Monday, April 19, 2004

"...and for Chris" 

I have a very difficult day facing me Tuesday, and again I ask for your prayers of support and friendship. You don't have to go out of your way, just do me the kindness of saying "...and for Chris" at the end as you offer your intentions to Our Lord prior to your regular prayers.

I'm not sure what God has in mind with all this, but I am placing all my trust in His hands.

Thank you so very much, and may God's blessings be upon you all.

Another Marian Prayer 


Mother of Perpetual Help, grant that I may ever invoke thy most powerful name, which is the safeguard of the living and the salvation of the dying. O Purest Mary, O Sweetest Mary, let thy name henceforth be ever on my lips. Delay not, O Blessed Lady, to help me whenever I call on thee, for, in all my needs, in all my temptations I shall never cease to call on thee, ever repeating thy sacred name, Mary, Mary.

O what consolation, what sweetness, what confidence, what emotion fill my soul when I pronounce thy sacred name, or even only think of thee. I thank God for having given thee, for my good, so sweet, so powerful, so lovely a name. But I will not be content with merely pronouncing thy name: let my love for thee prompt me ever to hail thee, Mother of Perpetual Help.

News from Red Sox Nation, April 20, 2004 

Image from http://boston.redsox.mlb.com

At Fenway Park in Boston, Monday April 19, 2004:

Boston Red Sox-5
New York Yankees-4

The Red Sox take the series 3 games to 1!

Kapler's hit lifts Sox, 5-4 by Ian Browne/MLB.com

*Next game: Tuesday, April 20 in Toronto against the Blue Jays at 7:00.


Image from http://www.seadogs.com

At Hadlock Field in Portland, Monday April 19, 2004:

Portland Sea Dogs-8
Trenton Thunder-7

Wow, that's two wins in a row. Hmmm.

Sea Dogs Score Another Comeback Win from www.seadogs.com.

*Next Game: Portland vs. Trenton Thunder at Hadlock Field at 6:00, Tuesday, April 20.

Sunday, April 18, 2004

Results of Last Week's Poll on Holy Week Service Attendance 

The question was: "How many organized Catholic worship services did you attend from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday, inclusive?"

The results:

*More than 7 (11.1%)

*7 (0.0%)

*6 (22.2%)

*5 (0.0%)

*4 (22.2%)

*3 (11.1%)

*2 (11.1%)

*1 (11.1%)

*You mean last week was Holy Week?! (11.1%)

Not very conclusive results at all. Some polls garner better outcomes than others.

Standard disclaimer: This is not a scientific poll, just a snapshot of the sentiments of visitors to this blog in the past week who have chosen to take part. You may only vote once from a given computer, and neither the polling service nor I can track the origins of votes.

Divine Mercy Sunday Message from Fr. Roger Landry 

This is a portion Fr. Landry's homily for today, as posted on CatholicCulture.org. This particular part explains the relatively new observance of Divine Mercy Sunday.

Today we celebrate throughout the whole Church "Divine Mercy Sunday." This feast was instituted by Pope John Paul II in the year 2000, in response to a direct request by the Lord Jesus to a Polish nun, St. Faustina Kowalska, whom Pope John Paul II canonized that year. Beginning in 1931, Jesus began to appear to St. Faustina in her convent in Krakow and asked her to become his "secretary," and take down what he revealed to her for the good of the Church and the world. He revealed to her the message of his divine, merciful love. She wrote down what the Lord said and it filled in her diary — what turned out to be 689 pages in the English translation. The Lord talked about how he wanted to pour out on the world his mercy, how he wanted people to trust in his mercy and ask for it, and how he wanted them to share his merciful love with others. Jesus didn't teach us anything new about his merciful love; he just reiterated it. What was new was that the Lord Jesus asked the Church, and that means each one of us, to grow in his Divine Mercy by five practices:

Divine Mercy Sunday, which we're celebrating today for the fourth time — The Lord said, "I want... the first Sunday after Easter ... to be the Feast of Mercy. I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and a shelter for all souls, and especially for poor sinners. On that day, the very depths of My tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of My mercy. The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. On that day are open all the divine floodgates through which graces flow." The Holy Father, four years ago, said, "It is important that we accept in its entirety the message that comes to us from God's Word on this second Sunday of Easter. From now on, throughout the whole Church, this day will take the name of 'Divine Mercy Sunday.'" But we have to live it, seek confession within eight days of the feast and properly receive Holy Communion.

To pray to the image of Divine Mercy — The Lord revealed to St. Faustina an image that he desired to be made: "One night when I was in my cell, I perceived the presence of the Lord Jesus dressed in a white tunic. One hand was raised in blessing, the other rested on his chest. From an opening in the tunic in the chest, two great ways were coming out, one read and the other clear... After some time, Jesus said to me, "Paint an image in accordance with what you see, with the inscription, "Jesus, I trust in you." A little later, Our Lord explained to her the meaning of the two rays: "The two rays represent the Blood and the Water. The white ray represents the Water [baptism], that justifies souls; the red ray represents the Blood that is the life of souls [the Eucharist]. Both rays flow from the depths of my Mercy when, on the Cross, my Heart in agony was opened by the lance."

To pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy — This is something that people can pray on Rosary beads. It is a devotion that is happily becoming more and more popular today. St. Faustina heard an interior voice that taught her this prayer. On the larger beads of the Rosary, one says, "Eternal Father, I offer you the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of your dearly beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and for those of the whole world." On the ten smaller beads, we pray, "For the sake of his sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world." You pray five "decades" in this way, after which, one prays three times the "Holy, Holy, Holy" from the Good Friday reproaches, "Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One," "have mercy on us and on the whole world." What we're doing in this beautiful prayer is offering Christ's own sacrifice during the Triduum, to the Father. We're lifting up the Eucharist — Christ's body, blood, soul and divinity — and making Christ's prayer our own. There is no more powerful prayer! Jesus promised, "It pleases me to grant everything they ask of Me by saying the chaplet... if it be compatible with my Will." This is especially true of the moment of death. Jesus specifically asked priests — and I'm obeying him right now — to "recommend it to sinners as their last hope of salvation. Even if there were a sinner most hardened, if he were to recite this chaplet only once [with an attitude of trust, humility and sorrow for sin], he would receive grace from my infinite mercy."

To pray particularly at three in the afternoon, the time in which Jesus died on the Cross, invoking the Mercy of the Lord — Jesus said to St. Faustina, "At three in the afternoon, implore my Mercy, especially for sinners, or at least briefly reflect on my Passion, especially on the abandonment I felt at the moment of agony. This is the hour of great Mercy for the whole world. I will allow you to penetrate my mortal sadness. In that hour, I will deny nothing to the soul that asks me in the name of my Passion. Jesus gave three indispensible conditions to hear prayers made at the hour of Mercy: the prayer has to be directed to Jesus, take place at three, and invoke the value and merits of his passion.

To make a novena between Good Friday and Divine Mercy Sunday to implore divine mercy. He gave St. Faustina an intention for each day of the novena. He said, "I desire that during these nine days you bring souls to the fount of My mercy, that they may draw from there strength and refreshment and whatever graces they need in the hardships of life and, especially, at the hour of death. On each day you will bring to my Heart a different group of souls, and you will immerse them in this ocean of My mercy, and I will bring all these souls into the house of My Father. The groups, for each of the days, are all humanity, especially sinners; priests and religious; the pious and faithful; those who do not believe in Jesus and who don't yet know him; our separated Christian brothers and sisters; the meek and humble and children; those who venerate the mercy of Jesus; those in Purgatory; and the lukewarm.

We obviously don't have the time to describe in greater detail these practices. But there are booklets now available everywhere describing these practices. There are many websites devoted to Divine Mercy. The Lord wishes for each of us to start more deeply to trust in his mercy, to invoke it, receive it and share it. As Jesus said to St. Faustina, "Humanity will not find peace until it turns trustfully to divine mercy." We need to turn to him now for the peace our hearts desire, for the peace our world needs.

Saturday, April 17, 2004

Another Prayer for Divine Mercy 

I fly to Your Mercy, Compassionate God, Who alone are good.
Although my misery is great and my offenses are many,
I trust in Your Mercy because You are the God of Mercy,
and it has never been heard of in all ages,
nor do Heaven or Earth remember,
that a soul trusting in Your Mercy has been disappointed.

(State your intentions)

Jesus, Friend of a lonely heart, You are my haven.
You are my peace.
You are my salvation.
You are my serenity in moments of struggle and amidst an ocean of doubts.

Zenit.org has another good article about Divine Mercy Sunday, which is tomorrow, on their site here: Divine Mercy Sunday: A Call for Confidence

This Doesn't Seem Right... 

One thing I admire about NASCAR is that they don't schedule a race on Easter Sunday out of respect for the holiness of the day. Professional basketball, baseball and hockey, which are also playing at Eastertime, don't seem to acknowledge the day as being different from any other. For every game that is played on Easter, not only are there players, coaches and team employees at work, but there are also ticket-takers, security people, concessions workers, facility employees and (usually) broadcast people on the job. As I've mentioned before, I don't think that professional sports should be prohibited on all Sundays, but I do think that the other leagues should follow NASCAR's lead on Good Friday, Easter and Christmas, as well as making the games optional (with no strings attached) for those who would be involved if they are non-Christian and the game falls on one of their holiest days.

That being said, there's this news about the just-released professional football schedule for 2004-2005 from MSNBC.com entitled, Merry Christmas from the NFL. This year, the NFL has scheduled a game on Christmas Eve afternoon at 3:00, and two games on Christmas Day itself. How many families will not be together on one of the holiest days of the year as the result of this decision? The NFL chalks it up to a fluke of the calendar, since Christmas Day is on a Saturday this year, and they have network contracts to honor. Whatever happened to putting people first?

It seems to me that during the rest of the regular season, typically all NFL games are played on Sunday, with one on Monday night. Why the difference for Christmas? Something tells me there are lots of dollar signs in the answer.

The Ninth Day of the Divine Mercy Novena 

From EWTN.com:

Jesus asked that this Feast of the Divine Mercy (the Sunday following Easter) be preceded by a Novena to the Divine Mercy which would begin on Good Friday. He gave St. Faustina an intention to pray for on each day of the Novena, saving for the last day the most difficult intention of all, the lukewarm and indifferent.

Image from http://www.ewtn.com/Devotionals

Day Nine (Saturday in the Octave of Easter):
"Today bring to Me the Souls who have become lukewarm, and immerse them in the abyss of My mercy. These souls wound My Heart most painfully. My soul suffered the most dreadful loathing in the Garden of Olives because of lukewarm souls. They were the reason I cried out: 'Father, take this cup away from Me, if it be Your will.' For them, the last hope of salvation is to run to My mercy."

Most compassionate Jesus, You are Compassion Itself. I bring lukewarm souls into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart. In this fire of Your pure love, let these tepid souls who, like corpses, filled You with such deep loathing, be once again set aflame. O Most Compassionate Jesus, exercise the omnipotence of Your mercy and draw them into the very ardor of Your love, and bestow upon them the gift of holy love, for nothing is beyond Your power.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon lukewarm souls who are nonetheless enfolded in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. Father of Mercy, I beg You by the bitter Passion of Your Son and by His three-hour agony on the Cross: Let them, too, glorify the abyss of Your mercy. Amen.

EWTN has an excellent place on their website explaining the Divine Mercy devotion in its entirety.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

How to Tell a Duck from a Fox - Thinking with the Church as We Look toward November  

The following column, posted on CatholicCulture.org, was written by Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap. of the Denver Archdiocese and published on April 14, 2004. It's real food for thought as the presidential campaign slogs along.

"If it quacks like a duck and looks like a duck and walks like a duck, it's probably a duck. A fox can claim to be a duck all day long. But he's still a fox."

We've all heard that saying, or some version of it, a thousand times. The reason is simple: It's true. Our actions prove who we are. If a gulf exists between what we say, how we look and what we do, we're not living in a spirit of truth. A fox, even if he quacks, is still a fox. Sooner or later, it becomes obvious.

I remembered this last week as I read yet another news report about candidates who claim to be Catholic and then prominently ignore their own faith on matters of public policy. We've come a long way from John F. Kennedy, who merely locked his faith in the closet. Now we have Catholic senators who take pride in arguing for legislation that threatens and destroys life — and who then also take Communion.

The kindest explanation for this sort of behavior is that a lot of Catholic candidates don't know their own faith. And that's why, in a spirit of charity, the Holy See offered its guidance and encouragement in a little document last year On Some Questions Regarding the Participation of Catholics in Public Life.

Nothing in this Roman document is new. But it offers a vision of public service filled with common sense.

First, quoting John Paul II, it reminds us that, "man cannot be separated from God, nor politics from morality." In other words, unless our personal faith shapes our public choices and actions, it's just a pious delusion. Private faith, if it's genuine, always becomes public witness — including political witness.

Second, while Christians "must recognize the legitimacy of differing points of view about the organization of worldly affairs," they are also "called to reject, as injurious to democratic life, a conception of pluralism that reflects moral relativism." Appeals to a phony definition of pluralism and tolerance can never excuse inaction in the face of grave evil — including attacks on the sanctity of life. Catholics can only ensure real pluralism by "living and acting in conformity" with their religious convictions so that, "through political life, society will become more just and more consistent with the dignity of the human person."

Third, "(democracy) only succeeds to the extent that it is based on a correct understanding of the human person." Catholic lawmakers who do not vigorously seek to protect human dignity and the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death are not serving democracy. They are betraying it.

Fourth, "those who are directly involved in lawmaking bodies have a `grave and clear obligation to oppose' any law that attacks human life. For them, as for every Catholic, it is impossible to promote such laws or to vote for them." Politics is the exercise of power. Power always has moral implications. And God will hold each of us accountable — from the average voter to senators and presidents — for how well we have used our political power to serve the common good and the human person.

"Pro-choice" candidates who claim to be Catholic bring all of us to a crossroads in this election year. Many Catholics, including some Church leaders, argue that "(we) should not limit (our) concern to one issue, no matter how fundamental that issue is." That's true — but it can also be misleading.

Catholics have a duty to work tirelessly for human dignity at every stage of life, and to demand the same of their lawmakers. But some issues are jugular. Some issues take priority. Abortion, immigration law, international trade policy, the death penalty and housing for the poor are all vitally important issues. But no amount of calculating can make them equal in gravity.

The right to life comes first. It precedes and undergirds every other social issue or group of issues. This is why Blessed John XXIII listed it as the first human right in his great encyclical on world peace, Pacem in Terris. And as the U.S. bishops stressed in their 1998 pastoral letter Living the Gospel of Life, the right to life is the foundation of every other right.
(This is my own emphasis added here.)

The humorist James Thurber once wrote that "you can fool too many of the people too much of the time." Our job as Catholics this election year — if we're serious about our faith — is to not get fooled.

Candidates who claim to be "Catholic" but who publicly ignore Catholic teaching about the sanctity of human life are offering a dishonest public witness. They may try to look Catholic and sound Catholic, but unless they act Catholic in their public service and political choices, they're really a very different kind of creature.

And real Catholics should vote accordingly.

This item digitally provided courtesy of CatholicCulture.org

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Left Behind? Catholic Kids Ought to Leave the Books Behind. 

I am pretty up on literature, but the books in the "Left Behind" series of books for older children and teens have flown beyond my radar over the past few years. I've been aware of the basic premise of the books: the apocalypse occurs, many are taken to Heaven in "the Rapture", and those left behind are left to deal with seven-years of "tribulations". That last part explains the title of the series, I guess.

The series is now up to an even dozen books, with the latest, "Glorious Appearing" having just recently been released. The books have been very popular, obviously, to result in a series of twelve.

The religious overtones may cause some unwitting adults to encourage the children in their lives to read these books, in hopes that it might fire up the readers' interests in books and/or religion, in the same vein as "Harry Potter" and "The Passion of the Christ".

I don't have a problem with these books being on the shelves, but Catholics should be aware that the premise behind them, the whole idea of a terrifying end to the world and a vengeful God, runs contrary to Roman Catholic teaching. For other denominations, these books might be acceptable. They certainly have a place in literature and on bookshelves, but they aren't in line with Catholic beliefs. Potential adult readers should go into reading any of these books knowing this fact, and anyone supplying these books to Catholic children should think twice about it, since it could cause some real confusion and even some unfounded fears in young ones.

I would urge you to read this article from the Catholic News Service for the whole story: 'Left Behind' series called 'overtly anti-Catholic' by CNS reporter Jerry Filteau.

Do They Have Poi-Filled Doughnuts, I Wonder? 

Ahhhh, life in Hawaii...palm trees, tropical temperatures, some of the most beautiful vistas in the world, and it's still in the United States! Still, all is not perfect in this version of paradise. Due to the cost of transporting goods to the islands, the cost of living is high, as are the taxes I've heard. And it's more than a little isolated. Someone with an average, middle-class salary might be lucky to leave Hawaii to visit some other place other than an island only a few times in their lives. (After a long Maine winter, I'd be willing to live with those drawbacks!)

Well, the citizens of Hawaii can add another problem to their lists: too many doughnuts. It seems that the popular Krispy Kreme doughnut shop chain has opened a franchise on Oahu. It's the only one in the state and is apparently very, very popular. So popular in fact, that the inter-island plane flights, which are one of the most common ways to get from one Hawaiian island to another, are getting stuffed with boxes of Krispy Kreme. It's apparently such a problem that it's been deemed worthy of news coverage, as found here at Yahoo News via Reuters: Flights Jammed with Flying Doughnuts.

Krispy Kreme has made it all the way out to Hawaii, and yet to my knowledge, the good people of Maine, for the most part an enthusiastic doughnut-eating lot, have not got one of the stores yet. We hear about how completely great the Krispy Kreme doughnuts are, but most of us have never had the experience. What's the big deal about them? What makes them so great? Help me out here, people.

Patriot's Day 

For those of you reading from outside Maine or Massachusetts, you may not know that next Monday is Patriot's Day in these two states. For that matter, many people in Maine and Massachusetts don't know it. It's not exactly a day when the world comes to a stop, but certain government institutions, all schools, and some random other entities are closed on that day. It's to observe the anniversary of "the shot heard 'round the world", the beginning of the American Revolution with the Battles of Lexington and Concord. That's when Paul Revere rode around on his horse like a crazy person screaming "The British are coming!" to rouse the Minutemen to prepare for battle with the Redcoats.

Tom Fitzpatrick of Recta Ratio has shown himself to be very knowledgeable about the American Revolution, especially the New England angle, in his past postings. He has an interesting one on his blog looking for more information on the British point of view on the start of the revolution entitled: Boston April 14, 1775, Seen Through British Eyes. It's an interesting read, and if you can direct Tom to further info, please do so.

"This Ain't Oprah" 

That quote is known around St. Blog's as "The Dale Price Rule", since it originated with fellow blogger Dale Price of Dyspeptic Mutterings. I've got some very heavy stuff going on in my life right now, but it is not going to become fodder for postings here other than the occasional request for prayers as needed. At this point, they are needed on an ongoing basis, and may be needed even moreso in the near future. For those who have already offered prayers for me, thank you from the bottom of my heart, and please continue to do so. For those who are just hearing of my request for prayers, I humbly ask you to please offer a few for me.

Meanwhile, "Maine Catholic & Beyond" will continue to be what it has been for me all along: a pleasant diversion, a means of creative expression, and a vehicle for putting forth the Catholic faith through my eyes. That means I'll continue quoting the pope, providing Red Sox/Sea Dogs updates, spouting conservatism, engaging in G.I.R.M. warfare, and tossing in the occasional strange but true news story.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Please Pray for Me 

I received some long-dreaded news today that is likely to have a very negative impact on the rest of my life. My Catholic faith is my fortress and prayer is my weapon. I offer all of my fears and anxieties up to our Savior, Jesus Christ, who was able to rise victoriously when all seemed hopelessly lost.

Please, please, offer prayers to Jesus and to His Blessed Mother that I will be able to weather this terrible storm and see God's plan in all of this.

Monday, April 12, 2004

Urbi et Orbi, Easter 2004 

Whoa! Lots of blogables tonight! This is the last one, but I could not leave it out. Here is the text of Pope John Paul II's Urbi et Orbi Message for Easter 2004, courtesy of the Vatican website:

"Resurrexit, alleluia - He is risen, alleluia!"
This year too the joyous proclamation of Easter,
which echoed powerfully at last night's Vigil,
strengthens our hope.
"Why do you seek the living among the dead?
He is not here, but has risen" (Lk 24:5-6).
Thus the angel encourages the women who have hastened to the tomb.
Thus the Easter liturgy repeats to us,
the men and women of the third millennium:
Christ is risen, Christ is alive among us!
His name now is "the Living One",
death has no more power over him (cf. Rom 6:9).

Resurrexit! Today you, O Redeemer of mankind,
rise victoriously from the tomb to offer to us,
troubled by many threatening shadows,
your wish for joy and peace.
Those who are tempted by anxiety and desperation
turn to you, O Christ, our life and our guide,
to hear the proclamation of the hope that does not disappoint.
On this day of your victory over death,
may humanity find in you, O Lord, the courage to oppose
in solidarity the many evils that afflict it.
In particular, may it find the strength to face the inhuman,
and unfortunately growing, phenomenon of terrorism,
which rejects life and brings anguish and uncertainty
to the daily lives of so many hard-working and peaceful people.
May your wisdom enlighten men and women of good will
in the required commitment against this scourge.

May the work of national and international institutions
hasten the overcoming of the present difficulties
and favour progress towards a more effective
and peaceful world order.
May world leaders be confirmed and sustained
In their efforts to resolve satisfactorily the continuing conflicts
that cause bloodshed in certain regions of Africa,
Iraq and the Holy Land.
You, firstborn of many brothers, grant that all
who consider themselves children of Abraham
may rediscover the brotherhood that they share
and that prompts in them designs of cooperation and peace.

Take heed all of you who have at heart mankind's future!
Take heed men and women of good will!
May the temptation to seek revenge
give way to the courage to forgive;
may the culture of life and love
render vain the logic of death;
may trust once more give breath to the lives of peoples.
If our future is one,
it is the task and duty of all to build it
with patient and painstaking far-sightedness.

"Lord, to whom shall we go?"
You who have conquered death, you alone
"have the words of eternal life" (Jn 6:68).
To you we raise with confidence our prayer
which becomes an invocation of comfort
for the families of the many victims of violence.
Help us to work ceaselessly
for the coming of that more just and united world
that you have inaugurated with your resurrection.
Accompanying us in this task is
"she who believed that there would be a fulfilment
of what was spoken to her from the Lord" (Lk 1:45).
Blessed are you, O Mary, silent witness of Easter!
You, O Mother of the Crucified One now risen,
who at the hour of pain and death
kept the flame of hope burning,
teach us also to be,
amongst the incongruities of passing time,
convinced and joyful witnesses
of the eternal message of life and love
brought to the world by the Risen Redeemer.

"The Passion" Resurrects 

Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" was back in the number one spot at the movie box office this weekend, three weeks after dropping off the top. A resurgence like this is very unusual, but this is no ordinary movie. The only times the film was playing at a theater near me (an hour away) were evening showings that conflicted with Mass times during Holy Week. Otherwise, I would have gone back for another viewing myself.

Read about it here: 'The Passion' Rises Again from Foxnews.com

Playing Down "The Catholic Factor" with Kerry 

Analysts: Faith Less of a Factor for Kerry from Foxnews.com.

Some excerpts:
"The Massachusetts senator agrees with the church on social justice issues, including immigration, poverty, health care and the death penalty, and he did seek an annulment from the church after his first marriage. But Kerry holds different opinions from church doctrine on such issues as abortion and same-sex unions, both of which he supports.

Kerry has argued that he is a politician and not a cleric, and should be judged not on his adherence to his faith, but on his commitment to the U.S. Constitution. But whether or not his faith matters remains to be seen."

"'I'd like to think that religion is not a big factor these days. I think people will say whatever religion he has, that’s his,' said Rev. Robert F. Drinan, a Catholic priest and former Democratic congressman from Massachusetts."
(A Catholic priest would like to think that religion is not a big factor these days?!?!?!)

"'There is no candidate that is in agreement with the church on all issues,' Mary Ann Walsh, spokeswoman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said.

Still, church decisions could play a central role in swaying Catholic voters. In January 2003, prompted by international debate on stem cell research and human cloning, the Vatican released a 'doctrinal note.' Among other things, it said that 'a well-formed Christian conscience does not permit one to vote for a political program or an individual law which contradicts the fundamental contents of faith and morals.'"

"Catholic Democrats disproportionately backed Kerry over his opponents during primary season, and a Fox News-Opinion Dynamics poll taken earlier this week shows that of 269 registered Catholic voters polled, 47 percent supported Kerry while 41 percent preferred President Bush. Catholics also have a favorability rating of Kerry of 48 percent, while the general public has a rate of 43 percent. The margin of error was 6 percent.

The numbers have led some analysts to question whether Kerry's departures from Catholic doctrine will have any impact at all."

This report comes from arguably the most right-leaning of the mainstream media outlets. Imagine how this has and will continue to play in the more liberal outfits like CBS!

It is our job as Catholics and also the job of the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops to make sure that Kerry's departures from Catholic doctrine have an impact on Catholic voter opinions. As the U.S.C.C.B.'s Ms. Walsh noted, no candidate is in agreement with the Church on all issues, (I doubt many Catholics are), but all issues are not created equal. Abortion is murder and homosexual civil unions are another contributor to the deterioration of the family unit, both of which are major issues, and both of which Kerry supports. The Church, from the U.S.C.C.B. on down to us pew-dwellers need to get motivated in the interest of social justice and discourage votes for Kerry and other candidates for office who are in conflict with the Church on the "big issues".

If Kerry does get elected, I believe that Pope John Paul II will force his hand. Given JP2's personality and the types of issues with which Kerry conflicts with the Church, I think there is much more of a likelihood of a clash between Washington and Rome with this J.F.K. and this pope than the ones we had in place after the presidential election of 1960. If he continues to advocate abortion and gay civil unions as president, then I think the pope will and should excommunicate him. Do we want a president who is willing to dispose of his faith in the interest of politics? If we had a Jewish president, I would want him to be a Jew in good standing and true to his faith. If we had a Methodist president, as we do, I would want him to be a Methodist in good standing and true to his faith. The same applies to a Catholic president.

Remember "The New Hampshire Primaries"? That Name's Been "Scratched". 

Ha, ha, ha, hoo, hoo, hoo, hee, hee, hee!!! I crack myself up!

OK, maybe you don't get it yet. Read on and you might.

I blogged here late last fall that the new AA baseball team to be based in Manchester was going to be called "The New Hampshire Primaries". The post was entitled: Why Not Just Cut Out the Middleman and Name them "Ignore Us"? I was of the opinion that this was by far the stupidest name for a baseball team that had ever been concocted in the entire history of the world, and no small number of New England baseball fans agreed. The uproar in the Granite State was so great that the team did indeed change their name. Now they are the New Hampshire Fisher Cats. It's definitely a step up, although I'm not exactly sure what a "fisher cat" is. It reminds me of that cartoon feline on the label of my cat's can of food. You know, the one with the yelllow slicker hat on his head and a rod and reel over his shoulder?

By the way, the Fisher Cats are 3-1 on the season so far, which isn't a half-bad start for an inaugural season, although every season is like an inaugural season in AA ball. Team rosters don't stay intact for long in the minors.

Get it now?!? "Scratched"?!? "Fisher Cats"?!? Well, at least I thought it was funny.

Results of Last Week's Poll on Holy Thursday Foot Washing 

The question was: "Who should be invited to have their feet washed at the Mass of the Lord's Supper on Holy Thursday?"

The results:

*Men only (70.0%)

*Men and women (10.0%)

*The ceremony shouldn't be part of the Mass. (10.0%)

*Men, women and children (5.0%)

*Women only (5.0%)

I guess how one votes all depends on how one is interpreting the role of the apostles in John 13:1-17. If you are looking at Jesus showing them how they should act strictly in their roles as the leaders of His new Church, in other words as clergy, then the majority opinion makes sense. He wants the leaders of His Church to know fully that it is their job to serve the faithful, not the other way around.

One could also say that this was a precursor to His giving the apostles the power to forgive sins, since when Peter asked for his hands and head as well to be washed, Jesus said ""Whoever has bathed has no need except to have his feet washed, for he is clean all over...". In other words, after being baptized, we are clean in the eyes of God, but need the occasional Sacrament of Penance to rinse away the "dust" of the sins we accumulate in life.

I think there is plenty of merit in both of these interpretations, and there are liley several others that I haven't written about here. However, here's how I see it. I think Jesus was trying to get across that we all need to be humble and to serve each other. Whether we are a manure shoveler or the Queen of Sheba, we are all equally loved and valued in the eyes of God, and therefore should act humbly toward all and serve each other. If He, one-third of the Holy Trinity, could perform a task so lowly that it was not even required of a slave in Palestine at that time, then surely we, who are so much less than He, can perform acts of charity and humility toward others.

He washed the feet of twelve men because that happened to be who He had on hand at the time. It's not just "a guy thing" if you ask me. We are called by Christ to serve all: men, women, and children. Where there is a need that we are able to fulfill, it is our duty as children of God to fulfill it, no matter what our station in life. That is the message the Spirit instills in me as I aboserve this ceremony each Holy Thursday. So my vote was to do it they way my parish has for some time now: to have the priest wash the feet of a cross-section of the parish population, from the very old to very young, and both male and female.

Standard disclaimer: This is not a scientific poll, just a snapshot of the sentiments of visitors to this blog in the past week who have chosen to take part. You may only vote once from a given computer, and neither the polling service nor I can track the origins of votes.

Sunday, April 11, 2004

The Return of THE King! 

Image from http://www.saintcatherineofsiena.org

Luke 24:1-8

At daybreak on the first day of the week they [Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James] took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb; but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.

While they were puzzling over this, behold, two men in dazzling garments appeared to them. They were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground.

They said to them, "Why do you seek the living one among the dead? He is not here, but he has been raised. Remember what he said to you while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners and be crucified, and rise on the third day."

And they remembered his words.

A Couple of Nice Easter-Related Stories from Maine Parishes 

Having lived my entire life in the Diocese of Portland, and having been a parishioner in three parishes, in addition to a visitor in a countless number of others, I can tell you that these articles about St. Gabriel's in Winterport and their devotion to the Stations of the Cross and St. Louis Church in Portland and their celebration of Easter with Polish traditions are typical of the kind of parishes you will find in most places here in Maine.

Easter ritual brings Jesus story to life by Judy Harrison of the Bangor Daily News.

Poles together by Ray Routhier of the Portland Press Herald.
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