Monday, December 21, 2015

Pope's Christmas message to Vatican Curia: "We are prophets of a future that does not belong to us."

Vatican City, 21 December 2015 (VIS) – Missionary and pastoral spirit, idoneity and sagacity, spirituality and humanity, example and fidelity, reasonableness and gentleness, innocuousness and determination, diligence and attentiveness, charity and truth, openness and maturity, respectfulness and humility, intrepidness and alertness, and finally, accountability and sobriety. These are the qualities Pope Francis highlighted this morning in his greetings to the Roman Curia, as a practical aid to embracing the time of grace of Christmas and the Year of Mercy and ensuring the fruitfulness of service to the Church. “I would ask the Heads of Dicasteries and other superiors to ponder this, to add to it and to complete it”, he said. “It is a list based on an acrostic analysis of the word 'Misericordia' … with the aim of having it serve as our guide and beacon”.

During his traditional exchange of Christmas greetings with the members of the Roman Curia, the Holy Father addressed the prelates recalling their previous meetings: in 2013, when he stressed “two important and inseparable aspects of the work of the Curia: professionalism and service”, offering St. Joseph as a model to be imitated. Then, last year, as a preparation for the sacrament of Reconciliation, he considered “certain temptations or maladies – the catalogue of curial diseases … which could affect any Christian, curia, community, congregation, parish or ecclesial movement. Diseases which call for prevention, vigilance, care and, sadly, in some cases, painful and prolonged interventions”.

“Some of these diseases became evident in the course of the past year”, he continued, “causing no small pain to the entire body and harming many souls, also by scandal. It seems necessary to state what has been – and ever shall be – the object of sincere reflection and decisive provisions. Reform will move forward with determination, clarity and firm resolve, since Ecclesia semper reformanda. Nonetheless, diseases and even scandals cannot obscure the efficiency of the services rendered to the Pope and to the entire Church by the Roman Curia, with great effort, responsibility, commitment and dedication, and this is a real source of consolation. St. Ignatius taught that 'it is typical of the evil spirit to instil remorse, sadness and difficulties, and to cause needless worry so as to prevent us from going forward; instead, it is typical of the good spirit to instil courage and energy, consolations and tears, inspirations and serenity, and to lessen and remove every difficulty so as to make us advance on the path of goodness'”.

Therefore, “it would be a grave injustice not to express heartfelt gratitude and needed encouragement to all those good and honest men and women in the Curia who work with dedication, devotion, fidelity and professionalism, offering to the Church and the Successor of Peter the assurance of their solidarity and obedience, as well as their constant prayers. Moreover, cases of resistance, difficulties and failures on the part of individuals and ministers are so many lessons and opportunities for growth, and never for discouragement. They are opportunities for returning to the essentials, which means being ever more conscious of ourselves, of God and our neighbours, of the sensus Ecclesiae and the sensus fidei”.

Francis turned to the central theme of his discourse: “this return to essentials … just a few days after the Church’s inauguration of the pilgrimage of the Holy Year of Mercy, a Year which represents for her and for all of us a pressing summons to gratitude, conversion, renewal, penance and reconciliation”. At the time of Christmas, the feast of God’s infinite mercy, as St. Augustine of Hippo tells us, and in the context of the Year of Mercy, he presented to the Roman Curia “a practical aid”, beginning with the theme of missionary and pastoral spirit.

“Missionary spirit is what makes the Curia evidently fertile and fruitful; it is proof of the effectiveness, efficiency and authenticity of our activity. Faith is a gift, yet the measure of our faith is also seen by the extent to which we communicate it. All baptised persons are missionaries of the Good News, above all by their lives, their work and their witness of joy and conviction. A sound pastoral spirit is an indispensable virtue for the priest in particular. It is shown in his daily effort to follow the Good Shepherd who cares for the flock and gives his life to save the lives of others. It is the yardstick for our curial and priestly work. Without these two wings we could never take flight, or even enjoy the happiness of the 'faithful servant'”.

With regard to idoneity and sagacity: “Idoneity, or suitability, entails personal effort aimed at acquiring the necessary requisites for exercising as best we can our tasks and duties with intelligence and insight. It does not countenance 'recommendations' and payoffs. Sagacity is the readiness to grasp and confront situations with shrewdness and creativity. Idoneity and sagacity also represent our human response to divine grace, when we let ourselves follow the famous dictum: 'Do everything as if God did not exist and then put it all in God’s hands as if you did not exist'”.

Spirituality and humanity: “Spirituality is the backbone of all service in the Church and in Christian life. It is what nourishes all our activity, sustaining and protecting it from human frailty and daily temptation. Humanity is what embodies the truthfulness of our faith; those who renounce their humanity renounce everything. Humanity is what makes us different from machines and robots which feel nothing and are never moved. Once we find it hard to weep seriously or to laugh heartily – these are just two signs – we have begun our decline and the process of turning from 'humans' into something else. Humanity is knowing how to show tenderness and fidelity and courtesy to all. Spirituality and humanity, while innate qualities, are a potential needing to be activated fully, attained completely and demonstrated daily”.

Example and fidelity: “Blessed Paul VI reminded the Curia – in 1963 – of 'its calling to set an example'. An example of avoiding scandals which harm souls and impair the credibility of our witness. Fidelity to our consecration, to our vocation, always mindful of the words of Christ, 'Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much' and 'If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world for stumbling blocks! Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to the one by whom the stumbling block comes”.

Reasonableness and gentleness: “Reasonableness helps avoid emotional excesses, while gentleness helps avoid an excess of bureaucracy, programmes and planning. These qualities are necessary for a balanced personality: 'The enemy – and forgive me for quoting St. Ignatius once again – pays careful heed to whether a soul is coarse or delicate; if it is delicate, he finds a way to make it overly delicate, in order to cause it greater distress and confusion'. Every excess is a symptom of some imbalance”.

Innocuousness and determination: “Innocuousness makes us cautious in our judgements and capable of refraining from impulsive and hasty actions. It is the ability to bring out the best in ourselves, in others and in all kinds of situations by acting carefully and attentively. It consists of doing unto others what we would have them do to us. Determination is acting with a resolute will, clear vision, obedience to God and solely for the supreme law of the salus animarum”.

Charity and truth: “Two inseparable virtues of Christian life, 'speaking the truth in charity and practising charity in truth'. To the point where charity without truth becomes a destructive ideology of complaisance and truth without charity becomes myopic legalism”.

Openness and maturity: “Openness is honesty and rectitude, consistency and absolute sincerity with regard both to ourselves and to God. An honest and open person does not act virtuously only when he or she is being watched; honest persons have no fear of being caught, since they never betray the trust of others. An honest person is never domineering like the 'wicked servant', with regard to the persons or matters entrusted to his or her care. Honesty is the foundation on which all other qualities rest. Maturity is the quest to achieve balance and harmony in our physical, mental and spiritual gifts. It is the goal and outcome of a never-ending process of development which has nothing to do with age”.

Respectfulness and humility: “Respectfulness is an endowment of those noble and tactful souls who always try to show genuine respect for others, for their own work, for their superiors and subordinates, for dossiers and papers, for confidentiality and privacy, who can listen carefully and speak politely. Humility is the virtue of the saints and those godly persons who become all the more important as they come to realise that they are nothing, and can do nothing, apart from God’s grace”.

“Diligence and attentiveness: “The more we trust in God and his providence, the more we grow in diligence and readiness to give of ourselves, in the knowledge that the more we give the more we receive. What good would it do to open all the Holy Doors of all the basilicas in the world if the doors of our own heart are closed to love, if our hands are closed to giving, if our homes are closed to hospitality and our churches to welcome and acceptance. Attentiveness is concern for the little things, for doing our best and never yielding to our vices and failings. St. Vincent de Paul used to pray: “Lord, help me to be always aware of those around me, those who are worried or dismayed, those suffering in silence, and those who feel alone and abandoned”.

Intrepidness and alertness: “Being intrepid means fearlessness in the face of troubles, like Daniel in the den of lions, or David before Goliath. It means acting with boldness, determination and resolve, 'as a good soldier'. It means being immediately ready to take the first step, like Abraham, or Mary. Alertness, on the other hand, is the ability to act freely and easily, without being attached to fleeting material things. The Psalm says: 'if riches increase, set not your heart on them'. To be alert means to be always on the go, and never being burdened by the accumulation of needless things, caught up in our own concerns and driven by ambition”.

Accountability and sobriety: “Accountable and trustworthy persons are those who honour their commitments with seriousness and responsibility when they are being observed, but above all when they are alone; they radiate a sense of tranquillity because they never betray a trust. Sobriety – the last virtue on this list, but not because it is least important – is the ability to renounce what is superfluous and to resist the dominant consumerist mentality. Sobriety is prudence, simplicity, straightforwardness, balance and temperance. Sobriety is seeing the world through God’s eyes and from the side of the poor. Sobriety is a style of life which points to the primacy of others as a hierarchical principle and is shown in a life of concern and service towards others. The sober person is consistent and straightforward in all things, because he or she can reduce, recover, recycle, repair, and live a life of moderation”.

Following this list of qualities, Francis went on to remind the prelates that “mercy is no fleeting sentiment, but rather the synthesis of the joyful Good News, a choice and decision on the part of all who desire to assume the 'Heart of Jesus' and to be serious followers of the Lord who has asked us to 'be merciful even as your heavenly Father is merciful'. In the words of Father Ermes Ronchi, 'Mercy is a scandal for justice, a folly for intelligence, a consolation for us who are debtors. The debt for being alive, the debt for being loved is only repayable by mercy'.

“And so”, he emphasised, “may mercy guide our steps, inspire our reforms and enlighten our decisions. May it be the basis of all our efforts. May it teach us when to move forward and when to step back. May it also enable us to understand the littleness of all that we do in God’s greater plan of salvation and his majestic and mysterious working”.

To conclude, the Holy Father invited those present to savour the magnificent prayer, commonly attributed to Blessed Oscar Arnulfo Romero, but pronounced for the first time by Cardinal John Dearden:

“Every now and then it helps us to take a step back and to see things from a distance.

The Kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is also beyond our visions.

In our lives, we manage to achieve only a small part of the marvellous plan that is God’s work.

Nothing that we do is complete,

which is to say that the Kingdom is greater than ourselves.

No statement says everything that can be said.

No prayer completely expresses the faith. No Creed brings perfection.

No pastoral visit solves every problem.

No programme fully accomplishes the mission of the Church.

No goal or purpose ever reaches completion.

This is what it is about:

We water seeds already planted, knowing that others will watch over them.

We lay the foundations of something that will develop.

We add the yeast which will multiply our possibilities.

We cannot do everything, yet it is liberating to begin.

This gives us the strength to do something and to do it well.

It may remain incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way.

It is an opportunity for the grace of God to enter and to do the rest.

It may be that we will never see its completion, but that is the difference between the master and the labourer.

We are labourers, not master builders, servants, not the Messiah.

We are prophets of a future that does not belong to us”.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Pius IX on proclaiming the dogma of the Immaculate Conception: "the Vicar of God had need of a special grace or else he would have died of love through his knowledge and the tremendous flood of exalted feeling."

From Chapter X​ of Fr Francis Thornton's Cross Upon Cross: The Life of Pope Pius IX:

​"...Both Scripture and history threw the lie in the teeth of Mary's enemies and the Pope's detractors. The angel Gabriel had said to Mary in greeting, "Hail full of grace!" Had she been stained with original sin at the time of the angel's appearance the greeting would have been untruthful and vain. It remained for theology to establish in what manner it was truthful...

...Now toward the end of the Year of Jubilee in 1854, the work on the promulgation of the dogma was over...

...The morning of the 8th of December, 1854 was clear and beautiful. The blue of the Queen of Heaven was stretched like a great tent of light from horizon to horizon. At dawn, and even before the first light, crowds of people had come to Saint Peter's piazza where they camped in their thousands. Those ​fortunate enough to have tickets of admission crowded into the great basilica glowing with the lights of thousands of candles suspended in crystal chandeliers from the brilliant arches of the great temple...

...The Pope himself has left us a memorial of the morning in a conversation with Mother Mary Macchi, a personal friend of the Holy Father. She was a nun of Santa Trinita dei Monto, a convent the Pope loved to visit. Once after dinner at the convent, the nuns asked the Holy Father to tell them what he had felt in defining the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. After a moment or two of recollection, the Pope replied:

"What I experienced and felt in defining the dogma cannot be fully expressed. When I began the promulgation I felt that my voice was too weak to be heard by the immense crowd [at least fifty thousand people] in the Vatican Basilica. But when I came to the formula of definition God gave his Vicar such power and strength that his voice filled the whole basilica. I was so moved by this, that I was forced to stop speaking for a moment while tears rained down my cheeks. While God proclaimed the dogma through the mouth of His Vicar He made me see so clearly and fully the incomparable purity of the Blessed Virgin that deep down in my spirit my soul was overwhelmed with joy beyond this earth...I do not fear to assert the Vicar of God had need of a special grace or else he would have died of love through his knowledge and the tremendous flood of exalted feeling."

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

On the 50th anniversary of "A Charlie Brown Christmas": the Real story of Christmas and the Gospel according to Luke

This year marks the 50th anniversary of A Charlie Brown Christmas.  With its cool jazz music, real kids’ voices, no laugh track, wry humor, and a timeless message, it was ahead of its time attacking the secularism and commercialism of the “holiday season”. 
The best part of the show had no music at all – 
a simple recitation by Linus of Luke 2: 8-14 that almost did not make it to the screen; 
Charles Schultz resisted network pressure and said If we don’t do it,who will?”

Christmas is the only Federal holiday that is also a religious one – so remember “the reason for the season” and we wish all you a Merry and Blessed Christmas!

Monday, November 30, 2015

Christmas Novena begins today: text of prayer recited daily 15 times until Christmas

"Hail and blessed be the hour and moment in which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in piercing cold. In that hour, vouchsafe, O my God! to hear my prayer and grant my desires, through the merits of Our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of His Blessed Mother. Amen."

(It is piously believed that whoever recites the above prayer fifteen times a day from the feast of St. Andrew (30th November) until Christmas will obtain what is asked.)

+MICHAEL AUGUSTINE, Archbishop of New York
New York, February 6, 1897

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Full text of the Pope's address to the joint session of Congress

Mr. Vice-President,
Mr. Speaker,
Honorable Members of Congress, Dear Friends,

I am most grateful for your invitation to address this Joint Session of Congress in “the land of the free and the home of the brave”. I would like to think that the reason for this is that I too am a son of this great continent, from which we have all received so much and toward which we share a common responsibility.

Each son or daughter of a given country has a mission, a personal and social responsibility. Your own responsibility as members of Congress is to enable this country, by your legislative activity, to grow as a nation. You are the face of its people, their representatives. You are called to defend and preserve the dignity of your fellow citizens in the tireless and demanding pursuit of the common good, for this is the chief aim of all politics. A political society endures when it seeks, as a vocation, to satisfy common needs by stimulating the growth of all its members, especially those in situations of greater vulnerability or risk. Legislative activity is always based on care for the people. To this you have been invited, called and convened by those who elected you.

Yours is a work which makes me reflect in two ways on the figure of Moses. On the one hand, the patriarch and lawgiver of the people of Israel symbolizes the need of peoples to keep alive their sense of unity by means of just legislation. On the other, the figure of Moses leads us directly to God and thus to the transcendent dignity of the human being. Moses provides us with a good synthesis of your work: you are asked to protect, by means of the law, the image and likeness fashioned by God on every human face.

Today I would like not only to address you, but through you the entire people of the United States. Here, together with their representatives, I would like to take this opportunity to dialogue with the many thousands of men and women who strive each day to do an honest day’s work, to bring home their daily bread, to save money and –one step at a time – to build a better life for their families. These are men and women who are not concerned simply with paying their taxes, but in their own quiet way sustain the life of society. They generate solidarity by their actions, and they create organizations which offer a helping hand to those most in need.

I would also like to enter into dialogue with the many elderly persons who are a storehouse of wisdom forged by experience, and who seek in many ways, especially through volunteer work, to share their stories and their insights. I know that many of them are retired, but still active; they keep working to build up this land. I also want to dialogue with all those young people who are working to realize their great and noble aspirations, who are not led astray by facile proposals, and who face difficult situations, often as a result of immaturity on the part of many adults. I wish to dialogue with all of you, and I would like to do so through the historical memory of your people.

My visit takes place at a time when men and women of good will are marking the anniversaries of several great Americans. The complexities of history and the reality of human weakness notwithstanding, these men and women, for all their many differences and limitations, were able by hard work and self-sacrifice – some at the cost of their lives – to build a better future. They shaped fundamental values which will endure forever in the spirit of the American people. A people with this spirit can live through many crises, tensions and conflicts, while always finding the resources to move forward, and to do so with dignity. These men and women offer us a way of seeing and interpreting reality. In honoring their memory, we are inspired, even amid conflicts, and in the here and now of each day, to draw upon our deepest cultural reserves.

I would like to mention four of these Americans: Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton.

This year marks the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, the guardian of liberty, who labored tirelessly that “this nation, under God, [might] have a new birth of freedom”. Building a future of freedom requires love of the common good and cooperation in a spirit of subsidiarity and solidarity.

All of us are quite aware of, and deeply worried by, the disturbing social and political situation of the world today. Our world is increasingly a place of violent conflict, hatred and brutal atrocities, committed even in the name of God and of religion. We know that no religion is immune from forms of individual delusion or ideological extremism. This means that we must be especially attentive to every type of fundamentalism, whether religious or of any other kind. A delicate balance is required to combat violence perpetrated in the name of a religion, an ideology or an economic system, while also safeguarding religious freedom, intellectual freedom and individual freedoms. But there is another temptation which we must especially guard against: the simplistic reductionism which sees only good or evil; or, if you will, the righteous and sinners. The contemporary world, with its open wounds which affect so many of our brothers and sisters, demands that we confront every form of polarization which would divide it into these two camps. We know that in the attempt to be freed of the enemy without, we can be tempted to feed the enemy within. To imitate the hatred and violence of tyrants and murderers is the best way to take their place. That is something which you, as a people, reject.

Our response must instead be one of hope and healing, of peace and justice. We are asked to summon the courage and the intelligence to resolve today’s many geopolitical and economic crises. Even in the developed world, the effects of unjust structures and actions are all too apparent. Our efforts must aim at restoring hope, righting wrongs, maintaining commitments, and thus promoting the well-being of individuals and of peoples. We must move forward together, as one, in a renewed spirit of fraternity and solidarity, cooperating generously for the common good.

The challenges facing us today call for a renewal of that spirit of cooperation, which has accomplished so much good throughout the history of the United States. The complexity, the gravity and the urgency of these challenges demand that we pool our resources and talents, and resolve to support one another, with respect for our differences and our convictions of conscience.

In this land, the various religious denominations have greatly contributed to building and strengthening society. It is important that today, as in the past, the voice of faith continue to be heard, for it is a voice of fraternity and love, which tries to bring out the best in each person and in each society. Such cooperation is a powerful resource in the battle to eliminate new global forms of slavery, born of grave injustices which can be overcome only through new policies and new forms of social consensus.

Here I think of the political history of the United States, where democracy is deeply rooted in the mind of the American people. All political activity must serve and promote the good of the human person and be based on respect for his or her dignity. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” (Declaration of Independence, 4 July 1776). If politics must truly be at the service of the human person, it follows that it cannot be a slave to the economy and finance. Politics is, instead, an expression of our compelling need to live as one, in order to build as one the greatest common good: that of a community which sacrifices particular interests in order to share, in justice and peace, its goods, its interests, its social life. I do not underestimate the difficulty that this involves, but I encourage you in this effort.

Here too I think of the march which Martin Luther King led from Selma to Montgomery fifty years ago as part of the campaign to fulfill his “dream” of full civil and political rights for African Americans. That dream continues to inspire us all. I am happy that America continues to be, for many, a land of “dreams”. Dreams which lead to action, to participation, to commitment. Dreams which awaken what is deepest and truest in the life of a people.

In recent centuries, millions of people came to this land to pursue their dream of building a future in freedom. We, the people of this continent, are not fearful of foreigners, because most of us were once foreigners. I say this to you as the son of immigrants, knowing that so many of you are also descended from immigrants. Tragically, the rights of those who were here long before us were not always respected. For those peoples and their nations, from the heart of American democracy, I wish to reaffirm my highest esteem and appreciation. Those first contacts were often turbulent and violent, but it is difficult to judge the past by the criteria of the present. Nonetheless, when the stranger in our midst appeals to us, we must not repeat the sins and the errors of the past. We must resolve now to live as nobly and as justly as possible, as we educate new generations not to turn their back on our “neighbors” and everything around us. Building a nation calls us to recognize that we must constantly relate to others, rejecting a mindset of hostility in order to adopt one of reciprocal subsidiarity, in a constant effort to do our best. I am confident that we can do this.

Our world is facing a refugee crisis of a magnitude not seen since the Second World War. This presents us with great challenges and many hard decisions. On this continent, too, thousands of persons are led to travel north in search of a better life for themselves and for their loved ones, in search of greater opportunities. Is this not what we want for our own children? We must not be taken aback by their numbers, but rather view them as persons, seeing their faces and listening to their stories, trying to respond as best we can to their situation. To respond in a way which is always humane, just and fraternal. We need to avoid a common temptation nowadays: to discard whatever proves troublesome. Let us remember the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Mt 7:12).

This Rule points us in a clear direction. Let us treat others with the same passion and compassion with which we want to be treated. Let us seek for others the same possibilities which we seek for ourselves. Let us help others to grow, as we would like to be helped ourselves. In a word, if we want security, let us give security; if we want life, let us give life; if we want opportunities, let us provide opportunities. The yardstick we use for others will be the yardstick which time will use for us. The Golden Rule also reminds us of our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development.

This conviction has led me, from the beginning of my ministry, to advocate at different levels for the global abolition of the death penalty. I am convinced that this way is the best, since every life is sacred, every human person is endowed with an inalienable dignity, and society can only benefit from the rehabilitation of those convicted of crimes. Recently my brother bishops here in the United States renewed their call for the abolition of the death penalty. Not only do I support them, but I also offer encouragement to all those who are convinced that a just and necessary punishment must never exclude the dimension of hope and the goal of rehabilitation.

In these times when social concerns are so important, I cannot fail to mention the Servant of God Dorothy Day, who founded the Catholic Worker Movement. Her social activism, her passion for justice and for the cause of the oppressed, were inspired by the Gospel, her faith, and the example of the saints.

How much progress has been made in this area in so many parts of the world! How much has been done in these first years of the third millennium to raise people out of extreme poverty! I know that you share my conviction that much more still needs to be done, and that in times of crisis and economic hardship a spirit of global solidarity must not be lost. At the same time I would encourage you to keep in mind all those people around us who are trapped in a cycle of poverty. They too need to be given hope. The fight against poverty and hunger must be fought constantly and on many fronts, especially in its causes. I know that many Americans today, as in the past, are working to deal with this problem.

It goes without saying that part of this great effort is the creation and distribution of wealth. The right use of natural resources, the proper application of technology and the harnessing of the spirit of enterprise are essential elements of an economy which seeks to be modern, inclusive and sustainable. “Business is a noble vocation, directed to producing wealth and improving the world. It can be a fruitful source of prosperity for the area in which it operates, especially if it sees the creation of jobs as an essential part of its service to the common good” (Laudato Si’, 129). This common good also includes the earth, a central theme of the encyclical which I recently wrote in order to “enter into dialogue with all people about our common home” (ibid., 3). “We need a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all” (ibid., 14).

In Laudato Si’, I call for a courageous and responsible effort to “redirect our steps” (ibid., 61), and to avert the most serious effects of the environmental deterioration caused by human activity. I am convinced that we can make a difference and I have no doubt that the United States – and this Congress – have an important role to play. Now is the time for courageous actions and strategies, aimed at implementing a “culture of care” (ibid., 231) and “an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded, and at the same time protecting nature” (ibid., 139). “We have the freedom needed to limit and direct technology” (ibid., 112); “to devise intelligent ways of... developing and limiting our power” (ibid., 78); and to put technology “at the service of another type of progress, one which is healthier, more human, more social, more integral” (ibid., 112). In this regard, I am confident that America’s outstanding academic and research institutions can make a vital contribution in the years ahead.

A century ago, at the beginning of the Great War, which Pope Benedict XV termed a “pointless slaughter”, another notable American was born: the Cistercian monk Thomas Merton. He remains a source of spiritual inspiration and a guide for many people. In his autobiography he wrote: “I came into the world. Free by nature, in the image of God, I was nevertheless the prisoner of my own violence and my own selfishness, in the image of the world into which I was born. That world was the picture of Hell, full of men like myself, loving God, and yet hating him; born to love him, living instead in fear of hopeless self-contradictory hungers”. Merton was above all a man of prayer, a thinker who challenged the certitudes of his time and opened new horizons for souls and for the Church. He was also a man of dialogue, a promoter of peace between peoples and religions.

From this perspective of dialogue, I would like to recognize the efforts made in recent months to help overcome historic differences linked to painful episodes of the past. It is my duty to build bridges and to help all men and women, in any way possible, to do the same. When countries which have been at odds resume the path of dialogue – a dialogue which may have been interrupted for the most legitimate of reasons – new opportunities open up for all. This has required, and requires, courage and daring, which is not the same as irresponsibility. A good political leader is one who, with the interests of all in mind, seizes the moment in a spirit of openness and pragmatism. A good political leader always opts to initiate processes rather than possessing spaces (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 222-223).

Being at the service of dialogue and peace also means being truly determined to minimize and, in the long term, to end the many armed conflicts throughout our world. Here we have to ask ourselves: Why are deadly weapons being sold to those who plan to inflict untold suffering on individuals and society? Sadly, the answer, as we all know, is simply for money: money that is drenched in blood, often innocent blood. In the face of this shameful and culpable silence, it is our duty to confront the problem and to stop the arms trade.

Three sons and a daughter of this land, four individuals and four dreams: Lincoln, liberty; Martin Luther King, liberty in plurality and non-exclusion; Dorothy Day, social justice and the rights of persons; and Thomas Merton, the capacity for dialogue and openness to God.

Four representatives of the American people.

I will end my visit to your country in Philadelphia, where I will take part in the World Meeting of Families. It is my wish that throughout my visit the family should be a recurrent theme. How essential the family has been to the building of this country! And how worthy it remains of our support and encouragement! Yet I cannot hide my concern for the family, which is threatened, perhaps as never before, from within and without. Fundamental relationships are being called into question, as is the very basis of marriage and the family. I can only reiterate the importance and, above all, the richness and the beauty of family life.

In particular, I would like to call attention to those family members who are the most vulnerable, the young. For many of them, a future filled with countless possibilities beckons, yet so many others seem disoriented and aimless, trapped in a hopeless maze of violence, abuse and despair. Their problems are our problems. We cannot avoid them. We need to face them together, to talk about them and to seek effective solutions rather than getting bogged down in discussions. At the risk of oversimplifying, we might say that we live in a culture which pressures young people not to start a family, because they lack possibilities for the future. Yet this same culture presents others with so many options that they too are dissuaded from starting a family.

A nation can be considered great when it defends liberty as Lincoln did, when it fosters a culture which enables people to “dream” of full rights for all their brothers and sisters, as Martin Luther King sought to do; when it strives for justice and the cause of the oppressed, as Dorothy Day did by her tireless work, the fruit of a faith which becomes dialogue and sows peace in the contemplative style of Thomas Merton.

In these remarks I have sought to present some of the richness of your cultural heritage, of the spirit of the American people. It is my desire that this spirit continue to develop and grow, so that as many young people as possible can inherit and dwell in a land which has inspired so many people to dream.

God bless America!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Fr. George W. Rutler on the forgotten Chrsitian refugees of the Middle East: "Europe, our own administration refusing to acknowledge that their Christian faith is the essential fact in the calculus of their suffering."

  September 20, 2015

by Fr. George W. Rutler

A parish is particularly privileged when the Pope comes not only to its city but to the parish itself. Our church has one of the largest capacities in the archdiocese, and we will be hosting a special Holy Hour this Thursday for nearly a thousand young adults. Madison Square Garden will be site of the Pontifical Mass on Friday, for reasons of sheer size and security. On a building on Eighth Avenue, two minutes from our church, is a fine mural that took 100 gallons of paint to show a welcoming figure of Pope Francis, 225 feet high and 93 feet across. This work was the contribution of the Diocese of Brooklyn and will remain in place as a reminder of his visit for six weeks after the pope departs New York for the major part of his U.S. visit in Philadelphia.

   One urgent pastoral matter that Pope Francis has been addressing as the Chief Shepherd of his flock is the refugee crisis in Europe, but it also affects us. There are probably as many opinions on how to deal with this as there are people trying to form a cogent response, but especially prudent is the counsel of bishops in places like Hungary and Slovakia who know from long experience the consequences of confusing naïveté with mercy. Ninety per cent of the current refugees are Muslim, and the situation is complicated by the fact that ISIS boasts that there are many of their own people among them. The founder of, Father Benedict Kiely, has noted: “Emotion, rather than a rational response to a real problem, seems to be the guiding light for the panicked reaction of so many world leaders.” To their shame, the very rich Islamic states in the Persian Gulf have not accepted a single refugee.

   A bipartisan resolution introduced in Congress calls the persecution of Christians in that sorry part of the world “genocide.” This past year, 120,000 Christians were driven from the Nineveh Plain in Iraq with no possessions. During more than four years of civil war, the ancient Christian community in Syria is being destroyed. Christians are not a significant part of the immigrant tide flooding Europe from the UN camps in Syria, Jordan and Turkey because Islamic terrorists have driven them out of those camps for refusing to convert. An Hungarian bishop rightly insisted, and was criticized for it, that to most of the migrants, Christians are second-class citizens. Europe and our own administration in Washington are virtually ignoring their plight, refusing to acknowledge that their Christian faith is the essential fact in the calculus of their suffering. When Coptic Christians were slain in Egypt, our government avoided calling them anything other than “Egyptian citizens.” As Father Kiely has said, “Political correctness is not only a new form of totalitarianism, it is dangerous to national security.”

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Pope's Letter on the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy

Pope's letter on the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy Vatican City, 1 September 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has sent a letter to Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelisation, regarding the extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, in which he reaffirms his hope that the jubilee indulgence will lead every person to a “genuine experience of God's mercy” and explains that it can also be obtained by incarcerated persons. In addition, he grants to all priests, notwithstanding any provision to the contrary, the faculty to absolve from sin those who have resorted to abortion, repenting and asking forgiveness with a sincere heart, and establishes that those who during the Holy Year of Mercy approach the priests of the Fraternity of St Pius X to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation shall validly and licitly receive the absolution of their sins. The following is the full text of the letter: “With the approach of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy I would like to focus on several points which I believe require attention to enable the celebration of the Holy Year to be for all believers a true moment of encounter with the mercy of God. It is indeed my wish that the Jubilee be a living experience of the closeness of the Father, whose tenderness is almost tangible, so that the faith of every believer may be strengthened and thus testimony to it be ever more effective. “My thought first of all goes to all the faithful who, whether in individual Dioceses or as pilgrims to Rome, will experience the grace of the Jubilee. I wish that the Jubilee Indulgence may reach each one as a genuine experience of God’s mercy, which comes to meet each person in the Face of the Father who welcomes and forgives, forgetting completely the sin committed. To experience and obtain the Indulgence, the faithful are called to make a brief pilgrimage to the Holy Door, open in every Cathedral or in the churches designated by the Diocesan Bishop, and in the four Papal Basilicas in Rome, as a sign of the deep desire for true conversion. Likewise, I dispose that the Indulgence may be obtained in the Shrines in which the Door of Mercy is open and in the churches which traditionally are identified as Jubilee Churches. It is important that this moment be linked, first and foremost, to the Sacrament of Reconciliation and to the celebration of the Holy Eucharist with a reflection on mercy. It will be necessary to accompany these celebrations with the profession of faith and with prayer for me and for the intentions that I bear in my heart for the good of the Church and of the entire world. “Additionally, I am thinking of those for whom, for various reasons, it will be impossible to enter the Holy Door, particularly the sick and people who are elderly and alone, often confined to the home. For them it will be of great help to live their sickness and suffering as an experience of closeness to the Lord who in the mystery of his Passion, death and Resurrection indicates the royal road which gives meaning to pain and loneliness. Living with faith and joyful hope this moment of trial, receiving communion or attending Holy Mass and community prayer, even through the various means of communication, will be for them the means of obtaining the Jubilee Indulgence. My thoughts also turn to those incarcerated, whose freedom is limited. The Jubilee Year has always constituted an opportunity for great amnesty, which is intended to include the many people who, despite deserving punishment, have become conscious of the injustice they worked and sincerely wish to re-enter society and make their honest contribution to it. May they all be touched in a tangible way by the mercy of the Father who wants to be close to those who have the greatest need of his forgiveness. They may obtain the Indulgence in the chapels of the prisons. May the gesture of directing their thought and prayer to the Father each time they cross the threshold of their cell signify for them their passage through the Holy Door, because the mercy of God is able to transform hearts, and is also able to transform bars into an experience of freedom. “I have asked the Church in this Jubilee Year to rediscover the richness encompassed by the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. The experience of mercy, indeed, becomes visible in the witness of concrete signs as Jesus himself taught us. Each time that one of the faithful personally performs one or more of these actions, he or she shall surely obtain the Jubilee Indulgence. Hence the commitment to live by mercy so as to obtain the grace of complete and exhaustive forgiveness by the power of the love of the Father who excludes no one. The Jubilee Indulgence is thus full, the fruit of the very event which is to be celebrated and experienced with faith, hope and charity. “Furthermore, the Jubilee Indulgence can also be obtained for the deceased. We are bound to them by the witness of faith and charity that they have left us. Thus, as we remember them in the Eucharistic celebration, thus we can, in the great mystery of the Communion of Saints, pray for them, that the merciful Face of the Father free them of every remnant of fault and strongly embrace them in the unending beatitude. “One of the serious problems of our time is clearly the changed relationship with respect to life. A widespread and insensitive mentality has led to the loss of the proper personal and social sensitivity to welcome new life. The tragedy of abortion is experienced by some with a superficial awareness, as if not realising the extreme harm that such an act entails. Many others, on the other hand, although experiencing this moment as a defeat, believe they they have no other option. I think in particular of all the women who have resorted to abortion. I am well aware of the pressure that has led them to this decision. I know that it is an existential and moral ordeal. I have met so many women who bear in their heart the scar of this agonising and painful decision. What has happened is profoundly unjust; yet only understanding the truth of it can enable one not to lose hope. The forgiveness of God cannot be denied to one who has repented, especially when that person approaches the Sacrament of Confession with a sincere heart in order to obtain reconciliation with the Father. For this reason too, I have decided, notwithstanding anything to the contrary, to concede to all priests for the Jubilee Year the discretion to absolve of the sin of abortion those who have procured it and who, with contrite heart, seek forgiveness for it. May priests fulfil this great task by expressing words of genuine welcome combined with a reflection that explains the gravity of the sin committed, besides indicating a path of authentic conversion by which to obtain the true and generous forgiveness of the Father who renews all with his presence. “A final consideration concerns those faithful who for various reasons choose to attend churches officiated by priests of the Fraternity of St Pius X. This Jubilee Year of Mercy excludes no one. From various quarters, several Brother Bishops have told me of their good faith and sacramental practice, combined however with an uneasy situation from the pastoral standpoint. I trust that in the near future solutions may be found to recover full communion with the priests and superiors of the Fraternity. In the meantime, motivated by the need to respond to the good of these faithful, through my own disposition, I establish that those who during the Holy Year of Mercy approach these priests of the Fraternity of St Pius X to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation shall validly and licitly receive the absolution of their sins. “Trusting in the intercession of the Mother of Mercy, I entrust the preparations for this Extraordinary

Thursday, August 13, 2015



Six months ago, I moved to Vermont. I now live in a state that is ranked 49th by Americans United for Life in terms of protection of the life of children in the womb.  My state representative (I live in Chittenden District 6-3) is employed as a VP at Planned Parenthood of Northern New England.  At the start of this year’s state legislative term, pro-choice advocates forced a roll-call vote of each member as to their support of “Roe v. Wade” even though no pro-life or pro-choice initiatives were on this year’s legislative agenda.  Obviously, the pro-choice side was affirmed overwhelmingly.  Vermont does not have any of the major types of abortion restrictions—such as waiting periods, mandated parental involvement or limitations on publicly funded abortions—often found in other states.

Yet, as is the case all over the United States, the number of pregnancies ending in abortion continues to decline in Vermont. In 1991, 22.8 % of pregnancies in Vermont ended in abortion. Twenty years later in 2011, 11.7% of children were aborted. It is still a terrible number, but the decline gives hope. Even in this most pro-abortion of all states, men and women are coming to see the tragic nature of abortion and choosing to do otherwise.  We Catholics and those who share our pro-life beliefs need to continue to be strong witnesses to the truth that all human life is sacred and the greatest gift from God.

Presently, much outrage is being generated by the release of undercover videos of conversations between representatives of Planned Parenthood and men and women posing as “buyers” looking to procure body parts and tissue samples from aborted children.  The callousness with which the Planned Parenthood staff speaks of the harvesting of organs from what was once a living human being is horrifying and stunning. But, sadly, I am not surprised. In numerous instances, the more radical proponents of abortion rights, of which the people at Planned Parenthood are the most outspoken, always speak of the child in the womb as simply “an embryo” or “tissue.”  For them, it is not a human life, a person, a child. It is tissue. So, why are we surprised when they treat the remains of the “tissue,” as just that, something one can simply dispose of as one will? 

It is my hope that the content of these videos which reveal how Planned Parenthood and its staff truly view human life in the womb will serve as a “wake up call,” even a slap in the face to all of us and spur more and more men and women to come to know that the pre-born child is not tissue, but a beautiful creation of God.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

"Our Lady of the Snows": The story behind the "major", or greatest, Basilica dedicated to Our Lady in Rome

When Liberius was Pope, a Roman patrician named John, and his wife, also of noble birth, having no children to inherit their goods, vowed their inheritance to the most holy Virgin Mother of God. The blessed Virgin heard their prayers and approved their vow by a miracle.

On the 5th of August, which is that time when the heat of summer waxeth greatest in the City, a part of the Esquiline Hill was covered by night with snow. And on that same night, the Mother of God told John and his wife separately in dreams that they should build a church on that place. When John told this to Pope Liberius, he said that he had had the same dream. The Pope therefore went to the snow-covered hill and there marked out a site.

The church was built with the money given by John and his wife, and was later restored by Sixtus III. It hath been given various names; but, so that its title may indicate its excellence, it is called the Church of St. Mary Major.

From the Breviarium Romanum

Monday, July 6, 2015

Why am I asking our bishops to remove Sr Carol Keehan from leadership of the CHAUSA or the title "Catholic" from its name?

By Father Kevin M. Cusick
With all due respect, it is time the bishops acted.

Sister Carol Keehan’s latest outrage of scandalous disobedience was to invite President Obama to address the national gathering of the US Catholic Health Association where he proceeded to thank the organization and credit them with the role of those without whose help he could not have passed Obamacare.

The increasingly confusing Catholic landscape is making the truth of Catholic faith and morals ever more difficult for the average Catholic to grasp in the context of what Benedict XVI called a “catechetical emergency”. Where the bishops can act to remove that fog of war in the battle for winning souls they should act. The math is simple: either remove Sister Carol Keehan from leadership of the CHAUSA or act publicly to remove the title “Catholic” from the organization.

We must support our bishops by prayer and obedience. We must act in tandem with them to spread and nurture the Catholic faith for the salvation of souls. But at the same time we are all of us, bishops and people, alike subject to the faith and morals of the Church of Christ, and must help and correct each other whenever that becomes necessary in order to do the same. There are many things the Catholic bishops have no earthly power to do anything about except to pray. At the same time there are always situations where no one has the power to act except the bishops together on the national level or an individual bishop in his own diocese.

Abortion is not healthcare; it is murder. Sister Carol Keehan has openly defied Jesus Christ by her encouraging and enabling behavior at every step of the process to introduce the HHS mandate as part of the “Affordable” Healthcare Plan. Even the title of the plan itself has turned out to be a specious lie as so many people are now bankrupted by the program or turned away from any source of health insurance altogether. Above every other consideration, however, the plan is not about health care as long as it approves or pays for any form of abortifacients.

Those issues aside, and considering all she has failed to refuse moral cooperation in the HHS mandate, her latest escapade of inviting President Obama to address the organization in a national high-profile gathering is a purely gratuitous and simply unnecessary scandal of complete and utter disobedience.

For the bishops to, at the same time, allow her to continue lobbying on the national stage for abortifacients like contraception while the bishops themselves are attempting to rightly teach the opposite, in accord with Humanae Vitae, that every use of artificial contraception is a moral evil confuses and divides Catholics who are already struggling to do what is right or need constant support of right teaching in order to reject what is sinful with the help of grace.


Monday, June 29, 2015

Archdiocese of Washington eliminates annulment fees

After consultation with the Priest Council and the Tribunal, Cardinal Wuerl has accepted the proposal to eliminate all fees for the annulment process, effective immediately. This includes the $750 fee for a formal annulment case and the $100 fee for a declaration of nullity due to lack of proper canonical form.

This decision comes in anticipation of the Jubilee of Mercy announced by Pope Francis to begin on December 8, 2015 and as we prepare to welcome Pope Francis to Washington in September. In his address to the Roman Rota in January, our Holy Father indicated how important it is that each tribunal assists those who wish to return to the sacraments. He commented, "How I wish all marriage proceedings were free of charge!"

Up to now, the Archdiocese has subsidized the annulment process for anyone who approaches the Tribunal. Even though we requested the fees listed above, if anyone were unable to pay the fees, they were waived. With the elimination of these trees, it is hoped that anyone who may have been reluctant to approach the tribunal will now feel welcome to submit their case.

From a letter dated today, 29 June 2015, on Archdiocesan letterhead emailed today by Auxiliary Bishop Barry Knestout.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Michigan Catholic Bishops' Statement on Supreme Court Decision Redefining Marriage

Today’s decision from the U.S. Supreme Court to redefine marriage represents a profound legal turning point in the contemporary and cultural understanding of spouses and family. We continue to teach that every human person deserves respect and compassion. The experience of same-sex attraction is a reality that calls for attention, sensitivity and pastoral care. While every person is called to love and deserves to be loved, today’s momentous decision will not change the truth of the Church’s teaching on marriage.

The Catholic Church teaches that marriage is and can only be the union of one man and one woman. This union brings two persons together and, because of their natural biological composition, each bring qualities to the marriage that differ from one another. Man and woman complement each other; they then become united as one in marriage and together are unique in their ability to create new life based on sexual and reproductive differences. Every child has a mother and a father and even though each child deserves to be loved and raised by them together, we are conscious of and loving toward those circumstances in which this arrangement of a married mother and father in the home is not reality. Married couples unable to conceive children or family structures that differ – single parents, widowed parents, adopted children and those being raised by grandparents or other family members – merit compassion and support for their life situations, which at times can be difficult and challenging.

The Church and her ministries must remain conscious of and respectful toward these differing dynamics, especially when support, counsel and love is sought. Going forward, the Supreme Court’s decision to redefine marriage will have a significant ripple effect upon the first amendment right to religious liberty. It sets the Church’s teaching about marriage in opposition to the law and will create inestimable conflicts between the state and religious persons and institutions. As the impact of the decision plays out over the coming weeks and months the Catholic Church will continue to preach the truth about marriage and will promote, in the public square, this truth as what is good for society and our world.

For more info visit web site of Michigan Catholic Conference:

Sunday, June 21, 2015

True Story of Providential Encounter Between Navy Chaplain and a Marine Cousin at Sea

One Saturday at sea we flew on a SH-60 from USS Kearsarge to visit Sailors and Marines on the Arlington, one of three 9-11 memorial ships recently commissioned and part of the amphibious group.

During time set aside before Mass this evening I waited in the chaplain's office for the purpose of providing confessions and talking. A young Marine corporal came in and sat down. His face struck me as vaguely familiar. That, in combination with his last name, which is emblazoned on every military uniform, made me pause. I blurted out the name of my first cousin who died after prolonged treatment for a brain tumor in Illinois and he responded, "That's my mother!"

When I was in Illinois for the funeral, which was a beautiful celebration of faith by a holy Catholic family, he would have been too young to get to know. We took care of that today. I know his mother was present in spirit and added to the joy of our meeting. And what was it that brought us together for this blessing? It was a Person, Jesus Christ, who did so as we sought, one to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in that ship's chapel, and the other, to worship thereby.

Big Church, small world.

(In photo, Chaplain Cusick, left and Corporal Price, USMC.)

Thursday, May 21, 2015

A Pastoral Letter: Our Greatest Threat is in Abandoning the Practice of our Catholic Faith

Dear Catholic Parents,

I write to you in charity as a family that has been at one time, or is now, associated in any way with the Lord’s faith family at Saint Francis de Sales Parish.

We are in the midst of a terrible crisis. It is not one of wars or terrorism that threaten only our bodies and it is not an economic one, for we are able to eat and find shelter for which we thank God daily. The crisis of which I speak is one of a failure of faithful leadership on the part of many of our parents, those to whom Almighty God has entrusted our children, His greatest treasures.

We are saved by grace through faith. Our most terrifying thought should not be inspired by fear of anything in this world, but rather of losing our Catholic faith and, with it, our salvation. No one can replace parents in the role of educating our children in the faith and no one is given more power by God to serve as witnesses for our young people. This role cannot be abdicated or delegated to anyone else.

“We have here no lasting city” and the worst sort of idolatry by which the Evil One separates us from God and destroys our souls is the placing of idols in our lives where only God should be. This is what happens when we choose to replace worship of God on the Lord’s Day at holy Mass with anything else. If we do this we lose the state of grace imparted for the first time at Baptism and built up by reception of the Eucharist because if we break any one of God’s Commandments we break all of them.

To the many families who do not believe they can commit to anything beyond what is absolutely required for their children to receive Baptism, Communion or Confirmation we say with Christ, “Put out into the deep.” What are the signs of a soul open with hope for conversion and new life in Christ? Surely this means doing more than the mere minimum that others can see such as attending Sunday Mass but it is certainly a start.

Certainly there is the daily walk of faith than includes personal prayer but there is also the Sacrament of Confession so as to return to a state of grace after mortal sin and receive the Eucharist worthily, parish community life which offers learning and prayer beyond Sunday through adult faith formation, daily Mass and Eucharistic adoration to deepen personal faith formation.

Together we can bring an end to the widespread phenomenon in which, by default, Confirmation becomes in effect a “graduation” from full practice of the Catholic Faith.

Will you begin to take the steps today to stop the scandal of so many of our young people falling into mortal sin after Confirmation? I see them as they sadly walk away from Christ at Christmas and Easter unable to receive the Eucharist, unable to rely even on the loving encouragement of their parents to attend Sunday Mass weekly. We need prayer and action. If you or your children have indeed been away from Sunday Mass please help: be a true “friend” to your children by being a parent first through supporting and accompanying them to Sunday Mass weekly.

Jesus Christ is the sole savior of the world. The worst kind of climate change is that of the soul when we lose the state of grace through mortal sin. But God is ever merciful and through infinite love forgives us when we return to Him once again through the sacrament of Confession.

Thank you for reading my letter.

In prayer through the Lord’s saving mercy and infinite love,

Father Kevin M. Cusick
Saint Francis de Sales Catholic Church
Benedict, Maryland

A Pastoral Letter: Our Greatest Threat is in Abandoning the Catholic Faith

more and more ‘experts’ who pretend to occupy the role of parents, who are relegated to second place,

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Addiction to images and virtual reality

Dear friends,

One of you recently messaged me about a sordid situation arising from an association based on a Facebook "friend" so I am writing to all of you about a Catholic practice for the sake of protecting chastity and peace of soul called "custody of the eyes".

Custody of the eyes is a protection of the heart, intellect and the will based on awareness of the false glory of the world and of the sometimes misleading nature of appearances.

Except for people I know personally outside of Internet context I use social networks under an operating assumption that images may not faithfully represent the identity of the person using them and that they may not intend for such to do so. Some parents use images of their children, for example. Some persons use images that portray themselves at a younger age.

The most egregious case of sinful use of images is pornography but that is not the only way that images can be misused for deception or manipulation of others.

When you friend someone in reality you can see the real person and make judgments, such as whether a continued friendship will be beneficial or not to your salvation. On Facebook and other social media such a judgment is impossible due to the fact that images can be manipulated. falsified or stolen.

Given this reality we must protect ourselves from potential moral danger either by assuming all images are not truly faithful to reality or by friending only those people that we know. Thus a decision and action is necessary.

Failing that, there is always the option of preserving peace and heart of mind and soul, as well as a state of grace, by foregoing Facebook altogether.

Salvation first.

Ad Iesu per Mariam,

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Veterum Sapientia Latin Conference hosted at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. this August 2-8

Salvete in Domino,

I wish to inform you of the third annual 
Veterum Sapientia Latin Conference hosted this year at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. this August 2-8 for priests, deacons, religious (male and female), and seminarians.

The program is called Veterum Sapientia, named after the Apostolic Constitution Saint John XXIII signed on the high altar of St. Peter's defending and promoting the study of Latin by seminarians.

VS is intended for intermediate to advanced students of Latin, the minimum being two semesters of seminary Latin. It will also be conducted entirely in Latin (or almost, depending on the skill level of participants). Through activities, conversation, and games the full-immersion experience helps participants transition from a passive knowledge of Latin to an active command, helping one to enter into the language more completely.  For us priests, that means entering more deeply into Latin prayers, sacraments, and ecclesial texts, helping us “sentire cum Ecclesia.”

Naturally, many are nervous about speaking Latin, especially at first.  Noli timere!  We are offering two tracks:  those speaking Latin for the first time and a more advanced group.  Many are amazed how quickly they find themselves beginning to hold conversations entirely in Latin just after a few days.
Cost is $150.  More information and registration can be found here: <>

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Parents: Our young people need your selfless love for their salvation, not another "friend"

The pastoral plan in our parish is to hand on the Faith to be lived for the whole of life. The reason that this is our plan is because it is God’s plan. Individuals and families are called to learn the tools and skills for the daily following of the Gospel. This requires conversion and new life for all of us. The daily following of the Gospel is not for a time but until death so as "to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth", a knowledge based upon the evidence of seeing God face to face forever in heaven.

For many families who do not believe they can commit to anything beyond what is absolutely required for their children to receive Confirmation we say with Christ, “Put out into the deep.” What are the signs of a soul open with hope for conversion and new life in Christ? Surely this means doing more than the mere minimum that others can see such as attending Sunday Mass.

Certainly there is the daily walk of faith than includes personal prayer but there is also the Sacrament of Confession so as to return to a state of grace after mortal sin and receive the Eucharist worthily, the opportunities for community life beyond Sunday such as adult faith formation, daily Mass, Eucharistic adoration and other opportunities for formative growth through learning and prayer. Together we can bring an end to the widespread phenomenon in which, by default, Confirmation becomes in effect a “graduation” from full practice of the Catholic Faith.

Will you begin to take the steps today to stop the scandal on the part of so many of our young people who fall into mortal sin after Confirmation? I see them as they sadly walk away from Christ unable to receive the Eucharist, unable to rely even on the loving encouragement of their parents to attend Sunday Mass. We need prayer and action. Please help. Meeting Christ in the Liturgy: Our young people need your selfless love for their salvation

Thursday, April 30, 2015


The history of Christian pilgrimages to Lourdes began with Bernadette Soubirous, who was born at the Boly Mill in Lourdes to François Soubirous and Louise Castérot on 7 January 1844. The eldest of nine children, Bernadette lived at the mill with her siblings and parents for ten years. After facing dire financial circumstances, the family moved to an unused prison, known as the Cachot, where they lived in considerable poverty.

On 11 February 1858, 14-year-old Bernadette was sent to collect firewood at the nearby river, Gave de Pau. Noticing a strange wind, she looked up from the riverbank and saw a beautiful lady dressed in white appearing in a hollow of a rocky cave. Bernadette received 18 such visions of this woman in white, who eventually identified herself as the Immaculate Conception, a Marian title solemnized less than five years earlier by Pope Pius IX. During the apparitions, Our Lady shared with Bernadette the message of the importance of faith, prayer and repentance. She guided Bernadette to uncover an underground stream, whose waters have long been a source of spiritual and physical healing to pilgrims throughout the world.

In 1866, Bernadette entered the Convent of the Sisters of Charity in Nevers, where she died on 16 April 1879, at the age of 35. Recognized for her humble simplicity and devout faith, Bernadette was declared a saint of the Church by Pope Pius XI on 8 December 1933.

Responding to Our Lady’s call for prayer and repentance, pilgrims — including members of the armed forces — have flocked to Lourdes for more than 150 years. During the Second World War, members of the French military visited the site of St. Bernadette’s apparitions, where they offered prayers for peace. On 10 December 1944, U.S. military personnel joined British, Belgian, French and Russian military representatives for a Mass at the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary, which had been built in 1901 to accommodate the large number of worshipers visiting the apparition site.

In 1947, a German military chaplain — who had been held as a prisoner of war in France since 1944 — was invited to participate in a military pilgrimage held in September that year. By the next year, German and Belgian soldiers began participating in larger numbers, followed by soldiers from many other countries.

In 1958, the year of the 100th anniversary of the apparitions, the first official International Military Pilgrimage (Pèlerinage Militaire International or PMI) took place. In 2014, Bishop Luc Ravel of the Diocese of the French Armed Forces presided over the pilgrimage, welcoming military chaplains, service men and service women from various delegations throughout the world. This year’s pilgrimage, which marks the 57th anniversary of the PMI, focuses on the theme “I Am My Brother’s Keeper.”

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Cardinal Brandmüller: Advocates for changing Catholic teaching on marriage are ‘heretics’ – even if they are bishops

April 14, 2015 ( -- Cardinal Walter Brandmüller has been among the leading voices critical of proposals stemming from the Vatican’s Synod on the Family that risk subverting Catholic teaching on the sacraments and morality. He was one of five cardinals who contributed to the book Remaining in the Truth of Christ, which focused on criticizing Cardinal Walter Kasper’s proposal to open up Communion to those in irregular sexual unions.
LifeSiteNews contributor Dr. Maike Hickson interviewed Cardinal Brandmüller last month.
LifeSiteNews: Could you present once more for our readers clearly the teaching of the Catholic Church, as it has been consistently taught throughout centuries concerning marriage and its indissolubility? 
Cardinal: The answer is to be found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church no. 1638-1642.
Can the Church admit remarried couples to Holy Communion, even though their second marriage is not valid in the eyes of the Church?
That would be possible if the concerned couples would make the decision to live in the future like brother and sister. This solution is especially worth considering when the care for children disallows a separation. The decision for such a path would be a convincing expression of the penance for the previous and protracted act of adultery.
Can the Church deal with the topic of marriage in a pastoral manner that is different from the continual teaching of the Church? Can the Church at all change the teaching itself without falling herself into heresy?
It is evident that the pastoral practice of the Church cannot stand in opposition to the binding doctrine nor simply ignore it. In the same manner, an architect could perhaps build a most beautiful bridge. However, if he does not pay attention to the laws of structural engineering, he risks the collapse of his construction. In the same manner, every pastoral practice has to follow the Word of God if it does not want to fail. A change of the teaching, of the dogma, is unthinkable. Who nevertheless consciously does it, or insistently demands it, is a heretic – even if he wears the Roman Purple.
Is not the whole discussion about the admittance of remarried to the Holy Eucharist also an expression of the fact that many Catholics do not believe any more in the Real Presence and rather think that they receive in Holy Communion anyway only a piece of bread?
Indeed, there is an indissoluble inner contradiction in someone who wants to receive the Body and Blood of Christ and to unite himself with Him, while in the same time he disregards consciously His Commandment. How shall this work? St. Paul says about this matter: 'Who eats and drinks unworthily, is eating and drinking his judgment...' But: You are right. By far not all Catholics believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the consecrated host. One can see this fact already in the way many – even priests – pass the tabernacle without genuflection.
Why is there nowadays such a strong attack on the indissolubility of marriage within the Church? A possible answer could be that the spirit of relativism has entered the Church, but there must be more reasons. Could you name some? And are not all these reasons a sign of the crisis of Faith within the Church herself?@MCITLFrAphorism: Cardinal Brandmüller: Advocates for changing Catholic teaching on marriage are ‘heretics’ – even if they are bishops

Monday, April 13, 2015

Has your priest signed the letter to the bishops of the Synod on the Family

Dear Father,

Will you join the nearly-500 priests in England who recently signed a public statement defending the Church’s teachings on the nature and indissolubility of marriage, and asking for clarity from the upcoming Synod on the Family?

Following the amazing success of the priests initiative in England, Voice of the Family, a lay initiative made up of 23 pro-life and pro-family groups from around the world, is now working to promote the initiative internationally.

To add your name to the letter, simply send an e-mail to with your full name, parish and/or religious order, and affirm that you wish to be added as a signatory to the letter. The full text of the open letter appears below. A fuller explanation of this initiative follows after that.


Following the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops in Rome in October 2014 much confusion has arisen concerning Catholic moral teaching. In this situation we wish, as Catholic priests, to re-state our unwavering fidelity to the traditional doctrines regarding marriage and the true meaning of human sexuality, founded on the Word of God and taught by the Church’s Magisterium for two millennia. We commit ourselves anew to the task of presenting this teaching in all its fullness, while reaching out with the Lord’s compassion to those struggling to respond to the demands and challenges of the Gospel in an increasingly secular society. Furthermore we affirm the importance of upholding the Church’s traditional discipline regarding the reception of the sacraments, and that doctrine and practice remain firmly and inseparably in harmony. We urge all those who will participate in the second Synod in October 2015 to make a clear and firm proclamation of the Church’s unchanging moral teaching, so that confusion may be removed, and faith confirmed.

Your name:
Your parish:

It is most likely that, like us, you will have followed the events of last October’s Extraordinary Synod of Bishops and its aftermath with interest. Like us, you may also have been left unsettled and deeply concerned by some of the statements coming out of that Synod, and the manner in which the Synod was at times reported by the media and interpreted by those with a secular ideological agenda. There is now a distorted general sense that the Church’s moral teaching could be changed and that Catholic practice could be altered regardless of doctrine. Even some committed Catholics are making statements that do not reflect the settled teaching of the Church, nor the clear message of the New Testament.

As pastors of souls you will be only too aware of the confusion this has caused to those to whom you minister. All too often it is those who have been most faithful to the teaching of the Church and have made great sacrifices in order to conform their lives to the Gospel, who have been left in greatest distress.

Pope Francis exhorted the participants of the Extraordinary Synod: 'Speak freely and from the heart. And listen humbly to each other.’ Inspired by the Holy Father’s invitation, we wish to make our voice heard.

 Above is the text of a letter which we intend and now propose to publish in the Catholic/national press. It states our adherence to the Church’s traditional doctrine and discipline of marriage, and our request that this will be affirmed without ambiguity by the Synod to be held later in 2015. We also make clear our commitment to serve all those who struggle to live out the demands of the Gospel amidst the often difficult circumstances of modern life. Clarity in teaching is never opposed to good pastoral practice, but is rather its foundation.

Please join your brother priests around the world in making this statement, for which we know many people are longing. We invite you to sign the letter and return it, without delay, to the email address provided.

Thank you for visiting.


Kamsahamnida, Dziekuje, Terima kasih, Doh je, Grazie, Tesekur, Gracias, Dank u, Shukran

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