Monday, July 31, 2006

Why "When 'Ratzinger' was a Swear Word"?

A few commentor's have asked me why I would want to write a book about the divisiveness of the Church so I figured I'd answer here for others who may not have written.

This is one of those issues that there are endless examples of because "Ratzinger" became the lightning rod for both the left and the right (he's considered a liberal and heretic by the tridentine crowd) and there is great irony in him being chosen as pope.

I had hardly read anything he wrote before his election, but had to read as much as I could when he was elected because the publishing company I work for was doing a "quick book" on the election. It was during this time, reading his works that I came to see why he was such a threat to both sides--he has to be the most brilliant person I've read about the place of the faith in the world today! Benedict has answers for all sides.

Reflecting on this I grew rather angry that he had not been featured in my theological training. Studying him would have been invaluable for engaging the world that we live in and bringing the Gospel message to our time.

That the environment of the church is so incredibly hostile to him is a sure sign of demonic activity, I'd say. Yet the "gates of Hell" shall not prevail and the Holy Spirit has won the day!

I've written about the Vision of St. John Bosco on this blog before and I think my first chapter would lay out some of what I wrote there.

In an ironic twist I read just this morning that Pope Benedict is highlighting his papacy as one focused on unity. The Holy Spirit seems to have a great sense of humor.

Feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola

He says it all right here...

Man is created to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord, and by this
means to save his soul.
And the other things on the face of the earth are
created for man and that they may help him in prosecuting the end for which he
is created.
From this it follows that man is to use them as much as they help
him on to his end, and ought to rid himself of them so far as they hinder him as
to it.
For this it is necessary to make ourselves indifferent to all created
things in all that is allowed to the choice of our free will and is not
prohibited to it; so that, on our part, we want not health rather than sickness,
riches rather than poverty, honor rather than dishonor, long rather than short
life, and so in all the rest; desiring and choosing only what is most conducive
for us to the end for which we are created.

Cardinal George on the Mend

Faithful come to the hospital to offer prayers, from Chicago Sun Times:

George sat up for two hours in a chair Sunday. "He's getting a little tired doing it, but it was good for him,'' Dolan said.

Even though he was in bed, George celebrated Sunday mass in his room with Bishop Thomas Paprocki, Dolan said. His vital signs were stable and he had no fever.

The next step will be for George to start walking, she said. He walks with a limp and leg brace because of complications from childhood polio, so "he may have to use a walker or crutches."

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Where 'Ratzinger" Was a Swear Word

Those educated in Catholic institutions know of what I speak and not a few converts have been surprised to encounter someone in a parish who was less than enthusiastic about the faith...all of this contempt seemed to reach its zenith with the mention of one name "Ratzinger."

As I tell people I'm planning to write a book "Where Ratzinger Was a Swear Word" they share with me their own experiences, and I'd like to start sharing them here. I'd also invite readers to email me their own experiences with the caveat that in doing so they are giving me permission to use them in the book insuring of course their anonymity.

When the rector of a major U.S. seminary invited then Cardinal Ratzinger to be the ordaining prelate for that year's class of deacons, he told me that three diocesan vocational directors promptly notified him that they would be pulling out all of their seminarians from the seminary the following semester. I asked him if they followed through on their threat and he replied, "They did."

"In the Name of God Lay Down Your Arms!"

Pope Benedict, today from Asia News Italy:
“In the name of God, I appeal to all those responsible for this spiral of violence to immediately lay down their weapons on all sides! I ask rulers and institutional institutions not to spare any effort to attain this necessary cessation of hostilities so as to be able to build, through dialogue, a lasting and stable coexistence of all the peoples of the Middle East. I ask men of goodwill to intensify the delivery of humanitarian aid to those peoples who are so sorely tried and in so much need. But above all, let the confident prayer to God, who is good and merciful, continue to come forth from every heart so that he may concede his peace to that region and to the whole world.” He added: “I entrust this heartfelt appeal to the intercession of Mary, Mother of the Prince of Peace and Queen of Peace, so venerated in mid-eastern countries, where soon we hope to see reigning that reconciliation for which the Lord Jesus offered his precious Blood.”

Women "ordained" by Bishop in "Good Standing"

Interesting tidbit hidden in this story, who is this bishop and how could he not be known? From the Washington Post:

The group she belongs to began in 2002, when a renegade bishop ordained seven women in Germany. The Vatican quickly excommunicated the women. The next year, another bishop in good standing but who was never identified secretly ordained two women as bishops, saying he disagreed with the church teaching on women. More ordinations have taken place since, and the number of women in training for the priesthood has climbed to 120 today, Fresen said.

Mel Gibson Apologizes

For what he said when arrested the other night for DUI, from the Irish Examiner:

Hollywood star Mel Gibson has apologised for saying ”despicable” things to police officers when he was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol.

“I acted like a person completely out of control when I was arrested and said things that I do not believe to be true and which are despicable,” the actor-director said in a statement without elaborating.

What did he say, you wonder?

According to the report, in addition to threatening the arresting deputy and trying to escape, Gibson allegedly said, “The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world,” and asked the officer James Mee, “Are you a Jew?”

Saturday, July 29, 2006

"Daddy, where's my zebra?"

Happy Birthday to Aunt Kathy!

Where "Ratzinger" was a Swear Word

Those educated in Catholic institutions know of what I speak and not a few converts have been surprised to encounter someone in a parish who was less than enthusiastic about the faith...all of this contempt seemed to reach its zenith with the mention of one name "Ratzinger."

As I tell people I'm planning to write a book "Where Ratzinger Was a Swear Word" they share with me their own experiences, and I'd like to start sharing them here. I'd also invite readers to email me their own experiences with the caveat that in doing so they are giving me permission to use them in the book insuring of course their anonymity.

From a Campus Minister who is faithful, charismatic and was shocked the first time he attended a national conference of campus ministers and at Mass witnessed a priest shadowed by a woman who repeated everything he said as he said Mass. He wasn't terribly thrilled when Sister Minus Mary got up and invoked the four winds in imitation of the Native Americans she was sent as a missionary to and they evidently succeeded in converting her. But the relevant point to my story came when the campus ministers: clerical, religious and lay gathered for a small group session and brainstormed what they would do if they could be pope for one day.

My friend said that in his group there was a nun, two priests and himself. The nun spoke up first and she had only three words to say as to what she would do if she were the Supreme Pontiff and she said them loud enough for the adjacent groups to hear, "I'd fire Ratzinger." The two priests nodded approvingly. One of the priests spoke up next, "I'd make the church more gay-friendly, more inclusive." My friend wondered what he had gotten himself into.

Pope Still Learning How to be Pope

From All Headline News:

After being voted in last year by the Conclave of Cardinals, Pope Benedict the 16th says leading the world's 1.1 billion Catholics is not a small task and he has just started to "learn" his new job.

The German-born Pope was speaking while addressing journalists on Friday. He had just completed a private holiday in the northern Italian mountains. Reuters quotes him telling reporters, "During this period I have also been working, because holidays are good only if you do some work. Without doing anything, they are not holidays."

He is slated to travel to the papal summer retreat at Castel Gandolfo, south of Rome. The Pope will spend his time recollecting at the retreat that is scheduled to end by late September.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Spanish Bishops "The Church is sick"

And in need of a cure...fascinating document that was done in conjunction with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith when the Pope was still a cardinal and the head of it. It lays out what the problem is, its origin and the cure...

From Magister:

The sickness is “the secularization within the Church”: a widespread loss
of faith caused in part by “theological propositions that have in common a
deformed presentation of the mystery of Christ.”

The cure is precisely that of
restoring life to the profession of faith: “You are the Christ, the Son of the
living God” (Matthew 16:16), in the four areas where it is most seriously
undermined today:

  • the interpretation of Scripture,
  • Jesus Christ as the only savior of all men,
  • the Church as the Body of Christ,
  • moral life.

The instruction is organized under these four main headings. In each section, the
document first presents the features of correct Christological doctrine, and
then denounces the theologies that deform it. It denounces the theologies, not
the theologians. The instruction does not target particular authors, but limits
itself to denouncing erroneous tendencies. The names found in the notes that
accompany the text are simply those of theologians already marked out in the
past by doctrinal condemnations and disciplinary sanctions by the Vatican
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith or by the Spanish bishops’

And from the actual document:

2. They are not few who, in the shadow of a nonexistent Council, in terms of both letter and spirit, have sown agitation and disquiet in the hearts of many of the faithful.

13. From the denial of one aspect of the profession of faith, one passes to the total loss of the faith itself, in that by selecting some aspects and refuting others one does not respect the testimony of God, but rather human reasoning. When one alters the profession of faith, the entire Christian life is compromised by this.

19. In some instances the biblical texts are studied and interpreted as if these were nothing more than ancient texts. There is also the application of methods that systematically exclude the possibility of revelation, miracles, and intervention of God. Instead of integrating the contributions of history, philology, and other scholarly disciplines with the faith and the Church’s tradition, frequently the ecclesial interpretation itself is presented as the problem and considered as extraneous, if not opposed, to “scientific exegesis.”

25. The historical-critical method has been abused without a recognition of its limits, and this has gone so far as the assertion that the pre-existence of the divine person of Christ is a mere philosophical deformation of the biblical evidence. [...] The mission of Christ has been understood as a merely earthly event, if not political-revolutionary, thus denying his voluntary death on the cross for mankind.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Florida Housing Heading in Other Direction

After rising steeply, now its heading in the other direction...

Weeping Icon a Fake?

And other horrors at Orthodox monastery in Texas. The ring leader is a former Benedictine monk who left years ago, sold land in Texas and then formed an Orthodox monastery.

Read more about it here:

Besides naming the two boys tracked down by investigators, Elsbury said Greene confirmed suspicions that the picture of the Virgin Mary that was said to weep tears of rose oil was a fake.

"The whole thing is going to be exposed as a sham," the sheriff said. "They just put the tear drops on there themselves and then got all these people making donations trying to get some kind of miracle cure."

US Catechism for Adults

Available on July 31st. 638 pages!

Give us Peace Today!

From Pope Benedict XVI:

Just a quick word of meditation on the reading we have just listened to. What is striking, against the background of the dramatic situation in the Middle East, is the beauty of the vision illustrated by the apostle Paul: Christ is our peace. He has reconciled us with one another, Jews and gentiles, uniting them in his body. He overcame enmity in his body, upon the cross. With his death he has overcome enmity, and has united us all in his peace.

But what strikes us even more than the beauty of this vision is its contrast with the reality we experience and see. And we can do nothing, at first, but say to the Lord: “But Lord, what does your apostle say to us – ‘We are reconciled’?” We see in reality that we are not reconciled... There is still war among Christians, Muslims, and Jews; and there are others who foment war and are still full of enmity and violence. Where is the efficacy of your sacrifice? Where in history is this peace of which your apostle speaks?

We human beings cannot solve the mystery of history, the mystery of human freedom to say “no” to God’s peace. We cannot solve the entire mystery of the revelation of the God-man, of his activity and our response. We must accept the mystery. But there are elements of an answer that the Lord gives to us.

A first element – this reconciliation from the Lord, his sacrifice – has not remained without efficacy. There is the great reality of the communion of the universal Church, found among all the peoples, the fabric of Eucharistic communion that transcends the boundaries of culture, civilization, peoples, and times. There is this communion, there are these “islands of peace” in the Body of Christ. They exist. And they are forces of peace in the world. If we look at history, we can see the great saints of charity who have created “oases” of this divine peace in the world, who have always rekindled his light, and were always able to reconcile and create peace. There are the martyrs who have suffered with Christ, have given this witness of peace, of the love that places a limit on violence.

And seeing that the reality of peace is there – even if the other reality also remains – we can go more deeply into the message of this Letter of Paul to the Ephesians. The Lord has triumphed upon the cross. He did not triumph with a new empire, with a power greater than the others and capable of destroying them; he triumphed, not in a human way, as we would imagine, with an empire more powerful than the other. He triumphed with a love capable of reaching even to death. This is God’s new way of winning: he does not oppose violence with a stronger form of violence. He opposes violence with its exact opposite: love to the very end, his cross. This is God’s humble way of winning: with his love – and this is the only way it is possible – he puts a limit on violence. This is a way of winning that seems very slow to us, but it is the real way to overcome evil, to overcome violence, and we must entrust ourselves to this divine way of winning.

Entrusting ourselves means entering actively within this divine love, participating in this work of peacemaking, in order to conform with what the Lord says: “Blessed are the peacemakers, those who work for peace, because they are the children of God.” We must bring, as much as possible, our love to all those who suffer, knowing that the judge of the last judgment identifies himself with the suffering. So whatever we do to the suffering we do to the ultimate judge of our lives. This is important: that in this moment we can bring this victory of his to the world, participating actively in his charity.

Today, in a multicultural and multireligious world, many are tempted to say: “It is better for peace in the world among religions and cultures that one not speak too much about the specifics of Christianity, about Jesus, the Church, the sacraments. Let us be satisfied with the things that can be held more or less in common...” But it’s not true. At this very moment – at a moment of a great abuse in the name of God – we need the God who triumphed upon the cross, who wins not by violence, but by his love. At this very moment, we need the face of Christ, in in order to know the true face of God and thus to bring reconciliation and light to this world. And so together, with love, with the message of love, with all that we can do for the suffering in this world, we must also bring the witness of this God, of the victory of God precisely through the nonviolence of his cross.

So let’s go back to the starting point. What we can do is give the witness of love, the witness of faith; and above all, raise a cry to God: we can pray! We are certain that our Father hears the cry of his children. At the Mass, preparing for holy communion, to receive the Body of Christ who unites us, we pray with the Church: “Deliver us, O Lord, from all evil, and grant us peace in our day.” Let this be our prayer in this moment: “Deliver us from all evil, and give us peace.” Not tomorrow or the next day: give us peace, Lord, today! Amen.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Way of Penitents for Divorced and Remarried in Italy?

Italian theologian tries to find a way for those living in an invalid marriage and excluded from Holy Communion that includes a life of penitence:

From Magister:

It would, moreover, require a certain span of time that should be determined with prudence, which would include some of the following penitential acts, according to the traditional threefold model of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, practiced on a daily or weekly basis for a few months, according to a set schedule: the reading of the Scriptures, the prayer of the Psalms or of the Liturgy of the Hours, participation in the celebration of the Eucharist (but without receiving communion) and in adult classes of catechesis, the recitation of the Rosary, pilgrimages, moderate fasting from food and from diversions, especially in preparation for the Sunday liturgy, monetary donations to poor people nearby or far away, the assumption of roles of social service in a professional or volunteer capacity, an effort to establish forgiveness and reconciliation with the spouse, etc. Of course, this journey would need to be modeled in reference to the confession of sins, and thus to the actual condition of the penitent.
At this point it becomes clear that, according to our proposal, admission to the sacraments cannot be decided privately by the individual believer on the basis of the judgment of his own conscience, but rather passes entirely through the ecclesiastical celebration and the priestly ministry.
And again, the individual believer cannot simply make this decision under some extraordinary circumstances, for example at a child’s first communion or at the funeral for a relative. Nor can it simply be left to the prudential judgment of the individual priest. It is appropriate that there should be a common and specific ecclesiastical practice in this matter.

What I find appealing in this is that it is a step in the right direction not only for this issue but countless others that the face individuals in the Church today--that the focus is on conversion, deepening a relationship with Christ and it realizes that most of the sinful behavior committed in our lives is due to our lack of conversion.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Saint Louis--The Arch

First, from below...

Then from above...

The preferred method of viewing...

The New Busch Stadium before the big storm...

How Amy takes all those nice pictures...

On the banks of the Mississippi...

Miracle Attributed to Sheen Sent to Rome

I'm a big fan and promoter of Bishop Sheen's cause. For a free holy card to pray for his intercession click here and follow the instructions.

From the Peoria Journal Star:

Copies of a report on an alleged miracle that took place in 1999 through the intercession of the late Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen were signed and sealed Sunday by Roman Catholic Church officials.

The 500-page report and supporting documents will now be delivered to Rome by canon lawyer Andrea Ambrosi, postulator of the cause to have Sheen recognized as a saint. There, Ambrosi will argue to a Vatican panel that this case and another being prepared in the Diocese of Pittsburgh are evidence of Sheen's sainthood.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Pope's Second Encyclical to Focus on Jesus?

Heard that it would be on social justice but this story which talks about a "book" seems to be talking about the subject of the next encyclical.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Friday, July 14, 2006

Dancing the Night Away

From Catholic Online:

The nuns said that when Bush arrived in Milwaukee they would "pause for a
time of silent prayer, join together in a dance of universal peace and pray for
continual conversion of your heart."

Why not join together in prayer? My guess is that no one wants to impose their "style of prayer" upon the other, but "you will dance!"

Look for my upcoming book Where Ratzinger Was a Swear Word

New Office to Oversee Liturgical Music?

From The Church:

Some of these “reforms of the reform” will concern music. On June 30, the
head of the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music, Msgr. Valentino Miserachs
Grau, announced that the pope will make a personal visit there in November to
inaugurate the new academic year. And he said he expects the creation of a new
Vatican office “that would coordinate with authority the activity of all those
who work in liturgical music, and would watch over the liturgical celebrations.”

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

New Version of One of My Books

New Papal Spokesman--A Priest

From AGI online:

Father Federico Lombardi is the new spokesman for the Pope. A Jesuit, he was previously the general director of the Vatican Radio and director of the Vatican television centre. With his nomination as new director of the press office of the Holy See, there is a de facto synergy among the three organisms. Joaquin Navarro Valls is now out of the scene, having directed the press office for over 22 years and followed Pope John Paul II on all his trips since 1984.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Pope Benedict uses Holy Grail at Mass

From Spero News:

Pope Benedict XVI used the Holy Chalice of Valencia at Sunday's Mass for
the World Congress of Families. The chalice is said by its supporters to have
been used by Christ at the Last Supper.

On Saturday when the Pope
entered Valencia's Cathedral the chalice was placed on the altar, where
Benedict said a prayer.