Thursday, October 22, 2009

Eucharistic Compendium

More great news. The Eucharistic Compendium promised in Sacramentum Caritatis is finally finished. It is being reported that it has been published either in Latin or in Italian (depending on who you ask). It also sounds like it is geared toward clergy, rather than the laity, but that won't stop me from getting one once the English version is published.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


No longer must I head up these such posts with a question mark, for the Vatican has announced a new canonical structure to be formed to admit perhaps massive amounts of Anglicans into the ranks of the Catholic Church. Deo Gratias!

It was over two years ago when the Traditional Anglican Communion decided they must become Catholic, by presenting signed copies of the Catechism to Vatican officials, and still over a half year ago when you heard that massive overtures were coming from the Holy See.

There are a number of articles which have come out already, but I highlight just one right now. I am sure more are to come soon. My emphasis.

The Apostolic Constitution, which Cardinal Levada said “provides a reasonable and even necessary response to a world-wide phenomenon”, will be a “single canonical model for the universal Church which is adaptable to various local situations and equitable to former Anglicans in its universal application.”

The new canonical structure will allow former Anglicans to enter into full communion with the Church while “preserving elements of distinctive Anglican spiritual patrimony,” said Cardinal Levada. He added that it will allow married former Anglican clergy to be ordained however, in common with Catholic and Orthodox Churches, married clergy will not be allowed to be ordained bishops.

These ‘Personal Ordinariates’ will be formed, “as needed, in consultation with local Conferences of Bishops, and their structure will be similar in some ways to that of the Military Ordinariates which have been established in most countries to provide pastoral care for members of the armed forces and their dependents throughout the world”, the cardinal prefect said.

So, it will be a canonical structure somewhat different from that of Opus Dei. I think that makes more sense. So, as I understand (and until they publish the Constitution we won't really know more), this will be a non-geographical diocese attached to a country, as opposed to Opus Dei which has a similar structure to a global diocese. My guess is that parishes under the care of one of these Personal Ordinariates would also be subject to the local Bishop, as opposed to those parishes of Eastern Rites, who are subject to their Eparch. Essentially they will be of the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church. It will be interesting to see how inter-conversion works.

I hope we can see some of the US Anglican dioceses, or at least large, more traditionally-minded, groups of Anglicans come over under this structure.

This is a time to pray:
Almighty and eternal God,
you gather the scattered sheep
and watch over those you have gathered.

Look kindly on all who follow Jesus, your Son.

You have marked them with the seal of one baptism;
now make them one in the fullness of faith
and unite them in the bond of love.

We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen
A partial indulgence. (Ench. Ind. 44)

Friday, October 9, 2009

Early October

Some people get a little antsy this time of year. Some because they expect a wakeup call from Stockholm, and some because they worry that whoever is going to get the call is not worthy. I've known physicists in both categories. The technology end of the prize has been forgotten recently, which is why I am glad the Physics prize went to CCDs and fiber optics, as they really changed our world, science and otherwise.

However, it is not the Physics prize I have come to talk to you about today. I woke up this morning to the news that our President, Barack Obama, will be awarded the 2009 Nobel Prize in Peace. I am trying to figure out what he has done for peace. What definitive actions has this president, sitting for less than 9 months, done to promote peace, here or abroad? I can't really come up with anything. Wars are still going on in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the notorious detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba is still open.

Sure, there has been some strong rhetoric, but this is not what the prize is awarded for. Back in the day, Einstein didn't receive a Nobel Prize for Special Relativity because it wasn't well enough established, even though most people at the time could see that it had to be right. Likewise, President Obama could very well do many things to promote peace, he is, after all, the President of the most powerful nation in the world. This is why the awarding of the prize this year to him rings hollow.

In his defense, however, he has probably done more to promote world peace than Al Gore. Really, the Peace Prize has become more of a popularity contest than anything. The committee makes these decisions with political motivations, which really waters down the prize. I mean, really, Al Gore for pushing shoddy science, and now Barack Obama for talk of Hope.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

40 Days For Life

Today was day 1 of the 40 Days for Life, fall 2009. South Bend is participating, as they did last year.

The abortion clinic is located in a little development just off of Ironwood. On days when I bike to school, I pass right behind this building, and I normally say a small prayer as I pass, usually the St. Michael prayer. With the 40 days going on, though, I think I will try to make a bit more effort to stop in and pray, even if it is only a decade of a rosary.

And so, today when I rode past, I decided to stop by. And not long after I got there, I met a few on South Bend's finest. Turns out the building next door changed hands and, in fact, the womens' care center that was there is no longer there anymore. The new owner is less happy to have us there, though at least amicable. The tenants, however, didn't seem to take kindly to us being there. My guess is either they are a little scared because they really have no experience of the 40 days before, or they are supporters of abortion and so want to cause us trouble.

As such, the police were called, and three squad cars showed up. We were informed that when push came to shove, we would be allowed on the very thin stretch of grass between the little strip mall and the clinic. If we were in the streets we could be considered "impeding the flow of traffic" and if we were in the driveway of either building, we would be impeding the right of those businesses to exist. If in either case, the cops were called and we were found outside of the specific location we were allowed, we could be subject to a ticket.

The officers were very nice, they didn't seem like they wanted to be called out to us. One of the officers told us his wife was signed up to be praying there at 4:00 in the afternoon.

Unfortunately it seems like the situation might be a little less amicable this year, but we will persevere. And, who knows, this might be the year they finally close their doors for good.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

A Papal Sequel

It would seem that Pope Benedict XVI has finished, for the most part, the Part II of his book Jesus of Nazareth. The Vatican is saying that it will be out in Spring of 2010. [Source]

I am excited, because I really liked the first part. In general, I find I like Pope Benedict's writing style. I am not sure if I like his more German-methodical approach to analysis, or that he is philosophically an Augustinian. I find his writings very readable.

The first book dealt with the earlier parts of Jesus' life, and was especially critical of some of the biblical scholars, and some modern biblical interpretation methods.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Fr. Jenkins Speaks

When I got home this evening, I found I had recieved an email from Fr. John Jenkins, CSC, President of Notre Dame. This letter was sent to all students, as far as I can tell. I will put the text here, without any additional emphasis or inline commenting.

Dear Members of the Notre Dame Family,

Coming out of the vigorous discussions surrounding President Obama’s visit last Spring, I said we would look for ways to engage the Notre Dame community with the issues raised in a prayerful and meaningful way. As our nation continues to struggle with the morality and legality of abortion, embryonic stem cell research, and related issues, we must seek steps to witness to the sanctity of life. I write to you today about some initiatives that we are undertaking.

Each year on January 22, the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision, the March for Life is held in Washington D.C. to call on the nation to defend the right to life. I plan to participate in that march. I invite other members of the Notre Dame Family to join me and I hope we can gather for a Mass for Life at that event. We will announce details as that date approaches.

On campus, I have recently formed the Task Force on Supporting the Choice for Life. It will be co-chaired by Professor Margaret Brinig, the Fritz Duda Family Chair in Law and Associate Dean for the Law School, and by Professor John Cavadini, the Chair of the Department of Theology and the McGrath-Cavadini Director of the Institute for Church Life. My charge to the Task Force is to consider and recommend to me ways in which the University, informed by Catholic teaching, can support the sanctity of life. Possibilities the Task Force has begun to discuss include fostering serious and specific discussion about a reasonable conscience clause; the most effective ways to support pregnant women, especially the most vulnerable; and the best policies for facilitating adoptions. Such initiatives are in addition to the dedication, hard work and leadership shown by so many in the Notre Dame Family, both on the campus and beyond, and the Task Force may also be able to recommend ways we can support some of this work.

I also call to your attention the heroic and effective work of centers that provide care and support for women with unintended pregnancies. The Women’s Care Center, the nation’s largest Catholic-based pregnancy resource center, on whose Foundation Board I serve, is run by a Notre Dame graduate, Ann Murphy Manion (’77). The center has proven successful in offering professional, non-judgmental concern to women with unintended pregnancies, helping those women through their pregnancy and supporting them after the birth of their child. The Women’s Care Center and similar centers in other cities deserve the support of Notre Dame clubs and individuals.

Our Commencement last Spring generated passionate discussion and also caused some divisions in the Notre Dame community. Regardless of what you think about that event, I hope that we can overcome divisions to foster constructive dialogue and work together for a cause that is at the heart of Notre Dame’s mission. We will keep you informed of our work, and we ask for your support, assistance and prayers. May Our Lady, Notre Dame, watch over our efforts.

In Notre Dame,

Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.

An interesting letter, to say the least. We have been waiting for years to have our school's President to lead us in a march for life. Pictures hanging all over campus attest to the protests Fr. Hesburgh led. The ND Right to Life student group gets so little support from the university, we can only hope that this might mark a sea change. Only time will tell.

It is interesting that this seems to reflect some of the demands made by ND Response (which I criticized here). They wanted to see Fr. Jenkins lead the students in the march for life, they wanted to see an institutional commitment to support life. These are little steps.

It is interesting to consider that these changes didn't come from "dialogue" with the University, but rather from the (might I say again, imprudent) demands of a student group. Now, these "demands" were really reasonable, and in fact, were, for the most part, things that a Catholic University should be doing anyways.

We can hope that this is a first, though perhaps small, step toward regaining the Catholic identity of the University. After all that has come down on this issue, a little good news is always nice.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Vatican on Catholic Education

The Congregation for Catholic Education has released a letter they are sending to the presidents of all the Bishops Conferences of the world. Zenit has the content of the letter here. The letter deals primarily with the issue of primary and secondary education, and religious freedom with regards to education. Some of the letter, however, deals with Catholic education in general. Here are some salient paragraphs.
II. Nature and identity of the Catholic school: the right to a Catholic education for families and pupils. Subsidiarity and educational collaboration

5. The Catholic school plays a particular role in education and formation. Many communities and religious congregations have distinguished themselves, and commendably continue to devote themselves to the service of primary and secondary education. Yet the whole Christian community, and particularly the diocesan Ordinary, bear the responsibility “of arranging everything so that all the faithful have a Catholic education” (c. 794 §2 CIC) and, more precisely, of having “schools which offer an education imbued with a Christian spirit” (c. 802 CIC; cfr c. 635 CCEO).

6. Catholic schools are characterised by the institutional link they keep with the Church hierarchy, which guarantees that the instruction and education be grounded in the principles of the Catholic faith and imparted by teachers of right doctrine and probity of life (cf. c. 803 CIC; cc. 632 e 639 CCEO). In these educational centres – which are open to all who share and respect their educational goals – the atmosphere must be permeated by the evangelical spirit of freedom and charity, which fosters the harmonious development of each one’s personality. In this setting, human culture as a whole is harmonised with the message of salvation, so that the pupils gradually acquire a knowledge of the world, life and humanity that is be enlightened by the Gospel (cf. GE 8; c. 634 §1 CCEO).

7. In this way, the right of families and pupils to an authentic Catholic education is ensured and, at the same time, the cultural aims – as well as those of human and academic formation of young people – that are characteristic of any school, are fulfilled (cf. c. 634 §3 CCEO; c. 806 §2 CIC).

To sum up:
- The Catholic school is an expression of the ecclesial community, and its Catholicity is guaranteed by the competent authorities (Ordinary of the place).

15. Religious education in Catholic schools identifies the educational goals of such schools. In fact, “the special character of the Catholic school, the underlying reason for it, the reason why Catholic parents should prefer it, is precisely the quality of the religious instruction integrated into the education of the pupils” (John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation Catechesi tradendae, 16 October 1979, 69).

16. In Catholic schools, as everywhere else, the religious freedom of non-Catholic pupils must be respected. This clearly does not affect the right/duty of the Church “in [its] public teaching and witness to [its] faith, whether by the spoken or by the written word”, taking into account that “in spreading religious faith and in introducing religious practices everyone ought at all times to refrain from any manner of action which might seem to carry a hint of coercion or of a kind of persuasion that would be dishonorable or unworthy” (DH 4).
The various bishops conferences are directed to forward this on to anyone "concerned with the educational service and mission of the Church." Maybe it would be nice if Fr. Jenkins would get a copy.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Beauty of Creation

The Pope recently spoke on Bonaventure, when he visited his home. (ZENIT)

BAGNOREGGIO, Italy, SEPT. 7, 2009 ( St. Bonaventure, like his spiritual father, St. Francis, has a message for today, according to Benedict XVI: Creation should be appreciated in the light of God.

The Pope reflected on this aspect of Bonaventure's teachings when he visited the saint's birthplace on Sunday.

He thus reflected on just a few points of Bonaventure's legacy: his testimony as a seeker of God, his love for creation, and his witness to hope.

Regarding this second point, the Pontiff called Bonaventure a "seraphic singer of creation" who "learned to 'praise God in all and through all creatures.'"

He added: "St. Bonaventure presents a positive vision of the world, gift of God's love to men. [...] How useful it would be if also today we rediscovered the beauty and value of creation in the light of divine goodness and beauty!

"In Christ, observed St. Bonaventure, the universe itself can again be the voice that speaks of God and leads us to explore his presence; exhorts us to honor and glorify him in everything."

This is how I try to see the world. Creation is full of intricacies in order, that we are to discover. This is how I approach my physics education and research; we seek the Truth by observing the natural world, and infer the order which it contains. This order derives from God, the author of all reason.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Homily, etc. at Mass Today

I attended the opening Mass of the University of Notre Dame today, kicking off another academic year in style, and prayer.

I have a few thoughts, while still fresh in my mind, about the homily and the remarks of the provost at mass.

The homily was themed on the "journey" we are all on, and the remarks by the provost were themed on leadership. There was not a lot of substance to them, but there was a lot of "look at how awesome we are at ND."

There was one thing I heard that appeared in both speeches, the topic that brings me here today. Fr. Jenkins said something along the lines of how we are here to "engage the culture" and to "seek the Truth". This is one of the hallmarks of the University, the seeking of the Truth. In the Homily, we heard the point that the Holy Spirit only inspired the followers of Jesus. They weren't given the Truth in the fullness, or something along those lines. Provost Burish then, for a bit, expounded on the theme. What I heard him say was that we were here to seek after the Truth together, as an institution, so that then we would be able to decide for ourselves on it.

This left a funny taste in my mouth. Perhaps I'm reading something into it, and I probably heard it in a way that was not intended by the speakers, but the focus seemed to be on the seeking and not on the finding. There is a Truth, and that Truth is Jesus Christ! There are things which are objectively True, likewise there are things which are objectively immoral. The role of a Catholic school, and in fact, the whole true Catholic intellectual tradition is to impart that Truth which is known, and develop minds based on those Truths to evaluate the world. There are many things which are not completely objective. We can consider the case of health care; good people can disagree on the way we should undertake health care reform, but nobody can morally say we should see to a support of abortion, for instance, in a health care reform package. A Catholic education should form students in the principles of objective morality so they can then evaluate the merits of various choices based on those objective principles, and so they can rightly oppose those things which violate some objective Truth.

I wonder if anyone else there heard it the same way I did.

Bishop D'Arcy in America Magazine

Bishop D'Arcy, the ordinary of the Diocese which encompass us here at Notre Dame, wrote an article which will appear on the cover of the August 31 issue of America magazine. [Source] I present the whole article here with some modest emphasis and [comments] italics are in the original.Link
As summer plays itself out on the beautiful campus by the lake where the young Holy Cross priest, Edward Sorin, C.S.C., pitched his camp 177 years ago and began his great adventure, we must clarify the situation that so sundered the church last spring: What it is all about and what it is not about.

It is not about President Obama. He will do some good things as president and other things with which, as Catholics, we will strongly disagree. It is ever so among presidents, and most political leaders.

It is not about Democrats versus Republicans, nor was it a replay of the recent general election.

It is not about whether it is appropriate for the president of the United States to speak at Notre Dame or any great Catholic university on the pressing issues of the day. This is what universities do. No bishop should try to prevent that.

The response, so intense and widespread, is not about what this journal called “sectarian Catholicism.” Rather, the response of the faithful derives directly from the Gospel. In Matthew’s words, “Your light must shine before others, that they may see your good works, and glorify your heavenly Father” (5:13). [He is making sure we know that these things, though presented by various media sources, Catholic and secular, are NOT the issue at hand]

Public Witness

[Three good questions]

[1] Does a Catholic university have the responsibility to give witness to the Catholic faith and to the consequences of that faith by its actions and decisions—especially by a decision to confer its highest honor? [2] If not, what is the meaning of a life of faith? [3] And how can a Catholic institution expect its students to live by faith in the difficult decisions that will confront them in a culture often opposed to the Gospel?

Pope Benedict XVI, himself a former university professor, made his position clear when he spoke to Catholic educators in Washington, D.C., on April 17, 2008:

Teachers and administrators, whether in universities or schools, have the duty and privilege to ensure that students receive instruction in Catholic doctrine and practice. This requires that public witness to the way of Christ, as found in the Gospel and upheld by the Church’s magisterium, shapes all aspects of an institution’s life, both inside and outside the classroom.

In its decision to give its highest honor to a president who has repeatedly opposed even the smallest legal protection of the child in the womb, did Notre Dame surrender the responsibility that Pope Benedict believes Catholic universities have to give public witness to the truths revealed by God and taught by the church? [He leaves a lot of rhetorical thinking questions in this article for the reader to ponder.]

Another serious question of witness and moral responsibility before the Notre Dame administration concerns its sponsorship over several years of a sad and immoral play, offensive to the dignity of women, which many call pornographic, and which an increasing number of Catholic universities have cancelled, “The Vagina Monologues,” by Eve Ensler.

Although he spoke eloquently about the importance of dialogue with the president of the United States, the president of Notre Dame chose not to dialogue with his bishop on these two matters[!!!], both pastoral and both with serious ramifications for the care of souls, which is the core responsibility of the local bishop. Both decisions were shared with me after they were made and, in the case of the honorary degree, after President Obama had accepted. For the past 24 years, it has been my privilege to serve as the bishop of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend. [This is an important statement to the article:] During this time, I have never interfered in the internal governance of Notre Dame or any other institution of higher learning within the diocese. However, as the teacher and shepherd in this diocese,[These are important words] it is my responsibility to encourage all institutions, including our beloved University of Notre Dame, to give public witness to the fullness of Catholic faith. The diocesan bishop must ask whether a Catholic institution compromises its obligation to give public witness by placing prestige over truth. The bishop must be concerned that Catholic institutions do not succumb to the secular culture, making decisions that appear to many, including ordinary Catholics, as a surrender to a culture opposed to the truth about life and love.

The Local Bishop

The failure to dialogue with the bishop brings a second series of questions. What is the relationship of the Catholic university to the local bishop? No relationship? Someone who occasionally offers Mass on campus? Someone who sits on the platform at graduation? Or is the bishop the teacher in the diocese, responsible for souls, including the souls of students—in this case, the students at Notre Dame? Does the responsibility of the bishop to teach, to govern and to sanctify end at the gate of the university? In the spirit of Ex Corde Ecclesiae, which places the primary responsibility on the institution, I am proposing these questions for the university.

Prof. John Cavadini has addressed the questions about the relationship of the university and the bishop in an especially insightful manner. He is chair of the theology department and an expert on the early church, with a special interest in St. Augustine. His remarks were a response to Father Jenkins’s rationale for presenting the play mentioned above.

The statement of our President [Father Jenkins] barely mentions the Church. It is as though the mere mention of a relationship with the Church has become so alien to our ways of thinking and so offensive to our quest for a disembodied “excellence” that it has become impolite to mention it at all. There is no Catholic identity apart from the affiliation with the Church. And again, I do not mean an imaginary Church we sometimes might wish existed, but the concrete, visible communion of “hierarchic and charismatic gifts,” “at once holy and always in need of purification,” in which “each bishop represents his own church and all of [the bishops] together with the Pope represent the whole Church...” (Lumen Gentium, Nos. 4, 8, 23).

The ancient Gnostic heresy developed an elitist intellectual tradition which eschewed connection to the “fleshly” church of the bishop and devalued or spiritualized the sacraments. Are we in danger of developing a gnosticized version of the “Catholic intellectual tradition,” one which floats free of any norming connection and so free of any concrete claim to Catholic identity?

The full letter can be found on the Web site of the Notre Dame student newspaper, The Observer:

It has been a great privilege and a source of joy to be associated with Notre Dame in the past 24 years as bishop. In so many ways, it is a splendid place. Part of this is because of the exemplary young men and women who come there from throughout the country. It is also because of its great spiritual traditions. The lines of young people preparing to receive the sacrament of reconciliation at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, the Masses in the residence halls, the prayerful liturgy at the basilica and the service of so many young people before and after graduation in Catholic education and catechetics, and in service to the poor in this country and overseas, is a credit to the university and a source of great hope. The theology department has grown in academic excellence over the years, strengthened by the successful recruiting of professors outstanding in scholarship, in their knowledge of the tradition and in their own living of the Catholic faith. This growth is well known to Pope Benedict XVI. It is notable that a vast majority has been willing to seek and accept the mandatum from the local bishop. [There is still room for improvement in these areas.]

Developments on Campus

Yet the questions about the relationship of the university as a whole to the church still stand, and what happened on campus leading up to and during the graduation is significant for the present debate about Catholic higher education. I released a statement on Good Friday, asking the Catholic people and others of good will not to attend demonstrations by those who had come avowedly to “create a circus.” I referred to appropriate and acceptable responses within the Notre Dame community led by students. Titled “ND Response,” and drawing a significant number of professors, these responses were marked by prayer and church teaching, and they were orderly.

This journal and others in the media, Catholic and secular, reporting from afar, failed to make a distinction between the extremists on the one hand, and students and those who joined them in the last 48 hours before graduation. This latter group responded with prayer and substantive disagreement. They cooperated with university authorities. [There seems to be a theme going, last post I reported on Archbishop Chaput taking The Tablet to task over their reporting of the health care issues, and here, Bishop D'Arcy is pointing out the failures of America in reporting on the Notre Dame Scandal.]

In this time of crisis at the university, these students and professors, with the instinct of faith, turned to the bishop for guidance, encouragement and prayer. This had nothing to do with John Michael D’Arcy. It was related to their understanding of the episcopal office—a place you should be able to count on for the truth, as Irenaeus contended in the second century when he encountered the Gnostics.

I attended the Baccalaureate Mass the day before graduation, for the 25th time, speaking after holy Communion, as I always do. Then I led an evening rosary at the Grotto with students, adults and a number of professors. We then went to a chapel on campus. It was packed for a whole night of prayer and eucharistic adoration.

It was my intention not to be on campus during graduation day. I had so informed Father Jenkins and the student leadership, with whom I was in touch nearly every day. This is the kind of deference and respect I have shown to the Notre Dame administration, to three Notre Dame presidents, over the years. I found it an increasingly sad time, and I was convinced that there were no winners, but I was wrong.

As graduation drew near, I knew I should be with the students. It was only right that the bishop be with them, for they were on the side of truth, and their demonstration was disciplined, rooted in prayer and substantive. I told the pro-life rally, several thousand people on a lovely May day, that they were the true heroes. Despite the personal costs to themselves and their families, they chose to give public witness to the Catholic faith contrary to the example of a powerful, international university, against which they were respectfully but firmly in disagreement. Among those in attendance were many who work daily at crisis pregnancy centers on behalf of life.

The Silent Board

In the midst of the crisis at Notre Dame, the board of trustees came to campus in April for their long-scheduled spring meeting. They said nothing. When the meeting was completed, they made no statement and gave no advice. In an age when transparency is urged as a way of life on and off campus, they chose not to enter the conversation going on all around them and shaking the university to its roots. We learned nothing about their discussions.

I firmly believe that the board of trustees must take up its responsibility afresh, with appropriate study and prayer. They also must understand the seriousness of the present moment. This requires spiritual and intellectual formation on the part of the men and women of industry, business and technology who make up the majority of the board. Financial generosity is no longer sufficient for membership on the boards of great universities, if indeed it ever was. The responsibility of university boards is great, and decisions must not be made by a few. Like bishops, they are asked to leave politics and ambition at the door, and make serious decisions before God. In the case of Notre Dame, they owe it to the Congregation of Holy Cross, which has turned this magnificent place over to a predominately lay board; they owe it to the students who have not yet come; they owe it to the intrepid missionary priest, Edward Sorin, C.S.C., and the Holy Cross religious who built this magnificent place out of the wilderness. They owe it to Mary, the Mother of God, who has always been honored here. Let us pray that they will take this responsibility with greater seriousness and in a truly Catholic spirit.

Critical Questions

As bishops, we must be teachers and pastors. In that spirit, I would respectfully put these questions to the Catholic universities in the diocese I serve and to other Catholic universities.

[1] Do you consider it a responsibility in your public statements, in your life as a university and in your actions, including your public awards, to give witness to the Catholic faith in all its fullness?

[2] What is your relationship to the church and, specifically, to the local bishop and his pastoral authority as defined by the Second Vatican Council?

[3] Finally, a more fundamental question: Where will the great Catholic universities search for a guiding light in the years ahead? Will it be the Land O’Lakes Statement or Ex Corde Ecclesiae? [This is really important, and something I have posted about before. Catholic institutions are at a crossroads, and this is the time where people need to choose sides. The two statements are, for the most part, opposed to each other, and one of them comes directly from the office of the Papacy.] The first comes from a frantic time, [July, 1967, frantic indeed] with finances as the driving force. Its understanding of freedom is defensive, absolutist and narrow. It never mentions Christ and barely mentions the truth. The second text, Ex Corde Ecclesiae, speaks constantly of truth and the pursuit of truth. It speaks of freedom in the broader, Catholic philosophical and theological tradition, as linked to the common good, to the rights of others and always subject to truth. Unlike Land O’Lakes, it is communal, reflective of the developments since Vatican II, and it speaks with a language enlightened by the Holy Spirit. [It came from the Vicar of Christ, after all.]

On these three questions, I respectfully submit, rests the future of Catholic higher education in this country and so much else.

There is little more that I could say to improve this. I bet a personal letter version of this has been sent to the office of Fr. Jenkins, and any other Catholic schools around. So far, there is nothing posted on the Archdiocese website concerning this, no additional statements. God bless our Bishop.

[UPDATE: 08/25/2009 23:09]
Fr. Z has made a post on an this article. I quote here from one of the commenters [a catechist] on his site:
We probably won’t ever know, but it strikes me that perhaps this was originally addressed to the Fellows, and then submitted to “America”. Just speculation, but it would make sense. Lots of sense, were I the bishop.
I hadn't thought of that, but that might be a good place to see to it that the targets of this letter read it.

Chaput takes The Tablet to task

Archbishop Chaput has recently written an article challenging an editorial written in the publication The Tablet, a Catholic weekly in the UK. To give you an idea of the issues at hand, the title of the editorial was "US Bishops must back Obama", and dealt with the, so-called "Obamacare" health care reform plan. Let's take a look, with my emphasis and [comment]:

Last week a British Catholic journal, in an editorial titled "U.S. bishops must back Obama," claimed that America's bishops "have so far concentrated on a specifically Catholic issue - making sure state-funded health care does not include abortion - rather than the more general principle of the common good." [It is unfortunate that I tire of this phrase, because of its misuse among some.]

It went on to say that if U.S. Catholic leaders would get over their parochial preoccupations, "they could play a central role in salvaging Mr. Obama's health-care programme."

The editorial has value [I'm not so sure...] for several reasons. First, it proves once again that people don't need to actually live in the United States to have unhelpful and badly informed opinions about our domestic issues. Second, some of the same pious voices that once criticized U.S. Catholics for supporting a previous president now sound very much like acolytes of a new president. Third, abortion is not, and has never been, a "specifically Catholic issue," and the editors know it. And fourth, the growing misuse of Catholic "common ground" and "common good" language in the current health-care debate can only stem from one of two sources: ignorance or cynicism. [It's as if he read my mind on this one.]

No system that allows or helps fund - no matter how subtly or indirectly -- the killing of unborn children, or discrimination against the elderly and persons with special needs, can bill itself as "common ground." Doing so is a lie. [I would say it is part of the "progressive" and "modern" plans to usurp the language, and change the meaning of words, to hoodwink the masses. Consider what is now called "freedom" and "right" as compared to years ago.]

On the same day the British journal released its editorial, I got an email from a young couple on the east coast whose second child was born with Down syndrome. The mother's words deserve a wider audience:

[Here, he goes on to share this story, of a child who "'consumes' a lot of health care." I add the final paragraph here for context]

We are unsure and uneasy about how this might change. We worry that we, and Magdalena's siblings, will somehow be cut out of the process down the line when her health issues are sure to pile up. I can't forget that this is the same president [Obama] who made a distasteful joke about the Special Olympics. He apologized through a spokesman . . . [but] I truly believe that the people around him don't know -- or don't care to know -- the value and blessedness of a child with special needs. And I don't trust them to mold policy that accounts for my daughter in all of her humanity or puts "value" on her life.

Of course, President Obama isn't the first leader to make clumsy gaffes. Anyone can make similar mistakes over the course of a career. And the special needs community is as divided about proposed health-care reforms as everyone else.

Some might claim that the young mother quoted here has misread the intent and content of Washington's plans. That can be argued. But what's most striking about the young mother's email -- and I believe warranted -- is the parental distrust behind her words. She's already well acquainted, from direct experience, with how hard it is to deal with government-related programs and to secure public resources and services for her child. In fact, I've heard from enough intelligent, worried parents of children with special needs here in Colorado to know that many feel the current health-care proposals pressed by Washington are troubling and untrustworthy.

Health-care reform is vital. That's why America's bishops have supported it so vigorously for decades. They still do. But fast-tracking a flawed, complex effort this fall, in the face of so many growing and serious concerns, is bad policy. It's not only imprudent; it's also dangerous. As Sioux City's Bishop R. Walker Nickless wrote last week, "no health-care reform is better than the wrong sort of health-care reform." [This is the perennial drum-beat of the modern political system. More below.]

If Congress and the White House want to genuinely serve the health-care needs of the American public, they need to slow down, listen to people's concerns more honestly -- and learn what the "common good" really means.

What we hear in politics these days is, "Now! Now! Now! There can be no waiting, because this change/reform/action is so important that if we wait, we will be doomed!" We heard it in the various bailout bills, and we hear it again here. We heard it over global warming, and we will hear it again. There are two reasons I can come up with why this "doomsday approach" to legislating is being used. First, there is the fact that the government has limited money and attention to spend on various topics, and so the one that is most pressing will get the most money, simple economics (or manipulation). Second, there is the more dangerous aspect, which is the desire to sneak through legislation with less popular measures in it because it will take too long to fix the unpopular parts of the bill.

This, I am sure, is what is happening with the health care reform bill. The legislators have made up their mind what they want to see in the bill, and under the guise of urgency have been pushing this plan forward. The thing is, this isn't Calcutta, people aren't dying in the street. Do we need some kind of reform; sure. Is the status quo so bad that we can't continue as a nation; I don't think so.

Archbishop Chaput did a good job, I think, dealing with the arguments put forward by The Tablet.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Arinze on Liturgy

I recently read an article which discussed the Homily by Francis Cardinal Arinze at the closing of the plenary assembly of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences. I quote first from the article.

Cardinal Arinze exhorted the continent’s bishops to follow the Church’s norms for liturgical inculturation, so that “the local Church will be spared questionable or downright mistaken innovations and idiosyncrasies of some enthusiastic cleric whose fertile imaginations invents something on Saturday night and whose uninformed zeal forces this innovation on the innocent congregation on Sunday morning.”

“Dance in particular needs to be critically examined because most dances draw attention to the performers and offer enjoyment,” he continued. “People come to Mass, not for recreation but, to adore God, to praise and thank him, to ask pardon for their sins, and to request other spiritual and temporal needs. The monasteries may be of help in how graceful body movements can become prayer.”
Digging deeper, I was able to find the actual text of the homily, unfortunately in PDF format only. It is a good read, and I recommend reading the whole thing. Here I extract some of the most salient bits. (My emphasis and [comments])
Adoration manifests itself in such gestures in genuflection, deep bow, kneeling, prostration and silence in the presence of the Lord. Asian cultures have a deep sense of the sacred and transcendent. Reverence in Asia to civil authorities sometimes shows itself in clasped hands, kneeling, bows, prostration and walking away while facing a dignitary. It should not be too difficult to bring and elevate this cultural value to honour our Eucharistic Jesus. The fashion in some parts of the world of not installing kneelers in churches should not be copied by the Church in Asia. The Holy Eucharist is the summit of the sacred in our worship.

The ars celebrandi is the art of proper celebration. It is a fruit of faithful adherence to liturgical norms in all their richness and assistants. When the Eucharistic celebration is properly carried out, it manifests the Eucharistic faith of the Church; it nourishes the faith of the participants; and it sends them home on fire to live and share the faith.

The way in which Holy Communion is distributed should be clearly indicated and monitored and individual idiosyncrasies should not be allowed. In the Latin Rite, only concelebrating priests take Holy Communion. Everyone else is given, be the person cleric or lay. It is not right that the priest discard any of the vestments just because the climate is hot or humid. If necessary, the Bishop can arrange the use of lighter cloth. It is altogether unacceptable that the celebrant will opt for local dress in the place of universally approved Mass vestments or use baskets, or wine glasses to distribute the Holy Eucharist. This is inculturation wrongly understood.

If these directives are followed, the local Church will be spared [a good way to put it] questionable or downright mistaken innovations and idiosyncrasies of some enthusiastic cleric whose fertile imagination invents something on Saturday night and whose uninformed zeal forces this innovation on the innocent congregation on Sunday morning. [Doesn't it feel like that sometimes?]

Dance in particular needs to be critically examined because most dances draw attention to the performers and offer enjoyment. [The casual reader will note that he is pointing out that this is a bad thing.]

People come to Mass, not for recreation but, to adore God, to praise and thank him, to ask pardon for their sins, and to request other spiritual and temporal needs. The monasteries may be of help in how graceful body movements can become prayer. The Colombo statement quoted above remarks: “When pastoral zeal combines with cultural and religious sensitivity, new ground is broken. On the contrary, hasty and un‐reflected changes weaken or damage the religious significance and life‐transforming power of worship” (Colombo Statement, 6).
I think this should be more widely read than simply among the Asian Bishops.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Reform Group Not Catholic

A group using the name "Catholic" but seems to be advocating for things like the ordination of women is NOT part of the Catholic Church, so warns Archbishop Neinstedt of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

The group, the Catholic Coalition for Church Reform (CCCR) is planning to hold a “synod” at an undisclosed location within the archdiocese on September 18, 2010. The theme will be “Claiming Our Place at the Table.”

On its website, the group explains its “Understanding of Church [sic]” as a “communion of communities” based upon “acceptance.” It professes support for the “fundamental equality of all members,” participation and collaboration, a “dialogical spirit” and a “Prophetic/prophetic sign.”

The website announces a “major fundraiser” for the “synod,” held in Lake Elmo, Minnesota on Thursday, with Maryknoll priest Fr. Roy Bourgeois. The announcement says he will share his perspective on “the social injustices within Roman Catholicism” and will offer a vision of the “emerging church.”

Last year Fr. Bourgeois was excommunicated for publicly dissenting from Catholic teaching by advocating the "ordination" of women.

He has described the “exclusion of women from the priesthood” as an injustice comparable to the injustice he has opposed in the School of the Americas, a controversial U.S. training program for Latin American military leaders. He has also compared Catholic teaching on women’s ordination to the segregation of African-Americans in his home state of Louisiana.

“Moreover, the Archdiocese wishes to lovingly caution those members of the faithful participating in the ‘work/study groups’ and intending to attend the synod of the potential that the issues on which CCCR will seek reform are magisterial teachings of the Church, and are therefore to be believed by divine and catholic faith,” the statement continued.

The archdiocese reminded the Catholic faithful that contrary doctrines ought to be shunned, while the faith and morals proposed “definitively” by the Magisterium of the Church should be embraced, safeguarded and expounded.

This is what Bishops need to do, unfortunately. In order to safeguard the faith, they must warn the faithful when there are others who claim the name of the Church, but teach things contrary to the Truth. I like how he specifically points out that these issues, at least some of them, have been definitively taught by the Magisterium.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Novena to St. John Vianney - Day 9


O Holy Priest of Ars, your precious remains are contained in a magnificent reliquary, the donation from the priests of France. But this earthly glory is only a very pale image of the unspeakable glory which you are enjoying with God. During the time you were on earth, you used to repeat in your dejected hours, 'one will rest in the other life." It is done, you are in eternal peace, and eternal happiness.
I desire to follow you one day. Until then, I hear you saying to me:
"You should work and fight as long as you are in the world."
Teach me then to work for the salvation of my soul, to spread the good news and good example and to do good towards those around me in order that I will receive the happiness of the Elect with you.
Holy Priest of Ars, I have confidence in your intercession. Pray for me during this novena especially for ... (mention silently your special intentions).
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be.

O St John Vianney, Patron of Priests, pray for us and for all priests!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Novena to St. John Vianney - Day 8


O Holy Priest of Ars, a witness of your life made this magnificent praise of you:
'We would have taken him for an angel in a mortal body."
You so edified others: the modesty and the exquisite purity radiated from your body. With such charm and with such enthusiasm you preached to others about these beautiful virtues which you said resembled the perfume of a vineyard in bloom.
Please I beg you to join your entreaties to those of Mary Immaculate and Saint Philomena in order that I guard always, as God asks me, the purity of my heart. You, who have directed so many souls towards the heights of virtue, defend me in temptations and obtain for me the strength to conquer them.
Holy Priest of Ars, I have confidence in your intercession. Pray for me during this novena especially for ... (mention silently your special intentions).
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be.

O St John Vianney, Patron of Priests, pray for us and for all priests!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Novena to St. John Vianney - Day 7


O Holy Priest of Ars, the infamous attacks of the devil which you had to suffer and the trials which disheartened you by fatigue would not make you give up the sublime task of converting souls. The devil came to you for many years to disturb your short rest but you won because of mortification and prayers.
Powerful protector, you know the temptor's desire to harm my baptized and believing soul. He would have me sin, by rejecting the Holy Sacraments and the life of virtue. But good Saint of Ars dispel from me the traces of the enemy.
Holy Priest of Ars, I have confidence in your intercession. Pray for me during this novena especially for ... (mention silently your special intentions).
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be.

O St John Vianney, Patron of Priests, pray for us and for all priests!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Novena to St. John Vianney - Day 6


O Holy Priest of Ars, whose only comfort in this world was the real presence of Jesus in the tabernacle, was it not your great joy to distribute the Eucharist to the pilgrims who visited you? You refused Communion to the souls who refused to reform but to souls of goodwill you opened wide the doors of the Eucharistic Feast.
You, who each day at Holy Mass received Holy Communion with great loves, give me some of your fervor. With freedom from mortal sin, obtain for me a sincere desire to profit from receiving Holy Communion.
Holy Priest of Ars, I have confidence in your intercession. Pray for me during this novena especially for... (mention silently your special intentions).
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be.

O St John Vianney, Patron of Priests, pray for us and for all priests!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Novena to St. John Vianney - Day 5


O Holy Priest of Ars, you knew how important was a good confession for the Christian life. It was to procure the happy fruits of millions of souls that you agreed to be in an uncomfortable confessional, which was like a prison, up to 15 to 16 hours on certain days.
I will try to develop the habit of frequent confession, to prepare properly each time and to have always regret for my sins, so that the grace of final perseverance but also the sanctification of my soul will be assured. Ask this grace for me.
Holy Priest of Ars, I have confidence in your intercession. Pray for me during this novena especially for ... (mention silently your special intentions).
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be

O St John Vianney, Patron of Priests, pray for us and for all priests!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Anglican Orders

It would seem the Anglican church is going with the two track system proposed by Archbishop Rowan Williams, which I mentioned below. In an interesting article, it would seem that a cathedral is offering separate male and female blessed communion.
n Anglican cathedral is trying to accommodate those of its faithful who do not accept female clergy by allowing parishioners to decide whether to accept communion bread blessed by its female canon or by a male priest. Blackburn Cathedral in Lancashire recently installed Rev. Sue Penfold as a residential canon. Cathedral canon Andrew Hindley explained the decision to This Is Lancashire, saying it was agreed by all the clergy that it was the best way to handle what they called a “mixed economy.”

The congregation can choose whether to receive communion bread blessed by Rev. Penfold or bread blessed by a male priest at the main cathedral service on Sundays at 10:30 a.m.

“This situation is not ideal, but we are trying to be inclusive,”[The buzzword of the age.] Canon Hindley said, adding that Rev. Penfold had been appointed to Blackburn Cathedral to reflect the “board views” of the Church of England.

The communion practice was announced to worshipers when it was introduced last year but it is reportedly implemented in a “very discreet manner.”

The practice was attacked by Sally Barnes of the Anglican feminist group Women and the Church. She said it was “unacceptable and disgraceful” to turn communion into “a buffet.” [Interestingly, the Truth is also treated in a buffet style as well, take what you please] She claimed the practice labeled women as “tainted” and that many people in the area have complained about it.

The traditional-leaning Anglican group Forward in Faith, which opposes women bishops, said the practice was unusual. According to This Is Lancashire, group spokesman Stephen Parkinson called it “bonkers” and said he did not understand why the women priests put up with it.

It is a bad sign when both the traditional-leaning and the, say, "progressive" leaning groups both oppose your practice.

The Anglican church's teachings are nebulous at best, when it comes to the nature of communion and the eucharist; the sense of any sort of real presence is left up to the individual to discern. By having a practice such as this, it acknowledges that there is some sort of problem.

I see parallels with the situation in the Catholic Church and the SSPX. One of the serious issues that needs to be hammered out relates to the validity of the Novus Ordo of the Mass. The Church clearly posits the validity of the Mass and the other sacraments under all rites the Church sanctions, but there still are some who, for various reasons, question or flatly deny the validity of these rites. I liken this Anglican situation to keeping separate tabernacles/ciboria for the Sacred Body consecrated at the Traditional Latin Mass and the Novus Ordo Mass, because some people may deny the validity of the new Mass. If the Anglican church teaches that women can be validly ordained, and validly preform their religious services, then it leads them into error by maintaining some separation of the blessed bread.

Of course, since the Anglican Church lacks valid orders (at least for the most part) and lacks valid sacraments, this discussion is purely academic. It is a sign of the times for their church, however, as they slowly lose any sense of identity they may have had. No longer will a set of beliefs or practices define what it means to be an Anglican, now all that is left is a sense of history or (small t) tradition.

Novena to St. John Vianney - Day 4


Saint John Mary Baptist Vianney, you were so adamant against sin, yet so sympathetic and so ready to welcome the sinner. I come to you today as if you were still alive, as if I were kneeling at your feet and you could hear me. Bend towards me, listen to the repentant confidence for the weaknesses and miserable deeds of mine.
Priest of the Lord, inexhaustible Confessor, obtain for me the horror for sin. You wanted us First to avoid the occasion of sin. I want totake your advice and make the resolution to break bad habits and to avoid the dangerous occasions of sin. Help me today to examine my conscience.
Holy Priest of Ars, I have confidence in your intercession. Pray for me during this novena especially for... (mention silently your special intentions).
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be.

O St John Vianney, Patron of Priests, pray for us and for all priests!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Anglican Implosion

Breaking into this novena, is some news on the Anglican/Episcopalian front. Archbishop Rowan Williams must be intent on completely dismantling the worldwide Anglican communion, but, of course, the members seem even more committed to the cause.

Article, with my emphasis and [comments].
Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, head cleric in the Church of England, has responded to the Episcopal Church’s decision to allow the ordination of homosexual bishops. Saying that a change in Anglican teaching, if necessary, would require broader agreement, he proposed a “two-track” church structure which recognizes “two ways of being Anglican.” [Why two? If there are two possible ways to Truth, then perhaps three, or 756 thousand.]

Writing in a July 27 document titled “Communion, Covenant and our Anglican Future,” Archbishop Williams said the wording of the resolution showed that it did not want to “cut its moorings from other parts of the Anglican family.” [Heretics no longer leave the Church; Catholics also have this problem.] The two most controversial resolutions, he said, do not have the “automatic effect” of overturning the moratoria on homosexual clergy.

However, he said the resolutions do not suggest the General Convention will “repair the broken bridges into the life of other Anglican provinces” and have led to the expression of “very serious anxieties.” [Putting it mildly.]

He said the issue is not simply about civil liberties, human dignity, or the freedom of individual Christians to form their consciences. [I had to read this twice. It would seem that Anglicans have the freedom to form their own consciences. Of course, Catholics, and indeed all persons, have that freedom, but that gives us the ability to be wrong. It is not in the power of Christians in good standing to form their consciences against the mind of the Church.]

“It is about whether the Church is free to recognize same-sex unions by means of public blessings that are seen as being, at the very least, analogous to Christian marriage,” he said.

Based on the Christian Church’s consistent reading of the Bible for two millennia, the archbishop said, an innovation would require “the most painstaking biblical exegesis” and “a wide acceptance of the results within the Communion.”

“This is not our situation in the Communion,” he said, noting that persons living in homosexual unions cannot represent the Anglican Church without “serious incongruity.”

He also counseled Anglicans to recall how a local church decides on a “sensitive and controversial matter” so as not to be “completely trapped in the particularly bitter and unpleasant atmosphere of the debate over sexuality, in which unexamined prejudice is still so much in evidence and accusations of bad faith and bigotry are so readily thrown around.” [The Truth depends on geography.]

He suggested the possibility of a “twofold ecclesial reality,” with a “covenanted” Anglican global body fully sharing a vision of how the Church should be. To this would be joined “in less formal ways” associated local churches in “various kinds of mutual partnership.”

Rather than a “two-tier” system, he suggested, this is a “two-track model” with two ways of “witnessing to the Anglican heritage.” [A Church founded in the Anglican tradition? Perhaps similar to a Catholic school founded in the Jesuit tradition.]

“The ideal is that both 'tracks' should be able to pursue what they believe God is calling them to be as Church, [even if they are believing something wrong. We still believe in absolute Truth] with greater integrity and consistency,” he continued.

“It helps to be clear about these possible futures, however much we think them less than ideal, and to speak about them not in apocalyptic terms of schism and excommunication,” he said, stating that they are “two styles of being Anglican.”

“All of this is to do with becoming the Church God wants us to be, [as opposed to the Church WE want to be] for the better proclamation of the liberating gospel of Jesus Christ,” the Archbishop of Canterbury’s document concluded. He said the present situation should be seen not as “an unhappy sent of tensions” but rather “an opportunity for clarity, renewal and deeper relation with one another” and with God.

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s conciliatory statement contrasts with the response of prominent biblical scholar and Anglican Bishop of Durham N.T. Wright, who said the Episcopal Church’s recent decision formalized a “schism” and marked a “clear break” with the Anglican Communion. Bishop Wright also criticized those Episcopalians who have “long embraced a theology in which chastity, as universally understood by the wider Christian tradition, has been optional.”

The Anglican Communion is hemorrhaging belief. When they set off from the Barque of Peter in their own dinghy they would have needed a very steady hand at the tiller, just to keep from capsizing in the seas of this world. This action is tantamount to letting go of the wheel and allowing the boat to go adrift. By not clarifying the Anglican Communion's position on these issues, he is basically opening up the Church to any and all sorts of beliefs, sacrificing Truth for unity.

Novena to St. John Vianney - Day 3


Saint John Marie Baptist Vianney because of your love of God you showed great charity towards your neighbor. You could not preach on the Love of God without burning tears of love. During your last years, it seemed as though you could not talk about any thing else or live for anything else. Thus you sacrificed yourself to your neighbor by consoling, absolving and sanctifying them to the limits of your strength.
Your charity inspires me to greater love of God, a love which is shown more by acts then by words. Help me to love my neighbor generously as Christ loves them.
Holy Priest of Ars, I have confidence in your intercession. Pray for me during this novena especially for ... (mention silently your special intentions).
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be.

O St John Vianney, Patron of Priests, pray for us and for all priests!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Novena to St. John Vianney

Today is Day 2 of the Novena. Same rules apply, same recommendations, same source.


Saint John Marie Baptist Vianney, what confidence the people had in your prayers! You could not leave your old rectory or your humble church without being surrounded by imploring souls, who appealed to you as they would have appealed to Jesus Himself during His earthly life. And you, O good Saint, gave them hope by your words, which were full of love for God.
You, who had always counted entirely on the heart of God, obtain for me a deep filial trust in His Providence. As the hope of divine goods fills my heart, give me courage and help me to always obey the Commandments of God.
Holy Priest of Ars, I have confidence in your intercession. Pray for me during this novena especially for ... (mention silently your special intentions).
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Novena to St. John Vianney

Today, it would seem marks the first day of a novena to St. John Vianney, an especially relevant topic in this Year for Priests. This is taken from EWTN, though you could find/adapt your own.


Saint John Marie Baptist Vianney you were born of a deeply religious mother; from her you received the Holy Faith; you learned to love God and to pray. At a young age, you were seen kneeling in the front of the statue of Mary. Your soul was supernaturally carried towards the things on High. Despite the high cost, you answered your vocation!
Against many obstacles and contradictions, you had to fight and suffer to become the perfect priest which you were. But your deep spirit of faith supported you in all these battles. 0 Great Saint you know the desire of my soul; I would like to serve God better; from Him I have received so many good things. For this, obtain for me more courage and especially the depth of faith.
Many of my thoughts, words, and actions are useless for my sanctification and for my salvation, because this supernatural spirit does not stir up my life. Help me to be better in the future.
Holy Priest of Ars, I have confidence in your intercession. Pray for me during this novena especially for ...
(mention silently your special intentions).
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be

O St John Vianney, Patron of Priests, pray for us and for all priests!

I recommend praying in a special way for your parish priest, or perhaps if you have a priest spiritual director, for him, or really any priest(s) who have touched your lives. Mention them by name.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A Morning Offering

This is another in my unnumbered and non-regular series on my own personal spirituality.

Today I will discuss the morning offering. This is one of a list of things I hope to fully incorporate into my daily life. It is a wonderful practice which helps to orient one's life to the will of God. By offering our day, in its actions and thoughts, to the Lord, we both serve to turn our day into a prayer, and also remind ourselves of the presence and providence of God.

There are many formulas for the morning offering, and a quick internet search would yield many different, good ones. I recommend choosing one that resonates with your own life and spirituality. The one I presently recite follows.
LORD GOD Almighty, Thou hast brought us safely to the beginning of this day. Defend us today by Thy mighty power, that we may not fall into any sin, but that all our words may so proceed and all our thoughts and actions be so directed, as to be always just in Thy sight. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
I found this in my handy handbook of indulgences, it is the Latin Domine Deus omnipotens prayer, and has a partial indulgence attached to it.

If you are interested in developing your personal spirituality, I recommend reciting some form of a morning offering. It is quick and easy, and reminds you to direct your actions to God in all you do.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Post overdue

This post is way overdue, but unfortunately, real life got in the way. Yes, I do intend to continue with this. Yes, I'm working on Caritas in Veritate, and I do intend to reflect on it. No, I don't know when I will post next.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Ss. Peter and Paul

After a long hiatus, I'm back. I have some news to discuss, but will leave that for a little bit.

Today is the Feast (Solemnity, really) of the apostles Peter and Paul. This ends the Pauline Year, and leaves us completely to focus on the Year for Priests.

The Handbook of Indulgences lists this:
The Christian faithful obtain a partial indulgence when they make devout use of a devotional object (such as a cricifix or cross, a rosary, a scapular, or a medal) which has been rightly blessed by any priest or deacon.

If the devotional object has been blessed by the Pope or by any bishop, the Christian faithful can obtain a plenary indulgence while making devout use of it on the solemnity of the holy apostles, Peter and Paul, provided they add to its use a profession of faith made by any legitimate formula. (EI 35)
There is a footnote that says that to be rightly blessed, a proper formula ought be used from the Book of Blessings, but notes that a sign of the cross, even without words, is sufficient, assuming the intention to bless was present.

The normal requirements for indulgences are also, of course, in play.

As an aside, the only object I have that I know was blessed by a bishop is an old and broken scapular, but it still holds sentimental value, and can still be devoutly used, just not in the same way as before.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Corpus Christi Indulgence

I think indulgences are great. They codify the good works and special prayers and remembrances which can act as special reparation for the temporal punishment we all deserve for our sins. And more than that, we can apply this reparation to those who have died, both those we know and those we've never met.

There are many specific grants in the Enchiridion Indulgentiarum, the Handbook of Indulgences, and some of then are attached to specific days. In the dioceses of the United States, the solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi) is transferred to this Sunday. The grant in the Handbook attached to this feast is the recitation of the Tantum Ergo.
A partial indulgence is granted to the Christian faithful who devoutly recite the above verses [the Tantum Ergo]. The indulgence will be a plenary one ... on the solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ during its liturgical rites. [EI 59]
Keep this in mind come Sunday (or if you happen to be reading in a country where the feast is not transferred, Thursday). Remember, the standard requirements for obtaining a plenary indulgence: sacramental confession, eucharistic communion, a prayer for the pope's intentions, and the exclusion of all attachment to sin.

Incidentally the Pope's intentions for the month of June are
Pope Benedict's general prayer intention for June is: "That international attention towards the poorer countries may give rise to more concrete help, in particular to relieve them of the crushing burden of foreign debt"

His mission intention is: "That the particular Churches operating in regions marked by violence may be sustained by the love and concrete closeness of all the Catholics in the world".

Friday, June 5, 2009

Spain and Abortions

It has been a long time since I have written about Spain. Indeed, at one point in history I wrote so often about the goings-on over there that I decided to have a specific tag "Spain". This has fallen by the wayside in recent months, but I have come across some quite disturbing news. See if you can count the ways this is wrong.
The State Coordinator of Feminist Organizations in Spain said this week that since 13-year-old girls can legally engage in sexual relations in Spain, “then they should also have the right to decide about the consequences of those relations,” without input from their parents.

The State Coordinator of Feminist Organizations sent 12,145 signatures to the Spanish Congress this week opposing the proposed reform of abortion laws, arguing that abortion on demand up to the fourteenth week is “clearly insufficient” and that the proposed reform does not guarantee legal protection for women and health care professionals who perform abortions.

Yolanda Iglesias, the spokesperson for the office, said one of the organization’s complaints is that the law should be broader. “We want the government’s reform not to be so restrictive, so that it truly can be one of the most advanced norms in Europe, as Socialist lawmakers assert it is,” she said.

The feminist groups also oppose requiring doctor’s approval for abortions between the fourteenth and twenty-second week of pregnancy, claiming the requirement leaves “the decision about health and maternity in the hands of others.” “For this reason we are sure that many pregnant women will travel to more permissive countries or will seek out clandestine abortions,” they said.
Here's what I found.
  1. The age of consent is 13? How does that remotely even make sense?
  2. If 13 is the age of consent, then that implies a certain maturity, but is it really warranted to assume a 13-year old girl has the emotional maturity to make such a decision without even consult of her parents. Would the laws in Spain allow a 13 year old to choose to not receive medical treatment for diabetes against her parents wishes? This should be no different.
  3. Considering abortions are legal, what sort of "legal protections" do they mean?
  4. Up to the 14th week not enough? What would be enough? I'm sure that any limit would be too restrictive.
  5. "Advanced" is apparently the new word to mean liberal, or something of that nature. This is not the way I learned the word.
  6. Wouldn't you think doctors would need to approve of an abortion? It would seem doctors need not even be involved in Spain.
  7. For that matter, isn't the health of the patient the concern of a doctor in the first place?
Did I miss anything?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Fr. Peyton, CSC

As usual, I am a day late. Yesterday, June 3, marks the anniversary of the death of the Servant of God, Fr. Patrick Peyton, CSC. I think he is someone you should know about.

I first looked into his story when I ended up with a rosary with his face and name on it. He is known as "the rosary priest" and founded the Family Rosary Crusade. Believe it or not, he coined the phrase "the family who prays together stays together."

His cause was opened in 2001, and so we can pray for his intercession and canonization.
Dear Jesus, Father Peyton devoted his priestly life to strengthening the families of the world by calling them to pray together every day, especially the Rosary. His message is as important for us now as it was during his life on earth. We beg you, therefore, to hasten the day of his beatification so that your faithful people everywhere will remember his message that the family that prays together stays together, will imitate him in his devotion to your Mother and ours, and will be inspired by his holy life to draw ever closer to you with childlike confidence and love. Amen.

The Vice Postulator of his cause is Fr. George Lucas, CSC. This is not the same George Lucas who was just appointed Archbishop of Omaha. Neat.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

After Tiller

I wasn't originally going to discuss the whole Tiller murder, because the mainstream blogs seem to be doing a good job of it. It is a tragedy, as all murders are. The fallout has been as predicted, and that is what I'd like to discuss.

I was surprised when the US Marshalls were called out to protect high profile Abortion advocates. This after a murder of one person, who was caught fairly quickly and who seems to be a lone gunman. This is a bit extreme, says I. I wonder if a Catholic leader (a bishop, perhaps, or a high profile priest, maybe in California) were killed by, say, a radical gay rights extremist if such measures would be put in place to offer protection to the Bishops, for instance.

I read an article today from the wonderful Lifesite News, with some disturbing comments from a professor at a Catholic university. (emphasis mine)

Marquette University theology professor and former Jesuit priest Daniel Maguire published a statement on The Religious Consultation website lamenting the fact that Tiller was murdered "for honoring the law of the land."

"He is not the first doctor to so die and unless we get serious about this form of terrorism, he will not be the last," wrote Maguire. "Religious and political leaders who fan the flames of anti-choice, anti-woman fanaticism are not without guilt."

How, might I ask, is violating the laws, which Dr. Tiller allegedly had in a number of circumstances, honoring the law? How, even, is performing an action protected by law honoring it. Do I honor the smoking laws of the country each time I light up my pipe? Do I honor the alcohol laws of the country each time I drink some whiskey?

Just because an action is permitted by law does not mean it is good. Honoring a law means not violating it; I honor the smoking law when I take my pipe outside and away from building entrances, and I honor the drinking law when, for instance, I don't drink while driving, or while underage.

The article goes on to quote some other pro-life leaders who are claiming, for instance
"But I'd like to say on this day after a man was murdered in cold blood for performing abortions that I -- and the people I worked with in the religious right, the Republican Party, the pro-life movement and the Roman Catholic Church, all contributed to this killing by our foolish and incendiary words."
Essentially by saying "abortion is murder" we incite murders, even though we say "murder is evil". We cannot, therefore, say anything that indicates abortion is as evil as it actually is, it would seem. By making this concession, the pro-life movement would lose the language battle, which is essential to changing the hearts and minds of the public.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Kimec on Marriage

Doug Kimec, a "Catholic" theologian famous for his dissent, has recently said that the state should stop issuing marriage licenses altogether, rather replacing them with something he would call "civil licenses". Article
Speaking to, Pepperdine University law professor Doug Kmiec said that although his solution to disputes over the definition of marriage might be “awkward,” it would “untie the state from this problem” by creating a new terminology that would apply to everyone, homosexual or not. “Call it a ‘civil license’,” he said.
A rose by any other name...

Kmiec argued “civil licenses” would address the question. He proposed the state withdraw from “the marriage business” and do licensing “under a different name” to satisfy government interests for purposes of taxation and property.

Under his proposal, “the question of who can and cannot be married would be entirely determined in your voluntarily chosen faith community,” he added, saying that the proposal would reaffirm the significance of marriage “as a religious concept,” which has a much fuller understanding than is found in civil marriage.

A civil marriage is a contractual agreement, essentially, and a Christian marriage is a Sacrament, this is true, but renaming the institution does not change, at essence, what it is. Many years ago, I decided that this was the ideal solution to the civil union/marriage disagreement. This opinion was inspired by my then secularism and libertarianism. I couldn't fathom what the problem would be with this solution, it was win-win. Churches could keep their marriages, homosexuals could get their civil unions, and we wouldn't have a separate but equal situation.

The question is, though, why does the government even recognize marriages in the first place; we must consider this and understand it before we can see the problems here. Married people get a tax break over two separate people, even if they live together. The tax break is given because the government wants to encourage marriage over just casual cohabitation. The institution of the family is, therefore, encouraged. This change, therefore, would shift the focus from the family to simply monogamous relationships, for which there is no necessary gender complementarity.

So, why is Kmiec wrong here? The Catechism says that "Homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered... Under no circumstances can they be approved." (CCC 2357) I seem to recall reading that the state had an obligation to protect marriage, though I can't find a reference. Either way, it is clear that a Catholic politician or theologian ought not support state policies which could be construed to support homosexual acts, at the very least.

This was not the best story to wake up to.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Catholic Court

So it would seem that President Obama wants to appoint another Catholic to the Supreme Court, which would give us a 6-3 majority, leaving only one protestant on the high court. It makes me wonder how it is possible with so many Catholics on the court that we still have federal legal protections of abortion.

It has made me want, like any good blogger, to comment on something I am neither qualified nor informed to.

Is it possible for a Catholic jurist in good standing to find a legal protection for abortion? It would seem to obviously violate natural moral law in all but the most difficult of cases. So then, let us consider some specific cases. Must a Catholic jurist in this country find in favor of abortion rights if they, for instance, serve on a lower court and are thus subject to the case law developed in Roe? What if they are on the Supreme Court itself; is it proper to vote against finding the right to abortion when Roe is established case law, or on the contrary, would it be improper to vote in favor of a Roe-like case?

I don't think a Catholic jurist could, in these situations given, vote in favor of Abortion rights. I'm not sure that recusal is in order, but careful consideration of the cases at hand must be undertaken to find justly in keeping with this country's legal system and the natural law. As a higher court justice, your primary consideration is usually seeing to the protection of the rights guaranteed by the constitution, which is normally called "interpretation". That natural law is foundational for our country was always assumed, and should be restored.

Again, I find the fact that we will have 6 Catholics (who must oppose abortion) 2 Jews (who, as I understand, really should oppose abortion) and one Protestant (without a Pope, who knows what they believe) on the High Court, and still have the decisions that stand.

Should Catholics on the Supreme Court be denied communion if they find for Abortion in their tenure? This, I think, is a much dicier issue than the question of legislators who make laws in favor of abortion. I do not think this possible action should be sought by the Bishops unless there is something very clearly written into one of their opinions which is obviously opposed to natural law, and a scandal. In that case, and perhaps only then, should this be considered for the justices on the court. I'm not even sure if it makes sense in that case either.

I believe this issue, regarding communion to justices and to politicians, will be important moving forward.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day

This is the day where we, in the United States, recall the memory of those who have served our country in the armed services, especially those who have died in the service of the country. It really is more than that, though, at least back home. My grandfather's grave, for instance, is covered in flowers this day, despite his never having served in the Armed Forces.

The phenomenon is a good one, I think. I don't mean to lessen the honor due those who have laid down their life in defense of the country. Those who did not serve in the armed forces did, in their own way, serve the country. My grandfather both volunteered and was drafted, and was turned away both times. His service, therefore, was as a mechanic, a father and a husband.

I don't know that the extending of this honor is universal, or if it is simply a local phenomenon, but it is essentially a secular "All Souls Day" with a special focus on those who gave their lives in the service of the country.

I find myself away from those who I would normally remember today, but the beauty of prayer is that it transcends space and time.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Christopher West Redox

Christopher West recently gave an interview on ABC's nightline in which he presented some of John Paul II's teaching of the Theology of the Body. The interview got a lot of bad press in the Catholic media, probably rightly so.

Christopher West claimed the interview was cut up and sensationalized by ABC and presented statements out of context. I don't doubt that, but I still think that some of those comments he made would be hard to contextualize and legitimize.

I want to preface my further comments by saying that I don't think I have read anything by Christopher West, though I have listened to a complete audio series of his.

I attempted, at one point, to read the Theology of the Body, but it was a bit too dense to absorb at the time, so I can see how people would want some guides and summaries to it. The problem lies in the fact that the teaching is so monumental that attempts to summarize will invariably water down, or otherwise not do justice to the teaching. I have been a bit leery about some of the things Christopher West has written, and am also a bit upset at the recent interview.

A theologian has recently came out with a statement calling into question Christopher West's theology. This statement seems to articulate many of the concerns I have had with this presentation of the Theology of the Body. He gives many examples of some of the more questionable of Christopher West's statements, but I'll get to the meat of the argument.

In sum, West's work provides a paradigm of what is most often criticized today in connection with John Paul II’s theology of the body–and rightly criticized, insofar as that theology is identified with West’s interpretation: namely, that it is too much about sex and too romantic.

West presents a problem for the Church, not because he lacks orthodox intentions, but because his unquestionably orthodox intentions render his theology, a priori, all the more credible. His work often deflects people from the beauty and depth of what is the authentic meaning of John Paul II's anthropology of love, and thus of what was wrought in and through the Second Vatican Council. It is scarcely the first time in the history of the Church that abundant good will did not suffice to make one's theology and vision of reality altogether true.

West has worked tirelessly on behalf of the Church. However, if his work is to bear the Catholic fruit he so ardently desires, he needs to subject basic aspects of his theology to renewed reflection.

The problem is twofold. First, sex sells. Second, the Church has many who don't agree or practice with the Church regarding her teaching on sexuality.

People want to hear about sex. If you put forward anything, laud it as the Church's endorsement of sex, no matter how accurate that claim, it will sell, and it will attract attention.

Also, there are many people who are not interested in following the Church's teachings on, for instance, contraception or premarital sexual relations. In this case, press surrounding this "Hugh Hefner is my hero," etc. can only serve to muddy the waters.

An authentic understanding of human sexuality does not need a list of do's and don'ts. In fact such a list is probably detrimental to authentic sexuality. I can imagine that most things on the list of acceptable behavior are surely not always acceptable, and it could just cause confusion. The focus of the Theology of the Body coverage needs to change from "the Church (now) says you can _____ with your spouse" to "authentic sexuality can be understood as..."

Or perhaps I'm just a prude.