Friday, September 30, 2011

US: military chaplains may perform same-sex unions

US: military chaplains may perform same-sex unions

Benedict XVI: "Are we to yield to the pressure of secularization, and become modern by watering down the faith?"

The second challenge to worldwide Christianity of which I wish to speak is more profound and in our country more controversial: the secularized context of the world in which we Christians today have to live and bear witness to our faith. God is increasingly being driven out of our society, and the history of revelation that Scripture recounts to us seems locked into an ever more remote past. Are we to yield to the pressure of secularization, and become modern by watering down the faith? Naturally faith today has to be thought out afresh, and above all lived afresh, so that it is suited to the present day. Yet it is not by watering the faith down, but by living it today in its fullness that we achieve this. This is a key ecumenical task in which we have to help one another: developing a deeper and livelier faith. It is not strategy that saves us and saves Christianity, but faith – thought out and lived afresh; through such faith, Christ enters this world of ours, and with him, the living God. As the martyrs of the Nazi era brought us together and prompted that great initial ecumenical opening, so today, faith that is lived from deep within amid a secularized world is the most powerful ecumenical force that brings us together, guiding us towards unity in the one Lord. And we pray to him, asking that we may learn to live the faith anew, and that in this way we may then become one.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Vocation Thursdays: Full Text of Pope's Address to Seminarians in Freiburg

“In preparing for the priesthood, study is very much a part of the journey. This is not an academic accident that has arisen in the western Church, it is something essential. We all know that St. Peter said: "Always be prepared to make a defence to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you" (1 Pet 3:15). Our world today is a rationalist and thoroughly scientific world, albeit often somewhat pseudo-scientific. But this scientific spirit, this spirit of understanding, explaining, know-how, rejection of the irrational, is dominant in our time. There is a good side to this, even if it often conceals much arrogance and nonsense. The faith is not a parallel world of feelings that we can still afford to hold on to, rather it is the key that encompasses everything, gives it meaning, interprets it and also provides its inner ethical orientation: making clear that it is to be understood and lived as tending towards God and proceeding from God. Therefore it is important to be informed and to understand, to have an open mind, to learn.”


click the link.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

USCCB Media Blog: Roman Missal: Two Months and Counting

USCCB Media Blog: Roman Missal: Two Months and Counting: On November 27, the First Sunday of Advent, the Roman Missal, Third Edition , the ritual text containing prayers and instructions ...

Pope Benedict on ecumenism and Christian unity: "A self-made faith is worthless"

Prior to my visit there was some talk of an “ecumenical gift” which was expected from such a visit. There is no need for me to specify the gifts mentioned in this context. Here I would only say that, in most of its manifestations, this reflects a political misreading of faith and of ecumenism. In general, when a Head of State visits a friendly country, contacts between the various parties take place beforehand to arrange one or more agreements between the two states: by weighing respective benefits and drawbacks a compromise is reached which in the end appears beneficial for both parties, so that a treaty can then be signed. But the faith of Christians does not rest on such a weighing of benefits and drawbacks. A self-made faith is worthless. Faith is not something we work out intellectually and negotiate between us. It is the foundation for our lives. Unity grows not by the weighing of benefits and drawbacks but only by entering ever more deeply into the faith in our thoughts and in our lives.

Church of the former Augustinian Convent, ErfurtFriday, 23 September 2011

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Benedict XVI arrives in Freiburg: about handshaking between brothers

I do realize that Germans have a slightly "cooler" approach to expression of affection, but does the shaking of hands in this context speak of brotherhood in the Faith, of the fraternity shared by priests, of the love of a member of the Christian faithful who welcome's the Lord's Vicar on Earth? Take a look at the video clicking the link below and decide for yourself ...

Video of arrival of Benedict XVI at Catholic cathedral in Freiburg


Monday, September 26, 2011

Dead Sea "E-Scrolls": The Digital Dead Sea Scrolls now on line

Abir Sultan / EPA
Dr. Adolfo Roitman analyzes the original Isaiah scroll at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, Israel, on Monday, Sept. 26.

An new project has made the Dead Sea scrolls on line. Learn more by licking here.

Benedict XVI on the saints

The saints show us that it is truly possible and good to live our relationship with God in a radical way, to put him in first place, not as one concern among others. The saints help us to see that God first reached out to us, he revealed and continues to reveal himself to us in Jesus Christ. Christ comes towards us, he speaks to every individual with an invitation to follow him. This was an opportunity that the saints acted on, they as it were reached out to him from deep within themselves in the ongoing dialogue of prayer, and in return they received from him the light that shows where true life is to be found.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Libations with Phil Johnson

Seminarian Phil Johnson and I are toasting his health on a recent visit. I think that was water in his glass, if I remember correctly.

Slainte, Salute and cheers, Phil!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Sunday 26A. "Turn away from sins": God undoes the effects of evil through the healing and new life of forgiving love

"... if he turns from the wickedness he has committed, he does what is right and just, he shall preserve his life; since he has turned away from all the sins that he has committed, he shall surely live, he shall not die."

It takes humility to put God back in the driver's seat. But humility comes only through freedom, the ability to turn ourselves over in trust to another.

The other day I drove my mother to the doctor and, just like most passengers she cannot read my mind and know my thoughts as I make decisions about acceleration and braking. It didn't help her sense of confidence that we passed a couple of accidents along the way. Periodically her hands would go up in simulated self-protection as I braked in a way probably differently than she would have chosen to do had she been driving and had faced a similar situation.

We have all been faced with the challenge of being a passenger. Some of us by becoming, as humorously labeled, "backseat drivers", and called this because we are unable to really turn over the decision-making for the safety and well-being of everyone in the car, including ourselves, to the only one who is really in charge: the man or woman with their hands on the wheel.

This week in Germany we have seen a man, advanced in years, humbly approach a people who are afraid he came into their midst to take away their freedom, their future, their fulfillment. But his humble presence speaks so profoundly of his own sense of freedom and confidence in God made possible by faith that many critics and nay-sayers have not only been silenced but have instead responded with enthusiastic acceptance of him and his message, no longer throwing up their hands in fear that he wants to take over the wheel and reduce their sense of freedom and self-determination.

For the full text of the homily for the Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time visit Meeting Christ in the Liturgy by clicking here.

What God "feels" like

What should it "feel" like to know God is near us, with us, in us? Something wonderful because strange, new and fleeting, imagining as we do that it must be so for a God who is far away and different and beyond all that we are?

No. God feels like you, with all that is mundane, and usual and quotidian. Jesus Christ, God and man, has made all that we are necessary in order to draw near to, know and love God.


Friday, September 23, 2011

Benedict in Germany: "for the fundamental issues of law, in which the dignity of man and of humanity is at stake, the majority is not enough"

"Yet it is evident that for the fundamental issues of law, in which the dignity of man and of humanity is at stake, the majority principle is not enough..."

"In its self-proclaimed exclusivity, the positivist reason which recognizes nothing beyond mere functionality resembles a concrete bunker with no windows, in which we ourselves provide lighting and atmospheric conditions, being no longer willing to obtain either from God’s wide world. And yet we cannot hide from ourselves the fact that even in this artificial world, we are still covertly drawing upon God’s raw materials, which we refashion into our own products. The windows must be flung open again, we must see the wide world, the sky and the earth once more and learn to make proper use of all this.
But how are we to do this? How do we find our way out into the wide world, into the big picture? How can reason rediscover its true greatness, without being sidetracked into irrationality? How can nature reassert itself in its true depth, with all its demands, with all its directives? I would like to recall one of the developments in recent political history, hoping that I will neither be misunderstood, nor provoke too many one-sided polemics. I would say that the emergence of the ecological movement in German politics since the 1970s, while it has not exactly flung open the windows, nevertheless was and continues to be a cry for fresh air which must not be ignored or pushed aside, just because too much of it is seen to be irrational. Young people had come to realize that something is wrong in our relationship with nature, that matter is not just raw material for us to shape at will, but that the earth has a dignity of its own and that we must follow its directives. In saying this, I am clearly not promoting any particular political party – nothing could be further from my mind. If something is wrong in our relationship with reality, then we must all reflect seriously on the whole situation and we are all prompted to question the very foundations of our culture. Allow me to dwell a little longer on this point. The importance of ecology is no longer disputed. We must listen to the language of nature and we must answer accordingly. Yet I would like to underline a further point that is still largely disregarded, today as in the past: there is also an ecology of man. Man too has a nature that he must respect and that he cannot manipulate at will. Man is not merely self-creating freedom. Man does not create himself. He is intellect and will, but he is also nature, and his will is rightly ordered if he listens to his nature, respects it and accepts himself for who he is, as one who did not create himself. In this way, and in no other, is true human freedom fulfilled.Let us come back to the fundamental concepts of nature and reason, from which we set out. The great proponent of legal positivism, Kelsen, at the age of 84 – in 1965 – abandoned the dualism of “is” and “ought”. He had said that norms can only come from the will. Nature therefore could only contain norms if a will had put them there. But this would presuppose a Creator God, whose will had entered into nature. “Any attempt to discuss the truth of this belief is utterly futile”, he observed. Is it really? – I find myself asking. Is it really pointless to wonder whether the objective reason that manifests itself in nature does not presuppose a creative reason, a Creator Spiritus?"

For the full text of Pope Benedict's address to the German parliament click here.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

CATHOLICISM Series Premieres on Maryland Public TV tonight


Catholicism Series Premieres Across the Country this Fall

Father Robert Barron will present the story of the Catholic Church on public television.

For information on Maryland Public TV programming of The Catholicism Series click here.

September 19, 2011: Catholicism, a multi-part documentary series, will air in over 80 public television markets across the country this Fall. The stations will broadcast four of the ten episodes, premiering in the nation's capital next week. Viewers in Washington, DC and Maryland can see Catholicism on Maryland Public Television (MPT) September 22nd and 29th from 8-10 pm EST.

Catholicism illustrates the history and treasures of a global religion shared by more than one billion people around the world. The series, hosted by Father Robert Barron, is filmed in stunning high-definition and spans more than 50 locations in 15 countries.

Catholicism is fascinating television. This series will be of great interest to viewers who want a better understanding of the impact and meaning this faith continues to have throughout the World,” said Dan Soles, WTTW s Senior Vice President and Chief Television Content Officer. “I am pleased and honored that this production has a home with WTTW and that public television stations around the country will broadcast this important work,” he added....

View the press release
Catholicism Series Premieres Across the Country this Fall
Father Robert Barron will present the story of the Catholic Church on public television.

Father Robert Barron, the Francis Cardinal George Professor of Faith and Culture at Mundelein Seminary and a priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago, is the creator and host of the series. The executive producer is acclaimed filmmaker Mike Leonard, a veteran correspondent for NBC‘s Today show and producer of the popular public television series Ride of Our Lives. Together, Fr. Barron and Leonard spent two years traveling the world with a crew of seasoned network television producers.

"The filming of the Catholicism series was one of the most exciting and rewarding periods of my life,” said Fr. Barron. “Our team traveled the globe to capture some of the beauty, truth, and texture of Catholicism. I am thrilled that people across the country will have the opportunity to share in the series, and I hope to engage the imaginations of both Catholics and non-Catholics.“

“This series changed the way I think and act. The global settings were stunning, but it was Fr. Barron’s brilliant insights on life s most challenging issues that shook me to the core,“ admitted Mike Leonard. “Whatever your belief or background, there is much to gain from this deep and profound excursion into spirituality, logic and the human experience,” he added.

In this sweeping documentary, Father Barron tells the story of Catholicism around the world using art, architecture, literature, music and all the riches of the Catholic tradition. The production crew travels to some of the most magnificent and sacred sites in Jerusalem, Rome, Krakow, Warsaw, New York, Istanbul, Ephesus, Lourdes, Mexico City, Athens, Corinth, Mexico City, Uganda, Manila, Sao Paolo, Auschwitz, Kolkata, Philadelphia, Chicago, and beyond.

The team was granted exclusive access to film privately in many locations inaccessible to the general public. Highlights include some of the world s architectural and artistic masterpieces and most sacred places: The Dome of The Rock, the Hagia Sophia, the tomb of Mother Teresa, The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, rare views of the Pantheon, St. Peter s Basilica, the Sistine Chapel and the Pope s private gardens, Chartres, Notre Dame, and Cologne Cathedrals, as well as one of the largest religious celebrations on the planet the feast of the Ugandan martyrs.

Public television stations across the country including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Philadelphia will locally air four 60-minute episodes of the series: Amazed and Afraid:The Revelation of God Become Man, The Ineffable Mystery of God: That Than Which Nothing Greater Can Be Thought, Our Tainted Nature s Solitary Boast: Mary, the Mother of God, and The Indispensable Men: Peter, Paul and the Missionary Adventure.

In conjunction with the series, Father Barron has written a new 300 page book, Catholicism, published by Image Books/Doubleday (Random House) and Word on Fire is also a study program available with a comprehensive workbook written by Carl Olson. These are all now available for RCIA, Adult Education, schools, and parishes.

Funding for Catholicism was provided by private donors worldwide. This is a production of Word On Fire Catholic Ministries in partnership with Picture Show Films.

About Fr. Robert Barron: An acclaimed author, speaker, and theologian from Western Springs, Illinois, Fr. Robert Barron is also the founder of Word On Fire, a global, non-profit media group. He is the Francis Cardinal George Professor of Faith and Culture at Mundelein Seminary near Chicago. Ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago in 1986, Fr. Barron has published numerous books, essays, and DVD programs. He is a frequent commentator on faith and culture for The Chicago Tribune, NBC Nightly News, FOX News, Our Sunday Visitor, The Catholic Herald in London, The Washington Post, CNN and The Catholic New World. He lectures extensively in the United States and abroad, including the Pontifical North American College at the Vatican and the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome. Fr. Barron received a Master's Degree in Philosophy from the Catholic University of America and a doctorate in Sacred Theology from the Institut Catholique de Paris. Cardinal Francis George calls Father Barron one of the Church's best messengers.

Get ready for Christmas, send cards that empower the poor!

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Vocation Thursdays: Bishop defends celibacy against criticism over lack of vocations

Madrid, Spain, Sep 8, 2011 / 10:17 am (CNA).- Bishop Vicente Jimenez of Santander, Spain recently said he is confident that abolishing celibacy is not the answer to overcoming the lack of vocations to the priesthood.

A report published Sept. 6 by highlighted Bishop Jimenez’s defense of priestly celibacy. “This is the pastor of a diocese with few priests (315 responsible for 615 parishes, with 103 priests over the retirement age of 75) and a priestly ordination calendar that is not very full: only 10 candidates at the major seminary and three at the minor.”

In an interview with the newspaper Montanes, Bishop Jimenez acknowledged that the lack of vocations in his diocese is “troubling” but said he does not believe the solution is to make things easier for priests. “A vocation should be demanding and undiluted,” he said. “There are some voices that say that if we do away with celibacy and allow priests to marry there would be more. I don’t believe it.”

To read the rest please click here.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Tell Federal Government to Respect Religious Freedom in Health Care Reform

Take Action!
Comment Period Ends September 30

Issue: Our religious liberty is being threatened by the US Department of Health and Human Services, which is mandating that all private health insurance plans cover surgical sterilization procedures and birth control, including the IUD, 'morning-after' pills and abortion-inducing drugs. It also would require that females of reproductive age be 'educated and counseled' on these issues.

HHS is accepting public comments on its proposed regulations until September 30. This move is part of the Department's efforts to enact the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

This mandate even forces individuals and groups with religious or moral objections to purchase and provide such coverage if they are to receive or provide health coverage at all. This poses an unprecedented threat to individual and institutional religious freedom. What are missing are any real opt-outs for the Catholic Church and other religious institutions to not offer health insurance with these mandates. And what about the individual who does not want to contribute to these procedures?

Maryland's Bishops have written Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and their letter is posted on the Conference's website, along with other information on health care.

Action: Submit your written comments urging that the sweeping contraceptive mandate to be removed.

Please send an e-mail message to HHS through the NCHLA Grassroots Action Center. Click HERE.

Personal comments can be added. All comments and information submitted to HHS will be made available online. NCHLA will forward only your name (first and last) and your message.


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Monday, September 19, 2011

Angel Falls, Maine: "like a tree that is planted beside the flowing waters"

Happy indeed is the man who follows not the counsel of the wicked;
nor lingers in the way of sinners nor sits in the company of scorners,
but whose delight is the law of the Lord
and who ponders his law day and night.

He is like a tree that is planted beside the flowing waters,
that yields its fruit in due season and whose leaves never fade;
and all that he does shall prosper.

-- Psalm 1

Photo: Thanks to Girod family

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Peters pontificates on the Pavone predicament

Some non-canonical reactions to Fr. Pavone’s latest statement
by Edward N. Peters, JD, JCD

Fr. Pavone has issued another statement. It’s pretty clear that he is not getting, or is not heeding, advice to step out of the limelight. Whatever, I find his latest remarks troubling, not so much canonically this time (although there are worrisome signs there), but more for what they indicate about Pavone’s person and direction.

I write here, then, not as a canonist, but as a reasonably intelligent Catholic man, about the same age as Fr. Pavone, sharing the same Creed and sacraments and pope, familiar with pro-life work, who has worked with clergy and seminarians most of his adult life.

Pavone writes, I think, from the heart. I will too. Excerpts from Pavone's text in italics, my reactions in regular type.

Well, friends, here in Amarillo I am working hard at my computer on various pro-life projects as I await further instructions from the diocese. Nothing yet…

Nothing? What’s that mean? Does a young, healthy priest, in his home diocese, with full faculties for ordained ministry therein, really need to be told what to do with a large, unexpected block of time? If so, I have some suggestions.

Besides engaging in the “period of prayer and reflection” to which you were directed, how about offering to cover some masses for your over-stretched diocesan brothers who are saying two, three (and, shhh!, sometimes four) masses a day for the local faithful? Or how about slipping, a la John Paul II, into a parish confessional for a few extra hours each day to tend whatever souls God might send you? If the liturgical or sacramental work of a secular priest is not your forte, maybe you could visit your elderly and infirm brothers, or fill relief boxes at a community shelter and share some moments with people in need. Would the daily grind of tending souls ransomed by Christ, but at such grave risk in this world, be such a poor use of your time?

Read the rest by clicking here.

Sunday 25A. "Are you envious?": we share in the love and joy of God when we imitate His generosity

Often in the early Church people would wait for the end of life to receive Baptism in order to reduce the possibility of losing the gift of salvation through serious sin. Today people often pray that others who have left the Church or lost their faith will have the grace of a "deathbed conversion". These practices and more all presume the love of God and his generous desire to forgive sins through His infinite mercy.

The Gospel story of the hired hands speaks of God's reward for each of us and His indifference as to whether we came early or late to answer His call for work in the vineyard. He gives salvation to all who come to him, whether early and throughout life in perseverance or late, perhaps even in one's last days on earth.

Some of the characters in the story react negatively to the treatment of the late-comers. God responds by naming them "envious" and proclaims Himself "generous". Something is revealed both about God and about us in this parable.

Can someone really have a death bed conversion? Yes: God's mercy is infinite and offered to all. There is no sin He will not forgive and there is no "expiration date" on the coupon He offers in generous love to all mankind. One reasonably sees, however, that only with a very heroic cooperation with God's grace would it be possible to turn definitively away from a lifetime of indifference to God and, perhaps, serious sin.

Visit Meeting Christ in the Liturgy for the full text of the homily for 25th Sunday by clicking here.

Friday, September 16, 2011

From Bishop Knestout: Call to Action! - A Federal Challenge to Religious Liberty

A Federal Challenge to Religious Liberty

Dear Friends,
Recently, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) proposed a regulation that presents an unprecedented challenge to religious liberty. The public comment period on this rule ends September 30, and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is encouraging Catholics to send an e-mail message to HHS urging our government leaders to ensure that such federal regulations do not violate Americans' moral and religious convictions.
In implementing the new health care reform law, HHS issued a rule that would require private health care plans nationwide to cover contraception and sterilization as "preventive services" for women. The mandate includes abortificients, which have the capacity to terminate a pregnancy in its early weeks. Never before has the federal government required private health plans to include such coverage.
The exception for religious institutions is so narrow that it covers almost no one. The proposed religious exemption would apply only to those institutions that primarily serve members of their faith community, exclude those of other faiths from their employment and focus solely on the inculcation of their religious beliefs.
For Catholic institutions this would mean that religious liberty is applicable only if a Catholic school, hospital or social service program hires primarily Catholics, serves primarily Catholics, and attempts to convert to Catholicism anyone who seeks these services. Yet through our schools, our hospitals and our vast array of social service programs, the Catholic Church, like most other religious organizations, serves all those who come to us in need and welcomes people of all faiths to our employment whenever possible. This new mandate would severely impede our ability to freely practice our religious beliefs in service to our neighbors. Most Catholic charitable institutions that serve the public would be ineligible for the exemption, in which case they either would be forced to provide health care coverage of drugs and procedures to which they have a moral objection or decline to offer health benefits to their employees.
I hope you will send your comments to HHS by the September 30 deadline to discourage this onerous infringement on religious freedom.
Thank you for your kind consideration of this request.

Sincerely in Christ,

Most Reverend Barry C. Knestout

Auxiliary Bishop of Washington

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Abp Dolan homily at Sambi Memorial Mass: "As long as the cross is on our heart, nothing else really makes any difference."

From Archbishop Dolan's homily at the Memorial Mass for Archbishop Sambi:

"Friends in faith and prayer:

If I am not mistaken, it was at the installation of Peter Christensen as bishop of Superior, Wisconsin…

As Metropolitan Archbishop of Milwaukee I was with our still relatively new apostolic nuncio, Pietro Sambi, vesting before the Mass. When we joined the other bishops to vest, he asked me if we bishops here in America wore our pectoral cross on the inside or outside of the chasuble. I replied “Eccellenza, as a matter of fact, all the bishops will watch to see what you do and then follow suit!”

His eyes sparkled and he said, “Then I will keep changing it back and forth to confuse everybody.”

Then he commented, “As long as it is over our heart, it does not really make any difference.”

As long as the cross is on our heart, nothing else really makes any difference.

“We adore Thee, O Christ, and we praise Thee! Because by Thy Holy Cross Thou hast redeemed the World.”

For full text of Abp Dolan's homily click here.

Click here to watch the Mass streaming live.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Vocation Thursdays: Carter Griffin Presbyterian convert and priest

Father Carter Griffin is a priest of the Archdiocese of Washington, DC. Raised Presbyterian, he converted to Catholicism while attending Princeton University.

by Fr. Carter Griffin

My big mistake was attending a Catholic Mass. It began innocently enough, visiting a Catholic friend who attended a southern university, a young woman that I wanted to impress by my large-minded desire to go to church with her. But my life has never been the same since that April Sunday of 1992. The next day, returning to New Jersey where I attended college, I had eight hours to ponder the experience of that Mass. It had made an indelible impression, and upon returning to the dormitory I asked a Catholic friend of mine to take me to his parish priest. I had some questions that needed answering.

I grew up in a Presbyterian family, fairly consistent churchgoers, and I had always harbored an interest in religion. My father's business took us abroad when I was very young, and most of my childhood was spent living in countries in Latin America. Most of my friends who were "serious" about religion were in fact Catholic, so I grew up touched by a favorable view of the Church. When we lived in Brazil, I attended an English-speaking Catholic school, and I vividly recall being one of the few children who were not able to receive Holy Communion during our weekly Mass. It was that hunger to receive Our Lord that would one day blossom into the grace of conversion and the faith to believe in the Real Presence of the Eucharist.

By the time I reached college, however, I suppose that I was a typical product of our age: ambitious for worldly gain and pleasure, friendly, noncommittal, non-dogmatic, tolerant to a fault, ignorant of supernatural realities, numb to the movement of the Holy Spirit. All things considered, I may not have been a great sinner, but neither was I remotely interested in becoming a saint. I was, in other words, your average "nice guy." Then came that unforgettable experience of Mass.

After that initial impetus, there was nothing very theatrical in my path to conversion. My life continued as normal, but peppered by moments of insight. Many of these experiences were triggered by my reading. Having spoken to my friend's parish priest, I began to read a great deal, and I found that many of my presumptions about Catholicism, about its beliefs, practices, and history, were inaccurate and often plainly wrong and unfair. Much to my surprise, I found that Catholics did not, in fact, worship Mary; that children whose only fault is being unborn nonetheless have a right to live; that Catholic history is not a swath of benighted ignorance punctuated by moments of light, but rather a fantastically rich and diverse and proud affirmation of goodness and beauty, shadowed only by the human frailty that we all share.

As my "myth busting" reading continued, I found that these and my other prejudices, never before questioned, began to waver, then sway, then collapse. Each time, my presumed conviction in what I held became less strident, until one day I realized that I was approaching a topic in reverse: where my views differed from that of the Church, I expected the Church to be right, and me to be wrong. That's when I thought to myself with wonder, "I can't believe it. I think it's all true!" The irony of those words didn't hit me at the time, because of course it was precisely then that I could believe it! I entered the program of formation (the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) at the parish church, and several months later, at the Easter Vigil of 1993, I was received into the full communion of the Catholic Church and Confirmed.

During this period of preparation, I will never forget one of my talks with the priest who eventually brought me into the Church. As I was preparing to leave, he casually remarked that, after my conversion, God may ask still "more" of me. That is – and I fully understood what he meant – God may ask me to be a priest. I mumbled an answer, and left feeling a bit resentful that he had placed such a burden on me, before I was even a Catholic! It was not the sort of thing that nice, non-committal people like myself would ever dream of doing to another human being! How little I knew, how little I understood the depth of his charity for me. And how grateful I am today for that priest's courage; though he has now gone to the Lord, every day I pray for him in thanksgiving. In fact, ten years after his unwelcome suggestion, he vested me as a deacon in St. Peter's Basilica.

Upon finishing college, I entered Officer Candidate School and began a four-year stint in the Navy, where I served on a cruiser and a destroyer in the Atlantic Fleet. Fortunately, at college I had met some wonderful Catholics in Opus Dei who encouraged me to foster a life of prayer, ongoing reception of the sacraments, spiritual reading, and devotions. That formation in the interior life kept me grounded throughout those exciting four years of military service.

As I neared the end of my time in the Navy, I again reflected on that priest's suggestion to consider a vocation to the priesthood, but was still not quite ready to take the plunge. Once again I had a serious girlfriend and, while deep down I knew that the Lord was calling me to be His priest, I tried one last "end run" around Him. I took the LSAT and applied to law school, and when the acceptance letter came from my "long shot" school, I was ecstatic. When the euphoria wore off, however, I stared at the letter and realized that I would never attend. Without any more hesitation, I turned it down, sent in my application to the seminary for the Archdiocese of Washington, and embarked upon the most satisfying and exhilarating journey of my life.

More than any other feeling, my heart is filled with gratitude. Gratitude to God for my life, for the grace of conversion, for my faith. Gratitude to my family for their love, for my education, for their unfailing support and encouragement. Gratitude to the many priests and laypeople who have been such fine witnesses of the Catholic faith and who have supported me every step of the way. Most of all, however, I am grateful for the great gift and blessing of a call to the priesthood. What an amazing life – a life of intimate union with Christ, of acting as a powerful channel of God's grace, of having a privileged role in the lives of His people. God gave me a choice, a real choice, and I was free to turn the vocation down. He does not want reluctant disciples. Not for a moment, however, have I regretted my answer. I have never been happier in my life, I have never looked back, and there is nothing I would rather do. I pray every day that Our Lord will bestow the privilege of a call to the priesthood on many generous, steadfast men to be fathers of souls. Never before, I believe, has there a better time, a more noble cause, or a more abundant harvest of souls hungering for truth, for pure and unstained love, for genuine happiness and peace of heart.

That priest who asked me to consider a call to the priesthood understood. He knew that every man's happiness, ultimately, is found in following God's plan for his life. That is the great, open secret unknown to the modern world, in which so many people frenetically pursue "happiness" in all the wrong places. He wanted for me what every true Christian friend should want for us: the serenity and uncontainable joy of a generous disciple of Jesus Christ. For me, the road of discipleship meant becoming a priest, but it first meant embracing the beauty, the truth, and the joy of Catholicism. The Catholic Church has been a sure guide, a light in dark times, and a bedrock of support to me for over half my life. I cannot even imagine life without the sacraments of the Eucharist and Confession, without the steady hand of her doctrine, without the assurance that she uniquely unites us to Christ. And that, in a nutshell, is why I am Catholic.

Father Carter Griffin is a priest of the Archdiocese of Washington, DC. Raised Presbyterian, he converted to Catholicism while attending Princeton University. After graduating in 1994, he served for four years as a surface line officer in the United States Navy prior to entering the seminary. He attended Mount St. Mary's Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland for two years of philosophy followed by the North American College in Rome for five years of theology. Father Griffin was ordained to the priesthood in 2004 and served as the priest-secretary to the Archbishop of Washington before beginning doctoral studies in Rome in 2008. His doctoral dissertation, "Supernatural Fatherhood Through Priestly Celibacy: Fulfillment in Masculinity," was published in 2010. He is presently the parochial vicar of St. Peter's parish on Capitol Hill, and has recently been reassigned as the Vocations Director of the Archdiocese of Washington and the Vice-Rector of the Archdiocese's new Blessed John Paul II Seminary.

Story from Why I'm Catholic

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Mt St Mary's chapel renovated, rededicated

After Extensive Renovations, the Historic Chapel of the Immaculate Conception Chapel - Rededicated

Emmitsburg, Maryland - The final phase of a four-year-long renovation project is complete and Mount St. Mary’s University’s historic Chapel of the Immaculate Conception will be re-dedicated on Tuesday, September 13, 2011.

The IC Chapel, built in 1911, is often considered the focal point of the University’s campus. “Since Mount St. Mary’s founding by Fr. John DuBois in 1808, the importance of the sacraments, especially the mass, has been central to the educational experience,” says Monsignor Steven Rohlfs, Mount St. Mary’s Seminary rector. “The centrality of the mass and Christian worship should not just be an intellectual concept but should be visually central throughout the campus. This is the primary importance of the restoration project of the chapel.”

During the first phases of the renovation project, the Chapel underwent the installation of a new roof, a new organ, lighting, sound system, cleaning and painting of the Chapel, Shrines and Stations of the Cross. This final phase, which began at close of spring semester 2011, the flooring was replaced with a newly designed marble floor and the pews were repaired and restored.

For more coverage, story and photos visit Mt St Mary's site.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Genuflect vs bow: a chasm in the church today?

Is there a chasm today separating those who are open to the sign of genuflection in the presence of the living God and those who always and only render a slight toss of the head in the direction of the tabernacle prior to, or after, holy Mass or when visiting the church outside of Mass?

When the contortions of yoga have become nearly ubiquitous outside of church it begs incredulity to hear that for so many a bending of the knee has become an exertion too far.

Love is always a thing of the maximum, not the minimum. The energy, the effort required in order to genuflect, is this not more a sign of love than the minimal effort required for a mere nod, sometimes so slight as to perhaps be indistinguishable for those others who look also to us for signs of faith and the love of God which fuels it?

A husband does not touch the head of his wife with the smallest part of the smallest finger of his hand, calling it love and thinks his wife will be content with this. Why should God then, Love itself, be also content with this? And how long will people, who call themselves honest, expect to look each other in the eyes and call love that which always and only demands a minimum of signs while also demanding heart, mind, soul and strength, for this is love.

The love of Jesus Christ is present also in the unity of the communion of persons who are the Church, and we see the unity of the love of God present in the Church in the love of those actions of worship in common, above all when the people of God are together in the building which we call "church" for the purpose of worshipping God.

Our God is so near to us, in Christ, and He wants also all the signs of love that we give Him, like a father who puts all of these treasures in His heart, to make it full to overflowing, with the riches of the love of His children.



l'amore di Gesu e presente anche nel' unita della communita delle persone della chiesa, e vediamoci l'unita del amore negli azione di lodare in commune, sopratutto quando siamo insieme nel edificio che chiamiamo "chiesa", per adorare Dio

‎... e l'amore a sempre una cosa della massima, non del minimo...l'energia, l'efforto che bisogniamoci per ginocchiare e piu una cosa d'amore che il minimo efforto che e necessario per un picolo movimento della testa.

il marito non si tocca la moglie sopra la testa con la parte piu piccola della digita piu piccola della mano e si chiama "amore" e pensa che lei dev'essere contenta cosi? Perche pensate che Dio, l'Amore stesso, dev'essere anche contento con questo?

Il Dio nostro e cosi vicino e si vuole anche tutti i segni d'amore che damiamo, come un papa che si mette loro come tesori nel suo cuore, per farlo pienissimo, traboccando, delle richezze d'amore degli bambini.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Calling all Catholics to Act: Urgent USCCB Memorandum on HHS Mandate, An attack on religious liberty

I am writing to bring to your attention a request from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) to mobilize Catholics to comment on a rule recently proposed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that is an unprecedented attack on religious liberty.

In implementing the new health care reform law, HHS recently issued a rule that requires private health care plans nationwide to cover contraception and sterilization as "preventative services" for women. The new rule would force all insurance plans to cover "all Food and Drug Administration approved contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures, and patient education and counseling for all women with reproductive capacity." The mandate includes drugs that may cause an abortion both before and after implantation of a newly conceived human being. Never before has the federal government required private health plans to include such coverage.

The narrow religious exemption in HHS's new rule protects almost no one. It covers only a "religious employer" that has the "inculcation of religious values" as its purpose and primarily employs and serves persons who share its religious tenets. Most Catholic charitable organizations that serve the public, including hospitals, health care clinics, social service programs, and schools, colleges and universities, will be ineligible. Individuals and religiously affiliated health insurers will not qualify for the exemption.

The public comment period on this rule ends September 30. The USCCB is encouraging Catholics to send an e-mail message to HHS urging our government leaders to ensure that such federal regulations do not violate Americans' moral and religious convictions. This can be easily done simply by visiting

Please share the attached information with your parishioners and encourage them to send their comments to HHS by the September 30th deadline.

Thank you for your kind consideration of this request,

Sincerely in Christ,

Most Reverend Barry C. Knestout

Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia

Archdiocese of Washington



"The reason I've been going to daily Mass is because I feel like if I can be closer to God, then I'll know what His plan is for me."



 by Michael H. Brown

The widow of Flight 93 hero Thomas Burnett says her husband was a devout Catholic who had premonitions of the fate that met him and 44 others on the fateful day of September 11, 2001 -- including a hunch his life would not be a long one and that his mission in life would somehow involve the White House.

It is now widely believed the hijacked plane, which crashed into a rural part of western Pennsylvania, was aimed at the White House, the CIA, or the U.S. Capitol before passengers led by Burnett overpowered the al Qaeda operatives.

According to wife Deena, Burnett was a strong believer who had come back to the Church after straying in his youthful years -- rebounding to the extent of attending daily Mass at the end of his abbreviated life. "He had been given a strong faith through his parents," wife Deena told Spirit Daily. "As an adult, in his teen years and early college, he kind of got away from the Church, and ended up going to St. John's University in Minnesota. Tom was very intellectual, enjoyed the discourse with monks, had a lot of questions, and I think the monks provided a great insight into the faith he had grown up with and somehow had been missing."

When he came back to the Church, says Deena, her husband developed a devotion to the Rosary. "I've often thought about the prayers he must have said on that airplane, and I think that he was praying to the Virgin Mary," she says. "I think that his last prayer would have been a Hail Mary."

Deena, who converted from the Baptist faith to Catholicism after marrying Tom in 1992, says he wasn't the type to push his beliefs on others, but did speak of his faith anytime he had an opportunity  -- whether it was someone talking about divorce or abortion or anything he felt strongly about. "He would often bring up his faith in God and never shied away from conversations about it," says Deena of the 38-year-old California executive -- who had three daughters, two of them five-year-old twins when he met his fate.

After their marriage, says Deena, her husband became increasingly interested in the Blessed Mother, buying books about the Rosary and expressing a desire to visit shrines in Europe. "He was very interested in traveling to those places," says Deena. "He had some kind of meeting in France coming up, and he was trying to talk his dad into going with him so that they could visit Lourdes."

Tom was working as chief operating officer of a medical devices company, Thoratec Corporation, at the time it happened. 

Deena says that before September 11, both she and Tom had forebodings. "After our third daughter was born, I always had this feeling that Tom was not going to live long enough to raise our children, but I never talked to him about this," she told us. "I shared that thought with my mom right after our third daughter was born. She came into the hospital room and she said, 'Deena, I guess you'll have to have another child so Tom can have his son,' and I said, 'No, mom, God's not going to give us a son.' She said, "Why? and I said, 'Because God knows that Tom won't be here to raise the children and I couldn't raise Tom's son alone.'"

That was the first premonition. "My mother asked me what I was talking about. I don't know why I said that, but I remember feeling an incredible sense of peace, that whatever happened, everything was going to be okay. It was the week of February 24, 1998, and I also told her then that he was going to be killed in a plane crash. It just came out of my mouth without any thought, and I didn't even think of it after I said it. It was something I was very much at peace with. It was God's plan, preparing me," she adds, her voice cracking. 

About that time -- 1998 -- Tom had stopped coming home for lunch. In December he told her that the reason he wasn't home was that he was now attending daily Mass. "I was a little bit surprised, but I didn't say anything," says Deena. "He said, 'I feel like God is calling me to do something, and I don't know what it is. But I know it's going to have a great impact on a lot of people.' He said, 'The reason I've been going to daily Mass is because I feel like if I can be closer to God, then I'll know what His plan is for me.'"

Deena recalls from then on she and her husband spent "a great deal of time" talking about what that plan might be. "He wasn't sure," she told Spirit Daily. "But to say he was intuitive is an understatement, and I knew if he felt something was going to happen, I better listen to it and trust him. One of the things we brainstormed about was that he thought it had something to do with the White House."

Because Burnett was an outgoing, charismatic man, who was thinking of retiring early from what was already a highly successful career, he and Deena thought perhaps the premonition was that he should go into politics. People had always told him to. "That seemed like the avenue that God was calling him for," Deena says. "But something about that didn't feel right, so he continued praying and we continued with our conversations from time to time about what he thought God's plan was. And about a year before he was killed, Tom came to me and said, 'I don't know what's going to happen, but I have a feeling that you have always thought I was going to die young.' I was surprised because I never talked to him about it. I asked him why he thought that and he said, 'I don't know, but it may have something to do with God's plan for me. I'm not sure why I think that. But I need you to tell me what you think.' I just shared with him. I said, 'Well, I just always believed that we were not going to grow old together, that something was going to happen to prevent us from growing old together. One of us is going to be killed.'

"He took me seriously," says Deena. "It was a serious conversation. We knew that we had to be prepared. He went out the next day and tried to double the life insurance on both of us. This was the September before. He was able to double mine but not his because he had been diagnosed with sleep apnea earlier that year. Long story short: we just proceeded with living our lives and dreaming our dreams and working toward our goals, but having an over-riding fear that something was going to happen to one of us. My feeling was that it was going to be Tom, and Tom's feeling was that it was going to be him. He just felt that whatever God's plan was for him, it had something to do with the White House and was going to impact a lot of people." 

Then came September 11. Burnett had been on a business trip to New York City. On his return he found himself in the first-class section -- surrounded, it turned out, by Islamic terrorists. He made several calls to Deena as the hijacking progressed. About 45 minutes into the flight, he called Deena and when she asked if he was okay, Burnett said, "No, I'm not. I'm on an airplane that has been hijacked."

It was just a couple minutes before that the four terrorists had burst into the cockpit and apparently killed the crew. They also knifed a passenger and herded the rest to the back of the plane -- where Burnett and others formulated their famous plan to overtake the hijackers before the plane could reach its presumed target: Washington. Her heart pounding, Deena contacted the police and FBI to let them know what was happening. When Tom next called, he said the knifed passenger was dead. Deena told him about the other hijacked planes -- and how two had hit the World Trade Center. "Oh my God, it's a suicide mission," she heard him tell his seatmate as Deena filled him in on what little else was known.

It was at this point that Tom noticed the plane turning back east. At first he thought his plane too was headed for New York. But then he realized it was going south. "We're over a rural area," he told his wife. "It's fields. I've gotta go."

He was a take-charged kind of guy, a 6'2" former football star in high school back in Bloomington, Minnesota, and Deena immediately knew that he was going to try stopping the hijackers. This was confirmed the next time he called from his cell phone. "They're talking about crashing this plane into the ground," said Thomas. "We have to do something. I'm putting a plan together." The last time he phoned Tom said they were waiting until they were over a rural area. "We're going to take back the plane," he said. "We can't wait for the authorities. I don't know what they could do anyway. It's up to us. I think we can do it."

"What do you want me to do?" Deena had asked.

"Pray, Denna," said Tom. "Just pray."

And that she did. "The two of us were calm -- eerily calm. I knew that no matter what happened, that everything was going to be okay. I remember after hanging up the phone after each conversation with him just saying the same prayer. I asked God to hold him in the palms of His Hands. I prayed for strength for all of us, and the endurance to do God's Will."

Deena says that when she and other relatives listened to the flight's "black box" (the cockpit recorder), she could hear her husband barking directives as they indeed took the plane back. "I know that he motivated those people aboard that flight to do what they did," says Deena. "And I also know that had he not been on the plane, that circumstances would have been very different today."

And so it was that Tom, along with several other burly, athletic passengers, stopped the plane from causing an even greater, monumental national tragedy. His attitude was always everyone else first, me last, "and he really lived his life this way," his wife says.

As for Deena, who moved back to Little Rock, Arkansas, where she attends Christ the King Church, she harbors no hatred toward Osama bin Laden, but she wants to see al Qaeda stopped. 

The tragedy, she says, "strengthened my faith in God. I found that I was more dependant on it -- it was the only comfort that I could find. It's being able to pray and feel as if I'm in the Presence of God." 

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Sunday, September 11, 2011

News Alert: Nearly 80 U.S. troops injured in Taliban bombing, NATO says

News Alert: NATO: Nearly 80 U.S. troops injured in Taliban bombing
September 11, 2011 7:26:38 AM

Nearly 80 U.S. troops were wounded and two Afghan civilians were killed in a Taliban truck bombing Saturday night outside a U.S. base in eastern Afghanistan, AP reported.

None of the injuries to Americans were life-threatening, NATO said.

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