29 February 2008

Meditations On Care Of The Sick

Fr. Vincent McNabb in his book 'Meditations on St. John' wrote a small chapter titled Care of the Sick. It is based on the Gospel of St. John ch.4, 41-54.

"I should like to turn now to our relationship to sickness. I am not concerned here with how we should behave when we are ill. The sanctification of souls by sickness is a very important function in our life on earth but the sanctification of those who have to do with the sick is also very important in the spiritual life. For God's sake remember that sickness is a great trial. I do not mean for the sick, but for the people who look after them. When we are sick the normal way of looking at things disappears; things which to the healthy seam very little become immensely important to the sick. For instance---the tea is half cold. To a normal person it means very little, but to a sick person it means everything. The bed is not properly made---what does that matter if we sleep as soon as our head touches the pillow; for a sick person it may almost mean a bed-sore in twenty-four hours. Please realise that sickness gives the sufferer an entirely different view and a prolonged illness displaces almost everything.
The sick are the most important people in the household. They are the afflicted of God. And if they are rather impatient, or anything else, it doesn't matter. 'He whom thou lovest is sick.' Always remember when you have to do with sickness that if there is any doubt about the rule of the Church you must always stretch it. How I rub that into young priests. I say: 'My dear Father, the sacraments are for the people, not the people for the sacraments. Please give so-and-so extreme unction---would you mind giving it and having the fight afterwards, not before...' The Church teaches us a lot by its external privileges to the sick. It dispenses everything---all the positive laws of the Church are waived. The sick should be treated as the pearls of the community and if they are rather disgruntled--it does not matter; they must be cared for with great generosity and charity. Some people think that the first thing you must give a sick person is a sermon. Where do people get these ideas? It is bodily care that is the first duty. In a sense the sick can look after their spiritual affairs, but they cannot look after the body. They can look after their souls---and some are troubled about their souls, as if they needed to reminded of their duty to pray to God and so on when perhaps they are miles ahead in the spiritual life. But they cannot look after the body and our primary duty of charity, love of God, is to look after it for them. it was my great privilege to have a brother, now dead, a doctor. He attended my father at his death. I well remember how struck I was with the extreme reverence of his service to my father's body; it had something almost priestly in it and never had I so realised the divinity of service to a human body as when I saw the service of a son to his dying father. There can be something almost like a sacrament in our attention to human bodies, something akin to my priestly attention each morning to the Body of our Lord.
The sick should be spared every avoidable pain; it is not our duty to increase any pain; it is our duty not to increase it and to do everything to alleviate it, to prevent further suffering---everything except the taking away of life. Our duty is to spare that poor body further pain and if inadvertently we give the slightest pain we should beg pardon most humbly. All the humble acts of looking after the body, washing it, feeding it, etc. are holy. No wonder St Joseph is the patron of a happy death. He was very happy in his priest, Jesus, and his nurse, his beloved wife. I like to think of our Lord and our Lady sparing St. Joseph every pain in the attention they gave him.
If we would only ask the sick what we can do for them we would be surprised at the simple things they want. When I have instructed children as to how they might help the sick I have always tried to impress on them that they should find out from the sick person what they would like done. Some lady-bountifuls come and insist on doing what they want---and their place is better than their company. I know of one sufferer who has never been known to complain---I call her the Professional. I never talk piety---she has it all day and wants a change. Instead I usually make her a cup of tea. i have known cases where I have asked 'My child, what can I do for you?' and the answer has been 'Oh Father could you reach me a glass of water'---I have nearly wept."

MN Bill to Fund Destruction of Embryos

In this weeks Catholic Spirit newspaper column, Archbishop John C. Nienstedt addresses a bill currently in the MN legislature that promotes embryonic stem cell research. Please contact your legislator urging them to vote against this bill.

Here is the column.

"Last week, I added a last minute plea at the end of my column for readers to contact their state legislators as well as the governor about the bill S.F. 100.
Originally, the House was to have voted on this measure last week (hence my urgency!), but now the vote has been delayed. If it should pass in the House, it will go back to the Senate and then on to the governor. The delay offers me the opportunity for a fuller comment.
S.F. 100, sponsored by [Democrats] Rep. Phyllis Kahn and Sen. Richard Cohen, would force taxpayers to pay for the destruction of human life on a scale never seen before in Minnesota's history. Readers are asked to call, write or e-mail their representatives in the House and Senate as well as Gov. Tim Pawlenty to protest passage of this legislation.
Assault on human dignity
Not only would S.F. 100 promote embryonic stem-cell research, it would permit human cloning as well. Surely this is a slippery slope that will inevitably lead to the mass production of human embryos for sale to researchers. How can one not see this cultural deterioration as anything but an assault on the dignity of human life?
But even from a practical point of view, this emphasis on using embryonic stem cells instead of adult stem cells makes no sense.
Adult stem cells are readily available from adult tissues and organs, from fat, bone marrow, umbilical cords, the placenta and amniotic fluid. They can be coaxed into becoming heart tissue, neural matter, skin cells and a host of other tissues.
Their power is real and tangible as they have already successfully treated some 70 health conditions, including autoimmune diseases such as lupus, multiple sclerosis, Crohn's disease and rheumatoid arthritis. They have been used to avert corneal degeneration and restore vision in cases of blindness. They also have been utilized to restore cardiac function to those who have had a heart attack as well as improve movement for patients with spinal cord injuries.
To date, there have been no (read: zero) successful cures with embryonic stem cells.
Supported by science
Last Nov. 20, two scientific papers were published in Science and Cell magazines detailing new ways in which adult stem cells can be "reprogrammed" into becoming "pluripotent" stem cells that are able to develop into any tissue in the human body.
These can do what, until now, only early-stage embryonic cells could do and thus can now provide the same potential therapeutic benefits.
Doesn't it make sense for our government to fund this kind of research, rather than using your tax dollars and mine to continue the slaughter of innocent human life?
Why indeed should we proceed down this path that will inevitably lead to a social situation in which human life is created for the very purpose of being destroyed?
If scientists desire to engage in unethical research projects, it should not be with our concurrence.
Please join me in contacting your state senator, House representative and the governor's office today. Raise your voice against S.F. 100!
God bless you!"

28 February 2008

Galtier Society Gala

The 4th Annual Galtier Society Gala will be held on Saturday, April 26th at the St. Paul Hotel. This years speaker is George Weigel. The Galtier Society is an association of adult Catholics(late 20's to mid-adult-life)united in their desire for an ever deepening and enriching knowledge of their faith and united with the Archbishop in service to the people of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. The sponsored charity of the Society is the Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly. Little Brothers – Friends of the Elderly (LBFE) is a national network of non-profit, volunteer-based organizations committed to relieving isolation and loneliness among the elderly offering people of good will the opportunity to join the elderly in friendship and celebration of life.
If you are interested in a wonderful evening and supporting a worthy charity, please visit the Galtier Society web site.

The Soul of Obama Pledged to Planned Parenthood

There is a an article at Catholic News Agency which includes portions of a speech Barack Obama made to Planned Parenthood last summer where he pledges his soul to the anti-life movement and states, "I will not yield to the pro-life movement." So much for the naive argument that we can vote Democrat and still attempt to persuade the politicians to support life. The hardcore anti-life crowd among our politicians will not be deterred. They are as convinced in the righteousness of abortion as we are convinced of its evil. Here is an excerpt from that speech where he condemns the Supreme Court for suggesting that they know better than a woman's doctor what is best for her health. Of course the doctors of the young woman that committed suicide in London recently didn't really know what was best, neither her GP nor the one who performed the abortion despite the obvious evidence of emotional stress that she was under or her hesitation in having the abortion.

“For the first time in Gonzales versus Carhart,” Obama said, “the Supreme Court held—upheld a federal ban on abortions with criminal penalties for doctors. For the first time, the Court’s endorsed an abortion restriction without an
exception for women’s health. The decision presumed that the health of women is
best protected by the Court—not by doctors and not by the woman herself. That
presumption is wrong.”

No, what is wrong is the presumption that those committed to abortion will allow any opinion contrary to its own

When Did Suffering Become A Bad Word

I heard from someone who recently went on retreat and the theme was on "understanding suffering." One of the people there did not like the word suffering and felt that God does not want us to suffer. Now this would certainly come as a surprise to St. Paul who taught us that the only thing we needed was to meditate on Christ Crucified. Certainly the early martyrs understood suffering. In fact the whole history of the Church is filled with the necessity of our suffering and uniting it to the suffering of Christ on the Cross. Suddenly though suffering is taboo and we blame God when we see people get sick or injured. How often have we heard, "how can God let this happen?" When one reads the recent article on "Catholics" leaving the Church in large numbers it is easy to understand why with the improper or total lack of catechsis most of us receive today.

25 February 2008

40 Days for Life in the Twin Cities

Dear Friends of Life,The 40 Days for Life campaign in the Twin Cities continues to grow and build. This past Saturday, more than 100 people came out throughout the day, keeping vigil and praying ardently for an end to abortion at HealthPartners' Regions Hospital. Group after group, individuals, couples, families, even whole churches have come out throughout the past couple of weeks. Five area churches have either kept or will be keeping whole 24-hour periods covered in vigil and prayer. We continue to hear reports of more individuals showing up at Regions to pray than we knew would be out there. God is moving in the hearts and minds of many to be a part of this dynamic campaign.

This Saturday, March 1, at 10:00 a.m. will be our "halfway" prayer rally at Regions. If you have already been keeping vigil there, join us on Saturday. If you Have not yet been out, take the time and come join in this effort of prayer and witness. Your presence is making a difference.

A map is attached to help you find Regions Hospital.Sincerely in Christ,Brian GibsonExecutive DirectorPro-Life Action Ministrieshttp://www.plam.org
If you remain indifferent in time of adversity, your strength will depart from you. Rescue those who are being dragged to death, and from those tottering to execution withdraw not If you say, "I know not this man!" does not he who tests hearts perceive it? He who guards your life knows it, and he will repay each one according to his deeds. Proverbs 24:10-12

Regions Hospital, 640 Jackson St., St. Paul, Minn. 55101

P.S. Our annual Good Friday All-Day Prayer Vigil will still be at Planned Parenthood's abortuary in the Highland Park neighborhood of St. Paul. More details will follow.

For more information visit their web site.

24 February 2008

The Catholic Vote

Recently several Bishops have issued documents describing under which circumstances Catholics could vote for a pro-abortion politician. The Bishops of Kentucky wrote, "There may be times when a Catholic who rejects a candidate's unacceptable moral position may decide to vote for that candidate for other morally grave reasons." However, the bishops continue, clarifying what might constitute a "grave moral reason", "Voting in this way would be permissible only for truly grave moral reasons, not to advance narrow interests or partisan preferences or to ignore a fundamental moral evil." Now some will use this to justify voting for the Democratic candidate by suggesting that other issues such as an "unjust war," immigration, universal healthcare are equally morally grave. A Catholic journalist for the Washington Post wrote,
"So what's a pro-life, pro-family, antiwar, pro-immigrant, pro-economic-justice Catholic like me supposed to do in November? That's an easy one. True to my faith, I'll vote for the candidate who offers the best hope of ending an unjust war, who promotes human dignity through universal health care and immigration reform, and whose policies strengthen families and provide alternatives to those in desperate situations. Sounds like I'll be voting for the Democrat -- and the bishops be damned."

In an effort to keep any soul from damning himself I think there are a few things to keep in mind. First off, abortion is intrinsically evil and as such a mortal sin. The other issues that concern our country among others, war, immigration, healthcare, education, death penalty are not intrinsically evil and would be more akin to venial sins. Now no matter how many venial sins a person commits they do not equal one mortal sin. (This of course does not infer that a person is free to commit as many venial sins as they want as eventually that attitude toward venial sin will lead them to commit mortal sin.) Now if we accept as the Church teaches that a person supporting abortion has committed a mortal sin then being cut off from the supernatural life of grace how is this same person to make the appropriate decisions concerning the other moral issues facing society? Further the fact that the Democratic Party professes concern for these other issues does not mean their approach is the Catholic one or even the best one. In fact I believe that their "solution" to these evils is worse than the problem itself.

Today's Democratic Party has more in common with the tenets of Socialism than the social teachings of the Catholic Church. Even though their language is common their meaning is not. One example is trade unions. Now there is nothing wrong with unions per se and I agree with the rights of workers to organize against an unsympathetic or worse management but the current trade union is generally devoid of any religious connection. Leo XIII in Rerum Novarum wrote, "As a general and perpetual law, Workmen's Associations should be so organized and governed as to furnish the best and most suitable means for attaining what is aimed at, namely, for helping each individual member to better his conditions to the utmost in body, mind, and spirit....what advantage can it be to a workman to obtain by means of a society all that he requires and to endanger his soul for want of spiritual food?" They are a carryover from the old guild system but because they are utterly secular and disconnected from the teaching of the Church their function will always be incomplete. Archbishop Sheen was right on when he said that a solution to the labor/management dispute was a Chapel in the workplace where labor and management knelt down together at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. But today's unions foment distrust and a hatred of management that the previous encyclicals warned against. This antagonistic mentality between labor and management is opposed to the cooperation necessary as written by Pope Leo XIII in Rerum Novarum. Remember that atheistic Russia had trade unions which by no means operated in accord with Catholic social teaching. Too often the aims of the unions are for their leaders personal agendas and motives rather than the collective good of the employer, employee and the consumer of the product or service they are providing.

Another issue for people to support pro-abortion candidate/the Democratic Party is education. But the NEA and its biggest education supporters, i.e., politicians and unions are openly hostile to Catholic principles in general and Catholic education specifically. Try suggesting at your local Democratic caucus that you think the money your child is allotted for the public school should instead be given to you or allocated to a parish school. Pouring more money down an endless black hole will not solve the education problem in this country. Especially when one considers how some of that money is spent. For instance teaching Bobby how to put a condom on a cucumber. Not to mention all the anti-Catholic/Christian bigotry in history, science and other text books. I wrote in another post previously a document from the Catholic Bishops of England to voters on the eve of an election in the U.K. Compare what they said with Democratic thoughts on education today.

Regarding the "unjust war" in Iraq I can only say that whether the war was right or wrong the public anti-war position has prolonged this war and emboldened the terrorists who are engaged against us. Support our troops is an empty slogan on behalf of those whose primary goal is the defeat of the Republicans and the disgrace of President Bush. Hilaire Belloc writes of the defeat of the Christians in the battle at Manzikert as being the turning point in defending Christian lands from the advance of Islam. "A Byzantine counter-attack upon Mohammedanism reached halfway down the Syrian coast. There was a moment when it threatened Mesopotamia. But the strength of this revival in the Christendom of the East, in the Christians of the Greek rite, was sapped by political intrigue at the center. That political intrigue was mixed up with an "intellectual" disease comparable to the movement called today in Europe by the barbaric name of "Pacifism," and "Anti-Militarism." The coming into power of such politicians as batten upon movements of that kind undermined the whole new strength which the Macedonian Emperors had built up. The last fighting emperor could no longer be certain of proper support in the field against the Turk.... The Emperor was left alone on the battlefield, his army overwhelmed and general massacre followed. Asia Minor lay open to a swirling hoard of Mongol barbarians who overran, devastated, destroyed all that land of hither Asia which had been the solid foundation of the Byzantine power. Hilaire Belloc, The Crusades.

The death penalty is not intrinsically evil, nor does the Church even outlaw it. It is true that Pope John Paul wrote that the use of the death penalty was not really necessary in modern times due to other methods of punishing the guilty but he did not say that it could never be used.

Immigration is a complex issue that needs a Christian solution but again that is not necessarily the equivalent of the Democratic party solution. It is interesting to note the immigration policies of some other countries though and how illegal immigrants are treated. For example in Germany and Austria it is required that the candidate for citizenship know the German language sufficiently well to live there.

Poverty, just wages and other economic issues again demand the proper understanding of Social Justice as the Catholic Church teaches. Creating more "programs" and taxing "the rich" makes people feel good but doesn't address the necessity of our personal involvement. The Gospel commands us to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, give shelter to the homeless, visit the sick and prisoners. Archbishop Sheen theorized that the priest and the Levite that passed by the injured man in the story of the good Samaritan actually went on down to Jerusalem where they reported the man to a social worker. Okay so it was much funnier coming from him but the point is valid. He points out that we cannot rely on people who work out of duty, who when the office closes at 5 p.m Friday, tell the needy to come back Monday morning. Remember the innkeeper who take care of the man received compensation for his efforts when the Samaritan returned. We cannot absolve ourselves from our personal obligation by advocating taxing the so called "rich Republicans." It is curious how it is assumed that these "rich" don't do anything for the poor and so they must be taxed more. Yet how do we know how much they give to charity? In fact most studies show that Republican voters donate more of their income to charity than Democrats. Moreover have we given sufficiently on our own to be concerned of the charitable giving of others? The Catechism quotes St. John Chrysostom, "Not to enable the poor to share in our goods is to steal from them and deprive them of life. The goods we possess are not ours, but theirs." The demands of justice must be satisfied first of all; that which is already due in justice is not to be offered as a gift of charity.

When we attend to the needs of those in want, we give them what is theirs, not ours. More than performing works of mercy, we are paying a debt of justice." St. Gregory the Great

Healthcare is also important for the dignity of the human person yet a blanket "universal healthcare program" administered by the Government is not the great panacea that it's advocates profess. Healthcare costs are an issue for a variety of reasons not least of which is the legal costs associated with the care.

Further the Democratic Party's advocacy of birth control, divorce, marriage are all in opposition to the proper nature and role of the family. Remember the rally cry "It takes a village?" Of course they demand more money "for the children" programs because they have been so effective at removing care for children from the proper role and responsibility of the parents.

This criticism of the Democratic party is not to be taken that the Republican party has the answers either. However I do think it is a myth to claim support for the Democratic pro-abortion candidate on the basis that they are more concerned with the other "social/moral issues." As in the story of the Good Samaritan it is not the responsibility of government to feed, clothe, give drink etc. It is our responsibility.

23 February 2008

Woman's Suicide After Abortion of Her Twins

From LifeSiteNews.com comes the tragic story of a young woman who was unable to deal with the pain resulting from an abortion of twins. One has to question the ethics of the abortionist who did try and refer her for counselling yet still performed the murder several days later. Clearly she was struggling with this decision and didn't have the needed support to help her. I don't know about the UK but in the U.S. there are places like Rachel's Vineyard that help women (and men) deal with the emotional or spiritual pain of abortion.

CORNWALL, UK, February 22, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) - A young woman, who was considered a talented artist, loved to paint and had sold a number of paintings,
was found dead in her home in Helston, Cornwall, UK. Emma Beck committed suicide on February 1, 2007 after aborting her twin babies in September 2006. She left a
suicide note which said, "Living is hell for me. I should never have had an abortion. I see now I would have been a good mum. I told everyone I didn't want to do it, even at the hospital. I was frightened, now it is too late. I died when my babies died. I want to be with my babies - they need me, no one else does."The inquest into Emma's death, held yesterday, heard that she was reluctant to go through with the abortion. Emma's GP, Dr. Katie Gibbs, described her as "extremely vulnerable."She missed one hospital appointment and cancelled another before finally seeing a doctor at Treliske hospital in Truro, Cornwall.The doctor who discussed Emma's situation with her before the abortion wrote, 'Unsupported, lives alone, ex-partner aware' on the form. She needed more help than she got, perhaps more than those who could possibly have helped realized. The counsellor at the unplanned pregnancy clinic was on holiday, so the doctor gave her the number of a "telephone pregnancy counseling service". Eight days later this same doctor performed the abortion.The inquest also heard that Emma's mother, Sylvia Beck, later contacted the hospital, demanding to know why Emma had not been given more counseling and support before the abortion, given her vulnerable state. She said, "I want to know why she was not given the opportunity to see a counsellor. She was only going ahead with the abortion because Ben (the estranged common-law father) did not want the twins. She was pleased when she became pregnant, but Ben reacted badly to the news. I believe this is what led Emma to take her own life, because she could not live with what she had done."The inquest heard that Emma made numerous cries for help after the abortion. Dr. Gibbs told the hearing, "Emma was extremely distressed by the abortion procedure, and I didn't think she ever came to terms with it."A new study investigating abortion and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) published in the BMC Psychiatry journal found that "high rates of PTSD characterize women who have undergone voluntary pregnancy termination." (see LifeSiteNews.com coverage: Study: Rates of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Increased 61% After Abortion http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2008/feb/08021401.html)The Elliot Institute's model legislation, the Protection from High Risk and Coerced Abortion Act, would require abortion businesses to screen women for evidence that they are being coerced or forced into unwanted abortions and for other risk factors that are likely to put them at risk for post-traumatic stress and other problems after abortion.Other studies have linked abortion to higher rates of sleep disorders, anxiety disorders, clinical depression, substance abuse, and suicide.The authors of the BMC study called for more screening to be done on women prior to abortion in order to "help identify women at risk of PTSD and provide follow-up care."

21 February 2008

Funeral Procession for Fra Andrew Bertie

Thanks to Matthew at The New Liturgical Movement for finding a video of the funeral procession for Fra Andrew Bertie. It can be seen here at gloria t.v.

There was also a Requiem Mass in Fra Bertie's honor at the Conventual Church of the Order in London. It was celebrated in the Extraordinary Rite and pictures can be seen here.

Andrew Cusak has compiled a nice tribute on his site here.

17 February 2008

Funeral Mass of Grand Master Fra Andrew Bertie

Fra' Andrew Bertie: the last, emotional salute

‘We can without doubt say that Fra' Andrew Bertie was ‘one of the just’ in the biblical sense of the word. Because the just are those who are open to the Will of God, and our Grand Master, as one of these, wished to delineate a new order in history, to which he was passionately committed. This was our Grand Master.’ Thus the Cardinalis Patronus of the Order of Malta Pio Laghi recalled Fra' Andrew Bertie, Prince and Grand Master of the Order of Malta, during the solemn funeral celebrated today in Rome at the fifth century Basilica of Santa Sabina, on the Aventine Hill.

In his homily, Cardinal Laghi emphasised how the Grand Master had particularly promoted spirituality among the members of the Order, by his own example, and by always reminding them of the importance of the Order’s charism: Tuitio fidei, obsequium pauperum’. He was steadfast in his visits to the sick in hospital and in assisting the disabled during pilgrimages to Lourdes and to Loreto. To inspire all who work in the care of the sick and the needy and to modernise the structures and the organisation of the Order, he promoted meetings and conferences at the national and international level, the most recent being held in Malta, Lebanon, Cameroon, Bolivia, Mexico and the United States.

Mourners from around the world - the family members, friends, members of the Order, Cardinals, Ambassadors, volunteers and staff, all of whom held this servant of God in deep affection – attended the Funeral Mass for the Grand Master of the Order of Malta, Fra' Andrew Bertie, who died on 7 February at the age of 78.

At 11 o’clock the cortege departed from the Priory church and along the famous avenue of laurels of the Magistral Villa under a brilliant sun. Made up of members of Fra' Andrew’s family and senior members of the Order, two mounted Carabinieri of the Italian Republic stood to attention as the procession passed through the arched gateway. The monks of the nearby Benedictine abbey church of Sant’Anselmo walked alongside, intoning Gregorian chant. A military guard of honour made up of Carabinieri and the Order’s Military Corps of the Italian Association awaited the arrival of the coffin at the Basilica. The Last Post sounded.

The solemn High Mass was celebrated by the Cardinalis Patronus of the Order, Cardinal Pio Laghi, and concelebrated with Cardinals Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo, Poupard, Tauran, Martino, Rodé, Foley, the Prelate of the Order, Monsignor Angelo Acerbi, and numerous chaplains, all robed in purple. Also present were Cardinals Sodano, Daoud, Lajolo and Sozka.

The acting head of the Order, the Lieutenant ad interim, Fra' Giacomo Dalla Torre del Tempio di Sanguinetto, concluded the moving service by reading the Prayer of the Order in Latin. Then in solemn procession, the family and senior members of the Order accompanied Fra’ Andrew Bertie to his last resting place in the Order’s church of Santa Maria del Priorato, where he joins two other Grand Masters - Fra' Galeazzo de Thun Hoenstein (75th Grand Master, 1905-1931) and Fra' Angelo de Mojana de Cologna (77th Grand Master, 1962-1988). The interment which followed in the splendid eighteenth century Piranesi church was a simple ceremony - Latin prayers intoned over the coffin draped with the Order flag, a white eight-pointed cross on a red ground.

Around the world, at the same hour, Masses were celebrated in Order churches and chapels and hospitals to mark the passing of this much loved leader.

The State Funeral, when heads of state and dignatories from around the world will be present, together with thousands of Order members, workers and volunteers, takes place on the afternoon of Saturday 8 March in the Basilica of St.Paul’s Outside the Walls.

08 February 2008

Death of the Grand Master Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and Malta

V. Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine.
R. Et lux perpetua luceat eis.

Fidelium animae, per misericordiam Dei, requiescant in pace. Amen.


Magistral Palace, 8 February 2008

The death is announced of HMEH 78th Grand Master of the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and Malta, Fra' Andrew Willoughby Ninian Bertie, in Rome on 7 February 2008. The Grand Commander of the Order of Malta, Baillif Frà Giacomo dalla Torre del Tempio di Sanguinetto, has been sworn in as Lieutenant ad interim of the Order, and remains acting head of the Sovereign Order until a new Grand Master is elected.

Andrew Willoughby Ninian Bertie was the first Englishman to be elected to the post of Grand Master in the Order’s 900-year history. Born 15 May 1929, he was educated at Ampleforth College, Christ Church Oxford and the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. After military service in the Scots Guards, he worked as a financial journalist in the City of London, before taking up the senior post in Modern Languages (French and Spanish) at Worth School, Sussex. Admitted to the Order in 1956, he took solemn religious vows in 1981 and served on the Sovereign Council (the government of the Order) for the following seven years before being elected Grand Master on 8th April 1988.

His Highness Fra’ Andrew Bertie, who spoke five languages fluently, oversaw many changes in the Order of Malta, instituting a modern approach to the Order’s humanitarian programmes, increasing the membership and extending the possibilities of aid to the poor and the needy in far-flung regions. He augmented from 49 to 100 the number of the Order’s bilateral diplomatic mission, whose delicate mission it is also to offer assistance to afflicted countries in times of natural disasters or armed conflicts. He set up international conferences where members were invited to contribute to the Order’s humanitarian strategies and encouraged a greater commitment to the spiritual side of the Order’s stated mission to help the sick and the poor and to provide an example of living according to Christian principles. In addition, he modernised the internal structure and administration of the Order.

A man of quiet reflection and wide interests, although of a certain British reserve, Fra' Andrew was much loved by all who worked with him on his many projects. He greatly enjoyed the company of the young, and his former students were often among his visitors to the Magistral Palace in Rome. He always much enjoyed meeting and talking with all those involved in the good works of the Order, many of whom he met on his travels around the world to visit the Order’s charitable activities and consult with the national associations involved. When possible, he spent his holidays at his home in Malta, where he was very involved in organising and teaching judo courses for children as well as tending his farm, whose four different varieties of oranges were a constant source of pride in good weather and anxiety in bad.

That His Most Eminent Highness was held in high regard is evidenced by the many honours bestowed on him:
he was made an honorary citizen of Rapallo (1992), of Veroli (1993), Lourdes (1999), Magione (2002), Birgu (2003) and Santa Severina (2003). In Bolivia in 2002 he was created Huesped Ilustre (La Paz, El Alto and Santa Cruz).

Path to Peace Award 2005, Matteo Ricci Award 2006

Honorary doctorates: Medicine and surgery, University of Bologna (1992); Jurisprudence, University of Malta (1993), Humanities, University of Santo Domingo (1995), Universidad Catolica Boliviana San Pablo, Bolivia (2002); Laws, St. John’s University, Minnesota (2003).

His Highness was also bestowed: Collar of the Order Piano (Holy See), Collar of the Italian Republic, Grand Cross of the Legion d’Honneur, and was holder of more than 50 decorations from other countries.

06 February 2008

John Wayne Sharing His Thoughts on Values for His Daughter

John Wayne appeared several times on the Dean Martin Variety Hour. On this episode he and Dean are discussing the values he would like his 8 month old daughter to grow up with.

05 February 2008

Argument of the Month Club

"Catholic Social Teaching:
Why both Liberals AND Conservatives get it Wrong!"

Dale Ahlquist

Mr. Ahlquist is pretty sure no matter who you are you will disagree with something he has to say. Armed to the hilt with Chesterton thought and quick wit, he is confident AOTM attendees stand no chance winning an argument with him. Come try your best to show this brother the light! Tuesday, February 12thBasement of St. Augustine Church in South St. Paul.
6:30 pm Social (beverages and appetizers)
Dinner at 7:00 PM
Total cost for the evening $12 at the door

Come argue against our speaker or defend his position if you agree during the Q&A, which starts immediately following dessert. You are all encouraged to enjoy the good humor, food and fellowship. We enjoy the company of men from all different creeds and ages. Priests and seminarians get in for free but are not shown any partiality in debate. Fathers may bring their underage sons as long as they accompany them.

St. Augustine Catholic Church
5th Ave. N. & 3rd St. N in South St. Paul

02 February 2008

Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary

As another Lent begins in a few days we are often left struggling with, "what can I do for Lent, what can I give up; candy, dessert, coffee (NO)?" "Maybe I'll pray more." Well in addition to fasting and alsmgiving I want to suggest a wonderful form of liturgical prayer that is easy to say and fit into a busy schedule although hopefully we'll have a little more time after turning off the t.v. and/or cutting back on other activities. The Little Office of Mary is an ancient devotion in the Church.

Historical Background
The Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary which appeared in the 9th or 10th century and is a shortened form of the Common of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Liturgy of the Hours (Divine Office). It may have originally been put together to be prayed in connection with the Votive Masses of Our Lady on Saturday, which were written by Alciun, the liturgical master of Charlemagne’s court. Saint Peter Damian (d. 1072) revised it and recommended it. It was adopted by two religious communities, the Cistercians and the Camaldulensians. Later the secular clergy also used it.
The Little Office varied in different communities and locations, but was standardized by Pius V in 1585. It became part of the Books of Hours in Mary’s honor and was used by many lay people. Beautifully decorated Books of Hours were the pride of many a noble. The Marian Library has examples of such books. Women’s congregations and Third Orders often made it mandatory for their members to pray the Little Office.
In 1952, it was revised with many additions to the prayers according to the six periods of the liturgical season. Vatican II designated the revised office as part of the public prayer of the Church.
As it is a liturgical prayer of the Church it is more beneficial to us then our personal private prayer. St. Alphonsus said that he preferred one prayer of the Breviary to a hundred private prayers. As mentioned above this Little Office was obligatory for many Third Orders. The Knights of Malta would say the Little Office as they rode off into battle.

Baronius Press has re-printed a new copy of the Little Office of the BVM and I have linked to it under My Favorites.

Novena to Our Lady of Lourdes

February 11th is the feast day of Our Lady of Lourdes so today is the day to begin a novena to Mary under this wonderful title. This is the 150th anniversary of the apparition of Mary at Lourdes and Pope Benedict has granted several indulgences attached to this feast. February 11th is also World Day of the Sick.

There is also an official Lourdes2008 web site with more information about this jubilee year.

There is also a preparatory novena if you are making a pilgrimage to Lourdes. (For those unable to go to Lourdes, we can still make a spiritual pilgrimage and likewise pray this novena.)

“If between February 2, 2008 … and February 11, 2008, Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Lourdes and 150th anniversary of the apparition, they visit, in any church, grotto or decorous place, the blessed image of that same Virgin of Lourdes, solemnly exposed for public veneration, and before the image participate in a pious exercise of Marian devotion, or at least pause for an appropriate space of time in prayer and with pious meditations, concluding with the recital of the Our Father, the Profession of Faith, … and the invocation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.”
The decree concludes by recalling that faithful who “through sickness, old age or other legitimate reason are unable to leave their homes, may still obtain the Plenary Indulgence … if, with the soul completely removed from attachment to any form of sin and with the intention of observing, as soon as they can, the usual three conditions, on the days February 2 to 11, 2008, in their hearts they spiritually visit the above-mentioned places and recite those prayers, trustingly offering to God, through Mary, the sickness and discomforts of their lives.”

You can read the full decree with other indulgences that pertain to this feast here.

The Military Martyrs

I am adding a new link to a web site that provides biographies of Catholic saints and martyrs who were in the military during the late antiquity and early medieval period. http://www.ucc.ie/milmart/index.html


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