Archive for the “Catholicism” Category

This provocative question is the subject of an excellent posting on the Archdioceses of Washington website by Msgr. Charles Pope. Excerpts below, but the whole posting is well worth the read.

Some people put more faith in Tylenol than they do in Holy Communion. That’s because when they take Tylenol they expect something to happen. But many people don’t really expect anything to happen when they receive Holy Communion.

and

Sadly, expectations are very low among the people of God. The blame can begin with the clergy who have not often taught the faithful to expect dramatic conversion of any kind let alone from receiving Holy Communion. But the blame does not end with the clergy. The fact is low expectations can sometimes be developed as a kind of strategy by many who fear change and see authentic conversion and true holiness as a fearful thing or as requiring just too much of what they would rather not surrender. And so expectations remain low, perhaps out of ignorance or perhaps out of fear and aversion.

On this Feast of Corpus Christi, What do you expect from receiving the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ in Communion?

I am blessed to be part of a parish that began this feast of Corpus Christi with Mass at 5PM, followed by a Eucharistic procession through the streets of town in 90+ degree heat, followed by the start of a Novena to Saint Anthony. I would estimate that over a thousand people stayed through all three events. The leader of our Novena is a Redemptorist Priest who reflected on Saint John Neumann, concluding that “He was a short man, but I imagine he is jumping up and down with joy over the love shown to our Lord in the Eucharist.

Comments No Comments »

We’ve all seen many lists that start this way.  Here is a fun list posted on GodTube…

Comments No Comments »

The First Lady of California Maria Shriver in a recent interview cited in the same answer how she considers herself to be a “Catholic in good standing” and how she differs with the Catholic Church on many critical issues, including the sanctity of life and the the sanctity of marriage.   She goes on to describe herself as a cafeteria catholic, saying “I find that I don’t spend a lot of time trying to square my own daily life with the institutional ‘Church.’ I pick and choose.”

How does Shriver articulate her differences with ‘the institutional Church’ Holy Mother Church?  She says “I don’t believe in, you know, that if someone’s divorced they shouldn’t get Communion. I don’t believe that people who are gay shouldn’t be accepted into the Church. There are a lot of things like that.”

These statements in fact misrepresent the Catholic teachings on these issues.  With regard to divorce, the Catechism of the Catholic Church speaks only of remarriage with respect to withholding communion citing a direct quote from Jesus Christ himself on the issue.

1650 Today there are numerous Catholics in many countries who have recourse to civil divorce and contract new civil unions. In fidelity to the words of Jesus Christ – “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery” the Church maintains that a new union cannot be recognized as valid, if the first marriage was. If the divorced are remarried civilly, they find themselves in a situation that objectively contravenes God’s law. Consequently, they cannot receive Eucharistic communion as long as this situation persists. For the same reason, they cannot exercise certain ecclesial responsibilities. Reconciliation through the sacrament of Penance can be granted only to those who have repented for having violated the sign of the covenant and of fidelity to Christ, and who are committed to living in complete continence.  

1665 The remarriage of persons divorced from a living, lawful spouse contravenes the plan and law of God as taught by Christ. They are not separated from the Church, but they cannot receive Eucharistic communion. They will lead Christian lives especially by educating their children in the faith.

As far as homosexuals being welcome in the church, the Catechism actually calls them to Christ, but condemns homosexual acts as “contrary to natural law.”

2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.

Only Shriver knows whether she is aware of the Church’s teaching on these issue or has deliberately distorted them.  Perhaps her catechism was missing a few pages.

Shriver doesn’t even bring up abortion, on which she is completely out of touch with the Church’s teaching until the interviewer brings it up.

I don’t mean to attack Shriver personally.  She is a very visible representation of millions of Catholics who don’t understand the teachings of the Church, but are willing to disagree with them in order to be politically correct or popular.  In the Mass I attended last week, the priest discussed the problem of cafeteria Catholics and this interview citing that to be Catholic means to follow 100% of the teachings of Holy Mother Church, and insisted that the cafeteria must be closed.

Remember that when it counts most, it doesn’t really matter whether we consider ourselves in good standing, but rather how we stand with God.

Here is the video of Shriver’s interview, courtesy of the Washington Post.

Comments No Comments »

The student newspaper of Catholic University has published this article on a speech given by Cardinal Stafford last week.

His Eminence James Francis Cardinal Stafford criticized President-elect Barack Obama as “aggressive, disruptive and apocalyptic,“ and said he campaigned on an “extremist anti-life platform,” Thursday night in Keane Auditorium during his lecture “Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul II: Being True in Body and Soul.“

“Because man is a sacred element of secular life,” Stafford remarked, “man should not be held to a supreme power of state, and a person’s life cannot ultimately be controlled by government.”

“For the next few years, Gethsemane will not be marginal. We will know that garden,” Stafford said, comparing America’s future with Obama as president to Jesus’ agony in the garden. “On November 4, 2008, America suffered a cultural earthquake.”

Cardinal Stafford said Catholics must deal with the “hot, angry tears of betrayal” by beginning a new sentiment where one is “with Jesus, sick because of love.”

The lecture, hosted by the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family, pertained to Humanae Vitae, a papal encyclical written by Pope Paul VI in 1968 and celebrating its 40 anniversary this year.

Stafford also spoke about the decline of a respect for human life and the need for Catholics to return to the original values of marriage and human dignity.

“If 1968 was the year of America’s ‘suicide attempt,’ 2008 is the year of America’s exhaustion,” said Stafford, an American Cardinal and Major Penitentiary of the Apostolic Penitentiary for the Tribunal of the Holy See. “In the intervening 40 years since Humanae Vitae, the United States has been thrown upon ruins.”

This destruction and America’s decline is largely in part due to the Supreme Court’s decisions in the life-issue cases of 1973, specifically Roe v. Wade. Stafford asserted these cases undermined respect for human life in the United States.

“Its scrupulous meanness has had catastrophic effects upon the unity and integrity of the American republic,” said Stafford.

Humanae Vitae (“On Human Life”) reaffirms traditional Catholic teachings regarding abortion, contraception and other human life issues. Pope Benedict XVI said in May it is “so controversial, yet so crucial for humanity’s future…What was true yesterday is true also today.”

Monsignor Livio Melina, president of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family, gave the opening address at the lecture and spoke about the importance of agape love to gain knowledge.
“Love itself is a form of knowledge, and this knowledge cannot be objectified,” said Melina. “It is a unique relationship between the believer and God.”

Stafford said the truest reflection of the love between the believer and God is that of the relationship between husband and wife, and that contraceptive use does not fit anywhere within that framework.
According to Stafford, the inner dynamic of a spousal relationship is much like the body itself, which ‘speaks’ in terms of masculinity and femininity.

“The experience of love introduces us in a specific way to moral knowledge,” added Melina.

Comments No Comments »

In this article, the Bishop Hermann from St. Louis underscores what I have been saying in my last few posts:

The Catholic Church teaches that the issue of life is the most basic issue and must be given priority over the issue of the economy, the issue of war or any other issue.

The bishop goes on to make his point in a very interesting and straightforward way.

“Judgment Day is on its way. We cannot stop it. We don’t know when it will come, but just as surely as the sun rises daily, the Son of Man will come when we least expect.

Judgment Day is on its way. For many, this coming election may very well be judgment day, for this election will measure us. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus tells us in 10:32-33: “Everyone who acknowledges Me before others, I will acknowledge before My heavenly Father. But whoever denies Me before others, I will deny before my heavenly Father.”

Judgment Day is on its way. When my time comes, I will be measured by my Savior for the decisions I have made. I will either be acknowledged by Jesus or denied by Him in the presence of our heavenly Father. The question I need to ask myself is this: What kind of witness will I give to Him when I go into the voting booth this election day?

The decision I make in the voting booth will reflect my value system. If I value the good of the economy and my current lifestyle more than I do the right to life itself, then I am in trouble. Pope John Paul II, in his post-synodal apostolic exhortation Christifideles laici tells us: “Above all, the common outcry, which is justly made on behalf of human rights — for example, the right to health, to home, to work, to family, to culture — is false and illusory if the right to life, the most basic and fundamental right and the condition for all other personal rights, is not defended with maximum determination.”

The right of our children to be protected from destruction is greater than my right to a thriving economy. I am living proof of this, since I am here because my parents believed this priority and lived it. My desire for a good economy cannot justify my voting to remove all current restrictions on abortion. My desire to end the war in Iraq cannot justify my voting to remove all current restrictions on abortion.

and

The Catholic Church teaches, in its catechism, in the works of Pope John Paul II and in the writings of Pope Benedict XVI, that the issue of life is the most basic issue and must be given priority over the issue of the economy, the issue of war or any other issue. These same teachings inform us that when both candidates permit the right to abortion, but unequally so, we must chose to mitigate the evil by choosing the candidate who is less permissive of abortion.

Judgment Day is on its way! I may deny it. I may pretend that it is still far away, I may deny that my actions are sinful, but that will not change God’s judgment of me.
The deepest problem with many of our Catholics is that they have become so accustomed to rationalizing away a life of sinful actions so that they seem to be on cruise control, heading in the wrong direction. “If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.”

I recommend reading the whole article, especially if you are unclear what the church teaches about the implications of voting.  Unfortunately, many Catholic priests and bishops won’t tell it to you straight for fear of alienating parishioners, which is a tragic mistake.

Comments No Comments »

One of the rationalizations by those who are “pro-life” but supporting Obama for president is that it really won’t make much of a difference.  They’re not going to overturn Roe v. Wade anyway.

If our next president does nothing else, they will appoint between 33% and 55% of the Supreme Court justices that will be in power (an unfortunate phrasing for SCOTUS but an accurate one for activist courts) for a generation.  This alone should sway pro-life voters.  But suppose the two candidates had the identical picks for the court and this wasn’t an issue at all (accepting that this hypothetical scenario has no basis in reality).

The wrong choice in this election – Barack Obama – would still be the most devastating blow to the sanctity of life since 1973.  The reason is an innocuously named Freedom of Choice Act.  What is the FOCA?  Senator Barbara Boxer, co-sponser of the bill, has said: “The Freedom of Choice Act supercedes any law, regulation or local ordinance that impinges on a woman’s right to choose. ”

This article from the diocese of Paterson, New Jersey details what this act really means in language its sponsors prefer not to discuss.  Barack Obama supports this bill and has promised to sign it. Make no mistake that if Obama is elected, Pelosi and Reid will hand carry it on his desk and help him hold the pen. Not that President Obama would need the support. In addressing the Planned Parenthood Action Fund (July 17, 2007), he asserted that “the first thing I’d do as president is, is sign the Freedom of Choice Act.”

With a stroke of his pen, partial birth abortions ban will be invalidated.

On April 18, 2007, in Gonzales v. Carhart, The Supreme Court upheldthe Partial-Birth Abortion Ban. The very next day prominent Democratic members of Congress reintroduced the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA). The bill is misleadingly packaged as a freedom bill. It is not! It is a clear act of unreasoned bias to end abruptly and brutally the debate on the pressing and fundamental moral issue of the right to life.

For thirty-five years, Americans have been wrestling with The Supreme Court’s decision legalizing abortion in Roe v. Wade. Most Americans now favor some kind of a ban on abortion. Most who allow abortion would do so only in very rare cases. In fact, in January, 2008, the Guttmacher Institute published its 14th census of abortion providers in the country. Its statistics showed that the abortion rate continues to decline. Abortions have reached their lowest level since 1974. There is truly a deep sensitivity to life in the soul of America.

The Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) would mortally wound this sensitivity. In effect, it would dismantle the freedom of choice to do all that is necessary to respect and protect human life at its most vulnerable stage. FOCA goes far beyond guaranteeing the right to an abortion throughout the nine months of pregnancy. It arrogantly prohibits any law or policy interfering with that right. While advocates trumpet this law as the triumph of the freedom of choice, they hide the dark reality that the law would actually inhibit choice.

Laws protecting the rights of nurses, doctors and hospitals with moral objections to abortion would no longer stand. Health and safety regulations for abortion clinics would also vanish. Gone the freedom of health care professionals to be faithful to the Hippocratic Oath “to prescribe regimens for the good of …patients…and never do harm to anyone, to please no one [by prescribing] a deadly drug nor [by giving] advice which may cause his death.” Gone the freedom of conscience so essential for a civil society!

With a stroke of his pen, American taxpayers would be forced to fund abortions despite their moral objections.

If a minority of avid abortionists succeed to impose this law because of the ignorance or apathy of the majority, the law would force taxpayers to fund abortions. Gone the freedom of taxation with representation!

(more…)

Comments No Comments »

The following are excerpts from  a letter from Most Reverend Joseph F. Martino, Bishop of Scranton, PA and read at every parish.  I encourage every Catholic voter to read the entire letter.

Forty years ago, Pope Paul VI predicted that widespread use of artificial contraceptives would lead to increased marital infidelity, lessened regard for women, and a general lowering of moral standards especially among the young. Forty years later, social scientists, not necessarily Catholics, attest to the accuracy of his predictions. As if following some bizarre script, the sexual revolution has produced widespread marital breakdown, weakened family ties, legalized abortion, sexually transmitted diseases, pornography, same-sex unions, euthanasia, destruction of human embryos for research purposes and a host of other ills.

Another argument goes like this: “As wrong as abortion is, I don’t think it is the only relevant ‘life’ issue that should be considered when deciding for whom to vote.” This reasoning is sound only if other issues carry the same moral weight as abortion does, such as in the case of euthanasia and destruction of embryos for research purposes. Health care, education, economic security, immigration, and taxes are very important concerns. Neglect of any one of them has dire consequences as the recent financial crisis demonstrates. However, the solutions to problems in these areas do not usually involve a rejection of the sanctity of human life in the way that abortion does. Being “right” on taxes, education, health care, immigration, and the economy fails to make up for the error of disregarding the value of a human life. Consider this: The finest health and education systems, the fairest immigration laws, and the soundest economy do nothing for the child who never sees the light of day. It is a tragic irony that “pro-choice” candidates have come to support homicide — the gravest injustice a society can tolerate — in the name of “social justice.” (more…)

Comments No Comments »

I turned on the news tonight and saw a debate on the importance of the abortion question in this presidential election.  There were representatives from both campaigns detailing the history of their candidates records on life issues, and explaining the importance of their position to the future direction of the United States.The democratic representative discussed Senator Obama’s vote in the Illinois Senate opposing the Born Alive Infant Protection Act, explaining that in his judgment, it was more important in the big picture to protect the “right” of women to kill their children than to support the right of a living, breathing baby who was after all “unwanted” to receive medical attention.  He also defended Obama’s perfect record of supporting Planned Parenthood and NARAL as essential to keeping the pro-life movement from making it more difficult for a mother to exercise her “right” to kill her unborn child.The republican representative explained John McCain’s and Sarah Palin’s view that life begins at the moment of conception and from that time forward, that child is entitled to all of the rights and protections as the rest of us.  They also underscored that Roe vs. Wade is bad law and bad policy, and they would nominate judges who would strictly interpret the written US Constitution and not define it as a living, breathing document in which the founding fathers hadn’t  intended a panel of nine citizens to make new laws because they felt it was “better for the country.”

The above is of course pure fiction.  The Obama campaign and their willing accomplices in the media are doing everything they can to not allow these critical differences to get any attention.   One reason is that Catholic voters (and many others) seduced by the rhetoric about fairness, healthcare and justice are completely at odds with Obama’s record and devastating policies regarding the culture of death. (more…)

Comments No Comments »

Last night in Mass, we sang “Happy Birthday” to Mary, led by the priest.  I have never been in a church that has done this before, but I thought it was wonderful.  After all, this is a common way to honor our loved ones on their birthdays.

Here is an interesting perspective from the Catholic News Agency.

“The hope of the entire world and the dawn of salvation.” – ( Lumen Gentium, 55 )

Besides Christmas, only two birthdays are celebrated in the Church’s liturgical calendar. That of John the Baptist on June 24, and the birth of our Lady, on September 8.

The reason for this is that these two saints, especially, of course, Mary, are figures of singular importance in the history of salvation. Their coming into the world heralds the arrival of the Word’s dwelling among men and the redemption of the fallen human race.

“Mary’s birth lies at the confluence of the two Testaments–bringing to an end the stage of expectation and the promises and inaugurating the new times of grace and salvation in Jesus Christ (LG, 55).”

“Mary, the Daughter of Zion and ideal personification of Israel, is the last and most worthy representative of the People of the Old Covenant but at the same time she is “the hope and the dawn of the whole world.” With her, the elevated Daughter of Zion, after a long expectation of the promises, the times are fulfilled and a new economy is established. (LG, 55)

The feast of the Nativity of Mary originated in the Middle East in the sixth or seventh century and was included in the Roman calendar in the eighth. It is celebrated exactly 9 months after the feast of the Immaculate Conception.

Comments No Comments »

Earlier this summer, I posted an article about the appointment of Archbishop Burke to the post of Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura. In several recent interviews (see here and here), Burke has begun to strongly articulate the position that the Church has a duty to be responsibly charitable in denying Eucharist to them if they ask for it, “until they have reformed their lives.”

Here are some excerpts from the first of these two articles, an interview with Thomas J. McKenna, president of the San Diego-based group Catholic Action for Faith and Family.

Archbishop Raymond L. Burke, the newly appointed Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura and former Archbishop of St. Louis, recently discussed in an interview the topic of respect for the Holy Eucharist and its pastoral aspects of canon law. Reiterating that the Church has the right and the duty to tell someone who persists in public grave sin that he or she may not receive Communion, Archbishop Burke suggested that laxity among Catholics regarding respect for the Blessed Sacrament has resulted from a lack of Eucharistic Adoration and a felt connection between the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Penance.

In the interview, Archbishop Burke criticized rhetoric that presents receiving Holy Communion as a “right.”

“Who could claim that he has a right to receive the Body of Christ? This is all an act of God’s immeasurable love Our Lord makes Himself available to us in His Body and Blood for Holy Communion. But we can never say that we have the right to Him, that we can demand to receive Our Lord in Holy Communion. Each time we approach, we should approach with a profound sense of our own unworthiness.”

The archbishop said that Catholics have lost the sense of their unworthiness to receive the Sacrament and their need to confess their sins and repent in order to receive Holy Communion worthily.

Discussing Canons 915 and 916 of Church law, which concern worthy reception of the Blessed Sacrament, Archbishop Burke explained that the Church has those laws in place not to be mean and imposing, but to help the faithful reach salvation and to warn people who are in the state of mortal sin.

“It is the greatest act of charity to prevent somebody from doing something that is sacrilegious that is, to warn them, and then actually refuse to be party to a sacrilege… the Church, in Her love, prevents people from doing things that are gravely offensive to God and gravely damaging to their own souls.”

If the Sacrament is not refused, the archbishop explained, “People would be led to think it is alright to be in the state of mortal sin and to receive Our Lord in Holy Communion,” or it could lead people to believe “that the public act which this person is committing, which everyone thinks is a serious sin, must not be so serious because the Church permits that person to receive Holy Communion.”

In all this, the archbishop said, we must remember the great importance of the Sacrament.

“The first thing that needs to be said is that the Body and Blood of Christ is a gift of God’s love to us. It is the greatest gift, a gift beyond our ability to describe,” he said. “…A gift is freely given out of love and that is what God is doing for us every time we are able to participate in Mass and approach to receive Holy Communion.”

I find the reference to thinking of Eucharist as a “right” to be very provocative.  I think this as well as the reference to the laxity of Eucharistic adoration and penance have become detrimental to the Catholic church.

The second article speaks directly to the question of politicians supporting abortion rights.

Archbishop Raymond Burke, said this week that Catholics, especially politicians, who publically defend abortion should not receive Communion, and that ministers of Communion should be responsibly charitable in denying it to them if they ask for it, “until they have reformed their lives.”

In an interview with the magazine, Radici Christiane, Archbishop Burke pointed out that there is often a lack of reverence at Mass when receiving Communion. “Receiving the Body and Blood of Christ unworthily is a sacrilege,” he warned. “If it is done deliberately in mortal sin it is a sacrilege.”

To illustrate his point, he referred to “public officials who, with knowledge and consent, uphold actions that are against the Divine and Eternal moral law.” He then gave the example of politicians who “support abortion, which entails the taking of innocent and defenseless human lives. A person who commits sin in this way should be publicly admonished in such a way as to not receive Communion until he or she has reformed his life,” the archbishop said.

“If a person who has been admonished persists in public mortal sin and attempts to receive Communion, the minister of the Eucharist has the obligation to deny it to him. Why? Above all, for the salvation of that person, preventing him from committing a sacrilege,” he added.

“We must avoid giving people the impression that one can be in a state of mortal sin and receive the Eucharist.”

He explained that when the person is allowed to receive Communion, a second form of scandal consists: “leading people to think that the public act that this person is doing,” a sin, “which until now everyone believed was a serious sin, is really not that serious.”

“If we have a public figure who is openly and deliberately upholding abortion rights and receiving the Eucharist, what will the average person think? He or she could come to believe that up to a certain point it is okay to do away with an innocent life in the mother’s womb,” he warned.

Archbishop Burke also noted that when a bishop or a Church leader prevents an abortion supporter from receiving Communion, “it is not with the intention of interfering in public life but rather with the concern of the spiritual state of the politician or public official who, if Catholic, should follow the divine law in the public sphere as well.”

“Therefore, it is simply ridiculous and wrong to try to silence a pastor, accusing him of interfering in politics so that he cannot do good to the soul of a member of his flock,” he stated.

It is “simply wrong” to think that the faith must be reduced to the private sphere and eliminated from public life, Archbishop Burke said, encouraging Catholics “to bear witness to our faith not only in private in our homes but also in our public lives with others in order to bear strong witness to Christ.”

Comments No Comments »