Friday, December 31, 2010

Reception of Five Anglican Bishops, their wives, and three Nuns at Westminster Cathedral tomorrow

I have heard on the grapevine that five former Anglican bishops, their wives and three former Anglican nuns from Walshingham are to be received into the full communion of the Catholic Chuch at 12.30pm tomorrow, New Years Day, at Westminster Cathedral.

I presume that the former bishops concerned (and their former dioceses) are: Andrew Burnham (Ebbsfleet), Keith Newton (Richborough), John Broadhurst (Fulham), Edwin Barnes (assistant bishop, Winchester) and David Silk (assistant bishop, Exeter).

This will be the first step on the road to the eventual establishment of the Ordinariate for former Anglicans who wish to be in full communion with the Catholic Church.

I have found nothing about this anywhere on the internet, which all seems rather strange. It is, surely, a momentous occasion.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The blood of the martyrs: seed of the Church. The Names of Pastoral Workers, Priests, Men and Women Religious and Lay Catholics killed during 2010

Vatican City (Agenzia Fides) – Once again this year, Fides publishes an annual document of all the pastoral workers who lost their lives in a violent manner over the course of the last 12 months. According to information in our possession, during 2010, 23 pastoral care workers were killed: one Bishop, 15 priests, one male religious, one religious sister, two seminarians and three lay people.

Analysing the list for each continent, again this year the place most affected, with an extremely elevated number of deaths is AMERICA, bathed with the blood of 15 pastoral care workers: 10 priests, one male religious, one seminarian and three lay people. Following is ASIA, with one Bishop, four priests and one religious sister killed. The least affected was AFRICA, where one priests and one seminarian violently lost their lives.

Fides' list does not only include missionaries ad gentes in the strict sense but all pastoral care workers who died violent deaths. We do not propose to use the term “martyrs” since it is up to the Church to judge their possible merits and also because of the scarcity of available information in most of cases, with regard to their life and even the circumstances of their death. In this regard, we register, in this year coming to an end, the opening of the beatification process of the Fidei donum priest Fr Daniele Badiali, a native of the diocese of Faenza (Italy), killed in Peru in 1997, and the beatification of Polish Father Jerzy Popieluszko, martyr, killed in hatred of the faith on 20 October, 1984, near Wroclawek, Poland.

Here is the list provided by Fides. The full document can be found here.

Name and Surname
Institute or Diocese
Date and place of death
Father José Luis Parra Puerto
17/2 – Mexico
Father Dejair Gonçalves de Almeida
16/3 – Volta Redonda (Brazil)
Epaminondas Marques da Silva
16/3 – Volta Redonda (Brazil)
Luis Enrique Pineda
Salesian Coadjutor (SDB)
20/3 – Bogotà
Father Román de Jesús Zapata
24/3 – Turbo (Colombia)
Father Esteban Robert Wood
28/4 – Puerto Ordaz, Venezuela
Father Peter Bombacha
28/4 – Baboola (Mumbai, India)
Father Rubens Almeida Gonçalves
21/5 – Brasilia (Brazil)
Bishop Luigi Padovese
Apostolic Vicar  of Anatolia
3/6 - Iskenderun (Turkey)
Mario Dayvit Pinheiro Reis
4/7 – Sao Luis (Brazil)
Father Joseph Zhang Shulai
Vicar General, Diocese  of Ningxia
5/7 – Wuhai (Mongolia, China)
Sister Maria Wei Yanhui
Diocesan Congregation
5/7 – Wuhai (Mongolia, China)
Father Carlos Salvador Wotto
28/7 – St. Oaxaca (Mexico)
Father Herminio Calero Alumia
20/8 – Quintanares (Colombia)
Father Linán Ruiz Morales
Puerto Rico
27/8 – Lima (Perù)
Ananias Aguila
27/8 - Lima (Perù)
Julien Kénord
Caritas worker
8/10 - Port-au-Prince (Haiti)
Father Wasim Sabieh
31/10 – Baghdad (Iraq)
Father Thaier Saad Abdal
31/10 – Baghdad (Iraq)
Father Christian Bakulene
8/11 – Mapere (D.R. Congo)
Father Bernardo Muniz Rabelo Amaral
20/11 – Brazil
Nicolas Eklou Komla
Jesuit Seminarian (SJ)
5/12 – Kinshasa (D.R. Congo)
Father Miroslaw Karczewski
OFM Conv.
6/12 – S.Domingo L.C. (Ecuador)

Te Deum laudamus, te Deum confitemur, te Martyrum candidatus laudat exercitus

O GOD, we praise Thee: we acknowledge Thee to be the Lord. the white-robed army of Martyrs, praise Thee.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Shepherds Masses at Assumption Grotto: The Revival of an Ancient Custom

Diane at Te Deum Laudamus has some great photoposts of Christmas Midnight Mass and the Shepherds Masses that followed it.

On Christmas every priest is allowed to celebrate three Masses: Midnight, Dawn and Day. Apparently the custom was that, immediately after the Midnight Mass, some priests would do some of these Masses privately at different altars around the church. At Assumption Grotto in Detroit, they decided to revive this custome. It was unanounced and so not many people stayed, but Diane suspects that, next year, there will be a lot of people who will remain to observe the spectacle.

All the Masses were celebrated in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite.

St Joseph: just man, model for the men of today.

A number of people said they found my homily on St Joseph on the Fourth Sunday of Advent helpful. I did not have it properly written out but preached from notes. Here is an attempted reconstruction.
The Church's Advent liturgy prepares us by stages for the feast of Christmas. The First Sunday of Advent presents us with the second coming of Christ. We are to be watchful and prayerful and prepared for when the Lord comes again, awaiting him in joyful hope. On the Second and Third Sundays, we hear about John the Baptist and his cry to prepare a way for the Lord.

On the Fourth Sunday the Church directs our thoughts to Our Lady. The prayers of the Mass refer to her and the Gospel Acclamation and Communion Antiphons both refer to the prophecy that a maiden is with child whom she will call Emmanuel. In Years B and C the Gospel is taken from Luke who dwells on the Annunication (Year B) and the Visitation (Year C). In Year A, however, the Gospel comes from Matthew who directs our attention much more to the 'dilemma' that Joseph faced.

The Entrance Antiphon of today's Mass says: "Let the clouds rain down the just one, and the earth bring forth a Saviour." (Is45:8)

Naturally this prophecy refers to the Just One who is Christ the Saviour. And yet other just ones are sent by Providence to lead and inspire us. Joseph was such a just man and Matthew describes him precisely as a just man. What is it to be a just man? The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines justice as

A cardinal moral virtue that consists in the constant and firm will to give their due to God and neighbour.

The Catechism continues:

The just man, often mentioned in Sacred Scripture, is distinguished by habitual right thinking and the uprightness of his conduct toward his neighbour.

So we can expect that all these strengths, these virtues, would be found in St Joseph.

The Fathers discuss Joseph's dilemma, many of them facing up to the fact that he might have considered the possibility that Mary had somehow been unfaithful and that therefore he must separate from her. Others conclude that Joseph was well aware of the holiness of his bride and that he considered himself unworthy of being involved in such a wonderful event as the incarnation. And that this was why he decided to separate from Mary.

Let us examine the question of 'shame' that Matthew refers to: that Joseph did not wish to expose his betrothed to shame.

To have divorced Mary formally would have put her to shame. She would have been publicly accused of infidelity. Because of his delicate love and esteem for his bride and his "habitual right thinking and the uprightness of his conduct toward his neighbour" (Cathechism) Joseph could not contemplate such an action.

However, by putting Mary away informally, without going through proper courts, no apparent ground for his separation from Mary would have been proven. Society might consider that he had abandoned his wife and he would incur the shame of being thought of as unmanly, disloyal. Joseph chose to risk taking the shame upon himself rather than allow his bride to be exposed to such a risk.

Joseph knew about Mary's promise of virginity. But a young girl could not live alone. On a human level, Mary's parents would have been concerned to find for their daughter a husband who would be the custodian of her chastity. In this readiness of Joseph to accept this role, we see a manly Joseph in whom the parents of Mary had full confidence, who would protect his young bride, who was able to love his wife with the utmost purity.

Joseph was also a man who was attentive to the voice of God in discerning how to behave in challenging circumstances. Seeing the workings of God in Mary, Joseph was bound to wonder and even worry. This often happens when one sees God working in others. Sometimes it arouses jealousy or confusion. In Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited, Charles Ryder, the atheist agnostic, never fails to ridicule Lady Julia Flyte's Catholic beliefs that never leave her in spite of the fact that she has not managed to live fully in accord with them. In the end Julia calls for Charles to stop his unceasing mockery and she decides that they cannot remain together and marry as both have been previously married. The story ends with Charles embracing the Catholic faith.

Similarly, in Rome Sweet Home, Scott and Kimberley Hahn describe their conversion to Catholicism. At one point, Kimberley becomes jealous as Scott, still a protestant, disappears from the house to say his rosary. The love of this other woman Mary provokes a kind of envy in Kimberley. It is however Kimberley who becomes a Catholic first and Scott follows.

In his dream, Joseph learns that the child Mary is carrying is of the Holy Spirit and that the natural desire for fatherhood that he had renounced would be fulfilled by a real - albeit adoptive - fatherhood. He must name the child. And finally that he should have no fear in taking Mary to himself.

We men have much to learn from St Joseph. We need to be more like him, just men: giving what is due to God and neighbour; distinguished by habitual right thinking and uprightness of conduct towards our neighbour.

We are blessed here in the parish by the wonderful example of so many married men who are strong for their wives and children: chaste - treating their wives in accordance with their dignity; protective and nurturing; who give a great example of living faith to their children.

But some women have not been fortunate to meet a man like St Joseph: wives have been abandoned by their husbands; some women have placed their trust in a man only to find he was not truly a man, leaving them hurt and betrayed, sometimes even leaving them with a child, or perhaps planning for the deliberate killing of the child that is his too.

And some of these women might still be looking for a just man like St Joseph.

In my pastoral experience, there has been more than one single woman in a parish who perhaps has gone with a man and it has all come to tears and the woman is left with a child. And by her own admission she either will never trust a man again, or considers herself a fallen woman whom no self-respecting man will come near. I have often prayed: if only a good man in the parish would accept her and her child. It could make a man out of him! He could be a true Joseph to that woman and child.

We have much to learn from this wonderful man, St Joseph. Not one of his words is recorded in the Gospel. He is known simply as "the husband of Mary - of whom was born Jesus who is called Christ" and he was set over the Holy Family.

St Joseph is also set over the Church and over each one of our parish families. May he help us in our preparations to be one with Mary and with the child she bears in her womb.

Holy Innocents

There is a market in child pornography that seems in some way to be considered more and more normal by society. The psychological destruction of children, in which human persons are reduced to articles of merchandise, is a terrifying sign of the times. From Bishops of developing countries I hear again and again how sexual tourism threatens an entire generation and damages its freedom and its human dignity. The Book of Revelation includes among the great sins of Babylon – the symbol of the world’s great irreligious cities – the fact that it trades with bodies and souls and treats them as commodities (cf. Rev 18:13). In this context, the problem of drugs also rears its head, and with increasing force extends its octopus tentacles around the entire world – an eloquent expression of the tyranny of mammon which perverts mankind. No pleasure is ever enough, and the excess of deceiving intoxication becomes a violence that tears whole regions apart – and all this in the name of a fatal misunderstanding of freedom which actually undermines man’s freedom and ultimately destroys it.

In order to resist these forces, we must turn our attention to their ideological foundations. In the 1970s, paedophilia was theorized as something fully in conformity with man and even with children. This, however, was part of a fundamental perversion of the concept of ethos. It was maintained – even within the realm of Catholic theology – that there is no such thing as evil in itself or good in itself. There is only a “better than” and a “worse than”. Nothing is good or bad in itself. Everything depends on the circumstances and on the end in view. Anything can be good or also bad, depending upon purposes and circumstances. Morality is replaced by a calculus of consequences, and in the process it ceases to exist. The effects of such theories are evident today. Against them, Pope John Paul II, in his 1993 Encyclical Letter Veritatis Splendor, indicated with prophetic force in the great rational tradition of Christian ethos the essential and permanent foundations of moral action. Today, attention must be focussed anew on this text as a path in the formation of conscience. It is our responsibility to make these criteria audible and intelligible once more for people today as paths of true humanity, in the context of our paramount concern for mankind.
Address of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI on the Occasion of Christmas Greetings to the Roman Curia, Sala Regia, Monday, 20 December 2010

The feast of the Holy Innocents is rightly appropriated as a day to commemorate all those innocent children killed in the wombs of their mothers. But let us also pray for all those children whose innocence is defiled by immorality in all its forms.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Like a young man marrying a virgin, so will the one who built you wed you

The Christmas Crib in the gather area of St Peter Cathedral, Marquette

GK Chesterton was a prolific English writer and a famous convert from Anglicanism to the Catholic faith whose life spanned the 19th and 20th centuries. In his book “The Everlasting Man” he presents a whole view of world history as informed by the Incarnation. Beginning with the origin of man and the various religious attitudes throughout history, Chesterton shows how the fulfillment of all of man’s desires takes place in the person of Jesus Christ and in Christ’s Church.

Christianity, he says, is no myth, nor can it be compared with any other religion for, unlike other religions, it unites the world of the spiritual with the material, without confusing the two. It unites Creator and creature. Creator and creature are no longer separated but made one.

He speaks of the first men who, it is supposed, lived in caves. These cavemen painted images of creatures and scenes of nature on the walls of their caves. And at the dawn of the re-creation of humanity, the New Man dwelt in a cave at Bethlehem. Much is made of the stable and the manger, but tradition tells us that the nativity of Christ took place in one of the many hillside caves near Bethlehem where shepherds used to shelter. You can visit these caves today. The one where Jesus was born has a huge Church built over it and you must descend below ground, to the crypt, to visit it.

Chesterton describes how a homeless couple crept underground among animals to find a place to shelter. It was in the cellar, on the very floor of the world, where the Savior Christ was to be born. Christ was born not only on the level of the world but below the level of the world, on a dark and sunken stage rather than on a stage visible to the world.

So God becomes a caveman. But the pictures he drew of mankind made in God’s image and likeness came to life again, unlike the images painted by the original cavemen that remained lifeless on the walls on which they were painted.

In this cave we contemplate a baby, whose unknown strength sustains the stars. We contemplate the paradox of the omnipotence of God united with the impotence of a baby. We marvel at the unity of the timeless and eternal divinity with the infancy that is destined to grow and mature and to die in time. Bethlehem, says Chesterton, is a place where extremes meet.

But in that place of extremes, in a cave below the level of the earth, a few shepherds discover what they had been searching for, the fulfillment of all their hopes and desires. In the Child, the shepherds find their Shepherd.

And now the cribs or crèches or nativity scenes, or the nativity plays performed in our schools and in fields and theatres around the world present the shepherds not in the costumes of those shepherds of Bethlehem 2,000 years ago but in the diverse costumes of all the different nations of the world, with the actors speaking in their own diverse accents, manifesting the truly Catholic and universal scope of this momentous birth.

According to Dom Hugh Gilbert, Abbot of Pluscarden Abbey in Scotland, the love of God in the incarnation is “over-whelming, mind-blowing, heart-ravishing”. The prophet Isaiah says: “Like a young man marrying a virgin, so will the one who built you wed you. As the bridegroom rejoices in his bride, so will your God rejoice in you.” (Is 62:5) So much does God want to be one with you and with all mankind. Abbot Gilbert continues:
This is love than which no greater can be conceived. There is a being, God, who is completely, infinitely, eternally, unassailably happy, blessed, joyful, in his own Trinitarian life. This Being decides, out of love, to create other, finite beings outside itself, centrally man, in order to share its happiness with them. And when it does this, it does it to the maximum conceivable, even though or even because, the human creature has refused the love. One of the Trinity in order to connect to each and every man takes to himself an individual human nature in a marriage than which there is no closer nor more intimate. Humanity is part of the Trinity: indissolubly and forever. By taking a human nature to himself, the Son of God has united himself in a certain way to every human being. Christ is part of every human’s humanity, more me than I am. Really, a clatter of genuflections at the Et incarnatus est hardly rises to the occasion! I only mention what most immediately astonishes me: this act of Incarnation, God marrying humanity. But then there’s the child, the teacher, the suffering One, the risen One, the One who gives the Spirit, the One who breaks the bread of his Body. They all speak the same love, and they are all, in the unity of his Person, one and the same, and present already at Christmas.

The only possible knock-on effect – though heaven knows how many Christmases it takes to come to it – is (an) enlarged heart. The heart of the Trinity is large enough for all humanity… What is it, after all, that the Lord wants (of us)? ... a wider heart, a heart widened by the Christmas love. (Unfolding the Mystery, pp. 42-43)
Our celebration of Christmas must have consequences. We must know that this Child will grow up to challenge us. We are not disciples of His unless we take up our cross and follow Him. We do not love Him if we do not keep His commandments, if we do not honor him every day of our lives and keep the Sunday holy by attending Mass. Salvation will not be possible for us unless we “give up everything that does not lead to God, and all our worldly ambitions,” seeking to be “self-restrained and live good and religious lives here in this present world, while we wait in hope for the … appearing of” the glory of our Savior Jesus Christ at the end of time. (Titus 2:11-14)

By becoming a man, the Son of God has made us children, sons of God. Contemplating the Child in the cave should move us to truly desire to be children before God, obeying His will as Jesus Christ obeyed the will of the Father in coming to earth.

However, as Chesterton writes: we cannot visit the Child without visiting the Mother. We cannot have access to the Child without going through the Mother. The holiness of the two mingle and cannot be separated. May the Virgin Mother and Holy Joseph assist us in being similarly holy and one with Christ.

I wish you all a very Happy and a very Holy Christmas.

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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Pope to give BBC Thought for the Day on Christmas Eve

The Daily Telegraph reports:
It will be the first time that Pope Benedict XVI has presented material specifically written for a radio or television audience, and the first time that a serving Pontiff has delivered Thought for the Day.

The broadcast was recorded today in Rome. While the BBC has not released details of what the Pope will say, it is understood that his broadcast will chime with the traditional message of Christmas [really? What a surprise!].

It will go out at 7.45am on Christmas Eve, and will last for three minutes.

Gwyneth Williams, the controller of Radio 4, said: “I’m delighted Pope Benedict is sharing his Christmas message with the Radio 4 audience. It’s significant that the Pope has chosen Thought for the Day to give his first personally scripted broadcast - and what better time to do so than on the eve of one of the biggest celebrations on the Christian calendar.”

The BBC had initially hoped that His Holiness would broadcast in the slot during his UK visit.

In case you are in the wrong part of the world or doing something else at the time it goes out, Thought for the Day podcasts can be downloaded here.

Here's the BBC's announcement:

Pope Benedict XVI, will deliver his Thought For The Day on Radio 4, Friday 24th December at 7.45am.

Pope Benedict's Christmas message to the British people follows his UK visit in September. In an unprecedented move - the Pope has not presented material specifically written for a radio or television audience before - Pope Benedict recorded Thought For The Day in Rome on Wednesday 22nd December.

Gwyneth Williams, Controller, BBC Radio 4 said: "I'm delighted Pope Benedict is sharing his Christmas message with the Radio 4 audience. It's significant that the Pope has chosen Thought for the Day to give his first personally scripted broadcast - and what better time to do so than on the eve of one of the biggest celebrations on the Christian calendar."

Thought for the Day is broadcast within the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 at 7.45am Monday - Saturday. It offers approximately three minutes of personal reflection from faith leaders and believers from a range of religious denominations. Those contributing to the programme have included Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Archbishop Vincent Nichols, Indarjit Singh and Mona Siddiqui.

Thought for the Day was first broadcast in 1970, succeeding earlier religious thought strands Ten to Eight (1965-1970) and Lift Up Your Hearts on the BBC Home Service (1939-1965).
  • Listen to Thought for the Day during Today on the Radio 4 web site.
  • Download Thought for the Day to listen to on your computer or MP3 player by subscribing to the podcast.
  • The picture shows Pope Benedict XVI during his visit to the UK in September 2010.
Expect howls of protests from secularists!

Update: see Damian Thompson: Christmas hilarity as National Secular Society goes nuts over Pope's Thought For The Day.

Festive fulminations from the National Secular Society

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Bishop Olmsted of Pheonix Az withdraws Catholic status from Hospital

As Lifesite News reports:
Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix, Az. announced in a news conference Tuesday morning that St. Joseph’s Hospital was no longer Catholic after it refused to comply with the bishop’s terms, which included renouncing the direct killing of an unborn baby of a woman suffering from pulmonary hypertension, at 11 weeks gestation.

Read more here.

CDF on the Pope and Condoms: Prostitution a "gravely disordered type of human behaviour". A condom may reduce the risk of contagion but is not a moral solution.

VATICAN CITY, 22 DEC 2010 (VIS) - Given below is the English-language text of a Note published yesterday afternoon by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, entitled: "On the trivialisation of sexuality. Regarding certain interpretations of 'Light of the World'".
Following the publication of the interview-book 'Light of the World' by Benedict XVI, a number of erroneous interpretations have emerged which have caused confusion concerning the position of the Catholic Church regarding certain questions of sexual morality. The thought of the Pope has been repeatedly manipulated for ends and interests which are entirely foreign to the meaning of his words - a meaning which is evident to anyone who reads the entire chapters in which human sexuality is treated. The intention of the Holy Father is clear: to rediscover the beauty of the divine gift of human sexuality and, in this way, to avoid the cheapening of sexuality which is common today.

Some interpretations have presented the words of the Pope as a contradiction of the traditional moral teaching of the Church. This hypothesis has been welcomed by some as a positive change and lamented by others as a cause of concern - as if his statements represented a break with the doctrine concerning contraception and with the Church's stance in the fight against AIDS. In reality, the words of the Pope - which specifically concern a gravely disordered type of human behaviour, namely prostitution (cf. Light of the World, pp. 117-119) - do not signify a change in Catholic moral teaching or in the pastoral practice of the Church.

As is clear from an attentive reading of the pages in question, the Holy Father was talking neither about conjugal morality nor about the moral norm concerning contraception. This norm belongs to the tradition of the Church and was summarised succinctly by Pope Paul VI in paragraph 14 of his Encyclical Letter 'Humanae vitae', when he wrote that 'also to be excluded is any action which either before, at the moment of, or after sexual intercourse, is specifically intended to prevent procreation - whether as an end or as a means'. The idea that anyone could deduce from the words of Benedict XVI that it is somehow legitimate, in certain situations, to use condoms to avoid an unwanted pregnancy is completely arbitrary and is in no way justified either by his words or in his thought. On this issue the Pope proposes instead - and also calls the pastors of the Church to propose more often and more effectively (cf. Light of the World, p. 147) - humanly and ethically acceptable ways of behaving which respect the inseparable connection between the unitive and procreative meaning of every conjugal act, through the possible use of natural family planning in view of responsible procreation.

On the pages in question, the Holy Father refers to the completely different case of prostitution, a type of behaviour which Christian morality has always considered gravely immoral (cf. Vatican II, Pastoral Constitution 'Gaudium et spes', n. 27; Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 2355). The response of the entire Christian tradition - and indeed not only of the Christian tradition - to the practice of prostitution can be summed up in the words of St. Paul: 'Flee from fornication' (1 Cor 6:18). The practice of prostitution should be shunned, and it is the duty of the agencies of the Church, of civil society and of the State to do all they can to liberate those involved from this practice.

In this regard, it must be noted that the situation created by the spread of AIDS in many areas of the world has made the problem of prostitution even more serious. Those who know themselves to be infected with HIV and who therefore run the risk of infecting others, apart from committing a sin against the sixth commandment are also committing a sin against the fifth commandment - because they are consciously putting the lives of others at risk through behaviour which has repercussions on public health. In this situation, the Holy Father clearly affirms that the provision of condoms does not constitute 'the real or moral solution' to the problem of AIDS and also that 'the sheer fixation on the condom implies a banalisation of sexuality' in that it refuses to address the mistaken human behaviour which is the root cause of the spread of the virus. In this context, however, it cannot be denied that anyone who uses a condom in order to diminish the risk posed to another person is intending to reduce the evil connected with his or her immoral activity. In this sense the Holy Father points out that the use of a condom 'with the intention of reducing the risk of infection, can be a first step in a movement towards a different way, a more human way, of living sexuality'. This affirmation is clearly compatible with the Holy Father's previous statement that this is 'not really the way to deal with the evil of HIV infection'.

Some commentators have interpreted the words of Benedict XVI according to the so-called theory of the 'lesser evil'. This theory is, however, susceptible to proportionalistic misinterpretation (cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter 'Veritatis splendor', n. 75-77). An action which is objectively evil, even if a lesser evil, can never be licitly willed. The Holy Father did not say - as some people have claimed - that prostitution with the use of a condom can be chosen as a lesser evil. The Church teaches that prostitution is immoral and should be shunned. However, those involved in prostitution who are HIV positive and who seek to diminish the risk of contagion by the use of a condom may be taking the first step in respecting the life of another - even if the evil of prostitution remains in all its gravity. This understanding is in full conformity with the moral theological tradition of the Church.

In conclusion, in the battle against AIDS, the Catholic faithful and the agencies of the Catholic Church should be close to those affected, should care for the sick and should encourage all people to live abstinence before and fidelity within marriage. In this regard it is also important to condemn any behaviour which cheapens sexuality because, as the Pope says, such behaviour is the reason why so many people no longer see in sexuality an expression of their love: 'This is why the fight against the banalisation of sexuality is also part of the struggle to ensure that sexuality is treated as a positive value and to enable it to have a positive effect on the whole of man's being' (Light of the World, p. 119). CDF/ VIS 20101222 (1130)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Something to put us in a Christmasy mood

I received this in an ecard from some friends from my previous parish. Thought it was nice.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Convent experiencing "vocations crisis"!!!

I received this mailing from the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist. The crisis this community is experiencing is not one of a lack of vocations but managing to attend to the "miraculous draught" of vocations. In the enclosed letter from Mother Assumpta Long, Prioress General, she describes how in the thirteen years since their foundation their numbers have increased more than 2,500 percent, from four sisters to over one hundred. At a time when the average religious sister is in her sixties, most of these Dominican sisters are in their twenties.

What are the secrets of this phenomenal growth? Mother Assumpta points to:
  1. The Providence of God
  2. Unwavering orthodoxy. Throught the eight years of formation, from postulancy to final vows, the sisters study the fundamentals of the Faith as presented in Scripture, the Summa Theologiea of St Thomas Aquinas, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, papal writings and other source documents. They also study Mariology, Church history, spiritual classics, liturgy and more. Then they take these treasures into the world through their teaching and evangelising.
  3. Constant prayer. "Prayer is as necessary to the religious life as water is to a plant. Without it, we die." So prayer comes first so their apostolate overflows from contemplation nourished before the Eucharist. The sisters join in daily community prayer as follows:
    • Mass
    • Divine Office
    • Eucharistic Holy Hour
    • Rosary
    • Renewal of Consecration to Mary
    • Prayer for Vocations
    • Meditation.
    In addition, every Friday they have Eucharistic Adoration with confessions and, on First Fridays, all night Eucharistic Adoration.
  4. The Traditional Habit. The habit is a sign of consecration and a witness to poverty. "It speaks instantly and eloquently, yet wordlessly, of who we are and what we believe. As a symbol of one 'given to Christ,' the habit 'claims' us to be His spouses in much the same way that a wedding ring announces to the world - and reminds oneself - that one is 'taken'. It is a sign of hope in a world that needs to be reminded of the possibility of living joyfully in the freely chosen consecration of chastity, poverty and obedience."
  5. Joy! These sisters love being sisters. To them a life of service is not a burden but a high privilege and a thrilling adventure.

The Sisters are dedicated to reviving the tradition of teaching Sisters that, in the past, made Catholic schools educationally superior, genuinely Catholic and widely affordable. In the last four years, the Sisters have accepted invitations of local bishops to expand their teaching apostolate to five new dioceses: Pheonix, Arizona; Charleston, South Carolina; Sacramento, California; Venice, Florida; and Austin, Texas.

All this expansion and the miraculous draught of vocations means that they are short of space and short of funds. How can they handle this crisis?

"We could, of course, refuse to accept new vocations. But that, to us, would be like a married couple refusing to accept the gift of new life: it betrays a lack of trust in God's promise to provide for our every need if we seek only to do His will."

Rather than simply expand their Motherhouse again, which would make it difficult to maintain the close-knit community spirit that a convent needs, they want to build at least one additional Priory in another part of the USA which will allow them to accommodate up to one hundred new vocations and, at the same time, begin the long prayed-for nationwide expansion of their apostolate in a permanent way.

So they are looking for money! You can find out more about them at their website.

When I visited Detroit a month or two ago, I took the opportunity of visiting their Motherhouse in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Sister Mary David, pictured above with Father Larry Van Damme, Pastor of St Michael's Church in Marquette, and me kindly gave us a guided tour of the Convent.

Although Sister Mary David said I could take more photos, I didn't feel comfortable taking photos in the interior, the chapel etc. It is, after all, their home. But you can see more at their website.

I have previously blogged on this community at
Dominican Sisters of Mary Mother of the Eucharist on Oprah Winfrey tonight
Oprah promotes Dominican Sisters of Mary Ann Arbor Michigan - must watch
A thriving Dominican Order of Sisters in Michigan

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Cardinal Burke denounces "Catholic in name only" Colleges

This new from the Cardinal Newman Society:

Too many "Catholic in name only" colleges and universities have embraced today's "secularist dictatorship" instead of fighting it, warned one of the Vatican's top-ranking Americans in a frank assessment of Catholic higher education.

"[T]he Catholic university which is true to her identity will help students to be strong in giving an account of their faith in their vocation in life," said Cardinal Raymond Burke.

He said that students should be prepared to confront "the secularist dictatorship which would exclude all religious discourse from the professions and from public life in general."

Cardinal Burke is Prefect of the Vatican's highest court and Ecclesiastical Advisor to The Center for the Advancement of Catholic Higher Education, a division of The Cardinal Newman Society.

[Click here to support the Society's fight against secularism in Catholic universities.]

His address was delivered on December 4 at The Thomas More College of Liberal Arts, a faithfully Catholic college in New Hampshire that is recommended in The Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College. Cardinal Burke lauded the college for its "noble and critical efforts to promote authentic Catholic higher education in our nation."

You can watch or read Cardinal Burke's complete address at The Cardinal Newman Society website here.

"In a society which is marked by a virulent secularism," Cardinal Burke said, "...the service of the Catholic university is more needed than ever.

"How tragic that the very secularism which the Catholic university should be helping its students to battle and overcome has entered into several Catholic universities, leading to the grievous compromise of their high mission."

Cardinal Burke said that the true Catholic university will teach students "to overcome the prevalent and utterly destructive error of our time that somehow faith is contradicted by reason."

But any Catholic college or university "at which Jesus Christ alive in His Church is not taught, encountered in the Sacred Liturgy and its extension through prayer and devotion, and followed in a life of virtue is not worthy of the name."

"According to the ancient canonical wisdom, corruptio optimi pessima est, 'the corruption of the best is the worst,'" Cardinal Burke said. "Sadly, we have witnessed the truth of the axiom in so many Catholic colleges and universities in our nation, which once gave pride of place to their Catholic identity and the Catholic life of the campus but now are Catholic in name only, usually qualifying their Catholic identity by another name, for example, calling themselves a Catholic university in the Franciscan or Jesuit tradition."
I wonder which universities the Cardinal might have in mind?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Christian Bed & Breakfast owners in court Monday

I have received the following from a friend. It is a communique from The Christian Institute and merits our close attention and prayers.

More news on this and another similar case can be read at the Daily Mail.

You can tell which side the British Government is on as the legal fees of the "gay couple" in question are being paid by the government funded Equality and Human Rights Commission whereas the Christian Institute is funding the Bulls' defence.

The Christian owners of a Cornish guesthouse are due to appear in court on Monday because they restrict double bed accommodation to married couples. Peter and Hazelmary Bull are being sued by homosexuals, Steven Preddy and Martyn Hall, who claim the policy is discriminatory. The guesthouse is not just a business, it is also Mr and Mrs Bull's own home.

The case will be heard at Bristol County Court on Monday 13 December and is scheduled to last for two days.

The claim is brought under the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations, the same laws that have caused faith-based adoption agencies to close down or drop their religious ethos. If the claim against the guesthouse is successful, Mr and Mrs Bull may be ordered to pay up to £5,000 to Mr Preddy and Mr Hall for injury to their feelings.

Mr Preddy and Mr Hall's legal fees are being paid by the Government-funded Equality and Human Rights Commission. The Christian Institute is funding Mr and Mrs Bull's legal defence.

This case could determine whether Christians are permitted to operate B&Bs that restrict double bed accommodation to married couples.

Please pray:
  • For Peter and Hazelmary Bull, that they will know God's love and support during this difficult time.
  • For the judge, that he will come to a just decision.
  • For our legal team, that they will present the case clearly and persuasively.
  • For the news media, that they will publish balanced and accurate reports.
  • For the staff of The Christian Institute, as we support and advise Peter and Hazelmary.


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