30 May 2009

Acts 2:1-21

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. And they were amazed and wondered, saying, "Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians, we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God." And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, "What does this mean?" But others mocking said, "They are filled with new wine." But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them, "Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day; but this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:

“And in the last days it shall be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams;
yea, and on my menservants and my maidservants in those days
I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy.
And I will show wonders in the heaven above
and signs on the earth beneath,
blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke;
the sun shall be turned into darkness
and the moon into blood,
before the day of the Lord comes,
the great and manifest day.
And it shall be that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Pueri Cantores

Twenty-one of our children are in Houston today with our music directors, Mr. and Mrs. Murray, where they are participating in the Pueri Cantores Choir Festival at St. Cecilia's Church. All of these children are selected members of two of our parish choirs, the St. Cecilia Youth Choir and the St. Nicholas Children’s Choir. It's a wonderful opportunity for them to join with other young people in singing some of the great and serious music of the Church.

Have a look at the Pueri Cantores website here, and take comfort in knowing that the great musical heritage of the Catholic Church is alive and well, and we're part of it!

27 May 2009

Scripture Study - Acts of the Apostles

I teach a scripture study almost every Wednesday evening, and right now we're in the midst of the Book of the Acts of the Apostles. You can go to this page if you'd like to listen. There are several other study series there, all available as podcasts.

24 May 2009

Memorial Day

Almighty God, our heavenly Father, in whose hands are the living and the dead; we give thee thanks for all those thy servants who have laid down their lives in the service of our country; Grant to them thy mercy and the light of thy presence, that the good work which thou hast begun in them may be perfected; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost ever, one God, world without end. Amen.

23 May 2009

The Ascension of Our Lord

A hymn of glory let us sing;
New songs throughout the world shall ring:
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Christ, by a road before untrod,
Ascendeth to the throne of God.

The holy apostolic band
Upon the Mount of Olives stand;
Alleluia! Alleluia!
And with His followers they see,
Jesus’ resplendent majesty.

To whom the angels, drawing nigh:
“Why stand and gaze upon the sky?”
Alleluia! Alleluia!
“This is the Savior,” thus they say,
“This is His noble triumph day.”

“Again shall ye behold Him so
As ye today have seen Him go,
Alleluia! Alleluia!
In glorious pomp ascending high,
Up to the portals of the sky.”

The Venerable Bede (673-735);
Trans. by Benjamin Webb, 1854

22 May 2009

"Love one another as I have loved you..."

After last Sunday's Masses, several of you commented to me that you found the sermon to be especially helpful. You listen to the sermon by going here.

Jesus said to his disciples, "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide; so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. This I command you, to love one another.”

18 May 2009

You can fool some of the people all of the time...

Here's an excellent article which appears in the Weekly Standard.

Duped at Notre Dame
Barack Obama says he wants abortion to be safe, legal, and rare, while doing everything in his power to advance it.

by Paul Kengor
5/18/2009 11:15:00 AM

For a long time in America, the Religious Left, Catholics and Protestants alike, have been duped, played like fiddles. It happened again at Notre Dame yesterday.

President Barack Obama received an honorary degree amid a firestorm of controversy generated by his unprecedented extremism on abortion--an issue where he stands further to the left than any president in history, and in crystal-clear opposition to core Catholic Church social-moral teaching. Not one to back down, Obama addressed the matter head on at Notre Dame, feeding the faithful the left's standard abortion canard. He explained that he wants to "reduce the number of women seeking abortions."

This should have elicited gasps from an educated audience. After all, one of Obama's first acts as president--on January 23, the day after the annual March for Life in Washington--was signing the Mexico City policy. That means that groups like International Planned Parenthood will be subsidized with taxpayer dollars to perform and promote abortion overseas--to vigorously push for legalization, at all stages of pregnancy, in countries that have banned the procedure. Under relentless assault are nations like Mexico itself, home of Our Lady of Guadalupe, an image every faithful Catholic knows.

This unique form of American "foreign aid" was notably excluded from President John Jenkins' reverential statement glorifying Obama's commitment to human rights.

Recall, too, that on March 9, only a few weeks after rescinding the Mexico City policy, Obama authorized federal dollars to promote the deliberate destruction of human life at its earliest stage of development (as embryos) for research purposes. To borrow from Pope John Paul II, the state will thus deny its unborn this "first of freedoms," this most fundamental freedom, from which there can be no other freedoms--with your tax dollars.

Yes, yes. And so the crowd, en masse, let out a collective gasp, right? No.

When President Obama declared that his goal is to reduce abortions, the "social-justice" Catholics at Notre Dame clapped and cheered.

They were taken--hook, line, and sinker.

As I struggled to absorb this bewildering spectacle, I tried to think of a scenario more absurd. I thought of other presidents who spoke at Notre Dame: George W. Bush, George H. W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter. Obama's speech came close to one of his predecessors--Reagan--but only by reversing the terms; and then the absurdities snowballed into an avalanche.
Reagan, coincidentally, did Notre Dame's commencement the exact same day, on May 17, in 1981. It was one of his finest speeches, written by a Catholic speechwriter, Tony Dolan. It is most remembered for this passage:

The years ahead are great ones for this country, for the cause of freedom and the spread of civilization. The West won't contain communism, it will transcend communism.... It will dismiss it as some bizarre chapter in human history whose last pages are even now being written.

It was one of Reagan's first presidential predictions of communism's demise, and a prophetic one, dismissed by elites. Indeed, those last pages were being written, though no one else sensed or said it. Communism would not survive the decade.

It was a stunning declaration, both at the time and especially in retrospect. Notre Dame's graduates were treated with a historical gem, a truly special send-off. They witnessed a statement they now understand was profound.

And that was for reasons beyond that declaration, as Reagan challenged the graduating seniors to join him in this great cause. He drew on remarks by Churchill during the Battle of Britain: "When great causes are on the move in the world, we learn we are spirits, not animals, and that something is going on in space and time, and beyond space and time, which, whether we like it or not, spells duty."

To Reagan, their shared duty was to fight expansionistic, atheistic Marxism. Were they worthy of that challenge? He hammered home the theme with other quotes and metaphors, including a personal story from his movie, Knute Rockne, All-American.

Think of all this in light of Obama's comments. In Obama's speech at Notre Dame, the salient issue was abortion. For Reagan, it was communism. But unlike Obama with abortion, Reagan spoke with moral clarity--with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, as Lincoln once said--and then proceeded to do everything he could to halt the evil of communism, to reverse it, to stem the tide.

As Ronald Reagan spoke that day, he was laying out a multi-layered assault to win the Cold War, done through a group of key advisers: Bill Clark, Bill Casey, Cap Weinberger, Ed Meese, Jean Kirkpatrick, Richard Pipes. There was economic warfare. There was the aiding of rebels and freedom fighters from Poland to Afghanistan to Nicaragua. There was a rhetorical war to expose the inherent immorality of the Soviet system. There were crucial alliances, with Margaret Thatcher, with Pope John Paul II. There was peace through strength, from the 600-ship Navy to Pershing IIs to SDI. There were actual, official NSDDs, produced under Bill Clark's tutelage at the NSC, which articulated a formal policy of undermining Soviet communism and bringing "political pluralism" to Eastern Europe and the USSR itself.

My point with these examples--which is far from a comprehensive list--is that when Ronald Reagan spoke at Notre Dame on May 17, 1981, he was deadly serious about pursuing a course that would seek to achieve the goal he set forth in the speech: to dispatch communism to the ash-heap of history.

For Barack Obama, on the other hand, there is no such list for the goal that he articulated on abortion. Quite the contrary, beginning with his co-sponsorship of the so-called Freedom of Choice Act--which would abolish most of the few restrictions on abortion--or with promises he made to Planned Parenthood in July 2007 to require abortion coverage in his national health care plan--or, earlier, votes against the Born Alive Infants' Protection Act as a state senator in Illinois--Obama has done, or has promised to do, many things that would radically expand abortion to levels where it has never gone before in American history.

In a July 2007 speech, Obama described Planned Parenthood as a "safety-net provider." He believes that abortion services constitute a "safety net," and views abortion as a fundamental human right, one that he would like to sanctify with taxpayer funding. If Barack Obama got everything he ever wanted on abortion, we would face taxpayer funding of unlimited, unrestricted abortion at all stages of pregnancy at home and abroad.

That would not reduce the number of abortions.

Like many pro-choice politicians, Barack Obama says he wants abortion to be safe, legal, and rare, while doing everything in his power to advance it. He pays lip service to these canards when he needs political cover. Not surprisingly, that's what he did at Notre Dame on Sunday. Shame on Father Jenkins, the trustees, and the faculty, for giving Obama a podium--and honorary degree--to make fools of a sea of undergraduates at America's most celebrated Catholic college.
It would be like Ronald Reagan at Notre Dame saying that he wanted to take down Soviet communism while simultaneously subsidizing it with taxpayer dollars throughout Eastern Europe and the USSR. It would be like Reagan calling on Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall while sending in cement trucks and rolls of barbed wire.

What was done by the American president at Notre Dame on May 17, 2009, as opposed to what was done by the American president at Notre Dame on May 17, 1981, was not fact but farce, not history but dupery. And yet again, the Religious Left has offered up itself in the ignominious role of sucker.

Paul Kengor is professor of political science at Grove City College. His latest books include The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism (HarperPerennial, 2007) and The Judge: William P. Clark, Ronald Reagan's Top Hand (Ignatius Press, 2007).

15 May 2009

Is sanity returning?

PRINCETON, NJ -- A new Gallup Poll, conducted May 7-10, finds 51% of Americans calling themselves "pro-life" on the issue of abortion and 42% "pro-choice." This is the first time a majority of U.S. adults have identified themselves as pro-life since Gallup began asking this question in 1995. (Read it all here.)

Back home...

You can experience the Holy Father's pilgrimage to the Holy Land by going here, where you can watch and listen to all the remarkable events. And give thanks to God that he's safely home!

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem...

Eternal God, in whose perfect kingdom no sword is drawn but the sword of righteousness, no strength known but the strength of love: So mightily spread abroad your Spirit, that all peoples may be gathered under the banner of the Prince of Peace, as children of one Father; to whom be dominion and glory, now and for ever. Amen.

14 May 2009

I'm not a serious Treker, but...

...go see the new Star Trek movie. It's pure fun, a real adventure -- and very well done, too. I couldn't imagine how they'd do a prequel. In fact, I usual hate prequels, but this is a real winner. Don't look for any deep spiritual or philosophical message... it was action through and through.

And it sure looks to me like it'll open up a whole new series of Star Trek productions.

13 May 2009

Look what $53,000.00 will buy...

Jesus in baggy blue jeans...

Read all about it here.

Mass in Manger Square...

The Holy Father celebrated the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in the square just outside the Basilica of the Holy Nativity. Pray for those who are hearing him speak on this pilgrimage, that they not only hear, but really listen.

12 May 2009

The Holy Father prays at the Western Wall...

...and notice, he is wearing his pectoral cross.

Here is the text of the prayer he placed in the wall:

God of all the ages,
on my visit to Jerusalem, the “City of Peace”,
spiritual home to Jews, Christians and Muslims alike,
I bring before you the joys, the hopes and the aspirations,
the trials, the suffering and the pain of all your people throughout the world.
God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,
hear the cry of the afflicted, the fearful, the bereft;
send your peace upon this Holy Land, upon the Middle East,
upon the entire human family;
stir the hearts of all who call upon your name,
to walk humbly in the path of justice and compassion.
“The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
to the soul that seeks him!” (Lamentations 3:25)

09 May 2009

The Pope's Pilgrimage

Here is a brief video showing the Holy Father earlier today, visiting Mount Nebo in Jordan where Moses, near death, was able to look towards the Holy Land. Tradition says that Moses was buried on this mountain, having fulfilled his mission by leading the Children of Israel to the entrance of the land promised to them by God.

07 May 2009

May all the angels surround him...

Pope Benedict XVI speaks to us as he prepares for his "Pilgrimage of Peace."

Psalm 122. Lætatus sum.

I WAS glad when they said unto me, * We will go into the house
of the LORD.
2 Our feet shall stand in thy gates, * O Jerusalem.
3 Jerusalem is built as a city * that is at unity in itself.
4 For thither the tribes go up, even the tribes of the LORD, *
to testify unto Israel, to give thanks unto the Name of the LORD.
5 For there is the seat of judgment, * even the seat of the
house of David.
6 O pray for the peace of Jerusalem; * they shall prosper that
love thee.
7 Peace be within thy walls, * and plenteousness within thy
8 For my brethren and companions’ sakes, * I will wish thee
9 Yea, because of the house of the LORD our God, * I will seek
to do thee good.

Which Church Father are you?

Try it! You can find out which of the Church Fathers you most resemble by going here and taking the test.
I took it, and here's my result:

You’re St. Melito of Sardis!

You have a great love of history and liturgy. You’re attached to the traditions of the ancients, yet you recognize that the old world — great as it was — is passing away. You are loyal to the customs of your family, though you do not hesitate to call family members to account for their sins.

Find out which Church Father you are at The Way of the Fathers!

06 May 2009

Oh, come on!

This from Catholic World News:

The commandant of the Swiss Guard, Colonel Daniel Anrig, has indicated that he could be open to allowing women to enter the 500-year-old Vatican force. To date the Swiss Guard has been open only to Swiss Catholic men between the ages of 19 and 30. Colonel Anrig said that he could see problems with allowing women recruits, such as the shortage of housing, but "every problem can be resolved." The commandant made his remarks on May 6 as the Swiss Guard conducted its annual swearing-in ceremonies for 32 new members.

Ok, so there are no sacramental or moral reasons why women couldn't become members of the Swiss Guard. But does every tradition have to be maimed? Can't there just be some "guy things?" The Swiss Guard has a fascinating and venerable history. Can't we just leave it at that? Not everything is a barrier to be breached. Some things should just be left as they are because that's what makes them what they are.

A different kind of drug problem...

I don't know who the author is, but there's some pretty basic "country truth" here...

The other day, someone at a store in our town read that a met amphetamine lab had been found in an old farm house in the adjoining county and he asked me a rhetorical question, ”Why didn’t we have a drug problem when you and I were growing up?” I replied: ”But I did have a drug problem when I was a kid growing up on the farm.”

I had a drug problem when I was young: I was drug to church on Sunday morning. I was drug to church for weddings and funerals. I was drug to family reunions and community socials no matter the weather.

I was drug by my ears when I was disrespectful to adults. I was also drug to the woodshed when I disobeyed my parents, told a lie, brought home a bad report card, did not speak with respect, spoke ill of the teacher or the preacher. Or if I didn’t put forth my best effort in everything that was asked of me. I was drug to the kitchen sink to have my mouth washed out with soap if I uttered a profane four letter word. I was drug out to pull weeds in mom’s garden and flower beds and cocklebursout of dad’s fields.

I was drug to the homes of family, friends, and neighbors to help out some poor soul who had no one to mow the yard, repair the clothesline or chop some fire wood. And if my mother had ever known that I took a single dime as a tip for this kindness, she would have drug me back to the wood shed.

Those drugs are still in my veins; and they affect my behavior in everything I do, say, and think. They are stronger than cocaine, crack, or heroin, and if today’s children had this kind of drug problem, America might be a better place today.

05 May 2009

Pray for the Holy Father...

O God, our heavenly Father, whose glory fills the whole creation, and whose presence we find wherever we go: Preserve our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, as he travels; surround him with your loving care; protect him from every danger; and bring him in safety to his journey's end; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Sweet music...

Married for sixty-two years, and still living in harmony...

04 May 2009

A pilgrim of peace...

Pray for our Holy Father, as he prepares for his visit to the Holy Land from May 8th to May 15th. Here is a brief video of his Regina Caeli address on Sunday, May 3rd.

02 May 2009

Spouse of Christ...

This past Thursday evening our parish church was the setting for the Solemn Profession of one of the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration. Sr. Mary Peter of St. John was consecrated as a Spouse of Jesus Christ before more than three hundred parishioners and guests, along with several Sisters.

(Above) Several of the Poor Clare Nuns prepare to witness the Vows of Sr. Mary Peter.

(Below) Sr. Mary Peter is covered with the pall, signifying her death to the world, and her new life as a consecrated Religious.

(Above) Sr. Mary Peter makes her vows before Christ and His Church.
(Below) Sister signs her Profession Card at the altar where the Holy Sacrifice will be offered, signifying her willing sacrifice to Christ her Spouse.

(Below) Sr. Mary Peter of St. John (center) with some of her Sisters.