Monday, September 28, 2009

Father Polanski would go to jail

Note: Fr. Reese makes a good point about the double standard often used. From today's Washington Post:

THIS CATHOLIC'S VIEW

By Thomas J. Reese, S.J.

Imagine if the Knight of Columbus decided to give an award to a pedophile priest who had fled the country to avoid prison. The outcry would be universal. Victim groups would demand the award be withdrawn and that the organization apologize. Religion reporters would be on the case with the encouragement of their editors. Editorial writers and columnist would denounce the knights as another example of the insensitivity of the Catholic Church to sexual abuse.

And they would all be correct. And I would join them.

But why is there not similar outrage directed at the film industry for giving an award to Roman Polanski, who not only confessed to statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl but fled the country prior to sentencing? Why have film critics and the rest of the media ignored this case for 31 years? He even received an Academy award in 2003. Are the high priests of the entertainment industry immune to criticism?

The president and cultural minister of France, where Polanski has been protected for years, objected when the Swiss arrested Polanski at the Zurich airport when he arrived to attend a film festival at which he was to be honored. Good for the Swiss. Good for the Los Angeles prosecutors who have not given up on this case.

Polanski's defenders, including a 2008 HBO documentary, argue that he should not be punished. They say that the girl was willing and sexually experienced and she has forgiven him (after receiving a settlement). They even cite his tragic childhood and life as an excuse. And besides, it is ancient history.

Such arguments from pedophile priests would be laughed out of court and lambasted by everyone, and rightly so. It makes no difference that the girl is willing and sexually experienced, it is a crime. It is the role of the court, not the victim, to decide who goes to jail and for how long.

It is not as if Polanski is the only Hollywood celebrity to be accused of child abuse. Woody Allen and Michael Jackson come to mind. I am sure that with a little research the media could come up with quite a list. The Catholic Church has rightly been put under a microscope when 4 percent of its priests were involved in abuse, but what about the film industry?

The world has truly changed. Entertainment is the new religion with sex, violence and money the new Trinity. The directors and stars are worshiped and quickly forgiven for any infraction as long as the PR agent is a skilled as a saintly confessor. Entertainment, not religion, is the new opiate of the people and we don't want our supply disturbed.

Is there a double standard here? You bet.

Thomas J. Reese, S.J., is Senior Fellow at Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Boston Red Sox - They’re not showing all their cards - The Boston Globe

NEW YORK - One team is going all out to win every day.

The other team is the Red Sox - asking you to stand back and look at the big picture.

The Sox got another encouraging performance from Daisuke Matsuzaka yesterday, but again were beaten by the Yankees, 3-0. Boston managed only two hits against CC Sabathia, Phil Hughes, and Mariano Rivera.

The starting lineups told you everything you needed to know about the respective approaches of these rivals. Yankees manager Joe Girardi, burning his guys in a manner like Don Zimmer (circa 1978), put out his best nine players along with the winningest pitcher in baseball (tied with Adam Wainwright going into yesterday’s games). Jorge Posada wound up being a late scratch because of an injury, but the point was made. Girardi used his big guns. The Yankees are going wall to wall to clinch the division (magic number 1) and the best record in the American League, ASAP.

The Red Sox, meanwhile, are using these final days to get some rest and tune up for the playoffs. Terry Francona started Rocco Baldelli in right, Jed Lowrie (hitting .158 entering the game) at short, and Brian Anderson in left. Chris Woodward played short in the eighth and dropped a throw from Victor Martinez that led to a pair of unearned runs. If not for four hit batsmen (two each side), this could have been March 18 at City of Palms Park.

The message from Boston was clear: everything is settled. The Sox are going to win the wild card. They are not going to challenge the Yankees for home-field advantage. Let Girardi wear his guys out. The Sox are getting ready for the playoffs. Call it Tito’s rope-a-dope.

“The mind-set is to manage everything to win,’’ Francona said. “It’s not just one thing. We want to show up and play the game right and be cognizant of what we are trying to accomplish.’’

Read the whole story: Boston Red Sox - They’re not showing all their cards - The Boston Globe

Posted using ShareThis

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Sin matters, but God's mercy matters more

HOMILY FOR THE 26TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME, September 27, 2009:

Today’s Scripture calls to mind a poignant story from the life of St. Jerome, the great 5th century Biblical scholar. St. Jerome was praying one day and felt overwhelmed with the need to offer something worthwhile to God. “Lord,” he prayed, “I offer you my life.” The voice of God responded back to him, “It was I who gave you your life. It is not yours to give.” Jerome prayed some more, “Lord, I offer you my heart, my love.” Again, the voice of God spoke, “It was I who gave you those as well.” Jerome didn’t know what he could offer when the voice of God spoke again, “Jerome?” “Yes,” the saint responded. “Why don’t you give me your sins? Your sins are all your own.”

Our Scriptures today direct us to reflect on something that we typically prefer to avoid – sin, and specifically our own sin. We live in a world that has become increasingly desensitized to sin; one that tries to make it trivial and unimportant. We treat sin as something as commonplace as the air we breathe, the water we drink. And so, anything so commonplace couldn’t possibly be that bad. It is as regular as the common cold – we don’t want it, but we can certainly live with it. We’re only human after all.

Let me give you just a few simple examples of what I mean. Fifty years ago in this country, Sunday Mass attendance averaged at about 75% of Catholics going to Mass each week. Today that number is 36%. When I ask Catholics about why they don’t attend Mass regularly, they say, “Do you think God really cares if I’m there every Sunday? I’m a good person” Well, He said He cares in those things we call the Commandments – or were they merely suggestions? You’ll get a similar response when talking to young people about things like living together before being married. “Do you think God cares? I mean, we love each other after all? We’re both good people.” Again, I do think God cares.

We have created a religion of the Good Person that says as long as you’re a good person, the rest doesn’t matter; God doesn’t care. I always remind people, though, that God isn’t looking for good people; He is looking for holy people. Good will be a part of holy; holy isn’t always a part of good. There are a lot of “good” atheists out there. We’ve all heard the saying that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.

God calls each of us to be holy; and so the simple but direct message of our Scriptures today is this: sin matters. In our Second Reading, St. James graphically explains that if someone spends their earthly life exploiting and using other people, lying and cheating and hoarding wealth, they may enjoy the fruits of their crimes for a little while, but they can’t escape justice for ever. He writes that they will “weep and wail over their miseries.”

Jesus is just as clear. He explains that un-repented sin has consequences; it leads to damnation, it leads to hell. It leads to eternal separation of a soul from God. According to Jesus, that’s what un-repented sin leads us to. Now, these words of St. James and Jesus are not meant to scare us into feeling guilty - it’s not some psychological manipulation technique. Rather, they are simply informing us about the facts: sin, willfully turning away from God and his moral law, has consequences, and they are not good, and we should strive to avoid them.

But, if the road to Hell is paved with good intentions; then never forget that the road to Heaven is paved with holy actions. If today’s message is that sin matters – it is also this: God’s mercy matters more! God’s mercy and generosity will be the source of a lot of surprises on Judgment Day. When we think of Judgment, we tend to focus on only the negative. In other words, we tend to think of God pulling out a list of our sins, shortcomings, and stubborn selfish actions. And it is true, in the light of Christ’s gaze, we see more clearly than ever those sinful things.

But, Jesus points out that the Judgment will also have another part to it. He says, “Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ, amen, I say to you, will surely not lose his reward.” Think about what that means. It means, every act of forgiveness, every donation to a worthy cause, every penny put in the collection basket, every piece of clothing given to the poor, every kind letter or visit paid to someone who was sick, in prison, or alone, every prayer offered up for those in need, every word of comfort, instruction, and guidance, every single action that we perform in our Christian efforts to love God and neighbor is noticed, is remembered, and is delighted in by our Lord. And He is storing up rewards for all of these holy actions in Heaven – because our God is merciful and generous. And this generosity is present today, right here. God’s will exercise that generosity and mercy powerfully right here in this Holy Mass, by giving us His very self, in Holy Communion.

My friends, sin matters - the Church is reminding us of that today. But in this Mass the Church reminds us of something else too, that God’s mercy matters more. Sin is destructive, terrible, diabolical. But Jesus has conquered sin, which is why we call Him our Savior. The Catechism tells us: “The victory that Christ won over sin has given us greater blessings than those which sin had taken from us.” The destruction that sin causes in our lives is not the end of the story. God can forgive us - it is never too late. God can redeem us. God can take the ruins that sin causes and build them into something more magnificent than we ever could have imagined. We just have to give Him the chance.

And we do that so simply by taking the first step and going to Confession. God already knows our sins. He knows how much they obstruct our spiritual progress and wound our souls, and how much we need His grace to overcome them. That’s why He gave us confession in the first place. To give us a chance to start over, as many times as we need to. Many of us already know this, and we use the great gift of confession frequently. But we also know plenty of people who don’t - and they are suffering deeply on the inside because of it, experiencing the effects of sin. Maybe a word of encouragement, an invitation, a sharing of experiences from us is all God needs to bring them back and give them that fresh start.

My friends, sin matters, but God’s infinite, redemptive mercy matters more. That’s the message of today’s Mass, and of every Mass. This week, let’s take that message outside of Mass, let’s bring it into the world around us, and let God’s grace win some new victories.

Let us give Him our sins. He will forgive them and turn them into glory.

May the Lord give you peace.

Sin matters, but God's mercy matters more

HOMILY FOR THE 26TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME, September 27, 2009:

Today’s Scripture calls to mind a poignant story from the life of St. Jerome, the great 5th century Biblical scholar. St. Jerome was praying one day and felt overwhelmed with the need to offer something worthwhile to God. “Lord,” he prayed, “I offer you my life.” The voice of God responded back to him, “It was I who gave you your life. It is not yours to give.” Jerome prayed some more, “Lord, I offer you my heart, my love.” Again, the voice of God spoke, “It was I who gave you those as well.” Jerome didn’t know what he could offer when the voice of God spoke again, “Jerome?” “Yes,” the saint responded. “Why don’t you give me your sins? Your sins are all your own.”

Our Scriptures today direct us to reflect on something that we typically prefer to avoid – sin, and specifically our own sin. We live in a world that has become increasingly desensitized to sin; one that tries to make it trivial and unimportant. We treat sin as something as commonplace as the air we breathe, the water we drink. And so, anything so commonplace couldn’t possibly be that bad. It is as regular as the common cold – we don’t want it, but we can certainly live with it. We’re only human after all.

Let me give you just a few simple examples of what I mean. Fifty years ago in this country, Sunday Mass attendance averaged at about 75% of Catholics going to Mass each week. Today that number is 36%. When I ask Catholics about why they don’t attend Mass regularly, they say, “Do you think God really cares if I’m there every Sunday? I’m a good person” Well, He said He cares in those things we call the Commandments – or were they merely suggestions? You’ll get a similar response when talking to young people about things like living together before being married. “Do you think God cares? I mean, we love each other after all? We’re both good people.” Again, I do think God cares.

We have created a religion of the Good Person that says as long as you’re a good person, the rest doesn’t matter; God doesn’t care. I always remind people, though, that God isn’t looking for good people; He is looking for holy people. Good will be a part of holy; holy isn’t always a part of good. There are a lot of “good” atheists out there. We’ve all heard the saying that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.

God calls each of us to be holy; and so the simple but direct message of our Scriptures today is this: sin matters. In our Second Reading, St. James graphically explains that if someone spends their earthly life exploiting and using other people, lying and cheating and hoarding wealth, they may enjoy the fruits of their crimes for a little while, but they can’t escape justice for ever. He writes that they will “weep and wail over their miseries.”

Jesus is just as clear. He explains that un-repented sin has consequences; it leads to damnation, it leads to hell. It leads to eternal separation of a soul from God. According to Jesus, that’s what un-repented sin leads us to. Now, these words of St. James and Jesus are not meant to scare us into feeling guilty - it’s not some psychological manipulation technique. Rather, they are simply informing us about the facts: sin, willfully turning away from God and his moral law, has consequences, and they are not good, and we should strive to avoid them.

But, if the road to Hell is paved with good intentions; then never forget that the road to Heaven is paved with holy actions. If today’s message is that sin matters – it is also this: God’s mercy matters more! God’s mercy and generosity will be the source of a lot of surprises on Judgment Day. When we think of Judgment, we tend to focus on only the negative. In other words, we tend to think of God pulling out a list of our sins, shortcomings, and stubborn selfish actions. And it is true, in the light of Christ’s gaze, we see more clearly than ever those sinful things.

But, Jesus points out that the Judgment will also have another part to it. He says, “Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ, amen, I say to you, will surely not lose his reward.” Think about what that means. It means, every act of forgiveness, every donation to a worthy cause, every penny put in the collection basket, every piece of clothing given to the poor, every kind letter or visit paid to someone who was sick, in prison, or alone, every prayer offered up for those in need, every word of comfort, instruction, and guidance, every single action that we perform in our Christian efforts to love God and neighbor is noticed, is remembered, and is delighted in by our Lord. And He is storing up rewards for all of these holy actions in Heaven – because our God is merciful and generous. And this generosity is present today, right here. God’s will exercise that generosity and mercy powerfully right here in this Holy Mass, by giving us His very self, in Holy Communion.

My friends, sin matters - the Church is reminding us of that today. But in this Mass the Church reminds us of something else too, that God’s mercy matters more. Sin is destructive, terrible, diabolical. But Jesus has conquered sin, which is why we call Him our Savior. The Catechism tells us: “The victory that Christ won over sin has given us greater blessings than those which sin had taken from us.” The destruction that sin causes in our lives is not the end of the story. God can forgive us - it is never too late. God can redeem us. God can take the ruins that sin causes and build them into something more magnificent than we ever could have imagined. We just have to give Him the chance.

And we do that so simply by taking the first step and going to Confession. God already knows our sins. He knows how much they obstruct our spiritual progress and wound our souls, and how much we need His grace to overcome them. That’s why He gave us confession in the first place. To give us a chance to start over, as many times as we need to. Many of us already know this, and we use the great gift of confession frequently. But we also know plenty of people who don’t - and they are suffering deeply on the inside because of it, experiencing the effects of sin. Maybe a word of encouragement, an invitation, a sharing of experiences from us is all God needs to bring them back and give them that fresh start.

My friends, sin matters, but God’s infinite, redemptive mercy matters more. That’s the message of today’s Mass, and of every Mass. This week, let’s take that message outside of Mass, let’s bring it into the world around us, and let God’s grace win some new victories.

Let us give Him our sins. He will forgive them and turn them into glory.

May the Lord give you peace.

The Church is the one who dreams

NOTE: The more I hear from Archbishop Timothy Dolan, the more I like. He articulates the best of the church, as opposed to presenting an angry church which too many leaders and so-called faithful Catholics do today. This quote is absolutely inspiring and awesome!

"You know, the church is the one who dreams, the church is the one who constantly has the vision, the church is the one that’s constantly saying ‘Yes!’ to everything that life and love and sexuality and marriage and belief and freedom and human dignity—everything that that stands for, the church is giving one big resounding ‘Yes!’ The church founded the universities, the church was the patron of the arts, the scientists were all committed Catholics. And that’s what we have to recapture: the kind of exhilarating, freeing aspect. I mean, it wasn’t Ronald Reagan who brought down the Berlin Wall. It was Karol Wojtyła. I didn’t make that up: Mikhail Gorbachev said that...I guess one of the things that frustrates me pastorally is that there’s this caricature of the church—of being this oppressive, patriarchal, medieval, out-of-touch naysayer—where the opposite is true.”

-- Archbishop Timothy Dolan, in this profile in New York Magazine

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Saint Pio of Pietrelcina

St. Padre Pio da Pietrelcina
(1887-1968)


In one of the largest such ceremonies in history, Pope John Paul II canonized Padre Pio of Pietrelcina on June 16, 2002. It was the 45th canonization ceremony in Pope John Paul's pontificate. More than 300,000 people braved blistering heat as they filled St. Peter's Square and nearby streets. They heard the Holy Father praise the new saint for his prayer and charity. "This is the most concrete synthesis of Padre Pio's teaching," said the pope. He also stressed Padre Pio's witness to the power of suffering. If accepted with love, the Holy Father stressed, such suffering can lead to "a privileged path of sanctity."

Many people have turned to the Italian Capuchin Franciscan to intercede with God on their behalf; among them was the future Pope John Paul II. In 1962, when he was still an archbishop in Poland, he wrote to Padre Pio and asked him to pray for a Polish woman with throat cancer. Within two weeks, she had been cured of her life-threatening disease.

Born Francesco Forgione, Padre Pio grew up in a family of farmers in southern Italy. Twice (1898-1903 and 1910-17) his father worked in Jamaica, New York, to provide the family income.

At the age of 15, Francesco joined the Capuchins and took the name of Pio. He was ordained in 1910 and was drafted during World War I. After he was discovered to have tuberculosis, he was discharged. In 1917 he was assigned to the friary in San Giovanni Rotondo, 75 miles from the city of Bari on the Adriatic.

On September 20, 1918, as he was making his thanksgiving after Mass, Padre Pio had a vision of Jesus. When the vision ended, he had the stigmata in his hands, feet and side.

Life became more complicated after that. Medical doctors, Church authorities and curiosity seekers came to see Padre Pio. In 1924 and again in 1931, the authenticity of the stigmata was questioned; Padre Pio was not permitted to celebrate Mass publicly or to hear confessions. He did not complain of these decisions, which were soon reversed. However, he wrote no letters after 1924. His only other writing, a pamphlet on the agony of Jesus, was done before 1924.

Padre Pio rarely left the friary after he received the stigmata, but busloads of people soon began coming to see him. Each morning after a 5 a.m. Mass in a crowded church, he heard confessions until noon. He took a mid-morning break to bless the sick and all who came to see him. Every afternoon he also heard confessions. In time his confessional ministry would take 10 hours a day; penitents had to take a number so that the situation could be handled. Many of them have said that Padre Pio knew details of their lives that they had never mentioned.

Padre Pio saw Jesus in all the sick and suffering. At his urging, a fine hospital was built on nearby Mount Gargano. The idea arose in 1940; a committee began to collect money. Ground was broken in 1946. Building the hospital was a technical wonder because of the difficulty of getting water there and of hauling up the building supplies. This "House for the Alleviation of Suffering" has 350 beds.

A number of people have reported cures they believe were received through the intercession of Padre Pio. Those who assisted at his Masses came away edified; several curiosity seekers were deeply moved. Like St. Francis, Padre Pio sometimes had his habit torn or cut by souvenir hunters.

One of Padre Pio’s sufferings was that unscrupulous people several times circulated prophecies that they claimed originated from him. He never made prophecies about world events and never gave an opinion on matters that he felt belonged to Church authorities to decide. He died on September 23, 1968, and was beatified in 1999.
Comment:

At Padre Pio's canonization Mass in 2002, Pope John Paul II referred to that day's Gospel (Matthew 11:25-30) and said: “The Gospel image of 'yoke' evokes the many trials that the humble Capuchin of San Giovanni Rotondo endured. Today we contemplate in him how sweet is the 'yoke' of Christ and indeed how light the burden are whenever someone carries these with faithful love. The life and mission of Padre Pio testify that difficulties and sorrows, if accepted with love, transform themselves into a privileged journey of holiness, which opens the person toward a greater good, known only to the Lord.”
Quote:

"The life of a Christian is nothing but a perpetual struggle against self; there is no flowering of the soul to the beauty of its perfection except at the price of pain" (saying of Padre Pio).

This entry appears in the print edition of Day by Day With Followers of Francis and Clare

Monday, September 21, 2009

Two great quotes

On my travels, I heard two really great quotes this past week that have stuck with me, so I figured I'd share them.

From a friar as we were talking about Franciscan spirituality: "I am in love with the kenotic Christ as revealed to me by St. Francis."

And, heard in a homily in Buffalo, NY yesterday: "The priest is the father of the poor. He is their advocate; their protector."

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Things are falling into place

By Dan Shaughnessy, Globe Columnist September 17, 2009

It feels like 2004. It feels like 2007.

It feels like the Red Sox are going to the World Series.

Sorry. I know some of you think this puts some kind of whammy on the locals. I know you think I can “Gowdy’’ the whole season with a single statement.

But I also know you’re thinking the same thing.

The sometimes-stumbling, chock-full-of-questions Red Sox have become the Steamroller Sox at exactly the optimum moment. We are halfway through September and the Red Sox are coming into peak form. Like the apple crop of ’09, they are ripe, full-bodied, and luscious. Just like they were in ’04 and ’07.

“I know what you mean,’’ captain Jason Varitek said before last night’s pulsating (two runs in the bottom of the ninth), 9-8 walkoff win over the Angels. “We’ve become a better team overall than we had earlier in the year. We’ve got experience and youth. Our offense and defense are more stabilized.

“Sometimes you’re playing good before you start winning - you lose, 2-1, or 3-2, or in extra innings. Then all of a sudden you start getting results.’’

They got results last night. The Sox were down, 3-0, in the sixth. They were down, 7-5, in the seventh. They were down, 8-7, in the ninth with two outs and nobody on. But guys kept plugging. They dug in with two strikes. Jed Lowrie got his first hit since Aug. 5. They fouled off two-strike pitches. They got help from the umpires (Nick Green should have been rung up on ball four). They won it when Alex Gonzalez dumped a single into left. It was ridiculous.

David Ortiz, another veteran of ’04 and ’07, said it best after Tuesday night’s win over the Angels: “Boy, I tell you, man, having Daisuke [Matsuzaka] back and throwing the ball the way he did is huge for us.

“I was thinking about going to the playoffs right now. When you play good in September, it gets you in a good mood for October. We are right there. We’ve got Texas behind us. The best we’ve played, that’s what’s going to get us into the playoffs.’’

He’s right. Texas is in the rearview mirror. The Rangers have done what they always do, only later. They have faded. Texas lost again last night. The Rangers are 6 1/2 games behind Boston. The Rangers are gone.

The Red Sox have won seven in a row. They have won 10 in a row at Fenway. They have won 13 of 14, and 24 of 31 in Boston since July 10. They own the best home record in baseball - 52-21. Fenway Park has morphed into Death Valley in Clemson, S.C., or Cameron Indoor Stadium at Duke. Nobody wants to come to Fenway and try to beat the Red Sox. If you are sitting in the third base dugout, you are probably losing the game when you hear “Sweet Caroline’’ before the Sox hit in the eighth.

Anybody remember Curly of the Three Stooges winning every boxing match with the help of “Pop Goes the Weasel’’? That’s the effect Fenway Park has on the Red Sox.

Sox home games have become performance art. The outcome is rarely in doubt. It’s all about style points. How are they going to win this time?

It has all come into place for the Olde Towne Team. While the Sox’ owner shows signs of becoming unhinged (now blogging instead of tweeting, John Henry is bashing media members who somehow concluded that Big Papi may have used banned substances), his ball club is speeding downhill, erasing every obstacle in its path.

The typical suspense regarding postseason prospects has been lifted. The Sox are in the playoffs. The Sox have only five more losses than the Yankees, while the Rangers have seven more losses than Boston. Some folks are still talking about winning the division.

Making things even easier is the succession of tomato cans on the horizon. It’s the Bum of the Day Club. Boston has 18 games remaining, but only four against teams that are still trying to win. Those four games would be tonight against the Angels and next weekend’s three-game set with the Yankees. All of Boston’s other games are against teams that have quit: Orioles, Royals, Blue Jays, and Indians.

Bud Selig should be embarrassed. It’s been a boffo season for tanking. The Indians got the message when management dumped Cliff Lee and Victor Martinez at the trading deadline. The Rays (swept here last weekend) waited to quit until Scott Kazmir was sent packing. The Blue Jays (losers of six straight to the Sox in August) had rolled over by the time the Sox got to Rogers Centre in August. An unretired Paul Byrd pitched six shutout innings against the Jays in his first start after throwing batting practice to 13-and-under hitters.

The Orioles, meanwhile, are an annual disgrace. The Red Sox are 13-2 against their Baltimore cousins this year. The Sox hit five home runs in the first three innings of a 10-0 win over the Orioles last week. The Sox were laughing at the O’s. Think there will be much resistance in Camden Yards this weekend?

Beating the Angels is different. The Angels are a playoff team. And the Sox just beat them two straight. At home. Of course.

It’s working out beautifully for the Red Sox. In the wake of Dice-K’s return, Terry Francona’s got four strong starters. The back end of the Boston bullpen - deployed perfectly Tuesday night - is the best in baseball. The lineup is good enough to have a guy like J.D. Drew hitting eighth some nights. Gonzalez has tightened the infield defense - just as Orlando Cabrera did in (there it is again) 2004. And now he’s getting game-winning hits to end four-hour marathons.

The Red Sox are a rocket sled on rails. They are going to the World Series.

Yankees?

We’ll think about them next week.

Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at dshaughnessy@globe.com.

© Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company

Feast of the Stigmata of St. Francis


"I announce to you a great joy and a new miracle. It is a sign which has been unheard of from the very beginning of time except in the Son of God, Christ the Lord. Not long before his death, our brother and our father was seen to resemble the crucified Lord, bearing in his body the five wounds which are the marks of Christ."

- From the Encliclical Letter of Brother Elias

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Lord, who do you say I am?

HOMILY ON VOCATIONS FOR THE 24TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME, September 13, 2009:

One day the famous Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson were on a camping trip. As they lay sleeping one night, Holmes woke Watson and said, “Watson, look up into the sky and tell me what you see.” Watson said, “I see millions of stars.” Holmes asked, “And what does that tell you?” Watson replied, “Astronomically, it tells me that there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets. Theologically, it tells me that God is great and that we are small in comparison. Meteorologically, it tells me that we will have a beautiful day tomorrow. And what does it tell you Holmes?” Holmes answered, “It tells me that someone stole our tent.”

A simple question can often elicit some very different answers. In our Gospel today, Jesus asks a simple question, “Who do you say that I am?” Scripture scholars tell us that this passage, this question, is the very heart of Mark's Gospel. The first half of the Gospel leads up to this question, and the second half flows from it. Up to this point, Mark has been preparing for the revelation of Jesus' full and true identity as the Messiah and here in the answer that Peter gives it is revealed, “You are the Christ.” From here to the end of the Gospel deals with the fulfillment of Jesus' mission as the Messiah. What we have in this passage is Jesus examining his disciples to see whether or not they’ve got the point.

When it comes to discerning a vocation from God, this very same question is also at the heart – who do you say that I am? But for someone discerning a vocation, it has two parts. The first is the same as it is in our Gospel today – a recognition of the full and true identity of Jesus. We come to a moment in our lives when Christ is fully revealed to us as our Savior; as our Lord; as our Everything. And then comes the next question – this time it is not Jesus asking us, but it is us asking Jesus, “Lord, now that I know who You are; in your sight, who do You say that I am?” As Jesus answers that question, He reveals our vocation. It is the most important question that anyone can ever ask in their life. What is God’s plan for you? What would God have you do; have you be? Let me give you the example of my own life.

Twenty years ago, I was an investigative news reporter in Southeastern Massachusetts. I covered crime and politics – some would say that is redundant – and I really loved my job. Just think of the show “Law & Order” and the excitement and intrigue of rushing to the scene of a crime and reporting on the police teams as they tried to crack the case; or being in the courtroom as the great drama of a court case unfolded. As I said, I really loved my job.

Now, as for my faith life; at this point, it was nearly non-existent. I grew up in a very Catholic Irish-American family. As a child, I attended Catholic schools most of my life. Went to Mass every Sunday. Prayed the rosary regularly. But, God had simply not fully and truly revealed Himself to me. I hadn’t yet made that leap of faith. Once in my early 20s, I moved out on my own, began working in the news business, and basically stopped going to Church – except on Christmas and Easter, to keep Mom happy.

Then, there was this one Saturday night. On this night, I felt an urge that I had never felt before. It was the desire to go to Mass. At first, I didn’t know what to make of it, but I followed through on that desire the next morning. I sat as far in the back as I could in a very full Church at the 10 a.m. Mass. And I remember the most spectacular thing happening. As the priest, Fr. Mark, delivered his homily, it felt as though every word he spoke was meant for me; and perhaps only for me. It seemed he was even looking directly at me as he was speaking. I left that Mass unsure of what to make of it and decided I would challenge God to see if he could do it again the next week.

So, one week later, I went again – and God came through again. This time, not only with the homily, but even more importantly in the Eucharist. On that Sunday, my heart was opened for the first time to the full and true identity of Jesus in the Eucharist. The priest spoke those words that we have all heard a thousand times, “Take this all of you and eat it. This is my body, which will be given up for you.” And for the first time in my life, I knew that those words were true. It really was His body; He really had done this for me. Jesus was there – fully and truly and powerfully present in the Eucharist. As this powerful moment was taking place, the choir began signing Psalm 139 as our communion hymn, “O God, you search me and you know me…You know my resting and my rising. You discern my purpose from afar, and with love everlasting you besiege me: In ev’ry moment of life or death, you are…For you created me and shaped me, gave me life within my mother’s womb. For the wonder of who I am, I praise you: Safe in your hands, all creation is made new.” God was definitely showing off at that point.

But, in that moment, in that precious moment, I met Jesus for the first time and could answer His question, “Who do you say that I am?” You are the Christ. You are the living God. You are really here. You really want to touch my life and be a part of it. And that lead me to ask of God the question, “Now Lord, who do you say that I am?” Who am I in Your sight?

I began meeting with that priest, Fr. Mark, and what began as an urge to go to Mass on a Saturday night, lead me to a passionate desire to want to give all of my life; all of who I am to God as a Franciscan and as a priest, and 18 years later, I live a life in which I would not change a thing because it is a life lived in answer to the question, “Lord, who do you say that I am?” And living what God has in store for us is the most spectacular thing anyone can ever do.

And that is the heart of vocation, of discernment, of calling. If you are a young person here today, open your heart to the true and full presence of Jesus in this Eucharist – it is there that He reveals Himself to us and shows us what we are called to be in His sight. You know, the crisis we have in vocations today is not one of calling – God always calls – it is one of awareness. We must pledge to be the people who support and encourage vocations – especially to consecrated religious life and the priesthood. My challenge to everyone today is this – if you have ever thought of someone that they would make a good priest, a good deacon, a good religious brother or sister – tell them; pray for them; encourage them.

And if you’ve ever had that thought about yourself – listen to what Jesus wants to reveal to you; and talk to someone about it. Attend the Eucharist regularly; daily if you can. Let Jesus show you what He has in store for you. Talk to me; talk to one of your parish priests; or a religious that you know and trust. And pray.

“Jesus asked them, ‘Who do you say that I am?’ Peter said to him in reply, ‘You are the Christ.’” And, let us have the courage to ask Jesus, “Lord, who do you say that I am?” And, give us the courage to follow.

May the Lord give you peace.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Flourishing Nashville convent trains largest group of nuns in U.S.


On a recent afternoon, a dozen young sisters, dressed in full-length habits or in postulant uniforms — white shirts, black skirts, black vests — and wearing sneakers and blue aprons, gathered at the edge of the convent's playing field.
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Then they screamed at the top of their lungs, and rushed another group of nuns as a white Frisbee flew overhead. "Did you see that?" said Sister Mary Emily, watching over her young charges. "They're trying to intimidate the other team."
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There are 23 postulants this year at the Motherhouse of Nashville's Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia. It's the largest group of new nuns in training in the United States.
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Remembering 9/11 and praying for peace


A PRAYER FOR PEACE IN THE WORLD

Let the rain come and wash away
the ancient grudges, the bitter hatreds
held and nurtured over generations.
Let the rain wash away the memory
of the hurt, the neglect.
Then let the sun come out and
fill the sky with rainbows.
Let the warmth of the sun heal us
wherever we are broken.
Let it burn away the fog so that
we can see each other clearly.
So that we can see beyond labels,
beyond accents, gender or skin color.
Let the warmth and brightness
of the sun melt our selfishness.
So that we can share the joys and
feel the sorrows of our neighbors.
And let the light of the sun
be so strong that we will see all
people as our neighbors.
Let the earth, nourished by rain,
bring forth flowers
to surround us with beauty.
And let the mountains teach our hearts
to reach upward to heaven.
Amen.
- rabbi harold kushner - 2003

Thursday, September 10, 2009

He said it!

Now, can we all get behind this plan?

President Barak Obama: "And one more misunderstanding I want to clear up -- under our plan, no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions, and federal conscience laws will remain in place." (emphasis added)

"Genuine health care reform that protects the life and dignity of all is a moral imperative and a vital national obligation"

- Bishop William F. Murphy

U.S. Bishops position on health care:

"In our Catholic tradition,

health care is a basic human right. Access to health care should not depend on where a person works, how much a family earns, or where a person lives.

Instead, every person, created in the image and likeness of God, has a right to life and to those things necessary to sustain life, including affordable, quality health care. This teaching is rooted in the biblical call to heal the sick and to serve "the least of these," our concern for human life and dignity, and the principle of the common good. Unfortunately, tens of millions of Americans do not have health insurance. According to the Catholic bishops of the United States, the current health care system is in need of fundamental reform.

To learn about Catholic teaching on health care in more detail, read the full statement by the United States Catholic Bishops, A Framework for Comprehensive Health Care Reform, at usccb.org/sdwp/national/comphealth.shtml.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Get back to work: The truth about Labor Day

On Monday, millions of Americans will celebrate Labor Day in a time-honored way - by deliberately avoiding labor. They’ll attend barbecues and beach parties; they might even kick back in their hammocks and lawn chairs with a feeling of entitlement, secure in their understanding that the first Monday in September is just a hard-earned reward for the American worker.

They’re wrong about Labor Day. And not only are they wrong, but by the lights of Labor Day’s founders, their whole attitude toward the day makes them less than good Americans.

In 1884, when President Grover Cleveland signed the bill making Labor Day a national holiday on the first Monday in September, he and its sponsors intended it not as a celebration of leisure but as a promotion of the great American work ethic. Work, they believed, was the highest calling in life, and Labor Day was a reminder to get back to it. It was placed at the end of summer to declare an end to the season of indolence, and also to distance it from May Day, the spring event that had become a symbol of the radical labor movement.

The day most of us now spend in happy leisure was created to urge Americans to work more, not less. The holiday’s inventors would have been dismayed to see that Americans today would use it only to float in a pool, play putt-putt golf, or - even worse - to fantasize about a life in which they do nothing but play.


The truth about Labor Day - The Boston Globe

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"Do not judge; or you will be judged"

HOMILY FOR THE 23RD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME, September 6, 2009:

Our second reading from the Letter of James today gives us a big challenge. James wrote, “My brothers and sisters, show no partiality as you adhere to the faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ…have you not made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil designs?” It seems to be deep in our human nature to want judge people by appearances. If they drive the right car, wear the right clothes, and know the right people, we think well of them. If not, we look down on them. Media perceptions help to drive this view. TV and movies thrive on appearances, on good looks, on images, sounds, and headlines that capture our attention at first glance - media is by nature superficial; reinforcing the temptation to judge by appearance. But that's not how Jesus judges people. That's not how Jesus thinks of us.

This is what St. James reminds us of: Jesus values us not because of what we look like, how much money we have, or how popular we are. Jesus looks deeper. What matters to Jesus is not what we have, but who we are: children of God, created in His image and likeness, and in need of His saving grace. And if that's what matters to Jesus, then that's what ought to matter to us members of His Church.

That's why St. James drives home the lesson that we should treat all people with respect, regardless of what they look like or what they can do for us. Jesus died on the cross not out of a generic love for humankind, but out of a specific, unconditional, redeeming love for every single person; for you and for me. As His followers, we are called to imitate His universal love which goes beyond mere appearances.

One of the most famous examples of God's looking deeper is found in the story of King David. King Saul, the first king of Israel, had become corrupt. When his corruption led him into disobedience to God, the prophet Samuel was instructed to remove the blessing from Saul and anoint a new king. God led Samuel to a shepherd named Jesse, in Bethlehem. Jesse had seven sons, one of whom God would choose.

Samuel was impressed by the first son, and even more impressed with each subsequent one. But as he met them one by one, the Lord kept telling him that this was not the one he had chosen.

God spoke to Samuel's saying: “Take no notice of his appearance or his height for I have rejected him; God does not see as you see; you look at appearances but the Lord looks at the heart.” When they had gone through all of Jesse's grown sons, Samuel had still not found God’s choice. Samuel asked if he had any more sons, and Jesse said that there was one more, a mere boy, who was out tending the sheep. Samuel sent for him, and even though he was just a boy, weak and small, he turned out to be the one God had chosen to become the greatest king of the Old Testament and the ancestor of the Messiah: King David. Jesus looks beyond appearances; He thinks and loves at a deeper level.

If we reflect on this truth, it gives us a new insight into one of Christ's most difficult commandments from Matthew’s Gospel: “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” Our fallen human nature tends to make us harsh critics of our neighbors. But Jesus warns us to combat this tendency. He knows that we are not good judges or fair judges. We cannot see into people's hearts, the way He can. We cannot see all the factors that go into making a person be the way they are. We cannot see people's intentions, hopes, and struggles. But, God sees the interior world that makes people do what they do.

Consider how forgiving we are towards ourselves. When someone criticizes us, what's our reaction? Immediately, we can explain ourselves. We point out factors or aspects that the other person doesn't know or see. We protect and defend ourselves from criticism. And why? Because we can see much more of our own hearts and minds than other people can see. But when we notice a fault, flaw, or mistake in someone else, we typically don't make excuses for them; we jump on them and judge them.

By admonishing us not to judge our neighbors, James and Jesus remind us that our neighbors have just as complex an interior world as we do: they have their struggles, their points of view, their hidden difficulties. And we are invited to follow Jesus’ example of not judging by appearances, but by faith – a far more forgiving measure.

The best example is the one we come together to celebrate today: the Eucharist. On the outside, if we were to judge its appearance, it is not all that impressive – just a thin piece of bread, and so much wine. But, as always, the deeper reality is the more important – and on that level it is the very Body and Blood of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ; it is God’s true and real presence in our midst. And that makes all the difference.

Let us pray to see as God sees; to forgive as God forgives; to love as God loves; ad to look not at mere appearance, but in the depths of the heart. “My brothers and sisters, show no partiality as you adhere to the faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ.”

May the Lord give you peace.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Catholics Come Home "Epic" ( :120)

The Value of Work: The Dignity of the Human Person

Most Reverend William F. Murphy
Bishop of Rockville Centre
Chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
September 7, 2009

Over the years we Americans have redefined the summer by making Labor Day the “extra day of vacation” that recognizes the work we do throughout the year. There is nothing wrong with that. In fact looking at the history of the struggle for wages and benefits, I think that an extra “day off” for all Americans fits in with the spirit of the whole American experience of the meaning of work. It is a moment to recognize the value and dignity of work and the contribution and rights of the American worker. It is time well spent.

Labor Day this year comes at a time when we face a number of challenging problems, many of which cause us to reflect and ponder on what the future will bring. As complex and challenging as the current economic situation is and the new elements that challenge us all, Americans are still fundamentally an optimistic people. We have an abiding faith in the values that have shaped our nation and an ongoing commitment to work together to address the problems and build on the strengths of who we are. This attitude mirrors the deep and powerful virtue of hope that our Church and, in a special way, our Holy Father, Pope Benedict, have emphasized as a mark of all the faithful disciples of Jesus. We are called always “to give an accounting of the hope that is in us.”(cf. 1Pt 3:15) This is especially true in difficult times that can try our spirits and test our wills.

A New Encyclical

Earlier this summer, Pope Benedict XVI published his long awaited encyclical, Caritas in Veritate. This teaching of Benedict brings together a whole range of theological and social issues
in a perspective that is in some ways very new and challenging. The Holy Father covers a wide
gamut of subjects that reflect many of the Church’s traditional concerns in the social field while
placing them in broader anthropological and cultural context. In this way the encyclical reflects
questions that have long been central to the theological reflections of this Pontiff who constantly
plumbs the implications of understanding of the human person before God. The Pope reminds us, “the primary capital to be safeguarded and valued is…the human person in his or her integrity: Man is the source, the form and the aim of all economic and social life.” (#25)

The Pope revisits the traditional teachings of his predecessors on the value of the human person, the dignity of every human being, and the integral development of human society to promote human flourishing. His reflections reaffirm the teachings of Leo XIII on labor and Pius XI on subsidiarity. With John XXIII and John Paul II, he insists on the value of solidarity and focuses with a special emphasis on Paul VI’s passionate commitment to the Third World and the development of peoples.

In the new encyclical, the Holy Father affirms and extends traditional Catholic teaching on the centrality of work to the whole human experience. Decent work, according to the encyclical, “means work that expresses the essential dignity of every man and woman in the context of their particular society: work that is freely chosen, effectively associating workers, both men and women, with the development of their community; work that enables the worker to be respected and free from any form of discrimination; work that makes it possible for families to meet their needs and provide schooling for children, without the children themselves being forced into labor; work that permits the workers to organize themselves freely, and to make their voices heard; work that leaves enough room for re-discovering one’s roots at a personal, familial and spiritual level; work that guarantees those who have retired a decent standard of living.” (#63)

Pope Benedict renews and reminds us of the Church’s classic support for the right of workers to choose freely to form or join a union or other types of workers’ associations. Pope Benedict endorses this and adds to it the responsibility of workers and unions “to be open to the new perspectives that are emerging in the world of work.” (#64)

This Labor Day statement is not the place to give a complete overview of the new encyclical. It remains, however, a major point of reference for us all as we give thanks to God for the meaning with which God has endowed work as a reflection of the dignity of every worker, a “co-creator” with God in this world of human endeavor. That vision of cooperation with God in building up this world through our work underscores the need for us all to cooperate and collaborate with one another in making work and the workplace a project of human solidarity and mutual respect.
An Example of Respecting the Rights of Workers

In this Labor Day reflection, permit me to call your attention to a positive step forward in respect for workers in one crucial area of our life: health care. This year, after years of discussions, leaders in Catholic health ministry, the labor movement, and the Catholic bishops sought to apply our traditional teaching on work and workers and to offer some practical alternatives on how leaders of hospitals, unions, and others might apply our principles as an aid to reaching agreements in their own situations.

The principal participants— the Catholic Health Association (CHA), the AFL/CIO, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB)—reached agreement that offers guidance and options on how workers can make a free decision about whether or not they want to be represented by a union. They agreed on basic principles including mutual respect and open and honest communication as ‘guides’ to appropriate conduct for both employers and union representatives. This paves the way for workers to make informed decisions without undue influence or pressure from either side. The basic elements of such an approach include mutual respect, truth, and a commitment to let the workers decide whether or not they want to be represented by a union. This was not easy or simple. There were many different points of view and perspectives that at times seemed irreconcilable. The dialogue was long, candid and constructive. It led to a significant consensus statement entitled, respecting the Just Rights of Workers: Guidance and Options for Catholic Health Care and Unions.

This project achieved a significant accomplishment: a consensus among all the parties on a set of principles, processes, and guidelines for a respectful and harmonious approach to let workers in Catholic health care facilities make free choices about unionization. This is offered for voluntary use to help facilitate worker’s choices in an atmosphere of mutual respect and cooperation for the good of the workers themselves.

Special thanks are due to the leadership of the CHA, AFL/CIO, and SEIU. All involved join me in special appreciation for the patient and wise leadership of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. Thanks in no small measure go as well to the guidance of the Feerick Center at Fordham law School under the direction of Dean John Feerick. The dialogue tried to look at real situations and genuine differences in light of some basic themes in Catholic social teaching. The document offers some practical guidance and alternatives on how leaders of hospitals, unions, and others might apply these principles by adapting them to their own situations.

Because Catholic health care is a ministry, leadership must reflect in its own operations the words and example of Jesus. For the Church, health care is a continuation of the healing
mission of Jesus. This is a gift to both the Church and to society at large. In our nation, one
person out of six receives care at one of more than 600 Catholic hospitals or 1,200 other Catholic health care ministries. In the past, tension and misunderstandings too often marred relations between Catholic health care and labor. In an effort to look at that and move beyond it, the participants in the dialogue sought to find alternatives that would structure and guide a positive
process with the good of the worker as the centerpiece.

This group of leaders, representing all the principal entities involved, affirmed two key values: (1) the central role of workers themselves in making choices about representation and (2) the principle of mutual agreement between employers and unions on the means and methods to
assure that workers could make their choices freely and fairly. The document calls for civil
dialogue between unions and employers focusing on how the workers’ right to decide will be respected. The heart of this consensus is that it is up to workers—not bishops, hospital managers, or union leaders—to decide “through a fair process” whether or not to be represented by a union and if so, which union. It is our hope that this voluntary guidance and process agreement will prove to be a significant help for greater respect for workers on behalf of all interested parties now and in the future.

Other Issues in Health Care Reform

This Labor Day comes as our nation is engaged in a wider debate on reform of the health care system. As Congress discusses various proposals, the USCCB is committed to bring to this
challenging issue the principles of Catholic social teaching as important truths that have the
capacity to analyze and measure each serious proposal brought forward. The Catholic bishops
continue to work for health care that is accessible, affordable, and respects the life and dignity of
every human being from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death. To cite Pope Benedict, “A society lacks solid foundations when, on the one hand, it asserts values such as the
dignity of the human person, justice and peace, but then, on the other hand, radically acts to the
contrary by allowing or tolerating a variety of ways in which human life is devalued and violated, especially where it is weak or marginalized.” (#15)

Health care is an essential good for every human person. In a society like ours, no one should lack access to decent health care. Perhaps no other topic has engaged such a large number of citizens or produced such a wide range of opinions and points of view. This can help us avoid the pitfalls that occur when legislation passes without enough dialogue and reflection. I urge you to join the bishops in advocating for health care reform that is truly universal and protects human
life at every stage of development. We must remain resolute in urging the federal government to continue its essential and longstanding prohibitions on abortion funding and abortion mandates.

Our government and laws must also retain explicit protection for the freedom of conscience of health care workers and health care institutions. For more on USCCB advocacy on health care reform see our website, http://www.usccb.org/healthcare/.

Somewhat different but still a matter of basic human dignity is the challenge of immigration reform. This too has a part in the current health care debates. As a nation we have to be concerned about the integrity and safety of our borders. But that cannot overwhelm issues of
respect for the dignity of immigrants who come to our country for so many varying political and
economic reasons. We are a nation of laws. We as a people respect the laws of our country and
state and local municipality. New peoples also are expected to do the same as good citizens or as
good people desirous of becoming citizens. Most immigrants work hard, pay taxes, contribute to
social security, and are valuable members of our society. Yet too often these same immigrants,
including legal immigrants, are denied access to health care services. This should not happen in a society that respects the rights and dignity of every person. For all these reasons our immigration law and related laws must guarantee fair treatment to the millions of immigrants in our country who contribute to our economy and the common good. This is not an issue of “us” and “them.”

They, the new peoples among us, are an integral part of the “us” that constitutes the great diversity that is our nation. In that context, we bishops are convinced that it is imperative that
legal immigrants be included in any fair and just health care legislation that seeks to offer adequate care that is universal and advances the common good of all in our country. An adequate safety net should remain in place for those who still remain without health care coverage. (For more information on the bishops’ efforts on immigration see: http://www.justiceforimmigrants.org/)

Conclusion

As we seek to rebuild our economy, produce a better health care system, and improve the
immigration system, we are presented with unique opportunities to advance the common good.
Pope Benedict’s new encyclical insists that the ethical dimensions of economic life begin with protecting the life and dignity of all, respect for work and the rights of workers, and a genuine
commitment to the common good. As the Holy Father points out: “it is a good that is sought not
for its own sake, but for the people who belong to the social community and who can only really
and effectively pursue their good within it. To desire the common good and strive towards it is a
requirement of justice and charity.” (emphasis in the original, #7)

On this Labor Day, let us remember those without work and without hope. Too often in our public discourse anger trumps wisdom, myth outweighs fact, and slogans replace solutions. We can work together and rebuild our economy on the moral principles and ethical values outlined by Pope Benedict in his new encyclical. This Labor Day, we should take a moment to pray for all workers and all those without work. We should also ask God’s help in living out the Church’s call to defend human life and dignity, to protect workers and their rights, and to stand with the poor and vulnerable in difficult economic times. In his new encyclical, Pope Benedict challenges and reassures us: “As we contemplate the vast amount of work to be done, we are sustained by our faith that God is present alongside those who come together in his name to work for justice.” (#78)

May God bless you this Labor Day and may God watch over and bless those who are committed to the care and protection of all the members of our nation who share the American dream of “liberty and justice for all.”

Catholic leaders defend O’Malley

“We will stop the practice of abortion by changing the law, and we will be successful in changing the law if we change people’s hearts,’’ he wrote. “We will not change hearts by turning away from people in their time of need and when they are experiencing grief and loss.’’ - Cardinal Sean O'Malley in his blog.

I know that I've had a lot in this space on the Kennedy funeral and the Catholic aftermath, but this one I think is worth continuing the discussion. Some people have asked me why Ted Kennedy, given his abortion position, was given a Catholic funeral. Was this action a defacto approval of his full history? Is this saying, you can be a pro-choice Catholic and it'll all work out in the end? The answer that I have given is simple. Ted Kennedy received a funeral Mass for the same reason you or I will - because funeral Masses are not canonization Masses - funerals are for sinners commending them to God's mercy.

Cardinal O'Malley has spoken on this far more eloquently than I ever could, so please take the time to read this story, and more time to read his blog entry.

From the moment Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley said he would preside at Senator Edward M. Kennedy’s funeral, he and his aides knew the decision would be hotly debated in the polarized world of Catholic America, where questions about how church officials should interact with politicians supportive of abortion rights have become increasingly divisive and ugly.

And they were right.

The blogosphere exploded with discussion of the significance of O’Malley’s actions, several antiabortion organizations denounced his decision, and critics lit up the phones and flooded inboxes at the archdiocesan headquarters in Braintree.
But the cardinal, who increasingly uses his blog as his primary means of communicating, decided to seize the moment as an opportunity to try to explicate the relationship between his opposition to abortion rights and his belief that as a pastor it was right for him to be present with those who were mourning the loss of the most prominent Catholic in Massachusetts.

Catholic leaders defend O’Malley - The Boston Globe

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A library without the books

Not sure what I think about this, but I'm pretty sure I think it is a bad idea. I've read stories in the last few months about eliminating cursive handwriting and now eliminating books. Are we setting the stage for an illiterate generation?

ASHBURNHAM - There are rolling hills and ivy-covered brick buildings. There are small classrooms, high-tech labs, and well-manicured fields. There’s even a clock tower with a massive bell that rings for special events.

Cushing Academy has all the hallmarks of a New England prep school, with one exception.

This year, after having amassed a collection of more than 20,000 books, officials at the pristine campus about 90 minutes west of Boston have decided the 144-year-old school no longer needs a traditional library. The academy’s administrators have decided to discard all their books and have given away half of what stocked their sprawling stacks - the classics, novels, poetry, biographies, tomes on every subject from the humanities to the sciences. The future, they believe, is digital.

A library without the books - The Boston Globe

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Thursday, September 3, 2009

Bishops Support for Health Care Reform

"I urge you to join the bishops in advocating for health care reform that is truly universal and protects human life at every stage of development. We must remain resolute in urging the federal government to continue its essential and longstanding prohibitions on abortion funding and abortion mandates. Our government and laws must also retain explicit protection for the freedom of conscience of health care workers and health care institutions …

As a nation we have to be concerned about the integrity and safety of our borders. But that cannot overwhelm issues of respect for the dignity of immigrants who come to our country for so many varying political and economic reasons. We are a nation of laws. We as a people respect the laws of our country and state and local municipality. New peoples also are expected to do the same as good citizens or as good people desirous of becoming citizens. Most immigrants work hard, pay taxes, contribute to social security, and are valuable members of our society. Yet too often these same immigrants, including legal immigrants, are denied access to health care services. This should not happen in a society that respects the rights and dignity of every person."

-- Bishop William Murphy of Rockville Centre, in the USCCB Labor Day message

Daily News: The Story Behind Kennedy’s Pro-Life Letter: NCRegister

Daily News: The Story Behind Kennedy’s Pro-Life Letter: NCRegister

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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

O'Malley defends role in Kennedy funeral

Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley of Boston tonight has posted on his blog an unusual statement explaining why he decided to preside at the funeral of Senator Edward M. Kennedy, and what he talked about during his two to three minute exchange with President Obama before the funeral Mass began. The cardinal made the statement after criticism, in the form of phone calls and e-mails to the archdiocese and comments by some bloggers and organizations, lambasting the cardinal for participating in the funeral of a prominent Catholic politician who supported abortion rights. The archdiocese says the cardinal also received multiple expressions of gratitude for his decision to participate in the funeral, but that because of the criticism he wanted to explain his decision.

O'Malley defends role in Kennedy funeral - Articles of Faith - Boston.com

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Ted Kennedy: Pro-life?

You may have seen this before, but it is a new one to me. Apparently, Sen. Ted Kennedy held very strong pro-life views back in 1971. This is a letter that he wrote to a constituent who had asked his perspective on the issue. It is one of the most well-written responses. If only he had maintained this view the rest of his political career:

Edward M. Kennedy
Massachusetts
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

August 3, 1971

Mr. Thomas E. Dennelly
34 Baker Hill Road
Great Neck, New York 11023

Dear Mr. Dennelly:

I appreciate your letter containing your views on abortion. There are many moral and legal aspects arising from this complex issue which is gaining the acceptance of large numbers of women faced with unwanted pregnancies, while disturbing the consciences of a great many other Americans.

Opponents maintain that abortion is wrong from every theological, moral and medical aspect. Proponents are firmly convinced that the woman, alone, has the right to decide.

While the deep concern of a woman bearing an unwanted child merits consideration and sympathy, it is my personal feeling that the legalization of abortion on demand is not in accordance with the value which our civilization places on human life. Wanted or unwanted, I believe that human life, even at its earliest stages, has certain right which must be recognized - the right to be born, the right to love, the right to grow old.

On the question of the individual's freedom of choice there are easily available birth control methods and information which women may employ to prevent or postpone pregnancy. But once life has begun, no matter at what stage of growth, it is my belief that termination should not be decided merely by desire.

I share the confidence of those who feel that America is willing to care for its unwanted as well as wanted children, protecting particularly those who cannot protect themselves. I also share the opinions of those who do not accept abortion as a response to our society's problems - an inadequate welfare system, unsatisfactory job training programs, and insufficient financial support for all its citizens.

When history looks back on this era it should recognize this generation as one which cared about human beings enough to halt the practice of war, to provide a decent living for every family, and to fulfill its responsibility to its children from the moment of conception.

Sincerely,
Edward M. Kennedy

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Controversial Pennsylvania bishop resigns - Articles of Faith - Boston.com

The big news of the day in Catholic America was the resignation of Bishop Joseph F. Martino of Scranton, Pa. This is not ordinarily a diocese that attracts national attention, but Martino had managed to change that with his sharp criticism of his diocese's most famous son, Vice President Joe Biden, as well as various local Catholic institutions, primarily over the abortion issue.

Then today, not only did Martino quit, citing fatigue, at an invitation-only news conference held at a secret location, but his auxiliary bishop also quit, and the cardinal brought in to restore some order, Cardinal Justin F. Rigali of Philadelphia, declined to reappoint the diocese's controversial episcopal vicar. The purge, if that's what it was, is triggering quite a bit of chatter about whether the Vatican (which has been conspicuously warmer toward the Obama administration than have some American bishops) is concerned with the tone of dialogue among bishops stateside.

Martino acknowledged the unhappiness in his diocese, saying, "For some time now, there has not been a clear consensus among the clergy and people of the Diocese of Scranton regarding my pastoral initiatives or my way of governance,'' and blamed his "sorrow" over the situation for causing him health problems.

By far the best summation of the Scranton situation that I've seen comes from David Gibson over at Politics Daily, who writes, "Martino became for many the angry face of the anti-Obama wing of the Catholic hierarchy thanks to his intemperate blasts about pro-choice politicians and an overweening administrative style that irritated the flock and even his brother bishops."

Controversial Pennsylvania bishop resigns - Articles of Faith - Boston.com

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