29 December 2009

Feast of St. Thomas Becket and Our 'Catholic' Pols

Depending on the outcome of the healthcare bill now in conference the Bishops might have to take a cue from todays Saint and Martyr, Thomas Becket, in dealing with politicians who want to call themselves 'Catholic' even as they refuse to accept non-negotiable Church teaching. IMHO they can begin with Nancy Pelosi who made the following comments to Eleanor Clift for a Newsweek article. It can no longer be denied that her Bishop(s) have made clear the Catholic position vis a vis abortion and she refuses to accept this teaching. Instead she terms it a "difference of opinion."

I have some concerns about the church's position respecting a woman's right to choose. I have some concerns about the church's position on gay rights. I am a practicing Catholic, although they're probably not too happy about that. But it is my faith. I practically mourn this difference of opinion because I feel what I was raised to believe is consistent with what I profess, and that is that we are all endowed with a free will and a responsibility to answer for our actions. And that women should have that opportunity to exercise their free will. (to murder their babies)

You know, I had five children in six years. The day I brought my fifth baby home, that week my daughter turned 6. So I appreciate and value all that they want to talk about in terms of family and the rest. When I speak to my archbishop in San Francisco and his role is to try to change my mind on the subject, well then he is exercising his pastoral duty to me as one of his flock. When they call me on the phone here to talk about, or come to see me about an issue, that's a different story. Then they are advocates, and I am a public official, and I have a different responsibility.

28 December 2009

The Church and Politics

Much has been made of the influence, some would say 'interference', of the Catholic Church in the healthcare debate because of the outspoken defense of the right to life and freedom of conscience protections sought by the U.S. Bishops in the healthcare bills in Congress. Undoubtedly these same hypocrites would have been glad to have their pictures taken with any Bishop who would have ignored these rights and simply supported the bill. But is it wrong for the Church to interfere in the political arena? Here is today's quote from Bishop Sheen and what he says to the subject,

If by interference in politics is meant judging or condemning a philosophy of life which makes the party, or the state, or the class, or the race the source of all rights, and which usurps the soul and enthrones party over conscience and denies those basic rights for which this war was fought, the answer is emphatically Yes! The Church does judge such a philosophy. But when it does this, it is not interfering with politics, for such politics is no longer politics but Theology. When a State sets itself up as absolute as God, when it claims sovereignty over the soul, when it destroys freedom of conscience and freedom of religion, then the State has ceased to be political and has begun to be a counter-Church.

From Characters of the Passion

27 December 2009

The Incarnation

A daily dose of Bishop Sheen.

Love tends to become like the one loved; in fact, it even wishes to become one with the one loved. God loved unworthy man. He willed to become one with him, and that was the Incarnation.

from The Divine Romance

Adoration of Jesus By The Shepherds

A meditation on the announcement of the birth of Jesus to the shepherds by an anonymous Jesuit priest.

For the world's salvation Jesus was born at Bethlehem, and He wished that men should know it, but not the rich, proud, and sensual men of the world, only poor shepherds, simple, laborious, and unworldly. "And there were in that same country shepherds watching and keeping the night watches over their flocks; and behold an angel of the Lord stood by the, and the brightness of God shone round about them, and they feared with a great fear. And the angel said to them, Fear not, for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, that shall be to all the people; for this day is born to you a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord, in the city of David."

May we hope that Jesus will make Himself known to us also, that He will deign to let the brightness of His light shine round about us, and give us tidings of great joy. That we may more surely obtain these favours, let us watch over our senses and the movements of our hearts.

22 December 2009

Social Work Is Serving Without Christ

For my birthday my lovely wife gave me a book of quotes from Fulton Sheen and I hope to post one a day. I've written previously on one of his Life Is Worth Living episodes titled 'Social Work' and that is the topic of this first quote which is on the same subject but not from the show. It is from his book, Those Mysterious Priests.
If God appears dead in our nuclear age, it is because Christians and arid people have isolated Christ from His Cross. Some priests and religions have love enough for he hungry, but not love enough to redeem from guilt. (A bad word for modern man)The priest, in order to relate himself better to the world, may preach a "social Christ" or a "political Christ" or a "revolutionary Christ," but such indifference to the crucifixion produce sermons that are "sounding brass and clinking cymbals." The intellectual and moral commitment of the priest to the Sermon on the Mount needs also the existential surrender to the prolongation of the Cross. Mother Teresa of Calcutta expressed this idea: "Serving of the poor without the love of Christ crucified is social work."

21 December 2009

Help the Brotherhood of Blessed Gerard in South Africa

Father Gerard Lagleder OSB who founded the Brotherhood of Blessed Gerard in South Africa, has promised to shave his beard which he has had for the past 20 years if he can raise 55,555.55 euros in donations by the end of the year. The BBG is the South African Relief Organization of the Order of Malta and they do great work serving the sick and the poor. There are numerous projects they are involved in which include a Care Center, a Children's Home, and Hospice. To learn more about what they do you can visit their website. Make sure to check out the video, An Everlasting Brotherhood.

Please help if you can by making donations via PayPal to Father@bbg.org.za or visit this page on the website for more options http://bbg.org.za/finance/donation.htm

18 December 2009

The Government Can (Not)

Tim Hawkins is a Christian comedian and musician who has done some very funny stuff. This is one of his latest.

17 December 2009

Ember Days

Following the feast day of St. Lucy last week we celebrate the Ember Days of Advent. The Ember Days or Quatuor Tempora are Wednesday, Friday and Saturday and they occur four times a year and co-incide with the beginning of each of the four seasons. They are a reminder for us to focus on God and His creation and our roles as stewards of the Earth.

Catholics were required to fast and abstain from meat in a limited manner on them. From the Fisheaters website there is wonderful explanation of Ember Days and customs related to them including the following the from Dominican, Blessed Jacopo de Voragine (A.D. 1230-1298), Archbishop of Genoa, wrote a collection of the stories of the Saints known as "Legenda Aurea" (Golden Legend). This work gives eight quite interesting reasons to fast during Ember Days:

The fasting of the Quatretemps, called in English Ember days, the Pope Calixtus ordained them. And this fast is kept four times in the year, and for divers reasons.,

For the first time, which is in March, is hot and moist. The second, in summer, is hot and dry. The third, in harvest, is cold and dry. The fourth in winter is cold and moist. Then let us fast in March which is printemps for to repress the heat of the flesh boiling, and to quench luxury or to temper it. In summer we ought to fast to the end that we chastise the burning and ardour of avarice. In harvest for to repress the drought of pride, and in winter for to chastise the coldness of untruth and of malice.

The second reason why we fast four times; for these fastings here begin in March in the first week of the Lent, to the end that vices wax dry in us, for they may not all be quenched; or because that we cast them away, and the boughs and herbs of virtues may grow in us. And in summer also, in the Whitsun week, for then cometh the Holy Ghost, and therefore we ought to be fervent and esprised in the love of the Holy Ghost. They be fasted also in September tofore Michaelmas, and these be the third fastings, because that in this time the fruits be gathered and we should render to God the fruits of good works. In December they be also, and they be the fourth fastings, and in this time the herbs die, and we ought to be mortified to the world.

The third reason is for to ensue the Jews. For the Jews fasted four times in the year, that is to wit, tofore Easter, tofore Whitsunside, tofore the setting of the tabernacle in the temple in September, and tofore the dedication of the temple in December.

The fourth reason is because the man is composed of four elements touching the body, and of three virtues or powers in his soul: that is to wit, the understanding, the will, and the mind. To this then that this fasting may attemper in us four times in the year, at each time we fast three days, to the end that the number of four may be reported to the body, and the number of three to the soul. These be the reasons of Master Beleth.

The fifth reason, as saith John Damascenus: in March and in printemps the blood groweth and augmenteth, and in summer coler, in September melancholy, and in winter phlegm. Then we fast in March for to attemper and depress the blood of concupiscence disordinate, for sanguine of his nature is full of fleshly concupiscence. In summer we fast because that coler should be lessened and refrained, of which cometh wrath. And then is he full naturally of ire. In harvest we fast for to refrain melancholy. The melancholious man naturally is cold, covetous and heavy. In winter we fast for to daunt and to make feeble the phlegm of lightness and forgetting, for such is he that is phlegmatic.

The sixth reason is for the printemps is likened to the air, the summer to fire, harvest to the earth, and the winter to water. Then we fast in March to the end that the air of pride be attempered to us. In summer the fire of concupiscence and of avarice. In September the earth of coldness and of the darkness of ignorance. In winter the water of lightness and inconstancy.

The seventh reason is because that March is reported to infancy, summer to youth, September to steadfast age and virtuous, and winter to ancienty or old age. We fast then in March that we may be in the infancy of innocency. In summer for to be young by virtue and constancy. In harvest that we may be ripe by attemperance. In winter that we may be ancient and old by prudence and honest life, or at least that we may be satisfied to God of that which in these four seasons we have offended him.

The eighth reason is of Master William of Auxerre. We fast, saith he, in these four times of the year to the end that we make amends for all that we have failed in all these four times, and they be done in three days each time, to the end that we satisfy in one day that which we have failed in a month; and that which is the fourth day, that is Wednesday, is the day in which our Lord was betrayed of Judas; and the Friday because our Lord was crucified; and the Saturday because he lay in the sepulchre, and the apostles were sore of heart and in great sorrow.

14 December 2009

Fish on Friday, Save Mother Earth

A Dutch Bishop has come up with a great idea, too bad it is for the entirely wrong and purely secular reason. Bishop Gerard Johannes Nicolaus de Korte of Groningen-Leeuwarden has called for the restoration of abstinence from meat on Fridays "to combat global warming." I think it is a fine idea to abstain from meat every Friday, my family does, only it ought to be done for our spiritual good as it was traditionally, not because we want to save the planet from that modern bogeyman, "global warming."

In fact Paul VI affirmed in his 1966 apostolic constitution Paenitemini, that abstinance from meat was to remain the penitential norm for the Church but allowing dioceses the flexibility to have their own penitential practice. One wonders what the substitute for abstaining from meat is in the Netherlands? And does the laity even know or have the Bishops and priests there ignored the ideas of penance and mortification.

Seek therefore first the kingdom of God, and his justice, is the Gospel command but in our rush to embrace and be accepted by the world we have set God aside in order to cooperate with those who don't share our religious values. Imagine where we would be today if for the past 40 some years we had focused on "first things" rather than on those that are secondary? Many of the social ills we now face are a result of ignoring the primary things. The second part of that Gospel passage is, and all these things shall be added unto you. Had we practiced mortification and penances, +Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam+, He would have taken care of the secondary things. Instead we are like the Israelites that worshipped the golden calf and expecting God to be pleased with our actions. Why is it okay to fast for Mother Earth but not God the Father?

By the way this week we have the Ember Days of Advent, another opportunity for prayer and abstinence. More on these to follow.

09 December 2009

Bye Now, God Love You

Today is the 30th anniversary of the death of the Servant of God, Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen and we had a votive Mass for him at the St. Paul Seminary chapel from where he graduated. Due to the snowfall here the turnout from outsiders was lighter than we hoped but we still had a nice group. I will post some pictures when I get them. Please continue to pray for his beatification and visit the Archbishop Sheen Foundation to learn more.


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