30 January 2009

The Jerosolimitan Nuns of The Order of St. John of Jerusalem

In the earlier days of the Order of St. John there were numerous convents of nuns affiliated with the Order. Today there is only one that I am aware of and it is located on the island of Malta. In fact it is the only part of the Order to have maintained a continuous existence there although they were separated from the Order itself from the time of Napolean until a few years ago when they were officially absorbed back into the Order. They are officially known as the Jerosolimitan Nuns of The Order of St. John of Jerusalem, Rhodes and Malta. Here is a little bit about them from their web page.

Who are we? We are a small community of only 15 nuns, the only Jerosolimitan contemplative community in the world!

Our charisma is intercessory prayer for our families, friends, benefactors, the Maltese archipelago and the world. Our Monastery is located in the heart of Valletta in St Ursula’s Street.

We were founded by Grand Master Hughes de Loubenx Verdalle towards the end of the sixteenth century. Ever since then it has seen vast changes both inside and outside. Now we are currently restoring our fa├žade which was literally falling to pieces. So far two-thirds only of the project have been completed due to lack of funds. This historic monastery has been in existence for over 420 years. Its history has been published just three years ago. The first publication in Maltese, the second being in Italian. Now we are waiting for the third translation in English. Our work varies: our primary 'work' is prayer, however we have to do kitchen, cleaning, sacristan and portress duties and take care of the sick nuns. We also do various sorts of crafts, such as embroidery and devotional objects amongst others. Staff organisation changes once every 3 months.

Today the monastery is sui juris, that is to say it recognizes none other than the Holy See and the Archbishop of the Diocese as its immediate Superiors.
During his visits, the Archbishop oversees regulatory discipline in accordance with the laws of the Church [CJC, can. 615; 628, § 2, n.1; 630, § 3; 630; 667, §§ 2, 3]. Presented by the nuns and chosen by the Archbishop, the monastery chaplain also holds the post of Rector of the Church annexed to the monastery. In accordance with Church law [can.561], none can celebrate the Eucharist, administer the Sacraments or carry out any other functions without his permission.

Contact between the Order and the monastery was officially terminated upon the Order’s departure from Malta. When the numbers of Maltese Chaplain Priests serving the Order dwindled and eventually finished, the monastery became dependant on the services of priests of the Diocese and other Maltese religious. Even after recovering its lost recognition, the Order of St John in Rome failed to re-establish solid contact with the monastery “that always held dear its Johanniter identity and charisma”, and the members of which unconditionally declared themselves living heritage “of the Knights” in Malta.

In June 1960, the Group of Maltese members of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta was founded. The Maltese National Association of the Order, made up of ad honorem members of different degrees, and of whom some showed interest in the monastery, was founded in 1965.

A circular issued by the Curia [n.183] dated 29th September 1987, prohibited ‘Knighthood conferments’ by a ‘number of Chivalric Orders existing on the Island’ in churches. The time had come to define the proper affinity with the Order that rightly called itself ‘The Order of St John, of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta’. Our efforts and those of the then President of the Maltese Association Architect Roger Degiorgio resulted in the issuing of a Magisterial Decree [n. 2247/31805] by Grandmaster Fra Angelo de Mojana, through which the historical affinity between the Order and the monastery was re-established and recognised by the Holy See. This step also helped accredit the Order with Ambassadorial links with the Government of Malta.

For more information on these nuns and there work you can visit their website.

23 January 2009

The Church of Our Lady Under the Chain - Prague

The church of Our Lady Under the Chain in Prague belonging to the Grand Priory of Bohemia of the Order of Malta.

22 January 2009

Prison Ministry - Suggestions for Action

The following is taken from the USCCB document, Responsibility, Rehabilitation, and Restoration: A Catholic Perspective on Crime and Criminal Justice published in 2000. The appendix offers some suggestions on how to get active in prison ministry. The full document can be read at the USCCB website.

Suggestions for Action

The Catholic community has a tremendous history and capacity to help shape the issues of crime and criminal justice in the United States. Few organizations do more to prevent crime or heal its effects than the Catholic Church. Through many committed individual Catholics, prison ministry programs, parish outreach efforts, Catholic schools, diocesan peace and justice offices, community organizing projects, ex-offender reintegration programs, family counseling, drug and alcohol recovery programs, and charitable services to low-income people, the Catholic community responds to criminal justice concerns in a wide variety of ways. But we can do more.

This list of suggestions and resources is by no means exhaustive. Rather, it is intended to give individual Catholics, parishes, and dioceses some directions about programs and policies that reflect Catholic principles and values as we work together to implement this statement.

Teach Right from Wrong, Respect for Life, Forgiveness and Mercy
Parish priests, Catholic educators, and a wide variety of other efforts assist parents in teaching children right from wrong, respect for life, and forgiveness and mercy. Catholics also can have an impact in their own families and communities, when they teach by example and demonstrate these values by their actions.

Respect for human life—the cornerstone of Catholic social teaching—is a key to our work in criminal justice because we believe that the current culture of violence contributes to crime. We bishops urge Catholics to work against the violence of abortion, euthanasia, and assisted suicide. We call for renewed efforts to abolish the death penalty. In addition, Catholics must work to ensure that everyone has access to those things that enhance life and dignity: decent housing, a job with a living wage, and health care. Catholics can
  • Promote a culture of life, alternatives to abortion by supporting adoption, foster care, and homes for unwed mothers
  • Read the U.S. Catholic Bishops statement, Renewing the Mind of the Media: A Statement on Overcoming Exploitation of Sex and Violence in Communications, which offers ways for Catholics to help curtail the use of violent and sexual content on radio and television and in print media and movies.
  • Support local programs that offer young people character-building opportunities and divert their energy to positive endeavors: athletics, Scouting, Church-sponsored after-school and evening social programs, and tutoring and literacy programs.
  • Encourage schools, churches, and neighborhood centers to teach conflict resolution, especially to children, as a way to reduce tension and violence.
  • Work to ensure that jobs, affordable housing, and accessibility to health services are available in your community.
  • Oppose attempts to impose or expand the death penalty in your state. In states that sanction the death penalty, join organizations that work to curtail its use (e.g., prohibit the execution of teenagers or the mentally ill) and those that call for its abolition.
  • Invite parish discussions for collaborative responses to the death penalty—such as public prayer vigils, tolling of church bells, penitential practices—when an execution is scheduled.

Stand With Victims and Their Families

The Church's witness to victims and their families must be more focused and comprehensive. We must see victims as people with many needs, not just those satisfied by the criminal justice system. The government's role is to ensure that the offender is punished, that reparations are made and that the community feels safe, but victims have spiritual, physical and emotional needs that are often best met by family, friends, neighbors and the community of faith. The Church should pursue policies and programs that respond to all the needs of victims of crime, just as we do to victims of natural disasters. To support victims, Catholics can

  • Learn more about the types of programs that are available for victims at the local level. For example, many states offer reparations for victims of violence, and some local churches have developed effective victim ministry programs.
  • Catholic parishes can work to discover the gaps in meeting victims' needs and explore ways to fill those gaps.
  • Support local programs that work to train people for victim ministry. Where these programs don't exist, join with other churches, civic, and community groups to form networks of people ready to respond to the material, emotional, and spiritual needs of victims.
  • Promote victim ministry programs at the parish level with the goal of having a consistent and comprehensive presence to those affected by crime. Parishioners can bring meals, secure broken windows and doors, and offer emotional support to victims of break-ins or violent encounters. Pastoral ministers should become familiar with services available through Catholic Charities and other counseling agencies and victims' programs and help connect victims with these services.

Reach Out to Offenders and Their Families

Just as victims of crime have a variety of needs, so do offenders and their families, especially the children of offenders. The Church should not only have a strong presence in prisons and jails—where we Catholics work to meet the spiritual and emotional needs of inmates—but should make special efforts to assist children left without the support of their incarcerated parent. Catholics can

  • Promote prison ministry programs at the diocesan and parish levels. We affirm the dedicated deacons and priests who carry forward this mission. We welcome lay ministers—both volunteer and professional—who are indispensable to this ministry.
  • Reach out to the families of inmates. Parishes can mentor families caught up in the cycle of crime, assist with transportation for prison visitations, offer material assistance when income is lost because of the incarceration, and provide counseling (often through Catholic Charities agencies).
  • Promote prisoner re-entry programs. Often the most difficult time for a former inmate is trying to reintegrate into his or her community. Some parishes have made available church property for transition houses while others assist in providing the spiritual, material, and emotional assistance that the probation and parole system rarely provides.

Build Community

Catholics believe that life in community enables all people to be fully human. We value strong, intact families and healthy neighborhoods. Crime, especially violent crime, often destroys families and communities and can make everyone feel less safe or secure. Catholics are encouraged to promote all of those things that support family life and lift up the community. Catholics can

  • Promote the variety of efforts in our neighborhoods that encourage active participation in the life of the community. Neighborhood watch groups, community-oriented policing, and partnerships between law enforcement and the local faith community are all part of the web of relationships that create safe and secure communities.
  • Promote the work of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development in your local diocese by giving generously to the annual collection. Grants from the collection are given back to communities to support organizing projects which bring people together to work on community needs, including crime and criminal justice.
  • Support programs in your community that engage youth and build their self-esteem. Become a Big Brother or Big Sister, mentor children at risk, and support school or community center programs that offer diversions for children between the hours of 3:00 and 8:00 p.m. when parental supervision is often inadequate.
    Discover new ways of dealing with offenders. Models such as Boston's "Ten-Point Coalition" can be replicated in many communities. These programs encourage partnerships between local churches and police and divert troubled teens from a life of crime to becoming productive citizens.

Advocate Policies That Offer Real Alternatives to Crime

Charitable works go a long way toward solving some of the problems of crime and victimization. Yet efforts to change policies and enhance programs that affect the treatment of victims and offenders, and those that help restore communities affected by crime are also essential to a new approach to crime and criminal justice. We Catholics must bring our beliefs and values to the attention of those in positions to influence policy. State Catholic conferences, diocesan offices (e.g., pro-life, education, and social concerns), and parish legislative advocacy networks can help individual Catholics to support public policies that reflect our values. Catholics can

  • Learn about federal, state, and local policies that affect how criminal justice is administered.
  • Join diocesan legislative networks to ensure that the Catholic voice is heard on crime and criminal justice issues. If your diocese does not have a legislative network, call your state Catholic conference or visit the website for the U.S. bishops' Office of Domestic Policy at www.usccb.org/sdwp for actions you can take at the national level.
  • Talk to prosecutors, judges, chiefs of police, and others involved in the criminal justice system and seek their views on how the system can better reflect our values and priorities.

Organize Diocesan Consultations

A primary role for the Church is to gather people of different viewpoints and help them to reach common ground. Out of this dialogue can come greater appreciation for diverse perspectives, credibility for the Church's involvement in the issues, and ultimately a change of heart and mind by those who can impact the criminal justice system so that it more fully reflects gospel values.

  • We bishops encourage dioceses to invite jail and prison chaplains, victims of crime, corrections officers, judges, wardens, former inmates, police, parole and probation officers, substance abuse and family counselors, community leaders and others to listening sessions. The purpose of these sessions would be to gain a better appreciation of all the parties affected by crime and involved in the criminal justice system, to seek common ground on local approaches to crime, to collaborate more easily in areas of mutual concern, and to build community among all these people of goodwill who are trying to make society safer and life more complete.
  • State Catholic conferences may convene policy makers, ministers, and other interested parties at the state level and engage in a similar process of listening, learning, and planning in an effort to make the criminal justice system more reflective of justice and mercy, responsibility and rehabilitation, restoration and wholeness.

21 January 2009

One Heart, One Mind

The following is excerpted from an essay by Fr. James Schall S.J. at Georgetown. The full article can be read at The Catholic Thing.
Someone recently remarked that, in fact, this land is going in the opposite direction from its motto, E Pluribus Unum. We are going rather from one nation to an enforced diversity of nations, languages, lifestyles, and religions. Our theories are not those of unity but those of diversity.

The “one heart and one mind” thesis now seems rather to mean that we accept everything without asking about what is compatible with what. In the name of unity, we overlook differences that constitute the integrity of what we are.

Theories of diversity precisely cannot answer the question of “Who made this land for you and me?” Moreover, to have “one heart” we need to have “one mind.” We need to agree on first principles of what we are, of what makes us human.

Though it may sound shocking, we cannot have one heart and one mind if we do not have one truth about the essential things. As I suggested, there is a theory of “democracy” that is based on the idea that there is no truth. The enemies in this form of rule (and it does rule) are those supposedly “fanatical” ones who maintain that there is a truth about the fundamental things.

19 January 2009

Marriage Therefore Love, Not Love Therefore Marriage

I found this interesting post on the blog, Unam Sanctam Catholicam, on the topic of courtship and dating. In our age filled with romance novels and "date movies" and so on, too many people have an unrealistic expectation of the Sacrament of Matrimony and confuse infatuation and "being in love" with what love truly means as the foundation for building a relationship.
I reject (my opinion) this modern fascination with “discerning who God wants you to marry.” Obviously we want to discern God’s will in all things to the best of our ability, but what exactly are we discerning and how precise can we be with our discernment? In my extensive reading of history, here is how it has always been done:

The discernment process has always been whether or not to get married, not to whom one gets married.

That is, in the Middle Ages and beyond there is a great focus in spiritual writings on discerning whether you are called to celibacy or the married state. But once one discerns they are called to the married life, there is almost nothing like we see nowadays about “figuring out who God wants you to marry.” There is a lot written, however, about how to best “pick” your spouse. That is to say, the choice of a spouse was not seen as a matter of God’s will but as a matter of human prudence, much like picking a good house or picking a good piece of fruit from the market. Love was never seen to be the basis for a marriage, though it was sought after to arise after the fact by mutual affection and sharing of a common life. The woman (or man) who married simply out of love was considered a fool, and there are no records that I know of any person being taught to ask who God wanted them to marry. It was seen as something that a person was supposed to use their human judgment (common sense) on and not try to be all vocationally oriented with. A man chose a wife based on several factors, and once the marriage was consummated, love was seen to be a worthy thing that could grow on the basis of that union, but it was not deemed essential. My RCIA classes always marvel when we get to the class on the Sacrament of Matrimony and they see that “love” is not required for either the form or matter of the sacrament.

But I want to stress this: the “discernment” came when you decided whether or not to be married at all. That is because, of course, there used to be a great emphasis on the superiority of the celibate state. However, nowadays, pop-Catholic culture would
have everybody spend as much time discerning their spouse as they would the question of whether or not to remain celibate.This is because in the past 40 years, marriage has been stressed more and more as a “vocation,” or a calling. This has always been admitted, but the emphasis was different before. In the past, there was those called to virginity, and then there was everybody else. Nobody spoke of being “called” to marriage – marriage was referred to, with virginity, as a “state in life”; i.e., a state that you may find yourself in, not necessarily some heavenly calling. Obviously God has a will for everybody, and you are fulfilling that will to the extent that you conform to God’s design for your life. Therefore, God has a will or a call as to what career I should pursue in life, for example. But people don’t usually refer to their jobs as “callings” in the religious sense. God has a will for everything we do, but we don’t always apply the words “calling” and “vocation” to them. I think in the modern Church, because of the drastic decline in consecrated virginity, people are over-anxious to apply the terms “vocation,” “discernment” and “calling” to other endeavors besides consecrated virginity, in an attempt to make it seem like everybody is still seeking God’s will even though there are a drastic reduction in vocations. God, however, has not stopped calling people – but people have stopped listening.

But that is a digression. So, what criterion does one use to pick a good spouse? Traditionally, the pick of a spouse was foremost an economic decision, and I don’t think this was an entirely bad idea. Economics are very important in marriage, and a home is more likely to be happy if it was financially stable. Therefore, a bachelor might look for qualities in a woman that would lead him to believe she could help him establish a financially secure home. Did she have good work habits? How did she bear up under trials? Was she patient? In some cases, did she have strong arms and a sturdy back? Because a husband wanted his wife to be respectable as well, she had to be of solid moral character: Was she devout? Was she loyal? Would she make a good mother? Therefore,the husband did not so much choose a wife because of an intense love or a desire to do God’s will, but of practical considerations based on what the
addition of the wife to the husband’s household would bring to the family collectively children, financial security, a pious atmosphere and respectability. Of course, all men wanted their wives to be attractive. Attraction is the basis for all of these things, and it was the most fundamental type of desire from which true love could grow. After a man secured a wife who would fulfill all of these requirements, he was considered happy and blessed if, in time, he came to truly love her and she him. But love was seen as secondary and in the end non-essential. It was an ideal to be strived for, not a building block that everybody felt like they had to have to get started.

To some sense, I applied these principles in my own life when I was dating my wife, though I was only 19 and still pretty ignorant. When I was dating my own wife, I looked at her and admired certain qualities about her: her fidelity, joy, industriousness, beauty and virtue. Therefore, based on these factors, I approached her and informed her that I thought we ought to get married. It is kind of amusing: I never asked her to marry me, nor did she ask me, nor did I ever ask permission from her father. If I could do it over, I would no doubt do so. But at the same time, there is a simple logic in the way I went about it: I simply approached her like it was a mathematical formula and said, “Based on X, Y, and Z factors I think we are a good match and ought to get married.” And she agreed (she was young and ignorant, too: only about 18 – that’s the only reason she agreed to marry me!).

That brings up another point: if you are trying to discern whom you should marry, the worst time to do that is while you are already dating them. How can a person make an objective judgment about this when they are already emotionally involved with another person? Just like in college, guys who joined the pre-Theologate program were forbidden from having girlfriends. The reason was obvious – one has a hard time hearing a call to the priesthood if you have a girlfriend distracting you. In the same way, you can’t figure out if you should marry a person after you are already involved with them. This is why so many people get married while they are infatuated, fail to see their partner’s flaws and then accuse them bitterly of changing” after the marriage is complete. (Or worse yet, see these flaws but overlook or discount them believing instead that "he/she will change.)

Here’s how I think it should work: a man ought to observe a woman from afar, from a vantage point of friendship only, and a remote friendship at that. He should look at her objectively, asking himself questions about her virtue, modesty, industriousness, etc. Only if she fulfills all of these requirements ought he to go ahead and pursue a romantic relationship – and even then I don’t think he has to say for sure “yes, this is the person I think God wants me to marry,” but she should at least be a potential. By the way, you will never know if the person you marry is the one you should have until you are old and ready to die. Only then can you look back on your life and really reflect on it. J.R.R. Tolkien said that all marriages were, in a sense, a gamble, and that most were probably mistakes. Here’s what he wrote to his son on the issue:

"Nearly all marriages, even happy ones, are mistakes: in the sense that almost certainly (in a more perfect world, or even with a little more care in this very imperfect one) both partners might be found more suitable mates. But the real soul-mate is the one you are actually married to.

"The last line emphasizes my thought exactly. Instead of worrying about who God wants you to pick (because you’ll never be able to be sure, and even if you are, you’ll second guess yourself as soon as things get hard and then start blaming God for your poor judgment), use the same common human prudence, enlightened by grace, that you would use if you were making any other long-term commitment. Date and marry based on this, and realize you are not marrying to make yourself happy but to make another happy and to establish a home – and in that your happiness will arise, and with it love.
There's more of the post here.

Abortion- Whose Future Has It Destroyed?

The following video was produced by CatholicVote.com. Here is a a little about them from their website. The video will be aired tomorrow on BET throughout the day. Here is proof that the characterization of the Pro-Life movement as simply interested in overturning Roe v. Wade is false.

CatholicVote.org is a faith based educational program dedicated to informing all Americans about the critical issues in the public policy arena.

A project of the Fidelis Center for Law and Policy, CatholicVote.org is committed to producing powerful programs designed to help a new generation visualize and therefore create a Culture of Life.

The late Pope John Paul wrote that our times require such bold action. "This vital field of action for the Church requires a radical change of mentality, an authentic new awakening of conscience in everyone. New methods are needed, as are new expressions and new courage."

Life: Imagine the Potential™ is our newest campaign designed for sharing on the Internet, and for use on broadcast TV. The campaign is focused on reaching more than people who are already pro-life. Instead, we hope to reach Americans who are either indifferent, or who have not yet thought about the great potential of every human life.

In the weeks and months ahead, we will debut more commercials in our Life: Imagine the Potential™ campaign. We will be launching a larger and more interactive website for our subscribers and visitors in the next month. Stay tuned for more great features.

CatholicVote.org supports Pope Benedict XVI and the full teachings of the Catholic Church. We are a lay association of the faithful with over 100,000 members.

Stewardship and Closing of Parishes

Yesterday at Mass the Pastor gave a familiar talk on the struggling finances at the Parish where one of the Masses is in the Extraordinary Form. There are three parishes within a few minutes of each other and one wonders how long they can continue to struggle and keep all three open. Having travelled with my family for nearly 20 years to attend an Indult Mass or at least an orthodox New Mass I do not have the same loyalty to my parish as my ancestors did. Coincidentally then I found this article over at The Catholic Thing related to this issue. Here is an excerpt.

It is hard not to sympathize with people who are getting tossed out of the church where they were married and their children baptized and maybe someone dear was buried. But is it true that they paid, prayed, and obeyed? Does the blame lay only with a power-and-money-hungry archbishop?

Do they pay? Many folks still pitch a dollar into the collection basket each week. That is likely the same dollar they saw their dad toss in forty years ago and that their grandfather tossed in sixty years ago. That 1948 dollar is now worth about 11 cents. To match granddad’s buck someone today would have to give almost $9. And what about the tithing that our Protestant brothers are so good at? Catholics don’t even talk about that.

Do they pray? Mass attendance in the United States is higher than in Europe, but it sure isn’t anything to be proud about. According to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University, on any given Sunday fully 70 percent of Catholics are not going to Mass.

Do they obey? One of the protesters mentioned by the Times is “Karen Virginia Shockely, 43, who participates in the vigil with her two teenage sons.” I am not going to point fingers at Ms. Shockley, who very well might have ten children at home. But if she does, she is in a distinct minority, even among Catholics. Likely as not, Catholics have chosen not to obey their Church when it comes to matters of human sexuality. Most Catholics are indistinguishable from their highly secular neighbors. They have two children and in that common and artless phrase that signals their turn from the Church on sexual ethics, they “are done.”

These same Catholics will complain about a lack of priests but where do they think priests come from – mid-air? They think they can keep their schools and churches open with tiny families and almost universal contraception? They are shocked when their schools and parishes close. They stand outside and weep. They take over buildings. Above all they complain about the bishops. But they rarely look toward themselves.

Other smelly little heterodoxies peeked out in that New York Times article and they explain a lot. Some parishioners propose buying the church from the archdiocese. To what end – to become Congregationalists? One lady said, “I cannot go back to the priest and the vestments and that, I always felt, prince-of-the-church approach. I’ll always be Catholic, but I may not be able to worship in the mainstream Catholic Church.”

And these folks are surprised their church is closed?

13 January 2009

Pope Benedicts homily at Cardinal Laghi's Funeral

In a homily pronounced at the end a funeral Mass for Cardinal Pio Laghi, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for Catholic Education, the Holy Father recalled the career of the late prelate, who died on Sunday 11 January at the age of 86, following a long illness.

The Mass was celebrated by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals. Benedict XVI mentioned the cardinal's spiritual testament, dated 14 November 2008, in which the late prelate writes: "'Once again I offer my life to God for the Church, for the Holy Father and for the sanctification of my confreres in the priesthood'. ... We can say", the Pope commented, "that the entire priestly mission of Cardinal Pio Laghi was passed in the direct service of the Holy See. "Always", added the Pope, "he drew inspiration from the words Peter addressed to Jesus on the occasion of the miraculous catch of fish: 'Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so I will let down the nets'. ... He chose these words as the motto of his episcopal ministry ... because when he was consecrated a bishop on 22 June 1969, that Sunday's liturgy included the evangelical episode of the miraculous catch of fish".

The Holy Father then reviewed the various stages of the late cardinal's life, highlighting how he was born into a family "where he received a sound human and Christian formation, and which he described in his spiritual testament as 'Christian, Catholic, hardworking and honest'". The Pope also dwelt on the cardinal's studies in Faenza, Italy, and at the Major Pontifical Seminary of Rome, and his ordination as priest on 20 April 1946. Having graduated in theology and canon law from Rome's Lateran University, "he began his long itinerary of diplomatic and pastoral work" in the apostolic nunciatures to Nicaragua, U.S.A. and India, after which he returned to the Secretariat of State for five years.

In 1969, Paul VI appointed him as delegate to Jerusalem and Palestine, pro-nuncio to Cyprus and apostolic visitor to Greece; and in 1974 he was appointed as apostolic nuncio to Argentina. There he remained until 1980 when he took the office of apostolic delegate to the United States. "It was during those years", the Pope recalled, "that official relations were established between the Holy See and the U.S. government". John Paul II, aware of Cardinal Laghi's "long experience and knowledge of the Church", appointed him as prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, making him a cardinal in 1991.

In 1993, he also appointed him as patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. "We must remember", the Pope went on, "the special missions" entrusted to Cardinal Laghi, such as consigning a pontifical Message to Israeli and Palestinian authorities in May 2001 "to encourage them to implement an immediate cease-fire and resume dialogue". Also that of March 2003 when, as special envoy to Washington, he delivered a pontifical Message to U.S. President George W. Bush "explaining the Holy See's position and initiatives to contribute to disarmament and peace in the Middle East. Delicate missions", said Pope Benedict, "which he, as always, sought to fulfil with faithful dedication to Christ and His Church".

Finally, the Holy Father mentioned the cardinal's "zeal in the promotion of vocations and formation for the priesthood", and he concluded: "At the moment in which we bid him farewell, our hearts are moved by the firm hope which ... 'is full of immortality', the same hope that illuminated the priestly and apostolic life of Cardinal Pio Laghi".

11 January 2009

Assassins of the Family - Birth Contol

Chesterton wrote an essay of Social Reform versus Birth Control which in light of news that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, (who some try to pass as "pro-life" because he is a Mormon) filed a bill on the opening day of the new Congress that will provide more government money for birth control seems truly prescient. Ironically we were constantly told all last election cycle that we needed to vote for the Democrats because they were the politicians concerned about welfare, job creation and the other socio-economic issues. But when new jobless figures are released, with the highest levels in years, and many cities and states facing economic deficits placing more jobs at risk, Sen. Reid has as a priority increased spending for birth control. Perhaps we can understand this better after reading the following excerpt from Chesterton.

If anybody doubts that this is the very simple motive, let him test it by the very simple statements made by the various Birth-Controllers like the Dean of St. Paul's. They never do say that we suffer from a too bountiful supply of bankers or that cosmopolitan financiers must not have such large families. They do not say that the fashionable throng at Ascot wants thinning, or that it is desirable to decimate the people dining at the Ritz or the Savoy. Though, Lord knows, if ever a thing human could look like a sub-human jungle, with tropical flowers and very poisonous weeds, it is the rich crowd that assembles in a modern Americanized hotel.

But the Birth-Controllers have not the smallest desire to control that jungle. It is much too dangerous a jungle to touch. It contains tigers. They never do talk about a danger from the comfortable classes, even from a more respectable section of the comfortable classes. The Gloomy Dean is not gloomy about there being too many Dukes; and naturally not about there being too many Deans. He is not primarily annoyed with a politician for having a whole population of poor relations, though places and public salaries have to be found for all the relations. Political Economy means that everybody except politicians must be economical.

The Birth-Controller does not bother about all these things, for the perfectly simple reason that it is not such people that he wants to control. What he wants to control is the populace, and he practically says so. He aways insists that a workman has no right to have so many children, or that a slum is perilous because it is producing so many children. The question he dreads is "Why has not the workman a better wage? Why has not the slum family a better house?" His way of escaping from it is to suggest, not a larger house but a smaller family. The landlord or the employer says in his hearty and handsome fashion: "You really cannot expect me to deprive myself of my money. But I will make a sacrifice, I will deprive myself of your children."

The Heresy of Immorality

From the "The Next Heresy" in G.K.'s Weekly, June 19, 1926. As usual truly prophetic.

For the next great heresy is simply going to be an attack on morality; and especially on sexual morality. And it is coming, not from a few Socialists surviving from the Fabian Society, but from the living exultant energy of the rich, resolved to enjoy themselves at last, with neither Popery, nor Puritanism, nor Socialism to hold them back. . . . The madness of tomorrow is not in Moscow, but much more in Manhattan.

Remember this and pray for the intercession of the Holy Family whose feast day is today in the traditional, 1962, calendar.

Cardinal Pio Laghi - Cardinal Patronus SMOM R.I.P.

Cardinal Pio Laghi Bailiff Grand Cross of Honor and Devotion, the Cardinal Patronus of the Order of Malta since 1993 has died today.

The Order of Malta lost one of its most prominent members, as well as a moral and spiritual guide, declared the Grand Master, Matthew Festing, who visited Cardinal Laghi in hospital for the last time on Thursday evening.
The Cardinal Patronus has the task of promoting the spiritual interests of the Order and its members as well as the relationships between the Holy See and the Order.

President Bush and his wife sent condolences to Pope Benedict XVI and all Catholics.

"Cardinal Laghi was a friend who, in his more than 60 years of service to the Catholic Church, worked tirelessly for peace and justice in our world. As the Papal Nuncio to the United States during the final years of the Cold War, and in his many other assignments, Cardinal Laghi always strove to unite people of all religions and promote reconciliation, religious freedom, and tolerance,"

The funeral for Cardinal Laghi will be Tuesday at St. Peter's. Pope Benedict is expected to participate in the funeral along with the Grand Master Fra. Festing and members of the Sovereign Council.

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

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

Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord

05 January 2009

SF Church Vandalized by Opponents of Prop 8

The Catholic League released a statement today regarding the vandalization done to Most Holy Redeemer parish in San Francisco by gay activists upset with the Church's support of Proposition 8.

Most Holy Redeemer Catholic Church, in the heart of San Francisco’s gay Castro community, was vandalized over the weekend by opponents of Proposition 8, the California resolution passed by voters in November that rejected gay marriage. Swastikas were painted on the church and the names Ratzinger (referring to Pope Benedict XVI) and Niederauer (the San Francisco Archbishop) were scrawled besides the Nazi symbol.

Catholic League president Bill Donohue is asking Catholics nationwide to respond to this incident: “In the wake of Proposition 8, innocent persons have been assaulted, churches have been vandalized, a white substance resembling anthrax was sent to the Knights of Columbus and to Mormon temples, supporters of traditional marriage have been branded Nazis, African Americans have been called the ‘N-word,’ houses and cars have been trashed, etc. Unfortunately, most of those in the gay community have been silent about these acts.

“Part of the blame for the latest attack goes to San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Both Newsom and the Board have shown nothing but contempt for the First Amendment rights of Catholics. When crucifixes are sold as sex toys and Catholic sensibilities are assaulted by naked men in the street at the annual Folsom Street Fair, they say nothing. When gay men dressed as nuns show up at Mass—at the same church—they say nothing. But the Board was quite vocal about condemning the Catholic Church in 2006, something which led to a lawsuit triggered by the Catholic League and the Thomas More Law Center.

“For those who love to write about ‘root causes,’ let them ponder the guilt of these public officials. Moreover, leaders in the gay community show no leadership when it comes to denouncing incivility committed in the name of gay rights. This has got to

Ave Maria Mutual Funds and the NY Times Bias

A few weeks ago the Editorial Board of The New York Times took umbrage with Ave Maria Funds and their advertising on the Laura Ingram radio show. Because these funds pledge "smart investing and Catholic values" the Times felt inspired to find fault with this claim and sought to point out what they perceive as an inconsistency in this statement. They write,
"Ave Maria hews to a far narrower, unmistakably conservative Catholic outlook. A prime objective, explicitly promised, is not to subsidize sexual indecency. Scan its investor materials and you will not find companies like Playboy Enterprises or firms that donate to Planned Parenthood or bestow health benefits on same-sex couples."
Then they trot out the usual misrepresentation of issues that are supposedly the domain of the "Catholic Left" i.e., the Iraq War, the excesses of capitalism and the death penalty. Since the Ave Maria Funds invest in certain companies that build military related items they are "discredited" by the Times as simply being "conservative Catholics" rather than true Catholics. Obviously since John Paul II called the Iraq War unjust and Ave Maria invests in a company that builds Blackhawk helicopters they are hypocrites, well at least according to the Times. I wonder whether the Times would be as outraged if they realized that Blackhawks are also used in Afghanistan or will be used to fly cover for President Obama while he is aboard Marine 1?

This is nothing but more of the same from the biased NY Times but Bill Donohue at The Catholic League makes another terrific rebuttal,
“It should not matter to anyone if a private company has a cross, or a Star of David, or a crescent and star, as its logo. But to those who harbor an animus against religion, it does. It also matters to liberal Catholics who hate those ‘narrow’ conservative Catholics. Indeed, the editorial is not so much a Catholic-bashing piece as it is a conservative Catholic-bashing screed. This would be a disgraceful editorial in any newspaper—it is doubly disturbing that it should occur in the New York Times, blog or no.”

For anyone interested in supporting Catholic values investing they should contact the Ave Maria Funds.

04 January 2009

January Argument of the Month Club Talk/Dinner

The next meeting of the Argument of the Month Club at St. Augustine's is Tuesday, January 13th. This month's debate will feature Dr. Hippler from Providence Academy versus Geroge Kane from the Minnesota Atheists. They will be discussing issues relating to morality and God and the importance of one for the other. For more information, and a look at the menu, visit their website aotmclub.com.

Latin Mass in Minneapolis

Good news and bad news regarding the Tridentine Mass in the Twin Cities. Bad news first. The Mass being held at St. Walburga's in Rogers has been cancelled for a couple different reasons. The good news. In addition to the Mass at St. Augustines's in South Saint Paul, there is now a TLM Mass being said on the 1st and 3rd Sundays at 10:00 at St. Agnes in St. Paul and beginning March 1st (the First Sunday of Lent) the TLM Mass will be in the Minneapolis area at Sacred Heart in Robbinsdale. Fr. Brian Pederson, previously the Associate at St. Augustine's, and now the Pastor at Sacred Heart will add the TLM at 11:30 every Sunday. We are still working to get a Mass further west to replace the Mass previously held in Rogers so please keep that in prayers.

03 January 2009

An Examination of Conscience

The following examination of conscience was found in the "Missal" of Sir Laurence Shipley after his death and reprinted in The Path of Prayer by Fr. Vincent McNabb.

Let me ask my heart how it stands with God!

Is God my God?

Or is He only one amongst many gods, vulgar or sinful, whom I strive to serve?

Is God the Sovereign of my mind?

Is the thought of God my sovereign thought?

Do I believe in God's Word more than any other word--- more than the beloved word of my friend, the imperative word of my country, the persuasive word of Art and Science?

Do I worship God, in body and spirit, at morn and night, by kneeling down to pray?

Do I pray?

Or do I merely say prayers when with but slight effort of mind and will I might pray?

Is it my lips only, or also my heart, that says: Hallowed be Thy Name?

Do I understand this mystic prayer when I say it---or am I glad not to understand?

Do I dwell with ease---or even joy----on the words Thy Will be done?

Do I hurry over these words lest God overhear them and take me at my word?

Do I trust God?

Do I dread lest He hurt me unawares if I give myself wholly to His keeping?

Do I expect and ask Him to do for me what He has already given me power to do for myself?

Do I thus ask God to serve me, if not in my sins, at least in my life?

Do I love God?

Do I love His way with me more than my own way with myself?

Is God at home in my heart?

Am I at home with God---always at home to God?

Does God dwell in my heart as in His own house, which He may enter and quit at will?

Have I cast Him forth from my soul by any wilful sin?

Have I been as much at ease after my sin as before?

Or have I been restless until, my sin confessed and forgiven, I have found rest in God?

Are the Sacraments of Penance and Holy Eucharist to me the outpourings of Jesus Christ's most precious Blood, to the cleansing and nourishing of my soul?

Do I often thank God, through Jesus Christ, for these and countless other gifts which have made the Church the King's Wedding Feast to me?

Do I still cling to this earth with its pleasant sights and sounds, or are my eyes straining to catch sight of the City of God?

If at this moment Death should knock at the door of my soul, should I treat its summons as an interruption, or an impertinence, or even a cruelty; or should I welcome it as a glad invitation to God's Wedding Feast?

Tu Solus Deus, Tu Solus Dominus.


This blog and the opinions are all my own and in no way imply the endorsement from any organization. Nor does a recommendation of another blog or web site imply my agreement or endorsement of everything found on their site.