Saturday, February 28, 2009
Catholic Crisis as Austrian Hierarchy Rebels over Pope's Selection of Conservative Priest as New Bishop
By Matthew Cullinan Hoffman and John-Henry Westen
BELGIUM, February 25, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Pope Benedict's selection of an orthodox Austrian priest as auxiliary bishop in the ultraliberal diocese of Linz has generated a firestorm of protest from liberal Catholics in the laity, among priests and even the bishops of Austria. The furor was venomous in the media, priests voted to reject the nomination, and last week the priest himself - "not entirely voluntarily" - signed a letter asking the Pope to withdraw his appointment to the bishopric. The Vatican has not, however, accepted the resignation.
The priest's request to withdraw his nomination may be rejected by Rome according to a prominent German-speaking blogger, who is the main source of the developments to the English-speaking world.
In a recent interview with the Austrian newspaper Tagespost, Fr. Gerhard Wagner stated that his resignation was "not totally voluntary," according to Chris Gillibrand, who covers the Linz diocese on his blog "Catholic Church Conservation."
Fear of ongoing opposition, which had been fierce in the days following his nomination by the pope, was the basis of his decision, Wagner told Tagespost. He was reportedly concerned that parishes might turn him away when he came for confirmations or parish visits.
He also stated that the diocesan bishop, Ludwig Schwarz, was himself experiencing "anxiety and distress" at the thought of his ordination and its likely consequences. "The deaneries perhaps I could convince, but what happens when the bishop gets scared?" he said.
Gillibrand calls the statement by Wagner an "ecclesiastical bomb," because resignation from an office due to "grave fear" unjustly or maliciously inflicted is invalid, according to ecclesiastical law.
Gillibrand says that the diocese of Linz is overrun with dissent and heresy against the Church. "The diocese is no longer ruled by the bishop but by a libero-clerical elite which is itself dominated by a pseudo-clerical lay elite," he told LifeSiteNews.
Wagner has in the past provoked the ire of the diocese's liberal establishment by speculating that Hurricane Katrina might be retribution for sin, and speaking of the idea of curing people of homosexuality. He has also denounced the Harry Potter books, echoing the sentiments of Pope Benedict XVI, expressed while he was still a cardinal.
Many of the ultraliberal Austrian bishops, including Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, have joined in the assault on Wagner, indirectly scolding Benedict for his decision to appoint him.
"The faithful are legitimately concerned that the process of candidate search, examination of the proposals and the final decisions should be carefully undertaken and with pastoral sensitivity are possible," they wrote in a recent statement. "This can ensure that bishops are appointed who are not 'against' but 'for' a local church. We bishops will make every possible effort to support the forthcoming episcopal appointments in the sense of monitoring these procedures in close cooperation with the relevant Vatican offices."
However, bishop Andreas Laun, auxiliary of Salzburg, has openly defended Wagner, comparing his treatment to a crucifixion. "With the indictment, the verdict is known: 'Away with him!'" wrote Laun recently for the German website kath.net
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Denver Archbishop To Toronto Audience: "We Can't Build a Just Society With the Blood of Unborn Children"Warns that party loyalty can be "a lethal kind of moral laziness", " a dead end"
By Steve Jalsevac
TORONTO, Ontario, February, 25, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - On a bitter cold February 23rd night at St. Basils Church on the campus St. Michael's College, the University of Toronto, Denver Archbishop Charles J. Chaput delivered to a near capacity audience what was likely the most forthright and challenging talk on Catholic political responsibility ever given in Canada by a bishop.
The Archbishop had been invited to address the themes from his book, "Render Unto Caesar: Serving the Nation by Living our Catholic Beliefs in Political Life." He presented some background and thoughts on the book and then discussed the US election and the meaning of true hope.
Chaput began by noting the powerful negative effect of today's culture on the public's ability to think clearly about political implications and responsibilities. He stated, "American consumer culture is a very powerful narcotic. Moral reasoning can be hard, and TV is a great painkiller. This has political implications. Real freedom demands an ability to think, and a great deal of modern life…seems deliberately designed to discourage that."
The Denver prelate emphasized the importance of forming "a strong and genuinely Catholic conscience" and following that conscience when voting.
However, Catholics with such consciences are often intimidated for doing so. Chaput explained that was one of the reasons he wrote his book: "Frankly, I just got tired of hearing outsiders and insiders tell Catholics to keep quiet about our religious and moral views in the big public debates that involve all of us as a society. That's a kind of bullying. I don't think Catholics should accept it." Catholic participation in politics concerns our obligation to "the pursuit of justice and the common good in the public square" and "is part of the history of salvation", the Denver bishop proclaimed. He indicated that few are exempt since "Tolerating grave evil within a society is itself a form of serious evil."
He expanded, "we have a duty to be politically engaged. Why? Because politics is the exercise of power, and the use of power always has moral content and human consequences." Chaput challenged, "if we claim to be 'Catholic,' we need to prove it by our behaviour. And serving other people by working for justice, charity and truth in our nation's political life is one of the very important ways we do that." As for those who separate their faith from their political actions, the author of "Render Unto Caesar" called it a denial of Christ. "That kind of separation would require Christians to deny who we are; to repudiate Jesus."
The archbishop revealed that he was previously a long time Democrat who worked on political campaigns, including that of Jimmy Carter, but he no longer belongs to any political party. He warned, "The sooner Catholics feel at home in any political party, the sooner that party takes them for granted and then ignores their concerns." Many Christians have complained of this in recent decades. Driving the point home forcefully Chaput added, "Party loyalty for the sake of habit, or family tradition, or ethnic or class interest is a form of tribalism. It's a lethal kind of moral laziness. Issues matter. Character matters. Acting on principle matters. But party loyalty for the sake of party loyalty is a dead end."
Pro-life, pro-family leaders have often been dismayed by their Christian leaders' lack of courage on the issues that matter. Chaput addressed this, again with his unusual frankness for a bishop: "modern life, including life in the Church, suffers from a phony unwillingness to offend that poses as prudence and good manners, but too often turns out to be cowardice." Some of the Archbishops harshest words, yet still delivered in his calm, friendly speaking manner, were for those Catholics who supported the election of President Obama.
"A spirit of adulation bordering on servility already exists among some of the same Democratic-friendly Catholic writers, scholars, editors and activists who once accused prolifers of being too cozy with Republicans."
Chaput explained, "all political leaders draw their authority from God. We owe no leader any submission or cooperation in the pursuit of grave evil."
He continued that Catholics must witness to their faith and moral convictions, "without excuses or apologies" and that "in democracies, we elect public servants, not messiahs" as so many have referred to Obama.
Barack Obama was elected "to fix an economic crisis", Chaput stated, and not "to retool American culture on the issues of marriage and the family, sexuality, bioethics, religion in public life and abortion." He warned, however that this "could easily happen" and "will happen" - "but only if Catholics and other religious believers allow it."
The archbishop's frank admission of the Church's culpability for the current situation was likely something few in the audience had ever heard from a Catholic bishop. Chaput confessed, "The Church in the United States has done a poor job of forming the faith and conscience of Catholics for more than 40 years. And now we're harvesting the results -- in the public square, in our families and in the confusion of our personal lives."
On abortion, Archbishop Chaput, was as direct and blunt as any pro-life leader could dream to finally hear from a Catholic bishop. He insisted that for Catholics, abortion should be a litmus test. "One of the defining things that set early Christians apart from the pagan culture around them was their respect for human life; and specifically their rejection of abortion and infanticide. We can't be Catholic and be evasive or indulgent about the killing of unborn life. We can't claim to be "Catholic" and "pro-choice" at the same time without owning the responsibility for where the choice leads - to a dead unborn child." Addressing the recent increase in pro-life spokesmen stating that efforts to change laws are futile and we should instead attempt to lessen the numbers of abortions, Chaput stated, "We can't talk piously about programs to reduce the abortion body count without also working vigorously to change the laws that make the killing possible."
Chaput challenged the hypocrisy of Catholics calling themselves Catholic and then voting like pagans, He stated, "if we don't really believe in the humanity of the unborn child from the moment life begins, then we should stop lying to ourselves and others, and even to God, by claiming we're something we're not." Although it was admitted that Catholics need to "do a much better job of helping women who face problem pregnancies", Chaput added the crucial perspective that, "we don't "help" anyone by allowing or funding an intimate, lethal act of violence. We can't build a just society with the blood of unborn children."
On the issue of hope, proclaimed incessantly by the Obama campaign, the archbishop taught that real hope "has nothing to do with the cheesy optimism of election campaigns. Hope assumes and demands a spine in believers" and "for a Christian -- hope sustains us when the real answer to the problems or hard choices in life is "no, we can't," instead of "yes, we can."
"The word "hope" on a campaign poster may give us a little thrill of righteousness," said the Denver Archbishop, "but the world will still be a wreck when the drug wears off. We can only attain hope through truth. And what that means is this: From the moment Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth and the life," the most important political statement anyone can make is "Jesus Christ is Lord."
During the question and answer session following the lecture, a question was asked about the sometimes unmet responsibility of bishops to prevent pro-abortion speakers from addressing Catholic college functions. Archbishop Chaput stated that bishops "welcome the input of the laity" and added, "If they disagree with us (bishops) it's really important that we hear that. We need your support, but we also need to hear your concerns if you think we make decisions that are contrary to the good of the Church." That was a surpringly refreshing response to some listeners who have experienced very different results from contacting their bishops on such matters. In response to a question on the serious problems with the Catholicity of Catholic schools, Chaput emphasized the importance of "working on the principals and the people who manage the schools" as the best way to improve the Catholicity of the teachers.
On the abortion issue again, the archbishop said he was "astonished at the number of Catholics in my diocese who are pro-choice and who come to Mass every day." He repeated, "I am astonished."
In response to a question on ecumenical relations, he stated that Catholics now "have very little in common with the mainline protestant churches because we separate on the issues of life and marriage and embryonic stem cell research". Chaput noted that the Church has recently developed a deeper relationship with Evaneglicals "because we share a passion for the foundational issue of life and for the in some ways equally foundational issue of the meaning of marriage.
In response to a question about the possible excommunication of pro-choice Catholics, the archbishop was emphatic that he saw it as being completely ineffective and counterproductive. He stated it would be "percived as random use of his POWER to hurt people rather than to deal with issues of the truth." The archbishop further derided that use of a bishop's authority and concluded, " I don't think it works and that is why I don't do it. I don't think there are bishops who think it does work. We just don't go about that business these days." To read the text of Archbishop Chaput's entire address see:http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2009/feb/090225a.html
Monday, February 23, 2009
Eternal Father, I offer unto Thee the infinite satisfaction which Jesus rendered to Thy justice in behalf of sinners on the tree of the Cross; and I pray that Thou wouldst make the merits of His Precious Blood available to all guilty souls to whom sin has brought death; may they rise again to the life of grace and glorify Thee forever.
Eternal Father, I offer Thee the fervent devotion of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in satisfaction for the lukewarmness and cowardice of Thy chosen people, imploring thee by the burning love which made Him suffer death, that it may please Thee to rekindle their hearts now so lukewarm in Thy service, and set them on fire with Thy love, that they may love Thee forever.
Eternal Father, I offer Thee the submission of Jesus to Thy will, and I ask of Thee, through His merits, the fullness of all grace and the accomplishment of Thy holy will.
Blessed be God!
Saturday, February 21, 2009
Grace Must Be Hidden Under the Mantle of Humility
The Voice of Christ
IT IS better and safer for you to conceal the grace of devotion, not to be elated by it, not to speak or think much of it, and instead to humble yourself and fear lest it is being given to one unworthy of it. Do not cling too closely to this affection, for it may quickly be changed to its opposite. When you are in grace, think how miserable and needy you are without it. Your progress in spiritual life does not consist in having the grace of consolation, but in enduring its withdrawal with humility, resignation, and patience, so that you neither become listless in prayer nor neglect your other duties in the least; but on the contrary do what you can do as well as you know how, and do not neglect yourself completely because of your dryness or anxiety of mind.
There are many, indeed, who immediately become impatient and lazy when things do not go well with them. The way of man, however, does not always lie in his own power. It is God's prerogative to give grace and to console when He wishes, as much as He wishes, and whom He wishes, as it shall please Him and no more.
Some careless persons, misusing the grace of devotion, have destroyed themselves because they wished to do more than they were able. They failed to take account of their own weakness, and followed the desire of their heart rather than the judgment of their reason. Then, because they presumed to greater things than pleased God they quickly lost His grace. They who had built their homes in heaven became helpless, vile outcasts, humbled and impoverished, that they might learn not to fly with their own wings but to trust in Mine.
They who are still new and inexperienced in the way of the Lord may easily be deceived and overthrown unless they guide themselves by the advice of discreet persons. But if they wish to follow their own notions rather than to trust in others who are more experienced, they will be in danger of a sorry end, at least if they are unwilling to be drawn from their vanity. Seldom do they who are wise in their own conceits bear humbly the guidance of others. Yet a little knowledge humbly and meekly pursued is better than great treasures of learning sought in vain complacency. It is better for you to have little than to have much which may become the source of pride.
He who gives himself up entirely to enjoyment acts very unwisely, for he forgets his former helplessness and that chastened fear of the Lord which dreads to lose a proffered grace. Nor is he very brave or wise who becomes too despondent in times of adversity and difficulty and thinks less confidently of Me than he should. He who wishes to be too secure in time of peace will often become too dejected and fearful in time of trial.
If you were wise enough to remain always humble and small in your own eyes, and to restrain and rule your spirit well, you would not fall so quickly into danger and offense.
When a spirit of fervor is enkindled within you, you may well meditate on how you will feel when the fervor leaves. Then, when this happens, remember that the light which I have withdrawn for a time as a warning to you and for My own glory may again return. Such trials are often more beneficial than if you had things always as you wish. For a man's merits are not measured by many visions or consolations, or by knowledge of the Scriptures, or by his being in a higher position than others, but by the truth of his humility, by his capacity for divine charity, by his constancy in seeking purely and entirely the honor of God, by his disregard and positive contempt of self, and more, by preferring to be despised and humiliated rather than honored by others.
Thomas A Kempis, The Imitation of Christ
Thursday, February 19, 2009
This fine old altar is no longer in use (except as a sideboard for displays) at the church I went to a couple of weeks ago.
Here is a close up of the beautifully crafted Tabernacle. Aparently, this old altar wasn't modern enough to Host the Lord of the Universe, so they house Him here instead:I'm not even going to post a picture of the altar, I wouldn't want you to die of boredom.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
12-Year-Old Stuns Pro-Choice Teacher and School with Pro-Life Presentation
By Kathleen Gilbert
TORONTO, February 11, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - 12-year-old "Lia" of Toronto has become a star at her school and on Youtube with her five-minute pro-life speech, crafted for a school competition. Despite discouragement and outright opposition, Lia's presentation was so well done that she reportedly won the contest she was told she would be disqualified from, due to the "controversial" message of her speech.
The speech is available in its entirety on Youtube, where it has been viewed over 100,000 times and sparked a heated discussion. (See: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wOR1wUqvJS4&feature=channel_page)
"What if I told you that right now, someone was choosing if you were gonna live or die?" begins the charismatic seventh-grader in a practice recording of the speech posted on Youtube. "What if I told you that this choice wasn't based on what you could or couldn't do, what you'd done in the past, or what you would do in the future? And what if I told you, you could do nothing about it?
"Fellow students and teachers, thousands of children are right now in that very situation. Someone is choosing without even knowing them whether they are going to live or die. That someone is their mother. And that choice is abortion."
Lia, speaking easily and with sunny enthusiasm, fires off answers to several common objections in the brief speech.
"Why do we think that just because a fetus can't talk or do what we do, it isn't a human being yet?" She asks. "Some babies are born after only five months. Is this baby not human?
"We would never say that. Yet abortions are performed on 5-month-old fetuses all the time. Or do we only call them humans if they're wanted?
"Think about the child's rights, that were never given to it. No matter what rights the mother has, it doesn't mean we can deny the rights of the fetus," she said. "We must remember that with our rights and our choices come responsibilities, and we can't take someone else's rights away to avoid our responsibilities."
Lia's mother says that the topic was of her own choosing, and that she was determined not to back down, even after teachers told her it was "too mature" and "too controversial."
"She was also told that if she went ahead with that topic, she would not be allowed to continue on in the speech competition," Lia's mother wrote in the email to the Moral Outcry blog. "Initially, I tried helping her find other topics to speak on, but, in the end, she was adamant. She just felt she wanted to continue with the topic of abortion. So she forfeited her chance to compete in order to speak on something she was passionate about."
The mother told LifeSiteNews.com (LSN) that the girl's homeroom teacher was supportive of Lia's speech even though she was pro-choice. "After helping Lia do the speech she said, 'It really got me thinking,'" the mom noted.
At the schoolwide competition, the mom said one pro-choice teacher on the judge's panel "didn't even want to hear" the speech, and stepped down from the panel before Lia began. After the speech, which Lia's family said was well-received by both students and teachers, the judges initially told Lia she had indeed been disqualified. But controversy among the judges eventually led to a reversal, and Lia's family learned the next day that the panel agreed the girl deserved to win the competition. "There was a big stink about it, and we volunteered to step down ... but her teacher said 'No, she won fair and square, so she'll keep going on," said her mom. Lia is expected to present her speech at a regional competition tomorrow night, representing her school. When asked what inspired Lia to pursue the topic so adamantly, her mother said it was "a little mystery." While the family espouses pro-life Christian values, "it's not like we're out every weekend picketing," she said. "It was just something really deep in her heart, and she just felt really passionate about it." She added: "I kind of snicker when I see people on the Youtube video [comment box] saying 'Oh, her mother forced her to do this' - I'm like, 'No, I'm on the other end, trying to make her pick another topic!' "But she was just really passionate about it, and she has her research on it," said the mother. "I really believe it's just something that God put in her heart."
Monday, February 16, 2009
O Lord Jesus Christ, King of glory,
deliver the souls of all the faithful departed
from the pains of hell and from the bottomless pit;
deliver them out of the lion's mouth,
lest hell should swallow them up,
lest they fall into the outer darkness;
but let thy standard-bearer, Saint Michael,
bring them back to Thy holy light
which Thou didst promise of old to Abraham and to his seed.
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Prayer to St. Valentine
Most Gracious Heavenly Father, You gave Saint Valentine the courage to witness to the gospel of Christ, even to the point of giving his life for it. Help us to endure all suffering for love of you, and to seek you with all our hearts; for you alone are the source of life and love. Grant that we may have the courage and love to be strong witnesses of your truth to our friends and family and to the whole world. We ask 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.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
There is only one way- The Way, the Truth, and the Life. The time we are going through now is like the dark night of the soul for the world, and the only way to combat it is prayer, and living our faith to its fullest.
To all those who have fallen away from the church because they are tired of its restrictions, I say take a good look in the mirror and see if you can truthfully say that you are doing God's will, or if you reject Him because His way interferes with your enjoyment of the pleasures of the world.
To all the women who are considering abortion, remember that you were once where your baby is now.
To all those who don't want to care for the elderly or handicapped, you may someday be in their situation.
Fr. Corapi says to remember that in the end, we win, but a battle cannot be won unless we fight. So today, get out your rosary and pray hard for our diseased world; pray for the end of Satan's grasp and the reign of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. And if you have been putting your faith on the back burner because you are just too busy to pray, or to go to Mass, remember that God always has time for you, even if you don't have time for Him.
Bishop Fulton J. Sheen put it this way:
.....God willed to make a moral universe, and the only condition upon which morality is possible is freedom.
In the very nature of things, ethics and morality can exist only upon the condition of a veto....A victory may be celebrated only on those fields in which a battle may be lost. Hence, in the Divine order of things, God made a world in which man and woman would rise to moral heights, not by that blind, driving power that makes the sun rise each morning, but rather by the exercise of that freedom in which one may fight the good fight and enjoy the spoils of victory, for no one can be crowned unless he has struggled....
So you see, it is up to each one of us.
Monday, February 9, 2009
On a day like that, the thing to do is remember the suffering of Our Lord, and remember to offer up our own, in comparison small, suffering. So this prayer I wrote, which I have been praying as a novena to end on Wednesday, the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, is very appropriate:
Our Lady of Lourdes, you appeared to St. Bernadette and gave us the holy well of your healing water. O Mary, we cannot go to Lourdes, but we come to you and ask us to heal us in our present trials. Blessed Mother, strengthen our resolve to accept suffering as the will of God, for the purification of our souls. Amen.
Friday, February 6, 2009
Actor Liam Neeson records Way of the Cross for CD project DENVER (CNS)
-- Actor Liam Neeson, whose latest film "Taken" was the top box-office draw in the United States the first weekend of its release Jan. 30-Feb.1, has narrated a version of the Way of the Cross written by St. Alphonsus Liguori.
"Praying the Way of the Cross" was scheduled to be available Ash Wednesday, Feb. 25. The CD, available at www.littlelambmusic.com, is a project of the Denver province of the Redemptorists, the religious order founded by St. Alphonsus. Proceeds from sales will help the Redemptorists' missions in Brazil and Nigeria.
"I had heard about the Redemptorists and their missionary work in the Amazon rain forest of Brazil and in the slums of Lagos and Ibadan, Nigeria," Neeson said in a statement. "I was moved to help because the Redemptorists are living the Gospel message in some of the poorest parts of the world, offering hope to families who have been forgotten or abandoned."
The CD is available for $16.95 plus shipping and handling. Information on ordering it is available online at: www.littlelambmusic.com, or by calling (800) 231-1207.
Thursday, February 5, 2009
From Life Site News:
Obama Picks Porn Lawyer for #2 at Justice
CHICAGO, February 4, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - President Obama has made a major mistake and put America's families at risk by selecting David Ogden to become Deputy Attorney General, says Fidelis, a pro-family organization.
"David Ogden is a hired gun from Playboy and ACLU. He can't run from his long record of opposing common sense laws protecting families, women, and children. The United States Senate has a responsibility to the American people to insure that Mr. Ogden's full record is fully reviewed before any vote on his nomination" said Brian Burch, President of Fidelis.
"Ogden's record is nothing short of obscene. He has represented Playboy Enterprises in multiple cases, Penthouse Magazine, the ACLU, and the largest distributor of hard-core pornography videos. He has opposed filters on library computers protecting children from Internet smut, and successfully defended the right of pornographers to produce material with underage children."
"David Ogden has collected checks from Playboy and Penthouse to fight any attempts to establish filters on federally-funded public libraries. Ogden even sued the federal government in an attempt to publish Braille versions of Playboy magazine - at taxpayer expense, of course," said Burch.
As a lawyer in private practice, Ogden has argued for an unlimited abortion license, gays in the military, and has urged courts to treat traditional definitions of marriage as a social prejudice.
"A vast majority of Americans support parental notification before a minor's abortion and protecting kids from Internet pornography in our libraries," continued Burch. "Yet David Ogden has fought tooth and nail against these common sense laws protecting our children from harm. At a time when America's families are under increasing assault, Mr. Ogden is a dangerous choice for a position whose responsibilities include the enforcement of our nation's laws. "
See a full dossier on Ogden compiled by Fidelis here:http://www.scribd.com/full/11607068?access_key=key-18yr2u50t8o0sz54rbrlTo express concern to Senators regarding the appointment visit:http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
One of the books I am reading now is Fulton Sheen's "From the Angel's Blackboard". It is an absolute gem! There are so many insights in it, that I could quote from it endlessly. I love this one: The humble person makes room for progress; the proud person believes he is already there."
So I'm taking a survey here: Do you read only books which help your spiritual growth? Or do you lose yourself in the latest novel, curling up on the couch, and transporting yourself into the world of the imaginary?. And what books have been most helpful to you?
Other than the Bible, some of the books which have influenced me the most are The Incredible Catholic Mass; The Way of Divine Love; St Teresa of Avila; The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ; The Imitation of Christ; The Glories of Mary. Also numerous little booklets on different aspects of the faith. And I am looking forward to reading St. Thomas Aquinas, Shorter Summa.
Spiritual reading can give you understanding, insight, and fervor for your faith. It can pick you up when the world overcomes you; it can lead you away from the snares of the devil. It can be the salvation of your soul. Pick up a book today!