pregnancy will be ended. Why give birth to a baby who is not “perfect” this time, when you might be “lucky” next time? The latest estimates are that more than 90% of Down’s syndrome pregnancies are terminated.

“There is an implicit message within the goals of prenatal testing”, says the disability ethicist Lisa Bridle, “that society believes that raising a child with disability is such a grave burden that it is both morally correct and medically appropriate to take expensive measures to ensure such children are not born.”

The popularity of antenatal testing is undoubtedly due as much to fear as to a sense of social responsibility. Few of us would undergo nerve-racking tests were we not frightened of the unknown. And as disabilities become less common – because of increased numbers of terminations – that fear increases.

My own situation came about almost by accident. A friend suggested that when I reached the 12th week of my pregnancy I should take myself off for a nuchal fold scan at a private clinic in central London. The idea didn’t seem to require much thought.

I was 34 and healthy; the pregnancy had so far been easy and exciting. I’d always been desperate to have a large family – and here we were, on the way. Yippee. “You get to see the baby much sooner than in an NHS clinic,” my friend told me, “and for £95, it’s a really lovely experience, very posh – worth it as a treat!” To me, in my gleeful hormonal state, it seemed a no-brainer.

My husband, as he then was, and I would head up to Harley Street that Thursday, see our cute little baby squirming on screen, get a picture and then head off for some Christmas shopping. Almost as soon as we arrived at the clinic, that cosy, festive mood passed.

After a blood test, we were ushered into the consulting room, where a charming doctor covered my tummy in gel to ease the passage of her scanner, and pictures appeared on the small black-and-white screen at the side of the bed. My husband and I may have been making the standard jokes to each other about whom the foetus resembled, but we quickly noticed that our doctor was not joining in.

She was quiet and focused, taking down numbers. A few minutes later she had the test results. At that point she told us: “Statistically, you’ve a one in four chance of serious, life-threatening abnormality. I’m certain you are that one.” Nine years on, I can still hear the scream I let out. I can also remember biting my hand: I didn’t want the other mothers waiting outside to hear me and feel a jolt of fear.

We were advised to return the following day, when a professor would offer a second opinion. Twenty-four hours later, the scan played out the same way. Now I could hear the professor saying he could see on screen that my child had extra digits on his hands and feet, and that his forebrain had not divided in two. All I could see was my dearly wanted baby, kicking and wiggling just like any other foetus.

I was torn between staring at him and not looking at all, imprinting him on my brain and wanting to forget. The doctor performed a CVS on me – the test for Down’s and other abnormalities.

Tears were rolling down my face. He then told me that although he was in no doubt my baby had either Patau or Edwards syndrome (the effects are similar), he would send off the placenta sample for examination, and the results would be back early the next week.

And he gently suggested that I book an immediate termination – before the results were even due – as Christmas was just over a week away and it would be my last chance to have an abortion before the new year. As I was already 12 weeks pregnant, waiting any longer would mean having to endure labour, rather than a “neat” termination under general anaesthetic. I felt confident that he was right; that misdiagnosis was impossible. What nobody told me, then or later, was that not everybody terminates such a pregnancy.

That I could have carried the baby to full term. The baby might even have survived for years – albeit with a serious and life-limiting set of disabilities. I numbly watched the clinic’s secretary arrange, through my GP’s practice, for a termination three days later at our local maternity hospital.

When I tried to speak to my GP – whom I had known for more than five years – she made it plain she had no time to discuss my situation. Was it because I had gone to a private clinic, or because she disapproved of terminations, or just because it was a Saturday morning and she couldn’t be bothered? I never knew. But she left me feeling worse – alone, scared, unimportant and filled with guilt.

My husband, family and friends were as kind as possible – and as shocked. None doubted that the termination was for the best. “Put it behind you,” were the four words I became accustomed to hearing. And in many ways they were right and fair. The decision was not mine alone, anyway: my husband was convinced of the correctness of this course of action, and his point of view was as valid as mine.

He was worried for my health, too – would carrying such a sickly child put me at risk? We knew so little. We struggled on till Monday and drove to the hospital for the operation. Here, I met the one person who allowed me to question what was happening – an anaesthetist who threw everyone out of the room and sat down on the bed to ask whether this was what I really wanted.
I wish she had been there 24 hours earlier – by this time it was too late. I’d lost all willpower, all ability to do anything but cry. I said: “Yes, I’ll do this.” And with that I gave permission – and I cannot put this any other way, try as I may – to murder my unborn baby. Premeds were given, and I was placed on a trolley and wheeled down to theatre. I didn’t stop crying once. I dimly remember repeating, “No, no, no.”

And then I remember waking up crying, and it was over. A few days later, the CVS result came back in the post. My baby had been trisomy 13 – and a little boy. I then learnt of a tiny, impartial charity called ARC – Antenatal Results and Choices – which had been set up to provide information to parents who discover that their child may have a disability or disease. I steeled myself to call one of its helpers one night.

I don’t think I told her my story; I think I just sobbed down the phone and she listened. I should have thanked her, but I wasn’t capable of seeing or saying anything outside my bubble of pain. Had I been offered professional counselling at any stage in this chain of events, I’ve no doubt that my experience would have been different. I didn’t know I could ask for it, and I certainly wasn’t recommended any.

Christmas came and went, and I forced myself back into work on Boxing Day to try to preserve a little sanity. My colleagues were wonderful, but I was so ashamed of having had a termination that I said I’d miscarried. I couldn’t face what I felt would be inevitable disapproval of my decision to have an abortion. The weeks went by, and friends and family stopped asking how I was.

I found myself pregnant again a few months later, but that pregnancy ended in miscarriage on the exact weekend my son should have been born. I suppose it was inevitable I would think it was some sort of natural justice or punishment. The trail of misery went on.

My marriage ended six months later. I went on to have two more miscarriages in another relationship. I felt cursed. Finally, tests revealed that there was a reason for at least the miscarriages: I had antiphospholipid syndrome, which means my blood clots too easily, usually preventing pregnancies from taking hold. Why this did not stop the first one, no one has been able to tell me. Diagnosis did mean, however, that when I became pregnant in 2005 I could receive treatment to stop me miscarrying: daily injections of heparin to thin the blood.

Then came the day when I had to decide about antenatal testing. I was nearly 40 by this time, and my risk of having a baby with another chromosomal abnormality was much higher. At 20, you have a one in 1,529 risk of having a Down’s syndrome child; at 40, the risk is one in 112.
I was offered – and accepted – a scan at the hospital where I was being monitored. In fact, I’d also given blood for testing, when suddenly the realisation of what I was doing hit me.

I sat in my consultant’s office with my new husband, and started to cry (yes, again). “I don’t want to do this,” I said. “I’m not going through that again – whatever the consequences.”

The consultant sent us away to have a coffee and talk the decision through, but my husband was already in agreement. There would be no termination. And therefore no need for testing. Simple. My blood samples were thrown away, and an entry confirming our decision was made on my case notes. I made my peace with my unborn baby: I would take what I was given.

About five months later, my daughter was born. She had no sign of chromosomal abnormalities. It dawned on me that once we had decided not to go ahead with tests for Down’s or anything else, I had stopped worrying about how our child would turn out. She was going to be our baby, and as long as she was born alive, everything else could be dealt with.

I’m not trying to underplay the enormous work and sacrifices that many families must undergo when they have a disabled child. And I’m certainly not sitting in judgment of families who do choose to terminate such a pregnancy and are at peace with their decision. I’m not against abortion per se, and never have been.

I worry nonetheless that there is a growing consensus that abortion should be the automatic choice when any foetus is diagnosed as less than “perfect”. It is an issue in desperate need of open debate. As for me, when the fear of losing another baby was weighed against the risk of disability, I knew where I stood.

Now aged 43, still desperate for that large family and still suffering miscarriages, I have to accept that I may never have another child. It’s very hard.

The ghost of my son lingers painfully, haunting my thoughts. In the past nine years, not a week has gone by when I haven’t thought of him. Despite the support that others – including those closest to me – expressed for my decision at the time, I don’t think I can ever truly forgive myself for what I did.

What I do know, and often think, is that if my son had been born alive and perhaps with two years to live, were those not two years of my life that I could have spared to nurse him? Would it really have been such a big deal? With hindsight, I think I could have offered that at the very least to a child I had wanted so much.

Bigger and better antenatal testing may thrill research scientists and be of enormous importance to those parents who are clear in their minds about the kinds of baby they want to bring into the world. For some of us, though, there is a grave danger that the very ease and simplicity of the tests make life-and- death decisions too easy to take – and to regret.

More information about the charity Antenatal Results and Choices can be found at www.arc-uk.org

Another Rapidly Pro-Abort for Obama

Ellen Moran, executive director of the Washington group of the radically pro-abortion group EMILY's List, will be director of communications at the White House.

The stench of the Obama White House is enough to choke a person.

Well, not everybody.

If you don't mind the smell of the rotting choice carcasses which resemble babies, it's not so bad.

Tell Your Story. Speak of Change.

Want to tell the president-elect what is on your mind, share your personal story or your vision of change?

Well the Barack Obama's transition team's say on their newsroom blog,
"We created An American Moment on our website because you deserve a government that respects your involvement in the process by being open, transparent and bipartisan. We want to continue to hear about your hopes and dreams, answer your questions, and get your advice about what should come next."

Here are some phone numbers where you may share those things:

Senator Barack Obama's offices -
D.C.: (202)224-2854
CHICAGO, IL: (312)886-3506
SPRINGFIELD, IL: (217)492-5089
MARION, IL.: (618)997-2402
MOLINE, IL.: (309)736-1217

The form to e-mail your story may be found HERE.

Carmelite Focus for World Human Rights Day

A press release for Catholic Online:

TUCSON, AZ (NOVEMBER 22, 2008) - The Carmelite NGO, a non-governmental organization working with the United Nations, announced A Day of Prayer in observance of World Human Rights Day, December 10, 2008. The focus of the Day of Prayer is to call attention to the violence that is robbing people of their human rights.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said, “It is our duty to ensure that these rights are a living reality – that they are known, understood and enjoyed by everyone everywhere.”

The Carmelite NGO is inviting people to join in solidarity with the peoples of the world that are suffering violence in any form - be it from war, hunger, lack of education, lack of medical care or lack of a healthy environment.

A booklet entitled “A Day of Prayer” designed specifically for use on December 10th is being made available at no charge for anyone interested. The booklet is an instrument of calling upon all to join in solidarity against violence in all it forms. This year Carmelites are especially asked to pray for victims of violence in Zimbabwe.

To obtain a copy of the “A Day of Prayer” booklet, email jremson@carmelitengo.org with your name and mailing address. Copies can also be downloaded from the website of the Carmelite NGO by clicking HERE.

The Carmelite NGO was affiliated to the Department of Public Information of the United Nations in December 2001. It is a representative body to the United Nations for the men and women around the world who are members of the Carmelite Order of the Catholic Church or its ministries.

Friday, November 21, 2008

A Group Permitting the Lord to Lead

The following piece is a very nice article highlighting a group which is really making a difference in their community:

More than a place to pray:
Charismatic Catholics serve community, too

María Cortés González/El Paso Times

EL PASO -- Open Arms Community is not a church.

But the common mistake people make is not surprising considering all the activity taking place inside its facility, Centro Santa Fe, once a popular ranchera music dance place, off North Loop.
A Charismatic Catholic organization, Open Arms began as a small group meeting for prayer in people's homes. In its 35 years, the organization has gone from meeting in homes and churches to its own permanent home, where it still meets for prayer but also stores a food bank that gives supplemental groceries to about 500 families a month. It also runs a thrift store and a bookstore that support the food bank.

This holiday season, they plan to serve from 500 to 600 people a holiday meal at Mount Carmel Church. The organization also sponsors two conferences a year, one of which will take place this weekend at Las Alas Center, 501 E. Paisano.

Leaders have even bigger plans for the organization. Having taken on a mortgage on 15 acres of adjacent property that used to house a drive-in theater, the organization plans to build a retreat house and renewal center as well as a Catholic adult day care in a few years.

Joanne Ivey, executive director of the organization, was part of the original group that brought Catholics from various churches for small prayer meetings.

"It was in the early '70s and part of the pentecostal movement ... that felt a need to gather to pray in a more informal setting than what you would see in church on Sunday," she said.
The organization, which has the blessing of the El Paso Catholic Diocese, which is only a few yards away, emphasizes the power and gifts of the Holy Spirit, through which believers may prophesy, heal or speak in tongues. Charismatic comes from "charisma," a Greek word for gift.
It is believed that worldwide there are more than a 100 million Charismatic Catholics -- roughly 10 percent of Catholics. Several popes including Pope Benedict XVI and Pope John Paul II have acknowledged and supported the movement as a way of helping to renew the church.

"The pentecostal experience to me enhances everything we already believe and do as Catholics," Ivey said. " ... We believe that any baptized person has the Holy Spirit within them and can receive those special charisms if they do desire, not for their own upbuilding, but for the church."
Ivey stresses that while members of the organization meet for the small prayer groups on Mondays and Tuesdays, they also belong to various Catholic churches around the city.
She is excited about the enthusiasm that members have not only to enrich their relationships with God but also to reach out to the community with their food pantry and retreats.
Sara Barraza, who is raising three children by herself since her husband left, appreciates the supply of food she receives monthly from the organization.

"It's been difficult for me to support my three children, so I appreciate that they give me rice, beans and pastas -- staples that we eat every day," saidBarraza, who supports her family by taking care of friends' children.

"They give me a big help and it lightens my load," she said
.
Julia Martinez is another El Pasoan who not only has received food staples monthly but also has volunteered when she can, preparing grocery bags or doing mailings. Martinez said she has not been able to go since her husband became terminally ill in October.

"But I appreciate that they still call me to see how I'm doing and that they pray for me," she said. "It makes me feel better to have their support and prayers."

Jerry Blaine, who attends Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Horizon City, has also been involved in Open Arms for many years. He appreciates the intimacy of the small group.

"There's a close bonding with others," he said, "and I think almost everybody who is involved has had that common experience" of the Holy Spirit.

Blaine said the support of the church's hierarchy is also important to him.

"Before I became involved, I was conservative religiously," he said. "But I read a lot about the renewal and the statement that it was well within the church."

Ivey said the retreat center will have about 80 rooms, with classrooms, a chapel and two spacious places to conduct retreats. Besides receiving private donations, the organization has fundraisers for its retreat center, such as the annual Fiesta of the Nations.

Blaine is confident the organization will be able to build a great retreat center.

"A small group was able to buy and pay for this property and we're steadily paying off the drive-in property," he said. "And this is what we think the Lord is leading us to do and he will supply the means."

Article author María Cortés González may be reached at mcortes@elpasotimes.com; 546-6150.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Auschwitz, Buchenwald, Dachau... Obama

The latest news regarding the Obama administration is that Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano is to be Homeland Security director for the Obama Administration.

She is decidedly pro-abortion. Earlier this year Napolitano vetoed a partial birth ban. In fact, in one month she vetoed four anti-abortion bills.

Now, really, I don't think that will directly impact the office of Homeland Security, but the smell of death that is coming from the president-elect's cabinet is becoming increasingly nauseating. Instead of the fresh aroma of change, I'm smelling something akin to what I imagine the death camps to have smelled like.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

This Should be Seen

Fr. Dwight Longenecker has a photo posted on his blog that gorgeous. Check it out by clicking HERE.

To Quote Ronald Reagan:


"Abortion is advocated only by persons who have themselves been born."




Can't beat that logic.

Fr. Peyton Canonization Cause to Open Thursday

From the Baltimore Archdiocese site:

Opening Session in Cause for Sainthood of Father Patrick Peyton to Take Place in Baltimore
Fr. Peyton coined the phrase, “The family that prays together stays together.”

Archbishop Edwin F. O’Brien, Archbishop of Baltimore, will preside over the opening session of the Cause for Sainthood of Father Patrick Peyton, CSC during the 12:10 Mass at the Baltimore Basilica on Thursday, November 20. Father Peyton is best known as the “Rosary Priest,” who encouraged families through his radio and television programs in the 1940s and 50s to pray together daily, especially the rosary.

The investigation into the Cause for Sainthood of Father Peyton, which opened in June of 2001, was moved from the Diocese of Fall River, MA to Baltimore by the Holy See. Members of the ecclesiastical tribunal, which will investigate the life and ministry of Father Peyton, will be sworn-in during the Mass on Thursday and will receive instruction from the Archbishop as to how the inquiry is to take place.

The Catholic Church’s process leading to canonization involves three major steps. First is the declaration of a person’s heroic virtues, after which the church gives him or her the title Venerable. Second is beatification, after which he or she is called Blessed. The third step is canonization, or declaration of sainthood.

At various steps in the canonization process, evidence of alleged miracles is presented to Church authorities. In general, two miracles need to be accepted by the church as having occurred through the intercession of the prospective saint.

The Archdiocese of Baltimore has previously been involved in the Causes of Canonization of the Servants of God, Sr. Faustina Kowalska, Mother Mary Elizabeth Lange, and Father Francis Xavier Selos.

Father Patrick Peyton emigrated from Ireland to the United States in 1928 when he was 19. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1941 and founded Family Rosary in Albany, New York the following year. He conducted rosary crusades in 40 countries, drawing 28 million people. In 1947, he created Family Theater Productions, producing some 600 radio and television programs featuring hundreds of actors and celebrities, and more than 10,000 broadcasts.

Family Theater Productions is now part of Holy Cross Family Ministries, which carries on the work of Father Petyon and is headquartered in North Easton, MA. For more information about the life and work of Father Peyton, visit www.hcfm.org.

California Court to Hear Prop 9 Case

Reuters is reporting that the California Supreme Court is going to hear a case disputing the validity of the same sex marriage ban that was approved in the recent election.

In the article, the legal director of a group which advocates gay marriage stated that the election's Proposition 8 mandates discrimination.

I don't see it that way. And that isn't religious right thinking.

Simple logic says that it isn't a discrimination to define marriage as being between a man and a woman. It is just codifies that which social convention has held for years.

I don't see why advocates for homosexual unions don't go at this from a different angle.

It seems the smartest approach would be to get civil unions recognized with the same rights afforded legally to married couples. Isn't that what this is about?

Or is there something more? A different agenda than what is being put forth, perhaps?

Adult Stem Cell Medical Miracle

Below is a portion of an article from The Independent:

A 30-year-old Spanish woman has made medical history by becoming the first patient to receive a whole organ transplant grown using her own cells.

Experts said the development opened a new era in surgery in which the repair of worn-out body parts would be carried out with personally customised replacements.

Claudia Castillo, who lives in Barcelona, underwent the operation to replace her windpipe after tuberculosis had left her with a collapsed lung and unable to breathe. The bioengineered organ was transplanted into her chest last June at the Hospital Clinic in Barcelona.

Four months later she was able to climb two flights of stairs, go dancing and look after her children – activities that had been impossible before the surgery. Ms Castillo has also crossed a second medical frontier by becoming the first person to receive a whole organ transplant without the need for powerful immunosuppressant drugs.

Doctors overcame the problem of rejection by taking her own stem cells to grow the replacement organ, using a donor trachea (lower windpipe) to provide the mechanical framework. Blood tests have shown no sign of rejection months after the surgery was complete.

The operation takes transplant surgery a step closer to the goal of replacing damaged or worn-out organs with functioning replacements that are not rejected by the body, which are in increasing demand as life expectancy grows. Conventional transplant surgery involving the transfer of organs from dead donors means the living recipients have to spend the rest of their lives on powerful drugs to suppress their immune systems, putting them at risk from infections and diseases such as cancer.

Two years ago, doctors in the US claimed a world first after transplanting seven patients with bladders grown in the laboratory. Yesterday, British researchers involved in the new case said that development had been a "major advance" which had "paved the way" for the new technique. But they said the bladder transplant had been of a "cellular patch" of tissue, not a whole organ.

The new technique of customising organs so that they are indistinguishable from the body's own tissues not only overcomes the problem of rejection but also greatly extends the range of organs and tissues that can be transplanted. Only one attempt had been made previously to transplant a windpipe – by surgeons in Ohio in 1998 – and the operation had not been repeated because the immune response had been too severe, requiring very heavy doses of immunosuppressant drugs. Transplant of other body parts, such as limbs, had been restricted by concerns over immunosuppression.

Professor Anthony Hollander, of the University of Bristol, said the advance had been achieved as a result of developments in stem-cell technology. "For stem-cell science, this is really exciting," he said. "Without stem cells this procedure would not have been possible."

ADULT - not embryonic - stem cells made this possible.

Go Figure

In an article about a woman planning to become a minister of the non-Catholic group Womenpriests, the future minister shared with the reporter an exchange with her Catholic mother:


“My mother is 85,” explained Wilcox. “I said, would she come to my ordination, and she said, ‘Of course; we will burn in hell together.’”

“Of course, there is no hell.”



And across the devil's face broke a glee filled smile.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Kenyan Government Demands Release of Kidnapped Nuns and Driver

Iranian Press TV is carrying the following piece:

Kenya has threatened to raid Somali territories to free the abducted Italian Catholic nuns believed to be held by al-Shabaab fighters.

Kenya Internal Security Minister George Saitoti said Tuesday that the government had warned the fighters affiliated with the Union of Islamic Courts in Somalia to release the nuns, a Press TV correspondent reported.

Al-Shabaab has not formally claimed responsibility for the abduction.

"We have given them [al-Shabaab] the ultimatum to return back those Catholic nuns and to return the vehicles, three of them, including the Kenyan [driver]. And we are very firm on that one," he said, adding that the group had violated Kenyan sovereignty. "This, you have to understand, was a violation of our own boundary," the minister emphasized.

Two nuns and their driver were kidnapped after gunmen attacked the town of Elwak, in Mandera Central District, on the border with Somalia last week.

Cross-border raids are common in the region, with Kenyan forces struggling to maintain security along the border. Humanitarian workers have mainly become the target of kidnappings, raising concerns over the safety of foreigner aid workers in the region.

Insurgents, clan militias or criminal gangs are usually blamed for the attacks.

Stolen Tabernacle

A tabernacle was stolen from a church in the Miami Diocese.

Please pray for all involved.



Pray for us all.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Bishop Aquila's Clear Statement

"Some believe that it is possible to be a faithful Catholic and be pro-choice. This is impossible."

"Abortion is an intrinsic evil, which means that in no circumstance is it permitted nor may it ever be supported, even as a means to a good end. No Catholic can be faithful to Jesus Christ and the Church and support an intrinsic evil."


+++Bishop Samuel J. Aquila, in the Fargo Diocesan Newspaper, "New Earth"

Obama Presidency Our Gethsemane

During his lecture this past Thursday at Catholic University of America, His Eminence James Francis Cardinal Stafford noted that Barack Obama is an "aggressive, disruptive and apocalyptic" man who campaigned on an "extremist anti-life platform."

Stafford, a high ranking American at the Vatican, drew a parallel between Christ's Passion and what American will face during the Obama presidency.

"For the next few years, Gethsemane will not be marginal. We will know that garden. On November 4, 2008, America suffered a cultural earthquake."

In his estimation, we have been dealt a future of "hot, angry tears of betrayal" akin to those experienced by "Jesus, sick because of love."



H/T - The Cardinal Newman Society

Humanae Vitae Mass of Thanksgiving

In that Bishop Rhoades, prelate of the Harrisburg Diocese, was out of the country on the actual anniversary of the encyclical "Humanae Vitae," he celebrated that landmark papal letter to the faithful this past Sunday, November 16, 2008, at Saint Patrick's Cathedral in center city Harrisburg.

To paraphrase the Bishop's homily:

Humanae Vitae was born in and of a turbulent time. When Pope Paul VI wrote it,there was significant turmoil in the Church and the world. There was descent then, as there is now, against this teaching which in reality has always been the teaching of the Church as it is now. It is the truth of the Lord Himself; therefore, it is immutable.

Pope John Paul II expanded on Humanae Vitae in his own encyclical Theology of the Body. A powerful letter itself, Theology of the Body not only illuminates our thinking, but it can change our lives. These encyclicals are treatise of what the Master taught. It is incumbent upon us to be good and faithful servants. If we are, much like the parable in the day's Gospel, we will receive our Master's joy.

The heart of Humanae Vitae is that a married couple is to give themselves to each other completely. Through the conjugal love of marriage, by freely and completely giving of themselves, the couple becomes part of the mystery of creating life. Children are an authentic gift that is a matter of responsibility to God.

The Church is calling couples to say "yes" to life and "yes" to authentic love.

There may be times when couples must space children, or even suspend births. During those times, a husband and wife bear a responsibility to respect each other and their love. Within the framework of the conjugal love, couple should use Natural Family Planning methods. Part and parcel of NFP methods is mutual respect between the spouses. These methods entail a maturity of love that is part of the journey in virtue and of holiness.

Not only must marriage be respected, but also the dignity of human procreation itself. Science has blessed us with technology to help couples struggling with infertility. Care needs to be taken in the development and administration of technology though. Such research needs to be ethical - within the design and will of God. Unfortunately, there have been developments which have produced methods which spurn the God's plans - unethical methods of dissociation. Within these unethical dissociative methods is a void, a void wherein the respect for the dignity of the spouses and the child to be born ought exist. The Church recognizes the fact that a child deserves the dignity and respect of personhood from the moment of conception. It is essential that methods used respect the dignity of spouses and the child.

It is important for us to pray for couples facing the pain of infertility. It is a heavy burden they bear and we as the Church must pray for them.

Our teaching is counter-cultural, but following this teaching is part of following the way to holiness, to following Christ. It is part of fidelity to God.


Update: I just found that the Bishop's homily may be seen HERE in PDF format.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Free Rosaries to the World

I ran across this article on a Central New Jersey web site:

Since 1992, Holy Cross Family Ministries has given away approximately 17 million Rosaries. The mission is to provide people from all around the world with Rosaries. There is no charge and Rosaries can be sent to families, schools and parishes.

The Rosary has been a major influence in Roman Catholic thought for over 500 years while paving the way for a greater understanding of the mystery of Christ; celebrated within family prayer.

Holy Cross Family Ministries believes in the importance of family prayer so much so, that they do not want anyone in the world to be without the Rosary. So they have been fulfilling their goals by providing the rosaries free of charge to anyone and everyone.

Rosaries for the world would not be possible if it were not for the support of parishes and individuals who donate Rosaries to the cause.

Website owner Jose Rodriguez of TheOnlyDish.com has decided to join forces and help support the goal of providing Rosaries to the world. TheOnlyDish.com is an affiliate of VMC Satellite an authorized retailer of Dish Network. Rodriguez has been selling Dish Network since 2004. Rodriguez has vowed to donate $10.00 for every Dish Network that is installed using his website. He states that Holy Cross Family Ministries has a great vision and that they are helping many people including people in remote parts of the world who would otherwise not be able to afford Rosaries. Rodriguez has donated in the past and wants to continue to contribute to the cause.

Anyone interested in receiving Rosaries can visit http://www.HCFM.org & clicking on Rosaries. People are also encouraged to donate for the cause which can be done on the website as well.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Kenyan Government on Recent Abduction

The Shabelle media outlet posted the following:

A Kenyan driver and two Italian nuns abducted by Somali militants on Sunday are safe, the Government has said. Spokesman Dr Alfred Mutua said they have established the trio was abducted by Al Shabab Militants from their Elwak home. “They are being held in Somaliland,” he said adding that the government had put in place measures to ensure their safe release.

There was however little progress reported according to the police. Deputy Police Spokesman Charles Owino told Capital News there were no fresh leads but expressed optimism the kidnappers would be tracked down. “We have nothing to report at the moment. The search for the nuns is going on but they have not been traced. Officers are still on the ground searching for them,” he told Capital News on telephone.

Mr Owino said officers deployed to rescue the three were still combing the Somalia border where security has been intensified. He could not confirm reports that the team conducting the search planned to cross over the border into Somalia. “I am not able to confirm that, let it be known that we are on the ground and that everything is being done to find them,” he asserted.

A senior police officer in El Wak however, confided that the security forces were planning to cross over the border to search for the nuns. “It is one of the alternatives that is being considered. Our officers are also talking to elders in that country (Somalia) to try getting the nuns and the vehicles that were stolen returned,” the source said.

The nuns who were working with a missionary group providing health care in El-Wak were abducted in the early hours of Monday when 60 men stormed the town. They are reported to have hurled a grenade and sprayed bullets at a police station in the town before they kidnapped away the nuns from a Roman Catholic Church.

The nuns have since been identified as Caterina Giraudo, 67 and Maria Teresa Olivero, 60.

The Chief of Vatican Spokesman, Rev Federico Lombardi on Tuesday said that Pope Benedict was aware of the incident and was praying for them.

Vatican "Right" to Die

From the AFP:

The Vatican on Friday firmly condemned an Italian court decision allowing a father to remove his comatose daughter from life support, saying "the right to die does not exist."

"Life is sacred, the right to die does not exist," the Vatican's "health minister" Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan said in an interview published by the Italian daily La Stampa.

On Thursday, Italy's highest appeal court upheld an earlier ruling that doctors could stop artificially feeding Eluana Englaro, 37, as it had been proven that the road accident victim's coma was irreversible.

"To stop giving food and drink to Eluana is tantamount to committing murder," said Barragan, who heads the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care.

"It means letting her die of hunger and thirst, condemning her to a monstrous end," he added.

Englaro has lain in a hospital in northern Lecco since January 1992, and her father Beppino Englaro has been seeking an end to her life support since 1999.

The lower court had accepted testimony that when fully conscious Eluana Englaro had stated her preference to die rather than being kept alive artificially.

Her father hailed the ruling, telling the daily La Repubblica: "I wanted justice and the judges gave it to me. They tried to put themselves in Eluana's place, (to understand) her thoughts, her strength, her freedom and her irreversible vegetative state."

Such a state "does not exist in nature, while medicine can take forced feeding and care to an extreme, even when it no longer serves any purpose," he said.

Barragan also spoke to La Repubblica, saying: "The term 'vegetative state' is appropriate for plants, not human beings."

All Carmelite Saints Day

If you're a Catholic, you are aware of the feast days known as All Saints and All Souls.

Did you know that there are feast days specifically for Carmelites that are in the same ilk as those feast day? They even follow each other, one day immediately after the other, as All Saints and All Souls of the larger Church.

On the Carmelite calendar, yes the orders have order specific calendars, today is the celebration of All Carmelite Saint. Tomorrow, November 15th, is the Feast of All Carmelite Souls.

So,

Happy All Carmelite Saints Day!

Consider asking the Carmelite saints to pray for a special intention today and be sure to offer a prayer tomorrow for the Carmelites who may be in Purgatory anticipating Heaven.

Priest to be Excommunicated

The following is from the NY Times:

The Vatican has informed a Roman Catholic priest in the United States that he will be excommunicated next week for participating in a ceremony it considers illicit and invalid: the ordination of a woman as a priest.

The priest, the Rev. Roy Bourgeois, 69, has been a member of the Maryknoll religious order for 36 years. He said he was anguished at the thought of excommunication, but could not disavow his actions.

In August, Father Bourgeois joined a ceremony in a Unitarian Universalist church in Lexington, Ky., in which a [female] friend claimed ordination as a Roman Catholic priest. Father Bourgeois gave the homily and laid hands on her.

He had known that excommunication was possible but said he thought it unlikely. His order summoned him to headquarters and gave him a warning but did not discipline him.
Then he received a letter dated Oct. 21 from the Vatican’s doctrinal watchdog, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, warning that if he did not recant, in writing, he would be excommunicated within 30 days.

“When I got the actual letter, I had to sit down,” he said. “I felt nauseous. I thought, this is serious stuff. The first thought that came to mind was, How am I going to explain this to my dad and my family?”'

Father Bourgeois informed the Vatican that he would not repent.

Father Bourgeois said he would try to appeal the Vatican’s decision. Excommunication, according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, is “the most severe ecclesiastical penalty.” The person is forbidden to receive or administer sacraments.

Three Effects of Faith Directed Life

At this week's public audience Pope Benedict XVI focused on St. Paul's dedication to our Risen Lord. Pope Benedict noted that there are three fundamental marks of living a faith filled Christian life:

  • The first attitude is the certainty that Jesus has risen, is with the Father, and because of that, is with us forever. Because of this, we are secure and free of fear. This was an essential effect of Christian preaching. Fear of spirits and gods was spread throughout the entire ancient world. And today as well, missionaries find -- together with so many good elements in natural religions -- the fear of spirits and the ill-fated powers that threaten us. Christ is alive; he has overcome death and has overcome all these powers. With this certainty, with this freedom, with this joy, we live. This is the first element of our living directed to the future.
  • [A believer knows - Christ] is with me. And that in Christ the future world has already begun -- this also gives the certainty of hope. The future is not a darkness in which no one gets one's bearings. It is not like that. Without Christ, also for the world today, the future is dark; there is fear of the future -- a lot of fear of the future. The Christian knows that the light of Christ is stronger and because of this, lives in a hope that is not vague, in a hope that gives certainty and courage to face the future.
  • We don't live as if good and evil were the same, because God only can be merciful. This would be a deceit. In truth, we live with a great responsibility. We have talents, we have to work so this world opens itself to Christ, so that it is renewed. But even working and knowing in our responsibility that God is a true judge, we are also sure that he is a good judge. We know his face -- the face of the risen Christ, of Christ crucified for us. Therefore, we can we sure of his goodness and continue forward with great courage.

The Pope concluded the audience with an adaptation of St. Paul the prayer that he taught earlier followers.

Noting that Paul taught them to say, "Maranà, thà, which literally means, 'Our Lord, come!'" Pope Benedict said that in this time time in history, "...totally and deeply, we too can and should say, with great urgency and in the circumstances of our time,

Come, Lord! Come to your world, in the way that you know.

Come where there is injustice and violence.

Come to the refugee camps, in Darfur and in North Kivu, in so many places in the world.

Come where drugs dominate.

Come, too, among those rich people who have forgotten you and who live only for themselves.

Come where you are not known.

Come to your world and renew the world of today."

Bishop - Catholics Should Defend Life

From the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:

Zubik urges Catholics to defend right-to-life stance

Pittsburgh Bishop David Zubik said Thursday he will urge local Roman Catholics to fight any effort to expand abortion rights across the country.

"That is part of the beauty of being citizens of the United States," Zubik said. "We can speak to our legislators and let them know, as Catholics, where we are coming from."

Zubik returned from this week's U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Baltimore, where about 300 bishops adopted a formal blessing for a child in the womb and drafted a document asking President-elect Barack Obama not to erode gains made by right-to-life supporters. "We really felt that it was important for a statement to come out as soon as possible," Zubik said in a phone interview.

The bishops are concerned that Obama and a majority of pro-choice Democrats in Congress might approve the proposed Freedom of Choice Act, which would override state-by-state limits on when a woman can abort a pregnancy, Zubik said.

That could eliminate "freedom of conscience" clauses for doctors who refuse to perform an abortion and limits against late-term and partial-birth abortions.

Pittsburgh Catholics should call their lawmakers to voice opposition to the proposal, Zubik said. But that stance could set church leaders against supporters of Obama, who has said he would sign the act into law if Congress passes it.

Nationwide, Catholics supported Obama over Republican Sen. John McCain by 54 percent to 45 percent, according to a CNN exit poll. In Pennsylvania, a pre-election Franklin & Marshall College poll showed Obama with a similar lead among Catholics who were likely voters.
Fifty-seven percent of Allegheny County voters chose Obama, compared to 41 percent who voted for McCain.

Zubik said he would not punish vocal Obama supporters by refusing them sacraments such as communion, but said he understands and respects bishops who are taking such positions.
"They are perfectly within their right to do that," he said.

Zubik said Catholics ultimately will be judged by how much they embraced the teachings of the faith.

"What I always tell people is this: 'If you make a decision, you have to imagine yourself looking at God eyeball to eyeball,' " Zubik said. "I think, in the end, we are all going to be judged by how sincere we were with God and how much we embraced the teachings of our faith."

Locally, perhaps no devout Catholic was a more outspoken supporter of Obama than Steelers Chairman Dan Rooney, who appeared at a rally with Obama and gave him a Steelers jersey a week before the election. Rooney could not be reached for comment.

The bishop might not be judgmental, but Rooney might have to make amends with one of his brothers.

Pat Rooney, one of five Rooney brothers who own shares in the Steelers, said he hopes Dan Rooney's influence and the Steelers brand name did not sway Catholic voters. He questioned how Catholics could balance a religious obligation to oppose abortion with a political inclination for a pro-choice president.

"We can't be smorgasbord Catholics, because morality cannot be negotiated," Pat Rooney said.
In politics, conflicts between governing and staying true to faith long have shadowed Catholics elected to public office.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Pastor to Obama Voters - Reconcilation or No Communion

Dear Friends in Christ,

We the People have spoken, and the 44th President of the United States will be Barack Hussein Obama. This election ends a political process that started two years ago and which has revealed deep and bitter divisions within the United States and also within the Catholic Church in the United States. This division is sometimes called a “Culture War,” by which is meant a heated clash between two radically different and incompatible conceptions of how we should order our common life together, the public life that constitutes civil society. And the chief battleground in this culture war for the past 30 years has been abortion, which one side regards as a murderous abomination that cries out to Heaven for vengeance and the other side regards as a fundamental human right that must be protected in laws enforced by the authority of the state. Between these two visions of the use of lethal violence against the unborn there can be no negotiation or conciliation, and now our nation has chosen for its chief executive the most radical pro-abortion politician ever to serve in the United States Senate or to run for president. We must also take note of the fact that this election was effectively decided by the votes of self-described (but not practicing) Catholics, the majority of whom cast their ballots for President-elect Obama.

In response to this, I am obliged by my duty as your shepherd to make two observations:

1. Voting for a pro-abortion politician when a plausible pro-life alternative exits constitutes material cooperation with intrinsic evil, and those Catholics who do so place themselves outside of the full communion of Christ’s Church and under the judgment of divine law. Persons in this condition should not receive Holy Communion until and unless they are reconciled to God in the Sacrament of Penance, lest they eat and drink their own condemnation.

2. Barack Obama, although we must always and everywhere disagree with him over abortion, has been duly elected the next President of the United States, and after he takes the Oath of Office next January 20th, he will hold legitimate authority in this nation. For this reason, we are obliged by Scriptural precept to pray for him and to cooperate with him whenever conscience does not bind us otherwise. Let us hope and pray that the responsibilities of the presidency and the grace of God will awaken in the conscience of this extraordinarily gifted man an awareness that the unholy slaughter of children in this nation is the greatest threat to the peace and security of the United States and constitutes a clear and present danger to the common good. In the time of President Obama’s service to our country, let us pray for him in the words of a prayer found in the Roman Missal:

God our Father, all earthly powers must serve you. Help our President-elect, Barack Obama, to fulfill his responsibilities worthily and well. By honoring and striving to please you at all times, may he secure peace and freedom for the people entrusted to him. We ask this through Our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever.

Amen.

Father Newman
St. Mary's Catholic Church
Greenville, SC

Seconds to You, a Scholarship for Him

How would you like to help someone with just three clicks of your left mouse button?

Come on... It'll take you between 3 and 10 seconds.

Yes, only 10 seconds even with a dial-up connection. I speak from experience.

The American Papist needs your assistance!!!

Please click HERE or on one of those other off-colored words to help.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Humanist "Godless Holiday Campaign"

The following is a portion of a press release issued yesterday:

"Why believe in a god? Just be good for goodness' sake," proclaims a new holiday ad from the American Humanist Association. Already appearing today in the New York Times and Washington Post, the message will soon be blazoned on the sides, taillights, and interiors of over 200 Washington DC Metro buses.

It's the first ad campaign of its kind in the United States, and the American Humanist Association predicts it will raise controversy over humanist ideas.

The exterior posters will appear on buses in Northwest Washington starting Tuesday, November 18. The interior posters will begin December 1 in Northwest and Southeast.

"We expect these bus signs to generate a lot of public interest," said Fred Edwords, director of communications for the American Humanist Association.

Such high-profile promotion isn't new to the American Humanist Association. Throughout 2008, humanist advertising has become more visible across the nation. In particular, highway billboards have been erected just outside of New York City, Philadelphia, and other major cities. They read: "Don't believe in God? You are not alone."

Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, responded:

“Codes of morality, of course, have always been grounded in religion. For those of us in Western civilization, its tenets emanate from the Judeo-Christian ethos. By casting this heritage aside, and replacing it with nothing more than the conscience of lone individuals, we lay the groundwork for moral anarchy. And that is because there is nothing that cannot be justified if the only moral benchmark is what men and women posit to be right and wrong. Indeed, every monster in history has followed his conscience."

Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein said ads are accepted as long as they aren't obscene or pornographic. Personally, I find it obscene for an organization to promote the emptiness of non-belief.

Let's hope (and pray) that people use this $40,000 campaign as a reminder to pray for the unbelieving to be given the gift of faith. If each time one of the ads is seen such a prayer is said, this could have some very positive results.


May the angels and saints join us in praying for these lost souls.

USCCB Statement to President Elect

BALTIMORE—Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), voiced hope for the Obama Administration but pointed to possible obstacles to our desired unity, in a Nov. 12 statement at the end of the annual fall assembly of the USCCB.

"The bishops of the Catholic Church in the United States welcome this moment of historic transition and look forward to working with President-elect Obama and the members of the new Congress for the common good of all," he said.

He said that "the unity desired by President-elect Obama and all Americans at this moment of crisis will be impossible to achieve," if the administration's policies increase abortions.

"Aggressive pro-abortion policies, legislation and executive orders will permanently alienate tens of millions of Americans, and would be seen by many as an attack on the free exercise of their religion."

"We express again our great desire to work with all those who cherish the common good of our nation," he added. "The common good is not the sum total of individual interests: it is achieved in the working out of a common life based upon good reason and good will for all."


Cardinal George's Prepared Statement:

STATEMENT of the President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops"If the Lord does not build the house, in vain do its builders labor; if the Lord does not watch over the city, in vain does the watchman keep vigil." (Psalm 127, vs. 1)

The Bishops of the Catholic Church in the United States welcome this moment of historic transition and look forward to working with President-elect Obama and the members of the new Congress for the common good of all. Because of the Church's history and the scope of her ministries in this country, we want to continue our work for economic justice and opportunity for all; our efforts to reform laws around immigration and the situation of the undocumented; our provision of better education and adequate health care for all, especially for women and children; our desire to safeguard religious freedom and foster peace at home and abroad. The Church is intent on doing good and will continue to cooperate gladly with the government and all others working for these goods.

The fundamental good is life itself, a gift from God and our parents. A good state protects the lives of all. Legal protection for those members of the human family waiting to be born in this country was removed when the Supreme Court decided Roe vs. Wade in 1973. This was bad law. The danger the Bishops see at this moment is that a bad court decision will be enshrined in bad legislation that is more radical than the 1973 Supreme Court decision itself.

In the last Congress, a Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) was introduced that would, if brought forward in the same form today, outlaw any "interference" in providing abortion at will. It would deprive the American people in all fifty states of the freedom they now have to enact modest restraints and regulations on the abortion industry. FOCA would coerce all Americans into subsidizing and promoting abortion with their tax dollars. It would counteract any and all sincere efforts by government and others of good will to reduce the number of abortions in our country.

Parental notification and informed consent precautions would be outlawed, as would be laws banning procedures such as partial-birth abortion and protecting infants born alive after a failed abortion. Abortion clinics would be deregulated. The Hyde Amendment restricting the federal funding of abortions would be abrogated. FOCA would have lethal consequences for prenatal human life.

FOCA would have an equally destructive effect on the freedom of conscience of doctors, nurses and health care workers whose personal convictions do not permit them to cooperate in the private killing of unborn children. It would threaten Catholic health care institutions and Catholic Charities. It would be an evil law that would further divide our country, and the Church should be intent on opposing evil.

On this issue, the legal protection of the unborn, the bishops are of one mind with Catholics and others of good will. They are also pastors who have listened to women whose lives have been diminished because they believed they had no choice but to abort a baby. Abortion is a medical procedure that kills, and the psychological and spiritual consequences are written in the sorrow and depression of many women and men. The bishops are single-minded because they are, first of all, single-hearted.

The recent election was principally decided out of concern for the economy, for the loss of jobs and homes and financial security for families, here and around the world. If the election is misinterpreted ideologically as a referendum on abortion, the unity desired by President-elect Obama and all Americans at this moment of crisis will be impossible to achieve. Abortion kills not only unborn children; it destroys constitutional order and the common good, which is assured only when the life of every human being is legally protected. Aggressively pro-abortion policies, legislation and executive orders will permanently alienate tens of millions of Americans, and would be seen by many as an attack on the free exercise of their religion.

This statement is written at the request and direction of all the Bishops, who also want to thank all those in politics who work with good will to protect the lives of the most vulnerable among us. Those in public life do so, sometimes, at the cost of great sacrifice to themselves and their families; and we are grateful. We express again our great desire to work with all those who cherish the common good of our nation. The common good is not the sum total of individual desires and interests; it is achieved in the working out of a common life based upon good reason and good will for all.

Our prayers accompany President-elect Obama and his family and those who are cooperating with him to assure a smooth transition in government. Many issues demand immediate attention on the part of our elected "watchman." (Psalm 127) May God bless him and our country.

Child in the Womb Blessing Approved

BALTIMORE—The U.S. bishops approved the Order for the Blessing of a Child in the Womb for use in the dioceses of the United States with a 223-1 vote November 11, at their General Assembly in Baltimore. The bishops also approved a Spanish version of the blessing with a 224-0 vote.

The Blessing of a Child in the Womb was prepared by the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities after receiving requests from dioceses for such a blessing and not finding an existing blessing for a newly conceived child. In March, 2008 a blessing was prepared and submitted to the Committee on Divine Worship. The proposed blessing is distinct from the Blessing of Parents before Childbirth found in the Book of Blessings.

The Blessing of a Child in the Womb Within Mass and Outside Mass, in English and in Spanish, upon recognitio by the Congregation on Divine Worship and the Sacraments in Rome for use in the dioceses of the United States of America, will be included in future editions of the Book of Blessings (de Benedictionibus) when the text is revised.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Recovery from Vandalism

Unfortunately, multiple churchs in the Richford, Vermont area were violated last week. Refreshingly, however, the congregations did not allow the violations to keep them from their Sunday worship. Below is a story from a local television station:

Sunday morning's mass at the All Saints Church was the first since it was reconsecrated by the bishop Saturday night.

"It was just so spiritually uplifting," organist Fredda Ploof said. "I've never witnessed anything like that before. It was very emotional."

Ploof said the ceremony made the church feel sacred once again. Monday night, it had been broken into. The tabernacle that holds the Eucharist -- the sacramental body of Christ -- was vandalized. "We consider the church holy, very holy," she said. "And for anybody to come in like that, it's like invading our religion and how we respect this as a house of God."

All Saints is just one of four area churches broken into or vandalized over the past week. A church in Cavendish was burglarized, and a church in Berlin, New Hampshire, sustained an estimated $20,000 worth of damage. Just up the road from All Saints, Our Lady of Lourdes, in East Berkshire, was broken into Tuesday night. While nothing appeared to have been taken, the church was ransacked.

"Somebody came in and took Christ forcefully out of the church, in the blessed sacrament," Rev. Karl Hahr said. He serves both Franklin County parishes and said the break-ins were not just acts of vandalism, but attacks on Jesus Himself. Catholics believe Jesus is present in the hosts, or wafers shared in the Eucharist."They had smashed the doors in, so it was heartbreaking to see it," he said. "It was hard to see if they took any of the hosts."

The tabernacle used in Sunday's mass is about half the size as the one that was destroyed. The original one weighed about a hundred pounds, and was found dumped in the church basement. Hahr said police have not named a suspect or a motive. "It's either idiots that don't realize there's nothing of monetary value kept in the church," he said. "Or there's a possibility it's a hate crime. I'm hoping it's not that, but it's always a possibility."

Hahr explained that while the tabernacle holds tremendous value to the church and its parishioners, it does not have much value outside. It appears gold but is actually made of steel, so it's not likely to be sold for scrap.

Whatever the motive, Hahr said parishioners are ready to forgive whoever did this. "We're used to going to confession and being forgiven ourselves," he said, "so it's very easy to begin to forgive."

For video footage of WCAX-TV's reporting of this story, please click HERE.
An earlier story by WPTZ on the burglary may be found HERE.

94-Year-Old's Service to the Church

Ran across an article in The Dominion Post today that I'm so glad not to have missed. I think you'll like it too.

New Zealander Noel Byford suspects he is the world's oldest altar boy. Every weekday at 7am, the 94-year-old, despite blindness and spinal damage, arrives at St Mary's Parish church in Taihape to begin a dutiful routine in preparation of the altar for Mass.

It has been this way for the past three years, since Father Bill Casey asked his most regular attendee if he could be his weekday altar server, filling the same role as the primary school-age altar boys and girls who help the priest prepare for liturgies at weekend services.

Mr Byford missed out on being an altar boy as a child and, more than 80 years on, he's taken on the role with total devotion.

Sometimes there are only four people at morning mass, but the diminutive Mr Byford performs his duties with absolute reverence.He slowly lights candles, retrieves the sacramental wine and wafers from locked cabinets and prepares them for communion, and rings a bell three times.

"I love it. I really do. I'm fond of my faith," he says.

Last month, Mr Byford was honoured with a Benemerenti Medal, sent from the Vatican, honouring his years of service to St Mary's.

He wears the gold medal on its yellow and white ribbon pinned to his heavy green suit; thick head of hair on his head, cane in hand.

The medal - which director of Catholic communications Lyndsay Freer says is held by only a few dozen New Zealanders - was an honour to add to the other accomplishments that have punctuated Mr Byford's long life.

The self-made businessman and former Taihape mayor was born in 1913. His mother went into hospital when he was six and later died.

His father told him: "We'll all meet in heaven." The young Noel Byford took this literally, and so began a lifelong commitment to his faith. "It had an impression on me. I kept that in mind."

At his modest home on the edge of Taihape, statuettes of Christ and Mary watch over him from the wall as he eats. He says grace before a lunch of tomato and ham sandwiches.

Mr Byford moved from Hawke's Bay to Taihape as a 19-year-old to take up a horse-and-cart milk run. It was 1933. "I was only going to stay a while, save up and get my fare home again. But I'm still trying to get my fare." On his milk run, he met brown-haired Marjorie, who came to the gate in a pink top with white dots.

"I often remember that summer's morning, when God gave me no warning," he says, reciting a ditty he wrote about their courtship.

A mate of his was very fond of Marjorie but Mr Byford asked her to a dance and so began a relationship that grew to marriage and produced five children, 21 grandchildren and 35 great-grandchildren.

Sitting in a soft chair, hunched by 94 years of life, Mr Byford wonders whether he should feel guilty about cutting his mate's grass: "Was it a dirty trick?"

Marjorie - "my wife, my bride" - died in 1983. "She's always got my heart."

Gumboot capital Taihape, a popular tea stop south of the Desert Road on State Highway 1, has about 1800 residents. It's only a small rural town but it was here that Mr Byford launched a construction, transport and ready-mix business that employed 68 people and was worth several million dollars by the time he retired in 1993.

Mr Byford was mayor of Taihape from 1983 till 1989, spent 20 years on the Power Board and is a life member of Victim Support. Alongside photographs of him on official mayoral business on his dining room wall is a mirror featuring an image of Christ.

Now he will need to find some space, between the landscape paintings and family photographs, for the certificate celebrating the outstanding and meritorious service of quite possibly the world's oldest altar boy.

Catholic Nuns Kidnapped

By MOHAMED SHEIKH NOR,
Associated Press Writer Mohamed Olad Hassan contributed

MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) — Gunmen seized two Italian Catholic nuns from a church in northern Kenya before dawn Monday and took them across the border into a Somali region largely controlled by Islamist insurgents, officials and witnesses said.

The Italian Foreign Ministry said its crisis unit was working with its ambassador to Kenya to secure the nuns' freedom. The papal nuncio in Kenya is also involved, the ministry said.

The nuns were seized from their home in El Wak, on the Somali border about 420 miles (675 kilometers) northeast of the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, the Kenyan Red Cross said.

The bandits also stole three vehicles, the Red Cross said.

Aden Mohamed Isaqm, a local aid worker, said six gunmen hurled a hand grenade and fired a rocket at Kenyan police just after dawn prayers before seizing the nuns from the local church and driving toward the border.

Witness Shacban Mohamed Ali told The Associated Press that he had seen two foreigners in a car surrounded by militiamen.

The nuns had been visiting areas affected by a recent drought, Ali said.

The Catholic church has been the target of frequent attacks in Somalia, parts of which were once colonized by Italy. In 2005, insurgents dug up remains in an Italian cemetery where around 3,000 people were buried, and threw them into the sea. The following year an Italian nun working in a hospital in the capital was shot dead. Earlier this year, residents of the southern town of Kismayo began destroying an abandoned Catholic church after the town was taken by Islamic extremists.

Somalia has not had a functioning government since clan-based warlords overthrew a socialist dictator in 1991. The current weak and corrupt transitional government is supported by Ethiopian troops, who ousted the Islamists from the capital and much of the south in December 2006.