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Sunday, September 28, 2014

Right & Wrong: a brief study in contrasts

Wrong

An Episcopalian (Anglican) minister, the Rev. Walter Baer, is pleased as punch that Banned Parenthood is moving in across the street from his parish.
As priest-in-charge at the Episcopal Church of the Annunciation, which is across South Claiborne Avenue from the new Planned Parenthood clinic, I am pleased that the clinic is moving to the area.
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The Episcopal/Anglican Church worldwide has officially recognized the use of artificial contraception as an acceptable Christian moral choice since 1930. (Anglican arrogance. The TEC/CofE abandoned 1900 years of Christian teaching with a vote. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose. Baer's comment begs the question: Is, then, the Episcopal/Anglican Church christian?)
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As a parish church that is named for the most wondrous conception in history, we welcome the Planned Parenthood clinic to the neighborhood. (Cognitive dissonance, Walter Baer is thy name!) It will serve a very important role in education, health screenings, contraception and, when necessary, a safe place for the termination of pregnancy. (Sophistry! Safe for who? The unborn baby who is destroyed?)
http://www.theneworleansadvocate.com/opinion/10289086-171/letter-people-of-faith-support
Right

The Catholic Archbishop of New Orleans, Gregory Aymond calls for defense of the unborn and opposition to Planned Barrenhood.
We cannot be silent in view of the grave injustice presented by the abortions that will be performed at the proposed Planned Parenthood facility. The archdiocese is obliged to remind every person and organization involved in the acquisition, preparation and construction of this or any abortion facility, that they are cooperating with the evil that will take place there. For this reason, the archdiocese, including its churches, schools, apartments for the elderly, and nursing homes, will strive in its privately-funded work not to enter into business relationships with any person or organization that participates in actions that are essential to making this abortion facility a reality. This policy applies to all businesses regardless of religious affiliation or non-affiliation. Our fidelity to Church teaching and our conscience necessitates this stance.
There is no justification, including economic hardship that will make a direct or indirect relationship with Planned Parenthood or any abortion provider, acceptable. Additionally, affiliation or support of Planned Parenthood by Catholics is a matter of serious scandal.
Scandal is an attitude or behavior which leads another to do evil. The person who gives scandal becomes his neighbor’s tempter. He damages virtue and integrity; he may even draw his brother into spiritual death. Scandal is a grave offense if by deed or omission another is deliberately led into a grave offense.—Catechism of the Catholic Church, Article 2284.
http://www.arch-no.org/articles/an-open-letter-from-archbishop-aymond
It's moments like this that one should be thankful and proud that we have Archbishops who can tell the difference between right and wrong. Thank you, Archbishop Aymond, for standing up for the unborn, the weak and the innocent. Now—all Catholics do likewise!

Pray for the conversion of Walter Baer and those who would support a diabolical organization such as Planned Parenthood. May God have mercy on their souls and the souls of all who participate in abortions.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

New Book by Sr. Theresa Aletheia Noble, FSP

Sr. Theresa Aletheia Noble, FSP/Pursued By Truth

Sr. Theresa Aletheia Noble, FSP is a former atheist who, thanks to the grace of God, has returned to the faith she was raised in and now tries to help others bring their loved ones back to the faith. A few years after returning to the Church, she heard God calling her, so she left her job in Silicon Valley to join the Daughters of St. Paul. She now lives in Miami, where she prays, evangelizes, bakes bread, and blogs at “Pursued by Truth.”—Pauline Books & Media






Jennifer Fulwiler, author of Something Other than God, says...
“Sr. Theresa Noble really understands what works—and what doesn't—when it comes to reaching out to fallen-away loved ones. This book should be required reading for any modern Catholic.”

Friday, September 26, 2014

Christ Cathedral Renovations Update



Websites with information concerning the renovation of the former Crystal Cathedral:
http://www.occatholicnews.com/christ-cathedral-inside-out/
—Be prepared for a minor assault from pop-up windows.
http://www.rcbo.org/images/powerslide/bulletin_insert_FINAL.pdf
—Two pages of images accompanied by description (see below). There is a link to an architecture page which is currently not loading.
http://www.rcbo.org/images/powerslide/Cathedral_Design_Plan_press_release_FINAL_II.pdf
—Official announcement of design plan.
Among the Cathedral design features are included the following developments:
  • The former theater-style seating will give way to pews arranged antiphonally on either side of a raised altar. (One wonders which path the opening and closing processions will take?)
  • Three entries will be reconfigured as the Bishop’s Door, Baptistery and Pilgrim’s Entry to the east, and the spaces inside each entry will be distinctive.
  • In the center of the cathedral’s worship space will be the altar, sitting atop the predella (a raised platform) and visible from all pews. A large metallic baldachin and carved crucifix will be suspended above the altar, with the cathedra (bishop’s chair) to the north and the ambo to the south (Curious!). The mezzanine level will be reconfigured to support music performance in multiple configurations.
  • The cathedral’s new stone floor and lower walls will recall the earth, while the glass vaulting overhead frames the heavens.
  • Upper surface areas will be constructed with acoustics, lighting, solar heat transmission and ventilation in mind, as well as environmental comfort and visibility... . To minimize the transmission of heat and light from the glass walls and ceiling, the firm has designed an algorithmically complex series of quatrefoils made up of triangular metal sails in various stages of openness. By arranging open and closed “petals” on the inside surface based on the angle of the sun, natural light will be modulated and glare will be reduced.
  • Below the sanctuary, the undercroft will include the Chapel of St. Callistus, the bishops’ crypts and columbarium, a bride’s room, family room, choir practice room, sacristies and support functions. Silver travertine paving will follow the stairway down from the entry level through arched galleries and into the chapel.—OCCatholicNews. 

Click on images to enlarge.

Sobering Challenge from Rorate Cæli Blog

In an article anticipating the recent appointment of Bishop Cupich to the Archdiocese of Chicago, Rorate Cæli blog (RoCæ) had these words for those of a particular bent:
(A) note to American Catholic 'neoconservatives', with their endless excuses and inventive ways of telling themselves, and others, that nothing has really changed in the Church's direction since 2013.

Stop pretending that nothing has really changed. You cannot have it both ways. You cannot celebrate the appointment of "conservative" prelates to a handful of mid-level sees as proof that the Franciscan papacy is an extension of that of Benedict XVI, yet pretend that this appointment, the looming defenestration of Cardinal Burke, and many other previous appointments on the same or greater level of influence, mean nothing. It is delusional to celebrate minor appointments and victories as indicators of "continuity", then react to major developments with the attitude that "my faith does not depend on what Pope Francis does". No one's faith should depend on the motions of ecclesiastical politics, but all the same, these actions will have its effect on the faith of millions for years and years to come. You know this: otherwise you would not feel the need for excuses.

"But bishop so-and-so has always been sound and orthodox when necessary!" But as anyone knows, what matters in the "culture wars" is not what one professes to "personally" believe, but how one acts, speaks, and sets his tone in the public square. The reality is that, more than words, actions and tone are a greater indication of what one truly believes, or holds dear and worth defending.

If you do not wish to say anything that can be seen as critical of Pope Francis, fine. But at least stop fooling yourselves, and others, that there has been no real change in direction in the Church. Shoring up morale and keeping up appearances for the sake of the culture wars are not enough reasons to lie about the truth.
To anyone who might fit the neocon label, these are sobering comments that challenge one to rethink that orientation. Even though there is a reactionary tone to the RoCæ article, one cannot dismiss concerns that bishops described as moderates by the secular media have, indeed, softened the tone of engagement to the point that much needed fraternal correction of dissenting Catholics has been avoided, all in the name of civility. Civility is definitely a preferred option in public discourse. However, when the sheep are openly defiant and routinely reject the teaching of the Church while describing themselves as faithful Catholics, one's blood should begin to boil and a sword of truth should be found in one's hand to defend honest believers and the Faith, a sword that divides fact from fiction, truth from heresy. While we should not seek to merely offend our audience, we cannot avoid giving offence to those who delight in rejecting the legitimate authority of the Church when we preach and defend obedience to Holy Mother Church.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Growing in Holiness | A Work in Progress

A previous post spoke of the goodness of friends and friendship. But what about when friendship goes sour, e.g., when an encounter with a colleague or business rival threatens to unhinge us? Or, what about when we encounter someone who presents a real threat to our health and well being. The moments when we are tempted to lose our cool are the times when we need to draw on a discipline founded on and rooted in God's grace. If we have been working at humbling ourselves and disposing our hearts and minds to God's grace, we are more likely to accept unpleasant and dangerous encounters with a certain equilibrium or peace of mind. If we practice the virtue of patience on a daily basis, seeking God's influence in our hearts and over our actions, we will more likely than not keep calm when others knowingly or out of ignorance provoke us, attempt to demean us and/or push one of our buttons, or threaten to harm us.

Knowing ourselves and putting Christ first in our lives are keys to avoiding sin. We must hear and respond to Jesus' command. The Lord speaks:
Anger 
“You have heard that it was said to the men of old, ‘You shall not kill; and whoever kills shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be liable to the hell of fire. So if you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Make friends quickly with your accuser, while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison; truly, I say to you, you will never get out till you have paid the last penny.

Retaliation 
“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist one who is evil. But if any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also; and if any one would sue you and take your coat, let him have your cloak as well; and if any one forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to him who begs from you, and do not refuse him who would borrow from you. 
Love for Enemies 
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you salute only your brethren, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect."—St. Matthew 5:21-48
Jesus understands the human condition perfectly because He is the perfect Man, free of sin. He is one of us and much more—He is the Lord. He sees how easily grudges form in man. Grudges harden like cement in the noon day sun of summer. He commands us, for our own good, to make haste and be reconciled before things get really complicated.

Jesus understands that we are creatures. Creatures of need. We need to love and be loved. There are charitable and honourable ways to love, and there are corrupt and destructive ways to love. That is, there are ways in which we tend to corrupt love. Blessed Teresa of Calcutta understood Jesus' command. She said: Give until it hurts.
We must give until it hurts. For love to be true it has to hurt. It hurt Jesus to love us; it hurt God to love us because He had to give. He gave His Son. This is the meaning of true love, to give until it hurts.—Blessed Teresa of Calcutta.
Jesus teaches the way of sacrificial love. Each and every day millions of christians around the world face daily threats to their health and well being. They do not die because they are strapping bombs to their bodies. They are enduring attacks by brutish men by being faithful to God and loving their enemies. They are fighting the good fight. They are dying at the hands of terrorists and insurgents who misguidedly attempt to convert others through diabolical means. Christian men, women and children are routinely murdered by the very people Jesus commands us to love. How many of us can say that we would remain calm and ready to embrace death when faced with a gun pointed at our heads or a blade held at our necks?

Jesus understands that we need His grace and His peace, His love and mercy so that we can extend that love and mercy to others. If we ask, He will give us the grace we need. None of us deserve God's mercy. Yet, God offers Himself freely to all. Of course, not all accept God's invitation to eternal salvation and peace in and through Jesus Christ. Nevertheless, we must love those who reject Christ until they themselves arrive at the judgement throne of God and who will then know the truth. God delays His return so that as many souls that can be saved will be saved.

Pope Francis has spoken a lot about not judging, even comparing the temptation to judge with the activity of the devil. Ouch! Are we to not judge bad behaviour? Of course not. How are we to know what actions to avoid if we cannot recognize that which would put us in hell? How are we to do what is good and holy if not by evaluating the data and determining what is spiritually good and embracing that which God would have us do? We must not judge, however, the condition of another person's soul. We should avoid assuming we can read another's heart and know their intentions with 100% certainty. There may be room in that darkened soul for a ray of light to penetrate and transform his or her life. By absorbing one's enemy's bad actions and embracing the sinner with the love and grace given us by Christ, we can participate in God's rescue mission and, one sinner along with another, be rescued by God together.

Perhaps this post should have begun where Jesus began, since the above commentary might prove to be more readily understood if we knew that, with Christ dwelling within us, we are capable of obeying Christ's commands.

After Jesus proclaims the Beatitudes (St. Matthew Chapter 5), He calls his audience to their true dignity.
“You are the salt of the earth (Melach); but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trodden under foot by men.
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
There is a play on words here.
  • Melech= King
  • Malach= Servant serving the King; Angel, Messenger
  • Melach= Salts, minerals (i.e., Melach HaEretz; salt of the earth)
  • Malech= Work; creative force, to make, or create, repair.
With our dignity restored by Christ, we can respond in conformity to Jesus' command to love. We can call on the Holy Spirit to inform our every action. When we fall short, we can make haste to the Sacrament of Penance and there, in the presence of the priest of God, confess our sins and receive absolution.

If we allow ourselves to be found by Christ, we can submit to His right judgement which allows us to see ourselves as we truly are. Jesus is the perfect mirror in which man, illumined by the Holy Spirit, can see himself created in the image of God. Prior to Christ's redemption, each person stands looking into a mirror that reflects his fallen nature. In a sense, each person sees himself staring back at him. Baptized, the mirror is polished clean. Our vision, still lacking clarity, requires the practice of daily prayer to dispose us to God's transforming love.

One parting thought—when we receive Holy Communion, the Body and Blood of Christ, the Father now sees in us His only-begotten Son. Keep that in mind the next time you receive the Most Precious Body and Blood of Jesus.
Communion Prayer
Heavenly Father,
thank You for the gift of Your Son Whose Presence now dwells within me.
Pour out upon me Your Holy Spirit, I humbly beseech You,
that I may offer Jesus my complete surrender.
I cast aside every obstacle, every egotistical concern,
every barrier to His love and peace
in the hope of being made perfect in Him,
so that through Him and with Him and in Him
I may one day, in the company of the saints,
look upon You and adore You.
Father, look upon me, your child,
and see only Your Son dwelling within me.
Help me to decrease so that Jesus may increase.
In Jesus' name. Amen.