28 January 2010

Haitian Health Foundation Featured on PBS on Friday

PBS's NOW program will be airing a program titled Saving Haiti's Mothers a maternal and infant mortality project of the Haitian Health Foundation on Friday, January 29th at 8:30. Check local listings for exact times.
Amidst the tireless planning and relief work that Haitian Health Foundation employees and volunteers are providing to the thousands of people fleeing Port-au-Prince, we are reminded that we also continue our mission of nearly 30 years to the people who were already living in our area prior to the earthquake. Among HHF’s food and nutrition, education, housing, and other programs for the people of Jérémie and its surrounding 100+ villages, HHF provides prenatal programs and emergency evacuations to pregnant mothers in the far reaches of the Grand’Anse.

At the time of the earthquake, we were just a few days into a week-long visit by the award-winning PBS program NOW, led by documentarian Mary Olive Smith and crew. Although the earthquake cut short their shooting schedule, amazingly they have already produced a final piece—called Saving Haiti’s Mothers—that will air on PBS’s NOW program this Friday, January 29, at 8:30 pm in many markets. (The actual air time varies city by city, so click here to determine the scheduled time in your city.)

I hope you will take the time to view this documentary to observe the work that you are helping to support. Scores of pregnant women have come from Port-au-Prince—and already we’ve had reports of some of them giving birth in Jérémie upon their arrival! This is just one of the programs that HHF is proudly gearing up in order to assist the thousands of people who are being added to our catchment area for the long term. Dr. Jeremiah J. Lowney, Jr

More News from Haiti

The Hopital Sacre Coeur has sent out this new update to the situation in Haiti.
The bad news is that many of the patients received are very sick with infections because of their delayed treatment. The staff were up all night Tuesday night trying to save a 19 year old girl but unfortunately she died. A 26 year old man is currently in critical condition, we have put out a call for 2 ventilators and hopefully one will be arriving with the Boston Caritas Christi Hospital group tomorrow and one from St Louis. We are now determining how many additional internists and medical people we will need to care for those with infectous diseases.

We have 48 children victims of the quake and the good news is that several of the girls aged between 5 and 7 who have had amputations and/or have casts on their legs began to walk with their crutches for the first time today outside the “new hospital” - the school across from the hospital building. There were lots of smiles and lots of encouragement as they took their first steps. Kat, one of our Haitian Nurse Practitioners walked with the girls through the mens ward where many have had amputations and told them “See if the girls can do it, you can do it!”. Our incredible volunteers are doing amazing work that stretches beyond providing medical care. Currently there is a group from Caritas Christi, one from St Louis and a medical orthopedic team from Florida. Our thanks too to our staff and volunteer co-ordinating team working in Haiti on supplies and the million other non-medical tasks that need to be accomplished. We are very grateful also to our supporters, those sourcing and flying planes of volunteers with urgently needed supplies,donors of essential supplies and those organizing fundraisers and spreading the word about CRUDEM.

Another 14 patients were discharged today, we currently have 228 patients and are expecting another 20 surgical cases by helicopter Thursday.

The following is an excerpt from Dr Bill Guyol from who just arrived with a team of 12 from St Louis;

“Hello friends of the Crudem Foundation.Greetings from Milot, Haiti! We arrived at the Crudem compound today. It is like coming home, but different this time.The hospital and the town have been transformed.

The people here are exhausted; happy to see reinforcements. Most work 16-20 hour days, missing their meals, showers, beds. What they did here was extraordinary. I cannot describe how valiantly this organization has responded to this crisis.The number of people who dropped all job and family responsibilities and rushed to Haiti restores my faith in mankind’s capacity to love. This was a war - chaotic, bloody, full of human misery, stoicism, inconsolable loss and heroic virtue.

We were greeted with the tears of volunteers on our arrival. They showed us a young couple sitting on a mattress on the grass next to our residence. Fr. Frank, a nurse from Boston and several of our staff were trying to console them. Their beautiful 4 year old daughter had just died of tetanus. My interpreter Patrick was crushed - she had called him Papa.

We need your help. There is an incredible story here that needs to be told. We need your prayers but most importantly we need your financial support. This type of expansion of our responsibilities comes at a great price - human and monetary.

In addition to its support of the Hopital Sacre Coeur, the American Association of the Order of Malta awarded a grant of $75,000 to the relief group AmeriCares in 2009 and has awarded grants over the past decade in excess of $1,000,000.

26 January 2010

Updates from Hopital Sacre Coeur

Updates from Haiti at the Hopital Sacre Coeur. To see more images of their work you can visit their website.

Sunday the patients continued to arrive in helos and by road. Doctors from
the French Government field hospital in Port au Prince visited to view our
facility and capabilities. They were very impressed and within an hour 2 of
their helos arrived with 10 patients.

Today the Navy was due to arrive at the hospital to see our capacity and 
capabilities and to co-ordinate efforts going forward.

We are a major player 
in the rescue effort not only because of our expanded facilities, numerous
skilled volunteers and expertise but because we seem to be the first
hospital in the country with a system in place for rehabilitation of
patients into the community. Vision of Hope, a mission 3 miles from Hopital
Sacre Coeur has opened their doors to take our discharged patients (50 so
far) and take care of them until they are ready to return to their
families. Their doctors come to Hopital Sacre Coeur during the day and so
are aware of the needs of each patient when they transfer them to the other
site. This gives us space to take additional critical surgical cases.

 Hopital Sacre Coeur is now posted on the blog of General Fraser of the
Southern Command – http://www.southcom.mil/AppsSC/Blog.php

Here is an excerpt from Dr Steve Fletcher, K.M. who just returned to New

”Well we finally made it back yesterday on a private jet owned by IWorks who 
has apparently donated their entire fleet of two jets and three helicopters 
to Haitian humanitarian efforts. We are exhausted and emotionally drained.
There isn’t one of us who didn’t breakdown at least once during the week.
 For the first two days after the urology team left we were it. My guys did
everything from general surgery to orthopedics. Dr. Lovejoy’s team of
orthopedists arrived on Monday and we rapidly expanded the work and the 
hospital. Rick Pitera, our anesthesiologist and K.M. to be in November was
amazing. On his suggestion we converted the little delivery room into a
fully functioning operating room but without OR lights (these are coming).

We took the three examining rooms across the hall from the OR and converted 
them into procedure rooms complete with oxygen and now monitors so we can
give conscious sedation and do wound washouts, casting and debridements. The
 waiting room is now a pre-op area. The patients who need x-ray are now 
transported up the road next to the cemetery through the back gate so they 
no longer go through the hospital. Post op patients are sent across the
 street to the school that has now become a temporary hospital. One side is
 post-op and the other, on the left as you enter the grounds, is where all
 new patients are evaluated and prioritized for x-ray and surgery.

24 January 2010

A Gentleman Is. . .

Thoughts on being a gentleman by Bishop Sheen from his book, Guide to Contentment.
The gentleman is the one who is modest and retiring, who waits first on the others and thinks of everyone but himself, and finds his chief happiness in making someone else happy; who, however poor and humble anyone else may be bears to them the open palm of true nobility.

22 January 2010

From the Outfield to the Seminary

From Yahoo Sports comes this heartening story of a young man who's gotten his priorities right and providing a good example to other young men and boys. My teenage sons are avid baseball fans and when I told them about this their response was one of bewilderment that he would give up a possible baseball career. But it makes a good opportunity to discuss the vocation question and that some things are more important than money.
Grant Desme, a 23-year-old minor league outfielder in Oakland's system, is retiring from baseball to follow a calling into the Catholic priesthood.

The story was first reported by Fox Sports' Jon Paul Morosi — perhaps appropriately with that first name of his — and this isn't a case of a struggling player going through an early-life crisis. Desme was ranked the A's eighth-best prospect by Baseball America after hitting .288 with 31 home runs and 89 RBIs in A ball in 2009 and he was just named MVP of the Arizona Fall League.

Desme might have even been a late-season callup to the big league club in 2010. Our Y! Sports 2010 fantasy guide has him ranked the 40th-best minor-league prospect for near-term fantasy purpose. However, ESPN's Rob Neyer disagrees, saying that he didn't see Desme as a future star by the Bay.

Susan Slusser has more on Desme's decision to leave playing against the Padres and Cardinals so he can start praying with other padres and cardinals at a Catholic seminary in Orange County. He said the news came as bit of a shock to Billy Beane, but that the Oakland GM and entire A's system have been supportive of his decision.

Said Desme on a Friday afternoon conference call:

"I'm doing well in baseball. But I had to get down to the bottom of things, to what was good in my life, what I wanted to do with my life. Baseball is a good thing, but that felt selfish of me when I felt that God was calling me more. It took awhile to trust that and open up to it and aim full steam toward him ... I love the game, but I'm going to aspire to higher things."

Desme spoke with Baseball America last year about baseball being only "a game" and we wish him success on his spiritual path. In a selfish age when churches struggle to recruit young male Americans, his sacrifice of possible riches is a very admirable thing.

Medical Needs for Hopital Sacre Coeur

Here is an update from the Hôpital Sacré Coeur :
Hôpital Sacré Coeur – there is a growing and immediate need for some key items

Medication including: Lovenox

as well as 4 Autoclaves – sterilization machines for sterilization of surgical equipment.

March for Life 2010

A picture of the Federal Association of the Order of Malta at the March for Life in Washington D.C. today. H/T to the American Papist.

21 January 2010

Crudem Updates from Haiti

There are several news updates on the efforts of volunteers at the Hopital Sacre Coeur in Haiti to aid earthquake victims. The hospital is a designated major work of the Order of Malta and receives both financial and volunteer assitance to operate. To place some perspective on the difficulty of rescue and relief efforts, the Hopital Sacre Coeur is about 100 miles from Port-au-Prince but it is nearly an 8 hour drive to get there.

Here are a couple of the news links.





19 January 2010

Crudem's Dr. Burzon on Good Morning America on Wed. 1/20

Dr. Burzon (a surgeon from Ocean Medical Center and Jersey Shore University Medical Center in New Jersey) is on a flight back to NJ now. Regina was able to connect the PR Team with him in Haiti and on his return trip. He was interested in speaking with the media, and so we have been able to connect him with local media as well as with ABC News national. News 12 New Jersey will be doing a story tonight, and Dr. Burzon’s video from Haiti will be featured on ABC World News Tonight with Diane Sawyer, and Dr. Burzon is scheduled to appear on Good Morning America this Wednesday Jan 20th. We will keep you updated as details are confirmed.

New Primate in Belgium the "Belgian Ratzinger"

From Reuters is this story on the appointment of the new primate of Belgium replacing the retired Cardinal Daneels.

The long-awaited announcement of the successor to the retiring Catholic archbishop of Brussels, Cardinal Godfried Danneels, has sparked an unusual outcry in Belgium. The new archbishop, André-Mutien Léonard, is sometimes called “the Belgian Ratzinger” for his conservative views. Danneels ranks as one of the last liberal prelates in a Church hierarchy that has turned increasingly traditional under Pope John Paul and Pope Benedict.

Léonard has been a controversial figure in Belgium for his critical stands on
homosexuality, same-sex marriage and condom use. He has been an outspoken opponent of abortion and euthanasia, both of which are legal in Belgium, and criticised the Catholic universities of Leuven and Louvain for their research into assisted reproduction and embryonic stem cells.

The most outspoken comment came from Deputy Prime Minister Laurette Onkelinx, who is the country’s health minister. “Church and State are separate in Belgium, but when there are problems in our society, all the social partners sit down around a table, including representatives of secularism and of religion,” she told RTL radio. “Cardinal Danneels was a man of openness, of tolerance and was able to fit in there. Archbishop Léonard has already regularly challenged decisions made by our parliament.”

Onkelinx said Léonard’s appointment could upset the balance between secular and religious that Belgium has found. “Concerning AIDS, he’s against the use of condoms even while people are dying from it every day. He is against abortion and euthanasia … The pope’s choice could undermine the compromise that allows us to live together with respect for everyone.”

The Socialist Party said it “insists that Archbishop Léonard respects democratic decisions taken by the institutions of our country. For the Socialist Party, the rights and duties that people take on democratically take precedence over religioustraditions and commandments, without any exception.”

Twenty years ago I spent a year living in Belgium and attending the Catholic University in Louvain. At that time the country was supposedly 95% Catholic compared to about 75% today. In my experience even that 75% number is way too high. And as for it being the Catholic University of Louvain, it was about as Catholic as most of the so-called Catholic schools in this country.

18 January 2010

Hope for Haiti Updates 1/17

Recent news from the Hope for Haiti Foundation describes the situation there with an influx of refugees now making their way out of Port-au-Prince to other areas.

The past 36 hours have brought the start of the expected migration of people from Port au Prince to Jérémie, and The Haitian Health Foundation’s immediate focus is on addressing their needs. Supplies necessary to aid the influx are scarce, a problem compounded by the collapse of banking and the absence of currency. However, partnerships with such agencies as AmeriCares, Cross International, and the Red Cross are being forged to bridge the gaps in the area’s needs

Dr. Bette Gebrian, HHF’s Director of Public Health, reports that people seeking the refuge of their families and homes in the Grand’Anse began arriving yesterday, with an estimated 2000+ having arrived by early Sunday. About 1,500 came by boat from Port au Prince, with the remainder having traveled the difficult overland route.
Buses and trucks that arrived yesterday were greeted by loved ones, Croix Rouge Hatienne (Red Cross of Haiti), MINUSTAH (United Nations), and local Scouts. HHF personnel were on hand with partner organizations to address the injured, transferring those with the most severe injuries to the public hospital and helping to treat others with less severe conditions. Although HHF does not operate a trauma center, it has committed its support to treating injuries not requiring hospitalization, offering its pharmacy, X-ray, sonogram, and other medical services and supplies.

Overland travelers described the difficult trip: one truck teeming with people broke down, and another was involved in an accident, causing passengers to pack together in whatever other vehicles they encountered. The injured traveled alongside the uninjured, and stories abound of Haitians caring for their own. Those fortunate enough to ride described passing many people who had undertaken the route on foot, a journey that will take about 6 days. Among those walking westward, some were seen carrying the caskets of family members.

The Grand’Anse Department Director of Croix Rouge pointed out that a large percentage of the people in Port au Prince migrated from southwest Haiti, and arrivals thus far are just a fraction of those expected to return. Many are coming with severe injuries, broken bones, and burns. HHF is a member of the partnership of organizations that will welcome them back and help to provide for their needs in food, shelter, and health care.

The boat carrying the 1,500 returning Grand’Anse residents was met by an orderly debarkation that included UN security personnel and local police, screening offloading passengers for potential security risks. There were at least 10 pregnant women among the passengers who were assessed. One was reported to be in labor and was immediately transported to the hospital; three others were brought to HHF’s Center of Hope Maternal Waiting Home for assessment. Other passengers, most of whom left Port au Prince with only the clothes on their backs, were given clothing, juice, protein bars, and soap. Potable water was supplied by HHF’s 4,000 gallon water truck, which Cross International provided two years ago.

In under 5 hours, trucks and private vehicles were on their way to drop off the exhausted travelers in all corners of the Grand’Anse. Those waiting in Jérémie were able to stay in a schoolyard in tents supplied by Croix Rouge.

The need continues with many more trucks and buses anticipated to arrive today, which will require more supplies. The lack of fuel has reportedly kept the boat anchored, unable to make the return trip to Port au Prince. Like other organizations, HHF is currently unable to purchase diesel. Unfortunately, it is also not uncommon for prices of the unavailable commodities to quadruple when they finally do become available.

With over 2,000 people having returned to Jérémie in the first day, it is clear that HHF’s resources will be severely strained over the coming months and beyond. The Haitian Health Foundation thanks you for your generosity during this period. Children—orphaned or not—will become a part of HHF’s comprehensive children’s health programs. Expectant mothers will be monitored and treated as indicated by their conditions. The injured will require both short and long-term care. All may become recipients of HHF’s services in feeding programs, education, housing, or other initiatives.

To our friends, we ask that you keep this story before the public; although we did not have the crumbling buildings of Port au Prince—and we do pray for the rescue of those still trapped and the recovery of the survivors—we readily accept the challenge of helping to repair the lives in the Grand’Anse devastated by this catastrophe. Bette Gebrian says, “We are heartened by the generosity of HHF’s legions of supporters, who have sent donations from all over the United States to help their struggling neighbors.”

16 January 2010

News Update from Crudem Foundation in Haiti

The following information is from the Crudem Foundations blog.
Here is the update on what has been happening at CRUDEM’s Hopital Sacre Coeur.

A US Navy helicopter transported 4 patients to us a few hours ago. All were in serious stages of gangrene. One with crushed leg, one with crushed arm. One more load of 6 patients was due to arrive this evening but was delayed because a baby was born onboard! Unfortunately on route the pilot was forced to turn back because of the terrible weather conditions. If a Black Hawk 60 can be pressed into service then they will transport anywhere from 4 to 12 patients. We are hoping that many more patients will arrive to us ASAP.

The pilot reported that the scene in Port au Prince is more desperate then shown on the news. People are “stacked up in piles” all in need of amputations. Damage to Port au Prince is also greater than noted through the media.

The town of Milot has secured houses in the town to house the families of patients from Port au Prince. If they can get to Cap Haitien, the town will send a bus to pick them up.

CRUDEM Hopital Sacre Coeur and the people of Milot are doing everything possible to help alleviate the suffering of the survivors.

We have a general surgery team arriving today and an orthopedic team arriving tomorrow. Caritas in Boston is sending a team of ER docs and nurses and supplies on Tuesday. Phillips medical is shipping equipment such as monitors, portable xray unit etc and technicians to assemble on Tuesday.

We are coordinating volunteer teams to arrive by private plane throughout the week. There is a need for cots or beds and tents or portable building to house the additional patients. Project Hope is trying to help us obtain these items.
We have access to the school courtyard across from the hospital for the tents and portable building. Schools will be used for dormitories for up to 75 medical volunteers. The nutrition center will act as a cafeteria for the volunteers.

The soccer field has been turned into a landing for helos and the community are filling in the ruts and potholes in the road so the ambulances can transport the patients from the helos to the hospital smoothly. The pictures attached show the arrival of the patients.

One of our volunteers on the ground said in a recent email

“The CRUDEM volunteers, staff at HSC (Hopital Sacre Coeur) and the people of Milot are ALL doing an amazing job in every possible way – from fixing pot holes in the street to caring for the injured. In spite of the tragedy there is a strong sense of hope in the air.”

Donations can be made directly on our website www.crudem.org. Please spread the word and please continue to keep the patients and volunteers in your prayers.

On behalf of the hospital staff and patients, thank you so much for your continued support of our efforts.

The Board of Directors and staff of The CRUDEM Foundation Inc.

13 January 2010

Donations for Haiti

There are many organizations requesting donations for Haitian earthquake relief and I hope if you are able to that you consider donating to the efforts of the Order of Malta. The American Association of the Order has 3 major ongoing works in Haiti and each will be helping in the relief effort with 100% of donations going for supplies. If you are interested you can visit the American Associations website and download a donation form or also donate online via the website.

09 January 2010

The Morally Neutral, Loved Neither by God nor the Devil

John F. Kennedy had a favorite quote that was attributed to Dante's Inferno which it turns out was not actually in the book but the interpretation of a particular passage. Neverthesless it is still a good quote, "The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in times of great moral crises preserve their neutrality". The passage it relates to is in canto III, verses 22-69. Given that so many people today make the claim, "I'm personally opposed [to X] but I can't force my beliefs on others," it is no wonder that in Dante's work he places them outside both Heaven and Hell, despised by all.

Now sighs, loud wailing, lamentation
resounded through the starless air,
so that I too began to weep.

Unfamiliar tongues, horrendous accents,
words of suffering, cries of rage, voices
loud and faint, the sound of slapping hands --

all these made a tumult, always whirling
in that black and timeless air,
as sand is swirled in a whirlwind.

And I, my head encircled by error, said:
'Master, what is this I hear, and what people
are these so overcome by pain?'

And he to me: 'This miserable state is borne
by the wretched souls of those who lived
without disgrace yet without praise.

'They intermingle with that wicked band
of angels, not rebellious and not faithful
to God, who held themselves apart.

'Loath to impair its beauty, Heaven casts them out,
and the depth of Hell does not receive them
lest on their account the evil angels gloat.'

And I: 'Master, what is so grievous to them,
that they lament so bitterly?'
He replied: 'I can tell you in few words.

'They have no hope of death,
and their blind life is so abject
that they are envious of every other lot.

'The world does not permit report of them.
Mercy and justice hold them in contempt.
Let us not speak of them -- look and pass by.'

And I, all eyes, saw a whirling banner
that ran so fast it seemed as though
it never could find rest.

Behind it came so long a file of people
that I could not believe
death had undone so many.

After I recognized a few of these,
I saw and knew the shade of him
who, through cowardice, made the great refusal.

At once with certainty I understood
this was that worthless crew
hateful alike to God and to His foes.

These wretches, who never were alive,
were naked and beset
by stinging flies and wasps

that made their faces stream with blood,
which, mingled with their tears,
was gathered at their feet by loathsome worms.

06 January 2010

Deep Freeze Across Globe Reaches Hell Too

In the midst of the incredible cold weather all over the world, a report from CBS News shows that even Hell is beginning to freeze over. Katie Couric reported on the CBS evening news that President Obama has reneged on a promised he made, at least 8 times, to provide transparency on healthcare legislation. When even CBS can report on this you know it is something unusual.
President Obama wants the final negotiations on health care reform - a reconciliation of the House and Senate versions of the bill - put on a fast track, even if that means breaking an explicit campaign promise.

"The House and Senate plan to put together the final health care reform bill behind closed doors according to an agreement by top Democrats," House Speaker Nanci Pelosi said today at the White House.

The White House is on board with that, too, reports CBS News political correspondent Chip Reid. Press Secretary Robert Gibbs stressed today that "the president wants to get a bill to his desk as quickly as possible."

During the campaign, though, candidate Obama regularly promised something different -to broadcast all such negotiations on C-SPAN, putting the entire process of pounding out health care reform out in the open. (That promise applied to the now-completed processing of forging House and Senate bills, too.)

All I can say is that despite his obvious lack of decorum and respect for the office of President, Cong. Joe Wilson was right when he said, You Lie!

Here is a link to a video showing these promises. And even Nancy Pelosi finally got something right with her off the cuff remark that, "“There are a number of things he was for on the campaign trail." Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0110/31180.html#ixzz0bttT68dj."

To Be Holy, Pray and Love

The men's group in my parish is going to read Be A Man! Becoming the Man God Created You to Be by Fr. Larry Richards. I flipped open the book and came across this passage that Fr. Larry said was the most important part of the book to remember for it gives us our way to holiness. In the words of the Cure of Ars, St. John Vianney,
"This is the glorious duty of man: to pray and to love." To be holy then one must do these two things, pray and love. Focus on them for the rest of your life and you too will be a great saint.
In each chapter Fr. Larry includes tasks you must accomplish.
1. Be a man who strives to be a saint. Ask God for the grace to grow in your holiness.

2. Be a man of devotion. What religious practices is God calling you to start doing? Be specific and start doing them.

3. Be a man who prays and loves. The world must know that you love the Father. This is done by praying and loving--live it.
It looks like a very good book and is in keeping with the theme of my blog. It is available from IGNATIUS Press and if this is any indication of its popularity it is currently on backorder.

The State as Guarantor of Rights, Not Supplier

As the nanny state is poised to grow ever larger Bishop Sheen had these comments on freedom,

The State must guarantee the social security of its citizens, but it must not supply that security. Freedom from want must not be purchased by freedom from freedom, in which a Bureaucratic State becomes the world's caterer. from Seven Pillars of Peace

"Freedom is the right to do whatever I please." This is the liberal doctrine of freedom, which reduces freedom to a physical, rather than a moral, power. from World's First Love

Bishop Vasa on Excommunication

Bishop Vasa has written a timely article on excommunication in his weekly column in the Diocesan newspaper, The Catholic Sentinel.

During the course of this past year there have been a number of occasions when bishops have hinted to laity that being Catholic involves a bit more than claiming the title. This has been done, in particular, with regard to politicians who may, in their own way, love Jesus, who may attend Sunday Mass and who do identify themselves as “faithful” Catholics. The press usually hints at the big “E” word, excommunication. The question of when a Catholic should be excommunicated has even been asked quite frequently and very seriously. While bishops are extremely reluctant to take the seemingly dramatic step of excommunication, I think there is very good reason for us to explore more thoroughly what excommunication really means and why it might be considered in certain circumstances.

The press would undoubtedly accuse Bishops who talk or even think about excommunication as being tyrannical power mongers but this is unfair. Excommunication is a declaration, based on solid evidence, that the actions or public teachings of a particular Catholic are categorically incompatible with the teachings of the Church. It is intended primarily as a means of getting the person who is in grave error to recognize the depth of his error and repent. A second reason, while somewhat secondary but no less important, is to assure the faithful who truly are faithful that what they believe to be the teaching of the Church is true and correct. Allowing their faith to be shaken or allowing them to be confused when Catholics publicly affirm something contrary to faith or morals, seemingly without consequences, scandalizes and confuses the faithful. This is no small matter. The Church, and particularly bishops, have an obligation to defend the faith but they also have an obligation to protect the faithful. We do not generally see the dissidence of public figures as something that harms the faithful but it has a deleterious effect upon them.

I find, very frequently, when I speak a bit more boldly on matters of morality or discipline, there are a significant number of the faithful who send messages of gratitude and support. [I have written Bishop Vasa in the past and I think this is important to let these Bishops know they have the laity's support when they speak up because they will certainly hear from their detractors.] It is their gratitude which stirs my heart for it makes me realize how much there is a need to support and affirm the clear and consistent teachings of our Catholic faith for the sake of the faithful. While the press may caricature such bishops in rather uncharitable fashion, I trust that they are men devoted to true compassion and to the truth itself. Their compassion extends to those who are misled and to those who, while not misled, are discouraged when their faith is attacked without rebuttal. This discouragement of the faithful is not insignificant. When we look at the word itself we see that its root is “courage” and allowing someone’s courage to be dissipated, or “dissed” as the young might say, is harmful to the person. En-couragement, by contrast, builds up the courage of the faithful and increases their strength for doing good. It is life giving and revitalizing. Allowing error, publicly expressed, to stand without comment or contradiction is discouraging.

When that moral error is espoused publicly by a Catholic who, by the likewise public and external act of receiving Holy Communion, appears to be in “good standing” then the faithful are doubly confused and doubly discouraged. In that case, the error is certainly not refuted. Furthermore, the impression is given that the error is positively condoned by the bishop and the Church. This is very dis-couraging to the faithful. In such a case, private “dialogue” is certainly appropriate but a public statement is also needed. In extreme cases, excommunication may be deemed necessary.

In the same way, bishops who recognize a serious spiritual malady and seek a prescription to remedy the error, after discussion and warning, may be required to simply state, “What you do and say is gravely wrong and puts you out of communion with the faith you claim to hold.” In serious cases, and the cases of misled Catholic public officials are often very serious, a declaration of the fact that the person is de facto out of communion may be the only responsible and charitable thing to do.

Failing to name error because of some kind of fear of offending the person in error is neither compassion nor charity. Confronting or challenging the error or evil of another is never easy yet it must be done.

The Lord has called bishops to be shepherds. That shepherding entails both leading and protecting. In an era when error runs rampant and false teachings abound, the voice of the Holy Father rings clear and true. The teachings of the Church are well documented and consistent. Bishops and the pastors who serve in their Dioceses have an obligation both to lead their people to the truth and protect them from error.

04 January 2010

St. Therese's Prayer for Priests

Because of the importance of praying for priests here is the daily prayer St. Therese of Liseux used to say for them. Given St. Therese's known distaste of lengthy forms of set prayers, the fact that she said this one every day shows how important it was for her.
‘O Holy Father, may the torrents of love flowing from the sacred wounds of Thy Divine Son bring forth priests like unto the beloved disciple John who stood at the foot of the Cross; priests: who as a pledge of Thine own most tender love will lovingly give Thy Divine Son to the souls of men.

May Thy priests be faithful guardians of Thy Church, as John was of Mary, whom he received into his house. Taught by this loving Mother who suffered so much on Calvary, may they display a mother’s care and thoughtfulness towards Thy children. May they teach souls to enter into close union with Thee through Mary who, as the Gate of Heaven, is specially the guardian of the treasures of Thy Divine Heart.

Give us priests who are on fire, and who are true children of Mary, priests who will give Jesus to souls with the same tenderness and care with which Mary carried the Little Child of Bethlehem.

Mother of sorrows and of love, out of compassion for Thy beloved Son, open in our hearts deep wells of love, so that we may console Him and give Him a generation of priests formed in thy school and having all the tender thoughtfulness of thine own spotless love.’

A Good Reminder to Pray for Our Priests

Fr. Z posted an important reminder of why we must always remember to pray for priests, No Matter What!

I read the news that former priest and liberal critic of the Catholic Church James Kavanaugh died at the age of 81. The story is on mlive.com.

One of my spies told me something that the obituary does not mention: Kavanaugh asked for and received the Apostolic Pardon just before he died. Never stop praying for priests… priests who are faithful and those who are not, those who are capable and those who are less so, those whom you like, those you don’t.

The devil HATES priests with a malice that humans cannot fathom. With diabolical angelic abilities they do what they can to drag priests – upon whom so much rests – down and then farthest down of all. Pray for priests. I once had an experience that underscores this plea.

I used to commute by train into Rome from Velletri everyday at oh-dark-hundred … every…day.One morning there was a commotion on the platform in one of the little stops on the way. Someone had thrown himself in front of the train. There were a couple other priests there, standing around with their hands in their pockets. Therefore, I – who always carry an oil stock – got down on the messy track and anointed the still slightly shuddering body and sent him heavenward with the Apostolic Pardon.

The next day my bishop called me in and asked for my version of what had happened I told him. He then told me that the man was an ex-priest, a Salesian. Simply the luckiest desperate ex-priest ever, perhaps. Who knows what prayers, what work of angels sent by others, saved that man that morning.

Never stop praying for priests, effective or hapless, faithful or not, near saints or obviously lacking.

Do not stop praying for priests


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