Saturday, September 26, 2009

Reflections on This Sunday's Mass Readings - September 27th

Here are the readings for this coming Sunday's Scripture readings from the U.S. Catholic bishops website.

And my own study (with Don Schwager's meditations).

Also the weekly audio/print meditation on the readings by Dr. Scott Hahn.

And finally, the weekly video by Professor Michael Barber on the Sunday readings.

Charitible comments and discussion are always welcome. Have a blessed and holy Lord's day!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

So Much To Blog, So Little Time

Sorry about the paucity of new blogs this week. I'm working on a brand new presentation for this week's Beginning Apologetics series I'm teaching, and it's taking all my time. Hopefully next week-end things'll be less crazy.

The classes themselves are going well. We started out with about 40 folks ten weeks ago, and are now down to about 20 faithful souls. There is usually some attrition in every religious exercise of this sort (think the parable of the sower, Luke 8:4-15), but this class has stayed strong. There are a LOT of great folks attending with good hearts and sharp minds, and I really enjoy their questions and participation. I'll be glad to be taking a breather after the last class (in two weeks), but I know I'll be looking to get started on something else.

Reflections on This Sunday's Mass Readings - September 13th

Here are the readings for this coming Sunday's Scripture readings from the U.S. Catholic bishops website.

And my own study (with Don Schwager's meditations).

Also the weekly audio/print meditation on the readings by Dr. Scott Hahn.

And finally, the weekly video by Professor Michael Barber on the Sunday readings.

Charitible comments and discussion are always welcome. Have a blessed and holy Lord's day!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Just The Facts, Ma'am!

Sgt. Joe Friday of "Dragnet" fame schools President Obama in this video.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Persecution of Catholics in Viet Nam Continues Unabated

Vietnamese Blogger Arrested after Challenging Media Distortions of Pope's Speech

Hanoi, Vietnam, Sep 1, 2009 (CNA).- A blogger who was defending the Church against the state media’s distortions of Pope Benedict XVI’s June speech to Vietnamese bishops was arrested on Thursday in what some fear is the first of many arrests. Bui Tanh Hieu is a catechumen who writes under the pen name Nguoi Buon Gio, which means “Wind Trader.” Reuters reported that he was arrested by police in Hanoi on August 27 and has not been heard from since.

Redemptorist Father Peter Nguyen Van Khai of Hanoi monastery confirmed to Asia News that the blogger was detained on Thursday. The priest described him as a catechumen of the Archdiocese of Hanoi who is studying the catechism in preparation for baptism.

Sr. Emily Nguyen from the Diocese of Vinh warned that his arrest “certainly is not the last one.”

See entire news article here.

Today is the Feast Day of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta

HT to my friend Leslie for the reminder.

Mother Teresa of Calcutta, the tiny woman recognized throughout the world for her work among the poorest of the poor, was beatified October 19, 2003. Among those present were hundreds of Missionaries of Charity, the Order she founded in 1950 as a diocesan religious community. Today the congregation also includes contemplative sisters and brothers and an order of priests.

Speaking in a strained, weary voice at the beatification Mass, Pope John Paul II declared her blessed, prompting waves of applause before the 300,000 pilgrims in St. Peter's Square. In his homily, read by an aide for the aging pope, the Holy Father called Mother Teresa “one of the most relevant personalities of our age” and “an icon of the Good Samaritan.” Her life, he said, was “a bold proclamation of the gospel.”

Mother Teresa's beatification, just over six years after her death, was part of an expedited process put into effect by Pope John Paul II. Like so many others around the world, he found her love for the Eucharist, for prayer and for the poor a model for all to emulate.
Born to Albanian parents in what is now Skopje, Macedonia (then part of the Ottoman Empire), Gonxha (Agnes) Bojaxhiu was the youngest of the three children who survived. For a time, the family lived comfortably, and her father's construction business thrived. But life changed overnight following his unexpected death.

During her years in public school Agnes participated in a Catholic sodality and showed a strong interest in the foreign missions. At age 18 she entered the Loreto Sisters of Dublin. It was 1928 when she said goodbye to her mother for the final time and made her way to a new land and a new life. The following year she was sent to the Loreto novitiate in Darjeeling, India. There she chose the name Teresa and prepared for a life of service. She was assigned to a high school for girls in Calcutta, where she taught history and geography to the daughters of the wealthy. But she could not escape the realities around her—the poverty, the suffering, the overwhelming numbers of destitute people.

In 1946, while riding a train to Darjeeling to make a retreat, Sister Teresa heard what she later explained as “a call within a call. The message was clear. I was to leave the convent and help the poor while living among them.” She also heard a call to give up her life with the Sisters of Loreto and, instead, to “follow Christ into the slums to serve him among the poorest of the poor.”
After receiving permission to leave Loreto, establish a new religious community and undertake her new work, she took a nursing course for several months. She returned to Calcutta, where she lived in the slums and opened a school for poor children. Dressed in a white sari and sandals (the ordinary dress of an Indian woman) she soon began getting to know her neighbors—especially the poor and sick—and getting to know their needs through visits.

The work was exhausting, but she was not alone for long. Volunteers who came to join her in the work, some of them former students, became the core of the Missionaries of Charity. Other helped by donating food, clothing, supplies, the use of buildings. In 1952 the city of Calcutta gave Mother Teresa a former hostel, which became a home for the dying and the destitute. As the Order expanded, services were also offered to orphans, abandoned children, alcoholics, the aging and street people.

For the next four decades Mother Teresa worked tirelessly on behalf of the poor. Her love knew no bounds. Nor did her energy, as she crisscrossed the globe pleading for support and inviting others to see the face of Jesus in the poorest of the poor. In 1979 she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. On September 5, 1997, God called her home.
There are so many to choose from, but here are some of my favorite quotes from Mother Teresa:
Even the rich are hungry for love, for being cared for, for being wanted, for having someone to call their own.

Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat.

Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do... but how much love we put in that action.

Jesus said love one another. He didn't say love the whole world.

In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love.

If you can't feed a hundred people, then feed just one.

It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish.

I know God will not give me anything I can't handle. I just wish that He didn't trust me so much.

The Legacy of Ted Kennedy

Fr. Robert Barron has an insightful commentary on the passing of Senator Edward Kennedy--his legacy in particular and that of the Kennedy clan in general.

You can find the brief video here, and here is the text of his commentary, entitled "Sen. Kennedy, Abortion, and the Party of the Little Guy.

Fr. Barron's experience growing up as a Catholic and what the Kennedys meant to Catholic Americans are highly reflective of my own formative years (I believe Father is slightly younger than me). Even though the home I was raised in was Catholic only in the most extremely nominal sense, it was a Mexican American home. As such, there was the obligatory picture of President John F. Kennedy displayed in an honored place--right there next to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. JFK was matter-of-factly acknowledged as a martyr -- as a martyr to what, it wasn't exactly clear to us; to civil rights or some other such thing. All we knew was that Kennedy (and by extension all the Kennedys and the whole Democratic Party) were for the little guy (ourselves included) and their opponents the Republicans were, by default, evil incarnate. If pressed for a rational defense for this position, we would have been at a loss. That's what everyone we knew believed so that was good enough for us, thank you.

I was too young to remember the JFK assassination, but I remember very clearly when Bobby Kennedy was shot. Life (school, work, everything) was put on hold to mourn this young man who's legacy, especially in retrospect, was not one of actual accomplishment, but rather one of unrealized promise and of further building the Kennedy legend.

The first time I voted for President, I was 18 years old and I voted for Jimmy Carter. I voted for him because he seemed like a nice guy and he was Democrat, both of which meant he wasn't a Republican. That was my whole line of reasoning, as I imagine it is for many people who voted then and now vote, not on the issues, but out of ignorance of the issues and on pure emotion and social conditioning.
Four years later, after being exposed to the realities of life, serving a stint in the military, and watching President Carter drag this country down into quivering mass of economic, political and miltary jelly, I voted for Ronald Reagan, and have voted Republican ever since then. Not that the GOP is perfect (far from it), but I can at least say now that when I vote (whether I am right or wrong) I attempt to vote based on an informed decision, rather than the emotionalism of my uninformed youth. Socrates taught that "The unexamined life is not worth living." One could also say, "The unexamined vote is not worth casting."

Which brings me back to Senator Kennedy. There is a telling passage from Fr. Barron's commentary:

I think it is safe to say that, over the past thirty years, there has been no stronger and more consistent advocate of abortion rights than this late “lion of the Senate.” But it was not always so. In 1971, just two years before Roe v. Wade, Sen Kennedy responded to a man named Tom Dennelly of Great Neck, N.Y. who had written to the senator expressing his views on the matter of abortion. Here is how Kennedy responded: “While the deep concern of a woman bearing an unwanted child merits consideration and sympathy, it is my personal feeling that the legalization of abortion on demand is not in accordance with the value which our civilization places on human life. Wanted or unwanted, I believe that human life, even at its earliest stages, has certain rights which must be recognized — the right to be born, the right to love, the right to grow old.” And he went on: “when history looks back at this era it should recognize this generation as the one which cared for human beings enough to halt the practice of war, to provide a decent living for every family, and to fulfill its responsibility to its children from the very moment of conception.”
For my money, that’s one of the best and most theoretically consistent defenses of the pro-life position ever articulated. And it came quite appropriately from the leader of the party of the little guy. In 1971 anyway, opposition to abortion was a naturally Democratic position, whereas today a pro-life Democrat is practically an oxymoron, and almost every major Democratic politician, locally or nationally, feels obligated to parrot pro-choice ideology if he wants his party’s nomination.

Ted Kennedy, for all the good he may have done in social issues and "protecting the little" guy, out of political expediency changed moral course and, as a result, came up short on the issue of protecting the weakest humans of all. When he stood before God, what could he have said to Him about the millions killed by abortion out of political expediency? As Robert Kennedy famously said:

There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why... I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?

To me, the tragedy of Senator Kennedy's life is the tragedy of all the Kennedy brothers: what could have been. May God have mercy on his soul.

Reflections on This Sunday's Mass Readings - September 6th

Here are the readings for this coming Sunday's Scripture readings from the U.S. Catholic bishops website.

And my own study (with Don Schwager's meditations).

Also the weekly audio/print meditation on the readings by Dr. Scott Hahn.

And finally, the weekly video by Professor Michael Barber on the Sunday readings.

Charitible comments and discussion are always welcome. Have a blessed and holy Lord's day!