29 March 2011

Archbishop Dolan Visits Prison on Staten Island

Archbishop Dolan went to visit those who could not come to him when he went and said Mass for the inmates at Arthur Kill Correctional Facility yesterday morning.
"A lot of people come see me. You couldn't come see me, could you? So I wanted to see you," Dolan said.

Convicted murderer Kevin White honored the archbishop with an original song of inspiration and strength. "It's very reassuring for those who have made permanent changes in their lives, like myself and the others who are inside this prison and those who are striving to make changes," White said.

"He is our bishop and our friend. And that is more important to me, that I could actually talk to him, shake his hand, it means everything in the world to me," said Antonio Quiles, an inmate.

Archbishop Dolan timed his visit during this season of Lent to praise the prisoners for their spiritual growth and acceptance of God's mercy.

"Can you imagine guys that everything in the world is going wrong for them? And here they are singing and praying and smiling and happy and welcoming. That gives me inspiration and hope!" Dolan said.
To see the full report click here.

25 March 2011

Arson Attack on Minneapolis Life Care Center

I received this letter from the Director of the North Side Life Care Center, a pregnancy care center in north Minneapolis. Thankfully little damage was done. Can you believe though that this incident did not make the local newspaper. (OK so that was rhetorical) One can only imagine the news coverage if someone had attempted to torch a Planned Parenthood clinic or other abortuary.

On Saturday night someone tried to throw a molotov cocktail  ( homemade "bomb" filled with accelerant with the intent of causing arson) into one of the windows at North Side Life Care Center. The device failed to ignite so the damage done to North Side was minimal compared to what it could have been.
The facts surrounding this attempt suggest that an unhappy man, whose girl friend changed her mind about abortion, is trying to retaliate. At this point, we don't know.

A friend reminded me yesterday that if we are not being harassed in some way by  the enemy, we are not doing our job. This incident tells me that we are right on track!

God has always protected North Side Life Care Center and continues to do so.  We are so thankful that our Father loves us and is holding us securely in His arms.

22 March 2011

Memorial of Blessed Clemens August Graf von Galen

Today is the memorial of Blessed Clemens August Graf von Galen, a member of the Order of Malta.

As his motto, he chose the formula of the rite of episcopal consecration: "Nec laudibus, nec timore" (Neither praise nor threats will distance me from God).

A more complete bio of his life can be read here in a post from last year.

20 March 2011

Better That God Be Merciful Than Fair

Msgr. Pope has written another fine piece on the Archdiocese of Washington blog on why we should be grateful for God's mercy.

It is a rather dangerous thing demand that God be fair. How easily we can declare of many circumstances. “That’s not fair!” But when it comes to the Lord, a little friendly advice is helpful: Be VERY careful before you ask God to be fair. If God were fair we’d all be in Hell right now. As it is, God is merciful and none of us have ever really gotten the punishment we deserved. Notice that God answers the accusation that it is unfair for him to punish the sinner in a twofold way:

1. Your Choice – If a person sins and does not repent of it he will die (i.e. descend to hell). But that is his choice to stay in sin and thus incur the cosequence that he dies spiritually and cannot see eternal life. It is our choice that is determinative of this.

2. Choose Mercy! God also answers with a sort of plea that we call on his mercy instead. God is a God of the second chance. And, rather than give us the fairness we seek in a misguided way, we bids us call on his mercy, repent and he will hear and save us. For if a person repent he will live! Scripture says elsewhere: As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, O house of Israel?‘ (Ezekiel 33:11). Again, God our savior wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth (1 Tim 2:4). And again, The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)

14 March 2011

Our Suffering Is A Means To Comfort The Whole World

In his book, The Divine Pity, A Study In he Social Imlications of the Beatitudes, Fr. Gerald Vann O.P., has this to say on the beatitude, Blessed are they that mourn . . .
The most practical application of all that we have been thinking is indeed this; that whatever suffering and sorrow may come to you, and whenever it come, it can be used, and ought to be used, in the power and in the company of Christ for the healing and the comforting of the world as a whole; and in that sharing of the sorrow of the world as a whole you can find your understanding and your heart immeasurably enlarged, enlarged indeed to something remotely approaching the fullness of the stature of Christ.
From the earthquake in Japan there is obviously a great need for healing and comfort. What a great opportunity then, as we begin Lent, to join the particular sufferings and trials that will undoubtedly come our way and bring some measure of comfort and relief to so many people

05 March 2011

Meditation on "Rights" by Fr. Bede Jarrett

In his book, Meditations for Layfolk, Fr. Bede Jarrett asks the question, What constitutes a right? We hear the word frequently and it is used equally as a cry for freedom from the oppressed as well as to justify the tyranny of the oppressors.
I. Every rebel against authority takes to himself the name of right, and every act of authority bases itself on the same sacred claim.

How am I to know in my own case and in the cases of others, what is meant by the word? How can I tell whether I really have a right to this or that?

I am led to this thought first of all, that the word right is not primary but secondary; that is to say, it is based upon something else which is even more sacred. Every right is dependent on some duty which must precede it. I can have no rights except in so far as I have duties; and apart from what I owe to God, myself, and my neighbor, I have no real justification for any of my rights. That is the first and most important idea that I have to impress upon my mind, the intimate relation between the two things; so that I should never in my mind think of one without thinking also of the other (Try finding that concept in the Declaration of the Rights of Man, the U.N.'s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, or even our own Bill of Rights for that matter.)

II. Rights must, therefore, be described as the means to achieve duties. Once I find that I have a duty to perform, I shall find all sorts of conclusions following at once, and these conclusions establish definite rights. . . I may, therefore, quite shortly define a right as the necessary means to achieve an essential end.

III. This enlarges at once my idea of my rights, and imposes a responsibility on me on every occasion that I use the sacred word. I cannot claim anything as a moral right until I can prove that it is necessary for the fulfilment of some essential duty. Hence it is that if I can keep this idea well before my mind, I am in little danger of getting selfish in my life. If, whenever I find myself speaking of my rights (even in ordinary conversation), I set to work at once to see whether they are rights at all and what corresponding duties they oblige me to perform, I shall find that I shall not be so quick or so insistent in asserting them.It is a pity that the word "right" has become so popular a word, and they word "duty" so dull and respectable: for many people cannot stop speaking of the one who imagine it to be old-fashioned even to mention the other. Duties themselves do, indeed, demand in their performance some tax upon my pleasure or my will. I must deny myself something: to do what I ought to do, there must always be some self-sacrifice. My rights, therefore, become nothing more than the requisite opportunities for denying my own will. Let me clamor never for rights, but for the better understanding of my own destiny, and only assert that I must be allowed to fulfil my duty. Let me never use the word "right" without the swift consciousness of the duty involved: for rights from the very nature of the thing have nothing at all to do with private privileges (which are exceptions on the whole to be reprobated, and seldom if ever to be demanded), but sacred obligations.
There are obviously limitless situations that we can look at in light of this meditation but one in particular that comes to mind was the recent decision by SCOTUS regarding the 1st Amendment Case recently decided involving the Westboro Baptist Church. It seems to me that Justice Alito was right in his dissenting opinion.

02 March 2011

When Should Children Start Dating? Thoughts From Dr. Ray

When do you think children should date? How young is too young? Dr. Guarandi writes with his usual good humor and insight on the subject in a column which can be read at Fathers for Good. Here is an excerpt.

your peers, the parents of your children’s friends. They will say:

“These are different times. This is not when you and I were growing up. These kids grow up so much faster nowadays. You can’t protect them forever. You can’t wrap a moral bubble around them. They have to deal with life. If you make kids too different, they’ll feel like weirdos who don’t fit in. Then they’ll get resentful and rebellious.”

Let me share with you a rule. A recent survey suggested that if a child has a first date between the ages of 11 and 13, he or she has a 90% probability of being sexually active during senior year in high school. First date at age 14 leads to a 50% chance; first date at age 16, 20% chance.

What chance would you prefer? What chance is much of society taking?

Key factors to consider in granting any type of dating freedom are your child’s:

• moral maturity
• independence of thought
• history of conduct in other social settings
• strength of will
• social judgment
• choice of friends
• responsibility toward schoolwork
• respect for authority.

I figure if I make the list long enough, my kids won’t be eligible to date until they move out.

Once you are confident your son or daughter has met these standards, sit them down, let them know how much you admire who they are and who they’re becoming. Then tell them, “Just three more years, and you can date.”

Just kidding – sort of.

Dr. Guarendi is a family psychologist, radio host and author. He can be reached through his website, http://www.drray.com/

01 March 2011

Reflection on Dealing with the Suffering of the Dying

Fr. Tad Pacholczyk wrote an insightful column in the Long Island Catholic that can be helpful especially to those of us in our vocation of serving the sick.

Working through a hard death
February 16, 2011 | Vol. 49, No.42 |FATHER TAD PACHOLCZYK

Caregivers and health care professionals can and often do greatly assist those who are suffering and dying. Even with careful pain management and comfort measures, however, the dying process can still be agonizing and difficult. Each death has a unique and particular trajectory, but even the most difficult and unpleasant deaths often have powerful graces and remarkable opportunities for growth mysteriously interwoven into them.
. . .
No stranger to death and dying, this nurse had assisted countless other patients with pain, air and hunger management. During her mom’s final hours, she had significantly increased morphine doses per hospice protocols, but with little or no apparent relief. Her mother’s death ended up being very hard. Reflecting on it afterwards, she realized that if she had not been both a health care professional and a person who trusted deeply in God, she would have been, to use her own words, “out of my mind with horror.”

Why certain deaths are so much harder than others is no easier to explain than why certain lives are so much harder than others. It gives us pause, though, to ask whether suffering doesn’t have some hidden but important meaning, however it enters our lives. As we seek to use the tools of medicine to alleviate the suffering of those who are dying, we realize how delicate a balancing act it can be, fraught with difficult decisions about dosages and interventions, and not always guaranteed to work. When pain and suffering cannot be alleviated, patients ought to be helped to appreciate the Christian understanding of redemptive suffering.

The nurse described how she and her mother had experienced this Christian understanding themselves: “My mom and I prayed hard and much over this past year. She was expected to die a year ago. As we began to understand that she was actually improving and that she (and I) had been given this gift of time, we became increasingly devoted to the Divine Mercy of Jesus. I am of the opinion that God gave Mom an opportunity to be on the cross with Him.”

Real suffering engages a lot of complex emotions. We may worry that our crosses will be more than we can bear. We may not see how our sufferings could really have any value or meaning. In the end, suffering can make us bitter or it can make us better, depending upon how we respond to it and use it to enter into deeper union with the Lord who suffered and died a hard death for us.

I’m reminded of a story I once heard about a priest in Poland who taught at the seminary. Each year, there had been fewer candidates entering the seminary, rarely more than eight or nine, and it was becoming a serious concern for the seminary and the diocese. One day, this priest learned he had a terminal illness, with only a few months to live. Shortly afterwards, he turned to God and said: “Lord Jesus, I will do my best to offer up the sufferings that lie ahead of me, whatever they may be, but I would ask that you send us 18 new candidates for next year’s incoming class.” The good priest faced an excruciating death, but a few months later when the candidates started showing up at the seminary, there were exactly 18 new students in the class.

His story speaks of how suffering has meaning whenever we unite it to the redemptive sufferings of Christ. Our sufferings and struggles are an important, albeit temporary, part of our journey. They are a harbinger of a greater destiny and a promise of our transformation. Pope John Paul II once described it this way: “The cross of Christ throws salvific light, in a most penetrating way, on man’s life ... the cross reaches man together with the resurrection.” Our experience of suffering and death, even a very hard death, offers us mysterious and dramatic graces, with the reassurance that God himself is ever near to those who carry their cross.

Rev. Tadeusz Pacholczyk, Ph.D. is a priest of the Diocese of Fall River, MA, and serves as Director of Education at The National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia. See www.ncbcenter.org


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