Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Very pious: the Roman refrigerium for the dead

A Marine's grave after the visit of a friend, Memorial Day 2011.

When the ancient Romans would visit the family mausoleum at the necropolis they would picnic, sometimes on the roof of the house for the dead, pouring some of their wine through a hole into the tomb in a ritual that was called the "refrigerium", or refreshment.

This was later incorporated into the Roman Canon where we pray for the dead, asking God to grant them a place of "refreshment, light and peace".

The new translation is:

"Remember also, Lord, your servants N. and N., who have gone before us with the sign of faith and rest in the sleep of peace. Grant them, O Lord, we pray, and all who sleep in Christ, a place of refreshment, light, and peace."


For more on this portion of the Roman Canon, click here.

Photo courtesy APL contributor MG Moore.

Breaking News: Cellphones are possibly carcinogenic to humans, agency says

May 31, 2011 12:50:24

An international panel of experts says cellphones are possibly carcinogenic to humans after reviewing details from dozens of published studies.

The statement was issued in Lyon, France, on Tuesday by the International Agency for Research on Cancer after a weeklong meeting of experts. They reviewed possible links between cancer and the type of electromagnetic radiation found in cellphones, microwaves and radar.

The agency is the cancer arm of the World Health Organization and the assessment now goes to WHO and national health agencies for possible guidance on cellphone use.

The group classified cellphones in category 2B, meaning they are possibly carcinogenic to humans. Other substances in that category include the pesticide DDT and gasoline engine exhaust.


For more information, visit washingtonpost.com

NB: APL does not support financially or recommend WaPo. This news item was received free of charge.

"Those who have hope live differently"

... on Sundays, too:

"On Sundays and other holy days of obligation, the faithful are to refrain from engaging in work or activities that hinder the worship owed to God, the joy proper to the Lord's Day, the performance of the works of mercy, and the appropriate relaxation of mind and body. Family needs or important social service can legitimately excuse from the obligation of Sunday rest. The faithful should see to it that legitimate excuses do not lead to habits prejudicial to religion, family life, and health.

"The charity of truth seeks holy leisure - the necessity of charity accepts just work."

-- CCC 2185

Monday, May 30, 2011

Prayer for Memorial Day

Almighty and ever-living God we want to thank you for this great nation.

Thank you for those serving and who have served in the military that protect this country of ours. Thank you for those men and women in our military services who were willing to give their lives and who gave their lives to fight to keep this country free ... "

In the quiet sanctuaries of our own hearts,
let each of us name and call on you whose power over us
is great and gentle, firm and forgiving, holy and healing ...

You who created us,
who sustain us,
who call us to live in peace,
hear our prayer this day.

Hear our prayer for all who have died,
whose hearts and hopes are known to you alone ...

Hear our prayer for those who put the welfare of others
ahead of their own
and give us hearts as generous as theirs ...

Hear our prayer for those who gave their lives
in the service of others,
and accept the gift of their sacrifice ...

Help us to shape and make a world
where we will lay down the arms of war
and turn our swords into ploughshares
for a harvest of justice and peace ...

Comfort those who grieve the loss of their loved ones
and let your healing be the hope in our hearts...

Through Jesus Christ your Son, Our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.

Photo courtesy MG Moore: wreath in honor of all military personnel who gave their lives for our nation in observance of Memorial Day displayed at JEBLC chapel on Sunday, 29 May 2011.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Dominica Quinta post Pascha: "Vocem iucunditatis annuntiate, et audiatur, alleluia"

:liberavit Dominus populum suum, alleluia, alleluia. Ps 65, 1-2 Iubilate Deo, omnis terra, psalmum dicite nomini eius: date gloriam laudi eius. Gloria Patri. Vocem.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Sixth Sunday of Easter: “If you love me": Love is the fulfillment of the law and the Spirit our gift for keeping the commandments through love

We want love: to love and to be loved. But we do not particularly like being told how to love because we want also to be free in loving. We are "hard wired" to hope for these things but at the same time we are assured that there is no rational basis for hope. Despite this it is hard to deny that the hope of love and the struggle to achieve it are the hallmarks of human history.

The seat of reason, and its operation in the mind, can be demonstrated through scientific examination, and its processes measured and studied. Hope, on the other hand, is more elusive. We do not know where hope comes from, and why some people seem so able to consistently live by its tenets and others seem so bereft of it that they can be said to hardly be living at all and sometimes choose not to go on doing so.

Young couples want to be free to love whom they choose as demonstrated so dramatically in the perennially favorite classic play, "Romeo and Juliet" and, tragically, sometimes do not choose well. Today people so often express their own version of love that, for the first time since records have been kept in the 1950's, less than half of all households express the committed love of man and woman through marriage, choosing concubinage or "living together" instead. The "spirit of the 60's", in which all idea of law was seen as a drag, seems to have reached its logical conclusion in this spurning of conventional covenant love through marriage.

For the full text of the homily for the Sixth Sunday of Easter visit Meeting Christ in the Liturgy.

Friday, May 27, 2011

On Memorial Day

Memorial Day:
From the Eyes of a Gold Star Family

To some families, Memorial Day is a reminder that pierces the heart. It is a day they have come to experience in a way most never will. It started one day when a simple knock came on the door. That day changed their lives forever. The Military was there to tell them someone in their family had paid the ultimate price for our freedom. At that moment they became a Gold Star Family.

From the day he was born, SSG Mark A. Stets, Jr., US Army, was destined to serve. Since 1940, someone in his immediate family has served on active duty. Mark was a U.S. Army Soldier. He served during Desert Shield, Desert Storm, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom, and finally was assigned to a group in Pakistan in a job he truly loved. He knew he was doing his calling. When we talked to him, there was never a doubt from him about his assignment. He loved it.

SSG Mark A. Stets, Jr.,
US Army

No one had to tell me Mark was gone. The day he died, I hurt all day until I got a call from my daughter-in-law confirming what I dreaded. I had to inform Mark's mother before the Army knocked on the door. We became members of the Gold Star Family that day. We wear a small gold lapel pin that doesn't cost much. We did not buy it, but the price paid to wear it cannot be measured.

On February 3, 2010, our family's 70+ years of continuous service to this country was broken. But our dedication to this country will never break.

-Mark Stets
Virginia Beach

"Bivouac of the Dead"
by Theodore O'Hara

The muffled drum's sad roll has beat
The soldier's last tattoo;
No more on life's parade shall meet
That brave and fallen few.
On Fame's eternal camping-ground
Their silent tents are spread,
And Glory guards, with solemn round,
The bivouac of the dead.
Read the full poem.

At the conclusion of WWII, Congress established the Gold Star Lapel Button to provide an appropriate means to identify widows and widowers, children, parents and brother and sisters of members of the Armed Forces of the United States who lost their lives in the defense of democracy and freedom during World Wars I and II and any subsequent armed hostilities in which the United States became engaged.

The Gold Star Lapel Button's unique design incorporates three symbols that indicate the loss: the Laurel Wreath Border signifies valor, and the Purple field signifies the family's grief and mourning. The Gold Star has been used since WWI to signify "Died in a Combat Theater."

Memorial Day Resources

-- Courtesy of Rep. Scott Rigell

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Find Out How the Mass Will Change in Advent 2011

Watch "A New Translation for a New Roman Missal" on EWTN!
By Michelle Laque Johnson

As most everyone knows by now, the Mass translation we have used since 2002 will change in Advent 2011. Stay with EWTN to get the scoop on these changes. This week, don't miss the EWTN special, "A New Translation for a New Roman Missal." Airs 10 p.m. ET, Wednesday, June 1; 1 p.m. ET, Friday, June 3; and 5 a.m. ET, Saturday, June 4.

And if you missed the EWTN Theology Roundtable on this topic with EWTN Vice President of Theology Colin Donovan, check in with EWTN Religious Catalogue on Friday, May 27 when that particular EWTN Home Video is scheduled to go on sale! You may also want to set your DVRs up now to record EWTN's new show, "Vatican Report, which includes a segment with Fr. Joseph Carola, SJ, who will discuss "Summorum Pontificum," "Universae Ecclesiae," and the New Roman Missal and what it means for the liturgy. Airs 2:30 p.m. ET, Monday, June 20; 3 a.m. ET and 6:30 p.m. ET, Thursday, June 23; and 6:30 p.m. ET, Saturday, June 25.

Older Catholics and Latin Mass devotees will be surprised and delighted to find that they're more comfortable with these changes than many younger Catholics. That's because the upcoming changes are simply a more faithful English translation of the Latin Mass, with which older adults are familiar.

For example, whether you know the name of the prayer or not, all Mass-going Catholics know the Confiteor. It's the prayer in the Mass that begins, "I confess to Almighty God, and to you my brothers and sisters" In the Latin Mass, that prayer included the phrase: "mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa," which means "through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault." Years ago, as people said these words, they struck their breasts. Guess what? In the New Translation, that's back!

In fact, most of us will find that we recognize all the prayers. They are just slightly altered to be more faithful to the Latin translation. Hopefully, this will result in all of us paying more attention to what we are saying at Mass. Take the prayer, "Lord, I am not worthy to receive you." Now we will say, "Lord, I am not worthy that you should come under my roof, but only say the word, and my soul shall be healed." The new phrase reminds us of Matthew 8:8, which is where this prayer comes from. It's the Gospel story about the Centurion who asked Jesus to heal his servant by speaking these faith-filled words: "Lord, I am not worthy for you to come under my roof, but only say the word and my servant shall be healed."

You will also be happy to learn that the Roman Missal now includes prayers for recently canonized saints, including such favorites as St. Padre Pio and St. Katherine Drexel, new prayers to the Blessed Mother, and some beautiful new prayers for Lent.

It was our beloved Blessed John Paul II who announced in the year 2000 that the Vatican would begin working on a new translation. After almost 10 years of work, the new translation is ready to be unveiled. "A New Translation for a New Roman Missal" with Msgr. James P. Moroney is a wonderful introduction to the missal. Hopefully, the new words will inspire all of us to look a little more deeply at our faith, at the Church fathers, at the Holy Eucharist, our highest act of divine worship and “the source and summit” of our Faith.

Enjoy the program Family!

P.S. Please check out the all-new episodes of "G.K. Chesterton: Apostle of Common Sense" and "Faith & Culture."

Watch The Video: http://www.ewtn.com/wings/2011/05262011Feature.htm

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

H.R. 1540—National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012: Dept of Navy to change name to "Dept of Navy and Marine Corps"

"DoD organization and management: The bill would redesignate the Department of Navy as the Department of the Navy and Marine Corps and would change the title of its secretary to the Secretary of the Navy and Marine Corps."

Full text:

H.R. 1540—National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012
On Tuesday, May 24, 2011, the House is scheduled to begin consideration of H.R. 1540 under a rule. The bill was introduced by Rep. Buck McKeon (R-CA) on April 14, 2011, and referred to the Committee on Armed Services. The committee held a mark-up on May 11, 2011 and reported the bill as amended by a vote of 60-1. A summary of amendments made in order under the rule will be distributed after the rule is reported.
H.R. 1540 would authorize appropriations for the Department of Defense (DoD) and for the national security programs of the Department of Energy (DoE) for Fiscal Year 2012. This budget authority is intended to enhance national security through the procurement of materiel, the modernization of the Armed Forces, and continued funding for overseas contingency operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The bill also contains a number of provisions concerning military personnel policy, education and training, military pay and allowances, acquisition policy and management, DoD organization and management, civilian personnel, and matters relating to foreign nations.
For FY2012, the bill would authorize: $111 billion for procurement; $15 billion for procurement to support overseas contingency operations (OCO); $75 billion for research, development, & testing (RDT&E); $171 billion for operation and maintenance (O&M); $90 billion for O&M supporting OCO; $142 billion for military personnel; $11 billion for personnel supporting OCO; and $40 billion for other authorizations. Additionally, the bill would authorize $14.8 billion for military construction and $18 billion for DoE national security programs.
Military personnel end strength: The bill would authorize cuts to the armed forces end strengths, including: a drawdown of 7,400 for the Army and a cut of 2,961 for the Navy. The Air Force would be authorized an increase of 600.
Limitation on availability of funds for Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine replacement program: The bill would limit the obligation and expenditure of funds authorized to be appropriated or otherwise made available for fiscal year 2012 for the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine replacement program to not more than 90 percent until the Secretary of Defense submits to the congressional defense committees a report summarizing the analysis that supported the Department’s decision to reduce the planned number of submarine launched ballistic missile (SLBM) launchers (missile tubes) per submarine to 16.
Preservation and Storage of Certain Property Related to F136 Propulsion System: The bill would require the Secretary of Defense to develop and carry out a plan for the preservation and storage of property owned by the Federal Government that was acquired under the F136 propulsion system development contract, commonly referred to as the alternative engine, developed by GE and Rolls Royce, for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
Disability, retired pay, and survivor benefits: The bill would increase existing monthly amounts and establish additional monthly amounts paid under the Special Survivor Indemnity Allowance to surviving spouses or former spouses of deceased service members who are denied the full amount of their annuity under the Survivor Benefit Program (SBP) due to the offset required by the receipt of Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) from the Department of Veterans Affairs. This “widows’ tax” has long denied surviving family members the payment of their SBP benefits earned by the service of their spouses and paid for through premium
reductions to retired pay. This section would provide an incremental step in the continuing effort to eliminate the DIC offset against SBP annuities.
Improvements to pay and health benefits: The bill would authorize an increase in base pay for military members by 1.6 percent for FY2012. The bill would also limit any annual increase in TRICARE Prime enrollment fees to the amount equal to the percentage by which retiree pay is increased beginning October 1, 2012, meaning future fee increases are capped to cost of living adjustments. Additionally, the bill would prohibit a Medicare eligible military retiree from enrolling in the managed care program of a designated provider after September 30, 2012.
Ballistic missile defense: The bill would provide additional resources for development, test and fielding of missile defenses to protect the U.S. homeland and support the implementation of the Administration’s phased adaptive approach for regional missile defense. The bill would include over $300 million in missile defense-related authorizations above the President’s FY2012 request, including an additional $110 million for Israeli cooperative programs.
Acquisition policy and management: The bill would require the Milestone Decision Authority to certify that a preliminary analysis of core logistics capabilities for each major weapons system has been performed as entrance criteria for entering the technology development phase of a major defense acquisition program (milestone A) and that the core logistics requirements and associated sustaining workloads for the weapons system have been determined as entrance criteria for entering the engineering and manufacturing development phase (milestone B). The bill would also require certification that life-cycle sustainment planning has identified and evaluated relevant sustainment costs through development, production, operation, sustainment, and disposal of the program, and any alternatives, and that such costs are reasonable and have been accurately estimated.
The bill would also include a new section relating to the disclosure of confidential commercial, financial or proprietary information, technical data, or other privileged information to a litigation support contractor for the sole purpose of providing litigation support. This section would require the litigation support contractor to execute a contract with the Government agreeing to or acknowledging that any information furnished will be used only for the purpose stated in the contract, that the litigation support contractor will take all precautions necessary to protect the sensitive information, that the sensitive information will not be used by the litigation support contractor to compete against the third party for contracts, and that a violation of any of the above would be basis for the Government to terminate the contract.
The bill would also expand the existing executive compensation cap to apply to any individual performing on a contract rather than certain management employees. This provision is intended to reduce the risk of excessive individual compensation charged to defense contracts.
The bill would also require the Secretary of Defense to manage supplier risk by directing contracting personnel to use a business credit reporting bureau, or other objective sources of business information, to evaluate supplier risk on all Department of Defense (DOD) contract actions. This section also would require the use of automated, off-the-shelf products to identify suppliers by location and to monitor suppliers for events that may affect their performance, such as a merger or acquisition, or bankruptcy filing. The committee believes that such a supplier risk management initiative would benefit the Department of Defense through cost avoidance (by reducing its exposure to high-risk suppliers), increased efficiency, and a greater return on investment.
The bill would also require the Director of the Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA) to submit an annual report that summarizes DCAA’s audit activities during the previous fiscal year, including significant problems, abuses, and deficiencies, a statistical table showing the total number of audit reports, the length of time taken for each audit, and the questioned dollar value, as well as recommendations for corrective actions. The committee believes that this section would increase transparency and accountability, and facilitate congressional oversight of the Defense Contract Audit Agency.
The bill would also make a number of technical corrections with regard to general contracting authorities, procedures, and limitations, including provisions relating to contracts in support of contingency operations in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repeal: The bill would require the service chiefs of each branch to submit to the congressional defense committees a written certification that the repeal of the policy, enacted by P.L. 111-321 on December 22, 2010, will not degrade the readiness, effectiveness, cohesion, and morale of combat arms units and personnel of the Armed Forces engaged in combat, deployed to a combat theater, or preparing for deployment to a combat theater.
Military regulations regarding marriage: The bill would reaffirm the policy of section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, as applicable to members of the Armed Forces or civilian employees of the Department of Defense, that the word ‘‘marriage’’ means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word ‘‘spouse’’ refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.
DoD organization and management: The bill would redesignate the Department of Navy as the Department of the Navy and Marine Corps and would change the title of its secretary to the Secretary of the Navy and Marine Corps.
The bill would also direct the Secretary of Defense to provide a report to the congressional defense committees, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on actions taken to implement the recommendation of the Government Accountability Office (GAO). GAO recommends that the Secretary of Defense direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, in coordination with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Secretaries of the military services, develop intelligence information sharing guidance, such as a concept of operations, and to provide such direction and prioritization to improve intelligence community information sharing. In addition, the bill would direct the Comptroller General of the United States to review the Under Secretary’s report to determine whether it is consistent with and adequate to address its recommendation.
The bill would also require the Secretary of Defense to establish a program for enhanced information sharing protection and insider threat mitigation for the information systems of the Department of Defense in order to detect unauthorized access to, use of, or transmission of, classified or controlled unclassified information. This provision is intended to prevent security breaches such as the “Wikileaks” incident that occurred last this year.
The bill would require the Secretary of Defense to develop and implement a total force management plan that would determine the appropriate manpower mix of military (Active and Reserve Components), civilian and contractor personnel necessary to accomplish the mission of the Department of Defense (DoD). Overall responsibility for establishing the policies and procedures to implement such a plan would be given to the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, with responsibility for requirements determination, planning and programming being given to the manpower and force structure authorities for each DoD component. The bill also contains a number of provisions relating to management, employment, and workforce integration of civilian personnel within the Department.
The bill would affirm that the Secretary of Defense has the authority to conduct military activities in cyberspace. The committee recognizes that because of the evolving nature of cyber warfare, there is a lack of historical precedent for what constitutes traditional military activities in cyberspace. In particular, the provision would clarify that the Secretary of Defense has the authority to conduct clandestine cyberspace activities in support of military operations pursuant to the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (Public Law 107-40; 50 U.S.C. 1541 note) outside of the United States or to defend against a cyber attack on an asset of the Department of Defense.
Guantanamo detainees: The bill would prohibit the Secretary of Defense from using any funds made available to the Department in fiscal year 2012 to support the transfer of Guantanamo Bay detainees to or within the
United States or to foreign countries unless certain requirements are met and certified to Congress at least 30 days in advance.
Tracking implementation of DoD efficiencies: The bill would require the Comptroller General of the United States to assess the extent to which the Department of Defense is tracking and realizing the savings proposed pursuant to the initiative led by the Secretary of Defense to identify at least $100 billion in efficiencies during the period of fiscal year 2012-16.
Limitation on procurement and fielding of Light Attack Armed Reconnaissance Aircraft: The bill would require the Secretary of Defense to review the capability of the elements of the Department of Defense to conduct light attack and armed reconnaissance missions, or to fulfill requests of partner nations for training in the conduct of such missions, in the next Quadrennial Roles and Missions Review. The bill would also prohibit obligation or expenditure of funds for the start of any new program to procurement of field light attack and armed reconnaissance aircraft until the Joint Requirements Oversight Council validates a requirement for such aircraft and the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics approves the acquisition strategy for such aircraft. However, the Secretary would be allowed to waive the prohibition should he determine that acquisition of the aircraft is necessary to support contingency operations in Iraq or Afghanistan. The committee is concerned by the disjointed approach taken by the Department of Defense in its many efforts to acquire and field light attack and armed reconnaissance aircraft.
Interagency coordination: The bill would require the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of State, and the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to jointly establish a standing advisory panel to advise, review, and make recommendations on ways to improve coordination among the Department of Defense, the Department of State, and USAID on matters relating to national security, including reviewing their respective roles and responsibilities in activities such as stability operations, foreign assistance, including security assistance, strategic communications, public diplomacy, and countering proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
Pakistan counterinsurgency fund: The bill would extend by one year the authority to provide assistance to the security forces of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan to build and maintain those forces’ counterinsurgency capability.
Report on extension of U.S.-Iraq Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA): The bill would require the Secretary of Defense, in consultation with the Secretary of State, to provide a formal notification to the congressional national security committees if the United States Government and the Government of the Republic of Iraq complete an agreement permitting the United States to maintain a force presence in Iraq above that envisioned for the Office of Security Cooperation-Iraq (OSC-I). This section would require the Secretary of Defense to notify the congressional defense committees should no such agreement be reached by December 31, 2011. In the absence of such an agreement, the Secretary of Defense shall submit a report to the committees by January 31, 2012 outlining how Department of Defense participation in OSC-I programs will address the capability gaps of the Iraqi Security Forces, should the Government of Iraq request such assistance.
Reports and other matters: The bill would require the Secretary of Defense to submit to the congressional national security committees the following selected reports:
A classified study undertaken by an independent entity outside the Department of Defense assessing the gaps between the conventional and anti-access capabilities of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the People’s Republic of China and the U.S. forces’ ability to overcome such capabilities.
A report on consultation regarding a federally funded research and development center of the Department of Defense to conduct an assessment of the energy security of the NATO alliance, with an emphasis on the vulnerabilities of NATO alliance members to a sole supplier or distribution network for oil or gas, and how such vulnerabilities could adversely affect the security and cohesion of the alliance.
A report on the current and future military power of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, in both classified and unclassified form.
An assessment, carried out in consultation with the Director of National Intelligence, of the national security risks posed to the United States and United States allies as a result of the Federal debt liabilities owed to China and the amount of interest determined to have been paid by the United States to China.
Department of Energy national security programs: The bill would limit the Secretary of Energy from obligating or expending more than $7 million for a Center of Excellence on Nuclear Security in the People’s Republic of China until the date on which the Secretary of Energy submits two reports to the congressional national security committees addressing: 1— the existing capacity of China to develop and implement best practices training; and 2— the extent to which additional best practices training and relationship building activities would contribute to improving the Chinese record of proliferation with respect to weapons of mass destruction, missiles, and related technologies and materials.
The bill would also require the Secretary of Energy to submit to the congressional defense committees an annual report on the strategic plans of the DoE and the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) to prevent nuclear and radiological proliferation and on the implementation of these plans, including progress and challenges of implementation, an estimate of budget requirements over 10 years, and interagency coordination. This provision would also require the Secretary of Energy to submit an assessment of the risk that non-nuclear weapon countries may acquire nuclear enrichment or reprocessing technology, and a classified list of the location and vulnerability of highly-enriched uranium worldwide.
The FY2012 defense bill is a key mechanism by which Congress fulfills one of its Article I, Section 8 constitutional responsibilities to provide for the common defense. Members of the Armed Services Committee scrutinized every aspect of the defense enterprise to find ways to accomplish this mission more effectively in today’s fiscal environment. The defense bill reduces costly reporting requirements, sets new standards for financial management at the Pentagon, and incentivizes competition as a means to reform defense acquisition.
The legislation reaffirms that the United States is engaged in an armed conflict with Al Qaeda, the Taliban and associated forces pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force from 2001—and strengthens policies and procedures used to prosecute and detain terrorists captured under this banner. It’s important to note that the 2012 defense bill does not expand the war on terrorism or authorize force against Libya or Iran. The legislation also includes a number of provisions to identify and prepare for future threats.
According to the Committee on Armed Services, the guiding priorities of this bill are:

Ensuring our troops deployed in Afghanistan, Iraq and around the world have the equipment, resources, authorities, training, and time needed to successfully complete their missions and return home;

Providing our warfighters and their families with the resources and support they need, deserve, and have earned;

Investing in the capabilities and force structure needed to protect the United States from current and future threats;

Mandating fiscal responsibility, transparency and accountability within the Department of Defense; and

Incentivizing competition for every tax-payer dollar associated with funding Department of Defense requirements.
The bill would authorize $553 billion for the Department of Defense’s base budget, $119 billion for overseas contingency operations, and $18 billion for the Department of Energy’s atomic energy defense programs.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that this bill would have an insignificant effect on direct spending in 2012 and would, on net, decrease such spending by $1 million over the 2012-2016 period and $3 million over the 2012-2021 period. The largest costs over that 10-year period would result from an increase in the special survivor allowance paid to certain beneficiaries of the military Survivor Benefit Plan, and from a change in the growth rate of enrollment fees charged to certain retirees who use TRICARE Prime, a health benefit plan for both active-duty and retired members of the uniformed services and their dependents.
Those costs would be offset by new receipts from additional sales of material in the National Defense Stockpile and savings from a provision to limit enrollment in the Uniformed Services Family Health Plan. Enacting the bill would not affect revenues.
For questions or further information contact Andy Koenig at 6-2302.

Archbishop Dolan's Statement on John Jay Study

Today, John Jay College of Criminal Justice released the results of a study on clergy sex abuse. You can view the report presented to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops here.

Here is the statement that I released to the press today.


Today’s release of The Causes and Context of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests in the United States, 1950-2010, a report conducted by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, adds valuable insight and understanding to how and why the crime and sin of sexual abuse occurred in the Catholic Church.

Keep in mind that the study released today is a report to the bishops of the United States, not from them. The sexual abuse of minors is a tragedy that affects every family, religion, school, organization, institution, and profession in our society. The Catholic Church in the United States has been noted as the first group anywhere to contract a professional agency – in this case, the John Jay College here in New York City – to examine the “causes and contexts” of this scourge.

You can read the rest of Archbishop Dolan's statement on the John Jay study by clicking here.

Monday, May 23, 2011

For those suffering the effects of tornadoes: a prayer to avert storms

Ad repellendas tempestates

Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, qui nos et castigando sanas, et ignoscendo conservas: praesta supplicibus tuis; ut et tranquillitatibus hujus optatae consolationis laetemur, et dono tuae pietatis semper utamur. Per Dominum nostrum Iesum Christum filium tuum qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti, Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen.

To avert storms

Almighty eternal God, all the elements of nature obey your command.
Calm the storms that threaten us
and turn our fear of your power
into praise of your goodness.

Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.


Sunday, May 22, 2011

Dominica Quarta post Pascha: "Cantate Domino canticum novum, alleluia"

... quia mirabilia fecit Dominus, alleluia:
ante conspectum gentium revelavit iustitiam suam,
alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.
Salvavit sibi dextera eius: et bracchium sanctum eius.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Venus Flytrap eats Stinkbug

Tonight I caught a spider in the church and a stinkbug inside a window screen in the rectory and put them both inside the terrarium with the fern and venus flytrap.

The first photo (above) shows what is left of the stink bug inside the flytrap a few hours later, a shiny mass in the process of being broken down inside the trap with the reddened interior on the lower right side of the plant. In the second photo (below) the flytrap has fully closed around the stinkbug. The spider is still sitting perched in the same position on the upper left side of the fern where it was a few hours ago. Perhaps it had not yet finished its prayers when I abruptly removed it from the church and its motionlessness merely indicates engagement in pious meditation or is the result of beatific union with the Creator.

Pope Makes Call to Space Station

5/21/2011 2:29:11 PM

In the first-ever papal call to space, Pope Benedict converses with the astronauts aboard the International Space Station, discussing science and religion. Video courtesy of Reuters.

5th Sunday of Easter: Meeting Christ in the Liturgy

“Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me?": Catechesis is a lifelong process of knowing and loving the Lord Jesus

As many of you know the world was supposed to end today. It did not make much sense to put a lot of effort into a homily if the Lord Jesus Christ Himself was going to be present to preach in person. But I did manage to throw something together since the world and we are still here and a false been prophet has once again been exposed.

The Lord is always with us. He gives Himself as an inexhaustible source of Faith and life, particularly here in the sacred liturgy through Word and sacrament. And He is here for us whether or not we are here for Him.

Sometimes those who have been with the Lord the longest, such as Philip in today's Gospel, seem to be the ones who know Him the least. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. To know Jesus Christ, to be with Him, is already to know the Father, to know heaven where God has prepared a place for us. Sometimes, though, we like Philip betray a lack of knowledge of the One who gives Himself so abundantly in the Eucharist, the Scriptures and in the teaching of the Church and who is for us the way to abundant and eternal life. Though He is always so radically and generously available to us we sometimes find ourselves in the same situation as did Philip. The Lord could also rightly turn to us therefore and also say to us, "Have you been with me all this time and still you do not know me?"

Gladly none of us would say we do not love God. We are here because we seek Him and we seek Him because we love Him and this is right and good. Perseverance in seeking the Lord is itself evidence of a loving faith. But even beyond the Sunday liturgy we are called to take the steps necessary to grow in our Faith.

Have you ever met someone who no longer practices the Catholic Faith and who says, "Well, I was raised a Catholic" as if that status has exhausted all the possibilities for them of truth and life and love in God? There is often a presumption that however the Faith has been tried in the past there is no possibility that the Faith could ever hold any value or deeper truth or power for living in the future.

GK Chesterton once said, "The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried." If our Catholic faith is the grace which gives us access to living the Christian ideal, to growing in the love of and in the image of Christ, could not the same be said of growth in the love of and knowledge of the content of our Faith? We could therefore also say, "The Catholic Faith has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried."

For the full text of the homily for the Fifth Sunday of Easter visit Meeting Christ in the Liturgy by clicking here.

Sancta Maria in sabbato: Salve, sancta parens,

... enixa puerpera Regem: qui caelum terramque regit in saecula saeculorum, alleluia, alleluia.

Cardinal Wuerl on JPII beatification and titular Roman church of St Peter in Chains

mailto:e.letter@adw.org?subject=Response to e-letter from Cardinal Wuerl

May 17, 2011

Dear Friends,

http://click.icptrack.com/icp/relay.php?r=34769684&msgid=286048&act=J7DN&c=686612&destination=http://www.uspapalvisit.org/ When our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI visited the United States in 2008, he told the crowd of 50,000 gathered at Nationals Stadium, "In the exercise of my ministry as the Successor of Peter, I have come to America to confirm you, my brothers and sisters, in the faith of the Apostles (cf. Lk 22:32)." The Pope was being faithful to his mission, the same mission that Jesus himself gave to Saint Peter and to his successors: to confirm his brothers and sisters in the faith. In these past days our Holy Father has once again confirmed us in the faith with the Beatification of Blessed John Paul II whose papacy had such a remarkable impact around the world. In a particular way, strengthening the bond even further between the Archdiocese of Washington and the Holy Father, I had the privilege of receiving a titular church in Rome as a Cardinal of the Church. I would like to share with you some of the graces from these events.

Just a few weeks ago, I had the immense joy of being in Rome during the Beatification of Pope John Paul II. Over 1.5 million pilgrims gathered in Saint Peter's Square and every street, alley and lane in the neighboring miles to celebrate the event, and to remember with love the legacy of his extraordinary papacy. In his 26 years as Pope, John Paul II traveled the world, including several visits to the United States, encouraging and comforting us in the Gospel. His first unforgettable words as Pope — "Do not be afraid! Open, open wide the doors to Christ!" — became the driving force of his ministry as the Vicar of Christ. This great teacher of the faith touched on every aspect of human experience and the life of the Church; the sheer volume of his writings and talks exceeds that of any other pope in history. Most importantly, however, he taught us not only how to live, but by his heroic and humble suffering towards the end of his life, he showed us that every human life has meaning and dignity.

Blessed John Paul II had a special desire to form good and holy priests to serve the people of God. After calling together a Church Synod to reflect on the matter, he issued a landmark document on the formation of priests entitled Pastores Dabo Vobis, which continues to guide seminaries and priestly formation all around the world. The late Holy Father's priestly witness and teaching have so encouraged and influenced our Archdiocese that this coming Fall we will open the new Blessed John Paul II Seminary. With your prayers, I am certain that this seminary, so close to my heart and to the heart of our pastors and people, will thrive in every way.

http://click.icptrack.com/icp/relay.php?r=34769684&msgid=286048&act=J7DN&c=686612&destination=http://www.adw.org/about/titular_church/Significance.asp A week after the Beatification, I had the joy of officially receiving the church of San Pietro in Vincoli (Saint Peter in Chains) as my titular church in Rome. Each Cardinal is entrusted by the Pope with a particular church in Rome that links him to the Church of Saint Peter and that emphasizes the Cardinal's responsibility as a papal elector and a close advisor to the Holy Father. It was a particular honor for the Archdiocese that Pope Benedict XVI should choose for us Saint Peter in Chains, the only other church in ancient Rome — after Saint Peter's Basilica — that bears the Apostle's name. As I prayed in this ancient church, kneeling before the chains that bound Saint Peter during his imprisonment in Rome and Jerusalem, I was powerfully reminded of the connection to Christ that we all share through Saint Peter and his successors, and that every one of us is called, like Blessed John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, to manifest the Kingdom, to share our faith as disciples of Christ even when it is difficult. These two great popes have proclaimed a message of joy, of hope, and of confidence, encouraging each of us to be full partners in the New Evangelization. It is true that following Christ and sharing his teachings can be difficult in today's world. We all face the challenges of secularism, individualism and materialism. In a very real way, these can become chains that bind us. The chains of Saint Peter remind us, though, that the love of Christ can break through every worldly bond. His truth is liberating. As the Holy Father observed in declaring John Paul II Blessed, "…he helped us not to fear the truth, because truth is the guarantee of liberty."

As we deepen our love for the Church and for the faith that is confirmed by Saint Peter and his successors, every one of us will grow in the freedom promised by Christ. This freedom permits us, even compels us, to share with family and friends our personal encounter with the Risen Lord. Three years ago, during his visit to our Archdiocese, the Pope encouraged us to give "a convincing account of the hope which inspires" us because "the world needs this witness." Confirmed in the faith by our Holy Father, strengthened by the prayers of Blessed John Paul II, and freed from the bonds of sin and the chains of fear, we can each be that living testimony to the Lord, proclaiming as Saint Peter himself did, that "God raised Jesus and of this we are all witnesses."

With prayerful best wishes I am,

Faithfully in Christ,

Donald Cardinal Wuerl
Archbishop of Washington




Archdiocese of Washington

Friday, May 20, 2011

Archbishop Broglio: "Statement on the Implementation Process of the Repeal of ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ "

Archbishop Timothy Broglio is the ordinary for the Archdiocese for Military Services, USA.

Archbishop Broglio's statement on the implementation process of the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ is now available to read on the AMS web site.Date: 5/20/2011

Garden report

Visibly thriving at far end are tomatoes, garden beans, squash, and sunflowers, yellow squash in the center and at the near end cutflower mix. Today's work included copious weeding with the help of R. and transplanting of cutflower mix seedlings to box planters near driveway, marigolds in semicircle pattern around St Francis statue in foreground and replanting of basil and squash seedlings to rows in the garden. So far at least one cucumber seed is revealing green signs of life and one of the tomatoes bears a green fruit.

Movies about priests "would really surprise if priest realized purpose, not in opposition to, but in relation with the Church"

Film: Cinematic Sacerdotalism

Today on the Word on Fire blog, Father Steve reviews two films about priests: Roland Joffe's "There Be Dragons" and Scott Stewart's "Priest." Be sure to take a look at his review before heading to the movie theater this weekend...

I have a small reproduction of Picasso’s “Guernica” hanging on a wall in my sitting room at the rectory. The monumental original hangs in Museo Reina Sofia in Madrid. Some friends of mine who have seen the print have wondered if I have communist sympathies. Others have wondered if, despite any protests to the contrary, I am deep down an ideological modernist in terms of my aesthetic tastes. Neither is true. I am too conventional to be that avant garde. The painting is a reminder to me of the violence of the twentieth century and the convoluted forms depicted in Picasso’s work represent the agonies of an age of total war. Guernica is a Basque town which was bombed on April 26th, 1937. The catastrophe is but one part of the many atrocities that beset Spain during its Civil War and it is seen as symbolic of not only these terrors but of the horrors which would later engulf the European continent. Picasso’s painting is a rendering of the emotional impact of the event, and in this regard, it is utterly effective.

To read the full reviews of movies There Be Dragons and Priest by Father Steve at Fr Barron's Word on Fire blog click here.

Image: Priest. Click here to read MovieLine review.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

"so grant me God and so help me His Saints."

""I vow to faithfully, honestly and honorably serve the reigning Pope ____ and his legitimate successors, and to dedicate myself to them with all my strength, ready to sacrifice, should it become necessary, even my own life for them... Furthermore, I pledge to the Commandant and to my other superiors respect, fidelity, and obedience. I swear to abide by all the requirements attendant to the dignity of my rank."

When his name is called, each new guard approaches the Swiss Guard's flag, grasping the banner in his left hand. He raises his right hand with his thumb, index, and middle finger extended along three axes, a gesture that symbolizes the Holy Trinity, and speaks:

____, swear diligently and faithfully to abide by all that has just been read out to me, so grant me God and so help me his Saints."

Photo: The swearing in of new recruits to the Swiss Guard, held at the Apostolic Palace on May 5, by Sergio Mora.

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