Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Frances Kissling steps down

and is, of course, lauded by the NYT: (emphases mine)

Backing Abortion Rights While Keeping the Faith

WASHINGTON, Feb. 26 — Frances Kissling has been called the “philosopher of the pro-choice movement” by her friends and an “abortion queen” by her critics.

But the name Ms. Kissling wears most defiantly, to the consternation of many religious believers, is Roman Catholic. For 25 years, as president of Catholics for a Free Choice, she has angered the church hierarchy and conservative Catholics by criticizing fundamental teachings on sex.

“I’m so Catholic, I can’t get away from it,” said Ms. Kissling, who was once in a convent. “How I construct concepts of life, of justice, it all comes out of being Catholic.”

Though unknown to most lay Catholics, she has inspired and worked with politicians and activists, many Catholic, to speak out in favor of giving women access to abortions and to artificial contraception.

On Wednesday, Ms. Kissling, 63, will step down from her post, relinquishing her role as one of the most vocal of the so-called bad Catholics, those who manage to accommodate the opposing sentiments of love for the church and anger at much of its doctrine.

“The constant refrain in this office is, ‘Are we really Catholic?’ ” Ms. Kissling said here in a recent interview. “I know with every ounce of my being that you don’t have to agree with the positions of the church on issues of abortion and contraception to be Catholic.”

Many Catholics passionately disagree. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued statements challenging the right of Catholics for a Free Choice to call itself Catholic. Critics dismiss Ms. Kissling’s organization as a mouthpiece for bigger, secular abortion rights groups and a front for anti-Catholic bigotry.

“They could get special attention and get special digs at the church because of their name,” said Helen M. Alvaré, an associate professor of law at the Catholic University of America and a former planning director of the Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities at the Catholic Bishops conference. “They had no grass-roots base among Catholics. There was nothing very different about them from other pro-choice groups in the arguments they made.”

Catholics for a Free Choice says it gives voice to the large percentage of Roman Catholics who disagree with the church’s position on reproductive issues. Its $3 million budget is largely financed by well-known secular foundations, including the Ford Foundation.

Ms. Kissling agrees with her detractors that her organization has not affected church doctrine. Instead, it has focused on working with lay Catholics and others to build momentum for its causes.

With other groups, it successfully lobbied against the naming of John Klink, a former representative of the Holy See at the United Nations, to lead the State Department Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration in 2001. Most recently, it worked with staff members for Representatives Rosa DeLauro, Democrat of Connecticut, and Tim Ryan, Democrat of Ohio, to draft legislation intended to decrease abortions, partly by increasing financing for family planning.

Sitting in her Washington office, Ms. Kissling was unequivocal in her distaste for the church hierarchy. “I think that in many ways, the church has become an unjust institution,” she said. On one wall of her office was a cherub, on another a Che Guevara calendar . In a corner stood a candle that looked like a bishop’s miter, yet to be lit.

Ms. Kissling continued: “It abuses nuns, anyone who thinks, homosexuals, women who have abortions. It sexually abuses children. It treats people badly, and something has to be done to change its abusive nature.”

Ms. Kissling was born Frances Romanski into a working-class Polish family in New York, the oldest of four children. When she was a child, her mother divorced and later married a man named Kissling, which in the eyes of the church made her an adulteress, Ms. Kissling said.

Despite her frustration with such beliefs, Ms. Kissling said, she was inspired by the nuns at her Catholic school. In the early 1960s, she joined a convent, at age 19.

Convent life demanded that she look deep inside herself, she said, and she discovered that she did not agree with the church’s teachings on divorce and birth control. She left after six months to attend the New School.

Avowedly heterosexual, she said she never had a desire to marry or have children. She became active in the women’s movement in the 1960s. Then in 1970, when abortion was legalized in New York, she was asked to direct an abortion clinic in Pelham. She had no experience, she said, but neither did anyone else, so she took the position.

In 1978, she joined the board of Catholics for a Free Choice, and in 1982, she took over as president.

Critics and supporters say Ms. Kissling has a more nuanced view of abortion than many in the abortion rights movement. She said her experience working at an abortion clinic and her upbringing in the church made her believe “there was a certain void in the pro-choice movement around the questions of morality and ethics.”

In late 2004, she published an article in her group’s magazine, Conscience, titled “How to Think About the Fetus.” She said that while the fetus might not be a person, it was part of the continuum of humanity. She wrote that the fetus “is not nothing,” and that women who consider abortion know that.

Ms. Kissling said that abortion rights leaders feared acknowledging the value of a fetus because they did not want to further stigmatize abortion. But, she contends, that reticence has cast the abortion rights movement as casual about the emotional realities of abortion.

“Women know that something is inside them, and they know that something will become a baby if they don’t act in some way,” she said. “I don’t think we could say anything to them about the value of fetal life that they haven’t thought of already.”

Many abortion rights leaders said the article was damaging, especially because it came out while politicians were considering bans on so-called partial-birth abortions. But others, including some in the anti-abortion camp, commended Ms. Kissling.

“With her approach, she has found the real-life stuff,” said Representative Ryan, a Catholic who opposes abortion. “Those of us in the debate get hooked on philosophy and theory and dogma, and what Frances brings is reality: that abortion is a difficult decision for a woman.”

Ms. Kissling said she had decided to step down because she believed that her efficacy might soon wane, that she was on the “verge of becoming boring or predictable.” Jon O’Brien, 41, executive vice president of Catholics for a Free Choice, is to take over as president.

Ms. Kissling hopes to write a book about the value of the fetus, or teach, or finish the house she is building on the coast of Uruguay, she said. She has no plans to leave the Catholic Church.

“There are days when I think I can’t be a Catholic and that I want to go join a community where I am welcomed, honored, where I can join a parish,” she said. “But in the end, I don’t want to be a Methodist. I’m a member of the greatest religion in the world.”

There is so much in this that is just disgusting, I don't even know if I can go into it.

She wants to be "welcomed and honored"? Well, I'm sure that's what all the saints wanted, too, to be "honored." Humility, much? Welcomed? Well, maybe if you were actually, I don't know, Catholic . That might help.

And we're the "greatest religion in the world" (well, duh :)), but yet we “It abuses nuns, anyone who thinks, homosexuals, women who have abortions. It sexually abuses children. It treats people badly, and something has to be done to change its abusive nature.”
--abuse nuns: Haven't heard this one yet. What, they can't be priests? Hence the reason they are nuns
--anyone who thinks: I'm sure that Saints Thomas, Augustine, Terese of Avila, St. John of the Cross, JPII, and multiple others would be interested to hear that.
--homosexuals: We abuse them because we tell them to be actively homosexual is sinful? So are we "abusing" the rest of us heterosexuals by telling us we can't have unfettered sex? Hun?
--Women who have had abortions: Yup, because, you know, they can't received forgiveness via the Confessional. There's not Project Rachel or anything like that. We just tie them to the pillar. Right.
--Sexually abuses children: Well, OK. The Church is made up of imperfect people. They do bad things. We are not perfect, it's not an excuse, but this is not a solely Catholic problem. Kissling acts as if pedophila was some sort of church doctrine. Let's get real.
--Treats people badly: Yup, that's why there's a billion of us. That's why so many people will voluntarily join the Church this Easter. Because we treat people badly.

Sign of the Cross

Do Protestants make it?

I was reading over at Open Book an article about this and I realized I had never noticed if my Protestant friends do or not. The only time I've been in a church with them for a service was when they went with me to Mass, and even then I didn't notice.

Anyone know?

Lenten resources

Head over to Danielle Bean's site for some great Lenten web resources. It's on the right-hand sidebar.

And my favorite--lots on confession...something I need to do, again.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

First Sunday of Lent

OK I missed it, I'm in Shangri-la, give me a break. But apparently my church choir did very well. :)

Friday, February 23, 2007

ways to make holy the sabbath during Lent

h/t Amy:

Bishop Baker calls for a new dedication ot the Sabbath:

I invite all parishes in the Diocese of Charleston to begin the celebration of the Year of the Family by reclaiming the Sabbath for God and family. Because we have become distracted, overworked, and overcommitted to outside activities, Sunday has become just another work day. I challenge each of you to restore Sunday as a gift from the Father for the family to appreciate one another. We have lost the peace that God created for our day of rest, and we all should actively seek ways to invite God into the center of our families.

Some ideas to make this a reality:

Once a month, pray a parish family Rosary, followed by a covered dish with fun activities for youth and children.

Plan a pilgrimage to one of your favorite religious sites, such as the Shrine to Our Lady of Joyful Hope of South Carolina in Kingstree or Mepkin Abbey in Monck’s Corner.

Allow a member of the family to share fifteen minutes of scripture reading.

Refrain from any labor, shopping, and any private activity that conflicts with prayer or family involvement on a Sunday.

While your children or youth may be involved in faith formation on Sunday, try organizing activities with other parents and adults to enrich your faith and friendships.

Sounds like ideas even those of us w/o families can institute...

"Ordinary People"

I love this comment from Mark Shea's blog and what he would tell people that are considering joining the Church:

The main counsel I give anybody coming in to the Church is that "faith" means "you stay." The Catholic Church is and always has been the vessel of salvation for the *world*. That means that most of the people you meet are going to be *ordinary*--like you and me. They are going to have the ordinary tastes, prejudices, mediocrities, failures, and virtues of their time and place. There are, to be sure, great heros and extraordinary people in the Catholic communion. But to expect that as the norm and then be outraged and disappointed when it is not is, I think, great folly and, in the end, great pride. One of the things I came to appreciate very early was the counsel of Uncle Screwtape, who urges Wormwood to keep far from his "patient's" mind the thought, "If I, being what I am, can consider myself in some sense a Christian, then why can't these people next to me in the pew"?

Consequently, though I have been appalled by some of the sins that have been revealed in the ranks of the Church in the past few years, I've never been shocked. What did I expect? They're just sinners like I am, and I know what I'm capable of. In the same way, the stupid and tuneless OCP songs, the suburban Church of Aren't We Fabulous smugness, the Our Lady of Pizza Hut architecture, the True Meaning of the Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes homilies, and the other stuff that sometimes ails the Church has never been sufficient to put me off. Because they are all just reminders that the Church, thank God, has room for people like me and that this mediocrity and averageness is a sign of the tremendous mercy of God for mediocre folk like myself.

"Well then," it may be asked, "if the Church is so mediocre, then why bother joining her?" To quote Walker Percy, "What else is there?" After all, it is not the Church that is mediocre, but only we, her members. The Church is, curiously, something that exists before she has any members, because it is founded not by us, but by Christ. The Church is the spotless Bride of Christ, made so by the Holy Spirit in the washing with water and the Word. We, her members, are generally nebbishes and schleps. But she is glorious and beautiful, terrible as an army with banners. And in her all the fullness of the deposit of faith subsists, a deposit through which, by the grace of God, I hope one day to be made perfect in love of God and neighbor. But it is not my job to immanentize the eschaton. So I can be more than merely content living in this strange divine sea of a Church, whose members are, like me, stunningly ordinary, but whose soul, the Holy Spirit, is slowly bringing us along "until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love." (Ephesians 4:13-16)

This is exactly why I am not scandalized by bad homilies, or bad singing, or when I hear of priestly scandals. It doesn't mean that I don't think they're wrong; it means that I'm aware the Church is made up of ordinary people, like me. If I consider what I am capable of, can I hold my fellow Catholics to any leser standard, even if they are priests or bishops? We are all human. We are all prone to sin. But yet the "gates of Hell" shall not prevail against the Church herself.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

In fitting with the theme of the below posts...

I wonder, for the millionth time, why it is that the only choice so many people are willing to allow is that to abort a child. --Jay Nordlinger, "Impromptus", 8/29/02


Bill Maher opens his mouth and removes all doubt

(h/t: Anchoress)

"When people say to me, 'You hate America,' I don't hate America. I love America. I am just embarrassed that it has been taken over by people like evangelicals, by people who do not believe in science and rationality. It is the 21st century. And I will tell you, my friend. The future does not belong to the evangelicals. The future does not belong to religion." --Bill Maher

As my eighth grade teacher said, "It is better to remain silent and have people think you a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt."

So let's work to change it!

I just did...
go to Feminists for Life and become a member. And check out their store. I love the "pro-woman, pro-life" bumper sticker. That might have to be coming to my house.

"We can do no great things, only small things with great love." --Mother Teresa

My patron saint, St. Therese of Lisieux, said essentially the same thing in her "Little Way." It's by touching one life at a time, living a life of witness and devotion to Jesus and His Church, that we can make a difference. And of course, the Rosary is a very powerful prayer, one that I don't think we use often enough. I'm as guilty of this as anyone else, although I have made a concerted effort to say a full set of mysteries daily. Some days I'm successful, other days, not. But I believe that no matter how "imperfectly" we may say it, Mary won't reject any prayers said in a devout spirit. She's our mom! How many mothers would take a child's fingerpainting that was done especially for her and criticize it? Not many! Instead it would go on the refrigerator in a place of pride. Let's pray to Mary that she exert her motherly influence on women who are considering abortion, to let them know there are so many of us out there who are willing to support, but spiritually and corporally, through this difficult time in their lives.

"Abortion is a moral good"

So says one of the fired Edwards bloggers (h/t Corner): (my comments in bold)

To see that abortion is moral, you just need to look at women as human beings with lives that have value. When a woman chooses abortion, she's not indulging some guilty pleasure, like sneaking in a round of adultery at lunch, to bring up a genuinely immoral action that should not be criminal. She is probably thinking about her family's well-being and yes, her own well-being. Taking your own well-being into consideration is called "selfish" by anti-choicers, but I think valuing yourself is a moral good, even if you are female. In fact, especially if you are female, since you live in a world where having self-esteem can be an act of moral courage that requires some defiance. If I got pregnant, I wouldn't even have to suffer much mental strain to realize that abortion would be the best choice for myself, my family, and my relationship. Abortion, not just the right to abortion but the actual procedure, is a moral good that helps women and families and should be honored as such. Women who get abortions should be recognized as people who can accurately weigh their choices and make the most moral one.

Wow. One doesn't even know where to begin. But first, I think you made the choice when you had sex. Abortion gives you self-esteem? You get some kind of twisted fulfilment in killing another human being? Instead of being responsible, abortion is the anthesis of responsibility. It says that you can have sex, sleep around and then just kill off the evidence, because you can't afford the consequences of your choices.

Learning that actions have consequences is one of the most basic life lessons. An abortion is the total repudiation of this thought, and the most horrific, because not only are you refusing to be an adult and take responsibility for what you have done, but you are causing deadly harm to a perfectly innocent individual. Abortion is "the most moral" decision? In whose book?

Abortion is a "moral good that helps women and families?" How does it help families-- it destroys families. It kills children,a rather integral part of that family experience. How is it a moral good for women? Why are there so many women who are haunted by their abortions and wish they could go back, so they could save their children? How many more testimonies do we need to hear about the psychological harm that can come from this procedure? I suppose one must be incredibly morally corrupt to think that the destruction of an innocent life is a "moral good." As Mother Teresa said, "It is a crime that a child must die so you may live as you wish."

And this touches upon even broader topics, such as the Left's opposition to war. How can they be against war, which can be fought justly, if the safest place in the world--a mother's womb--instead becomes one o the most dangerous? Where millions of babies' lives are taken every year? Abortions are unspeakably violent acts towards these children. Yet the Left is against wars that free people from oppression and allow them to finally have a chance to live their own lives and not have to worry about being taken away in the middle of the night and put through paper shredders, then buried in mass graves. The Left is against the death penalty, which could be argued as just (even though I take the Church's stance-that its use is only permittable in very, very rare occasions, as society does have a right to protect itself), but supports the killing of babies . Little, soft, tiny, cuddly babies whose only crime was being "inconveniently conceived." How is this a logical discourse?

Much prayer is needed to overcome this tragedy. As Lent comes upon us, I think part of my Lenten dedication will focus on the unborn, especially since, with advanced technology, parents can--and are--aborting children with genetic diseases at an alarming rate.Who knows if I would even be here if I was concieved later, and to different parents. It's a scary, and sobering, thought. God must weep when He thinks about it.

On prayer

Another good quote on Prayer from Rod, which he found in an magazine interview:

If you are successful in this prayer of repentance, you will come to understand that your prayer is your life, it is not a technique… “the technique of the Jesus Prayer.” It is not something that you are to combine with your breath, or with the beating of your heart. No, it is your life. All technical advice is something functional. Your prayer is your life - your life is your prayer. And if you are constant in this secret standing before the face of God, you will see that your heart begins to change. You will find your prayer becoming deeper and more attentive, and one day you will understand what it is to pray with all your heart, from the depths of your soul. When little children cry for something, they do it with all their being, and this is like real spiritual life. God will teach you how to conceal your pious intentions and thoughts, how to keep it such a secret that no one ever guesses what you have in your heart. You will be living a life completely unknown and unnoticed by anyone, and you will begin to love solitude as the most satisfying way of speaking with your Creator. The moment you begin to pray from your heart, asking for everything that the Holy Spirit finds appropriate and necessary for you, you will be instructed and enlightened.

Seems to me like an excellent approach to prayer to try this Lent.

prayer request

I don't usually do this, but I'm going to ask for y'all to say some extra prayers for me. Healthwise, things have been nutty since right after Thanksgiving, and right now I'm currently in Children's (also known as "The Resort") for testing and monitoring, etc., etc., etc. until we find out what this current issue is. It seems like after each infection I've gotten lately, we'll get rid of it to reveal something more insiduous underneath. Oh well.For more info on all this, you can go to my other blog, Bucket of Parts. which is all about my transplant, before, after and what's going on now.

Thank you!

** Since I was here on W, I didn't get to attend Ash Wednesday Mass. I will, however, be having fish on Friday...I ordered it on the hospital menu. :)

Sunday, February 18, 2007

A "kinder, gentler" Lent??

Maybe in some places. This
piece from Crunchy Cons is rather disturbing.

I'm not saying I think we should all wear hairshirts and all that and go back to fasting everyday or whatever. But I do think that the penitential nature of Lent is one of (it not is sole) defining characteristic. We need a little deprivation, a little simplification, to get to the heart of things every once in awhile. Lent provides this yearly annual renewal. It is a spiritual springtime, a time of growth and reawakening. This can't come without some sacrifice, some "winter" of the soul. So give me the ashes and all that. I can't fast (I'm diabetic) but I can devote more time to God like all the rest of you. And I can certainly abstain from meat.

Speaking of Lent, what are you giving up? What spiritual practices are you adding? Does your church do anything special for Lent? Here's what I've got going on:
--Joining a Faith Sharing Group at my parish.
--Reading from Magnificat's Lenten companion
--Reading from Lent and Easter with Pope John Paul II --great book. They also have them from different saints and such, and they do them for Advent/Christmas, too.
--No meat on Fridays, like y'all. :)
--Soup Suppers at my church on Wednesdays, where different church groups make soups for the parishioners. Donations go to Operation Rice Bowl. It's a great way to make a Lenten sacrifice (both by eating a "simpler" meal and donating the money, it doesn't have to be much), and, practically, it's right before my choir rehearsals. :) So a lot of choir members have dinner together at the soup supper and then go rehearse, which is fun, because ofte they bring their families and the kids are soooo cute. :)

bookshelf: Love In the Heart of the Church

I finished the Theresian spirituality book I'd begun about a week ago, and it was definitely better than I remembered it. The end, where Fr. O'Donnell talks about Therese's charisms and spiritual gifts, I didn't find quite as intellectually rewarding as some of the earlier chapters, but it is a generally good guide to her overall theology. It's more "scholarly" the most of the books I've read, so if you're just diving in, this may not be the best place to start. It was also written in 1997, before she was declared a Doctor of the Church, so the epilogue regarding if she should be named one is sort of moot by now. A revised version of this book, reflecting recent scholarship and, of course, the Doctoral designation, would make it a stronger piece of work in general. But overall, a good book, very well documented with emphasis on "original" sources, i.e., the true sources as written by Therese herself and not edited by her family or others.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Reaction to the Pope's message

From Fr. Z:

Pope’s Message for Lent released
CATEGORY: SESSIUNCULUM — Fr. John Zuhlsdorf @ 5:09 pm

The Holy Father’s Message for Lent was released today. I was at the Press conference with S.E. Mons. Paul Josef Cordes, President of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum", who made the presentation along with others.

The document was signed on 21 November 2006. It is very short. It constitutes quite a break with Messages of the past. This message is strongly theological, providing starting points. Messages in the past were strong practical, exploring themes like “Marginalization of the Poor” (1977) and “World Hunger” (1996). This time he is much more explicitly theocentric, returning to the fundamental building block of Deus caritas est. Cordes said that he could only speculate why the Holy Father has changed the style of the Lenten message.

Cordes, in his comments, seemed to desire to bring the discussion away from the theological dimension and right away pass to the concrete exercise of charity. In a way I had the sense that he wanted to talk about something other than the message. To accomplish this they enlisted the help of an old Italian priest Fr. Oreste Benzi, founder of the “Pope John XXIII” houses which work for the marginalized. Benizi gave a sustained fervorino (over a half hour). His experience working with the very difficult cases life can reveal reminded me that there are those who service the Church at a desk and those who serve at a gutter or a bedside.

Benizi, clearly a man who has zealous love for the poor pretty bluntly said that there should be no restraints on immigration and everyone should be given a job. I am not sure how that it is be done… perhaps some "redistribution of wealth"? Anyway, the guy had real fervor. One very insightful comment he made concerned the late and the present Holy Father and how they are seen by young people. Benizi said young people are not just following or “running after” the singer, but also after the song. This about the reaction that young people are having for Pope Benedict XVI in light of the great popularity of the late Pope John Paul II. In other words after the great cult of person that surrounded the late Pope people are very much on fire to hear what Pope Benedict has to say.

Back to the Message.

The first paragraph presents the major theme, “They shall look on Him whom they have pierced." This is strongly reminiscent of the title of a book Joseph Ratzinger published years ago: Behold The Pierced One. It also calls to mind how the late Holy Father called us to direct our gaze, through Mary with the Rosary, to Christ’s face.

The Pope in the Message returned to the theme he addressed in Deus caritas est, that is, of apage and eros.

He starts with Biblical texts and moves to Patristic texts as well as the Neo-platonic Christian writer Pseudo-Dionysius. The letter is strongly Patristic. Cited are St. Maximus Confessor (Ambigua 91, 1956), and St. John Chrysostom (Catecheses 3,14 ff) on how the water and Blood from the side of Christ are symbols of the sacraments of Baptism (water) and Eucharist (Blood). The Pope quotes a certain N. Cabasilas. I am not sure who he is right at the moment.

You can read the thing yourself pretty quickly, and I advise you to do so. I will only point out a couple things I found immediately interesting.

The Pope returned to a Ratzingerian theme of self-sufficiency. I find this often in the Pope’s writings. In the Message he wrote:

“Unfortunately, from its very origins, mankind, seduced by the lies of the Evil One, rejected God’s love in the illusion of self-sufficiency that is impossible (cf. Gn 3:1-7). Turning in on himself, Adam withdrew from that source of life who is God Himself, and became the first of “those who through fear of death were subjected to lifelong bondage” (Heb 2:15). God, however, did not give up. On the contrary, man’s “no” was the decisive impulse that moved Him to manifest His love in all of its redeeming strength.” Also in the message: “We need to respond to such love and dedicate ourselves to communicating it to others. Christ “draws me to Himself” in order to unite Himself to me, so that I learn to love the brothers with His love.”

The reference to "fear of death" is not only biblical, it is greatly expanded on by St. Augustine of Hippo, whom the Pope has long studied.

Here is a nice point for those who are married. It reminds me of something I would stress in marriage prep:

“In all truth, only the love that unites the free gift of self with the impassioned desire for reciprocity instills a joy, which lightens the greatest sacrifices.” In this phrase we have the union of agape (gift of self) and eros (impassioned desire).

"Looking on Him whom they have pierced" will help us to see people with greater respect, recognizing the wounds inflicted on humanity, but also to “alleviate the tragedies of loneliness and abandonment of so many people.” This redirection of our gaze to the Crucified Christ should bring us to concrete acts of love toward neighbor are, as the Holy Father puts it, “Only in this way shall we be able to participate fully in the joy of Easter.”

H.E. Cordes can back strongly to the idea that in this Message it is not being suggest that service of God substitute the service of man. He tried to emphasize that there is a balance needed between them. The one should be made more authentic by the other. This is also a theme of Deus caritas est.

BXVI's new Lenten message-- a change from JPII

Looks like B XVI is going to take a different angle with Lent this year. From


Benedict XVI's Lenten message seeks to show how faith leads to charity's deepest dimensions, a Vatican official explained.

Archbishop Paul Josef Cordes, president of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum," presented the papal message today in the Vatican press office.

The message is centered around the mystery of Christ's sacrifice on the cross.

The prelate began his address by explaining how the command of charity is culturally accepted.

He said: "Worldwide entrepreneurs, for example, Bill Gates or Warren Buffet, establish social foundations; film stars and politicians invite to charity dinners; governments create friends for themselves in public opinion thanks to international cooperation; and great fund-raising endeavors -- at times for catastrophes -- in some cases reach considerable quantities.

"As Christians we can observe, not without satisfaction, that in social life the biblical commandment of love of neighbor seems universally accepted."


Archbishop Cordes pointed out that the Pope's message for Lent "is considerably different" than previous ones, written by him or by Pope John Paul II.

Previous messages have focused on "works of charity in the sense of Christians' social commitment," the prelate said. This time, the Pontiff "forcefully places God the Father of Jesus Christ at the center." Therefore, the focus is not anthropocentric but theocentric.

"The Holy Father is less concerned with the horizontal dimension, in order to bring into clearer light the vertical dimension of Christian living," he added.

"This change of thought can be observed in general in Benedict XVI's preaching," Achbishop Cordes stated.

He added that in the Pope's encyclical or in other discourses, the central theme is always the love of the Father in heaven becoming man in the Son Jesus Christ.


I've begun a new book of Theresian theology (well, it's not new, it was published in '97, and I've had it for a few years), Love in the Heart of the Church by Christopher O'Donnell, ODC (I think he's an ODC). The first time I read it was soon after my Confirmation, so I must've gotten it when it first came out. Anyway, at the time, it was way over my head and I didn't really know that much about the young nun I had chosen as my patron saint, other than the biographical basics and the "Little Way" idea. (I was 14, come on) But now I've gotten fairly into it, have read Story of a Soul as well as some other works about her life, so I felt ready to dive back in.

So far he's discussed her influences, the creation/finding of critical (i.e., not edited by her family) texts, and things like that. We've also covered the Oblation to Merciful Love and the difference between a Victim Soul and a Soul who has offered herself to Jesus' love, not His justice. I have found this to be an interesting distinction, since so many of us think of "victim souls" or "offering up suffering" as a Justice thing. I will write more as this develops.


From today's Magnificat meditation:

"Go on joyfully and with your heart as open and widely trustful as possible; and if you cannot always be joyful, at least be brave and confident."
--St. Francis de Sales

Happy Valentine's Day!

The church actually recognizes three St.Valentines, so I'm not sure who I should be talking about here. :) But my version is that he was a Roman martyr. Unfortunately, my valentine is not here (bah long-distance relationships), but if you have one, be sure to spend some time being nice to each other today. Actually, you should be doing that everyday. But I digress.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

One little indian left...

(OK that might not be a PC title, but whatever)

One of the infamous Edwards bloggers has quit.

But she didn't go quietly...from her blog yesterday:

No matter what you think about the campaign, I signed on to be a supporter and a tireless employee for them, and if I can't do the job I was hired to do because Bill Donohue doesn't have anything better to do with his time than harass me, then I won't do it," Marcotte wrote Monday night.

Earlier Monday, Marcotte wrote on her personal Web site, "The Christian version of the virgin birth is generally interpreted as super-patriarchal, where … women are nothing but vessels.

Here's Rod's take on it.

Rejoice O Heavenly powers!

Monday, February 12, 2007

Edwards saga continues

with this Newsweek article.

Rob at Crunchy Cons discusses the article here.

And the Catholic League replies

Thursday, February 08, 2007

The Edwards bloggers

**Warning: this post might contain language that normal people will find offensive. I find it offensive and vulgar, myself, but find it important to post it so people know what we're talking about.

So John Edwards is running for President (we think). He hires two women to run the Internet aspect of his campaign, the "Net-roots" and the Internet, generally (I believe). Now, as any members of a national campaign would be, their credentials were examined by people othhttp://www2.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifer than members of the Edwards campaign. On Tuesday we found out just what kind of people are "qualified" to work for the Edwards campaign.

So, what did we find?

I first read about the brouhaha over on National Review, where I find everything, in this article
by Katherine Lopez (K-Lo, to us Corner addicts). Some of the choice bits:

Q: What if Mary had taken Plan B after the Lord filled her with his hot, white, sticky Holy Spirit?
A: You’d have to justify your misogyny with another ancient mythology.

That update on the Baltimore Catechism comes via Amanda Marcotte of the Pandagon blog in her “FAQ ON THE CATHOLIC CHURCH’S ‘CRAZY’ TEACHINGS ABOUT BIRTH CONTROL.” In it she explains that “the intent” of “mainstream Catholic teaching” on artificial contraception “is to make women suspect their gynecologists* are out to get them and possibly kill some babies for fun.”

If Edwards cares to continue to browse through the Pandagon archives, he’ll find Marcotte reacting to a story about the Catholic teaching about limbo by comparing the Catholic Church to fascist dictators.

She continues:

There’s a pragmatic reason that the Vatican might be a little hesitant to come right out and say that there’s no limbo (definition here, for those who don’t know much about Catholicism) is because the concept is wielded by everyday Catholics to explain where the souls of unborn babies go, which is just an extra way to guilt trip women who have abortions. But it’s sort of a balancing act, as far as I can tell, because as most people understand it, unbaptized children go to limbo but when Jesus returns, they all get to go to heaven. So it’s a way to guilt trip women who have abortions without casting god as such an uncruel monster as to throw souls into hell that never even had a shot at sinning. So that’s limbo: it sucks enough to make women feel guilty about abortion, but it doesn’t suck so much as to run people off.

I suspect Pope Ratz will give into the urge eventually to come out and say there’s no limbo and unbaptized babies go straight to hell. He can’t help it; he’s just a dictator like that. Hey, fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly, the Pope’s gotta tell women who give birth to stillborns that their babies are cast into Satan’s maw. The alternative is to let Catholic women who get abortions feel that it’ll all work out in the end, which is just not doable, due to that Jesus-like compassion the Pope is so fond of. Still, it’s going to be bad PR for the church, so you can sort of see why the Pope is dragging ass.

Which all brings me to recommending this great post by Austin Cline at Jesus’ General about why authoritarian types are so damn interested in cobbling people’s sex lives and meddling around in people’s private sexual decisions, like in this case why the Catholic church is so interested in making sure that people can’t make the perfectly sound decision to limit their family size while enjoying a healthy sex life—either you’re going to have to forgo birth control or you’re going to have to feel guilty to the point where you fear you’re casting babies into hellfire, by their standards. It’s a way to disrupt people’s lives so the church can get more control.

Yep, that damn patriarchy, that’s what it’s all about — has nothing to do with a sacrament of marriage or other nonsense Catholics believe.

Marcotte is clearly a staffer who should have been vetted a bit more. She represents someone John Edwards ought not be employing and serves as a warning to other candidates as they gather blogosphere supporters on their payrolls on their road to the White House. The lesson is fairly simple: Google first.

Now, to prove this isn't just a "right-wing" thing, Terry Moran of ABC picked up the thread here.

From that bit:
If a Republican candidate teamed up with a right-wing blogger who spewed this kind of venom, how would people react? Is the mere raising of this issue a kind of underhanded censorship, a way of ruling out of bounds some kinds of opinion? Are we all just going to have to get used to a more rough-and-tumble, profane, and even hate-filled public arena in the age of the blogosphere?


Last year, Marcotte blasted the Catholic Church's position on birth control: "Q: What if Mary had taken Plan B after the Lord filled her with his hot, white, sticky Holy Spirit? A: You’d have to justify your misogyny with another ancient mythology." (Side note: Would there be a different reaction if John Edwards "blogmaster" had insulted Islam to this degree? Is it "okay" to trash Catholicism--but not Islam?)

Um, no, Terry, I think we know the answer to that. If someone had done this to a sacred teaching of Islam, there would be widespread denouncements and probably the normal "Death to America!" There's no way they would get away with it. And we know it. But being anti-Catholic in America is the last acceptable prejudice (there's even a book about it).

Well, lo and behold, the bloggers are still around, even after some of these disgusting things:

ABC News' Kate Snow Reports: Former Sen. John Edwards' spokesperson says that contrary to some media reports, two campaign staffers have NOT been fired in the wake of criticism of their recent blog postings.

Campaign bloggers Amanda Marcotte and Melissa McEwen are still employed by the Edwards campaign and will continue to blog, according to campaign spokesperson David Ginsberg.

"They were hired last month and nothing has changed," Ginsberg said.

Sen. John Edwards, who is running for the democratic '08 nomination, released a statement today reprimanding two of his controversial campaign bloggers for their personal writings-- but stopped short of firing them.

"The tone and the sentiment of some of Amanda Marcotte's and Melissa McEwen's posts personally offended me," said Sen. Edwards in a statement to media.

"It's not how I talk to people, and it's not how I expect the people who work for me to talk to people. . .but that kind of intolerant language will not be permitted from anyone on my campaign," he said.

However the Senator didn't say he would fire his bloggers.

"I also believe in giving everyone a fair shake," he said. "I've talked to Amanda and Melissa; they have both assured me that it was never their intention to malign anyone's faith, and I take them at their word."
Campaign spokesperson David Ginsberg tells ABC News, "They'll be doing there jobs as they have been," he said.

The women had come under fire recently for controversial writings that they independently wrote on their personal blogs, before being hired by the Edwards campaign.

Um, OK. Sure. Just shows what John Edwards' campaign thinks about the Catholic vote. But, as Bill Donahue of the Catholic League says,
“John Edwards has apparently decided that there is more to be gained by aligning himself with the cultural left than by standing on principle and firing the Catholic bashers on his payroll. Had anyone on his staff used the ‘N-word,’ he or she would have been fired immediately. But his goal is to loot the pockets of the Soros/Hollywood gang, and they—like him—aren’t offended by anti-Catholicism. Indeed, they thrive on it.

“When Mel Gibson got drunk and made anti-Semitic remarks, he paid a price for doing so. When Michael Richards got angry and made racist remarks, he paid a price for doing so. When Isaiah Washington got ticked off and made anti-gay remarks, he paid a price for doing so. But John Edwards thinks the same rules don’t apply to him, which is why he has chosen to embrace foul-mouthed anti-Catholic bigots on his payroll.
“Edwards said today that ‘We’re beginning a great debate about the future of our country, and we can’t let it be hijacked.’ I have news for him—the Catholic League—not Edwards—will decide what the debate will be about, and it won’t be about the nation. It will be about the glaring double standard that colors the entire conversation about bigotry.
“We will launch a nationwide public relations blitz that will be conducted on the pages of the New York Times, as well as in Catholic newspapers and periodicals. It will be on-going, breaking like a wave, starting next week and continuing through 2007. It will be an education campaign, informing the public of what he did today. We will also reach out to our allies in the Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim and Buddhist communities. They worked with us before on many issues, and are sure to do so again. What Edwards did today will not be forgotten.”

This whole thing just discourages me, and disgusts me, as both a Catholic and a voter. The fact that this kind of stuff is allowed in politics just seems over the line. The fact that we refuse to hold the people who represent our presidential candidates to any kind of standard (at least on the Ds side) depresses me. And the fact that the party of the only Catholic president is the one doing this is equally distressing. Where's Teddy Kennedy? Or good old Lurch? Or even Queen Nancy? Oh, wait. We're CINOs so it's OK.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Archbishop Wuerl's First Pastoral Letter

here. (h/t Amy) The topic? My favorite! Confession!!

But I guess it is quite topical given that Lent begins in (gulp) almost two weeks!

Monday, February 05, 2007

Feast of St. Agatha

Who is the patron saint of breast disorders, by the way, according to one of my saints books. Apparently they (the Romans?) tried to cut them off with spears but they regrew, so they did it again and beheaded her. That, apparently, did the trick. She was also a virgin, of course. Seems like all those Ancient Roman female martyrs were virgins, even if they got married.

Bishop Schori in USA Today

One of my favorite Protestants goes at it again in today's USA Today re: the Tanzania conference and the split of the ECUSA. Here
is the bishop as she "stands for a new era."

Um, a new era of what, precisely? Hmm? She says some interesting things, like it's "Not her place" to decide who is saved. Well, of course none of us know that. That is God's domain. But at the same time, the Bible gives a good idea of sinful behavior. And homosexuality is part of it. How can you lead a church if you can't agree with what the Bible explicitly teaches?

B XVI to engaged couples

From The Hermit:

If you are engaged to be married, God has a project of love for your future as a couple and as a family. Therefore, it is essential that you discover it with the help of the Church, free from the common prejudice that says that Christianity with its commandments and prohibitions places obstacles to the joy of love and impedes you from fully enjoying the happiness that a man and woman seek in their reciprocal love. The love of a man and woman is at the origin of the human family and the couple formed by a man and a woman has its foundation in God’s original plan (cf Gen 2:18-25). Learning to love each other as a couple is a wonderful journey, yet it requires a demanding “apprenticeship”. The period of engagement, very necessary in order to form a couple, is a time of expectation and preparation that needs to be lived in purity of gesture and words. It allows you to mature in love, in concern and in attention for each other; it helps you to practise self-control and to develop your respect for each other. These are the characteristics of true love that does not place emphasis on seeking its own satisfaction or its own welfare. In your prayer together, ask the Lord to watch over and increase your love and to purify it of all selfishness. Do not hesitate to respond generously to the Lord’s call, for Christian matrimony is truly and wholly a vocation in the Church. Likewise, dear young men and women, be ready to say “yes” if God should call you to follow the path of ministerial priesthood or the consecrated life. Your example will be one of encouragement for many of your peers who are seeking true happiness.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

"Teach us how to pray"

Great post from Rob over at Crunchy Cons about a Christian prayer life, how it evolves, and how we pray. Definitely worth checking out.

From the beginning:
Marshall McLuhan once said that he came into the Catholic Church "on my knees." He meant that the only way to truly become a Catholic (or, I think it's fair to say, a serious Christian of any sort) is through prayer. I think he's right; rather, I know from my personal experience that he's right. As I've indicated before in my writing, it was the neglect of regular prayer that set me up for a brittleness that was finally broken under the serious stresses of my spiritual life with regard to my relationship to the Church. I had made the error of thinking that as long as I had the intellectual side worked out, and fulfilled my sacramental duties, that I would be fine. But it's not true. As I look back over my life as an adult Christian, it's plain to me that the times of the greatest spiritual fruitfulness have been times when I followed a regular rule of prayer. And not just petitionary prayer, but prayer in the sense of disciplining the mind to be still in the presence of the Holy, and to seek to be filled up with God. That's so difficult for me, because my mind is always racing, always seeking stimulation. I lose focus, I get nervous, I break my rule. The rule of prayer is the one thing that will keep me on the right path, yet it is the hardest thing for me to stick to, because it requires ... stillness. I can spend hours reading books about prayer, but actually praying, well, that's the hard thing.>

Happy First Saturday...


--Feast of St. Blaise (blessing of Throats)
--The Presentation of the Lord (yesterday)/ Candlemass (I have always been partial to the "old-school" name of the Feast, which celebrates Mary's purification after the birth of Jesus).

How many of you celebrate First Friday/Saturday? I know that some of it involves 15 (or, I guess, 20, now) decades of the Rosary, Mass, and Confession. Anything else I'm missing? It's the confession, as usual, that kills me. One of these days I've got to get over my avoidance of this sacrament. And the Mass is hard, too, during choir season, since we sing Sunday morning. But I suppose one can go to both the Vigil and the Sunday Mass proper?

Any answers to these questions would be great. :)