“We are now standing in the face of the greatest historical confrontation humanity has gone through. I do not think that wide circles of the American society or wide circles of the Christian community realize this fully. We are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-Church, of the Gospel and the anti-Gospel. This confrontation lies within the plans of divine providence. It is a trial which the whole Church… must take up.” Karol Cardinal Wotyla (Sept. 1976)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Be Proud of Who You Are, America!

Mark Steyn had a very powerful statement yesterday on Bill Bennett's radio show that I have been thinking about all day. He said all over the world (Asia, Europe, Australia and the Americas), hundreds of thousands of people take to the streets protesting their governments are not doing enough for them -- providing for their needs. In America, hundreds of thousands of people take to the streets protesting their government is too involved in their lives and needs to get the heck out of their way.

Steyn mentioned this independence streak was born from the original American colonies having to be self sufficient, then after accomplishing this feat they came together and formed a national government - making sure it was limited in its interference through the Constitution. All other places came from a monarchy or dictatorship where the population looked upward and waited for crumbs to fall from a royal plate to take care of them.

Be proud of who you are America!

Friday, September 11, 2009

George W. Bush's Speech at the National Cathedral

A few days after our country was attacked, on Sept. 14, President Bush came to a national cathedral in Washington D.C., and gave what I believe was the greatest speech of his Presidency. It received very little accolades from the press, probably too many references to God. It is a very worthwhile read on this 8th anniversary.

"We are here in the middle hour of our grief. So many have suffered so great a loss, and today we express our nation's sorrow. We come before God to pray for the missing and the dead, and for those who loved them. On Tuesday, our country was attacked with deliberate and massive cruelty. We have seen the images of fire and ashes and bent steel.

Now come the names, the list of casualties we are only beginning to read:

They are the names of men and women who began their day at a desk or in an airport, busy with life.

They are the names of people who faced death and in their last moments called home to say, be brave and I love you.

They are the names of passengers who defied their murderers and prevented the murder of others on the ground.

They are the names of men and women who wore the uniform of the United States and died at their posts.

They are the names of rescuers -- the ones whom death found running up the stairs and into the fires to help others.

We will read all these names. We will linger over them and learn their stories, and many Americans will weep.

To the children and parents and spouses and families and friends of the lost, we offer the deepest sympathy of the nation. And I assure you, you are not alone. Just three days removed from these events, Americans do not yet have the distance of history, but our responsibility to history is already clear: to answer these attacks and rid the world of evil.

War has been waged against us by stealth and deceit and murder. This nation is peaceful, but fierce when stirred to anger. This conflict was begun on the timing and terms of others; it will end in a way and at an hour of our choosing. Our purpose as a nation is firm, yet our wounds as a people are recent and unhealed and lead us to pray. In many of our prayers this week, there's a searching and an honesty. At St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York, on Tuesday, a woman said, "I pray to God to give us a sign that He's still here."

Others have prayed for the same, searching hospital to hospital, carrying pictures of those still missing. God's signs are not always the ones we look for. We learn in tragedy that His purposes are not always our own, yet the prayers of private suffering, whether in our homes or in this great cathedral are known and heard and understood. There are prayers that help us last through the day or endure the night. There are prayers of friends and strangers that give us strength for the journey, and there are prayers that yield our will to a Will greater than our own.

This world He created is of moral design. Grief and tragedy and hatred are only for a time. Goodness, remembrance and love have no end, and the Lord of life holds all who die and all who mourn.

It is said that adversity introduces us to ourselves. This is true of a nation as well. In this trial, we have been reminded and the world has seen that our fellow Americans are generous and kind, resourceful and brave.

We see our national character in rescuers working past exhaustion, in long lines of blood donors, in thousands of citizens who have asked to work and serve in any way possible.

And we have seen our national character in eloquent acts of sacrifice:

Inside the World Trade Center, one man who could have saved himself stayed until the end and at the side of his quadriplegic friend.

A beloved priest died giving the last rites to a firefighter.

Two office workers, finding a disabled stranger, carried her down 68 floors to safety.

A group of men drove through the night from Dallas to Washington to bring skin grafts for burned victims.

In these acts and many others, Americans showed a deep commitment to one another and an abiding love for our country.

Today, we feel what Franklin Roosevelt called, "the warm courage of national unity." This is a unity of every faith and every background. It has joined together political parties and both houses of Congress. It is evident in services of prayer and candlelight vigils and American flags, which are displayed in pride and waved in defiance. Our unity is a kinship of grief and a steadfast resolve to prevail against our enemies. And this unity against terror is now extending across the world.

America is a nation full of good fortune, with so much to be grateful for, but we are not spared from suffering. In every generation, the world has produced enemies of human freedom. They have attacked America because we are freedom's home and defender, and the commitment of our Fathers is now the calling of our time.

On this national day of prayer and remembrance, we ask Almighty God to watch over our nation and grant us patience and resolve in all that is to come. We pray that He will comfort and console those who now walk in sorrow. We thank Him for each life we now must mourn, and the promise of a life to come.

As we've been assured, neither death nor life nor angels nor principalities, nor powers nor things present nor things to come nor height nor depth can separate us from God's love. May He bless the souls of the departed. May He comfort our own. And may He always guide our country.

God bless America."

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Krauthammer: Obama the Mortal

A few days back, Charles Krauthammer had a piece on how President Obama is now being seen as human with all his warts. Here are some excerpts from his piece:

"What happened to President Obama? His wax wings having melted, he is the man who fell to earth. What happened to bring his popularity down further than that of any new president in polling history save Gerald Ford (post-Nixon pardon)?

...Obama imagined that, as Fouad Ajami so brilliantly observed, he had won the kind of banana-republic plebiscite that grants caudillo-like authority to remake everything in one's own image.

Accordingly, Obama unveiled his plans for a grand makeover of the American system, animating that vision by enacting measure after measure that greatly enlarged state power, government spending and national debt. Not surprisingly, these measures engendered powerful popular skepticism that burst into tea-party town-hall resistance.

...Obama fancies himself tribune of the people, spokesman for the grass roots, harbinger of a new kind of politics from below that would upset the established lobbyist special-interest order of Washington. Yet faced with protests from a real grass-roots movement, his party and his supporters called it a mob -- misinformed, misled, irrational, angry, unhinged, bordering on racist. All this while the administration was cutting backroom deals with every manner of special interest -- from drug companies to auto unions to doctors -- in which favors worth billions were quietly and opaquely exchanged.

...But what has occurred -- irreversibly -- is this: He's become ordinary. The spell is broken. The charismatic conjurer of 2008 has shed his magic. He's regressed to the mean, tellingly expressed in poll numbers hovering at 50 percent.

...For a man who only recently bred a cult, ordinariness is a great burden, and for his acolytes, a crushing disappointment."

Monday, September 7, 2009

Should We Ever Publicly Criticize Priests?

Over the past few months, many Catholics in the pro-life movement have felt abandoned by some of our clerical leaders as the issues of Barack Obama’s Notre Dame speech and Ted Kennedy’s funeral forced a spotlight on what should it mean to be a true, pro-life Catholic.

I have been very disappointed by more than a few prelates over the years in regard to the pro-life cause in as I firmly believed these prelates were giving mix signals to both the pro-life, pro-abortion and Catholic communities by their words and actions.

It is very hard for me not to be outwardly critical of these events because of the deep injustice I feel. In addition, it is very hard for me not to say anything because I am an Irishman. Only one of these ailments is curable.

The quote that remains with me, an alters my tongue to a large extent, is what God said to St. Catherine of Siena, as quoted in her Dialogue, in regard to criticizing priest, even those worthy of the criticism:

"…[It] is my intention that they be held in due reverence, not for what they are in themselves, but for my sake, because of the authority I have given them. Therefore the virtuous must not lessen their reverence, even should these ministers fall short in virtue. And, as far as the virtues of my ministers are concerned, I have described them for you by setting them before you as stewards of ... my Son’s body and blood and of the other sacraments. This dignity belongs to all who are appointed as such stewards, to the bad as well as to the good.

…[Because] of their virtue and because of their sacramental dignity you ought to love them. And you ought to hate the sins of those who live evil lives. But you may not for all that set ourselves up as their judges; this is not my will because they are my Christs, and you ought to love and reverence the authority I have given them.

You know well enough that if someone filthy or poorly dressed were to offer you a great treasure that would give you life, you would not disdain the bearer for love of the treasure, and the lord who had sent it, even though the bearer was ragged and filthy... You ought to despise and hate the ministers’ sins and try to dress them in the clothes of charity and holy prayer and wash away their filth with your tears.

Indeed, I have appointed them and given them to you to be angels on earth and suns, as I have told you. When they are less than that you ought to pray for them. But you are not to judge them. Leave the judging to me, and I, because of your prayers and my own desire, will be merciful to them."*

Enough said, you cannot disagree with Divine wisdom that God reveals to a saint as holy as Catherine of Siena. (As a side note on Catherine, one of my favorite stories on her was that she was so holy at an early age that she would levitate up the stairs (her feet not touching the stairs) as a child, causing her parents a great amount of anxiety for her safety - - too funny as all those overprotective parents out there can relate.)

In realizing that God always gives you what you need, yesterday I receive a mailing from the Cardinal Kung Foundation which has close ties to the persecuted, underground Church in China. In the mailing was a beautiful prayer that his Eminence wrote in 1953 in regard to elevating priests:

By His Eminence, the late Ignatius Cardinal Kung
"All powerful and eternal God, through the merits of your Son, Jesus, and through your love for him, I implore you, have pity on the priests of the Holy Church. In spite of their sublime dignity, they are fearful and weak, like all created beings. In your infinite mercy, inflame their hearts with the fire of divine love. For the sake of Jesus, your Son, bestow grace on the priests and uphold them. Do not let them fall into temptation and tarnish their noble vocation.
O Jesus, we implore you. Look with pity on the priests of the Holy Church: those who are serving you faithfully and proclaiming your glory; those who are persecuted for tending your flock; those who are abandoned, weary, and sorrowful; those who are lukewarm, confused and who have denied their faith; those who are sick, dying or in Purgatory. Lord Jesus, we entreat you. Listen to our supplication, have pity and console them.
O Jesus, we entrust to you the priests of the whole world: the priests who baptized me, absolved my sins, offered Holy Mass and consecrated the Eucharist to nourish my soul. We entrust to you the priests that instructed me when I was ignorant, gave me strength in my weakness, showed me the Way and the Truth and comforted me in my sorrow and affliction. For all the blessings they obtained for me, I implore you to support them in your loving kindness.
O Jesus, shelter our priests in your Sacred Heart. Let them take refuge in your mercy and love, in this life and to the hour of death. Amen."
We must realize that for every priest that may disappoint us, there is an equal number that are imprisoned, persecuted and face hostilities because they preach the unfiltered Gospel. As both sides of this priestly spectrum are irreversibly linked to Christ, they all deserve our prayers.
*Catherine of Siena; The Dialogue, translated by Suzanne Noffke, O.P., New York: Paulist Press, 1980, pp. 229-231

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Cardinal O'Malley Responds to Critics

On his blog yesterday, his Emminence justifies his actions of officiating at Senator Kennedy's funeral:

"...There are those who objected, in some cases vociferously, to the Church’s providing a Catholic funeral for the Senator. In the strongest terms I disagree with that position. At the Senator’s interment on Saturday evening, with his family’s permission, we learned of details of his recent personal correspondence with Pope Benedict XVI. It was very moving to hear the Senator acknowledging his failing to always be a faithful Catholic, and his request for prayers as he faced the end of his life. The Holy Father’s expression of gratitude for the Senator’s pledge of prayer for the Church, his commendation of the Senator and his family to the intercession of the Blessed Mother, and his imparting the Apostolic Blessing, spoke of His Holiness’ role as the Vicar of Christ, the Good Shepherd who leaves none of the flock behind.

As Archbishop of Boston, I considered it appropriate to represent the Church at this liturgy out of respect for the Senator, his family, those who attended the Mass and all those who were praying for the Senator and his family at this difficult time. We are people of faith and we believe in a loving and forgiving God from whom we seek mercy.

At times, even in the Church, zeal can lead people to issue harsh judgments and impute the worst motives to one another. These attitudes and practices do irreparable damage to the communion of the Church. If any cause is motivated by judgment, anger or vindictiveness, it will be doomed to marginalization and failure. Jesus’ words to us were that we must love one another as He loves us. Jesus loves us while we are still in sin. He loves each of us first, and He loves us to the end. Our ability to change people’s hearts and help them to grasp the dignity of each and every life, from the first moment of conception to the last moment of natural death, is directly related to our ability to increase love and unity in the Church, for our proclamation of the Truth is hindered when we are divided and fighting with each other."

I think the issue that needs to be addressed here is scandal. By giving Kennedy this send off, O'Malley is encouraging other Catholic, pro-abortion politicians to sin and promote legislation that kills millions of innocent children and still be confident they are in good Communion with the Roman Catholic Church. That is the real sin here, not prayers for a flawed, 77-year old.