Sunday, January 30, 2011

'The Rite': Exorcism in the Movies

New film offers the most realistic, orthodox Hollywood depiction to date.

“There aren’t levitating beds, spinning heads or pea-green soup,” Father Gary Thomas said to me in a recent phone conversation.

Father Thomas is the real-life California exorcist whose training experiences with a veteran exorcist in Rome were documented in journalist Matt Baglio’s 2009 book The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist. The new supernatural horror/thriller film The Rite, starring Anthony Hopkins as a veteran exorcist named
Father Lucas, is loosely inspired by Father Thomas’ experiences.

The Rite is also the latest in a long line of Hollywood films in the exorcism-movie subgenre inaugurated by William Friedkin’s 1973 landmark film The Exorcist —the movie famous for levitating beds, spinning heads and pea-green soup.

A few recent films, including Scott Derrickson’s The Exorcism of Emily Rose, have taken the genre in a more restrained, realistic direction, and The Rite continues this trend, offering the most realistic, orthodox Hollywood depiction of exorcism to date. Where Emily Rose conflated months of exorcisms into a single dramatic episode, The Rite shows that battling possession can last weeks, months or even longer...

Thursday, January 27, 2011

N.Y. Measure Would Outlaw E-Cigs

From via Free Republic:

The New York legislature is debating a statewide ban on e-cigarettes, the Associated Press reports. Health advocates point to the addictiveness of electronic cigarettes as part of the reason such a ban would be appropriate.

“I got interested in this because I saw all these ads for e-cigarettes, so I did some research,” said Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal. “I found what is in the e-cigarettes is a mystery.”

Rosenthal’s bill would ban e-cigs in the state until the U.S. Food and Drug Administration can look into and regulate the battery-powered devices. The Assembly Health Committee will first vote on the bill before the rest of the Assembly.

Last year, her bill made it past the Assembly but halted in the Senate, which then had a Democrat majority. This year, Senate Health Committee Chairman Kemp Hannon said his committee will look at the bill and may hold a hearing, but that right now, it was too early to predict the proposal’s chances for passage.

In December, a U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that the FDA couldn’t regulate e-cigs as a drug. However, the agency can still regulate the device as a tobacco product. Last September, the agency warned five distributors of electronic cigarettes to stop using language that claims their products help reduce or stop smoking.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Vatican to launch dialogue with non-believers in March

By Alan Holdren, Rome Correspondent Dialogue between the Vatican, agnostics and atheists will take place in a new arena as of this spring.

The "Courtyard of the Gentiles" project, brainchild of the Pontifical Council for Culture and its president Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, will be officially presented Mar. 24-25 in Paris, France.

Cardinal Ravasi first unveiled his plans for the Paris inauguration of the "Courtyard" last year, but further details were released in a statement from the council on Jan. 25.

The Vatican's culture department plans for it to be "a new permanent Vatican structure to promote dialogue and encounter between believers and non-believers."

The inauguration in Paris will involve a series of events over the two days.

Presentations based on the theme “religion, enlightenment, common reason" will be delivered at the headquarters of UNESCO, the United Nations Educational and Scientific Organization, Sorbonne University and the Institut de France.

A roundtable discussion will be held at the College des Bernardins at their conclusion on March 25. Festivities including music, plays, and a light show will follow outside the Cathedral of Notre Dame.
During the celebration, themed “Into the Courtyard of the Unknown,” the cathedral will be open for prayer and meditation.

As reported in Italy's La Repubblica last May, Cardinal Ravasi explained that the "project" would begin with the broad base of discussing "a comprehensive vision of man."

It will not shy away from themes such as abortion, homosexuality and pedophilia, he said, but these subjects would be addressed during dialogue "in due time."

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Elderly Madrid Man Builds Incredible Spanish Cathedral Entirely From Trash

by Andrew Michler

This extraordinary cathedral made from salvaged materials has steadily risen over the past 50 years in a quiet Madrid neighborhood. Justo Martinez (who goes by Don Justo) has been working on the massive undertaking nearly single-handedly ever since he had to leave an order of monks due to illness. After recovering, he dedicated his life to building a church using his own money, on his own land. The massive undertaking is built almost entirely from local materials that he is able to salvage, and now topped out at 131 feet the cathedral just needs a few finishing touches -- like a roof, some windows and permits.

While the cathedral’s design is loosely based on St. Peter’s Cathedral, Don Justo has created no formal drawings or engineering plans. His background in farming did not stop him from taking on such a challenging project, which incorporates motifs found in castles, churches, and even the White House. Most of the bricks are salvaged from nearby brick factories, and cathedral’s walls are certainly unorthodox.

After leaving life as a farmer to become a Benedictine Monk, Don Justo came down with tuberculosis which forced him out of the monastery in a greatly weakened state. He promised himself that if he survived he would erect a church dedicated to the Lady of The Pillar who he prayed to during that turbulent time.

So far the cathedral totals an astonishing 8,000 square meters. The many concrete support columns use old oil drums as forms. The roof is adorned with countless tons of salvages bricks and locally-salvaged tiles, and paint buckets sprout from the towers. Donated materials make up the bulk of the rest of the construction. He gets some help with the labor from his nephews and an assistant.

While the building has neither plans nor permits, the City of Madrid has tolerated its existence. Martinez is in the process of consulting with an architect to formally apply for a permit so that when the building is closer to completion it may be used as a house of worship. Don Justo’s dedication will surly inspire others through this bold and committed endeavor.

Now ‘Catholic Yoga’ in America

Nevada, Jan 24 (IBNS) Famous Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago (USA) is now offering ‘Catholic Yoga’ classes.

Website of this Cathedral, which is both a parish and the seat of the Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago, says: “Join us as we explore the multiple spiritual and physical benefits of yoga practice while explicitly integrating prayers and spiritual themes of our Catholic faith.”

“Typical sessions will include an opening prayer, inspired movement & strengthening, and contemplative prayer to close. The program will be focused around various themes to coincide with the liturgical calendar and progression of our faith life across the seasons”, it adds.

Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) on Monday, said that although introduced and nourished by Hinduism, yoga was a world heritage to be utilized by all.

Instructors for ‘Catholic Yoga’ include Ali Niederkorn, who claims to be “a devoted Catholic and a practicing yogi”; and Dina Wolf, who teaches vinyasa flow yoga and who has taken Hatha yoga classes.

This Cathedral, whose tagline is “the place where Chicago goes to pray" and whose traces go back as far as 1843, is Chicago’s “one and only” Cathedral and attracts thousands of visitors each week from world over. Monsignor Dan Mayal is the Pastor while Francis Cardinal George is the Archbishop of Chicago.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Law Firms Sue Taco Bell, Ask Court to Determine: Where’s the Beef?

By Martha Neil

(ABA Journal) Contending that the purported "seasoned beef" or "seasoned ground beef" in a number of Taco Bell menu items isn't as meaty as it sounds, consumer law firms have filed a federal suit in California this week..

"In reality, a substantial majority of the filling is comprised of substances other than beef, and is required to be labeled and advertised as 'taco meat filling.' "

Similarly, advertised "seasonings" are in fact "binders and extenders such as 'isolated oat product,' " which "are not added for flavor but rather to increase the volume of the product," the suit says...

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Catholics and the dangers of New Age movement

By Father Bill Kneemiller topic of New Age movements, once a budding campus phenomenon, is now mainstream and as close to us as our local bookstore or DVD movie. New Age refers to forms of spirituality that draw from old systems of knowledge such as Zen, Gnosticism (secret knowledge) and Eastern meditation.

New Age concepts and ideals are even becoming part of our vocabulary. I know this terminology well, as I had a former involvement with Eastern meditation practices before my reconversion to my Catholic roots. I have been steeped in both traditions. So, I may have some insights for Catholics who are dabbling in New Age practices. I have not publicly written about this before because it has taken time to come out of this New Age involvement.

I was blessed to get a solid Catholic education in St. Charles, Mo., attending Catholic grade school and high school, and being taught by dozens of faith-filled priests and religious Sisters. After high school, I was ready to see more of life. As far as my faith life, Catholicism was OK but I wanted to get a spiritual high. At the University of Missouri I was intrigued by the philosophy of yoga, and in reading my first yoga book “Heaven Lies Within,” it seemed then to fit with me, the new “seeker.” After all, didn’t Jesus use these very words?

After about a year of stumbling around with self-help yoga books, I started practicing the Eastern meditation technique, transcendental meditation. From this date in the early 1970s, there followed about 18 years of doing everything with this program. I traveled to half-a-dozen countries spending months, even close to a year overseas at a time studying the technique and advanced programs.

Also, I thought I was meeting the coolest people in the world such as Deepak Chopra, now a self-help guru in his own right, and Johnny Gray, author of “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus.” At the time, it seemed great to me that Catholic leaders such as the Trappists in Massachusetts were practicing this meditation technique along with priests endorsing it. Everything seemed OK at the time because I was taught it is just a technique which enriches everyone’s own religion and the mantra used for this meditation practice was a meaningless word. It would be decades before I learned that mantras are names of Hindu gods.

After about 18 years of Eastern meditation involvement, I started going to a family rosary, at first, out of curiosity. I was taught “prayer with the heart” and it completely changed my concept of prayer from being a rote practice to being a conversation and relationship with Christ. With my newfound rosary friends, I enjoyed going to Catholic conferences and events. The first change I noticed was that I wanted to be around people who believed in the Catholic faith; the conversation and New Age-culture started sounding unusual, even strange.

After a few years, the Catholic culture won out, and I just stopped all involvement with Eastern meditation. I did wonder at the time if I could just walk away; was there any closure? Five years of seminary followed, then, soon after ordination, I started attending the healing Mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport. One of the priests there offered a prayer of deliverance for me at that time, and recommended that I denounce the mantra, and that was a huge step in cutting my former ties with Eastern meditation.

My story then picks up in 2010, after a tour as a military chaplain in Afghanistan, when I attend a healing conference in Chicago. This conference is held at Mundelein Seminary every August and is for priests involved in the healing ministry, along with training for exorcists. There I meet Father Bob Thorn, a diocesan priest from Wisconsin who had a similar history as me, being a former meditation teacher and now a Catholic priest. Fr. Thorn was helping with reconciliation one evening, so I waited, last in line to go to confession with him. I thought, “Well, Fr. Thorn may have some insights about the Eastern meditation movement, and his subsequent re-conversion to his Catholic roots. I also thought that when we talked, it would be a friendly social visit, such as “Ha-ha-ha,” wasn’t that kind of crazy back then in the ‘70s, and our involvement with meditation and everything …”

But as soon as I sat down with Fr. Thorn, there was no “Ha-ha-ha” — only seriousness. I told him I was involved as a meditation teacher back then as he was, and he looked fairly concerned. He said, “Bill — you still have that Eastern meditation in you.” He went on to explain that I needed to denounce every Hindu god that is invoked in the meditation ceremony. I realized he was right. The transcendental meditation ceremony is filled with dozens of invocations to gods, such as ‘Brahma, Shiva’… you name it; it’s there in the ceremony in which everyone is taught the technique.

So, Fr. Thorn and I went to the conference directors and asked them if they could pray for us that evening. Fr. Thorn downloaded the meditation ceremony from the Internet, and we were ready to be prayed over for this intention.

Three priests helped with this, including one from Canada and one from Peru who I understand to be two of the most skilled exorcists in the world. The priests recommended that I denounce each god and proclaim Jesus Christ as savior, which took about a quarter of an hour. I did this, and the priest did a casting-out prayer. The healing session was a profound gift and grace. Wow, the effects of spiritual healing! That night, I slept like a baby.

Then, the next week, and in subsequent months I have felt lighter and freer than I have ever experienced in my life. The next week at the healing Mass in Davenport, I gave a talk about healing from New Age practices and spent an hour-and-a-half afterwards hearing confessions and praying for people who had similar involvements. I could never recommend anyone using Eastern meditation for any reason at all. But, I also now see many intrusions of New Age thought, or re-formulated Hinduism in our culture, and some in our parishes.

“Many people are convinced that there is no harm in ‘borrowing’ from the wisdom of the East, but the example of transcendental meditation should make Christians cautious about the prospect of committing themselves unknowingly to another religion (in this case Hinduism),” according to a 2003 Church document entitled: “Jesus Christ, the Bearer of the Water of Life: A Christian Reflection on the New Age.”

“There is no problem with learning how to meditate but the object or content of the exercise clearly determines whether it relates to the God revealed by Jesus Christ … or simply to the hidden depths of the self,” the document states.

Our Church’s teachings remind us that we have in the person of Jesus Christ a trustworthy and sure guide, true man and true God, and source of all goodness!

(Fr. Kneemiller is pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Hills and St. Mary parishes in Lone Tree and Nichols.)

Veils Again – Colombo Cathedral Mandates the Use of Veil For Women

By: Msgr. Charles Pope

From Sri Lanka comes the following article:

Priests at St Lucia’s Cathedral in Colombo are insisting that young women cover their heads while at Mass. The move is part of a drive to have churchgoers dress appropriately during religious ceremonies.
Many Catholics have complained that churchgoers in Colombo turn up for services in short skirts, halter tops, low cut blouses and shorts. In a recent Sunday homily, Father John Paul Vinoth, ….a priest at the cathedral, said that modest dressing would help create an atmosphere that is more “conducive to a spiritual experience.”…..
“Modest dress is beginning to disappear,” said Father Anthony Victor Sosai, who is also vicar general of Mannar diocese….. noting that Hindu, Buddhist and Muslim places of worship have enforced a strict dress code for centuries.
Laypeople have also expressed concern over declining dress standards.
These are excerpts, the full article can be found HERE
[N.B. I am suffering from a rather bad stomach virus and all the unpleasantreis that go with it. I hope you won't mind if I recycle an old, but popular post on the issue of women and veils.  Perhaps some newer readers to the blog have never seen it. I should be back in shape tomorrow if this is one of those 24 hour things. ]
This blog post is not meant to be a directive discussion about what should be done. Rather an informative discussion about the meaning of head coverings for women in the past and how such customs might be interpreted now. We are not in the realm of liturgical law here just preference and custom.
What I’d like to do is to try and understand the meaning and purpose of a custom that, up until rather recently was quite widespread in the Western Church. The picture at the right was taken by LIFE Magazine in the early 1960s.
With the more frequent celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass, the use of the veil is also becoming more common. But even at the Latin Masses I celebrate, women exhibit diversity in this matter. Some wear the longer veil (mantilla) others a short veil. Others wear hats. Still others wear no head covering at all.
History – the wearing of a veil or hat for women seems to have been a fairly consistent practice in the Church in the West until fairly recently. Practices in the Eastern and Orthodox Churches have varied. Protestant denominations also show a wide diversity in this matter. The 1917 Code of Canon Law in the Catholic Church mandated that women wear a veil or head covering. Prior to 1917 there was no universal Law but it was customary in most places for women to wear some sort of head covering. The 1983 Code of Canon Law made no mention of this requirement and by the 1980s most women, at least here in America, had ceased to wear veils or hats anyway. Currently there is no binding rule and the custom in most places is no head covering at all.
Scripture – In Biblical Times womengenerally wore veils in any public setting and this would include the Synagogue. The clearest New Testament reference to women veiling or covering their head is from St. Paul:
But I want you to know that Christ is the head of every man, and a husband the head of his wife, and God the head of Christ. Any man who prays or prophesies with his head covered brings shame upon his head. But any woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled brings shame upon her head, for it is one and the same thing as if she had had her head shaved. For if a woman does not have her head veiled, she may as well have her hair cut off. But if it is shameful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, then she should wear a veil. A man, on the other hand, should not cover his head, because he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man. For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; nor was man created for woman, but woman for man; for this reason a woman should have a sign of authority on her head, because of the angels. Woman is not independent of man or man of woman in the Lord. For just as woman came from man, so man is born of woman; but all things are from God. Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head unveiled? Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears his hair long it is a disgrace to him, whereas if a woman has long hair it is her glory, because long hair has been given (her) for a covering? But if anyone is inclined to be argumentative, we do not have such a custom, nor do the churches of God. (1 Cor 11:1-11)
This is clearly a complicated passage and has some unusual references. Paul seems to set forth four arguments as to why a woman should wear a veil.
1. Argument 1 – Paul clearly sees the veil a woman wears as a sign of her submission to her husband. He also seems to link it to modesty since his references to a woman’s hair cut short were references to the way prostitutes wore their hair and his reference to a shaved head was the punishment due an adultress. No matter how you look at it such arguments aren’t going to encourage a lot of women to wear a veil today. It is a true fact that the Scriptures consistently teach that a wife is to be submitted to her husband. I cannot and will not deny what God’s word says even though it is unpopular. However I will say that the same texts that tell a woman to be submitted tell the husband to have a great and abiding love for his wife. I have blogged on this “difficult” teaching on marriage elsewhere and would encourage you to read that blog post if you’re troubled or bothered by the submission texts. It is here:

2. Argument 2 – Regarding the Angels- Paul also sees a reason for women to wear veils “because of the angels.” This is a difficult reference to understand. There are numerous explanations I have read over the years. One of the less convincing ones is that the angels are somehow distracted by a woman’s beauty. Now the clergy might be :-) but it just doesn’t seem likely to me that the angels would have this problem. I think the more convincing argument is that St. Paul has Isaiah in mind who wrote: I saw the Lord seated on a high and lofty throne, with the train of his garment filling the temple. Seraphim were stationed above; each of them had six wings: with two they veiled their faces, with two they veiled their feet, and with two they hovered aloft.(Is 6:2-3). Hence the idea seems to be that since the angels veil their faces (heads) it is fitting for women to do the same. But then the question, why not a man too? And here also Paul supplies an aswer that is “difficult” for modern ears: A man, on the other hand, should not cover his head, because he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man. For man did not come from woman, but woman from man. In other words a man shares God’s glory immediately whereas a woman does as well but derivatively for she was formed from Adam’s wounded side. Alas this argument too will not likely cause a run on veil sales.
3. Argument 3 – The argument from “nature” – In effect Paul argues that since nature itself veils a woman with long hair and this is her glory that this also argues for her covering her head in Church. What is not clear is that, if nature has already provided this covering, why then should she cover her covering? I want to take up this notion of glory in my conclusion.
4. Argument 4- The Argument from Custom- This argument is pretty straight-forward: Paul says it is customary for a woman to cover her head when praying and, other things being equal, this custom should be followed. Paul goes on to assert that those who insist on doing differently are being “argumentative.” In effect he argues that for the sake of good order and to avoid controversy the custom should be followed. However, in calling it a custom, the text also seems to allow for a time like ours where the custom is different. Customs have stability but are not usually forever fixed. Hence, though some argue that wearing veils is a scriptural norm that women “must” follow today, the use of the word custom seems to permit of the possibility that it is not an unvarying norm we are dealing with here. Rather, it is a custom from that time that does not necessarily bind us today. This of course seems to be how the Church understands this text for she does not require head coverings for her daughters.
Conclusions -
1. That women are not required to wear veils today is clear in terms of Church Law. The argument that the Church is remiss in not requiring this of her daughters is hard to sustain when scriptures attach the word “custom” to the practice. There may be some local ordinances by bishop’s conferences but there is no universal Church law on this matter.
2. I will say however that I like veils and miss women wearing them. When I was a boy in the 1960s my mother and sister always wore their veils and so did all women in those days and I remember how modestly beautiful I found them to be. When I see women wear them today I have the same impression.
3. That said, a woman does not go to Church to please or impress me.
4. It is worth noting that a man is still forbidden to wear a hat in Church. If I see it I go to him and ask him to remove it. There a partial exception to the clergy who are permitted to wear birettas and to bishops who are to wear the miter. However, there are strict rules in this regard that any head cover is to be removed when they go to the altar. Hence, for men, the rule, or shall we say the custom, has not changed.
5. This leads me then to a possible understanding of the wearing of the veil for women and the uncovered head for the men that may be more useful to our times. Let’s call it The Argument from Humility.
For both men and women, humility before God is the real point of these customs. In the ancient world as now, women gloried in their hair and often gave great attention to it. St. Paul above, speaks of a woman’s hair as her glory. As a man I am not unappreciative of this glory. Women do wonderful things with their hair. As such their hair is part of their glory and, as St. Paul says it seems to suggest above it is appropriate to cover our glory before the presence of God.
As for men, in the ancient world and to some lesser extent now, hats often signified rank and membership. As such men displayed their rank and membership in organizations with pride in the hats they wore. Hence Paul tells them to uncover their heads and leave their worldly glories aside when coming before God. Today men still do some of this (esp. in the military) but men wear less hats in general. But when they do they are often boasting of allegiances to sports teams and the like. Likewise, some men who belong to fraternal organizations such as the various Catholic Knights groups often display ranks on their hats. We clergy do this as well to some extent with different color poms on birettas etc. Paul encourages all this to be left aside in Church. As for the clergy, though we may enter the Church with these ranked hats and insignia, we are to cast them aside when we go to the altar. Knights organizations are also directed to set down their hats when the Eucharistic prayer begins.
I do not advance this argument from humility to say women ought to cover their heads, for I would not require what the Church does not. But I offer the line of reasoning as a way to understand veiling in a way that is respectful of the modern setting, IF a woman chooses to use the veil. Since this is just a matter of custom then we are not necessarily required to understand its meaning in exactly the way St. Paul describes. Submission is biblical but it need not be the reason for the veil. Humility before God seems a more workable understanding especially since it can be seen to apply to both men and women in the way I have tried to set it forth.
There are an amazing number of styles when it comes to veils and mantillas: Mantillas online
This video gives some other reasons why a woman might wear a veil. I think it does a pretty good job of showing some of the traditions down through the centuries. However I think the video strays from what I have presented here in that it seems to indicate that women ought to wear the veil and that it is a matter of obedience. I do not think that is what the Church teaches in this regard. There can be many good reasons to wear the veil but I don’t think we can argue that obedience to a requirement is one of them.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Medjugorje : "The pope wants a decisive conclusion made" - Father Salvatore Perrella, CDF Expert

By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- When the bishop of Green Bay, Wis., recently recognized a series of Marian apparitions from 1859, it marked the first time apparitions in the United States received official approval.

That's quite an achievement considering that more than 1,500 visions of Mary have been reported around the world, but in the past century only nine cases have received official church approval as being "worthy of belief," said an expert in Marian apparitions.

The church has made very few judgments on apparition claims. "It's not always possible to ascertain if they are true or false because the phenomenon is much bigger than us," said Marianist Father Salvatore Perrella, assistant dean at the Pontifical Theological Faculty Marianum and a theologian who also serves as an expert for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

The enormous job of determining the veracity of an apparition falls to the local bishop, said Father Perrella.

To help with that task, the Vatican's doctrinal congregation established a set of norms in 1978 to guide the process of discernment and the investigation of reported apparitions and revelations.

The process "is never brief," said Father Perrella. For example, the Green Bay apparitions received approval 151 years after the first apparition was reported, but that's just half of the nearly 300 years it took the church to approve the apparitions of Our Lady of Laus in France, he said.

The process is lengthy because visionaries and witnesses must be questioned and "the fruits of the apparitions, such as conversions, miracles and healings" must be examined, he said.

The local bishop sets up a commission of experts, including theologians, canonists, psychologists and doctors, to help him.

According to the norms, the bishop and his commission "must determine the veracity of the facts and the mental, moral and spiritual wholesomeness and seriousness of the visionary and his or her testimony," he said.

Father Perrella said that when the bishop's investigation is complete, he can come to one of three conclusions: he can determine the apparition to be true and worthy of belief; he can say it is not true, which leaves open the possibility for an appeal; or he can say that at the moment he doesn't know and needs more help.

In the last scenario, the investigation is brought to the country's bishops' conference, Father Perrella said. If the body of bishops cannot come to a conclusion, then the matter is turned over to the pope who delegates the doctrinal congregation to step in and either give advice, send a commissioner and-or set up a commission to investigate.

At every step of the investigation, "the person in charge of everything is the bishop," he said.

The alleged apparitions at Medjugorje in Bosnia-Herzegovina are an example of a situation in which the country's bishops requested the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to intervene.

The congregation established an international commission in 2010 to investigate the claims of six young people who said Mary appeared to them daily beginning in 1981.

The apparitions apparently are continuing and thousands of people travel to the small town each month to meet the alleged seers and to pray.

Father Perrella, who is a member of the Vatican commission to study the alleged Medjugorje apparitions, told CNS the work is only just beginning.

"The pope wants a decisive conclusion made," he said, adding that it will be a very long process.

The case under study "is a serious thing" that is "very complex" though not impossible to resolve, he said.

For the past 30 years, people have claimed to see apparitions of Mary at Medjugorje.

Such an extended duration of alleged apparitions in one place is no longer "something that generates suspicion," he said. That's because there are similar precedents such as the apparitions of Our Lady of Laus, which lasted 54 years and received formal church recognition in 2008.

The church approaches each claim "with the maximum prudence, investigative rigor and an invitation to live out the Gospel rather than follow the apparitions," he said.

In fact, the church never requires the faithful to believe in the Marian apparitions, not even those recognized by the church, he said.

But "by believing in the resurrection of Christ, one can believe in the apparition of Mary" in which Mary is actually present in her body and can be seen on earth, he said.

The Catholic Church affirms that Mary was assumed, body and soul, into heaven and that she, like Christ, defeated death and triumphs in heavenly glory with the totality of her being.

For that reason, Father Perrella said, Mary can appear in bodily form while the saints or other deceased can't.

"Mary never comes on her own accord; she is 'God's ambassador'" charged with a specific message for a specific time and place, he said.

He said that while the apparitions and messages are never the same, in general, Mary appeals for people's conversion and seeks to assure men and women that they are not alone in the world and can depend on God's loving mercy.

Her appearance is not meant to result in her glorification, but of God's, he said.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Shanghai 1990 vs. 2010

shanghai china

shanghai china

Source: Business Insider

Mexican actor pledges to build largest pro-life women's clinic in US
.- Mexican producer and actor Eduardo Verastegui has announced that his organization, Mantle of Guadalupe, is planning to build the largest pro-life women's clinic in the United States.

Verastegui's announcement came during the first-ever gala held by Mantle of Guadalupe and Catholic Charities of Los Angeles.

The gala took place Jan. 15 at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills and brought together 300 noted guests, including Philip Rivers from the San Diego Chargers, Mexican actor Karyme Lozano, actor Sean Astin from “The Lord of the Rings,” violinist Roddy Chong and motivational speaker Nick Vujicic.

Vujicic also received an award for his courageous testimony in defense of human life.

During the gala, Verastegui, who is the founder of Mantle of Guadalupe, reiterated his commitment to defend life and announced that the organization’s new goal is the construction of “the largest women’s clinic in the United States.”

“I will not use my talents except to elevate my Christian, pro-life and Hispanic values,” Verastegui promised the guests.

At the conclusion of his remarks, the Mexican actor introduced several young Hispanic mothers and their babies who were saved thanks to the work of Mantle of Guadalupe.  They were greeted with a prolonged standing ovation. “These babies are the fruits of Mantle of Guadalupe, they are the result of your generosity.  If only just one of them were here, everything I have done in my life recently since filming 'Bella' would have been worth it,” he said..

Anglican Ordinariate for Australia up by Pentecost, to include Japan

By Anthony Barich

AN Ordinariate for Anglicans to enter the Catholic Church is set to be established in Australia by Pentecost this year, and will include Japan.

Traditional Anglican Communion Bishop Harry Entwistle of Western Australia. Photo: Anthony Barich

The Ordinariate – which is effectively a diocese without geographical boundaries - is in response to Pope Benedict XVI’s November 2009 Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus (“On the gathering of the Anglicans”).

The Constitution gave Anglicans a way to celebrate their heritage of worship and life as communities within the full communion of the Catholic Church.

While the emphasis of Anglicanorum coetibus is for Anglicans to enter the Catholic Church in groups, 28 Anglican priests in Australia have so far expressed their firm intention to take up Pope Benedict’s offer.

The Traditional Anglican Communion, a group of disaffected Anglicans who have been seeking full communion with Rome for years, will host a festival in Perth on 26 February at Holy Family Catholic Church in Como for the Anglican Ordinariate for Australia.

TAC Bishop Harry Entwistle - one of four TAC Bishops in Australia and the Torres Strait Islands who will be ordained as Catholic priests, likely just before the Ordinariate is officially established, told The Record the festival is a public statement that “this is no longer just a theory, it’s really happening”. “It’s an opportunity to gather those who are more than just casually interested,” he said of the festival, which is for Catholics and Anglicans who, like the TAC, have long been disillusioned with the Anglican Church’s liberalisation with female clergy, among other things.

Melbourne Auxiliary Bishop Peter Elliott, Delegate for the Holy See for the Australian Ordinariate, will address the festival, as will Adelaide-based Archbishop John Hepworth, Primate of the TAC which claims a global membership of 400,000.

Peter Gannon will also address the festival on what benefit the Ordinariate has for ‘cradle Catholics’, while Robert Andrew, a member of the Friends of Anglican Catholics support group who also converted from the Anglican Church, will also talk on what attraction it holds for people like him...

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Former Planned Parenthood director to convert to Catholicism

January 19th, 2011
By Valerie Schmalz

The woman who walked away from her job as a Planned Parenthood clinic director after helping with an ultrasound-guided abortion is on the verge of entering the Catholic Church.

Abby Johnson, 30, who will speak at the 11 a.m. Walk for Life West Coast rally in San Francisco Jan. 22, is preparing with her husband Doug to enter the Catholic Church in her native Texas within the next few months. The couple has a 4-year-old daughter.

“When we went to the Catholic Church for the first time we knew that was where we were supposed to be and we have been there ever since,” said Johnson, who said she particularly loves the church’s reverence for Mary as the mother of God. “The more we started learning about the beliefs of the church and the Eucharist and everything, it seemed like this was what had been missing our whole lives.”

After eight years as a Planned Parenthood volunteer and employee, Johnson walked away from her job as director of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Bryan/College Station, Texas, Oct. 6, 2009 during a prayer vigil by 40 Days for Life. Johnson, who had two abortions at 20 and at 23, first began working as a clinic escort while a student at Texas A&M University. Assisting with an ultrasound during an abortion in September 2009 turned her into a pro-life advocate.

Johnson’s embrace of Catholicism was a natural development after she became pro-life but was precipitated by her pro-choice Episcopalian community’s vocal rejection of her change of heart, she said...

Edgar Allan Poe Visitor Again a No-Show

By JOSEPH WHITE, Associated Press Joseph White, Associated Press Wed Jan 19, 9:11 am ET
BALTIMORE –  Telltale hearts beat with anticipation during a rainy, midnight dreary and beyond, hoping the mysterious visitor to Edgar Allan Poe's grave would return after a one-year absence.

But once again, the unknown person who for decades has left three roses and a half-empty bottle of cognac at Poe's grave on the anniversary of the writer's birth failed to appear Wednesday, fueling speculation that he may have died.

AP/Steve Ruark

Four impostors came and went overnight. The real one never showed. Around 5 a.m., the dozen Poe fans who were left began to wonder if the eerie ritual is indeed nevermore, so they walked to Poe's tombstone and performed their own tribute by leaving roses and drinking a cognac toast.

A fascinating tradition that ran for some 60 years and was never fully explained appears to have ended at the downtown Westminster Hall and Burying Ground.

"I think we can safely say it's not car trouble, and he's not sick," said Jeff Jerome, curator of the Poe House and Museum. "This doesn't look good."

It would be an ending befitting of the legacy of Poe, the American literary master of the macabre who was known for haunting poems such as "The Raven" and grisly short stories including "The Tell-Tale Heart," "The Fall of the House of Usher" and "The Pit and the Pendulum." He is also credited with writing the first modern detective story, "The Murders in the Rue Morgue." He died in 1849 in Baltimore at age 40 after collapsing in a tavern.

Sometime in the 1940s, it seems, an anonymous man began the annual tribute at Poe's grave. It was first referenced in print in 1949 by The Evening Sun of Baltimore.

Those who have glimpsed the "Poe toaster" always saw him dressed in black, wearing a white scarf with a wide-brimmed hat. Jerome has kept watch over the vigil since 1978, watching from inside the Presbyterian church while Poe fans peered through the locked gates of the cemetery.

After last year's no-show, Jerome this year was expecting Poe toaster wannabes imitating the real thing, and they showed up in brazen style. One emerged from a white stretch limo shortly after midnight. Two others appeared to be women. The fourth was an older man. All walked in clear sight of the Poe fans, contrary to the secretive nature of the real Poe toaster. All wore black hats and left roses and cognac, and two left notes, but none of the four gave the secret signal that only Jerome knows, and none of the four arranged the roses in the unique pattern established by the Poe toaster over the decades.

The "faux Toasters" provided excitement for the Poe fans who braved rain and near-freezing temperatures through the night. One couple traveled from France, another from Chicago. Two friends came from New York. A mother from Cleveland brought her 19-year-old son because it's on his bucket list. Raven See, who was named after the Poe poem, took time off from her studies at Elmira College in New York to make her sixth appearance at the vigil. Some sang "Happy Birthday" at midnight and read aloud from Poe's writings.

"There's so many conspiracy theories," See said. "Like it ended in '98 and now the church does it. Or maybe in '09 they wanted to end it because it was the bicentennial. It just adds to the mystery. The best part of it is meeting people."

In 1993, the visitor began leaving notes, starting with one that read: "The torch will be passed." A note in 1998 indicated the originator of the tradition had died and passed it on to his two sons.

The sons didn't seem to take the duty as seriously as the father. One left a note in 2001 referencing the Super Bowl and another in 2004 implying criticism of France over its objections to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, upsetting many of the traditionalists. When the Poe toaster didn't show last year, Jerome theorized that the 200th anniversary of Poe's birth in 2009 might have been considered the appropriate stopping point.

Or, it was thought at the time, perhaps the toaster just had a flat tire on the way to the cemetery.

But that's the sort of happenstance unlikely to happen two years in a row. Jerome says he'll return one more year. If the visitor fails to show in 2012, he'll considered the tradition over and done.

"It's sort of like a marriage that ends," Jerome said. "Part of you still wants the warmth that was part of it, and you go looking for the same woman. No, it's over with. And if it's over with, it's over with. If people want to continue the tradition, it's going to be without me."

It appears at least some sort of Poe tradition will indeed continue every Jan. 19. Most who attended this year said they plan to return next year, and maybe beyond. Cynthia Pelayo, who traveled from Chicago with her husband for the second straight year, handed out roses after the gates were open shortly before 5 a.m., and those were the flowers that were presented — one by one — at Poe's grave.

Pelayo also left a note.

"Dear, Edgar," it said. "You are what all us macabre writers only hope to be. Thank you. 'Til next year."

Bp. Tobin on Pres. Obama’s speech in Tucson

"But I can’t help but wonder how many tiny eyes will never open, will never see the light of day, because of this president’s shortsighted and zealous promotion of abortion." - Bishop Tobin via Father Z

Why do women continue to voluntarily poison themselves?

From Belinda's Brain:

"Many of the dangers of the pill are listed on the package insert.  The statistics are startling:
  • According to the Journal of American Medicine, using birth control doubles one’s risk of stroke.
  • According to the National Cancer Institute one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in their lives.
  • The National Cancer Institute estimates that in 2010, 39,840 women will die of breast cancer.  The institute also estimates that in 2010, 207,090 will be diagnosed with breast cancer.
  • According to the Mayo Clinic Research, if a woman uses hormonal contraception for at least four years before her first full-term pregnancy she is at a 52% greater risk for developing breast cancer..."

Father Tom Euteneuer Update

By Tom O'Toole

"I talked to Father Euteneuer for forty-five minutes on Saturday night, and while he couldn't talk about the reasons he left HLI because his bishop (Bishop Gerald Barbarito) bound him under vows of obedience not to.."

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Did Vatican II reverse the Church’s teaching on religious liberty?

Catholic teaching on religious liberty has remained consistent over the centuries.

By Fr. Regis Scanlon, O.F.M. Cap.

In his 1864 document Quanta Cura, Pius IX labeled “erroneous” the opinion that the “liberty of conscience and of worship is the proper right of every man.”1 But the Second Vatican Council declared in its 1965 document Dignitatis Humanae (Declaration on Religious Freedom) that “in matters religious no one is to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his own beliefs.”2 So, did Vatican II reverse or contradict the teaching of Pius IX on religious liberty?

Since the close of the Second Vatican Council, many heterodox theologians have claimed that Dignitatis Humanae “reversed” past papal teaching on religious liberty.3 In 1985, for example, the excommunicated Archbishop Lefebvre claimed that Quanta Cura “condemned” an “assertion” which was later found in the Vatican II document, Dignitatis Humanae.4 But other “progressive” theologians like Charles Curran and Richard McBrien also saw, and welcomed, an utter reversal of Catholic teaching.5 So, on this point both the excessively “conservative” and “liberal” meet, but what are the “centrally” orthodox to make of the Church’s current teaching on religious liberty?

The aim of this article is to demonstrate that there is no inconsistency between the doctrine of Pius IX and of the Second Vatican Council on religious liberty. The article will show that these teachings are consistent with each other: first in regard to a person’s freedom in religious matters in relation to the state; and second in regard to a person’s freedom in religious matters in relation to the Church. Let’s take a closer look at Quanta Cura and Dignitatis Humanae.

A closer look at the texts

In Quanta Cura Pius IX stated that it is “erroneous” to say that...

Monday, January 17, 2011

Father Corapi - Conversion Story

"An elderly monsignor walked up.. 'Young man, that's a tremendous story, that's a great story... but is it true?'
And I said, 'Oh Monsignor, not even I could make up something like that."

Push for same-sex 'marriage' perverts essence and goal of family, says Pope

By Marianne Medlin

As efforts to legalize same-sex “marriage” proceed in the United States and countries around the world, Pope Benedict issued strong remarks on Jan. 14, saying that gay “marriage” perverts the “essence and goal of the family.”

Addressing officials from the city of Rome and the Italian region of Lazio, Pope Benedict said that legislation and policies that promote same-sex unions end up “penalizing” heterosexual couples,  “who, not without effort, seek to maintain stable emotional ties which are juridically guaranteed and publicly recognized.”

“To this end,” he stressed, “the various components of society must agree on the objectives of education, in order for human love not to be reduced to an article of consumption, but to be seen and lived as a fundamental experience which gives existence meaning and a goal.”

The Pope made his comments to Gianni Alemanno, mayor of the City of Rome; Renata Polverini, president of the Region of Lazio, and Nicola Zingaretti, president of the Province of Rome, for the country's traditional exchange of New Year greetings.

Though currently not legal in Italy, same-sex “marriage” has been approved legislatively in countries across the globe as well as several states in the U.S.

Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa and Washington, D.C have all legalized gay “marriage” in the last two years, with similar initiatives being pushed in other states under the guise of marriage as a civil right.

In California, a panel of 9th Circuit Court of Appeals judges is currently hearing arguments from supporters and opponents of Proposition 8  – a traditional marriage initiative which passed in November 2008 with the support of seven million Californians –  in a landmark case that will most likely reach the U.S. Supreme Court.
In Rhode Island, Bishop Thomas J. Tobin of Providence is warning that the “frenetic rush” to recognize gay “marriage” in the state is morally wrong and that Gov. Lincoln Chafee and other state leaders are pushing the legislation without adequate debate.

The Pope underscored in his Jan. 14 remarks to officials on Friday that the family is “primary cell of society” which is “founded on marriage between a man and a woman.”

He noted that it “is in the family that children learn the human and Christian values which enable constructive and peaceful coexistence,” and it “is in the family that we learn solidarity between generations, respect for rules, forgiveness and acceptance of others.”

In this context, he said that “the family must, then, be supported by policies ... which aim at its consolidation and development, accompanied by appropriate educational efforts.”

The Pope emphasized the importance "of giving concrete support to maternity, and of guaranteeing working women the chance to conciliate the demands of family and work.” He said that many couples desire to have children "but are forced to wait" over lack of ability to balance family and work needs.

The pontiff also spoke of the need to support women in crisis pregnancy situations, saying that “openness to life is at the center of true development” and warning that “the large number of abortions that take place in our region cannot leave us indifferent.”

"The Christian community, through its many care homes, pro-life centers and similar initiatives, is committed to accompanying and supporting women who encounter difficulties in welcoming a new life,” he said. “Public institutions must also offer their support so that family consultancies are in a position to help women overcome the causes that may lead them to interrupt their pregnancy.”

Pope Benedict also discussed the negative effects of unemployment on young people who “often feel disillusioned and are tempted to reject society itself” when they can't find work.

It is “vital,” he added, “even in this difficult time, to make every effort to promote policies that favor employment and dignified assistance, which is indispensable in order to give life to new families.”

Purgatory Exists. And It Burns

by Sandro Magister

ROME, January 17, 2011 – In illustrating the life of Saint Catherine of Genoa, at the general audience last Wednesday, Benedict XVI took the thought of this saint as a point of departure to explain what purgatory is.

During the second half of the 15th century, the time of Catherine, the contemporary image of purgatory was like the one depicted above. It was the mountain of purification sung of by Dante in the "Divine Comedy."

That purgatory is a physical place is a very ancient conviction, which endured until recent times.

But not for Catherine. For her, the fire of purgatory was essentially thought of as an interior fire.

And Benedict XVI has completely agreed with her.

Some in the media have covered this catechesis of pope Joseph Ratzinger, placing it among the good news. As if the pope had decreed not so much the interiority of purgatory, but its wholesome disappearance. A disappearance, moreover, that to a large extent has already taken place in the current preaching of the Church, as of several decades ago.

But the teaching of Benedict XVI says exactly the opposite. Not the disappearance of purgatory, but its true reality.

Almost no one has recalled this. But Benedict XVI has written his most powerful pages on purgatory in the encyclical "Spe Salvi," the most personal of the three encyclicals he has published so far, the only one planned and written entirely by him alone, from the first line to the last.

Below is presented the passage of the catechesis on Saint Catherine of Genoa relating to purgatory.

And immediately afterward, the paragraphs from "Spe Salvi" also dedicated to purgatory, against the background of the judgment of God, which "is hope, both because it is justice and because it is grace."



by Benedict XVI

From the general audience of  January 12, 2011

[...] Catherine's thought on purgatory, for which she is particularly known, is condensed in the last two parts of the book mentioned at the beginning: "Treatise on Purgatory" and "Dialogues on the Soul and Body."

It is important to observe that, in her mystical experience, Catherine never had specific revelations on purgatory or on souls that are being purified there. However, in the writings inspired by our saint purgatory is a central element, and the way of describing it has original characteristics in relation to her era.

The first original feature refers to the "place" of the purification of souls. In her time [purgatory] was presented primarily with recourse to images connected to space: There was thought of a certain space where purgatory would be found. For Catherine, instead, purgatory is not represented as an element of the landscape of the core of the earth; it is a fire that is not exterior but interior.

This is purgatory, an interior fire. The saint speaks of the soul's journey of purification to full communion with God, based on her own experience of profound sorrow for the sins committed, in contrast to the infinite love of God. We have heard about the moment of her conversion, when Catherine suddenly felt God's goodness, the infinite distance of her life from this goodness and a burning fire within her. And this is the fire that purifies, it is the interior fire of purgatory.

Here also there is an original feature in relation to the thought of the era. She does not begin, in fact, from the beyond to narrate the torments of purgatory – as was usual at that time and perhaps also today – and then indicate the path for purification or conversion. Instead our saint begins from her own interior experience of her life on the path to eternity.

The soul, says Catherine, appears before God still bound to the desires and the sorrow that derive from sin, and this makes it impossible for it to enjoy the Beatific Vision of God. Catherine affirms that God is so pure and holy that the soul with stains of sin cannot be in the presence of the Divine Majesty. And we also realize how far we are, how full we are of so many things, so that we cannot see God. The soul is conscious of the immense love and perfect justice of God and, in consequence, suffers for not having responded correctly and perfectly to that love, and that is why the love itself of God becomes a flame. Love itself purifies it from its dross of sin.

Theological and mystical sources typical of the era can be found in Catherine's work. Particularly there is an image from Dionysius the Areopagite: that of the golden thread that unites the human heart with God himself. When God has purified man, he ties him with a very fine thread of gold, which is his love, and attracts him to himself with such strong affection that man remains as "overcome and conquered and altogether outside himself." Thus the human heart is invaded by the love of God, which becomes the only guide, the sole motor of his existence.

This situation of elevation to God and of abandonment to his will, expressed in the image of the thread, is used by Catherine to express the action of the divine light on souls in purgatory, light that purifies them and elevates them to the splendors of the shining rays of God.

Dear friends, the saints, in their experience of union with God, reach such profound "knowledge" of the divine mysteries, in which love and knowledge are fused, that they are of help to theologians themselves in their task of study, of "intelligentia fidei," of "intelligentia" of the mysteries of the faith, of real deepening in the mysteries, for example, of what purgatory is. [...]



by Benedict XVI

From the encyclical "Spe Salvi" of November 30, 2007

[...] I am convinced that the question of justice constitutes the essential argument, or in any case the strongest argument, in favour of faith in eternal life. The purely individual need for a fulfilment that is denied to us in this life, for an everlasting love that we await, is certainly an important motive for believing that man was made for eternity; but only in connection with the impossibility that the injustice of history should be the final word does the necessity for Christ's return and for new life become fully convincing.

44. To protest against God in the name of justice is not helpful. A world without God is a world without hope (cf. Eph 2:12). Only God can create justice. And faith gives us the certainty that he does so. The image of the Last Judgement is not primarily an image of terror, but an image of hope; for us it may even be the decisive image of hope. Is it not also a frightening image? I would say: it is an image that evokes responsibility, an image, therefore, of that fear of which Saint Hilary spoke when he said that all our fear has its place in love.

God is justice and creates justice. This is our consolation and our hope. And in his justice there is also grace. This we know by turning our gaze to the crucified and risen Christ. Both these things – justice and grace – must be seen in their correct inner relationship. Grace does not cancel out justice. It does not make wrong into right. It is not a sponge which wipes everything away, so that whatever someone has done on earth ends up being of equal value. Dostoevsky, for example, was right to protest against this kind of Heaven and this kind of grace in his novel "The Brothers Karamazov."

Evildoers, in the end, do not sit at table at the eternal banquet beside their victims without distinction, as though nothing had happened. [...] In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (cf. Lk 16:19-31), Jesus admonishes us through the image of a soul destroyed by arrogance and opulence, who has created an impassable chasm between himself and the poor man; the chasm of being trapped within material pleasures; the chasm of forgetting the other, of incapacity to love, which then becomes a burning and unquenchable thirst. We must note that in this parable Jesus is not referring to the final destiny after the Last Judgement, but is taking up a notion found, inter alia, in early Judaism, namely that of an intermediate state between death and resurrection, a state in which the final sentence is yet to be pronounced.

45. This early Jewish idea of an intermediate state includes the view that these souls are not simply in a sort of temporary custody but, as the parable of the rich man illustrates, are already being punished or are experiencing a provisional form of bliss. There is also the idea that this state can involve purification and healing which mature the soul for communion with God.

The early Church took up these concepts, and in the Western Church they gradually developed into the doctrine of Purgatory. We do not need to examine here the complex historical paths of this development; it is enough to ask what it actually means.

With death, our life-choice becomes definitive?our life stands before the judge. Our choice, which in the course of an entire life takes on a certain shape, can have a variety of forms. There can be people who have totally destroyed their desire for truth and readiness to love, people for whom everything has become a lie, people who have lived for hatred and have suppressed all love within themselves. This is a terrifying thought, but alarming profiles of this type can be seen in certain figures of our own history. In such people all would be beyond remedy and the destruction of good would be irrevocable: this is what we mean by the word Hell. On the other hand there can be people who are utterly pure, completely permeated by God, and thus fully open to their neighbours?people for whom communion with God even now gives direction to their entire being and whose journey towards God only brings to fulfilment what they already are.

46. Yet we know from experience that neither case is normal in human life. For the great majority of people – we may suppose – there remains in the depths of their being an ultimate interior openness to truth, to love, to God. In the concrete choices of life, however, it is covered over by ever new compromises with evil?much filth covers purity, but the thirst for purity remains and it still constantly re-emerges from all that is base and remains present in the soul.

What happens to such individuals when they appear before the Judge? Will all the impurity they have amassed through life suddenly cease to matter? What else might occur? Saint Paul, in his First Letter to the Corinthians, gives us an idea of the differing impact of God's judgement according to each person's particular circumstances. He does this using images which in some way try to express the invisible, without it being possible for us to conceptualize these images?simply because we can neither see into the world beyond death nor do we have any experience of it.

Paul begins by saying that Christian life is built upon a common foundation: Jesus Christ. This foundation endures. If we have stood firm on this foundation and built our life upon it, we know that it cannot be taken away from us even in death. Then Paul continues: “Now if any one builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw – each man's work will become manifest; for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire” (1 Cor 3:12-15).

In this text, it is in any case evident that our salvation can take different forms, that some of what is built may be burned down, that in order to be saved we personally have to pass through “fire” so as to become fully open to receiving God and able to take our place at the table of the eternal marriage-feast.

47. Some recent theologians are of the opinion that the fire which both burns and saves is Christ himself, the Judge and Saviour. The encounter with him is the decisive act of judgement. Before his gaze all falsehood melts away. This encounter with him, as it burns us, transforms and frees us, allowing us to become truly ourselves. All that we build during our lives can prove to be mere straw, pure bluster, and it collapses. Yet in the pain of this encounter, when the impurity and sickness of our lives become evident to us, there lies salvation. His gaze, the touch of his heart heals us through an undeniably painful transformation “as through fire”. But it is a blessed pain, in which the holy power of his love sears through us like a flame, enabling us to become totally ourselves and thus totally of God.

In this way the inter-relation between justice and grace also becomes clear: the way we live our lives is not immaterial, but our defilement does not stain us for ever if we have at least continued to reach out towards Christ, towards truth and towards love. Indeed, it has already been burned away through Christ's Passion. At the moment of judgement we experience and we absorb the overwhelming power of his love over all the evil in the world and in ourselves. The pain of love becomes our salvation and our joy.

It is clear that we cannot calculate the “duration” of this transforming burning in terms of the chronological measurements of this world. The transforming “moment” of this encounter eludes earthly time-reckoning?it is the heart's time, it is the time of “passage” to communion with God in the Body of Christ.

The judgement of God is hope, both because it is justice and because it is grace. If it were merely grace, making all earthly things cease to matter, God would still owe us an answer to the question about justice – the crucial question that we ask of history and of God. If it were merely justice, in the end it could bring only fear to us all.

The incarnation of God in Christ has so closely linked the two together – judgement and grace – that justice is firmly established: we all work out our salvation “with fear and trembling” (Phil 2:12). Nevertheless grace allows us all to hope, and to go trustfully to meet the Judge whom we know as our “advocate”, or parakletos (cf. 1 Jn 2:1).

48. A further point must be mentioned here, because it is important for the practice of Christian hope. Early Jewish thought includes the idea that one can help the deceased in their intermediate state through prayer (see for example 2 Macc 12:38-45; first century BC). The equivalent practice was readily adopted by Christians and is common to the Eastern and Western Church.

The East does not recognize the purifying and expiatory suffering of souls in the afterlife, but it does acknowledge various levels of beatitude and of suffering in the intermediate state. The souls of the departed can, however, receive “solace and refreshment” through the Eucharist, prayer and almsgiving. The belief that love can reach into the afterlife, that reciprocal giving and receiving is possible, in which our affection for one another continues beyond the limits of death?this has been a fundamental conviction of Christianity throughout the ages and it remains a source of comfort today. Who would not feel the need to convey to their departed loved ones a sign of kindness, a gesture of gratitude or even a request for pardon?

Now a further question arises: if “Purgatory” is simply purification through fire in the encounter with the Lord, Judge and Saviour, how can a third person intervene, even if he or she is particularly close to the other? When we ask such a question, we should recall that no man is an island, entire of itself. Our lives are involved with one another, through innumerable interactions they are linked together. No one lives alone. No one sins alone. No one is saved alone. The lives of others continually spill over into mine: in what I think, say, do and achieve. And conversely, my life spills over into that of others: for better and for worse. So my prayer for another is not something extraneous to that person, something external, not even after death. In the interconnectedness of Being, my gratitude to the other – my prayer for him – can play a small part in his purification. And for that there is no need to convert earthly time into God's time: in the communion of souls simple terrestrial time is superseded. It is never too late to touch the heart of another, nor is it ever in vain.

In this way we further clarify an important element of the Christian concept of hope. Our hope is always essentially also hope for others; only thus is it truly hope for me too. As Christians we should never limit ourselves to asking: how can I save myself? We should also ask: what can I do in order that others may be saved and that for them too the star of hope may rise? Then I will have done my utmost for my own personal salvation as well. [...]


The complete text of the encyclical:

> "Spe Salvi"


The complete text of Benedict XVI's catechesis on Saint Catherine of Genoa:

> General audience of January 12, 2011

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Father Baker another step nearer to sainthood

Lackawanna priest declared 'venerable' after review of his life is approved by pope

By Lou Michel
The Buffalo News Nelson H. Baker's journey to sainthood moved forward Friday, when Pope Benedict XVI approved an 800-page review of the Lackawanna priest's life.

Father Baker, who died almost 75 years ago, has been declared the Venerable Father Nelson H. Baker. He devoted his priesthood to charitable works,helping mostly babies, children and women. He also greatly expanded Our Lady of Victory Parish in Lackawanna.

"We rejoice today that in a meeting with Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI has declared the heroic virtues of Servant of God Father Nelson Baker," the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo said in a statement...

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Exorcist priest (Fr. Tom Euteneuer) exits public spotlight, mystifying many

By Lona O'Connor Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

...This summer, without warning, Euteneuer, 48, left his HLI post, saying he had been called back to the Palm Beach Diocese by Bishop Gerald Barbarito. His book on exorcism disappeared.

The Catholic blogosphere lit up like a Christmas tree, as supporters speculated on where he was, why he left an organization he seemed destined to lead and what his professional future might be.

The person who could answer those questions is Barbarito, Euteneuer's superior. And Barbarito is not talking.

A diocesan spokeswoman said only, "This is a matter dealing with priestly personnel, and we are not going to participate in this story."

Euteneuer did not respond to an interview request.

Euteneuer's supporters are still questioning the reasons for his departure.

"What really happened to exorcist Euteneuer?" wrote Catholic blogger Matt C. Abbott in December on, a Catholic website.

Trained in exorcism ritual

Before he dropped out of public life, Euteneuer was a frequent interviewee on Abbott's blog. Abbott contacted the Diocese of Palm Beach regarding Euteneuer, but received no response.

A small number of modern-day priests, like Euteneuer, are trained in a specific Catholic exorcism ritual, in which the priest orders demons to leave a possessed person or place.

Exorcism has been a part of Catholic Church practice since its earliest days. There are references in the New Testament to Jesus casting out devils.

In a speech he would give titled "An Evening with an Exorcist," Euteneuer attempted to demystify one of the least understood of Catholic rituals. He also recounted his bizarre experiences.

In another interview, Euteneuer said one demon offered to help him with his Latin if he would let him stay put. Asked by the interviewer if that might be an example of demonic humor, Euteneuer retorted that demons have no sense of humor.

He condemned the Harry Potter books and movies, the Twilight vampire books and movies and the television sitcom Sabrina the Teenaged Witch as vehicles for the devil to enter weaker natures. He also advocated that exorcisms be performed outside abortion clinics, which he described as "temples of a demonic religion..."

Whatever happened to Euteneuer, it happened swiftly.

In June, HLI was promoting his new book, Exorcism and the Church Militant. In July, Euteneuer was back in his home diocese, in Jensen Beach, giving his "An Evening with an Exorcist" presentation.

On Aug. 27, Human Life International issued a brief press release saying Euteneuer had "stepped down" at the request of Barbarito.

All references to the exorcism book disappeared from the HLI website.

His scheduled September talk on Catholicism in a Chicago suburb was canceled.

By September, it was nearly impossible to buy a copy of his book, Exorcism and the Church Militant, just published in June. One online bookseller was offering it for $975...

Navarre priest denies Communion to woman, has her pulled over

Navarre resident Jackie Trebesh said she was flabbergasted and irritated when a Catholic priest denied her and her daughter Holy Communion, and then had a Santa Rosa County deputy pull her over.

She said she was so surprised by the actions of The Rev. John Kelly at St. Sylvester’s Catholic Church in Gulf Breeze she thought at first she was being “pranked.”

“He’s not God. He can’t do that to people,” she said.

Trebesh said she and her 19-year-old daughter Rachel attended a Friday morning service and were turned away when they approached the priest to take Holy Communion.

Trebesh said Kelly told them, as he denied them communion, that he would explain his actions after the mass had ended.

She said she decided not to wait around for the end of the service and had left the church parking lot when a deputy pulled her over.

Trebesh said the deputy informed her that Kelly had requested the traffic stop. She and her daughter were issued trespass warnings.

The Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office and the Catholic Church confirmed much of her story, but said there were justifiable reasons for their actions.

According to Trebesh, she learned the reason she was denied communion was because someone at the church had seen the daughter dispose of the host, as it is called, improperly in the church parking lot.

The Catholic Church believes the wafer provided during Holy Communion to have been transformed during the mass to the actual body of Christ.

“The matter of disposing of the Eucharist in an inappropriate way is a serious matter to us,” Peggy Dekeyser, the communications officer for the diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee said in confirming Trebesh’s theory...

Priests ordained to the world’s first ordinariate

Priests ordained to the world’s first ordinariate
Auxiliary Bishop Alan Hopes of Westminster with the first clergy of the world's first Personal Ordinariate (Photo: James Bradley)
By Anna Arco

(Catholic Herald) Three former Anglican bishops were ordained to the Catholic priesthood today as the founding members of the world’s first ordinariate.

Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster ordained the three men this morning at a packed Westminster Cathedral.

Keith Newton, the former Bishop of Richborough, Andrew Burnham, the former Bishop of Ebbsfleet, and John Broadhurst, the former Bishop of Fulham, were ordained Catholic priests just two days after their ordination to the diaconate and only two weeks after they were received into the Catholic Church.

The three men become the first clergy members of the world’s first personal ordinariate, established by a papal decree and known as the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, under the protection of Blessed John Henry Newman. The Ordinary, or head, of the ordinariate will be Fr Newton.

Fr Newton, Fr Burnham and Fr Broadhurst were three of five Anglican bishops in England and Wales who publicly announced that they would take up the offer made in the Pope’s November 2009 decree Anglicanorum coetibus.