Friday, February 29, 2008

9 Days with St. Dominic Savio: The pint-sized boy and the Missal

March 9th will mark the feast of St. Dominic Savio, a teenage saint, and student of St. John Bosco.

I decided to do a little more reading and I wanted to make my bed time reading more light and thought it would be nice to focus on the lives of the saints. I had been in the St. Jerome lending library looking through books and spotted one called, Dominic Savio - Teenage Saint by Fr. Peter Lappin. This was written in 1954 and several editions of the book have been released. Unfortunately, you can only find those various editions among used books. The book is out of print.

You can google his name and find many overviews, including this one from Catholic Online on Dominic Savio.

I was simply hooked on the story of this young saint from beginning to end. While the book was probably targeted to teens, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I wanted to share some things with you from the life of Dominic and thought by posting some excerpts over the next 9 days, perhaps not daily, but as much as I can, followed by a novena prayer I found. I thought this would be a way to bring to light this boy's extraordinary life of virtue.

This first excerpt is more delightful than anything. Among our many altar boys at Assumption Grotto, I can totally envision this.

Dominic at the young age of 5, couldn't wait to serve Mass with Fr. John Zucca. He awakened and asked his mother why she didn't wake him fearful he would miss his opportunity. He bundled up, headed out into the dark, cold, snowy morning and headed over to the church where he waited for Father. Here we pick up the dialogue from the book:

"Bless my soul! Is it you Dominic?" exlaimed the priest in surprise, when he saw the boy curled up in the doorway.

Dominic watched teh way the priest's breath made smoke as he talked. He himself did not speak, but smiled and waited until the priest had opened the door. Then he rose and followed him.

While Fr. John, with Dominic's help, prepared the vestments, he thought he would have some fun with the boy. Dominic's answers were so straightforward and naive they often made him laugh. As he drew out a long shallow drawer in which the vestments were laid out, he looked at Dominic.

"Dominic," he said, shaking his head in doubt, "somehow I think you're rather on the small side to be serving Mass alone."

"Oh, but I know all the words, Father! And I've done all the rest lots of times with the other boys....and lots of times by myself."

"Do you say Mass at home, Dominic?"

"Well, you know, Father....just play-acting..."

"Yes, but how about your height, Dominic? You're too small for the Missal. Why, you're not even as high as the altar!"

"I know, Father...but maybe you could help me. You know..."

"All right, Dominic. If you get into any difficulty with the Missal, just call for help."

"Oh Father, I don't need to call for help. That would disturb the Mass. Just pull the bookstand over to the edge of the altar so that I can reach it, that's all. You don't have to worry, Father. I'll get by."

"All right, then. Let's go. But the Lord help you if you drop any Latin words on my feet!"

"Introibo ad altare Dei....I will go unto the altar of God. To God, Who giveth joy to my youth."

Father John glanced at the tumbling blond hair of the boy at his side, and smiled. Then he brushed away the distraction and gave his whole attention to the Mass.

When the difficult responses were over, Dominic began to wonder about the angels who were suppose to surround the altar during Mass. He'd never seen any. Did they ever sit down? Did their breath smoke in the cold? Did they...

"Deo Gratias!" He quickly answered the priest's glance in his direction and moved to the epistle side. This was for him the most anxious moment of the Mass. He liked to serve Mass, but he hated having to shift that heavy book. It was set away back on the altar; it was so big it covered his chest, and so weighty it made him top-heavy. When he walked across the altar steps it nearly toppled him over.

Fr. John saw two blue eyes signal to him and understood. He drew the bookstand as near to the edge of the altar table as it was safe to do. Dominic stood on his tiptoes. The fingers of his outstretched arms groped for, and found, the bottom of the stand; he tipped the stand up so that the edge rested against his chin. From there he slipped it down to his chest. He was all set. He climbed down the steps carefully, feeling his way. At the bottom he crossed over to the other side. He felt with his foot for the bottom step, climbed it. He felt for the second, climbed it. He felt for the third, raised his foot....suddenly, the book shifted on the stand, pushed him back, pulled him forward....Down crashed teh book and bookstand with Dominic underneath!

Dominic got up quickly, however, snapped the bookstand rest into the proper slant, put the Missal on it, and placed both on the altar. Then he flipped the Missal open at the red marker and made his way down again to the bottom of the steps.

"At that time, Jesus said to his disciples: Unless ye become as little children..."

Father John signed himself with his thumb, glanced out the corner of his eye, and saw a small white face with red lips set in a grim little smile.

I found a Novena you can pray each night for the next 9 days (don't worry if you missed the first day, I'm sure St. Dominic will understand). This comes from a Kuwait website where the feast day is listed as May 9th. Perhaps it varies by country.

DEAR Saint Dominic, you spent your short life totally for love of Jesus and His Mother. Help youth today to realize the importance of God in their lives. You became a saint through fervent participation in the Sacraments, enlighten parents and children to the importance of frequent confession and Holy Communion. At a young age you meditated on the sorrowful Passion of Our Lord. Obtain for us the grace of a fervent desire to suffer for love of Him.

WE desperately need your intercession to protect today's children from the snares of the world. Watch over them and lead them on the narrow road to Heaven. Ask God to give us the grace to sanctify our daily duties by performing them perfectly out of love for Him. Remind us of the necessity of practicing virtue especially in times of trial.

SAINT Dominic Savio, you who preserved your baptismal innocence of heart, pray for us.

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Stem Cells and Cloning Conference - Monday, March 3

I just caught wind of this...

The Catholic Lawyers Society of Michigan is hosting a conference discussing multiple issues surrounding the current stem cell debate. The featured speakers are Reverend Tadeusz Pacholczyk, Ph.D. (Fr. Tad), Director of Education, the National Catholic Bioethics Center, and Mr. Paul Long, Vice President of Public Policy, Michigan Catholic Conference. Although geared toward legal and healthcare professionals, all those interested in this evolving issue are welcome. The speakers will discuss these issues in a non-confrontational/non-debate format through formal presentation and panel discussion. We hope that you will join us for this informative conference presented free of charge!

Date: Monday, March 3, 2008
Time: 5:30 – 8:00 p.m.
Location: Sacred Heart Seminary, 2701 W. Chicago,
Detroit; secure parking, enter from Linwood

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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Detroit Auxiliary Bishop takes helm in Lansing

Bishop Earl Boyea who has been an auxiliary bishop here in the Archdiocese of Detroit moves to Lansing to succeed Bishop Carl Mengeling.

This is a good thing for the Diocese of Lansing. He looks to St. Augustine for guidance on pastoral care of his people. Perhaps Michigan's governor will at some point find herself undergoing some catechesis on life issues.

It's also noteworthy that Bishop Boyea has been periodically celebrating the extraordinary form of the Roman rite - the "Tridentine" Mass for some time now at St. Josaphat in Detroit. I recall him being there during the Indult years.

One way to get to know a man is through is writings. I recalled a really good article I read by Bishop Boyea, found on the internet around the time Pope John Paul II died when I took an interest in my Catholic faith. He addresses a number of things in this article, but I will extract one segment here to give you the flavor. This is a contrast between good Catholic thought (among other things), and hippy-era priestly thinking (which is getting old and gray). My emphases in bold, and comments in red.

Fr. Cozzens discusses at length what he views as attacks on the integrity of the priest as a human being, among which he includes the tension between the strict teachings of the Church and the more pastoral disposition of priests’ own consciences. He quotes Fr. Bernard Häring on the problem created “when religious authorities demand all too much submission to an obscure package of doctrines.” To be sure, I have felt at times, and I suppose most priests have felt at times, a tension between Church teaching and my own pastoral sensibilities when working with the real problems of people. I take that as a signal that I need to understand the teaching more thoroughly. Let me say it quite flatly: my presumption is not that I am right but that the Church is right [this is called humility]. Christ made no individual promise to me that the Spirit would lead me into all truth [you gotta love that comment because so many people are guided by their own malformed or underformed consciences]; he did not give to me the keys of the kingdom [hippy-era priests and bishops challenge church teachings, as opposed to following them in a sense, making themsevles arm-chair popes]. These are promises made to the Church, the Body of Christ, of which I am a member not as an equal but as a servant. [Cha-ching!]

That is not, according to Fr. Cozzens, the attitude of a healthy priest. The healthy priest, he writes, “possesses the courage to stand in loyal opposition should official Church policy appear unfaithful to the gospel of Christ.” [that's it - Fr. Cozzens' compass has got to be broke!] At the very least, one might suggest that opposition should be limited to when one “knows” (how would one know for sure?) that Church policy is unfaithful to Christ, not to when it “appears” to be so. Moreover, “loyal opposition” is a political term usually used for the party that is out of power. Is that the model for a healthy priest? Why would one be ordained, solemnly vowing to devote his life to the service of the Church, while expecting to oppose the leadership of the Church? [Because he is terribly malformed and disoriented in his theology and basic catechism] Healthier, it seems to me, is Paul’s admonition that we be of one mind and one heart.
[and, Fiat mihi secundum Verbum Tuum]

Go read, Another Face of the Priesthood in First Things Magazine by Bishop Earl Boyea

That is at the root of it folks!

Please pray fervently for Bishop Earl Boyea in his new position, and for all the bishops. May God invigorate them with the grace of courage seen in the early bishops. In those days, they were threatened with their very lives, often dying horrific deaths for the faith. Today, they merely need to die to self and accept, with great courage, a good deal of public criticism for teaching the Catholic faith without filters.

Bishop Earl Boyea was at the last Helpers of God's Precious Infants Prayer Vigil in November of 2007. The next vigil will be held Saturday, March 29th with Bishop Quinn - the day before Divine Mercy Sunday. Hopefully, he can keep that date. Details to follow soon.


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Canon Law Update: Feuerherd's curse cannot be ignored

This is not good, and it comes from the reporter of a Catholic newspaper?!?!? Ed Peters, JD, JCD, explains...

To wish damnation on an individual or a group is to wish on them the absolutely worst fate conceivable: separation from God forever. CCC 1035. Catholics possessed of even a rudimentary catechesis know that one cannot invoke upon a human being any greater calamity than damnation, and that it is never licit, for any reason, to wish that another person be damned.

On February 24, National Catholic Reporter correspondent Joe Feuerherd, writing in the Washington Post, expressed his desire to see the bishops (of the United States) literally damned before he would fail to vote Democratic this Fall.

Continue reading Feuerherd's Curse at, In Light of the Law.

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Monday, February 25, 2008

Grotto musings for February 25th, 2008

Knights of Columbus and their Fundraisers

I stopped in to the Friday Fish Fry at Assumption Grotto which runs from 3:30 to 7:00pm.

Normally, there is a good crowd there to support the Knights of Columbus and this fundraiser, but - it was nearly empty. Hopefully, it was just a one time thing. from what I heard, it was slow all evening. Get your family and friends and come to Assumption Grotto to support these kinds of events.

This can be difficult with a commuter parish like ours where not everyone comes from around the neighborhood.

I also want to remind parishioners and friends to support the Tuesday, Knights of Columbus Bingo which takes place at St. Sharbel in Warren.

Fr. Perrone's Homily for Third Sunday of Lent

I have asked Fr. Perrone if he could forward a copy of his sermon from yesterday's 9:30am Mass to Rick - our Assumption Grotto website webmaster. Father has much to do to prepare for Holy Week and so little time. In his descant column last week, he explained how he is studying everything closely with regards to all things "Tridentine" as it pertains to Holy Week. In addition, he is preparing the choir for a set of orchestra Masses which will take place on Easter and Divine Mercy Sunday.

Fr. Perrone's sermon dealt with the reading from yesterday (Ephesians 5:1-9) and the Gospel (Luke 11:14-28). Father talked a great deal about purity and it is a sermon you will want to read if you were not there. If he doesn't get it to us now, he may send it after Easter. It will be worth the wait.


I would like to express our deepest condolences to our webmaster, Rick on the passing of his Mother back on February 15th. I had missed posting about this in all the work that was going on around my own Mother, who is now gratefully at home in her own apartment.

Confession at Grotto

Every now and then I like to remind people that there are confessions on Saturdays from 2:30-3:30. Once again, being a commuter parish, it can be difficult to get people there at that time. However, keep in mind our priests are sitting in those confessionals for an hour, and scarcely anyone comes. Then, on Sunday, they can barely get through all of the people.

I know how it is. Saturday comes and you just have to get chores and errands done so you can kick back on Sunday a little. Then comes this time-slot in the middle of the afternoon at a place not exactly next to the house. Perhaps getting up a little earlier would free up the time.

Our priests are very generous with their time in the confessional, but even moreso when lines are quite low.

Saturday Morning Mass

Have you ever sighed over the fact that Assumption Grotto has Mass in the extraordinary form on weekdays and you can't make it due to work or school? Why not go on Saturday mornings. You have a chance at both the 7:30am and 8:30am Masses.

You say it is the only day you can sleep in?

I've said that too, then I realized in many cases, I could probably just go to bed a little earlier rather than stay up late.

If you haven't noticed, our priests and sisters don't get a day to "sleep in". Fr. Perrone is up long before the birds every day, as are the other priests. It doesn't matter if we keep them up late with our activities, or if they get a call in the middle of the night to provide the last sacraments to someone passing from this world.

You will be so happy once you get in the middle of Mass you will wonder why you haven't started more Saturdays this way. Our priests will be happy to see people take advantage of the opportunity to receive Jesus on their day off, and God, will be even "happier".

If you go to the 7:30, you'll be ready to hit the road running by 8:30 and will find you can get so much more done if you start your day with Holy Mass.

Offer it up!

Helpers of God's Precious Infants

The next prayer vigil has been set for the Saturday before Divine Mercy Sunday. Details will follow for the March 29th vigil.

As it was announced yesterday, March 9th is the annual Right to Life baby shower. Drop items or cash off in the Grotto school.

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Cardinal Bertone to Cuban Youth: Pray the Rosary

The Vatican's number 2 man, Cardinal Bertone, is visiting Cuba - the first time anyone from the Vatican has been there since Pope John Paul II's historic visit 10 years ago.

From Zenit:

Speaking with the youth at the Marian shrine, the cardinal reflected on the rosary: "With the recitation of the rosary we learn from Mary how to contemplate the beauty of her Son's face and we experience the depth of his love. It is a recalling, a remembering, a salutary contemplation, a meditation and a supplication. It is a retracing of Jesus' life."

"The rosary, the best tradition of the art of prayer, is deeply rooted in life itself, in which it illuminates the mystery of the heart of man," said Cardinal Bertone. "In the recitation of the rosary there is a profound contemplative attitude of the mysteries of the life of the Lord, a slow meditation, while one says the prayers to Mary according to the best tradition of the art of prayer.

"It is particularly beneficial in a world sometimes dominated by hustle and bustle and by the proliferation of voices that distract us."

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Friday, February 22, 2008

Rise in Contemplative, Monastic, Cloistered Vocations?

I made a post the other day on the statement by Cardinal Franc Rode of the Vatican's Congregation for Religious in which he said many priests have become too worldly.

A regular visitor to this blog is a member of a cloistered Dominican community in Summit New Jersey who goes by the name, Moniales. The community's blog - Moniales OP - is in my sidebar of blogging priests, religious and deacons. She leaves a comment in that post I mention above, which I am repeating here because it definitely warrants some discussion... and, it's one of my favorite topics.

I was happy to see you posted this.

I'm wondering though, why in your comments when he mentions that young people are attracted to contemplative life because of the more radical way of life that you instead pointed to active communities.

I mention this because we (and the media has noticed this, too) have noticed a huge interest in the contemplative vocation, not just among ourselves but other Orders. Why? Many of these young women have had NO contact with contemplative life and yet find this deep longing that only this way of life can fill...well, ONLY JESUS can fill this longing.

It's something that needs to be reflected on more seriously. Is there a special reason why the Lord is calling these fine, young women to the cloister? It's not just about what they are attracted to but the Lord calling them.

Cloisters have a particular mission in the Church and in space and time. Perhaps the state of the world today is "necessitating" the strengthening and increasing of contemplative/cloistered/monastic vocations???

This week a young journalist is coming to interview our community because she is doing an article on this topic.

I was in a big hurry that morning and looked at the article probably too quickly to pick up the fact that His Eminence was speaking about contemplative life.

It is a favorite topic of mine because, like Moniales & sisters, I too have noticed that there is an increase in vocations in specific areas of the Church.

Where do we see increased vocations?

First and foremost, as Sister pointed out, we see it in contemplative orders - the cloisters and monasteries (and probably elsewhere, such as hermitages). Consecrated Virgins living in the world are on the rise, as well (Canon 604), and they too are contemplative.

Sister asks, "why" and puts out this comment, which I repeat here:

Perhaps the state of the world today is "necessitating" the strengthening and increasing of contemplative/cloistered/monastic vocations???


I have had my own theory on "why" and I'm pretty sure I've voiced it in previous post. However, it's a good time to put it back out for discussion. I like to use analogies. War is far from glorious and I don't like using military analogies, yet there is one that is very fitting for what I believe is taking place. The Church has been fighting a series of battles from day one and today, more than ever, there is a war for souls.

For the last forty years, we have seen a decline in Mass attendance, in the sacraments - most especially confession. In some quarters, baptized Catholics are electing not to have their babies baptized and do not encourage confirmation. Within the Church there are disoriented theologians who are constantly trying to get the Church to follow the world. Catholic Universities have lost their Catholic identity and sending your children to all but a few, could cost them dearly as dissident professors teach them to challenge Church teachings rather than follow them.


As long as man has had the ability to launch something, battles have often started out with a "softening of the target". In the battle of Gettysburg during the US civil war, artillery pounded the position of enemy soldiers for some time before troops marched across the field. To put soldiers on the field before the target was softened, would put them at far greater risk, and reduce their overall effectiveness. In medievil times, anything that could go into a trebuchet would be hurled against a castle before men would try to scale the walls. Even tallships would come up along side each other and let their canons blast away at each other from a very close range before men would go across in hand-to-hand battle on the deck. In modern times, targets have been softened by air and by sea.

Unfortunately, man has not always focused these pre-invasion tactics strictly on military targets, often harming innocent civilians. But, here - we are talking about God's use of the strategy so fundamental to military operations. Since God is perfect, He does not miss or take out the innocent in the process of conducting His work.

At various times in the Church's history, there have been times of great growth in the faith, and other times when heresies and other things contributed to a decrease in the faith. More and more people are beginning to see the damage brought about by moral relativism, consequentialism, modernism, consumerism, materialism, and probably a dozen more "ism's".

My strongest belief is that the attraction of so many young people into contemplative, monastic, cloistered communities, is that they are being called up to participate in "softening the target" with the artillery of their prayers and sacrifices. The modern world could not possibly comprehend this because it is not only counter-cultural, but requires faith to grasp. It cannot be measured, nor can it be purchased. Hence, to the world, things such as prayer and sacrifice have no value.

Why did I focus on active communities?

Probably because for me, growth in active communities signals the earliest stages of phase 2: The soldiers landing on the beach. Success in the field where direct contact with others is dependent on continued "artillery" support.

Active communities are also softening the target with their prayers and sacrifices. But, they are on the front line dealing with souls up front and personal. The cloisters and monasteries contribute to the success of active communities through continued support from places unseen.

Prudent bishops will do everything they can to get a prayer powerhouse in their backyard in the form of a monastery or cloister. Bishop Olmstead exhibited this when he invited sisters from Mother Angelica's order to come to the diocese of Phoenix. He's got his prayer powerhouse, and then he went after some ground troops. He was successful in getting some sisters from the Mary, Mother of the Eucharist Dominicans out of nearby Ann Arbor, here in Michigan. I can tell you that there are bishops who are trying very hard to get communities within their dioceses, but there are still not enough to go around. I've heard Mother Assumpta Long talk about the many requests she gets, but they simply cannot fill all of them. The bishops aren't looking for communities with new-age ideals. Reiki and Enneagrams don't bring a diocese graces. Rather, these bishops are looking for communities that understand Eucharistic and Marian devotion.


Which Catholic communities are flourishing and expanding for both active and contemplative?

What do they have in common?

Statistical analyses could probably be done in various ways to validate or negate my view, based on observations below.

I would like to suggest that the following will be found:

  • distinctly and visibly Catholic in every respect
  • a prayer life rich in Eucharistic and Marian devotion (sisters I grew up with, in secular clothing were either indifferent to or even hostile to Our Lady). Following the lead of Our Lady, they embrace humility, silence and obedience.
  • obedience is not a symbol, but is a reality, following the model of the BVM. Obedience is not something that someone "who can't think for themself" does. Rather it requires the freedom to choose to give up one's will to do the will of another, which is ultimately accepted as the will of God. Only the free can choose obedience!
  • willing to make use of certain vocal prayers, such as the Angelus, the prayer to St. Michael, and other devotions.
  • Prayer time is not seen as wasted time, but the very thing which brings the graces necessary to pull off that which is extraordinary and seemingly impossible. It is concerned first and foremost with the salvation of souls moreso than with temporal comfort issues.
  • fond of Pope Benedict XVI interiorly and exteriorly, and willing to listen and learn.
  • interested in learning Church teachings in order to follow them, rather than to challenge them (fiat mihi....)
  • frequent use of the Sacrament of Confession (measure percentages and frequency of confession seen in blossoming communities versus that in stagnating communities)
  • embraces mortification and sacrifice for the sake of building grace, and building of authentic virtue .
  • pro-life in every aspect, to the core.
  • wears some kind of habit, more than likely, traditional in many ways.
  • traditional community life (sisters aren't responsible individually for their own finances and live in common as opposed to purchasing a house with several others as I have seen throughout my youth).
  • the classics of the Catholic Church (especially patristics and writings of the saints) will dominate reading.
  • Understanding of Sacred Scripture follows an exegesis that is in harmony with Catholic teaching (some would suggest Adam and Eve were not real, but ficticious characters which contradicts the teaching on Original Sin, which could not be real if Adam and Eve were not real).
  • average age of blossoming communities is younger than that of stagnating communities.
  • countercultural in every respect where morality and virtue are concerned without hesitation
  • like EWTN.
Perhaps it might be good to make a list of what else will NOT be found in these flourishing communities - both contemplative and active not mentioned above:

  • Anything remotely new age or paganistic (reiki, enneagrams, labryinths, non-traditional use of "holy oils" and incense)
  • Contemporary self-help books; works by Richard McBrien and Sr. Joan Chittester et al.
  • Concern over "hair-do's"; wearing of jewelry
  • Concern over "democracy" in the Church
  • Endless creativity with regards to prayer.
  • Focus on self-esteem and pop-psychology.
  • Ambiguous or paganistic religious art in the church, convent, cloister, monastery
  • Ambiguous or heretical church music
  • Hippy-era, distorted views of "freedom" (your will Lord, as long as it is aligned with my will)
  • hatred for EWTN

I'm sure there are more. Feel free to add your observations to the combox. Do you agree, or disagree?

What say you?

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Self-esteem: has it become it's own distorted religion?

There is an excellent article by Msgr. Cormac Burke in this month's issue of Homiletic and Pastoral Review - one of the few periodicals to which I subscribe. It is among the most dignified and well written periodicals, originally aimed at priests, but read widely by the laity. It's solidly Catholic and is published now by Ignatius Press.

Each month, on the HPR website, one key article is given to the world. The rest require that you obtain a print copy, but the topics are listed. Those online articles are kept in the sidebar on the left so you can peruse them any time. There are some real interesting articles there.

I highly recommend reading this month's online article called Self-esteem: Why? Why not?

EDIT March 15, 2008: Msgr. Cormac Burke has a website which may be of interest, as well. I will be profiling this some time in the coming week or so.

Go to the HPR homepage to view all articles and to bookmark the site.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Mom released from nursing home....

Many of you may recall that from Thanksgiving, through Christmas and until yesterday, my mother had been in hospitals and nursing homes. The latter was due to needed therapy and her inability to care for herself after a bad bout of cellulitis and gout had set into her legs.

As a result, I had no time yesterday to post and my find time later to post a partially completed one on the topic of increasing vocations to the contemplative life.

Thank you all for your prayers and words of support. Mom is not out of the woods yet as he continues to experience medical issues that will have us going to several doctors to try to bring under control. I'm hoping we can keep her out on her own for a good while.

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Monday, February 18, 2008

Cardinal Rode: Priests becoming too worldly

This is good to hear coming from someone in the Vatican. I mean, the issue is not good, but acknowledgment is the first step to fixing anything.

It also highlights the need to pray for our priests and religious. My emphases in bold and comments in red.

Priests becoming too worldly, Vatican prelate says

Rome, Feb. 15, 2008 ( - The prefect of the Congregation for Religious has lamented that many Catholic priests are neglecting their duties under the pressure of conforming to secular culture. [Keep in mind that we are all called to be countercultural, most especially, priests and religious. Saints were not known to "go with the flow" and we should all desire to be saints].

In a February 14 interview with the Italian ANSA news agency, Cardinal Franc Rode said that priests today tend to be less obedient to the Church and more responsive to the world. He cited reluctance to wear clerical dress as a symptom of this trend [Deo gratias - that we see newer communities emerging who have embraced the religious habit. While many cloisters and monasteries may have retained the habit, the vast majority of active communities shunned the habit. It has taken these newer, active communities, such as Mary, Mother of the Eucharist Dominicans (Ann Arbor, MI), the Dominicans Sisters of St. Cecilia (Nashville, TN), the Sisters of Life, the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, among others who got back to basics with regards to community life and habit].

“A drift towards bourgeois values and moral relativism are the two great dangers that weaken religious life," said the Slovenian cardinal. "The biggest problem today is the climate of secularization-- present not only in Western society but also within the Church itself.” [Wow, he called that one out. It's such a relief to know it's not all in our heads].

Cardinal Rode said that young people continue to hear God's call to a vocation in the priesthood or religious life. But he suggested that a lax model of priestly or religious life is not likely to encourage vocations. As evidence the cardinal pointed to the young Catholics who are attracted to contemplative life in highly disciplined religious orders. "They are attracted because it is a radical life choice," he said. [Yes! I have been making this case for the last two years. The trend points in this direction. Those communities who have gone lax, and even introduced new-age spirituality are gray and dying out with few, if any, vocations. The two Dominican orders I mention above have discernment weekends that are so full, the girls must sleep on the floor in sleeping bags!!! They just expanded in Ann Arbor and I tell you it is not big enough. Nashville has expanded by sending sisters out around the country in parishes, something the Ann Arbor community has recently started, as well with some heading to Phoenix]

Source: CWNews

Let me add that it is not only the religious habit, which was only one example cited by Cardinal Rode. In addition, the communities that are growing, not only embrace the habit, but they are very Eucharistic and Marian, with a rich and ordered prayer life. Don't think that service went out the window when the habit came back in - a common complaint of yesteryear. The Sisters of Life for example, work hard with expectant mothers and on the streets. The Franciscan Friars of the renewal are right in the bowels of cities where the poorest of the poor and downtrodden can be found. The Dominicans serve through teaching and other apostolates.

Without prayer, all the service in the world can't be nearly as effective as that which is rooted in prayer and love for God. You can't love your neighbor until you learn how to love God. The first step in loving God is following the Commandments, using the sacraments and building a strong relationship with Him through prayer.

What better example can I provide than Mother Teresa, whom was despised among some of the more "justice & peace" religious orders because, as some of them claim, if she hadn't spent so many hours a day in prayer she could have served more people! Right - and, how many of those "justice & peace" types are up for canonization? I'm not talking about any "justice & peace" types, but the kind that blow-off and dismiss Marian and Eucharistic devotion.

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Sunday, February 17, 2008

Fr. Dwight Longenecker: The Tale of 2 Churches

There is an article in the National Catholic Register by Fr. Dwight Longenecker. He converted to the faith some 13 years ago and has been a regular blogger.

The article is a "must read". I believe he has captured something of significance, in a simple explanation. In fact, I can tell you that I have lived on both sides of the fence and I would rather be where I am at now, than where I was. When I lived in the world Father describes which was focused on "happy here", my spiritual life was a mess. It was devoid of thoughts about sin, sacrifice, mortification, hell, confession. I thank God daily for the priests we have at Assumption Grotto and how they assist us in focusing on the "happy hereafter".

I'll start you out with a teaser here and you'll have to follow through to the National Catholic Register website to read the whole article. Links will follow below.

The Tale of 2 Churches

BY Father Dwight Longenecker

February 10-16, 2008 Issue Posted 2/5/08 at 12:00 PM

I have been a Catholic now for 13 years. Like most converts, I described my reception into the Catholic Church as “coming home.” However, the homecoming was not all that the sentimental phrase implies.

It is true that in coming home we received a warm welcome from many Catholics. It is also true, that in coming home we soon sensed that there were strangers in the family homestead. There seemed to be interlopers — aliens who had sneaked into the family home and taken it for their own.

I was quite prepared to find fellow Catholics with different tastes in music, church architecture and liturgy. I was also prepared to encounter Catholics with different opinions concerning politics, history, education and social matters.

I knew I would also encounter a good number of poorly catechized Catholics who simply didn’t know their faith, and I was prepared for “dissenting” Catholics who knew the faith but disagreed with the teachings of the Church while still remaining within her.

What I was not prepared for was to find two churches within Holy Mother Church.

These two churches are very difficult to identify and define because the two groups cannot be separated according to outward criteria alone.

It is too easy to divide these two groups according to “liberal” or “conservative,” “charismatic” or “traditionalist,” “right wing” or “left wing.”

The two groups I am talking about exist within all these preferences.

Built Upon a Rock?

The two groups are distinguished not so much by what they do, the way they worship or the causes they espouse, but by their underlying understanding of just what the Catholic Church is for.

We receive our foundational assumptions from those who first educated us.

These underlying assumptions, like the foundations of a building, are invisible yet they support everything else.

Two very different sets of underlying foundations have created the two churches within the Church. The two opposing views can be called “Happy Here” and “Happy Hereafter.” Those who hold the first believe that the point, not only of the Church but of the whole of human existence, is to produce human happiness here in this life.

The second is concerned with finding eternal happiness. According to this basic assumption, this life is a vale of tears. This mortal life is hard because it is a place to battle against sin and to produce those diamond-hard souls called saints.

Go read The Tale of 2 Churches at the National Catholic Register

See Father's blogpost in which he introduces the article. Post comments there after you read it. So far, I see a solid article and will finish reading it before leaving my comment.

h/t to Adrienne and his Catholic Corner

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Nuts! Freezing rain....

Photos I took after an ice-storm in January of 2007

I got up at 5:30 when freezing rain began with hopes of getting out the door and over to Grotto before things got too bad. It has been predicted to be warm enough to melt around 10:00 and a little later in the northern suburbs of metro Detroit.

Just a few minutes after 7:00am, and it is clear that I will be walking to the Catholic parish next door, St. Edmund's. I'm grateful to have this option.

Today is my mother's birthday and we have a party planned at the nursing home where she is residing temporarily at 1:45 today. I have to pick things up ahead of that so Noon mass is not an option.

I feel bad for Fr. Perrone and the choir. I am on a break from choir due to my mother's health issues and lack of time. This is a choir practice day. So many things have hampered choir practices after the 9:30am Mass on Sundays when they rehearse from 11-12, and on Wednesdays when practice takes place between 7-9pm. Bad weather has been high on the list of issues, completely shelving the abbreviated practice that takes place every Ash Wednesday following Mass. Keep the choir in your prayers. They are a dedicated bunch that sacrifice much for the sake of providing such beautiful sacred music at our parish. In the end, no matter how little practice they get, it seems the Blessed Mother and their guardian angels sees that they pull it off!

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Saturday, February 16, 2008

Catholic Answers Live: Children's Hour - Monday 7:00pm EST

Don't skip over this post because you're an adult!!!

Matthew 18:1-4

1* At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" 2 And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them, 3* and said, "Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whoever humbles himself like this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

I was listening to Catholic Answers Live on internet radio on my laptop Thursday between 6-8pm EST when a child called in asking a question. After that question was answered by apologist Jimmy Akin, the host, Jerry Usher, mentioned that on Monday during the second hour, he will be having the children's Q & A.

That second hour from 7-8pm will feature guest, Fr. Antoine Thomas who has worked wonders with assisting kids in appreciating our Eucharistic Lord. Father, with his French accent even has a way to help adults see the faith through childlike eyes. I realized that when he spoke to adults at the EWTN Family Celebration (you can order the DVD at EWTN in this link). He starts out as if talking to children, but as an adult who listened to him, his message got deeper and more profound, yet was very simple. His grace and love just shines right through, but he doesn't pull any punches about what parents should be doing to help their kids understand Jesus in the Eucharist.

You can listen to it live on Monday night in the 2nd hour of Catholic Answers live on EWTN Radio at 7:00 eastern standard time (see time in NY and compare to your area of the world at this website). You can listen to it anywhere in the world over internet radio - on desktops and laptops, provided you have a decent connection speed. Just put your mouse over "Radio" at the top and click on "Listen Live".

Catholic Answers Live is available on many Catholic radio stations, including Ave Maria Radio out of Ann Arbor Michigan. Read below to learn how to listen live on EWTN radio on the internet.

You can also catch it for about a week after by going to EWTN's multimedia page for podcasts and downloading the MP3 file for listening at a later time. They have an XML code that can be used to subscribe for podcasts so you can sync it and leave it on your iPod. also collects a week's worth of Catholic Answers Live podcasts.

If you can't listen to the show, and even if you can, I highly recommend that parents purchase some of the DVD's of Fr. Antoine Thomas, and use it along with taking time with your children to go to adoration chapels. There is no better way to help them understand the Eucharistic Lord, than to spend regular time, even if it is only 15 minutes, to visit Jesus and simply adore Him. The best prayer of all is where we ask for nothing, but give Him our all.

DVD's are available from the Children of Hope online catalogue. These videos are a "must have" for parents wanting to deepen their children's awareness of Jesus in the Eucharist, as well as their own. You can also get some of these DVD's from the EWTN catalogue.


If you would like to know where you and your children can adore Jesus in the Eucharist, go to this website for listings of perpetual adoration in the US and Canada. Perpetual adoration means it is continuous around the clock.

There are many more parishes like my own which offer limited adoration daily. Assumption Grotto offers adoration Monday through Saturday, and on the first Sunday of the Month. It is held in a small side chapel and you will need to call before you go to get entry instructions. It is open from around 9:30 until 6:30pm at which time Benediction takes place. On "First Fridays", adoration takes place in the parish church. Funerals and weddings can make it start late or end early. From the Grotto News:

We need more people to be Adorers. If you can commit to one hour per week or be a sub when someone is absent, please call Sr. Gemma at the Convent (527-4416) or Phyllis at the Rectory (372-0762)

Is adoration at your parish and not listed in the listing for perpetual adoration? List it here in the comment box. Let us know if it is perpetual or limited in hours. Provide an address or google-map link so people can find it. Feel free to list adoration times and places from other countries.

Another option is to set the filter to adoration in the "additional look-up options" at Select your country and follow the prompts. It may not be completely up to date, but could give you some leads on something near your home.

More info on Eucharistic Adoration at

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PCED: Seminarians have a right to be trained in TLM

Priests at Assumption Grotto celebrating the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite (EF), the first day it was permitted, on the feast of the Holy Cross, September 14, 2007.

The Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei (PCED), which will soon be issuing a set of clarifications on the extraordinary form of the Roman rite, or traditional Latin mass (TLM) tells one seminarian in a letter that he has a right to be trained, and seminarians should be trained in the usus antiquior.

Go read Fr. Z's post on TLM and seminarians

Fr. Zuhlsdorf has encouraged the writing of letters to PCED where questions may be asked and concerns raised. Having worked for the Commission, he provides a set of guidelines on how to write such letters for effectiveness.

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Another Photo from the Lourdes 150th at Grotto...

I did not include this in my megaphoto-post on the 150th Anniversary of Lourdes as it was celebrated at Assumption Grotto. This photo was taken during the Rosary which came after the Mass. All of the priests and two deacons kneeled before the statue of Our Lady of Lourdes. Roughly 20 photos can be found in this thread... .

I also didn't mention that the Legion of Mary had a video viewing from Lourdes, along with some snacks. Many people went over to the school lounge for it all, but I had to head home.

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Curt Jester Parody: Lent Superstore

You may want to visit Curt Jester today and see what is at his "Lent Superstore". It's too funny!

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Lourdes 150th Anniversary Celebratin at Assumption Grotto

Fr. Perrone elevates the Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ during the Lourdes 150th Anniversary Mass at Assumption Grotto in Detroit on February 11, 2008 at 7:00pm. It was the ordinary form of the Roman rite, concelebrated by all available priests. Two deacons assisted - one visitor preparing for the priesthood.

Click on any pic to enlarge

If it looks dark in some of these pictures, it is because it was dark. I have noticed more difficulty taking photographs at night. But, you get the idea. Assumption Grotto was alive on Monday night as a couple hundred or more people came for Holy Mass and the Rosary which followed.

This photo post begins with pre-Mass photos, then works it's way into the Mass beginning with Fr. Perrone's sermon. I don't know if he will provide that to us yet, but I will ask. The photos then progress into a very moving scene as the priests lead us in the evening Rosary.

In a most profound and humbling display of reverence, all of the priests and deacons took turns leading the Rosary while on their knees on the marble step in front of the statue of Our Lady of Lourdes.

And....there is one more photo here - a sweet-shot taken during the Rosary from the best possible angle.

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70,000 at Mass in Lourdes for 150th Anniversary

I have some pictures to edit and upload from Assumption Grotto's celebration of the 150th anniversary of the apparitions at Lourdes. But, it will have to wait until I get home tonight.

In Lourdes, some 70,000 assisted at the anniversary Mass! From AFP:

LOURDES, France (AFP) — Around 70,000 Catholic pilgrims descended on Lourdes Monday for a mass commemorating the 150th anniversary of a series of visions of the Virgin Mary by a young French shepherdess.

More than 25 bishops and 800 priests were in attendance at the service celebrated by the Bishop of Tarbes and Lourdes, Jacques Perrier and the Archbishop of Marseille Bernard Panafieu.

The mass took place in a field opposite the Massabielle shrine where the mother of Jesus Christ is said to have first appeared in a vision to Bernadette Soubirous on February 11, 1858.

Simultaneously at the Vatican in Rome a rib belonging to Soubirous was ceremoniously conveyed to Saint Peter's Basilica to mark the anniversary.


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2003 Letter from Ratzinger - a past glimpse into the future of the TLM

An interesting letter from 2003 has been circulating on the web, when Pope Benedict XVI was Cardinal Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF). We get a past glimpse into the mind of the future pope when he corresponded with a Dr. Barth on the traditional Latin Mass. I believe it will trickle into American news sources, but for now, give you this link to the english version made available on There are two translations floating around. Fr. Z also dissects this letter using a different translation. You get the benefit of his commentary throughout the letter, and after. Emphases in bold and in red are mine:

Dear Dr. Barth !

My heartfelt thanks for your letter of April 6, which I didn't have time to answer until now. You're asking me to lobby for a wider permission of the old Roman Rite. As you well know, I am very open to such requests, as my efforts towards this end is widely known by now.

Whether the Holy See will permit the old Rite "once more worldwide and without limitations" - as you desire and have heard rumors to that effect - I cannot simply answer, let alone confirm. The dislike for the traditional liturgy, which is called, with contempt, "pre-conciliar" is still very strong among Catholics who've been drilled to reject it for years. Additionally, there would be strong resistance on the part of many bishops.

The situation is different if we consider a limited re-admission - the demand for the old liturgy is limited as well. I know that its value does of course not depend on the demand, but the question about the number of interested priests and laypeople plays some role. Furthermore, such a measure can only - even today - be taken step-by-step, some 30 years after the introduction of the liturgy reform of Pope Paul VI. Another hurried effort would certainly not be beneficial.

I think, however, that, in the long run, the Roman Church must once more have one Roman Rite; the existence of two official rites is difficult to "administrate" for bishops and priests. The Roman Rite of the future should be a single rite, in Latin or in the vernacular, but standing wholly in the legacy of the traditional Rite. It could incorporate some new elements that have proven successful, such as new feast days, some new prefaces in the Mass, an expanded lectionary - more selection than before (the reform), but not too much; an "oratio fidelium", ie a fixed litany of intercessions, following the Oremus before the Offertory where it used to have its place.

Dear Dr. Barth, if you work for the cause of the liturgy in this manner, you will certainly not stand alone, and you prepare the "public opinion" in the Church in favor of an expanded use of prior Missals. One needs to be cautious, however, so as to not spark expectations that are too high among the faithful who feel close to tradition.

I shall use this opportunity to thank you for your highly esteemed efforts for the liturgy of the Roman Church, in your books and lectures, although I'd like a bit more love and understanding here and there for the teaching authority of the Pope and bishops. I hope that the seeds you're sowing will germinate and bring much fruit for the renewed life of the Church, whose "source and summit", whose very heart indeed is and must remain the liturgy.

I gladly bestow the requested blessing and remain yours with kind regards

Your Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger

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Monday, February 11, 2008

Lourdes - 150th Anniversary

Today marks 150 years since the first apparition at Lourdes-France. There is a famous saying coined about Lourdes:

"For those who believe, no explanation is necessary. For those who do not believe, no explanation is possible."

The Holy Father made a statement during the midday Angelus on Sunday:

From Zenit's coverage of the Feb 10th Angelus - Pope: Cross Leads to Victory of Love and Peace:


Benedict XVI also mentioned that Monday is the memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes, and the 150th anniversary of the apparitions of Mary to St. Bernadette Soubirous in the grotto of Massabielle in 1858.

The Pope said: "The message that the Madonna continues to spread at Lourdes recalls the words Jesus pronounced at the beginning of his public mission and that we hear again often during these days of Lent: 'Convert and believe in the Gospel,' pray and do penance."

From the official Lourdes website page on the apparitions:

1st ApparitionThursday 11th. February 1858 : the meetingAccompanied by her sister and a friend, Bernadette went to Massabielle on the banks of the Gave to collect bones and dead wood. Removing her socks in order to cross the stream, she heard a noise like a gust of wind, she looked up towards the Grotto : "I SAW A LADY DRESSED IN WHITE, SHE WORE A WHITE DRESS, AN EQUALLY WHITE VEIL, A BLUE BELT AND A YELLOW ROSE ON EACH FOOT." Bernadette made the Sign of the Cross and said the Rosary with the lady. When the prayer ended the Lady suddenly vanished.

There are plenary indulgences offered for those who make a pilgrimage to Lourdes during a specified time period, and if they meet certain other conditions. This PDF file from Grotto outlines that, and it provides info on how you can get those indulgences if you cannot make the pilgrimage.

There will be a a beautiful Holy Mass at 7:00pm, followed by an event hosted by the Legion of Mary at Assumption Grotto, with a video in the school lounge.


The official Lourdes website has many interesting things. I was going to lead you to some things there, but the site seems to be having difficulties. It is probably crashing under the hit load right now. The site has webcams - many of them, so you can peak in to see what is going on. If you can manage to tune in from around noon to 2:00pm EST, you may get to see a magnificent candlelight procession, seen in the photo at top from their website.

First, go to the link in the list with the word "Apparitions". From there, on the right you will see a section for webcams.

You can find nice wallpaper for your computer,

The site even has a place to log your intentions!

I'll try to add links later so you can reference it.


I have seen Our Lady of Lourdes Hospitality - North American Volunteers profiled on EWTN and have heard them on Catholic radio. They organize volunteers who go for a time period to Lourdes to assist the many sick and infirm during their stay to the grotto area. The site explains:

Our Lady of Lourdes Hospitality North American Volunteers is a Catholic apostolate formed in 2002 at the invitation of the Lourdes Arch-Confraternity Hospitality. Our apostolate mission statement identifies our primary goal: "to extend the invitation to North Americans to serve the sick and suffering." We extend the invitation by informing and recruiting North Americans "of good will" at home and abroad about the need for English-speaking volunteers at Lourdes (only 30 individual Americans volunteered annually at Lourdes prior to our participation). We facilitate the admission and training processes, as well as the travel and Sanctuary accommodations and thus make volunteer service easily accessible and affordable. In 2003, almost 200 North American Volunteers served at Lourdes. Sixty of the volunteers were youth who participated in our newly developed "Learn and Live Lourdes" Youth Pilgrimage Service experience. Of the adult volunteers who served, one-third were military or dependents of military personnel stationed in Europe.....[read more]

Their website features a "Virtual Pilgrimage" section for those who cannot leave home to make a physical journey. In this link, they explain more about a virtual pilgrimage.

A final note about Bernadette, whose body is shown here, incorrupt. It is featured in the book on the subject by Joan Cruz. I have seen this in the Grotto gift shop.

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Pope's Lenten Message to Priests: Spend more time in silence

We could all use a little more of this....

CWNews covers a talk to Roman Priests by the Holy Father: Pope speaks with Roman priests on Lent, evangelization, judgment

Rome, Feb. 8, 2008 ( - Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news) said that Christians, and particularly priests, should create "a silent space for ourselves, without images," during the season of Lent, in order to provide more space for God.

The Holy Father met on February 7 with priests of the Rome diocese, and-- following what has become his pattern in such meetings-- answered a number of questions form the group. In answer to a question about Lenten practices, the Pope said that it is useful to guard against the "bombardment of images" in modern society by consciously pursuing a meditative silence.
That having been said, there are many things for us to consider, such as shutting off the TV and radio for starters. Or, if you don't watch Catholic television, or listen to Catholic radio, now is a good time to let go of the worldly in favor of the spiritual. Here are some options that you can listen to right on your computer:

EWTN Radio
Ave Maria Radio (local Detroit AM 990)
Michigan Catholic Radio (local Detroit AM 1090)
Relevant Radio
Domestic Church Media
My Catholic Podcast list
Semper Fi Catholic Radio

I have not elected to give up the internet for lent, but will slow posting to encourage myself, and my readers, to do more spiritual reading, prayer and adoration. I will continue to post on happenings at Assumption Grotto and focus on lent.

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Saturday, February 9, 2008

Annual Parish Mission - Two Days Left

This is a reminder that there are two days left to the annual parish mission, which is being conducted by the Priests of Opus Angelorum who work out of our parish. Even if you can only make it for a portion of one of these two days, just do it!!!

On the first evening, Fr. Matthew spoke about silence and the need for it in our daily life. It was interesting to hear Father talk about entering the desert, with many scriptural references of how the holy Angels have appeared in the Bible at times when there is fasting.

On the second evening, Fr. Titus, who is visiting from the seminary in Brazil, spoke about Heaven, in ways that were totally awe-inspiring.

Of course, each day of the mission involves opportunities for confession. And, there is typically some kind of devotion, be it Rosary, Stations of the Cross, Litanies, etc. What finer way to end each day than with Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and Benediction?

You have a chance to attend today, and tomorrow yet. Bring the family to Assumption Grotto. Click for directions


2:30 Confessions
3:00 Exposition
3:30 Rosary/Benediction
4:00 Holy Mass
5:15 Conference in School Lounge


2:00 Conference 1 (Lounge)
3:00 Conference 2 (Lounge)
4:15 Exposition/Rosary
5:15 Concluding prayers and Benediction

If you absolutely could not make it to all of the conferences, I will find out if they are making the talks available on CD.


Also, don't forget the special 150th Anniversary of Our Lady of Lourdes and the indulgences. Grotto will be alive on Monday!!!

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Fr. Harrison's confession about confession....

With a veil-tip to Fr. Z on a post about a blogging priest in the UK who is about to celebrate Mass for the very first time in the extraordinary form, I found this cute gem from his recent postings.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

My first weekend in Walney

I have enjoyed my first weekend in the parish of Saint Columba and Saint Patrick. It did get off to a strange start. I sat in the confessional at St Columba - it was very quiet, no-one availed themselves of the sacrament. After about 30 mins I realised I had not opened the church!

LOL! I'll add Fr. Harrison to my section for Blogging Priests so we can check in on his blog.

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Friday, February 8, 2008

February 8: St. Josephine Bakhita

If I never watched television again, I could never finish all of the material the Catholic Church gives to us through the biographies and writings of the saints. Our protestant brothers and sisters think that we "adore" the saints and Mother Mary, or they will even say that we practice idolatry and worship statues.

As I recently explained to a concerned relative: Only God may be adored in the true sense. But, do we not put pictures on our desks of family members and loved ones? Do we "worship" them because they are in the photograph or does it simply lift our thoughts to them, to make us smile, or to pray for them? Images of Mary in picture or as a statue can lift our thoughts to the life of Mary and the extraordinary virtue she exemplified. The way of life seen in Mary and the saints leads us directly to Jesus who is Virtue itself.

There are so many interesting saints that we can learn from, that along with reading Scripture daily, we should spend time reading biographies of the saints and their writings. One way to get familiar with them is to drop into a site that provides a calendar of saints and read a little each day. Share it with your family. Catholic Online has a nice section of saints, as well. If you like to see lots of Catholic News, you can get that, plus see who the saint of the day is at Catholic News Agency.

St. Josephine Bakhita was captured as a slave in Sudan, and suffered the many physical and emotional cruelties that went along with it. She recounts some of that here:

"One day I unwittingly made a mistake that incensed the master’s son. He became furious, snatched me violently from my hiding place, and began to strike me ferociously with the lash and his feet. Finally he left me half dead, completely unconscious. Some slaves carried me away and lay me on a straw mat, where I remained for over a month. ...

A woman skilled in this cruel art [tattooing] came to the general’s house…our mistress stood behind us, whip in hand. The woman had a dish of white flour, a dish of salt and a razor… When she had made her patterns; the woman took the razor and made incisions along the lines. Salt was poured into each of the wounds… My face was spared, but 6 patterns were designed on my breasts, and 60 more on my belly and arms. I thought I would die, especially when salt was poured in the wounds…it was by a miracle of God I didn’t die. He had destined me for better things."

This awesome saint teaches us about rolling with the punches and accepting them as the will of God. About her captors she said

"If I were to meet the slave-traders who kidnapped me and even those who tortured me, I would kneel and kiss their hands, for if that did not happen, I would not be a Christian and Religious today…"

St. Josephine is among the incorruptibles - a group of over 250 saints whose remains have not decayed. If you want to read more on them, they can be found in this book by Joan Cruz: Incorruptibles.

More on St. Josephine Bakhita:

As a reminder, you can get many goods from the Assumption Grotto giftshop which is open on Sundays after the 9:30 and Noon Masses. There are materials on St. Bakhita - just ask at the desk.

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Thursday, February 7, 2008

Wayward Priest Meets with Abp Burke

Fr. Corapi, when teaching his famed Catechism classes seen on EWTN, says this about teaching Catholics:
"You may not like what I say, it may be hard to swallow, but as a Catholic and a priest, I HAVE to say it. Because I'm not going to hell for anyone!"

This is even more true for bishops who are responsible for many more souls. Recall that in the confiteor we pray at the beginning of Mass: "I confess to Almight all that I failed to do". Neglecting to fulfill one's duties in life, whether a parent or bishop can bring about an unfortunate consequence - the loss of one's soul. Archbishop Burke has lived steadfast with that in mind and has been in the news a lot of late.

You may recall a story a couple of years ago about a wayward priest from one diocese (Springfield) setting up shop in a more traditional, ethnic-Polish parish in the St. Louis diocese (without permission). He basically led a parish into schism and brought upon himself excommunication. The board was also excommunicated. There is an entire history with this thing that gets more bizarre by the day.

An old blogpost at AMDG covers: Who is Fr. Marek Bozek? There are some troubling things within the information that appeared at the St. Agnes Cathedral website.

AMDG also has a letter which he wrote announcing his intent to take over St. Stanislaus.

Canon Lawyer, Ed Peters offered some advice in suggesting: Fr. Bozek should stop and think.

Back in January of this year, CWNews reported that Abp Burke was seeking a rare laicization of Fr. Bozek on canonical grounds.

The Archbishop ordered him to present himself and reconcile with the Church, and apparently, the wayward priest did meet for about an hour. Unfortunately, while repenting, he put down conditions - something you never do when seeking forgiveness.

Here is the beginning of the AP article: No Resolution in Dispute Over Mo. Church


ST. LOUIS (AP) — St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke met with an excommunicated priest at the center of a dispute over a Polish-heritage Roman Catholic church on Tuesday, but dismissed the pastor's reconciliation offer as "offensive to God."

The Rev. Marek Bozek, pastor of St. Stanislaus Kostka church, said he would "seriously consider" leaving the parish and would be willing to repent and publicly apologize — if Burke kept the church open, revoked excommunication and other penalties, and made other concessions.

"The offer is offensive to God because he admits he needs to repent but he puts conditions on it," Burke said. "People can't buy reconciliation."

Bozek, 33, met with Burke for about an hour as more than 200 of Bozek's supporters stood outside in a cold, steady rain and prayed for him. A dozen other Roman Catholics prayed and held signs promoting obedience to Burke.

Burke said in an interview Tuesday that he ordered the priest to appear before him for a "canonical admonition" to make Bozek recognize the "serious wrongs he has done, withdraw from them and make reparation."

You know, folks, this is what can happen when you place greater importance on your beloved parish than you do Holy Mother Church. Whenever money is involved, and in this case the dispute was over Church assets where there was an unusual arrangement, people get paranoid that the issue is strictly about the money. This issue began under Cardinal Rigali, and was inherited by Archbishop Burke. He has a duty to make clear to those defiant souls in that parish that they are playing with fire, and he is not being neglectful of that duty. As usual, he will be vilified within the secular press, and persecuted relentlessly as "the bad guy picking on those poor parishioners". The media will play on the emotions of those people, and encourage them in their defiance. That's pretty typical of "the world". But, are we not called to be countercultural?

I believe the behavior of the people in that parish reveals there were deeper underlying problems with the culture there - problems that are not reflective of appropriate Catholic behavior. No saint who ever walked the earth, including St. Stanislaus, would advocate prideful disobedience, even if the bishop were not justified in taking control of assets (I think he was well within his rights).

Here they had a piece of traditional eye-candy in St. Stanislaus Kostka parish and they felt it was somehow threatened of the most traditional, orthodox bishops in the US?!?!?. Sooooo..........the board hires this wayward priest from another diocese, and he ends up eventually, recently, ordaining women!!!

Despite the craziness of this whole situation, I have hope. The fact that the priest even went to Abp Burke in the first place is reason to hope that he will go back and reflect on the lessons he should have learned while in the seminary: Never make repentance conditional.

This priest could use a very long retreat out in the sticks to help him along. In the meanwhile, please offer some Mass intentions, and some adoration time, Rosaries, and more for his, and the parish's conversion.

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Apostolate Review: Catholics United for the Faith

Some of you may be aware of an apostolate called Catholics United for the Faith (CUF). But for those unfamiliar with it, I would like to give it some attention.

They have some really good apologetics resources, and offer excellent conferences. Their 2008 Conference marks their 40th Anniversary (click the button to see the list of speakers they have coming to Pennsylvania this fall)

From the "About" page:

Catholics United for the Faith (CUF) is an international lay apostolate, building on the only sure foundation for happiness and renewal of the family and society: the teachings of Jesus Christ and His Church.

Founded by H. Lyman Stebbins in 1968 to support, defend, and advance the efforts of the teaching Church, CUF has helped tens of thousands of people discover and strengthen their Catholic faith.

Read more about our mission.
Meet our dedicated Leadership and Staff.
Learn about our storied history of CUF and our Chapters.

CUF also now has a blog, which I'll be adding to my sidebar.

There is an interesting entry today by Leon Suprenant, who once studied to be a priest, but found that was not the vocation to which he was called. I would encourage anyone considering a vocation to see the method he used for making his final discernment. Discernment doesn't end with a trip to the seminary or to the convent. It ends with ordination, or final vows. Finding you are not called to the priesthood or religious life after you enter such a serious phase of discernment is nothing for which you should hold your head in shame.

Whether you are discerning yourself and struggling, or if you are a parent, friend or relative of someone discerning, there are some good things to learn from Leon's post: Vocation Awareness

Another entry by Leon which caught my eye was on Lent called: Give it up! Read it to see just the many ways we try to get around those bodily penances.


You can become a member of CUF which is how their works are supported. If you click that link, you will see some good benefits that come back to you, one of which is the Lay Witness magazine. They have a section on their website, for Lay Witness "web-exclusive" articles well worth checking out.

The website features many other things:

You may want to check out other events that they have coming up, especially for Lent.

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