Monday, September 29, 2008

Fr. Longenecker and Mel

"OK then, here's the Mel Gibson story:

I was living in London, and it was the year before Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ came out. There was some doubt as to whether Gibson would be able to get backers to help with the distribution of the film. He came to London to meet with Catholics involved in film and media as well as some potential financial backers to show us a rough cut of the movie.

Since I was writing film reviews at the time for Catholic papers I got an invitation. We saw the film in a little cinema in Soho in London, and afterward Mel Gibson appeared on stage to ask for our opinion and for any comments and suggestions.

I said that I liked the way he referenced famous Catholic art with his composition of shots and directorial style, and was this intentional. He admitted that it was, and I then said I would have liked to have seen a reference to the famous Salvador Dali crucifixion based on a vision of St John of the Cross in which we see the crucified Lord from the viewpoint of heaven.

Steve--a friend of mine piped up, "I would have liked to have seen some sign of God the Father's grief at the death of his son." Mel took all this on board. We packed up and some of us went off to dinner at a well to do Catholic's home. On the terrace I had the chance to talk personally with Mel Gibson about his Catholic faith and his commitment to the Church.

About a year later, after the film was released, Steve called me and said, "Dwight, have you seen Mel's movie?"

"Not yet," I replied.

"You got to go see it. He put our scenes in."

"What do you mean?"

"You know you said you wanted to see the crucifixion from God's perspective and I wanted to see a sign of the Father's grief?"


"Both scenes are now in the picture."

Sure enough. After Our Lord dies the camera zooms up to view Calvary from the celestial perspective, and then there is a clap of thunder and a single drop of rain--like a teardrop from heaven--falls in slow motion to the earth and the earthquake begins and the torrent starts to fall."

Those two short scenes were not in the rough cut of the movie we saw in London."

Msgr Gänswein on the Pope and the Liturgy

From NLM:

German weekly Die Zeit has an interview with Msgr. Georg Gänswein, the private Secretary of the Holy Father (hat-tip to the blog). Several interesting topics come up, but here are some excerpts regarding the liturgy in an NLM translation:

Of a different calibre are the interventions of Benedict in the liturgy of the universal Church - the gentle, but decidedly pursued renaissance of ecclesiastical forms, of which many Catholics seem to be ashamed since the reformist Second Vatican Council of the sixties. "Preconciliar" is the fighting word against the old, that which has to be overcome. It sounds like the word "premodern" in certain secular debates. Who is one of the two is as good as done. Pivotally "preconciliar ", i.e. to be overcome, was the venerable Mass with the face of the priest to God and the back to the people. By now, it is vice versa. Benedict is now rehabilitating the formal vocabulary of the traditional Mass, thought by the reformers to be overcome, wherever he can. This is not a matter of style anymore. Here everything is at stake.


"Anyone who knows him," replies Georg Gänswein, "knows him very much as someone who stands for continuity in the liturgy. It is a sort of dogma that the Second Vatican Council had brought ruptures. It can not be that a Vatican Council creates any ruptures. It is the Pope’s task to maintain the continuity of the Church and not to interrupt it. No, Pope Benedict has remained true to himself."

But does not the Catholic Church also have, albeit at a lower dose, the "Protestant problem" of the oblivion to form? On this very morning it could still be seen, in the middle of the Vatican, at Benedict's general audience. The Audience Hall could also be thought to be the town hall of Sindelfingen [a small German town, NLM]: no cross, no image, two abstract stained-glass windows and behind the Pope an enormous sculpture, reminiscent of the psychedelic record covers of the seventies.

Gänswein avoids reacting to the comment on the papal audience hall, but it is apparent that he is not precisely an ardent fan of it. "The hall was intended as a functional building for audiences. Five to ten thousand people could not be accommodated before."

Incidentally, the plans for the demolition of Vatican buildings of rich tradition in favour of the new hall went even further. "It was also intended to tear down the Palazzo del Sant'Offizio," Gänswein re-counts - one of the most precious palazzi there and the seat of the Congregation of the Faith, which his Pope directed as cardinal for so long. "The demolition was only prevented by the respect of then Pope Paul VI for Cardinal Ottaviani, the prefect of the Congregation of the Faith at that time."

"That there have been wrong developments within and outside the liturgy, in sacred art," Gänswein continues, "is clear for anyone who has healthy senses. But Pope Benedict is not an iconoclast, by his very nature he is not. He does not act with a bulldozer. He looks at the things and acts gently, but decidedly." Who for instance had expected that there would be a cut in the personnel policy under Benedict, found that he had been wrong.

But how will it go on - will Benedict XVI, who always stresses the continuity of the Church and its forms, stop at the corrections implemented so far, or are there more to follow?

"Where the continuity has not yet attained its goal, it will go on. Within the clergy there are of course some who do not like to see this. [But] Many who are younger than I am, are a lot more adamant there." He means: as regards corrections to the reforms of the sixties. If Catholic, if a priest, then do it right (“go the whole hog”)

Benedict XVI recalls humility of John Paul I on the 30th anniversary of his death

.- On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the death of John Paul I, Pope Benedict dedicated his Sunday Angelus to the Pontiff whose reign lasted 33 days.

Speaking from a balcony in the courtyard of the Apostolic Palace in Castel Gandolfo, Pope Benedict recalled Sunday’s readings. In the Parable of the Two Sons, Jesus calls on sinners to convert and teaches humility as the means to accepting the gift of salvation.

In his Letter to the Philippians, St. Paul writes, “Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves.” St. Paul’s sentiments are the same as those of Jesus, who out of love for humankind, became man and died on the cross. The verb used – ekenôsen – literally means that Jesus “emptied himself” and “makes clear the profound humility and infinite love of Jesus, humble servant par excellence.”

The Pope said that the biblical texts brought to mind John Paul I. The deceased Pontiff chose the same episcopal motto as St. Charles Borromeo: Humilitas. One word synthesizes the Christian life and indicates the indispensible virtue of who, in the Church, is called to serve in a position of authority. In one of his four General Audiences, John Paul I repeated Jesus’ words: “Learn from me because I am gentle and humble of heart.” Humility can be considered John Paul I’s spiritual testament.

Pope Benedict explained that John Paul I used examples from daily life. The Venetian Pontiff’s simplicity, the Holy Father continued, “was a means of solid and fruitful instruction, which, thanks to the gift of an excellent memory and vast culture, was enriched by numerous citations of church and secular authors.” He was an unmatched catechist, in the footsteps of St. Pius X, his countryman and predecessor, first in Venice, then in Rome.

The Pope concluded by encouraging his audience to thank God for the gift of John Paul I to the Church and to cultivate the late Pontiff’s humility.

The Holy Father then prayed the angelus, greeted those present in various languages and gave his Apostolic Blessing.

Death Wish - Parts 1 & 2



A large number of endangered, unwanted, and unborn children held a town hall meeting on the 4th of July--alarmed at the brutal and untimely killing of millions of their brothers and sisters in recent years. That the murderous war waged on them had the full force and respectability of the law made their plight all the more terrifying.

Their complaint was humble and it was simple. They were not distressed by rising gas prices, or the deteriorating economy in general. They were not even frightened by the exponential increase of natural disasters. The threat of global warming or global terrorism did not greatly disturb them.

They had become an endangered species, and little had been done to answer their terrified and silent screams from the womb. They decided that the barbaric treatment that they and their fellow unwanted unborn human beings have had to endure for perilous decades was unconscionable and unbearable. They cried out to their Creator for inspiration and protection, and then unanimously they put forth a declaration. It began as follows:

“When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the
political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.


The first and pre-eminent right is the right to life. This truth the Founding Fathers were sure of, and anyone with any common sense at all is equally sure of it. 232 years after the Declaration of Independence was signed the amount of common sense that seems to be operative in many spheres of influence—most notably the courts and the political arena-- can easily be poured into a very small thimble.

The United States of America seems to have a death wish, and we have traveled far down
the road to having that wish realized.

When law divorces itself from common sense and spawns the illegitimate offspring of distortions of law, resulting in illegal laws—based neither on the natural law nor divine law--this undermines law itself, generating disdain for the law. Erosion of trust in the courts, or the system in general, is inevitable.

The genesis of the death wish is rooted in the fall of man that we see in the Book of Genesis. The substance of the fall is wrapped up in Lucifer’s pride, transferred to Adam and Eve—“You can be like gods, knowing good and evil.” The unholy, yet inevitable, consequence of that pride is disobedience—eating the forbidden fruit. The ultimate end is death, as God said it would be. That’s the way it was in the beginning. That’s the way it is now. That’s the way it will be until time breathes forth it’s last moment.

The prototypical sin is pride, the pride that seeks to exalt the creature above the Creator:
“I can be like God.” Then, subjectively and arbitrarily, man tries to assert himself, imagining that he knows what’s good and evil for himself without reference to God and God’s law. This was the fall of the angels and the fall of man. The attempt by creatures to usurp what is only the province of God. Only God knows what is good for His creation.

In recent years it took the form of a self-inflicted heart wound when some dissident Catholics rejected the teaching of the Church, a teaching that clearly held that artificial contraception is intrinsically evil. Then, as Pope Paul VI had warned, it metastasized into abortion. From abortion it degenerated even further into partial-birth abortion. It was then a short and easy step to infanticide.

The exclamation point at the end of the death wish is that now there is yet another candidate for the office of president of the United States who has in an extraordinary way done everything possible to breathe life into all of the barbaric elements of the death wish. He and his party make no apologies for their support of abortion, partial-birth abortion, and even infanticide. It’s hard to believe that we have degenerated to the point that we’ll murder a helpless baby should it escape the violence of an abortion and be born alive. Can a Catholic vote for such persons? We are told, “yes” for a “proportionate reason.” What, I might ask, is the proportionate reason so weighty as to excuse supporting those responsible for what is tantamount to genocide?

The judges and politicians that support such barbaric practices are truly guilty of genocide: genocide—the deliberate and systematic destruction of an ethnic, racial, religious, national, or social group. “What is the group so targeted?” you might ask. The group is unwanted, unborn children--tens of millions of them.

The Supreme Court justices that gave us Roe v. Wade will have to plead temporary insanity in the court of history. There will be no defense in the highest Court that is the judgment seat of almighty God if they do not repent of the incalculable evil they have wrought.

Yet, despite the life and death importance of this travesty of authentic law, there will be no serious discussion among political candidates, or anyone else. It is as if society has been bewitched, blind to the splendor of truth, deaf to the cries of the most innocent, most vulnerable, and most utterly helpless.

From artificial contraception to abortion to partial-birth abortion, then on to infanticide we march toward the abyss of oblivion, a society marked for death. Is it any wonder we can rationalize the killing of the elderly or the sick through euthanasia? The tragic murder of Terri Schiavo is a logical extension of a morally numb society’s mad march toward its own suicidal death. She wasn’t sick. She wasn’t dying. They murdered her, starved her to death--one of the cruelest forms of death. She was innocent, yet subjected to a most cruel and unusual punishment. Why? Because she was helpless? Because she was too much trouble, too hard to look at?

As Abraham Lincoln asserted, “If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.” We are dying by suicide, moral and spiritual suicide, and the moral demise of a nation almost always precedes the ultimate demise of a nation.

Many of our leaders, political and legal, are reminiscent of the horrid witches in Act 1 Scene 1 of Shakespeare’s “Macbeth,” chanting shrilly to a morally sick public all too eager to be confirmed in their sins,

“Fair is foul, and foul is fair: Hover through the fog and filthy air.”

Good is evil, and evil is good. The truth is a lie and lies are the truth, hover through the fog of moral relativism and the filthy air of a world gone mad with the madness of sin. The words of the prophet thunder through the ages, “ Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness” (Isaiah 5:20).

We have inverted the poles of the moral power grid. We have begun to call the negative pole the positive, and the positive the negative. This inversion of reality begets disaster: The power fails, the lights go out, darkness falls—and indeed, if your light is darkness, how deep, how very deep will the darkness be! (cf. Mt 6:23).

This death wish has marched toward its logical and inexorable conclusion with little opposition from leaders--political, legal, or religious. The world knows the Catholic Church and any self-respecting and faithful Christian roundly reject abortion and all of the other nails in the coffin of contemporary society, but the defense of life has been weak. Weak leadership, whether in society in general, or in the Church in particular, is punishment for sin. The Old Covenant has examples enough of the Chosen People being turned over to exile and their enemies because of infidelity. They lamented, “We have no priest, prophet, or king.” These were taken away because of infidelity. In recent times large numbers of Catholics and other Christians rejected Pope Paul VI’s landmark and prophetic encyclical Humanae Vitae, on Human Life. A majority of the bishops of Canada did so publicly, formally, and in writing with their infamous Winnipeg Statement.

The great Archbishop Fulton Sheen lamented bitterly in the 1970s that the prophetic spirit of Christ had all but been extinguished in the contemporary Church. Today there are many CEOs, all too few Apostles. Are we afraid of a fight? Do we fear rejection, misunderstanding, or derision? Are we cowed and intimidated by fallacious notions of the separation of Church and state? Could we be afraid of persecution? Could we be afraid of losing our tax-exempt status? Have we declared détente with evil?

The clock is ticking. Midnight is approaching. Time is running out for our nation, a nation that once was great, and could be great again if enough of us wake up and renounce this curse of a death wish. Will God turn his friends over to His enemies as He has done multiple times in the past? Will radical Islam overrun us? Will the planet cook? Will one too many natural disasters grind us into dust? Will we collapse economically? All of the above? Perhaps these are all merely effects of the underlying cause—a death wish that chokes the life out of us.

In the end it is likely that President Abraham Lincoln had it right: “Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.” Thus forgetting that we are one nation under God, we become a nation gone under (President Ronald Reagan). And, indeed, “If destruction be our lot we ourselves will be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen we must live through all time, or die by suicide.”

May God grant us the grace to awake from this deadly moral slumber, renounce the death wish, and live like truly free men and women—in the glorious freedom of the children of God.

Rev John Corapi, SOLT-2008

The Most Holy Rosary Of The Blessed Virgin Mary

"....a countless legion of the most saintly men of every age and of every condition have not only held the Rosary most dear, and have most piously recited it; but have also used it at all times as a most powerful weapon to overcome the devil; to preserve the purity of their lives; and acquire virtue more zealously...." ~ ~ Pope Pius XI, Encyclical Letter, Ingravescentibus Malis, On the Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

"I am the Lady of the Rosary" ~ Speaking to the three children of Fatima.

'Wonder not that you have obtained so little fruit by your labors, you have spent them on barren soil, not yet watered with the dew of Divine Grace. When GOD willed to renew the face of the earth, He began by sending down on it the fertilizing rain of the Angelic Salutation. Therefore preach my Psalter composed of 150 Angelic Salutations and 15 Our Fathers, and you will obtain an abundant harvest'.
'The rosary shall be a powerful armor against hell, it will destroy vice, decrease sin, and defeat heresies. It will cause virtue and good works to flourish; it will withdraw the hearts of men from the love of the world and its vanities, and lift them to the desire of eternal things.'
~~ Words of the Blessed Virgin Mary to Saint Dominic

Prayer To The Lady Of The Rosary

Beloved Lady of the Rosary, I thank you for your great gift of your psalter. As the beads slip through my fingers, may my heart and my lips sing your praise, and my brain contemplate those sacred mysteries of my Holy Faith. May my meditations on your beloved Rosary draw me ever closer, trustingly, to you, and through you to your divine son, my Lord and my God.

The Mysteries of Rosary of The Blessed Virgin Mary

Joyful Mysteries

Often said on Monday and Saturday, the Joyful Mysteries include: The Annunciation, The Visitation, The Birth of Our Lord, The Presentation of Our Lord, and The Finding of Our Lord in the Temple.

Glorious Mysteries

Often said on Wednesday and Sunday the Glorious Mysteries include: The Resurrection, The Ascension, The Coming of the Holy Spirit, The Assumption of our Blessed Mother into Heaven, and The Coronation of our Blessed Mother.

Mysteries of Light

Often said on Thursday, the Mysteries of Light as proposed in 1957 by Saint George Preca:

1. When Our Lord Jesus Christ, after his baptism in the Jordan, was led into the desert.

2. When Our Lord Jesus Christ showed, by word and miracles, that He is true God.

3. When Our Lord Jesus Christ taught the Beatitudes on the mountain.

4. When Our Lord Jesus Christ was transfigured on the mountain.

5. When Our Lord Jesus Christ had his last Meal with the Apostles.

Sorrowful Mysteries

Often said on Tuesday and Friday the Sorrowful Mysteries include: The Agony in the Garden, The Scourging at the Pillar, The Crowning with Thorns, The Carrying of the Cross, and The Crucifixion and Death of Our Lord.

History Of The Rosary

Tradition holds that Our Lady gave the Rosary to Saint Dominic Guzman in 1206 as a form of gospel-preaching and popular prayer. For more than seven centuries, the Rosary devotion has been one of the most popular devotional practices in the church. Its combination of vocal and mental prayer have made it a prime tool for contemplation. Jesus is the author and source of grade; Our Lady's Rosary is the key to open the treasury of grace to us.

Although prayer beads had been popular before Dominic's time, he and his friars quickly adopted the Rosary as an excellent way to teach the mysteries of Christianity to a largely illiterate European population. In 1470, Blessed Alan of Rupe founded the first Rosary Confraternity, and thereby launched the Dominican Order as the foremost missionaries of the Rosary. Through the efforts of Blessed Alan and the early Dominicans, this prayer form spread rapidly throughout Western Christendom.

The meditations on the fifteen mysteries serve as reminders of incidents in the lives of Christ and Mary. These are divided into the joyful, sorrowful, and glorious mysteries. Thirteen of the mysteries come from incidents in the New Testament. One, the assumption of Mary into heave, comes from Sacred Tradition. The fifteens, the Crowning of Mary as Queen of Heaven is thought to be derived from images in the Book of Revelation. These meditations make the Rosary a reflection on the fundamental beliefs of our Faith.

Through the years, Our Lady has re-affirmed her approval of this devotion, and her pleasure in the title "Queen of the Rosary." To Blessed Alan, she made fifteen promises to those who devoutly recite her beads. She told him, ".. immense volumes would have to be written if all the miracles of my Holy Rosary were to be recorded." Our Lady's promises are:

  • Those who shall have served me constantly by reciting the Rosary shall receive some special grace.

I promise my special protection and great graces to all who devoutly recite my Psalter.

  • The Rosary shall be a most powerful armor against hell; it shall destroy vices, weaken sin, overthrow unbelief.

  • It shall make virtues and good works to flourish again; it shall obtain for souls abundant mercies of God; it shall win the hearts of men from the love of the world and its vanities, and life them to a desire of things eternal. Oh, how many souls will be sanctified by this means !

  • The soul which has recourse to me through the Rosary shall not perish.

  • Whoever shall have recited the Rosary devoutly and with meditation on its mysteries, shall never be overcome by misfortunes, shall not experience the anger of God, shall not be lost by a sudden death; but if he be in sin he shall be converted; and if he be in grace, he shall persevere and be made worth of eternal life.

  • Truly devoted servants of my Rosary shall not die without the Sacraments.

  • It is my will that those who recite my Rosary have, in life and in death, light and the plenitude of graces; and in life and death, may participate in the merits of the saints.

  • Every day I deliver from Purgatory souls devoted to my Rosary.

  • True servants of my Rosary shall enjoy great glory in heaven.

  • Whatever you shall ask through the Rosary, you shall obtain.

  • I will assist in every necessity those who propagate my Rosary.

  • I have obtained form my Son that all members of the Confraternity of my Rosary may have in life and in death all the blessed as their associated.

  • All who recite my Rosary are my children and the brethren of my Only Begotten Son Jesus Christ.

  • Devotion to my Rosary is a great sign of predestination.

Our Lady told Blessed Bartolo Longo to propagate the Rosary, and promised that those who would propagate this devotion would be saved. In 1884, Our Lady of Pompeii appeared at Naples to Fortuna Agrelli, who was desperately ill. She told Fortuna that the title "Lady of the Holy Rosary" was one which was particularly pleasing to her, and cured Fortuna of her illness.

At Lourdes, Our Lady told Saint Bernadette to pray many rosaries. When Bernadette saw the beautiful lady, she instinctively took her Rosary in her hands and knelt down. The lady made a sign of approval with her head, and took into her hands a Rosary which hung on her right arm. As Bernadette prayed, Our Lady passed the beads of her Rosary through her fingers, but said nothing except the Gloria at the end of each decade. At Fatima, Mary told the children to pray the Rosary often.

Popes throughout history have loved the Rosary. Not a single Pope in the last four hundred years has failed to urge devotion to the Rosary. From Pope Sixtus IV, in 1479, to the present day, all popes have urged the use of this devotion, and enriched its recitation with indulgences.

Pius XI dedicated the entire month of October to the Rosary.

Pope Saint Pius X said :

"Of all the prayers, the Rosary is the most beautiful and the richest in graces; of all, it is the one most pleasing to Mary, the Virgin Most Holy."

Pope Leo XIII repeatedly recommended the Rosary as a most powerful means whereby to move God to aid us in meeting the needs of the present age. In 1883, he inserted the invocation, "Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, pray for us ! " into the Liturgy for the Universal Church. John XXIII who was particularly faithful to the daily recital of the whole Rosary has said, " We can never sufficiently recommend the saying of the Rosary, not simply with the lips but with attention of the soul to the divine truths, with a heart filled with love and gratitude." John Paul II tells us to "... love the simple, fruitful prayer of the Rosary." Many of the Saints, and a number of the religious orders have praised the Rosary. Saint Charles said he depended on the Rosary almost entirely for the conversion and sanctification of his diocese. Founders of most religious orders have either commanded or recommended the daily recitation of the Rosary. The Benedictines speedily adapted this devotion in their ancient cloisters. The Carmelites were happy to receive the Rosary as well as their rule from the Dominicans. The Franciscans made their rosaries out of wood, and preached this devotion as well as poverty. The Servites wore their rosaries as a badge of that servitude which is the only true liberty. Inspired by the example of their founder, the Jesuits invariably propagated the devotion. Saint Francis Xavier used the touch of his chaplet as a means of healing the sick. Saint Vincent de Paul instructed the members of his order to depend more on the Rosary than upon their preaching.

Our ancestors had recourse to the Rosary as an every- ready refuge in misfortune, and as a pledge and a proof of their Christian faith and devotion. Saint Dominic used the Rosary as a weapon in his battle against the Albigensian heresy in France. In the last century, the Christian successes over the Turks at Temesvar and at Corfu coincided with the conclusion of public devotions of the Rosary. During the penal days in Ireland, the Rosary bound the Irish Catholics together as the church militant. When it was a felony to teach the Catholic Catechism, and death for a priest to say Mass, the Irish mothers used their rosaries to tell their little ones the story of Jesus and Mary, and thus kept the Faith green in the hearts of their children. Saint John Vianney, the Cure d'Ars, declared emphatically that in the nineteenth century it was the Rosary which restored religion in France. Likewise, in the dark days of persecution in Mexico, in our own century, the sturdy Mexican Catholics clung faithfully to their rosaries. The martyr Miguel Pro was allowed his last request before being shot by a firing squad --- he knelt and prayed his Rosary. A special society, the Society of the Living Rosary, was founded by the Venerable Marie Pauline Jaricot in the city of Lyons, France, in 1826. She formed bands of fifteen members who each said one decade of the Rosary daily. Thus, the entire Rosary is said collectively by the members of each circle daily.

Father Timothy Ricci, O.P., instituted the Perpetual Rosary, or Mary's Guard of Honor, in 1635. The aim of this devotion is to unite the members in such a way that some devoted watchers will ever be found in prayer and praise at Our Lady's shrine, telling their beads for the conversion of sinners, the relief of the dying, and the succor of the dead. In Belgium, the Dominican nuns of the Third Order established a monastery for the express purpose of maintaining the Perpetual Rosary, so that there it became not merely the devotion of a society, but the distinctive work of a community. A number of shrines of the order are to be found in the United States. Here, the Rosary is said day and night by members of the community. Rosary processions are held, and pilgrims sing again and again the praises of the Heavenly Queen of all Roman Rite Catholics.

Our Lady has 117 blessed titles. Above all, She selected this title at Fatima: "I am the Lady of the Rosary."

  • Saint Francis de Sales said the greatest method of praying is: Pray the Rosary.

  • Saint Thomas Aquinas preached 40 straight days in Rome Italy on just the Hail Mary.

  • Saint John Vianney, patron of priests, was seldom seen without a rosary in his hand.

  • "The rosary is the scourge of the devil" -- Pope Adrian VI

  • "The rosary is a treasure of graces" -- Pope Paul V

  • Padre Pio the stigmatic priest said: "The Rosary is the weapon".

  • Several popes wrote encyclicals on the rosary.

John XXIII spoke 38 times about our Lady and the Rosary. He prayed 15 decades daily.

  • Saint Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort wrote: "The rosary is the most powerful weapon to touch the Heart of Jesus, Our Redeemer, who so loves His Mother."

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary that never was it known that anyone who fled to Your protection, implored Your help, or sought Your intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, we fly to you, O Virgin of virgins, our Mother. To You we come; before You we stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not our petitions, but in Your mercy, hear and answer us. Amen.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Palin in 'debate camp' until Thursday

(CNN)– Gov. Sarah Palin will now spend two and a half days near Sedona, Arizona, to prepare for Thursday's debate, instead of prepping in St Louis, as originally planned.

Sarah Palin will be at John McCain's rustic creek side home outside Sedona for what a top aide calls "debate camp..."

Pope John Paul I

"Say a prayer for His Holiness Pope John Paul I, who unexpectedly died on this day in 1978."

Learning to Fly - Pink Floyd

Friday, September 26, 2008

Prayer Request

Please pray for a personal intention.
Thank you.

New appointments mark bold papal move for Liturgical reform

.- Pope Benedict XVI made a low profile but significant move in the direction of liturgical reform by completely renewing the roster of his liturgical advisors yesterday.

A hardly noticed brief note from the Vatican's Press office announced the appointment of new consultants for the office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff. It did not mention, however, the importance of the new appointees.

The new consultants include Monsignor Nicola Bux, professor at the Theological Faculty of Puglia (Southern Italy,) and author of several books on liturgy, especially on the Eucharist. Bux recently finish a new book "Pope Benedict’s Reform," printed by the Italian publishing house Piemme, scheduled to hit the shelves in December.

The list of news consultants includes Fr. Mauro Gagliardi, an expert in Dogmatic theology and professor at the Legionaries of Christ's Pontifical Athenaeum “Regina Apostolorum”; Opus Dei Spanish priest Juan José Silvestre Valor, professor at the Pontifical University of Santa Croce in Rome; Fr. Uwe Michael Lang, C.O., an official of the Congregation for the Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments and author of the book "Turning Towards the Lord" -about the importance of facing "ad orientem" during Mass; and Fr. Paul C.F. Gunter, a Benedictine professor at the Pontifical Athenaeum Sant Anselmo in Rome and member of the editorial board of the forthcoming "Usus Antiquior," a quarterly journal dedicated to the Liturgy under the auspices of the Society of St. Catherine of Siena. The Society, which has an association with the English Province of the Order of Preachers (Dominicans), promotes the intellectual and liturgical renewal of the Church.

Also relevant to the appointments is the fact that all former consultants, appointed when Archbishop Piero Marini led the office of Liturgical Celebrations, have been dismissed by not renewing their appointments.

Oregon hospital tells grandpa he’s pregnant

PORTLAND, Ore. - A patient treated for agonizing abdominal pain received this surprising news in the hospital’s paperwork: “Based on your visit today, we know you are pregnant.”

Surprising indeed for 71-year-old John Grady Pippen.

The staff at Curry General Hospital in Gold Beach gave the retired mechanic and logger the ridiculously happy news this month, along with some pain pills...


All hail the blog monkey?

Colourful biologist Marc van Roosmalen is generating more headlines this week after he announced plans to name a monkey after the wonderful world of blogs.

No longer will the term ‘blog monkey’ be something my editors can hurl at me in the morning when they want coffee. Instead it will belong to Lagothrix blogii, if van Roosmalen gets his way.

Van Roosmalen hit the news in a big way last year when he was imprisoned by the Brazilian government for taking four monkeys from the rainforest without the correct permits (see this Nature story from August 2007). He was later released on appeal and since found the time to claim the discovery of a giant peccary (see this blog from November 2007). He says there have been two attempts on his life since then.

Now the blog monkey project has started up in the hope of raising enough money to get him back to work. Some of van Roosmalen’s methods of naming species have been slightly outside regular scientific practice, so it’s not clear whether Lagothrix blogii would be accepted by the world at large as the name of what he says is a new species of woolly monkey...


Thursday, September 25, 2008

Mary Unites Christians, Cardinal Tells Anglicans

Ecumenical Pilgrimage to Lourdes Called a Miracle

By Inmaculada Álvarez

LOURDES, France, SEPT. 25, 2008 ( Devotion to the Virgin Mary has an essential role in ecumenical dialogue and the journey to full and visible unity among Christians, says the president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

Cardinal Walter Kasper affirmed this Wednesday when he presided over an ecumenical celebration in Lourdes, where Anglicans and Catholics had joined on pilgrimage. Anglican Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury gave the homily at the event. The pilgrimage began at the Anglican shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham in England.

"Lourdes is known for its miracles," Cardinal Kasper said. "Who would have imagined, only 20 or 30 years ago, that Catholics and Anglicans would go on pilgrimage and pray together?

"For those who are familiar with the debates and controversies of the past on Mary, between Catholics and non-Catholic Christians, for those who know the reservations of the non-Catholic world toward Marian pilgrimage sites, for all these people, today's unprecedented event is a miracle."

The cardinal contended that, in fact, Mary is an essential part of the ecumenical movement, though this topic "is neither common nor obvious among ecumenists."


Cardinal Kasper noted that Marian devotion is fully shared with the Orthodox Church. But, he continued, "Marian devotion also existed at the time of the Reformation."

"Luther fervently venerated Mary during his whole life, professing her, with the ancient creeds and Councils of the Church of the first millennium, as Virgin and Mother of God," he explained. "He was only critical of some practices, which he considered abuses and exaggerations. The same happened with the English reformers."

Cardinal Kasper clarified that the rejection of Marian doctrines actually took place during the Enlightenment, "in a spirit known as 'Mariological minimalism.'"

Nevertheless, the Vatican official affirmed, thanks to "a renewed reading and meditation of sacred Scripture, we observe a slow but decisive change." In this regard, he mentioned several joint statements of Catholics and Lutherans that point in this direction.

"Mary is not absent but present in ecumenical dialogue," he continued. "Churches have made progress in their approach on the doctrine of Our Lady. Our Lady no longer divides us, but reconciles and unites us in Christ her Son."

Present tensions

Cardinal Kasper expressed the hope that Our Lady would help Catholics and Anglicans overcome recently heightened tensions in dialogue. The Anglican Communion has moved closer to the episcopal ordination of women and it faces dissent within the communion regarding the ordination of practicing homosexuals.

The cardinal said the pilgrimage "can be considered as a positive and encouraging sign of hope, even a small miracle."

"There is reason to hope that Our Lady will help us overcome the present difficulties in our relations, so that with the help of God we will be able to continue our common ecumenical pilgrimage," he continued.

Cardinal Kasper referred to Mary as model of the Church, chosen by God from all eternity. He also noted the issue of salvation by divine grace and not by ones' own merits, clarifying that this is a point that no longer divides Christians.

Led to the cross

The Vatican official asserted that division among Christians arises "because our love and faith have weakened."

"Every time that the thinking of the world and its parameters stain the Church, the unity of the Church is endangered," he said.

But Mary, who he called an "example of a disciple," does not lead toward "what pleases everyone, but to the foot of the cross," he said. "Hence, let us take her as example, and in this way we will take steps forward in our ecumenical pilgrimage."

Finally, Cardinal Kasper referred to the question of the veneration of the Virgin and the saints, an issue that "still causes difficulties" among Protestants and Anglicans. "However," he affirmed, "as any mother would intercede for her children, and as every mother, after her death would intercede in heaven and from heaven, Mary also accompanies the Church on her pilgrimage," also "on the road toward unity."

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

End of the Anglican crown - 300 year bar to be lifted

Prince William and Kate Middleton

Prince William with Kate Middleton: his fi rst-born would be heir regardless of gender. Photograph: Michael Dunlea/Reuters

Downing Street has drawn up plans to end the 300-year-old exclusion of Catholics from the throne. The requirement that the succession automatically pass to a male would also be reformed, making it possible for a first born daughter of Prince William to become his heir..

Honey could be a wonder drug

From correspondents in Ottawa

September 25, 2008 02:45am

HONEY, used for generations to soothe sore throats, could soon be substituted for antibiotics in fighting stubborn ear, nose and throat infections, according to a new study.

Ottawa University doctors found in tests that ordinary honey kills bacteria that cause sinus infections, and does it better in most cases than antibiotics.

The researchers have so far tested manuka honey from New Zealand, and sidr honey from Yemen.

"It's astonishing," researcher Joseph Marson said of bees' unexplained ability to combine the nectar of flowers into a seemingly potent medicine.

The preliminary tests were conducted in laboratory dishes, not in live patients, but included the "superbug" methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or MRSA, which is highly resistant to antibiotics.

In upcoming human trials, a "honey rinse" would be used to "flush out the goo from sinus cavities," said Marson.

The two killed all floating bacteria in liquid, and 63-91 per cent of biofilms - micro-organisms that sometimes form a protective layer in sinus cavities, urinary tracts, catheters, and heart valves, protecting bacteria from normal drug treatments and often leading to chronic infections.

The most effective antibiotic, rifampin, killed just 18 percent of the biofilm samples in the tests.

"As of today, nobody is sure what in the honey kills the bacteria," Marson said, noting that "not all honeys have the same potency" and calling for more research to determine the mechanism behind the healing.

Canada's clover and buckwheat honey did not work at all.

Previous studies have shown honey's healing properties on infected wounds.

The results of the study were presented this week at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, in Chicago.

Japan's Catholic Prime Minister

TOKYO - A quick-smiling former Olympic skeetshooter with a penchant for tailored suits and manga comic books took power as Japan's third prime minister in two years Wednesday, vowing to boost a languishing economy.

Lawmakers elected Taro Aso, a 68-year-old conservative popular with the young and known for his straight talk, after quelling an attempt by the upper house to install a rival as premier...

Aso, Buddhist Japan's first Roman Catholic premier, inherits a stumbling economy, an unpopular ruling party and mounting expectations that he will call snap lower house elections to prove he has a mandate to rule...

Monday, September 22, 2008

Fumes of incense waft above Pope Benedict XVI, centre, during ...

Pope Benedict XVI acknowledges faithful as he arrives for his ...

Pope Benedict XVI arrives to lead his general audience in Paul ...

Pope Benedict XVI arrives to celebrate his final mass at the ...

Only Saints, Please: Pope Sets High Goal for Bishops

Tells Newly Ordained That Ministry Depends on Testimony

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 22, 2008 ( The Church needs holy bishops today more than ever, says Benedict XVI, since apostolic fruits depend on sanctity of life.

The Pope affirmed this today when he addressed a group of bishops ordained over the past year. A dozen of the bishops come from Eastern Churches.

On Saturday, the Holy Father addressed another group of recently ordained prelates -- those who serve in missionary lands.

Both groups -- with a total of 111 participants -- are involved in two parallel courses under way in Rome and organized by the Congregations for Bishops, Eastern Churches, and the Evangelization of Peoples. The new bishops are being hosted at the Regina Apostolorum university.

The Pontiff gave the new bishops a concrete recommendation: seek sanctity. In that regard, he offered the example of St. Paul, as the Church marks the Pauline Jubilee Year celebrating the 2,000th anniversary of the Apostle's birth.

"The example of the great apostle calls bishops to grow each day in a holy life, so as to have the same sentiments as Christ," Benedict XVI said. "The first apostolic and spiritual commitment of a bishop should be to progress in the life of evangelical perfection."

The Pope exhorted the bishops "to trust each day in the word of God, so as to be teachers of the faith and authentic educators of your faithful." Moreover, he entrusted the prelates to the world of God, "so that you will be faithful to the promises you have pronounced before God and the Church on the day of your episcopal consecration."

"Progressing along the path of sanctity, you will manifest that indispensable moral authority and prudent wisdom that is demanded of one who is at the head of the family of God," the Holy Father affirmed. "This authority is today more necessary than ever. Your ministry will be pastorally fruitful if it is supported on your sanctity of life."

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Parable of Workers in the Vineyard is about being called by God, Pope says

Pope Benedict delivers his Angelus message

.- After returning from the dedication of the altar at the cathedral in Albano, Italy, Sunday morning, Pope Benedict spoke about Sunday’s Gospel, the parable of the workers in the vineyard. The Holy Father encouraged his audience with the examples of Sts. Matthew and Paul, who are respectively the narrator of Sunday’s Gospel and the focus of this jubilee year.

Speaking to thousands of the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square, the Pope recalled the day of his election and his spontaneous presentation to the crowd in St. Peter’s Square as a humble worker in God’s vineyard.

In Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus recounts the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard, in which workers are called by the vineyard owner to work in his vineyard at different hours of the day but are all given the same pay.

According to the Holy Father, the equal reward represents “eternal life, a gift that God reserves for all.” Further, the parable is about being called, “being able to work in God’s vineyard, putting oneself at his service, collaborating with his work.” Being called by God is itself a form of compensation. But those who work only for payment, Pope Benedict said, “will never realize the value of this inestimable treasure."

Pope Benedict reflected upon the narrator of the parable, St. Matthew, apostle and evangelist, whose Feast the Church celebrates today. Before Jesus called Matthew, “he was a tax collector, and for this reason he was considered a public sinner, excluded from God’s vineyard. But everything changed when Jesus, passing nearby his post, saw him and told him: 'Follow me'. Matthew got up and followed him. He immediately changed from being a tax collector to being a disciple of Christ. Instead of being 'last', he found himself 'first', thanks to the logic of God, which - fortunately for us! - is different from that of the world.”

The Holy Father then spoke of St. Paul, who “also experienced the joy of hearing himself called by the Lord to work in his vineyard. And what work he did! But, as he himself confesses, it was the grace of God working in him, the grace that transformed him from being a persecutor of the Church to being an apostle of the Gentiles.” Paul understood well that working for the Lord is already a reward on this earth.

The Pope concluded by citing the example of the Virgin Mary, whom he venerated a week ago in Lourdes, France: “From her has sprouted the blessed fruit of Divine Love: Jesus, Our Savior.” He stated that in the Virgin Mary, the faithful would find help “to respond always and with love to the cry of the Lord.”

Following the Angelus, Pope Benedict assured victims of hurricanes Faye, Gustav, Hanna, and Ike in Haiti, Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Texas of his special prayers for them. He expressed his hope that aid quickly reaches the most heavily damaged areas.

The Holy Father also addressed world leaders ahead of the 63rd session of the United Nations General Assembly, which is to begin September 25 in New York City. The meeting will assess the progress made on the objectives established in the Millennium Declaration, September 8, 2000.

Pope Benedict asked them to work against “extreme poverty, hunger, ignorance, and the scourge of diseases, which especially strike the most vulnerable.” Noting that the task requires special sacrifices at a time of worldwide economic difficulties, he concluded, such aid “will not fail to produce important benefits both for the development of nations in need of foreign aid and for the peace and well-being of the entire planet."

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Mixed reviews: Implementation of Tridentine ruling frustrates some

By John Thavis
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- A year after Pope Benedict XVI opened the way to wider use of the Tridentine Mass, implementation of the papal directive is drawing mixed reviews from its target audience.

Catholic traditionalists remain grateful for the pope's document and say it has given them a certain legitimacy in local church communities, as well as greater practical access to the old rite.

But some -- backed by a Vatican official -- have complained that bishops and pastors continue to place obstacles in the way of groups seeking the Tridentine liturgy.

On a long-term issue, traditionalists are pleased at new efforts to instruct priests in celebrating Mass in the older rite. Meanwhile, those who envisioned Tridentine Masses popping up in every parish are somewhat frustrated.

"We're only looking at one calendar year, and we know that in the church these things take time. But the problem -- dare anyone say this? -- the problem is the bishops. Because you have bishops who aren't on board," said John Paul Sonnen, an American Catholic who lives in Rome.

Sonnen and about 150 others attended a small but significant conference in Rome in mid-September on the theme: "'Summorum Pontificum': One Year After."

"Summorum Pontificum" was the title of the pope's 2007 apostolic letter that said Mass celebrated according to the 1962 Roman Missal, commonly known as the Tridentine rite, should be made available in every parish where groups of the faithful desire it. In his letter, the pope said the Mass from the Roman Missal in use since 1970 remains the ordinary form of the Mass, while celebration of the Tridentine Mass is the extraordinary form.

The response to the papal letter varied around the world. In the United States, many bishops -- even those not enthusiastic about the new policy -- took steps to explain it to their faithful and put it into practice.

But in Europe and Latin America, conference participants said, there's been less favorable reaction.

"In Italy, with just a few admirable exceptions, the bishops have put obstacles in the way of applying ('Summorum Pontificum')," Msgr. Camille Perl told the Rome conference.

"I would have to say the same thing about the major superiors of religious orders who forbid their priests from celebrating Mass in the old rite," Msgr. Perl said.

Msgr. Perl is vice president of the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei," which oversees implementation of the papal document, so his words carried weight. Italian newspapers reported his comments under the headline "The bishops are boycotting the pope."

Two Brazilian priests attending the conference complained that they're facing a similar situation in their country.

"I think there's a great desire on the part of young priests to learn the older rite. But we don't study it in seminaries, and the bishops don't cooperate on that," said Father Giuseppe Olivera of Sao Paolo.

Msgr. Perl said letters received by his commission indicate considerable interest in setting up local Tridentine Masses in France, Great Britain, Canada, the United States and Australia. He said there have been fewer requests for the older Mass in Latin America, Africa and Asia.

Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, who heads the "Ecclesia Dei" commission, said recently that Pope Benedict would eventually like to see the Tridentine rite offered in every parish. But for now, in the pope's own Diocese of Rome, a single church, Santissima Trinita dei Pellegrini, has been designated as a "personal parish" for traditionalists.

That's a solution that appeals to some dioceses, especially those that include large cities, but it tends to separate traditionalists from other local parishes. It also seems to put bishops in charge of the decision of where and when a Tridentine Mass is offered, instead of the local pastor, as indicated by "Summorum Pontificum."

Father Joseph Kramer, pastor at Rome's Santissima Trinita church, said that so far his parish is attracting a lot of younger people and those over 50, but not many in between and few young families.

In general, he said, it's important for traditionalist Catholics to make it clear that they accept the changes of the Second Vatican Council, in order not to frighten off "normal" Catholics who might be attracted to the older rite.

U.S. Father John Zuhlsdorf runs a blog -- "What Does the Prayer Really Say?" -- that's become a sounding board for reaction to "Summorum Pontificum" among traditionalist Catholics.

One recent comment on the blog began: "Frankly, I'm sick and tired. Tired of waiting. 'Summorum Pontificum' has been in force for one year now and, in spite of the fact that I live in a huge metropolitan area, there is no TLM (traditional Latin Mass) to which I can go" without driving at least an hour.

Father Zuhlsdorf, who attended the Rome conference, said he understands some of these frustrations but takes a generally positive view of the first year of "Summorum Pontificum."

One good thing, he said, is that the papal directive has deeply affected priests, especially younger priests, and their perception of "who they are at the altar." As time goes on and older priests and bishops retire, this interest will have a ripple effect on parish life, he said.

Another plus is that resources for the older rite, including beautifully bound missals, are being produced and published. These could appeal to Catholics and "help change the culture of participating at Mass," Father Zuhlsdorf said.

In addition, he said, some U.S. seminaries are beginning to introduce courses in celebrating the Tridentine rite. Private training programs for priests, workshops and Web sites also have been established.

He compared it to the Ford Motor Co. putting a new model into production.

"It takes a long time to construct the assembly plant, but once you get the thing built you can get the product out more quickly," he said.

In the more-to-be-done category, Father Zuhlsdorf said there are still some priests and bishops who have "a bit of a stingy attitude" about the legitimate requests of traditionalists.

He said Latin proficiency is an example of where a double standard seems to be used to create an obstacle to the wider offering of the older Mass. While it's true that a priest celebrating in Latin has to know what he's saying at the altar, he said, one could also ask about proficiency in English among priests coming from a foreign country to serve in the United States.

In any case, he said, the Code of Canon Law requires that all seminarians be well-trained in Latin. If that isn't being done today, seminary officials should be addressing the problem, he said.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Combat secularization with authentic love for Jesus, Pope tells Panama prelates

.- During their “ad limina” visit today at the Vatican, bishops from the Episcopal Conference of Panama were encouraged by Pope Benedict to lead Catholics in becoming “authentic disciples of Christ” as the world becomes increasingly secularized.

The Holy Father began his remarks to them by praising the bishops’ initiatives “to sow the Word of God in the hearts of Panamanians and to accompany them on their journey to maturity in the faith, that they may become authentic disciples and missionaries of Jesus Christ."

This “missionary activity of the priests, religious and lay people” is a “reason for joy,” the Pope exclaimed. Their efforts contrast with “the growing secularization of society that invades all aspects of daily life.” This societal coarsening “encourages a mentality in which God is effectively absent from human life and conscience, and often uses the communications media to spread individualism, hedonism, and ideologies and customs that undermine the very foundations of marriage, the family and Christian morals."

To combat these challenges, the Pope continued, a “profound knowledge of the Lord Jesus and sincere love for Him” is needed. This love, Benedict explained, can be achieved through “meditating upon Sacred Scripture, adequate doctrinal and spiritual formation, constant prayer, the frequent receipt of the Sacrament of Penance, conscientious and active participation in Mass, and the practice of works of charity and mercy."

Focusing on the current “serious human problems” in the country, the Pope emphasized the pressing need for the Church in Panama to “provide lights.”

The Church can bring these lights to society by promoting “a moral consensus of society on fundamental values,” he said. One of the vitally important ways that this can be done is by using the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, which “enables a more profound and systematic knowledge of the ecclesial guidelines which must be applied, especially by the laity, in the political, social and economic fields," the Pontiff said.

If the Church helps provide these “lights,” the Holy Father said, “Christian hope may illuminate the people of Panama, who thirst to know the truth about God and about man amidst the phenomena of poverty, youth violence, deficiencies in education, healthcare and housing, harassment by innumerable sects and corruption, which, to various degrees, disturb their lives and prevent their integral development."

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Palin Boosts McCain With Devout Catholic Voters

"The McCain-Palin ticket may be locking its huge lead on a crucial voting bloc: church-going Catholics.

The development — contained Thursday in a poll by the Pew Research Center and backed by other polls — could be crucial to victory in November.

Why? Catholics are the ultimate swing voters and make up as much as one-third the population of battleground states like Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan. Moreover, some 40 percent of U.S. Catholics have no affiliation with either party.

Republican presidential candidate John McCain now has opened a 16-percentage-point lead over Democratic rival Barack Obama among observant Catholics, according to the Pew poll. The lead began to widen with the selection of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as McCain's running mate, who, unknown to most voters, was baptized in the Catholic Church but raised in primarily Protestant evangelical churches..."


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Charles Dickens Hearts David Zucker

by Kathleen Parker

Americans numbed by the daily barrage of politics-as-usual are about to be awakened by some new fireworks -- Hollywood-style.

Imagine documentary filmmaker Michael Moore and director David Zucker ("Airplane!" and "The Naked Gun") in the center ring and you begin to get the idea.

Zucker's new movie, "An American Carol" (due in theaters Oct. 3), is a shot across Hollywood's bow, aimed directly at Moore. No slouch in self-defense -- or self-promotion -- Moore will release his own online movie, "Slacker Uprising," a few days before Zucker's to reap the benefit of the backhanded buzz.

The release of both films has been timed for maximum impact on the coming election. No matter who wins this cultural crossfire, Zucker's movie is revolutionary. He and co-writer Myrna Sokoloff (a former staffer for California Sen. Barbara Boxer), and other Hollywood renegades from the left who were mugged by reality on 9/11, are busting out of the closet -- with a serious case of the giggles.

Agree or not with their politics, they're not nobodies who can be ignored or dismissed as witless. Producer Stephen McEveety's resume includes such mega-hits as "Braveheart" and "The Passion of the Christ." Actors include Jon Voight, Dennis Hopper, Kelsey Grammer, James Woods, Kevin Farley and perennial villain Robert Davi.

As the title suggests, the story line is based on Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol." Ghosts of the past -- George Washington (Voight), Gen. George S. Patton (Grammer) and John F. Kennedy (Chriss Anglin) -- squire America-bashing filmmaker "Michael Malone" around to see how the world would look if America hadn't bothered to fight any wars.

Malone, brilliantly played by Farley, has joined forces with a left-wing group,, to ban the Fourth of July. He also has been hired by terrorists to make a propaganda film to help recruit a diminishing supply of suicide bombers.

And you thought suicide bombers weren't funny.

The joke begins when two would-be terrorists enter a New York City subway station and are met at a security checkpoint by two NYPD officers. Just as they're about to be searched, in rushes a squad of ACLU attorneys with a stop-search order.

"Thank Allah for the ACLU," says one of the terrorists -- and we're off!

The vignettes keep coming so fast, it's hard to keep up.

One memorable scene has "Rosie O'Connell" appearing on "The O'Reilly Factor" to promote her new documentary, "The Truth About Radical Christians." The documentary shows two priests who hijack an airplane and storm the cockpit brandishing crucifixes. Next, we see two nuns festooned with explosives boarding a bus as passengers shout: "Oh no! Not the Christians!"

Another standout has Patton's ghost showing Malone a modern-day plantation full of happy cotton pickers who thank Malone for being such a humane slave owner. Malone staggers at the sight only to learn that this is his plantation and these are his slaves -- thanks to anti-war sentiment that prevented the Civil War.

In a line that filmmakers are still debating whether to cut, a smiling Gary Coleman finishes polishing a car and tosses his rag to someone: "Hey, Barack!"

No, he didn't say that. Yes. He. Did.

That's the movie, folks. In-your-face, off-the-charts, over-the-top, irreverent and insensitive in the extreme. "An American Carol" may not be The Best Movie You Ever Saw, but it's something. It's radical in its assault on the left wing; it's brave given the risk of peer ridicule and the potential for career suicide.

And it's funny -- if you like that sort of thing. Generally, I don't. As someone who is slapstick immune -- and who hated "The Three Stooges" -- I'm an unlikely cheerleader for this kind of film. But I admire its spirit.

"An American Carol" will probably be panned by jaded reviewers who will point out the film's flaws. Some in the target audience may find certain elements too crude -- nurses and doctors playing with an oversized derriere that's been separated from the rest of the corpse.

But the film makes a serious and necessary point that can't be missed amid the laughter and the outrage: America is not the enemy.

Zucker insists he needn't be taken seriously, but he does believe that Islamist terrorism poses a greater threat than those Americans typically demonized by Hollywood and the left.

For delivering that message, maybe Zucker deserves not an Oscar, but a Nobel Prize.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Pope highlights liturgical excellence during recent trip to France

By John Thavis
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- One of the subthemes of Pope Benedict XVI's recent visit to France was liturgical excellence, a lifelong concern of the German pontiff that has carried over into his papal agenda.

The pope didn't zero in on specific liturgical problems in France, but he repeatedly reminded his audiences in Paris and Lourdes why quality matters when it comes to worship.

Speaking Sept. 12 in Notre Dame Cathedral, which he called "a living hymn of stone and light," the pope used the setting to illustrate the Christian community's age-old effort to reach for splendor when praying to God.

"Certainly, the beauty of our celebrations can never be sufficiently cultivated, fostered and refined, for nothing can be too beautiful for God, who is himself infinite beauty," he said.

But he said church liturgies should be carried out in order to offer, as closely as possible, "a foretaste" of eternal salvation.

The same evening, speaking to academics about the contributions of monastic culture, he singled out singing and chant as outstanding forms of prayer, particularly for some books of Scripture like the Psalms.

"For prayer that issues from the word of God, speech is not enough: Music is required," he said. For the church, it's an opportunity to "sing with the angels" and lead the word to its highest destination, he said.

But liturgical singing, as the monks knew well, demands excellence, the pope said. Such song is measured according to the very highest standards because, in communal prayer, "one is singing in the presence of the entire heavenly court," he said.

The pope said the importance of monastic singing was illustrated by a remark St. Bernard made about the poor singing of monks: that a badly executed chant actually made the community more remote from God.

The pope went on to say that the idea of speaking with God through song is what gave rise to the great tradition of Western music.

"It was not a form of private 'creativity,' in which the individual leaves a memorial to himself and makes self-representation his essential criterion," he said.

"Rather it is about vigilantly recognizing with the 'ears of the heart' the inner laws of the music of creation, the archetypes of music that the Creator built into his world and into men," he said.

At Lourdes, the pope spoke in sermons about the importance of recognizing the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist and the effect that should have on liturgical practice.

When Catholics contemplate the sacred host, they meditate on Christ past, present and future, he said.

"We contemplate what we shall contemplate in eternity, where we shall discover that the whole world has been carried by its Creator during every second of its history," he said.

"That is why we receive him with infinite respect," he said.

Pope Benedict, who relaxed restrictions on the use of the Tridentine rite a year ago, told reporters on his way to France that the new Mass approved after the Second Vatican Council remains the "normal" liturgy for the church.

The pope's own liturgies in France, as in Rome, have followed the new rite, but they have also introduced traditional touches, such as placement of the cross in the center of the altar.

Another change in Roman liturgies also is being used on papal trips: In Paris and Lourdes, those receiving Communion from the pope received the host on the tongue while kneeling.