A Catholic Blog for Lovers

A celebration of beauty, truth, and goodness, and, of course, love...and perhaps a little nastiness

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Saturday, July 10, 2004
Heading north

Unlike my last trip, this one - a 5 night cruise to Canada - takes me north. To some places I've never been before: New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. I wish I could see more of eastern Canada, but, God willing, maybe another time. Just today I remembered that I had known a fine Redemptorist priest who had been stationed for many years in St John's, New Brunswick. Figuring it's worth a shot, I called and was delighted to find out that he is still there and in good health. He will meet us, God willing, at the pier during our visit and give us the grand tour. Adds a nice touch to this, my 7th cruise (the 1st was in February of 2003).

ONION is hanging in there. He was NOT doing well when I got home from Jekyll Island but, unfortunately, he had been left alone for long hours in a totally new place (his caretaker who deeply regrets this poor decision on his part is truly making it up with ONION). This was not good for ONION in his old age and failing health.

But once we both got home he started bouncing back once more and is now happy (and sleeping most of the time) and eating and wagging his tail as he climbs - not easily! - up the 3 stairs to the outside. He inspires me!

I am just hoping he will be OK when I return on Friday. This time I know his caretaker will stay here with ONION in his familiar surroundings and not leave him alone for any length of time. It's hard to convey just how deep a spot in my heart ONION has; he has been my buddy for many years now, and these past few years we've been virtually inseparable (except for my trips and until the last one he was well taken care of while I was gone).

I look forward to this relatively brief cruise on the Voyager of the Seas (Royal Caribbean). I am hoping to use the time to relax and be refreshed and to live in God's presence and enjoy the symphony of nature and to experience the joys of friendship. I hope to pray for you each day and hope you will pray for me as well. I look forward to coming back and being with you again on this little blog.

P.S. Update on "trips" - since we are going to Seville for Holy Week and Easter we needed to celebrate the preLenten season, Carnival and Madri Gras, somewhere special. Well, Rio is out of reach (too expensive) so we've settled on New Orleans!!! (More to come about that trip).


A Privilege!

"You and I are in the Church. Some of us are grateful to God that we were within that Church within almost a few hours of being born. And we have lived long years in that Church and never with a sense of disappointment, save at our own failures. It has been everything to us. It has been Christ to us.

All its great sacraments that we have received have been instituted by Him with such a fitness for us that sometimes we wondered if they had not been made especially for us, and its organization, God's special mercy to us. How we should thank God that He instituted Peter as a Rock on which His Church is built, and the successors of St. Peter to carry on that work of the Church, and for the bishops and clergy. I speak, not as one of them and the most unworthy, but as one who, from childhood, has received those mercies and as one of a family who stood morning by morning at the altar.

I will not say, my dear brethren, that it is a great duty to have continued loyally to the Church; it is a privilege."

-from the last sermon preached by Fr Vincent McNabb OP

Today in Christian history

July 10, 1509: French Protestant reformer John Calvin is born in Nyon, France. Calvin was one of the most "organized" theologian of the early Reformation, and his "Institutes" had a strong influence for generations. Even today there are those in the Reformed tradition who base much of their own theological worldview on Calvin's vision. Calvin emphasized the sovereignty of God and was a proponent of double predestination: some are predestined to eternal life with God, others predestined to an eternal hell. Some of Calvin's vision was put into effect in Geneva, but not without excesses and enough troubles that the experiment did not last for long.

Friday, July 09, 2004
Zeal without knowledge

"I testify with regard to them that they have zeal for God, but it is without knowledge" (Romans 10:2)

In the recent controversy involving the parish of Saint Mary the Virgin (Anglican-Use), the Dallas Morning News took the lead in the "exposing". Apparantly there was some confusion over the status of a priest who was assisting in offering Mass on Sundays and doing a bit of pastoral work, such as instructing potential converts. This priest had been temporarily "removed from parish ministry" after an accusation of sexual abuse was levelled. But since no guilt was determined, and no charges filed, apparantly the local Bishop saw fit to allow the priest back into active ministry in his diocese.

The pastor of the parish, Father Allan Hawkins, is highly regarded by many priests and laity (including some who led the public exposure!). Father Hawkins was assured that Father Christopher Clay (the priest involved) was OK'd for ministry by his Father Christopher's own bishop. For whatever reason, Father Hawkins did not notify his own diocese about allowing Father Clay to minister in his parish. A charitable interpretation would be, I think, that he didn't see the need for this nor realize the importance of this step. But no one, as far as I know, believe he was being deceptive or willing to put young people at risk.

In the rather harsh and damning expose, it was claimed by the DMN and the main figure behind it (Rod Dreher, reporter for the DMN), that Father Clay had been suspended. It comes out now finally that Father Clay was NEVER suspended from the priestly ministry. He had been removed from active ministry in his own diocese for a period of time but his own bishop saw fit to invite him back into active ministry. But Father Clay needed a break and went to his hometown of Dallas - and it is there that Father Hawkins enlisted the help of Father Clay (who is praised by many as a fine priest).

Rod Dreher also refers to a "canonical investigation" of Father Clay by the Vatican, but with the realities of his situation emerging, that seems quite unlikely. (Why would Bishop Timlin approve him for ministry if there were a high-level investigation by the CDF? Considering, too, that Father Clay was never suspended from the priesthood).

Zeal without knowledge! I suppose the exposers were zealous enough. But did they have sufficient knowledge and discretion?

Did they have to blast this all over the media and bring such pain to a good priest and his wonderful parish? Especially if they had first gone to the local bishop who might have been able to clarify exactly what Father Clay's position was and could have asked him not to exercise any ministry at Saint Mary's anymore. That could have been handled with dignity, sensitivity, and integrity as well.

The exposers will justify their actions on many levels. They will blame the others, especially the bishops and priests (who are not, of course, faultless). Rod even clarifies his mistake for the record (recently he spoke about his need to be more prudent considering the possiblity of a lawsuit). But I don't see him at all exploring the other possibilities that he could have chosen, if there was genuine knowledge and discretion added to his obvious zealotry. The result could have been the same; the pain and human carnage much less.

Just my own two cents worth.

Yet another "bad guy"

If you are like me, you may miss Cardinal John J. O'Connor. Just last evening I was thinking of him and his predecessor in New York and couldn't help but compare in terms of "presence" and popular appeal. I miss Cardinal O'Connor!

Now he joins the list of "bad guys" by those who seem utterly relentless in their self-appointed role as reformers and as the "good guys." (Sorry but that is how they come across to me). Rod Dreher, zealous and singleminded, has spread some second hand gossip about Cardinal O'Connor on a popular blog, Amy Welborn's Open Book.

Of course, the Cardinal is not alive and so cannot either deny or affirm. I know, though, that I have been told a lot of things by a lot of people (good people even) that was NOT the truth and nothing but the truth. I would hesitate to pass this information on if it damaged reputations and without some verifiable sources - ESPECIALLY ABOUT THE DEAD. And, of course, even if it is true the Catholic teachings on detraction remain in effect. But that seems not to matter anymore in the reformer's cafeteria Catholicism.

Well, let me say this: Cardinal John J. O'Connor is one of the "good guys" in my book. He was not faultless. I once was the object of his fierce Irish temper. Wow! But I got to know him a bit and found him to be a good and faithful priest and an excellent spokesperson for the Catholic Church (his introductions to the annual production of Handel's Messiah at the US Naval Academy were masterpieces).

But now he is added to the (ever growing) list of "bad guys" - and I guess I am not surprised. I cherish his memory. And it is not in ignorance of the real John J. O'Connor that I admire him so much. I had the privilege of being with him a good number of times. I still am inspired by a few of the things he said to me and showed me.

Requiecat in pace.

Lehmann accused of leading church conference astray

From the London Tablet online

Germany’s leading conservative cardinal has bitterly criticised Cardinal Karl Lehmann, the Archbishop of Mainz, for allowing dissident theologians to express their views at last month’s annual Katholikentag conference.

Cardinal Joachim Meisner, Archbishop of Cologne, criticised Lehmann, who is the president of the German bishops’ conference, in a hard-hitting article for the Cologne diocesan newspaper. Cardinal Meisner accused Lehmann of liberalism and excessive doctrinal tolerance, which he claims was manifested at the conference in Ulm. Meisner is forming a group of conservative priests and lay people together to denounce liberalism in the German Church.

He disagreed with Cardinal Lehmann and the chairman of the Central Committee of German Catholics, Hans Joachim Meyer, that it had largely been a harmonious meeting. Meyer organised the Katholikentag.

Cardinal Meisner criticised the invitation to the conference of Eugen Drewermann, a theologian suspended from the active priesthood in 1992 for his views on church hierarchy and teaching. “Does not [his] appearance in Ulm add to the disorientation? Can that no longer be criticised?” Meisner asked. He went on to criticise also the appearance at the conference of Bishop Jacques Gaillot, who was dismissed from the diocese of Evreux, France, in 1995 for opposing official church positions on issues such as celibacy, women priests and use of condoms to prevent Aids. Gaillot had, said Cardinal Meisner, “called, to applause, for a new kind of priesthood, independent of gender and only for a limited time”.

This led him to ask: “Does unorthodoxy predestine a person to be invited to the Katholikentag?”

Meisner also attacked Lehmann for his silence during a discussion at the conference with the Swiss theologian Hans Küng, whose licence to teach was revoked by the Vatican in 1979. At the conference Küng called on Lehmann to persuade enough cardinals at the next conclave to vote for a “Pope John XXIV” to carry out much needed church reforms (The Tablet, 26 June).

“Hans Küng, known for his attacks on and aversion to the Holy Father, who is treasured all over the world, was able in Ulm on a high level to release his theses,” wrote Meisner. “He, whose teaching authority has been withdrawn by the Magisterium, was offered here the chance of being fêted by Catholics as a theological authority. His closing remarks, that Cardinal Lehmann should ensure that a Pope John XXIV be elected next, expresses more than clearly Küng’s low estimation of Pope John Paul II. That Cardinal Lehmann, who has been called into the College of Cardinals by this Pope, found no answer, makes you think.”

The cardinal went on: “It seems that the Katholikentag has lost its centre – the Church in which Jesus Christ is present.”

It is not the first time that Meisner has criticised Lehmann. The Kirchentag, the first ecumenical church assembly organised by Lehmann in Berlin in May 2003, prompted Meisner to complain of “disorientation” and “confusion of belief”.

In late June, Meisner led a number of German bishops, including those of Regensburg, Eichstaett and Speyer as well as Archbishop Ludwig Schick of Bamberg in setting up an initiative of traditionalist priests and lay people to discuss the form of future conferences.

Today in Christian history

July 9, 381: Nestorius, the first patriarch of Constantinople, is born in what is now Maras, Turkey. Nestorius attained fame for his teaching that Christ had two natures and two persons (rather than two natures in one person), which the Council of Ephesus in 431 condemned as heresy.

July 9, 1228: Stephen Langton, greatest of the medieval archbishops of Canterbury, dies. He had formulated the original division of the Bible into chapters in the late 1100s, and his name appears on the Magna Carta as counselor to the king (though he supported the English barons in their pursuit for more freedoms).

July 9, 1925: The Scopes "Monkey Trial" begins in Dayton, Tennessee, as John Scopes is tried for teaching evolution to his students. Though William Jennings Bryan, acting as prosecuting attorney, won the courtroom battle, the creationists lost where public opinion was concerned. Chagrined, fundamentalist Christians largely withdrew from American culture.

Thursday, July 08, 2004
With youthful energy, a parish holds onto hope

Buoyed by its active kids, St. Albert's fights closing

Act of Abandonment

0 my God, I know not what must come to me today; but I am certain that nothing can happen to me which Thou hast not foreseen, decreed, and ordained from all eternity: that is sufficient for me. I adore Thy impenetrable and eternal designs, to which I submit with all my heart; I desire, I accept them all, and I unite my sacrifice to that of Jesus Christ, my divine Saviour; I ask in His name, and through His infinite merits, patience in my trials, and perfect and entire submission to all that comes to me by Thy good pleasure. Amen.

-Ven. Father Pignatelli

Today in Christian history

July 8, 1115: French monk Peter the Hermit dies. Several argue that Peter the Hermit launched the crusades. Supposedly, he visited Jerusalem on a pilgrimage in 1093 and returned to Pope Urban II with a plea to do something to stop the Muslims from harassing Christian pilgrims. Two years later Urban II pronounced the First Crusade at the Council of Clermont and Peter the Hermit became one of the crusade's dominant preachers. After leading a failed "pre-crusade" in which Muslims slaughtered his entire army of 20,000 peasants, Peter joined the main army of the First Crusade.

July 8, 1896: At the Democratic National Convention, fundamentalist William Jennings Bryan gives his famous speech supporting "the little man" of American life. "You shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold," he shouted.

July 8, 1741: Colonial Congregational minister Jonathan Edwards preaches his classic sermon at Enfield, Connecticut: "You are thus in the hands of an angry God; 'tis nothing but his mere pleasure that keeps you from being this moment swallowed up in everlasting destruction". (I once read that famous sermon sitting at the very spot Edwards preached it in Enfield, CT).

Wednesday, July 07, 2004
Today in Christian history

July 7, 1946: Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini (1850-1917), founder of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart, becomes the first American to be canonized by the Catholic Church.

Kerry's running mate

Sadly he is one of those who voted against the ban on partial birth abortion. I don't know very much about him yet; but what I already know is very signficant in terms of my vote.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004
A simple prayer

O my God,
I entrust all my yesterdays to your mercy;
I entrust all my tomorrows to your providence;
let me abide today in your love.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

- based on Saint Augustine

Today in Christian history

July 6, 1439: Orthodox and Catholics sign the Decree of Union at the Council of Florence, creating an official union between the two Churches. Popular sentiment in Constantinople opposed the decree, and when the Turks captured the city, the union ceased. However, the Council's definition of doctrine and its principles of Church union (unity of faith, diversity of rite) - have proved useful in subsequent church talks. Like all Councils, it was not perfect! But it was a large attempt to heal a great wound even if the venture, with its mixed motives, failed.

Some still malign this Council, but scholarly studies such as Joseph Gill's detailed history of Florence (sadly unavailable at Amazon) point to its positive contributions and fascinating personalities. Despite pressures external and internal, the discussion was free and not coerced (as witnessed by the refusal of Mark of Ephesus to sign the Decree).

And if nothing else the Council of Florence hosted the longest sustained dialog on the issue of the procession of the Holy Spirit, lasting over six months; the conclusion of this discussion finds expression in the Decree of Union.

The signatures of the Greek signers of the Decree of Union of the Council of Florence: two thirds eventually retracted their signature; one third remained faithful to their solemn word expressed by signing the Decree of Union

Monday, July 05, 2004
Church backing for climate plan

The Church of England has declared its support for a challenging proposal to tackle the threat of climate change.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, says the plan, known often as "contraction and convergence", offers a way to act justly towards the poorest.

The idea, hatched by the Global Commons Institute, says all the Earth's people have equal rights to cause pollution.

Already endorsed by other faith groups, it says nobody, however rich, should cause more than their allotted share.

Across-the-board support

"Contraction" means cutting the world's output of the gases (like carbon dioxide) which scientists believe are threatening to heat the atmosphere to dangerous levels.

"Convergence" means sharing out between countries the amount of climate pollution which the scientists say the Earth can tolerate, so that by perhaps 2050 every person in the world is entitled to emit the same amount of pollution..."

Kerry says "life begins at conception"

"..A Catholic who supports abortion rights and has taken heat from some in the church hierarchy for his stance, Kerry told the paper, "I oppose abortion, personally. I don't like abortion. I believe life does begin at conception."

Spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter said that although Kerry has often said abortion should be "safe, legal and rare," and that his religion shapes that view, she could not recall him ever publicly discussing when life begins.

"I can't take my Catholic belief, my article of faith, and legislate it on a Protestant or a Jew or an atheist," he continued in the interview. "We have separation of church and state in the United States of America." The comments came on the final day of a three-state Midwest swing, during which Kerry has repeatedly sought to dispel stereotypes that could play negatively among voters there..."

The Ecumenical Patriarch on the gift of San Teodoro

The 6th century church of San Teodoro, given for the use of the Greek Orthodox community in Rome

Q: Of what significance was the inauguration of the Church of St. Theodore for the Orthodox community of Rome?

Bartholomew I: As His Holiness the Pope said during our luncheon, it has been a concrete gesture of friendship and fraternity between our Churches. Naturally, I give thanks, to him and to the venerated Church of Rome.

I told him that gestures of this nature are an essential contribution to our dialogue, as they show that we don't limit ourselves to words but that we also proceed with courageous, symbolic acts full of meaning and importance.

When we "inaugurated" -- so to speak -- officially the Church of St. Theodore on the Palatine Hill, the people, that is to say, the Orthodox -- but also the Catholics who were participating in the ceremony -- were enthusiastic.

Two cardinals were present, together with other Catholic prelates. And they shared our joy. I thanked His Holiness the Pope officially and the Church of Rome.

In the future, the sacred Greek-Orthodox Archdiocese here in Italy, which will have at its disposal this church as symbol of friendship and fraternity, will be witness of this spiritual bond that unites us in a particular way here in the Eternal City.

I think this gesture of His Holiness the Pope will be very appreciated beyond the ecumenical patriarchate and this archdiocese. It will be appreciated by the whole of Orthodoxy and be an example to imitate in ecumenical relations, as it manifests concretely good will and fraternity "in nomine Domini."

-for complete interview see Zenit

Good and Hopeful words from Patriarch Bartholomew I

Q: What sentiments do you have after your meetings with John Paul II?

Bartholomew I: Optimal. This time I have met with His Holiness the Pope for a third time -- after 1995, when I made my official visit, and after 2002, when I came for the World Day of Prayer in Assisi. I can say, without underestimating my two previous visits, that this meeting has been more moving, more human and more fraternal.

I felt it especially on the conclusive day, when we met with the Pope again and signed the joint declaration and then had lunch together -- we had an agape together.

I was able to invite him to visit us in Istanbul: for him it would be the second occasion, after 1979, when he visited my predecessor, Patriarch Dimitrios I.

The Pope seemed very happy, according to the impression he gave me, to accept this invitation.

Of course, he has to speak with his collaborators, but his first reaction was positive. He was very joyful, very happy, and I even more so by the possibility to welcome him among us in Constantinople, first see of Orthodoxy, and be able to plan together our steps toward the future of our relations.

In regard to the content of our third meeting, I can say that it has been more of a spiritual than of a formal nature. I have this impression and, as I said in my homily in St. Peter's Square, at this time, at this stage, unity, efforts toward unity are a spiritual event, a prayer event.

This meeting between the Pope and my humble person has taken place in this atmosphere, in this spirit. Because of this, I return to my see very moved and happy and optimistic about the future of our relations.

-complete interview at Zenit

Pope starts "brief holiday" today

"July 4, 2004: At the end of the Angelus, John Paul II told pilgrims that he was leaving the following day for a "brief holiday" in Italy's Valle d'Aosta region. The Pope wished "happy holidays" to all those families who have already left for their vacation destinations, but he also thought of all those "who cannot afford to go on holiday." "I hope," the Pope concluded, "that everyone can take advantage of the necessary break from work and that appropriate leisure activities enriched by true human relations are promoted to lessen the burden of those living alone or in difficulty." (Asia News)

Some of the beautfiul mountains of the d'Aosta alpine country; it reminds me of the Grand Tetons!

Sunday, July 04, 2004
Let Freedom Reign

The cornerstone for the Freedom Tower, the 1,776 foot-tall building that will be built on the site, sit is place. The cornerstone is made of 20 tons of Adirondack New York granite and inscribed "To honor and remember those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001 and as a tribute to the enduring spirit of freedom, July Fourth 2004."

I thank God that I lived long enough to see this new beginning. How I'd love to be around to see it brought to completion!

Let freedom reign.

God bless America!

Prayer for the Government (of the United States)

Prepared by Archbishop John Carroll, 1791

We pray, Thee O Almighty and Eternal God! Who through Jesus Christ hast revealed Thy glory to all nations, to preserve the works of Thy mercy, that Thy Church, being spread through the whole world, may continue with unchanging faith in the confession of Thy Name.

We pray Thee, who alone art good and holy, to endow with heavenly knowledge, sincere zeal, and sanctity of life, our chief bishop, Pope n., the Vicar of Our Lord Jesus Christ, in the government of his Church; our own bishop, n., all other bishops, prelates, and pastors of the Church; and especially those who are appointed to exercise amongst us the functions of the holy ministry, and conduct Thy people into the ways of salvation.

We pray Thee O God of might, wisdom, and justice! Through whom authority is rightly administered, laws are enacted, and judgment decreed, assist with Thy Holy Spirit of counsel and fortitude the President of these United States, that his administration may be conducted in righteousness, and be eminently useful to Thy people over whom he presides; by encouraging due respect for virtue and religion; by a faithful execution of the laws in justice and mercy; and by restraining vice and immorality.

Let the light of Thy divine wisdom direct the deliberations of Congress, and shine forth in all the proceedings and laws framed for our rule and government, so that they may tend to the preservation of peace, the promotion of national happiness, the increase of industry, sobriety, and useful knowledge; and may perpetuate to us the blessing of equal liberty.

We pray for his excellency, the governor of this state , for the members of the assembly, for all judges, magistrates, and other officers who are appointed to guard our political welfare, that they may be enabled, by Thy powerful protection, to discharge the duties of their respective stations with honesty and ability.

We recommend likewise, to Thy unbounded mercy, all our brethren and fellow citizens throughout the United States, that they may be blessed in the knowledge and sanctified in the observance of Thy most holy law; that they may be preserved in union, and in that peace which the world cannot give; and after enjoying the blessings of this life, be admitted to those which are eternal.

Finally, we pray to Thee, O Lord of mercy, to remember the souls of Thy servants departed who are gone before us with the sign of faith and repose in the sleep of peace; the souls of our parents, relatives, and friends... To these, O Lord, and to all that rest in Christ, grant, we beseech Thee, a place of refreshment, light, and everlasting peace, through the same Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Savior. Amen.

A Parish's Pride Is Stung as Its Day of Glory Nears

"On an April day in Rome more than a hundred years ago, Pope Leo XIII held a private audience with a priest from Our Lady of Mount Carmel, a poor parish in what is today East Harlem.

At that meeting, the pope blessed two crowns of solid gold, each encrusted with diamonds, emeralds and rubies, worth at the time an estimated $80,000. He handed them to the priest, the Rev. John Dolan, and sent him home to a parish populated by so many Italian immigrants that it was known as Little Italy.

Three months later, on July 16, 1904, more than 50,000 people flooded Thomas Jefferson Park and the surrounding streets for a lavish ceremony in which the crowns were placed atop a statue of the Madonna and Child, which had arrived at the church from Italy several years earlier. After the coronation, that statue was mounted on the altar of the church, on 115th Street, where it has overseen generations of baptisms, confirmations, weddings and funerals.

The celebration made headlines in newspapers as far away as Rome. "From the time the procession reached the park, which was densely packed with people, until the statue was placed on the platform, a fusillade of bombs was being fired into the air,'' according to an article the following day in The New York Times. "Then there was a special song service by the choir. The two crowns, one for the head of the Madonna, and one for the infant Jesus, were carried to the Archbishop by two priests, and he blessed them. A letter from the Pope, written in Italian, giving permission to Archbishop Farley to crown the statue, was read by Father Feranta."

Next week, on July 16, Our Lady of Mount Carmel - now a shrine church because of the presence of the crowns - will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the coronation with a re-enactment of Pope Leo's blessing of the Madonna's crown. It will again be held at Thomas Jefferson Park.

Today, most of the Italian residents have moved from the neighborhood to the suburbs, replaced mainly by Hispanics, but several thousand Italian-Americans, as well as worshipers from other ethnic groups, are expected to attend the anniversary celebration. The Rev. Peter J. Rofrano, the Mount Carmel pastor in charge of the festivities, said that while 16,000 to 20,000 former parishioners and their children might return that day, he was angry and disappointed that Cardinal Edward M. Egan would not be among them...

Today in Christian history

July 4, 973: Ulrich, bishop of Augsburg from 923, dies. Twenty years later he would become the first person canonized by a pope.

July 4, 1187: Saladin, leader of the united Muslim forces, defeats the armies of the Third Crusade at Tiberius, Syria.

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