Saturday, September 20, 2014

"I will die in bed": what Cardinal George really said

"I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square. His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history."

Friday, September 19, 2014

From Bishop Oster: no good to bend and twist Christ

It does no good to keep on collecting all and only those verses of the Gospel that might help a Church suffering from a loss of faith to bend and twist her Lord Jesus until he is so nice that he doesn't threaten those situations that the Scriptures continue to call sin. Yes, of course Jesus loves sinners, but He and His Father hate sin! And it does no good to eliminate or ignore those passages in which Jesus challenges us to assent to Him decisively, or those in which He appears as our Judge. Yes, Jesus loves us the way we are [...], but He does not want us to remain the way we are. [...] We too often forget that the revelation of the merciful Jesus did not simply abolish the law, but rather revealed that the giver of the law loves us with a love as deep as the abyss. And it is because He loves us that He challenges us with the at times rigorous demands of the law, so that we can learn to answer His love; just as a good father, precisely because he loves his children, sometimes has to be strict with them. [...] God wants to save us, all of us! But salvation is not automatic, and the constant witness of scripture is that we cannot be saved without conversion. As far as I can see, Bishop Bonny doesn't even mention conversion anymore. (Translation: Sacerdos Romanus)

Sunday, September 7, 2014

do not therefore in fear and terror flee back from the way of salvation of which the beginning cannot but be a narrow entrance.

Prologue to the Rule of our Holy Father Benedict. Continued We have therefore to establish a school of the Lord’s service, in the institution of which we hope we are going to establish nothing harsh, nothing burdensome. But if, prompted by the desire to attain to equity, anything be set forth somewhat strictly for the correction of vice or the preservation of charity, do not therefore in fear and terror flee back from the way of salvation of which the beginning cannot but be a narrow entrance. For it is by progressing in the life of conversion and faith that, with heart enlarged and in ineffable sweetness of love, one runs in the way of God’s commandments, so that never deserting His discipleship but persevering until death in His doctrine within the monastery, we may partake by patience in the suffering of Christ and become worthy inheritors of His kingdom. Amen.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Saint Augustine on Saint Monica's Alcoholism

Chapter 8. Of the Conversion of Evodius, and the Death of His Mother When Returning with Him to Africa; And Whose Education He Tenderly Relates.

17. You, who makest men to dwell of one mind in a house, associated with us Evodius also, a young man of our city, who, when serving as an agent for Public Affairs, was converted unto You andbaptized prior to us; and relinquishing his secularservice, prepared himself for Yours. We were together, and together were we about to dwell with a holy purpose. We sought for some place where we might be most useful in our service to You, and were going back together to Africa. And when we were at the Tiberine Ostia my mother died. Much I omit, having much to hasten. Receive my confessions and thanksgivings, O myGod, for innumerable things concerning which I am silent. But I will not omit anything that mysoul has brought forth as to that Your handmaid who brought me forth—in her flesh, that I might be born to this temporal light, and in her heart, that I might be born to life eternal. I will speak not of her gifts, but Yours in her; for she neither made herself nor educated herself. You createdher, nor did her father nor her mother know what a being was to proceed from them. And it was the rod of Your Christ, the discipline of Your only Son, that trained her in Your fear, in the house of one of Your faithful ones, who was a sound member of Your Church. Yet this good discipline did she not so much attribute to the diligence of her mother, as that of a certain decrepid maid-servant, who had carried about her father when an infant, as little ones are wont to be carried on the backs of elder girls. For which reason, and on account of her extreme age and very good character, was she much respected by the heads of that Christianhouse. Whence also was committed to her the care of her master's daughters, which she with diligence performed, and was earnest in restraining them when necessary, with a holyseverity, and instructing them with a sober sagacity. For, excepting at the hours in which they were very temperately fed at their parents' table, she used not to permit them, though parched with thirst, to drink even water; thereby taking precautions against an evil custom, and adding the wholesome advice, You drink water only because you have not control of wine; but when you have come to be married, and made mistresses of storeroom and cellar, you willdespise water, but the habit of drinking willremain. By this method of instruction, and power of command, she restrained the longing of their tender age, and regulated the very thirst of the girls to such a becoming limit, as that what was not seemly they did not long for.
18. And yet— as Your handmaid related to me, her son— there had stolen upon her a love ofwine. For when she, as being a sober maiden, was as usual bidden by her parents to draw wine from the cask, the vessel being held under the opening, before she poured the wine into the bottle, she would wet the tips of her lips with a little, for more than that her inclination refused. For this she did not from any craving for drink, but out of the overflowing buoyancy of her time of life, which bubbles up with sportiveness, and is, in youthfulspirits, wont to be repressed by the gravity of elders. And so unto that little, adding daily littles (for he that despises small things shall fall little by little), she contracted such a habit as, to drink off eagerly her little cup nearly full of wine. Where, then, was the sagacious old woman with her earnest restraint? Could anything prevail against a secret disease if Your medicine, O Lord, did not watch over us? Father, mother, andnurturers absent, Thou present, who hast created, who callest, who also by those who are set over us work some good for the salvation of our souls, what did Thou do at that time, O my God? How did You heal her? How did You make her whole? Did You not out of another woman's soul evoke a hard and bitter insult, as a surgeon's knife from Your secret store, and with one thrust remove all that putrefaction? For the maidservant who used to accompany her to the cellar, falling out, as it happens, with her little mistress, when she was alone with her, cast in her teeth this vice, with very bitter insult, calling her a wine-bibber.Stung by this taunt, she perceived her foulness, and immediately condemned and renounced it. Even as friends by their flattery pervert, so do enemies by their taunts often correct us. Yet You render not unto them what You do by them, but what was proposed by them. For she, beingangry, desired to irritate her young mistress, not to cure her; and did it in secret, either because the time and place of the dispute found them thus, or perhaps lest she herself should be exposed to danger for disclosing it so late. But You, Lord, Governor of heavenly and earthly things, who convertest to Your purposes thedeepest torrents, and disposest the turbulent current of the ages, healest one soul by the unsoundness of another; lest any man, when he remarks this, should attribute it unto his own power if another, whom he wishes to be reformed, is so through a word of his.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The natural and supernatural "Keys to the Kingdom"

Today in the Gospel we hear again the beautiful and consoling words by which the Lord consigns a gift to Peter and his successors for the benefit of us all: the "Keys of the Kingdom". We learn that these "keys" open the doors of heaven to us because of the grace of the sacramental life made possible through Christ in the Church.

In the Church we are able to have our sins forgiven, "unbound", through the ministry of Peter and of all men who share the priesthood with him. Thus, the priesthood which Christ confers through apostolic succession is a source of supernatural life.

Supernatural life, the grace of eternal life or salvation, is important we all agree. But it would not do us any good without a prior gift: natural life. So, there is another gift that must be conferred first, that made possible through our parents: they are "key" to the process by which children gain access to the Kingdom in Christ.

We have seen in recent days the unbreakable faith of Catholics and other Christians in Iraq and other places in the Middle East. Parents have led their children into exile away from the safety and security of their homes and everything familiar in order to lead them to the Lord. These parents are also a kind of "keys to the kingdom" who enable their children to receive the gifts of the Lord.

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Parents give life: because closest to God for children on earth, powerful leading them to God in heaven as family worships Sundays together.
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Parents give life: because they do they are the closest to God for children on earth, and thus have a powerful role leading them to God because of the indispensable witness they provide as they lead their children to heaven most importantly by worshiping together with them on the Lord's Day.

All of our families faced challenges to the faith which must be overcome by the leadership of our parents if our children are to know and love the Lord by practicing their faith throughout life. Parents are the keys to the kingdom when they:

- lead their children to Sunday Mass despite distractions, opportunities to work, and childish disobedience
- ensure their children receive adequate education through Faith Formation
- get to Confession at a minimum in case of mortal sin
- prayer in the home which is grounded in and leads to Eucharistic devotion and reception on Sundays, holy days and at other times.

The life story of James Foley, the journalist who was brutally killed by evil men in Iraq this week, is an example of the ways in which parents are "key" for their children to the life of the Kingdom.

James learned, and was inspired to pray the rosary during a period of earlier captivity, because of the example of parents and grandparents. The natural relationship with these witnesses of faith were the keys of the kingdom for James in a most difficult period when he did not have access to the ordinary means of grace, through Peter and apostolic succession as all of us are able to here today, in the holy Mass, Confession and the other sacraments. He describes the experience of following the example of his family by praying:

“If nothing else, prayer was the glue that enabled my freedom, an inner freedom first and later the miracle of being released during a war in which the regime had no real incentive to free us. It didn’t make sense, but faith did.”

Let us pray for and support all of our parents, the natural "keys to the kingdom" for all of our children and families.

Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Sharing violent images and videos on social media: a "social sin"?

What is our responsibility in the use of social media? As moral agents and Christians are we called to moral discernment as to whether we choose to view, use and share videos and images that portray violence? Should we take into account our cooperation in the immoral manipulation and violation of human beings and the dignity of others on social media?

"Thus sin makes men accomplices of one another and causes concupiscence, violence, and injustice to reign among them. Sins give rise to social situations and institutions that are contrary to the divine goodness. "Structures of sin" are the expression and effect of personal sins. They lead their victims to do evil in their turn. In an analogous sense, they constitute a 'social sin.' "CCC 1869

We are meant by God to see and do good. Perhaps our choice to view violence and share it could be added to examination of conscience and confessed when necessary.

The power of social media confers responsibility as well as privilege.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Statement of Cardinal Wuerl on Persecution of Christians, Religious Minorities in Iraq

Dear Friends,
Every day we learn more about the atrocities perpetrated against Christians, Yezidis and others in Iraq and other parts of the Middle East.  It is almost incomprehensible that today, in organized military action, Muslim extremists are torturing and killing innocent unarmed women and children, attempting forced conversions to Islam and inflicting every type of inhumanity on fellow human beings, including crucifixion.
In light of this growing crisis, Pope Francis and agencies of the Holy See, together with other religious leaders, have been increasingly insistent in their calls for peace and for humanitarian response to the new waves of refugees fleeing terror and death.  Yesterday, our Holy Father wrote to Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, saying that the situation “cannot but awaken the consciences of all men and women of goodwill to concrete acts of solidarity by protecting those affected or threatened by violence and assuring the necessary and urgent assistance for the many displaced people as well as their safe return to their cities and their homes.”
Earlier this week, the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue said that followers of all religions and all men and women of goodwill could only “unambiguously denounce and condemn these practices which bring shame on humanity.” As reported by the world media, the long list of atrocities includes: the despicable practice of beheading and hanging bodies in public places; the choice imposed on Christians and Yezidis of conversion to Islam, the payment of a “jizya” tax, forced exile or death; the forced expulsion of tens of thousands of people, including children, elderly, pregnant women and the sick; the abduction of girls and women belonging to the Yezidi and Christian communities as spoils of war; and the list goes on.   No cause, and certainly no religion, can justify such barbarity. 
Pope Francis has spoken out often to demonstrate his closeness to the Iraqi population, especially those who have been severely affected by the continuing conflict and are in dire need of help and encouragement.  Recently he also met with Cardinal Fernando Filoni, his personal envoy to Iraq, and gave him a significant sum of money to be used for urgent assistance to the people who have been most severely affected.  This is a concrete sign of the Pope’s concern in responding to this dramatic situation. 
Members of the Christian community, including the Catholic Church and the World Council of Churches, are taking a strong stand in defense of the Iraqi Christians and their right to survive and to live in peace in their own homes, where for the last 2,000 years they have been active and contributing to the development of the region. In the face of this systematic, organized and well-funded push by extremists to drive Christians and others from their homes, none of us can remain idle bystanders, whatever one’s religious beliefs.
People of faith turn to God in prayer on behalf of all of those who are suffering so much in this present crisis.  The Archdiocese of Washington will hold a special Mass for peace tomorrow, August 15, at the Cathedral of Saint Matthew the Apostle, and host aninterfaith service later that day at the Saint John Paul II National Shrine.  At the request of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, local Catholics will join in a national day of prayer for peace in Iraq this Sunday.
In addition to prayer, we can support the work of groups like Catholic Relief Servicesand the Knights of Columbus to provide humanitarian relief to displaced Iraqi families, including emergency food, water and bedding, and planning in the longer term for resettlement needs.
We all need to raise our voices in an expression of human solidarity, calling on allpeople of goodwill to recognize this overwhelming human tragedy, to speak out against it.  We urge the international community to stir itself to find ways to protect the innocent.  And we implore the changing of hearts so that in that troubled part of the world toleration and religious freedom become accepted characteristics of whatever political order is established.
Peace can only come when there is mutual toleration among and between differing religious and political groups, and when there is the recognition of religious freedom, religious liberty.  The branding of people, their religious heritage and ethnic backgrounds as “enemies” only fosters the intolerance that leads to hatred and that breeds violence.
Christians realize that true peace can only come out of hearts possessed of God’s grace and love, even while, as disciples of Christ, we also clearly recognize the right and sometimes the obligation to defend ourselves and others from unjust aggression, especially the weak and innocent.  In working for genuine peace, our hearts must be touched with compassion and courage.  We mustnever allow violence, extremism, intolerance and hatred to infect us and our response to it.
Our prayers, material assistance and united voices are a sign of our communion with all those in Iraq who suffer so cruelly at the hands of these extremists.  Today let us join together in making another impassioned appeal that the whole world raise up with one voice a cry for peace, religious liberty, toleration and security in Iraq and throughout the region.  Those who are being assailed are no strangers, they are our brothers and sisters, children of God, and they need our help.     
With every good wish, I am                                
                                                                               Faithfully in Christ,

                                                                               Donald Cardinal Wuerl
                                                                               Archbishop of Washington


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