Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Dr Edward Peters on when to exclude people from Holy Communion

In an article in First Things entitled Fencing the Altar, Dr Peters writes:
Participation in Holy Communion is achieved by two related but distinct acts: the action of a member of the faithful in seeking Communion (reception) and the action of the minister in giving Communion (administration). These two actions are not only performed by different persons, they are governed by different canon laws. Virtually all confusion over Communion can be traced to the failure to keep these two actions distinct.
It is worth reading as it helps minsters guard against over-zealous denial of the Holy Communion on the one hand as well as giving clear guidance on how to apply the law of the Church in this matter. There are public figures whom Peters has no doubt should be excluded by their bishops from Holy Communion.

I am much consoled by his line:
Difficult cases of law and fact will arise, and mistakes will inevitably be made in deciding them.
for we do inevitably find ourselves in tight spots during the celebration of Mass and do not always get it right.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Jerusalem or Jericho

Homily for 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time, October 28th 2012.

A suicide of a 17 year old

Please pray for the eternal repose of a young girl in the town who took her life at the weekend, and for the young people she went to school with.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

SSPX and unity: more patience needed.

From the Vatican Press Office today:
The Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei" takes this occasion to announce that, in its most recent official communication (6 September 2012), the Priestly Fraternity of St. Pius X has indicated that additional time for reflection and study is needed on their part as they prepare their response to the Holy See’s latest initiatives.

The current stage in the ongoing discussions between the Holy See and the Priestly Fraternity follows three years of doctrinal and theological dialogues during which a joint commission met eight times to study and discuss, among other matters, some disputed issues in the interpretation of certain documents of Vatican Council II. Once these doctrinal dialogues were concluded, it became possible to proceed to a phase of discussion more directly focused on the greatly desired reconciliation of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Pius X with the See of Peter.

Other critical steps in this positive process of gradual reintegration had already been taken by the Holy See in 2007 with the extension of the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite to the Universal Church by the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum and in 2009 with the lifting of the excommunications. Just a few months ago, a culminating point along this difficult path was reached when, on 13 June 2012, the Pontifical Commission presented to the Priestly Fraternity of St. Pius X a doctrinal declaration together with a proposal for the canonical normalization of its status within the Catholic Church.

At the present time, the Holy See is awaiting the official response of the superiors of the Priestly Fraternity to these two documents. After thirty years of separation, it is understandable that time is needed to absorb the significance of these recent developments. As Our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI seeks to foster and preserve the unity of the Church by realizing the long hoped-for reconciliation of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Pius X with the See of Peter – a dramatic manifestation of the munus Petrinum in action – patience, serenity, perseverance and trust are needed.
Meanwhile, the SSPX expels Bishop Williamson.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Canonisations in Rome

St Peter's Basilica adorned with portraits of the new Saints. St Kateri is on the
far left, St Marianne is second from the right. Both came from New York State.
Today Pope Benedict declared the following as Saints:


The lady in Indian costume bore the relic of St Kateri to the altar.

The relics of the new Saints.
For the occasion Pope Benedict introduced a long-disused vestment, the Fanon, which has excited those concerned about promoting the continuity of the liturgy. Further details at New Liturgical Press.

The canonisation ceremony took place as a separate liturgical act before the Mass. After the declaration of canonisations, announcements were made in various languages requesting the people to maintain a reverent attitude and, in order to promote a deeper participation in the Mass, to refrain from applause and waving banners. Pope Benedict is showing the world how the Liturgy is to be celebrated - with reverence and a contemplative attitude. Papal Liturgies are to be the models of all liturgy. We should learn - and ensure our liturgies are celebrated in accord with the Roman Liturgy.

Indians from the Upper Peninsula were present, as well as a young girl from the Marquette Cathedral Parish whose name is Kateri! What a treat!

The Pope's homily can be found here.

On the new American saints, the Holy Father remarked:
I now turn to Marianne Cope, born in 1838 in Heppenheim, Germany. Only one year old when taken to the United States, in 1862 she entered the Third Order Regular of Saint Francis at Syracuse, New York. Later, as Superior General of her congregation, Mother Marianne willingly embraced a call to care for the lepers of Hawaii after many others had refused. She personally went, with six of her fellow sisters, to manage a hospital on Oahu, later founding Malulani Hospital on Maui and opening a home for girls whose parents were lepers. Five years after that she accepted the invitation to open a home for women and girls on the island of Molokai itself, bravely going there herself and effectively ending her contact with the outside world. There she looked after Father Damien, already famous for his heroic work among the lepers, nursed him as he died and took over his work among male lepers. At a time when little could be done for those suffering from this terrible disease, Marianne Cope showed the highest love, courage and enthusiasm. She is a shining and energetic example of the best of the tradition of Catholic nursing sisters and of the spirit of her beloved Saint Francis.

Kateri Tekakwitha was born in today’s New York state in 1656 to a Mohawk father and a Christian Algonquin mother who gave to her a sense of the living God. She was baptized at twenty years of age and, to escape persecution, she took refuge in Saint Francis Xavier Mission near Montreal. There she worked, faithful to the traditions of her people, although renouncing their religious convictions until her death at the age of twenty-four. Leading a simple life, Kateri remained faithful to her love for Jesus, to prayer and to daily Mass. Her greatest wish was to know and to do what pleased God. She lived a life radiant with faith and purity.

Kateri impresses us by the action of grace in her life in spite of the absence of external help and by the courage of her vocation, so unusual in her culture. In her, faith and culture enrich each other! May her example help us to live where we are, loving Jesus without denying who we are. Saint Kateri, Protectress of Canada and the first native American saint, we entrust to you the renewal of the faith in the first nations and in all of North America! May God bless the first nations!
St Marianne and St Kateri: pray for the New Evangelisation in the United States of America and in the Americas, and especially among the Native American peoples.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Bishop Sample on his pilgrimage across the Upper Peninsula

 He's on his way. Follow him at the UP Catholic Youtube channel and on his Facebook page. Regular updates and wonderful participation by the faithful.

Blessed Sacrament Church, Stowe, Vermont

Last week I had the privilege of preaching  mission by way of inaugurating the Year of Faith at the parish of my good friend Father Benedict Kiely. Here's a little tour of the church.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Bishop Sample "Crossing" the UP

To mark the beginning of the Year of Faith Bishop Sample of the diocese of Marquette will travel from North to South and from West to East this weekend.

Saturday morning he will celebrate Mass at Copper Harbor, Saturday evening at Menominee, Sunday Morning in Ironwood and Sunday evening at Drummond Island. He will travel over 1140 miles
as I place the diocese under the sign of the Cross, the symbol of our faith, in preparation for the New Evangelization. FOLLOW ME ON FACEBOOK AND TWITTER (@BishopSample) as I make this historic pilgrimage. And pray the deer and moose stay away from my car!
Bishop Sample's facebook page can be found at

More about Bishop Sample on the Year of Faith to follow, when I get some opportunities for blogging.

Friday, October 12, 2012

US Bishops correct Biden "facts" on HHS

Of course the "Catholic question" came up. Ryan stated his views on abortion and how they are informed by his Catholic faith but are in fact based on science and reason from which it is clear that human life begins at conception and that therefore he was pro life. I noted he was very careful to say that the Romney government policy would be to make exceptions in the case or rape or incest but he did not himself endorse those exceptions. He also said that it would be unreasonable to expect his faith not to influence his public life. For me, he gave a coherent answer on this one.

Biden, on the other hand, went on about the Church's social doctrine, even using technical language such as "de fide" to describe the Church's teaching on human life. And then said how he should not impose his religious beliefs on others. This is quite disingenuous.

Anyway, following last night's Vice Presidential Debate, the USCCB has issued the following remarks on VP Biden's assertions regarding the HHS Mandate:
WASHINGTON—The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issued the following statement, October 12. Full text follows:
Last night, the following statement was made during the Vice Presidential debate regarding the decision of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to force virtually all employers to include sterilization and contraception, including drugs that may cause abortion, in the health insurance coverage they provide their employees:
"With regard to the assault on the Catholic Church, let me make it absolutely clear. No religious institution—Catholic or otherwise, including Catholic social services, Georgetown hospital, Mercy hospital, any hospital—none has to either refer contraception, none has to pay for contraception, none has to be a vehicle to get contraception in any insurance policy they provide. That is a fact. That is a fact."
This is not a fact. The HHS mandate contains a narrow, four-part exemption for certain "religious employers." That exemption was made final in February and does not extend to "Catholic social services, Georgetown hospital, Mercy hospital, any hospital," or any other religious charity that offers its services to all, regardless of the faith of those served.
HHS has proposed an additional "accommodation" for religious organizations like these, which HHS itself describes as "non-exempt." That proposal does not even potentially relieve these organizations from the obligation "to pay for contraception" and "to be a vehicle to get contraception." They will have to serve as a vehicle, because they will still be forced to provide their employees with health coverage, and that coverage will still have to include sterilization, contraception, and abortifacients. They will have to pay for these things, because the premiums that the organizations (and their employees) are required to pay will still be applied, along with other funds, to cover the cost of these drugs and surgeries.
USCCB continues to urge HHS, in the strongest possible terms, actually to eliminate the various infringements on religious freedom imposed by the mandate.
For more details, please see USCCB's regulatory comments filed on May 15 regarding the proposed "accommodation":

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Year of Faith Has Begun

Today Pope Benedict opened the Year of Faith at an open air Mass at St Peter's in Rome. You can watch a recording of the Mass at Vatican's website.

In his homily Pope Benedict recalled that today is the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council and the twentieth of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

There is no doubt that Pope Benedict is setting the Council as a true landmark in the history of the Church and its long and continuous tradition. He said that if the new evangelization is not to remain an ideal or lack effectiveness due to confusion, it needs to be based on the documents of the Council. As he has insisted on many occasions, we must return to the letter of the Council if we are to find its authentic spirit. In other words, the "Spirit of the Council" can only be found in the letter, i.e. the documents.

How many people have you heard purporting to quote the Council when in fact they are only quoting what they think the Council said or perhaps wish it had said?

The Pope also recalled that, before the reform of the liturgy and calendar, this day was kept as the feast of the Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In just over an hour's time I shall be celebrating this feast in the Extraordinary Form. How wonderful to know that Blessed John XXIII chose this Marian feast to inaugurate such a historic Council.

As Pope Benedict concluded his homily today:
May the Virgin Mary shine always like a star on the road of the new evangelization.

Read the Catechism in a Year

An initiative for the Year of Faith. Sign up in the box at the top of the sidebar on the right hand side of this page. Read today's paragraphs 1 - 10 in your own Catechism or at

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

What conscience dreads and what prayer does not dare to ask

The priest is given much freedom in selecting the prayers for the weekday Masses. He can repeat the prayers from the previous Sunday or choose prayers from any of the Sundays in Ordinary Time, or even celebrate a Votive Mass.

I tend to repeat the prayers of the preceding Sunday. In this way, the Sunday Mass is somehow extended throughout the week, and the prayers sink deeper into the heart as they are repeated.

This week's Collect might seem a bit of a mouthful but what it expresses is truly profound:
Almighty ever-living God,
who in the abundance of your kindness
surpass the merits and the desires of those who entreat you,
pour out your mercy upon us
to pardon what conscience dreads
and to give what prayer does not dare to ask.
This prayer is one of true release. There are probably dark areas in all our consciences that we would rather not open up. Yet in prayer, before God, we need have no fear. We may dread to face up to things - sometimes great things, more often the small embarrassing things - but we may be confident in the Lord as he pours forth his mercy upon us.

What might we not dare ask for in prayer? All sorts of things. But perhaps, also, for the grace to truly respond to God's call to discipleship, to abandon whatever holds us back, to say "Yes" even though we may doubt our ability. Or perhaps we fear to embrace the Lord's will fully. With the Lord's mercy, all things are possible.

The Prayer after Communion is similarly beautiful:
Grant us, almighty God,
that we may be refreshed and nourished
by the Sacrament which we have received,
so as to be transformed into what we consume.
It is this "divinization" that is made possible by the Incarnation. The Divine Food that we eat at Communion is not changed into us. We are changed into It. We truly are invited to become what we eat.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Desert of British Politics: reduction in abortion time limit "chilling".

As Britain's Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, expresses his personal opinion (The Guardian Newspaper: Jeremy Hunt attacked from all sides...) that the time limit for abortion should be reduced from the current twenty four weeks to twelve weeks, he is berated for expressing his own opinion, and the thought of restricting abortion is described as "chilling" (see my previous chilling post) by Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper.

His own party leader has come out as clearly pro-abortion in stating:
I personally have voted for a modest reduction from the current limit of 24 weeks because I think there are some medical arguments for that. But I don't agree with the 12-week limit...
Of course, Mr Hunt's view that
... 12 weeks is the right point for it. It is just my view about that incredibly difficult question – about the moment we should deem life to start. I don't think the reason I have that view is for religious reasons.
cannot be justified for religious reasons. There is never a "right point" for abortion.

Meanwhile, the UK's largest and oldest pro-life group, the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) has dismissed recent newspaper stories about ministerial support for reducing abortion time-limits as "journalistic hype".

SPUC was responding to recent stories in The Times and The Telegraph newspapers in which ministers were asked whether they support reducing time-limits for abortion.

Anthony Ozimic, SPUC communications manager, told the media earlier today:
"These stories are in reality media-generated hype. There is no 'news' in these stories. The voting records of Jeremy Hunt, Maria Miller and Theresa May on abortion time-limits, over four years ago, are public knowledge. The Telegraph supports reducing abortion time-limits while The Times is strongly against any abortion restrictions, and between them they are generating some heat but little light on the real politics of abortion. There is some scare-mongering by pro-abortion figures, and some groundless hope for success by Nadine Dorries MP, whose amendments in 2008 were clearly defeated.

There is a large pro-abortion majority in Parliament which will ensure that any time-limiting amendments are rejected while using the opportunity to push for pro-abortion amendments. The real political debate about abortion in the UK should focus - as it does elsewhere in the world - on the right to life of all unborn children and on way governments bankroll abortion access at home and abroad."
SPUC is right. There is no point in fighting for reduced abortion time limits. The only way is to seek its abolition.

See SPUC's release of last Thursday (4 October 2012) Fresh perspective, not time-limit debate, needed on abortion, says pro-life group SPUC

Woman survives being burnt alive for 18 hours

I'm sure you'd find that a "chilling" headline. Well, that's what Gianna Jessen went through in the womb of her mother when a saline solution was injected into the womb. The baby swallows the solution so that she is being burned inside and out, and the mother delivers a dead baby. Well, Gianna survived.

Gianna gave an inspiring talk at the pro-life Marquette Care Clinic Banquet last Thursday evening, October 4th. Approaching 500 people attended the banquet which took place at the Northern Michigan University. The venue used in previous years was just too small.

Gianna was not afraid to touch on politics or religion. Her goal in life is tell as many people as possible about the love of Jesus Christ. She drew a comparison between her experience in the womb of her mother with that of Shadrach, Mishael and Abednego, the three young men who survived Nebuchadnezzar's fire in Daniel 3.

The banquet is an annual fund-raising event for Care Clinic which has just recently begun providing services in  this parish at KI Sawyer.

A number of our wonderful young people attended and were able to meet with Gianna.

Saline solution abortions are not carried out now, so does that make abortion less "chilling"?

Friday, October 5, 2012

Former York Minster Canon Chancellor to be received into the Personal Ordinariate

(Catholic Herald)

Dr Edward Norman...
... argues that Anglicanism has “no basis for its authority” as its confession “varies from place to place and person to person”. He says: “At the centre of Anglicanism is a great void.”

He adds: “The Church of England provides a masterclass in equivocation; it also, however, is the residence of very many good and faithful Christian people who deserve respect – for their perseverance in so many incoherent spiritual adventures.

“To leave their company is a wrench; to adhere to the Catholic faith is to join the encompassing presence of a universal body of believers in whose guardianship are the materials of authentic spiritual understanding… I have immense gratitude.”
Eight years ago he said that Anglicanism is going to tip into the sea.

It is not clear to me whether Dr Norman is already a Catholic and entering the Ordinariate as a layman or with a view to being ordained a priest for the Ordinariate. Either way, this is a piece of good news for the Catholic Church in England.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Cardinal Murphy O'Connor - attracted to the idea of being in House of Lords

Well, that's the part of the story that led me to this interview in the Daily Telegraph.

Far more interesting are his comments on secularism, e.g.:
“There is a new orthodoxy of what it is OK to believe or not believe. Some of it is sensible, but some of it seems to me to be a cause of intolerance,” he says. “Nobody is obliged to be a Christian, but no one should be obliged to live according to the new secular religion, which says it alone decides what’s right. It says, 'We rationalists decide, and all sensible people must accept this.’ Why should believers have to conform? Especially if it’s to do with social, medical and sexual matters.

“I think there’s a small minority who are aggressive, who want religion to keep silent, not to have a voice.”

They haven’t got a hope of that when it comes to the Cardinal. His affable tone – as he leans back in a leather chair – disguises tough talk.
He is getting quite a battering in the Comments but I think he speaks wisely. The fact that he is 80 perhaps accounts for the wisdom. And maybe he should have been given a seat in the Lords? Maybe, or maybe not, but he obeyed the Pope's indications.

He also confidently predicts that Archbishop Nicholls will be a Cardinal in a year or two.

Monsignor Georges Lemaître Father of the Big Bang

The BBC has produced a wonderful half-hour radio programme about this Catholic Priest who is known as the Father of the Big Bang, describing the integration of his love of science with his faith, acknowledging him as a holy priest, a true scientist and appealing human being.

From the BBC website:
William Crawley tells the surprising story of the Catholic priest behind one of the most important scientific theories of our time.

Monsignor Georges Lemaître was both a great scientist and a deeply spiritual priest, and his work on cosmology continues to influence our best scientific accounts of the universe.

He came up with the scientific notion of The Big Bang Theory, now one of the most recognisable scientific brands in the world, Lemaitre wore his clerical collar while teaching physics, at the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium.

It was this unassuming Catholic priest in this modest centre of academia who has changed the way we look at the origins of the universe.

His story also challenges the assumption that science and religion are always in conflict.

William meets men of God, and men of science who knew Lemaitre, to explain how he was able to satisfy his ardent religious beliefs alongside his curiosity about how the world was formed, a curiosity that has radically shaped modern scientific ideas, and how his life-story also challenges the claim that science and religion are necessarily in conflict.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...