Saturday, October 31, 2009

Dr. Scott Hahn


Today I traveled to New Haven, CT to attend a presentation by Dr. Scott Hahn. Dr. Hahn is known from his appearances on EWTN, and his books. He is a successful speaker on scripture and the Catholic Faith. He has produced hundreds of tapes and videos and many books. Currently he is a Profesor of Theology and Scripture at Franciscan University of Steubenville and is the founder and director of the St. Paul Center for Bible Theology.

This talk was sponsored by the St. Mary's Chapter of the Lay Fraternities of St. Dominic, at St. Mary's Church, New Haven, CT. I was impressed. Dr. Hahn turned me around. I was not a fan until today.

You see, I see him on ETWN on Sunday mornings when I'm getting ready to go to church. I don't pay that much attention--I'm rushing around. But what I did see, I didn't like. I thought he talked too fast--almost auctioneer style. My impression was that he was milking his conversion. He's making a living out of his conversion. He's also always plugging his books. So I expected his Talk to be just a sales presentation.

I found my perceptions to be off the mark. He's genuine. He has a teaching job, so he doesn't make his living off his conversion. And his Talks stand alone. He is a prolific writer and his books will enhance his topics. He is really an itinerant preacher--no wonder the Dominicans invited him.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Mother Love




There's an article in the Boston Globe bemoaning that there aren't any abortion clinics in Brookline. In fact, (praise God) it's getting harder and harder to find a clinic to get an abortion in. The people in Brookline vetoed a clinic in their neighborhood, and the reason, according to the article, was not that the neighbors abhorred the very thought of mothers killing their own babies, but rather, it was the protesters' fault. They hold up disgusting signs, and intimidate with their chanting and prayers. The article concludes that abortion is legal and it's a shame that mothers who want to obtain an abortion, that is legal by law, can't.

Well, it's legal for people to spit on the sidewalk. We don't though because it's reprehensible. And that's what we pray for abortion to become. We pray to turn people's hearts to think that killing our babies is morally reprehensible. Abortion is a sign of moral depravity.

Just ask the people in Brookline, MA.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Indulgences for Year of the Priests


For laypeople:

The Plenary Indulgence is granted to all the faithful who are truly repentant who, in church or in chapel, devoutly attend the divine Sacrifice of Mass and offer prayers to Jesus Christ the Eternal High Priest, for the priests of the Church, and any other good work which they have done on that day, so that he may sanctify them and form them in accordance with His Heart, as long as they have made expiation for their sins through sacramental confession and prayed in accordance with the Supreme Pontiff’s intentions: on the days in which the Year for Priests begins and ends, on the day of the 150th anniversary of the pious passing of St John Mary Vianne (August 4) and on the first Thursday of the month or on any other day established by the local Ordinaries for the benefit of the faithful.

It will be most appropriate, in cathedral and parish churches, for the same priests who are in charge of pastoral care to publicly direct these exercises of devotion, to celebrate Holy Mass and to hear the confession of the faithful.

The Plenary Indulgence will likewise be granted to the elderly, the sick and all those who for any legitimate reason are confined to their homes who, with a mind detached from any sin and with the intention of fulfilling as soon as possible the three usual conditions, at home or wherever their impediment detains them, provided that on the above-mentioned days they recite prayers for the sanctification of priests and confidently offer the illnesses and hardships of their lives to God through Mary Queen of Apostles.

Lastly, the Partial Indulgence is granted to all the faithful every time they devoutly recite five Our Fathers, Hail Marys and Glorias, or another expressly approved prayer, in honour of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, to obtain that priests be preserved in purity and holiness of life.


Remember every first Thursday we have the opportunity to gain a plenary indulgence. And obtain lots of the partial indulgences too!

HT to the blog, Practicing Catholic.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Pray for Deceased Priests

All Souls, 1st Thursday, Year for Priests:

Pray for the souls of priests.

First, remember that you can gain indulgences on All Souls and the days following.

Second, 5 November is a first Thursday. You can gain a plenary indulgence during this year for Priests.

Third, would it not be a good idea in this Year for Priests, during the week after All Souls, for this 1st Thursday, to pray in a special way for the souls of deceased priests?

May I recommend that you bring this up with your parish priests, who might make pulpit announcements this Sunday?

If you are a blogger, would you post something on this?

Would you recommend this to your prayer groups, friends and family?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Directives for Flu Season


Read the latest:

MEMORANDUM

To: Archdiocesan Parishes and Institutions
From: Rev. Jonathan Gaspar, Co-Director of
Office of Worship and Spiritual Life
Date: 10/26/2009
Re: Archdiocese of Boston Flu Season Directives

The Office of Worship, in consultation with local health authorities and the Archdiocesan Office of Risk Management, continues to encourage the clergy and faithful to observe necessary standard precautions to protect the health of others during this flu season, and especially with the risks related to H1N1 influenza. The best way to prevent the spread of contagious disease is to practice good hygiene. In addition to practicing good hygiene, the Cardinal directs the following for the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy and for flu prevention:

• The Holy Water fonts are to be drained, cleaned with a disinfecting soap, and re-filled with holy water on a regular basis. Please note that old holy water should be disposed of in the sacrarium.

• The distribution of the Precious Blood for the faithful is suspended, with the exception of those who must receive from the cup due to medical reasons. The faith of the Church teaches that Christ, whole and entire, is received even under only one species.

• The exchange of the Sign of Peace is to be offered without any physical contact. If the priest celebrant chooses to extend the invitation for the sign of peace, the faithful, instead of a handshake, may bow to the persons nearby.

• While the faithful retain the option of receiving Holy Communion on the tongue or in the hand, all ministers of Holy Communion are advised to distribute the consecrated hosts with care, being cautious not to touch the tongue or the hand of the communicant.

• Parishioners should be reminded that if they are ill or suspect they are ill with a contagious illness, they are not bound by the Sunday Mass obligation. They should remain at home and return to church when they are well.

These directives are effective Saturday, October 31, 2009 and remain in effect until the cold and flu season has come to an end. We thank you for your understanding and support of these directives, which aim to protect the health of our people.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Too Old for Facebook?


Robert Strohmeyer, in an article for PC World questions whether Baby Boomers are ruining the new social networks, like Facebook and Twitter.

In Are Baby Boomers Killing Facebook & Twitter Strohmeyer gives a little history of how we Boomers have affected everything we've ever been involved in, from school to business, to family life. It's a very interesting article.

It is true that our numbers have affected everything in our environment. I remember how crowded my elementary school was, how many schools had to be built to accommodate us, etc. I also remember that when our soldiers came back from Vietnam, they dribbled back, bit by bit. This was very unlike the mass arrival home of our fathers, after WWII. (Remember the pictures of the huge ticker tape parade in NY City.) The reason being is that too many babies were born all at once from our fathers coming home all at once.

They didn't want another baby boom.

So I'm not surprised that we're taking over Facebook and Twitter.

The question is, however, are we ruining it?

I suppose it all depends in what year you were born.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Mary's Garden



A Mary's Garden is a garden full of flowers. At first, it was only for flowers and plants that grew during Mary's time, or that grew in Palestine. But when that isn't possible, it can be plants that were named for Mary. There are religious names, botanical names and the common names, that we know the flowers and plants as.

Maidenhair fern is adiantum tenerum, or Our Lady's hair.
Begonia is begonia fuchsiold, or Mary's heart.
Miniature Rose is rosa, or Mary's thorn.
Geranium is pelargonum dom., or Beautiful Lady.
I could go on for pages.

The idea started in Wood's Hole, Massachusetts. Wood's Hole is one of my haunts. A summer isn't a summer without a visit to the Woods Hole Science Aquarium. In 1932 Mr. Lillie built an Angelus tower with two bells and made a garden dedicated to Mary to grace the tower. The garden is beautifully maintained, even today, and has numerous flowers of Our Lady from English medieval times.

Some day, I want a flower garden dedicated to Mary. For now, I content myself to making plant gardens and putting statues in it. I made one for my friend Fr. Fleck, but it didn't last long. He had to throw away the pot, but he kept the statue on his dresser. I think it's a nice present to give a sick friend. I really don't pay attention to whether the plants have any Mary connection. I pick them to complement the statue.

Here's a picture of my Mary Garden. It's a kitchen window garden. This is our Lady giving a Rosary to St. Catherine of Siena, and the Baby Jesus giving a Rosary to St. Dominic. This picture is sometimes called Our Lady of Pompeii, or Our Lady of Rosary. I chose it because St. Dominic is the preacher of the power of the Rosary.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Dentist

I did a lot of praying today. I spent five hours in the dentist chair! If that doesn't give you religion, what will?

Thank God I have a relationship with God. What do people who don't, do in painful situations? Just suffer?

Besides thinking that suffering has a purpose, and for this I offer up my suffering, I also think I am uniting myself with Jesus and His suffering. What really gives me comfort is to know that God is beside me through all this. It keeps me calm and at peace.

If I didn't have that grace, I'd be very stressed, anxious, upset, and just plain angry at the situation.

Strangely, even though I was put through the mill today, I feel blessed.

BTW, my front teeth were prepared for a five unit bridge. I had one extraction and the rest will all filed down to fit into the crowns on the bridge. It's an ordeal.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Te Deum

The statement from the Anglicans.

Statement of the Primate
of the Traditional Anglican Communion
20th October 2009

I have spent this evening speaking to bishops, priests and lay people of the Traditional Anglican Communion in England, Africa, Australia, India, Canada, the United States and South America.

We are profoundly moved by the generosity of the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI. He offers in this Apostolic Constitution the means for “former Anglicans to enter into the fullness of communion with the Catholic Church”. He hopes that we can “find in this canonical structure the opportunity to preserve those Anglican traditions precious to us and consistent with the Catholic faith”. He then warmly states “we are happy that these men and women bring with them their particular contributions to our common life of faith”.

May I firstly state that this is an act of great goodness on the part of the Holy Father. He has dedicated his pontificate to the cause of unity. [This is a key point to keep in mind when considering what Pope Benedict does.] It more than matches the dreams we dared to include in our petition of two years ago. It more than matches our prayers. In those two years, we have become very conscious of the prayers of our friends in the Catholic Church. Perhaps their prayers dared to ask even more than ours. [This is very interesting. What the Holy See did exceeds their expectations.]

While we await the full text of the Apostolic Constitution, we are also moved by the pastoral nature of the Notes issued today by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. My fellow bishops have indeed signed the Catechism of the Catholic Church and made a statement about the ministry of the Bishop of Rome, reflecting the words of Pope John Paul II in his letter “Ut Unum Sint”.

Other Anglican groups have indicated to the Holy See a similar desire and a similar acceptance of Catholic faith. As Cardinal Levada has indicated, this response to Anglican petitions is to be of a global character. It will now be for these groups to forge a close cooperation, even where they transcend the existing boundaries of the Anglican Communion. [hmmm… even beyond the Anglican Communion.]

Fortunately, the Statement issued by the Archbishop of Canterbury reflects the understanding that we have gained from him that he does not stand in our way, and understands the decisions that we have reached. Both his reaction and our petition are fruits of a century of prayer for Christian unity, a cause that many times must have seemed forlorn. We now express our gratitude to Archbishop Williams, and have regularly assured him of our prayers. The See of Augustine remains a focus of our pilgrim way, as it was in ages of faith in the past.

I have made a commitment to the Traditional Anglican Communion that the response of the Holy See will be taken to each of our National Synods. They have already endorsed our pathway. Now the Holy See challenges us to seek in the specific structures that are now available the “full, visible unity, especially Eucharistic communion”, for which we have long prayed and about which we have long dreamed. That process will begin at once.

In the Anglican Office of Morning Prayer, the great Hymn of Thanksgiving, the Te Deum, is part of the daily Order. It is with heartfelt thanks to Almighty God, the Lord and Source of all peace and unity, that the hymn is on our lips today. This is a moment of grace, perhaps even a moment of history, not because the past is undone, but because the past is transformed.

Archbishop John Hepworth

Primate

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Another Reason to Celebrate



Cardinal William Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has welcomed Anglicans who wish to enter full communion of the Catholic Church.

Two press conferences, one in Rome and another in London announced that Pope Benedict XVI had signed an Apostolic Constitution, which would give Anglicans wishing to become Catholics, may do so without losing their Anglican identity.

With the decree, the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith introduced a new legal structure, which resembles the structure of military dioceses, called a Personal Ordinariate.

This move will enable those Anglicans who have been increasingly uncomfortable with the direction the Anglican Church has been going to keep their identity and also become Roman Catholic. And perhaps, the move will allow the Anglican Church to reorganize without worrying about division and controversy.

The Holy Spirit moves as He wills.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Promise Day


Whew! What a day. Yesterday, was the day in Our Lady of Mercy Chapter, of the Lay Fraternities of Saint Dominic, when those who wish to move ahead in their formation, do so, by making either temporary promises, or life promises. It was such a joyous "high."

Our Chapter choir, the Echoes of Truth, rocked. It was very charismatic. The Chapter's Liturgical Dance Team performed an original choreography, How Beautiful is the Body of Christ. We had honored guests and filled the little chapter with happiness and God's grace.

There were four men making Permanent Promises, seven making Temporary Promises, two entering the Novitiate, and four wishing to be Postulants. God is good!

Are we not visible evidence that the Dominican vision is alive and growing? Are we not visible evidence that redemption is not just an abstract term but a physical reality?

Are we not blessed...very blessed, indeed?

Deo Gratias!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Music from the Vatican


There is a project called Music from the Vatican. Specifically, I'm talking about an album known as Alma Mater and is recorded in honor of the Blessed Mother.

For more information and a tease of the music, you can watch a little video on "You Tube."

It is very impressive. You may pre-order, if you wish. I encourage you to do so.

Friday, October 16, 2009

And You Thought LA Was Bad


My niece Jane, from California, gave me a laugh this morning. When I checked my Facebook messages I saw that she commented "And I Thought LA was bad." I was wondering what that comment went to. What is she looking at? So I went to see.

She was commenting on the picture above, which was taken in Woods Hole, MA.

It's all relative, isn't it?

LOL! Look at the little sticker above the No Parking sign, "What does Jesus Brew?"

Silly! Everyone knows it's Budweiser.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Deal Me In


Prayer is a lot like playing cards. The more you do it, the better at it you become. The more often you play cards, the more attune to the game you become. If you have a partner then the more you play, the more you recognize his/her body language. And this isn't even on purpose. You just see the excitement in their smile and eyes, the tenseness of their shoulders, the worriedness in their brow. No words are spoken but you and your partner are communicating.
The same is true if you're playing solo in a game. The more often you play, the more skilled you become. You can read your opponents, i.e., body language, expressions, eyes, posture, etc. It takes practice, but people do it all the time.
The same is true of prayer. The more often you do it, the better you become. The aim of prayer is to get closer to God, so you have to learn to "read", or hear Him communicating to you, much like your partner, or opponents in a card game. Praying predisposes you to receive God's grace. You will be brought closer to Him through time spent with Him. That includes receiving the sacraments as often as you can.
Just reading words in a prayer book won't help anymore than reading Hoyle's rules on card playing. You have to be involved. You have to want to win. You have to be willing to practice. You have to persevere. You have to have patience. You need the grace of God.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Death Penalty


October is Respect Life month in the US Catholic Church and that means reflecting on all aspects of life. I'm referring to the neglected and unwanted adult LIFE. I'm specifically talking about those we consider problems--prisoners on death row.

The Catholic bishops in the US have been calling for an end to the use of the death penalty for years. You can't right a wrong with another wrong. One mistaken death for punishment not committed is too many.

Some Facts About the Death Penalty

35 states have the death penalty; 15 do not.

Recent Supreme Court decisions have limited the use of the death penalty by declaring it unconstitutional to execute persons with mental retardation and juveniles under the age of 18, or to impose the death penalty when no murder occurred or was intended. The court has also ruled that defendants are entitled to have a jury decide whether to impose the death penalty.

Approximately 3300 inmates are on death row in 35 state, military, and federal prisons.

Since 1973, there have been 135 exonerations of death row inmates.

Since 1976, there have been a total of 1,171 executions in the United States, including 35 in 2009 (through July).

The above picture is one of a priest hearing confession. "Oh Lord forgive them."

The California death penalty system costs taxpayers $114 million per year beyond the costs of keeping convicts locked up for life (L.A. Times, March 6, 2005). In Indiana, the total costs of the death penalty exceed the complete costs of life without parole by about 38 percent, assuming that 20 percent of death sentences are overturned and reduced to life (Indiana Criminal Law Study Commission, January 10, 2002).
*Source: Death Penalty Information Center

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A Special Request

Dear Friends:

If you feel comfortable in doing so,I would appreciate it if you would forward the information below to out-of-state relatives and friends who might be willing to contact their Senators regarding the closing of GM Dealerships. My cousin and her husband own one of these dealerships that was established more then 30 years ago by his father. In addition to always meeting or exceeding GM quotas and following all business suggestions made by GM, the dealership has contributed significantly to the community in terms of supporting community organizations. All of these dealerships represent small businesses that are important to the communities in which they are located.

The House of Representatives has passed a bill that would require GM to rescind this latest round of closings. The Automobile Dealer Economic Rights Restoration Act had passed the House of Representatives and is now in the Senate. It is important that as many Senators as possible be contacted to support the bill. (Senator Kerry does, so no need to contact him.) That is why I am asking you to forward this to those you know who reside out-of-state. Below is a link to Senate emails and a letter that folks can cut and paste into their email to each of their senators. Thank you, in advance, for whatever you feel comfortable in doing. If you don't feel comfortable in passing this request along, I also understand.


Link to get Senate email addresses:
http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

Sample Note:

Dear Senator ____________ :

I am contacting you to request that you support The Automobile Dealer Economic Rights Restoration Act, which has already passed in the House of Representatives. This Act will require GM to rescind the dealership closings. Most of these dealerships have always met or exceeded GM quotas for sales. All of these dealerships are small, independent businesses that have been in existence for many years and want a fair chance to continue to compete in the market place and remain in business. They are not eligible for a government "bailout." However, they are important contributors to the communities in which the are located, both from an economic perspective and from what they do to support other community organizations. Your support for this Act will ensure that these successful businesses will be able to remain open. They will be able to continue to provide thousands of jobs across the country, have an economic impact on other businesses, and support many community organizations.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,


(Name)
City and State

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Nobel Prize

Thursday, October 08, 2009

African bishops say Obama’s election just divine

Look what I came across on the blog Religion News and I was wondering if this was why the President received the Nobel Prize for peace. It's his perception, in the eyes of the rest of the world. Read the following from the blog:

Some African bishops at a Vatican meeting said they view President Obama's election as a divine act, differing from some of their U.S. brethren, The Associated Press reports.

Archbishop Gabriel Charles Palmer-Buckle of Accra, Ghana, said he believes God directed Obama's election victory.

"We believe God has his own plans. God directs history," he said Wednesday of the election. "We pray that it (Obama's presidency) brings blessings for Africa and the whole world."

Monsignor Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, the archbishop of Kinshasa, Congo, said in a speech at the meeting: "If the election of a black as head of the United States of America was a divine sign
and a sign from the Holy Spirit for the reconciliation of races and ethnic groups for peaceful relations ... this synod and the universal church would gain from not ignoring this primordial event of contemporary history which is far from being a banal game of political alliances."

Wow! If that's how the rest of the world perceives the President, then we the people, the electorate should have been given the award.

We elected him.

Praying in the Bathroom


One of my Jewish friends was appalled to see my prayer book in the bathroom. She explained to me how vulgar, repulsive and loathsome, just the idea of it was. It's offensive to God.

I see her point. Definitely.

However she's never had Cronkhite Canada Syndrome or ulcerative colitis.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Come Follow Me

Today's Gospel, Mark 10: 17-27, freaked me out. It never use to. I use to hear it and think that I could easily do what Jesus asked--leave it all and follow Him. I don't have any money so what's there to leave? Big deal!

That was until I listened to a podcast this morning by Miss Laura Dejmek,O.P.. There's a page of reflection that I sometimes use for Lectio Divina, or meditation. It's different people preaching that day's Gospel: priests, sisters, and lay people. Miss Laura is a Lay Dominican.

She added a new dimension to the Reading. She interpreted "Go sell what you have..." as giving away his "identity." He wasn't just being asked to give away MONEY, but his IDENTITY. He had to walk away from it all, just like the other apostles did, to follow Jesus.

Geesh! That could mean: his medical practice, his career, his life--as he knew it. Yikes! No wonder the man walked away.

You would need the grace of God to do it.

Definitely.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Innocent Until Proven Guilty


I was looking at the candidates hoping to take Kennedy's place. While reading about Martha Coakley I came across the Gerald Amirault case. That's where I veered off. No longer was I interested in Martha or Gerry, but justice. That is what interested me. "There but for the grace of God, go I."

There is a laudable group known as the Innocence Project that helps prisoners prove that they have been convicted wrongly. It seems to me that just one instance is enough to discredit capital punishment. Our system is not perfect; but it's better than others. With that it mind, those involved in our justice system should work toward improving discrimination, misidentification, unreliable science, false confession, fraud, misconduct from informants, suspect DNA, and bad lawyering.

There is a list of people on death row who have been exonerated. Read the list and what convicted them. Makes you wonder--if it can happen to them, it can happen to you. I repeat; "There but for the grace of God, go I."

Friday, October 9, 2009

Which Do You Prefer?

Anawim Games

the skateboarders push him,
an Iroquois gautlet--
the suitcase man staggered;

name calling, spittle, kicks,
the anawim straightened,
held tight to his suitcase;

shoved back and forth and forth
and back and back and forth--
a human ball of catch.

The suitcase man is a homeless man I see almost every day. The kids give him a hard time, sometimes trying to take his suitcase from him, or just shoving him around, and calling him names. The aim of the poem is to arouse compassion by giving the reader the feel of being helplessly shoved back and forth. I'm finding that hard to do.


Anawim Shuffle

shoved back and forth and forth
the skateboarders push him
calling names, spitting and kicking

a human ball of catch.
the anawim straightened
holding tight to his suitcase.

an Iroquois gauntlet-
the suitcase man staggered--
and back and back and forth.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Fr. David Kammler, O.P.


Fr. David Kammler, O.P. is the International Promoter of the International Lay Fraternities of Saint Dominic. He came to visit my chapter today. We love to see him because he tells us what's going on in the rest of the world.

Today he celebrated Mass and answered all our questions. We learned that our Master General, Father Carlos Azpiroz, O.P. almost, but just couldn't fit a visit with us, in his schedule, when he was here a few months ago. But he sent us a letter telling us how much he tried to come see us and how much he wishes that our spirituality (Fr. Marie Jean Joseph Lataste, O.P.) could be spread around the world. Fr. Kammler gave us an update on the process of beatification of Father Lataste and the Dominican Sisters of Bethany.

Sister Ann and her liturgical dancers presented a reflection on the Transfiguration, for Fr. David. Mick, our resident artist presented Fr. David with a picture he drew. And we all received a personal, private blessing from Fr. David.

The entire day was a blessing. Deo Gratias.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

St. Monica's Sodality

Do you know what a Lapsi is?

It is a Latin word used to refer to persons who have lapsed from the practice of the Catholic Faith. (Lapsi is a collective plural. Singular is lapsus for a male and lapsa for a female.) If you do, you might want to consider joining St. Monica's Sodality.

The home of St. Monica's Sodality is St. John Cantius Church in Chicago, Illinois, USA. The Sodality meets weekly for their Novena Prayer and Mass.

The purpose of the Sodality is to support its members to cooperate with St. Monica in praying for their loved Lapsi.

Here is their prayer:

Exemplary Mother of the great Augustine, you perseveringly pursued your wayward son not with wild threats but with prayerful cries to heaven. Intercede for all mothers in our day so that they may learn to draw their children to God. Teach them how to remain close to their children, even the prodigal sons and daughters who have sadly gone astray.
Amen

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

RIP Richard Nethercut

Thurs. Sept. 29th I posted about Richard Nethercut, the Volunteer of the Year missing from the Volunteer Appreciation Dinner, at MCI Norfolk, MA. Well, I received this sad email, today.

For those of you who knew Dick Nethercut, a volunteer at MCI Norfolk who worked with the Alternative to Violence program.....
Dear Friends,
Dick Nethercut's body was found by the police today just a short time ago. They found him in the conservation area where they had searched before for three days. He was actually found near the Carlisle border just over the line in Carlisle. The police think he just walked too far, got disoriented, and fell in a stream near a boggy area. He still had his wallet, credit cards, and car keys and there was no sign of foul play. The police do not have any additional information at this time and requested that we discourage people from calling the police station.
We know that all of you have been deeply concerned by Dick's disappearance and have been praying for him along with us in AVP. Dick has been an AVP leader for 17 years. He has trained dozens of facilitators and hundreds of inmates. His loyalty to the program and to those working to build a better life inspire us. Dick's personal journey of forgiveness and reconciliation stand as a testament to his faith and open heart.
As terrible as Dick's disappearance and ultimate death have been, this ordeal of the past two weeks reminds and inspires us of the need for the work that Dick believed in so deeply, for our continued efforts to bring rehabilitation and compassion to all aspects of our society, and to build caring communities. We hope many will feel led to join us in this essential work rather than give in to voices and promptings of fear or despair.
We have no news yet of any funeral arrangements for Dick, but will send that information when it is available.
Warm regards,
Nancy Shippen, Tim Wilson, and Betty Keddy
AVP MA Board

Lord, now let your servant go in peace.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Caritas in Veritate

Caritas in Veritate is Pope Benedict's latest encyclical. Even since it came out, I've tried to read it. I admit it's very difficult. People call documents from the Vatican, "Vaticanese," because to us, they are hard to understand. It takes getting use to. Alright, it takes a lot of getting use to. But if you try--consistently, somehow you'll find yourself developing the vocabulary, the literary manner that is used. It has to be written to be translated and to be applicable to many cultures. That's how I look at it--it's hard to write, therefore it's hard to understand.

What caught my attention was the section on social justice. Considering the economic condition of the world, B16's words seem providential. The collapse of the world's financial system made people think about their personal and national financial systems. B16 asked for reform. He asks countries to restructure their financial priorities. A financial order that works for "common good." He asks to combat hunger and to open agricultural markets to developing nations. Rich countries should share the wealth.

The blog, "Catholic Culture," quotes the reaction of Lord Brian Griffiths of Fforestfach. He is a former economic adviser to British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and a current member of the House of Lords, a vice-chairman of Goldman Sachs International, a devout Evangelical Christian, and whose everyday work engages him in the future prospect of the global economic system, makes this extraordinary statement on encyclical:

Despite heavy competition from some of the world's finest minds, it is without a doubt the most articulate, comprehensive and thoughtful response to the financial crisis that has yet appeared.

I think so too, which is why I am, and will continue to, study it.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Your Prayer for Today


They say a picture is worth a thousand words. From the Sudan.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Fatima Shrine


I'm taking this on line poetry course. The assignment I'm working on is writing about a place. It's an exercise in description. We are to describe a place in 25 lines. Well, as usual, I was inspired to deviate from the assignment. Oh I did the assignment; I wrote about Tijuana and gave the instructor what I think she wanted. But the real poem is this one:

Fatima Shrine

I go over to the shrine to pray.
The world's biggest Rosary,
boulders group into a decade
like a Christian Stonehenge.
The rocks pray Hail Mary
in different languages.
There's more to see--
grotto, stations, altar and statues.
It's like a prayer book
of Catholic devotions.
You walk the Rosary,
you read the signs,
and then you begin to pray.

Fatima Shrine, Holliston, MA

Friday, October 2, 2009

Praying Priests


Praying Priests is almost an oxymoron. Have I got your attention? Yeah, I'm a little tongue in cheek here, but upon reading Zenit, this morning, I was reading something Cardinal Christoph Schonborn said, when he was giving a retreat to priests in Ars, France.

"In Vorarlberg [Austria], in the afternoon, there was always a light in the church: It was the parish priest who was praying there. That remained engraved in my memory."

It has always been a pet peeve of mine that I never, alright not never--only twice in my life, have I ever seen a priest pray. I'm talking about outside of Mass. One was a priest who use to kneel in the church, by himself, and pray his Office. The other was a priest who obviously was praying his Rosary while he walked inside his Church.

Why wouldn't a priest want people to see him pray?

Beats me.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine in Iraq

This link tells the story of the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine in Iraq. These Sisters--the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena in Iraq--had operated various institutions in central and northern Iraq for a long period of time. Since the First Gulf War in 1990/1991 and the sanctions imposed on Iraq by the United Nations, their capacity to provide healthcare and education had been severely tested. After the invasion of 2003, a number of their institutions were attacked and several Sisters injured.

Despite the dangers and hardships, these Sisters have availed themselves of every reasonable opportunity to serve God through service to neighbor, including healing and teaching in Baghdad, in Mosul, and in the refugee camps of Syria, Lebanon and Jordan.

The Prioress of this order is a 69-year-old Iraqi, Sister Maria Hanna. She has a deep and abiding faith in a merciful God, a profound love for her neighbors, and extraordinary hope for a better future. Her order is consecrated in the Eastern Rite of the Catholic Church and includes women of all the backgrounds which represent Iraq. Their spiritually is Dominican and they are part of the world-wide family of St. Dominic and St. Catherine of Siena.

Violence there is still high but the need for a hospital is even greater. This is the area where most of the remaining religious minorities of Iraq live (north and east of Mosul).

Sadly, very little aid of any kind has gone to this area. The U.S. Congress, noticing this lack, now requires that the State Department account for all money that is spent in Iraq for the religious minorities. Champions of this effort have been Representatives Frank Wolf (R-VA), Mark Kirk (R-IL), Christopher Smith (R-NJ) and Anna Eshoo (D-CA). In spite of the reporting requirement clearly identified in law, no specific efforts have been created by the Executive Branch to assist our friends in Iraq.

After our initial contact with the Prioress and the Nuncio, we worked to put together a team of people to assist. One team member, Marty Hudson, was the Acting Health Attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Iraq. Her contacts in Iraq and in the United States were invaluable.

Once the team was assembled, we engaged in a series of long distance discussions with Sister Hanna. Where exactly would the hospital be located? Who would staff it? How much would it cost? Who would provide security, etc.? Many of these questions require a deeper understanding of Sister Hanna's dream so we requested a meeting with Sister Hanna and the Nuncio.

We were able to secure an invitation for the Nuncio to attend the Annual Catholic Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C., held in May of each year. The Nuncio deputized the Latin Archbishop Jean Sleiman of Baghdad to come in his stead.

Fortunately, Sister Hanna was already planning to visit the U.S. at that time. We developed an itinerary for Archbishop Sleiman and Sister Hanna so they would have the opportunity to tell their story themselves.

Since the Dominican Sisters already operate a maternity hospital in Baghdad, they know what is required to duplicate that effort in another part of Iraq. The floor plans and cost estimates they provided us captured the current hospital's resource requirements.

If we were to accomplish this effort in another country (e.g., the U.S., the Philippines or Nigeria), it would be a fairly straightforward effort. We would develop plans for building construction, equipment, personnel, ongoing operations, and recurring maintenance. But this is Iraq (and specifically the Nineveh Plain) so we needed a detailed political-military security plan as well.

We included current and former members of the Iraqi government in our efforts, along with the larger private sector or Iraqi civil society. We are developing with them something like a "Medical Green Zone"--a safe and secure location for healing and teaching in the north of Iraq. But the term "Green Zone" has very negative connotations with Iraqi people since they consider Iraqis who live or work there corrupt and uninterested in what is best for the nation as a whole. We settled on using the term "health security" instead.

Making the Dream a Reality Our goal in this project is to assist Sister Hanna. There are specific dollar amounts that we hope to achieve in order to support her new hospital.

Secondarily, we hope to bring about the IHS and the public-private partnership needed to develop a sound social, economic, political and secure environment.

A third goal is to try to look at ways to help individuals who have been victims of the violence, their family members, and perpetrators. This goal is similar to those in South Africa after the Apartheid regime ended as well as in post-conflict Balkans and the Sub-Sahara Africa. We are addressing the possibility of having the Ministry of Higher Education sponsor a facility we are tentatively calling the Iraqi National Reconciliation Institute (INRI). Sister Hanna's faith is clearly the source of her ability to not only forgive but to live out in her own life Christ's vision that all of us are His brothers and sisters and must be treated with dignity and respect.

This is a remarkable project because of the remarkable people who will make it work. Frail and broken humans are offering their lives in service to God and we can witness God's grace on earth through them. Secularists will just see this as an act of medical diplomacy.

Please continue to pray for peace -- and especially for those who are trying to live out that vocation in a place that has not seen peace in recorded history.

Please refer to the link to read the entire article.