Monday, January 24, 2011

Life Unseen

January… The trees are stark and bare against the gray sky. Their leafless branches quiver in the icy wind. The skies are silent as the birds have migrated to their winter homes. No movement on the snow-covered ground, as many animals have burrowed in to hibernate or come out only momentarily for food before scurrying back to their warm dens.

It is easy to see why many ancient cultures saw winter as a time of death and lifelessness. The trees seem to die as they shed their autumn leaves. The animals disappear from the land. Food is scarce. Many people did in fact die from cold and hunger and disease, before the age of modern comforts and technology.

But it would be a mistake for us to think of winter as completely lifeless. Life is present even when it is not visibly obvious. The trees are waiting to put forth new leaves after the spring rains. Animals do survive the winter months though we may not see them as frequently as we do in warmer seasons. The birds return and flowers bloom. It is all there waiting to be born again. Life is there, even if it is just below the surface, where we must look a little harder.

How fitting that the anniversary of Roe v. Wade comes at a time when all around us life is quietly tucked away in the midst of the winter calm. We know (indeed it is a scientific fact) that life can be present even when the outward signs, things visible to our naked eye, suggest otherwise. The leafless tree still though it seems barren, still contains its sap and is ready to put forth buds. The animals that hibernate through the winter months, still breathe, their hearts still beat; they will emerge at the appointed time. And a child in the womb is sleeping soundly awaiting the day of her birth.

Life is there, though we may not see it directly with our own eye. We must remember this as we face the long cold winter of abortion.

Friday, January 21, 2011

This Week's Headlines

As another week comes to an end, this is your chance to top off your glass with a final helping of news, current events, and just plain interesting stuff that may not have made into the mainstream media. A chance to linger for a few more moments before we close the door on the week. Below are some links to articles, blogs, and miscellaneous happenings that caught my eye over the past few days. Sample what you like - I'll serve up more next Friday...

Concerns for Civility: What Do The Scriptures Teach Us?  - "There’s been a lot of talk about 'civility' in the news. Unfortunately it is all wrapped up in politics and is currently being batted about as a thinly veiled political provocation."
Will “dialogue” end abortion – or just the abortion debate? - We should never be afraid to confront evil and we should be willing to stand for truth in every situation.

Bp Schneider calls on Pope for document condemning mistaken interpretations of Vatican II  - "There is the need for a new Syllabus, this time directed not so much against the errors coming from outside of the Church, but against the errors circulated within the Church by supporters of the thesis of discontinuity and rupture, with its doctrinal, liturgical, and pastoral application."

Holy See Statement on Creation of Ordinariate - "A Personal Ordinariate is a canonical structure that provides for corporate reunion in such a way that allows former Anglicans to enter full communion with the Catholic Church while preserving elements of their distinctive Anglican patrimony."

Three Ex-Bishops Defect To Catholicism - "The leader of Catholics in England and Wales welcomed them into the church and paid tribute to the 'sensitive' leadership of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams."

History overturned as Anglican bishops are ordained as Catholic priests - " was hard to avoid concluding that what this ceremony really signalled was an end to the search for the compromises that would reunite two distinctive churches, and its replacement by Rome's scheme to gather up so many Anglican converts that the Church of England simply withers on the vine. A takeover, not a merger." [This article is a bit harsh toward the catholic position in places, but is still worth the read.]

Newly appointed head of Anglican ordinariate outlines position, plans 
More Anglcan defections to Rome - "St James the Great, in the Albert Hill area of Darlington, has been an Anglo- Catholic church for more than 100 years. But its priest, Father Ian Grieves, said the church was looking to split, chiefly because of plans to ordain women bishops."

On the need for apologetics and sound argument - "I've discovered that there is a huge swath of Catholics who feel that offering up any arguments or defense in favor of Catholicism smacks of triumphalism and arrogance; such folks, when pressed, usually hold to a vaguely indifferent form of "faith" that is heavily reliant on secularized understandings of 'tolerance' and 'equality.'"

Behold the Lamb of God - "When it comes to personal Bible reading, Protestants often put Catholics to shame. But as far as Sunday worship goes, it is hard to find a more biblical service than the Mass."

Celebrating Dr. King: The Moral Authority of Law - "King defended the transcendent source of the law’s authority. In doing so he took a conservative Christian view of law. In fact, he was perhaps the most eloquent advocate of this viewpoint in his time, as, interestingly, Justice Clarence Thomas is today."

The President’s Speech; Why I Wasn’t Impressed - Bishop Thomas J. Tobin: "The problem, at least for me, is that President Obama’s persistent and willful promotion of abortion renders his compassionate gestures and soaring rhetoric completely disingenuous."

More than Half of the States Now Suing to Overturn Obamacare - "Our federal government is designed to be a government of limited, enumerated powers, and we do not believe it has the power to order citizens into commerce so it can then regulate their conduct under authority of the Commerce Clause. Whatever the merits or demerits of health care reform, the ends cannot justify the unconstitutional means." [Subsidiarity!]

Something about the Name Mary? - "The Social Security Administration maintains a website that tracks the names given to children in America." [This article offers some interesting charts showing the popularity of specific biblical names over the last century.]

Two great sources of Catholic news:

Friday, January 14, 2011

This Week's Headlines

As another week comes to an end, this is your chance to top off your glass with a final helping of news, current events, and just plain interesting stuff that may not have made into the mainstream media. A chance to linger for a few more moments before we close the door on the week. Below are some links to articles, blogs, and miscellaneous happenings that caught my eye over the past few days. Sample what you like - I'll serve up more next Friday...

John Paul II's beatification approved for May 1, Divine Mercy Sunday - "The healing of a French nun with Parkinson's disease is to go down in history as the miracle that made John Paul II a "blessed." The title is given to martyrs and other Christians to whom a miracle has been officially attributed, thus bringing them one step closer to sainthood." - Observations about the speed of some causes for beatification
Does the USCCB Understand Subsidiarity? - "While the bishops objected vigorously to the presence of abortion funding in the legislation, they seem untroubled by the question of its general constitutionality, one that comports closely with the principle of subsidiarity as articulated in Catholic social teaching." See also this follow-up piece:  Subsidiarity and Human Dignity

Vatican official: Church’s justice teachings need new 'vocabulary' for some US audiences - "...the Pope is mistakenly seen as promoting socialist or big-government solutions to social problems. ...[S]ocial justice involves citizens’ obligations and responsibilities to ensure fairness and opportunity in their communities and societies. While this may include the adoption of specific government policies and programs, the emphasis in Catholic social teaching is on the obligations that flow from citizens' relationships in societies."

Within the Pale: The Making of Community  - "Ultimately, the only order of community that survives is one that embraces a religious dimension. Only one that recognizes transcendence beyond material existence will endure for the long term..."

Five Changes to Expect with the New Missal - "At last, and after much suffering and pain, we seem to be on the right track again. We might find that our parishes will fill up again, our seminaries will have new vocations, and popular devotions will return as part of Catholic life. All of this will get a huge push forward with the new Missal."
The pope on children's names - "...names are important, and that the choice of a child’s name should not be left to whim or fancy."

It's Time to Recognize that America Isn't "Protestant" Anymore - "Classic Protestantism and Anglicanism together has dropped like a stone and now only make up 26% of American Christians. Catholics and Orthodox grew dramatically and together now comprise 38% of all Christians in North America."

Church reveals fine details of ordinariate - "The ordinariate represents a completely new canonical structure which is similar to a military diocese, but allows groups of Anglicans who wish to keep their patrimony to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church."

Prophetic Gesture? First Priests of the Anglican Ordinariate to be Ordained - "On January 13, 2010, three former Anglican Bishops John Broadhurst, Andrew Burnham and Keith Newton, who were received into the full communion of the Catholic Church on the Feast of the Mother of God, January 1, 2010,will be ordained as Catholic Deacons. Two days later, they will be ordained to the Catholic Priesthood by Archbishop Nichols."
Heart of the Mass: Transubstantiation - "Because of his presence, the space in a Catholic church is very different from the space in a Protestant church or a synagogue or a mosque. In those buildings there is no physical presence of God."

Did the Church Fathers Practice Communion in the Hand? (Not Exactly) - "Let it be noted at the outset that St Leo the Great, St Basil, and St Gregory the Great are early witnesses to Communion on the Tongue as the normative." See Also: 5 Tips on Receiving the Holy Eucharist on the Tongue

Despite earlier misgivings, Pope invites religious leaders to Assisi - "Benedict XVI has announced that he will go to Assisi in October to mark the 25th anniversary of Pope John Paul II’s interreligious prayer for peace, but he has not actually said anything about praying with members of other religions."

The Diversity Police Are At It Again - "An alarm has been sounded for Republicans who advocate big-government, abortion, gay marriage, and gun control:  Take heed!  The GOP is being taken over by (gasp!) actual conservatives!"

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Sunday's Mass Readings

January 9, 2011 The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord

Reading 1

Is 42:1-4, 6-7

Thus says the LORD:
Here is my servant whom I uphold,
my chosen one with whom I am pleased,
upon whom I have put my spirit;
he shall bring forth justice to the nations,
not crying out, not shouting,
not making his voice heard in the street.
a bruised reed he shall not break,
and a smoldering wick he shall not quench,
until he establishes justice on the earth;
the coastlands will wait for his teaching.
I, the LORD, have called you for the victory of justice,
I have grasped you by the hand;
I formed you, and set you
as a covenant of the people,
a light for the nations,
to open the eyes of the blind,
to bring out prisoners from confinement,
and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness.

Responsorial Psalm

Ps 29:1-2, 3-4, 3, 9-10

R. (11b) The Lord will bless his people with peace.
Give to the LORD, you sons of God,
give to the LORD glory and praise,
Give to the LORD the glory due his name;
adore the LORD in holy attire.
R. The Lord will bless his people with peace.
The voice of the LORD is over the waters,
the LORD, over vast waters.
The voice of the LORD is mighty;
the voice of the LORD is majestic.
R. The Lord will bless his people with peace.
The God of glory thunders,
and in his temple all say, “Glory!”
The LORD is enthroned above the flood;
the LORD is enthroned as king forever.
R. The Lord will bless his people with peace.

Second Reading
Acts 10:34-38

Peter proceeded to speak to those gathered

in the house of Cornelius, saying:
“In truth, I see that God shows no partiality.
Rather, in every nation whoever fears him and acts uprightly
is acceptable to him.
You know the word that he sent to the Israelites
as he proclaimed peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all,
what has happened all over Judea,
beginning in Galilee after the baptism
that John preached,
how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth
with the Holy Spirit and power.
He went about doing good
and healing all those oppressed by the devil,
for God was with him.”

Mt 3:13-17

Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan

to be baptized by him.
John tried to prevent him, saying,
“I need to be baptized by you,
and yet you are coming to me?”
Jesus said to him in reply,
“Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us
to fulfill all righteousness.”
Then he allowed him.
After Jesus was baptized,
he came up from the water and behold,
the heavens were opened for him,
and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove
and coming upon him.
And a voice came from the heavens, saying,
"This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

Friday, January 7, 2011

This Week's Headlines

As another week comes to an end, this is your chance to top off your glass with a final helping of news, current events, and just plain interesting stuff that may not have made into the mainstream media. A chance to linger for a few more moments before we close the door on the week. Below are some links to articles, blogs, and miscellaneous happenings that caught my eye over the past few days. Sample what you like - I'll serve up more next Friday...

Libertarianism's Folly: When 'Live and Let Live' Fails - "If someone is not a moral being, how can he be expected to vote for moral government? Do you really think a vice-ridden person will be immoral in business, when raising children, and in most other things but then, magically somehow, have a moment of clarity at the polls? This is why John Adams warned, 'Public virtue cannot exist in a nation without private [virtue] ... '"

Curvatus in Se: On the Inward Focus of Modern Liturgy and On Rediscovering the True Source of Our Unity  - "...if we do not communally focus on the Lord, we have no true unity. It may be argued that there is some vaguely human sort of unity, but it really is no different than the unity that exists among the members of a bowling league. And even the members of a bowling league know that at some point it is important to focus on the act of bowling rather than merely on each other."
Why is it 2011? (or) Why New Years is Not Simply Secular - "Christ at his birth and through his passion, death and resurrection ushered in a new era for the world. The Christian West acknowledged this fact quite radically by resetting the calendars."

On Time Warps and Missing Feasts: Puzzling Over the Confusion in the Christmas Cycle - "I must admit that I have a few concerns about the Christmas Calendar and I am interested in your thoughts on the matter."

The Wise Men from the East - "Who were these gift-bearing kings, these Wise Men of the East? What has their mission meant to Christians across the ages? "
Three ex-Anglican bishops are received into full communion - "The Ordinariate is launched very quietly and gently, slipping almost unnoticed into the water.”

First Anglicans are received into the Roman Catholic Church in historic service - "It is expected that as many as 50 clergy will be ordained by Easter as the new structure begins to take shape, but there are likely to be many disputes in parishes torn over whether to remain in the Church of England" 

Anglican Catholics Then and Now  - "...this is not the embarrassed reception of disenchanted Anglicans, but a very public beginning of the Ordinariate, and what is going unsaid is the fact that under the papacy of Benedict XVI it is all but shouted from the housetops that the old ecumenism is dead."

Fr. Longenecker on the Anglican Ordinariate and the Great Re-Alignment  - "This is historic. Never before has the Catholic Church opened its doors so wide to a group of Protestants in such a creative way."

25 Phrases from the Catechism Worth Memorizing - "Other than being some of my favorites, each has plenty of room for one’s private meditation and contemplation. In other words, each provides a lot to chew on."

John Paul II to be Beatified in 2011? - "...the medical advisers of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints have produced “a favorable view on the miracle attributed to the intercession of Pope Wojtyla..."

On Good Intentions and Flawed Moral Reasoning - "Too many people today use flawed or incomplete reasoning when it comes to morally assessing acts. Intentions, how a person feels, or what they think and know can affect blameworthiness, but they cannot make a bad thing good, they cannot make an evil act upright, they cannot remove the harm or negative results of an incorrect, bad or evil act."
Ten stories that are likely to define the coming year

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Baptism of Our Lord

As the Christmas Season comes to a close we approach the Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord. This event marks the end of Jesus’ private life and the beginning of His public ministry. His divine Sonship is announced from on high as He steps from the water and goes forth to preach and to heal.

So too our own baptisms make us sons and daughters of God; and we become members of the broader community of the Church. Baptism announces publicly our new relationship to God as it washes away our sin and pours out Grace into our hearts.

But why did Jesus undergo this ritual? He was already God’s Son, and so no re-birth was necessary. He was without sin, and so the cleansing of sin was not needed. And certainly Jesus did not require Grace – he is the very fount of Grace.

John the Baptist must have realized all of this when He said to Jesus: “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” (Matthew 3:14) But Jesus replied: “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” (15)

Why was this the “proper” thing to do?

For an answer we turn to St. Thomas Aquinas, who, in his Summa Theologica (Question 39, Article 1) takes up the challenge as to whether it was fitting that Christ be baptized…

“It was fitting for Christ to be baptized. First, because, as Ambrose says on Luke 3:21: ‘Our Lord was baptized because He wished, not to be cleansed, but to cleanse the waters, that, being purified by the flesh of Christ that knew no sin, they might have the virtue of baptism’; and, as Chrysostom says (Hom. iv in Matth.), ‘that He might bequeath the sanctified waters to those who were to be baptized afterwards.’ Secondly, as Chrysostom says (Hom. iv in Matth.), ‘although Christ was not a sinner, yet did He take a sinful nature and 'the likeness of sinful flesh.' Wherefore, though He needed not baptism for His own sake, yet carnal nature in others had need thereof.’ And, as Gregory Nazianzen says (Orat. xxxix) ‘Christ was baptized that He might plunge the old Adam entirely in the water.’…”

It is helpful to recall here the Church’s ceremony at the Easter Vigil, when the baptismal waters are blessed with the Paschal Candle. The Paschal Candle (the large candle marked with a cross and used throughout the year to represent Christ, the Light of the World) is dipped into the baptismal fount and three times (in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit) and thus the waters are broken and made fertile to baptism new Christians. In a sense the waters must be baptized by Christ before we can be baptized by the waters.

Jesus plunges into the waters of baptism not for His own sake, but for ours. As He tells John, “it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Our own righteousness is fulfilled by Christ’s presence in the baptismal waters. He has passed through those waters before us and His presence there makes the Sacrament effective for our salvation.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Sunday's Mass Readings

January 2, 2011

Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord

Reading 1
Is 60:1-6

Rise up in splendor, Jerusalem! Your light has come,
the glory of the Lord shines upon you.
See, darkness covers the earth,
and thick clouds cover the peoples;
but upon you the LORD shines,
and over you appears his glory.
Nations shall walk by your light,
and kings by your shining radiance.
Raise your eyes and look about;
they all gather and come to you:
your sons come from afar,
and your daughters in the arms of their nurses.
Then you shall be radiant at what you see,
your heart shall throb and overflow,
for the riches of the sea shall be emptied out before you,
the wealth of nations shall be brought to you.
Caravans of camels shall fill you,
dromedaries from Midian and Ephah;
all from Sheba shall come
bearing gold and frankincense,
and proclaiming the praises of the LORD.

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 72:1-2, 7-8, 10-11, 12-13

R. (cf. 11) Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.
O God, with your judgment endow the king,
and with your justice, the king’s son;
He shall govern your people with justice
and your afflicted ones with judgment.
R. Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.
Justice shall flower in his days,
and profound peace, till the moon be no more. May he rule from sea to sea,
and from the River to the ends of the earth.
R. Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.
The kings of Tarshish and the Isles shall offer gifts;
the kings of Arabia and Seba shall bring tribute.
All kings shall pay him homage,
all nations shall serve him.
R. Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.
For he shall rescue the poor when he cries out,
and the afflicted when he has no one to help him.
He shall have pity for the lowly and the poor;
the lives of the poor he shall save.
R. Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.

Reading 2
Eph 3:2-3a, 5-6

Brothers and sisters:
You have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace
that was given to me for your benefit,
namely, that the mystery was made known to me by revelation.
It was not made known to people in other generations
as it has now been revealed
to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit:
that the Gentiles are coheirs, members of the same body,
and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

Mt 2:1-12

When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea,
in the days of King Herod,
behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying,
“Where is the newborn king of the Jews?
We saw his star at its rising
and have come to do him homage.”
When King Herod heard this,
he was greatly troubled,
and all Jerusalem with him.
Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people,
He inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.
They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea,
for thus it has been written through the prophet:
And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
since from you shall come a ruler,
who is to shepherd my people Israel.”
Then Herod called the magi secretly
and ascertained from them the time of the star’s appearance.
He sent them to Bethlehem and said,
“Go and search diligently for the child.
When you have found him, bring me word,
that I too may go and do him homage.”
After their audience with the king they set out.
And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them,
until it came and stopped over the place where the child was.
They were overjoyed at seeing the star,
and on entering the house
they saw the child with Mary his mother.
They prostrated themselves and did him homage.
Then they opened their treasures
and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod,
they departed for their country by another way.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

The Feast of Mary, Mother of God

We fly to thy patronage,
O holy Mother of God;
despise not our petitions in our necessities,
but deliver us always from all dangers,
O glorious and blessed Virgin. Amen.

[Third Century. Oldest known prayer to Mary.]
+    +    +
Let us pray
that Mary the mother of the Lord,
will help us by her prayers]
God our Father
may we always profit by the prayers
of the Virgin Mother Mary,
for you bring us life and salvation
through Jesus Christ her Son
who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
One God, forever and ever. Amen.

+    +    +

Loving Mother of the Redeemer,
Gate of heaven, star of the sea,
Assist your people
who have fallen yet strive to rise again,
To the wonderment of nature you bore your Creator,
yet remained a virgin after as before,
You who received Gabriel's joyful greeting,
have pity on us, poor sinners.