Thursday, December 28, 2006

Holy Innocents

Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, was in a furious rage, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time which he had ascertained from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah:

"A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation:
Rachel weeping for her children;
she refused to be consoled because they were no more."

If you are a post-abortive woman or man, please do not refuse consolation. Among other sources, the Catholic Church offers "Project Rachel:" help for healing your spiritual and emotional wounds.

May God bless you.

Holy Innocents! Pray that, through the grace of our Newborn Savior, for Whom your blood was shed, the hearts of man may be softened and the insanity of abortion will end. Amen.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

"Lord, do not hold this sin against them!" (Saint Stephen, Martyr)

I notice in the post on devotions I neglected to name my favorite saint. Saint Stephen is certainly among them!

Stephen was one of the first deacons of the Church.

When I pray to Saint Stephen, I pray for the present-day deacons of the Catholic Church. They are remarkable men.

Who is a Roman Catholic deacon? (from the Boston Diaconate web site)

Through Holy Orders, the deacon acquires a special relationship to the bishop. Though surely "his own man" - by reason of his place in the hierarchy - tradition refers to him as "the bishop's man ... the bishop's ears and eyes." His ministry of charity, word, and sacrament enables the Church to be a credible sign of the Servant Christ in the world.

The deacon should be a creative leader - an "inspirator" - one who gradually initiates a meaningful response of loving service from the community to those who are in spiritual or material need. Ordained PRIMARILY to be a minister of charity, he will hold himself accountable for such a service before God and the Church. He will draw his strength and his continuing motivation from the Holy Eucharist where- he is transformed by his reception of the Body and Blood of Christ.

Saint Stephen, Deacon and Martyr, imitated Christ.

We didn't hear this in the Readings today, but it's worth noting. As he was dying for the love of Jesus, Stephen said: "Lord, do not hold this sin against them!"

He prayed for those who, actively or passively, brought about his death.

From Acts 7:

They threw him out of the city, and began to stone him. The witnesses laid down their cloaks at the feet of a young man named Saul.

Stephen prayed for his killers. He prayed for Saul.

As Saint Augustine noted:

"If Stephen had not prayed to God, the Church would not have had Paul." ( "Sermons," 315, 7)

What can Saint Stephen teach us?

I think it's important to always try to remember to forgive -- and pray for! -- those who seem to be our enemies. Through the deacon Stephen's plea to God, we became blessed with the great apostle Paul.

And pray for our deacons.

The deaconate is a noble vocation. And, as is the case with all noble vocations, it is in need of our prayers.

As Saint Polycarp, another martyr, prayed:

"Let them be merciful and zealous, and let them walk according to the truth of the Lord who became servant of all."


Sunday, December 24, 2006

He's coming!

"...and His Name shall be called
Wonderful, Counsellor,
The Mighty God,
The Everlasting Father
The Prince of Peace."

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Catholic Devotions

Lynne Flatley, at A Quiet Catholic, tagged me with this meme. Feel free to join in!

Favorite devotion or prayer to Jesus

The Mass

Favorite Marian devotion or prayer

The Rosary

Do you wear a scapular or medal?

No. (I wear a Crucifix, though.)

Do you have holy water in your home?

Yes. I get it free at a nearby chapel.

Do you "offer up" sufferings?

Yes. The Holy Souls in Purgatory are dear to me. (Although to be honest, the "offering up" is sort of a blanket thing I pray for in my Morning Offering. If I bang my head against the car door, for example, it might take a bit o' time before I remember to offer it up!)

Do you observe First Fridays and First Saturdays?

Not as such...I just usually happen to be at Mass on those days.

Do you go to Eucharistic Adoration? How frequently?

Yes, three days a week, again at a nearby chapel. And hat tip to my parish: during Advent and Lent, Holy Hours are offered on Sundays combined with Vespers.

Are you a Saturday evening Mass person or a Sunday morning Mass person?

Both. I'm usually near a Catholic church on Saturdays near Vigil Mass time, and I can't resist a Mass. Sunday Mass is a joy.

Do you say prayers at mealtime?


Can you recite the Apostles Creed by heart?


Do you usually say short prayers (aspirations) [comment here: I believe the better word for this is "ejaculations"] during the course of the day?


Bonus question: when you pass by an automobile accident or other serious mishap, do you say a quick prayer for those involved?



Lest anybody think I'm holier than thou, may I quickly disabuse you of that notion? I live in Boston where there's hot and running holy water and Catholic churches all over the place. I'd like to think I'm a daily Communicant because I'm A Good Catholic, but the fact is, it's really easy to be one where I live.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Stop. In the Name of Love.

If you're at all stressed about gifts, your house, your tree, your menu, your cards, your candied yams, or anything else about Christmas...please stop right now.


Spend the remainder of Advent with the Lord!

God willing, all the stuff that "needs" to be done will be done. And if it doesn't get done, so what?

Give yourself -- actually allow Jesus to give you -- the best gift possible...time to luxuriously anticipate His coming.

You'll thank Him for it.

(And who really cares about candied yams, anyway?)

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

What if she'd said "no, thank you"?

The Whole World Awaits Mary's Response

Today's Gospel focuses on the Annunciation. In today's Roman Office of Readings, Saint Bernard profoundly celebrates Mary's fiat, by putting himself in the position of those who, two thousand years ago, eagerly awaited her response to the Angel Gabriel:

Tearful Adam with his sorrowing family begs this of you, O loving Virgin, in their exile from Paradise. Abraham begs it, David begs it. All the other holy patriarchs, your ancestors, ask it of you, as they dwell in the counry of the shadow of death. This is what the whole earth waits for, prostrate at your feet. It is right in doing so, for on your word depends comfort for the wretched, ransom for the captive, freedom for the condemned, indeed, salvation for all the sons of Adam, the whole of your race.

Do read the whole thing...I don't think you'll ever pray an Ave in quite the same manner.

Special thanks from me to Father Dennis Brown, OMV, of Saint Francis Chapel, for including it in today's sermon.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Rest in peace, Mr. Barbera...and thanks!

Born into a Catholic family in New York's Little Italy in 1911, Joe Barbera, who co-founded the Academy Award-winning Hanna-Barbera cartoon powerhouse, has died at his Studio City, California home. The BBC reports Joe Barbera, who made up one half of the team behind such cartoon classics as The Flintstones, Yogi Bear, Scooby-Doo and Huckleberry Hound, died yesterday of natural causes at home with his wife, Sheila, at his side.

Here's the rest of the story. Please pray for his soul. Thanks!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Hell. Lust. Condoms. Uh...yeah, I'd say boycott the pizza.

A Catholic newspaper is calling for a boycott of Hell Pizza in response to a recent condom mail-out.

To promote its Lust pizza, Hell distributed 170,000 condoms, along with explicit instructions on their use, to letterboxes around the country.

This prompted hundreds of complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority, which ruled Hell breached standards of decency and social responsibility.

An editorial in the latest edition of NZ Catholic newspaper calls on readers to abstain from purchasing any of the items on the pizza delivery chain's menu.

Is this a no-brainer or what?

The President of the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference, Bishop Denis Browne of Hamilton, said that the Church supports Family First�s critical comments about the current Hell Pizza letterbox drop campaign promoting their "Lust" pizza.

"Advertisers, in terms of the principles in the NZ Advertising Standards Authority code, are required to uphold decency and good taste in their advertising material, and are warned not to advertise in a way which offends against generally prevailing community standards," said Bishop Browne.

"Clearly, to put unsolicited condoms and sex advice in people�s letterboxes as part of your advertising campaign for a pizza goes beyond the merely tacky, is a breach of those standards and an affront to New Zealanders," the bishop said.

The Catholic Church has received a number of complaints from people who are offended at finding condoms in their letterboxes.

I'm not sure why the Catholic Church received the letters of complaint, but there you are.

Sources: The New Zealand Herald and New Zealand Catholic Media Releases

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Hope. The Unborn Jesus. Christmas.

Back in September, I wrote a review for the book "Unborn Jesus Our Hope" by George A. Peate. A commenter noted that this book would make a terrific Christmas gift.

Now there's a great idea! Click here for ordering information.

Rejoice in the Lord, always!

Rejoice in the Lord, always.
I shall say it again: rejoice!
--Phillipians 4:4

Remember...Paul was in prison when he wrote this, and I doubt it was the country club type. So, rejoice...Jesus is coming!

A blessed Gaudete Sunday to you.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Church should "weep before God" over the Scandal...Victim's group head misses point

The only man allowed to preach to Pope Benedict XVI has told the Pontiff he should call a worldwide day of fasting and penitence to ask forgiveness for the Catholic Church's priestly sexual abuse scandals...

Father Cantalamessa said the time had come for the church to "weep before God" over the scandal against "the smallest of its brothers".

He said the church should call "a day of fasting and penitence, at the local and national level, where the problem was worst, to publicly express sorrow before God and solidarity with the victims".

Such a day would, he said, help "reconciliation of souls" so the church could get back on the path of doing its work "with a renewed heart".

I know that some American dioceses -- my own included -- have done this and more, including a Novena of fasting and penance. And I agree that it isn't enough: as for me, no amount of fasting and penance could ever atone for the sins I've committed in my life. Not if I insist on looking at my sins through my own eyes.

At least one group of victims of priestly abuse said it was not enough.

"We would much rather that the Pope discipline complicit bishops," said Barbara Blaine, president of the US-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP).

"Hundreds of bishops have covered up thousands of sex crimes yet not one has faced a single consequence for this horrific deceit and recklessness," she told news agency Reuters.

How does she know that?

How does Blaine know that no bishop has faced any consequences for his behavior? Has she a way of looking inside hearts and souls that none of us have? No, she does not.

She's looking at this from a purely secular -- and earthly -- perspective.

What is horrific is that evidently some, perhaps many, victims of clergy abuse have lost -- or have been robbed of -- their ability to forgive.

And that is a sin that some of us will have to answer for.

Still, SNAP should not be allowed to rob anybody of their chance to repent.

Jesus forgives. To question that undeniable -- albeit often difficult to believe -- fact is to court eternal damnation.

Source: The World News

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Voice of the Faithful(tm) doesn't understand process but condemns it anyway

Voice of the Faithful is deeply disturbed at the action of both Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz of Lincoln NE [uh...this happened 10 years ago] and Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, head of the Congregation for Bishops. In our goal to be a “voice” for faithful Catholics we call for an explanation of the process by which this decision was made. We are competent, educated people who understand the long history of this serious action and we see no justification for denying any person access to the life of the Church simply by virtue of her or his membership in a select group. Voice of the Faithful condemns the process by which a class of people was summarily excommunicated by a single bishop in the US.

They're talking (one assumes) about their great-auntie in dissident, Call to Action.

I'm with David Alexander on this one...if they need the process "explained," how can they condemn it?

Ah, the Voice of the Fuddled.

Cody continuing: update: 12-14-06

From Cody's Aunt Denise:

Dear Friends,

I want to keep you updated on Cody's progress, to keep him on your minds and to ask for continued prayer. He has now lost 50 lbs. and has suffered a couple more setbacks. This week, while the physical therapists were trying to sit him up to work his muscles, they discovered internal bleeding at the sight of a drainage tube which had been inserted to two weeks ago to drain fluid from around his lungs. They sent him off to surgery and he seems to be doing better since then (everything is relative).

The neurosurgeon gave them the news on Monday that he thought there would be permanent damage to the frontal lobe of his brain. This was the news that we had all hoped and prayed not to hear. We are still very hopeful and are hanging on the words that he (the neurosurgeon) told them at the onset that "nothing is permanent for a year". I really think that with all of our diligent prayers to St. Jude for a miracle, Padre Pio for his intercession and, of course, Our Holy Mother Mary for her intercession that he can still make a nearly full, if not full, recovery. Please continue to keep him and his family in prayer this Advent, as you await the celebration of the arrival of our Lord Jesus on Christmas Day.

God Bless you All and Have a Merry Christmas!!!

You guys know what to do...or continue to do. Thanks!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

A plea to priests: stick to the script!!!

Last Tuesday I was asked to read the Responsorial Psalm at a tiny chapel on the West Side of Boston. The response:

"Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace forever."

That's what I read. But that's not what the priest "proclaimed." No sir. Loudly, 'way over my voice (and those of the worshipers):

"Justice shall flourish in GOD'S time, and fullness of peace forever."

I'm growing weary of this...the treatment of the masculine pronoun as if it were a naughty word.

Please. Stick to the script.

Today, during the Eucharistic prayer, I was startled to hear the priest "pray":

"Remember our brothers and sisters and friends and family members and loved ones who have gone to their rest..."


"Our brothers" would've been sufficient, in my opinion but the Missal states "our brothers and sisters" and that's fine with me. We're talking about -- duh! -- our brethren in Christ. And, um, that would include "friends and family members and loved ones." What was this priest thinking? That the phrase "brothers and sisters" only includes our biological siblings? What the bleep kind of theology is he spreading (unintentionally, I'm sure)?

I could go on, but you get my point. It's bad enough when lay folk start ad libbing the Word of God. But when priests do it, it's...just not right.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

The "Amazing Milingo"

Excommunicated Catholic Emmanuel Milingo "ordained" a couple of married men as "priests" in New Jersey today.

Milingo, who married a lady specially chosen for him by the Reverend Sun Myung Moon a few years back, this year formed the organization called "Married Priests Now!" (or, "M. P. N!")

It's amazing!

Milingo said since he announced the formation of Married Priests Now! this year, he has received numerous inquiries from people interested in the priesthood.

"It's amazing," he said. "These are people who, because of celibacy, did not advance to the priesthood, and now they want to be ordained."

Trying to put Milingo's comment into some perspective here...

  • It's amazing! Because of that icky math requirement, I did not become an accountant, but now that it's not necessary, I want to take my CPA exam!
  • It's amazing! Because I didn't want to practice my piano lessons, I did not advance toward my musical career, but now that ability isn't necessary, I want to put on a concert!
  • It's amazing! Because I didn't really buy into that resurrection thing, I didn't pursue Catholicism, but now that it doesn't matter, I'm planning my Confirmation party!

Source:, Associated Press

Friday, December 08, 2006

Mary's Immaculate Conception (and why its misconception troubles me)

Okay, maybe I'm beating a dead horse on this, but bear with me.

When I (or you, probably) ask your average Joe Christian what the "Immaculate Conception" means, chances are (unfortunately) good that you'll get a wrong answer. Specifically, you'll hear some mumbling about how Jesus was conceived without human sexual intercourse. The assumption being that human sexual intercourse is somehow not "immaculate," or, in other words...dirty.

This drives me nuts.

How many times have you heard that the Church "concentrates too much on the pelvis?" The above described misinterpretation gives the lie to this "opinion."

The Church's use of the term "immaculate" has nothing to do with sex and everything to do with sin. And sin takes many forms, sexuality being one of the least of them. In fact, within the blessed gates of matrimony, human sexuality is a gift beyond price!

When they assume that the Immaculate Conception has anything to do with Christ's miraculous birth from a virgin, they -- not the Church! -- are the ones "concentrating too much on the pelvis."

Perhaps I'm being too tough.

Perhaps because it is beyond the bounds of imagination to imagine a woman -- a woman, mind you, and take that, all you "feminists" who insist that the Church is "anti-woman" -- or any human being to be immaculate in soul. To be born sinless and to live an entire life without sin of any kind.

But don't you see...that's why it's so important to contemplate on this amazing mystery!

And why it's such a gift to us! Of course none of us were born or have lived "full of grace." But how wonderful it is that we have been given a mother who was and is! One who can encourage us whenever we're tempted to sin. And one who, born through the (also miraculous, by the way) process of human sexual intercourse, can help us show gratitude toward our human parents...and the utmost respect for human life, born and unborn.

Do, please, spread the word of Mary's Immaculate Conception...and her Immaculate Heart.

I think that by doing this, we can, by the grace of God, bring the world into the arms of Our Lady...and accomplish miracles.

Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Oh, Mary conceived without sin!

Great reading from Catholic Answers on The Immaculate Conception. Here's the intro:

It’s important to understand what the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception is and what it is not. Some people think the term refers to Christ’s conception in Mary’s womb without the intervention of a human father; but that is the Virgin Birth. Others think the Immaculate Conception means Mary was conceived "by the power of the Holy Spirit," in the way Jesus was, but that, too, is incorrect. The Immaculate Conception means that Mary, whose conception was brought about the normal way, was conceived without original sin or its stain—that’s what "immaculate" means: without stain. The essence of original sin consists in the deprivation of sanctifying grace, and its stain is a corrupt nature. Mary was preserved from these defects by God’s grace; from the first instant of her existence she was in the state of sanctifying grace and was free from the corrupt nature original sin brings.

I know many people -- many Catholics -- to whom this simple paragraph would be a revelaltion.

Do read the whole thing.

Oh, Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Thief returns statue of Jesus

Jesus was back on his pedestal, and all was right with the world at the Little Brothers of St. Francis yesterday morning.

Forgiveness rules with the Little Brothers.

Brother James Curran, founder of the order, said: "We take it back in the spirit of forgiveness. The forgiveness was there before it was returned."

Source: The Boston Globe

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Advent: what do you do?

Shamelessly I steal from Jimmy Akin's blog:

What goes on in your home during the weeks of Advent? Do you an Advent wreath? Do you set up a creche? Decorate your house? How and when?

What, if anything, do you do to keep Advent different from Christmas? If you have kids, how do you involve them?

I'd like to know, too. What do you do...or don't do?

Purple "untraditional" color?

A few days ago, I wrote about the Boston Globe's error in using the term "Immaculate Conception" in relationship to Christ's birth.

Today, a reader in Western Massachusetts wrote to tell me that Greenfield's Recorder captioned a photo of a Church decorated with wreaths and purple ribbons this way:

"St. James Catholic church on North Main Street in South Deerfield sports some untraditional colors for the holiday season."

I called the editor of the paper and told him that...uh...purple is very traditional for the Advent season.

The online version now omits the words "untraditional colors" but still doesn't quite get it right.

Oh, well...

Monday, December 04, 2006

Rosaries. Off ovaries. How original.

Anybody -- including perhaps perplexed, non-Christian pro-lifers -- who have ever opined that abortion is equal to killing, has heard the rather awkward, unrhythmical slogan:

"Keep your Rosaries off our ovaries!"


In Australia, the oddly named YWCA has turned the slogan into a T-shirt. Specifically, the T-shirts call upon the Catholic Health Minister Tony Abbott to keep his Rosary off of the ovaries of the "Young Women's `Christian' Association" members.

(Let's not even go into why on earth anyone would want to place a Rosary on any lady's reproductive organs, okay?)

The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (I guess it's some sort of court) has found that the T-shirts" do not amount to the religious vilification of Catholics."

The head VCAT guy ruled that while "many ordinary people would find the slogan to be distasteful", it did not constitute religious vilification.

"I do not think that the sale and distribution of T-shirts containing it (the slogan) incite hatred against, serious contempt for, or revulsion or severe ridicule of Mr Abbott...or any other Catholic," he ruled.

I kinda like this part of the ruling:

"The slogan might generate a more negative response towards those who wear the T-shirts bearing it than towards Mr Abbott or any other devotee of the Catholic faith".


Thanks to the Curt Jester for the link.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Condom use is wrong. Really!

While British PM Tony Blair is advising Catholic leaders to "get real" about condom use to prevent HIV/AIDS in Africa, I've gotta wonder where his "reality" really is.

Britain's Cardinal Murphy O'Connor states the obvious:

"The way to combat Aids is primarily, as everybody should know, behaviourally - keeping monogamous relationships between a man and a woman."

But what about "special circumstances?"

Okay, let's say I contract HIV through a blood transfusion. Should my husband (I'm a widow...we're just playing "let's say" here) use condom for sexual relations with me?


My husband I and should abstain from sex. Period.

This is a no-brainer. It's also not impossible. Ask Saint Joseph and Mary.

(And yes, I know about the Holy Father's commissioned report. I don't know why he commissioned it, but I know he did.)

Here's the thing. Realism is realizing that this world isn't permanent.

Eternity, on the other hand, lasts a real long time.

So let's get real.

Read this article and tell me what you think.

Happy New Year!

Jeff Miller, once again, very courteously offered this Advent wreath image he made to his fellow bloggers. I tried and failed to get it on my sidebar (where was I when God passed out the web savvy genes?) but am grateful to have it here.

A blessed Advent to you! Rejoice! He is coming!

Update: Hey, I did it! (I wonder how?)

Saturday, December 02, 2006

"Progressive?" Hardly! (The "Reformed Catholic Church")

A Jesuit priest who said he wants to reach out to people who feel disenfranchised by the Roman Catholic Church is starting a new Toledo parish under the auspices of the Reformed Catholic Church.

The small denomination, incorporated in 2000, is not affiliated with the Vatican and is self-described as offering “a progressive interpretation of the Roman Catholic tradition.”

"We're just like real Catholics...sorta"

Father Heckman said the Reformed Catholic Church’s liturgy is “very much like” that of a Roman Catholic Mass, although there are numerous doctrinal differences between the two denominations.

For example, the Reformed Catholic Church will ordain women, which the Roman Catholic Church forbids. It also acknowledges same-sex marriage and second marriages for the divorced, Father Heckman said.

“Our official statement on that is basically that a marriage is limited to a union of two people, regardless of gender,” he said.

Also unlike the Roman Catholic Church, Holy Communion is open to everyone who is a “baptized Christian, no matter what denomination they belong to.

The table is open to everyone,” Father Heckman said.

Please ask Our Lady, Mother of the Church, to pray for these folks. And pray for me, too, because the phrase "disenfranchised by the Roman Catholic Church" tends to make my blood boil and I don't want it to.

Friday, December 01, 2006

The Pope prays. Some Catholics get upset.

The Holy Father, while visiting the renowned Blue Mosque in Istanbul yesterday, "moved his lips, evidently in prayer."

While I'd like to believe that most Catholics take it for granted that a Catholic pope is supposed to pray wherever he finds himself, some commenters at Catholic World News seem to have a problem with this.

Why? I've read the comments. The "shocked" ones make no sense to me.

(P.S. Off topic, but can somebody tell me why the word "Gravatar" seems to be insinuating itself in this blogs comments? Thanks.)

Boston Globe's misconception of the Immaculate Conception

Perhaps ironically, the Boston Globe, in an article on the movie "The Nativity Story" titled "Film focuses on bringing accuracy to biblical tale," fails to report...accurately.

Keeping in mind that "The Nativity Story" focuses on the birth of Jesus, we read:

Stretched into something between fairy tale and religious quest, the film humanizes a bare-bones premise -- the Immaculate Conception -- by asking, "What did Mary and Joseph go through?"

This is called an example of a bare-bones mistake.