Archive for October, 2012

October 27, 2012 – All Sorts of Stuff

October 27, 2012

I think I’m finally done licking my wounds over the ending to the Cardinals’ season.  It was still a thrilling year, and certainly the most exciting 2-year stretch that I can ever remember.  And the great thing about being a sports fan os that you can always move on to the next thing.  Football is of course in full swing and basketball is getting ready to crank up.  There is no sign of hockey on the horizon, but we take what we can get.  This was one of those weeks when I couldn’t really pin down one subject to talk about, so we;ll just hit on some different things and see what happens.

I have been playing a little game with myself the last couple of weeks.  Whenever I pull up to my mailbox, I try to guess how many political advertisements will be inside.  Lately you can bet on at least 3, and many times there will be more than one from the same candidate.  I’m certainly not trying to downplay this election, and I know it is important to be an informed voter, but in this age of communication when you can put things on the internet at little cost, how much really needs to be spent on these campaigns?  ‘is it really necessary to have something appear in my mailbox every single day?  Couldn’t all of this money be put to better use?

This especially gets to me when I hear that organizations such as our local food pantry are struggling because the government is not keeping up with their obligations.  Until recently the food pantry received food shipments from the St. Louis Food Bank, but this has ceased for the time being because the state is not paying the bills.  They have also gotten cut back severely on USDA commodities from the federal government.  Irene Dill, an employee of the diocese who passed away about 10 years ago, told me one time “can you imagine if only part of this money that was used on political campaigns was instead used for justice?  Can you imagine what a better place the world would be?”  I think her statement holds even all the more true today.  Though many of us are still feeling the effects of a less than robust economy, if possible we need to put a little aside to help those less fortunate such as those who rely on the food pantry.

There was an item on the news that caught my eye this past week.  A library in Brentwood, MO carries a children’s book called “Uncle Bobby’s Wedding.”  The book is about a guinea pig whose uncle is getting married, and the guinea pig is afraid that his uncle won’t have time to spend with him anymore.  Sounds innocent enough, except for the fact that Uncle Bobby is marrying a male guinea pig.  A patron of the library petitioned to have the book removed from the shelf, but the Board of Trustees voted unanimously to keep the book in its collection.  First of all, the author of the book says that the focus of the book is on how fearful the guinea pig was that his uncle would not pay attention to him anymore.  If this were the case, then why didn’t the author show an actual marriage?  And why does this have to be portrayed in a children’s book where kids will get the impression that this is a “traditional” way to do things.  I am all for freedom of speech, and we have a right to express our opinion, but when something like this is being portrayed without a qualifier that this is not the true definition of marriage, then we as Christians need to stand up for what is the truth.  Archbishop Fulton Sheen had a great quote about standing up for our convictions: “The refusal to take sides on great moral issues is itself a decision. It is a silent acquiescence to evil. The Tragedy of our time is that those who still believe in honesty lack fire and conviction, while those who believe in dishonesty are full of passionate conviction.”

This weekend the Synod for the New Evangelization will wrap-up at the Vatican.  There have been some very good presentations, and I am anxious to see what the final report from the Synod brings out.  Timothy Cardinal Dolan has been blogging regularly from the synod, and did so again yesterday.  This blog had a bit more of a personal twist, even including an admission that someone in an audience with the Pope can still find his mind wandering.  Here is your link:

http://blog.archny.org/index.php/you-teach-us-our-faith/

If you saw the Messenger or saw my Facebook post then you probably read about what will occur in Gallatin County.  As you recall, St. Joseph’s Parish in Ridgway was destroyed by a tornado earlier this year.  This parish was part of a cluster with three other parishes in Gallatin County.  After consultation and with data gathered from the “Parish Renewal and Restructuring Process”, Bishop Braxton has decreed that the four parishes will be suppressed and that one new parish will be erected at the site in Ridgway where the church was destroyed.  The new parish will be dedicated to St. Kateri Tekakwitha who was canonized this past Sunday.  This situation was unique in that it was hastened by the destruction of the parish buildings in Ridgway.  However, as the data from the process continues to be analyzed, we may certainly see more parishes have to be merged together due to the shortage of clergy, population shifts, etc.

Finally, this Sunday is Priesthood Sunday across the nation, and we thank all of our priests for their continued dedication to their ministry and to the people they serve.  The circumstances they must endure continue to be overwhelming as the numbers of priests decline and fewer young priests are coming up to handle the workload.  We can show our appreciation by continuing to pray for vocations and by helping our priests in any way we can.  We continue to be so fortunate to have the leadership of Fr. Gene to guide our parish.  He does so much to show his appreciation for us that there is no way to repay him in kind, but know Fr. Gene that we are so grateful to have you here among us and we wish you continued happiness in your ministry among us.

Have a great week.  Fall is definitely here.  Peace.

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October 20, 2012 – Around the World in 1000 Words

October 20, 2012

What a roller coaster week for us Cardinal fans.  First we were down 6-0 to Washington only to somehow pull out a victory, then we grab the first game from the Giants before laying an egg in Game 2, then we win the next two at home to set up a win last night in Game 5, only to lay another egg.  So now we head back to San Francisco where we must win one of the next two games.  WHEW!  One thing about being a Cardinal fan – you don’t have to worry about getting any EKG’s or stress tests for your heart.  You know it is in good shape if you can withstand these games.  I suppose that’s one advantage to being a Cub fan – you know what the outcome is going to be so there is no reason to get excited and stressed out.  So we have a day to recover and get our heart rhythms back in line before we go to Game 6, and hopefully then to a re-match of the 2006 World Series against Detroit.

Also another sports note: Congratulations to the Chester Yellow Jackets football team which finished 9-0 for their first undefeated regular season in school history!  Good luck to them as they enter the playoffs next week.

OK, normally I try to keep these blogs at around 1000 words, and normally I do not succeed.  I have already blown about 230 words and have not gotten to any Catholic subject yet, so I’m just going to hit on a few things and try to stay within my limits.  First, I was pleased to see that the Vatican has approved insertion of the optional memorial to Blessed John Paul II in the liturgical calendar of the dioceses of the United States.  Liturgical prayers and readings have also been provided for this feast, which will occur each year on October 22.  These prayers and readings can be found at this link:

http://www.usccb.org/about/leadership/holy-see/pope-john-paul-ii/memorial-of-blessed-john-paul-ii.cfm

Tomorrow (October 21) is a special day as Pope Benedict XVI will canonize seven new saints, including two American women: Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha and Blessed Sister Marianne Cope.  Kateri Tekakwitha, informally known as Lily of the Mohawks (1656 – April 17, 1680), was an AlgonquinMohawk Catholic virgin and religious laywoman. Born in present-day New York, she survived smallpox and was orphaned as a child, then baptized as a Roman Catholic and settled for the last years of her life at the Jesuit mission village of Kahnawake, south of Montreal in New France.  Tekakwitha professed a vow of virginity until her death at the age of 24. Known for her virtue of chastity and corporal mortification of the flesh, as well as being shunned by her tribe for her religious conversion to Catholicism, she is the first Native American woman to be venerated in the Roman Catholic Church.  Sister Marianne Cope, also known as the Blessed Marianne of Molokai, (23 January 1838 – 9 August 1918) was a Roman Catholic Religious Sister and a member of the Sisters of Saint Francis of Syracuse, New York. Known for her charitable works and virtuous deeds, she spent many years caring for the lepers on the island of Molokai, Hawaii.  Despite direct contact with the patients over many years, Cope was not afflicted by the disease, considered by some faithful to be miraculous.

As a part of the Year of Faith, the Synod on the New Evangelization continues at the Vatican.  Many presentations have been heard, and it has now reached the stage in which there will be group discussion and a set of recommendations will be made to Pope Benedict XVI as to how to proceed with our evangelization efforts from this point on.  Donald Cardinal Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, D.C., has written a comprehensive summary of what has been presented at the Synod thus far.  It is rather lengthy, so I will just point out a few things that stuck out to me:

1)      The responsibility to evangelize is not just that of the clergy and religious.  Every disciple of Jesus has an important role in spreading the faith.  We are given a personal calling to be evangelizers through our Baptism.

2)      Many of the presenters expressed concern about the continuing growing influence of secularism in our culture and how that has caused people to be indifferent to religion.  We must face the challenges of a world that is looking elsewhere besides God for inspiration.  Even countries with a long Christian tradition are seeing a growth in ignorance of the faith.

3)      The church must maintain the ability to carry out works of charity and love, especially in the areas of social justice, service, health care and education.  This is part of our identity and influences others to carry out works of charity.

4)      Parishes will play a key role in the new evangelization, since this is where for the most part the life of the Church unfolds and where catechesis takes place.  Catechists will also play a key role in the New Evangelization as they have the role of communicating the faith to young people.  They must be given the resources and assistance needed to carry out this important ministry.

5)      The role of the family is vital as it is the instrument by which the faith is passed on.   Encouragement must be given to family life, particularly today when it is suffering so much under the pressures of the new secular vision of reality.

There is much more to be had from the article.  Here is the link to it:

http://www.romereports.com/palio/cardinal-wuerl-summarizes-synod-discussions-english-7989.html

Finally, I did not get a chance to watch the Al Smith dinner the other night in which both Presidential candidates were present with Timothy Cardinal Dolan.  The dinner is an annual fundraiser for Catholic Charities.  Al Smith was a governor of New York and the first Catholic Presidential candidate.  I didn’t particularly care what the candidates said, but Cardinal Dolan was in usual fine form.  A couple of his best comments were:

“Governor Romney, thank you for being up here sitting next to me; although I must confess I was secretly hoping the Republican candidate would be Governor Christie, because I sure would have looked good sitting next to him!

Mr. President I trust you’ll be able to report to Mrs. Obama that I ate my vegetables and salad.  If she had been “first lady” instead of Mamie Eisenhower when I was growing up in the 50’s, I wouldn’t be in this shape!”

Here is a link to the full video of his speech:

Well, I’ve surpassed my 1000 word quota again.  I’ll only charge you for the first 1000, the rest are free.  Have a great week.  GO CARDINALS!  GO RAMS!  Peace.

October 12. 2012 – Quotes of the Week

October 13, 2012

I’m writing my blog on late Friday afternoon, so this will be written before the outcome of the Cardinal game tonight.  Yesterday’s game was a blow to the psyche, but as we Cardinal fans know, it seems like our team plays its best with its back against the wall.  So anyway, I will be in the “zone”starting at 7:30, and the rest of the world as I know it will stop for a few hours.  And tomorrow I will either be a very happy boy or a large hunk of heartache.  GO CARDINALS!

Back in the real world, the Catholic news agencies and the cyber world were in high gear this past week as the Synod for the New Evangelization began at the Vatican, the Year of Faith began yesterday, and some comments were made during the Vice-Presidential debate last night the raised the eyebrows of many Catholics.  In sorting through all of this stuff, I came across some meaningful quotes from the week’s events.  So since my mind is distracted even more than usual, I’ll just share some of these quotes with you and perhaps interject a comment or two of my own.

In his remarks during the Mass which opened the Synod, Pope Benedict XVI made these comments: “Holiness is not confined by cultural, social, political or religious barriers.  Its language, that of love and truth, is understandable to all people of good will, and it draws them to Jesus Christ, the inexhaustible source of new life.”  The Pope explained that the particular focus of “new” evangelization are  those people “who, though baptized, have drifted away from the Church and live without reference to the Christian life.”  “The synodal assembly which opens today is dedicated to this New Evangelization, to help these people encounter the Lord, who alone fills existence with deep meaning and peace,” he said. He added that a rediscovery of  the Christian faith can be a “source of grace which brings joy and hope to personal, family and social life” to the re-evangelized.

So in trying to explain to someone what is meant by the “New Evangelization”, the purpose and the message remain the same.  What must be examined is how to spread this message more effectively given all of the modern means of communication and a culture that more and more tunes out our Christian ideals.  In an article from the USCCB titled “7 Things Catholics Should Know About the New Evangelization”, the author explains that the New Evangelization is “not new in content, but new in energy and approach. The New Evangelization re-proposes the faith to a world longing for answers to life’s most profound questions. It’s a call to share Christ and bring the Gospel, with renewed energy and through ever-changing methods, to new and different audiences.”  I plan to write further about the New Evangelization in the coming weeks.

Yesterday marked the beginning of the Year of Faith proclaimed by Pope Benedict, which coincided with the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, and also the 20th anniversary of the release of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  Pope Benedict, in his homily during Mass in St. Peter’s Square yesterday, said this: “The Council did not formulate anything new in matters of faith, nor did it wish to replace what was ancient. Rather, it concerned itself with seeing that the same faith might continue to be lived in the present day, that it might remain a
living faith in a world of change …  If today the Church proposes a new Year of Faith and a new evangelization, it is not to honour an anniversary, but because there is more need of it, even more than there was fifty years ago! And the reply to be given to this need is the one desired by the Popes, by the Council Fathers and contained in its documents.”  So again we hear the theme that this important time is one of not blowing up the traditions of the Church, but finding ways to continue to make the church relevant in our ever-changing world.

Timothy Cardinal Dolan added to this theme, particularly for us here in the United States: “While we Americans are … religious by nature, there are undeniably present in our culture those that are not only irreligious but anti-religion.  These would be evident in some vocal segments of the entertainment industry, the press, academia, and even in government.Such forces view faith — especially, pardon my thin-skin, the Catholic religion — as opposed to everything they see as liberating, enlightening, and progressive in the world, a repressive voice to be resisted and maligned.  For us, then, a genuine challenge of the New Evangelization is to present faith in Jesus as alive in His Church as we know Him and her really to be:  the premier force in history for all that is good, true, and beautiful in humanity.”

The Facebookers, Tweeters, bloggers, etc. really came to life today after the Vice-Presidential debate last night.  Joe Biden, who is a lifelong Catholic, had this to say about the controversial HHS mandate which requires employers to finance coverage of birth control: “With regard to the assault on the Catholic Church, let me make it absolutely clear: No religious institution, Catholic or otherwise — including Catholic Social Services, Georgetown Hospital, Mercy, any hospital — none has to either refer contraception, none has to pay for contraception, none has to be a vehicle to get contraception in any insurance policy they provide. That is a fact.”  The USCCB, however, has labeled this statement as inaccurate, and released a statement of their own today, which said that “This is not a fact. The HHS mandate contains a narrow, four-part exemption for certain “religious employers.” That exemption was made final in February and does not extend to “Catholic social services, Georgetown hospital, Mercy hospital, any hospital,” or any other religious charity that offers its services to all, regardless of the faith of those served.  HHS has proposed an additional “accommodation” for religious organizations like these, which HHS itself describes as “non-exempt.” That proposal does not even potentially relieve these organizations from the obligation “to pay for contraception” and “to be a vehicle to get contraception.” They will have to serve as a vehicle, because they will still be forced to provide their employees with health coverage, and that coverage will still have to include sterilization, contraception, and abortifacients. They will have to pay for these things, because the premiums that the organizations (and their employees) are required to pay will still be applied, along with other funds, to cover the cost of these drugs and surgeries.”  This will continue to be, and should be, a major issue for us as Catholics to consider as we cast our votes in a few weeks.

Finally, I have to share a couple of my favorite quotes from the week, which kind of came from opposite ends of the spectrum.  Cardinal Dolan, lamenting the amount of time he will have to spend in Rome, said this: “Here I am in Rome all month for the Synod on the New Evangelization.  I miss all of you already – – but my next bowl of Spaghetti alla Carbonara will snap me out of it.”  And in remarks to the Synod, a Philippine archbishop, who was speaking on bringing the Gospel to the poor, said this: “The Gospel can be preached to empty stomachs, but only if the stomach of the preacher is as empty as his parishioners’ (stomachs).”  We certainly now have the preacher in our parish to fill this role!

Have a great week.  Peace.

 

 

October 6, 2012 – An Overdue Thank You

October 6, 2012

Well it has been quite a week for me and my fellow St. Louis sports fans.  The Rams have a winning record for the first time in 6 years, and the Cardinals still had enough post-season magic left from last year to move on to the next round of the playoffs.  As Fr. Gene and I joked following Friday’s game, surely those were not Catholics throwing all of the debris onto the field during the game.  If it was, we’ll have to have Abp. Gregory get control of his flock (lol).  Anyway, looking forward to next week and we’ll see how far we can go.  Washington will be tough, but as we saw last year, anything can happen.

As I was looking through some internet headlines to gain inspiration for what to write about this week, I suddenly became deluged with material about what is going on in our local and worldwide church during this month of October.  This month we mark as the month of the rosary.  Pope Leo XIII established this month and recommended daily rosary devotions during October.  We also mark October as Respect Life Month.  Our website has a link to various ways in which the diocese and the church as a whole will be marking this month.  This coming week we also will mark the beginning of the year of faith declared by Pope Benedict XVI, which I will touch on in a little bit.

First, however, I realized to myself that after writing over 200 of these things, I have never really talked much about the Knights of Columbus, their history, and my gratitude for all they do for our parish and community.  On this weekend in which we celebrate Columbus Day and when we will remember our deceased brother Knights in prayer during Mass, I thought it was an appropriate time to do so.  I am somewhat ashamed because even though I have been a KC member for many years, I had never really sat down and researched its beginnings.  In 1881 a group of men met in the basement of St. Mary’s Church in New Haven, CT.  They were brought together by Fr. Michael McGivney, the 29 year old parish priest who is credited as being the founder of the K of C.  They formed an organization based upon a vow that they would be defenders of their country, their families and their faith.  These men were bound together by the ideal of Christopher Columbus, who not only discovered the Americas, but brought Christianity to the New World.  The Knights of Columbus were incorporated in 1882.  The order has been called the “strong right arm of the Church,” and has been praised for its support of the Church, programs of evangelization and Catholic education, civic involvement and aiding of those in need.

Since 1958 our council #3790 here at St. Mary’s has carried out the mission established by that original group in New Haven through its support of the church, its fund raising efforts for various charities and causes, and its hosting of various parish functions.  It is not just the parish “men’s” organization.  It is a gathering place for everyone and its charitable endeavors aid those in our community and beyond.  So on behalf of our entire parish, I thank my brother Knights and all who support them for carrying out the ideals of our Catholic faith – spreading the message of the Gospel and being of service to others.  If you or someone you know would be interested in joining the K of C, talk to a KC member of stop by the club for more information.

As I already briefly mentioned, this week begins the “Year of Faith” declared by Pope Benedict.  It officially begins on October 11, the date which marks the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, and also marks the 20th anniversary of the issue of the Catechism of the Catholic Church by Pope John Paul II.  The year will conclude on November 24, 2013, the Feast of Christ the King.  You have probably heard of the Year of Faith but maybe do not know what it is about.  I’ll try to summarize it as concisely as I can.  Pope Benedict has set aside this special year for Catholics to rediscover the gift of faith that we have received from God.  It begins on the anniversary of Vatican II because an important component of the Year of Faith is reflection and rediscovery of the riches contained in the texts of Vatican II.

In addition, the Holy Father wants us to rediscover a taste for feeding ourselves on the word of God and on the bread of life.  He wants us to approach this time as an opportunity for purification, for us and for the Church.  He wants us to profess our faith in our churches, in our homes and among our families so that we all gain a stronger desire to know God and to pass the faith on to future generations.  He also wishes for us to rediscover the content of the faith that we profess, celebrate, live and pray.  In order for us to do this, he proposes that we make a concerted effort to study the content of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  In his Apostolic Letter Porta Fidiei, the Holy Father offers this summary of his hopes for us:

“Intent on gathering the signs of the times in the present of history, faith commits every one of us to become a living sign of the presence of the Risen Lord in the world.  What the world is in particular need of today is the credible witness of people enlightened in mind and heart by the word of the Lord, and capable of opening the hearts and minds of many to the desire for God and for true life, life without end.”

Nothing to it, right?  Basically, as I read in a recent article, the year of faith is a call to be in a relationship with Jesus – not just to know of Him, but to know Him.  The Church offers us many different ways to do this, and I’ll be touching on some of these in the near future.  In the meantime, here are a couple of helpful links.  First is a link to information on the USCCB website:

http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/how-we-teach/new-evangelization/year-of-faith/

Also, this is a neat way to read the Catechism of the Catholic church.  Subscribe at this website and you will be sent a small part of the Catechism to your e-mail each day.  In a year you will have read the whole thing!  Here’s the link:

http://www.flocknote.com/catechism

Have a great week.  Go Cards!  Go Rams!  Peace.