Saturday, February 28, 2009

Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for March

VATICAN CITY, 27 FEB 2009 (VIS) - Pope Benedict's general prayer intention for March is: "That the role of women may be more appreciated and used to good advantage in every country in the world".

His mission intention is: "That, in the light of the Letter addressed to them by Pope Benedict XVI, the bishops, priests, consecrated persons and lay faithful of the Catholic Church in the Popular Republic of China may commit themselves to being the sign and instrument of unity, communion and peace".

Trusting God in the Desert: A Lenten Meditation

American Catholic
Friar Jack's E-spirations
February 28, 2009

by Friar Jack Wintz, O.F.M.

Jesus in the desert: keeping trust
Moses’s failure of trust in the desert
To trust or mistrust—an ancient problem

Some years ago I heard a psychologist give a talk in which he shared this insight: A love relationship is a relationship of trust. And if you allow a relationship of trust to become one that always demands proofs and evidence, you run the risk of undermining that relationship.

If your husband, wife or dearest friend, for example, were regularly to demand from you alibis, tests and airtight evidence to explain why you arrived home late from work, etc., your relationship could well be in trouble. Such attitudes can transform a relationship of trust into a relationship of distrust. And the relationship—as a love relationship—could be doomed.

We can apply the same insight to our love relationship with God—a relationship that many of us are seeking to renew and deepen during these days of Lent. Our love relationship with God has one of profound trust rather than one that demands proofs and tests from God.

Jesus in the desert: keeping trust

We apply this to Jesus’ relationship of love with his Father as he goes into the desert to be tested. The three temptations of Jesus in the desert are attempts by the devil to entice Jesus to place his trust in something other than God. In the first and third temptations the devil tries to persuade Jesus to respectively put his trust in bread and in worldly power. But Jesus chooses to place his trust firmly in God alone.

Saturday after Ash Wednesday

Daily Readings (on USCCB site):
February 28, 2009(will open a new window)

Collect: Father, watch over your family and keep us safe in your care, for all our hope is in you. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Catholic Culture
« February 28, 2009 »

Then he questioned his father, "How long has this been happening to him"? He replied, "Since childhood. It has often thrown him into fire and into water to kill him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us." Jesus said to him, " 'If you can!' Everything is possible to one who has faith." Then the boy's father cried out, "I do believe, help my unbelief!" Jesus, on seeing a crowd rapidly gathering, rebuked the unclean spirit and said to it, "Mute and deaf spirit, I command you: come out of him and never enter him again" (Mark 9:21-26)

Stational Church

Friday, February 27, 2009

The Sorrowful Mysteries: Scourging at the Pillar

By Jennifer Hartline
Catholic Online (

Every agonizing moment of pain he endured was to secure my peace. His punishment, my freedom.My impurities are not beaten out of me; they were beaten out of Him.

Flogging… they used a whip made of several strips of leather that were embedded at the ends with pieces of bone and lead. No Roman limitation was placed on the number of lashings inflicted, and often the victim didn’t survive the flogging. Jesus did.

CHESAPEAKE, VA (Catholic Online) - Jennifer Hartline continues her series of reflections on the Sorrowful Mysteries:

2nd Sorrowful Mystery: The Scourging at the pillar

“Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged.” John 19:1

Let this mystery teach us purity, and to accept God’s will.

Flogging… they used a whip made of several strips of leather that were embedded at the ends with pieces of bone and lead. No Roman limitation was placed on the number of lashings inflicted, and often the victim didn’t survive the flogging. Jesus did.

“But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5

Every blow from that cruel whip was for my sake. Every vicious tear in His flesh, every drop of precious blood that flowed was for my healing. Every agonizing moment of pain he endured was to secure my peace. His punishment, my freedom.

Friday after Ash Wednesday

Daily Readings (on USCCB site):
February 27, 2009(will open a new window)

Collect: Lord, with your loving care guide the penance we have begun. Help us to persevere with love and sincerity. Grant this through our

Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Catholic Culture
« February 27, 2009 »
Old Calendar: St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows, confessor

Gabriel Possenti (1838-62), the son of a distinguished Italian lawyer, entered the novitiate of the Passionist Fathers, receiving in religion the name of Brother Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows. The story of the remaining six years of this young saint's life is largely a record of an extraordinary effort to attain spiritual perfection in small things, but his devotion to Mary was exceptional. Pope Leo XIII said of him: "Because of his filial love for Mary at the foot of the cross, he deserves to take his place by St. John, the beloved disciple, to whom Jesus in his dying hour commended his Mother." According to the 1962 Missal of Bl. John XXIII the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, today is his feast.

Stational Church

Thursday, February 26, 2009

At Lent, let us pray for the Pope

» 02/26/2009 14:12

by Bernardo Cervellera

A group of Muslim converts to Christianity asked us to pray for Benedict XVI, who is under attack from all sides. Non-Catholic Churches, progressives and traditionalists, politicians and radicals are all casting stones at the scapegoat of the week. With ideologies and economies in crisis, this is the last attempt to remove a champion of the dignity of man and God himself.

Rome (AsiaNews) – For this Lent we are inviting our readers to devote a special prayer for Pope Benedict XVI. The idea came to us from a number of Muslim converts to Christianity who wrote to AsiaNews launching a novena for the Pontiff. They see in Benedict XVI as a “defender of the weak” and “a sign of Jesus’ love” in a world that is trying to attack him every which way. As new converts they too are among the weak, forced to hide their conversion even from their family. Moreover, the Pope himself had asked for a special prayer.

On the day the Church celebrated the Chair of Peter (22 February), Benedict XVI spoke to pilgrims in St Peter’s Square during the Angelus, asking them to “accompany me with your prayers so that I may faithfully accomplish the high task Divine Providence has placed upon me as Successor to the Apostle Peter” and bishop of Rome. Indeed, the Church is “called to fulfil a special service for the People of God as a whole.”

We all know how difficult ecumenism, the struggle for Christian unity, can be. Every step the Pope takes is met by coldness, indifference and prevarication from other Churches. Here is one example among many. Despite Benedict XVI’s many prayers and attention, the new Orthodox patriarch of Moscow said, a day after his election, that a trip by the Pontiff to Moscow was not possible for the foreseeable future.

The Pope’s search for unity also suffers from trying to hold together various Catholic strands, still too much divided (perhaps confused) between “progressive” and “traditionalists”, “North” and “South”, “rich” and “poor”, each missing the chance of respecting one another other, and acting as one in bearing witness to the faith in a world that is increasingly becoming atheistic.

The lifting of the excommunication on Lefebvrist Bishop Williamson gave many politicians, big and small, an opportunity to accuse the Pope of anti-Semitism, without getting their facts straight or realising that Benedict XVI is the one who built a strong relationship with the Jewish world over the years. It is almost as if everyone got together to cast stones against the scapegoat of the week. In fact Benedict XVI is one of the few voices saying that humans cannot be bought by politics or that the state must serve the public good.

In a continent like Europe where plans are underway to introduce euthanasia and eugenics, the Pope has insisted that “Man will always be greater than all that which makes up his body.” He has slammed the mindset that views life and personal dignity as “based [only] on one's own desire and individual freedom,” giving precedence to the “active faculties, to proficiency, to physical perfection and beauty.”

In all these “incidents” there may have been some errors or clumsiness by the Roman Curia, but in the “war” against Benedict XVI there is above all an attempt to stifle those who tell everyone that there is an absolute value in human beings.

As crises overtake ideologies and economies, overwhelming the world, this is the latest attempt to get rid of God as if he was a final burden.

Photo: CPP

See also February 22, 2009 article from Zenit, "Pontiff Requests Prayer for Fulfillment of Mission."

The Sorrowful Mysteries: Agony in the Garden

By Jennifer Hartline 2/26/2009
Catholic Online (

There is so much to be gained from thoughtfully considering, and yes, dwelling on the events leading to Calvary.

Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.

CHESAPEAKE, Va. (Catholic Online) - From now until Easter we offer all our rosary prayers within the context of the Sorrowful Mysteries. I have found throughout my life a tendency to resist dwelling on these painful events – a common human experience, I think. We instinctively turn away from pain and try to avoid it at all costs.

But as they say, “No pain, no gain.” There is so much to be gained from thoughtfully considering, and yes, dwelling on the events leading to Calvary. But this is uncomfortable stuff and very hard to face with a serious degree of reflection. (I still have to squelch the urge sometimes to skip over these cruel and heartbreaking scenes and go straight to the Glorious!)

I never hesitate to proclaim there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for one of my children because I love them so.

I love my Jesus, too. This year I feel challenged to sit still and do the uncomfortable…reflect on the agony, contemplate the wickedness, listen to the hatred, wince at the excruciating pain…and see myself in all of it.

He did it all…for me. He loves me so.

Thursday After Ash Wednesday

Daily Readings (on USCCB site):
» February 26, 2009(will open a new window)

Collect: All-powerful Father, You have built Your Church on the rock of Saint Peter's confession of faith. May nothing divide or weaken our unity in faith and love. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Catholic Culture
« February 26, 2009 »

Yesterday we began Lent. Today we take up our cross and follow Christ. We are presented with a choice, "Today I have set before you life and prosperity, death and doom. . . Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live, by loving the Lord, your God, heeding his voice, and holding fast to him."

In her effort to inspire us with courage for the coming battle, the Church puts heroes before our eyes at the very outset of Lent. The first hero is the soldier George, the station saint. He proved himself mightier than the dragon, a thrilling accomplishment. Christ also is challenging the powers of darkness; He must fight the dragon from hell and crush his head. The same holds for the mystical Christ, the Church. Catechumens, penitents, faithful — all must do battle with the dragon. ...Today the fighting proceeds under the flag and leadership of the solider St. George. It is a battle of life or death. Only he who declares total war on the dragon can hope for life in abundance. — The Church's Year of Grace

Stational Church

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Message of His Holiness Benedict XVI for Lent 2009

"He fasted for forty days and forty nights,
and afterwards he was hungry" (Mt 4,1-2)

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

At the beginning of Lent, which constitutes an itinerary of more intense spiritual training, the Liturgy sets before us again three penitential practices that are very dear to the biblical and Christian tradition – prayer, almsgiving, fasting – to prepare us to better celebrate Easter and thus experience God’s power that, as we shall hear in the Paschal Vigil, “dispels all evil, washes guilt away, restores lost innocence, brings mourners joy, casts out hatred, brings us peace and humbles earthly pride” (Paschal Præconium). For this year’s Lenten Message, I wish to focus my reflections especially on the value and meaning of fasting. Indeed, Lent recalls the forty days of our Lord’s fasting in the desert, which He undertook before entering into His public ministry. We read in the Gospel: “Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was hungry” (Mt 4,1-2). Like Moses, who fasted before receiving the tablets of the Law (cf. Ex 34,28) and Elijah’s fast before meeting the Lord on Mount Horeb (cf. 1 Kings 19,8), Jesus, too, through prayer and fasting, prepared Himself for the mission that lay before Him, marked at the start by a serious battle with the tempter.

We might wonder what value and meaning there is for us Christians in depriving ourselves of something that in itself is good and useful for our bodily sustenance. The Sacred Scriptures and the entire Christian tradition teach that fasting is a great help to avoid sin and all that leads to it. For this reason, the history of salvation is replete with occasions that invite fasting. In the very first pages of Sacred Scripture, the Lord commands man to abstain from partaking of the prohibited fruit: “You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die” (Gn 2, 16-17). Commenting on the divine injunction, Saint Basil observes that “fasting was ordained in Paradise,” and “the first commandment in this sense was delivered to Adam.” He thus concludes: “ ‘You shall not eat’ is a law of fasting and abstinence” (cf. Sermo de jejunio: PG 31, 163, 98). Since all of us are weighed down by sin and its consequences, fasting is proposed to us as an instrument to restore friendship with God. Such was the case with Ezra, who, in preparation for the journey from exile back to the Promised Land, calls upon the assembled people to fast so that “we might humble ourselves before our God” (8,21). The Almighty heard their prayer and assured them of His favor and protection. In the same way, the people of Nineveh, responding to Jonah’s call to repentance, proclaimed a fast, as a sign of their sincerity, saying: “Who knows, God may yet repent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we perish not?” (3,9). In this instance, too, God saw their works and spared them.

In the New Testament, Jesus brings to light the profound motive for fasting, condemning the attitude of the Pharisees, who scrupulously observed the prescriptions of the law, but whose hearts were far from God. True fasting, as the divine Master repeats elsewhere, is rather to do the will of the Heavenly Father, who “sees in secret, and will reward you” (Mt 6,18). He Himself sets the example, answering Satan, at the end of the forty days spent in the desert that “man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Mt 4,4). The true fast is thus directed to eating the “true food,” which is to do the Father’s will (cf. Jn 4,34). If, therefore, Adam disobeyed the Lord’s command “of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat,” the believer, through fasting, intends to submit himself humbly to God, trusting in His goodness and mercy.

The practice of fasting is very present in the first Christian community (cf. Acts 13,3; 14,22; 27,21; 2 Cor 6,5). The Church Fathers, too, speak of the force of fasting to bridle sin, especially the lusts of the “old Adam,” and open in the heart of the believer a path to God. Moreover, fasting is a practice that is encountered frequently and recommended by the saints of every age. Saint Peter Chrysologus writes: “Fasting is the soul of prayer, mercy is the lifeblood of fasting. So if you pray, fast; if you fast, show mercy; if you want your petition to be heard, hear the petition of others. If you do not close your ear to others, you open God’s ear to yourself” (Sermo 43: PL 52, 320. 322).

In our own day, fasting seems to have lost something of its spiritual meaning, and has taken on, in a culture characterized by the search for material well-being, a therapeutic value for the care of one’s body. Fasting certainly bring benefits to physical well-being, but for believers, it is, in the first place, a “therapy” to heal all that prevents them from conformity to the will of God. In the Apostolic Constitution Pænitemini of 1966, the Servant of God Paul VI saw the need to present fasting within the call of every Christian to “no longer live for himself, but for Him who loves him and gave himself for him … he will also have to live for his brethren“ (cf. Ch. I). Lent could be a propitious time to present again the norms contained in the Apostolic Constitution, so that the authentic and perennial significance of this long held practice may be rediscovered, and thus assist us to mortify our egoism and open our heart to love of God and neighbor, the first and greatest Commandment of the new Law and compendium of the entire Gospel (cf. Mt 22, 34-40).

The faithful practice of fasting contributes, moreover, to conferring unity to the whole person, body and soul, helping to avoid sin and grow in intimacy with the Lord. Saint Augustine, who knew all too well his own negative impulses, defining them as “twisted and tangled knottiness” (Confessions, II, 10.18), writes: “I will certainly impose privation, but it is so that he will forgive me, to be pleasing in his eyes, that I may enjoy his delightfulness” (Sermo 400, 3, 3: PL 40, 708). Denying material food, which nourishes our body, nurtures an interior disposition to listen to Christ and be fed by His saving word. Through fasting and praying, we allow Him to come and satisfy the deepest hunger that we experience in the depths of our being: the hunger and thirst for God.

At the same time, fasting is an aid to open our eyes to the situation in which so many of our brothers and sisters live. In his First Letter, Saint John admonishes: “If anyone has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, yet shuts up his bowels of compassion from him – how does the love of God abide in him?” (3,17). Voluntary fasting enables us to grow in the spirit of the Good Samaritan, who bends low and goes to the help of his suffering brother (cf. Encyclical Deus caritas est, 15). By freely embracing an act of self-denial for the sake of another, we make a statement that our brother or sister in need is not a stranger. It is precisely to keep alive this welcoming and attentive attitude towards our brothers and sisters that I encourage the parishes and every other community to intensify in Lent the custom of private and communal fasts, joined to the reading of the Word of God, prayer and almsgiving. From the beginning, this has been the hallmark of the Christian community, in which special collections were taken up (cf. 2 Cor 8-9; Rm 15, 25-27), the faithful being invited to give to the poor what had been set aside from their fast (Didascalia Ap., V, 20,18). This practice needs to be rediscovered and encouraged again in our day, especially during the liturgical season of Lent.

From what I have said thus far, it seems abundantly clear that fasting represents an important ascetical practice, a spiritual arm to do battle against every possible disordered attachment to ourselves. Freely chosen detachment from the pleasure of food and other material goods helps the disciple of Christ to control the appetites of nature, weakened by original sin, whose negative effects impact the entire human person. Quite opportunely, an ancient hymn of the Lenten liturgy exhorts: “Utamur ergo parcius, / verbis cibis et potibus, / somno, iocis et arctius / perstemus in custodia – Let us use sparingly words, food and drink, sleep and amusements. May we be more alert in the custody of our senses.”

Dear brothers and sisters, it is good to see how the ultimate goal of fasting is to help each one of us, as the Servant of God Pope John Paul II wrote, to make the complete gift of self to God (cf. Encyclical Veritatis splendor, 21). May every family and Christian community use well this time of Lent, therefore, in order to cast aside all that distracts the spirit and grow in whatever nourishes the soul, moving it to love of God and neighbor. I am thinking especially of a greater commitment to prayer, lectio divina, recourse to the Sacrament of Reconciliation and active participation in the Eucharist, especially the Holy Sunday Mass. With this interior disposition, let us enter the penitential spirit of Lent. May the Blessed Virgin Mary, Causa nostrae laetitiae, accompany and support us in the effort to free our heart from slavery to sin, making it evermore a “living tabernacle of God.” With these wishes, while assuring every believer and ecclesial community of my prayer for a fruitful Lenten journey, I cordially impart to all of you my Apostolic Blessing.

From the Vatican, 11 December 2008.


© Copyright 2008 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Pope: Lent, time of listening to the Word, austere life, conversion and charity

» 02/25/2009 19:01

Benedict XVI has celebrated Ash Wednesday in the basilica of Santa Sabina. As part of the Pauline Year, he indicated the example of Christian life given by the apostle to the Gentiles. "We are urged not to give our members up to sin, meaning not to concede, so to speak, room for sin to make a comeback."

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Following the example of St. Paul, Lent should be marked by a more frequent listening to the word of God, "by more intense prayer, by an austere and penitential style of life, it should be an encouragement to conversion and sincere love for our brothers, especially those who are most poor and in need." In the Pauline Year, the life of the Apostle of the Gentiles was offered by Benedict XVI as a model of how the Christian should live Lent, in today's celebration of Ash Wednesday at the ancient Roman basilica of Santa Sabina.

The ceremony was preceded, according to tradition, by a moment of prayer at the nearby church of Sant’Anselmo all’Aventino. From there the pope, together with the cardinals, bishops, priests and faithful, went in penitential procession to Santa Sabina. During the Mass, Benedict XVI distributed the ashes to some of those present. His were given to him by Cardinal Jozef Tomko, the titular of the basilica.

In the homily, the pope focused especially on a phrase from the second Letter to the Corinthians: "We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God." (5:20). " Paul," he commented, "experienced in an extraordinary manner the power of God's grace, the grace of the Paschal mystery that is the vital force of Lent itself. He presents himself to us as an 'ambassador' of the Lord. Who better than him, then, to help us travel in a fruitful way this path of interior conversion?

Associated Press Wed Feb 25, 12:09 PM ET

Pope Benedict XVI, at second right, arrives in a procession with other prelates at the Santa Sabina Basilica for the Ash Wednesday prayer service, in Rome, Wednesday Feb. 25, 2009. Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, a solemn period of 40 days of prayer and self-denial leading up to Easter.(AP Photo/Pier Paolo Cito)

Enlarge photo...

Seven Deadly Sins: Lust

By Jeri Holladay 2/25/2009
Catholic Online (

Lust offers a beguiling counterfeit, a way to have the illusion of “love” without the surrender of real love.

WITCHITA, Kansas (Catholic Online) - When I open my email, I am often hit with singles ads. Young women seeking to meet men post their photos with descriptions of their bodies. Will the lust they excite in their respondents help them forge real relationships?

The human desire for union with another is built into the very nature of what it means to be human. As Chesterton once said, “Everyone who knocks at a brothel door is seeking Christ.” Even those consumed by lust seek human connection, but in a seriously distorted way.

Pope John Paul II, in Man and Woman He Created Them: A Theology of the Body, tells us that the body is not a disposable part but is integral to the meaning of the human person. He says, “the body is a primordial sacrament. . . a sign that efficaciously transmits in the visible world the invisible mystery hidden in God from eternity. . . . In fact, through his bodiliness, his masculinity and femininity, man becomes a visible sign of the economy of Truth and Love.” (p.203)

This communion can only be attained through the total gift of self in marriage in which unconditional love is achieved over a lifetime. The fulfillment it brings is a joy, but it does require a dying to self that selfishness finds distasteful.

"Lenten Daily Devotions" from Food for the Poor

Food for the Poor is an admirable charity that ministers to the most destitute, with an excellent four star rating from Charity Navigator. For Lent, it has provided an helpful series of devotions, "Lenten Daily Devotions." Each day's devotion consists of a short Gospel reading with concise reflection and a related "Offering to God."

The following is Day 1, today's devotion, for Ash Wednesday:

Day 1

Ash Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Gospel Reading: Matthew 6:1–6, 16–18

"But take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them."
(Matthew 6:1a)

My Offering to God: I will anonymously do something kind for someone.

"Lenten Daily Devotions" is also available in Word format.

EWTN: Calendar for Lent and Ash Wednesday Reflection

The complete Lenten Calendar and today's reflection for Ash Wednesday from EWTN:


" Dust thou art, and into dust thou shalt return."
Gn. 3:19

Rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the Lord, your God. (Joel 2:13)


The liturgical use of ashes originated in the Old Testament times. Ashes symbolized mourning, mortality and penance. In the Book of Esther, Mordecai put on sackcloth and ashes when he heard of the decree of King Ahasuerus to kill all of the Jewish people in the Persian Empire (Esther 4:1). Job repented in sackcloth and ashes (Job 42:6). Prophesying the Babylonian captivity of Jerusalem, Daniel wrote, "I turned to the Lord God, pleading in earnest prayer, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes" (Daniel 9:3).

Jesus made reference to ashes, "If the miracles worked in you had taken place in Tyre and Sidon, they would have reformed in sackcloth and ashes long ago" (Matthew 11:21).

In the Middle Ages, the priest would bless the dying person with holy water, saying, "Remember that thou art dust and to dust thou shalt return."
The Church adapted the use of ashes to mark the beginning of the penitential season of Lent, when we remember our mortality and mourn for our sins. In our present liturgy for Ash Wednesday, we use ashes made from the burned palm branches distributed on the Palm Sunday of the previous year. The priest blesses the ashes and imposes them on the foreheads of the faithful, making the sign of the cross and saying, "Remember, man you are dust and to dust you shall return," or "Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel." As we begin this holy season of Lent in preparation for Easter, we must remember the significance of the ashes we have received: We mourn and do penance for our sins. We again convert our hearts to the Lord, who suffered, died, and rose for our salvation. We renew the promises made at our baptism, when we died to an old life and rose to a new life with Christ. Finally, mindful that the kingdom of this world passes away, we strive to live the kingdom of God now and look forward to its fulfillment in heaven.

Lent Begins: Ash Wednesday

Daily Readings (on USCCB site):
» February 25, 2009(will open a new window)

Collect: Lord, protect us in our struggle against evil. As we begin the discipline of Lent, make this day holy by our self-denial. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Catholic Culture
« February 25, 2009 »

Ash Wednesday

The time has now come in the Church year for the solemn observance of the great central act of history, the redemption of the human race by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In the Roman Rite, the beginning of the forty days of penance is marked with the austere symbol of ashes which is used in today's liturgy. The use of ashes is a survival from an ancient rite according to which converted sinners submitted themselves to canonical penance. The Alleluia and the Gloria are suppressed until Easter.

Abstinence from eating meat is to be observed on all Fridays during Lent. This applies to all persons 14 and older. The law of fasting on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday applies to all Catholics from age 18 through age 59.

Stational Church

At Catholic Culture, other resources for Lent can be found in "The Lenten Workshop."

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Vatican and Al-Azhar: promoting a pedagogy of peace

YouTube-Vatican's Channel
February 24, 2009

Mutual understanding and respect: with this theme began today the traditional encounter between the Permanent Committee of Al-Azhar for the Dialogue with Monotheistic Religions and the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.The annual reunion of the Joint Committee, ending February 26th, provides the opportunity to examine the specific role of religions in the promotion of a pedagogy and culture of peace between peoples.Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, President of the Vatican dicastery, underlined that truth should always guide dialogue between religions.The Pope has greatly insisted upon this issue. Dialogue is important, but it should not lead to syncretism or relativism. I always say: interrel ...

Lenten Series: The Seven Deadly Sins

By Jeri Holladay
Catholic Online (

In the privacy of our own consciences, we admit that shadows lurk within our hearts. Like St. Paul, we lament, “I do not do the good I want, but I do the evil I do not want.” (Romans 7:18)

The terms “sin” and “vice,” often used interchangeably, are not really identical. Sins are specific acts of commission or omission. Vices are character traits. Like virtue, vices are developed through habit and practice and produce a person’s basic disposition.

WITCHITA, Kansas (Catholic Online) - Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Nobel prize winner and long-term prisoner of the Russian Gulag, said that “the battle line between good and evil runs through the heart of every man.”

It’s too easy to divide good and evil between we good guys and those bad guys, when, as Pogo once said, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.” In the privacy of our own consciences, we admit that shadows lurk within our hearts, the concupiscence that makes sin appear to be an attractive choice. Our motives are always mixed. Like St. Paul, we lament, “I do not do the good I want, but I do the evil I do not want.” (Romans 7:18)

The desert fathers meditated long and hard on the human condition. Pope St. Gregory the Great, building upon the work of Evagrius and St. John Cassian, devised the list of what we call today The Seven Deadly sins. Sin, however, is not quite the right term for these deadly traits in the depths of our souls.

The terms “sin” and “vice,” often used interchangeably, are not really identical. Sins are specific acts of commission or omission. Vices are character traits. Like virtue, vices are developed through habit and practice and produce a person’s basic disposition. (The Catechism Glossary and #1813, 1866, 1849, 1853, 1854 offer the proper definitions of virtue, vice and sin.)

See also:

Lent Call Out - What Are You Made Of?
Pope Benedicts' Call to Fasting
Getting Ready for Lent

Fat Tuesday--a traditional day of celebration before Ash Wednesday

Daily Readings (on USCCB site):
» February 24, 2009(will open a new window)

Collect: Father, keep before us the wisdom and love you have revealed in your Son. Help us to be like him in word and deed, for he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

« February 24, 2009 »
Tuesday of the Seventh Week of Ordinary Time

Today is the day before Ash Wednesday, called Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday. Traditionally, it is the last day for Christians to indulge before the sober weeks of fasting that come with Lent. Formally known as Shrove Tuesday, Mardi Gras has long been a time of extravagant fun for European Christians. In many southern states of the USA Mardi Gras is a traditional holiday. The most famous celebration takes place in New Orleans, Louisiana. It has been celebrated there on a grand scale, with masked balls and colorful parades, since French settlers arrived in the early 1700s.

On April 17th, 1958, His Holiness Pope Pius XII confirmed the Feast of the Holy Face of Jesus on Shrove Tuesday (Tuesday before Ash Wednesday) for all the dioceses and religious orders who would ask for the Indult from Rome in order to celebrate it. You can learn more about this devotion at Holy Face Devotion and at the Holy Face Association.

According to the 1962 Missal of Bl. John XXIII the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, today is the feast of St. Matthias. His feast in the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite is celebrated on May 14th.

See also:

PRAYERS » Shrove Tuesday Prayer

Monday, February 23, 2009

New documents show Pius XII helped Jews

Catholic Culture
News Briefs
February 23, 2009

The Pave the Way Foundation, which has gather evidence showing that Pope Pius XII assisted Jews during World War II, announced Thursday that it had found documentary evidence that the future pontiff had already assisted Jews in the 1910s and 1920s. Documents discovered by historian Michael Hesemann, author of The Pope Who Defied Hitler and The Truth About Pius XII, show that Archbishop Eugenio Pacelli sought protection for Jews in the Ottoman Empire, recommended that Pope Benedict XV meet with a representative of the World Zionist Organization, and urged German Catholics to support the Committee for Palestine.

Source(s): these links will take you to other sites, in a new window.

Group Gives New Proof of Pius XII's Help for Jews (Zenit)

Pave the Way Foundation

Catholic League: Archbishop Dolan--"perfect fit for New York’s rough and tumble milieu"

Bill Donohue of the Catholic League gives a resoundingly positive endorcement of Archbishop Dolan's new appointment:


February 23, 2009

Catholic League president Bill Donohue commented today on news that Milwaukee Archbishop Timothy Dolan will be the new Archbishop of New York:

“What a perfect fit: Archbishop Dolan has the erudition, tenacity, affability and orthodoxy necessary for a leadership role in New York. My dealings with him have been extraordinarily positive.

“In the fall of 2007, the Catholic League launched a boycott and PR campaign against the Miller Brewing Company for its sponsorship of a vile anti-Catholic gay event, the Folsom Street Fair, in San Francisco. After six weeks of pounding Miller, we got what we wanted: an apology for four anti-Catholic incidents and a pledge not to sponsor the event again.

“During the course of the PR campaign, we had occasion to work with Archbishop Dolan and Chaldean Bishop Ibrahim N. Ibrahim. In both instances, their support proved to be encouraging and effective: the word went out that the Catholic community in Milwaukee, home of Miller Brewing, was seriously offended by the beer company’s role in sponsoring the Folsom Street Fair.

“In other words, Archbishop Dolan did not hesitate to step up to the plate. He showed leadership from top to bottom. Which is why a man of his character is a perfect fit for New York’s rough and tumble milieu. We look forward to working with him.”

Wis. Msgr. Dolan welcomed as NYC's next archbishop

AP via Yahoo! News - 57 minutes ago
By RACHEL ZOLL, AP Religion Writer Rachel Zoll, Ap Religion Writer – 57 mins ago

Associated Press Mon Feb 23, 1:25 PM ET

New New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan of Milwaukee, right, and Cardinal Edward Egan, the outgoing archbishop of New York, take part in a news conference, Monday, Feb. 23, 2009 in New York.(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

NEW YORK – Milwaukee Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan, a defender of Roman Catholic orthodoxy known for his energy, wit and warmth, was named archbishop of New York on Monday and pledged "my life, my heart, my soul" to his new parishioners.

The Vatican said Dolan would succeed Cardinal Edward Egan, 76, who is retiring as archbishop after nearly nine years. Dolan, 59, will be installed as archbishop on April 15.

The following are responses to the appointment:

What New York's New Archbishop Means for American Catholicism

From Milwaukee's Journal Sentinel:

New York, Italian coverage of Dolan's appointment

Feb. 23, 2009 5:48 a.m. Here's a sampling of the New York and Italian media's coverage of Milwaukee Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan's appointment this morning as archbishop of New York.

New York Times: "A towering frame and a gregarious presence"
New York Times profile: "A genial enforcer of Rome's conservative line"
New York Daily News: "An affable priest with a common man's touch"
Il Riformista (English translation): "Good job, Archbishop Dolan" »Read Full Article

Priest critical of Obama asked to "cool it"

All I can say is we need more priests like Fr. Perozich who willingly speak truth to power.

California Catholic Daily

“Cool it!”
San Diego bishop asks outspoken priest to exercise restraint in Obama criticism

San Diego Bishop Robert Brom has asked an outspoken Escondido priest to tone down his fierce criticism of the Obama Administration, prompting supporters of the priest to launch a letter-writing campaign to the bishop on his behalf.

On Feb. 11, California Catholic Daily reprinted an article – “100 Days or End of Days?” -- from the parish bulletin of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Escondido written by Pastor Richard Perozich. In the article, Fr. Perozich warned that “evil has acceded to power” in the Obama Administration. (To see the article behind the controversy, Click Here.)

Sources at St. Mary’s told California Catholic Daily that a family from the parish-administered St. Mary’s School had complained to the chancery about the article. An intermediary, acting on behalf of Bishop Brom, then contacted Fr. Perozich by telephone, sources said, and told him to “cool it.” Aside from that single complaint, sources said, “the overwhelming opinion of parishioners has been favorable.”

Upon learning that Fr. Perozich had been asked to tone down his future remarks, supporters decided to begin a letter-writing campaign to Bishop Brom. The bishop, said Allyson Smith of El Cajon, “needs to hear from Catholics who appreciate Father Perozich's essay and his bold defense of the truth. Please write to Bishop Brom to express your appreciation of Father Perozich and his essay.”

In her own Feb. 18 letter to Bishop Brom, Smith wrote, “I write to commend Father Richard Perozich, pastor of St. Mary's Catholic Church in Escondido, for his February 1 hard-hitting church bulletin essay ‘100 Days or End of Days.’ In his essay, Father Perozich, an exemplary shepherd, courageously and rightfully warned his flock of our nation's dire fate under the pro-abortion, pro-homosexual, pro-euthanasia, pro-socialist, pro-death administration of Barack Obama. Father Perozich truthfully wrote, ‘Abominations will be forced on us by the new government, such as which our founders never had intended, and certainly opposed to the Christian life: abortion on demand, homogenital sex, lust in all its forms, euthanasia, oppression of opportunity and entrepreneurs, silencing of faith and free speech among many.’ Furthermore, in his essay, Father Perozich ‘named names’ of powerful United States so-called ‘Catholic’ senators Edward Kennedy and Nancy Pelosi (who was verbally ‘spanked’ by Pope Benedict today for her pro-abortion views). God bless and thank him for that! Father Perozich is absolutely correct in his assessment of our evil new government. We need many more courageous priests like him who do not care about human respect but instead preach the truth ‘in season and out.’”

California Catholic Daily contacted Fr. Perozich by email to ask him about the letter-writing campaign to the bishop. “People have the right to approach their sacred pastors [bishops], and when they feel a priest has failed or succeeded, they may do so,” said Fr. Perozich in a brief response. “Too often only negative criticism comes when one disagrees, but the praise of goodness fails to reach the bishop.”

Bishop Brom can be reached at the following address:
Most Reverend Robert H. Brom
Bishop of San Diego
P. O. Box 85728
San Diego, CA 92186

Ehud Olmert criticises anti-Christian statements made on an Israeli TV channel

» 02/23/2009 10:32

by Arieh Cohen

For the prime minister, “relations with the Vatican and the Christian world are very good.” The satirist said who offended Jesus and Our Lady sought revenge against the Holocaust-denying views of Lefebvrist Bishop Williamson.

Tel Aviv (AsiaNews) - The Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, has deplored the blasphemous comments of a television presenter, which offended the Christian citizens of Israel, and occasioned the protest of the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land, and a similar statement b the Press Office of the Holy See.

Speaking at the weekly cabinet meeting, Sunday 22 February, the head of government said that, without calling into doubt the right to freedom of expression, good sense should have led to abstaining from giving such offence to Christian fellow-citizens and to their fellow believers throughout the world. "The relations with the Vatican and the Christian world" he said "are very good" and "should not be damaged in this way".

The blasphemous talk, which ridiculed the Person of the Lord Jesus and the Blessed Virgin Mary, had been that of a satirist of a private television station, "Channel 10". He had said on the broadcast in question that they were his revenge for the Holocaust-denying statements of a certain Mr. Williamson, a promoter of the Lefebvrite schism, to whom the Holy See, unaware of those statements, granted remission of the excommunication, which he had incurred by illegally receiving episcopal consecration at the hands of the founder of the schismatic sect, ex-archbishop Lefebvre (who was likewise excommunicated and has since died).

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Pope highlights primacy of Church of Rome, asks for prayers

Pope Benedict at the window of his study

Vatican City, Feb 22, 2009 / 11:57 am (CNA).- Before reciting the Angelus at noon today, Pope Benedict XVI explained that today, February 22, the Church celebrates the Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter. He asked the tens of thousands of pilgrims to pray that he is able to bring unity to the Church and “faithfully accomplish the task Divine Providence has placed upon him as Successor to the Apostle Peter.”

The Holy Father began his remarks, delivered from the window of his study overlooking St. Peter’s Square, with a brief commentary on Sunday’s Gospel about the episode of the paralytic whom Jesus forgave and healed. This Gospel, the Pontiff said, “shows that not only did Jesus have the power to heal a sick body, but that he also had the power to forgive sins.”

“Physical healing is a sign of the spiritual healing his forgiveness produces,” the Pope continued. “In effect, sin is a sort of paralysis of the spirit from which only the power of God’s merciful love can free us, allowing us to get up and restart our journey on the path of goodness.”

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Sunday urged to be ‘day of fervent prayer’ for Pope Benedict

Pope Benedict XVI

Konigstein, Germany, Feb 21, 2009 / 08:43 am (CNA).- Saying Pope Benedict XVI has been “unjustly attacked,” the head of the international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need has called for this Sunday, the Feast of the Chair of Peter, to be a day of fervent prayer for the Holy Father.

“Pope Benedict XVI has been unjustly attacked. There has been a resurgence of the unsavoury and aggressive attitudes that many thought belonged to the past,” Fr. Joaquín Alliende, International President of Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) said on Friday.

Referring to “serious errors” in “certain bodies within the Holy See,”Fr. Alliende’s statement claimed “these acknowledged mistakes have been seized upon to launch an astonishing avalanche of attacks.”

“The dignity of the papacy and the person of Benedict XVI himself have been crudely insulted. Many people have manipulated the facts, while others have frivolously abandoned the important fundamentals of our humanist tradition.

“This unworthy dealing with the truth does grave damage to the dialogue between civil society and the great religions. It is a sign of cultural degeneration.”

Fr. Alliende warned that “old sectarian emotions” are being revived and that there has been an attempt to undermine “an irreprochable moral figure, one of the great beacons of hope for coming generations.”

Despite these “strident attacks,” Fr. Alliende said Pope Benedict’s personality “emerges untouched” as a figure who “incarnates rationality, lucid wisdom and courteous kindness.”

Petition to Withhold Holy Communion

Text of the Petition

In the United States there has been and continues to be an ongoing disregard, by prominent Catholics in public life, of the Church's teaching on a variety of serious moral issues including abortion, euthanasia, human cloning, homosexual "marriage", and embryonic stem cell research to name a few.

Whereas, many of these prominent Catholics not only disregard the Church's teachings on these issues but actively and publicly promote policies and legislation that undermines, opposes and contradicts the Church on these serious moral issues.

Whereas, the Catholic Church has given the local Bishop, the authority to deal with such manifestations of public disobedience to the Church's teachings.

Whereas, Catholics understand, support and respect the behind-the-scenes dialogue and diplomacy that goes on by our Bishops, with prominent Catholics, to reconcile them with the Church and further recognize that as a Church, it is our strong preference to resolve such issues in private.

However, when such actions by prominent Catholics continues for years and in some cases decades - - in spite of the actions and activities that have been undertaken by past and present Bishops to reconcile them with the Church - - then it becomes necessary for a Bishop to take decisive public action, like the withholding of Holy Communion under Canon 915, to prevent further scandal.

Whereas, Bishops who do not withhold communion, or institute some other serious, public disciplinary action against such prominent Catholics that obstinately persevere in manifest grave sin, leave the impression such actions are condoned, or at least tolerated, and thereby perpetuate this scandal.

Whereas I, YOUR NAME, a faithful Catholic residing within the diocese of YOUR DIOCESE do find the reception of Holy Communion by these prominent Catholics to be scandalous; I fear that it sets an example that will undoubtedly mislead others into participating, condoning and justifying these same immoral activities.

Whereas, Canon 212 '3, states that the Catholic faithful have ..the right, indeed at times the duty, in keeping with their knowledge, competence and position, to manifest to the sacred Pastors their views on matters which concern the good of the Church.

Be it therefore resolved in accordance with Canon 212 '3 , that I, YOUR NAME, do petition my Bishop, YOUR BISHOP, to extinguish this scandal by publicly disciplining such prominent Catholics that reside within his diocese, through the withholding of the Holy Communion, as stipulated in Canon 915, until such time as they have been reconciled with the Church.
continue, if you would like to sign the petition... launches nationwide petition to withhold communion from dissenting Catholics

Hopefully, this petition will exert sufficient pressure on those who dissent and cause public scandal, for them to repent and amend their lives.

Nationwide Petition Launched To Withhold Communion From Speaker Pelosi, V. P. Biden and Other Prominent Dissenting Catholics

February 17, 2009 – As Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi prepares to meet with Pope Benedict tomorrow in Rome, stateside, a nationwide petition project has been launched requesting the Catholic Bishops of the United States to withhold Communion from her and other prominent Catholics in public life that obstinately persist in their dissent from Catholic teaching on serious moral issues.

This nationwide Withholding Communion petition is being launched by, a Catholic News Portal. The goal of the petition drive is to gather a least 1 million petitions for presentation to the U.S. Bishops and the Vatican.

The basis for withholding communion is Canon 915, which stipulates that those "obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion." Archbishop Burke, the head of the Church's highest court reiterated his view on this subject in a recent interview with LifeSite News dated January 30, 2009, in which he stated, "The person who persists publicly in grave sin is to be denied Holy Communion, and it [Canon Law] doesn't say that the bishop shall decide this. It's an absolute."

Most Catholics don’t know that in addition to Canon 915, Canon law also compels Catholics to take action." Canon 212 S3, states that the Catholic faithful have " ..the right, indeed at times the duty, in keeping with their knowledge, competence and position, to manifest to the sacred Pastors their views on matters which concern the good of the Church."

While the Catholic faithful understand and support the behind-the-scenes dialogue and diplomacy that goes on with prominent Catholics, by the Bishops, to reconcile them with the Church -- when such dissent continues for years and in some cases decades - - in spite of the actions and activities that have been undertaken by past and present Bishops - - then it becomes necessary for a Bishop to take a formal public stand to prevent further scandal.

Unfortunately what has happened is that prominent, dissenting Catholics, in public life have continued to receive communion with impunity—and this has led to the false impression that the Church condones or at least tolerates such dissenting opinions on serious moral issues such as abortion, euthanasia, and embryonic stem cell research to name a few.

Not only do these prominent Catholics disregard the Church’s teachings, but in many cases they actively and publicly promote policies and legislation that undermines, opposes and contradicts the Church’s teachings. Examples of such Catholics include Speaker of the House - Nancy Pelosi, Vice President - Joseph Biden, Senator Ted Kennedy, and Senator John Kerry, to name a few.

Catholic Group Petitions Pope to Excommunicate Nancy Pelosi

Friday, February 20, 2009
By Michael Chapman

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) (AP Photo)

( – Human Life International (HLI), a Catholic pro-life group based in Front Royal, Va., had a letter from its Rome office delivered to the Vatican this week, in which it called upon Pope Benedict XVI to “formally excommunicate” from the Catholic Church House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). The pope met with Pelosi on Wednesday.

Experts in Canon Law, the rules that govern the Catholic Church, said this action is not unprecedented and noted that similar appeals for excommunication were made against Catholic judges who were enforcing racially discriminatory laws during the civil rights era. They also said that regular Catholics have a right to petition their pastors, bishops, and the pope in matters that pertain to the well-being of the church.

“The reason we called for the pope is because so many people have called on the bishops in the jurisdictions she lives in, who could possibly do it—and they won’t,” HLI President Rev. Thomas Euteneur told Pelosi has a home in the archdiocese of San Francisco, headed by Archbishop George Niederauer, and works in Washington, D.C., the archdiocese overseen by Archbishop Donald Wuerl.

Pelosi describes herself as “pro-choice,” and has voted for laws that promote abortion and artificial contraception, both of which are contrary to church teaching. For example, she voted against banning partial-birth abortion, against the Hyde Amendment, which prohibited federal funding of abortion in most circumstances, and against the Mexico City policy, which denied U.S. tax dollars to organizations that perform or promote abortion abroad. She also voted against a complete ban on human cloning and in favor of using tax dollars for research that kills human embryos.

The church’s catechism states: “Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception…. Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable.”

On Aug. 24, 2008, Pelosi was asked by Tom Brokaw on NBC’s “Meet the Press” about how she would advise then-Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama if he asked her about when human life begins. She answered by claiming that the question of when life begins has been a long-running controversy within the Catholic Church.

Catholic Judges and Abortion: Did the Pope Set New Rules?

Friday, Feb. 20, 2009
By Douglas W. Kmiec

Much has been made of the statement on abortion that Pope Benedict XVI issued earlier this week after meeting with Nancy Pelosi. But the Vatican's choice of words as they related to the Speaker of the House was quite predictable, given her pro-choice stance and her position as a high-ranking Catholic Democrat. The Holy Father simply made clear their differences on the issue and reminded the American politician of her responsibilities as a Catholic to protect life "at all stages of its development."

What was quite surprising, and overlooked, had to do with a different branch of the U.S. government. If you read it carefully, the statement is actually quite radical — perhaps unintentionally so. The brief message — just two short paragraphs — draws no distinction between the moral duties of Catholic policymakers and Catholic judges to work against abortion. (See pictures of Pope Benedict XVI's trip to America.)

As a lifelong Catholic, Pelosi could not feign surprise at being called upon by the Church to use her gift for persuasion to restrict abortion legislatively, or at least not to be its advocate. But until now, the Church had not formally instructed judges in a similar fashion. As written, the Pope's statement has the potential, at least theoretically, to empty the U.S. Supreme Court of all five of its Catholic jurists and perhaps all other Catholics who sit on the bench in the lower federal and state courts.

"His Holiness," the statement read, "took the opportunity to speak of the requirements of the natural moral law and the church's consistent teaching on the dignity of human life from conception to natural death which enjoin all Catholics, and especially legislators, jurists and those responsible for the common good of society, to work in cooperation with all men and women of good will in creating a just system of laws capable of protecting human life at all stages of its development." (See the top 10 religion stories of 2008.)

To get a sense of just how sharp a break with the past this is, all one has to do is take a look at what Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, himself a Roman Catholic, wrote in 2002 in an essay in First Things. "[Abortion involves] ... private individuals whom the state has decided not to restrain. One may argue (as many do) that the society has a moral obligation to restrain. That moral obligation may weigh heavily upon the voter, and upon the legislator who enacts the laws; but a judge, I think, bears no moral guilt for the laws society has failed to enact," he wrote. "Thus, my difficulty with Roe v. Wade is a legal rather than a moral one ... [I]f a state were to permit abortion on demand, I would — and could in good conscience — vote against an attempt to invalidate that law for the same reason that I vote against the invalidation of laws that forbid abortion on demand: because the Constitution gives the federal government (and hence me) no power over the matter."

Until the Pelosi statement, the prior instruction from the Church's Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith and encyclical writing seemed to confirm Scalia's reasoning. There was an implicit understanding that the Church's admonition to its faithful to change the law permitting the choice of abortion had to be understood and applied in light of the scope of office. Catholic legislators make policy and could be so instructed, but judges, as Scalia wrote, had "no moral responsibility for the laws [their] nation has failed to enact."

Friday, February 20, 2009

02/20/2009 - Living Joy

Catholic Culture Insights

From Dr. Jeff Mirus, President, Trinity Communications:

Among many other things, the person of Jesus Christ is living joy, and those who are joined to Christ share in this joy. In fact, Our Lord once summarized His mission thus: "These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full" (Jn 15:11).

Yet often we experience our Faith as hard work, and the majority of the resources offered by may reasonably be perceived as designed to make that work more effective. So are we missing something here? That's the question I raise in this week's column: Am I Writing about Nothing Today?.

Joyful or not, Lent is nearly upon us, as Ash Wednesday falls on the 25th. Within the context of Lent, a new website we've reviewed might be of particular interest. See The Purgatory Project which offers a spiritual work of mercy: enrolling deceased relatives and friends who may need prayers.

I'd also like to call attention to the many documents we've now posted on the quarrels over religious liberty and ecumenism which we had earlier reported would be at the center of talks between the SSPX and the Vatican. In addition to those mentioned in my previous message, see:

Fr. William Most, Vatican II vs. Pius IX? A Study in Lefebvrism

Fr. William Most, Religious Liberty: What the Texts Demand

William H. Marshner, Dignitatis Humanae and Traditional Teaching on Church and State

William Sockey, Religious Freedom and Human Rights

Fr. Brian Harrison, Is Ecumenism a Heresy?

In addition to providing the news, Phil Lawler has also written some marvelous opinion pieces over the last few days. See his commentary The crucial test for the pontificate of Benedict XVI; and see two of his blog entries: Icy Vatican reception damaging to Pelosi and What is it about Obama's choice(s) for HHS?

Speaking of the new President, we still have one slot open tomorrow night in our second perpetual Rosary for the new administration (a slot for tomorrow) and quite a few openings next week--the final week.

Spiritual exercises of the Pope and the Roman Curia

DFW Catholic
February 20, 2009

VATICAN CITY, 19 FEB 2009 (VIS) - The annual spiritual exercises of the Pope and the Roman Curia are due to begin on 1 March, the first Sunday of Lent. This year’s meditations will be directed by Cardinal Francis Arinze, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

The theme of the spiritual exercises, which will take place in the “Redemptoris Mater” Chapel of the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace, is: “The priest meets Jesus and follows Him”.

The retreat will begin at 6 p.m. with Eucharistic exposition, the celebration of Vespers, an introductory meditation, adoration and Eucharistic blessing. Over the following days there will be the celebration of Lauds and meditation at 9 a.m.; celebration of Terce and meditation at 10.15 a.m.; meditation at 5 p.m.; and Vespers, adoration and Eucharistic blessing at 5.45 p.m.

The spiritual exercises will come to an end on Saturday 7 March with the celebration of Lauds and a closing meditation.

During the retreat all audiences will be cancelled, including the weekly general audience of Wednesday 4 March.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Benedict XVI: Sustainable development for the world

YouTube-Vatican's Channel
February 19, 2009

To free the world from poverty and give more voice to developing countries has been one of the issues at the heart of talks between Pope Benedict XVI and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Respect for the environment and sustainable development were given as roads for the future.The Pope's purchase of the first bonds for health projects and assistance in 2006 has led to the collection of over one billion and six hundred million dollars, enabling five hundred million children to be vaccinated by 2015.The prime minister gave the Pope a picture with reference to some of the vaccinated individuals.Finally a renewed international commitment to the crisis in the Middle East was called for.

Jerusalem Post op-ed: Pope, Jews must stand together against Islamism

Catholic Culture
News Briefs
February 19, 2009

The Jerusalem Post has published an op-ed calling upon Catholics and Jews to “stand together against the threat of Islamism.” Defending Pope Benedict but calling his advisors “incompetent,” the article was written by Will Heaven, the 21-year-old contributing editor of the British Catholic weekly The Catholic Herald.

Source(s): these links will take you to other sites, in a new window.

Will Heaven: Catholics and Jews must stand together in the face of Islamism (Jerusalem Post)

Will Heaven

Gordon Brown invites Pope Benedict XVI to visit UK during Vatican trip

Gordon Brown has invited Pope Benedict XVI to make the first papal visit to the UK for nearly 30 years.

Daily Telegraph
By James Kirkup and Philip Wilan in Rome
Last Updated: 7:35PM GMT 19 Feb 2009

The Pope met Gordon Brown at The Vatican Photo: REUTERS

The Prime Minister made the offer during a visit to the Vatican on Thursday. Despite a Vatican spokesman saying there were no plans for a visit, Downing Street insisted a trip is now under active consideration.

Accompanied by his wife and children, Mr Brown flew to Rome on Thursday for his third meeting with the Pontiff.

After what the Vatican called a "cordial" meeting, Mr Brown told reporters in the Vatican City that he had made the offer of a visit and it had been well-received.

"He was very welcoming of the invitation," Mr Brown said. The Pope would be "warmly welcomed" in all parts of the UK, he said.

A Vatican spokesman initially appeared to cast doubt on any visit by the Pontiff to Britain.

"For the moment, no travel by Benedict XVI to the United Kingdom is scheduled or under consideration," Federico Lombardi, the spokesman, was quoted as saying.

Despite that response, Downing Street was unabashed, insisting that a papal visit remains a possibility either later this year or early in 2010.

"There isn't a date in the diary – we just made the invitation a few hours ago. But they are definitely looking at it," said a No 10 source.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Seven States Have Launched Efforts for Personhood Rights for Pre-born - Even More Expected in 2009

Federal and State efforts signal growing grassroots commitment for Personhood

Contact: Keith Mason, Personhood USA, 202-595-3500

DENVER, Feb. 18 /Christian Newswire/ -- Personhood USA is pleased to announce that since the beginning of the new year, Seven different States have started efforts for the personhood of pre-born children. In addition, Rep. Duncan Hunter has introduced H.R. 881, the Right to Life Act , on the federal level, propelling the personhood movement forward.

Five States have now introduced bills affirming the personhood rights of pre-born humans from the moment of fertilization including:
Maryland / HB925 Delegate Don Dwyer
North Dakota / H.R. 1572 Rep. Dan Ruby
Montana / SB 406 Sen. Daniel W McGee
South Carolina / H.3526 Rep. Liston Barfield
Alabama / SB-335 Sen. Hank Erwin

Oregon has begun a personhood amendment petition drive, and Mississippi's personhood amendment petition drive is expected to launch within weeks.

The common thread among all of these efforts is the goal to fill what is becoming known as the "Blackmun Hole" in Roe v. Wade. This is where Justice Blackmun implied in the Roe v. Wade decision that if the case were established that the pre-born was a person, the argument for abortion collapses. In Roe v Wade, it is acknowledged that the "fetus" is fully human, but did not grant the rights of "persons" until birth.

"Personhood USA is standing with strong support for all of these efforts. We are committed to working tirelessly to establish personhood in every State, because this is the only way to restore dignity to the humans most vulnerable among us," stated Cal Zastrow of Personhood USA.

"Personhood efforts raise the standard of what it is to be pro-life. We expect that as the understanding that all humans are people spreads, the injustice of abortion will end," continued Keith Mason of Personhood USA.

Personhood USA is a grassroots Christian organization founded to establish personhood efforts across America to create protection for every child by love and by law. Personhood USA is committed to assisting and supporting Personhood Legislation and Constitutional Amendments and building local pro-life organizations through raising awareness of the personhood of the pre-born.

For Interviews please call 202-595-3500
For More Information please visit

Pope: no one has the Gospel for himself alone, it is a gift for all

» 02/18/2009 14:36

Benedict XVI today revisited the Church's duty to bring the word of Jesus to the world, illustrating the figure of the Venerable Bede at the general audience. The saint is responsible for establishing the birth of Christ as the point of reference for the calendar.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - No one has the Gospel for himself alone, it is also a gift for others. Benedict XVI today revisited the Church's duty to bring the word of Jesus to the world, speaking to the 20,000 people present at the general audience in St. Peter's Square. "For the first time this year," the pope said, "we are outside, even if it is cold, but at least it is not raining or snowing, so we have to be thankful for that." The wind, which whipped across the square for the entire audience, at a certain point blew the berretta off the pope's head.

Benedict XVI had the opportunity to talk about mission while he was illustrating the figure of the Venerable Bede, an English monk who lived from about 672 to 735.

He spent his life in a Benedictine monastery, where he was sent by his parents at the age of seven to be educated. "The instruction and reputation of his writings brought him friendships with the leading personalities of his time." He was the author of many works of theology and commentaries on the Bible, written to "educate the faithful to celebrate joyfully the sacred mysteries." Sacred Scripture was the constant source of his theological reflection. "He commented on the Bible, interpreting it in the light of Christology." "He listened attentively to what the text says, but he was convinced that in order to understand Sacred Scripture precisely, the key is Christ."

Pope John Paul II the subject of two assassination plots in Poland

Pope John Paul II was the subject of two assassination plots in his native Poland a senior member of the Polish Catholic Church has claimed.

Daily Telegraph
By Matthew Day in Warsaw
Last Updated: 9:16PM GMT 16 Feb 2009

Many believe that the man who made an assassination attempt on John Paul II in 1981 was working on the orders of Bulgarian secret service Photo: REUTERS

Zdzislaw Krol, chancellor of Warsaw Metropolitan Curia, said the late pontiff faced plots against his life during his 1983 and 1987 pilgrimages to Poland.

Before the start of the 1987 pilgrimage the Church received information from a woman of a plan to kill the pope while his was in the town of Czestochowa, a focal point of Polish catholism, Father Krol explained.

Taking the information seriously the Church passed the information on to the communist authorities and a man was arrested.

The suspect, it turned out, was Bulgarian. Many believe that the man who made an assassination attempt on John Paul II in 1981, Turk Mehmet Ali Agca, was working on the orders of Bulgarian secret service.

Information on the other plot, Father Krol said, came from a source in the Austrian embassy, who alleged that three Germans linked to the left-wing terrorist group, the Red Brigade, had managed to get into Poland, and intended to murder the pope at an open-air mass in Warsaw.

Pope tells US Speaker Pelosi that Catholic politicians must protect life

By VICTOR L. SIMPSON Associated Press Writer
8:43 AM EST, February 18, 2009

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Benedict XVI on Wednesday told U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, a Catholic who supports abortion rights, that Catholic politicians have a duty to protect life "at all stages of its development," the Vatican said.

Pelosi is the first top Democrat to meet with Benedict since the election of Barack Obama, who won a majority of the Catholic vote despite differences with the Vatican on abortion.

The Vatican released remarks by the pope to Pelosi, saying Benedict spoke of the church's teaching "on the dignity of human life from conception to natural death." That is an expression often used by the pope when expressing opposition to abortion.

Benedict said all Catholics — especially legislators, jurists and political leaders — should work to create "a just system of laws capable of protecting human life at all stages of its development."

Pelosi could not immediately be reached after the 15-minute meeting, which was closed to reporters and photographers. The two met in a small room of a Vatican auditorium after the pope's weekly public audience.

A number of the bishops in the United States have questioned Pelosi's stance on abortion, particularly her theological defense of her support for abortion rights.

Benedict has cautiously welcomed the new Democratic administration, although several American cardinals have sharply criticized its support of abortion rights in a break from former President George W. Bush.

Pelosi had meetings with Italian leaders the past few days, including Premier Silvio Berlusconi.

North Dakota Personhood Bill Passes, First in US History

Contact: Keith Mason, 202-595-3500

BISMARK, ND, Feb 18 /Standard Newswire/ -- Signaling the growing momentum of the personhood movement, North Dakota lawmakers approved HB 1572 with a vote of 51-41.

Rep. Dan Ruby introduced the "Personhood" bill, which affirms the rights of pre-born humans and states: "For purposes of interpretation of the constitution and laws of North Dakota, it is the intent of the legislative assembly that an individual, a person, when the context indicates that a reference to an individual is intended, or a human being includes any organism with the genome of homo sapiens."

Thousands of calls to legislators were made by pro-life grassroots volunteers who helped with this victory. Only one representative voiced opposition to the bill during the debate of the bill, while overwhelming public support was seen.

"Personhood USA applauds the leadership and support that the North Dakota Life League and North Dakota Family Alliance have shown to make this victory happen," stated Keith Mason of Personhood USA. He continued, "We thank Rep. Dan Ruby for his courage and for being actively pro-life. This great family man with his wife and 10 children are an example to us all."

"North Dakotans have gotten used to cold temperatures like -44 degrees, but they haven't gotten used to child-killing. We applaud and support their efforts to protect every baby by love and by law," commented Cal Zastrow, who, along with his family, worked on the North Dakota bill at the grassroots level.

The next step for HB 1572 is to be voted on by the ND Senate which could happen in the next two weeks.

"HB 1572 brings us one step closer to applying the same laws that apply to you and me, to all humans," said Daniel Woodard, lobbyist with North Dakota Life League.

Personhood USA is a grassroots Christian organization founded to establish personhood efforts across America to create protection for every child by love and by law. Personhood USA is committed to assisting and supporting Personhood Legislation and Constitutional Amendments and building local pro-life organizations through raising awareness of the personhood of the pre-born.

For Interviews please call 202-595-3500
For More Information please visit

Personhood USA

Personhood North Dakota

North Dakota Policy Council

Pope Rebukes Pelosi, Tells Her Catholic Legislators Obligated to Protect Life

By John-Henry Westen

VATICAN CITY, February 18, 2009 ( - The Vatican Press Office released a note this morning detailing part of the conversation which Pope Benedict XVI had with Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House of Representatives. Vatican insiders inform that such releases are always phrased in diplomatic language and thus the correction of the Speaker who fancies herself a faithful Catholic despite her abortion advocacy can be taken as a rebuke.

The text of the note reads: "His Holiness took the opportunity to speak of the requirements of the natural moral law and the Church's consistent teaching on the dignity of human life from conception to natural death which enjoin all Catholics, and especially legislators, jurists and those responsible for the common good of society, to work in cooperation with all men and women of good will in creating a just system of laws capable of protecting human life at all stages of its development."