May 31, 2009

Our Lady of Guadalupe



Our Lady of Guadalupe is a celebrated 16th-century icon of the Virgin Mary mother of Jesus Christ. The image, also known as the Virgin of Guadalupe represents a famous Marian apparition. According to the traditional account, the image appeared miraculously on the front of a simple peasant's cloak. The image still exists; it is on display in the Basilica of Guadalupe in Mexico City. It is perhaps Mexico’s most popular religious and cultural image, and the focus of an extensive pilgrimage. The feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe is December 12. She is said to have appeared to Saint Juan Diego on the hill of Tepeyac near Mexico City between December 9 and December 12, 1531.

Today is Pentecost: Sunday May 31, 2009


Pentecost is one of the most important feasts in the liturgical calender, celebrated on the 49th day (7 weeks) after Easter Sunday - or the 50th day inclusively. Pentecost falls on the tenth day after Ascension Thursday. Historically and symbolically related to the Jewish harvest festival of Shavuot or the day, fifty days after the Exodus, on which God gave the Ten Command-ments at Mount Sinai. Pentecost commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and other followers of Jesus as described in the Book of Acts. For this reason, Pentecost is sometimes described as "the Church's birthday".

The story is recounted in the Acts of the Apostles, (Acts 2:1 – 4) "On the day of Pentecost all the Lord’s followers were together in one place. Suddenly there was a noise from heaven like the sound of a mighty wind! It filled the house where they were meeting. Then they saw what looked like fiery tongues moving in all directions, and a tongue came and settled on each person there. The Holy Spirit took control of everyone, and they began speaking whatever languages the Spirit let them speak."

The apostles received the Holy Spirit and were miraculously enabled to go out into Jerusalem prophesying and speaking in languages that all the visitors there could understand ("God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven... each one heard them speaking in his own language.") The noise and activity attracted a huge crowd and the Apostle Peter preached a sermon to the crowd with some effectiveness, as Acts reports: "Those who believed what Peter said were baptized and added to the church that day—about 3,000 in all." Acts 2:41.

May 30, 2009

Genesis - "In the beginning" Part II


In our last post on Genesis we talked about how the sin of Adam had thrown everything out of balance. The world was no longer a temple as it was before. Man had literally fallen out of God's grace. He was now estranged from God though not entirely. God promises to send a redeemer to save man and defeat evil once and for all. (More on this in a later post.) Last but not least, man's relationship with man and with woman was forever transformed. Brother would fight against and kill brother. Marriage would no longer be predicated on love. Instead, the battle of the sexes had begun. This was not part of God's original plan but a consequence of original sin.

"In the beginning," Adam was charged with protecting the Garden and everything in it - including Eve. Man was supposed to tend the Garden, reap its fruits and defend it against the very evil he would succumb to. Adam was standing next to Eve as the snake tempted her. The idea that a "mere garden snake" tempted man away from God is very misleading. The Hebrew word translated as snake in the book of Genesis is the same word used to describe fearsome monsters in other parts of the Old Testament.

Adam was afraid. His first sin wasn't eating the fruit. It was failing to protect Eve.

May 29, 2009

Review: Come and See Bible Study: GENESIS



Come and See – Catholic Bible Study: GENESIS is ideal for group and family bible studies in the home or classroom. Father Joseph L. Ponessa and Dr. Laurie Watson Manhardt take you through all fifty chapters of the book of Genesis. This study guide is geared to adults and young adults. Comprised of twenty-two individual lessons, Come and See is the perfect way for families to explore, learn, and deepen their understanding of the first book of the Bible together.

References to the fields of natural science, biology, geology, and anthropology show how the wisdom and insights contained in Genesis about the origins of mankind, human nature, human sexuality, and more have, if anything, grown more relevant with time. Insightful commentaries, contemporary examples of biblical principles, relevant reflections from some of the Church’s greatest minds, and study questions bring the ancient text into focus.

Although designed for groups, this book will profit individuals as well. Some of the contemporary examples used to prompt reflection and discussion are, in my opinion, a little overdone. This in no way detracts from Come and See’s usefulness, however. I would use it in my classroom and would recommend it to students and to families.

To order this book go here or visit the Catholic Company for similar items.

Our Lady of Fátima



We would be remiss if we did not dedicate a post in this month of Mary to discussing the events at Fátima which commenced on May 13, 1917.

Our Lady of Fátima is the title given to the apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary to three shepherd children at Fátima, Portugal on the 13th day of six consecutive months in 1917, starting on 13 May. The three children were Lúcia Santos and her cousins, siblings Jacinta and Francisco Marto. The title Our Lady of the Rosary is also sometimes used to referr to the same apparition (although it was first used in 1208 for the reported apparition in the church of Prouille), because the children related that the apparition specifically identified herself as "the Lady of the Rosary."

Lúcia described seeing the lady as "brighter than the sun, shedding rays of light clearer and stronger than a crystal ball filled with the most sparkling water and pierced by the burning rays of the sun." According to Lúcia's account, the lady confided to the children three secrets, known as the Three Secrets of Fátima. She exhorted the children to do penance and to make sacrifices to save sinners. The children wore tight cords around their waists to cause pain, abstained from drinking water on hot days, and performed other works of penance. Most important, Lúcia said that the lady asked them to say the Rosary every day, reiterating many times that the Rosary was the key to personal and world peace. Many young Portuguese men, including relatives of the visionaries, were then fighting in World War I.

Pope John Paul II credited Our Lady of Fátima with saving his life following the assassina- tion attempt on the Feast of Our Lady of Fátima, in 1981. He followed the footsteps of Paul VI, on 12 May 1987, to express his gratitude to the Virgin for saving his life. The following day, he renewed the consecration of Pius XII to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

More on our Lady of Fatima in future posts.

Source Wikipedia

May 28, 2009

Genesis - "In the beginning"


The book of Genesis is the first book of the Bible. It portrays the beginning of life on earth, indeed the start of everything that is. God, in a free act of love created the world. "In the beginning... " the world was far different from the one we know today. All of creation was in perfect harmony with the Lord. We don't often think of it this way, but before the first sin, the entire world was a temple in which mankind worshiped the one true God. Man fully possessed original goodness and original justice. Then Adam sinned and this was lost.

For one thing, the world at large stopped being a temple. It became necessary to build a temple in which God could be worshiped. Furthermore, man had to sanctify or purify himself before entering this sacred space. This was not necessary before the Fall. More in our next Genesis post.

Latino Priest Questions Sotomayor Nomination


Staten Island, NY – Fr. Victor Salomon, Director of Hispanic Outreach for Priests for Life, said today that the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor does not merit automatic support from Latinos; rather, Latinos and all Americans should carefully scrutinize her views on abortion.

“What would be the value of having a Latina Supreme Court justice who wants to uphold rulings that have taken the lives of millions of Latino children?” asked Fr. Salomón. “My fear is that this nomination may be great news to those who think it’s OK to abort babies at any time for any reason, but not for those of us who want to share the positive values of Latino culture.

”Fr. Salomon, originally from Venezuela and a priest since 1998, works with Rachel’s Vineyard Ministries to assist women suffering from the spiritual and emotional effects of abortion.

Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, added, “The fact that we know little of Judge Sotomayor’s positions on abortion means we need to find out soon. There are enough people in government, including the President, who are all too willing to let this holocaust continue. It’s time to put more people in government who will work to see this holocaust end.

Priests for Life is the nation's largest Catholic pro-life organization dedicated to ending abortion and euthanasia. For more information, visit http://www.priestsforlife.org/.

May 27, 2009

A Pentecost Reflection 2009





Order out of confusion

Fr. Rene Butler
Remember learning about mixed metaphors, where two or more incompatible images are used to describe one thing? Years ago I saw a cartoon from the New Yorker magazine, where an executive speaking to his staff says, “Gentlemen, I smell a rat. I can feel it in the air. And I will nip it in the bud!”

We seem to have a similar confusion about the Holy Spirit, presented in the New Testament as a dove, wind, fire, and called “Paraclete,” which in turn is translated sometimes as Comforter and sometimes as Advocate. The hymn “Veni Sancte Spiritus” calls on the Spirit to “melt the frozen, warm the chill,” just after describing the Spirit as “Grateful coolness in the heat.”

But all this isn’t so strange as it might at first appear. The key lies in John 3:8, “The wind blows where it wills… but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes.” (See 1 Corinthians 12, Galatians 5:22-23 for just a few examples.) The Spirit is “spontaneous,” unpredictable, bestowing extraordinary gifts, often on unsuspecting, unlikely persons, precisely to meet a particular need in the Church or the world.
It’s no wonder that Pentecost is such an exciting feast!

Benedictus (Song of Zechariah)


Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist

Song of Zechariah, which speaks of the Messiah and his forerunner (John the Baptist).

Blessed be the Lord the God of Israel
He has come to his people and set them free.
He has raised up for us a mighty Saviour,
born of the house of his servant David.

Through his holy prophets he promised of old
that He would save us from our enemies,
from the hands of all who hate us.

He promised to show mercy to our fathers
and to remember his holy covenant.

This was the oath he swore to our father Abraham:
to set us free from the hands of our enemies,
free to worship him without fear,
holy and righteous in his sight
all the days of our life.

You, my child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High;
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way,
to give his people knowledge of salvation
by the forgiveness of their sins.

In the tender compassion of our God
the dawn from on high shall break upon us,
to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death,
and to guide our feet into the way of peace - Amen
Zechariah asked for a sign authenticating the prophecy of the Archangel Gabriel, sent by God. Because of Zechariah's doubt he was made mute and was not able to speak until the day John the Baptist (Zechariah's son) was born. With the birth of John the Baptist, Zechariah was once again able to speak. His first words were a song of praise and thanksgiving to the Lord (the Song of Zechariah). See Luke 1:68-79

May 26, 2009

Sharing is Caring


Dear Readers,

I want to draw your attention to the share button on the left sidebar beneath the picture. This new feature will help you to share this blog and its content on My Space, Facebook, Twitter, and more. You may find this helpful. Feel free to share.

God bless,

Dumb Ox
Dumb Ox

NOTRE DAME: FINAL THOUGHTS

What the controversy shows us

By and large, the protests and expressions of dissent were peaceful and prayerful. It is good that Catholics made their voices heard. Hopefully Notre Dame alumni and benefactors will express their displeasure by withholding their checks. This would get Notre Dame's attention like nothing else.

On a cultural level, devout Catholics can be rightfully proud that the protests were carried out with dignity. Just as important, the holocaust that is abortion was highlighted for the whole world to see. This galvanized pro-life advocates across the nation. The truth is great. It will prevail. In this we can take comfort.

Review: Man and Woman - He Created Them


(Reviewed by Matthew Coffin)

In this new translation of Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body, respected biblical scholar Michael Waldstein presents the Holy Father’ vision of the human person with meticulous scholarship and insight.

Pope John Paul II restores man firmly at the center of reality, making moral absolutes essential. Like Augustine and Aquinas before him, he confirms the fundamental harmony between faith and reason. Using phenomenology and Sacred Scripture, the pontiff affirmed objective moral truth and the dignity of persons, who are shaped by and responsible for their actions.

The fruit of this synthesis, John Paul’s Theology of the Body, is a reflection on our nature and life as persons made in the image and likeness of God, conjugal love, the meaning of celibacy, and the beatitude to which every human being is called. This is the Holy Father’s catechesis for a culture where sex is an obsession, marriage and families are endangered, and the dignity of persons is denied. Teaching about human sexuality using language subjective, inductive, experimental minds can understand, the Theology of the Body is a light in darkness guiding us toward an authentic vision of the person as divine gift.

I highly recommend this translation. The preface and introductory essays are themselves illuminating. This is not summer reading, however, or for the theologically faint of heart. For those unfamiliar with it, I recommend reading and reflecting on one or two catecheses a day to get the most out of this book.

To purchase this book click here or visit the Catholic Company for similar items.

Zechariah and Mary: Two Responses to Grace


Zechariah was a Jewish priest and the husband of Elizabeth, a woman from the priestly family of Aaron. Both Zechariah and Elizabeth were blameless in observing the commandments and ordinances of God. Despite this, they were advanced in years and without children. (Luke 1:5-7).

At the temple in Jerusalem the offering of incense was one of the most solemn aspects of daily worship. This honor was determined by lot, due to the sheer number of priests. Zechariah was chosen by lot to preform the incense offering, a great privilege.

At the golden altar of incense, the angel Gabrielle announced to Zechariah that Elisabeth would give birth to a son, who he was to name John. This son would be the forerunner of the long-awaited Messiah (Luke 1:12-17). In disbelief, Zechariah asked for a sign authenticating the prophecy. The angel identified himself as the Archangel Gabriel, sent by God. Because of Zechariah's doubt he was made mute and was not able to speak until the day the prophesy was fulfilled. Consequently, when Zechariah went out to the worshipers in the temple's outer court, he was unable to say the blessing (Luke 1:18-22).

Compare this to the Virgin Mary’s response when the angel Gabrielle appeared to her during the Annunciation. Gabrielle reveals to Mary that she is too be the mother of the Anointed One. She does not express disbelief but instead asks a question. Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?" And the angel said to her in reply, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God (Luke 1:34-35).

Zechariah and Mary each respond to grace. Mary displays faith. Zechariah demands proof

The Steps to Sainthood


In Church tradition, a person that is seen as exceptionally holy can be declared a saint by a formal process, called canonization. This particular form of recognition formally allows the person so canonized to be listed in the official Litany of the Saints during Mass. Formal canonization is a lengthy process often taking many years, even centuries.

The first step in this process is an investigation of the candidate's life, undertaken by an expert. After this, the report on the candidate is given to the bishop of the area and more studying is done. It is then sent to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in Rome.

If they approve it, then the person may be granted the title of "Venerable," further investigations may lead to the candidate's beatification and given title of "Blessed." At a minimum, two important miracles are required to be formally declared a saint. The Church, however, places special weight on those miracles or instances of intercession that happened after the individual died and which are seen to demonstrate the saint's continued special relationship with God after death. Finally, when all of this is done the Pope canonizes the saint.

May 25, 2009

On The Issue of “Reducing” Abortion


Fr. Frank Pavone

We sometimes hear from those on the other side of the pro-life battle that they want to work together with us to “reduce” the need for abortion. It is part of our pro-life mission to reduce the numbers of abortions, and in fact our goal is not just to reduce but to end it. We have to start by making it clear that there is no need for abortion in the first place. No abortion is necessary, neither medically, nor morally. Women get abortions not because of freedom of choice, but because they feel they have no freedom and no choice. Yet when the People of God provide better choices, the way is clear to help both mother and child. Yes, we will reduce abortions, but let’s never imply there is a need for abortion.

For pro-life resources visit Priests for Life. Also, see Father Frank's blog.
Saint Longinus

Thought of the Day

"Truly, this was the Son of God."

-- St. Longinus

St. Longinus was a Roman soldier at Christ's crucifixion. To learn more go here.

May 24, 2009

Flashback: Obama, Fatherhood Begins at Conception


If Fatherhood begins at conception... doesn't life?

(The following is excerpted from a speech than candidate Obama gave commemorating the Selma Voting Rights March at Brown Chapel A.M.E Church in Selma, Alabama on March 4, 2007.)

I'm fighting to make sure that our schools are adequately funded all across the country. With the inequities of relying on property taxes and people who are born in wealthy districts getting better schools than folks born in poor districts and that's now how it's supposed to be. That's not the American way. but I'll tell you what -- even as I fight on behalf of more education funding, more equity, I have to also say that , if parents don't turn off the television set when the child comes home from school and make sure they sit down and do their homework and go talk to the teachers and find out how they're doing, and if we don't start instilling a sense in our young children that there is nothing to be ashamed about in educational achievement, I don't know who taught them that reading and writing and conjugating your verbs was something white.

We've got to get over that mentality. That is part of what the Moses generation teaches us, not saying to ourselves we can't do something, but telling ourselves that we can achieve. We can do that. We got power in our hands. Folks are complaining about the quality of our government, I understand there's something to be complaining about. I'm in Washington. I see what's going on. I see those powers and principalities have snuck back in there, that they're writing the energy bills and the drug laws.

We understand that, but I'll tell you what. I also know that, if cousin Pookie would vote, get off the couch and register some folks and go to the polls, we might have a different kind of politics. That's what the Moses generation teaches us. Take off your bedroom slippers. Put on your marching shoes. Go do some politics. Change this country! That's what we need. We have too many children in poverty in this country and everybody should be ashamed, but don't tell me it doesn't have a little to do with the fact that we got too many daddies not acting like daddies. Don’t think that fatherhood ends at conception. I know something about that because my father wasn't around when I was young and I struggled.

Saint Longinus - The Soldier who testified to Christ's Divinity



Saint Longinus (pictured) is the Roman soldier who pierced Jesus in the side with a lance. He is the centurion present at the Crucifixion, who testified, "In truth this man was the son of God." Longinus converted to Christianity after the Crucifixion and became a martyr.

Memorial Day - Remembering Our Veterans



To those who have served/are serving this nation in uniform we are in your debt. To everyone who made the ultimate sacrifice or been wounded in preserving our freedom, we offer our heartfelt prayers and gratitude. This Memorial Day, thank a veteran.

Around the Catholic Blogosphere


Week of May 24 - May 30, 2009

EWTN PRIME TIME SCHEDULE (Programing online and on TV.)

Sundays: SUNDAY NIGHT LIVE WITH FR. GROESCHEL 7PM,
CATHOLIC COMPASS 10PM

Mondays: THE JOURNEY HOME 8PM

Tuesdays: MOTHER ANGELICA LIVE CLASSICS 8PM,
THRESHOLD OF HOPE 10PM

Wednesdays: EWTN LIVE 8PM

Thursdays: LIFE ON THE ROCK 8PM

Fridays: THE WORLD OVER 8PM

Saturdays: EWTN GLOBAL SHOWCASE 8PM

BIG C CATHOLICS

May 26th, Dumb Ox will reflect one last time on the Notre Dame controvesy.

May 28th, "Exigesis for Everyone," will begin to discuss the book of Genesis.

The Catholic League

Updated Daily - commentary and information about anti-Catholicism and religious liberty

The Ethics and Public Policy Center

Updated Daily - clarifying and reinforcing the bond between the Judeo-Christian moral tradition and the public debate over domestic and foreign policy issues

(MORE EVENTS TO BE ADDED SHORTLY... )

May 23, 2009

Apologies in the Age of Spin Control

Mary Ann GlendonMary Ann Glendon

(Even though this article was written prior to the jubilee year in 2000, it's subject matter and thought remain salient. It is excerpted below.)

The Catholic Church is preparing to celebrate the Jubilee year 2000 and I am proud to have input into this event. After recently attending a meeting in Rome of the Central Comittee that is handling the affair, I came away with certain anxieties about one aspect of the Jubilee preparation. They concern what one might call “apologies in the age of spin control.”

As you may have noticed, there has been a good deal of public repentance lately concerning things that representatives of the Church did in the past. This is pursuant to Pope John Paul II’s call for a “broad act of contrition” as part of the Church’s celebration of the Jubilee. In his 1994 encyclical on preparing for the Third Millennium, he says that, “it is appropriate, as the Second Millennium of Christianity draws to a close, that the Church should become more fully conscious of the sinfulness of her children, recalling all those times in history when they departed from the spirit of Christ and his Gospel, and, instead of offering the world witness of a life inspired by values of faith, indulged in ways of thinking and acting that were truly forms of counterwitness and scandal.”

According to the monthly magazine Inside the Vatican, the Pope presented this plan for a public mea culpa to the Cardinals at a meeting held several months before the encyclical was issued. Supposedly, he told them that this apology should cover the mistakes and sins of the past thousand years, and in conjunction with, among other things, the Inquisition, the wars of religion, and the slave trade. That magazine also reported (still on hearsay evidence) that “the majority of the College of Cardinals was opposed to that kind of public act of repentance,” though few, apart from Cardinals Biffi and Ratzinger, were said “to have raised their voices in opposition.”

Whether or not that rumor of discord was well-founded, the Pope did address possible criticisms of his plan in Tertio Millennio Adveniente itself, pointing out that while the Church “is holy because of her incorporation into Christ, she is always in need of being purified.” It would be hard to argue with that proposition—or with the Pope’s observation that “Acknowledging the weakness of the past is an act of honesty and courage . . .which alerts us to face today’s temptations and challenges.”
[ ... ]
When we Catholics repent during this “new Advent” preceding the Jubilee, it is not because our sins are more shameful than those of others, but because we and our pilgrim Church are on a trajectory—we are climbing Jacob’s ladder, striving to “put on the new man,” trying to be better Christians today than we were yesterday.
So far as the public face of the new Advent is concerned, I would suggest that the best way to show that we are moving forward on our trajectory is not by abasing ourselves in front of those who are only too eager to help the Church rend her garments and to pour more ashes on her head. Our best course is simply to demonstrate in concrete ways that the members of the mystical body of Christ are constantly growing in love and service to God and neighbor.
Finally, and most importantly—let us remember what these millennial apologies are not: they are not apologies for being Catholic! That we need never do. That we must never do.
To read this article in its entirety go here.

May 22, 2009

Dumb Ox

SHOULD WE BE ASHAMED OF BEING CATHOLIC?

According to one reader "Yes," we should!

I received this comment yesterday: "Given recent events in Northern Ireland, you should be ashamed of your religion." Ashamed of being Catholic? Umm... No! Never! This gentleman from across the pond did seem rather disgruntled though.

I assume he is referring to the 800 plus year old tensions between Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland. He is also insinuating a common sentiment; that all Catholics everywhere should apologize for the actions of all Catholics everywhere. The following post with Mary Ann Glendon will explain why we should never apologize for being Catholic.

Angels & Demons: More Demonic than Angelic



The Da Vinci Code was written by Dan Brown after he wrote Angels & Demons. The protagonist in both volumes is Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon. In Angels & Demons, Langdon is recruited by CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research) to investigate what happened to one of its top physicists: he was found dead with a mysterious symbol seared into his chest. It was the symbol of a secret society, long thought moribund, the Brotherhood of the Illuminati.

In time, Langdon becomes convinced that the Illuminati have returned. According to Brown, the organization, which numbered Galileo among its members, was founded to assert the superiority of science over the irrationality of religion, especially Roman Catholicism. It now seeks revenge, having captured anti- matter, a dangerous substance discovered by the scientist who was assassinated. Langdon’s mission is to stop the Illuminati before it blows up the Vatican with a time bomb procured from the antimatter.

The book, if read purely for entertainment purposes, has its merits. Most of the characters that are pure fiction—like the young priest who before he became pope fell in love with a nun (they wanted a child, but also wanted to remain chaste, so they settled for artificial insemination)—are so absurd as to be unbelievable. But, as with The Da Vinci Code, the real problem lay in Brown’s deceit. He takes real life characters, like Copernicus and Galileo; and real life organizations, like the Illuminati; and real life issues, like science and religion, and blows them to smithereens...

Go here to read the entire PDF file from the Catholic League.

May 21, 2009

Review: Magnificat Magazine


Magnificat magazine is a monthly missal featuring the daily mass readings, night prayer and morning prayer, based on the Liturgy of the Hours, reflections, articles, and more. I find this to be a tremendous spiritual resource and scriptural aid. Magnificat is published twelve times a year, as well as two special editions for Christmas week and Holy week. Masterpieces of Christian art are featured on the cover and a fold out section at the end of each issue.

Available in English and Spanish Magnificat is well worth the $44.95 subscription price.

To purchase a subscription click here or visit the Catholic Company for similar items.

Marriage - The Nuptial Blessing

Robert L. Fastiggi

From What the Church Teaches About Sex: God's Plan For Human Happiness

Getting married is certainly a "rite of passage," but it's much more. It is a sacrament, a holy mystery, "an efficacious sign instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church, by which divine life is entrusted to us." One of the most beautiful prayers in the "Rite of Marriage," is the nuptial blessing given by the priest that says:
Father, You have made the union of man and wife so holy a mystery that it symbolizes the marriage of Christ and His Church.
Father, by your plan man and woman are united, and married life has been established as the one blessing that was not forfeited by original sin or washed away by the flood.
Marriage is a sacred mystery that symbolizes the covenantal love between Christ and His Church (cf. Eph. 5:21-32). It is a primordial blessing that goes back to the creation of the human race. The dynamics of this blessing should be obvious: love, intimacy, communion, and fruitfulness. So precious are these gifts that God preserved them for humanity even after the fall.

Thought of the Day
If we have any natural defect, either in mind or body, let us not grieve and feel sorry for ourselves. Who can tell whether, if we had been given a larger share of ability or stronger health, or greater wealth, we would have possessed them to the destruction of our soul!

-- St. Alphonsus Liguori

May 19, 2009

More Photos of Pope in Holy Land





Images of Pope Benedict in Holy Land




Prayer for Intercession of Pope John Paul II


O Holy Trinity, we thank you for having given to the Church Pope John Paul II, and for having made him shine with your fatherly tenderness, the glory of the Cross of Christ, and the splendor of the Spirit of love.
He, trusting completely in your infinite mercy and in the maternal intercession of Mary, has shown himself in the likeness of Jesus the Good Shepherd and has pointed out to us holiness as the path to reach eternal communion with You.

Grant us, through his intercession, according to your will, the grace that we implore, in the hope that he will soon be numbered among your saints. Amen.
From EWTN

May 18, 2009

Keep Your Eye On This Cardinal



Francis Arinze became the youngest Roman Catholic bishop in the world when he was ordained to the episcopate on 29 August 1965, at the age of 32. He was appointed titular bishop of Fissiana, and named coadjutor to the Archbishop of Onitsha, Nigeria. He attended the final session of the Second Vatican Council in that same year along with the 45 year old Archbishop of Krakow, Poland, Karol Wojtyla, the future Pope John Paul II. Following the death of the Archbishop of Onitsha in February 1967, Arinze was appointed to the position a few months later, on 26 June 1967. He was the first native African to head his diocese, succeeding Archbishop Charles Heery, an Irish missionary.

On 8 April 1985, Arinze resigned from his post in Onitsha, and the Pope named him a Cardinal Deacon, with the title of S. Giovanni della Pigna, little more than a month later in the consistory held on 25 May 1985; he was raised to the rank of Cardinal Priest in 1996. Two days following his elevation to Cardinal Deacon, Arinze was appointed President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, holding the office until 1 October 2002, when he was named Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

Despite the taboo about such discussions, he is the odds on favorite to be the next Pope.

"Great Is Truth. It Will Prevail."



This is the speech given by Judge John Noonan (above on right) -- the 1984 Laetare Medal winner asked by Notre Dame to fill in at the commencement after its intended recipient for 2009, Mary Ann Glendon, refused the prize. It is a moving adress and is printed in full for that reason (h/t Whispers in the Loggia):
Mr. President, Father President, Distinguished Faculty and Guests, Members of the Class of 2009, Families and Friends.
Graduates, you know today is a great day. It is a great day not only for you but for your parents and grandparents. They celebrate the completion of a passage – a passage you have made and they have made possible. The values they imparted to you have been tended here, intertwined with your increasingly independent lives as you face the urgent moral matters of the turbulent modern world.

For me, today brings me back to my own beginnings at Notre Dame. Recruited by Father Ted, I rejoiced in the ambience of Notre Dame – an ambience created by the love brought to it by faculty, staff, students, loyal alumni and the priests of Holy Cross. This love sustains a specially American institution situated as an integral part of an ancient, global institution, the Catholic Church. At the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council – Vatican II – we used to say of the next council, “On to Notre Dame I.” It’s still a valid hope.

I turn to issues before you as Americans prepared to participate in our urgent moral matters. Some things we have in common. Some things all of us know are wrong. Genocide is wrong. Torture is wrong. Slavery is wrong.

In these matters, our moral vision is clear. Our moral vision has had a voice to vindicate those unable to speak. Our moral vision is shared by the civilized world.

It was not so always. The clarity of our moral vision has come out of clashes. It has come by experience, by suffering, by strenuous debate. It has come from the insight and courage of gifted leaders. It has come from the light radiating from the Gospel.

The hesitations, the doubts, the qualifications, the outright opposition of others delayed the day of victory for each of the great moral causes where the truth ultimately prevailed. The champions of the cause were frustrated – frustrated most of all by those who should have been their friends.

Consider, for example, the relations of two men rightly called giants, Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. As late as August 14, 1862, the President advised emancipated slaves to emigrate – to emigrate, as the President vaguely put it, to “somewhere in Central America.” The President’s advice, Douglass wrote, was “ridiculous.” The President’s comments confirmed Douglass’s conviction that the President did not get two facts fundamental to a just solution – first, that black Americans were Americans; second, that Americans did not want to live somewhere else. Little over one month later, enlightenment began to dawn. The President issued the Emancipation Proclamation.

For half a century now, a great debate has gone on in this country about a matter touching the inviolability of human life in a mother’s womb, the rights of a woman with respect to her own body, the duties of doctors, the obligations of parents, and the role of government in a decision that is patently personal and significantly social.

The matter of this debate was too serious to be settled by pollsters and pundits; too delicate to be decided by physical force or by banners and slogans, pickets and placards; too basic for settlement to be based on a vote by judges. The matter was settled – so it seemed – thirty-six years ago. The settlement was still-born. Debate intensified. Debate is not now about to close. At its center are the claims of conflicting consciences.

By conscience, as you graduates of 2009 know, we apprehend what God asks of us and what the love of our neighbor requires. More than the voice of your mother, more than an emotional impulse, this mysterious, impalpable, imprescriptible, indestructible, and indispensable guide governs our moral life. Each one is different. You may suggest what my conscience should say, but you cannot tell me what my conscience must say.

That’s the rub when your moral vision is clear and the other fellow’s is cloudy. You become impatient, the more frustrated if the other fellow is a friend – an old friend or a potential friend. Why can’t he or she see it? To satisfy that frustration by shunning or denouncing your unseeing companion will accomplish little beyond expressing your own exasperation.

Help your cause by hurting your friends? No. What does work is prayer, patience, empathy, and the love that encircles the other person, a fellow creature attempting to do what he or she sees as right.

One friend is not here today, whose absence I regret. By a lonely, courageous, and conscientious choice she declined the honor she deserved. I respect her decision. At the same time, I am here to confirm that all consciences are not the same; that we can recognize great goodness in our nation’s president without defending all of his multitudinous decisions; and that we can rejoice on this wholly happy occasion.

We can rejoice that we live in a country where dialogue, however difficult, is doable; where the resolution of our differences is done in peaceful ways; where our president is a man of conscience. We can rejoice with you, members of the Class of ‘09, as your voices join the dialogue and declare your own consciences on the urgent moral matters that will be settled only when they are settled right.

“Great is truth. It will prevail.” This scriptural text is inscribed on the Laetare Medal. Believing the Bible, sustained by this message taken from it, we can work together. Yes! We can work together, serenely secure in that trust that the truth will win out.

Happy Birthday John Paul II



Today is Karol Józef Wojtyła's birthday, better known as Pope John Paul II. He was born May 18, 1920 and born into eternal life April 2, 2005. Happy Birthday John Paul the Great!

May 17, 2009

In Holy Land, pilgrim pope delivers religious, political challenges


JERUSALEM (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI's eight-day visit to the Holy Land was a biblical pilgrimage, an interfaith mission and a political balancing act all rolled into one.

It was also a gamble. In a region hardened by decades of conflict and simmering social and religious tensions, there was no guarantee of success.

The long-range verdict is yet to come on this "pilgrimage of peace," but the pope certainly delivered a clear and challenging message to his diverse audiences in Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories May 8-15. That alone was an achievement...

To read the full article from the Catholic News Service go here.

Mother Teresa on the Sanctity of Life

Thought of the Day
Saying there are too many children is like saying there are too many flowers.
-- Mother Teresa

Pro-life Commercial Banned By NBC, CNN


For your information here is the powerful pro-life ad rejected by NBC and CNN that was to run during the 2009 Super Bowl. President Obama's support of abortion is ironic since a disproportionate number of the victims of abortion are female and minority babies.

Free E-Book: Answering Angels & Demons



The theatrical release of Angels & Demons is set to appear in theatres around the country on Friday, May 15. While being hailed as a masterful work of cinema, Angels & Demons is little more than an overt attack on the Catholic Church. This movie has the potential to shake the faith of millions of people who know little about Catholic teaching and Catholic and Western history.

Wrapped in an exciting story of mystery and intrigue, Angels & Demons has a clear agenda. Pretending the Church to be a murderous institution bent on eliminating those who would foster scientific progress, this story paints a picture of our Catholic heritage that denies even the most basic facts of history.

As a response, Ascension Press has teamed up with Mark Shea to set the record straight in the book Answering Angels & Demons. Available at AnsweringAngelsAndDemons.com, this resource contains thirty-three questions and answers that dispel the outrageous claims made in the story.

We hope you will download this free book, read it for yourself, share it with your friends, and spread the word.

Sincerely,

Ascension Press

May 16, 2009

Gallup Poll: Abortion Question Since 1995



Gallup poll on abortion since 1995 - the first year it was asked. (click image to enlarge)

Archbishop Burke: Is Notre Dame Catholic?


Tom Hoops for Priests for Life

“What should the Church do about Notre Dame?” I asked Archbishop Raymond Burke last night. His answer:

“What it should do is have Notre Dame come clean. Is it Catholic or isn’t it? A Catholic institution, a Catholic univer- sity, cannot give honors to someone who is a promoter of things that are opposed to the most fundamental beliefs of Catholics, and so that’s what needs to happen.”

How can the Church do that?

“There’s an apostolic constitution, Ex Corde Ecclesiae, which sets forth the requirements for a university to have the name Catholic. I think that Notre Dame has to either follow those norms or say ‘We’re not a Catholic university anymore.’”

Archbishop Burke, of course, is the prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, the Vatican’s highest court. He was archbishop of St. Louis from 2003 until last year.

He’ll have more to say about Notre Dame this morning.

I’m in the lobby outside of the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast. One of the organizers just told me that Archbishop Burke’s words to me constituted his first public statement about Notre Dame, “But wait until you hear what he has to say this morning,” he said. “Hold on to your glasses.”

Which reminds me, I’d better head into the breakfast now. More later.

UPDATE: At the prayer breakfast, Archbishop Burke said:“In a culture marked by widespread and ingrained confusion about the most fundamental teachings of the moral law, our Catholic schools and universities must be beacons of truth and right conduct. “

He added, “The purposed granting of an honorary degree” by Notre Dame to Barack Obama is “the source of the greatest scandal.”

The archbishop said, “If we as individuals are not willing to accept the burdens” of the Catholic witness to the right to life, “we are not worthy of the name Catholic.”

May 15, 2009

New Gallup poll: More Americans "pro-life" than "pro-choice" for first time


A new Gallup Poll, conducted May 7-10, finds 51% of Americans calling themselves "pro-life" on the issue of abortion and 42% "pro-choice." This is the first time a majority of U.S. adults have identified themselves as pro-life since Gallup began asking this question in 1995.
St. Maximus the Confessor

Thought of the Day
To harbor no envy, no anger, no resentment against an offender is still not to have charity for him. It is possible, without any charity, to avoid rendering evil for evil. But to render, spontaneously, good for evil -- such belongs to a perfect spiritual love.

-- St Maximus the Confessor

Notre Dame Follow-Up


I received the following letter from Father Frank Pavone which I submit to you:

Dear Friend:

May I ask you to give me your opinion in our monthly online poll hosted at PriestsForLife.org regarding the Notre Dame situation.

Secondly, may I invite you to pledge prayer support for the students who will boycott their own commencement and have invited me to join them on Sunday, May 17 at Notre Dame to lead an alternate commencement ceremony. See PrayerCampaign.org.

Third, may I draw your attention to this media appearance. I will be interviewed about the Notre Dame situation on Fox News Sunday on the morning of Sunday, May 17. This show airs on your local Fox Channel and times vary. Check your local listing for time and channel. The show will re-air at 6pm ET on Cable TV's Fox News Channel. For more information see FoxNews.com.

God bless you and thank you,

Fr. Frank Pavone
National Director, Priests for Life

May 14, 2009

Salve Regina (Continued)


Some of you were interested in how to pronounce the Salve Regina in Latin. For your information here is the Salve Regina along with other rosary prayers with text and accompanying audio. You can listen to the Salve Regina chanted by the monks at Conception Abbey here.

May 13, 2009

Hail Holy Queen/Salve Regina

Mary with the Christ Child

Continuing with our Marian theme for the month of May, this is the Dumb Ox's favorite prayer the Hail Holy Queen better known as the Salve Regina. Here is the prayer in English and in Latin:

Hail Holy Queen

Hail, holy Queen, Mother of Mercy,
our life, our sweetness and our hope.
To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve;
to thee do we send up our sighs,
mourning and weeping in this valley of tears.

Turn then, most gracious advocate,
thine eyes of mercy toward us;
and after this our exile,
show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.

V./ Pray for us O holy Mother of God,

R./ that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Salve Regina

Salve Regina, Mater misericordiae,
vita, dulcedo, et spes nostra, salve.
ad te clamamus
exsules filii Hevae,
ad te suspiramus, gementes et flentes
in hac lacrimarum valle.

Eia, ergo, advocata nostra, illos tuos
misericordes oculos ad nos converte;
et Jesum, benedictum fructum ventris tui,
nobis post hoc exsilium ostende.
O clemens, O pia, O dulcis
Virgo Maria.

V./ Ora pro nobis sancta Dei Genetrix.

R./ Ut digni efficiamur promissionibus Christi.

Shame on Notre Dame



As most of you are well aware by now, the University of Notre Dame is set to award President Barack Obama an honorary degree as it’s 2009 commencement speaker. Here is the online petition to Father Jenkins, the president of Notre Dame:

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

It has come to our attention that the University of Notre Dame will honor President Barack Obama as its commencement speaker on May 17.

It is an outrage and a scandal that “Our Lady’s University,” one of the premier Catholic universities in the United States, would bestow such an honor on President Obama given his clear support for policies and laws that directly contradict fundamental Catholic teachings on life and marriage.

This nation has many thousands of accomplished leaders in the Catholic Church, in business, in law, in education, in politics, in medicine, in social services, and in many other fields who would be far more appropriate choices to receive such an honor from the University of Notre Dame.

Instead Notre Dame has chosen prestige over principles, popularity over morality. Whatever may be President Obama’s admirable qualities, this honor comes on the heels of some of the most anti-life actions of any American president, including expanding federal funding for abortions and inviting taxpayer-funded research on stem cells from human embryos.

The honor also comes amid great concern among Catholics nationwide about President Obama’s future impact on American society, the family, and the Catholic Church on issues such as traditional marriage, conscience protections for Catholic doctors and nurses, and expansion of abortion “rights.”

This honor is clearly a direct violation of the U.S. bishops’ 2004 mandate in “Catholics in Political Life”: “The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.”

We prayerfully implore you to halt this travesty immediately. We do so with the hope that Catholics nationwide will likewise call on you to uphold the sacred mission of your Catholic university. May God grant you the courage and wisdom to do what is right.

Sincerely,

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It not too late to sign the petition. For those who have not already done so go here.
Thought of the Day

As iron is fashioned by the fire on an anvil, so in the fire of suffering and under the weight of trials, our souls receive the form that our Lord desires for them to have.

-- St. Madeleine Sophie Barat

May 12, 2009

One Minute Catechism

__________________________________

from the Catechism of the Catholic Church

__________________________________________

THE DESIRE FOR GOD

The desire for God is written in the human heart, because man is created by God and for God; and God never ceases to draw man to himself. Only in God will he find the truth and happiness he never stops searching for:

The dignity of man rests above all on the fact that he is called to communion with God. This invitation to converse with God is addressed to man as soon as he comes into being. For if man exists it is because God has created him through love, and through love continues to hold him in existence. He cannot live fully according to truth unless he freely acknowledges that love and entrusts himself to his creator. (Vatican Council II, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World 19 § 1.)

In many ways, throughout history down to the present day, men have given expression to their quest for God in their religious beliefs and behavior: in their prayers, sacrifices, rituals, meditations, and so forth. These forms of religious expression, despite the ambiguities they often bring with them, are so universal that one may well call man a religious being:

Doctor of the Week: Saint Albert the Great


St. Albert the Great

Each week we will spotlight one of the thirty-three Doctors of the Catholic Church

St. Albert, 1200-1280. Doctor of Science, Feast Nov. 15th.

Albert is a great model for all Christians, especially scientists. Many scientists like Albert have been blessed with independence of mind and great mental prowess. In this category, many rely more on reason and memory than faith. One recent survey from a national newspaper showed that there is least difference between the faith of eighty years ago (1917) and today (1998) among Physicists, Biologists and Mathematicians. Those who believe in God were around 40 percent and those who did not believe were 45 percent. Doubt and agnosticism resulted in about 15 percent.

[ ... ]

St Albert's life and message can still teach and enlighten us, especially the scientists, about how to live. His message is: do not rely or trust in your memory and reason more than God. We should practice our belief in God daily. We should also exercise our spiritual gifts in our chosen profession as much as our natural gifts and resources. Albert is a model for us to trust, rely, and depend on God through our faith and profession. It is a noble call and challenge.

To view St. Albert's complete profile and others visit this excellent link.

In Holy Land, pope appeals for peace and condemns anti-Semitism



JERUSALEM (CNS) -- Passing the midpoint of his Holy Land pilgrimage, Pope Benedict XVI celebrated an open-air Mass in Jerusalem, prayed at the Western Wall and visited one of Islam's most sacred shrines.

The pope's events May 12 underscored his message that Jerusalem, a meeting ground for Christianity, Judaism and Islam, must again become a city of peace. It was his second day in the holy city after four days in Jordan.

The pope made a morning visit to the Dome of the Rock, sacred to Muslims as the place from which Mohammed ascended to heaven. He told Islamic leaders there that Christians, Muslims and Jews have a "grave responsibility" to expand dialogue and mend divisions...

From the Catholic News Service. Read John Thavis's article in full here.
Dumb Ox

EXEGESIS FOR EVERYONE

A new post series from Big C Catholics.

Exegesis for everyone is a new weekly column in which we will consider some aspect of Sacred Scripture or a specific passage from the Bible. St. Jerome said "Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ." Exegesis for Everyone will help us to know the mind of Jesus Christ.

Exegesis is the study and interpretation of Sacred Scripture. In the next installment we will examine the four "senses of Scripture." They are: 1.) the Literal Sense: “[T]he meaning conveyed by the words of Scripture” (Catechism, no. 116), the actual event, person, thing described in the biblical text. The literal sense gives rise to the following three “spiritual senses,” 2.) the Allegorical Sense: How those things, events, or persons in the literal sense point to Christ and the Paschal Mystery, 3.) the Moral Sense: How the literal sense points to the Christian life in the Church, 4.) the Anagogical Sense: How the literal sense points to the Christian’s heavenly destiny and the last things.

May 11, 2009

The Memorare

LET US PRAY

Since May is the month of Mary we thought we would feature the Memorare. This prayer is originally from a longer prayer of the 15th century and was popularized in the 17th century by Fr. Claude Bernard, who is said to have learned it from his father.

Memorare

Remember, O Most Gracious Virgin Mary,
that never was it known that anyone who fled to Thy protection, implored Thy help or sought Thy intercession,
was left unaided.
Inspired by this confidence,
I fly unto Thee, O Virgin of Virgins, my Mother;
to Thee do I come, before thee I kneel, sinful and sorrowful.

O Mother of the Word Incarnate,
despise not my petitions,
but in Thy clemency, hear and answer me - Amen.

May 10, 2009

Pope boosts Christian minority, builds bridges to Muslims


AMMAN, Jordan – Walking a pilgrim's path in Jordan, Pope Benedict XVI energized its minority Christian population and built bridges to the moderate Muslim world.

In a wider message to the troubled region, he insisted that religious values must have a decisive role in the societies of the Middle East, especially when it comes to healing divisions and promoting peace.

It was the 82-year-old pontiff's first trip to an Arab country, the first portion of an eight-day Holy Land pilgrimage that would also take him to Israel and Palestinian territories.

He set the tone of his visit when he arrived at Amman's airport May 8, saying he had come as a Christian pilgrim and expressing his "deep respect" for the Muslim community...

Happy Mother's Day to All Mothers



Today is Mother's Day. This post is dedicated to my Mother and to mothers everywhere. Icons represent and make present spiritual realities beyond us. Motherhood is a special icon of God's love. I was home schooled by my Mom, loved, nurtured and cared for. To this day she makes sure my Father looks presentable. Her maternal care has sustained our family. Because of her it is easy to believe that God is loving.

Happy Mother's Day to all mothers!