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Veritatis Splendor

"Keep your eyes fixed upon Jesus, who inspires and perfects our faith" --Hebrews 12:2

Pope Benedict XVI before our Lord

And only where God is seen does life truly begin. Only when we meet the living God in Christ do we know what life is. We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution.
Each of us is the result of a thought of God.
Each of us is willed,
each of us is loved,
each of us is necessary.
There is nothing more beautiful than to be surprised by the Gospel, by the encounter with Christ. There is nothing more beautiful than to know Him and to speak to others of our friendship with Him.
~Pope Benedict XVI, Homily April 24th, 2005

Monday, July 25, 2005

This Father's not much of a father...

Off the Record -- hey, not my problem!

Priests are human too. Granted. But seriously -- a Redemptorist priest and his entire religious order that basically abandons the child of one of its priests and the kid's mom 12 years ago, and now fights in court to CONTINUE to abandon them? The Redemptorists would seem to be lacking redeeming qualities. Shame on them!

And in the shadow of yet another Archdiocese (led at the time by none other than Archbishop Levada, very soon to be on his way to take Ratzinger's place as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith!) which has chosen the path of hiding behind secular lawyers, who beg off responsibility by saying that it was the woman's fault that she got pregant because she "engaged in 'unprotected intercourse'" -- so what, your Excellency, you're saying (by way of your approved lawers) that it's her fault because should have used birth control??!? Nice job, Catholic Answer Man. Real smooth.

The whole mess seems to be just another puncture wound in the American Church that needs a good physician to come in and recognize that with puncture wounds, the surface doesn't look like much, but the infection is deep down, pervasive, and rotten.

With all the puncture wounds like it across the country, one would think the American episcopate wandered off the path and tripped over a porcupine. And then chooses to sit there and keep whining instead of allowing the doctor to treat them and admitting that they were stupid to go off the path in the first place.


Sunday, July 24, 2005

"The Mass of Vatican II"

A rediscovered gem of an article - The Mass of Vatican II

It's all good, but in particular I appreciated this section on the Council and sacred music ('specially this part, regarding Gregorian chant -- the Jews say "You got it from us"!)

In paragraph 112, in which the Council speaks specifically of music, we read: “The musical tradition of the Universal Church is a treasure of inestimable value, greater even than that of any other art.” That is a stupendous and shocking statement; the Council actually says that the Church’s music is a treasure of art greater than any other treasure of art she has. Think about that. Think about Chartres Cathedral. Think about the Pieta. Think about Da Vinci’s Last Supper. Think of all the crucifixes from Catalonia in Spain, and all the Church architecture and art and paintings and sculpture. The Council boldly says that the Church’s musical tradition is a treasure of inestimable value greater than any other art.

But the Council would be remiss in making such a shocking statement without giving a reason for it: “The main reason for this preeminence is that, as sacred song united to the words, it forms a necessary or integral part of the solemn liturgy.” What that means is this: it’s wonderful to have a beautiful church, stained glass windows, statues, a noble crucifix, prayerful architecture that lift your heart up to God. But those are all surroundings of the Mass. It’s the “worship environment,” as they would say today. But it’s not the Mass itself. The Council says that when the Mass itself is set to music, that’s what ennobles music, which, itself, enhances the Mass; and that’s what makes the musical tradition the most precious tradition of the Church.

Notice, however, that the Council implies what many Church documents have said explicitly — that the most perfect form of music at Mass is not the hymns, the so-called “Gathering hymn” and its antithesis — I guess you would call it the “Scattering hymn” — at the end. The most appropriate use of music at Mass, as seen by Church tradition and reaffirmed by the Council, is singing the Mass itself: the Kyrie, the Agnus Dei, the Sanctus, the Acclamations, the Alleluias and so on. Again, this isn’t Father Fessio’s pet theory; this is what the Council actually says. Paragraph 112 adds, “Sacred music is to be considered the more holy in proportion as it is the more closely connected with the liturgical action itself.” This reinforces my point.

Paragraph 114 adds: “The treasure of sacred music is to be preserved and fostered with great care.” Then in paragraph 116 we find another shocker: “The Church acknowledges Gregorian Chant as specially suited to the Roman Liturgy. Therefore, other things being equal, it should be given pride of place in liturgical services.” That’s what the Council actually said. If you are in a parish which prides itself on living the spirit of Vatican II, then you should be singing Gregorian chant at your parish. And if you’re not singing the Gregorian Chant, you’re not following the specific mandate of the Second Vatican Council.

Now, just a little footnote on the Gregorian Chant. In reflecting on these things about Church music, I began to think about the Psalms a few years back. And a very obvious idea suddenly struck me. Why it didn’t come earlier I don’t know, but the fact is that the Psalms are songs. Every one of the 150 Psalms is meant to be sung; and was sung by the Jews. When this thought came to me, I immediately called a friend, a rabbi in San Francisco who runs the Hebrew School, and I asked, “Do you sing the Psalms at your synagogue?” “Well, no, we recite them,” he said. “Do you know what they sounded like when they were sung in the Old Testament times and the time of Jesus and the Apostles?” I asked. He said, “No, but why don’t you call this company in Upstate New York. They publish Hebrew music, and they may know.”

So, I called the company and they said, “We don’t know; call 1-800-JUDAISM.” So I did. And I got an information center for Jewish traditions, and they didn’t know either. But they said, “You call this music teacher in Manhattan. He will know.” So, I called this wonderful rabbi in Manhattan and we had a long conversation. At the end, I said, “I want to bring some focus to this, can you give me any idea what it sounded like when Jesus and his Apostles sang the Psalms?” He said, “Of course, Father. It sounded like Gregorian Chant. You got it from us.”

I was amazed. I called Professor William Mart, a Professor of Music at Stanford University and a friend. I said, “Bill, is this true?” He said, “Yes. The Psalm tones have their roots in ancient Jewish hymnody and psalmody.” So, you know something? If you sing the Psalms at Mass with the Gregorian tones, you are as close as you can get to praying with Jesus and Mary. They sang the Psalms in tones that have come down to us today in Gregorian Chant.

So, the Council isn’t calling us back to some medieval practice, those “horrible” medieval times, the “terrible” Middle Ages, when they knew so little about liturgy that all they could do was build a Chartres Cathedral. (When I see cathedrals and churches built that have a tenth of the beauty of Notre Dame de Paris, then I will say that the liturgists have the right to speak. Until then, they have no right to speak about beauty in the liturgy.) But my point is that at the time of Notre Dame de Paris in the 13th century, the Psalms tones were already over a thousand years old. They are called Gregorian after Pope Gregory I, who reigned from 590 to 604. But they were already a thousand years old when he reigned. He didn’t invent Gregorian chant; he reorganized and codified it and helped to establish musical schools to sing it and teach it. It was a reform; it wasn’t an invention. Thus, the Council really calls us back to an unbroken tradition of truly sacred music and gives such music pride of place.

Read it all here, and don't forget to send it on to your pastor and parish liturgist/music director!

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Another rockin' American bishop!! The buds keep popping up!

I've been meaning to note this on the blog, sorry for the delay (I've been working a lot the last few days on preparing to leave the country in two weeks...).

However, the Curt Jester has once again come through with the goods - so for those of you who didn't catch the latest word from the newly appointed Bishop Finn of the diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph (hint: Fr. Richard McBrien, ciao.) -- go to The Curt Jester: "So go get it somewhere else"

From "Ugly as Sin" to "Tiers of Glory"

Michael Rose has a new book out -- In Tiers of Glory, a beautifully-illustrated coffee table book actually, that details the "Organic Development of Catholic Church Architecture" (or as he calls it, "From tent to basilica, from cathedral to hangar... and back.").

It seems to be a sequel of sorts to his previous book "Ugly as Sin," which looked at the pervasive modernist's airplane-hangar-minimalism that has infected most modern Christian churches... That book was a bit depressing however (I mean, who wants to have a book lying around filled with pictures of ugly buildings?), this one is much more uplifting (ahem) and worthy of coffee-table status -- hey, if we all got one, and set it out, maybe we could remind our friends and family of what churches are supposed to remind us of -- HEAVEN!

Hat tip to one of the Some who Have Hats

luminous miseries

Not sure how I missed listing this blog before, I found it awhile ago and loved it -- it fulfills the true meaning and purpose for weblogs. luminous miseries is a blog written by a Protestant minister who is converting to Catholicism, and it is a heart-to-heart personal testimony of his (and his family's) journey across the Tiber.

Go check it out.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Fireworks - Round 2

No, these aren't from 4th of July... we went out to Stillwater MN (well, actually we were physicially over the river in Hudson WI) last night to watch the fireworks for the annual Stillwater Lumberjack Days -- wow, nice fireworks! Great view too, we were up on the bluff directly above where they were shooting them off -- IMAX fireworks!

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Fargo diocese to require NFP courses for pre-marriage couples!

Sweet -- Now we only pray it starts a trend!

Bishop Samuel J. Aquila of Fargo has announced that engaged couples across the diocese will have to be instructed in the theology of the body and complete an approved course in natural family planning before they can marry in the Catholic Church.

He announced the new policy July 18. It takes effect Sept. 8.

Full story- Diocese set to require pre-marriage course in natural family planning

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

WCCO: Local Catholic Woman To Be "Ordained"

I am sure that many of you who are locals saw
WCCO Channel 4's report Monday night on the issue of women's ordination. While the story was certainly better than I thought it would be, the information that it implicity or explicitly stated as factual was quite inaccurate by the Church's own understanding. Most obviously this was seen in the continued use of the terms "ordained" "priest" and "deacon" as accepted truth instead of prefaced with "claims to be a priest" or similar. In Catholic teaching, it makes no difference if someone wants to be a priest or calls themself a priest, they are not a priest unless they are male and a validly ordained bishop, who traces his apostolic succession back to the Apostles and therefore Christ Himself, ordains them so. A man can walk around and claim all he wants that he is a mother, but saying it doesn't make it so -- only a woman who has conceived in her womb *is* a mother. So is a married man who tells single women he is a bachelor - if he is married he is married, if he is not he is not. It cannot change by virtue of his words or desires alone.

To assert that these women *are* priests/bishops/whatever is incredibly irresponsibile on the part of WCCO.

The primary question in my thinking today, however, in the "aftermath" of this little foray by the mass media into our Church's doctrines, regards the relation of Magisterial infallibility to the teaching that reserves priestly ordaintion to men alone -- many people question whether or not the teaching by Pope John Paul II that only men can be ordained priests is truly "infallible" teaching. Along with this is the basic question of what does infallible mean? And can infallible statements ever be changed?

I need to preface this by the disclaimer that I am not a theologian... I welcome responses and criticisms of this, as it is my own personal understanding... definitely not infallible!! :) My main goal in this is to help me deepen my own understanding of all this, if anything in here helps someone else think about it that's good too!

Here goes:

Many of us understand that there are three levels of Church teaching - dogma, doctrine, and discipline. Only discipline is not infallible revealed teaching, and can be changed by proper ecclestiacal authority (for example, the position of the priest during Mass, or the abstaining from meat on Fridays). Dogma and discipline have "levels of infallability" of a sort, in that neither one can be denied by any Catholic - both dogmas and doctrines must be assented to. Both are infallible in that they have been the teaching of the Church from the deposit of faith that is the Revelation from God, or that they have a connection with it. Dogma is doctrine that has been specifically defined as being infallibile ex cathedra by the Pope or by a council. Thus, all dogmas are doctrines, but not all doctrines are dogmas. Doctrines which are not dogmatic do not have the same kind of infalliblity attached to them -- in other words, the level of our assent that is required, as Catholics, varies. Doctrines, however, are still to be infallibly held by all, in virtue of the ordinary Magisterium's (bishops and pope) teaching of them as such, but not necessarily in virtue of the extraordinary Magisterial proclaimation which grants dogmatic status to a doctrine. Again, all dogmas are doctrines, but not all doctrines are dogmas.

The ordination of women has been almost universally held by the Church as false theology, and it has always been taught as such. Sects which attempted to ordain women in the early Church were condemned as heretical. No pope or council has ever taught, or even suggested, that women can or should become priests. In fact, it was only very recently (as John Paul II mentioned in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis) that it has even been a subject of discussion. Now, in recent decades, it has emerged as a debate that needs resolution by the Church, perhaps in a similar way that the early Church had a need to resolve the nature of Jesus Christ as both true God and true man. Some of us may wish that John Paul would have spoken more absolutely and clearly about the matter, using all the flowery language he could muster to make it abundantly clear that it is as infallible as Pius XII's words on the dogma of the Assumption, but for reasons known only to John Paul and God Himself, he would seem to have used the strongest language he could use without actually claiming that level of extrodinary Magisterial infallibility.

Practically speaking, what it boils down to is that the faithful have been told "definitively" in a papal document that the Church "has no authority whatsoever" to ordain women, and (on a follow-up by the CDF) that this must be held "always, everywhere, and by all" as such -- this teaching is thus moved to the category of requiring assent, on a level with the teaching of the seven sacraments -- that is weighty indeed!

Theoretically speaking, there is room to quibble with John Paul's language and argue about the level of infallibility, but one would be on very shaky ground to claim that this teaching really can be substantially changed in the future. An equivalent argument of this would be the argument that the Church could one day declare that she has been wrong all along and there are really only six sacraments. I suppose until it is dogmatically defined as such, it is theoretically possible to argue this, since it is not dogmatic, but why bother? Remember, dogma is only defined when the doctrine is challenged. Nothing new is added, nothing "changes" in the Church's teaching -- and infallible doctrine and dogma are "irreformable" as now-Pope Benedict affirmed of the impossibility of women's ordination.

So the long and short of it, as I see it, is that the reservation of Holy Orders to men is not an infallible dogmatic teaching made by a pope ex cathedra or by a council, but it is a teaching that is to be infallibly held by all the faithful because it is an infallible teaching according to the ordinary Magisterium of the Church throughout the ages. It has been written by John Paul II in strong language that the Church has no authority to ordain women, and that this must be held "always, everywhere and by all."

Can someone ask hypothetically whether this could be changed? I suppose so, if you only consider the technical details of John Paul's written proclaimation. But when you consider that it, like many other doctrines, has indeed been continually taught as infallible (and not questioned until now) and that countless other theological teachings and Biblical background stand behind it, it becomes clear that to "change" it would cause a domino effect that would, sooner or later, contradict established dogma. If anyone can find documentation that there has been in the past un-answered episcopal leaders of the Church who taught women's ordination, then show them to me. I can't find them -- instead, everyone is arguing from the "theoretically speaking" standpoint.

Conclusion? It seems to me that the teaching of male ordination is considered infallible, while John Paul's declaration of the teaching isn't. Therefore, I argue that the teaching of the reservation of ordination to men alone is something that is both A) infallible, and B) can not in practice change in the future - two separate statements, and neither of which have anything to do with John Paul's specific declaration as being itself infallible or not (or with the fallible CDF's responses). "Rome has spoken, the case is closed" as far as Catholics on earth are concerned, and we leave it to God, with His soverign right, to sort out all the quibblings of infallible language, or to inspire a future pope to make a dogmatic definition.

Whew. Now feel free to tear me apart. :)

For reference, here are some links that I have used, and that pertain to this discussion:

2) Ordinatio Sacerdotalis (JPII, 1994, Apostolic Letter "On Reserving Priestly Ordination to Men Alone") - the big one, the one that settled the question... yet didn't.

Key quote: "Although the teaching that priestly ordination is to be reserved to men alone has been preserved by the constant and universal tradition of the Church and firmly taught by the magisterium in its more recent documents, at the present time in some places it is nonetheless considered still open to debate, or the Church’s judgment that women are not to be admitted to ordination is considered to have a merely disciplinary force. Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church’s divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Luke 22:32) I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful" (Ordinatio Sacerdotalis 4).

3) Responsum ad Dubium 28 October, 1995 (Response by the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith regarding the infalibility of the teaching of Ordinatio Sacerdotalis)

Key quote: This teaching requires definitive assent, since, founded on the written Word of God, and from the beginning constantly preserved and applied in the Tradition of the Church, it has been set forth infallibly by the ordinary and universal Magisterium (cf. Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium 25, 2). Thus, in the present circumstances, the Roman Pontiff, exercising his proper office of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32), has handed on this same teaching by a formal declaration, explicitly stating what is to be held always, everywhere, and by all, as belonging to the deposit of the faith.

The Sovereign Pontiff John Paul II, at the Audience granted to the undersigned Cardinal Prefect, approved this Reply, adopted in the ordinary session of this Congregation, and ordered it to be published.

Note -- observe that the use of the phrase "in the present circumstances" does NOT have any implications for "future change," as some have claimed. It is used in much the same way that the Bible uses the word "until" (ie, Matthew 1:25, "[Joseph] knew her not until she had borne a son"). It is a neutral statement that simply states what is going on right now, and makes no future claim.

Also note -- under no circumstances can the CDF, or any other solo bishop (apart from the pope) or group of bishops (apart from the calling of a dogmatic council) ever proclaim anything infallibily - so this is a technically fallible proclaimation, that clarifies and affirms the prior infallible teaching of the Church. Confused yet? Sorry!

4) Decree on Attempted Ordination of Some Catholic Women (Dec. 21, 2002, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, then-Cardinal Ratzinger)

Quote: "...they formally and obstinately reject a doctrine which the Church has always taught and lived, and which was definitively proposed by Pope John Paul II, namely, "that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women" (Apostolic Letter Ordinatio sacerdotalis, n. 4). The denial of this doctrine is rightly considered the denial of a truth that pertains to the Catholic faith and therefore deserves a just penalty (cf. cann. 750 §2; 1372, n. 1 CIC; John Paul II, Apostolic Letter Motu Proprio Ad tuendam fidem, n. 4A).

Moreover, by denying this doctrine, the persons in question maintain that the Magisterium of the Roman Pontiff would be binding only if it were based on a decision of the College of Bishops, supported by the sensus fidelium and received by the major theologians. In such a way they are at odds with the doctrine on the Magisterium of the Successor of Peter, put forward by both the First and Second Vatican Councils, and they thereby fail to recognize that the teachings of the Supreme Pontiff on doctrines to be held definitively by all the faithful are irreformable."

4) Lumen Gentium (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Vatican II)

Quote: And this infallibility with which the Divine Redeemer willed His Church to be endowed in defining doctrine of faith and morals, extends as far as the deposit of Revelation extends, which must be religiously guarded and faithfully expounded. And this is the infallibility which the Roman Pontiff, the head of the college of bishops, enjoys in virtue of his office, when, as the supreme shepherd and teacher of all the faithful, who confirms his brethren in their faith, by a definitive act he proclaims a doctrine of faith or morals. And therefore his definitions, of themselves, and not from the consent of the Church, are justly styled irreformable, since they are pronounced with the assistance of the Holy Spirit, promised to him in blessed Peter, and therefore they need no approval of others, nor do they allow an appeal to any other judgment. For then the Roman Pontiff is not pronouncing judgment as a private person, but as the supreme teacher of the universal Church, in whom the charism of infallibility of the Church itself is individually present, he is expounding or defending a doctrine of Catholic faith. The infallibility promised to the Church resides also in the body of Bishops, when that body exercises the supreme magisterium with the successor of Peter. (Section 25)

5) Jimmy Akin speaks out with a blog post on the nature of papal infallibility

Interesting insight that details just what is infallible about Ordinatio Sacerdotalis and what isn't (basically, that the teaching is, but the declaration isn't) Some interesting comments below his original post as well, that open up many areas of debate.

6) Ordinatio Sacerdotalis: Infallible Teaching?

A good overview of information on what infallible teaching is or entails, argues that Ordinatio Sacerdotalis does meet the criteria for infallibility. I do caution a little on this source, I am not familiar with this writer or his reputation (and he does not offer counter-arguments or refutations).

7) Ordinatio Sacerdotalis: a definition ex cathedra

Argues that the Pope did, after all, make a ex cathedra statement, using an interesting approach. I am not sure if it truly overcomes the problems as outlined by Jimmy Akin and others, but it is interesting to consider:

Quote: But the Report which explains PA [Pastor aeternus] does not say that a "definition" must necessarily be the new explicitation of the implicit: "[T]he word 'defines' signifies that the Pope directly and conclusively pronounces his sentence about a doctrine which concerns matters of faith and morals and does so in such a way that each one of the faithful can be certain of the mind of the Apostolic See, of the mind of the Roman Pontiff; in such a way, indeed, that he or she knows for certain that such and such a doctrine is held to be heretical, proximate to heresy, certain or erroneous, etc., by the Roman Pontiff."6 Thus John Paul II has defined the non-ordination of women by attaching the note definitive tenendam to this doctrine. According to the instruction Donum veritatis of the CDF of 1990, this expression signifies the assent which is due to what is necessarily connected to the revealed. The note definitive tenendam is therefore the positive form of the note erronea long attached by popes to propositions which cannot be held without implicitly denying a truth of divine faith. John Paul II has therefore made a definition ex cathedra insofar as he has put an end to a dispute by attaching the theological note in its negative form to a doctrine whose theological note had been debated (of faith or not? irreformable or not? purely disciplinary or not? etc.) for several years... One should note what John Paul II did not say in the decisive passage of OS. He did not say "we confirm that this judgment has already been definitively proposed by the ordinary and universal magisterium." The decisive passage of OS does not bear on this question which is in the domain of "dogmatic facts." Rather he declares a divine thing (or an act of Christ) and he declares that this thing is definitive tenendam. Through the context provided by Pastor aeternus of Vatican I, the Report of the Deputation on Faith for Pastor aeternus, LG 25, and the practice of the Church attested to by an event during the Council of Trent and by Pius XI, it is manifest that Ordinatio Sacerdotalis contains an ex cathedra definition.

Monday, July 18, 2005

The End of Europe

Interesting article (hat tip to Fr. Tucker). A smaller Europe, but perhaps also one day soon a more humble Europe? I think that a purification of the Church is happening, as Pope Benedict has observed, in which the Church may indeed seem to shrink, but will in turn be stregthened by a renewed core and then return to growth. It will be interesting to see if a similar trend happens in the western, historically "Catholic", world. With the incoming immigrant population, mostly Muslim, however, all bets are off...

Full article: The End of Europe

Sunday, July 17, 2005

A Short Guide to Ancient Heresies

In light of our Gospel reading for today from Matthew 13:9-11, 15-22, where Jesus warns us that the enemy sows weeds (evil) among the wheat (good), I thought it would be a good time to review the heresies (the weeds) of the Church -- because of course, the more things change the more they stay the same, and most of the ancient heresies are still around today under different names.

A Short Guide to Ancient Heresies, by Kenneth D. Whitehead

Who do pro-choice groups attract? Your mother's worst nightmare.

Hmm... I came across a lovely (read: sarcasm) section on Off the Record today that linked to a bunch of photos from a recent pro-choice march. Along with the typical "smile for the camera" shots of women proudly holding signs that "I do NOT regret my abortion" I found these... It actually made me laugh (albeit sadly).

THESE are the kind of people that a pro-choice march woos and loves. They are very "tolerant" after all. Honestly, I think only people who have aborted all their kids would "tolerate" these kinds of people, because who in the world would want their kids to see this?

If you consider yourself "pro-choice," would you want to be associated with these people?

(Warning - bad language/connotations... and these are some of the cleaner photos!)

* Kill Christians? Forget "cleaning fetal tissue" out of the womb -- let's just endorse wholesale slaughter!

* That's who everyone wants to be around - a self-centered MeMeMeMeMe "individuated woman".

* Every mother wants their daughter to hang around a guy with a shirt that says "cock-sucker for choice"! (Hey, at least he's "not for sale.")

* Mommy, mommy, I want to be a "sex worker" when I grow up!! Then I can be happy like these people!

* Uh... do you HAVE a uterus???

* If that's what feminists look like... they're a dying breed.

* God for choice - "Choose life, that you may live." (Deuteronomy 30:19)

If you can stomach it, the others can be found by clicking here

Saturday, July 16, 2005

"If your mom would have had an abortion, you wouldn't be here to read this"

While on a visit home to the family last week, I was at my sister's house. She is taking care of my brother's kids for a few weeks this summer (they moved to Phoenix last winter and the kids apparently decided that after an Arizona winter, a Wisconsin summer was just the ticket).

My brother's oldest girl is 13, and acts like it -- typical wannabe-cool teenager of the secular era, with the too-tight wardrobe and the rolling eyes when any conversation turns towards boring things, like Mass. But when she handed my sister a copy of a paper she wrote for school last spring, my sister was very impressed -- it just goes to show that parents need to keep teaching, even if the kids don't seem like they are listening. Here's what she wrote:


I am against abortion of all forms. It is wrong to end an innocent life just because you didn't want to commit to something. Even if you don't want to have the baby, you should deliver it and give it to an adoption center. If you get yourself into this mess you have to figure out how to get yourself out of it. When you figure out what to do, when you remember what is right for you and the baby, you will feel a lot better.

I think it should be against the law to kill a helpless baby. The baby didn't do anything to deserve to die. It was your fault if you got pregnant. If you don't want to get pregnant, remain abstinent. Killng a baby is just like killing anyone else. When someone kills someone else they get a punishment. Why is killing a baby any different?

Even if you don't want to have the baby, there are other options than killing it. This is one time that you shouldn't worry about what other people think. If other people say the right thing to do is to get an abortion, then I say think for yourself. If your mother had an abortion you wouldn't be here. You can always give your baby to an adoption center if you decide that is the right thing for you and your baby.

It is inhumane to kill someone just because you don't want to commit to something. When people get an abortion they are murdering their child. If you can't committ to your baby, then why did you mess up? Why did you have sex with your boyfriend in the first place, when you knew you weren't supposed to? This is the kind of situation where mother knows best.

I am against abortion of all forms. It is wrong to kill your baby because you don't want to commit to it. Just because you don't want to have it doesn't mean it is right to kill it. Give the baby to an adoption center. When you get yourself into a mess like this, figure out what would truly be best for both you and your baby. Think about it; if your mom would have had an abortion, you wouldn't be here to read this.

Not bad for a 13-year-old's school paper today, huh? And at a public school too!

Please, offer up a prayer right now for my niece, that she may continue to be a witness to her friends and classmates "in season and out of season," when it is so hard for anyone her age to withstand the peer pressure (and the teacher/media/society pressure) to "fit in". While you're at it, see if you do something about her clothes...

Crusade for Life enters the lion's den

News on the web is that the group from ALL's Crusade for Life is now moving into the SF Bay area for a week... I'm guessing this is the same group that were not tolerated by the "tolerant" people at Los Angele's cathedral (kicked out of the cathedral just for wearing a pro-life T-shirt). I wonder if they will receive any better reception in the heart of pro-choice country, San Franciso?

Christian News - The Christian Post | Crusade for Life Spreads Pro-Life Message in Bay Area

+St. Francis, lover of life, pray for us!

Archbishop: need for a liturgy "dress code"

In a move that I think many American priests and bishops should imitate, the Archbishop of Mumbai, Ivan Dias, has reportedly decided to implement a "dress code" for church attendance. What many people are wearing to church, around the world, is utterly disrespectful and inappropriate attire for the worship of our Lord. As this recent article from DaijiWorld says,

Our Indian culture is that women wear saris for formal and social gatherings, including religious ceremonies. Over the years even chudidars have been largely accepted. But what we see in most of the urban and metropolis churches is not saris and chudidars but a fraction of this. The tight-fit jeans and T-shirts, transparent, sleeveless blouses (or in some cases 'blouseless sleeves', as someone graphically put it?), skirts with deep V-cut (actually 'the most unkindest cut' on one's morality) etc never do any good either to Church or to the individuals. There is a kind of competition between mothers and daughters too wherein at times mother easily outshines and outwits the daughter with her dress. A worred housewife said that the way some mothers dress is even likely to give a complex to their daughters.

Some parents take pride in sending their teenaged and adolescent daughters to church in mini-skirts. Then why blame the eve-teasing or attempts of being stalled or molested? Precaution and prevention are better than punishment and repentance, it would be realized the hard way...

Before someone calls us male chauvinist pigs, we should say the men are not far behind. Youth who come to the Mass in bermudas or in T-shirts without collar, T-shirts with rash, obscene and awkward slogans and statements or graphics do not add anything to any culture or to religion. A recent trend is that even the boys come to the church with sleeveless T-shirts which are mostly worn during sports meets. The three-fourths, which are slightly longer than the bermudas and shorter than the full trousers, makeanother incurable disease. Even some men wearing full shirts leave their buttons open exposing part of the hair on their chests, maybe to prove their 'macho' image.

Going to the parties and cultural events is one thing. But attending religious ceremonies is a totally different plank. We don't go to offices or attend interviews for jobs in T-shirts or sports shoes or mini-skirts or in shirts with buttons open. We respect the person sitting at the other side of the table or the office ambience and dress modestly. Because, at the interviews we are worried about being judged and losing the job prospects. But the Almighty whom we go to meet does not hold out such threats and there are no hazards. That's why this lax and promiscuous attitude, some people said.

And of course the impetus for all this scandal in India is... the West:

Blame it on the western world or media revolution, we are simply aping something that does not fit into our system and social structure. The dress worn while going to the church by men, women and children at times poses a serious question not on the trend of the society but on one's own morality and values. It is often said our inner qualities and virtues are manifested in our words and deeds. It is not only words and deeds, but rather our dress, our hairstyle and the like speak in volumes about our family background and the values with which we are brought up. The lack of sense that we show in dressing is not the Achilles heal of the society rather it is loop hole in one's personality for not all members of a society wear indecent dress; there are a good number of people who dress in neat and decent way.

It is understandable when places like India blame Western culture for some of this downright dangerous casual attitude towards the Omnipotent and Almighty God of the Universe... I blame it too. But the problem is that this is not Western culture. It is secular culture. Once you believe that God doesn't exist, and that freedom is doing whatever the hell you want to do whenever you want to do it (oh yeah, "so long as it doesn't hurt anyone else", whatever that means), then why not "dress for success" (so to speak)?

In any case, we're praying for you Archbishop Dias, good luck in your quest to restore a sense of decorum and dignity to the churches of Mumbai. May his work inspire others.

Read the whole article at: Dress Code for Church Service - A Long-Needed Measure, Feel Many

Blessings on this Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel

O MOST BLESSED and Immaculate Virgin, ornament and beauty of Mount Carmel, thou who beholdest with thy special kindness those who wear thy blessed Scapular, look lovingly upon me, and cover me with the mantle of thy motherly protection. Fortify my weakness with thy power, enlighten the darkness of my understanding with thy wisdom, increase Faith, Hope and Charity in me, adorn my soul with the graces and virtues that will make me pleasing to thee and thy divine Son. Assist me during my life, and console me at the hour of my death and present me to the most blessed Trinity as thy devoted servant, to
praise and bless thee in heaven forever.

A Reflection for the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel - "The Gentle Presence of Mary"

What is a scapular? Why do so many people wear one? Is it magic? Find out here!

Our Lady of Mount Carmel, pray for us!

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Dueling Musicians, meet the Commercial Breaks

Amy Welborn and I have a lot in common - including our perception of ideal liturgical musical practices. Lo and behold, today as I was considering blogging about my liturgical musical experience this morning at Mass, I happened upon Amy's own post about her own encounter with (as she put it) "dueling musicians."

My turn first, then I'll send you her way. To preface, let me just say that I am a strong believer in the "we sing what we believe and we believe what we sing" maxim. I also am a fan of St. Augustine's understanding of singing as "praying twice." Therefore -- I see the purpose and goal of Catholic liturgical music to lead us to a greater respect of the awesomeness and mystery of the Triune God and His Church, and thus to be brought up to praise and worship Him with all our hearts. Liturgical music is not meant to entertain us, nor to lower itself to the lowest common denominator so that "everyone" can understand. The point is not for everyone to understand it, the point is to inspire everyone to want to understand it more! Singing ditties to God that sound like a 6-year-old wrote them does not inspire us to greater holiness, instead it simply gives us a pat on the back and tells us "we're all fine" and "just as you are" and "affirms" us in our "we are church" ideologies.

So. Anyway. This morning I took a "road trip" to one of our Archdiocese's more rural parishes, to visit a friend who is the brand new pastor there, who shall remain nameless for this recounting. It is a very charming country parish - beautiful building with original stained glass and carved statues/stations/pews, with a great pamphlet racks chock full of good Catholic info and apostolates, they pray a Rosary before Mass... good stuff. We thought to ourselves, great parish! as we went to take our seats. And it is, don't get me wrong. That's partly why I was kind of sad to check the hymn numbers in the hymnal beforehand and saw that it was basically going to be a Haugen & Haas Mass (Gather Us In, Taste and See, Canticle of the Sun, and another one I forget). And then the piano started.

Aside from the fact that Haugen's lyrics are potential theological timebombs (between the proud statements that we are the Body and that all are "gathered in" and all are to "take" the Lord, it's enough to make anyone think that they are indeed the Church themselves, and what's so special about that bread on the altar? Of course, that's assuming that anyone even listens to those insipid lines.) the thundering noise of "contemporary" band from the choir loft (hey, at least they were in the choir loft I guess) completely distracted and overshadowed the celebration of Mass by our very quiet and reverent priest friend. His beautiful soft chanting of the "through Him, with Him, and in Him...." was abruptly cut off by the AMEN AMEN AMEN AMEN of one of those 80s-era Mass settings. And, the odd thing is that pretty much the rest of the Mass was celebrated pretty correctly... it was a very disconcerting feeling, because it was almost like you had the Mass, and then every once in awhile you had short obnoxious "commercial breaks."

I just don't expect strong and orthodox parishes (as this one certainly appears to be) to have fallen to the curse of innane music. People did sing the stuff too, but it was kind of funny that it was all the older people who were doing most of the rafter-raising... the younger people who were near me (and there were surprisingly quite a few of them, not bad for a town of 434) pretty much just mouthed the words. But from way behind us we could certainly hear the older crowd "gathering us all in." I suppose the "music leader" and the older and wiser parishioners believe that this kind of music is what they are supposed to sing now, and that the kids wouldn't like any of that old stodgy stuff anyway. Too bad. I have a feeling they would be a lot happier if they were given "permission" to sing good, solid, meaty, beautiful lyrics again, with the organ that this fine old "worship space" was designed for.

Anyway, so that's my story of the day, now on to Amy's: open book: Dueling Musicians

"The pope started laughing"

Remember these faces? At the election of B16? The guy on the right would be a seminarian, Joe Freedy, and does he have a story to tell - it's not everyone who does this:

Freedy became even more emotional when he was introduced to his hero after Mass in the papal library.

"I knelt in front of him and hadn't planned on saying anything. I just said, "I love you,' and he gave me a big smile and his blessing," Freedy said.

Humility later turned into embarrassment.

Pope John Paul II traditionally gave a rosary to everyone he met under such intimate circumstances. Freedy nervously took his from the table and stepped aside so a friend could enjoy the same opportunity. There was an awkward pause for some reason, and no rosary was claimed. So Freedy snatched another one.

"The pope looked at me like "What are you doing?' " Freedy said. "The bishops started laughing. The pope started laughing; "You just stole a rosary from the pope.' "

Freedy will forever cherish his brief interactions with Pope John Paul II, whose passing April 2 reverberated around the world.

(Oh, and what book was instrumental in his "Catholic reversion" in college? His dad's gift of Scott Hahn's "The Lamb's Supper." I know a few other families who might want to give that idea a try!)

Read the rest of the article here.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Text for the Eucharistic Synod this fall in Rome

Oh boy, is this one gonna be good!! The German pontiff is definitely not sitting on his hands, let's get down to business boys!

Focus is "The Eucharist: Source and Summit of the Life and Mission of the Church," and it details (among other things)

"Instrumentum laboris" of the 11th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops

The prime purpose of the Instrumentum laboris is to provide the synod fathers with their “working document” and reference point in further discussion on the Eucharist, which, as the heart of the Church, spurs her on in communion to a renewed missionary dynamism. There is no doubt that reflection will be fruitful, because the spirit of collegiality, characteristic of the synod, will foster consensus on the propositions which are destined for the Holy Father. In the process, further benefit will also result in liturgical renewal, exegetical research and theological study which has taken place since the Second Vatican Council.

The submissions, summarized in the Instrumentum laboris, demonstrate the desire of the People of God that the work of the synod fathers, gathered around the Bishop of Rome, the Head of the Episcopal College and President of the Synod, together with others coming from the Church community, contribute towards a rediscovery of the beauty of the Eucharist as the Sacrifice, Memorial and Banquet of Jesus Christ, the Saviour and Redeemer of the world. The faithful are awaiting appropriate guidance so that the Sacrament of the Eucharist, the Bread-Come-Down-from-Heaven (cf. Jn 6:58), offered by God the Father in his only-begotten Son, might be celebrated with more dignity; that the Lord might be adored with greater devotion under the species of bread and wine; and that the bond of unity and communion might be strengthened among those who are nourished by the Lord’s Body and Blood. Such an idea is to be expected, since Christians, who participate in the Table of the Lord and are enlightened by the grace of the Holy Spirit, are a living part of the Church, the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ. They are his witnesses in everyday life and in the workplace, always attentive to the spiritual and material needs of others and active in constructing a more just world, where every one will have a share in our daily bread.

Inspired by the example of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Woman of the Eucharist, the synod fathers approach their work in a spirit of readiness and willingness to do the will of God the Father as well as in an attitude of openness to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. They will be sustained by their bond of communion with the clergy and faithful, who, in this Year of the Eucharist, continue, with renewed zeal, to pray, celebrate, adore and bear witness to the fruitfulness of the Eucharistic mystery through a Christian life and fraternal charity, thus proclaiming with renewed apostolic vigour—to those nearby and those far away—the beauty of the great gift of faith contained in the Sacrament of the Eucharist, source and summit of the life and mission of the Church in the Third Millennium of Christianity.

And that's just a fragment of the introduction to the document... it is a very rich document, but I would encourage everyone to take the time to read over it. Even if you cannot sit and read every word, at least go over the headings and skim the paragraphs. It will show you more clearly than anything else what the focus of this pontificate will be, a return to Christ, a return to the Church, a return to authentic liturgy that is Christ-centered and not people-centered, a return to proper catechesis about the meaning and experience of the Eucharist - a return to Catholicism, pure and simple.

I cannot believe that I will be in Rome for this amazing close to John Paul II's final legacy of the Year of the Eucharist! Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever! What a time to be alive!

+John Paul the Great, pray for us!

Vatican budget in the black again

VATICAN CITY – For the first time in years, the Roman Catholic Church's finances are looking somewhat healthy again. The Vatican's central administration, the Holy See, and the tiny Vatican city state in the heart of Rome both reported budget surpluses in 2004, the Holy See said on Saturday.

...Some Catholics have fretted in the past over a perceived fall in generosity in the United States following the clergy sex abuse scandals that emerged under John Paul II's papacy.

The good news is, the Vatican's in the black (and should stay that way, what with German efficency and all!). The bad news is, the media can't just say that, it's got to phrase it in such a way so as to make sure everyone knows that it really doesn't mean anything, since Americans are afraid of contributing because of the sex abuse scandal and all (doncha know?).


Vatican back in black, even as offerings fall

Catholic college begins Terri Schiavo Scholarship

Ave Maria University in Naples, Florida has announced that it will begin awarding a scholarship in honor of Terri Schiavo, for young men interested in studying for the priesthood.


Ave Maria plans to honor Schiavo

LA Catholic's on a roll...

The spitfire of the west, the blogger with the attitude and who's not afraid to use it, the right-hand Catholic on the left-hand coast -- LA Catholic brings us another whiz-banger of a posting.

Seriously, I almost feel bad for poor Cardinal Mahoney... But I guess, if the shoe fits...

The guy doesn't have a prayer

I might add to this post that it (sadly) made me wonder just what bishop today would dare to quote Mother Teresa's beautiful words? I'm afraid Cardinal Mahoney's not the only skittish bishop who cares more for his earthly reputation than his call to sainthood, even via the path of martyrdom if necessary (or the loss of a tax-exempt status).

Bl. Mother Teresa of Calcutta, pray for us!

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Theology on Tap - another successful conclusion!

Well, our young adults group finished off another series of Theology on Tap tonight, with our traditional "Grill the Priests" night, and boy did we grill them!! Thankfully, I don't think any priests got burned.

I forgot my camera, so I don't have pretty pictures, but trust me... great crowd, probably in the 200-attendee range. And great questions! It just goes to show that young adults today really and truly want real ANSWERS, they want depth to their faith and they want to know the fullness of truth.

I mean, come on, we had all kinds of meaty questions (and well done answers!). From a question about helping non-Catholics understand transubstantiation and the Real Presence in the Eucharist, to a question about how Canon law 915 is to be applied by priests distributing Holy Communion, to a question about why NFP is any different from contraception. These are not fluffy Barney-style kumbaya questions here people! Ok, so maybe the note asking whether Fr. Huard had a single younger brother was a bit off the mark... but seriously.

There is a lot of hope out there in the young adults of today... they are seeking, they are searching, with the inspiration of the Holy Spirit upon them. One of the priests (responding to a question about priestly celibacy) made the comment that each generation has its own set of priests -- there are no "priestly families" as there were in the Old Testament. Instead, each generation gives up some of its own, each contributing to the Church in its own way. Where the Holy Spirit is allowed to work, there priests will emerge, will answer the call. There as well, along with priests, will come holy marriages and faithful service in answer to God's call in other ways. But the priesthood, that special ontological call for the men whom God wishes to make the bridegrooms of Christ and His Church, that is something that can only happen through faith. Priests do not beget priests (generally speaking, Eastern rites and special cases notwithstanding), out of obedience to the Church's wisdom in the matter of priestly life, of what it means to BE a priest (not just have the "job" of a priest).

My point in all of this (yes, I do have one) is that with this brief Theology on Tap discussion, I realized how amazing it is that we have priests at all, that we have a Church at all, and it made me realize just what a special time we live in -- and it is "our" time, for our generation. We can study history all we want to, and we can attempt to predict the future, but none of that really matters to God. Vocations are for each generation, and the answering of God's call to priesthood, religious life, marriage, or single life is something that each person in each generation must cooperate with or reject.

No one denies that there is currently a "flowering" in the Church, an increase in the number of vocations (at least in some areas), and the corresponding spiritual vigor and enthusiasm of so many young adults. Granted, the faith is certainly not "thriving", there are many many young adults and youth out there who see no need for a Church (or even a God). But still, the young adults who are here, are here with a sense of mission, a sense of yearning for truth, a sense of seeking fulfillment that will last. And so they come eagerly to events, like our Theology on Tap sessions, that provide them with substance, with answers to their tough questions, speakers that straight and true with the teachings of the Church.

Thank you to everyone who has participated in Theology on Tap, here and elsewhere, and who has worked in young adult ministry to provide the opportunities (like Theology on Tap) for young adults to come together in faith and fellowship to find the true center of their life, the person of Jesus Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life, the One who is the Answer.

And if you're wondering why I'm suddenly blogging about all this immediately upon arriving home... I got the message tonight that I haven't been blogging enough. (It's all for you, Nels! :)

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Fr. Corapi on the Eucharist and Benedict XVI

From Zenit.com:

Father Corapi: When Cardinal Ratzinger chose the name Benedict XVI, I immediately did some research to come to some understanding of why he chose that name, which usually indicates the direction of a new pope.

I believe that I found a real clue through what Benedict XV was most interested in. Certainly he was interested in preserving and/or restoring peace in the tumultuous days surrounding World War I.

It seems to me, however, he was also very interested in the restoration of the priesthood and in the sacred liturgy. The latter, of course, has been historically of great importance to the Benedictine charism itself.

However, it may be in what is arguably Benedict XV's most notable encyclical, "Humani Generis Redemptionem," that we find a clue to the course Benedict XVI may be setting.

This document concerns the restoration of the priesthood and the preparation of good preachers of the Gospel. One cannot properly approach a Year of the Eucharist without considering the ministerial priesthood. Quite simply: no priest, no Eucharist. Jesus instituted the two sacraments together and they are indissolubly linked.

I believe that the proper education and holiness of priests is of paramount importance to the new Holy Father. This is, of course, very much wrapped up in his already-known interest in a "Reform of the reform" of the sacred liturgy. Not a return to the days before the Council, but a proper and authentic interpretation and praxis of what the Second Vatican Council truly said.

That, I believe, is one of the primary focuses of the new Pope's vision for the Church: holy and well prepared priests and a reverence and love for Jesus Christ in the holy Eucharist.

This will automatically result in a tremendous interest and love for adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Benedict XV wanted properly educated preachers -- in authentic doctrine -- and, most of all, holy preachers. You can't give what you don't have, and Jesus Christ is all we have to give.

Read the rest at: Fr. Corapi on the Eucharist and Benedict XVI


(Hat tip to Quodlibeta!)

JPII Photo Mosaic Project

All youth and young adults are invited to participate in a neat World Youth Day project -- a massive photo mosaic of Pope John Paul II, the founder of the WYD. Simply upload a digital photo portrait of yourself and it will be added to the mix of submitted photos that will compose the final picture of JP II.

See the Thank you JPII page for details on how to submit your own photo!

God bless America!

God our Father, Giver of life, we entrust the United States of America to Your loving care. You are the rock on which this nation was founded. You alone are the true source of our cherished rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Reclaim this land for Your glory and dwell among Your people.

Send Your Spirit to touch the hearts of our nation´s leaders. Open their minds to the great worth of human life and the responsibilities that accompany human freedom. Remind Your people that true happiness is rooted in seeking and doing Your will.

Through the intercession of Mary Immaculate, Patroness of our land, grant us the courage to reject the "culture of death." Lead us into a new millennium of life. We ask this through Christ Our Lord. Amen.

Friday, July 01, 2005

The "Lost" Angeles Cathedral

A Catholic cathedral has threatened a group of Catholics protesting the inaguration of the city's new mayor, who claims to be a Catholic yet favors legalized abortion, with arrest, and denied them entrance into the church.

Guess which cathedral this happened at?
Guess who let them into the cathedral? (Hint: initials are LAPD)

Apparently they should have brought along some rainbow sashes to wear as decoys until they got inside.

Mahoney might have finally bit off more than he can chew -- in light of this unconstitutional transgression, the American Life League is calling for Cardinal Roger's immediate resignation due to his "continued defiance of Church teaching," says ALL president Judie Brown. Amen sister! This fiasco combined with the impending nightmare of abuse settlements in Mahoney's realm may well seal the good Cardinal's episcopal fate.

Full story:

LOS ANGELES, July 1 /U.S. Newswire/ -- "Today's attempted arrest in Los Angeles of the student participants in American Life League's Crusade for the Defense of our Catholic Church is beyond scandalous," said Judie Brown, president of American Life League. "Since when is it against the law for Catholics to defend the Catholic faith at a Catholic Cathedral? We are outraged at the situation."

Today's scene occurred when more than a dozen young people attempted to attend the inauguration ceremonies of Antonio Villaraigosa, mayor-elect of Los Angeles, who is a pro-abortion Catholic. The young adults are part of American Life League's 2005 Crusade for Life walks in which they are trekking from San Diego to Sacramento spreading the truth about the incompatibility of Catholicism and support of abortion.

The group planned to attend the inauguration ceremonies, beginning at the Cathedral, and peacefully protest with shirts and signs that read: you can't be Catholic and pro-abortion.

"It is an outrage that an event honoring a pro-abortion Catholic public figure that openly supports the killing of the preborn would occur at Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral," said Brown. "It is even more shameful that Cardinal Mahony and others would attempt to censor faithful Catholic students from proclaiming the truth."

"American Life League calls for the immediate resignation of Cardinal Roger Mahony in light of his continued defiance of Church teaching," said Brown. "His coddling of pro-abortion Catholic public figures in California is beyond reproach and should not be tolerated by the hierarchy of the Catholic Church."

The young activists were eventually allowed inside of the Cathedral, but only after the Los Angeles Police Department intervened in the situation. "How ironic that the Cathedral security guards wanted to arrest the students and the LAPD had to step in and point out that such an act would be unconstitutional," said Brown. "The truths of the Church will always stand strong, regardless of who attempts to stifle them...even a cardinal."

For more information about American Life League's Crusade for the Defense of Our Catholic Church, see http://www.CrusadeForLife2005.com.


Supreme Court Vacancy!

Just in from Priests for Life:

July 1, 2005

Dear Friends:

As you may have heard, Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor has just
resigned her position. Justice O'Connor was frequently the deciding vote in 5-4
decisions. Please pray for Mrs. O'Connor and her family in this difficult time.

With her resignation, a Supreme Court vacancy has been created. We have every
confidence that President Bush will appoint a nominee who will exercise the
restraint necessary to judges to strictly apply the Constitution rather than write
new policies into it. Even so, we know that as you are reading this, the White
House is being flooded with calls regarding the vacancy. Even if President Bush
is predisposed to nominate a judge who recognizes the many levels on which Roe
was wrongly decided, it is extremely difficult for politicians to withstand pressure
that is heavily against their inclinations.

How important is this nomination? The Supreme Court is currently divided 6-3 in
favor of Roe. This is an opportunity to gain an anti-Roe seat on the Supreme
Court and replace Ms. O'Connor with a strict constructionist who will apply the
Constitution rather than rewrite it.

That is why I am writing to you now. We need as many pro-lifers as possible to
contact the White House about the vacancy. Please call the White House
Comment Line at (202) 456-1111 and tell President Bush that you strongly agree
with his view that Justices on the Court should not write law, but apply it. You
may also contact the President via e-mail at president@whitehouse.gov or by fax
at 202-456-2461. Because time is of the essence, it is best to use one or more of
these methods of communication, as mail will likely be too late to have a serious
impact on the decision. Please also forward this to all of your pro-life friends and
relatives. Any given call could mean the difference between protecting women
and children in three years and not protecting them for decades to come.

Fr. Frank Pavone
National Director,
Priests for Life

Fra Angelico's Annunciation