Monday, April 30, 2007

Sam and Frodo

Best of friends... I can see Jesus and John together...and the other motley crew of fishermen Jesus chose to be "his friends...forever." A beautiful song by Eva Cassidy. Enjoy...

Why are Catholic bibles bigger? . . .

Please visit Gary's website and find out the answer.

Father Straub...he's "here all week!"

We are BLESSED BEYOND measure this week in Omaha to have Fr. Pablo Straub here all week for mission at St. Peter Church in downtown Omaha. We hope to go to a couple of evenings. His interview can be found on the KVSS archives from this morning on the Spirit Morning Show.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

How do you measure love?

The way we measure love is how we treat our enemies...not how we treat those who love us and are 'easy to love.' Dorothy Day said: "We love God [only] as much as [we love] the one we love the least." It's a hard-hitting quote...and gets me to pause and confess that I fail to love God many times a week! When I see someone and 'avoid' them for some reason or other. When I get cut off in traffic, I'm getting better, but sometimes, I still am not very kind in thought and sometimes word!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Weeping Icon. . .

Once you learn the reasons about why icons are like they are, it's just captivating to come across them! Read bout this one here.

Sacred Craft. . .

I've been falling in love, if that's alright to say, with ICONS lately. I just watched a show on EWTN about them. It was fascinating and intriguing. Matt Saskow, our care taker at the Holy Family Shrine, writes Icons. I've heard it said that they're not so much 'painted' as prayed and or written. Layer upon layer...prayer upon prayer. What I gleaned from the program in a small nutshell was this: "We're all "icons" of God" "We are all to be walking icons, portraying Christ to others...becoming his 'masterpieces' that others can gaze upon and see Christ, or His Mother in us. We become a walking prayer, painted, written by God to the world. For He breathed into us the Spirit and those of us who have been born by water and spirit are to become more like Him, living prayers, living lights, animated prayers and stories of our God to all the world, lost in sin, and even those in the Church, who've lost their way, or turned to "other gods" in danger of losing their faith.

I have noticed at St Leo Church, when I will go to Mass there during the week, that their Icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help and the Jesus Icon actually "grip" me and Mary's eyes do indeed 'watch me' no matter where I sit in the sanctuary! I love her so much and she's so comforting!

"Jesus please help me to become like your Mother. Mary, please pray for me to become like your Son. Amen."

IF you can catch this program, please, do so! It is quite interesting. It gave me a new appreciation for the Sacred Craft.


April Icon of Our Mother...

Commemorated on April 5

The Kasperov Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos. Tradition says that this holy icon had been brought to Cherson from Transylvania by a Serb at the end of the sixteenth century. Passing down from parent and child, the icon had come to a certain Mrs. Kasperova of Cherson in 1809.

One night in February of 1840 she was praying, seeking consolation in her many sorrows. Looking at the icon of the Virgin, she noticed that the features of the icon, darkened by age, had suddenly become bright. Soon the icon was glorified by many miracles, and people regarded it as wonder-working.

During the Crimean War (1853-1856), the icon was carried in procession through the city of Odessa, which was besieged by enemy forces. On Great and Holy Friday, the city was spared. Since that time, an Akathist has been served before the icon in the Dormition Cathedral of Odessa every Friday.

The icon is painted with oils on a canvas mounted on wood. The Mother of God holds Her Son on her left arm. The Child is holding a scroll. St John the Baptist (Janurary 7) is depicted on one border of the icon, and St Tatiana (January 12) on the other. These were probably the patron saints of the original owners of the icon.

The Kasperov Icon is commemorated on October 1, June 29, and Bright Wednesday.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Dissent... let us remember the very first 'dissenter' in the Heavenly realm...he's no longer there...but in hell forever with the dissenting angels.

Dealing with Dissent: Fr. Richard McBrien

By Ronald J. Rychlak

This Rock
Volume 16, Number 6
July-August 2005

One of the most difficult problems for an apologist is a dissenting Catholic who makes public statements at odds with the true teaching of the Church, especially when those statements are presented as if they were authentic Catholic doctrine. This can lead to confusion among the faithful, the inquisitive, and even teachers of the faith.

When a major newspaper or television network features some controversial issue related to Catholicism, one person likely to be quoted is Fr. Richard McBrien. A favorite of the popular press, McBrien is the Crowley-O’Brien Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame. He writes a syndicated column that appears in several diocesan newspapers and has written over twenty books on the Catholic faith. When McBrien gave a lecture recently at Canisius College, a Jesuit institution, the college’s glowing press release called his book Catholicism "classic" and described him as "highly sought after by the national media for his opinions on Catholic issues." He is not shy about expressing those opinions, even when they differ from the Vatican’s.

For instance, when Pope John Paul II asked Catholic universities to become more Catholic, McBrien responded that "bishops should be welcome on a Catholic university campus. Give them tickets to ball games. Let them say Mass, bring them to graduation. Let them sit on the stage. But there should be nothing beyond that."1 He also has compared John Paul II to Communist dictators and suggested that John Paul may have been an "unknowing prisoner of the Curia."2

The first edition of Catholicism was published in 1981. Almost immediately the doctrinal committee of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops pointed out serious problems with it and asked McBrien to make revisions.3 The third edition was released in 1994—still without an imprimatur. After studying it for two years, the Secretariat for Doctrine and Pastoral Practices released a statement indicating that the book was inaccurate or misleading in describing Church teachings on the Virgin Birth, the ordination of women, and other issues. Not only had McBrien failed to remove the previously noted ambiguities from the previous editions, but he had introduced new ones.

The bishops’ report stated that McBrien minimized Catholic teachings and practice:

On a number of important issues, most notably in the field of moral theology, the reader will see without difficulty that the book regards the official Church position as simply in error.

The bishops also questioned the manner in which McBrien made use of dissenting theologians, and they noted sections of the book where the presentation is not supportive of the Church’s authoritative teaching. They warned that "for some readers it will give encouragement to dissent."

The bishops cautioned that McBrien reduced the teaching of the pope and bishops to "just another voice alongside those of private theologians." In so doing, he created the impression that the official teachings of the Church have validity only when they are approved by a "consensus" of theologians, including Protestant ones. In short, McBrien elevated the theological arguments of dissenting theologians to (or above) the level of the magisterium. The bishops concluded that Catholicism should not be used in theological instruction.4 But given its title, McBrien’s position of authority at Notre Dame, and his high profile as a Catholic commentator, readers of Catholicism are likely to believe they are reading authentic Catholic teaching. That is not the case. As one reviewer said of the third edition, "Whatever else it may do, it is likely to leave Catholic students doctrinally illiterate."5

Not to Trust

McBrien also served as the general editor of the Harper Collins Encyclopedia of Catholicism. As in Catholicism, he relied heavily on dissenting writers such as Hans Küng and Richard McCormick.6 Charles E. Curran, the leading American dissenter against Pope Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae (1968), was assigned to write the section on contraception, so it is no surprise that this entry justified dissent against the definitive teaching of the Church.

One reviewer said of the encyclopedia: "One has the impression that it was written for undergraduates who have little or no idea of what was once the common world and parlance of Catholic culture."7 Another reviewer said McBrien’s editorial decisions were "highly questionable." Giving McBrien the benefit of the doubt as to his intentions, the reviewer reported that the "errors and inaccuracies" in the book were not only "unforgivable" due to their significance, but they were "so numerous that they made the volume unreliable."8 Still another prominent Catholic writer concluded: "Rather than an objective source of information, this volume is a vade mecum of ‘progressive’ Catholicism tricked out to resemble a reference work. . . . This is not a book to trust."9

Shortly after Thomas Daily became the bishop of Brooklyn in 1991, he told the editor of the diocesan newspaper, the Tablet, to drop McBrien’s syndicated newspaper column. Bishop Daily said that McBrien too often questioned the teachings of Pope John Paul and that, as publisher of the Tablet, he didn’t want such views in his newspaper.10 In 1998, Bishop James Moynihan of Syracuse, New York, also pulled McBrien from the diocesan newspaper, the Catholic Sun. The bishop reportedly told several priests in his diocese that he would not have McBrien "in my newspaper."11

Shift the Focus

So why is McBrien such a common Catholic voice in the popular media? Well, for one thing, his status as a priest gives him credibility. He’s also a professor and former chairman of the theology department at Notre Dame, so he would seem to be an authoritative voice. More importantly, though, McBrien gives the press what it wants to hear. He can be counted on to reduce magisterial doctrine and Vatican directives to matters of opinion that can be explained away or rejected when they do not conform to modern norms or the popular culture. He does this by emptying Catholic teaching of its meaning without acknowledging his opposition to it while shifting the focus to his defense of some societal value.

For instance, when the Vatican directed Catholic theologians to obtain a mandate (known as the mandatum) from their local bishops to teach theology in the name of the Church, McBrien responded by calling for a new period of dialogue between bishops and (dissenting) theologians. As Fr. Richard John Neuhaus quipped, "The magisterium [according to McBrien] . . . is Fr. McBrien and others whom he recognizes as belonging to the sacred college of academic theologians."12

Writing in America magazine about the mandatum, McBrien shifted the focus from his dissent to something everyone wants to support: academic integrity. He said, "For me [not obtaining the mandate] is a matter of principle—not of defiance toward the Vatican or the bishops, but of an abiding commitment to the academic integrity of what are among the church’s most precious and valuable assets."13

McBrien knows how to handle the press. He comes across as the reasonable, intellectual Christian who is seeking the truth in a sea of ignorance. Some of his articles and interviews (or at least portions of them) support basic Church teachings and appear to be solid. This gives him cover when he wants to deny that he departs in any way from Catholic teaching.

If He Was Married?

A good example of this could be seen on the August 4, 2004, broadcast of ABC Television’s Primetime Live. The focus of the show was The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown’s novel that posits that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene, they had children, and the term Holy Grail actually refers to their offspring and lineage. Despite some claims to the contrary, the novel is very anti-Catholic in nature.

Early in the broadcast McBrien agreed with the traditional Catholic teaching that Jesus remained unmarried throughout his life; he even cited scriptural support for this conclusion. Later, though, he said that he was not "discounting the possibility" that Jesus had been married. McBrien said that if someone found uncontroversial evidence that Jesus had been married, "I’d say it’s only a short putt to Mary Magdalene. If he was married, it was obviously . . . oh yeah, it was obviously Mary Magdalene."14

To the casual viewer, McBrien affirmed the potential validity of the thesis of The Da Vinci Code, even though it is in clear conflict with Catholic teaching. But if one were to engage him on this issue, he could point to the segment early in the program in which he concluded (based on his personal reading of Scripture, not Church teaching) that Jesus was not married. In other words, he seriously undercut Catholic teaching without directly contradicting it.

McBrien regularly falls back on the argument that moral questions are to be left to the supremacy of individual conscience.15 The predictable result, of course, is that individual consciences end up being guided by the views of McBrien and other dissenting theologians rather than by the magisterium. The Church, while it upholds the role of conscience, has never taught that conscience is supreme. Conscience must be at the service of truth. This was made clear in the encyclical Veritatis Splendor, which was badly distorted by McBrien in Catholicism (pp. 974–75).

McBrien argues that the Church is "authoritarian" and John Paul either was dominated by a cabal of ultra-conservatives or was completely out of touch with reality.16 He asserts that the Catechism of the Catholic Church is divisive and that his critics are using pre-Vatican II thinking.17 When the U.S. bishops condemned his book Catholicism, he claimed that "Rome was putting pressure on them."18

Perhaps McBrien’s most interesting approach is to compare dissenters like himself to "dissidents" in oppressive societies who are persecuted for their beliefs.19 Of course, he cries "suppression" and "oppression" from his tenured position of respect and authority at a major Catholic institution.

Sede Vacante

McBrien could not restrain his criticism even during the period immediately following John Paul’s death. On a television network special report, he claimed that John Paul had been elected pope because he was "relatively indifferent to administration." The frontrunner, McBrien ominously explained, "knew the inner workings of the Roman Curia too well. Italian cardinals did not want him. And that’s why they went outside Italy to find their new pope."20

McBrien did not include John Paul on his list of good or outstanding popes in his book Lives of the Popes.21 In fact, employing a common tactic of shifting the blame for his criticism, McBrien said, "Some of my liberal friends just say he’s a disaster and can see nothing good that he’s done."22 Expressing his own opinion, McBrien added, "He’s left the Catholic Church with probably the worst crop of bishops it’s had in centuries."23

Regarding the conclave, McBrien complained about "watching 115 men in liturgical dress. There isn’t a woman among them."24 He seemed to view the whole process as a political event, suggesting that those who referred to the late Pope as "John Paul the Great" were "part of an effort to legitimize all the most conservative aspects of his pontificate and to help ensure the election of a kindred spirit as his successor."25

Evaluating an important homily given by Cardinal Ratzinger (who would be elected Pope Benedict XVI) shortly before the conclave, McBrien noted that the cardinal was not "campaigning for the papacy." But the reason given by McBrien was not that the future pope (like all the cardinals) knew that this was not a political process. Instead, McBrien speculated that the cardinal was simply giving up: "I think this homily shows he realizes he’s not going to be elected. He’s too much of a polarizing figure."26

McBrien said several times during the sede vacante that he did not expect Ratzinger to be elected. In fact, he predicted that if the German were elected, "thousands upon thousands of Catholics in Europe and the United States would roll their eyes and retreat to the margins of the church."27

Not surprisingly, McBrien did not let up following the election of Pope Benedict. He worried about the new pontiff’s grasp of the issues. "I doubt if he understands [liberal American Catholicism] as well as he should, but then whom does he speak with who might enlighten him, without giving a conservative spin to the explanation?"28 Presumably, McBrien would like to explain Catholicism to the Pope. Fortunately, though, the new Holy Father well understands McBrien’s theology, and he can see through its shallow dishonesty.

What We Can Do

The real victims are those who are misled into thinking that McBrien is representing authentic Catholic teaching. New or potential converts to Catholicism, often coming from a well-informed Protestant background, are likely to be put off by arguments that reject traditional Christian teachings.

How can faithful Catholics deal with questions about McBrien and other dissenters such as Garry Wills, John Cornwell, Mary Gordon, Frances Kissling, and James Carroll? The first thing is to be well informed. Not every priest, nun, or other Catholic speaks for the Church. Catholicism is a big tent. There are lots of people inside of it, and not all of them are well informed. Some of them are flat-out wrong.

When explaining this to others (and explain it you must), stick to Scripture, the Catechism, authoritative statements from the Church, and materials put together by those who are faithful to the truth of the Catholic Church. It might even help to keep a copy of this article handy. As the saying goes, the truth is a lion: It needs only to be let out of its cage. If we teach truth, truth will win out in the long run. After all, that is also part of what Catholics believe.

Ronald J. Rychlak is an associate professor at the University of Mississippi School of Law. He is author of Hitler, the War, and the Pope (Our Sunday Visitor, 2000).

What? No Original Sin? Sssweet!. . .

Fr. McBrien Claims No Original Sin

Lunatic Emeritus Fr. Richard McBrien proves once again he is on the vanguard of the now ossified “Spirit of Vatican II” movement. McBrien, in an Associated Press report, claimed that there is no original sin as proved by Pope Benedict’s announcement on limbo.

"If there's no limbo and we're not going to revert to St. Augustine's teaching that unbaptized infants go to hell, we're left with only one option, namely, that everyone is born in the state of grace," said the Rev. Richard McBrien, professor of theology at the University of Notre Dame.
"Baptism does not exist to wipe away the "stain" of original sin, but to initiate one into the Church," he said in an e-mailed response.

The church, in reality, continues to teach that, because of original sin, baptism is the ordinary way of salvation for all people and urges parents to baptize infants, the document said.
In fact, Pope Benedict's discussion of limbo is not all that new though the secular press and Mcbrien would have you believe otherwise. The 1992 the Catechism of the Catholic Church said:

As regards children who have died without Baptism, the Church can only entrust them to the mercy of God, as she does in her funeral rites for them. Indeed, the great mercy of God who desires that all men should be saved, and Jesus' tenderness toward children which caused him to say: "Let the children come to me, do not hinder them," allow us to hope that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without Baptism. All the more urgent is the Church's call not to prevent little children coming to Christ through the gift of holy Baptism.

In a document published April 20, the commission said the traditional concept of limbo -- as a place where unbaptized infants spend eternity but without communion with God -- seemed to reflect an "unduly restrictive view of salvation."

"Our conclusion is that the many factors that we have considered ... give serious theological and liturgical grounds for hope that unbaptized infants who die will be saved and enjoy the beatific vision," the document said.
We see time and again the fossils of the “spirit of Vatican II” movement are now just tired poltergeists rattling their chains, mumbling about a married Jesus who didn't really resurrect body and soul, all the while insisting on its own inevitable ressurection.

I came across this post and had to 'steal it' and post it here. Please visit Creative Minority Report for more POWERFUL posts! Incredible! The same "Spirit of Vatican II" fossils are the ones so 'gender-sensitive' that the words "Lord" or "Father" are just too patriarchal, and only "Creator" or the not quite so goofy term "Creator God" are preferred. It would be hilarious if it wasn't so tragically sad.

~ susie

Friday, April 20, 2007

Doctors of the Catholic Church....

VATICAN CITY, OCT 21, 1997 (VIS) - When Pope John Paul II proclaimed St. Theresa of Lisieux Doctor of the Church, she became the 33rd person, and the third woman, to be honoured with this title.

For a person to be proclaimed Doctor of the Church, three requisites are necessary, according to Pope Benedict XIV's well-known definition: an eminent doctrine, a remarkable holiness of life and the declaration by the Supreme Pontiff or by a General Council which has met legitimately.

Following is the list of Doctors of the Church, starting with their name(s), the Pope who proclaimed them and the date on which this occurred:

* 1-4: Saints Ambrose, Jerome, Augustine, Gregory the Great: Boniface VIII, September 20, 1295.
* 5: Saint Thomas Aquinas: Saint Pius V, April 11, 1567.
* 6-9: Saints Athanasius, Basil, Gregory of Nazianzus, Saint John Chrysostom: Saint Pius V, 1568.
* 10: Saint Bonaventure: Sixtus V, March 14, 1588.
* 11: Saint Anselm of Canterbury: Clement XI, February 3, 1720.
* 12: Saint Isidore of Seville: Innocent XIII, April 25, 1722.
* 13: Saint Peter Chrysologus: Benedict XIII, February 10, 1729.
* 14: Saint Leo the Great: Benedict XIV, October 15, 1754.
* 15: Saint Peter Damian: Leo XII, September 27, 1828.
* 16: Saint Bernard of Clairvaux: Pius VIII, August 20, 1830.
* 17: Saint Hilaire of Poitiers: Pius IX, May 13, 1851.
* 18: Saint Alphonsus Liguori: Pius IX, July 7, 1871.
* 19: Saint Francis of Sales: Pius IX, November 16, 1871.
* 20-21: Saints Cyril of Alexandria and Cyril of Jerusalem: Leo XIII, July 28, 1882.
* 22: Saint John Damascene: Leo XIII, August 19, 1890.
* 23: Saint Bede the Venerable: Leo XIII, November 13, 1899.
* 24: Saint Ephrem of Syria: Benedict XV, October 5, 1920.
* 25: Saint Peter Canisius: Pius XI, May 21, 1925.
* 26: Saint John of the Cross: Pius XI, August 24, 1926.
* 27: Saint Robert Bellarmine: Pius XI, September 17, 1931.
* 28: Saint Albert the Great: Pius XI, December 16, 1931.
* 29: Saint Anthony of Padua: Pius XII, January 16, 1946.
* 30: Saint Laurence of Brindisi: John XXIII, March 19, 1959.
* 31: Saint Theresa of Avila: Paul VI, September 27, 1970.
* 32: Saint Catherine of Siena: Paul VI, October 4, 1970.
* 33: Saint Theresa of Lisieux: John Paul II, October 19, 1997.

Peter, Do You Love Me?

Peter Do You Love Me?

Marcellino D'AMbrosio - Free Online Catholic ResourcesPeter, Do You Love Me?

by: Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio

Pope John Paul II, Catholic Church, Vatican, Rome, Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio, The Holy See

On many occasions I’ve heard non-Catholics object to the papacy. Often, they say something like this: “I just can’t believe that one man on earth, the Pope, is holier than everyone else.” So who ever said that being sinless is either a prerequisite or a consequence of being named Pope?

For the Pope, the bishop of Rome, is the successor of Peter, who spent the last years of his life leading the Christians of the eternal city. And here is an interesting fact. None of the four canonical gospels (not to mention Acts and Galatians) try to hide the fact that Peter sinned often and sinned big. By the way, if the “patriarchal, controlling” leaders of the early Catholic Church altered the story about Jesus as the DaVinci Code suggests, don’t you think they would have “fixed” these embarrassing stories?

Yet while all agree Peter was weak and imperfect, they all also agree that he was given a unique responsibility. Only he got a name-change from Jesus himself (from Simon to “Peter” meaning rock). Only he was told by Christ on Holy Thursday night “I have prayed for you that your faith never fail and when you’ve repented, go and strengthen your brethren” (Lk 22: 31-32). And when Jesus, after the resurrection, cooked a fish breakfast for the apostles (Jn 21), it was only to Peter that Jesus put the question “do you love me?”

But why did Jesus ask him the same question three times? Perhaps Peter needed to atone for his three-fold denial of Christ by a three-fold profession of love. Perhaps, given Peter’s track record of getting it wrong, the Lord really wanted to be sure he got his point across. Here’s the point–

“Peter, your way of expressing penance for your sin and love for me will be to feed my sheep. Remember, they are not your sheep, but mine. Take care of them for me. Do for them what I did for them. Don’t just feed them. Protect them. Lay down your life for them if necessary.”

Peter’s role as a Shepherd is, in a way, unique because it is universal. Despite his human frailty, he is given care of all the Churches. And, if we take Lk 22:31-32 seriously, he is called to be the shepherd of all the shepherds. That’s a big responsibility. In fact, it is a crushing burden which he could never fulfill on his own power. That’s why we pray for the Pope (meaning “Papa” or father) in every Catholic Eucharist across the globe – He needs the grace of the Holy Spirit to fulfill his role. The bit about Peter stretching out his hands with others leading him where he does not want to go – it does not just refer to his crucifixion under Nero, but to the daily laying his life down for his flock, the “white martyrdom” that we can saw so clearly in the weary but relentless witness of John Paul II.

In another way, though, Peter’s role of a Shepherd is not unique. It is exemplary for all of us sheep who are called to become ourselves shepherds and leaders, despite our own frailty and sinfulness. Some are called to be bishops, successors of the apostles, entrusted with pastoral care of a portion of Christ’s flock. Some are called to be priests and deacons, who assist a bishop in his apostolic mission. Some are called to be catechists, youth ministers and teachers, who also play a role in the feeding of the sheep.

And most of us are called to be parents, shepherds of what the Second Vatican Council calls “the domestic church.” Parents, say St. Thomas Aquinas and John Paul II, have a pastoral role much like that of a parish priest. In fact John Paul II, in his letter Familiaris Consortio, says that the Catholic parent exercises “a true ministry of the Church.”

On whatever level, the call to feed and care for the sheep is a call to sacrifice, not privilege. It has its moments of exaltation and profound satisfaction, but it has its moments of agony as well. But if we’ve learned anything from the passion, it’s that suffering is the true and necessary test of love, as well as love’s most authentic and powerful expression. So let us not be afraid to be shepherds. The Good Shepherd will empower us with His Spirit. And let’s pray with gratitude and compassion for those who shepherd us.

The Ultimate Motherly Act...

by Dr. Jeff Mirus
April 20, 2007

In her April 13th column in the London Times, Caitlin Moran argued that abortion is the “ultimate motherly act”. Moran’s column was written in response to a radical feminist who began to have doubts about abortion after experiencing the birth of her own child last year.

Journalist Miranda Sawyer had made a television documentary in which she recounted her own personal journey from viewing a fetus “just as a group of cells” to understanding what it really is. “When you’ve experienced…pregnancy and birth, and the fantastic beauty of the resulting child,” said Sawyer, “it’s hard not to question what a termination does, or is.” In contrast, Moran claims that her own experience, after having two children, was just the opposite: she became less conflicted about abortion, and gladly chose to terminate her next pregnancy.

An Alternative World

Moran cannot understand why abortion is treated differently from any other medical procedure. She cannot understand why women feel guilty about abortion, and why people don’t give women the same moral support when they abort their babies as they do when they experience other health problems. As she puts it, “There are no ‘Good luck with your morning-after pill!’ cards.” Moran believes this is because we have an image of the greatest mother or the perfect mother as someone who “would carry to term every child she conceived, no matter how disruptive or ruinous, because her love would be great enough for anything.”

Moran also states flatly that she does not understand anti-abortion arguments which “centre on the sanctity of life.” But she does offer alternative sanctities:

However, what I do believe to be sacred—and, indeed, more useful to the earth as a whole—is trying to ensure that there are as few unbalanced, destructive people as possible. By whatever rationale you use, ending a pregnancy 12 weeks into gestation is incalculably more moral than bringing an unwanted child into this world. Or a child that, through no fault of its own, would be the destructor of a marriage, a family, a parent. It’s fairly inarguable to say that unhappy children, who then grew into very angry adults, have caused the great majority of mankind’s miseries. If psychoanalysis has, somewhat brutally, laid the responsibility for mental disorders at parents’ doors, the least we can do is tip our hats to women aware enough not to create those troubled people in the first place.

For this reason, Moran would like to think that if she decides to have another abortion in the future it would be “unlikely to provoke a moral dilemma in anyone, least of all me.” She would like to see a time when “abortion is considered an intelligent, logical, humble, and compassionate thing to do.” She would like to see abortion “considered as, perversely, one of the ultimate acts of good mothering.”

A Modest Proposal?

Caitlin Moran’s use of the word “perversely” in her last sentence just might reverse the whole meaning of her column. It is just barely possible that she has written something like Jonathan Swift’s Modest Proposal for eating Irish children. It might be so far around the bend as to be a deliberate satire designed, through its very horror, to make us all think a little more clearly about life. Truth to tell, that’s the impact it had on me. But I still think the safer path is to assume it is meant to be taken seriously.

If so, I’ll be the first to do so. The number of logical, social and even emotional errors in the column is staggering. Taken as a whole, the argument represents a new high in the modern effort to call black white and white black. Here are just three out of many problems:

First, does Moran seriously believe her own argument for why we have an obligation to prevent the birth of unwanted children? That is, does Moran really believe there has been a reduction in mental and emotional instability since the advent of the abortion license? Is that what modern statistics show? If you want a recipe for instability, try raising kids who gradually grow to understand that their mother kills the ones she doesn’t want. Moran herself calls to mind the old “mum joke, often heard in playgrounds on wintry February afternoons – ‘What do you think should be the cut-off point for terminations?’ ‘I dunno. Secondary school?’” I wouldn’t want to grow up with a mother who, having had an abortion, still found that funny.

I’ll refrain from pushing this point much farther, because I wouldn’t want to speculate as to whether it would be acceptable to kill other people’s children in order to fulfill the moral imperative of saving the world from the unbalanced and the destructive. Nor would I want to ask the even more obvious question: Is a mother who refuses to love the baby in her womb unbalanced and destructive? In any case, perhaps there are unbalanced and destructive seeds in all of us. Sometimes well-raised people end up being overwhelmed by these weeds. Sometimes badly-raised people succeed in uprooting them.

Second, does Moran really have such a mechanistic view of human nature that she thinks people can exercise no control over their emotions? Is the only solution to an unwanted child to kill it? Surely a less draconian solution is for the mother to change not her child but herself. It is, after all, she who has the psycho-spiritual problem which leads to unwantedness. Killing the child will not solve this deeper problem, whereas bearing the child just might do so. In fact, women (and their husbands) do this all the time, both those who have contemplated abortion and those who would never consider it at all. “You know, honey, I honestly didn’t want another child; it’s a burden in so many ways.” “I know, but we’ll take the adventure God sends and, from this moment on, we'll love this new little one just the same.”

Third, whatever the case for contracepting to avoid bringing unwanted children into the world, once you are pregnant you are already a mother. Now your choice is to act like a mother and nurture your child, or to deny motherhood and kill it. Regardless of the arguments pro and con, does Moran seriously expect society as a whole to view the point-blank denial of motherhood as “one of the ultimate acts of good mothering”?

Doing it for the Children

On the same day as Moran’s column appeared, seventeen-year-old Nicole Marie Beecroft prevented an unwanted child from coming into the world by stabbing her newborn baby girl 135 times and disposing of her in a garbage can. As she stands trial for murder, Beecroft will not likely be much consoled by Caitlin Moran’s judgment that she has performed “one of the ultimate acts of good mothering.”

No. What Beecroft desperately needs now is the love she couldn’t give her child. And Caitlin Moran, who has in truth gone even farther down Beecroft's road, desperately needs it too. Both need that precious free gift of personal love which, while transcending all of us, has been given to mothers to image to the world in a special way. They need that love which is preeminently realized in sacrifice and most convincingly demonstrated in crucifixion. They need that gigantic and inexhaustible love, without which all the world is stillborn.

The Sodality of Our Lady is an association formed by the Society of Jesus and approved by the Holy See which aims at fostering in its members an ardent devotion, reverence and filial love towards the Blessed Virgin Mary and seeks through this devotion to help Catholics reach sanctity in their state in life and to help save and sanctify their neighbor.

The website gives the interesting history and spirituality of the Sodality and features notable sodalists. This organization was a well-known part of the life of Catholic communities worldwide prior to Vatican II. Hopefully it will be again.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Happy Birthday PAPA!

May the Lord bless and keep you safe near His Sacred Heart and may our Mother Mary, wrap her loving arms around you always, and draw you ever near her Immacutlate Heart. Thank you our beloved Papa Benedict for your faithful service to the Church Jesus founded and for all your prayers. We keep you in ours!

Rich and Susie

Dear Saint Bernadette....pray for us!

The feast of St. Bernadette
is celebrated in Australia, New Zealand and Canada. It is not on the General Roman Calendar, nor the calendar in the United States. Bernadette, the oldest of six children, was born in Lourdes, France, in 1844. At the age of 14, between 11 February 1858 and 16 July 1858, Bernadette had 18 visions of the Immaculate Conception in a local grotto near the bank of the River Gave, near Lourdes. During the visions, Mary requested prayer and penitence, asked for the construction of a new church, and led Bernadette to a fresh water spring believed to have miraculous healing powers. Despite strong doubt and even opposition from political and church officials, Bernadette's faith in what she had witnessed remained steadfast and humble. Saint Bernadette longed to become a Carmelite nun, but ill health prevented her from doing so. In 1866, she retreated from the public eye to the convent Notre Dame at Nevers where she remained until her death at the age of 35 .

St. Bernadette
Marie Bernarde ('Bernadette') Soubirous was the eldest child of an impoverished miller. At the age of fourteen she was ailing and undersized, sensitive and of pleasant disposition but accounted backward and slow. Between 11 February and 16 July 1858, in a shallow cave on the bank of the river Gave, she had a series of remarkable experiences. On eighteen occasions she saw a very young and beautiful lady, who made various requests and communications to her, pointing out a forgotten spring of water and enjoining prayer and penitence. The lady eventually identified herself as the Virgin Mary, under the title of 'the Immaculate Conception'. Some of these happenings took place in the presence of many people, but no one besides Bernadette claimed to see or hear 'the Lady', and there was no disorder or emotional extravagance. After the appearances ceased, however, there was an epidemic of false visionaries and morbid religiosity in the district, which increased the reserved attitude of the church authorities towards Bernadette's experiences.

For some years she suffered greatly from the suspicious disbelief of some and the tactless enthusiasm and insensitive attentions of others; these trials she bore with impressive patience and dignity. In 1866 she was admitted to the convent of the Sisters of Charity at Nevers. Here she was more sheltered from trying publicity, but not from the 'stuffiness' of the convent superiors nor from the tightening grip of asthma. 'I am getting on with my job,' she would say. 'What is that?' someone asked. 'Being ill,' was the reply. Thus she lived out her self-effacing life, dying at the age of thirty-five. The events of 1858 resulted in Lourdes becoming one of the greatest pilgrim shrines in the history of Christendom. But St Bernadette took no part in these developments; nor was it for her visions that she was canonized, but for the humble simplicity and religious trustingness that characterized her whole life.

Patron: Bodily ills; illness; Lourdes, France; people ridiculed for their piety; poverty; shepherdesses; shepherds; sick people; sickness.

Symbols: Young girl kneeling in front of a grotto, before the Blessed Virgin ("The Immaculate Conception") who wears a white dress, blue belt, and a rose on each foot. Bernadette is sometimes pictured after she received the habit.

The Obligatory Nature of Truth

Posted Mar. 28, 2007 4:06 PM || by Dr. Jeff Mirus || category Principles

Here comes that “truth” business again. I’ve been using Proverbs for spiritual reading lately, with the assistance of the excellent pastoral commentary available in the Navarre Bible. Chapter 19 verse 9 says: “A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who utters lies will perish.”

The commentary immediately shows what lies behind this proverb, quoting Vatican II’s Declaration on Religious Freedom:

It is in accordance with their dignity that all men, because they are persons, that is, beings endowed with reason and free will and therefore bearing personal responsibility, are both impelled by their nature and bound by a moral obligation to seek the truth, especially religious truth. (No. 2)

This passage could well have been written twenty years after the Council by John Paul II; perhaps it shows the early influence of Karol Wojtyla. In any case, it incorporates a profound philosophical insight: By our very nature as persons we are ordered toward truth and have a moral obligation to seek it.

It is in the nature of persons to know, and to will to act in accordance with what they know. As the Council stated, this implies a responsibility to know and will rightly, that is, according to the truth of things. Only persons are capable of this responsibility. It belongs neither to animals, nor to plants nor to inanimate matter.

But why do we have an obligation to seek religious truth above all? Because religion itself is an obligation. Every person reflects, sooner or later, on the question of whether he is a created being and, if so, whether he can know the God who created him. If, in fact, we are created, we have a two-fold obligation: first, to thank and glorify the Being who gave us life; and second, to see what that Being has to tell us about all the other realities our nature is designed to know and will.

Truth, especially religious truth, makes demands upon us precisely because of who we are. To proclaim glibly that everything is relative so that we can do whatever we want is a serious abdication of our essential responsibility as persons. Some readers will recall that I said in an earlier reflection that “there are still many aspects of truth to explore.” Truth's obligatory nature is one of them.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Beware the Term 'Real Presence'

I just came across this in my morning web perusal. I found it so interesting I had to post it, for I've come across many a Protestant and a few Evangelical friends who use this term, and it "seemed" that they were 'onto something' or were sincere, (I know they are and mean well...but....) This article made it clear to me the difference and now I pray to be better informed as to when this comes up in conversation again.


By Dwight Longenecker

This Rock
Volume 9, Number 12
December 1998

"But I believe in the Real Presence!" said Doug, my Bible Christian friend. "Why do you Catholics refuse to admit me to Communion?"

"Whoa!" I said. "I’m delighted to hear that you believe in the Real Presence, but what do you actually mean by the term?"

"Well, I prefer to remain vague about the details," said Doug. "I would only want to go as far as the Scriptures do, and Paul said in I Corinthians that Communion is ‘a sharing in the body of Christ.’ I don’t think you have to go further than that."

We then sparred through John 6 and 1 Corinthians 11. But the conversation got me thinking about the term "Real Presence." Doug was happy to use the term to describe what he felt about the Lord’s Supper at his independent Bible church. It was during my Anglican days that I’d gotten used to the phrase "Real Presence." Anglo-Catholics use the term all the time, and even many Evangelical Anglicans seem fairly happy to use "Real Presence" to describe their view of the Eucharist. But then I picked my brain a bit further and remembered Methodists, Reformed ministers, and other free Evangelicals using the term as well. When I became a Catholic I found lots of Catholics also using the term "Real Presence" to refer to their Eucharistic beliefs.

But what did everyone mean by the term? Could it be that God was using the term "Real Presence" as a sort of ecumenical bridge? Was it becoming a universally accepted term that was bringing non-Catholics into the fold of the true Church? I didn’t want to rule out this creative possibility, but I had my suspicions that "Real Presence" was in fact an elastic term that could mean almost anything and was therefore the enemy of true ecumenism.

For instance, by "Real Presence" a Bible Christian might mean,"I feel closer to Jesus at the Lord’s Supper." At the same time a Methodist might mean, "When we gather together the presence of the Lord is real among us," referring simply to our Lord’s promise that where two or three are gathered in his name he is in their midst. A Lutheran might mean Christ’s risen presence is "with" or "beside" the bread and wine. An Anglican Evangelical might say, "There is a real sense in which Christ is present as the Church gathers—for the Church too is the Body of Christ." At the same time, an Anglo-Catholic would say there is a real, objective, abiding spiritual presence of Christ when the Eucharist is celebrated.

One of the reasons the term "Real Presence" has become a flexible friend is because it has been lifted from its full context. Historically, theologians spoke of "the real presence of Christ’s body and blood in the sacrament of the altar." But now it has been shortened to the "Real Presence." Reference to the body and blood has been quietly dropped and even the name of Christ omitted. As a result, for some people "Real Presence" has come to mean simply "the idea of the risen Lord" or "the Spirit of Christ" or even just "the fellowship of the church." In fact, the term "Real Presence" could mean just about anything to anybody. There are probably even some New Agers who talk about the "Real Presence" of the Christ within.

Another reason why the term is so conveniently vague is because "Real Presence" in most cases focuses on the abstract noun "presence" and not on the concrete body and blood of Christ. This implies that the "presence" is somehow separate from the sacrament.

The widespread use of this term is a sign that many non-Catholics are coming around to a higher view of the sacrament. This is cause for rejoicing. But it is also a cause for concern, because many non-Catholics—hearing Catholics use the term—quite naturally assume that Catholics believe the same thing they do. As a result, Christians like my friend Doug can’t understand why they are not welcome to receive Communion at a Catholic Mass. So while the widespread use of the term "Real Presence" seems encouraging, it’s really misleading. The ambiguous terminology, I theorized, causes confusion and encourages false ecumenism. But so far it was only a theory.

I decided to do a bit of research. I traveled to Downside Abbey, the great Benedictine house in the southwest of England. After Mass, the librarian, Fr. Daniel, ushered me from the neo-Gothic monastic buildings over to the library, which looks like a newly landed flying saucer. I wanted to discover more about this term "Real Presence"—when it was first used and why. Finding the background of the term might explain why and how it was being used today.

My first port of call was the Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. It defined "Real Presence" as an especially Anglican term which "emphasized the Real Presence of the Body and Blood of Christ at the Eucharist as contrasted with others that maintain that the Body and Blood are present only figuratively or symbolically." The first edition of the dictionary quoted the sixteenth-century English reformer Latimer to show his use of the term: "[T]his same presence may be called most fitly a Real Presence, that is, a presence not feigned, but a true and faithful presence."

That sounded pretty Catholic. But it’s a bit more complicated. The second edition of the same dictionary points out that the English Reformers used the phrase only with other expressions which made it a term for receptionism—the belief that the bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ only to those who receive it faithfully. Latimer is quoted in the second edition more fully: "[T]hat same presence may be called a Real Presence because to the faithful believer there is a real or spiritual body of Christ."

Catholics believe in a corporeal, substantial presence of Christ in the Eucharist. It is not just a spiritual presence. The whole Christ is present—body, blood, soul, and divinity. Furthermore, Catholics believe in an objective presence, not one that is available only to those who receive in faith. Latimer’s colleague Ridley makes their position about the Real Presence most clear. Writing in the Oxford Disputations of 1554, he said, "The true Church doth acknowledge a Presence of Christ’s body in the Lord’s Supper to be communicated to the godly by grace . . . spiritually and by a sacramental signification, but not as a corporeal Presence of the body of his flesh."

These references seem to suggest that the term was a construction of the English Reformation. Latimer and Ridley did their best to use a term for the Eucharist which would please their Catholic persecutors and yet not compromise their Protestant beliefs. But had the term "Real Presence" originated before the sixteenth century?

Fr. Daniel brought me an excellent two-volume work titled The History of the Doctrine of the Holy Eucharist by Oxford scholar Darwell Stone. Stone traces the Church’s beliefs about the Eucharist from New Testament times through the late nineteenth century. The book is arranged chronologically, with copious quotations from theologians.

Debates over the body and blood of Christ in the sacrament were ignited by the eleventh-century French theologian Berengar of Tours, who denied that there could be a material change at the consecration. The controversy raged for the next two hundred years and culminated in the definition of transubstantiation at the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215. It is interesting that during this controversy the orthodox terminology is "real body and real blood of Christ." The term "Real Presence" doesn’t occur.

I found the first reference to the term "Real Presence" in the writings of fourteenth-century theologian John of Paris: "I intend to defend the real and actual presence of the body of Christ in the Sacrament of the Altar, and that it is not there only as by way of a sign." But John of Paris was deprived of his professorship because his views on the sacrament were considered unorthodox. It was in the same century that the precursor of Latimer and Ridley—John Wycliffe—used the term "Real Presence," also as an alternative to transubstantiation. In other words, "Real Presence" was a compromise term used to suggest a high view of the sacrament while in fact denying the Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation.

In denying transubstantiation and holding a merely symbolic and spiritual view of the sacrament, Ridley and Latimer wanted to avoid extreme Zwinglism and, because of Catholic pressure, needed to express their beliefs in as high a way as possible. Thus they said they believed in the Real Presence; their term for a kind of high receptionism. Anglican Jeremy Taylor also used the term "Real Presence" as a contrast to transubstantiation in his treatise The Real and Spiritual Presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament proved against the Doctrine of Transubstantiation.

Stone’s second volume shows how the great Anglican, E. B. Pusey, recoined the phrase "Real Presence" in the mid-nineteenth century and promoted it most strongly. It is thanks to Pusey that the term entered common usage within the Oxford Movement and eventually made its way through the Anglican and other non-Catholic churches that today use it so widely.

But what did Pusey mean by "the Real Presence"? He was at pains to point out that he did not hold to any corporeal presence of Christ in the Eucharist: "In the communion there is a true, real, actual though spiritual communication of the body and blood of Christ to the believer through the holy elements." In another place, Pusey denies transubstantiation explicitly and argues for a "mystical, sacramental, and spiritual presence of the body of our Lord."

Pusey in the Oxford of the mid-1850s was not at risk of being burned at the stake like Ridley and Latimer, but in that same university city he felt a similar pressure to reconcile English Reformation doctrines with the beliefs of the Catholic Church. Pusey sincerely wanted the Anglican Church to be as Catholic as possible, but as an Anglican clergyman he had to subscribe to the Thirty-Nine Articles of religion, and Article 28 specifically repudiates transubstantiation. So—like Ridley and Latimer before him—he used the term "Real Presence" to sound as close to Catholicism as possible while in fact rejecting Catholic doctrine.

So why does it matter if the presence is only spiritual? It matters because the whole work of Christ is more than spiritual. It is physical.

Ever since Irenaeus the Catholic Church has been insistent that the Incarnation really was a supernatural union of the spiritual and the physical. Irenaeus was countering Gnosticism which, as Stone writes, "interposed an insuperable barrier between spiritual beings and material things, between the true God of the universe and the universe of matter." And it is one of the great heresies of our age that Christians attempt to "spirit away" the physicalness of the gospel. In this way the Resurrection, the miracles, and the Incarnation itself become mere "spiritual events."

So likewise the Church has always insisted—despite the difficulties—that the presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament is not simply spiritual and subjective. It is objective and corporeal. The Fourth Lateran Council explained that belief with the term "transubstantiation." As the Oxford Dominican Fr. Herbert McCabe has said, "Transubstantiation is not a complete explanation of the mystery, but it is the best description of what we believe happens at the consecration."

So what should Catholics do when confronted with the term "Real Presence"? First of all, Catholics should realize that it is not a Catholic term at all. Its history is mostly Anglican; it was always used as a way to adroitly sidestep the troublesome doctrine of transubstantiation, and as such it is not an accurate term to describe true Catholic Eucharistic doctrine.

Secondly, when non-Catholics say they believe in the Real Presence, Catholics should ask what they mean by it. (Needless to say, this should be done in a positive, non-argumentative way.) Non-Catholics will almost never mean transubstantiation, and their definition can open the way for an explanation of what a Catholic means by "Real Presence." Clear definitions help everybody.

In his 1965 encyclical Mysterium Fidei, Pope Paul VI encouraged the use of clear and unambiguous language about the Eucharist. He said, "Having safeguarded the integrity of the faith it is necessary to safeguard also its proper mode of expression, lest by careless use of words we occasion the rise of false opinions regarding faith in the most sublime of mysteries."

In the same encyclical Pope Paul VI actually uses the term "Real Presence," but, ironically, in doing so affirms all the ways non-Catholics might define the term. He said Christ is really present in the Church when she prays. He is also present when she performs acts of mercy. Christ is present in the Church as she struggles to perfection. He is present when the Church governs the people of God. Christ is present in the preaching of the gospel, and he is present as the Church faithfully celebrates the Eucharist.

However, the whole thrust of Mysterium Fidei is to support and recommend the continued use of the term "transubstantiation" as the Catholic terminology. Paul VI makes it clear that the Eucharistic presence of the body and blood of Christ is different from these other forms of Christ’s presence. It is a unique presence. So he affirms, "This presence is called ‘real,’ by which it is not intended to exclude all other types of presence as if they could not be ‘real’ too, but because it is presence in the fullest sense. That is to say, it is a substantial presence by which Christ the God-Man is wholly and entirely present. It would therefore be wrong to explain this presence by making recourse to the ‘spiritual’ nature, as it is called, of the glorified Body of Christ which is present everywhere, or by reducing it to a kind of symbolism as if this most august sacrament consisted of nothing else than an efficacious sign of the spiritual presence of Christ and of his intimate union with the faithful members of his Mystical Body."

As Catholics we must use clear language about the sacrament. We can affirm the "real presence" of Christ which non-Catholics affirm in the fellowship of their churches, in the preaching of the gospel, and in the celebration of the Eucharist. But we must also affirm that the fullest sense of the "Real Presence" is that which we worship in the Blessed Sacrament of the altar. With this in mind I suggest Catholics should avoid the ambiguous term "Real Presence" and speak boldly of "transubstantiation."

Mysterium Fidei encourages those devotions that are implied by our belief in the "real body and real blood of Christ." That such devotions are encouraged to support transubstantiation is nothing new. It is no coincidence that just fifty years after the doctrine of transubstantiation was promulgated by the Fourth Lateran Council, Pope Urban IV decreed the Feast of Corpus Christi. The beliefs of the Church are always reflected in her devotions. We should encourage the devotions which accompany our belief in Christ’s corporeal presence in the sacrament of the altar. It is the practice of Benediction, prayer before the Sacrament, and veneration of the Blessed Sacrament which make clear exactly what we do mean by the term "Real Presence" and that it is not the same thing that non-Catholic Christians mean.

These distinctions should not be emphasized in a spirit of division and exclusion, but with the true longing for Christ’s body to be reunited. That true and costly reunion will not come as long as we accept ambiguous language that allows us to pretend that we all believe the same thing. Instead it will come as we recognize the true divisions which still exist, understand our differences, and seek to resolve them with patience, love, and a good sense of humor.

Dwight Longenecker resides in Lancashire, England.

The best day of the year!...

May this Divine Mercy Sunday fill your hearts with joy and ever-flowing mercy...extended to you, by Christ to extend to others. This is the Day the Lord has made...let us REJOICE and BE GLAD... for He has absolved us of all our sins!

Alleluia, alleluia, Alleluia!

Peace be with you...

Rich and Susie

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Room of Tears

TJ...Thank you so much for this beautiful gift. We received the dvd and watched it this morning. Again, tears came and rolled down my cheeks...every time JPII comes on in the hospital. This has been one of those precious times in the past 2+ years since our return that I literally just weep for Joy! We have a PAPA! A SHEPHERD! A CHURCH!

TJ's blog

Why am I Catholic?

This was a posted earlier a few months ago..but when I tried to play it, it said "unavailable" so am posting this GLORIOUS video again. ENJOY!

Suffering? Isn't Jesus about healing?

(My thought here: for God did not spare His own SON...or Mary from is it so many Christians seem to think if they're Christian, then they're exempt? ~ susie)

Many Evangelicals have a hard time understanding why Catholics put so much value in suffering. Some of these good Christians think that faithful Christians should always be physically healed if they pray hard enough. They say "if you had enough faith you would be healed." These are often the same people who believe in the "Prosperity Gospel." Evangelicals such as Kenneth Copeland who hold to the "prosperity gospel" claim that authentically turning our lives over to Jesus immediately results in abundant health and financial prosperity. The idea seems to be that faithful Christians should never be poor or experience sickness.

Most certainly Jesus heals. Catholics are totally into being healed - if it is God's will. I've been healed and delivered of many problems including alcoholism, bulimia, a voice that I couldn't use for 3 years etc. (see my testimony) I know a Catholic man who was healed of cancer in his neck and esophagus through the prayers of his sisters who were nuns. Catholics hold healing masses and pray and anoint the sick and we rejoice when we are healed. There are thousands of reports of Catholics being healed in the waters at Lourdes and other sites of pilgrimages. On my radio show, I recently interviewed "Gé La," a Spanish Catholic singer who was completely healed of a 5.9 cm cancerous tumour in her throat. Her voice returned and she has become one of the best known and loved singers in Latin America. Download the interview here.

The Apostle Paul was one of the greatest Christians of all time. He had turned his life over to Jesus in a very real way. Although Jesus restored his vision, Paul nevertheless had a very painful number of years. (2 Cor 24-30). Catholics don't think it was because he was lacking in faith.

The thief on the Cross beside Jesus received freedom from eternal punishment. "Today you will be with me in Paradise" (Lk 23:43) but he still experienced much suffering after he surrendered his life to Jesus. He hung on the cross for a several hours longer and had his legs broken. Jesus could have easily had him taken down from the cross to remove his suffering the moment the thief surrendered to Jesus.

All Christians struggle with suffering. I have never met a proponent of the Prosperity Gospel that has absolutely no suffering in life. Suffering is a fact of life. I heard an advertisement from Evangelical ministries that said "sometimes we suffer, we don't know why but we trust that God is in control and he knows what he is doing."

In his book, "The Purpose Driven Life," the famous Evangelical pastor, Rick Warren says:

The deepest level of worship is praising God in spite of pain, thanking God during a trial, surrendering while suffering, and loving him when he seems distant... the most common mistake Christians make in worship today is seeking an experience rather than seeking God. They look for feeling, and if it happens, they conclude that they have worshiped. Wrong! In fact, God often removes our feelings so we won't depend on them. Seeking a feeling, even the feeling of closeness to Christ, is not worship. When you are a baby Christian, God gives you a lot of confirming emotions ...but as you grow in faith, he will wean you off these dependencies. (The Purpose Driven Life, Pg 107-109)

Catholics of today don't chase after suffering. We are not "into" suffering. We don't like suffering any more than our Evangelical brothers and sisters. We are not masochists. However, Catholics think it is OK to suffer too and that suffering is not a sign of weak or shallow faith.

...we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character and character produces hope and hope does not disappoint us. (Rom 5:1)

Some Evangelicals have phrases like "claim your healing." They cite Mathew 17:14-20 where Jesus chastises the disciples after they fail to deliver the epileptic. Some Evangelicals use this passage to say that those who are not healed don't have enough faith. But if we look at this passage a bit closer, we see that it has nothing whatever to do with the weak faith of the Epileptic. Jesus is saying that the disciples didn't have enough faith to cure the epileptic. The disciples ask Jesus "Why could we not cast it out?" Jesus said to them, "Because of your little faith." Jesus was speaking to the disciple performing the healing, not the person who needs to be healed. So if you are ever at a healing service and the pastor says "You were not healed because you don't have enough faith" you can respond with Mathew 17:23 and say "No, Mr. Pastor, actually I'm not healed because you do not have enough faith!"

We might also note that this passage refers to someone who was sick as a result of a demon, Catholics don't think all sickness is caused by being possessed by demons (Jn 9). Billy Graham's daughter, Ann Graham Lotts said:

Suffering helps us... Jesus makes suffering understandable… Lasurus was sick but Jesus loved him… Not that you lack his blessing… precious sweetness in having him walk through suffering… (Interiew on Focus on the Family, 2007)

Looking up the word "pain" or "suffering" in a Bible concordance will reveal many instances in the New Testament where we are invited to share in suffering. Sometimes people come to a deeper faith in Jesus during sickness and sorrow than they do in the happy and healthy times. I'm sure many Evangelical friends reading this will agree that there were times in their lives where they have suffered and are better Christians today because of it.

Therefore, to keep me from being too elated, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, but he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness" (2 Cor 12:7)

". . .be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. " (Rom 12:12)

Father Bob Bedard explains that Catholics earnestly pray for healing when they are sick then he invites us into a mystery. He says:

"but what happens if we pray for healing but are not healed? ...well that's the Cross."

Catholics are not afraid of the Cross. We love the Cross. Catholics feel that if we prayerfully offer up their sufferings to God, they can benefit those in the world who are suffering but who do not know Christ. This is called "redemptive suffering." We don't go chasing after suffering but if it is persistently there even though we pray, then we don't waste the opportunity to use it for good. This is what Catholics mean when they say "I am offering it up."

" it is for your consolation, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings, that we are also suffering." (2 Col 1:6)

Father Bob Bedard says "Suffering is an essential component of human life. We can't avoid it. The Lord can accomplish much through our crosses if we join them to the Cross of Jesus, If we don't they may go for nothing...let's not waste the pain" (Companions Newsletter Fall 2001)

"For he has graciously granted you the privilege not only of believing in Christ, but of suffering for him as well." (Phil 1:29)

"Take up your cross daily and follow me" (Lk 9:23)

Catholics also think that our sorrow can be used for the purposes of making up for was lacking in Christ's afflictions.

"I am now rejoicing in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am completing what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body that is the church" (1 Col 24)

Some Evangelicals say that it is never God's will that we suffer but Catholics believe Peter acknowledged that there are cases when it may be God's will to suffer.

"for it is better to suffer for doing good if suffering should be God's will" (1Pet 3:17)

Yes!, Absolutely! Catholics feel that someone can be inflicted with tremendous suffering, yet have awesome faith and even rejoice in that suffering because of the complete dependency on God that it has facilitated. We don't feel that it is a sign of weak faith. Actually it requires a lot of faith to face suffering with dignity. Catholics do not belittle the miraculous healings that sometimes happen in Evangelical or Catholic healing services. We would just warn against teaching those who are not healed that they are lacking in faith. That is a terrible thing to inflict on someone who may be dying of cancer and may better use their time making peace with God and their friends and family, rather than worrying why they do not have enough faith to be healed. Sometimes the miraculous healing happens spiritually rather than physically and the cancer patient leaves this world in complete abandonment to Jesus. Now that is a true miracle of healing - a conversion of the heart.

The Catechism says this:

Moved by so much suffering Christ not only allows himself to be touched by the sick, but he makes their miseries his own: "He took our infirmities and bore our diseases." But he did not heal all the sick. His healings were signs of the coming of the Kingdom of God. They announced a more radical healing: the victory over sin and death through his Passover. On the cross Christ took upon himself the whole weight of evil and took away the "sin of the world," of which illness is only a consequence. By his passion and death on the cross Christ has given a new meaning to suffering: it can henceforth configure us to him and unite us with his redemptive Passion. (1505)

Lord Jesus, let Your prayer of unity for Christians
become a reality, in Your way
we have absolute confidence
that you can bring your people together
we give you absolute permission to move

©2003 David MacDonald

Our Lady of the Revelation. . .

April 12 - Apparition at Tre Fontane of Our Lady of the Revelation to Bruno Cornacchiola & his 3 children (Rome, 1947, approved in 1956)

The Myrrh-Streaming Icon (I)

In the 11th and 12th centuries, according to the legend, an icon was washed up by the sea and gently left on the shore of Athos close to the Iveron monastery. The icon represents the Mother of God carrying the Christ Child in majesty with one arm and with the other hand making a gesture to show that He is "the Way, the Truth and the Life".

The monks found the icon and carried it to the "catholicon", the church located in the center of the monastic buildings. On the following day it had disappeared from the sanctuary and was found on the wall beside the monastery gate. This recurred several times, so the monks built a small sanctuary for the icon on this very spot. The icon came to be known as the “Portaitissa” or “Gatekeeper”.

Many centuries later, in the early 1980s, an icon workshop was opened in a skete (small monastic community) dedicated to the Nativity. The first icon to be painted there was a copy of the “Portaitissa.”

Near the same date, a Chilean convert to Orthodoxy, Jose Munoz, an art teacher in Montreal, embarked on a pilgrimage to Mount Athos to come into contact with a monastery where icons are painted in the ancient Byzantine style using the egg tempera technique. He and his other companion directed themselves towards the skete mentioned above, where they were greeted warmly, offered traditional Athonite hospitality and invited to visit the icon-painting studio. There, Jose stopped dead in his tracks, flabbergasted, in front of the image of the "Portaitissa". It often happens that seeing an icon for the first time is like falling in love with someone who loves you too: it could be compared to a revelation or a vision. Monastic chastity predisposes to these spiritual “love at first sight” experiences.

Adapted from an article published in France Catholique Magazine, 30 May 1986 by Olivier Clément keeps on going and going....

Happy Easter Thursday!

How I love the liturgical calendar and seasons in the Catholic Church! Easter isn’t over in a day as it used to be for me. Now it’s a 50 days long celebration! HE IS RISEN, RISEN INDEED!

And Divine Mercy, my FAVORITE DAY OF THE YEAR! It has only become that this year, as I never knew before 2005 what Divine Mercy Sunday and the Chaplet were! Having finished reading the Diary of Sister (St) Faustina in February, I can say that Divine Mercy Sunday should be EVERYONE’S favorite day!

Our loving, giving, magnanimous in mercy FATHER, is pouring out mercy right and left to all corners of the earth for those who will be open and receive this generous gift! Can anyone think that they don’t deserve mercy? Yes, many do think and believe that way. BUT, the good news is here…MERCY IS FLOWING and it’s waiting to be received. NO ONE IS “GOOD ENOUGH” none of us deserve mercy! But yet, our Father is pleased to bruise his Son, pleased with the sacrifice of his Son…for his Son to die on a cross for our redemption! It is foolish of any of us to refuse so great a love and so great a gift as DIVINE MERCY. This Sunday, every Church should be FULL to capacity with the faithful...and the not-so faithful, so they can become truly "faithful." Not 'our righteousness' but HIS...and HIS DIVINE MERCY is what will lead us straight to the Heart of our Father God!

Let us honor our beloved Papa, JP II's memory, and let us join him and all the Saints in Heaven this Sunday and “drink from the flowing fount of Mercy." Let us delight in the grace and mercy that will fill our souls and our hearts when we open ourselves to receive the cleansing “bath” of this glorious fountain, pouring forth from our Savior’s Heart!

Let no one be discouraged!
Let no one run in fear!
Let all come to drink
From the Fountain of LIFE!
Let all run to the Lord
Who is near!
Mercy is flowing toward
All broken hearts,
Wounded souls stumbling
Along on the path…
Just reach out,
Grab the hem of His garment,
To find faith, hope and Love
That will last!

© Susie Melkus

The Great Mercy Pope...

Pope John Paul II
The Great Mercy Pope
from the Marians of the Immaculate Conception

Pope John Paul II, both in his teaching and personal life, strove to live and teach the message of Divine Mercy. As the great Mercy Pope, he wrote an encyclical on Divine Mercy:

"The Message of Divine Mercy has always been near and dear to me… which I took with me to the See of Peter and which it in a sense forms the image of this Pontificate."

In his writings and homilies, he has described Divine Mercy as the answer to the world’s problems and the message of the third millennium. He beatified and canonized Sr. Maria Faustina Kowalska, the nun associated with the message, and he did it in Rome and not in Poland to underscore that Divine Mercy is for the whole world.
Establishing Divine Mercy Sunday for the Entire Church

When Pope John Paul canonized Sr. Faustina (making her St. Faustina), he also, on the same day, surprised the entire world by establishing Divine Mercy Sunday (the feast day associated with the message) as a feast day for the entire Church. The feast day falls on the Second Sunday of the Easter season. On that day, Pope John Paul II declared, "This is the happiest day of my life."
Entrusting the World to Divine Mercy

In 2002, the Pope entrusted the whole world to Divine Mercy when he consecrated the International Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Lagiewniki, a suburb of Krakow in Poland. This is where St. Faustina’s mortal remains are entombed. The saint lived in a convent nearby. The Pope himself remembers as a young man working in the Solvay Quarry, just a few meters from the present-day Shrine. He also says that he had been thinking about Sr. Faustina for a long time when he wrote his encyclical on Divine Mercy. Further, the Holy Father has frequently quoted from the Diary of St. Faustina and has prayed The Chaplet of The Divine Mercy at the saint’s tomb.
Beyond the Life of John Paul II

Given all these connections to Divine Mercy and St. Faustina, is it any wonder that Pope John Paul II died on the Vigil of Divine Mercy Sunday (the evening before the feast day), which fell that year on April 3. It is also no surprise that the Great Mercy Pope left us a message for Divine Mercy Sunday, which was read on the feast day by a Vatican official to the faithful in St. Peter’s after a Mass that had been celebrated for the repose of the soul of the Pope.

Repeatedly Pope John Paul II has written and spoken about the need for us to turn to the mercy of God as the answer to the specific problems of our times. He has placed a strong and significant focus on the Divine Mercy message and devotion throughout his pontificate that will carry the Church long after his death.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Sacred heart of Jesus beats for you...

"Jesus, your heart, your Precious Sacred Heart, began beating inside the womb of your Mother, under her most Tender Immaculate Heart...and it continues to beat for all of us to this day. Divine Mercy beats within your chest that once was lanced, causing water and blood to pour forth from Your Heart, out to the world from on that Cross.

We praise You Lord, and we bless You. Have Mercy on us."


Sunday, April 08, 2007

Happy Resurrection Day to all!

To all this Glorious Day! God Bless you! May His grace fill you! His Face shine upon you! And may our Blessed Mother, Mary, hold you near and smile upon you as we worship our RISEN LORD with Her and with ALL THE SAINTS in HEAVEN!

Rich and Susie


He is not here!...

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Thousands to Join Catholic Church in U.S.

And here in little Omaha Nebraska, we have almost 1000! GO OMAHA!

Picture is our beloved and beautiful St. Cecilia's Cathedral where tonight, many of those 1000 are entering into full communion with the Catholic Church. Every parish across town is celebrating this wondrous moment tonight!

( Tens of thousands of people in the United States will join the Catholic Church on Holy Saturday through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults.

According to numbers released by the U.S. bishops' conference, some 1,294 catechumens will be baptized, confirmed and receive the Eucharist for the first time today in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, the nation's largest archdiocese.

Additionally, nearly 1,500 candidates, those who have been baptized in the Catholic Church, but hadn't received further formation, or those who have been baptized in other Christian churches, will become full members of the Church.

The Archdiocese of Detroit will welcome 612 catechumens and 913 candidates, and the Diocese of San Diego will welcome 851 catechumens and 1,036 candidates.

The Archdiocese of Atlanta reports 457 will be baptized and 631 received into full communion. In the Archdiocese of Seattle there will be 636 catechumens baptized and 520 candidates welcomed.

The Official Catholic Directory reported that 80,817 adults were baptized and 73,684 came into full communion in the Catholic Church in 2006.

Adults will enter the Church in every one of the country's 195 dioceses, and in virtually every one of the nation's nearly 19,000 parishes.

Holy Saturday...

EASTER VIGIL.... Blessed ones...come...

Welcome to all new "baby Catholics" Tonight is the Easter Vigil and this is happening across the U.S. and all around the globe. Catholics returning Home and those entering Holy Mother Church for the first time as converts.

WECOME BACK! WELCOME HOME! WELCOME and please don't roam from Rome again, even if it's hard sometimes to 'find your place.' We love you and the Church needs you. We are grateful, delighted and profoundly happy that you're here with us, and all the Holy Saints in Heaven! They've all just thrown a big party with all the angels for your Homecoming! Please find help, encouragement, support for yourselves here, and on all the other wonderful, informative blogs out there. We're a BIG family, but we're all in the same boat, that's crossed the Tiber. We'll share our joys and struggles with you, as you share yours with us, and together, let us be the "cleansing tide" of Tradition and Orthodoxy, washing away the gobbledygook from the misinformed, the misled, by those who misinterpreted VAT. II Documents that so estranged such a large number of the flock. We were misled by thinking we could just "follow our conscience" and by doing that, in the 70's and 80's we probably lost a potential 3 or 4 children that could have been the sisters and or brothers of our two sons. For that, this mother grieves. But God be praised, the NEW JP II generation of Holy Priests is taking up the charge, and "cleaning house" with Papa Benedict XVI...our beloved "BIG BEN."


Come To the Table of Life

The dinner bell rings
The candles are lit

Come to the Table of Life

Supper is ready
The Table is set

Come to the Table of Life

Your Mother is calling
All her daughters and sons

Come to the Table of Life

Receive the Eucharist
Partake with the Saints

Come to the Table of Life

Bread of Heaven is broken
Sacrifice of His love

Come to the Table of Life

True Food and True drink
Given us from above

Come to the Table of Life

Eat of His Body and
Drink of His Blood

Come to the Table of Life

Receive Life within you
And live out this Mass

Come to the Table of Life

Transformed into Jesus
We are called now to serve

Going forth from the Table of Life

© Susie Melkus

Rich and I would love to hear from you. Know you're in our prayers.

Killing Me Softly (About A Boy)

The video clip below from the movie, ABOUT A BOY ties in with HOLY SATURDAY for me. While watching it a few minutes ago, I recalled Dr. Ray's sublime program Thursday re: his reference to a "quarter and sub-atomic particles" making up that quarter. How so much of what we perceive we really can't see.

All of His followers thought Jesus was "dead and gone" on that Saturday, after burying Him in the tomb Friday. They thought He had died a "miserable failure," they were lost in their deep mourning, confused, sad, maybe grappling with doubt, frustration, feelings of betrayal, for they were only seeing with their physical eyes...and they were completely wrong. They had no idea what was taking place in a world they couldn't see. They had to walk through Saturday though, through the emptiness and the pain and anguish, before seeing the dawn of a New Day, Sunday. We have to walk through a lot of "empty Saturdays" during our lives.

Marcus, (the boy in the movie) is struggling terribly on stage, all alone, nervous, squirming inside. He's afraid, wanting to run, yet clinging to his last "shred of dignity" just to "sing it and get it over with." He's being quite brave to keep singing, but yet full of doubt and fear, too. He only sees the jeering crowd of kids. BUT he's not aware of what is "going on" with Will, whom he doesn't see. Near the curtain, out of his peripheral vision, just to his right, on the same stage, stands his friend. Will's arrived and he's thinking of a plan to help Marcus, even if it costs him his"cool" reputation and his own embarrassment. Even if they both "go down in flames" he wants to help Marcus and be there for him. Marcus is only hoping for the horror to end and find the nearest EXIT.

When "Will" steps onto the stage, to face ridicule for his friend, that's when he becomes "Jesus" to me (I tear up every time.) It's not the 'end of the world' anymore, as it seemed, but it's "resurrection Day" for Marcus. Will starts playing the guitar and Marcus soon knows it's all going to be okay.

Sometimes we don't see Him because we don't think God would appear "there'' - in "that movie," or "that book" or on "that street" or in "that pew" or in that crumpled, wrinkled old "has been" person, or that "mentally disabled child," too ill to speak for herself. And some don't see Him in that "wafer" either. But I find Him there many times brighter than in some faces in some churches. Not that He's not there in those faces, too, but those faces are attached to people who are sometimes way too busy and in too big a hurry to exit Mass. When if they'd linger a while, they might notice Jesus in a visitor or a lonely soul who's not been to Mass in years, or someone crying all alone. He's there and speaking if we're looking and listening for Him. And even if we're not, He Is. Because He always Was. And because He'll forever be... "I AM."

Just keep will see and find Him. He's not playing hard to get, He's stretching and testing your "eyes of faith" and that's how you're going to grow.