Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Sad Sign Of The Times

Yesterday, I tried to give blood at a Red Cross Blood Drive being sponsored by St. Anthony Shrine, Boston, MA. The line of would be donors was too many, and soon my lunch hour was over and I had to leave without giving blood. (Note to self, next time, make an appointment to donate!)

As I was leaving the Shrine through its rear entrance, I noticed a very, very, long line of people. They were waiting to get into the Shrine's Franciscan Food Center. The Center, besides it usual food stuffs, was giving away turkeys, and other Thanksgiving day fixings.

Now, because of logistical requirements the people had to line up in the rear of the Shrine, out of sight of the office people walking down Arch St. But out of sight, should not not mean out of mind. Where ever there is a donation site, please give something for those who need so much help, especially now.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Suffering of Middle Eastern Catholics - My November Fraternity Newsletter Column

“They (Secular Franciscans) have been made living members of the Church by being buried and raised with Christ in baptism; they have been united more intimately with the Church by profession. Therefore, they should go forth as witnesses and instruments of her mission among all people, proclaiming Christ by their life and words.” (Art. 6a, SFO Rule)

Recently, an Extraordinary Synod of Bishops concerning the Middle East was held at the Vatican; attended mostly by Eastern Catholic patriarchs and bishops. Sadly, it was not long after the Synod concluded that an Eastern Catholic church in Baghdad was attacked by terrorists; killing a number of laity and clergy.

In the past, there was a significant number of Catholic Christians in the Middle East, mostly Eastern rite Catholics. Many Western Catholics may not have been aware of their existence. Their first view of them may have been at the funeral of Pope John Paul II, when a group of Eastern patriarchs, offered prayers for the deceased pontiff. Since the Israeli – Arab conflict began; the community of Christians in the Holy Land has significantly decreased. Palestinian Christians face suspicion from both the Israeli and Moslem communities. This pressure has caused many Christian families to leave the Middle East for what they hope will be safer lands. In other countries in the Middle East, native Christians face discrimination, at worst, violent attacks, especially in Iraq.

As we are approaching the season of Advent, and the celebration of Christmas, a significant day of celebration in the Holy Land, let us remember our Eastern rite brothers and sisters. Let us keep them in our prayers, for their safety and well-being.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Queen and The Pope

Compared to Pope Benedict’s visit to Great Britain; there seems to have been very little coverage of his trip to Spain. So it was not until I read the November 9th posting on the Pray Tell blog; that I learned that Queen Sofia of Spain received Communion in her hand from the Holy Father. Now it is well known that the Pope does not approve of reception in the hand, and people receiving Communion from him, must be kneeling and receive on the tongue. There is a picture of the Queen making a profound bow, with her cupped hands held out and the Pope placing the host in them. In the background is a group of clergy with various degrees of consternation on their faces.

Now, there has been no speculation on why she did it. Was she making a statement? Was it force of habit? I am sure nobody will ever know for sure. Part of me thinks one should follow papal protocol. The other part is shouting “You go girl!”

Monday, November 8, 2010

A Parish Divided in Wisconsin

“Canon 212: #2) The Christian faithful are free to make known to the pastors of the Church their needs, especially spiritual ones and their desires. #3) According to the knowledge, competence, and prestige which they possess, they have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful, without prejudice to the integrity of faith and morals, with reverence toward their pastors, and attentive to common advantage and the dignity of persons.”

Going through Deacon Greg Kendra’s blog, “The Deacon’s Bench,” I came across his post concerning a parish in Platteville, WI. The name of it is St. Mary’s Church, and is part of the Diocese of Madison WI. It’s Bishop, Robert Morlino, chose to staff the parish with priests who were members of the Society of Jesus Christ the Priest. These priests have been characterized as being very orthodox, very conservative. There has been criticism of their homilies of been strong on orthodox teaching, but lacking in compassion. They also restricted the role of altar servers to boys only, no girls allowed. Whatever other actions they may have taken, it drove close to half of the registered parishioners to sign a petition requesting that Bishop Morlino remove the priests. He responded by voicing his complete support of the priests, and making some very disparaging remarks about the petition signers, claiming that they were members of the radical left, disobedient and disrespectful. After this response, the parishioners used the last effective leverage they had, they began withholding weekly contributions to the parish, and it appears to be biting. Now, not all the parishioners are of one mind on this, some do support the priests. It appears that the parish is becoming polarized.

Now, I will be the first one to admit that the Church is not a democracy. However, the tone of Vatican II concerning the lay faithful is that they are active participants in ministry of the Church. That our leaders should consult with the faithful on matters that can affect the life of the community. And that we have a right to let our Bishops and Pastors know our spiritual needs. If they fail respond to us, do not at least enter into a dialogue to find some resolution; then we have the right to take any legitimate action to get them to respond, including the power of the purse.

Whatever the motives of Bishop Morlino were in assigning these conservative priests, what he now has is a divided parish. And that is a very sorry state of affairs.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Memorial For St. Charles Borromeo - My Evening Prayer Reflection

"God’s flock is in your midst; give it a shepherd’s care”

Today we remember St. Charles Borromeo. He was born in 1538. As a young man, he was made a Cardinal and later on Archbishop of Milan. He achieved these positions of honor the old fashioned way, his uncle was the Pope, Pius IV. Still, he was very talented man; he had some influence in the closing days of the Council of Trent; he was a reformer in his Archdiocese. He visited his parishes; he established colleges and seminaries to train his clergy. When plague struck Milan, he visited the sick, set up hospitals and hospices saw to it that the poor were cared for. In every way he was a true shepherd for his people. Worn out by his work, he died in 1584.

“God’s flock is in your midst; give it a shepherd’s care”

Fast forward a few centuries, a young priest who was the secretary of the bishop of Bergamo, a diocese linked to Milan, came across the letters of Charles Borromeo. He undertook the task of organizing, studying, and publishing those letters. This was a project that he would be involved in for many, many years, even when he was called into the papal diplomatic service. Inspired by Charles Borromeo, this now bishop and diplomat, wherever he was posted, he was a pastor to the Catholic community there, large or small. He was a shepherd first and a diplomat second. He finally finished the last volume of Borromeo letters in 1957; in 1958 he was elected Pope, and chose the name John.

“God’s flock is in your midst; give it a shepherd’s care”

We, who hope to be future deacons, are called to assist the Archbishop in shepherding this Christian community, helping to care for it. Remember what St. Peter said, God’s flock is in our midst, the people we are to care for, to help pasture, are all around us, in our families, our workplaces, on the streets. At any moment, in any place, we may the opportunity to provide a shepherd’s care.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Feast of All Souls

God, our creator and redeemer, by your power Christ conquered death and returned to you in glory. May all your people, especially those we remember today,who have gone before us in faith share his victory and enjoy the vision of your glory for ever, where Christ lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever.– Amen.

From the Liturgy of the Hours