September 2008 Archives

A growing concern is the sustainability of the earth given the life we lead. Uncritical earth cust.jpgconsumption of goods and lack of regard for sound ecological principals can be distressing and theologically bankrupt. The good stewardship of the gifts God has given is paramount. In the recent past the pope told assembled audiences that the created world is a great gift of God but it is "exposed to serious risks by life choices and lifestyles that can degrade it. In particular, environmental degradation makes poor people's existence intolerable." In another place Pope Benedict said, "In dialogue with Christians of various churches, we need to commit ourselves to caring for the created world, without squandering its resources, and sharing them in a cooperative way."


Reading The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church we see a teaching that says the world's poor, who very often live in slums, are connected to the environmental crisis. In cases of poverty and hunger, it is "virtually impossible" to avoid environmental exploitation.


The Holy Father urges us to listen to "the voice of the Earth" or risk destroying it.  Moreover he said, "We cannot simply do what we want with this Earth of ours, with what has been entrusted to us."


Noting that the world's religions have shown a growing interest in the environment, particularly the ramifications of climate change; look at the statements of Patriarch Bartholomew, known as the "Green Patriarch," on environmental matters. He voices his concern and pledges support; so I would say that Orthodox Christians are ahead of Western Christians when it comes to working for a more green environment. A rather dire prediction was given by Benedict: "We must respect the interior laws of creation, of this Earth, to learn these laws and obey them if we want to survive. This obedience to the voice of the Earth is more important for our future happiness...than the desires of the moment. Our Earth is talking to us and we must listen to it and decipher its message if we want to survive."


At the new year, Pope Benedict's World Day of Peace message of 2008 focused two paragraphs on our responsibility for the earth today and for the future. He said,


The family needs a home, a fit environment in which to develop its proper relationships. Mother earth.jpgFor the human family, this home is the earth, the environment that God the Creator has given us to inhabit with creativity and responsibility. We need to care for the environment: it has been entrusted to men and women to be protected and cultivated with responsible freedom, with the good of all as a constant guiding criterion. Human beings, obviously, are of supreme worth vis-à-vis creation as a whole. Respecting the environment does not mean considering material or animal nature more important than man. Rather, it means not selfishly considering nature to be at the complete disposal of our own interests, for future generations also have the right to reap its benefits and to exhibit towards nature the same responsible freedom that we claim for ourselves. Nor must we overlook the poor, who are excluded in many cases from the goods of creation destined for all. Humanity today is rightly concerned about the ecological balance of tomorrow. It is important for assessments in this regard to be carried out prudently, in dialogue with experts and people of wisdom, uninhibited by ideological pressure to draw hasty conclusions, and above all with the aim of reaching agreement on a model of sustainable development capable of ensuring the well-being of all while respecting environmental balances. If the protection of the environment involves costs, they should be justly distributed, taking due account of the different levels of development of various countries and the need for solidarity with future generations. Prudence does not mean failing to accept responsibilities and postponing decisions; it means being committed to making joint decisions after pondering responsibly the road to be taken, decisions aimed at strengthening that covenant between human beings and the environment, which should mirror the creative love of God, from whom we come and towards whom we are journeying.


In this regard, it is essential to "sense" that the earth is "our common home" and, in our stewardship and service to all, to choose the path of dialogue rather than the path of unilateral decisions. Further international agencies may need to be established in order to confront together the stewardship of this "home" of ours; more important, however, is the children garden.jpgneed for ever greater conviction about the need for responsible cooperation. The problems looming on the horizon are complex and time is short. In order to face this situation effectively, there is a need to act in harmony. One area where there is a particular need to intensify dialogue between nations is that of the stewardship of the earth's energy resources. The technologically advanced countries are facing two pressing needs in this regard: on the one hand, to reassess the high levels of consumption due to the present model of development, and on the other hand to invest sufficient resources in the search for alternative sources of energy and for greater energy efficiency. The emerging counties are hungry for energy, but at times this hunger is met in a way harmful to poor countries which, due to their insufficient infrastructures, including their technological infrastructures, are forced to undersell the energy resources they do possess. At times, their very political freedom is compromised by forms of protectorate or, in any case, by forms of conditioning which appear clearly humiliating. 


solar.jpgYahoo carries a video story on the installation of solar panels at the Paul VI Audience Hall and Ecotality Life publishes a story on the greening of the Vatican. The point is not that we garner Catholic support for green technology, green gadgets and green gizmos for a new industry but that we take seriously the needs of the planet, our own needs and those of our brothers and sisters. 


The Catholic News Service carried two stories yesterday on the eco-friendly work of the Pope:


First saplings of Vatican reforestation project to be planted

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The first saplings of the Vatican Climate Forest, a reforestation project to offset the Vatican's carbon dioxide emissions, will be planted in November, the Vatican newspaper said. The U.S.-based Planktos Inc. and its Hungarian partner, KlimaFa Ltd., are restoring more than 600 acres of forests in Hungary along the Tisza River to offset emissions of carbon dioxide, or CO2. The two companies earn money by selling greenhouse-gas mitigation credits to individuals and businesses. Whatever carbon dioxide emissions an individual or company cannot eliminate can be offset by planting trees or buying the carbon mitigation credits of a company that plants trees or takes other action to eliminate carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Planktos and KlimaFa announced in 2007 that they would donate to the Vatican enough mitigation credits to offset the Vatican's annual CO2 production, estimated at 10,000 tons.


People must live morally, ethically, to save environment, says pope

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy (CNS) -- The only way to put an end to environmental degradation is for people to live more simply and ethically, said Pope Benedict XVI. All of creation represents "an enormous gift from God to humanity" so people have a responsibility to "protect this treasure" and dedicate themselves "against an indiscriminate use" of the earth's resources, he said. The pope made his comments during a Sept. 27 audience with members of the Italian Tourist Youth Center and the Belgium-based International Bureau of Social Tourism. The audience also marked World Tourism Day which is sponsored by the U.N. World Tourism Organization. It was dedicated this year to the theme "Responding to the Challenge of Climate Change." The pope said, "Environmental degradation can only be stopped by spreading an appropriate culture of behavior that includes more sober lifestyles."

The example of Saint Jerome, priest, confessor of the faith and doctor of the Church lived ca. 341-420. He lived a simple life dedicated to the Church; he made the sacred Scriptures accessible to the people by translating them into Latin and writing commentaries. Saint Jerome was a colorful character and concerned for the welfare of others. 

St Jerome2.jpg


O God,

Who for the expounding of the Holy Scriptures

did raise up in Thy Church the great and holy Doctor Jerome;

we beseech Thee, grant that by his intercession and merits we may,

by Thy help, be enabled to practice what he taught us both by word and by work.


Given that today is a feast day of a great saint dedicated to knowing and living the Scriptures, an excerpt from the work, All About the Bible, seems useful for our meditation today.

Man Shares with God

Making all this known to man was not the work of a moment, from our point of view. God had made man to His own image and likeness. This means that man shares with God the power to know himself and others. Man shares with God the freedom to embrace that which is good. Man can even know the infinite goodness Itself which is God; he has the power to make his whole being center on that goodness of God - to bring about his own human perfection and the perfection of those with whom he lives.


But man had so distorted this image of God as to seek happiness where there is only misery, peace where there is only disturbance, security where there is only danger. But God is not so weak that He would have to start over with a new human race. God is not so petty as simply to seek revenge on the man who betrayed Him. Because man had made himself an ugly distortion of the image of God, God came into man's world as Savior to bring beauty out of ugliness. In this is seen the power of God; in this also is known the love of God who can never cease to pursue this fallen man so as to give him greater blessings than those he had thrown away. When God took a hand in our world, He still respected that image of Himself in man that man had distorted. Man doesn't change overnight from an infant into an adult. He doesn't learn all things suddenly in a flash of light. This is not the way God made us. In coming to man as his Savior, God dealt with man as God Himself had made him - a being who learns step by step, a being who learns from others and from the world about him, a being who can do only as much as he knows how to do.


To bring to the world the knowledge of the astonishing love and goodness of God was a long process. Two thousand years passed before the full work of God as Savior was established in our world as a living thing. The central point of this work was the coming of Jesus of Nazareth, One who was wholly and completely a man like us in all save sin, and yet true God from all eternity. Christians group all the events that led up to this central event of history under the term "Old Testament." It was that period between the call of Abraham about 1800 years before Christ to the coming of Christ Himself. It was that patient struggle of God to show man how far he had drifted from God, how little he actually knew about either God or man himself. By His unselfish, relentless pursuit of man, God brought at least some - those who were willing to do what they knew how to do for God - to realize that their only happiness in their own lives and in their nation was to be found in obedience to God.


All About the Bible is a booklet published by the Catholic Information Service. There are more than 60 titles published by CIS to help learn the Catholic faith or just to review some things about the faith.


Poor box at SS. Peter and Paul hits million milestone

By Christie L. Chicoine


East Goshen, Sep 28, 2008 (CNA).- Week in and week out, parishioners of all ages at SS. Peter and Paul Parish thoughtfully slip cash -- and occasionally checks -- into the poor box.jpg church's five poor boxes.


Last month, their charitable acts of kindness topped more than $1 million for the 18 years the poor box ministry has been in place there.


"I've been looking forward to that," said Msgr. James J. Foley, pastor of SS. Peter and Paul. "My hope, in the beginning, was that we could raise $6,000 a year. We raised $10,000. Now, we're raising almost $10,000 every two months," and sometimes much more.


An observation made by a nun who was visiting the parish sums up the program's success. "She said, 'It's the only church I've ever been in where people line up to put money in the poor box,'" Msgr. Foley recounted.


Read the rest of the story.

To keep the place of the angels in the front of our mind, some words from the Pope...


... the Feast of the three Archangels who are mentioned by name in Scripture: Michael, Archangel Michael2.jpgGabriel and Raphael. This reminds us that in the ancient Church - already in the Book of Revelation - Bishops were described as "angels" of their Church, thereby expressing a close connection between the Bishop's ministry and the Angel's mission. From the Angel's task it is possible to understand the Bishop's service. But what is an Angel? Sacred Scripture and the Church's tradition enable us to discern two aspects. On the one hand, the Angel is a creature who stands before God, oriented to God with his whole being. All three names of the Archangels end with the word "El", which means "God". God is inscribed in their names, in their nature. Their true nature is existing in his sight and for him. In this very way the second aspect that characterizes Angels is also explained: they are God's messengers. They bring God to men, they open heaven and thus open earth. Precisely because they are with God, they can also be very close to man. Indeed, God is closer to each one of us than we ourselves are. The Angels speak to man of what constitutes his true being, of what in his life is so often concealed and buried. They bring him back to himself, touching him on God's behalf. In this sense, we human beings must also always return to being angels to one another - angels who turn people away from erroneous ways and direct them always, ever anew, to God. If the ancient Church called Bishops "Angels" of their Church, she meant precisely this: Bishops themselves must be men of God, they must live oriented to God. "Multum orat pro populo."  (Pope Benedict XVI, Ordination of Bishops, 29 September 2007)


The Feast of the Archangels Michael, Raphael and Gabriel, patrons of those who work in radio: pray for us.

The Feast of the Archangels

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The Catholic Information Service at the Knights of Columbus publishes a number of booklets on matters pertaining to the Catholic faith. Each of the 60+ booklets gives a very good introduction to what we believe but the booklets are neither the first word nor the last on the subjects they treat. One such booklet is All About Angels, and the following is an excerpt:


More often, however, angels appear in a multitude (cf. Daniel 7:10). When they do, the Old Testament writers employ military metaphors to describe their collective presence. Metaphors such as "host" or "army of the Lord" and "encampment of God" all suggest that angels could be found in large numbers, arranged in an orderly fashion. In rare displays of cordial greetings between men and angels, we are told the proper names of three angels: Michael (Daniel 10:13), which means "Who is Like God?"; Gabriel (Daniel 8:16), which means "Power of God"; and Raphael (Tobit 7:8), which means "God has healed." These named beings were later identified by Catholic tradition as "archangels." Although these personal names tell us something about the nature of God, they should not be considered solely as metaphors for God's attributes. An archangel's name, like our own, reveals the identity of a unique, personal being.


3 archangels with Tobias.jpg The Archangels are charged with protecting an individual or a multitude of individuals or with delivering solemn messages from God to man, such as when the Archangel Gabriel greeted the Blessed Virgin Mary with the news of the Incarnation.


Finally, the Prayer after Communion on the Feast of the Archangels serves as a reminder that divine providence has placed us "under the watchful care of the angels" so that "we angel.jpgmay advance along the way of salvation." Through the liturgy of the Mass we are encouraged, then, to love, respect, and invoke the angels. Invoking the angels may seem like an odd practice, but when we recall that those angels who did not reject God are saints, we quickly realize that there is little difference between this practice and the ancient practice of invoking human saints. We pray to the angels as we do to the saints, for the same reasons, namely, so that they will guide and protect us, as well as intercede with God on our behalf. At the end of the funeral liturgy, in the Prayer of Commendation we invoke the angels and saints to aid and accompany us as we leave this world:


Saints of God, come to his/her aid!

Come to meet him/her, angels of the Lord!

Receive his/her soul and present him/her to God the Most High.

May Christ, who called you, take you to himself;

may angels lead you to Abraham's side.


The Roman calendar sets aside two feast days to honor God's invisible servants. In the wake of the Second Vatican Council's reform of the sacred liturgy, we continue to celebrate (as we have for centuries) the feasts of the Archangels and of the holy Guardian Angels. The feast day of Saint Michael, Saint Gabriel, and Saint Raphael, which the Church now celebrates on September 29, was first approved by the Lateran Council in 745. The feast day of the Guardian Angels, celebrated on October 2, originated in 1411 at Valencia, Spain. The liturgical celebration of these two feast days makes us mindful of our communion with the angels and of the immense expanse of the Church, which encompasses heaven and earth. The Opening Prayer for the feast of the archangels emphasizes the universal scope of God's providence: "God our Father, in a wonderful way you guide the work of angels and men. May those who serve you constantly in heaven keep our lives safe from all harm on earth."


Archangel Michael.jpgThe Prayer to Saint Michael the Archangel


Pope Leo XIII speaks of a vision he had at Mass that terrified him. In fact, there seems to be a variety of versions of the narrative. As it goes, either the Pope saw devils congregating around the Holy See or he heard that it was granted to Satan to try to undermine the Church for the next one hundred years. Who is to doubt the either interpretation of the vision? As a result of the vision, Pope Leo composed this prayer to Saint Michael and ordered in 1886 that it be recited after every Low Mass. This custom was suppressed in 1964 as part of the official liturgical acts of the priest at Mass but the tradition of saying the prayer persists. The prayer evokes a strong sense of protection and confidence in the holy work of the Archangel and therefore I strongly recommend that you say it following Mass and daily if you don't make it to Mass. Personally, in the past year I started saying this prayer I learned as a child.

Saint Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle;
be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray:
and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host,
by the power of God,
cast into hell Satan and all evil spirits
who wander through the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.


The Latin text of the prayer is as follows:


Sancte Michael Archangele,
defende nos in proelio.
contra nequitiam et insidias diaboli esto praesidium.
Imperet illi Deus, supplices deprecamur:
tuque, Princeps militiae caelestis,
Satanam aliosque spiritus malignos,
qui ad perditionem animarum pervagantur in mundo,
divina virtute, in infernum detrude. Amen.


The Servant of God Pope John Paul I

One that showed "the merciful face of the Church"

17 October 1912 - 28 September 1978



John Paul I.jpgGod, Who, in Thine ineffable providence,
didst will that Thy servant John Paul I
should be numbered among the high priests,
grant, we beseech Thee, that he,
who on earth held the place of Thine only-begotten Son,
may be joined forevermore to the fellowship of Thy holy pontiffs.


John Paul I arms.jpg


In 2003, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger said, "personally, I am totally convinced that he was a saint because of his great goodness, simplicity, humanity and courage."



Watch Rome Reports on the Pope.


St Vincent de Paul.jpg


O God,

Who did endow blessed Vincent

with apostolic power for preaching the Gospel to the poor

and for promoting the honor of the priesthood;

we beseech Thee, grant that we who venerate his holy life

may be inspired by the example of his virtues.


Three thoughts from Saint Vincent:


Give me persons of prayer and they will be capable of anything.

What! To be a Christian and see a Brother afflicted without weeping with him, without being sick with him, would be to be without charity, to be a mere picture of a Christian, to be without humanity, to be worse than brute beasts!


The Church teaches us that mercy belongs to God. Let us implore Him to bestow on us the spirit of mercy and compassion, so that we are filled with it and may never lose it. Only consider how much we ourselves are in need of mercy.

The Communion & Liberation Opening Day for the New York community will be on CL.jpg Saturday, October 25 at 2 PM at Holy Family Church, East 47th Street in Manhattan.


More details to follow. Everybody is invited; this is a public event open to anybody who has an interest in finding out more about the movement.




CL2.jpgCommunion & Liberation (CL) describes its purpose as "the education to Christian maturity of its adherents and collaboration in the mission of the Church in all the spheres of contemporary life." It aims to communicate the awareness that Christ is the one true response to the deepest needs of people in every moment of history. CL says that it requires only that Christ be recognized as immediately present. The person who encounters and welcomes the presence of Christ undergoes a conversion that affects not only the individual but also the surrounding environment.


Communion and Liberation

800 years of the Franciscans

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Edward Pentin explores some interesting matters with the Custos of the Holy Land


Next year marks the 800th anniversary since the Franciscan Order received papal Custos of the Holy Land.jpgapproval. To find out more about the importance of this anniversary, we spoke with the Custos of the Custody of the Holy Land, Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa OFM. The Custos also discussed the reasons behind the historical presence of the Franciscans in the Middle East, his hopes for the Order and the wider Church in the region, and the chances of peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians.


How significant is next year's 800th anniversary to the Franciscan Order and what celebrations are you planning in the Holy Land next year?

The celebration of the 800th anniversary of the foundation of the Order of the Friars Minor has, in the first place, a charismatic and spiritual significance. We are all summoned to rediscover the evangelical and ecclesiastical roots of our vocation. The inspiration of St. Francis was truly to live the Gospel in full, in a passionate imitation of Jesus Christ, in poverty and simplicity. At the same time, he strongly felt he was part of the Church and shared in its mission for the salvation of the world. Friars Minor all over the world have to renew their vocation in reference to the problems of their environment in different social and cultural situations. In the Holy Land, we will be engaged above all in the permanent training of friars, with a series of initiatives that will begin with the renewal of the religious profession, done as a community, in the Basilica of Gethsemane and, at the end of a series of formative meetings, will culminate in the celebration of two regional Chapters, in Galilee and in Judea. We will try to involve the whole of the large Franciscan family, i.e. the Franciscan nuns and the lay members of the Third Order, as well as the young people in our parishes.


How important is it in terms of working towards peace that there be a Franciscan presence in the region?

The commitment to peace belongs to the original nucleus of the Franciscan vocation, but it is not a question of a political nature. In St. Francis's will, it says: "The Lord revealed to me that we should give this greeting: 'May the Lord grant you peace!'" This means that peace is not only a balance of political and economic interests, but more deeply, it is the result of an encounter with God, which overcomes the force of sin and violence within us. A man who is reconciled with God naturally desires to establish relations of justice and peace with other men. The Franciscan presence in this region is important because it aims to represent the search for peace according to a spiritual vision, which respects the deepest nature of the person, summoned to live the love for God and his brothers.


Franciscans have traditionally been well represented in the Holy Land and the Middle East in general. Why do Franciscans have a special charism to minister in St Francis and the Sultan.jpgthe region?

The Friars Minor, at the start of their evangelical mission, were present in all the countries of the known world. St. Francis himself came to the Orient and visited Egypt and the Holy Land. It was the time of the Crusades and therefore the confrontation between Christianity and the Arab-Muslim world was marked by rejection and head-on opposition. History tells us, however, that Francis wanted to meet the Sultan of Egypt peacefully, to be a brother to him and announce the joyful beauty of the Gospel to him as well. The Franciscans have never abandoned these lands because, despite all the difficulties, they want to offer all men, believers and non-believers, their peaceful testimony of faith. Over the centuries, the Franciscan charism has entered into deep communion with many different cultures, offering the gift of an evangelical life lived in joy and above all putting itself at the service of the neediest.


Some have speculated that the anniversary of the founding of the Franciscan Order could coincide with peace in the Holy Land. How hopeful and optimistic are you that that could happen? What are the major obstacles to it not happening?

It would certainly be marvellous if the efforts to build up peace were achieve their result soon, even this year. It is the desire of all men of good will and we pray each day that this will happen. It would be a providential coincidence if this were to occur in the year of the anniversary of our Order, almost a divine blessing for so many centuries of missionary service. But I believe in the optimism of the faith, which places its trust entirely in the omnipotence of God, without forgetting, however, the freedom that He himself granted to men. There are still many obstacles that slow down the peace process and their solution is often not easy. The greatest obstacle, all things considered, is not wanting to believe in peace, in not desiring it as an absolute good, which can be obtained only at the price of substantial sacrifices. The parties must consider each other with sincere esteem, no longer as enemies, but as brothers in the common humanity.


What currently are the main challenges you face in your work as Custos?

There are many challenges and they are serious but, thanks to God, I am surrounded by many brothers who love their mission and put all their efforts into their vocation. This allows me to look at my work with peace of mind. As well as our commitment to peace which we have discussed, the real challenge for a man of religion is always a life of faith, to which we have been called to give our lives to God. The spiritual dimension of our vocation must be cultivated with humility and passion. My office requires me to be a credible witness of faith, for my brothers and for Christians, so that we do not forget the presence of the Lord amongst us. As the Custos, we are called to a great pastoral effort at the service of the local Church and at the same time a strong social and cultural involvement in support of the populations subject to harsh tensions. We are witnesses of hope and this pushes us to seek dialogue at an ecumenical and inter-religious level, to create an environment of communication and collaboration between different traditions. This constant commitment to seeking unity and agreement between men, in this lacerated and divided world, is a truly epochal challenge.


Has there been any recent progress on fulfilling the remaining issues surrounding the Fundamental Agreement between the Holy See and the State of Israel?

The negotiations have now been continuing for many years in a seesaw fashion. Recently much progress has been made, although there are still a number of points to be clarified on legal and fiscal matters. The present crisis in the Israeli government will certainly delay the meetings again. However, sooner or later, we know that an agreement will be reached.


St Francis1.jpgWhat plans and hopes do you have for the future for the Franciscans and the Church in general in the Holy Land?

The Franciscans in the Holy Land are constantly becoming more international, welcoming friars from many different countries all over the world. This will make us increasingly witnesses of the universal fraternity to which all men are summoned, breaking down separations and overcoming the disagreements produced by selfishness. Over the centuries, Franciscanism continues to show it is topical, because it is based on the immediate adherence to the Gospel, without undergoing the conditioning of a particular culture or social system. Contemporary man, suffocated by material needs, feels the call of the values of the Spirit increasingly strongly and has a deep nostalgia for the absolute; he needs to be accompanied in this search. The Franciscan Order will be increasingly present on this path to authentic humanization.

The Church in the Holy Land has recently been very concerned by the exodus of Christians, in flight towards quieter countries. I think that in the future it will be increasingly committed to the work of evangelization, to form mature and responsible Christians, capable of being an evangelical yeast in a society in which they are a minority. The quality of our Christian life will still allow us to be, as the Lord wishes, "the salt of the earth and the light of the world."


This is article was first published in The Holy Land Review 

The Palace could get a Catholic

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The English Crown may be up for a change by parliament in the near future.  One of the UK Royal Standard.jpg items being considered for reform is allowing a papist to be a monarch of England. At the moment there is a 300 law preventing such a thing to happen. "The 1688 Bill of Rights, the Act of Settlement in 1701 and Act of Union in 1707 - reinforced by the provisions of the Coronation Oath Act 1688 - effectively excluded Catholics or their spouses from the succession and provided for the Protestant succession. Neither Catholics nor those who marry them nor those born to them out of wedlock may be in the line of succession."


Imagine, a Roman Catholic as head of England. I wonder if he or she would remain as head of the CofE? Of course not.....


There are other things being studied. Read the article.

Thumbnail image for Notker Wolf arms.jpgOn Thursday afternoon, 25 September 2008, the assembled delegates of the Congress of Abbots re-elected the Most Rev. Dr. Notker Wolf, OSB, to a term of four years as the ninth Abbot Primate of the Benedictine Confederation.


Abbot Notker was born 21 June 1940 and professed first vows on 17 September 1962 as a monk of the St. Ottilien Congregation. He was ordained a priest, 1 September 1968, and elected Archabbot of St. Ottilien, 1 October 1977.


The Benedictine Congress of Abbots elected him Abbot Primate and Abbot of Sant'Anselmo, 7 September 2000, for a term of eight years. His first official act after his re-election today was to re-appoint all officials both at Sant'Anselmo and elsewhere. 


Wolf is a musician who performs traditional Benedictine chant and Christian rock.  He Notker Wolf.jpgplays an electric guitar for Christian rock group Feedback.


The Primate is an author in his spare time. In 2008, Wolf published Out of the Blue (Munich: Rowohlt) and Rules for Life: The Ten Commandments - provocation and guidance for today (Freiburg: Herder). In 2009 his book, God bless you! New ideas for living here (Munich: Rowohlt) will be released.


May God grant him many blessings!

"Sport, properly directed, develops character, makes a man courageous, a generous 610x.jpgloser, and a gracious victor; it refines the senses, gives intellectual penetration, and steels the will to endurance. It is not merely a physical development then. Sport, rightly understood, is an occupation of the whole man, and while perfecting the body as an instrument of the mind, it also makes the mind itself a more refined instrument for the search and communication of truth and helps man to achieve that end to which all others must be subservient, the service and praise of his Creator."  (Pope Pius XII, "Sport at the Service of the Spirit," July 29, 1945)


I am not a sportsman and I barely watch sports on TV. I will make it a point to follow, at some point during the season, college football scores. I am particularly interested in how my alma mater, the University of Notre Dame is doing in football. (The short answer is badly in recent years!) And believe it or not I was an undefeated freshman soccer coach when I taught high school. The amazing --or foolish-- thing is that I never played the game.


As a younger man I did go deer hunting with my grandfather and father, tried swimming, and tried baseball. I even tried endurance motorcycling but ended that brief career when I broke my ankle. The point I want to make is that I attempted but did not succeed because I didn't have the necessary genes. It seems that my mother doesn't do sports either but she'll make it a point to attend my sister's softball game and watch NASCAR with my father. My father and sister are quite intense with sports. Thank God some gives a good face to this aspect of family life. I stick with garden. No competition there.


One of the grand turn-offs to me in the world of sport is the perceived lack of good moral behavior. The use of drugs, betting, ruthless competition, the misuse of money, the extravagant salaries and compensation packages, the high price of tickets, and the flagrant behavior of the players, coaches and staff is unbecoming. In short, the commercialization of the sports world is wrong and it lacks principle. As Christians there is got to be another way to engage in the virtue, honor and dignity of sport.


Writing for The John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy, Jay Schalin's February article "A Call to Arms against College Sports' Dark Side" calls our attention to a corrective for the ugliness of sport by pointing to an initiative of a former sportsman, President Thierfelder.jpgbusiness and now college president. He writes: "William Thierfelder wants to reverse this trend toward athletic competition without honor or restraint. He is the president of Belmont Abbey College, a tiny Catholic school in North Carolina that is best known for its affiliation with a Benedictine monastery. It might seem to be an obscure starting point for a personal crusade intended to alter what seems to now be an ingrained feature of the American character."


Schalin further points to "Thierfelder's vision of sports is far different from one where 10-year-olds try to crush and humiliate their opponents at the urging of adults. He wants to reintroduce the concept of virtue into athletic competition, and he wants athletic training to be considered an integral part of educating a complete individual. He calls his infant Pope Pius XII.jpgmovement 'Sports Properly Directed.' The name comes from an address given by Pope Pius XII called Sport at the Service of the Spirit, which begins, 'Sport, properly directed, develops character, makes a man courageous, a generous loser, and a gracious victor. It refines the senses, gives intellectual penetration and steels the will to endurance.'"


I want to see more work done in the area of athletics which pays critical attention to the intellectual cultural and spiritual lives we lead. Saint Benedict's famous Rule for monks is a 6th century document and therefore does not address the issue of good sportsmanship. Nor does it deal with the contemporary vices we encounter in sport. It does however give a way of proceeding that is balanced as it considers mutuality, authority, balance, respect, fidelity, honor, fraternity, etc. But who is doing this type of heavy lifting of the intellect and faith? My hope is that Dr. Thierfelder and his friends will build a Catholic sportsmanship program at Belmont Abbey College. He's started but has a long way to go before a total change in attitude about playing a game is effected.


Groups of note are the Sports Faith InternationalCatholic Athletes for Christ, The National Center for Catholic Youth Sports (NCCYS) and Play Like a Champion off to a good start.


Dr. Thierfelder's own work with Reclaim the Game needs to be talked up. It is impressive to know that there's even the "Pope Pius XII Sport at the Service of the Spirit Award" sponsored by Belmont Abbey College which gives $24,000 over 4 years.


Thinking of the work of the Holy See one does not think of church and sport in one sentence. Well, there is a section of the Pontifical Council for the Laity (PCL)dedicated to faith and athleticism. Pope Benedict initiated the "Church and Sport" section the (PCL). Read the press release


If you read Spanish, this article by Father Kevin Lixey "El Deporte y el Magisterio de la Iglesia" is good.


Partners in Prayer and Work

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Benedictine monks and sisters count on Knights of Columbus as collaborators

in building the kingdom of God


By Molly Mulqueen


At Benedictine monasteries throughout the United States, Knights of Columbus are KofC.jpgworking side by side with monks and sisters to build the kingdom of God. The ardent friendship between today's Knights and Benedictines parallels medieval times. Then, royal patrons such as kings, queens and knights welcomed the followers of St. Benedict as they established abbeys and other monastic centers throughout Europe.

St Benedict cave fresco.jpg           



The Benedictines are guided by St. Benedict's motto, "ora et labora" (Latin for "pray and work"), just as the Knights are guided by theirs, "In service to One. In service to all." Their similar charisms have allowed for fruitful collaborations on many landscapes: the deserts of Arizona, the banks of the Missouri River in Kansas, the Arkansas River valley, and sunny central Florida.

Helping with Harvest


In Tucson, Ariz., the friendship between Knights and the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration began almost by accident. A little over a year ago, some observant Knights noticed one of the sisters struggling with a lawn mower.

            "So may times we would see Sister Sophia out cutting the grass, and it didn't seem right," said Grand Knight Donatus Kelch of Regina Cleri Council 5133.

            Now Kelch meets with the sisters every month to prioritize their maintenance needs. The 26 councils in the Tucson area have adopted the Benedictine monastery as a joint project. Many of the councils also sponsor an annual fundraiser to benefit the sisters.

            "[The Knights] have repaired and painted the hand railings to the stairs and ramps leading up to the entrance of the chapel," said John Garcia, public relations director for the Arizona State Council and a member of Sts. Simon and Jude Cathedral Council 12708 in Phoenix. "They have repainted rooms within the facility, replaced furniture, and have done air-conditioner repairs, plumbing repairs and other maintenance projects."

            But helping to harvest the sisters' orange crop is perhaps the most enjoyable project for many of the Knights. Last January, more than 20 Knights and their wives -- known as the "Orange Crew" -- picked and washed hundreds of oranges. They then fed the oranges through juicers, producing nearly 100 gallons of juice to freeze for the sisters' use throughout the year.

            The sisters have shown their gratitude by inviting the Knights to a Mass of appreciation. According to District Deputy Douglas Cameron, "If you spend even ten minutes with them, you go away a better person. The prayers they offer for us more than thank us."


Fifty Years of Support


This fall, St. Benedict's Abbey in Atchison, Kan., will celebrate 50 years of support from the Knights at Benedictine College. Members of St. Benedict College Council 4708 have heartily embraced the "ora et labora" principle of Benedictine spirituality. This past year, the Knights split wood and shoveled snow at the abbey, and helped with vocations retreats and weekly holy hours.

            "As time has gone on, we have fewer monks to carry on the Catholic mission of the college. The Knights of Columbus on campus have cooperated wonderfully with the monks to help promote Catholic identity," said Benedictine Father Meinrad Miller, meinrad.jpgsubprior of St. Benedict's Abbey, the college chaplain and an active Knight.

            Father Miller often recognizes alumni at neighboring parishes and at the annual Knights of Columbus state convention. "I am always impressed with the high level of participation of graduates from our college" he said.

            "When I was in school [at Benedictine College], we were the top college council in the nation three of the four years I was here," said Benedictine College President Stephen D. Minnis, a member of Council 4708. "One of the things I am very proud of is that we have several Fourth Degree Knights who participate in special Masses. They led the procession when I was inaugurated as the president of my alma mater, and I'll never forget how proud I was of our Knights on that day."

            The friendship between the Knights and the monks at St. Benedict's Abbey is mutual. "I really think that the monks have had a great influence on the Knights here to become holier men," said Dan Misener of Council 4708. "They have taught many of us the power and importance of prayer...and how to be true Catholic men in the society that we live in today."


Abbey 'Work Weeks'


The monks at Subiaco Abbey and Academy in Arkansas count on the Knights to help maintain their working farm and a boys' boarding and day prep school that serves about 175 students. Benedictine Brother Ephrem O'Bryan, public information coordinator for Subiaco Abbey and Academy, keeps a running list of the ways the Knights have helped.

            "The Paris Knights [Logan County Council 3787] provide scholarships for the sons of Knights, contribute funds for the monks' education, help fund other scholarships for day students, help run a Squires circle [St. Benedict Circle 5073], contribute to the Abbey Health Center and prepare the noon meal for the annual 5th Grade Vocation Day," recalled Brother Ephrem.

            Clarksville Council 5725 has likewise provided funds for the academy's scholarship program, as well as for the renovation of abbey living quarters, for health center equipment and for the Abbey Guest House.

            Additionally, Arkansas Knights have organized a five-day work week every summer for the last six years. Knights from throughout the state tackle big projects, such as resurfacing tennis courts, building an irrigation system and adding sidewalks with wheelchair access. Work week volunteers are guests of the abbey and join the monks for Mass, meals, vespers and socializing. It has become an event that many Knights look forward to all year.

            "We go up there three months in advance and talk with the abbot and the maintenance people about what needs to be done," explained A. J. Hambuchen of Father Dellert Council 4143 in Conway. "They never have come up with a project that we have not been able to do."

            Most of the Knights who attend are retired professionals with contracting experience. Many bring their own materials and tools in an effort to cut costs further.

            "It is wonderful for us to have Subiaco, and we show our appreciation by helping them out," Hambuchen said. "The monks thank us by praying for us and our families."


Rebuilding a Church


On Dec. 1, 2007, when the monks of St. Leo Abbey celebrated the blessing of a new abbot, Father Isaac Comacho, it was fitting that an honor guard of Fourth Degree Knights 4th degree KofC.jpgwas part of the ceremony. Their presence was a testament to the enduring friendship between the Knights and the monks that spans several generations. The Benedictines have been in Saint Leo, Fla., since 1889, and Knights were first established in nearby San Antonio in 1914.

            "We have seen the Knights develop in just about every parish in the area," said Benedictine Father James Hoge, a former K of C chaplain and faithful friar. "One of their principal works has always been to support and assist our schools. They have also always assisted with the charities in the area."

            "The Knights in this part of Florida are a real community organization. They raise money to feed the poor and create recreational activities for kids," said Brother Stephen Freeman. "They have also helped us a great deal by defraying some of the costs of our Benedictine seminarians."

            In addition, Knights host an annual golf tournament, the proceeds from which go to the restoration of the Church of the Holy Cross. The 60-year-old church is one of three buildings on the abbey campus named to the National Register of Historic Places. It is known for its 86-foot tower, Lombardic-Romanesque design and the crucifix that hangs above the altar, which was meticulously modeled after the figure of Christ on the Shroud of Turin.

            "Twice a year, we invite [the Knights] to come for Mass and we have a day just for them. It is our way to thank them for being so supportive of the abbey," Brother Stephen said. It is simply one more part of the history that the Knights and Benedictines share.


Molly Mulqueen is a wife, mother and freelance writer for the Catholic press from Houston, Texas.


This article was published in Columbia magazine, August 2008. I am grateful to Alton Pelowski, managing editor of Columbia magazine, the monthly periodical of the Knights of Columbus, for allowing this republication.

On 20 September 2008, Pope Benedict XVI met with the Benedictine abbots and abbesses at Castel Benedetto.jpgGandolfo, his summer residence.


The Pope's address in Italian is found here while we wait for the English translation. The Zenit summary is here.


The Catholic News Agency makes this report.


Vatican Radio posted this story.


In part the Pope Benedict said: the witness of the Benedictine monks, nuns and sisters is particularly important  "in a de-sacralized world and an age marked by the worrying culture of the void and the absurd. This is the reason why your monasteries are places where men and women, also in our age, run to seek God and to learn to recognize the signs of the presence of Christ, of his charity and of his mercy."

St Benedict in a Psalm.jpg 

The Pope asked the Benedictines to "allow themselves to be led by the profound desire to serve all men with charity, without distinctions of race or religion," and to found new monasteries "where Providence calls you to establish them."


The Pope focused the attention of the Benedictine superiors to the work of evangelization and to formative and cultural work that can be done particularly in Europe, "especially in favor of the new generations. Dedicate yourselves to young people with renewed apostolic ardor, as they are the future of the Church and of humanity. To build a 'new' Europe, it is necessary to begin with the new generations, offering them the possibility to profoundly approach the spiritual riches of the liturgy, of meditation and of lectio divina." [While the pope has Europe on his mind he would also support this building up of Catholic culture in the new world, too.]


The abbots are in Rome at an international congress held every 4 years.

Padre Pio's witness, which is evident from his life and even from his physical condition,

St Padre Pio.jpgsuggests to us that this message coincides with the essential meaning of the Jubilee now close at hand: Jesus is the one Saviour of the world. In him God's mercy was made flesh in the fullness of time, to bring salvation to humanity mortally wounded by sin. "By his wounds you have been healed" (1 Peter 2:24), the blessed father repeated to all in the words of the Apostle Peter, he whose body was marked with those wounds.


In 60 years of religious life, practically all spent at San Giovanni Rotondo, he was totally dedicated to prayer and to the ministry of reconciliation and spiritual direction. This was well emphasized by the Servant of God Pope Paul VI: "Look what fame he had.... But why?... Because he said Mass humbly, heard confessions from dawn to dusk and was ... the one who bore the wounds of our Lord. He was a man of prayer and suffering" (20 February 1971).


Totally absorbed in God, always bearing the marks of Jesus' Passion in his body, he was bread broken for men and women starving for God the Father's forgiveness. His stigmata, like those of Francis of Assisi, were the work and sign of divine mercy, which redeemed the world by the Cross of Jesus Christ. Those open, bleeding wounds spoke of God's love for everyone, especially for those sick in body and spirit.


And what can be said of his life, an endless spiritual combat, sustained by the weapons of prayer, centred on the sacred daily acts of Confession and Mass? Holy Mass was the heart of his whole day, the almost anxious concern of all his hours, his moment of closest communion with Jesus, Priest and Victim. He felt called to share in Christ's agony, an agony which continues until the end of the world.


Pope John Paul II, 3 May 1999 Padre Pio's Beatification

What is Communion and Liberation?

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I am frequently asked what is Communion & Liberation. Well, an answer is the following:


"A charism," Fr. Giussani has written, "can be defined as a gift of the Spirit, given to a person in a specific historical context, so that this person can initiate an experience of faith that might in some way be useful to the life of the Church. I emphasize the existential nature of charism: it makes the Christian message handed down by the apostolic tradition more convincing, more persuasive, more 'approachable.' A charism is an ultimate terminal of the Incarnation, that is, it is a particular way in which the Fact of Jesus Christ Man and God reaches me, and through me can reach others."


The essence of the charism given to Communion and Liberation

can be signaled by three factors:


1.       The announcement that God became man (the wonder, the reasonableness, the

Incarnation.jpgenthusiasm for this): "The Word was made flesh and dwells among us."


2.       The affirmation that this man - Jesus of Nazareth dead and risen - is a present event in a "sign" of "communion," i.e., of unity of a people guided, as a guarantee, by a living person, ultimately the Bishop of Rome;


3.       Only in God made man, man, therefore only in His presence and, thus only through - in some way - the experienceable form of His presence (therefore, ultimately only within the life of the Church) can man be truer and mankind be truly more human. St Gregory Nazianzen writes, "If I were not Yours, my Christ, I would feel like a finished creature". It is thus from His presence that both morality and the passion for the salvation of man (which is mission) spring up.


Gius3.jpg"From the first hour of class at the Berchet high school in Milan," Fr. Giussani recalls, "I tried to show the students what moved me: not the wish to convince them that I was right, but the desire to show them the reasonableness of faith; that is, that their free adhesion to the Christian proclamation was demanded by their discovery of the correspondence of what I was saying with the needs of their hearts, as implied by the definition of reasonableness. Only this dynamic of recognition makes whoever adheres to our movement creative and a protagonist, and not simply one who repeats formulas and things they have heard. For this reason, it seems to me, a charism generates a social phenomenon not as something planned, but as a movement of persons who have been changed by an encounter, who tentatively make the world, the environment, and the circumstances that they encounter more human. The memory of Christ when it is lived tends inevitably to generate a presence in society, above and beyond any planned result."

Pope incensing.jpgALBANO, Italy, SEPT. 21, 2008 ( Here is a translation of Benedict XVI' homily today at Mass in the Cathedral of Albano, Italy, near the papal summer residence at Castel Gandolfo. The cathedral's altar was dedicated at this Mass. (emphasis mine)


* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters!


Today's celebration is so rich in symbols and the Word of God that has been proclaimed helps us to understand the meaning and value of what we are doing here. In the first reading we heard the story of Judas Macabeus' purification of the Temple and the dedication of the new altar of holocausts in 164 B.C., three years after the Temple had been profaned by Antiochus Epiphanes (cf. 1 Macabees 4:52-59). The Feast of the Dedication, which lasted eight days, was instituted to commemorate that event. This feast, initially linked to the Temple, where the people went in procession to offer sacrifices, was also connected with the illumination of the houses, and it survived in this form after the destruction of Jerusalem.


The sacred author rightly underscores the joy that characterizes that event. But how much greater, dear brothers and sisters, must our joy be, knowing that every day on this altar, that we are preparing to consecrate, the sacrifice of Christ is offered; on this altar he will continue to immolate himself, in the sacrament of the Eucharist, for our salvation and that of the whole world. In the Eucharistic mystery, that is renewed on every altar, Jesus is really present. His is a dynamic presence, which seizes us in to make us his, to assimilate us to him; it draws us with the power of his love, bringing us out of ourselves to unite us with him, making us one with him.


Christ's real presence makes each of us his "house," and we all together form his Church, the spiritual edifice of which St. Peter speaks. "Come to him," the apostle writes, "a living stone, rejected by human beings but chosen and precious in the sight of God, and, like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 2:4-5).


Somewhat developing this beautiful metaphor, St. Augustine observes that through faith men are like wood and stone gathered from forests and mountains for building; through baptism, catechesis and preaching they are cut, squared, and filed down; but they only become the Lord's house when they are ordered by charity. When believers are reciprocally connected according to a determinate order, mutually and closely arranged and bound, when they are united together by charity they truly become the house of God that does not fear ruin (cf. Sermon 336).


It is therefore the love of Christ, the charity that "never ends" (1 Corinthians 13:8), the spiritual energy that unites those who participate in the same sacrifice and who nourish themselves from the same Bread broken for the salvation of the world. Is it indeed possible to be in communion with the Lord if we are not in communion with each other? How can we present ourselves divided and far from each other at God's altar? May this altar upon which the sacrifice of the Lord will soon be renewed be for you, dear brothers and sisters, be a constant invitation to love; always draw near to it with a heart open to the love of Christ and to spreading it, to receiving and bestowing forgiveness.


In this regard the Gospel passage that was proclaimed a little while ago offers us an important lesson for life (cf. Matthew 5:23-24). It is a brief but pressing and incisive call to fraternal reconciliation, a reconciliation that is indispensable if we are to present our offering worthily at the altar; it is a reminder that takes up again a teaching that is already quite present in the preaching of the prophets. The prophets vigorously denounced the uselessness of those acts of worship that lacked the correspondent moral dispositions, especially in relation to one's neighbor (cf. Isaiah 1:10-20; Amos 5:21-27; Micah 6:6-8). Every time that you come to the altar for the Eucharistic celebration your soul opens to forgiveness and fraternal reconciliation, ready to accept the apologies of those who have hurt you and ready, in turn, to forgive.


In the Roman liturgy the priest, having offered the bread and wine, bows toward the altar LITURGY.JPG and prays in a low voice: "Lord, we ask you to receive us and be pleased with the sacrifice that we offer with humble and contrite hearts." The priest thus prepares to enter, together with the whole assembly of the faithful, into the heart of the Eucharistic mystery, into the heart of that celestial liturgy to which the second reading, taken from the Book of Revelation, refers.

St. John presents an angel who offers "incense together with the prayers of all the saints, burning them on the altar of gold placed before the throne" of God (cf. Revelation 8:3). The altar of sacrifice becomes in a certain way the point of encounter between heaven and earth; the center, we could say, of the one Church that is at the same time heavenly and in pilgrimage on earth, where, in the midst of the persecutions of the world and God's consolations, the Lord's disciples proclaim his passion and death until he returns in glory (cf. Lumen Gentium, No. 8). Indeed, every Eucharistic celebration already anticipates the triumph of Christ over sin and the world, and shows in mystery the splendor of the Church, "immaculate bride of the immaculate Lamb, Bride that Christ loved and gave himself up for to make her holy (cf. Lumen Gentium, No. 6).


These reflections draw our attention to the rite that we are about to perform in this cathedral of yours, which we admire today in its renewed beauty and that we rightly desire to continue to make welcoming and decorous. It is a task that involves all of you and that, in the first place, calls upon the whole diocesan community to grow in charity and in apostolic and missionary dedication. Concretely, it is a matter of bearing witness with your life to your faith in Christ and the total confidence that you place in him.


It is also a matter of cultivating ecclesial communion that is, first of all, a gift, a grace, fruit of God's free and gratuitous love, that is, something divinely efficacious, always present and working in history, beyond all contrary appearances. Ecclesial communion is, however, also a task entrusted to the care of each individual. May the Lord grant you to live an evermore convinced and active communion, in cooperation and co-responsibility at every level: among the priests, the consecrated, and the laity, among the different Christian communities of your region, among the various lay groups.


Certainly ... difficulties, challenges and problems are not lacking, but the hopes and the opportunities for announcing and witnessing to God's love are also great. May the Spirit of the risen Lord, who is also the Spirit of Pentecost, disclose his horizons of hope to you and strengthen the missionary drive in you to the vast horizons of the new evangelization. Let us pray for this, continuing our Eucharistic celebration.

The Last Summer Day

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The Summer Fête


Thumbnail image for sun flowers.jpg"Where are ye now, ye summer days,

"That once inspired the poet's lays?

"Blest time! ere England's nymphs and swains,

  "For lack of sunbeams, took to coals--

"Summers of light, undimmed by rains,

"Whose only mocking trace remains

  "In watering-pots and parasols."


Thus spoke a young Patrician maid,

  As, on the morning of that Fête

  Which bards unborn shall celebrate,

She backward drew her curtain's shade,

And, closing one half-dazzled eye,

Peeped with the other at the sky--

The important sky, whose light or gloom

Was to decide, this day, the doom

Of some few hundred beauties, wits,

Blues, Dandies, Swains, and Exquisites.


Thumbnail image for Summer Flowers.jpgFaint were her hopes; for June had now

  Set in with all his usual rigor!

Young Zephyr yet scarce knowing how

To nurse a bud, or fan a bough,

  But Eurus in perpetual vigor;

And, such the biting summer air,

That she, the nymph now nestling there--

Snug as her own bright gems recline

At night within their cotton shrine--

Had more than once been caught of late

Kneeling before her blazing grate,

Like a young worshipper of fire,

  With hands uplifted to the flame,

Whose glow as if to woo them nigher.

  Thro' the white fingers flushing came.


But oh! the light, the unhoped-for light,

  That now illumed this morning's heaven!

Up sprung Iänthe at the sight,

  Tho'--hark!--the clocks but strike eleven,

And rarely did the nymph surprise

Mankind so early with her eyes.

Who now will say that England's sun

  (Like England's self, these spendthrift days)

His stock of wealth hath near outrun,

  And must retrench his golden rays--

Pay for the pride of sunbeams past,

And to mere moonshine come at last?


Thomas Moore

Sloperton Cottage, November 1881

Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, wrote an open letter to Senator Anderson.jpgJoseph Biden, 2008 VP candidate, regarding his remarks on abortion and the teaching of the Catholic Church. The appeal Anderson makes is one Catholic to another. The invitation is personal to discuss Catholic teaching and the importance of true faith.

Biden makes the claim to be a faithful Catholic and his known to attend Sunday Mass among other things. Biden also claims to hold what the Church teaches regarding abortion, "the unspeakable crime," and yet he is a pro-choice senator. The public record of Senator Biden shows no affection (i.e., he's not obedient to the Lord and His sacrament the Church) for the Catholic he purports to be convicted by and to sustain him unto salvation. He's afflicted with the Mario Como disease which says "personally I am opposed to abortion but I am not going to impose my views on others."

Carl Anderson's letter to Joseph Biden can be read here. The letter outlines the issues at hand: the misleading statements Biden has made regarding Catholic teaching and reserving Catholic moral teaching from the legislative process and voting.

Instead of writing Biden off from a fruitful conversation, which many would do, Anderson is doing the noble thing by inviting Biden to the table to discuss his statements --Biden's wrong thinking-- regarding what Catholic faith teaches about life and why one can't claim to be a faithful Catholic and hold that abortion is acceptable, even to the point of voting for legislation securing abortion rights.

Senator Biden has a choice: either accept the Church's clear, consistent teaching about the value of human life by accepting and working for the uborn or risk salvation.

Abortion violates natural law, the 6th Commandment, New Testament truth, the teaching of the fathers of the Church, the Magisterium of the Catholic Church and love.

As the Holy Father taught in Deus Caritas Est, "The direct duty to work for a just ordering of society is proper to the lay faithful" (no. 29). This duty is more critical than ever in today's political environment, where Catholics may feel politically disenfranchised, sensing that no party and too few candidates fully share the Church's comprehensive commitment to the life and dignity of every human being from conception to natural death. Yet this is not a time for retreat or discouragement; rather, it is a time for renewed engagement.
(Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops)



As lay Catholics struggling to be faithful to the call of our bishops, we have arrived at the following judgments.

Fr. Giussani taught us that in front of life's real problems and challenges, what we hold most dear surfaces. Thus, within the privacy of the voting booth we will see "whether faith is really in the foreground, whether faith truly comes first, whether we really expect everything from the fact of Christ or whether we expect what we decide to expect from the fact of Christ."

We welcome the opportunity to vote as an educational one that will allow us to witness to what we hold most dear. We do not hope for salvation from politics or politicians. Yet we understand the critically important role that politics plays in our common American life.

For this reason two concerns matter most to us and we will vote according to which candidates and parties demonstrate an authentic care for these concerns.

First: Freedom of Religion. Political power must recognize faith's undeniable contribution to the defense and broadening of human reason and its promotion of authentic human progress. This is a guarantee of freedom for everyone, not only for Christians. And this freedom must include the freedom to speak, convince, act, and build in the public square; religious freedom relegated to one's private life is not religious freedom at all.

Second: The Common Good. Those who hold political power must do so as a service to the common good of the entire nation.

We consider the recognition and defense of three self-evident truths regarding human beings the minimum commitment to the common good: the right to life from conception to natural death; the irreplaceable value of the family, founded on the marriage between a man and woman; and freedom of education.

For the common good, we further seek politicians and political parties that value subsidiarity, a partnership between the public and private sectors facilitated by a robust non-profit sector. At the same time, we seek persons engaged in politics who recognize that subsidiarity can never annul the solidarity we owe to all our brothers and sisters living in this nation. There is no care for the common good that ignores basic human needs of millions in our nation.

These judgments will determine our support for particular candidates and political initiatives in the upcoming elections.

September 2008
Communion and Liberation - USA

Pope Benedict met today with the Pave the Way Foundation (PTWF). The PTWF met in Rome this week to hold a symposium to study the papacy of Pope Pius XII. "Pave the Way has identified this period in history as one of the most difficult between Catholics and Jews, and so we have taken on this challenge in the furtherance of our mission" says PTWF President, Gary L. Krupp. "PTWF has launched an independent investigation by video interviewing eye witnesses to events of war years. We have uncovered a great deal of information which is not known by any of the scholarly institutions including the Vatican itself." Krupp believes there is considerable evidence from eye witnesses and other archival materials to help to answer questions of what in fact the Pius XII papacy did during World War II and its importance today.


In his audience the Pope said:


The focus of your [Pave the Way Foundation] study has been the person and the tireless Pius 12.jpgpastoral and humanitarian work of Pius XII, Pastor Angelicus. Fifty years have passed since his pious death here at Castel Gandolfo early on the ninth of October 1958, after a debilitating disease. This anniversary provides an important opportunity to deepen our knowledge of him, to meditate on his rich teaching and to analyze thoroughly his activities. So much has been written and said of him during these last five decades and not all of the genuine facets of his diverse pastoral activity have been examined in a just light. The aim of your symposium has been precisely to address some of these deficiencies, conducting a careful and documented examination of many of his interventions, especially those in favour of the Jews who in those years were being targeted all over Europe, in accordance with the criminal plan of those who wanted to eliminate them from the face of the earth. When one draws close to this noble Pope, free from ideological prejudices, in addition to being struck by his lofty spiritual and human character one is also captivated by the example of his life and the extraordinary richness of his teaching. One can also come to appreciate the human wisdom and pastoral intensity which guided him in his long years of ministry, especially in providing organized assistance to the Jewish people.


Thanks to the vast quantity of documented material which you have gathered, supported by many authoritative testimonies, your symposium offers to the public forum the Pope Pius XII.jpgpossibility of knowing more fully what Pius XII achieved for the Jews persecuted by the Nazi and fascist regimes. One understands, then, that wherever possible he spared no effort in intervening in their favour either directly or through instructions given to other individuals or to institutions of the Catholic Church. In the proceedings of your convention you have also drawn attention to his many interventions, made secretly and silently, precisely because, given the concrete situation of that difficult historical moment, only in this way was it possible to avoid the worst and save the greatest number of Jews. This courageous and paternal dedication was recognized and appreciated during and after the terrible world conflict by Jewish communities and individuals who showed their gratitude for what the Pope had done for them. One need only recall Pius XII's meeting on the 29th of November 1945 with eighty delegates of German concentration camps who during a special Audience granted to them at the Vatican, wished to thank him personally for his generosity to them during the terrible period of Nazi-fascist persecution.

The 2008 Congress of Abbots also occurs every four years which gathers the nearly 260

St Benedict6.jpgBenedictine abbots from around the world to discuss topics of interest. The Abbot Primate Notker Wolf said the purpose of the Congress  "Promotes the union of the Confederation, by extending its contacts with its many souls." The meeting will take place at the Abbey of Saint Anselm from the 18th to 27th September.  


Among the presenters will be the esteemed Preacher to the Papal Household Father Raniero Cantalmessa, OFM Cap, who will make a presentation entitled, "What the Spirit is Saying to the Churches." Plus, the recently retired Abbot General of the Trappists, Abbot Bernardo Olivera will deliver a talk called "Experiences as a Monk and as a Monastic Superior."

Abbot Notker said there will be workshops and committee work on some major subjects, such as the monasteries with diminishing numbers of monks and nuns, ecumenical and inter-faith dialogue, matters pertaining to the African monasteries, the relation between monasticism

Thumbnail image for Notker Wolf2.jpgand the Church, and the relationship between between abbots and priests. The congress will also be attended by the Benedictine sisters and nuns who will be involved in a discussion about the relations between men's and women's monasteries. Discussions will also happen on the work and funding of the various institutes and academic departments, including the Pontifical Liturgical Institute, at Sant'Anselmo.


About our sister Saint Hildegard


Schrein.jpgSaint Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) whom the Church raises up for us is a remarkable woman: deeply committed to seeking God, a friend of the Lord, and a pastor of souls. In her era she lived to almost 80 years, a rare age then and as it echoes the psalmsist. One point of context: Hildegard was born in the year that the Cistercian reform of monasticism was born. She is remembered for being an abbess, a reformer, a theologian, a singer-songwriter, a mystic, a biologist, an environmentalist, and a dialogue partner with world leaders. Are we clear that Saint Hildegard was intelligent and competent?


Today, the Benedictine nuns of an abbey under Saint Hildegard's patronage continues to thrive in Germany.


On another note, Pope Benedict said, in the Wednesday Angelus address (9/17): "I met with men and women from the world of culture, with whom I reflected on the monastic ideal of seeking God--quaerere Deum--as the bedrock of European culture. I wished to emphasize that meditation on the Scriptures opens our minds and hearts to the Logos, God's Creative Reason in the flesh."


For those interested in the Mass prayers for today's memorial:


St Hildegard.jpgIntroit


The Spouse of Christ Hildegard, illuminated the Holy Church by the light of her wholesome doctrine. Grace is poured out upon thy lips. Therefore God has blessed thee forever.


Opening Collect


O God,

Who did adorn blessed Hildegard, Thy virgin,

with heavenly gifts; we beseech Thee, grant that following her example and teaching, we may deserve to pass from darkness of this present world into the gladdening light of Thy presence.





Prayer Over the Gifts



St Hildegard2.jpgmay the gifts we bring You help us follow the example of Saint Hildegard. Cleanse us from our earthly way of life, and teach us to live the new life of your kingdom. 


Communion Antiphon


The five sensible virgins took flasks of oil as well as their lamps. At midnight a cry was heard: the bridegroom is here; let us go out to meet Christ the Lord. (Matthew 25:4,6)


Post-Communion Collect



may our reception of the body and blood of Your Son keep us from harmful things. Help us by the example of Saint Hildegard to grow in Your love on earth that we may rejoice for ever in heaven.

One would think that intelligent people at Catholic institutions of higher education would know the difference between being pro-life and not. Fordham University, a "Catholic" and a "Jesuit" university has announced that it will give the Fordham-Stein Ethics Prize to Supreme Court Justice Stephen G. Breyer. The honor "recognizes one individual each year whose work, according to Fordham University.jpgthe prize's charter, 'exemplifies outstanding standards of professional conduct, promotes the advancement of justice, and brings credit to the profession by emphasizing in the public mind the contributions of lawyers to our society and to our democratic system of government.'"

Breyer's award dinner is scheduled for October 29, 2008.

I wonder how Fordham's round heads justify this act of dissent and claim to assent to Catholic teaching. I certainly don't recognize this bestowal of honor on a pro-abortion Supreme Court Justice as consistent with Catholic teaching. How is giving a prize for ethics congruent with the Justice's pro-choice record? Explain this to me Father McShane? Are we now beginning to say argue that Fordham is coming out as a non-Catholic university?

Fordham's announcement and the article.

Cricket.jpgRome Reports reports that the seminarians from the Pontifical International College Maria Mater Ecclesiae and players from the Fellowship Team from Holland played cricket to collect funds for 240 children in an Indian orphanage. The story is here.

Do you know what cricket is? I don't. But I did have a cricket in my room the other night making so much noise that I was kept awake for hours. Just in case you don't know what cricket is --like me-- have a read of this wiki article on cricket.

AND now we look forward to the Clericus Cup in 2009.

610x2.jpgTeam USA from the Pontifical North American College lost the spring 2008 game 4-0. The Clericus cup is Vatican-sponsored and is an international soccer tournament for priests and seminarians studying in Rome. The games are played at the Oratorio San Pietro, a center with a field maintained by the Knights of Columbus since the 1920s.

Rome Reports is religious-based group of journalists reporting on the Catholic Church.  Based in Rome, Rome Reports is proximate to the source happenings in the universal Church. While many of their stories are centered in the Eternal City they do report on global matters. The TV version of Rome Reports is carried on EWTN on Sundays at 10 a.m EST.

It's pickin' time at the abbey

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Macintosh.jpgMonks work. So beware of idle Benedictine monks --or any man who claimes to be monk for that matter --who don't lift a finger to work around the house to work. Today apples were picked from the abbey orchard. The seniors among us work in the orchard. Abbot Brian, Brother Tarcicius and I spent some time this afternoon picking macintosh apples. Trees some 70 years old continue to bear fruit. Makes you wonder why these old apple trees continue to bear fruit and older institutions like Lehman Brothers collapse; the obvious notwithstanding. The good news is that some apples went to the abbey kitchen and some went to the football team. The apples were beautiful and delicious!

Saint Charles Borromeo, patron of apple orchards: pray for us!

OL Seven Sorrows.jpgToday's memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows helps us to know that Mary is not a detached mother. The Church shows us a side of Mary that is relevant to the human experience, to the reality that many people find themselves in.  For example, the loss of a child through kidnapping or even death. How often do we think sympathetically when a child dies before a parent? Our heart and mind says that it is out of normal order of things that a child dies before the parent. The sorrows of Mary concern the points in her life where either she's pondering the prediction of Jesus' death, dealing with the move to Egypt, the loss of the child at the Temple, or the events surrounding the Cross. Turning to Our Lady of Sorrows gives perspective and reminds us that we are not alone in the tragic events of our life. The Chaplet of the Seven Sorrows is a devotion that recalls seven sorrowful events in the life of the Mary, Mother of God. A significat piece of this devotion helps to recall Mary's profound solitude on the day between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection. The practice of praying the seven sorrows originates with the Servite Order (Servants of Mary) bettween 1233 and 1239! Time tested for sure.

Pope Benedict XVI went to pray at the feet of Our Lady of Lourdes. This weekend the Pope made a pilgrimage to Lourdes, France, to visit the place where Our Lady visited Saint Bernadette Soubirous 150 years ago to offer prayer for the Church, the sick and to plead for peace in the world.

Thumbnail image for OL Lourdes Church.jpgThe Pope stated the goal of his pilgrimage:

I go as a messenger of peace and fraternity. Your country is not unknown to me. On several occasions I have had the joy to visit it and to appreciate its generous tradition of hospitality and tolerance, as well as the solidity of its Christian faith and its lofty human and spiritual culture. After visiting Paris, your country's capital, I will have the great joy to join the crowd of pilgrims who are going to follow the stages of the jubilee journey, after Saint Bernadette, to the Massabielle grotto.


My prayer will intensify at the feet of Our Lady for the intentions of the whole Church, in particular for the sick, the abandoned, as well as for peace in the world.


May Mary be for all of you in particular for young people, the Mother always attentive to the needs of her children, a light of hope that illuminates and guides your ways. I invite you to join me in prayer so that this trip will bring abundant fruits.


At the beginning of the candlelight procession in Lourdes the Holy Father said:


Dear Brothers and Sisters!


1. When the Virgin Mary appeared to Bernadette in the grotto at Massabielle, she began OL Lourdes.jpga dialogue between Heaven and earth which has lasted through time and continues to this day. Speaking to the young girl, Mary asked that people should come here in procession, as if to signify that this dialogue cannot be limited to words, but must become a journey at her side along the pilgrim way of faith, hope and love.


Here in Lourdes, for more than a century the Christian people have faithfully responded to that maternal summons, walking each day behind Christ in the Blessed Sacrament and processing each night amid songs and prayers in honor of the Lord's Mother.


This year the Pope joins you in this act of devotion and love for the Most Holy Virgin, the glorious woman of the Book of Revelation, crowned with twelve stars (cf. Rev 12,1). Holding in our hands the lighted torch, we recall and profess our faith in the Risen Christ. From Him the whole of our life receives light and hope.


2. To you, dear brothers and sisters, I entrust a particular intention for our prayer this evening: join me in imploring the Virgin Mary to obtain for our world the longed-for gift of peace.


May forgiveness and brotherly love take root in human hearts. May every weapon be laid down, and all hatred and violence put aside.


May everyone see in his neighbor not an enemy to be fought, but a brother to be accepted and loved, so that we may join in building a better world.


3. Together let us invoke the Queen of Peace and renew our commitment to the service of reconciliation, dialogue and solidarity. In this way we shall merit the happiness which the Lord has promised to the peacemakers (Mt 5,9).


I accompany you with my prayer and my blessing. May God bless you!

O Cross, our one reliance

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The Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, which, the day after the dedication of the Basilica of the Resurrection raised over the tomb of Christ, is exalted and honored, in the manner of a memorial of His paschal victory and the sign which is to appear in the sky, already announcing in advance His second coming. (Roman Martyrology)


The Church presents to us today a feast which commemorates the discovery of the Holy

Relics.jpgCross by Emperor Saint Constantine's mother Saint Helena in Jerusalem (AD 325).  The Tradition says that Saint Helena found the Cross and the relics of the holy Passion and then brought them to Rome where they are venerated at the Basilica of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem. On the spot of the discovery, she built the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher keeping a portion of the Cross at there.


The sacred Liturgy gives us the image of the Holy Cross because it brings together the historical reality of the Cross with its theological import:  mystery of the life and death of Christ. This is not a feast celebrating a "terrific find" at an archaeological dig; it is a feast of our faith as the Cross is a central symbol of our faith.


Pazzi crucifxion.jpgHymnus in Honore Sanctae Crucis


Vexilla regis prodeunt,
fulget crucis mysterium,
quo carne carnis conditor
suspensus est patibulo.


Confixa clavis viscera
tendens manus, vestigia
redemptionis gratia
hic inmolata est hostia.


Quo vulneratus insuper
mucrone diro lanceae,
ut nos lavaret crimine,
manavit unda et sanguine.


Inpleta sunt quae concinit
David fideli carmine,
dicendo nationibus:
regnavit a ligno deus.


Arbor decora et fulgida,
ornata regis purpura,
electa, digno stipite
tam sancta membra tangere!


Beata cuius brachiis
pretium pependit saeculi!
statera facta est corporis
praedam tulitque Tartari.


Fundis aroma cortice,
vincis sapore nectare,
iucunda fructu fertili
plaudis triumpho nobili.


Salve ara, salve victima
de passionis gloria,
qua vita mortem pertulit
et morte vitam reddidit.


In Festo Exaltationis Sanctae Crucis:

in hac triumphi gloria!


("Vexilla Regis" was written by Venantius Fortunatus (530-609) and is considered one of the greatest hymns of the sacred Liturgy. This is the full hymn but when used liturgically at Vespers verses 2, 4, 7 are omitted.)

September 13th is the liturgical memorial of Saint John Chrysostom, one of the Church's greatest bishops ever known. The word "Chrysostom" is a nickname meaning "golden mouth" given to John as archbishop of Constantinople (present day Istanbul) to honor his gift in preaching Jesus Christ. The saint lived (347-407) in an era much like our own with some people living a tepid discipleship with the Lord and weak morals. Saint John's preaching was based on sacred Scripture and the Tradition of the Church; his sermons were (and continue to be) persuasive. A recent biographer said of Chrysostom: "by word and example he exemplifies the role of the prophet in giving comfort to the disturbed and disturbing the comfortable." And so he was exiled and suffered greatly for the Gospel; he was certain of Christ crucified and resurrected that he could be and do nothing else: to be the voice and hand of Christ to his people. A portion of his sermon on 2 Thessalonians follows. It's deals with love and how to live in love with others.


For that your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of each one of you all toward one another abounds.


St John Chrysostom.jpgAnd how, you say, can faith increase? That is when we suffer something dreadful for it. It is a great thing for it to be established, and not to be carried away by reasonings. But when the winds assail us, when the rains burst upon us, when a violent storm is raised on every side, and the waves succeed each other-- then that we are not shaken, is a proof of no less than this, that it grows, and grows exceedingly, and becomes loftier. For as in the case of the flood all the stony and lower parts are soon hidden, but as many things as are above, it reaches not them, so also the faith that is become lofty, is not drawn downwards. For this reason he does not say your faith grows; but grows exceedingly, and the love of each one of you all toward one another abounds.

Do you see how this contributes for the ease of affliction, to be in close guard together, and to adhere to one another? From this also arose much consolation. The love and faith, therefore, that is weak, afflictions shake, but that which is strong they render stronger. For a soul that is in grief, when it is weak, can add nothing to itself; but that which is strong does it then most. And observe their love. They did not love one indeed, and not love another, but it was equal on the part of all. For this he has intimated, by saying, of each one of you all toward one another. For it was equally poised, as that of one body. Since even now we find love existing among many, but this love becoming the cause of division. For when we are knit together in parties of two or three, and the two indeed, or three or four, are closely bound to one another, but draw themselves off from the rest, because they can have recourse to these, and in all things confide in these; this is the division of love-- not love. For tell me, if the eye should bestow upon the hand the foresight which it has for the whole body, and withdrawing itself from the other members, should attend to that alone, would it not injure the whole? Assuredly. So also if we confine to one or two the love which ought to be extended to the whole Church of God, we injure both ourselves and them, and the whole. For these things are not of love, but of division; schisms, and distracting rents. Since even if I separate and take a member from the whole man, the part separated indeed is united in itself, is continuous, all compacted together, yet even so it is a separation, since it is not united to the rest of the body.


For what advantage is it, that you love a certain person exceedingly? It is a human love. But if it is not a human love, but you love for God's sake, then love all. For so God has commanded to love even our enemies. And if He has commanded to love our enemies, how much more those who have never aggrieved us? But, do you say, I love, but not in that way. Rather, you do not love at all. For when you accuse, when you envy, when you lay snares, how do you love? But, do you say, I do none of these things. But when a man is ill spoken of, and you do not shut the mouth of the speaker, dost not disbelieve his sayings, dost not check him, of what love is this the sign? And the love, he says, of each one of you all toward one another abounds.


(Saint John Chrysostom, Homily on 2 Thessalonians 1:1-2; emphasis mine)

The Beauty of the Name of Mary

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BVM with female saints.jpgA blessed feast of Mary to you!


Today is the feast of the Holy Name of Mary. It has a feast of the Church since 1683 when Pope Innocent XI made it a universal feast. It was removed from the Church's liturgical memory after Vatican II but was restored  when Pope John Paul II published the Third Typical Edition of the Roman Missal in 2002. His tremendous love for the Mother of God is a significant benchmark for all of us.


Pope Benedict XVI said the following about Mary's holy name at Abbey of Heiligenkreuz (9 September 2007):


Let us say a few words about this Name which means "Star of the Sea" and is so appropriate to the Virgin Mother. She -- I tell you -- is that splendid and wondrous star
stephansplatz2.jpgsuspended as if by necessity over this great wide sea, radiant with merit and brilliant in example.
O you, whoever you are, who feel that in the tidal wave of this world you are nearer to being tossed about among the squalls and gales than treading on dry land: if you do not want to founder in the tempest, do not avert your eyes from the brightness of this star. When the wind of temptation blows up within you, when you strike upon the rock of tribulation, gaze up at this star, call out to Mary.


Whether you are being tossed about by the waves of pride or ambition, or slander or jealousy, gaze up at this star, call out to Mary. When rage or greed or fleshly desires are battering the skiff of your soul, gaze up at Mary. When the immensity of your sins weighs you down and you are bewildered by the loathsomeness of your conscience, when the terrifying thought of judgment appalls you and you begin to founder in the gulf of sadness and despair, think of Mary. In dangers, in hardships, in every doubt, think of Mary, call out to Mary. Keep her in your mouth, keep her in your heart. Follow the example of her life, and you will obtain the favour of her prayer. Following her, you will never go astray.


Asking her help, you will never despair. Keeping her in your thoughts, you will never wander away. With your hand in hers, you will never stumble. With her protecting you, you will not be afraid. With her leading you, you will never tire. Her kindness will see you through to the end. Then you will know by your own experience how true it is that the Virgin's Name was Mary.


Holy Name of Mary.jpg


Let us pray.

Grant, we beseech you, almighty God,
that to all who are celebrating her glorious name, the Blessed Virgin Mary herself may dispense the benefits of your mercy.

Meeting at the beautiful upper eastside church of Our Lady of Good Counsel (NYC), on a very rainy Saturday night, the Catholic Underground convened. There is no exaggeration in saying that nearly 500 people, mostly in their 20s and 30s but there were the more mature individuals who may claim to be in their 40s, 50s and above, present to pray Vespers (the Roman Office) in the presence of the exposed Blessed Sacrament and then to spend time adoring Christ. The ceremony was presided over by the newly ordained deacon, Brother Louis, CFR.


CU.jpgThe Catholic Underground is in its 6th season and it meets on the first Saturday of each month, nine times a year. The Underground is a religious and cultural project of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal. They say the Underground exists because "the Gospel lives in conversation with culture, we must be fearless in crossing the cultural threshold of the communication and information revolution now taking place." The Franciscan Friars of the Renewal (known to some as the CFRs or Fr. Benedict Groeshel's group) is a Capuchin reform movement of Franciscans who live radical yet sensible poverty, who have an intense community life and who are faithful to the teaching authority of the Church. No one who meets these friars could say that they don't live according to their Order's charism and that they are squishy in their faith and liturgical lives. While they may not use the concept outright, the CFRs follow an ancient dictum of lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi.


In the crowd you saw a religious brother, 2 Sisters of Life, a woman religious of an unidentified congregation, some minor and major diocesan seminarians and a host of friars. I wasn't aware of the presence of the secular priests or members of other religious orders. But since I was there I can claim the Benedictines were represented by me as a mere postulant.


Liturgically there was a fine sense of the ars celebrandi. Unlike some church venues, these friars follow what the Church expects; no trendy prayers, no making "it relevant," etc. The celebrant and the musicians with the attentive crowd did what the Church expects in living the mystery in front of us. Hence, there was no liturgical innovation. One may quibble over the fact there was no homily but what exactly could have been said at that moment? The Divine Presence was really doing all the work. Perhaps someone may also raise a question of the quality (style?) of music used. Certainly, the Franciscan Steubenville style is appealing to many people under a certain age. But I wonder if that is because they know nothing else than the Steubenville music. The friars know chant and hymnody but for some reason they've selected the Steubenville genre thinking that it's what "speaks to this crowd!" But they well be correct in their choices, I just don't know right now how to judge the choice. When you hear 800-year old hymn texts set to contemporary settings your interest piques. While I suspended criticism of the Steubenville music until I experience these rites again I can't help but think a steady diet of this trendy music would sour over time. Where does this ultimately lead the believer?


Many people were shriven. I have to laugh at the '68ers who claim that the reception Confession.jpgof the sacrament of Confession is dead or its reception is so low that it barely has a heart beat when I look at events like the Catholic Underground. Other experiences tell me the faithful's reception of this sacrament is not on life-support are the steady line of sinners for daily confession at St. Mary's and St. Stanislaus Church, New Haven, CT, the churches of St. Agnes and St Francis, NYC and at meetings of Communion & Liberation (and I am sure there are other places). The supposition made by the '68ers is really about their lack of belief in the effective power of God's mercy and that it is essential in "relating" to the Lord (read the Book of Psalms to see the relationship between man's righteousness and his need to be shriven). It would also seem that this same crowd may not believe that they can forgive or be forgiven and therefore it is a farce to face God viz. human frailty. It gives me great hope to see other in line to hear God say "I love you and I forgive you; go and sin no more you are set free of your sins." What is easier to say, your sins are forgiven or to make rationalizations about our humanity? There were at least 5 priests hearing confessions during Vespers and down in the church hall during the music event. Tell me Confession isn't being valued and utilized today! Go ahead, tell me there isn't an awareness of grace and sin in the lives of the young people today!


adoration.jpgIf your measure of success is pure numbers, then it was a success. A very full church of people praying and be shrived is impressive on a Saturday night. That people come to religious ceremonies is a minor miracle in some people's books. But the standard of judgment has to be different: the measure of "success" of a gesture such as Vespers and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament can't rely on numbers but on sanctification. Questioning the success by numbers begs the question of participation and yet we all know that a person can participate in a religious event without opening he or her mouth. So, how can one measure how and if sanctification happens?


The other day I was reflecting on what happened at the Catholic Underground first by myself and later with a friend. Questions surfaced about the high level of emotions that exists among the participants. Perhaps one can say, "really!" In front of Holiness what else might there be? I knowing running through me there were the emotions of happiness, sadness, love, peace, anxiety, fear, etc. There seems to be much going on at the service: prayer -personal and congregational, conversion as evidenced by those standing in line for the sacrament of Confession, and prayerful companionship with others. Are the emotions of the participants being played by such events?


Another piece of this evaluation of the Catholic Underground is the catechetical side of the event. I wonder how all of our lives of faith can be strengthened, broadened and realized by a moment of catechesis. Perhaps our time with the exposed Eucharist is the right time for teaching the faith. I do have to wonder about the lack of catechetical materials available in the back of the Church or in the hall. Couldn't the friars use the free materials from the Catholic Information Service (at the Knights of Columbus)? Surely Underground-ers would appreciate knowing about the print and audio materials available to better know their faith?


Catholic identity is fostered and deepened even though notions of identity may not be considered by the participants but participation in such things sets the participants apart from their secular and other religiously oriented friends. What do these people know about the faith? Are they conscious of the event of the Paschal Mystery? Are they aware that congregational praying builds a relationship with God and strengthens fraternal relations with those in attendance? What happens to this people from one Catholic Underground experience and the next Catholic Underground experience? How many come back in a given year?


CFRs.jpgOne thing is crystal clear: the credibility of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal is rock solid. There is no question in my mind that the friars are convicted by their encounter with Christ as Savior and the Church as sacrament. The friars, unlike so many other religious, are not ashamed by their faith in Christ, their religious profession and for those who are priests, their priesthood. AND that's why the CFRs are getting vocations. In seeing the friars at work, I am trying to imagine a full complement of priests who really love their calling to be priests of Jesus Christ and a group of priests who are not afraid of being collaborators with the bishops in serving as priests for good of the Gospel and the Church. Is this too much to ask for? Of course, there are priests who love Christ, who love the Church and love being ordained, but they seem to be few in number.


In the post John Paul II pontificate and now in the Benedict XVI pontificate orthodoxy is a value by which you live and die. There are those who were once called "JPII Catholics" are now "B16 protagonists." That is, looking at and following the example of Pope Benedict XVI you get the strong sense that a right-thinking, right-praying Catholic today is one who is making a difference the public and private squares.


That's it for now.

Catholic Radio 2.0

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180x60_wht.gifGive an ear to Catholic radio on the net. I just learned of a new venture of Well, I am not sure how new it really is, but I am new to it.

On Saturdays, 11-noon, Craig hosts a rather sensible and informative radio program dealing with a host of issues of interest to Catholics where he plainly proposes Jesus Christ using technology. What a novel idea! AND he's not a weirdo.

Catholic Radio 2.0

Celestino Migliore arms.jpg


Archbishop Celestino Migliore
Permanent Observer of the Holy See
62nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly

The Secretary-General's Symposium on "Supporting Victims of Terrorism"
New York, 9 September 2008




This meeting comes at an opportune time as it allows us to complement our primarily practical debate on how to fight terrorism with an indispensable attention to the fundamental needs of those who are directly harmed by terrorist acts.

My delegation welcomes this meeting as an opportunity to express our solidarity with the victims of terrorism and to discuss ways to best address their physical, mental and spiritual needs. Terrorist acts deny people not only their fundamental human rights but also strike at the very heart of the things we hold close: our families, our homes and our basic trust in humanity. By hearing the voices of victims and remembering those whose voices have been taken, we are given the opportunity of finding ways to rebuild lives, alleviate suffering and end the senseless cycles of violence and hatred.

The Holy See continues to hold the needs of victims as a preeminent concern and priority. Shortly after the devastating attacks of September 11, 2001, His Holiness John Paul II called for a day of fasting and solidarity in order to support those affected by the consequences of terrorism and war and to encourage healing among various faiths and cultures. This event, coinciding with the last day of Ramadan, provided an opportunity for intercultural and interfaith condemnation of terrorism while simultaneously remembering and honoring those whose lives were lost. The money raised around the world during this event went to assist the victims of 9/11 and other terrorist attacks.

Thumbnail image for Holy See2.jpgThis is only one example of the many ways in which the Holy See and other related organizations provide immediate assistance to victims of terrorist activities and those who live in conflict-affected regions, the initial causes of which are linked to or perpetuated by terrorist activity. They have also provided counseling, food, security and shelter to victims of terrorism in all corners of the globe. The direct involvement of these organizations demonstrates yet again the valuable contribution of civil society organizations to promoting human rights and human dignity.

While these organizations and many other civil society and faith-based organizations provide immediate legal, social and material assistance, greater efforts must be made to address the long-term spiritual and psychological effects of terrorism. Centers that provide grief counseling and spiritual support serve as a vital component in helping victims cope with their loss but also lay the ground work for preventing reprisals and continued violence. Programs which provide restorative justice to the victims of terrorism help to alleviate the continuous cycles of violence, hatred and mistrust.

Debates over who are victims and who are perpetrators of terrorist activities are needed for the sake of a good anti-terrorism strategy, but they should not cloud or obfuscate the urgency to address the immediate needs of those whose lives and livelihoods are lost by this direct affront to humanity. The recent adoption of the biennial review of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy provides a coherent means for addressing international terrorism but continued efforts must be made to ensure that those who are the victims of terrorist activity are provided not only a voice but a helping hand.

In the end, terrorist activity does nothing to promote authentic political or social aims but only ensures the creation of more victims. Whether these victims are created as a result of initial terrorist activity or as a result of indiscriminate reactions to terrorist actions, the cycle of violence begets only suffering, fear and hatred. While we rightly condemn all acts of terrorism, care must be taken in order to give a voice to those whose voices have been wrongfully taken.


The sorrow and numbness of the tragedy of September 11, 2001 persists. How could profound emotion not be real? Hearing the names of those killed continues to evoke the sadness I have that humanity can be so cruel toward another. As on many other days I ask myself: Are politics,  religious differences, poverty and self-righteousness worthy principles to kill for? Can nations and peoples ever be in solidarity with those not like them? For people of faith, does the Word of God impel them to be lovers of Truth and Peace? In time, I hope in a short amount of time, that we can enjoy peace in our hearts, our cities and states, our nation, indeed in the world.


The world seven years later is no different than it was when the brutality hit NYC. And so we live differently for a moment. Members of the Benedictine monastic community of The Abbey of Saint Mary and the Delbarton School gathered in the abbey church to remember, to be silent and to pray. Dare I say we hoped! In fact, that's what the author of Lamentations put on our lips today.


We used the words of sacred Scripture to voice God's promise and to voice our own hopes through Psalm 27, Lamentations 3:17-26, I Thessalonians 4:13-18. The Pie Jesu was sung prior to the reading of names of people connected to this community. Along with the Lord's Prayer and Hail Mary we also prayed the Mourner's Kaddish, a Jewish prayer which glorifies the Lord.


Kindly remember in prayer the public servants who died, their surviving families and the current public servants who give their lives to make our cities safe. Be sure to thank them.

God of peace, bring your peace to our violent world:
peace in the hearts of all men and women
and peace among the nations of the earth.
Turn to your way of love
those whose hearts and minds
are consumed with hatred.

Sept11th.jpgGod of understanding,
overwhelmed by the magnitude of this tragedy,
we seek your light and guidance
as we confront such terrible events.
Grant that those whose lives were spared
may live so that the lives lost here
may not have been lost in vain.
Comfort and console us,
strengthen us in hope,
and give us the wisdom and courage
to work tirelessly for a world
where true peace and love reign
among nations and in the hearts of all.

(Pope Benedict XVI, Prayer at Ground Zero, April 20, 2008)


"The World Day of Prayer for Peace will bring to the world the Church's message of peace and reconciliation, so that religion will always be a cause for mutual respect and harmony, and never for violence or hatred," said KofC Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson.

An international conference "Biological Evolution: Facts and Theories. A Critical human evolution.jpgAppraisal 150 years after 'The Origin of Species,'" will be held in Rome 3-7 March 2009.


This conference is jointly organized by the Pontifical Gregorian University (Rome) and the University of Notre Dame (Indiana) coordinated by the Pontifical Council for Culture as a project of STOQ (Science, Theology and the ontological Quest).


About STOQ


Seeking to foster a dialogue between science and religion, between science and STOQ logo.jpgfaith, three universities in Rome (Italy), under the coordination of the Pontifical Council for Culture, have launched an initiative entitled "Science, Theology and the Ontological Quest" (STOQ), a project that unites professionals from the fields of theology, philosophy and scientific investigation, in the common search for the truth.


STOQ, following the teaching of the Church as found in documents like Fides et Ratio (Faith and Reason), published by Pope John Paul II in 1998.

"The Church needs science and science needs religion. Science purifies religion of error and superstition; religion purifies science of idolatry and false absolutes," Cardinal Paul Poupard, President-emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Culture.

STOQ seeks to promote this dialogue by means of formative courses, in-depth investigations, publications, congresses and a student exchange program. Targeting professors and students alike, the project has three centers of investigation in each of the universities collaborating in the initiative:

-The Pontifical Gregorian University will concentrate on the foundations of philosophy of science.

-The Pontifical Lateran University will focus on the relation between the scientific and humanistic disciplines, especially Logic and Epistemology.

-The Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum will focus on the relations among the fields of philosophy, theology and the science of life, especially through its faculty of Bioethics.

The STOQ project seeks to create a new mentality within the Catholic Church that is open to the challenges that science presents to society and our faith of today, while promoting a new outlook in the realms of science, seeking the truth and at the same time open to the mystery of transcendence of the human person.

A former colleague of mine, the late Jesuit Father Joseph MacDonnell inspired this brief biography of today's saint, Peter Claver, some time ago. Claver lived the dictum of his friend Saint Alphonsus Rodriguez, a lay brother who was discerning: "Look for God in all men and serve them as images of Him."


Saint Peter Claver, Spanish born (1580-1654), as a university student met the Society of Jesus and entered the same in 1602; he St Peter Claver.jpgstudied philosophy on the island of Majorca at the college of Montesión whose doorkeeper, Jesuit Brother Alphonsus Rodríguez encouraged young Peter. In 1610 he was sent to South America where he finished his studies, ordained to the priesthood in 1616 and then worked for 35 years helping to alleviate the spiritual and physical sufferings of the victims of Cartagena's despicable slave trade. He referred to himself as "the slave of the slaves forever."


His missionary vocation had been inspired by  Brother Rodriguez (later canonized) who urged Peter: "Your mission is to the West Indies. Why don't you go there and work for the Lord"? In Cartagena, Colombia he dedicated his energy to the poor people who had been shipped like cattle from Africa to Cartagena only to be sold to the highest bidder. It was said of him that he seemed to be everywhere at once because of the incredible speed with which he went about visiting the sick and instructing the ignorant, even in the scorching sun, drenching rain or biting wind which usually kept many of the inhabitants of Cartagena indoors. When the worn out slaves caught sight of him they clapped their hands by way of salute. Peter managed to convince the local authorities to issue a law that no new arrivals be baptized until they received adequate instruction. He then used this law to delay their departure into a life of slavery by prolonging his catechism classes, much to the chagrin of the slave dealers. Peter also irritated the wealthy citizens who came for the sacrament of Penance and found that they had to wait in line along with the slaves. He would say, "To love God as He ought to be loved, we must be detached from all temporal love. We must love nothing but Him, or if we love anything else, we must love it only for His sake."


Peter Claver was esteemed as a saint in his own time and stories of his miracles were commonplace. When he died fervor seized the whole city to honor him as a saint. The Jesuit college was besieged by crowds who came to venerate his mortal remains. Slaves came from all parts of the city and neighboring towns. He was declared the Patron Saint of African missionaries.


Today, Saint Peter's life inspires Catholics to serve the poor as Knights of Peter Claver and Ladies Auxillary

Now that I've been here for little more than 2 months Father Abbot Giles has drawn together some things to study. Monastic formation is not just for beginners but properly speaking it is a work for a lifetime. A postulant is not a technical member of the community but someone asking the question if it is his vocation to live God's call in a particular religious community; in this case, is Saint Mary's Abbey the place to be a monk.

Since in July the Abbot and I have read together the Rule of Saint Benedict now it is time to go deeper. So, we're going to be reading Benedictine Father Terrence Kardong's magisterial work on the Holy Rule and some chapters in Benedictine Sister Aquinata Bockman's study on the Rule.

Also, Father Hiliary, the novice and junior master, is walking me through the house customary. This is an agreed upon set of house customs, that is, "how we do things here."

Through July and August a small book club was formed to discuss Fr Jeremy Driscoll's book What Happens at Mass, a wonderful introduction for some and an appropriate reminder for others on the theology of the Mass. It is a thorough exposition on the Church's theology of the Mass. This work is not as comprehensive as Driscoll's Theology at the Eucharistic Table, which is aimed at Master's students and above.

Above all, what sets a monk's formation apart from others is the daily practice of Lectio Divina. The supreme gift of monasticism to the Church.

St Benedict dares.jpg

Eamon Fitzgerald OCSO.jpg

Dom Eamon Fitzgerald, Abbot of Mount Melleray (County Waterford, Ireland) has been canonically and regularly elected as abbot general of the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance. In 2007, Dom Eamon was re-elected for his 4th 6-year term abbot of his abbey; the new abbot general was born in 1945. Dom Eamon succeeds Dom Bernardo who has served for the last 18 years as abbot general.

According to the statistics of January 1, 2008, there are 2,185 monks and 1,782 nuns, for a total of 3,967 persons living in 47 different countries. In context the Trappists are canonically speaking, a monastic Congregation which at present unites 97 monasteries of monks and 72 of nuns.


May God grant many fruitful years to Abbot Eamon!

Let us meditate on the most honorable birth of the glorious Virgin Mary, who has attained the dignity of motherhood without losing the purity of maidenhood.

(Magnificat antiphon)


Birth of the Virgin.jpgOur Lady's Nativitye

Joye in the risinge of our orient starr,
That shall bringe forth the Sunne that lent her light;
Joy in the peace that shall conclude our warr,
And soone rebate the edge of Satan's spight;
Load-starr of all engolfd in worldly waves,
The card and compasse that from shipwracke saves.


The patriark and prophettes were the floures
Which Tyme by course of ages did distill,
And culld into this little cloude the shoures
Whose gracious droppes the world with joy shall fill;
Whose moysture suppleth every soule with grace,
And bringeth life to Adam's dyinge race.


For God, on Earth, she is the royall throne,
The chosen cloth to make His mortall weede;
The quarry to cutt out our Corner-stone,
Soyle full of fruite, yet free from mortall seede;
For heavenly floure she is the Jesse rodd
The childe of man, the parent of God.


Robert Southwell (1560-1595)
Jennings, Elizabeth, ed. In Praise of Our Lady. Great Britain: Pitman Press, 1982.

Today the press office of the Holy See published the names of those the Pope asked to Pope and Gospel.jpgassist the work of the 12th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops being held in Rome October 5-26, 2008. The Synod will be dealing with the topic of "The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church."


Pope Benedict's Janaury 21st address to attending the general meeting for the Synod is here. In the address, the Holy Father says: "Among the Ecclesial Community's many and great duties in today's world, I emphasize evangelization and ecumenism. They are centred on the Word of God and at the same time are justified and sustained by it. As the Church's missionary activity with its evangelizing work is inspired and aims at the merciful revelation of the Lord, ecumenical dialogue cannot base itself on words of human wisdom (cf. I Cor 2: 13) or on neat, expedient strategies, but must be animated solely by constant reference to the original Word that God consigned to his Church so that it be read, interpreted and lived in communion with her."


On Sunday October 5, at 9:30 a.m., in the Basilica of St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls, Pope Benedict will open the Synod.


The list of the Ordinary members with the assistance of experts and auditors is extensive and likely to be meaningless for many but there are some names that we ought to raise an eyebrow and say, "Well...." Of interest to me and perhaps to you are the following:



Ordinary members  

-Marc Cardinal Ouellet, P.S.S.

  -Bishop Vincenzo Paglia, Bishop of Terni-Narni-Amelia, Pres. of the Catholic Biblical Federation

-Very Rev'd Fr. Adolfo Nicolás, S.J., Superior General of the Society of Jesus

-Rev'd Fr. Julián Carrón, President of Communion and Liberation




Thumbnail image for St Jerome.jpgExperts

-Rev'd Fr. Peter Damian Akpunonu, Mundelein Seminary, Mundelein, IL

-Rev'd Fr. Enzo Bianchi, Prior of the Monastic Community of Bose, Italy

-Rev'd Sr. Sara Butler, M.S.B.T., Professor of Dogmatic Theology, St. Joseph Seminary, NY

-Rev'd Fr. Juan Javier Flores, O.S.B. Pres. of the Pontifical Liturgical Institute, Rome

-Rev'd Fr. Stephen F. Pisano, S.J. Rector of the Pontifical Biblical Institute (from the USA)

-Rev'd Fr. Marko Rupnik, S.J., Director of the Ezio Aletti Center for Studies & Research, Rome

-Rev'd Sr. Germana Strola, O.C.S.O., Trappist nun of the Vitorchiano Abbey, Italy

-Rev'd Fr. Cyril Vasil, S.J., Rector of the Pontifical Oriental Institute, Rome

-Rev'd Mons. Timothy Verdon, Professor of Sacred Art, Theological Faculty of Central Italy, Florence (from the USA)

-Prof. Michael Waldstein, Professor of NT, International Theological Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family, Gaming, Austria (citizen of the USA & Austria)




-Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus (from the USA)

-Luis F. Figari, Superior General of the Sodalitium Vitae Christianae (from Peru)

-Abbot Michel Jorrot, O.S.B., Abbey of Clervaux (from Luxemburg)

-Rev'd Mother Clare Millea, A.S.C.J., Superior General of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart (from the USA)

-Andrea Riccardi, Founder of the Community of Sant'Egidio (from Italy)

-Maria Voce, Pres. Of the Focolari Movement (from Italy)


Interesting to note that there are no bishops from the USA among the Ordinary members of the Synod. Plus, a number of the experts already sit on the International Theological Commission which is under the auspices of the CDF. One can also appreciate the presence of the ecclesial movements participating in the Synod!



Thumbnail image for cross.jpgThe devotion to the Sacred Heart also reminds us that Jesus gave himself "with all his heart," that is gladly and with enthusiasm. So we are told that good is to be done with joy, because "there is more joy in giving than in receiving" (Acts 20:35) and "God loves a cheerful giver" (2 Corinthians 9:7). Nevertheless that does not derive from a simple human intention but is a grace that Christ himself gains for us, it is a gift of the Holy Spirit that makes all things easy and sustains us on our daily path, in trials and difficulties also. (Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, S.J., 30 Days, August 2006)

Blessed Teresa of Calcutta

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Before you speak, it is necessary for you to listen,

for God speaks in the silence of the heart.

Blessed Teresa.jpg 

(August 26, 1910 - September 5, 1997)


O God, who called the virgin Blessed Teresa
to respond to the love of your Son thirsting on the cross
with outstanding charity to the poorest of the poor,
grant us, we beseech you, by her intercession,
to minister to Christ in his suffering brothers and sisters.

Remember, Lord, those who have died ... especially the Reverend Father Joseph Charles Linck, whom today you have called to you from this life ..."


Today, in Trumbull, Connecticut, the Church mourned the passing of Father Joseph Joseph C. Linck.jpgLinck, 43, who succumbed to cancer last week. The Most Reverend William Lori, Bishop of Bridgeport, celebrated the Sacrifice of the Mass with the Order of Christian Burial for Father Linck. About 125 priests concelebrated the Mass.


Please pray for the repose of the soul of Father Linck and for the Diocese of Bridgeport. In your charity, please keep his parents and friends in prayer. Father Linck was a very kind man, talented and a man of the Church; from personal experience I can say he was a man of good humor and compassion for human nature. This summer, two young-ish priests died, Linck and Fitzpatrick, both good friends. So, a prayer for vocations would be good, too.

May his memory be eternal.

The Catholic Underground is meeting this Saturday, September 6th, at

Our Lady of Good Council Church
230 East 90th Street
New York, NY 10128

7:30 - 10:30 p.m.

Parking: Parking garage available, $10 a night with Catholic Underground stamp


The musician for Saturday is Vince Scheuerman.


About the evening Underground


Catholic Underground ©, a.k.a. CU, is a cultural apostolate of the Franciscan Friars of Catholic Underground.jpgthe Renewal. It is a direct response to a call that began with Pope John Paul II, and is continued by Pope Benedict XVI.  JPII said that because the Gospel lives in conversation with culture, we must be fearless in crossing the cultural threshold of the communication and information revolution now taking place.


Watch this video clip to get a better sense of what's being proposed.

The first part of the evening is Eucharistic adoration, and begins with Vespers (Evening Prayer). This is the universal prayer of the Church - prayed by the Catholics throughout the world in every time zone and in every language.  After Vespers, there is a time of simple praise. This provides a window for each person to personally encounter Jesus Christ. The beauty of the darkened Church illumined by candles helps us enter the mystery of our Lord's presence in the Eucharist. The holy hour ends with solemn Benediction. 

The second part showcases Catholic artists. Here we experience the "new evangelization". The Underground includes music, poetry, visual art, dancers, film, drama, etc.

We end our evening as we began, with the prayer of the Church. Compline (Night Prayer) is simple and beautiful. It concludes with a hymn to Our Lady, Daughter Zion. Mother of the New Jerusalem.


Some people would trash even the good name of the dead to get media attention on their agenda. In this case, it seems as though the homosexual lobbyists are trying to make more of a good friendship than what really was there. That is, questions about Cardinal Newman's sexuality, that he was same sex attracted, are surfacing with the goal of derailing the process of beatification/canonization. London's Daily Mail published an article questioning the facts and the Catholic News Agency published this article. Father Kerr's L'Osservatore Romano article follows; it was published today in the weekly English edition.




Healthy manhood at the service of the Kingdom


Recently various newspapers have published articles on Venerable John Henry Newman, sowing doubts about his sexual inclination. The following is a clarification by Prof. Ian Ker, an eminent Newman scholar and Oxford University Professor.


Professor Ian Ker
Oxford University, England


The exhumation of Venerable John Henry Newman's body from his grave has led to calls in particular from the homosexual lobby that he should not be separated from his great friend and collaborator Fr Ambrose St John, in whose grave Newman is buried in accordance with his own specific wishes.

The implication of these protests is clear:  that Newman wished to be buried with his JH Newman3.jpgfriend because, although no doubt chaste and celibate, nevertheless he had more than simply friendly feelings for St John.

However, if wanting to be buried in the same grave as someone else indicates some kind of sexual love for the other person, then C.S. Lewis' brother Warnie, who is buried in the same grave in accordance with both brothers' wishes, must have had incestuous feelings for his brother.

Or again, G.K. Chesterton's devoted secretary, Dorothy Collins, whom he and his wife regarded as a daughter, while thinking it presumptuous to ask to be buried in the same grave as the Chestertons, nevertheless directed that she be cremated and that her ashes should be buried in the same grave. Does this mean that she had more than filial feelings for one or both of her employers?

Ambrose St John was an extremely close friend of Newman. He had devoted himself for 30 years to the service of Newman, even asking if he might take a vow of obedience to him at his Confirmation, a request that was, of course, refused.

Newman blamed himself for his death, having asked him to translate the German theologian Joseph Fessler's important book on infallibility in the wake of the First Vatican Council, a last labour of love that had proved too much for him, overworked as he already was.

In his dark last days as an Anglican, Newman said that Ambrose St John had come to him "as Ruth to Naomi". After joining Newman's semi-monastic community at Littlemore outside Oxford, he had remained as Newman's closest supporter all through the difficulties of founding the Oratory of St Philip Neri in England and all through Newman's many subsequent trials and tribulations as a Catholic.

In his Apologia pro Vita sua, Newman "with great reluctance" mentions that at the time of his first religious conversion when he was 15 he became convinced that "it would be the will of God that I should lead a single life".

For the next 14 years, "with the break of a month now and then", and then continuously, he believed that his "calling in life would require such a sacrifice".

Needless to say, there were no "civil partnerships" between men then in what was still a Christian country where homosexual activity was punishable by imprisonment and was universally regarded as immoral. Newman, of course, is talking about marriage with a woman and the sacrifice that celibacy involved.

The only reason it could have been a sacrifice was because like any normal man Newman wished to get married. But, although not belonging to a church where celibacy was the rule or even the ideal, Newman, steeped in Scripture as he was, knew the words of our Lord:  "there are eunuchs who have made themselves that way for the sake of the kingdom of heaven".

Twenty five years after his youthful embrace of celibacy, we find Newman counting the cost, at the conclusion of the extraordinary account he wrote of his near fatal illness in Sicily in 1833:  "The thought keeps pressing on me, while I write this, what am I writing it for?... Whom have I, whom can I have, who would take interest in it?... This is the sort of interest which a wife takes and none but she - it is a woman's interest - and that interest, so be it, shall never be taken in me.... And therefore I willingly give up the possession of that sympathy, which I feel is not, cannot be, granted to me. Yet, not the less do I feel the need of it".

In these moving sentences, written while he was still a clergyman of the Church of England and fully entitled to marry, we see Newman's total commitment to the life of virginity to which he felt unmistakably called, but yet we can also feel the deep pain he experienced in sacrificing the love of a woman in marriage.

Finally, what should be said to those who think Newman's wishes should be honoured and that Ambrose St John's remains should be removed with his?

Throughout his life as a Catholic, Newman always insisted that whatever he wrote he wrote under the correction of Holy Mother Church. That was his constant refrain. If the Church decrees that his remains should be removed to a church, then Newman's undoubted response would be that of his last testament, like everything else he wrote, he wrote under correction of higher authority.

And if that higher authority decrees that his body be removed and that of his friend left, then Newman would say without hesitation, "so be it".

The other day Bishop Patrick O'Donoghue of the Diocese of Lancaster, England, released a O'Donoghue.jpg92-page document which is seen as highly critical of the Church in England since the Second Vatican Council. The Catholic Herald carries the story.

Several areas of concern are addressed by Bishop O'Donoghue: hope in Christ, Vatican II, Catholic identity, the work of the Trinity in our lives and in the Church, the role of the sacred. Liturgy, Divine Revelation's hold on us, dogma, and various other points concerning society and culture.

The bishop's document, "Fit for Mission?" seems insightful and is worth the time reading. The concerns that Bishop O'Donoghue has for the Church in his diocese, indeed for all of England are similar for those of us who live in North Americans. For that matter, they are the same concerns Monsignor Luigi Giussani had in the 1950's Italy and later articulated by Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI. Namely, do you have a personal relationship with Christ, do you adhere to the objectivity of the Church, is faith a moralism or a way of knowing, living and loving, does your destiny really matter to you?

A Man Immersed in God

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Today is the feast of the illustrious saint and pope, Gregory whom we call "the Great." In his June 4th 2008 catechesis on Saint Gregory the Great, Pope Benedict said:


... [Saint Gregory the Great] proposes his thought through some significant binomials -- esctasy of St Gregpry the Great.jpgknow how/do, speak/live, know something/act -- in which he evokes the two aspects of human life which should be complementary, but which often end up by being antithetical. The moral ideal, he comments, consists in achieving always a harmonious integration between word and action, thought and commitment, prayer and dedication to the duties of one's state: This is the road to attain that synthesis thanks to which the divine descends into man and man is raised to identification with God.

The inspirational principle, which links together the various addresses [of this great Pope], is summarized in the word "praedicator": Not only the minister of God, but also every Christian, has the duty to make himself a "preacher" of what he has experienced in his own interior, following the example of Christ who became man to take to all the proclamation of salvation. The horizon of this commitment is eschatological: The expectation of fulfillment in Christ of all things is a constant thought of the great Pontiff and ends by being the inspirational motive of his every thought and activity. From here flow his incessant calls to vigilance and commitment to good works.


Perhaps the most organic text of Gregory the Great is the Pastoral Rule, written in the first years of his pontificate. In it Gregory intends to delineate the figure of the ideal bishop, teacher and guide of his flock. To this end he illustrates the gravity of the office of pastor of the Church and the duties it entails: Therefore, those who are called to such a task were not called and did not search for it superficially, those instead who assume it without due reflection feel arising in their spirit an onerous trepidation.

Taking up again a favorite topic, he affirms that the bishop is above all the "preacher" par excellence. As such, he must be above all an example to others, so that his behavior can be a reference point for all. Effective pastoral action requires therefore that he know the recipients and adapt his addresses to each one's situation. Gregory pauses to illustrate the different categories of faithful with acute and precise annotations, which can justify the appraisal of those who have seen in this work a treatise of psychology. From here one understands that he really knew his flock and spoke about everything with the people of his time and of his city.


The great Pontiff, moreover, stresses the daily duty that a pastor has to acknowledge his own misery, so that pride will not render vain -- before the eyes of the supreme Judge -- the good he accomplished. Therefore, the last chapter of the rule is dedicated to humility. "When one is pleased about having attained many virtues it is good to reflect on one's own insufficiencies and humble oneself. Instead of considering the good accomplished, it is necessary to consider what one has failed to accomplish." 


Amen, for now. 


Media & Religion

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crossroads Media & Religion.png

Vatican Proposing Presence at Venice Biennial

By Paolo Centofanti

ROME, SEPT. 1, 2008 ( Art just might be the key to reintroducing the great Gianfranco Ravasi2.jpgfigures and images of Christianity to modern culture, according to the president of the Pontifical Council for Culture."

Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, who also heads the Pontifical Commission for the Cultural Heritage of the Church, said this in an interview with ZENIT this week regarding his proposal to promote the presence of sacred art at the 2009 Venice Biennial.

He said his idea is to launch a "presence -- not direct, but parallel" -- at the contemporary art exhibition that takes place every other year in Venice, Italy.

In an interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in July, he revealed that the Vatican is weighing various proposals concerning the placement of its pavilion, such as at the University of Venice or in a series of Churches. He also spoke of plans for an art prize at the exhibit.

"This presence of the Holy See," the archbishop told ZENIT, "which I would like to realize, has precisely the objective to foster a new art that also takes into account the great religious motifs, including but not only the Marian motif." 


Archbishop Ravasi lamented that great architects are building modern Churches around the world, but the structures "are either naked [inside], as they have only the architecture of light, or images in poor taste, or only the presence of handicrafts and not, as in the past, great works of art."


"Suffice it to think of the great churches of the 16th century," he said, "of Baroque art, which had in themselves the wonder of architecture, but also the presence of artists such as Bernini, for example, or Titian, or Veronese. Let us think of the great Venetian churches, what lofty presences they have from the point of view of art history."


Gianfranco Ravasi arms.jpgThe archbishop said he would like, through his proposal, to encourage "great contemporary artists [...] to represent the great religious images, and also to reawaken in [...] ecclesial authorities the need to propose again great works within their churches."

"Perhaps art," he added, "might be the way to reintroduce the figure of Mary, but also the figures of the great images and great personalities -- beginning with Christ, of course -- of the Christian tradition."

A foundation devoted to the study of the thought of Pope Benedict XVI will be unveiled in Munich on November 12th. The foundation is devoted to "the promotion of theology in the spirit of Joseph Ratzinger." The press release announcing the foundation said: "The board of trustees whose members include former students from Germany, Portugal, Ireland, Benin, and the United States, reflects the international character of the Schülerkreis and the international scope of the foundation's outreach."

For 30 years there has been a meeting of the Schülerkreis since it was set up after then Professor Joseph Ratzinger was named archbishop of Munich in 1977.


UPDATE 17 September: Rome Reports gives us perspective here.


May the Lord bring success to the work of their hands and minds.

Today, September 2nd, will mark the opening of the General Chapter of the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance (the Trappists) in Assisi and will remain in session until September 23rd. The Abbots and Abbesses in General Chapter is important for the Order and the Church but this one will be particularly important since the current Abbot Dom Bernardo Olivera.jpgGeneral, Dom Bernardo Olivera, after 18 years in office, will submit his resignation. It is presumed that the Chapter will accept Dom Bernardo's request to resign; an election of his successor will follow.


You can follow the progress of the Mixed General Meeting (MGM) by visiting the blog or visit the Order's website.


Let's pray for the Holy Spirit's guidance in the deliberations of the Trappist abbots and trappists.jpgabbesses. And after the election of Dom Bernardo's successor we'll raise a pint of beer to honor both.

What is prayer? It is a complete surrender to God; it is an attitude and way of life that is Pope at Mass.jpg known as a complete abandonment to God's greatness who is beyond all our understanding and need because out of love He creates and redeems us.


The general intention

That those, who because of war and totalitarian regimes have been obliged to leave their homes and country, be supported by Christians in the defense and protection of their rights.

The mission intention

That all Christian families, faithful to the sacrament of matrimony, will cultivate the values of love and community, so that they will be a small evangelizing community, open and sensitive to the material and spiritual needs of their brothers and sisters.

The Pope held his annual Schülerkreis (Circle of Students) according to the Catholic press. It's refreshing to me to know that the duties of being Supreme Pontiff don't sidetrack the Pope from doing some important theological thinking.

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, AUG. 31, 2008 ( Benedict XVI is meeting with his former students to discuss the historical Christ and the Gospel account of the Passion, reports L'Osservatore Romano.

The Vatican newspaper reported that the meeting is taking place through Monday at Castel Gandolfo, where the Pope is spending the summer.

The meeting is an annual one that the Holy Father has had with 38 former students and doctoral candidates for more than 25 years. The group is called "Ratzinger Schülerkreis" (Ratzinger's Circle of Students).

The colloquium is treating the figure of Jesus both in light of "Jesus of Nazareth," published by Benedict XVI in 2007, and in view of the second volume that the Pope is currently writing.

Two Protestant biblical scholars were invited to this year's colloquium: Martin Hengel and Peter Stuhlmacher. The two presented papers, and then a discussion was held.

Martin Hengel's paper dealt with the historicity of the figure of Jesus, and Peter Stuhlmacher reflected of the passion and death of Jesus.

The two exegetes -- both professors at the University of Tübingen, where Ratzinger taught in the 1960s -- offered suggestive themes for discussion, but will not enter into an exploration of the Pontiff's work.

Hengel, an historian and exegete, is not new to this gathering. In the 1990s he participated in a meeting and spoke on the figure of Peter in the Gospel of Mark.

Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, the archbishop of Vienna, and Auxiliary Bishop Hans-Jochen Jaschke of Hamburg, are also participating in the meeting.

Father Stephan Horn, 72, a German priest of the Society of the Divine Savior, heads the "Schülerkreis" and organized the meeting.

On July 16, 2008 Jesuit Father Miguel Arranz, the well-known professor of Liturgy who

Miguel Arranz.jpgtaught at the Pontifical Oriental Institute, Rome, in Moscow and in St Petersburg, died.

Father Arranz was born on July 9, 1930 in Guadalajara, Spain. Between 1941 and 1949, he studied at the Seminary of Toledo and in 1949 he began studies at the Pontifical Oriental Institute where he trained under Jesuit Father Juan Mateos. He was ordained a deacon in 1952 and two years later he was ordained a priest. After spending a period of time studying in Belgium, Father Arranz returned to Rome in 1967 and began his study of the Typicon of the Monastery of the Holy Savior (Messina, Italy). In 1969, he defended a work titled "How did the ancient Byzantines pray?" at the Saint Petersburg Orthodox Spiritual Academy. Between 1969 and 1975, he taught Liturgy at the same Academy where in 1975 Patriarch Pimen appointed him a full professor and later he taught in Moscow and in St Petersburg. Father Arranz is the author of many scholarly articles and books on liturgical theology and history.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]



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