“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)

Monday, August 30, 2010

Archbishop Sheen Vintage TV Clip: "Is One of Your Titles, "Servant of God?"

Here is an archive film that I found last night. Archbishop Sheen was a guest on "What's My Line." It was an early television game show where the panel wore blindfolds and plays "20 questions" to try to eventually deduct who is the guest on the show.

A few things here to notice:
1) How loved Sheen was. The audience applauds for close to 20 seconds when they see it is him, and the first panel guest mentions, "it is the most solid round of applause I have heard in a long time." To put this in some perspective, the Archbishop received a 19 second round of applause when on the show; Joe DiMaggio received a 17 second round of applause when on the show.

2) His humility. When the same panelist asks, "Are you a familiar figure in public life," Sheen answers... "A little bit." Remember he had one of the highest ranking shows on television at the time.

3) How playful the archbishop can be, speaking French to throw off the panel. We also see the personal side of Sheen. How much he enjoys the "weekly on television and non-profit???" comment. And his quick wit telling the same panelist after he won money, "It's profit!"

4) He instructs to send his earnings to leper colonies.

5) At the end one of the panelist even kisses his ring. Wouldn't see that today.

This is a time capsule of a time when Catholicism in America was held in high esteem by even non-believers.


Saturday, August 28, 2010

We Could All Use a Miracle Right About Now, Couldn't We?

Today I was determined to find good news out there. It seems lately every headline posted at Yahoo or Google is depressing, as our country seems to be more adrift. I was determined to find a story to give everyone a quick Faith shot in the arm. It took quite a bit of searching, but I found such a story that was not even carried by English-speaking media outlets.

As we Americans are very familiar with, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (or ALS/Lou Gehrig’s Disease) is a horrible disease which gives its recipients very little hope. Sadly, only one in five people who are given this diagnosis live more than 5 five years. 50 percent of them do not make it 3 years.

By 2005, an Italian woman, Antonietta Raco (pictured), was completely paralyzed due to this disease and was resolved that this disease would run its course on her. In August of 2009, her body was completely free of the disease. What happened in between you ask? A pilgrimage to Lourdes, France.

Her prayers at Lourdes were not for self healing. She asked God to take her life in His hands. She asked the Lord to not have her last days mirror a recent highly publicized euthanasia case. She also prayed for a young girl in her village who shared her disease and her fate.

“I felt the presence of someone else [in the healing pool] that held me by the neck; I tried to turn around, but nobody was there. I felt a great pain in the legs, then a relief."

"It was at that moment when I heard to my left, a beautiful female voice, soft, tender, light," she said. “I never heard anything like it; I was relieved by the mere fact that I could actually physically hear her voice." The Woman said, 'Do not be afraid, do not be afraid!”

Upon examining Raco, Dr. Chio, her physician for the past 4 years, was quoted saying, “…from the standpoint of the medical literature, there has never been a case of regression for this disease.” He was surprised and said, "I am left speechless,'" Raco recalled.

I often think of an explanation for miracles that I once heard that resonated with me. The explanation was that a main purpose of a miracle is to remind us all who is really in control and still remains all powerful over science, nature, physics, perceptions, academia and our low-level realities. As humans we become standardized to the ways of the world and trapped in its secular thinking. Miracles drive a bulldozer through this default thinking.

Some links we all could use:

Here is a list of people who were cured at Lourdes. This is the official document, the Catholic Church is the most critical review on any reported cure. Ms. Raco has not been added yet.

Here is a link to get your prayer requests delivered to the Grotto at Lourdes.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Mother Teresa: A Beauty of God!

When ever I read about you, Mother, I realize what a poor Catholic I am. Here is a worthwhile piece by Fr. Raymond de Souza:

"...In 1952, Mother Teresa found a woman dying in the streets, half-eaten by rats and ants, with no one to care for her. She picked her up and took her to the hospital, but nothing could be done. Realizing that there were many others dying alone in the streets, Mother Teresa opened within days Nirmal Hriday (Pure Heart), a home for the dying. In the first 20 years alone, over 20,000 people were brought there, half of whom died knowing the love of the Missionaries of Charity. Nirmal Hriday is where one dying man, lying in the arms of Mother Teresa after being plucked from the gutters and bathed and clothed and fed, told her, “I have lived like an animal, but now I am dying like an angel.”

...She then came to be feted in the glamour capitals, receiving dozens of awards. In 1979, she received the Nobel Peace Prize, at that time still a prestigious award. When given the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1985, the plaque described her as the “saint of the gutters.” There have been others who have risen from the gutters to receive such awards, but she was the only one who went back to the gutters to live.

Mother Teresa knew that the true good cannot be found in systems or plans, no matter how clever or efficient, but in a person. She was not against the work of welfare agencies, but remarked that welfare was for a purpose, albeit a noble one, whilst love was for a person. Mother Teresa offered love. When criticized by those who accused her of not going to the root causes of problems, she would simply remind them what the true root cause was. “The greatest disease today is not leprosy or tuberculosis, but rather the feeling of being unwanted, uncared for and deserted by everybody,”

...Mother Teresa never played to the crowd who wished to obscure the Gospel and reduce her to a humanitarian celebrity. She spoke out against abortion as the “greatest destroyer of peace” when in Oslo at the Nobel ceremony, and shocked the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington when she reminded them of the Christian tradition on the immorality of contraception.

...The world only knew her as diminutive and wizened, with a slight stoop and gnarled hands. Yet all who met her found her beautiful, for her eyes sparkled and her smile radiated joy.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger once wrote that ultimately the Church has only two things to offer to the world for the credibility of the Gospel of Jesus Christ: the beauty of her art and the lives of her saints. Mother Teresa captivated the whole world, becoming a patron saint of a difficult century. Like a great masterpiece of sacred art, she was indeed something beautiful for God."

Amen, Fr. de Souza, Amen. Happy 100th Mother, pray for us!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Bubbalicious, "No Please... It's Not My Place to Speak... Well, O.K. Only For a Minute..."

Here is a very interesting column by Howard Fineman stating that where Democratic incumbents are terrified of being seen with Obama, Bill Clinton is stepping in to the rescue. This solution give these incumbents the power of a Presidential fundraiser, but not the baggage of being seeing with a completely incompetent and unpopular President.

What really is happening here, in the nuances, is that the Clintons are taking back control of the Democratic Party (he who controls the purse strings in politics...). They have given Barack enough time to have fun. The Clintons are also building IOU's for when Hillary challenges Obama for the 2012 Democratic Presidential nomination.

Here is Fineman's take:

"...According to Democratic polls, Democratic Senate candidates are doing much better in the horse race of the campaign than Obama is doing in overall popularity in most states. In Missouri, for example, Obama’s approval rating is 36 percent, but Democratic Senate candidate Robin Carnahan is only a couple of points behind Republican Roy Blunt.

So into the top-of-the-ticket, presidential-level campaign void has (happily) stepped Bubba, as charming as ever, as sharp as ever at stating his case to voters. Plans are still “up in the air, but expect to see him out quite a bit,” says his spokesman, Matt McKenna.

...And when Clinton is “out” there, don’t expect him to fill his speeches with personal praise of Barack Obama. As a lawyer and salesman, Clinton knows that touting Obama as The One is a nonstarter given the president’s plummeting job-approval numbers. But permit me a moment of Machiavellian thinking to suggest that Clinton loves to be in a situation in which he has to make the Democrats’ case by damning with faint praise a man whose campaign he once dismissed as a “fairy tale.”

I always love listening to Bill Clinton. If you listen carefully, you can see all the gears in motion: he makes himself clear to people who bother to take him seriously. So what is he saying? That this president has “done a better job than he has gotten credit for so far.” (Which is not the same thing as saying that Obama has done a good job)."

The UK tabloid rag the Globe reported that Bill Clinton only has 6 months to live ;) , but boy is he going out doing what he loves: being the center of attention and being seen as selfless and benevolent despite his political motives!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Denis Dillon: A Profile in Courage

This week a pro-life hero was laid to rest.

Denis Dillon was the Nassau County District Attorney for 31 years and one of the most non-wavering, public pro-life voices on Long Island over the past few decades.

During the week, he revolutionized the District Attorney’s office and provided such a progressive standard that eventually countless DA offices across our country adopted his way of doing things. He had one of the highest conviction rates in the country.

On weekends, he would be a pro-life activist by often partaking in public pro-life demonstrations setting a golden example on how public servants did not have to abandon their convictions.

Long Island’s newspaper, Newsday, took many cheap shots at him over the years because of his convictions and he was persecuted for his Catholic Faith.

New York State Justice Arthur Diamond remembered Denis at his funeral Mass with a story:

“Days before former Nassau District Attorney Denis Dillon would stand for re-election one year, Dillon's longtime friend Arthur Diamond offered him some unsolicited advice.

"Stop hitting so hard on the anti-abortion issue," Diamond remembered telling Dillon, a devout Catholic. "It's hurting you politically."

Dillon paused, then said, "I love you, Artie, but I can't worry about this election. I have to worry about what happens to me long after this election," [Blogger Note: meaning when he met God].

There have been many quotes in Denis’ eulogies that were taken from the St. Thomas More (patron saint of lawyers) movie, A Man for All Seasons. But Denis, I believe you did meet God and it was a welcoming embrace because as stated in this great movie, “[God] will not refuse one who is so blithe to go to him."

"May the angels lead you into paradise: may the martyrs receive you at your coming, and lead you into the holy city, Jerusalem. May the choir of angels receive you, and with Lazarus, who once was poor, may you have everlasting rest.”

For more of a biography of this great man, click here:

Friday, August 13, 2010

Charles Krauthammer: "...no Mosque at Ground Zero."

Charles Krauthammer has a very compelling column today on the controversy of building a mosque at Ground Zero. I, being a New Yorker impacted by 9/11 -- while also be a huge proponent of the Freedom of Religion, go back and forth on the issue, so this piece was a worthwhile read for me:

"A place is made sacred by a widespread belief that it was visited by the miraculous or the transcendent (Lourdes, the Temple Mount), by the presence there once of great nobility and sacrifice (Gettysburg), or by the blood of martyrs and the indescribable suffering of the innocent (Auschwitz).

When we speak of Ground Zero as hallowed ground, what we mean is that it belongs to those who suffered and died there
[Blogger Note: and the first responders who sacrificed their lives there trying to save others] -- and that such ownership obliges us, the living, to preserve the dignity and memory of the place, never allowing it to be forgotten, trivialized or misappropriated.

That's why Disney's 1993 proposal to build an American history theme park near Manassas Battlefield was defeated by a broad coalition that feared vulgarization of the Civil War. It's why the commercial viewing tower built right on the border of Gettysburg was taken down by the Park Service. It's why, while no one objects to Japanese cultural centers, the idea of putting one up at Pearl Harbor would be offensive.

And why Pope John Paul II ordered the Carmelite nuns to leave the convent they had established at Auschwitz. He was in no way devaluing their heartfelt mission to pray for the souls of the dead. He was teaching them a lesson in respect: This is not your place; it belongs to others. However pure your voice, better to let silence reign.

...Religious institutions in this country are autonomous. Who is to say that the mosque won't one day hire an Anwar al-Aulaqi -- spiritual mentor to the Fort Hood shooter and the Christmas Day bomber, and onetime imam at the Virginia mosque attended by two of the 9/11 terrorists?

...Location matters. Especially this location. Ground Zero is the site of the greatest mass murder in American history -- perpetrated by Muslims of a particular Islamist orthodoxy in whose cause they died and in whose name they killed.

Of course that strain represents only a minority of Muslims. Islam is no more intrinsically Islamist than present-day Germany is Nazi -- yet despite contemporary Germany's innocence, no German of goodwill would even think of proposing a German cultural center at, say, Treblinka.

Which makes you wonder about the goodwill behind Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf's proposal. This is a man who has called U.S. policy "an accessory to the crime" of 9/11 and, when recently asked whether Hamas is a terrorist organization, replied, "I'm not a politician. . . . The issue of terrorism is a very complex question."

America is a free country where you can build whatever you want -- but not anywhere. That's why we have zoning laws. No liquor store near a school, no strip malls where they offend local sensibilities, and, if your house doesn't meet community architectural codes, you cannot build at all.

These restrictions are for reasons of aesthetics. Others are for more profound reasons of common decency and respect for the sacred. No commercial tower over Gettysburg, no convent at Auschwitz -- and no mosque at Ground Zero."