Friday, December 5, 2008

And Incredible Pilgramage

Our spiritual mentor, Fr. Dennis Brown, (at right with Pam and me during a visit to Michigan for a surgeon to check out a knee injury ... notice the crutch) finally got to the Holy Land. Fr. Dennis was catechized by Bishop Fulton Sheen and Fr. Ciszek (the clandestine missionary priest to the USSR who spent years in the Communist Gulag), and was ordained by Pope John Paul II in Rome. He was also advised for many years by the late Fr. John Hardon, S.J.. From those relationships he got to know Mother Teresa of Calcutta and is still friends with a number of the Missionaries of Charity.

Recently he was asked to come and give a mission for the Missionaries of Charity from Jordan. His superiors said he could go. What a thrill for him, because he finally made his pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

What he did in those few days is exhausting to contemplate. But here is his e-mail to those of us who pray for him. Imagine doing all fo this. The simplicity of his statements -- "I prayed here... " and "I celebrated Mass there..." -- each suggest an Ignatian reflection of some duration. And that is what he teaches, Ignatian Spirituality, e.g. contemplations. Imagine now, being in the real places where for so many years he's only been able to contemplate about being there. This email alone will provide for Pam and I many hours of prayerful fruit. Here's his report:

======

Dear Friends,

By the grace of our Good God, I made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in November.

First, I gave a preached/directed retreat to 20 professed Missionary of Charity Sisters in Amman Jordan (or rather at their retreat house outside of Amman). One always gains more, and in a special way with the MCs, when one gives to them. I felt the presence of Blessed Theresa of Calcutta.

I, most importantly, put the retreat and my pilgrimage/vacation to Israel directly under the guidance of Our Lady, as my pilgrimage director. I could not have done a better thing:).

All went "miraculously" smoothly even to the "surprise" of the MC sisters.

I will list in "historical" chronological order the places I celebrated masses, prayed at and visited (that is, not necessarily in the order I personally visited them). I will probably leave some things out since there were so many things. I made the resolution, however, at the start not to "rush" but to leave myself as much time as I desired at each site to pray. That made it a calm and contemplative experience.

I will more relate the "events" rather than what I experienced since that would take a much longer reflective writing (sort of like Fr. Ciszek's two books, in the first he described events, and the in second written much later what took place in him interiorly).

The MC sisters in Jerusalem and Bethlehem took me under their wing and "spoiled" me with all their care and charitable assistance (including feeding me) during my pilgrimage. Their knowledge of the area really assisted me. At almost all of the masses I list at least two MC sisters assisted.

I stayed at St. Mark's Lutheran Hospice, near the Jaffa Gate in the Old City, the first week and in the Austrian Hospice (Catholic under Cardinal Schonborn) near the Damascus Gate in the Old City, the second week.

I prayed at and was awe-struck on Mount Nebo in Jordan where Moses was given a vision of the Promised Land and where he died.

I visited Abu Gosh,The Church of Notre Dame de l'Arche de l'Alliance (Our Lady of the Ark of the Covenant), the site of the house of Abinadab where the Ark of the Covenant rested for twenty years until King David took it to Jerusalem and also the City of David, Silwan, where the prophets uttered their resounding perorations during the period of the First Temple and Zion where David first brought the Ark.

I prayed at the Temple Mount, Mount Moriah where Abraham was asked to sacrifice Isaac and where Solomon built the first Temple, and the Second Temple was rebuilt (prayed also for the Moslems in whose hands it is).

I prayed with and for the Jews at the Western (Wailing) Wall especially during their Sabbath. (Also praying the joyful mysteries remembering the presentation and finding of Jesus in the Temple especially and also meditating the other events regarding the Temple and Jesus and the Temple). I also visited one day when a number of Bar Mitzvah's were taking place at the Wall at the same time.

My first day in Jerusalem I concelebrated mass with an Italian group in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel of the Holy Sepulchre Church. I spent much time in prayer in the Holy Sepulchre Church my first week in Jerusalem.

I visited and prayed several times at David's Tomb on Mount Zion, again surrounded by Orthodox Jews in prayer.

I celebrated Mass at Mary's birth place in the Church of St. Anne on the Via Dolorosa.

I celebrated Mass in Nazareth in the Church of the Annunciation where the Incarnation took place. We then visited Joseph's house where the Holy Family lived during the years of the hidden-ordinary life. Also prayed in the cave and at the tomb of St. Jerome.

I celebrated Mass in Ein Karem at the Visitation Church. This is the village of John the Baptist. We also assisted at mass in the Church of John the Baptist, the site of his birth.

I celebrated Mass in the Manger Grotto in the Basilica in Bethlehem, the site of the Birth of Jesus. (We also visited the Bethlehem Carmel and the Church/Convent of Our Lady of the Garden). We then visited the Shepherds' Field and the Milk Grotto Church, the site of the Magi's visit.

Prayed in Nazareth in the Synagogue where Jesus where Jesus first learned, prayed and later preached and where he revealed Himself (Luke 4)

We visited Cana and I blessed a married couple's marriage in the Church there.

We visited the Sea of Galilee which was the occasion for much moving meditation, as you can imagine (calling of the apostles, miracles, etc, etc)

Then we went to the Church of the Multiplication of Fishes and Loaves.

We visited Capernaum, the home of Jesus, where 5 of the apostles came from (Peter, Andrew, James, John, Matthew) and wherein Jesus worked so many of his miracles (healing man with unclean spirit; healing Peter's Mother-in-law; healing the Centurion's servant, etc) and where the House of Peter is. Jesus selected this town as the center of his public ministry in Galilee after he left Nazareth. He preached in the Synagogue there. We visited the ancient Syangogue there.

We prayed at the Mount of the Beatitudes.

I prayed at the Pool of Bethesda where Jesus cured the man who had for 38 years waited for a cure.

I visited, in Jordan, the Baptismal Site of Jesus and blessed some water from the Jordan and blessed the people I was with renewing our baptismal promises.

Prayed at Mount Tabor, the Mount of the Transfiguration.

We visited Bethany, the home of Martha, Mary and Lazarus. We prayed at the Tomb of Lazarus and the Church of Lazarus.

I celebrated mass at the Dominus Flevit Church where Jesus looked at and wept over Jerusalem. I was very much struck here and spent much time in prayer.

We visited Bethphage, where Jesus sent his disciples to get the donkey wherein he would ride into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.

We visited the Mount of Olives where I also prayed for all the Jews buried in one of the oldest cemeteries on earth.

I celebrated Mass at the site of the Cenacle wherein Jesus celebrated the Last Supper and instituted the Eucharist.

I prayed in the Kidron Valley where Jesus and the disciples walked through to Gethsemane.

I celebrated Mass in the Grotto of Gethsemane.

On Friday I followed and made the Via Crucis, the way Jesus was lead to the Crucifixion, which was led by the Franciscans with a large group of pilgrims.

I celebrated Mass near the first station, the chapels of the Condemnation and the Flagellation. Visited the Ecce Homo site. I celebrated mass also at the private chapel of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy at this site.

I celebrated Mass in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher twice at Calvary, first the mass of the Triumph of the Cross, then at the altar of Our Lady of Sorrows.

I celebrated Mass in the Tomb of Christ wherein he was buried and Rose from the Dead.

I visited Tabgha Peter's Primacy Church where Our Lord performed the miracle of the miraculous catch of fish and three times asked Peter if he loved him.

I celebrated mass in Emmaus.

We visited the site of the Ascension of Jesus.

I prayed at the Dormition Church, the site of the "falling asleep" of Mary and of Pentecost.

My last day in Jerusalem I prayed in the Basilica of St. James where James the Apostle, the first bishop of Jerusalem was beheaded and where his tomb is (assisted at the Armenian's liturgy also).

In Jerusalem I also visited the Yad Va Shem Holocaust Museum, a deeply moving experience, and the Israel Museum which has a marvelous recreation the Jerusalem in the temple period. I also walked many times through the various quarters of the Old City (and just outside in the Mea Sherim neighborhood which is an orthodox Hasidic section). I prayerfully marveled at the various cultures/religions in the Old City living together, in the Jewish, Moslem, Christian and Armenian Quarters and deeply entered into prayer for all that the Christians could live in loving unity and that the non-Christians could discover their Savior, Jesus Christ.

Many times I would go to a rooftop overlooking the Old City and sit and pray contemplatively viewing all of the historical sites of Our Redemption which were so visible from this perspective.

You can probably fill in the spaces I "left blank" above in terms of the fitting intentions I must have had (e.g., at the Cenacle and Emmaus, at Calvary and the Tomb of Christ, etc)

There is a first reflection.

I prayed for all and remembered all at the altar of the Lord.

I'm going to spend a long time in Thanksgiving to the Lord and Our Lady and the saints who assisted me in this pilgrimage.

Prayers,

Fr. Dennis

Sunday, November 30, 2008

MaryChristMass Bumper Sticker


Well, I've about had it with this culture. It's totally forgotten what anything is really about. So, here's my contribution to incite some change and strange looks. My new bumper sticker, to remind all of us whence Christmas came and how it's celebrated everyday, really. The sticker goes on sale today at Nineveh's Crossing's home page. It won't ship until mid-December, but you will have them in time for "ChristMass" gifts.

Click on the image to get to the home page and order a stack of these things, and stick them on anything that moves.

Order 1, 5, or 10! Great gifts. These premium bumper stickers, 3.0" X 11.5", are printed on high-quality, long-lasting vinyl using a high-resolution, 150-line screen process, and UV resistive inks.

Change the culture. Yes! We need change.

Pray for revival.

If there was No Mary, there's be no Christ, and there's be No Mass.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Don't Close Hospitals - Force the Government to Arrest the Bishops

Below are a couple of articles about the Bishops vs. Obama and Abortion. I'm still not satisfied that words are enough. Excommunication is a beginning. But when it comes to shutting down (not selling) hospitals, my vote is "no." Bishops should not be shutting down hospitals, but keep them open and defy any law that tells them to do anything immoral. If that means the police and (who would they send) comes and arrests the hospital staff, then the bishops should be in the lobby and the first to go. As Randall Terry says, "Stop the Bishop-Killing." in his booklet A Humble Plea to Bishops, Clergy, and Laymen. Write me for a free copy.)

(I will not indent this to save space, but all that follows is quoted from those cited. -- sw)

US Bishops Issue Stark Warning to Obama over Abortion

By John-Henry Westen
 
BALTIMORE, November 12, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com)
In a stark warning to President-Elect Barack Obama, Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), today warned the Obama Administration, on behalf of all the US bishops, that "aggressive pro-abortion policies, legislation and executive orders will permanently alienate tens of millions of Americans, and would be seen by many as an attack on the free exercise of their religion." The statement, which was "written at the request and direction of all the Bishops," was released today at the end of the annual fall assembly of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.
 


While the message begins on a conciliatory note, the vast majority is directed at the issue of the rights of the unborn. "The bishops of the Catholic Church in the United States welcome this moment of historic transition and look forward to working with President-elect Obama and the members of the new Congress for the common good of all," begins the statement. From there, however, it notes that the 1973 Roe v Wade decision was "bad law" and that the Freedom of Choice Act which Obama has promised to sign is even "more radical." 
 


Cardinal George writes that "the unity desired by President-elect Obama and all Americans at this moment of crisis will be impossible to achieve," if the administration's policies increase abortions.



The full statement follows:



STATEMENT of the President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.



"If the Lord does not build the house, in vain do its builders labor; if the Lord does not watch over the city, in vain does the watchman keep vigil." (Psalm 127, vs. 1)
 


The Bishops of the Catholic Church in the United States welcome this moment of historic transition and look forward to working with President-elect Obama and the members of the new Congress for the common good of all. Because of the Church's history and the scope of her ministries in this country, we want to continue our work for economic justice and opportunity for all; our efforts to reform laws around immigration and the situation of the undocumented; our provision of better education and adequate health care for all, especially for women and children; our desire to safeguard religious freedom and foster peace at home and abroad. The Church is intent on doing good and will continue to cooperate gladly with the government and all others working for these goods.
 


The fundamental good is life itself, a gift from God and our parents. A good state protects the lives of all. Legal protection for those members of the human family waiting to be born in this country was removed when the Supreme Court decided Roe vs. Wade in 1973. This was bad law. The danger the Bishops see at this moment is that a bad court decision will be enshrined in bad legislation that is more radical than the 1973 Supreme Court decision itself.
 


In the last Congress, a Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) was introduced that would, if brought forward in the same form today, outlaw any "interference" in providing abortion at will. It would deprive the American people in all fifty states of the freedom they now have to enact modest restraints and regulations on the abortion industry. FOCA would coerce all Americans into subsidizing and promoting abortion with their tax dollars. It would counteract any and all sincere efforts by government and others of good will to reduce the number of abortions in our country.
 


Parental notification and informed consent precautions would be outlawed, as would be laws banning procedures such as partial-birth abortion and protecting infants born alive after a failed abortion. Abortion clinics would be deregulated. The Hyde Amendment restricting the federal funding of abortions would be abrogated.

FOCA would have lethal consequences for prenatal human life.
 
FOCA would have an equally destructive effect on the freedom of conscience of doctors, nurses and health care workers whose personal convictions do not permit them to cooperate in the private killing of unborn children. It would threaten Catholic health care institutions and Catholic Charities. It would be an evil law that would further divide our country, and the Church should be intent on opposing evil.
 


On this issue, the legal protection of the unborn, the bishops are of one mind with Catholics and others of good will. They are also pastors who have listened to women whose lives have been diminished because they believed they had no choice but to abort a baby. Abortion is a medical procedure that kills, and the psychological and spiritual consequences are written in the sorrow and depression of many women and men. The bishops are single-minded because they are, first of all, single-hearted.
 


The recent election was principally decided out of concern for the economy, for the loss of jobs and homes and financial security for families, here and around the world. If the election is misinterpreted ideologically as a referendum on abortion, the unity desired by President-elect Obama and all Americans at this moment of crisis will be impossible to achieve. Abortion kills not only unborn children; it destroys constitutional order and the common good, which is assured only when the life of every human being is legally protected. Aggressively pro-abortion policies, legislation and executive orders will permanently alienate tens of millions of Americans, and would be seen by many as an attack on the free exercise of their religion.
 


This statement is written at the request and direction of all the Bishops, who also want to thank all those in politics who work with good will to protect the lives of the most vulnerable among us. Those in public life do so, sometimes, at the cost of great sacrifice to themselves and their families; and we are grateful. We express again our great desire to work with all those who cherish the common good of our nation. The common good is not the sum total of individual desires and interests; it is achieved in the working out of a common life based upon good reason and good will for all.
 


Our prayers accompany President-elect Obama and his family and those who are cooperating with him to assure a smooth transition in government. Many issues demand immediate attention on the part of our elected "watchman." (Psalm 127) May God bless him and our country.


=================

Bishop Bruskevitz to Fellow Bishops on Obama: No Compromise on "Vile Intrinsic Evil Such as Abortion"


"Any bishop here would be willing, would consider it a privilege, to die tomorrow if it meant ending abortion,” said Bishop Hermann.

By John-Henry Westen
 

BALTIMORE, November 12, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com)

US Catholic Bishops meeting at their Fall conference yesterday had a drawn out discussion, mostly in private, about abortion and politics, specifically dealing with the new Obama Administration. Several of the bishops issued some of the strongest statements on the issue to date, noting that on abortion there can be no compromise, and that steps must be taken to deal with self-professedly “Catholic” politicians who are nevertheless deeply “anti-life.”
 


Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz of Lincoln, Nebraska said on the issue: "One cannot compromise between the fire and the fire department, the fly and the fly swatter. There are things that don't admit of compromise - and vile … intrinsic evil such as abortion do not admit us any such compromise."
 


Bishop Joseph F. Martino of Scranton, PA tackled the problem of pro-abortion Catholic politicians head-on. "We are going to have to speak as firmly as possible to Catholic politicians who are not merely reluctant to vote pro-life, but are stridently anti-life," he said.

He also spoke of "canonical measures" such as excommunication, noting, "We have to have something like that. I cannot have the vice president-elect coming to Scranton saying he learned his values there, when his values, at least in the area of abortion, are utterly against the teachings of the Catholic Church."



Bishop Robert Conlon of Steubenville, Ohio agreed. "Some people may think it's time for a truce, but we're dealing with a moral absolute. There's nothing here that allows for common ground. We're talking about a human being whose life cannot be compromised."
 


Auxiliary Bishop Robert Hermann observed that the bishops should not be afraid of mere criticism for defending Catholic teaching on the sanctity of life, when any of them would be willing to give up their life to end abortion. "Any bishop here would be willing, would consider it a privilege, to die tomorrow if it meant ending abortion,” he said. “We should dedicate the rest of our lives to taking any kind of criticism, whatever it is, to stop this horrible genocide."



Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Chicago said that were Catholic hospitals forced to participate in abortion they would be closed down. "It could mean discontinuing obstetrics in our hospitals, and we may need to consider taking the drastic step of closing our catholic hospitals entirely. It would not be sufficient to withdraw our sponsorship or to sell them to someone who would perform abortions. That would be a morally unacceptable cooperation in evil. I do not think I'm being alarmist in considering such drastic steps. We need to respond in a morally appropriate, responsible fashion."


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Sponsorships Wanted for Faith Formation Series


In the shadow of the 2008 Presidential campaign and election of Barack Obama, and reports that 60% of Catholics voted for this most pro-death candidate ever, thus cooperating with the intrinsic evil of abortion -- the essay argues for three things: (1) Prayer and fasting for a holiness revival in the Catholic Church; (2) Commitment of the faithful to conforming their lives to holiness; and (3) the incessant, unending implementation of a project we might call BEST PRACTICES OF FAITH FORMATION, which is described in a proposal linked elsewhere on the above linked page. (Click the title.)

In short we need sponsorships or grants to help produce The Best Practices Television Series and Print ResourceLibrary that will feature the Best Practices of Faith Formation work being developed and directed by a number of already existing Catholic orders, organizations, ministries, and NPOs. Our plan is to document the practice, showing others how it works, and then providing resource materials so the practice can be imiplemented on any parish level.

Everytime I turn around I'm reading something from the Bishops that echos what these various essays and elucidates what this Best Practice proposal describes. A participant in the Bishops Synod on the Word of God, Bishop Luis Tagle of Imus, Philippines said to a reporter on Oct 22 (CNS):
The Church is trying to avoid looking at the growing fundamentalist movement with prejudice, "suspicion or belligerence," but to humbly ask the questions, "what are they doing right, what are they doing well" that attracts such a growing number of people?
That's exactly my point. A great deal of the success that Evangelicals are experiencing is due to technique (e.g. effective communication and training methods). By being prejudice against their technique, Catholics allow Evangelicals to own it and allow thousands to be misled. Catholicism needs to understand how best to communicate and invigor people in today's society. Catholicism has the truth, but these other groups know how to communciate.
Tagle goes on, "It is really a living word for them [The Bible] because when (evangelicals preach) it, they make it alive. And is this just a question of technique -- speaking ability -- or is it a question also of interiorizing" the Gospel message?
DUH! They are one in the same. The Gospel message is not interiorized without a certain amount of enthusiasm and ability to show the Christian HOW to make it personal and HOW to move it from the head to the heart. Catholic leaders just assume right information will automatically result in right hearts. No so.

Bishop Guillermo Loria Garita of San Isidro, Costa Rica...
told the synod...the Church must "help people be protagonists in their discovery of the riches and the wisdom of the word of god, to accompany them in solid and systemtic formation..." (my emphasis)
The bishops are saying the right words, now we just need some of them to help us out demonstrating some of these best practices, which the bishops mention, and get the ideas imprinted into the minds of parish and family leaders.

I think I'll write some of them and ask if they'll sponsor a television/DVD episode on the Best Practices they have elucidated at the synod...many of the ideas are actually being impelmented in their dicoeses. But unless others can see and taste the success of these Best Pratcies, they will not be widely used.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Heritance - New Catholic Musical


DETROIT PASTOR PRODUCES BROADWAY STYLE MUSICAL TO PROMOTE PRIESTHOOD AND RELIGIOUS LIFE.

PRESS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 9 A.M. EDT, November 10, 2008

Contact: Rev. Eduard Perrone. Phone: (313) 372-0762

DETROIT, MI, NOVEMBER 10, 2008: 30 years ago, Rev. Eduard Perrone, pastor of Assumption Grotto Catholic Church in Detroit, announced to his famous father, renowned big band musician Phil Perrone, that he had decided to enter the seminary, his father exclaimed that the music community had lost a “great one”. But today, the Rev. Perrone is making history from his Detroit parish by producing wholesome family musicals in the grand tradition of the great classics.

“It’s not just good music.” Rev. Perrone says, “What last year’s musical, Palla Eius and this year’s new musical, called The Heritance, represent is what we hope will be the beginning of a Catholic cultural renaissance, beginning in Detroit and spreading throughout the world. We desperately need this genre of theatre given the immense influx of filth and violence of so many contemporary films, music and stage productions which have not resisted even unto attacking the Catholic Church and the priesthood.”

To assure the success of the musical productions, Rev. Perrone has teamed up with Detroiters from the international entertainment community. Joe Maher, a producer of live entertainment from Hollywood; Sonja Krolik, a choreographer and dancer from Broadway; Emmy and Grammy Award winner Ed Wolfrum who engineered the sound for the great Motown hits of the 60’s; and the music during the performances will be accompanied by members of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

“There’s a lamentable void in the Church’s involvement in the arts today, even though the Church formerly has been a great promoter of them. This deficiency has resulted in the proverbial ‘vacuum’ for evil to take ascendancy in film, TV, literature, vulgar music, etc. From time to time we need incentives to our faith. The arts should help supply for this. We need a Catholic cultural revival!” Rev. Perrone said.

The new musical, The Heritance, will be performed at Assumption Grotto Catholic Parish, 13770 Gratiot Avenue, Detroit, Michigan 48205 on Wednesday, December 3rd at 7:00 p.m., Friday, December 5th at 7:00 p.m., and Sunday, December 7th at 3:00 p.m. Call the Assumption Grotto Rectory for tickets: (313) 372-0762. Ticket prices are $30 per family; $10 per adult; $7.00 per teen; $3.00 per child and Children 6 and under are free. There is free lighted and secured parking.

Assumption Grotto Catholic Church in Detroit

In our search for a new parish, Pam and I have been enjoying the variety of masses around the Detroit Archdiocese. We've attended Our Lady of Good Counsel (where I go often to daily mass), Old St. Patricks (in Ann Arbor and actually in the Lansing diocese, where i teach logic to homeschoolers), St. Regis, Our Lady of Sorrows, and today we attended the Tridentine Mass as Assumption Grotto in Detroit on Gratiot at Six Mile Rd. (pictured). This was our first Tridentine Latin experience since becoming Catholic 10 years ago. We could follow very little of what was going on. Even with the bilingual missal in our hands it was next to impossible to know where they were because the choir is singing in Latin (and the text is NOT always in the missal), and when the priest prays he's doing it silently, and when he says something out loud it was without a microphone, and it sounds like a distant mumble. Training is necessary to get this. Surtitles would help. (Hint!)

But, I will tell you this. Pam and I were blown away by several things. (A) The astute reverence of the people (unlike every other parish we've attended). There was never any visiting, talking, or running around. When we first got there (about 20 minutes early) about 100 were already in the pews kneeling and praying, mostly in the dark, as the only lights were on the altar which is beautiful and white. (see pictures) And there were perhaps 20 people lined up along the sides to get into confession before mass at two confessionals. (B) The LARGE procession of altar servers, and one priest, my friend and former technical writing employee from years ago, and now associate pastor at A.G., Fr. John Bustamante. (C) The elaborate choreography of the priest and altar servers (no boredom here for me, but again I could not follow much of any of it), and finally (D) the amazing choir and organ. Music is the first thing at this parish next to worship, adoration, et al. The choir sang most of the mass in Latin, and the voices and chanting were thrilling. (E) And I guess I should say Pam and I had no trouble being at worship for 90 minutes...yes, as soon as mass was over the congregation knelt and said a full 5 decade Rosary, and at a later mass they tacked on benedictions for good measure.

Well, we saw a number of friends who invited us to the pancake breakfast in the gym afterwards which this particular Sunday goes on from about 8:30 AM to 2 PM (after all three of the masses and rosaries, and benedictions (no breaks). The food was great, and while there another friend dropped by our table and dropped off a CD titled "Palla Eius" -- which we didn't figure out until later was the sound track to the musical created last year by Fr. Perrone, Joe Maher, and nearly the entire congregation. I knew Fr. Perrone as a classical composer, arranger, and orchestra conductor, etc, but I had not idea that his blood line was immersed in Broadway and the big band. I guess his father, Phil Perrone, was well known, and saddened that his son was going to be a priest. Well, Fr. Perrone (the priest) is using the DNA his father (Phil) passed on.

The music on the CD was fabulous, although some of the voices were thin. Nonetheless for a Catholic parish to create such a production, with such high quality, is incredible. I've produced and directed a few musicals and stage plays with amateurs, and it is difficult, although rewarding. Luckily, Fr. Perrone is smart enough to hire Detroit Symphony principals for the section heads in the orchestra, which they also hire for the major orchestral masses throughout the year.

Later, one of my friends, sends an email with a press release for their next production, that is to be staged next month. See the post just after this one for THE HERITANCE. Pam and I will be sure to attend. Click on the poster or the title for the press release.

Grotto (as the locals know it, for the Lourdes replica grotto on the property in the midst of a cemetery -- outdoor mass is sometimes celebrated at the grotto's altar) is also graced by an automotive engineer as a blogger for the parish, although it is her personal blog. Here name is Diane M. Korzeniewski, and she blogs daily, and is a wonderful photographer. I subscribe to her blogs mostly for the photography, a little bit of it posted here, along with links to some of her more recent memorable blogs. Her blog's header has a photograph of Fr. Perrone and a crowd during a nighttime candlelight mass. See http://te-deum.blogspot.com

Grotto in the Flog

Tridentine Wedding


Grotto Mass


Aborted Babies Mass and Burial with Fr. Frank Pavone


Holy Week 2008 Photo "feasts".


All of this is in the heart of Detroit, which on the way to and from the church today, we passed hundreds of burned out houses, crack dens, prostitutes walking the street (on Sunday morning), and just the pathetic mess that the general populace of Detroit have allowed. Some years ago, Pam and I would occasionally go to New Years Vigil Mass at Grotto with my Catholic sponsor. But the last mass like that we attended at Grotto I was shell shocked afterwards. Near midnight incessant automatic gun fire erupted form the neighborhood. And the bullets seemed to be pelting the rooftop of the church. I was amazed that we weren't stormed by crazies with submachine guns. I was also sure the parking lot (which is secure, lighted, fenced in, and guarded... seemingly always) would be littered with slugs and casings. But afterward, although I looked carefully, I saw nor stepped on none. They must have a very good ground crew that works midnights.

This is one amazing parish.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Bishops Oppose Abortion - Statement by Cardinal Geroge

STATEMENT of the President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Cardinal Francis George of Chicago

"If the Lord does not build the house, in vain do its builders labor; if the Lord does not watch over the city, in vain does the watchman keep vigil." (Psalm 127, vs. 1)

The Bishops of the Catholic Church in the United States welcome this moment of historic transition and look forward to working with President-elect Obama and the members of the new Congress for the common good of all. Because of the Church's history and the scope of her ministries in this country, we want to continue our work for economic justice and opportunity for all; our efforts to reform laws around immigration and the situation of the undocumented; our provision of better education and adequate health care for all, especially for women and children; our desire to safeguard religious freedom and foster peace at home and abroad. The Church is intent on doing good and will continue to cooperate gladly with the government and all others working for these goods.

The fundamental good is life itself, a gift from God and our parents. A good state protects the lives of all. Legal protection for those members of the human family waiting to be born in this country was removed when the Supreme Court decided Roe vs. Wade in 1973. This was bad law. The danger the Bishops see at this moment is that a bad court decision will be enshrined in bad legislation that is more radical than the 1973 Supreme Court decision itself.

In the last Congress, a Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) was introduced that would, if brought forward in the same form today, outlaw any "interference" in providing abortion at will. It would deprive the American people in all fifty states of the freedom they now have to enact modest restraints and regulations on the abortion industry. FOCA would coerce all Americans into subsidizing and promoting abortion with their tax dollars. It would counteract any and all sincere efforts by government and others of good will to reduce the number of abortions in our country.

Parental notification and informed consent precautions would be outlawed, as would be laws banning procedures such as partial-birth abortion and protecting infants born alive after a failed abortion. Abortion clinics would be deregulated. The Hyde Amendment restricting the federal funding of abortions would be abrogated. FOCA would have lethal consequences for prenatal human life.

FOCA would have an equally destructive effect on the freedom of conscience of doctors, nurses and health care workers whose personal convictions do not permit them to cooperate in the private killing of unborn children. It would threaten Catholic health care institutions and Catholic Charities. It would be an evil law that would further divide our country, and the Church should be intent on opposing evil.

On this issue, the legal protection of the unborn, the bishops are of one mind with Catholics and others of good will. They are also pastors who have listened to women whose lives have been diminished because they believed they had no choice but to abort a baby. Abortion is a medical procedure that kills, and the psychological and spiritual consequences are written in the sorrow and depression of many women and men. The bishops are single-minded because they are, first of all, single-hearted.

The recent election was principally decided out of concern for the economy, for the loss of jobs and homes and financial security for families, here and around the world. If the election is misinterpreted ideologically as a referendum on abortion, the unity desired by President-elect Obama and all Americans at this moment of crisis will be impossible to achieve. Abortion kills not only unborn children; it destroys constitutional order and the common good, which is assured only when the life of every human being is legally protected. Aggressively pro-abortion policies, legislation and executive orders will permanently alienate tens of millions of Americans, and would be seen by many as an attack on the free exercise of their religion.

This statement is written at the request and direction of all the Bishops, who also want to thank all those in politics who work with good will to protect the lives of the most vulnerable among us. Those in public life do so, sometimes, at the cost of great sacrifice to themselves and their families; and we are grateful. We express again our great desire to work with all those who cherish the common good of our nation. The common good is not the sum total of individual desires and interests; it is achieved in the working out of a common life based upon good reason and good will for all.

Our prayers accompany President-elect Obama and his family and those who are cooperating with him to assure a smooth transition in government. Many issues demand immediate attention on the part of our elected "watchman." (Psalm 127) May God bless him and our country.

The Need for More Evangelical Catholics

I will continue to promote the concept that "salvation" for our country rests not in social change, but in changed hearts. A change in heart demands a change in our daily actions and on-going lives. This can take on several themes or "skins" as our electronic gadgets call outward appearances. One of those physical realities is often described as a spirit of Evangelicalism. Deacon Alex Jones and other converts to the Catholic faith from Protestant Evangelicalism, give witness to bringing those core characteristics of Evangelicalism with them when they came into the Church—(1) a passion for the faith as expressed in ceaseless prayer and devotion; (2) a trust the Word of God, the Bible, as interpreted and expanded by the Church; (3) a fearlessness to tell others of the truth and meaningful lives we lead as Catholics; (4) a vigorous participation in worship and adoration; and (5) an active life-style of charity, especially to the poor.

I like the concept of "Evangelical Catholicism" because it speaks not just to evangelizing the Church and others, but evangelizing our own personal lives. The Church speaks officially of an on-going conversion of our hearts. One of the books we sell is THE THREE CONVERSION IN THE SPIRITUAL LIFE, a small book written in 1938 by Fr. Reginal Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P. that sill resonates with the current time. It has a timelessness that we all need to contemplate. "All Catholics should go through three "conversions" in their spiritual life, but many do not" the jacket copy says. I would think "most" do not; yet all need that experience that the Apostles had at Pentecost.

Another book we distribute is THE 12 STEPS TO HOLINESS AND SALVATION. Yes, the Catholic version of salvation is as simple as our evangelical brothers suggest, but only as a beginning. The salvation we are called to is ultimately way beyond simply showing up for Mass every Sunday, or saying a few prayers during the week when we're depressed or in trouble. Comprised from the writings of St. Alphonsus Liguori, this book develops the 12 key virtues necessary for salvation: faith, hope, love of god, love of neighbor, poverty, chastity, obedience, meekness or humility, mortification, recollection, prayer, and self-denial or love of the cross. Not one paragraph is lacking. Yes, we all have a long way to go... and we better get going. There's much work to be done.

As our bishops struggle to find their backbone on the abortion issue, I am reminded how they are struggling also to be converted. Not in their faith in Christ, and not in their internal loyalty to the Church, but they struggle to be converted shepherds of ACTION. Rather than standing on a soapbox safety behind the rails of the sheep pen waving their crosier, the shepherd's staff with a hook on the end given to them as bishops, they need to venture out in the dark risky valleys, and put that stick around the neck of a few lost sheep (politicians and priests) and haul, yank, and drag them home to the pen with some sense of vitality, confidence, and determination. Yes, it will involve some risk. Yes, some bishops may be ridiculed by the press. Some, who are particularly good shepherds may risk death. But that is what they are called to do. The Apostles didn't become martyrs for the faith by hiding in the Christian ghetto worrying about how the pagans were going to perceive their charity. Real charity is thinking about eternal life, not life in the diocesan mansion. Who is their God? The press? Protestant pundits? Or, the Almighty who put Jonah in a whale's dark, acidic filled digestive system for a few days until he learned that obedience was better than person safety.

Of course, this has more to do with US as much as it has to do with our bishops or priests. We all need conversion. Of heart, mind, emotion, mind, and body. We need a REVIVAL. Pray for it. Fast for it. Work for it. That is what I'm doing at Nineveh's Crossing. Help us by buying our products and getting others to watch, read, and ingest the Church's truth into their hearts and lives.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Catholic Bishops Only Beginning to Grow Backbone

FINALLY, our bishops are starting to grow some backbone and act a little more like Peter and Paul. (See below the Fox News article about their meeting this week.)

But until they start taking some action against Catholic politicians by excommunicating them left and right for their abortion stance, nothing much will change. Bishop Sean O'Malley O.F.M. can start with Ted Kennedy. Kennedy is facing death, and unless he gets to confession for his horrid support of abortion he's headed to hell. That should be the bishop's message. Christ told the Church that whose sins they forgive they will be forgiven. And in the next breath Christ said "whose sins you do not forgive they are not forgiven." Always wanting to be compassionate the bishops forgot that line, although it's in their Catechism. Why would Christ say that unless it was to correct (hopefully before they die) those that mislead the flock?

In other words, when is this man...
going to excommunicate
and

Or are the politicos just much bigger as these pictures indicate and more bold than our bishopsl? Where are the successors of the Apostles now when we need them? WHERE HAVE THEY BEEN?

After the bishops chastise the politicians they need to move quickly to the priests under them. I just left a parish because the priest supported Obama and thus subsequently supports a whole slew of things that are contrary to Catholic teaching including things the Church describes as intrinsic evils.

Here's the referenced article. I don't link to it because it will soon go away:

BALTIMORE (Fox News 11/12/08) -- The nation's Roman Catholic bishops vowed Tuesday to forcefully confront the Obama administration over its support for abortion rights, saying the church and religious freedom could be under attack in the new presidential administration.

In an impassioned discussion on Catholics in public life, several bishops said they would accept no compromise on abortion policy. Many condemned Catholics who had argued it was morally acceptable to back President-elect Obama because he pledged to reduce abortion rates.

And several prelates promised to call out Catholic policy makers on their failures to follow church teaching. Bishop Joseph Martino of Scranton, Pa., singled out Vice President-elect Biden, a Catholic, Scranton native who supports abortion rights.

"I cannot have a vice president-elect coming to Scranton to say he's learned his values there when those values are utterly against the teachings of the Catholic Church," Martino said. The Obama-Biden press office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Archbishop Joseph Naumann of the Diocese of Kansas City in Kansas said politicians "can't check your principles at the door of the legislature."

Naumann has said repeatedly that Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, a Catholic Democrat who supports abortion rights, should stop taking Holy Communion until she changes her stance.

"They cannot call themselves Catholic when they violate such a core belief as the dignity of the unborn," Naumann said Tuesday.

The discussion occurred on the same day the bishops approved a new "Blessing of a Child in the Womb." The prayer seeks a healthy pregnancy for the mother and makes a plea that "our civic rulers" perform their duties "while respecting the gift of human life."

Chicago Cardinal Francis George, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, is preparing a statement during the bishops' fall meeting that will press Obama on abortion.

The bishops suggested that the final document include the message that "aggressively pro-abortion policies" would be viewed "as an attack on the church."

Along with their theological opposition to the procedure, church leaders say they worry that any expansion in abortion rights could require Catholic hospitals to perform abortions or lose federal funding. Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Chicago said the hospitals would close rather than comply.

During the campaign, many prelates had spoken out on abortion more boldly than they had in 2004, telling Catholic politicians and voters that the issue should be the most important consideration in setting policy and deciding which candidate to back.

Yet, according to exit polls, 54 percent of Catholics chose Obama, who is Protestant. The new bishops' statement is meant to drive home the point in a way that cannot be misconstrued.

"We have a very important thing to say. I think we should say it clearly and with a punch," said New York Cardinal Edward Egan.

But some bishops said church leaders should take care with the tone of the statement.

Bishops differ on whether Catholic lawmakers should refrain from receiving Communion if they diverge from central church beliefs. Each bishop sets policy in his own diocese.

"We must act and be perceived as acting as caring pastors and faithful teachers," said Bishop Blase Cupich of Rapid City, S.D.

But Dr. Patrick Whelan, a pediatrician and president of Catholic Democrats, said angry statements from church leaders were counterproductive and would only alienate Catholics.

"We're calling on the bishops to move away from the more vicious language," Whelan said. He said the church needs to act "in a more creative, constructive way," to end abortion.

Catholics United was among the groups that argued in direct mail and TV ads during the campaign that taking the "pro-life" position means more than opposing abortion rights.

Chris Korzen, the group's executive director, said, "we honestly want to move past the deadlock" on abortion. He said church leaders were making that task harder.

"What are the bishops going to do now?" Korzen said. "`They have burned a lot of bridges with the Democrats and the new administration."

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Proposition 8 - You Can't Change Truth

As a Catholic Christian who believes society is best served by not trying to spit into the wind - and ignoring other natural laws, I was glad to see Prop 8 pass in California. CALIFORNIA of all places. Imagine what it might do elsewhere.... well, okay, forget Massachusetts—perhaps the most Catholic unChristian commonwealth in the country. I'm always a little taken back by the contradiction of Massachusetts' occasional abbreviation "Mass". Based on the lives and policies of their congressional representatives, and state policies, even though there are a lot of "Catholics" living there, a "Mass" in Massachusetts seems incongruous.

But, California! Even though Prop 8 passed by a slim margin, there is a shred of light in its passing. Now, I'm trying to figure out how the Supreme Court (in CA) can rule on a constitutional proposition. Do they invalidate the Constitution that gave the people the right to amend it? I really don't know how that works.

But there is one thing I know that does work, and no one can invalidate the consequences if you buck it: Natural Law (God's Law).

Meg Waters, part of the Yes on 8 campaign team, told City News Service:
Marriage has been defined as a man and woman since time began...You can't change the definition of something that existed forever because you don't like it.
Someone else suggested that gays might give a name to their partnerships, how about "Gayrage." Seems appropriate.

And then this bit of wisdom from Ellen DeGeneres on the issue. It's "insightful."
Watching the returns on election night was an amazing experience. Barack Obama is our new president. Change is here. I, like millions of Americans, felt like we had taken a giant step towards equality. We were watching history.

This morning, when it was clear that Proposition 8 had passed in California, I can’t explain the feeling I had. I was saddened beyond belief. Here we just had a giant step towards equality and then on the very next day, we took a giant step away.
Amazing isn't it that homosexuality, something condemned time and again through out history, by the Bible, and by natural law (Gayrage can't procreate -- by natural consequences it ends in death) is equated, fallaciously, with the equality due human being of different races. In terms of what God sees nothing morally is changed. He loves all, even Ellen. And he hates sin. He's loving, but he's also just. Get used to it.

Finally, as proof (okay, I can't prove anything.... so how about...) ah, as evidence -- of what is true (in reality) notice the picture of Ellen and her partner at the top of this blog. It's not strange that Ellen and her partner can't shake the call of natural law in their lives -- that "somehow" there should be, has to be, must be, -- a man and a woman in a conjugal relationship. Notice how they are dressed.

You can't spit into the wind without consequences.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Stem Cell Lies Win Over Truth

Here in Michigan it appears that Prop 2 favoring Embryonic Stem Cell Research has passed. What still upsets me is how proponents for the Proposition lied so much in their advertising. They claimed (under Obama's approval voice over) that McCain was "against stem cell research" ... when McCain was FOR adult stem cell research, which has proved productive and helpful and is not immoral, but AGAINST embryonic stem cell research which requires the destruction of embryos and is not just immoral, but has never been proven to be effective. So, the people buy the lies, and now we add the curse against us. But I take some solace in knowning that natural law will eventually teach the propoenents a lesson. They will lose plenty of money, become frustrated, and blame Bush. :)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Kids Killing Kids & Ben Stein's Confession

I can't help it. I read this at least a year ago, but it's still making the rounds. Why? Because it explains so much.

When I try to tell my liberal acquaintances something religious, some immediately tell me to shut up, in so many words. I should push back a little. That attitude has sidelined any talk about truth, God, discipline, et al into the margins.

In order to save "relationships" many Christians have stopped being salt and light in their communities. The result, the pagans have taken over.

I love the line below about how Dr. Spock told us to stop spanking our children because they'd have low self-esteem... and then how Dr. Spock's kid kills himself. Smart man. But we were stupid to believe him.

I know of more than one kid who has ended up in a psychiatric hospital because their parents were afraid to spank their kids, gave them more than they should have had, gave in to their demands. As parents we spanked our kids only enough to break their will but never their spirit. The spanking was minimal and never in anger. Our kids knew we loved them through it all. They all grew up to be productive citizens, have kids of their own, and love God and us. They have self-esteem because they learned where the limits were to natural law.

What Stein doesn't say below is the obvious. Kids are killing each other because parents have been killing the kids by the millions through abortion. The kids know that society sees kids as disposable, and so they make the logical transistion that others are dispoable. All it takes it "not wanting" someone around, and the law has give parents the right to kill. So, what's wrong with other kids killing parents or anhyone else they don't want around? Wake up my liberal "friends." Now, here's Ben.

My confession:

I am a Jew, and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish. And it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful lit up, bejeweled trees Christmas trees. I don't feel threatened. I don't feel discriminated against. That's what they are: Christmas trees.

It doesn't bother me a bit when people say, "Merry Christmas" to me. I don't think they are slighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto. In fact, I kind of like it. It shows that we are all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year. It doesn't bother me at all that there is a manger scene on display at a key intersection near my beach house in Malibu . If people want a Church it's just as fine with me as is the Menorah a few hundred yards away .

I don't like getting pushed around for being a Jew, and I don't think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians. I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period. I have no idea where the concept came from that America is an explicitly atheist country. I can't find it in the Constitution and I don't like it being shoved down my throat.

Or maybe I can put it another way: where did the idea come from that we should worship Nick and Jessica and we aren't allowed to worship God as we understand Him? I guess that's a sign that I'm getting old, too. But there are a lot of us who are wondering where Nick and Jessica came from and where the America we knew went to.

In light of the many jokes we send to one another for a laugh, this is a little different: This is not intended to be a joke; it's not funny, it's intended to get you thinking.

Billy Graham's daughter was interviewed on the Early Show and Jane Clayson asked her "How could God let something like this happen?" (regarding Katrina) Anne Graham gave an extremely profound and insightful response.
She said, "I believe God is deeply saddened by this, just as we are, but for years we've been telling God to get out of our schools, to get out of our government and to get out of our lives. And being the gentleman He is, I believe He has calmly backed out. How can we expect God to give us His blessing and His protection if we demand He leave us alone?"

In light of recent events...terrorists attack, school shootings, etc. I think it started when Madeleine Murray O'Hare (she was murdered, her body found recently) complained she didn't want prayer in our schools, and we said OK.
Then someone said you better not read the Bible in school. The Bible says thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal, and love your neighbor as yourself. And we said OK.

Then Dr. Benjamin Spock said we shouldn't spank our children when they misbehave because their little personalities would be warped and we might damage their self-esteem (Dr. Spock's son committed suicide). We said an expert should know what he's talking about. And we said OK.

Now we're asking ourselves why our children have no conscience, why they don't know right from wrong, and why it doesn't bother them to kill strangers, their classmates, and themselves.

Probably, if we think about it long and hard enough, we can figure it out. I think it has a great deal to do with "WE REAP WHAT WE SOW."

Funny how simple it is for people to trash God and then wonder why the world's going to hell. Funny how we believe what the newspapers say, but question what the Bible says . Funny how you can send 'jokes' through e-mail and they spread like wildfire but when you start sending messages regarding the Lord, people think twice about sharing. Funny how lewd, crude, vulgar and obscene articles pass freely through cyberspace, but public discussion of God is suppressed in the school and workplace.

Are you laughing?

Funny how when you forward this message, you will not send it to many on your address list because you're not sure what they believe, or what they will think of you for sending it.

Funny how we can be more worried about what other people think of us than what God thinks of us.

Pass it on if you think it has merit. If not then just discard it... no one will know you did. But, if you discard this thought process, don't sit back and complain about what bad shape the world is in. My Best Regards .
Honestly and respectfully,

Ben Stein

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Why Catholic and Other Christian Pro-Lifers Vote For Obama

My friend, Dave Armstrong, who was blogging on Catholic issues before "blog" was a word, and from the first days of the Internet Al Gore invented (that was a joke), has written a very insightful blog entry that answers the title of this blog. To see his astute answers click on the title of this blog, or any of the links below...they all go to the same place.

The picture of Dave (at right) is one of those strange things that I've never gotten used to. It's suppose to be funny...he says. Yeah, he looks like that, but he only pretends to be what he looks like here.

Ten Reasons Submitted For This Incredible "Disconnect"

1) Failure to integrate faith into a consistent view of all of life, and compartmentalization of religion and other aspects of life. (
Answer)

2) Antipathy to one individual incumbent or candidate causes them to vote for the other guy, no matter what he believes, or how it violates Christian / Catholic principles. (Answer)

3) The counsel of despair. (
Answer)

4) Denial of the reality of pro-life gains. (
Answer)

5) Buying the pro-abortion lie of "imposing my values . . ." (Answer)

6) Religion has nothing to do with society. (
Answer)

7) The one-issue voter canard. (
Answer)

8) Acceptance of the pessimistic view that a Christian cannot positively affect government and society. (
Answer)

9) The two parties are exactly the same anyway. (
Answer)

10) It's time to make a statement and have a black President. (
Answer)

Bishop Boyea of Lansing Michigan Publicly Corrects Governor Granholm

(Click title to see original post.)

Michigan Governor Granholm used her public position to tell other Catholics that it's "pro-life" to vote "yes" on embryonic stem cell research (Proposal 2 on the Michigan ballot) when voting "no" is actually consistent with Catholic teaching.

Bishop Earl Boyea, recently installed in the Diocese of Lansing, Michigan, had this to say:

In a Sunday address in Grand Rapids, Governor Jennifer Granholm incredibly said of Proposal 2 "As a Catholic, I can say to be pro-cure is to be pro-life." Of course, Catholics and all other responsible citizens will continue to seek cures for disease and injury. But to imply that Proposal 2 is a valid expression of Catholic principles is shocking. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Ask for the Intercession of 50 Million Aborted Babies

Someone just wrote me this great idea:
Drew Mariani on Catholic radio recommended that we call upon the intercession the 50 million aborted babies in Heaven to storm the throne of God on our behalf to plead for help with the election. I think this is a great idea. In the remaining days, surely they will help us to defend life in this vital election!
(I thought of using one of the horrid images of an aborted babies, but then realized that they are undoubtedly whole in heaven. So the image at in this post is a compromise...a 24 week old unaborted fetus. Amazing miracle.)

I will continue to fast through the election, mostly for the people who need to realize that their hatred of George Bush is nothing compared to God's hatred of abortion and the consequences God will increasing bring upon this country for a sin greater than Hitler could ever dream.

The Rigidity of Truth

Last Thursday I was in Boston to tape a couple of interviews for CatholicTV. In one I was asked about our television series and particularly the Common Ground phenomena; a segment for unity week next Spring. In the other we discussed my book, The Moral Premise for communication week.

My enjoyment of Catholicism emanates from a scientific notion (I have a bachelor's in Physics) that truth does not change; that the answers that mathematic problems produce are not up for a vote; that there is a constant value to the gravitational constant, and just as there is a sense of univesal wrongness about lying, so there is a rigidity to moral truth. That gives me security. I don't have to chase what is true. From day-to-day I know that gravity will pull my feet to the ground with the same force; and that my moral obedience to the rules which God has laid down are constant, trusthworthy, and to the extent I follow all of that, I will be safe and happy.

But not so when it comes to politics or the moral RELATIVISM of America today. The political divide we experience in America today is about truth, nothing less. Christian (true Chrsitians not pretend ones) will hate falsehood and those that perpetuate it, and the pagans will hate Christians trying to tell them what is false, as if calling evil right makes it good. There will be no unity as long as one person bears false witness to the other. There will be no peace as long as political ads blantantly lie about the other candidate or issues — like the lying Proposal 2 radio and TV ads in Michigan where it claims McCain is against all stem cell research. The ad NEVER mentions that the proposal is about embryonic stem cells. The ad says McCain can't be trusted because he voted FOR stem cell research and then AGAINST it. (I'm Barack Obama and I approved this ad.)

Either Obama is an idiot when it comes to defining the difference between the successful therapies of adult stem cell research and the failed research surrounding the embryonic kind, which is ethical and moral -- or he's lying. Take your pick. It has to be one or the other.

The divide should exist as long as there's a difference between truth and falsehood, life and death. All of this talk about healing our differeences is hideous if it means "get along at any cost." Or if it means "tolerate evil." I, for one, think it is sucicide— physically and psycholigcally— to embrace a so called moral truth that changes. It is stupid to think that we can all make up our own moral right and wrong and get along. It is illogical, idiotic, and someting only liberal professors could believe.

After my taping at CatholicTV in Boston, my religious formation director, Fr. Dennis Brown OMV, took me on a short walking tour of downtown. We visited some old churches and the library among other things. I picked up a flyer at Old South Church in Boston that told of the church's history. In one paragraph it discussed Old South's denominational history mentioned The United Church of Christ (which Old South is today), the Evangelical Church, the Reformed Chuch, and the Congregational Christian Churches. Then there is this sentence:
The Christian Churches sprang up in the late 1700s and early 1800s in reaction to the theological and organizational rigidity of the Methodsit, Presbyterian and Baptist churches of the time.
Please contemplate, for a moment, the silliness of that sentence. Conceptually, of course it is wrong because the (original) Christian Church sprung up in the first century when the Holy Spirit descended at Pentecost and the Apostles spread out and founded the first Christian Churches. (See the good comment from Greg Brekke below.) But the sentence implies, that the United Church of Christ (et al) began because the Methodists, Presbyterians, and Baptists were just too rigid and inflexible for the culture. As if religious truth was a fad that changed with the times. As if gravity should be flexible and not so rigid. As if the Methodists are not the result of the Church of England being too "rigid" or the Baptists (which one of 2,000 I wonder) saw the Presbyterians too rigid, or all three of them found Catholicism to rigid. As if the United Church of Christ is NOT rigid and is "right" because it holds few views about what is "right." Right! Listen to yourself, people.

Rigidity is good when we're dealing with truth. This is Obama's problem. You can't say abortion is wrong, as he has suggested by claiming to be for reducing abortions, and then turn around and claim his first action has president is to pass the Freedom of Choice Act, legislation that will increase the killing of black babies, which now is 5X greater than whites. That's racism and fulfills the plan of Planned Parenthood founder, Margaret Sanger and others who wanted to eliminate Blacks from society. They are succeeding with Obama (who really isn't white, they say) taking leadership. He must not be black, but just pretending to be black so he can get the black vote.

King David sang that he loved the Law of God. Why? Because it never changed and thus God could be trusted. Obama can't, because he ignores the rigid laws of reality.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Human Perfection and Imperfection

Click the title for the full article by Amy Becker about her reflections on her Down syndrome child Penny, pictured at the right with her husband Peter. The title link will take you to FIRST THINGS' website. (More links to her stuff below.)

The article begins below, but I encourage you to read it to the end and try to fully understand Amy's take on what it means to be perfect and imperfect, especially as we automatically apply the concepts to babies, but also to ourselves.
"What shall it gain a man if he should gain the whole world but loose his soul?" (Jesus' words from somewhere in the Gospels.)
At first glance this article looks like it might be an argument against abortion when the child has Down syndrome, and indeed it is that. (cf. Sarah Palin and the fear people have of her because she sees perfection in babies at a different level than most. Her insight into this is supernatural and transcendent...a valuable asset for a world leader.)

But the article is more significant than just an argument against abortion. As Becker explains there is an extra chromosome that gave Penny the disease (something extra that apparently "distorts" physical perfection). Becker inmplies, but never says it, that there is a more serious affect of adding extra "chromosones" -- to our lives and culture. Such "extras" have a more serious impact on our spiritual perfection before God. Penny's chromosome "problem" is small compared to what we do otherwise to our "spiritual" chromosomes.

But her point is actually better than that.

She writes, "humanity includes limitations and dependence on one another." But what she is really saying is that humanity is not defined by culture's view of physical "perfection" but by God's view which NECESARILY includes limitations and dependence. That is "humanity is DEFINED as something that includes 'limitations' and 'dependence.'" To be truly human is to be dependent on others and God. If we believe we are independent we buy into Satan's lie that we can be like God. Humanity IN ITS PERFECTION requires, demands, begs, screams for limitations and dependence. IN THOSE THINGS we are made PERFECT (James 1).

She writes, "when we conceive of healing simply as miraculous cures for abnormal states of being—blindness, deafness, cognitive delays—we miss the point." Indeed! Some years back I began to look at all the aged and mentally dependent senior citiziens I was meeting in several churches that ministed to such folk. It occured to me that one of their purposes in life was to teach us abled body, and mentally "capable" people to CARE for them. By their "disabilities" they were teaching us to love, to be charitable, to give of our time and resoruces, to be like Christ. Just as we can never pay back Christ for all he's done for us, so these aged and mentally dependent people I was meeting could never pay back their caregivers. But that was the point. When society sees them as "disabled" or "not living fully" or as "unnecessary" we should be seehing them as just the opposite, if we have any interest in seeing heaven and God. Humanity was designed as a DEPENDENT DISABLED specese for a reason... so we could accept God's love, and share it with others.

Indeed, Penny, in the ways that matter most (eternal values) is more perfect with her Downs than many others. Pray for us Penny. (More pictures of Penny at link below.)
BABIES PERFECT AND IMPERFECT
by Amy Julia Becker

Copyright (c) 2008 First Things (November 2008).

Our daughter was born at 5:22 p.m. on December 30, 2005. Two hours later, a nurse called my husband out of the room. When he returned, he took my hand and said, “They think Penny has Down syndrome.” As this news began to make its way into my consciousness, we heard shouts from the room next door. Another child had been born. “She’s perfect!” someone exclaimed about that other baby. “She’s perfect!”
Amy's website, and links to her other writing is HERE. She's working on a Masters in Divinity at Princeton, and has a book coming out. Her blog is THIN PLACES. Thanks to my bogging-pal Bill Murphy for sending this. I'll post it on his blog as well, VIEW FROM THE TOWER where Bill writes about the intersection of Western Culture and Catholicism from his outpost in the U.K. as well as from his world travels.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Abortion & Abortion Rights - Intrinsict Evil

"To vote for a candidate who supports the intrinsic evil of abortion or 'abortion rights' when there is a morally acceptable alternative would be to cooperate in the evil – and, therefore, morally impermissible."

Joint Statement
from
Bishop Kevin Farrell
and
Bishop Kevin Vann
to the Faithful of the Dioceses of Dallas and Fort Worth
(title has link)

October 8, 2008

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

The month of October is Respect Life Month in our churches. It is a time in which we as Catholics are called to reflect upon the gift of life that has been entrusted to us by our Creator and to focus our attention on the many attacks against human life that exist in our culture today. This year, Respect Life Month takes on a more profound meaning as we face an election in our country where the protection of human life itself, particularly that of the unborn, is very much at stake. Therefore, as your Bishops, we wish to take this opportunity to provide clear guidance on the proper formation of conscience concerning voting as faithful Catholics and to articulate the Church's clear and unambiguous teaching on life issues as they relate to other issues of concern.

The Church teaches that all Catholics should participate as "faithful citizens" in the public square, especially through our voice in the voting booth, and that we have the responsibility to treat the decision for whom we will vote for with profound moral seriousness. We must approach the right and duty to vote with a properly formed and informed conscience in accordance with the teachings of the Church. Last November, the Bishops of the United States issued a document entitled Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, in which we and our brother Bishops issued clear moral guidelines to aid the faithful in proper formation of conscience with regard to the many issues we face in our nation today. Through this joint statement to the faithful of Dallas and Fort Worth, we seek to briefly summarize the key points and dispel any confusion or misunderstanding that may be present among you concerning the teaching contained in the document, especially that which may have arisen from recent public misinterpretation concerning this teaching.

1. Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship clearly teaches that not all issues have the same moral equivalence. Some issues involve "intrinsic evils"; that is, they can never under any circumstance or condition be morally justified. Preeminent among these intrinsic evils are legalized abortion, the promotion of same sex unions and "marriages", repression of religious liberty, as well as public policies permitting euthanasia, racial discrimination or destructive human embryonic stem cell research.

Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship clearly states:

"There are some things we must never do, as individuals or as a society, because they are always incompatible with love of God and neighbor. Such actions are so deeply flawed that they are always opposed to the authentic good of persons. These are called 'intrinsically evil' actions. They must always be rejected and opposed and must never be supported or condoned. A prime example is the intentional taking of innocent human life, as in abortion and euthanasia. In our nation, 'abortion and euthanasia have become preeminent threats to human dignity because they directly attack life itself, the most fundamental human good and the condition for all others' (Living the Gospel of Life, no. 5). It is a mistake with grave moral consequences to treat the destruction of innocent human life merely as a matter of individual choice. A legal system that violates the basic right to life on the grounds of choice is fundamentally flawed." (22)

2. The destruction of the most innocent of human life through abortion and embryonic stem cell research not only undercuts the basic human right to life, but it also subverts and distorts the common good. As Pope John Paul II clearly states:

"Disregard for the right to life, precisely because it leads to the killing of the person whom society exists to serve, is what most directly conflicts with the possibility of achieving the common good... It is impossible to further the common good without acknowledging and defending the right to life, upon which all the other inalienable rights of individuals are founded and from which they develop..." (The Gospel of Life, 72; 101)

3. Therefore, we cannot make more clear the seriousness of the overriding issue of abortion – while not the "only issue" – it is the defining moral issue, not only today, but of the last 35 years. Since the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, more than 48 million innocent lives have been lost. Each year in our nation more than one million lives are lost through legalized abortion. Countless other lives are also lost through embryonic stem cell research. In the coming months our nation will once again elect our political leaders. This electoral cycle affords us an opportunity to promote the culture of life in our nation. As Catholics we are morally obligated to pray, to act, and to vote to abolish the evil of abortion in America, limiting it as much as we can until it is finally abolished.

4. As Catholics we are faced with a number of issues that are of concern and should be addressed, such as immigration reform, healthcare, the economy and its solvency, care and concern for the poor, and the war on terror. As Catholics we must be concerned about these issues and work to see that just solutions are brought about. There are many possible solutions to these issues and there can be reasonable debate among Catholics on how to best approach and solve them. These are matters of "prudential judgment." But let us be clear: issues of prudential judgment are not morally equivalent to issues involving intrinsic evils. No matter how right a given candidate is on any of these issues, it does not outweigh a candidate's unacceptable position in favor of an intrinsic evil such as abortion or the protection of "abortion rights."

As Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship states:

"The direct and intentional destruction of innocent human life from the moment of conception until natural death is always wrong and is not just one issue among many. It must always be opposed." (28)

5. Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, in paragraphs 34-37, addresses the question of whether it is morally permissible for a Catholic to vote for a candidate who supports an intrinsic evil – even when the voter does not agree with the candidate's position on that evil. The only moral possibilities for a Catholic to be able to vote in good conscience for a candidate who supports this intrinsic evil are the following:

a. If both candidates running for office support abortion or "abortion rights," a Catholic would be forced to then look at the other important issues and through their vote try to limit the evil done; or,

b. If another intrinsic evil outweighs the evil of abortion. While this is sound moral reasoning, there are no "truly grave moral" or "proportionate" reasons, singularly or combined, that could outweigh the millions of innocent human lives that are directly killed by legal abortion each year.

To vote for a candidate who supports the intrinsic evil of abortion or "abortion rights" when there is a morally acceptable alternative would be to cooperate in the evil – and, therefore, morally impermissible.

6. In conclusion, as stated in Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, the decisions we make on these political and moral issues affect not only the general peace and prosperity of society at large, but also may affect each individual's salvation. As Catholics, we must treat our political choices with appropriate moral gravity and in doing so, realize our continuing and unavoidable obligation to be a voice for the voiceless unborn, whose destruction by legal abortion is the preeminent intrinsic evil of our day. With knowledge of the Church's teaching on these grave matters, it is incumbent upon each of us as Catholics to educate ourselves on where the candidates running for office stand on these issues, particularly those involving intrinsic evils. May God bless you.

Faithfully in Christ,

Most Reverend Kevin J. Farrell
Bishop of Dallas

Most Reverend Kevin W. Vann
Bishop of Fort Worth