Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Rosary: "Spiritual Weapon in Struggle Against Evil"

What could be more evil than an intentional and bloodthirsty attack upon those who are weakest and most in need of the help of others? Procured abortion is precisely this: an abominable crime that cries out to Heaven for vengeance.

With the most ferocious anti-life forces in 35 years arrayed in a blatant, massive, and frontal attack against God’s will in political and national life, there was never a time more in need of prayer. Certain candidates have made clear at every opportunity that they will use every means at their disposal to remove every protection for unborn human life. One in particular swore before a Planned Parenthood gathering that his first act as chief executive would be to sign Freedom of Choice Act, a law designed to eradicate every protection in law for the unborn and to persecute any who support God’s plan for marriage and family life.

The month of October, dedicated to our Lady and her most holy rosary, provides the program of prayer for intercession through the Mother of God that the forces of life will prevail in November.

On his October 19 pilgrimage to Pompeii and the Shrine of Our Lady of the Rosary, our Holy Father assigned to all of us the task of prayer for the exorcising of evil from the seats of power in the world and from every human heart. The Pope “put the world in Mary’s hands” as reported by ZENIT News Agency. How appropriate that Bartolo Longo was a Satanic “priest” before his conversion and role as the saintly founder of the magnificent shrine church in this Roman seat of vice and sensual pleasure, destroyed by the volcanic eruption of Vesuvius in AD 79.

“The Pope’s leading of the Supplication of the Blessed Virgin of the Rosary, a prayer written by Blessed Bartolo Longo (1841-1926), was one of the high points of this 12th pastoral trip in Italy.

“ ‘We implore you to have pity today on the nations that have gone astray, on all Europe, on the whole world, that they might repent and return to your heart,’ the text of the prayer reads.

“With the words of Bartolo, the Pontiff turned to Mary, saying: ‘If you will not help us because we are ungrateful and unworthy children of your protection, we will not know to whom to turn.’

“In a gesture of filial love, the Pope then offered the Madonna a golden rose. The Holy Father traveled by helicopter . . . to Pompeii, and was welcomed by 50,000 faithful. This is the third time a Pope has visited the shrine.

“Pompeii was destroyed by the lava and ashes from the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in AD 79.

“The new Pompeii arose 1,796 years later, when, in 1872, Bartolo Longo, a lawyer and lay Dominican, built a church dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary.

“The shrine contains an image of Mary to which hundreds of miracles and healings are attributed.

“In the homily delivered during Holy Mass today, the Pope evoked the figure of Bartolo Longo, who, like St. Paul, had persecuted the Church, ‘becoming militantly anticlerical and engaging in spiritualist and superstitious practices.’

“Longo was a Satanist priest who later repented when he encountered the ‘true face of God,’ the Holy Father said.

“ ‘Wherever God comes in this desert, flowers bloom,’ said Benedict XVI. ‘Even Blessed Bartolo Longo, with his personal conversion, bears witness to this spiritual power that transforms man from within and makes him capable of doing great things according to God’s designs.

“ ‘This city, which he refounded, is thus a historical demonstration of how God transforms the world: filling man’s heart with charity.’

“ ‘Here in Pompeii,” the Pope continued, ‘it is understood that love for God and love for neighbor are inseparable.’

“ ‘Here at Mary’s feet, families rediscover or reinforce the joy of love that keeps them united.’

“The secret of Pompeii, the Holy Father revealed, is the rosary: ‘This prayer leads us through Mary to Jesus.’

“ ‘The rosary is a contemplative prayer that is accessible to all: great and small, lay people and clerics, cultured and uncultured,’ he said. ‘The rosary is a spiritual weapon in the struggle against evil, against all violence, for peace in hearts, in families, in society, and in the world’.”

Faithfully and frequently pray the rosary to invoke the Lord’s power through the intercession of His Most Holy Mother in this new “Battle of Lepanto,” that with God’s power the forces of good and of life in this world may overcome the powers of evil which threaten the family, the basic cell of society and the privileged place where new life comes into the world.
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(Fr. Cusick's column, "A Leaven in the World", is published weekly in The Wanderer Catholic newspaper. Contact Fr Cusick at Photo by AP.)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

"Born Alive"

Miracles can happen, even in a culture of death.

A child is born alive in an abortion clinic. The mother is alone with her child in the bathroom and her pleas for help go unheeded by the abortion mill staff. She watches, helpless, as her newborn baby dies.

"Born Alive". For more info, visit this website.

McCain "100% Pro-Life"

See Father Gregory Coan's comments about McCain and embryonic stem-cell research here.

Monday, October 27, 2008

“Woman, you are set free"

Jesus teaches in the synagogue on the sabbath in every Liturgy of the Word. The Holy One who comes really and substantially in the Sacrament to free His people from their sins speaks when His word is proclaimed in the sacred Liturgy.

Holy things must be treated in a holy way. God calls His people to surround Him with holy gestures and words in prayers and hymns of adoration and praise.

But a liturgy help captive to special interests binds the One whose power alone can "set free" all of humanity "crippled by a spirit" that is not of God. An agenda which places other concerns before those of the Lord as He acts in the liturgy are these forces which hinder His coming among us in the most powerful way with all of His healing power.

Place the will of the Lord first by obedience to the rubrics governing word and action that He may be welcomed with all of His divine power to save us and raise us up.

The "horizontalism" present in holding hands during the Our Father neglects the vertical aspect of this prayer to the heavenly Father.

The neglect of the rubrics, such as the striking of the breast when praying the Confiteor, is a lost opportunity to pray with the Body of Christ in a more profound way.

The insertion of elements and persons into the liturgy out of misplaced sympathy or because such are thought to be "cute" work against the sacredness of the presence of the Most Holy in encounter with His people. We do not celebrate the liturgy as a mirror of ourselves or our own preferences. Rather we do so to open our minds and hearts to the living God as He comes in His fullness in Christ.

Stand erect! "Behave like God as his very dear children." Pray the Liturgy OF the Church WITH the Church and, therefore, in and with Christ the Lord.

Jesus sees us, also, and desires that we may hear Him say to us, "you are set free of your infirmity."

Stand "up straight" and glorify God! Would you not also see "the splendid deeds done by him" ?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

God has loved us first

"The word 'Decalogue' means literally 'ten words.' (Ex 34:28; Deut 4:13; 10:4.)
(CCC 2056)

"Jesus summed up man's duties toward God in this saying: 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.' (Mt 22:37) This immediately echoes the solemn call: 'Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God is one LORD.' (Deut 6:4)

"God has loved us first. The love of the One God is recalled in the first of the 'ten words.' The commandments then make explicit the response of love that man is called to give to his God."
(CCC 2083)

Meeting Christ in the Liturgy offers a reflection for the Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Archbishop O'Brien Dedicates Baltimore JP II Prayer Garden

Pope John Paul II Prayer Garden opens at city Basilica / Baltimore Sun

Calling for a "sanctuary in a suffering city," Archbishop Edwin F. O'Brien dedicated the Pope John Paul II Prayer Garden in downtown Baltimore this morning before unveiling a bronze statue of the pontiff.

Speaking at the intersection of Charles and Franklin streets, the archbishop said he hoped this new green space, with its dogwood trees and roses, would become a symbol of the rebirth of "many, many more Baltimore street corners."

He described Baltimore as a city "where too many street corners are just places where drug deals take place and where gunfire inevitably follows."

Nearly 150 people, some of whom stood in an adjoining parking garage, watched as O'Brien and artist Joseph Sheppard lifted a white cloth from a bronze likeness of Pope John Paul II, who visited Baltimore in 1995 and spent part of an afternoon at the adjoining Basilica of the Assumption after celebrating Mass at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

The archbishop asked that the new corner garden "reflect the love of God that was so evident on that October day in 1995."

While construction crews completed the fenced garden several weeks ago, the pope's statue became the center of attention this morning.

The likeness shows the pope embracing two children and was based on a photo of his arrival at BWI Airport in 1995.

The boy in the photo was 9-year-old Justin Farinelli, who is now 22, and after residing in Pasadena, moved to Gainesville, Fla.

Sheppard "took some liberties, but they are all appreciated," Farinelli said.

The artist, who was born in Owings Mills and spends much of his time in Pietrasanta, Italy, recalled a meeting with Pope John Paul II in Italy.

"I kissed his hand," Sheppard said. "He had an amazing charisma. I can't even remember if I spoke English or Italian to him. I was identified as a painter, and he embraced me warmly. He had a powerful presence."

(Photos by author, story by Baltimore Sun; click here to read more.)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

First act as prez? Sign FOCA!

As reported by David Brody of CBN, a new commercial produced by the Family Research Council will air in battleground states and in Washington, D.C., to make clear to voters that one candidate for president has promised Planned Parenthood and the abortion lobby that his very first act upon becoming president will be to sign into the law the infamous Freedom of Choice Act, or FOCA.

FOCA guarantees freedom of choice only to those who choose death. Unborn babies, pro-life advocates of all kinds, pregnancy centers, the Church, and others are all targets of FOCA because they stand in the way of the pro-death forces who want to sweep away every last vestige of protection for the sacredness of human life.

No matter the following facts that show Americans respect human life:
— Most Americans favor banning all abortion or permitting it only in very rare cases (danger to the mother’s life or in cases of rape or incest).
— A recent Guttmacher Institute study found that the U.S. abortion rate declined 26% between 1989 and 2004. The decline was steepest, 58%, among girls under 18.
— Teens increasingly are choosing to remain abstinent until their late teens or early 20s. Tragically, however, when women do become sexually active prior to marrying, many become pregnant and choose abortion — the abortion rate increased among women aged 20 and older between 1974 and 2004, although the rate is now gradually declining.

What is FOCA? And what will it do? Justin Cardinal Rigali, in his statement for Respect Life Sunday, clearly and compellingly explains this threat to human life and why we must fight it – “we cannot allow this to happen.”

“Today, however, we face the threat of a federal bill that, if enacted, would obliterate virtually all the gains of the past 35 years and cause the abortion rate to skyrocket. The Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) has many congressional sponsors, some of whom have pledged to act swiftly to help enact this proposed legislation when Congress reconvenes in January.

“FOCA establishes abortion as a ‘fundamental right’ throughout the nine months of pregnancy, and forbids any law or policy that could ‘interfere’ with that right or ‘discriminate’ against it in public funding and programs. If FOCA became law, hundreds of reasonable, widely supported, and constitutionally sound abortion regulations now in place would be invalidated. Gone would be laws providing for informed consent, and parental consent or notification in the case of minors. Laws protecting women from unsafe abortion clinics and from abortion practitioners who are not physicians would be overridden.

“Restrictions on partial-birth and other late-term abortions would be eliminated. FOCA would knock down laws protecting the conscience rights of nurses, doctors, and hospitals with moral objections to abortion, and force taxpayers to fund abortions
throughout the United States.

“We cannot allow this to happen. We cannot tolerate an even greater loss of innocent human lives. We cannot subject more women and men to the post-abortion grief and suffering that our counselors and priests encounter daily in Project Rachel programs across America.

“For 24 years, the Catholic Church has provided free, confidential counseling to individuals seeking emotional and spiritual healing after an abortion, whether their own or a loved one’s. We look forward to the day when these counseling services are no longer needed, when every child is welcomed in life and protected in law. If FOCA is enacted, however, that day may recede into the very distant future.”

Spread the word in our parishes and communities about FOCA and Obama’s militant support for passage of this law. No one who advocates radical abortion laws that endanger every unborn child and pregnant mother in America is fit to be president of a nation that enshrines the sacredness of human “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” for all, including unborn children and their parents who need and deserve our real support, not betrayal through abortion.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Larry Norman, where are you?

If you grew up in the 70's you may remember the song "Sons of God":

"Sons of God, hear his holy Word,
Gather ’round the table of the Lord,
Eat His body, drink His blood,
And we’ll sing a song of love,
Hallelu, hallelu, hallelu, hallelujah!"

The last time I heard these lines sung was at the lakefront chapel of Loyola University in Chicago in the 90's. I walked in while the folk group was practicing the song and had a time-warp experience.

Where is the author of this ditty sung by yours truly, and many others, during the 70's? Curiously, his name showed up in the newsletter of "Sons of God International Freedom Fellowship Church", an ecclesial body in Texas. Is this the same Larry that wrote these largely forgotten lines? He is cited as the proclaimer of Scripture at a service given by the storefront worship group. Just a coincidence?

Incarnatus Est blogspot has posted the complete lyrics.

Where are you now, Larry Norman?

Just googled some more and found the answer: turns out that Larry Norman is deceased. May he rest in peace. Read more here.

Go Navy! Part 2

You may remember some time ago we posted a photo of a liturgy offered aboard the Navy aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt. We have new photos from the Feast of Saint Luke and you may view them here at companion blog Breviarium Romanum.

Go Navy!

Frs Z, P and C @ MSMS

This correspondent enjoyed the fraternity of two brother priests yesterday in what might be called "MCITL meets WDTPRS, Volume II". Volume I may be found here. Fr Z, or Fr John Zuhlsdorf, is author of the column "What Does The Prayer Really Say?" and this writer pens the weekly missive "A Leaven in the World", both found in The Wanderer Catholic Newspaper.

Father Z. is traveling with Fr P. and the two met up with Fr C. at Mount Saint Mary's Seminary for dinner in nearby Gettysburg. Following the repast the Fathers visited and chatted with seminarians at the Mount. Thank you, Fathers, for sharing the gift and fraternity of your priesthood. Fathers Fred Miller and Fr. Robert V. Zylla as well as the rector, Monsignor Steven P. Rohlfs, took the time for a chat with visitors.

After a tour today at the Gettysburg battlefield, Fathers P and Z will travel on to USNA for a visit with chaplain Father Aidan Logan at that storied institution. For photos and stories on that, visit Fr Z's blog

(Top: photo of National Shrine Grotto of Lourdes on the mountain above the seminary, courtesy of MSMU. Bottom photo by author: Seminarians served up fresh and frothy "liquid conversation helper". Thanks, guys!)

Blessed Karl of Austria, pray for us!

Members of the Royal Family, descendants of Blessed Karl, with the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius after a Mass at the Church of Saint John Cantius in Chicago Sunday last. The Mass celebrated both the titular feast and Blessed Karl's feast day today.

For more info, visit the web site for the Church of Saint John Cantius.

Novena for the Canonization of Blessed Karl of Austria

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Support Cheryl Murphy-Sweet in the Marine Corps Marathon!

Phil made the ultimate sacrifice of his life in 2007 in Iraq. His wife, Cheryl, is running in the Marine Corps Marathon to support families of other military men and women who have also given their lives for us. Please do what you can to support her and the families of our fallen service members.
Thank you,
Fr C.

"Welcome to the donation page of Cheryl Murphy-Sweet to honor my husband Philip Murphy-Sweet (click the preceding link to go to Cheryl's donation page.)

"Due to the overwhelming generosity of everyone, I have increased my fundraising goals to $8000. Thank you so much!

"I cannot thank you enough for supporting TAPS. My family has first-hand received their unending support through seminars, updates on survivor benefits from online information, and grief counseling at events. They truly give from the heart to every family impacted from the death of a fallen loved one. One of Phil's goals upon returning from deployment was to challenge ourselves to run a marathon together. We are! Just differently." -- Cheryl Murphy-Sweet

Read more about CDR Philip Murphy-Sweet's story here.

"Render unto Caesar"

In this election year many are saying they will choose to render the lives of unborn children as sacrifices to their "Caesar" who has promised Planned Parenthood (sic) that he will destroy all protection for unborn human life, as his first presidential act, by signing FOCA into law.

Will you, too, leave your Faith at the voting booth door?

Render unto God what is God's: "Let the little children come unto me, for such are of the Kingdom of God". Vote for Life - no just economy can be built upon the moral evil of legalized abortion.

"The citizen is obliged in conscience not to follow the directives of civil authorities when they are contrary to the demands of the moral order..." (CCC 2242)

Meeting Christ in the Liturgy offers a reflection for the Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time.

(Photos by author: Fall blooms in Virginia.)

Friday, October 17, 2008

Hard Reality -" Dura Realidad" with Eduardo Verastegui

Visit "What Do Catholics Really Believe?" to see the video a friend, Nilda, recommended - "Hard Reality/Dura Realidad" with Eduardo narrating.

Not recommended for children because the full horrifying reality of the cold-blooded and gruesome murder of unborn children is honestly portrayed.

One of the presidential candidates has promised if he is elected on November 4th to sign FOCA and wipe away every current protection for unborn human life. What are you going to do about it?

You say you are forced "because of the economy" to hold your nose and vote for the pro-abortion candidate? If you have food on the table, shelter over your head and clothes on your back, what is it that forces you to deny the unborn their God-given right to life? This is what you are doing if you are one those who are saying that you have decided to commit the sin of cooperating in the moral evil of abortion by voting for the most radical liberal pro-abortion candidate this country has ever seen.

Will you "tax" the lives of unborn children to pad your lifestyle?

Think about it, PRAY about it - and do something about it November 4th.

Respect Life!

The concise and clear statement from Bishop Joseph Martino of Scranton, Pa., on the issue of life and the upcoming presidential election is worth reading in preparation for the election November 4th. Bishop Martino released his statement for Respect Life Sunday. Pray for our country, as we cast our votes in a month, that we will not abandon the cross of Christ at the voting booth door and the unborn, elderly, handicapped, and vulnerable
to the merchants and vendors of death.

Read Bishop Martino's pastoral letter for Respect Life Sunday

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

"Music is required" when praying the Psalms

"And once again, a further step is needed. We ourselves are brought into conversation with God by the word of God. The God who speaks in the Bible teaches us how to speak with him ourselves. Particularly in the book of Psalms, he gives us the words with which we can address him, with which we can bring our life, with all its highpoints and lowpoints, into conversation with him, so that life itself thereby becomes a movement towards him. The psalms also contain frequent instructions about how they should be sung and accompanied by instruments. For prayer that issues from the word of God, speech is not enough: music is required. Two chants from the Christian liturgy come from biblical texts in which they are placed on the lips of angels: the Gloria, which is sung by the angels at the birth of Jesus, and the Sanctus, which according to Isaiah 6 is the cry of the seraphim who stand directly before God. Christian worship is therefore an invitation to sing with the angels, and thus to lead the word to its highest destination. Once again, Jean Leclercq says on this subject: 'The monks had to find melodies which translate into music the acceptance by redeemed man of the mysteries that he celebrates. The few surviving capitula from Cluny thus show the Christological symbols of the individual modes' (cf. ibid. p. 229)."

-- Benedict XVI, Meeting with representatives from the world of culture at the Collège des Bernardins in Paris (September 12, 2008)

(Photo: His Holiness at General Audience today in Rome, Papa Ratzinger blog.)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Benedict XVI: "Bible must be read through Faith"

Synod: For the first time, the pope speaks
By John L Allen Jr Daily
Created Oct 14 2008 – 08:37


For anyone with a spare dollar looking to make a wager about the Synod of Bishops, here’s the safest bet in the world, in the wake of this morning’s session: There will be a proposition on the relationship between exegesis and theology among the final recommendations presented to Pope Benedict XVI.

Truth to be told, the relationship between Biblical interpretation and other areas of Catholic theology had already emerged as a major concern. This morning, however, Pope Benedict himself took the unusual – indeed, quite possibly unprecedented – step of explicitly recommending that the bishops adopt a proposition on how exegetes and theologians can better inform each other’s work.

The recommendation was delivered viva voce, as Benedict XVI took the microphone at the synod for the first time. He spoke immediately after the customary 10:30 am coffee break; Archbishop Nikola Eterovich, secretary of the synod, informed the group that they would have to interrupt their normal program “because our president wishes to address us.”

Technically, the pope is also president of the Synod of Bishops.

The Vatican is expected to release a transcript of the pope’s remarks either later today or tomorrow. For now, the official Vatican bulletin has simply reported: "Starting from the consideration of the work for his book Jesus of Nazareth, the Holy Father dwelt upon the fundamental criteria of Biblical exegesis, upon the dangers of a secularized and positivistic approach to the Sacred Scriptures and upon the need for a closer relationship between exegesis and theology."

Synod sources said that he spoke for a little less than ten minutes, drawing upon notes that he had apparently made in a small notebook.

In broad terms, those sources said, his topic was the need for historical-critical interpretation of the Bible to take Christian faith as its point of departure, because otherwise its risks treating the Bible as simply a “book of the past.” In that regard, the pope apparently suggested that exegesis needs to be better integrated into theology, so that it is seen less as a self-standing enterprise, and more as part of a broad effort to combine reason and faith.

As part of his reflection, Benedict reportedly suggested to the bishops that a proposition on the relationship between exegesis and theology would be helpful – making it all but a foregone conclusion that at least one such proposition will be offered.

Since the propositions are addressed to the pope in any event, as suggestions for whatever document he may eventually issue on the topic of the synod, it’s also a safe bet that Benedict XVI will discuss the need to treat scripture as “the soul of theology” in that text.

Sources said that the pope was greeted by a hearty round of applause at the close of his remarks.

This is the second Synod of Bishops under Benedict XVI, and the second time the pope has chosen to address the bishops towards the end of the initial round of speech-making, as the agenda for the synod’s final documents is beginning to take shape. In each case, Benedict has reflected briefly on what had emerged as a central concern during those opening speeches. During the Synod on the Eucharist in 2005, Benedict spoke about the relationship between the horizontal and vertical dimensions of the Mass, meaning the twin images of the Mass as a meal and as a sacrifice – suggesting they need to held together rather than put in tension.

The pope appears to have struck a similar note this time around about the relationship between exegesis and theology – suggesting that offering both/and solutions to seemingly either/or problems may be emerging as what one might call the "synodal specialty" of Benedict XVI.

Benedict has been present for most of the synod’s deliberations thus far, including the hour set aside for “free discussion” at the end of each day. That hour was set aside at Benedict’s request for the 2005 synod, and has now become a part of the event’s formal structure.

Fr. Bryan Massingale of Marquette University, President-elect of the Catholic Theological Society of America, acknowledged that sometimes exegetes and theologians struggle to stay on the same page—not, for the most part, because of ill will or intellectual disagreements, but rather the compartmentalized nature of the academy these days.

"As theology becomes more and more specialized, we need to create opportunities in which theologians and exegetes can pursue collaborative projects," Massingale said in a telephone interview this afternoon.

Massingale said one such initiative is already underway at Marquette: a new inter-disciplinary seminar titled "Theological Interpretation of Scripture."

"We may still run into disagreements over what constitutes theological interpretation of the Bible," Massingale said, "but at least there’s the beginnings of a conversation."

Monday, October 13, 2008

Texas bishops: No moral equivalence between prudential issues and those involving "intrinsic evil"

See "What Do Catholics Really Believe?" which today highlights the letter by bishops in Texas on Voting as Faithful Citizens. Especially helpful is their statement that there is no "moral equivalence" between prudential matters, such as fighting poverty and solving the economic crisis, and issues involving intrinsic evil such as the fight against legalized abortion. Issues concerning intrinsic evil outweigh prudential matters when casting one's vote as a "faithful citizen".

Sunday, October 12, 2008

"How did you come in here not properly dressed?"

The garment of baptismal grace is our vesture for the heavenly wedding banquet. Are you properly dresseed?

Meeting Christ in the Liturgy offers a reflection for the Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Christianity is religion of the "Word"

Bishop Fisichella teaches that we meet Christ in the Scriptures which are, therefore, not merely a book but the "Word" coming from the Father, full of grace and truth. Christianity is not, therefore, one of three supposed "religions of the book" together with Judiasm and Islam. No, Christianity stands alone, unique, as the religion of the "Word" and therefore also of the Scriptures.

"The Dei Verbum had still not been discovered and developed in its great intuition that constituted an authentic dogmatic progress; the Council fathers in fact had recovered the Biblical concept of the uniqueness of the source. This allowed Sacred Scripture to be understood within the life of the Church which does not just live by it but is responsible for its being alive, complete and fruitful.

"Many believers when asked what they mean by “Word of God” reply: the Bible. This is not a wrong answer, but it is incomplete or at least it shows an incomplete perception of the richness present in the expression and leads, as a consequence, to identifying Christianity as the “religion of the book”. It is necessary that in our language we do not fall into the uncertain expression “the three religions of the book”. Christianity is the religion of the “word”. It is important to strive for the construction of a culture that sees sacred Scripture as a living word, dynamically open to the truth of the revelation it contains. If we do not present this teaching in its totality in the various instruments we possess for the training of our people, we risk humiliating the Word of God because we reduce it exclusively to a written text without the provocative force to bring meaning to life any longer. As the Apostle reminds us: “God’s message cannot be chained up” (2 Tm 2:9).

"What we are always faced with is the inexhaustibility of the Word of God; it is like the bush that burns without going out. We are called to exercise a ministry that permits this Word of Life to spread so that everyone in every part of the world can grasp its profound meaning in such a way as to obtain salvation. In a time like ours filled with attempts to marginalize the sacred texts as bearers of meaning only insofar as they are myths , with no historical character and destined only for the naïve, it is important that they find the necessary forms to restore historical value and provocativeness about the sense of existence. We really are faced with a teaching emergency that brings back to the center of our life of faith the theme of salvation. Again Dei Verbum reminds us how much has been transmitted and written on the “salvation announcement” (DV 7). The various cultural tendencies present in the modern world have not only perverted the meaning of salvation but they have marginalized it as useless and illusionary. Representing the Word of God in its totality means pointing the scope of its teaching towards the theme of our salvation."

-- H.E. Most. Rev. Salvatore FISICHELLA, Titular Bishop of Voghenza, President of the Pontifical Academy for Life; Rector of the Pontifical Lateran University. Summary of intervention given Tuesday afternoon, October 7, at the fourth general congregation of the world Synod of Bishops, which is under way in the Vatican through Oct. 26. The theme of the assembly is on "The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church." (VATICAN CITY)

(Photo: Bishop Fisichella, center, with Fr McFadden and Fr Hughes after delivering a lecture at Scots College in Rome.)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Pray for India

Catholic news service and other media outlets report that continued attacks in India's Orissa state have left nearly 50 people dead. News of the mass murder of Christians began back in August when Hindus reacted to the murder of a prominent “guru” or Hindu teacher by blaming Christians for the death. Pray that reason, charity and dialog will win out over mindless hatred and violence.

A report in Catholic News Service says that on 30 September one woman was axed to death and 10 people were wounded as anti-Christian violence in Orissa entered a sixth week. This killing raised the number of confirmed deaths to 47 in the violence that began in the eastern Indian state Aug. 24. In the predawn attack, groups of armed Hindu extremists descended on Gadaguda and Rudangia villages in Orissa's Kandhamal district and selectively attacked Christian homes, Father Leo Parichha, the parish priest, told the Asian church news agency UCA News. The attackers came with gasoline bombs, swords, axes and knives and "brutally attacked sleeping families," said the priest, who left the parish for safety in late August after the anti-Christian violence began. The priest said his parish covers both villages. Several days earlier, on the night of Sept. 25, hundreds of fanatics destroyed the church, the priest's house and the Missionaries of Charity convent in the parish compound. has also widely reported on the attacks, that over 60,000 Catholics and other Christians have been forced from their homes by the widespread violence and unrest. Churches, homes, schools and other Christian institutions have been burned to the ground. The agents of this hatred do not shrink even from attacking targeting priests and religious who are also giving their lives in the pogrom.

The Union of Catholic Asian News reports on one on of the most prominent victims. The mutilated body of a Catholic priest, Father Thomas Pandipally, was found on August 17 on a deserted road in southern India's Andhra Pradesh state. Pandipally, 37, a Carmelite of Mary Immaculate (CMI) priest, lay near Yellareddy town, 325 kilometers northwest of Hyderabad, the state capital, about 1,500 kilometers south of New Delhi.

Father Pandipally had been pastor of Jeevadhan (gift of life) Church and vice-principal of a Church-run high school, both in Yellareddy.
According to the provincial, Father Pandipally was returning home on August 16 evening after offering Mass in Burgiga, a mission station 25 kilometers from Yellareddy. He stopped at a Franciscan Clarist Congregation (FCC) convent at Lingampet for dinner and left around 9:45 p.m. His body was found the next morning halfway to Yellareddy, 15 kilometers from Lingampet.

Father Thannippara said 18 stab wounds on the priest's body reveal that he tried to block his attackers. "His palms had several cuts. He was pulled down from his motorbike and taken to a small bridge near the road," he explained.
Father Thannippara also noted that severe wounds on his confrere's head had caused Father Pandipally's death. "His body was left in the middle of the road," the provincial added. "His motorcycle was found seven kilometers away from the body. The assailants probably drove it and left it."

The FCC sisters drove past the body while going for Mass at the parish on Sunday morning. Father Thannippara said they did not stop because they did not recognize it, but after learning that the priest and his bike were missing and his room was locked, they went back and identified his body.
The police came with a dog squad and forensic experts, but heavy rain the night before had washed away all clues, Father Thannippara also said. He added that police have no clue as to the murderers, but he suspects two groups.

The Church school, he said, has been doing quite well in a town where several private schools struggle to get students, so "they may have a grudge against us." He also suspects some villagers against whom the FCC sisters filed a police case after they opposed the nuns' setting up an AIDS center. He said the accused villagers threatened the nuns in an attempt to get them to withdraw the case, and damaged a Sacred Heart statue in the convent.

Father George Moolayil, in charge of education for the CMI province in the state, told UCA News that when he inspected Father Pandipally's corpse, he found "the entire body had turned blue from severe battering," and one eye was pierced and several limbs were broken. Father Moolayil insists that the murder was meticulously planned because the deceased priest received a call on his cell phone just before leaving the convent in Lingampet. According to Father Moolayil, the caller wanted to know if Father Pandipally would be returning to his residence.

Also on August 17, some nuns in Yellareddy received a call asking about Father Pandipally's whereabouts. When a nun replied that the priest had met with an accident, the caller wanted to know if it was an accident or a murder, Father Moolayil recounted. She then asked who was on the line but the caller hung up.
According to Archbishop Marampudi Joji of Hyderabad, the murder has shocked the Church in Andhra Pradesh. He told UCA News on Aug. 18 that he rushed to Yellareddy to express solidarity and encourage local Catholics. The "brutal murder" will not make the archdiocese close the parish, he said, because such incidents cannot frighten the Church, but he plans to meet state authorities to demand justice.
Pray that through the intercession of Father Pandipally and the martyrs of India that the peace which can come only from God may prevail and that reason and religion may work together for the common good as our Holy Father Benedict teaches.

(Fr Cusick's column appears weekly in The Wanderer Catholic newspaper.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

"Money nothing." The Word shall never pass away.

Pope: Money Crisis Shows Importance of Bible

Says Economy and Material Things Will Pass Away

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 6, 2008 ( The current economic crisis shows the importance of building our lives on the firm foundation of the Word, Benedict XVI affirmed on the first day of the synod of bishops.

The Pope said this today as he offered a meditation to the 244 synod fathers gathered for the first full day of the assembly on the word of God in the life and mission of the Church.

"We see it now in the fall of the great banks," the Holy Father said. "This money disappears; it is nothing -- and in the same way, all these things, which lack a true reality to depend on, and are elements of a second order. The word of God is the basis of everything, it is the true reality. And to be realists, we should count on this reality."

"We should change our idea that matter, solid things, things we touch, are the most solid and secure reality," the Pontiff continued. He noted how Jesus spoke of the two possibilities of building a house on the sand or on a firm rock.

"He who builds only on things that are visible and tangible, on success, a career, money -- he is building on sand," he said. "Apparently these are the true realities, but one day they will pass away."

Built on sand

The Bishop of Rome continued: "And in this way, all these things that do not have a true reality to count on. […] He who builds his house on these realities, on material things, on success, on everything that seems to be, builds on sand.

"Only the Word of God is the foundation of all reality; it is stable like the heavens and more than the heavens. It is the reality. Therefore we should change our concept of realism. The realist is he who recognizes in the Word of God, in this reality apparently so fragile, the basis of everything."

Archbishop Claudio Celli, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, afterward told the press that the Pope had invited his listeners to see economy and finances as a "penultimate reality."

"It is undeniable that other realities, when they are compared to the Word, reveal their limits," he explained. "They are truly penultimate, but not the final truth.

"The heart of the topic that the Pope addressed is not the current economic situation, but the importance of the Word of God in the path of man. And from this light, other dimensions are like clouds that show their flimsiness."

Monday, October 6, 2008

Love over legalism

"Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robbers' victim?"

He answered, "The one who treated him with mercy."

Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise."

Who today will become, through the grace of His love, your neighbor that, in law, has no more claim upon you than that of a stranger?

"Go and do likewise."

Scriptures for today

(Art: Jacopo Bassano, The Good Samaritan probably 1550-70, National Gallery, London.)

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Respect Life!

"My fellow bishops, writing ten years ago, explained why some evils – abortion and euthanasia in particular – take precedence over other forms of violence and abuse:

" 'The failure to protect life in its most vulnerable stages renders suspect any claims to the "rightness" of positions in other matters affecting the poorest and least powerful of the human community. If we understand the human person as "the temple of the Holy Spirit’"-- the living house of God -- then these latter issues fall logically into place as the crossbeams and walls of that house. All direct attacks on innocent human life, such as abortion and euthanasia, strike at the house’s foundation [emphasis in the original]. These directly and immediately violate the human person’s most fundamental right -- the right to life. Neglect of these issues is the equivalent of building our house on sand.' "

("Living the Gospel of Life: A Challenge to American Catholics,", 23, USCCB.).

-- From the Respect Life Sunday homily by His Excellency Bishop Martino, Scranton, Penna.

Read the entire text here.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

"Surely they will respect my son"

27th Sunday in Ordinary Time

The Father sends His Son into the vineyard, into our midst, in every Eucharistic Sacrifice. How do we receive Him? Will our young people believe us when we tell them "It is the Lord"...

- if we are not dressed in holy attire?

- if we have not fasted?

- if we arrive late and distracted to church?

- if we do not leave our cell phones at home or turn them off?

- if our prayer is not offered with love in the heart and attentive thought?

- if we receive the Eucharist in a state of serious sin?

Should they believe the words we speak? Or should they rather believe their eyes which see the Son is, in many places, not respected, loved and adored as is His due as our Lord and God?

Are we workers in the vineyard who accept the Son with love and reverence as coming from the Father? Restore the sacred!

Meeting Christ in the Liturgy offers a reflection for the Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time.

(Art: The Parable of the Vineyard by Marten Van Valckenborch.)

Friday, October 3, 2008

Stop taking it personally

Someone did not return your smile? Someone did not receive you with kindness?

"He who hears you, hears me."

If you would but speak with the voice of Christ and welcome others as you would welcome Christ then it is He whose image you bear. It is your grace and privilege that He speaks to others and loves others through you.

And when they reject you, it is Christ they reject. When someone refuses to welcome you it is He whom they refuse when they turn away or ignore you.

So, stop taking it personally.

It is therefore not your burden to carry when the other rejects you or refuses to welcome you. It is a matter between the other person and the Lord; so mind your own business and leave the weight of others for Christ to carry.

"He who rejects you rejects me. He who rejects me rejects Him who sent me."

Scripture: Lk 10:13-16

(Photo: Thanks to Iraq Pictures Blogspot.)

Thursday, October 2, 2008

When voting is cooperation in a moral evil

To vote for a pro-abortion candidate for elected office is prohibited for Catholic Christians by the law of God because it is a cooperation in a moral evil.

This is so when a vote cast for one candidate is a rejection of the pro-life alternative in a particular election.

God is the highest lawgiver, therefore God’s law is the highest law. God has decreed in the Ten Commandments, “Thou Shalt Not Kill.” Procured abortion, the direct intention to take the most innocent of human lives, that of the child in the womb, is a violation of this law of God, because it is intentional murder.

But the truth about the dignity of human life is not a purely “religious” issue. Although we know through divine Revelation that God prohibits murder, the truth about the defense of every human life is accessible to every human person through the use of reason alone.

A candidate for elected office does not get “off the hook” by saying: “I am personally opposed to abortion, but cannot impose my opinions upon others.” This is so for the reason that the dignity of human life is not based upon anyone’s opinion but upon a fact that is accessible to every reasoning human being: If any human life is good, then all human lives are good and worth defending, from the moment of conception.

In this campaign 2008, religion is being used as a scapegoat on the part of cowards to avoid taking personal responsibility for their decisions. To take cover under the mantle of religious faith by arguing for a diversity of views under the umbrella
of separation of Church and state is either ignorance or disingenuousness.

Archbishop Charles Chaput, OFM Cap., of Denver is taking great steps to eradicate ignorance and uncover disingenuousness with the publication of his best-selling tome, Render Unto Caesar (available at, or check with your local bookseller). One of the first places to which Archbishop Chaput points his readers in their quest for a good guide to Catholic citizenship is the 1998 pastoral statement by the U.S. bishops, Living the Gospel of Life. The archbishop calls this document “the best tool anywhere for understanding the American Catholic political vocation.” He commends it for its “clarity, coherence, and force.”

For readers who wish to read the letter, it can be found at Perhaps quoting part of the document here will help to spark interest in a study of the document as a whole.

“6) In a special way, we call on U.S. Catholics, especially those in positions of leadership — whether cultural, economic, or political — to recover their identity as followers of Jesus Christ and to be leaders in the renewal of American respect for the sanctity of life. ‘Citizenship’ in the work of the Gospel is also a sure guarantee of responsible citizenship in American civic affairs. Every
Catholic, without exception, should remember that he or she is called by our Lord to proclaim. His message. Some proclaim it by word, some by action and all by example.

“But every believer shares responsibility for the Gospel. Every Catholic is a missionary of the Good News of human dignity redeemed through the cross. While our personal vocation may determine the form and style of our witness, Jesus calls each
of us to be a leaven in society, and we will be judged by our actions. No one, least of all someone who exercises leadership in society, can rightfully claim to share fully and practically the Catholic faith and yet act publicly in a way contrary
to that faith.

“7) Our attitude toward the sanctity of life in these closing years of the ‘American century’ will say volumes about our true character as a nation. It will also shape the discourse about the sanctity of human life in the next century, because what
happens here, in our nation, will have global consequences. It is primarily U.S. technology, U.S. microchips, U.S. fiber-optics, U.S. satellites, U.S. habits of thought and entertainment, which are building the neural network of the new global mentality.

“What America has indelibly imprinted on the emerging global culture is its spirit. And the ambiguity of that spirit is why the Pope appealed so passionately to the American people in 1995. ‘It is vital for the human family,’ he said, ‘that in continuing to seek advancement in many different fields — science, business, education, and art, and wherever else your creativity leads you — America keeps compassion, generosity, and concern for others at the very heart of its efforts.’ That will be no easy task.”

The task begins this fall with every vote cast for human life in all its stages and conditions, from conception until natural death.

(Father Cusick's weekly column appears in The Wanderer Catholic newspaper.)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Festival of Life in north Florida October 25-26

Comunita Cenacolo America will have their phenomenal Festival of Life in St Augustine, Florida on 25 and 26 October. For more info, please visit the Hope Reborn website.

The drama with music and dancing on Saturday evening 25 October at 7:30 pm is most highly recommended especially for teenagers and young adults.

Sunday October 26 will feature Mother Elvira speaking at 11 am and 1 pm with Holy Mass at 5 pm. Mother speaks to the hearts and minds of parents with troubled children, calling them to be true parents by shunning the temptation to give everything to their children and thereby enable addictions.

I saw the festival for the first time in October 2004 and was deeply moved and interiorly drawn by the great joy and new life evident in the young men of the community to get involved myself. These former addicts are truly able to change their lives from drugs to God. When we see the Spirit of the Lord in others we cannot deny that we want also for ourselves the treasure they have found in Him.

Mother Elvira, the foundress of the Comunita Cenacolo, now leads religious communities for men and women, and the community has founded houses for addicts in North America and Europe. Members of the community have also founded missions in Peru and other places in South America in order to intervene in the lives of young people before they turn to drugs and other addictions.

At risk youth are welcome to stay with the community for a two week experience.

For more general information visit the Hope Reborn website.