Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas (Buon Natale)

In the twenty-fourth day of the month of December;

In the year five-thousand one-hundred and ninety-nine from the creation of the
world, when in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth;

In the year two-thousand nine-hundred and fifty-seven from the flood;

In the year two-thousand and fifty-one from the birth of Abraham;

In the year one-thousand five-hundred and ten from the going forth of the people of Israel out of Egypt under Moses;

In the year one-thousand and thirty-two from the anointing of David as king;

In the sixty-fifth week according to the prophecy of Daniel;

In the one-hundred and ninety-fourth Olympiad;

In the year seven-hundred and fifty-two from the foundation of the city of Rome;

In the forty-second year of the reign of the Emperor Octavian Augustus;

In the sixth age of the world, while the whole earth was at peace— JESUS CHRIST eternal God and the Son of the eternal Father, willing to consecrate the world by His gracious coming, having been conceived of the Holy Ghost, and the nine months of His conception being now accomplished,
(all kneel)
was born in Bethlehem of Judah of the Virgin Mary, made man. The birthday of our Lord Jesus Christ, according to the flesh.

thanks to

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

sacerdotal stocking stuffer

and if you've been a good priest this year,
you might get one of these from Saint Nicholas

thanks to Hound of Heaven and Fr. Tim Finigan

for non-papists, it is a Pope Pius clock, with all 12 Pope Pius'

Monday, December 22, 2008

ach du lieber

und I varned him before about static electricity venn you do not use Kling-Free sheets

(I always have the nuns send mine to the dry cleaners)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Mamma Mia (Moja Matka)

Last Year (October, 2007), my beloved mother was honored with the Sisters of Saint Joseph Spirit of Courage Award. Yesterday, someone found a reference to that on the Web and forwarded it to me. Here it is as it shows why my family (my brother Mark and I) love her so much and are so proud of her and to be her sons. Last month, she accompanied me and Father Brighenti on a pilgrimage to Lourdes and Fatima. When we returned, I took her to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. She spotted Newt Gingrich and got his autograph as well as former US Ambassador to the Vatican, James Nicholson. Earlier this year, she met the Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Pietro Sambi at the Vatican Embassy, when we were in town to celebrate my 20th Jubilee of Ordination. Since she was too ill to attend the Papal Masses in the Spring, His Grace was kind enough to give her a private audience a month later. Despite her youthful looks, she suffers from chronic back pain as a result of multiple disk injuries and degenerative arthritis. Nevertheless, the physical and emotional crosses she bears do not stop her from taking care of cloistered Carmelite nuns.

What is the SSJ Spirit
of Courage?

In 1997, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Northwestern Pennsylvania announced the beginning of The Courage To Come Back in the Erie Diocese. The Courage To Come Back program had a two-fold purpose: to honor individuals who have shown remarkable courage in recovery from accident, injury, illness, addiction or economic adversity; and, to raise funds to support the various community service projects of the Sisters of St. Joseph.

The Sisters of St. Joseph adopted the Courage idea because it was a natural fit with their many ministries of education, health care, care for the elderly, social work, finding shelter for the homeless and affordable housing for mothers and children. In celebration of the tenth anniversary of Courage, in 2006 the name was changed to the SSJ Spirit of Courage Awards.

The quiet, daily acts of ordinary people who refuse to give up in the face of illness, injury or other adversity represent courage in its truest form. Yet, all too often, these people struggle alone with no fanfare and little or no recognition for their courage. They are the heart of the SSJ Spirit of Courage.

The highlight of the SSJ Spirit of Courage program is the Awards Dinner, which is held each fall. A variety of sponsorship opportunities for the dinner are available, all designed to give the appropriate recognition that is deserved for supporting the ministries and community service projects of the Sisters of St. Joseph.

The tremendous success of the SSJ Spirit of Courage has allowed the Sisters of St. Joseph to continue seeking and establishing ministries that serve the community. With nearly 350 Sisters and lay Associates, the congregation continues to affirm its mission of unity of neighbor with neighbor and neighbor with God by undertaking whatever ministry that might bring about unity and by continuously responding to the changing needs of the world.

Liz Trigilio

In 1955 Liz Trigilio graduated from St. Vincent’s School of Nursing, and having experienced various assignments during senior rotation, was happy to begin working in the emergency room. Eventually, because of her efficiency, skill, and discipline, Liz became the ER’s head nurse. Her career, she reflects, was both exciting and rewarding.

Early Years…Happiness and Grief

Liz married in 1958 and became pregnant in 1960. At eight months, she recognized troubling signs: no movement from her baby, spotting, and finally, 48 hours of labor. Mary Jo was born with hyaline membrane disease, so her undeveloped lungs limited oxygen intake. Unfortunately, at that time, no viable treatment was available, and Mary Jo died within three days.

During the next six years, Liz and husband John welcomed two sons – John and Joseph. John Jr.
resolved to become a priest by the time he made his first communion; in middle school, he gathered family around the coffee table – arranged as altar – to offer Mass…including sermon. John was so sure of his vocation, in fact, that he entered St. Mark’s Seminary in 9th grade. Joseph was born 2 years later. Though close in age, he was entirely different from John. Joe loved the
outdoors and preferred fishing and hunting to books.

Five years later, the Trigilio family was completed with the births of Michael in 1966, and Mark, a
year later. Michael, at nine months, wasn’t meeting his physical milestones; further, Liz noticed that his calf muscles appeared enlarged. Eventually, his development lagged behind Mark’s. After some frightening visits to the ER, and blood work, a neurologist diagnosed Michael with Duchenne’s muscular dystrophy, a progressive and terminal illness. Still, Michael attended Blessed Sacrament, and Academy High School – confined then to a wheelchair – and Edinboro

Life Lessons

Liz, continuing to nurse part-time, prepared tantalizing meals of homemade pasta for family and friends, welcomed guests galore, tended to Michael, and demonstrated her religious conviction. Husband John, a Sunday Catholic at the time of their marriage, grew to know and love the faith Liz epitomized. Liz also modeled her life on lessons from her sister Rita’s mother-in-law – “Look for the good in people” – and from the sisters at St. Vincent’s, who inspired her to “do good.” John and Liz never ended a day without kneeling together in prayer. Then and now, Liz regards herself unworthy of the blessings she’s received, even though her life has been filled with tragedy.

More Heartache

Michael’s muscular dystrophy progressed to the point that after three years of college at Edinboro
University, he became bed-ridden, requiring complete care; he could move only with assistance. For five years, Liz and John spent alternate nights with Michael, staying up, attending to his needs, and turning him every two hours to prevent bedsores. During this period, Liz began hand quilting to keep her awake, attentive to Michael’s call, and to offer a time for prayer and reflection. While she created 14 intricate and beautiful coverlets, which she could easily have sold, Liz gave away all but one of her heirloom pieces.

As Michael’s disease worsened, he lost nearly 60 pounds, but never complained. Faith-filled like
Liz, Michael prayed the rosary and trusted that “God listens.” In 1992, following a lung infection, Michael contracted pneumonia and died within hours. He was 26; physicians attribute Michael’s longevity, despite MD, to the extraordinary care he had received from his family.

Liz continued to work part-time, but John Sr. retired. Liz served family and community, sending
dinners to priests and older neighbors, and regularly visiting the Carmelite monastery. Again, crisis loomed when John Sr. was diagnosed with leukemia in 1995, necessitating chemotherapy and eventually, multiple blood transfusions each week.

In 1997, successive crises truly tested Liz, but empowered by her beliefs, she faced and endured
each trial with grace and serenity. At that time, Mark was diagnosed with leukemia, received chemotherapy, and was required to schedule regular check-ups. Months later, Joseph, then 33, was preparing to leave for a post July 4th party. Though not demonstrative, he kissed Liz good-bye, and, sensitive to the deaths of Mary Jo and Michael, and particularly impacted by seeing Mark hospitalized, he asked: “Is something going to happen to me?” Liz calmed Joe’s worries, but his premonition would be fulfilled when his car was struck broadside by a speeding vehicle just minutes after leaving home. Joe was thrown through the sunroof, crushed, and killed instantly. The 17-year-old driver, drunk and high, had been speeding through the city at 75 miles per hour,
sideswiping parked vehicles and eluding capture.

When finally caught, the young man was arrested, jailed, and charged with vehicular homicide. At his trial, the Trigilio's showed such compassion that their forgiving response was featured in the Erie Times News. The young driver spent a very short time in confinement – possibly because of the Trigilios’ expression of mercy – however, should he break his probation, he is to be imprisoned for a minimum of seven years and the Trigilio family will be notified immediately.

Disheartened by Joe’s death, John Sr. seemed to lose hope; he died within six months. He had
undergone intensive treatment, receiving regular 12-hour sessions of IV therapy, and experiencing excruciating pain. When he told Liz he didn’t want to die in the hospital, she took him home where, once again, she served as nurse and loving caretaker. John died peacefully on the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, surrounded by Liz, Mark, and Father John.

In Faith and Hope

Ordained in 1988, Father John has served a number of parishes in the Harrisburg area and is currently pastor of Our Lady of Good Counsel and St. Bernadette’s churches. Additionally, he has co-authored six books (including Catholicism for Dummies), is president of a national association of priests (Confraternity of Catholic Clergy) and regularly travels to Alabama to shoot Web of Faith, an award-winning program aired on EWTN.

Mark, meanwhile, has undergone therapy for leukemia twice but has been in remission since 2004;
still, he must be re-evaluated semi-annually. Although his prognosis is good, with the family’s knowledge of this illness, a sense of concern is natural.

Clearly, Liz has known tragedy, yet she has known tranquility, born and nurtured through her profound faith. Today, she serves as medical officer, nurse, chauffeur, cook, and sacristan for Erie’s Carmelite monastery; travels with Fr. John; and enjoys counted cross-stitch. Younger than her six brothers and sisters, Liz has nursed her siblings through illnesses and mourned the deaths of three. Despite a host of personal heartaches, Liz has devoted herself to patients, family, and
community, exemplifying and honoring the ideals of Christian service. Like Florence Nightingale in profession, and like Christ in spirit, Liz Trigilio faces each joy, challenge, setback, and defeat with tranquility, not only modeling, but also inspiring both faith and courage.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Gaudete AND Bambinelli Sunday

The Third Sunday of Advent, is also known as Gaudete Sunday, where the priest wears ROSE vestments as opposed to the PURPLE or VIOLET he wears on the other Sundays and weekdays of Advent. Since the pontificate of Pope John Paul the Great, it is also called Bambinelli Sunday to commemorate the blessing of the Gesu Bambino (baby Jesus). Children of Rome flock to Saint Peter's Piaza where the Pope blesses the figurines of the Baby Jesus which the kiddies bring from their homes and then return them in time for the family display of the Nativity Set (Christmas Creche). According to a Zenit article, the Nativity scene has been part of Italy's culture for almost 800 years now. According to tradition, St. Francis created the first representation of the birth of Christ in the little town of Greccio in 1223.

Many parishes across the globe now honor Bambinelli Sunday by having the Pastor, Parochial Vicar or Deacon bless the 'baby Jesus' which each family brings to Mass that weekend. We normally ask the youngest ambulatory child to bring up the figurine and sometimes they are accompanied by their siblings. Even the adults, however, bring their little baby Jesus from their Nativity Sets, and get them blessed every year. This can be done BEFORE Mass begins or AFTER Mass ends or it can be done later in the day at noon or three o'clock (hour of mercy). BTW, if your parish forgot to plan this in time for this weekend, no harm in doing it next weekend on the Fourth Sunday of Advent (just one time).
(we inadvertently left it out of last week's bulletin, so guess what ... ?)

Friday, December 12, 2008

Requiescat in Pace


Birth. August 24, 1918, Auburn, diocese of Rochester, United States. His baptismal name is Avery Robert. Son of John Foster Dulles, United States Secretary of State, and Janet Pomeroy Avery Dulles; nephew of Allen Welsh Dulles, founding administrator of the Central Intelligence Agency; great-grandson of John Watson Foster, secretary of State of the United States; great-grandson of Theodore Medad Pomeroy, MC, Speaker of the House of Representatives.

Education. Attended primary school in New York City and secondary education at private schools in Switzerland and New England. Raised a Presbyterian, he was a self-professed agnostic when he entered Harvard University in 1936. He converted to Catholicism on November 26, 1940. After graduation, served in intelligence in the Naval Reserve. In 1945 was decorated with the Croix de Guerre for his work in communication with the French navy. Later in 1945, he contracted polio in Naples, Italy. Joined the Society of Jesus, August 14, 1946, New York Province. Instructor of Philosophy, Fordham University, Bronx, New York, 1951-1953. Obtained a doctorate in theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome, 1960.

Priesthood. Ordained, June 16, 1956, Fordham University, New York, by Cardinal Francis Spellman, archbishop of New York. He was moderator of the freshman and sophomore Sodality of Our Lady, which included as its prefect sophomore Theodore McCarrick, later cardinal and archbishop of Washington, D.C. Later he was a member of the faculties of Woodstock College and of the Catholic University of America. Since 1988 he has been the Laurence J. McGinley Professor of Religion and Society at Fordham University. Member of the International Theological Commission, 1991-1997. He has held fifteen visiting professorships and numerous positions in theological organizations including the presidency of the Catholic Theological Society of America and the American Theological Society, which was founded by a group of Protestant theologians including his grandfather Allen Macy Dulles, a distinguished Presbyterian theologian. Consultor to the Committee on Doctrine of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops. Considered as the preeminent American Catholic theologian, he has received numerous awards. Among them, Phi Beta Kappa, the National Catholic Book Award, the Religious Education Forum Award, as well as the Cardinal Spellman Award for distinguished achievement in theology. He also has received 21 honorary doctorates and is well known internationally as an author and a lecturer. He has published 21 books and over 650 articles, essays and reviews. Many of his writings interpret and communicate the messages of the Vatican II Ecumenical Council.

Episcopate. Requested to be dispensed from the requirement of episcopal ordination and the dispensation was granted by Pope John Paul II.

Cardinalate. Created cardinal deacon in the consistory of February 21, 2001; received the red biretta and the deaconry of SS. Nomi di Gesù e Maria in via Lata, February 21, 2001. Promoted to the cardinalate when he was over 80 years old, and thus, he did not have the right to participate in the conclave.

Our Lady of Guadalupe - Patroness of the Americas

December 9th was the Feast of Saint Juan Diego, and December 12th is the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Juan Diego is the Mexican (of Aztek ancestry) to whom the Blessed Mother appeared in 1531. Cuauhtlatoazin was born in 1474 and baptized as Juan Diego in 1524 by Spanish missionary Franciscans brought over to the New World by Cortez. Our Lady imprinted this image (see right) on the Juan Diego's tilma, as many know, and to this day scientists cannot explain HOW the image got there. It is not painted, dyed or sewn. The process cannot be duplicated by modern technology and neither can the source be ascertained other than that of supernatural origin. One of MANY interesting facts on the tilma is:

Ophthalmological tests have found that MARY's eye is a human eye that appears to be living, and includes the retina, in which is reflected the image of a man with outstretched hands—Juan Diego. The image in the eye conforms to the known laws of optics, particularly to that which states that a well-lighted object can be reflected three times in an eye (Purkinje-Samson's law). A later study allowed researchers to discover in the eye, in addition to the seer, Bishop Zumárraga and several other people present when the image of Our Lady appeared on the tilma. And the normal microscopic network of veins in the eyelids and the cornea of the Virgin's eyes is completely recognizable. No human painter would have been able to reproduce such details.

This feature in addition to the accurate astronomic details and other fascinating dimensions make the image even more incredible especially when one realizes that this goes back almost 500 years ago. If 21st century science cannot explain or replicate the process, what does that say? Incidentally, more pilgrims per year visit the Basilica in Mexico City to see the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe than any other pilgrimage site in the world. More than Saint Peter's in Rome; more than Lourdes or Fatima; more than Padre Pio's. Recently, a Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse was consecrated by Archbishop Raymond Burke.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Support the Grand Duke

Confraternity of Catholic Clergy
121 William St
Marysville, PA 17053
December 8th, 2008
Feast of the Immaculate Conception

H.R.H. Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg
Palais Grand-Ducal
L-1728 Luxembourg

Your Royal Highness,

On behalf of the priests and deacons of the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy, I extend our deepest gratitude for your decision to veto a bill which would legalize euthanasia in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. Your courageous move is not only a testimony of your Catholic Christian faith but is also the mark of a true, virtuous ruler who seeks only the common good for his people in accord with the well established Natural Moral Law. Defending the innocent lives of the unborn and the terminally ill is not just a religious matter, but is an ethical and moral one which all human beings are expected to know and embrace, regardless of race, creed, or political affiliation. One of the most poignant lessons of the Second World War was that the Nazi atrocities were totally indefensible since they violated both Natural and International Law, both rooted in reason and thus applicable to every man and woman of history, past, present or future. The precepts of the Divine Law which govern believers further affirms that human life is sacred and must be given the utmost respect and protection. Even the ancient pagan Greeks and Romans demonstrated an awareness of moral principles which transcend time, territory, culture and language; which neither Caesar, the Senate nor even the People could dissolve or disregard. This recognition and adherence to a Natural Moral Law differentiates human beings from all other creatures since it affirms a universal human nature which establishes natural rights to each person, and not given or created by any constitution or government.

We pledge our prayers and support for Your Highness for doing the right thing for the right reason. If all civil leaders would follow the same virtuous path of doing the morally correct thing (in this case, vetoing an immoral bill), our society, culture and civilization would not only endure but thrive as well.

May Our Divine Lord and His Blessed Mother be with you and the people of Luxembourg.

Sincerely Yours,

Rev. John Trigilio, Jr. (President)

Friday, December 05, 2008

A Catholic Leader Votes His Conscience; How Novel


Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg will veto a bill legalizing euthanasia which will inevitably result in a Constitutional crisis as Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker promises to strip the monarch of his already limited authority.  The last surviving sovereign Grand Duchy, Luxembourg is one of several remaining constitutional monarchies in the world.

Thanks to Father Tim Finigan (Hermeneutic of Continuity) who broke this story in the blogosphere, we are now aware of an actual Catholic leader who votes according to his properly formed conscience despite the personal and/or professional consequences.  We should all applaud, commend, support and pray for His Royal Highness Grand Duke Henri for standing up and being counted (unlike many of his Catholic compatriots in Parliament who chose to vote for this bill that chooses death over life.)  Unlike Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi or Vice President Elect Joe Biden, this Catholic made a conscious choice to DEFEND LIFE.  The same cannot be said of his uncle, King Baudouin I of Belgium, who enacted euthanasia and same-sex marriage laws in his nation.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008


Jdimytai Damour, was 6 feet 5 and 270 pounds and died horribly on November when 2,000 shoppers literally trampled him to death. This mob was motivated by one purpose: GREED. While judges and juries can ascertain what legal negligence Walmart may incur, morally speaking, the primary culprits are the actual people who stormed the doors and WALKED ON A HUMAN BEING who died of asphyxiation. What were these crazed consumers seeking? Not food for the starving or clothes for the naked or shelter for the homeless, rather these folks wanted BARGAINS such as a Samsung 50" Plasma HDTV for $798; a Bissel Compact Upright Vacuum for $28; a Samsung 10.2 megapixel digital camera for $69 and DVDs such as "The Incredible Hulk" for $9.

Since the ends never justifies the means, it is never morally permissable to hurt let alone kill someone even if it is done by a starving or homeless person desperate for relief. Worse yet is the fact that these people were not an unruly mob as sometimes is depicted in the news when showing disaster victims trying to get very limited and scarce necessities (such as food, water and clothing). No, this was a purely CONSUMER driven incident where getting the best deal overrided common decency and even the Natural Moral Law. While no one deliberately or premeditatively killed this innocent man, unless they were sleepwalking, I find it incredulous that none of the 2,000 shoppers NOTICED they were walking on top of another human being? When police arrived with emergency techs, some of the crowd boohed as the store needed to be closed.

This pathetic behavior is of course the worst case scenario for abusing the real meaning of Christmas. A Savior is born in abject poverty, having His mother give birth in a manger (stable) rather than at home. Our Blessed Lord entered this world with nothing and He left this world with nothing (in terms of earthly possessions). Yet, our modern society has perverted the birthday of the Savior into an annual SHOPPING event. I heard recently from several Christians that they prefer Thanksgiving to Christmas and Easter because the former is more 'spiritual' whereas the latter two are much more commercialized. We Christians are the ones who allowed our holydays to degenerate into consumer holidays.

Jdimytai Damour need not die in vain. In addition to praying for his soul and for his surviving family and relatives, I suggest we VOLUNTARILY boycott all further Christmas shopping. Cook something instead of buying something. Give the gift of time instead of money. If necessary, purchase online or just essentials at local stores where you normally frequent. Avoid these crazy sales events. Most of all, if we Christians spent as much if not more time PRAYING and DOING VIRTUOUS DEEDS (like the corporal and spiritual works of mercy) as we did SHOPPING (including the time wasted getting to the stores, finding parking spaces, waiting in lines, then wrapping the gifts we purchased), Christmas might be restored as a RELIGIOUS holiday.

I know there are jobs dependent on what people buy at this time of year, but we cannot allow imprudent decisions to dictate morality. Salaries should be based on ANNUAL work not just a seasonal activity. Stores do not HAVE to have cut-throat sales at bizarre times of the day. If consumers avoided these insane events, merchants would stop having them. Merchants can be successful on their regular customers when they behave prudently and fairly. When I was growing up, my father took me and three brothers to the Boston Store every year a week or two before Christmas and we bought something for Mom (and while alive, our grandparents). Back then, Pennsylvania had Blue Laws, so ALL STORES WERE CLOSED ON SUNDAYS. There were crowds but they behaved civilly. Good manners were not absent, they were accentuated during the Christmas holidays. Everyone, from clerk to customer said MERRY CHRISTMAS. People were not pushing each other nor were they shoving others. People acted like human beings and not like cattle or a herd of animals.

Speaking with my colleagues, we noticed a continuing decline in church donations during the holidays. While many say the economy is forcing them to cut back, it is their parish where they cut first and most. If it were just a matter of my own salary, I would not be bothered. The reality is that the electric and heat bills, the salaries and benefits of our staff, and the mainenance and upkeep of the church building are totally dependent on the weekly offering made by our parishioners. The gas, electric and water bills come month after month regardless of how many people come to church or how much they donate. People get upset when their parish is threatened with closing but sometimes you wonder where are these same people when the collection plate does not increase in proportion to inflation and the cost of living as everything else does? When people plop in spare pocket change, that is not fulfillng the precept of the church to support your parish. The local waitresses and waiters at the dinor often get more in tips than the average weekly offering at Mass. Catholics have been reported to be the lowest givers (1% of income) yet when some of them become disgruntled and leave the Church, they will often join an independent, non-denominational Protestant church and give 10% or more each week. With that kind of financing, full time youth ministers and several assistant pastors can be hired. Many programs and facilities can be realized when there is consistent and generous giving. Former Catholics tend to give more in their new non-Catholic congregation. Sadly, they have turned their back, however, on the Real Presence as there is no valid Holy Eucharist and no valid Holy Orders in their new religion. Music might be nicer or livelier and the sermons might be more enthusiastic, but the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is not about US it is about GOD. It is the supreme act of WORSHIP where you and I GIVE back to the Lord the ADORATION He justly DESERVES. We do not go to Mass to GET anything. We go to show our love FOR SOMEONE, i.e., for God. We RECEIVE more than we deserve insofar as someone in the state of grace is allowed to receive Holy Communion.

The consumer mentality which spawned a mob to crush a man to death just to get a bargain at a ridiculous pre-Christmas post-Thanksgiving sale has also infected many people's spirituality. People want spiritual bargains, from God and from His Church. Couples demand to be allowed to get married OUTSIDE instead of the House of God where it belongs. Parents don't like the regulations that require a PRACTICING CATHOLIC IN GOOD STANDING to be a godparent of their child at baptism. Ironically, these same parents are more picky and circumspect on who is their son or daughter's coach or pre-school teacher. Catholics can be tempted to reduce their weekly offering if they dislike the new pastor or have problems with the local bishop. If there is a family quarrell, does the father or mother stop paying the proprty taxes? Do they stop paying the phone, electric and other utlities? Entitlement is not just a sense that someone OWES me, it also produces a sense of CONTROL, as if the donor is now a stockholder or investor. Transparency is essential, by all means, to prevent abuse, but I have seen a few select BIG donors taking advantage of their generosity and pressuring the pastor or bishop to see things their way. Is that not a type of lobbying? No strings attached is what real giving is about. And giving (generosity) is the best remedy for GREED and AVARICE. If a local parish is not teaching and preaching orthodoxy and/or if the sacred liturgy is not reverent, licit and valid, then I urge people to ask their pastor to fulfill their legitimate needs and if they are not met, find a parish where these essentials are provided. The mediocre and bad parishes cannot survive if good Catholics stop doing and saying nothing. Parishes and dioceses which are faithful to the Magisterium and have a demonstrable love and reverence for the Blessed Sacrament and for the Mass and a deep filial devotion to Our Lady, then these places FLOURISH. Cafeteria Catholicism is not Catholicism and it is not even Christian. It is religious consumerism and like moral relativism, it is bankrupt.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Novena in Honor of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception

Immaculate Virgin Mary, you were pleasing in the sight of God from the first moment of your conception in the womb of your mother St. Anne. You were chosen to be the Mother of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. We believe the teaching of Holy Mother Church, that in the first instant of your conception, by the singular grace and privilege of Almighty God, in virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race and your beloved Son, you were preserved from all stain of original sin. We thank God for this wonderful privilege and grace He bestowed upon you as we honor your Immaculate Conception.

Look graciously upon us as we implore this special favor:

(Mention your request here)

Virgin Immaculate, Mother of God and our Mother, from your throne in Heaven turn your eyes of pity upon us. Filled with confidence in your goodness and power, we beg you to help us in this journey of life, which is so full of dangers for our souls. We entrust ourselves entirely to you, that we may never be slaves of the devil through sin, but may always live a humble and pure life. We consecrate ourselves to you forever, for our only desire is to love your Divine Son Jesus. Amen

I had the distinct honor and privilege of concelebrating Mass today, the First Sunday of Advent, at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC.  At the end of Mass, Msgr. Walter Rossi, rector, led the congregation in a novena prayer to Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, Patroness of the USA

Thursday, November 27, 2008

REAL first Thanksgiving: Catholic Mass in 1565 Florida

As Father Jay Toborowsky and others have pointed out, the FIRST Thanksgiving was NOT in 1621 Plymouth with Protestant Pilgrims, rather, it was in 1565 Florida (St. Augustine) with Catholic Spaniards and Native Americans.

Squanto was the Native American man who mediated between the Puritan Pilgrims and the Native Americans. Squanto had been enslaved by Protestant English but he was freed by Catholic Spanish Franciscans. Squanto was baptzed and became a Catholic Christian. So it was a baptized Catholic Native American who orchestrated what became known as Thanksgiving even in 1621.


Don't forget that in addition to PETITION, CONTRITION, and ADORATION, the fourth valid type of prayer is APPRECIATION (thanksgiving). The best way to express thanks is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass whereby the Holy Eucharist is made present by the Priest on the altar. The Greek word for 'giving thanks' is the root word (eukaristein) eukaristein) for EUCHARIST. Although not a Holyday of obligation, Catholic Americans should go to Mass on Thanksgiving BEFORE indulging in food and football.

In our Italian home, we had Turkey with trimmings PLUS lasagna, ravioli, meatballs, sausage, pumpkin pie and Sicilian ricotta pie. We ate for hours, rested, ate, rested, ate, etc. In between, my aunts and uncles and cousins yelled, screamed, ranted and raved about anything and everything. No holds barred. We were LOUD and spoke in three languages: English, Italian and Sicilian. My parents and grandparents, however, made sure we showed our gratitude and appreciation by going to Church for MASS before our culinary ecstasy and gastronomic nirvana. THEN CAME THE BRIOSCHI (Italian alka-seltzer)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Revising History

The famous and reputable Smithsonian National Museum of American History listed an interesting (but INACCURATE) item on their webpage:

It is a coffin for Dominican nuns and belonged to the Italian parents of a Dominican Sister who joined the Monastery of the Blessed Sacrament in Oullins, France. In America, she and another woman founded the first Dominican monastery in 1880 in the United States, the Monastery of Saint Dominic in Newark, New Jersey.

Where the Smithsonian needs some remedial history lessons can be found in the opening paragraph of their web page where this casket is portrayed:

Though this country was founded in part by European religious communities rebelling against an ornate and hierarchical Catholic faith to which they had been forced to adhere , this trunk reminds us of other Catholics adhering to a simpler monastic life.

America was founded by dissident Catholics? I thought the PILGRIMS were members of the PURITAN sect of the Church of England (Anglican). Since Henry VIII formally severed ties from Rome in 1534, one could hardly classify these men and women as CATHOLIC. In fact, the Pilgrims were a branch of Puritans (formed in the 1560's under Edward VI) who sought to separate themselves from the Anglican Church (already separated from the RCC). The Church of England still had a hierarchy of bishops and priests and a formal worship ritual the Puritans found 'pope-ish' nevertheless, one cannot state that New England or the colonies were founded by disenchanted or disenfranchised Catholics fleeing their overbearing Magisterial taskmasters in Europe.

Most of the immigrants who were Protestant fled Protestant countries for political or economic reasons. Catholic immigrants were not fleeing from Rome or from Magisterial 'control' over their beliefs. The colony of Maryland was founded by Charles Calvert, 1st Lord Baltimore, in 1629 (when he applied to Charles I) and fulfilled under his son, Cecil Calvert, 2nd Lord Baltimore (who received the charter in 1632). Maryland was the ONLY British colony where Catholics were legally free to practice their religion, own land and hold public office. Once Virgina made the Anglican religion (Church of England) mandatory for citizenship, then Puritans fled north to Maryland which had religious tolerance. Once they settled, however, the quaint colonial pilgrims decided to seize authority and subsequently outlawed both Anglicanism and Catholicism in Maryland.

The article on the Smithsonian web page is MISLEADING at best since it implies that Catholic immigrants were seeking assylum from Vatican control. On the contrary, EUROPEAN (French, Italian, Irish, German, Polish, Slovak, Spanish, Portugese, etc.) Catholics came to the New World AS Catholic Christians and sought to maintain ties with Rome, theologically and ecclesiastically. Their motivation to come to America was mostly economic or political in the sense that they often fled Protestant controlled parts of Europe which persecuted Catholics OR secular rulers who made life miserable by their abuse of power. Claiming that Catholics came here to flee Roman authority is PURE and SHEER NONSENSE.

True, the Pilgrims wanted to flee the high church Anglicans in England and start their own Puritan brand religion in the colonies. They would have resented being called "Catholics" however.

The Dominican (and Franciscan, Benedictine, Carmelite) nuns and later the Sisters of Mercy and Sisters of Saint Joseph (to name just a few) lived SIMPLE lives because they took solemn vows of POVERTY, CHASTITY and OBEDIENCE. Unlilke the Amish and the Menonites, the Dominican nuns did not impose their spirituality on all members, just the consecrated women who lived in the monastery. The neighboring Catholic laymen and laywomen and diocesan clergy were not forced or coerced to embrace the charism of poverty where there is no private ownership. So, it is wrong to infer that the Dominican casket was a sign of contradiction to defy Papal teaching on private property ownership. Look at the simple pine box the pope is buried in at his funeral ceremony.

Saturday, November 22, 2008



Fr Z has an excellent video on his blog.  I URGE all responsible and respectable Catholics to mobilize this year and aim for a MILLION (1,000,000) MEMBER attendance for the March for Life, January 22, 2009.  The new President will be sworn into office a few days earlier and there is a good chance that the Democrats will have a filibuster-proof Congress as well.  If so, FOCA (Freedom of Choice Act) will be inevitable.  Since so many good intentioned but misguided Catholic Christians voted for Barak Obama in this recent election, we need to demonstrate our staunch and unequivocal PRO-LIFE stand.  Yes, we are NON-VIOLENT and yes, we will show proper respect to our lawful civil authorities, from the President to the Governor and so on.  Nevertheless, we must SHOW our SOLIDARITY now more than ever.

URGE your pastor, parochial vicar, principal, fellow parishioners, friends, family members, etc., to plan NOW to attend the MARCH FOR LIFE in Washington, DC, January 22, 2009.  You know that the Inauguration will get historic and record numbers in attendance.  It would be an embarrassing shame if we could not equal or surpass that number for the the March for Life.  This is NOT an anti-Obama demonstration.  The election is over and he is our legitimate national leader.  We must PRAY for him and we must show respect and civil obedience.  We also need to SHOW him and his colleagues that pro-lifers are NOT going away.  We will fight for the right of the unborn until all the unborn are SAFE.

Forget about expensive Christmas presents and elaborate New Year's Eve parties.  Make a point to attend the March for Life and let's get ONE MILLION people to attend this PEACEFUL and PRAYERFUL assembly for LIFE.  Unless you live too far away, are physically or economically prohibited, have to work, etc., I would seriously ask myself if I would be guilty of a sin of omission were I not to attend this March.  Only you, your conscience and the Good Lord can determine the answer to that question. If you are unable, PRAY for those of us who are going, encourage others to go and consider making a donation so that your parish Youth Group can take a bus and be there.  Like the civil rights marches during the lifetime of Dr. Martin Luther King, we NEED as many people as possible to be there to show Washington and the entire nation that this is a crucial issue.  This is far more important than billion dollar bailouts and stock market crashes.  This is the FUTURE of our world at stake.

James Bond 007


[don't take this post too seriously. just wanted a little levity to dispel the anxiety of bad weather and bad economic news]

Just as Pope Benedict XVI cleans up the abuses proliferated by some in the Ordinary Form and restores the elegant reverence of the Extraordinary Form as a valid option, Hollywood is now reinventing and deconstructing my childhood hero, James Bond.  007 was an anchor for me in High School Seminary as I would watch every Bond movie and imagine that I was a secret agent for the Vatican on special assignment.  When you're 14 years old at the time, your imagination has to do something, doesn't it?  The old (or more accurately, TRADITIONAL James Bond) was a man's man of single purpose.  He was on a mission to save the world.  He was loyal to King and country.  He was overtly anti-Communist and had the self-confidence which made him suave and debonair.

CHRONOLOGICAL CONTINUITY. I desperately miss Q and the famous 007 gadgets, but what bothers me most is the disrupted time-line.  I can buy the premise of going back to Bond's origin and roots, but since he's been around for half a century, especially during the Cold War, why do we have the contemporary M in modern era with an adolescent 007?  Would it not have made chronological sense to set the origins BEFORE the Cold War, say immediately after WWII?  These last two movies make it seem as if there were no Bond before this one whereas the previous ones had some sort of continuity.  If these newer Bond movies are about his PAST, then they should be set in the PAST.  The public has known 007 since 1962 (a vedry good year, BTW, to be born, that is).  Sir Sean Connery, for me, is the quintessence and epitome of Bond.  My least favorite was George Lazenby then Timothy Dalton.  Sir Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan tie for second place.  The jury is still out on Daniel Craig.

Whether the KGB or SPECTRE (headed by the infamous Ernst Stavro Blofeld), the enemies of truth, justice and Great Britain are always defeated by the wit, class, ingenuity and the special devices of 007.  Now, we have a Bond who is uncouth and without toys.  It is like a religion without sacraments or doctrines.  A shell.  Satire without degenerating into sarcasm, that is what I liked about Bond's sense of humor.  Dry and witty.

I used to pretend that the theological dissidents were members of SPECTRE and that my job was to infiltrate and frustrate the enemy.  Later on in major seminary, it was more graphic to endure the theological, liturgical and moral abberations.  My real life hero then became Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn whose Gulag Archipeligo described vividly the psychological and emotional mind-games the liberals engaged in to prevent orthodox and traditional seminarians from getting ordained.

I'm grateful my other boyhood hero, Doctor Who, got back on track.  The long haitus after the Seventh Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) retired in 1989 was broken in 1996 by the movie version with the Eighth Doctor (Paul McGann) and then the much anticipated and awaited resurrected (regenerated) TV series in 2005 with the Ninth (2005) and Tenth Doctors (current) (Christopher Eccleston and David Tennnant, respectively).  Tom Baker (#4; 1974-1981) is my favorite and he, too, attended high school seminary (monastery).  Yet, I also liked the crumudgeon First Doctor (William Hartnell) and the eccentric Second (Patrick Troughton).  Jon Pertwee (#3) was just too flamboyant and a little 'light in the loafers' as we used to say.

The latest premise, however, that the Timelords are extinct from a final war with the Daleks makes no sense to me since the entite population of Gallifrey could have escaped annihilation by going backward or forward into other times and places.  I like CONTINUITY and HISTORICAL ACCURACY in my movies and television programs, even the fictional and SCI-FI.  Lack of it shows intellectual sloth, IMHO.


Friday, November 21, 2008

God Save the Queen

This week marked the 450th anniversary of the death of Queen Mary I (Mary Tudor), the only legitimate child of King Henry VIII and his his lawful wife, Queen Catherine of Aragon. Fr. Nicholas Scofield has an excellent piece on his blog, Roman Miscellany. One cannot help but imagine what would have happened had Henry VIII not separated from Rome and therefore not created the Church of England (Anglican). Had England remained Catholic either by Henry never divorcing Catherine OR if Mary had heirs from her marriage to Philip and thus preventing Elizabeth I from ever sitting on the throne. If England remained Catholic, would the colonies (USA and Canada) been Catholic? Scotland probably would have remained Catholic.
According to Thomas Woods in his book How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization, the English Reformation threw progress backward by centuries. Prior to Henry's usurping Church property in Britain, the English monks used to gather for their annual and international meetings. There they exchanged ecclesiastical and theological information BUT ALSO scientific, agricultural, economic and other fascinating facts which literally helped create, sustain and enhance Western culture as a CIVILIZATION. Once the monasteries were destroyed, the monks banned and the property confiscated and distributed among the Protestant nobility, the networking ceased and the flow and exchange of ideas halted. An information FREEZE of sorts occurred. The global interpedence of a unified CHRISTENDOM was replaced by a parochial and provincial NATIONALISM whereby each country with its own religion (cuius regio, eius religio ). Had England stayed with the Pope and remained Roman Catholic rather than establish the Anglican Church (Church of England), PROGRESS and technology, according to Woods, would have ushered in the industrial age centuries ahead of when it did finally happen.
Though many ascribe the financial power of the United States to the Protestant work ethic, imagine had the Pilgrims been Catholic or that the colonies were and remained Catholic from their foundation. The same networking which occurred in pre-Reformation England would have been brought to the New World. What if Spain had won the war against England and the Armada had conquered Elizabethan England? A Spanish speaking USA (soon to come?) and a Catholic USA would have replaced an English Protestant America.
Nevertheless, Queen Mary I gets a lot a bad press since her sister succeeded her and resented her staunch Catholicism. Consequently, English history sanitizes the reign of Elizabeth and demonizes the reign of Mary. The persecution of Catholics during and after the so-called glorious Elizabethan era surpassed anything done in the previous reign.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Open Letter to President-Elect Barack Obama

An Open Letter to President-Elect Barack Obama

November 14, 2008

President-elect Barack Obama,

As American Catholics, we, the undersigned, would like to reiterate the congratulations given to you by Pope Benedict XVI. We will be praying for you as you undertake the office of President of the United States.

Wishing you much good will, we hope we will be able to work with you, your administration, and our fellow citizens to move beyond the gridlock which has often harmed our great nation in recent years. Too often, partisan politics has hampered our response to disaster and
misfortune. As a result of this, many Americans have become resentful, blaming others for what happens instead of realizing our own responsibilities. We face serious problems as a people, and if we hope to overcome the crises we face in today’s world, we should make a serious effort to set aside the bitterness in our hearts, to listen to one another, and to work with one another

One of the praiseworthy elements of your campaign has been the call to end such partisanship. You have stated a desire to engage others in dialogue. With you, we believe that real achievement comes not through the defamation of one’s opponents, nor by amassing power and using it merely as a tool for one’s own individual will. We also believe dialogue is essential. We too wish to appeal to the better nature of the nation. We want to encourage people to work together for the common good. Such action can and will engender trust. It may change the hearts of many, and it might alter the path of our nation, shifting to a road leading to a better America. We hope this theme of your campaign is realized in the years ahead.

One of the critical issues which currently divides our nation is abortion. As you have said, no one is for abortion, and you would
agree to limit late-term abortions as long as any bill which comes your way allows for exceptions to those limits, such as when the health of the mother is in jeopardy. You have also said you would like to work on those social issues which cause women to feel as if they have a need for an abortion, so as to reduce the actual number of abortions being performed in the United States.

Indeed, you said in your third presidential debate, “But there surely is some common ground when both those who believe in choice and those who are opposed to abortion can come together and say, ‘We should try to prevent unintended pregnancies by providing appropriate education to our youth, communicating that sexuality is sacred and that they should not be engaged in cavalier activity, and providing options for adoption, and helping single mothers if they want to choose to keep the baby.’”

As men and women who oppose abortion and embrace a pro-life ethic, we want to commend your willingness to engage us in dialogue, and we ask that you live up to your promise, and engage us on this issue.

There is much we can do together. There is much that we can do to help women who find themselves in difficult situations so they will not see abortion as their only option. There is much which we can do to help eliminate those unwanted pregnancies which lead to abortion.

One of your campaign promises is of grave concern to many pro-life citizens. On January 22, 2008, the 35th anniversary of Roe v. Wade,
when speaking of the current right of women in America to have abortions, you said, “And I will continue to defend this right by passing the Freedom of Choice Act as president.”

The Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) might well undermine your engagement of pro-life Americans on the question of abortion. It might
hamper any effort on your part to work with us to limit late-term abortions. We believe FOCA does more than allow for choice. It may
force the choice of a woman upon others, and make them morally complicit in such choice. One concern is that it would force doctors and hospitals which would otherwise choose not to perform abortions to do so, even if it went against their sacred beliefs. Such a law would undermine choice, and might begin the process by which abortion is enforced as a preferred option, instead of being one possible choice for a doctor to practice.

It is because of such concern we write. We urge you to engage us, and to dialogue with us, and to do so before you consider signing this legislation. Let us reason together and search out the implications of FOCA. Let us carefully review it and search for contradictions of those positions which we hold in common.  If FOCA can be postponed for the present, and serious dialogue begun with us, as well as with those who disagree with us, you will demonstrate that your administration will indeed be one that rises above partisanship, and will be one of change. This might well be the first step toward resolving an issue which tears at the fabric of our churches, our political process, our families, our very society, and that causes so much hardship and heartache in pregnant women.

Likewise, you have also recently stated you might over-ride some of President G.W. Bush’s executive orders. This is also a concern to us. We believe doing so without having a dialogue with the American people would undermine the political environment you would like to establish. Among those issues which concern us are those which would use taxpayer money to support actions we find to be morally questionable, such as embryonic stem cell research, or to fund international organizations that would counsel women to have an abortion (this would make abortion to be more than a mere choice, but an encouraged activity).

Consider, sir, your general promise to the American people and set aside particular promises to a part of your constituency. This would indicate that you plan to reject politics as usual. This would indeed be a change we need.

Vox nova


Deal W. Hudson
Christopher Blosser
Marjorie Campbell
Mark J.
Rev. James A. Nowack
Craig D. Baker
Susan DeBoisblanc
Joshua D. Brumfield
Ashley M. Brumfield
Michael J.
Natalie Navarro
Matthew Talbot
Paul Mitchell
Henry C Karlson III
Darren Belajac
Adam P Verslype
Michael J. Deem
Katerina M. Deem
Natalie Mixa
Anthony M. Annett
Mickey Jackson
Veronica Greenwell
Greenwell PhD
Robert C. Koerpel
Nate Wildermuth

Drunk Drivers

VATICAN CITY - POPE Benedict XVI urged drivers to stay 'sober and alert' on Sunday and prayed for those who have died in traffic accidents.

'On this third Sunday of November, we remember in a special way all those who have died as a result of traffic accidents,' the pope said as he delivered the Angelus prayer in St Peter's Square.

'Dear brothers and sisters, I implore everyone - drivers, passengers and pedestrians - to heed carefully the words of Saint Paul in the liturgy of the word today: Stay sober and alert,' he added.

An initiative by the European Federation of Road Traffic Victims has made the third Sunday of November a day of remembrance for road traffic victims. --

My younger brother Joseph, was killed by an underage drunk driver on July 5th, 1997. He was on his way home (only three blocks) from visiting our youngest brother, Mark, who at the time was hospitalized for leukemia. The tragedy was so stressful that six months later, my dad (who had been battling leukemia) passed away as well.

The underage drunk driver got his blood alcohol results suppressed as evidence on a bizarre legal technicality. This unrepentant young man manipulated the legal system to his advantage. Seven years passed, with no jail time or fine, and the accused still possesses his driver's license. In an obscene coincidence, I saw a sign on a gasoline pump that said if you drive away without paying, you can and will lose your license as well as incur fines and possible jail sentence. Paradoxically, you drink and drive and kill a human being, and you can probably get away with it with little or no consequences. I tell my parishioners every year at New Year's Eve and on Holidays like Fourth of July or Labor Day, it is a MORTAL SIN to DWI (drive while intoxicated). My family suffered greatly and my mother ended up burying her third child and then her husband of 39 years thanks to a teenager who felt it necessary to get loaded and get behind the wheel. As a former hospital chaplain, I have seen paralyzed victims as well as dead victims of underage drinking and drunk driving. Road rage also played a part in my brother's death. Everyone acts as if where they have to go is more important that where the other drivers are going. No one has patience and no one remembers to be polite. Good manners are often missing in church parking lots. Daily communicants admit to cursing and flashing obscene gestures to fellow motorists. Parents show bad example to their kids when they drive aggressively let alone when they DUI (drive under the influence).

Thank God for what Pope Benedict said this past Sunday. Sadly, note that it did not make the major news agencies or networks and I doubt we'll see this in many national or diocesan newspapers.

Monday, November 17, 2008

American Pragmatism

The recent presidential election demonstrates a growing and menacing stranglehold of old fashioned 'pragmatism' and 'utilitarianism' within the Catholic population of America. John Dewey should be included in their litany of saints as he was the prominent exponent of this philosophy, along with William James (who espoused the criteria, if it works, then it is good).

Despite Barak Obama's and Joe Biden's blatant support for abortion, many Catholic voters convinced themselves that fixing the economy was a higher priority than saving innocent human lives in the womb. Outside the life and death issues of abortion and euthanasia, there is legitimate room to debate, argue and reasonably disagree on matters such as the economy, the environment, war and terrorism, et al. Political parties (democrat, republican, independent) do not have any monopoly on truth or ways to solve problems.

Pragmatism permeates our society in that many seek a practical solution even if it involves questionable or dubious means. "You can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs" is a familiar proverb invoked by many who seek answers even at the cost of their immortal souls. Yet, the Natural Moral Law and the Divine Positive Law both clearly define that THE ENDS NEVER JUSTIFIES THE MEANS. Evil may never be intended and committed no matter how much greater good may come from it. Too many Catholics have been polluted by fuzzy morality taught to them during the zenith of the dissident theologian era when Humanae Vitae was being trashed in colleges and seminaries across the nation. Bad theology and bad morality (along with bad liturgy) were taught to some seminarians (between 1970-2000) so that as priests these guys teach in RCIA and preach from the pulpit that as long as you do not have formal cooperation in evil, it does not matter if you have material cooperation in that same evil. Situation ethics and consequentialism, both condemned by Pope John Paul the Great, were nevertheless part and parcel of some seminary morality courses. "Bonum faciendam et malum vitandum (do good and avoid evil)" as enunciated by the Angelic Doctor, Saint Thomas Aquinas, was replaced by "do as much good as possible AND as little evil as necessary."

Hence, what you sow, so shall you reap. Fuzzy morality which emboldened and rationalized contraception, in vitro fertilization, pre-marital sex, etc., would eventually lead people to overlook a candidates staunch support for abortion in order to embrace his economic proposals. Ironically, since the advent of global economy, presidential control over prices, wages, jobs, etc., has diminished greatly. Even Congress has less control since we trade with other nations all over the planet. Hatred and animosity for the current admininstration is evident not only here in the USA but while on pilgrimage to Lourdes and Fatima, we noticed Europeans ecstatic that President George Bush will soon be out of office and a different political party will be in the White House. Parliamentary governments in Europe are more affected by the party who wins the election (who thereby determine the Prime Minister) whereas in America, the Presidency is separate from the Congress. Hence, we can have a Republican President and a Democratic Congress or vice versa.

It is a wonderful and historic event that the first African-American has been elected President. Someday soon, the first Female President will also be elected. CAVEAT, just as the first Catholic President was not necessarily the best practicing Catholic candidate, so, too, there are other African-Americans (Alan Keyes, e.g.) who would have made an excellent president AND would have been PRO-LIFE besides! Joe Biden might be a Catholic Vice President but his statements before and after the election show he is not in harmony with the Magisterium on key moral issues.

The secular media, however, turned Sarah Palin into a scapegoat. They resorted to ad hominem attacks and portrayed her as a simpleton just as they had done with Dan Quayle. A pro-life woman and mother and a conservative was just too much for them to stomach. Hence, they needed to demonize her as some did with Ronald Reagan and Barry Goldwater beforehand. Her pro-life stand incurred venomous remarks from radical feminists who detested her successful political career in light of her moral values.

I made this parallel earlier, but very CAREFULLY. I hope and pray that President Elect Obama and Vice President Elect Biden will allow Divine Grace to move their minds and hearts to govern fairly, justly and in accord with the moral law. As legitimate elected leaders, I will pray for them and will obey their lawful authority AS LONG AS it conforms to the laws of God and the Natural Law. I would never equate the personification of evil as found in Adolf Hitler with either Obama or Biden. I beleive both Obama and Biden to be men of honor and committed to the common good, albeit I also believe they are terribly misguided in how to achieve that. My parallel is not with the moral character (which only the good Lord can judge) of these men, but with the REASONS why they were elected. There were some voters in pre-WWII Germany who were willing to overlook the Nazi anti-Semitism because they felt the times were so precarious and the economy so fragile, that significant change was in order. Economic promises to end inflation and unemployment helped elect Hitler and the Nazi party. My point is that some have overlooked the pro-abortion stand of candidates in this election in favor of their economic proposals and the prospect of a regime change in the White House. Besides those voters who were obviously pro-Obama, there were also those who were just anti-Bush and took out their animosity on John McCain because he was republican.

That is the only connection I make; NOT a MORAL connection between the person of Hitler (a reprehensible criminal) and the person of Barak Obama, (a decent human being and President-Elect of the USA). The parallel is not between the personalities but in the context of the election and the voters' decision to ignore pertinent policies of the candidate in favor of other policies they have consensus. Hence, Catholic voters erroneously thought they could overlook Obama's staunch defense of abortion and disagree with him (thus preventing any formal cooperation in evil) on that matter while agreeing with him on economic, military and other issues. Problem is the material cooperation in evil when you still elect a pro-abortion candidate even when you formally disagree in principle. Likewise, no one could morally ignore a candidate's anti-Semitism or racism merely to agree on their economic plans.

The practical solution is not always the moral solution. What works may work immorally, though efficiently. Hence, we can only have GOOD INTENTIONS and use GOOD MEANS to achieve them. Sadly, some Catholic voters were more concerned about the stock market and their 401K than they were concerned about curbing and eventually eliminating all abortions. The systematic murder of innocent unborn human lives is something which cannot be overestimated or overstated. If the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) becomes law, it would be like repealing the 13th ammendment which outlawed slavery. Neither the color of skin nor location (whether in the womb or outside the womb) changes the metaphysical status of a human person. You are a human person by virtue of having a body and soul (in which resides your rational intellect and free will). Human nature gives you rights, not the Constitution.

I hope and pray for an economic recovery, for an end to war and terrorism, for more employment and for lower gas prices. I want America to be respected around the world but I also want us to be safe and secure from our enemies. None of that, however, should be at the price of innocent blood. If we must sacrifice, better it be our comfort and convenience rather than to sacrifice millions of innocent babies in their mothers' s wombs.

PRAYER and FASTING may be our only hope at this point. President-Elect Obama may indeed change his position and embrace a more pro-life stance. It happened to Mit Romney, why not Barak O? Some evils can only be exorcized by prayer and fasting, Jesus said. So, if all pro-lifers committed themselves these next four years to one day a week of prayer and fasting for the unborn, we might witness a metanoia (conversion) of heart in our new president (and vice president).

Meanwhile, our bishops must also get tough and let Catholic politicians know there is a penalty for turning your back on the holy innocents in the womb. Denying Holy Communion and even Excommunication may be required to convey the gravity of the evil of abortion. Often, punishment has a medicinal effect to incur repentance and hopefully prevent reoccurence.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Our Lady of Lourdes

Here is the basilica of Our Lady of Lourdes we recently visited to honor the 150th anniversary of the apparition of the BVM to Saint Bernadette

The famous grotto.  A replica can be found at Mount Saint Mary Seminary, Emmitsburg, MD and at the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament, Hanceville, AL.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A Pastor Speaks the Truth

Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome

9 November 2008

Dear Friends in Christ,

We the People have spoken, and the 44th President of the United States will
be Barack Hussein Obama. This election ends a political process that started two
years ago and which has revealed deep and bitter divisions within the United
States and also within the Catholic Church in the United States. This division
is sometimes called a “Culture War,” by which is meant a heated clash between
two radically different and incompatible conceptions of how we should order our
common life together, the public life that constitutes civil society. And the
chief battleground in this culture war for the past 30 years has been abortion,
which one side regards as a murderous abomination that cries out to Heaven for
vengeance and the other side regards as a fundamental human right that must be
protected in laws enforced by the authority of the state. Between these two
visions of the use of lethal violence against the unborn there can be no
negotiation or conciliation, and now our nation has chosen for its chief
executive the most radical pro-abortion politician ever to serve in the United
States Senate or to run for president. We must also take note of the fact that
this election was effectively decided by the votes of self-described (but not
practicing) Catholics, the majority of whom cast their ballots for
President-elect Obama.

In response to this, I am obliged by my duty as your shepherd to make two

1. Voting for a pro-abortion politician when a plausible pro-life alternative
exits constitutes material cooperation with intrinsic evil, and those Catholics
who do so place themselves outside of the full communion of Christ’s Church and
under the judgment of divine law. Persons in this condition should not receive
Holy Communion until and unless they are reconciled to God in the Sacrament of
Penance, lest they eat and drink their own condemnation.

2. Barack Obama, although we must always and everywhere disagree with him
over abortion, has been duly elected the next President of the United States,
and after he takes the Oath of Office next January 20th, he will hold legitimate
authority in this nation. For this reason, we are obliged by Scriptural precept
to pray for him and to cooperate with him whenever conscience does not bind us
otherwise. Let us hope and pray that the responsibilities of the presidency and
the grace of God will awaken in the conscience of this extraordinarily gifted
man an awareness that the unholy slaughter of children in this nation is the
greatest threat to the peace and security of the United States and constitutes a
clear and present danger to the common good. In the time of President Obama’s
service to our country, let us pray for him in the words of a prayer found in
the Roman Missal:

God our Father, all earthly powers must serve you. Help our President-elect,
Barack Obama, to fulfill his responsibilities worthily and well. By honoring and
striving to please you at all times, may he secure peace and freedom for the
people entrusted to him. We ask this through Our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever.


Father J. Scott Newman, St. Mary’s in Greenville, SC

thanks to Fr. Zuhlsdorf of WDTPRS

Monday, November 10, 2008

Thirty Pieces of Silver

While on pilgrimage, we learned of the results of the Presidential election in the USA. Almost everywhere we go in Portugal, France or Spain, nearly all Europeans congratulate us and express their gratitude that America has broken the racial barrier to the White House.

The deserved and rightful joy and pride, however, of the first African-American to be elected to the highest office in the nation, the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces and the President of the United States, is painfully eclipsed by his undeniable and vocal support for abortion. How sad that this historic moment is tarnished and stained by the blood of innocent children. Candidate Obama openly, frequently and clearly stated his support and intent to sign FOCA (Freedom of Choice Act) which would unravel all or at least most of the progress made by Pro-Lifers to restrict, constrain and diminish abortions.

Senator Obama rejected the ban on partial birth abortion. He supports Roe v. Wade. He supports FOCA. Yet, many Europeans like him because he opposed the war in Iraq and promises to bring the troops home ASAP. The anti-war and anti-Bush factions like him for the same reasons. Some agreed with his economic proposals; others liked his health care plan.

Pundits tell us that Senator John McClain lost the election partially for the war and for his association with GW but most propose that it was his economic strategy (or lack thereof) which cost him the presidency.

What I find disconcerting and disturbing is the high number of Catholics who allegedly voted for Senator Barak Obama despite his position on abortion. Senator John McClain, despite his obvious shortcomings, has a better trach record of being Pro-Life and for supporting Pro-Life legislation.

IF some Catholics voted for Obama merely to save their 401K, then what is the difference had they been given thirty pieces of silver? Both are blood money and innocent blood at that.

The only time a Catholic can morally vote for a pro-choice candidate is when there is no viable pro-life opponent running against him/her. But we had a pro-life alternative, albeit not perfect, but more anti-bortion than Obama.

The courageous Bishops who enunciated this moral teaching preached to deaf ears, sad to say. While we are not one issue voters, there is a hierarchy of goods, values ans principles, which must be respected. The RIGHT TO LIFE outweighs all other issues, no matter how serious or important.

Now that there is a PRO-ABORTION Catholic Vice President, the US Bishops have a once in a lifetime opportunity. Senator Joe Biden has stated unequivocally he knows abortion is wrong as life begins at conception BUT he also vehemently supports Roe v. Wade and will always support legal abortions. He and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and all Congressmen and Senators who refuse to repent and abandon their support for abortion must be denied Holy Communion AND face the real possibility of EXCOMMUNICATION. If the Vice President and the Speaker flagrantly show contempt for the Moral Law and Magisterial teaching which condemn abortion, they cause great scandal when they approach Holy Comunion.

Certainly, they deserve a chance to repent and recant, but if unrepentant, then the Vice President and Speaker and all politicians who overtly, consistently and obstinantly suport abortion must be excommunicated.

These extreme measures are regrettable but necessary since our people do not realize that to refuse to protect the innocent unborn, we greatly offend God. Economic crises are indeed serious matters but the slaughter of millions of innocent unborn human lives is another holocaust.

I pray that President Elect Obama and Vice President Elect Joe Biden repent and change their position on abortion. Former pro-slavery politicians did it before; former pro-segregationalist did too. Former pr-choicers can become pro-lifers. Meantime, we must make a stand for those who have no one else to speak for them.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Marian Pilgrimage

Father Ken Brighenti and I are taking 40 pilgrims (including my Mom) to Fatima, Lourdes and Barcelona November 3-11

Please keep us in your prayers and I shall offer special prayers at Our Lady of Lourdes for my faithful readers. My Dad died on the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes (Feb. 11) 1998 after watching the Mass on EWTN. One of my two parishes I am pastor is named St. Bernadette. So, it was a must be for me to honor the 150th anniversary of Lourdes.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Priestly Support

The following appeared on ZENIT but I was unable after several tries to make a comment.

Here is the original post:

Support for Priests

A response to: Vatican: Future Priests Need More Than Prayer Life

As a priest, I more than anyone agree that many times, it is not until after ordination that a priest's difficulties in the psycho-social aspect come forth.

However, many times, there is a fear to be honest with struggles in the seminary for a fear of being dismissed. Unfortunately, many times, when a priest afterward finds himself in difficulty, he experiences very little support at times in his time of need.

I believe the bishops must examine not only the psychology of the priest, but also how they must support priests.

Fr. Francis Majors

Here is my response:

As a Priest and as president of the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy (a national association of priests & deacons) I thoroughly agree that we desperately need the support of our bishops. Not only do they ordain and assign us, but we function in their name. Priestly ministry is dependent on episcopal ministry in that we assist the bishop in his three-fold task of sanctifying, teaching and governing. While lacking the fullness of the priesthood, priests and deacons, nevertheless are ordained ministers like bishops. Our job helps enable the bishop's job of caring for his flock throughout the diocese. As ordained helpers, priests and deacons are 'in the field' so to speak. We are 'on the front line' in the parish, the school, the hospital, etc. Vatican II and the Code of Canon Law make it clear that bishops need to support their clergy throughout their ordained ministry.

Weeding out bad candidates for the priesthood is the awesome task of vocation directors and seminary faculty but the ultimate responsibility lies with the Bishop who ordains the men to the diaconate or to the priesthood.

As the writer mentioned, however, some psychological or mental problems do not manifest themselves or do not exist before ordination. Like physcial ailments, some diseases appear suddenly and sporadically while others are congenital from birth.

Once ordained, however, every deacon, priest and bishop deserves support across the board: spiritual, physical, mental, emotional, financial, psychological. If he misbehaves, his is to be reprimanded and justly punished. Yet, does not the Gospel also command all the baptized to forgive and to seek forgiveness; to repent and accept the repentance of others?

Abandoning our own to the wolves has never been Christian practice. Justice demands that the innocent be protected and the guilty be punished. Christian charity also demands we forgive and be forgiven ourselves.

Today's climate of looming and pending lawsuits around every corner have made some ordained clergy very nervous. The past and previous practice of IGNORING problems and worst yet COVERING UP problems are not viable solutions. At the same time, hyper-reacting to problems and paranoia, skepticism and feeding franzies every time a Catholic clergyman is ACCUSED (note, I did not say CONVICTED) of any type of misbehavior, he is often left to defend himself and fend for himself. Although civil and canon law presume innocence until proven guilty, the court of public opinion is quite different. Ask any priest called into the Chancery Office after a parishioner complains that he or she was not treated properly. 99% of the time, the issue is not Father's alleged rude conduct but in reality it is his defense of orthodox doctrine or his refusal to violate canon law when someone asks for a 'favor' (usually means breaking the liturgical rules to accommodate someone who rarely goes to church)

We need the support of our bishops. We need the support of our laity. We need the support of our brother priests and deacons. Associations like the CCC help at one level among ourselves. We also need moral and spiritual support from our parishioners and from our shepherds themselves, the bishops. Pope Benedict XVI told the American bishops at his US visit to SUPPORT YOUR PRIESTS.

Yes, we are imperfect and peccable. We are weak and we are sinners. The same is true of each and every one of our lay brothers and sisters and the same is true of every bishop. Did Jesus cease His support for His Apostles and Disciples after the Resurrection? Did not many abandon Him on Good Friday? Yet, our Divine Savior forgave His followers and supported them in their repentance.

We live in world that thrives on hypersensitivity. People take too much out of context and react before all the facts are made known. If your parish priest was not part of the recent scandal and your bishop was not part of the cover-up, then both need and deserve your support. Deacons, priests and bishops exist to provide for the spiritual needs of God's people, not vice versa. Yet, the clergy need support and love to be effective and to resist DISCOURAGEMENT. Disenchanted and disillusioned clergy are on the verge of despair. Discouragement can sour a marriage and can tarnish a priestly vocation. Help us so we can help you. Support us so we can support you.

Whenever a phone call or letter comes into the Diocese complaining about a priest or deacon, the post-clergy-scandal reaction is to call the accused cleric in ASAP. If a matter of the Fifth or Sixth Commandment, that would be proper response. When it involves a petty complaint or a disgruntled mediocre Catholic not getting special favors, then a different response is in order.

I annually challenge my parishioners to overtly thank the receptionist at their doctor's or dentist's office; the school secretary where their kids attend; the salesperson at the store; the waitress at the dinor. We easily and readily complain when these people treat us less than we expect but do we acknowlege them when they are doing what they are supposed to do?

We write letters when we want to identify a problem person but do we write as often and as enthusiastically to thank the local bishop for the priest and deacon he sent us? Bishops get all kinds of letters, faxes, phone calls, etc. about their priests and deacons. Most will tell you that they so rarely get positive affirmation that when it does happen it almost seems unreal.

Those of you who have been blessed with wonderful, courageous, orthodox and very pro-life bishops, I ask you to write to the Nuncio (Archbishop Sambi) and thank him and write Pope Benedict XVI and thank him for sending you a good shepherd. If you have a good pastor, parochial vicar and/or deacon, write your local bishop and thank him. If enough good clergy are encouraged, then we might see more of them in terms of who is sent as well as who is ordained. Easy enough to complain when the one sent is not doing his job and he deserves to be corrected by his superiors. Likewise, though, the ones who do a good or even exemplary job deserve recognition, not for their ego but to show what people want and deserve in their clergy.

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