Sunday, December 30, 2007

English Cardinal Demands that Poles in England Learn English!


From the Daily Telegraph. Poles kneeling outside a church in England since it's too packed to hold them all. From the article:

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, the Archbishop of Westminster, urged the Polish community to do more to learn English and integrate into local parishes, claiming the Catholic Church in the UK was in danger of dividing along ethnic lines as the number of Polish-speaking churches rose.Leading Polish community figures said they felt "violated" and "spiritually raped" by his words and called for talks on the issue.

New research, revealed last week by The Sunday Telegraph, shows that an influx of eastern Europeans boosts numbers attending Mass above those at Church of England Sunday services.The research ended a momentous week which saw Tony Blair formally convert to Catholicism, while official figures to be released in the new year will show a rise in Mass attendance in 2006. The number of churchgoers fell 40 per cent between 1963 and 1991, but the arrival of immigrants from Catholic countries in eastern Europe halted the decline and led to an increase in weekly Mass attendance from 917,500 in 2005 to 927,154 last year.

However, Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor said: "I'm quite concerned that the Poles are creating a separate church in Britain. I would want them to be part of the Catholic life of this country.

"I would hope those responsible for the Polish church here, and the Poles themselves, will be aware that they should become a part of local parishes as soon as possible when they learn enough of the language."Despite the archbishop's also using his Christmas message to appeal to the nation to be more welcoming to immigrants, Grazyna Sikorska, of the Polish Catholic Mission for England and Wales, said the community had been upset.
H/T to Gerald

Maybe the Cardinal could lend some of his surplus English priests to the Polish parishes so the Poles could attend their Masses celebrated in English?

Oh, you say there are no surplus priests in England and that they are actually closing seminaries and churches and that church attendance by native born English Catholics is dropping precipitously?

Well, then, maybe Poland should start preparing to send more Polish priests over to prepare for the time when English becomes a "dead language" in their Church?

Friday, December 28, 2007

Mankind is more than the janitor of planet Earth

I [Brendan O'Neill] am avowedly atheist. But listening to the bishops' drab, eco-pious Christmas sermons, I couldn’t help thinking: ‘Bring back God!’

He might be the Archbishop of Canterbury, and thus guardian of the Anglican faith. But every time I see Dr Rowan Williams’ smug face or hear his social-worker voice, I feel like breaking at least one of the Ten Commandments (I’ll leave it to readers’ febrile imaginations to guess which one).

They say we get the leaders we deserve. We also get the bishops we deserve. And in an age of petty piety, where relativistic non-judgementalism coexists with new codes of personal morality, giving rise to a Mary Poppins State more than a Nanny State, it’s fitting that the Archbishop of Canterbury is a trendy schoolteacher type who dispenses hectoring ethical advice with a smarmy grin rather than with fire-and-brimstone relish.

In his Christmas sermon, delivered at Canterbury Cathedral, Dr Williams finally completed his journey from old-world Christianity to trendy New Ageism. His sermon was indistinguishable from those delivered (not just at Christmas but for life) by the heads of Greenpeace or Friends of the Earth. Williams did not speak about Christian morality; in fact, he didn’t utter the m-word at all. He said little about men’s responsibility to love one another and God, the two Commandments Jesus Christ said we should live by. Instead he talked about our role as janitors on planet Earth, who must stop plundering the ‘warehouse of natural resources’ and ensure that we clean up after ourselves.

Williams has clearly been reading the Good Books – not the Bible, but those Carbon Calculator tomes that are clogging up bookshop shelves around the country, and which instruct people on how to live so meekly that they leave no imprint whatsoever on the planet or human history. He said that Earth does not exist only for ‘humanity’s sake’; it also exists ‘in its own independence and beauty… not as a warehouse of resources to serve humanity’s selfishness’.

Williams warned that our greed – presumably our insatiable lust for warm homes, cars, cookers and other outrageous luxuries – is killing the planet. He welcomed the fact that mankind is ‘growing in awareness of how fragile [the planet] is, how fragile is the balance of species and environments in the world and how easily our greed distorts it’. In 2008, we must take more seriously our ‘guardianship’ of the Earth, he declared (1).

Williams isn’t the only leading Christian who has sold his soul to Gaia and traded in Christian morality for the pieties of environmentalism. The Reverend John Owen, leader of the Presbyterian Church of Wales, said in his Christmas sermon that everyone should remember his or her ‘duty to the planet’. He urged people to recycle leftover food, and ‘redouble [your] efforts to take action and campaign against climate change’ in the coming year (2). Meanwhile, the Vatican is taking steps to become the world’s first carbon-neutral sovereign state by planting trees in a Hungarian national park to offset the CO2 emissions of the Holy See. Cardinal Paul Poupard, head of the Pontifical Council for Culture, says that in 2008 there should be the ‘dawn of a new culture, of new attitudes and a new mode of living that makes man aware of his place as caretaker of the earth’ (3).

The reduction of man to an eco-janitor, a being who creates waste and thus must clear it up, is more than a cynical attempt by isolated Christian leaders to connect with the public. Yes, Williams, Owen, the Holy See and Co. no doubt hope and believe (mistakenly, I’m sure) that adopting trendy Greenspeak will entice people to return to the church. But the move from focusing on love for God and one’s neighbour to focusing on ‘respect for the planet’ represents more than a rebranding exercise: it signals a complete abandonment by the Christian churches of the Judaeo-Christian tradition. And in this sense, it is not only God that is being downgraded by the new nature-worshipping priests; so is humanity itself. And that’s enough to make even a committed atheist like me worry about the current direction of the Christian churches.

Christian teaching was once concerned with man, meaning and morality, with questions of free will, inner life and human destiny. As it happens, atheists, at least progressive ones, were concerned with exactly the same things. The chasm-sized difference between atheists and Christians occurred over the question of whether the moral meaning of man came from within or without; whether, as some atheists believed, the purpose of humanity was to be found within humanity itself; or, as Christians believed, humanity achieved meaning only through an external deity, God.

Where Christian morality granted man a diluted form of free will – underpinned by the idea that, yes, we make free choices, but God is the ultimate arbiter of our destiny – progressive atheists emphasised complete free will, arguing that only through full freedom of thought and a human-centred morality could humans remake the world in their own image and according to their own needs and desires.

Christians and atheists may have spent much of the past 200 years at each other’s throats, but they inhabited the same moral plane. Theirs was literally a struggle for the soul of humanity. Today, by contrast, Christian leaders have abandoned questions of morality and free will. They now view people as little more than waste managers, ‘caretakers’, eco-binmen, whose job is to sweep up after themselves and keep the planet in good nick. Instead of remaking the world in anybody’s image – whether it be God’s, man’s, Buddha’s or L Ron Hubbard’s – man must simply adapt to his surroundings like an amoeba; indeed, he must minimise as much as possible his impact on the planet. Old Christians taught us that ‘the Kingdom of God is within you’ (4), which was their flawed way of saying that man is a sovereign being, free and morally responsible. Today Christians say: ‘You are merely guests in the Warehouse of Resources. So be quiet, don’t get any ideas above your station, and please shut the door when you leave.’

The cult of environmentalism embraced by the Christian churches does away with morality altogether. Some sceptics claim that environmentalism is a new form of moralistic hectoring; it is better to see it as amoralistic hectoring. In judging everything by how much CO2 or pollution it creates, environmentalism dispenses with questions of moral worth and judgement. So a flight to visit a newborn nephew in Australia (5.61 tonnes of CO2) is as wicked as taking a flight to Barbados to lounge in the sun; and the transportation of delicious food from Africa to Britain is as unforgivable as the transportation of weapons and drugs from Latin America to Los Angeles: after all, both involve exploiting the ‘warehouse of resources’ and upsetting the ‘fragile balance of species and environments’, as Williams put it (5). When human actions are judged by their levels of pollution alone, the issue of meaning – of why we do things, who we do them for, and how we might do them better – is implicitly downgraded.

This is why in his Christmas sermon, the Archbishop of Canterbury quoted extensively, not from the Bible, but from Richard Dawkins, who is considered by many to be the Rottweiler of the New Atheism. What today’s eco-Christians and New Atheists share in common is a view of man as animalistic and degraded, as a ‘mammal’ (as Christopher Hitchens describes us in his book God is Not Great) which ought to take its place alongside other mammals on this mortal coil. On the way in which religion distorts people’s minds, Hitchens writes: ‘What else was to be expected of something that was produced by the close cousins of chimpanzees?’ (6) Where Williams and other eco-Christians see mankind as merely a cog in the planetary wheel, Hitchens and other New Atheists see mankind as only the sum of his genes, still, in essence, a monkey.

If yesterday’s Christians and atheists inhabited the same moral plane, fighting tooth and nail over the purpose of mankind, today’s eco-Christians and New Atheists inhabit the same amoral plane, bickering with each other but also frequently agreeing that man is a bit of a shit.

‘Religion is only the illusory sun which revolves round man as long as he does not revolve around himself’, said Marx (7). Many of the great atheists of old were concerned with making man the centre of his moral universe; with freeing him up to become the ‘superhuman’ that he aspired to be, but which he could only glimpse in an illusory God (8). Today, by contrast, both eco-Christians and New Atheists want to bring man and God crashing back down to Earth… so that we can set about cleaning it up like the good little earthly janitors we are. At a time of such low horizons, is it any wonder that some people still do cling on to God, and seek transcendence from mundane everyday life through a belief in divinity? There is more humanity in their ‘superhuman’ delusions than there is in the monkeyman realism of eco-Christians and New Atheists.

Brendan O’Neill is editor of spiked. Visit his personal website here.

Previously on spiked

Frank Furedi said many religions are now in search of eco-salvation. Dolan Cummings wanted to be counted out of atheism’s creed. Michael Fitzpatrick criticised the anti-God squad and asked whether Jesus was a revolutionary. Or read more at spiked issue Religion.

(1) In full: Archbishop’s Christmas sermon, BBC News, 25 December 2007

(2) Human greed is a threat to the planet, warns Williams, Independent, 26 December 2007

(3) Turning green – Vatican takes step to become world’s first carbon neutral sovereignty, Catholic Online, 13 July 2007

(4) Luke, 17:21

(5) In full: Archbishop’s Christmas sermon, BBC News, 25 December 2007

(6) God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, Christopher Hitchens, Twelve Books, 2007

(7) Contribution To The Critique Of Hegel’s Philosophy Of Right, Marx, 1844

(8) Contribution To The Critique Of Hegel’s Philosophy Of Right, Marx, 1844


Thursday, December 27, 2007

Argument of the Month Club: Tuesday, Jan 8, St Augustine's; South St Paul


The Argument to the Month
Thou shall NOT Eat!
The Catholic Canon Law Regarding the Denial of the Eucharist to Certain Individuals

Speaker: Mr. Benedict Nguyen, M.T.S., J.C.L., Chancellor of the Dioceses of La Crosse

He will address issues such as:

What does Church law say about denying Holy Communion? When and why does the Church deny the Eucharist to certain groups or individuals? Under what circumstances may a Catholic politician and others be denied the Eucharist? Is this a political act? Why does there seem to be confusion on this issue?

This is a timely issue because it has implications for our personal lives, our culture and our up coming elections.

Kent Wuchterl
AOTM Director

Tuesday, January 8th
Social at 6:30pm (beverages and appetizers)
Dinner at 7:00pm
Total cost for the evening is $12 at the door

There will be time for you to agree or disagree with our speaker during the Q&A, which starts immediately following dessert. But you are all encouraged to enjoy the good humor, food and fellowship. We enjoy the company of men from all different creeds and ages. Priests and seminarians get in for free but are not shown any partiality in debate. Fathers may bring their sons as long as they accompany them.

Up Coming Speakers and Presentations for 2007-2008

February 12th is the date Dale Ahlquist takes on everyone With his presentation, "Catholic Social Teaching: Why both Liberals AND Conservatives Get it Wrong!" He is pretty sure no matter who you are, you will disagree with something he has to say. Armed to the hilt with Chesterton thought and quick wit, he is confident ATOM attendees stand no chance winning an argument with him. Come try your best to show this brother the light!

Men (and boys) Only!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

A life rememembered: Earl Madary, ‘He was our soul’

Earl Madary loved the water.

In his sleep, Earl would dream of diving down deep in the water and swimming, said his wife, Marci.
Since he was a child, she said, he’d go into lakes at night and lie on his back and look at the stars from beneath the water.

He taught Marci and their children to do the same.

“He walked in this world with wonder and awe for people, for nature and certainly for God,” said Marci, whose 19th wedding anniversary with Earl is Dec. 30.

Earl Madary, professor and chair of the religious studies and philosophy department at Viterbo University, a founder of Place of Grace, father of 17-year-old Rachel and 13-year-old Joseph, a man known to deliver lectures for his environmental spirituality course from a canoe, whose name a colleague once called synonymous with Viterbo, who another colleague said helped students begin to believe the rocks in Hixon Forest were God’s gift and who Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration President Sister Marlene Weisenbeck said sang St. Francis of Assisi’s “The Canticle of the Sun” with his whole life, died of cancer early Sunday.

He was 42, and had been diagnosed with the disease in October 2006.

“He was our soul,” said Deacon Richard Sage, executive director of Catholic Charities in La Crosse, who along with Earl and others founded Place of Grace, a Catholic Worker House in La Crosse. “Souls live on.”

Bishop Jerome Listecki, head of the Diocese of La Crosse, said Madary was a man who understood his faith.

“There are few people in life that literally elevate the human spirit by the presentation of their lives,” Listecki said. “Earl was one of those people. He brought an attention to grace, God’s activity among us, by the way he lived.”

Many others also spoke of Madary as a person who elevated the human experience.

Emily Dykman, 31, an instructor of religious studies at Viterbo and former Madary student, credits him for her path of ministry.

“He’s able to see potential in people long before any of us see it in ourselves,” she said.

When Dykman sang in the campus choir under Earl’s direction, she said, he helped them turn music into prayer.

To listen to Madary’s “I Go to the Water to Remember You,” click here.

Tom Thibodeau, a longtime friend and former teacher of Madary’s, put it like this: Earl would turn ordinary events into extraordinary encounters.

“At the Place of Grace, every meal was a feast,” said Thibodeau, professor of religious studies at Viterbo. “Anytime he picked up a guitar, it was a concert. When you were canoeing, it was an adventure. A party became a celebration. And prayer was awesome.”

Earl Madary was born May 1, 1965, in Ferndale, Mich.

With a bachelor’s degree in music, a master’s degree in theology and a doctorate of ministry, he was a man whose mind many praised.

Thibodeau said Madary once told him he’d been thinking about God’s overwhelming goodness.

“That’s what we’re created for,” Thibodeau remembers Madary saying. “He said, ‘What we always regret is when we’ve been hard-edged, been harsh with someone or critical. But I have never regretted being generous.’”

And while anyone who came into Earl’s company felt loved, Thibodeau said, what cannot be missed is the depth of love he felt for his family.

Earl and Marci, 39, met while in their teens.

Marci said she fell in love with him for his sense of humor, his sense of play, his intelligence and his faith, which he lived in real ways, not pious facades.

“He adored me,” Marci said.

And he loved his kids, too.

“Anything he did, we were first,” she said.

In the summertime, she’d be doing dishes and suddenly be soaked with cold water — Earl spraying the garden hose through the window screen.

Marci said the last thing her husband told her when his mind still was clear Saturday was she was the best thing that ever happened to him.

“It’s the same for me,” she said. “Our relationship was a great love.” La Crosse Tribune

Viterbo University Announcement

Winona's Sacred Heart Cathedral features Panamanian hand-sewn artwork featuring biblical scenes.

If you need to brush up on Bible stories, the walls of the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart will help.

The Cathedral is exhibiting a show of 41 hand-sewn Panamanian molas depicting biblical scenes.

A mola is a panel of reversed appliqué that is worn on the front and back of the blouses of the women of the Kuna Indians of the San Blas Islands, off the eastern shore of Panama. The word means shirt or clothing in the Kuna’s native language. They don’t have to be religious in nature, although this collection is.

The exhibit, “Molas: From Eden to Eternity,” is the work of Christians in Visual Arts, an organization of artists, pastors and supporters of the arts who try to use the arts to teach about Christianity. The exhibit has traveled the country, including a stop at Yale.

Eileen Daily, a professor of theology at Saint Mary’s University, helped curate the show. Daily did her doctoral dissertation on using Christian art in religious education.

“It’s not often that you get this broad of a spectrum of Bible stories told,” Daily said.

The molas reflect different viewpoints of the same scene. Three panels show scenes of Adam and Eve. One is modeled after Michelangelo’s “The Creation of Adam.”

Each image is accompanied by a caption in English and Spanish. A Spanish class at SMU helped translate the captions. Daily came up with a question for each to help prompt discussion.

One of Daily’s favorite molas depicts Daniel in the Lion’s Den.

“The King has thrown him into the lion’s den and he’s just hanging out,” Daily said. “He has such a comfort level with his faith. He knows God’s there.”

The question accompanying the image: Where do we see evidence of this kind of faith?

Other religious-themed molas are for sale at the church’s gift shop, priced from $60 to $200. The Rev. John Sauer, the church’s rector, was the first customer. He bought one depicting Santa Claus to add to his Santa collection.

“Each one is so unique,” Sauer said. “The personality of the artist really comes through.”

Show highlights new space

The show is the first in the Cathedral’s new gathering space, which was created as part of a $5.1 million renovation of the church that began in January 2006.

One of the things Sauer hopes the gathering space of the church does is help provide a connection with the arts.

“The church has such a strong tradition of that, whether it’s theater or music or visual arts,” Sauer said.

The next scheduled display will be woodcarvings by a nun from Notre Dame and will tie in with the Lenten season. The five-piece exhibit will show the sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Daily sees the exhibit of molas as a celebration of the Bible and a celebration of art.

“It isn’t about worshipping these images,” Daily said. “It’s about learning from them.” Winona Daily News

Winona's Bishop Harrington's Christmas Message: Reflection, Faith and Hope!

Bishop Bernard Harrington of the Winona Catholic Diocese says Christmas is a time for reflection and a time of faith. In his Christmas message, he said: "I think Christmas always has a message of hope. And, as you know, a few weeks ago our Holy Father, Benedict the Sixteenth, gave a beautiful encyclical on hope. And I think the hope of Jesus' coming into the world and the salvation that it brings can take every person, no matter how difficult it has been for this year, the idea that there are going to be better things to come and that the presence of God is in our life."

Bishop Harrington says he's most grateful for how people have responded to the needs of those devastated by floods this past August. So far, the Winona Diocese has raised almost a half million dollars to help flood victims recover.

Evangelization is a Two-Way Street

Thousands of "Cradle Catholics" regularly leave the Church each year for a different faith, or for no faith at all. The reasons are many, often unique to each person. What is not so often reported on is the fact that 100-200,000 adults convert to the Catholic Church every year. David Paul Deavel of St. Paul, the associate editor of Logos: A Journal of Catholic Thought and Culture and contributing editor of Gilbert Magazine the Journal of the American Chesterton Society, had this article published in the Pioneer Press the other day.

The reason is unclear, but the Pioneer Press has seemingly become a forum for Catholics who have either left the church or who remain despite not believing what the church teaches.

Several weeks ago it was a Minneapolis writer recounting how he finally left the church and, it seems, the Christian God behind. Then, in the midst of a commentary on Romney's candidacy, Jim Ragsdale told us how he left the church and has only slowly, and without much trust, been approaching it again. Finally, last Sunday it was journalist Mark Bowden detailing how Pope Benedict's new encyclical letter on Christian hope was meaningful to him: Bowden is too skeptical for faith but can't give up on hope. Weaving in between were letters from disaffected Catholics outraged the incoming archbishop of St. Paul holds Catholic teaching on sexuality.

If you only knew about the church from these pieces, you might conclude that though the church has a strange emotional hold on people raised as Catholics, its claims to truth are simply unbelievable once one reaches adulthood.

I stand as a counterexample. And I'm not the only one.

Though a lot of people leave the church intent on making it a one-way trip, the great story of the last two decades has been the number of people entering the Catholic Church in the U.S. not in infancy but in adulthood. Most estimates say anywhere from 125,000 to 200,000 adults have been received every year since at least 1990. The numbers are difficult to figure exactly since parishes often count only those brought into the church at Easter through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA).

Many people are received into the Church at other times of the year, and RCIA numbers often include adults who never formally left the church but have come back to prepare for confirmation. Whatever the exact numbers, we know there are more than 2 million converts over two decades, a number that would be even more dramatic if the Catholic Church didn't already number close to 70 million in the U.S.

More striking than the numbers are the types of people entering. Many adults entering the church are public figures or non-Catholic clergy - and often intellectuals. The last couple of decades have seen philosophers Alasdair MacIntyre and Mortimer Adler, novelists Annie Dillard and Robert Clark, journalist Robert Novak, politicians Jeb Bush and Sam Brownback, among others. On the clergy side, the 10-year-old Ohio-based Coming Home Network, which helps non-Catholic ministers and academics considering Catholicism, numbers 565 clergy contacts who have entered the church, with 538 still "on the journey."

Often these clergy converts are quite prominent. Last year Francis Beckwith of Baylor stunned evangelicals by returning to the church he had left as a teen. He was then president of the Evangelical Theological Society. This year four bishops of the Episcopal Church have resigned to enter the Catholic Church.

What is true nationally is true locally. Mark Croteau, RCIA director at the Cathedral of St. Paul, has 35 people this year, a group he calls a "true cross-section of society" and a "veritable United Nations." My parish, Nativity of our Lord in St. Paul, has had large groups in RCIA for a number of years. Randy Mueller, director of the program, tells me the last five years have seen an average of 18 adults per year enter the church through RCIA alone. They include housewives, businesspeople, college students, PhDs in math and chemistry, and many others. One was a Lutheran minister for 30 years.

What strikes me in talking to so many of them is that no matter how they found their way to the Catholic Church, what they discovered was precisely how reasonable its claims are. Approaching the church as adults, they found that its answers to questions were trustworthy, and its unpopular positions often prophetic, even the difficult ones about sexuality.

The recent essayists and letter writers are certainly one side of the story. I'm glad they still think and write about ultimate issues with the church in mind. But they, and Pioneer Press readers, might benefit from hearing other stories as well. There are Catholics who didn't grow up and grow tired of the church. They found it as adults and found its claims both reasonable and compelling.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Spe Salvi "Saved by Hope" Condensed

Here in La Crosse, Bishop Jerome Listecki is about to issue a call to Catholics to read the pope's new encyclical, "Spe Salvi." Yesterday I was hard at work on an article about the bishop's request, which will appear in our Dec. 27 issue. On Thursday Father Sam Martin, chaplain at La Crosse's Aquinas High School, and I will be guests on the bishop's radio program (this won't actually air until January) to talk about the encyclical. In preparation for the article and radio appearance, I spent part of yesterday trimming down the encyclical to my favorite parts. If you haven't had time to read it in its entirety, check out these paragraphs -- and then click here to read the whole thing!

Selections from “Spe Salvi”

Not only informative but performative
“Only when the future is certain as a positive reality does it become possible to live the present as well. So now we can say: Christianity was not only ‘good news’ – the communication of a hitherto unknown content. In our language we would say: the Christian message was not only ‘informative’ but ‘performative.’ That means: The Gospel is not merely a communication of things that can be known – it is one that makes things happen and is life-changing. The dark door of time, of the future, has been thrown open. The one who has hope lives differently; the one who hopes has been granted the gift of a new life. (n. 2)

Hope means knowing God
“To come to know God – the true God – means to receive hope. We who have always lived with the Christian concept of God, and have grown accustomed to it, have almost ceased to notice that we possess the hope that ensues from a real encounter with this God. (n. 3)

A gift we receive in baptism
“According to (the dialogue of baptism), the parents were seeking access to the faith for their child, communion with believers, because they saw in faith the key to ‘eternal life.’ Today as in the past, this is what being baptized, becoming Christians, is all about: It is not just an act of socialization within the community, not simply a welcome into the Church. The parents expect more for the one to be baptized: they expect that faith, which includes the corporeal nature of the Church and her sacraments, will give life to their child – eternal life. Faith is the substance of hope. But then the question arises: Do we really want this – to live eternally? Perhaps many people reject the faith today simply because they do not find the prospect of eternal life attractive. What they desire is not eternal life at all, but this present life, for which faith in eternal life seems something of an impediment. To continue living forever – endlessly – appears more like a curse than a gift. (n. 10)

Trying to understand heaven
"In some way we want life itself, true life, untouched even by death; yet at the same time we do not know the thing towards which we feel driven. We cannot stop reaching out for it, and yet we know that all we can experience or accomplish is not what we yearn for. … Inevitably it is an inadequate term that creates confusion (Eternal Life). ‘Eternal,’ in fact, suggests to us the idea of something interminable, and this frightens us; ‘life’ makes us think of the life that we know and love and do not want to lose… . To imagine ourselves outside the temporality that imprisons us and in some way to sense that eternity is not an unending succession of days in the calendar, but something more like the supreme moment of satisfaction, in which totality embraces us and we embrace totality—this we can only attempt. It would be like plunging into the ocean of infinite love, a moment in which time—the before and after—no longer exists. We can only attempt to grasp the idea that such a moment is life in the full sense, a plunging ever anew into the vastness of being, in which we are simply overwhelmed with joy. (n. 12).

False hope of progress, materialism
"Francis Bacon and those who followed in the intellectual current of modernity that he inspired were wrong to believe that man would be redeemed through science. Such an expectation asks too much of science; this kind of hope is deceptive. Science can contribute greatly to making the world and mankind more human. Yet it can also destroy mankind and the world unless it is steered by forces that lie outside it. … Man's great, true hope which holds firm in spite of all disappointments can only be God – God Who has loved us and Who continues to love us ‘to the end,’ until all ‘is accomplished’ (See John 13:1 and 19:30). (nn. 25, 27)

Learn hope through prayer
“A first essential setting for learning hope is prayer. When no one listens to me any more, God still listens to me. When I can no longer talk to anyone or call upon anyone, I can always talk to God. When there is no longer anyone to help me deal with a need or expectation that goes beyond the human capacity for hope, he can help me. (n. 32)

We don’t suffer alone
“To suffer with the other and for others; to suffer for the sake of truth and justice; to suffer out of love and in order to become a person who truly loves—these are fundamental elements of humanity, and to abandon them would destroy man himself. … Bernard of Clairvaux coined the marvellous expression: Impassibilis est Deus, sed non incompassibilis – God cannot suffer, but He can suffer with. Man is worth so much to God that he himself became man in order to suffer with man in an utterly real way. … Certainly, in our many different sufferings and trials we always need the lesser and greater hopes too – a kind visit, the healing of internal and external wounds, a favorable resolution of a crisis, and so on. In our lesser trials these kinds of hope may even be sufficient. But in truly great trials, where I must make a definitive decision to place the truth before my own welfare, career and possessions, I need the certitude of that true, great hope of which we have spoken here. For this too we need witnesses – martyrs – who have given themselves totally, so as to show us the way – day after day. … I would like to add here another brief comment with some relevance for everyday living. There used to be a form of devotion – perhaps less practiced today but quite widespread not long ago – that included the idea of ‘offering up’ the minor daily hardships that continually strike at us like irritating ‘jabs,’ thereby giving them a meaning. … Maybe we should consider whether it might be judicious to revive this practice ourselves. (n. 39-40)

Purgatory and prayer
“Our lives are involved with one another, through innumerable interactions they are linked together. No one lives alone. No one sins alone. No one is saved alone. The lives of others continually spill over into mine: in what I think, say, do and achieve. And conversely, my life spills over into that of others: for better and for worse. So my prayer for another is not something extraneous to that person, something external, not even after death. In the interconnectedness of Being, my gratitude to the other – my prayer for him – can play a small part in his purification. And for that there is no need to convert earthly time into God's time: in the communion of souls simple terrestrial time is superseded. It is never too late to touch the heart of another, nor is it ever in vain. In this way we further clarify an important element of the Christian concept of hope. Our hope is always essentially also hope for others; only thus is it truly hope for me too. As Christians we should never limit ourselves to asking: how can I save myself? We should also ask: what can I do in order that others may be saved and that for them too the star of hope may rise? Then I will have done my utmost for my own personal salvation as well. (n. 48)

Now that you're inspired, read it!

Abp. Nienstedt: Parents are to Love Their Children; Not Required to Accept Their Behavior!

[Printed Letter to the Editor, StarTribune, December 22, 2007. Not found in electronic edition]

In her Dec. 19 commentary, "What's this new sin called complicity?" Ann Marie DeGroot presents an argument against the Catholic Church's teaching on homosexual activity that is representative of many such proposals I have recently received -- with one exception: She does claim that this archbishop is "good!"

The caricature that she makes of my argument is that "parents of an actively homosexual child cannot invite that person home for Christmas dinner" without committing a sin. I never said or implied that and I never would.

After being born, raised and educated in a Catholic home and Catholic schools, my brother decided to join an evangelical church. My parents were heartbroken but continued to keep in touch with him. He knew that my parents never accepted his action, but he also knew they would not reject his person.

The same is even more true for any child involved in an immoral activity. You don't have to sanction the behavior in order to eat Christmas dinner with that son or daughter. At the same time, you do not have to condone that activity. You urge the offspring to reconsider his/her activity and you pray for his/her conversion. In other words, you let it be known you do not approve. Parents, family members, friends are called to radical honesty and moral integrity. There is nothing "new" about that.

The Rev. John C. Nienstedt, St Paul
Coadjutor Archbishop of St Paul and Minneapolis

St Thomas Alum Proud of its Past; Worried About Its Future Without an Archbishop on the Board

As an undergraduate student at the University of St. Thomas from 2000-2004, I can vouch for the Rev. Dennis Dease's list of Catholic-identity accolades (Opinion Exchange, Dec. 11).

St. Thomas has indeed done much to promote and preserve its Catholic identity.

But in responding to Kathleen Kersten's Dec. 6 column, neither Father Dease nor Archbishop Harry Flynn addressed her central concern: How is the university's Catholic identity preserved by a change in the bylaws that removes the sitting archbishop as chairman of the board of trustees?

Archbishop Flynn promised in his letter that the board would always include bishops or priests. But unless this promise appears in the bylaws, it's only as good as his five-year term.

As a proud graduate of St. Thomas, I am deeply concerned for the university's future as a Catholic university. Like Kersten, I believe the preservation of the university's Catholic identity is key to maintaining a true diversity in education.

No list of accolades, and certainly no word-of-mouth guarantee from an archbishop with a coadjutor, will assure me that St. Thomas won't cave in to secularization. Until I see the sitting archbishop written back into the board's bylaws, any guarantee of the university's continued Catholicity to me seems ill-founded, inaccurate and ludicrous.


Thursday, December 20, 2007

Do You Suppose That This is the Reason the I-35W Bridge Collapsed in Minneapolis?

We're just not holy enough!

[Gee, and the Legislature just authorized millions to one of their favorite law firms to determine the cause. If only those people read the bible more they could have saved all that money!]

[Gee-2: If you were in charge wouldn't you hire an engineering firm to determine the cause of a bridge collapse rather than "one of your favorite law firms?"]

A devout group of evangelical Christians in the Midwest are flocking to help purify a spot they believe the Bible has ordained as holy ground -- and it happens to be 1,500 miles of interstate asphalt.

Why the location?

According to CNN, the small contingent of churchgoers believe that Interstate 35, a sprawling highway running from Texas to Minnesota, is specifically mentioned in the Book of Isaiah, chapter 35.

"A highway shall be there, and a road," reads a portion of the chapter's verse eight, "and it shall be called the Highway of Holiness. The unclean shall not pass over it..."

But if I-35 is indeed the place, some Christians believe there's a lot of work to be done before the road can fulfill it's saintly destiny, according to CNN's Gary Tuchman, who was on the scene in Texas as believers launched an effort to pray for the road.

"Churchgoers in all six states recently finished 35 days of praying alongside Interstate 35, but the prayers are still continuing," reports Tuchman. "Some of the faithful believe that in order to fulfill the prophecy of I-35 being the 'holy' highway, it needs some intensive prayer first. So we watched as about 25 fervent and enthusiastic Christians prayed on the the interstate's shoulder in Dallas."

Their prayers go out for safer neighborhoods, "more godliness" and also in hopes that businesses lining the highway, including strip clubs and other "unclean" establishments, might clean up their act.

Tuchman says the faithful also point to "a link between the area near this highway and tragedies that have happened in history, such as the bridge collapse on I-35 in Minneapolis last August and the assassination of JFK 44 years ago near I-35 in Dallas."

"We just want to say 'wow, why would this happen on one highway,'" one of the prayer campaign's organizers, Cindy Jacobs, told CNN. "Let's pray that there be safety for everyone on these highways."

Helping to publicize the groups' efforts is Christian televangelist Pat Robertson, who has featured the I-35 prayers on his Christian Broadcasting Network.

"What an amazing story," said Robertson. "Well, wouldn't that be wonderful... cut a line right down the middle of America and let it spread to both coasts."

Read more from here

This video is from CNN's American Morning, broadcast on December 20, 2007. The Raw Story

New Auxiliary For Milwaukee; First One in 36 Years!


Archbishop Timothy Dolan will perform his first episcopal ordination tomorrow in Milwaukee, making Conventual Franciscan Fr Bill Callahan his long-awaited auxiliary bishop.

The NACers have converged to honor Callahan, 57 (above right, with Dolan), their spiritual director before the October move that returned him to the 675,000-member Beer City church, where he served two stints at its famed Basilica of St Josaphat and led the monumental structure's restoration. Archbishop John Myers of Newark and longtime Milwaukee Auxiliary Bishop Richard Sklba will serve as principal co-consecrators, leading a gang of 24 bishops before an over-capacity crowd in St John's Cathedral, where a Vespers service for the bishop-elect will be held tonight.

Milwaukee's Catholic Herald has rolled out a special section on the city's first new auxiliary since 1979... and the first in even longer to hit no speedbumps on the road to Ordination Day:
Conventual Franciscan Fr. Robert Joseph Switanowski, a friend of the bishop's for 27 years, witnessed many acts of kindness by Bishop Callahan, especially when they lived together in community.

"No one left us not getting what they wanted," said Fr. Switanowski. "If it was an immigrant needing money for a lawyer, he found the money. If someone with a family lost his job and couldn't get Christmas presents, he found the money. He sat up all night with a family when there was a death of a baby. He would cook for the poor. If we were eating something and someone knocked on the door for food, they got it."

Fr. Switanowski, along with many of Bishop Callahan's friends and fellow priests, have looked to the new bishop as someone they strive to emulate.

"He is the example of what I want to be as a priest," said Fr. Switanowski, who met the bishop when Bishop Callahan was the vocations director for the St. Bonaventure Province of Conventual Franciscans in Chicago when Fr. Switanowski was considering joining.

"No one loves the priesthood more than he does. In my view, a lot of us love the priesthood, it makes us make sense of our lives, but I wanted to be a priest early on because of the way I saw him live his priesthood. He observes the rule and constitution in contemporary ways; he doesn't look like he's suffering and he certainly enjoys a good glass of scotch."

Frank Wolski was born on the same day and the same year - June 17, 1950 - as the future Bishop Callahan. The two became friends in first grade at St. Mary of Perpetual Help in Chicago. It was Wolski who is credited with introducing Bishop Callahan to the idea of becoming a Franciscan.

"I talked to Bill in eighth grade about where I was going to high school, and I introduced him to my uncle, who signed him up at Crystal Lake," said Wolski. Franciscan Fr. Pascal Wolski, Frank's uncle, was then the vocations director at St. Mary Minor Seminary.

Wolski, who is planning to attend the Dec. 21 ordination, said that from Bishop Callahan, he learned "a good example of how you want to be as a person. The way he carried himself, the way he conducted himself, you could see that he was doing all the right things. He was someone that you'd look at and say, 'That's the way I want to lead my life, too.'"

Moldovan, a friend since early teenage years, said he learned a lot from his classmate.

"One of the things he taught me was that he really wanted to be a priest," said Moldovan. "He really had the vocation to be called and he looked at it in a bit more organic way than I did. When I was a kid I knew I was going to be a priest, which did not end up happening. Bill had to work at it. He chose it. He took some time off and then decided to proceed. It was a much more two-way process, it was a calling from the Lord, but in his case he really had to act on it. And because he had that warmer side, that sense of hospitality, he openly embraced it and worked at it and, maybe in the long run, really wanted it much more than some of us that presumed we'd just ride on through."...

Karen Abbott first met Bishop Callahan 30 years ago when he was in Toronto studying at St. Michael's College at the University of Toronto. She recalls him saying his life-long ambition was to be either a priest or a taxi driver in Chicago. Though the taxi driver profession never panned out, she has attended his ordination, first Mass, silver jubilee, and now will attend his ordination as bishop. When she informed Bishop Callahan that she would be attending the Dec. 21 ordination, he replied, "You were there at the beginning."

In fact, Abbott said she distinctly remembers driving with him after his ordination.

"His first remark after getting into the car was, 'I'm finally a P.O.G.'" she recalled him saying. "We have referred to him as that ever since. Priest of God. I guess now we'll have to call him a B.O.G. - Bishop of God."

Fr. Switanowski has wonderful memories of Bishop Callahan's actions during a very dire time.

"Most of my religious life has found me in a hospital suffering either from problems with my legs or problems with my heart," he said. "And I remember one particular time in the emergency room and I coded and they didn't know if they could bring me back, and Bill didn't leave my side. The doctor said, 'You can go now, Father.' And he didn't leave. Every time I opened my eyes, he was there. He ran the parish, said the Mass, and was always at my side. We Franciscans stress brotherhood; it's what we profess. He's all that and more."...

"He wasn't given a reward because he made a few bucks for the basilica," he continued. "He was asked to be a bishop because of the kind of priest he is. The Holy Father certainly heard. I used to work in Rome and Bill's work is well known in the city of Rome and by other bishops."

Fr. Switanowski said he remembers a parishioner's reaction upon hearing Bishop Callahan was named a bishop.

"A lady said, 'Congratulations, this is a great day for the Franciscans.' I said, 'It's a great day for the church.' She said, 'Aren't you proud of him?' He didn't have to be named a bishop for me to be proud of him," said Fr. Switanowski. "He's the people's bishop, he's not a Franciscan and a bishop part time. He's a bishop who happens to be a Franciscan."

Fr. Switanowski knows that his friend will be very busy following his ordination. Bishop Callahan informed Fr. Switanowski that Bishop Richard J. Sklba gave Callahan a welcome gift of a calendar. When Bishop Callahan opened the calendar, he saw it was already full of his duties and appointments.
After getting past the head-cold he's called his "parting gift" from Rome and a brief adjustment period, the new auxiliary will find himself "full-time in administration," says Dolan, on top of all the confirmations and other pastoral duties.

With the archbishop taking on a growing roster of national commitments, getting his "first choice" back home couldn't be more of an early Christmas gift. Rocco, Whispers in the Loggia

Statement from The Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis


Charges about Father Leo Tibesar & St. Frances Cabrini Parish

Various bloggers and websites have reported that Father Leo Tibesar, of Saint Frances Cabrini Parish in Minneapolis announced his intention to bless same sex marriages. Those reports are not true. Father Tibesar has never blessed a same sex marriage nor does he intend to do so, which would be a violation of his priestly vows and state. He made this very clear in a public clarification issued by Saint Frances Cabrini’s parish council and following a meeting with Archbishop Harry J. Flynn.

During his meeting with Archbishop Flynn and Auxiliary Bishop Richard Pates, Father Tibesar also agreed to remove any language from the St. Frances Cabrini parish website that is in opposition to Roman Catholic Church doctrine and to refrain from statements in any form that are contrary to Church teaching. He confirmed these commitments to Archbishop Flynn in a letter following their meeting. Communications Office, Archdiocese of StP&M

Madison's Bishop Robert Morlino Breaks from Conference and Opposes Emergency Contraception in Catholic Hospitals

( - Madison Bishop Robert C. Morlino has distanced himself from the Wisconsin Conference of Catholic Bishops neutral position regarding a bill which would mandate even Catholic hospitals to administer the morning after pill (so-called emergency contraception) upon request to women who have been raped. In a letter to the Wisconsin legislature, dated December 17, the Bishop tells the legislators, "I urge you, by this letter, to oppose AB 377," (the legislation in question).

A debate over such measures has been raging in the US with numerous states having enacted similar legislation and several bishops' conferences refusing to oppose the measures.

At issue is the abortifacient nature of the morning after pill, which some scientists have called into question even though several studies have shown abortion is a possible outcome of administering the drugs.

While the Vatican's Pontifical Academy for Life condemned any use of the morning after pill in a document issued in 2000 (see: some Catholic ethicists remain unconvinced.

Bishops conferences which have permitted the morning after pill in Catholic hospitals for rape victims are basing their decisions on an interpretation of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops document: Ethical and Religious Directives (E.R.D.) for Catholic Health Care Services which states at no. 36 with regard to a woman who has been raped: "If after appropriate testing, there is no evidence that conception has occurred already, she may be treated with medications that would prevent ovulation, sperm capacitation the process by which spermatozoa in the ampullary portion of a uterine tube become capable of going through the acrosome reaction and fertilizing an oocyte." However, the document adds: "It is not permissible, however, to initiate or to recommend treatments that have as their purpose or direct effect the removal, destruction, or interference with the implantation of a fertilized ovum." (see the document: ; )

In his letter, Bishop Morlino explains that "The hoped-for effect of the Wisconsin Catholic Conference's earlier stance of neutrality on this bill was to protect women who are the victims of rape, while also protecting the possible pre-born human being, by affirming the necessary conscience exemption for institutions and individuals with regard to the appropriate testing, so as to avoid abortifacient emergency contraception."

He adds: "It is my judgment as Bishop of Madison that the earlier position of neutrality did not have its hoped for effect, and so it is now moot, and this neutrality position has now expired."

Since the debate among US Catholic theologians began in earnest early this year there was a related papal intervention which may have raised some eyebrows.

Speaking to pharmacists who took part in the 25th international congress of Catholic pharmacists this October, Pope Benedict XVI warned them against dispensing drugs "that have the goal of preventing the implantation of the embryo." The Pope's remarks bear directly on the morning after pill as its manufacturers state precisely that inhibiting implantation of the embryo is one of its possible effects.

Bishop Morlino stated in his letter that "Our conference's neutrality stance has also unintentionally provoked scandal among Catholics who have been persuaded by statements in the media that we are becoming less fervent in our defense of the dignity of pre-born human life."

Monday, December 17, 2007

Normandale Junior College, Home of Womyn Who Think They Are Priests, Builds Mosque at Taxpayer Expense

Katherine Kersten of the Strib is on top of the matter!

Last week, I visited a Muslim place of worship. A schedule for Islam's five daily prayers was posted at the entrance, near a sign requesting that shoes be removed. Inside, a barrier divided men's and women's prayer space, an arrow informed worshippers of the direction of Mecca, and literature urged women to cover their faces.

Sound like a mosque?

The place I'm describing is the "meditation room" at Normandale Community College, a 9,200-student public institution in Bloomington.

Normandale "Junior" College is the site of a travesty perpetrated by womyn who dementedly think they are priests.

Until recently, the room was the school's only usable racquetball court. College administrators converted the court into a meditation room when construction forced closure of the previous meditation room. [Hmmm. How many colleges have "meditation rooms?" Does the ACLU know about this? Do they care? Or are they just opposed to Catholics?]

A row of chest-high barriers splits the room into sex-segregated sections. In the smaller, enclosed area for women sits a pile of shawls and head-coverings. Literature titled "Hijaab [covering] and Modesty" was prominently placed there, instructing women on proper Islamic behavior.

They should cover their faces and stay at home, it said, and their speech should not "be such that it is heard."

"Enter into Islaam completely and accept all the rulings of Islaam," the tract read in part. "It should not be that you accept what entertains your desires and leave what opposes your desires; this is from the manners of the Jews." [Do they teach spelling at Normandale?]

"[T]he Jews and the Christians" are described as "the enemies of Allaah's religion." The document adds: "Remember that you will never succeed while you follow these people."

A poster on the room's door advertised a local lecture on "marriage from an Islamic perspective," with "useful tips for marital harmony from the Prophet's ... life." Other fliers invited students to join the Normandale Islamic Forum, or participate in Ramadan celebrations.

One thing was missing from the meditation room: evidence of any faith but Islam. No Bible, no crucifix, no Torah.

Normandale's administration is facilitating the room's Islamization. The college's building crew erected the barrier s eparating men's and women's sections, according to Ralph Anderson, dean of student affairs. College officials also posted signs at the room's entrance asking students to remove shoes -- a Muslim custom before prayers. This was "basically a courtesy to Muslim students," Anderson said.

Despite the room's Islamic atmosphere, Anderson says it "is open to everyone."

Why is the meditation room segregated by sex? "Muslim students prefer that areas be divided into male and female," he said. "Other students don't care."

Doesn't sex-segregation present a constitutional problem in a public educational institution? "I don't want to comment on that," he said. [He probably doesn't want to comment because he might go to jail for violating the law as promulgated by the pagan Supreme Court].

And the literature regarding Jews and Christians? "I would probably take it out if I knew it was in there," said Anderson. [I'm taking bets]!

Normandale's zealous effort to accommodate Muslim students is not new. Chad Lunaas, a former student who works at the college part time, cites examples.

Last year on Fridays, he says, he often entered the bathroom to find that "every sink and toilet stall had someone washing his feet." Other students couldn't use the bathroom at these times, and those who tried felt awkward.

Lunaas finally expressed his concerns to a Muslim student who "seemed to be in charge."

"His attitude was, 'We don't have to listen to you, we can do whatever we want,' " he said.

Confrontations also erupted in the sex-segregated meditation room, according to Lunaas. "Muslim students just took it over. They made people who were not of the Muslim religion feel very uncomfortable, especially if they were female."

One female student tried to use the room when Muslim students were in it, said Lunaas. "She believed she should be treated equally. They were telling her to leave, to take off her shoes, to go to the other side of the divider."

Anderson says he met several times with concerned students. But "the whole thing was just basically swept aside," according to Lunaas.

Anderson said that in the incident involving the young woman, "both sides were probably out of line."

Howard Odor, who advises the college's Somali Student Association, said he has not been aware of "any issues" since the meditation room has been in the racquetball court. "I can guarantee that college policy is that anyone who wants to go in there and pray or meditate can do so." [I'm taking bets on this one also].

But many at the college see a bigger issue.

"For all practical purposes, this meditation room is essentially a Muslim prayer room," said Chuck Chalberg of Normandale's history faculty. "Something this unprecedented goes beyond religious toleration." [Is that G.K.C. himself]?

For Real: It could be war! Iowegians lost 3,000,000 Limey Drivers' Records. They're not happy!

For starters, all our students will flunk their achievement tests this year!

The company at the centre of the latest missing data fiasco admitted last night that it had lost the details of more than three million British learner drivers during a routine back-up procedure seven months ago.

Pearson Driving Assessments Limited, which is owned by the publisher of The Financial Times, has a seven-year contract to handle the applications of candidates for the driving theory test.

The details of every British learner who took the test between Sept 2004 and April 2007 were on a computer hard drive at its "worldwide data centre" in Iowa City, Iowa.

The hard drive went missing after being taken to Bloomington, Minnesota, to be backed up and then returned to Iowa. It was lost on its return to Iowa.

Officials at the Driving Standards Agency, which oversees the tests, were informed within days but details only became public last night.

The company, which is British based, said it "deeply regretted" the loss and insisted it was the first time it had happened.

Charles Goldsmith, a spokesman, said: "We take great care of the quality of our data and security of our data and we deeply regret this incident."

The company insisted it had tightened security procedures to ensure there would be no repeat. Pearson pointed out that there were no financial details, National Insurance numbers or driving licence numbers on the missing hard drive.

Mr Goldsmith added: "There is no loss of sensitive financial data and no evidence of misuse."

Both the Government and the standards agency were aware that data was in Iowa for storage.

Although the Driving Standards Agency sets the questions for the theory test, the entire testing process is administered and run by Pearson at 150 UK centres.

Pearson won the multi-million pound contract to administer and process the test in Nov 2003, with the contract starting in Sept 2004.

Pearson Driving Assessments Limited is a subsidiary of Pearson VUE, the self-proclaimed "world's leading learning company" specialising in online testing and assessment.

In the US, Pearson is involved with developing, scoring and processing tens of millions of student tests every year, at school and university levels.

A total of 18 million US school students learn English and maths with a Pearson programme, while 10,000 primary schools in the UK use digital educational materials from Pearson Education. The Telegraph

Uh Oh!

USN&WR: A new interest in old ways takes root in Catholicism and many other faiths

Worshipers come to St. Mary, Mother of God in downtown Washington, D.C., for various reasons, but many say that a big draw is the Tridentine Latin mass that is said here every Sunday. Soon, St. Mary may be less well known for that distinctive liturgical offering than for the number of big-name government and media types that occupy its pews. Now that Pope Benedict XVI has loosened the restrictions on churches that want to observe the pre-Vatican II rite, more parishes are availing themselves of the option. Call it part of a larger conservative shift within the church—one that includes a renewed emphasis on such practices as personal confession and reciting the rosary as well as a resurgent interest in traditional monastic and religious orders.
Something curious is happening in the wide world of faith, something that defies easy explanation or quantification. More substantial than a trend but less organized than a movement, it has to do more with how people practice their religion than with what they believe, though people caught up in this change often find that their beliefs are influenced, if not subtly altered, by the changes in their practice.

Put simply, the development is a return to tradition and orthodoxy, to past practices, observances, and customary ways of worshiping. But it is not simply a return to the past—at least not in all cases. Even while drawing on deep traditional resources, many participants are creating something new within the old forms. They are engaging in what Penn State sociologist of religion Roger Finke calls "innovative returns to tradition."
In all faiths, the return to tradition has different meanings for different people. To some, it is a return to reassuring authority and absolutes; it is a buttress to conservative theological, social, and even political commitments. To others, it is a means of moving beyond fundamentalist literalism, troubling authority figures, and highly politicized religious positions (say on gay marriage and contraception or abortion) while retaining a hold on spiritual truths. In short, the new traditionalism is anything but straightforward.

And that is one reason it is so hard to quantify. Mary Bendyna, executive director of the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University, laments the lack of hard data on traditionalist developments in the Catholic Church but plans to launch a large study on sacramental life in January. Even without the numbers, though, Bendyna is confident that a change is afoot. "There has been a renewed interest in traditional life, in traditional devotions, even among young Catholics," she says. (Bendyna doubts, though, that the Latin mass will catch on in a big way. "There just aren't that many priests who are prepared to celebrate it," she says.) More broadly, Bendyna wonders whether a renewed interest in traditional devotions or religious orders correlates directly with conservatism on such matters as papal infallibility, contraception, or the exclusively male and celibate clergy. Determining that relationship, Bendyna says, is one of the greater investigative challenges.

"Hype." Some liberal Catholic clergy are completely skeptical about the scope and meaning of the traditionalist turn. "It's more hype than reality," says the Rev. Thomas Reese, a Jesuit priest and political scientist at Georgetown's Woodstock Theological Center. Reese thinks the church should focus less on the Latin mass than on the three things that draw most churchgoers: "good preaching, good music, and a welcoming community." He is equally dubious about all the attention being devoted to the habit-wearing Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia and a few other traditional religious orders that have enjoyed an uptick in younger members. "I have no problem with their habits," says Reese. "On the other hand, if the church ordained women, we'd have thousands more women coming forward."

But Sister Patricia Wittberg, a sociologist at Indiana University-Purdue University in Indianapolis, sees more substance in the new traditionalism. "I think churches that can articulate what they do and what they stand for tend to grow better." To that extent, she says, the conservative turn in the church makes sense. But she points out that there are two kinds of conservatives. "One group," she says, "would like to take things back to the [16th-century Counter-Reformation] Council of Trent, but I don't think the future's with them. I think the future is with a group that is interested in reviving the old stuff and traditions in a creative way. Sisters in traditional orders may wear habits, but they often live in coed communities." Sociologist Finke agrees: "Members of traditional religious orders want to be set apart, to have a more active spiritual formation and a strong community life. But while they are obedient, they are less submissive to authority and want to make more of their own decisions and be active professionally in outreach activities. It's a structured life, but it's a structure they are seeking and not simply submitting to authority." [...Snip] US News & World Report

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Last Week, Golden Compass $26 Million Against No Opposition; This Week, Alvin and the Chipmunks, $45 Million

And that was good for only Second Place for Alvin. The First Place, "I am Legend" came in at $76 Million. The Golden Compass? Only $10 million, estimated; probably less.

It's looking tougher and tougher for TGC to recover their $180 Million production costs and their $40 Million promotion cost.

The Manifold Benefits of the Mass

Too great not to swipe! From Father Tim Finnegan's fine blog, The Hermeneutic of Continuity, [don't ask me what that means!].

Manifold benefits of the Mass

Every Mass that is offered is of infinite value in that the Mass gives adoration and thanksgiving to God. Every Mass is also offered for the propitiation of our sins, and to gain God's gifts for us. In these respects, the fruits of the Mass is limited by our capacity to receive these benefits.

The sacrifice that is offered is the once and for all perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The Mass is primarily the actio Dei, the work of God himself. However the priest is called by God to participate in this one perfect sacrifice by worthily celebrating the sacred rites. The priest offers the Mass ministerially and the Church generally. The faithful also offer the Mass by participating in it: by requesting the celebration, by making an offering for that purpose, by providing the material requisites for offering the Mass, and, most of all, by attending the Mass and uniting themselves spiritually to the sacrifice. These actions of the faithful constitute their "actuosa participatio" - an expression that is often unfortunately rendered as "active participation". It would be better to talk of "genuine participation" to avoid giving the impression that you are not "participating" in the Mass unless you are doing a job or reading all the words in a book.

Some effects of the Mass are applied to God: adoration, praise, and thanksgiving. Other effects (or benefits or "fruits") are applied to us: the imploring of God's generous gifts, the propitiation of His wrath and the forgiveness of our sins, and satisfaction for our sins with the remission of the temporal punishment due to them. All of these effects flow from the Mass as the perfect sacrifice of Christ.

This perfect sacrifice is efficacious in pouring forth benefits or "fruits" as follows:

1. To the all the members of the Church, living and dead, who do not pose an obstacle to this grace - the general fruits of the Mass.

2. To those who participate (as outlined above) in the Mass - the special fruits of the Mass.

3. To the priest himself - the "most special" or personal fruits of the Mass.

4. To the person for whom the Mass is offered - the ministerial fruits of the Mass which the priest may apply for an intention that has been requested, for the people of the parish, or for any other proper intention of his choosing.

In addition, to the perfect sacrifice of Christ, the prayers and good works of the whole Church are applied through the Mass.

Finally, the personal prayer and devotion of the priest is efficacious in proportion to his own holiness. This personal prayer can be added as a secondary intention to that for which the Mass is offered by way of the "ministerial fruits". Hence the prayers in the previous post about the mementos.

(In the above, I have mainly summarised JB O'Connell's excellent treatment in chapter 4 of his [30-year old] book "The Celebration of Mass".)

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Zeffirilli Wants to Help B16 With His Image!


Italian film and opera director Franco Zeffirelli is offering his services to Pope Benedict as an image consultant, saying the German pontiff comes across as cold and needs to review his wardrobe.

Zeffirelli, acclaimed for movies such as "Romeo and Juliet" and "Jesus of Nazareth," said in an interview with la Stampa daily on Saturday the 80-year-old pope did not have "a happy image."

"Coming after a media-savvy pope like John Paul II is a difficult task ... Benedict XVI still communicates coldly, in a way that is not suited with what is happening around him," Zeffirelli said.

"It's an issue I have been discussing with people who have key roles in the Vatican," said Zeffirelli, who has directed some Vatican television events.

"The Pope does not smile much, but he is an intellectual. He has a very rigid Bavarian structure," he said.

Zeffirelli, 84, added that papal robes were "too sumptuous and flashy." "What is needed is the simplicity and sobriety seen in the other echelons of the Church," he said.

Zeffirelli said he was in regular contact with the Pope's closest aides and had also made proposals to "defend the image of faith in cinema, the image of the sacred."

"The Holy See intends to pay a lot more attention to this," he said.

He said today's religious films were "a horror that the Holy See does not know how to stop.

"I am a Christian down to the depths of my spirit. I can't stand by while this disaster unfolds. I am available to put myself at the service of the Church," he said.

"If they officially give me a supervisory role, I will do it full-time."

The Vatican was not immediately available for comment. Reuters

Now just where is Vincenzo when we really need him? If the Pope needs a Fashion and Image Consultant, he ought to polish up his resume and Fax it to the Terry, too. He could do the job.

I'll be hornswoggled. Vincenzo has been working on blogging behind our backs. He was busy this morning, though, watching the Extraordinary Use Latin Mass on EWTN with his pal, Mother Angelica and Father Z. Father Z is excited about the elimination of guitars from Mass, it seems.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Msgr Douglas Grams Elected to be New Ulm Diocesan Administrator

Apparently, even though Archbishop John Nienstedt has been Coadjutor Archbishop of St Paul & Minneapolis since last Spring, he was still legally the Bishop of the Diocese of New Ulm. Until now.

Monsignor Douglas L. Grams, the former Vicar General of the Diocese of New Ulm, was elected to serve as the Diocesan Administrator of the Diocese of New Ulm by the College of Consultors. The appointment was effective Thursday, December 13, 2007. Archbishop John C. Nienstedt had been serving as Apostolic Administrator of the diocese, in addition to his duties as Co-Adjutor Archbishop of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. Monsignor Grams will continue in his present assignment as pastor of the Church of St. Mary in New Ulm.

The Consultors elected Grams as the Diocesan Administrator who will assume the day-to-day administration of the diocese until a new bishop is appointed. The current members of the College of Consultors are: Rev. Gerald S. Meidl; Rev. Joseph A. Steinbeisser - Chairman; Rev. James E. Moran; Rev. John G. Berger - Vice-Chairman; Rev. John A. Pearson; Rev. Andrew J. Michels; Rev. John A. Nordick; Rev. Paul H. van de Crommert; and Rev. Paul L. Wolf ..

Monsignor Grams commented that, “I am honored to serve as interim administrator for the Diocese of New Ulm until our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, appoints a new bishop for our diocese. My prayer is that the Lord will guide me in this new journey of leadership and that a bishop will be appointed soon!”

According to the Code of Canon Law, when the bishop of a diocese vacates his office and no simultaneous appointment is made by the Holy See to fill the office, a diocesan administrator is then elected by the College of Consultors to govern the diocese. The diocesan administrator is elected from the active priests of the diocese and is at least thirty-five years of age. Once he accepts the election, he holds the power of a vicar general until the Pope appoints a new bishop. The diocese is now considered a vacant See, i.e., without a bishop, until a new appointment is made by Pope Benedict XVI.

Monsignor Grams was ordained to the priesthood on June 13, 1987 at the Church of the Holy Rosary, North Mankato, by Bishop Raymond A. Lucker. He has served parishes in the communities of Sleepy Eye, New Ulm, Searles, Tracy, and Walnut Grove. Positions he has held in the diocese include: Advocate, Defender of the Bond, and Associate Judge for the diocesan Marriage Tribunal; Chancellor; Vicar General; Director of Priest Personnel; Episcopal Vicar for Regions 1 and 6; and the Bishop’s Delegate in Matters Pertaining to Sexual Misconduct. Monsignor Grams was named Prelate of Honor with the title of Monsignor by the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, on September 14, 2005.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Second Annual Women's Advent Morning of Recollection - St Paul Seminary This Saturday

My dear sister in Christ:

As we pause to acknowledge the blessings of this season, I want you to know that your service of family, friends and vocations to the priesthood is greatly appreciated by The Saint Paul Seminary. You are indeed cause for thanksgiving for many.

Mindful of the gift you so generously give, I hope you will consider receiving a gift from us. I am writing to invite you to a morning of recollection at The Saint Paul Seminary sponsored by our Women's Auxiliary.

Our second annual Women's Advent Morning of Recollection will be Saturday, December 15, from 8:00 to 11:30 a.m. The morning will begin for those who are able with Mass at 8:00 a.m. and Fr. Christopher Beaudet will lead the two reflections following hospitality. Fr. Beaudet's theme will be "The Domestic Seminary: Preparing our families to encounter Christ." The morning will end promptly at 11:30 a.m.

Once again, here is the schedule:

8:00 a.m. Mass
8:40 - 9:15 Registration and Hospitality
9:20 - 10:00 First Reflection
10:00 - 10:40 Confessions (several priests on hand)
10:40 - 11:20 Second Reflection and Benediction

You are welcome to invite your friends and other women as well. I would only ask that you call and register with Nancy at 651.962.5795 so that we can be suitably prepared. There is no charge for the morning; it is our Christmas gift to you.

Again, that you for all you give. Please join use for a morning of Advent preparation for Christmas.
Sincerely yours in Christ,

Monsignor Aloysius R. Callaghan

New Boss for St Mary's U of Minn.

The Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota Board of Trustees announced Thursday, Dec. 13, that Brother William Mann, FSC, D.Min. has been named the 13th president of the university. Mann will begin his term of office on June 1, 2008.

Mann, 60, is the former Vicar General of the De La Salle Christian Brothers. As Vicar General, he was the second-highest officer of the international Catholic teaching order that comprises 5,300 Christian Brothers, working in association with 73,000 lay educators to operate 930 schools and universities serving 900,000 students in 82 countries.

Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota is a private, Catholic institution guided by the De La Salle Christian Brothers. Its Winona campus is home to a residential liberal arts college, while extensive graduate and professional programs are offered at Winona, a Twin Cities campus, Rochester center and Apple Valley center, locations around Minnesota and Wisconsin, and Nairobi, Kenya.

Chancellor Brother Louis DeThomasis, FSC, Ph.D., has led Saint Mary’s University this past year during the national search for a new president. DeThomasis reassumed the duties of president in February, 2007, after previously serving Saint Mary’s for 21 years in that capacity.

DeThomasis said “Saint Mary’s is so fortunate to have as its new president an internationally recognized educational leader. Brother William Mann is also a renowned Lasallian scholar, who will enhance our vision and mission as a Lasallian institution of higher education.”

DeThomasis added that Mann’s “vast international experience will advance our efforts to bring global education to our students. His experience with multicultural, diverse populations allows him to offer a unique gift to our university setting, and brings a new dimension to the intellectual and spiritual life of students and faculty.”

“We are delighted with the international reputation and stature of our new president,” said Michael Meagher, chairman of the Saint Mary’s Board of Trustees. “The board was impressed with his wisdom, sensitivity, and obvious commitment and dedication to education.”

Mann has spent almost 30 years traveling around the country and the world as a leader in the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools, and as a guiding force in the evolution of the Lasallian educational global network.

“I am excited at the opportunity to focus my experience and passion for the Lasallian educational mission at Saint Mary’s University,” Mann said. He noted that “the many facets of Saint Mary’s are interesting and inspiring, and I believe the university is well-positioned to continue doing great good” within the society of the 21st century.

Mann served in Rome from 2000-07 as Vicar General, a leader with far-ranging responsibilities within the international governance structure of the De La Salle Christian Brothers.

A native of New York City, Mann joined the Christian Brothers in 1965. He began his career as an English and religion teacher, working from 1970-79 at two Christian Brother high schools in New York and Rhode Island. He then held positions directing Christian Brother formation for the Long Island-New England Province and USA/Toronto Region, and from 1990-96 he was International Secretary of Formation in Rome. He later served as Delegate Superior for India, and as Provincial for the LI-NE Province, which operates 10 educational institutions in New York City and Rhode Island.

Mann has also been an organizer, member, delegate and presenter for numerous Lasallian commissions and symposiums. He was a member of the boards of several Christian Brother schools in New York and Rhode Island, and he served on the Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota Board of Trustees from 1996-2001.

Mann is a noted scholar and writer on the life and teachings of John Baptist de La Salle, founder of the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools and the patron saint of educators. He has authored and edited numerous publications examining De La Salle’s writings and spirituality, putting them into context for Lasallian educators in today’s world.

Mann’s educational background includes a B.A. in English Literature from The Catholic University of America, an M.A. in Liberal Studies - Literature from State University of New York at Stony Brook, an M.A. in Spirituality from Salve Regina University, and a Doctor of Ministry degree in Family Ministry from Colgate Rochester Divinity School.

Good for SMUM in keeping a professed Religious person as their President. That's one way to keep the Faith. And they found one with a doctorate, too. Even better.