Monday, February 28, 2011

News for Life

(From left to right: Bro. Daniel Bowen, O. de M., Mr. Michael Bowes, 
Serrin Foster, President of Feminists for Life, Bro. David M. Spencer, O. de M.)

In recent days there has been a lot of news from across the country about measures, both on particular state levels and at the national level, concerning the area of life. The initiative of the House of Representatives to submit a move to defund Planned Parenthood of public funding. The General Assembly of VA has moved to require abortion mills to abide by the same standards as Hospitals across the Commonwealth -- a plan that will likely prove too expensive for these mills to remain operational. Last evening, 3 of the friars in Philadelphia and 1 postulant had the privilege of attending a banquet sponsored by the Pennsylvanians for Human Life, where the keynote speaker was Serrin Foster, President of the Feminists for Life. In what proved to be a remarkable talk, Serrin taught many of us facts and details of the Historic Womens' Movement that are simply lost or muted in our common learning experience of American History. Details which included the fact that from the very beginnings of the movement of Womens' Rights, the right to life was a hallmark of these foundresses. Today, this note in history is not even mentioned and is so muted that many, included us friars, have equated the Womens' Movement with pro-abortion positions and policies.

I invite you to check out the websites linked above.... and lend your prayers and support.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Friendship with Christ

"To the careless, reckless, thick-skinned villain he promises paradise; to the hot-booded, passionate, sensitive Magdalene he gives absolution and praises her love; and even that sinner most repulsive of all -- the deliberate, cold-hearted traitor who prefers thirty shillings to his master -- he greets even in the very moment and climax of his treachery with the tenderest title of all -- 'Friend,' says Jesus Christ, 'whereto art thou come?"
One lesson emerges, then, from the Gospel story clearly enough. We cannot know Christ in his most characteristic aspect until we find him among the sinners."

--Robert Hugh Benson, Friendship with Christ

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Chair of Peter

The Chair of Peter symbolizes the authority of the Bishop of Rome, called to carry out a special service to the entire People of God. Immediately after the martyrdom of Sts Peter and Paul, the primatial role of the Church of Rome in the whole Catholic community was recognized. This role was already attested to at the beginning of the second century by St Ignatius of Antioch (Epistula ad Romanos, Pref.: ed. Funk, i, p. 252) and by St Irenaeus of Lyons (Adversus haereses III, 3, 2-3). This singular and specific ministry of the Bishop of Rome was reaffirmed by the Second Vatican Council. "In the communion of the Church", we read in the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, "there are also particular Churches that retain their own traditions, without prejudice to the Chair of Peter which presides over the whole assembly of charity (cf. St Ignatius of Antioch, Ep. ad Rom., Pref.), and protects their legitimate variety while at the same time taking care that these differences do not hinder unity, but rather contribute to it" (Lumen gentiumn. 13). -- Pope Benedict XVI

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Horror of Ramen Noodles...???

Things that ONLY Planned Parenthood can save us from....

How sad.... How sad.... How sad.

Vote Pro-Life!!

Saturday Salve

Every Saturday, the Mercedarian Order prays the Mass and Office of the Memorial of Our Lady. Here is a video taken a few weeks ago, from the 'Salve Mass'.

God Save Our President and Nation!

On this annual Presidents' Day, we render to God our acts of prayer and petitions on behalf of the entire nation. Appropriately called for, even today, in keeping with the custom of this country, is the prayer of Archbishop Carroll. Thus, and so:

We pray, Thee O Almighty and Eternal God! Who through Jesus Christ hast revealed Thy glory to all nations, to preserve the works of Thy mercy, that Thy Church, being spread through the whole world, may continue with unchanging faith in the confession of Thy Name.

We pray Thee, who alone art good and holy, to endow with heavenly knowledge, sincere zeal, and sanctity of life, our chief bishop, Pope N., the Vicar of Our Lord Jesus Christ, in the government of his Church; our own bishop, N., all other bishops, prelates, and pastors of the Church; and especially those who are appointed to exercise amongst us the functions of the holy ministry, and conduct Thy people into the ways of salvation.

We pray Thee O God of might, wisdom, and justice! Through whom authority is rightly administered, laws are enacted, and judgment decreed, assist with Thy Holy Spirit of counsel and fortitude the President of these United States, that his administration may be conducted in righteousness, and be eminently useful to Thy people over whom he presides; by encouraging due respect for virtue and religion; by a faithful execution of the laws in justice and mercy; and by restraining vice and immorality. Let the light of Thy divine wisdom direct the deliberations of Congress, and shine forth in all the proceedings and laws framed for our rule and government, so that they may tend to the preservation of peace, the promotion of national happiness, the increase of industry, sobriety, and useful knowledge; and may perpetuate to us the blessing of equal liberty.

We pray for his excellency, the governor of this state , for the members of the assembly, for all judges, magistrates, and other officers who are appointed to guard our political welfare, that they may be enabled, by Thy powerful protection, to discharge the duties of their respective stations with honesty and ability.

We recommend likewise, to Thy unbounded mercy, all our brethren and fellow citizens throughout the United States, that they may be blessed in the knowledge and sanctified in the observance of Thy most holy law; that they may be preserved in union, and in that peace which the world cannot give; and after enjoying the blessings of this life, be admitted to those which are eternal.

Finally, we pray to Thee, O Lord of mercy, to remember the souls of Thy servants departed who are gone before us with the sign of faith and repose in the sleep of peace; the souls of our parents, relatives, and friends; of those who, when living, were members of this congregation, and particularly of such as are lately deceased; of all benefactors who, by their donations or legacies to this Church, witnessed their zeal for the decency of divine worship and proved their claim to our grateful and charitable remembrance.

To these, O Lord, and to all that rest in Christ, grant, we beseech Thee, a place of refreshment, light, and everlasting peace, through the same Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Savior. Amen.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Feast of S. Eulalia, V & M

Today is the Feast of St. Eulalia, Virgin & Martyr. Her feast is observed with great solemnity in the city and Cathedral of Barcelona, where she is honored as the Patroness. The Order of Mercy, in its history, has regarded her with great devotion, even to using her Title in the early days as a part of the official title of the Order. Her lasting testimony and faith in Christ serves as a clear sign of the call to which we, the friars, have answered and the responsibility to forever proclaim our fidelity to Christ and His Church.

Gaudeamus omnes in Domino, diem festum celebrantes sub honore Eulaliae martyris: de cuius passione gaudent angeli, et collaudant Filium Dei.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Solemnity of Our Lady of Lourdes

Today is the Patronal Feast of the Mercedarian parish in Philadelphia under the title of Our Lady of Lourdes. Please continue your prayers for Mercedarian Friars and Sisters who are missioned there in the parish and in the school.

Buona Festa!!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Suffrages for the Dead

Today, the Order of Mercy offers suffrages for the Dead of the Order. We have, unlike many religious communities, kept the practices of the regular suffrages for the Dead of the Order of Mercy. This is an age-old custom and practice of piety with in the Church, wherein we remember and pray for the souls of the Dead, to be, once again, reunited with God.

Deus, cuius miseratione animae fidelium requirescunt: famulis et famulabis tuis, et omnibus hic et ubique in Christo quiescentibus, da propitius veniam peccatorum; ut a cunctis reatibus absoluti, tecum sine fine laetentur. Per eundem Dominum nostrum.

II Maccabees 12:43-46: "And making a gathering, he [Judas] sent twelve thousand drachms of silver to Jerusalem for sacrifice to be offered for the sins of the dead, thinking well and religiously concerning the resurrection, (For if he had not hoped that they that were slain should rise again, it would have seemed superfluous and vain to pray for the dead,) And because he considered that they who had fallen asleep with godliness, had great grace laid up for them. It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins."

Those who've died in a state of grace are not truly "dead"; they are our beloved in Heaven or in Purgatory (on their way to Heaven) and will forever be, world without end, part of the Communion of Saints -- the Church Triumphant (the Saints in Heaven, whether or not they are beatified or canonized), the Church Suffering (the saints in Purgatory), and the Church Militant (the saints on earth).

Because we can't know, aside from those the Church has beatified or canonized, who is already in Heaven, who is in Purgatory for a time, or who is damned, we pray for the dead for the rest of our lives -- assuming they are in Purgatory, while hoping they are in Heaven and not damned. 

We also ask those who've died to pray for us. While those whom the Church has deemed to be of the Church Triumphant (the canonized Saints) are in Heaven for certain and are, therefore, in no need of our prayers for them, we've always asked for them to pray for us. As to the Church Suffering in Purgatory, Aquinas teaches that they are not able to know, by themselves, our prayers; however, it is piously believed, and taught by St. Alphonsus Liguori, that God makes our prayers known to them -- not directly, as they are deprived of the Beatific Vision until they enter Heaven, but by infusing this knowledge into their souls. St. Bellarmine teaches that because the Church Suffering is so close to God -- much closer than we are and having the great consolation of knowing they are saved -- their prayers for us are very effective. So, as you pray for your dead loved ones, ask them to pray for you, too!

As to the damned, there is no hope; no prayer can help them and we can't pray formally for those in Hell. The problem, of course, is that we can't know who is damned, and so we pray generally for "all the 
faithful departed." For those who've died outside of visible Communion with Christ's Church or for those Catholics who've died seemingly without repentance and in scandal, public prayer cannot be offered, but we can most certainly still pray privately with the hope that they've died in a state of grace (i.e., those who are denied a Catholic funeral can't be prayed for liturgically, publicly, but they can most definitely be prayed for -- and should be prayed for -- privately). Priests can even offer Masses for such people privately, without naming them.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

St. Paul Miki & Companions, M

May the Martyrs continue to bless and intercede for Holy Church, for surely the coming age will be a time of trial for Her children. "Fight the good Fight of FAITH"

Saturday, February 5, 2011


Dear Friends, Young People!
Today I counsel you to read an extraordinary book.
Emerging from a Difficult Period for the Church
It is extraordinary because of its content but also because of its format, which I wish to explain to you briefly, so that you will understand its particularity. Youcat drew its origin, so to speak, from another work that came out in the 80s. It was a difficult period for the Church as well as for worldwide society, during which the need was perceived of new guidelines to find a way towards the future. After the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) and in the changing cultural environment, many people no longer knew correctly what Christians should actually believe, what the Church taught, if it could, no more and no less, teach, and how all this could be adapted to the new cultural climate.
The post-conciliar years have been a time of darkness and confusion. Several generations have been affected by the breakdown in the transmission of the Faith.
The Genesis of the Catechism of the Catholic Church
Is not Christianity, as such, obsolete? Can one still today be reasonably a believer? These are the questions that still today many Christian ask themselves. Pope John Paul II then made an audacious decision: he decided that the bishops worldwide should write a book to answer these questions.
He entrusted to me the task of coordinating and overseeing the work of the bishops so that a book would be born from the contributions of the bishops, a real book and not a simple juxtaposition of a multiplicity of texts. This book was to bear the traditional title of Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), and yet be something altogether stimulating and new; it was to show what the Catholic Church believes today and how one can believe in a reasonable way. I was frightened by this task, and I must confess that I doubted that such a thing could succeed. How could it be that authors who are spread around the whole world could produce a legible book? How could men who live in different continents, and not only from the geographical but also from the intellectual and cultural point of view, produce a text with an internal and comprehensible unity in all the continents?
To this was added the fact that the bishops had to write not simply as individual authors but in representation of their confreres and their local Churches.
A Miracle that It Succeeded
I must confess that still today the fact seems a miracle to me that this project in the end succeeded. We met three or four times a year for a week and discussed passionately on the individual portions of the text that had been developed in the meantime.
The Holy Father is speaking with complete candor.
From Many Voices A Choir
The first thing to be defined was the structure of the book: it had to be simple, so that the individual groups of authors could receive a clear task and not force their affirmations into a complicated system. It is the very structure of this book, it is taken simply from a centuries-long catechetical experience: what do we believe/ in what way do we celebrate the Christian mysteries / in what way do we have life in Christ / in what way should we pray. I do not wish to explain now how we engaged in the great quantity of questions, until a real book resulted. In a book of this nature there are many debatable points: all that men do is insufficient and can be improved and, this notwithstanding, it is a great book, a sign of unity in diversity. From many voices it was possible to form a choir because they had the common score of the faith, which the Church has transmitted to us from the Apostles through the centuries until today.
Why all this?
Already then, at the time of the drafting of the CCC, we realized not only that the continents and the cultures of their people are different, but that also within the individual societies different "continents" exist: A worker has a different mentality from a peasant's, and a physicist from a philologist's; an entrepreneur from a journalist's, a youth from an elderly person's. For this reason, in language and in thought we had to place ourselves above all these differences and so to speak seek a common area among the different universal mentalities; with this we became ever more aware of how the text required "translations" into the different worlds, to be able to reach the people with their different mentalities and different problems. Since then, in the World Youth Days (Rome, Toronto, Cologne, Sydney) young people from all over the world have met who want to believe, who are searching for God, who love Christ and desire common paths. In this context we asked ourselves if we should not seek to translate the Catechism of the Catholic Church into the language of young people and make its words penetrate their world. Of course also among the young people of today there are many differences; thus, under the tested guidance of the archbishop of Vienna, Christoph Schoenborn, a Youcat was formatted for young people. I hope that many young people will let themselves be fascinated by this book.
I Am Sure I Am Right
Some persons tell me that the catechism does not interest today's youth, but I do not believe this affirmation and I am sure I am right. Youth is not as superficial as it is accused of being; young people want to know what life truly consists of. A crime novel is fascinating because it involves us in the fate of other persons, but which could also be our own; this book is fascinating because it speaks to us of our very destiny and that is why it concerns each one of us very closely.
Yes, Holy Father, you are right! And we are listening to you.
Study the Catechism
Because of this I invite you: Study the catechism! This is my heartfelt wish.
This supplement to the catechism does not flatter you; it does not offer easy solutions; it calls for a new life on your part; it presents to you the message of the Gospel as the "precious pearl" (Matthew 13:45) for which there is need to give everything, Because of this I ask you: study the catechism with passion and perseverance! Sacrifice your time for it! Study it in the silence of your room, read it together, if you are friends, form groups and study networks, exchange ideas on the Internet. In any case remain in dialogue on your faith!
You Must Know Your Faith
You must know what you believe; you must know your faith with the same precision with which a specialist in information technology knows the working system of a computer; you must know it as a musician knows his piece; yes, you must be much more profoundly rooted in the faith of the generation of your parents, to be able to resist forcefully and with determination the challenges and temptations of this time. You have need of divine help, if you do not want your faith to dry up as a dewdrop in the sun, if you do not want to succumb to the temptations of consumerism, if you do not want your love to be drowned in pornography, if you do not want to betray the weak and the victims of abuse and violence.
Sin in the Heart of the Church
If you dedicate yourselves with passion to the study of the catechism, I would like to give you yet a last counsel: You all know in what way the community of believers has been wounded in recent times by the attacks of evil, by the penetration of sin in the interior, in fact in the heart of the Church. Do not take this as a pretext to flee from God's presence; you yourselves are the Body of Christ, the Church! Carry intact the fire of your love in this Church every time that men have obscured her face. "Never flag in zeal, be aglow with the Spirit, serve the Lord" (Romans 12:11).
This is the most poignant paragraph in the whole letter: the acknowledgment of the attacks of evil, the wounds that have marked the community of believers, the penetration of sin into the heart of the Church. Then, the Holy Father says: "Do not take this as a pretext to flee from God's presence; you yourselves are the Body of Christ, the Church!"
God Called a Youth
When Israel was in the darkest point of its history, God called to the rescue no great and esteemed persons, but a youth called Jeremiah; Jeremiah felt invested with too great a mission: "Ah, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth!" (Jeremiah 1:6). But God did not let himself be misled: "Do not say, 'I am only a youth'; for to all to whom I send you you shall go, and whatever I command you you shall speak" (Jeremiah 1:7).
I bless you and pray every day for all of you.
Benedict PP. XVI 

Friday, February 4, 2011

S. Andrew Corsini

In the 1962 calendar, today is the Feast of S. Andrew Corsini, O. Carm.  In the Carmelite Calendar, his feat is observed on January 9.

Saint Andrew was born in Florence in 1301 of the illustrious Corsini family. A short time before the birth of Saint Andrew, his mother experienced a strange dream, in which she had given birth to a wolf which became a lamb upon entering a Carmelite church. After a dissolute youthful life Andrew repented, when one day in 1318 his desolate mother told him of her dream. He rose and went to the altar in the church where his parents had offered to God the child they hoped to obtain from His mercy; there he prayed to the Blessed Virgin with tears, then went to beg his admission to the Carmelite Order.
He began a life of great mortification. Ordained a priest in 1328, he studied in Paris and Avignon, and on his return became the Apostle of Florence, and Prior of his convent there. In 1360 he was consecrated Bishop of Fiesole, near Florence, and gained a great reputation as a peacemaker between rival political factions and for his love of the poor. He was also named papal nuncio to Bologna, where he pacified dissenting factions and won the hearts of the nobility with whom he was associating. He wrought many miracles of healing and conversion during his lifetime.
At the age of 71, while he was celebrating the midnight Mass of Christmas, the Blessed Virgin appeared to him and told him he would leave this world on the feast of the Epiphany, to meet the beloved Master he had served so faithfully. In effect, he died on that day in 1373, in the thirteenth year of his episcopacy. Miracles were so multiplied thereafter that Pope Eugenius IV permitted a public cult immediately. The city of Florence has always invoked him with confidence and happy results. He was canonized in 1629.
He is often represented holding his crosier, with a wolf and a lamb at his feet, or hovering over a battlefield on a cloud or a white steed — this in memory of his miraculous intervention in a battle the Florentine people won by his assistance.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Statistics of Women Religious, from USCCB

Women Entering Religious Orders Today Highly Educated, Experienced in Church Activities, Survey Finds
Newly professed class more diverse than past classes
One-quarter enter with graduate degrees
Half attended Catholic elementary school

WASHINGTON (February 2, 2011) — Women entering religious orders today are highly educated and experienced in numerous church activities, according to a national survey.

The survey report The Profession Class of 2010: Survey of Women Religious Professing Perpetual Vows was released February 2, the Church’s World Day for Consecrated Life. It was conducted by the Georgetown University-based Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) and commissioned by the U.S. bishops’ Secretariat of Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations. The survey was sent to sisters represented by the two conferences of religious women, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious and the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious, as well as contemplative communities.  Respondents represented 52 religious orders. A total of 68 out of 79 sisters contacted completed the survey.  

Major findings note:
  • In general, women religious of the Class of 2010 are more diverse than previously perpetually professed women religious in terms of racial and ethnic identity. Six in ten identify as white, one in five identifies as Asian, and one in ten identifies as Hispanic/Latina.
  • Nearly nine in ten sisters and nuns were born Catholic and eight in ten came from families in which both parents are Catholic. 
  • Half of responding women religious (51 percent) attended a Catholic elementary school. Women religious are about as likely as other U.S. Catholics to have attended a Catholic high school and much more likely to have attended a Catholic college.
  • The responding women religious are highly educated. A quarter earned a graduate degree before entering their religious institute. Six in ten entered their religious institute with at least a bachelor’s degree or more. 
  • Many women religious were active in parish life before entering their religious institute. Four in ten participated in a youth group and three in ten participated in a young adult group. Eighty-five percent had ministry experience before entering their religious institute, most commonly in liturgical ministry, faith formation, or social service ministry.
  • Three-quarters of responding sisters and nuns regularly participated in retreats before they entered their religious institute. Two-thirds regularly prayed the Rosary and/or participated in Eucharistic Adoration. Six in ten regularly participated in a faith sharing or Bible study group and/or in regular spiritual direction.
  • Nine in ten women religious (87 percent) say they were encouraged to consider religious life by someone in their life. Of those who reported that they were encouraged to consider a vocation, more than half (52 percent) say they were encouraged by a religious sister. A third were introduced to their institute through the recommendation of a priest or advisor.
  • Most women religious of the Profession Class of 2010 (84 percent) participated in some type of vocation program or experience prior to entering their religious institute. Most commonly this was a “Come and See” experience or a vocation retreat.
“We are proud of the vocation, sacred commitment and service that women religious have made in the Church,” said Archbishop Robert J. Carlson of St. Louis, chairman of the Committee for Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations. “Making the profession of poverty, chastity and obedience is counter-cultural. It requires courage and fidelity to remain faithful to a religious vocation.  The bishops of the United States promise their prayers and support for these and future women religious in our country.”

“The report demonstrates that family life and education are significant in forming children in the spiritual life.  Many women, before entering, were active in Church and participated in spiritual exercises — especially Eucharistic Adoration, praying the Rosary and retreats.  This is a tremendous witness to the power of Christ and prayer in the Church,” said Sister Mary Joanna Ruhland, RSM, associate director of the Secretariat. “It also points to the witness of answering God’s call that religious women and priests give to young people. The personal relationship each has with Christ is fostered by the role models they see in, and encouragement they receive from, women religious and priests.”

Feast of S. Ansgar, Confessor

The “apostle of the north” (Scandinavia) had enough frustrations to become a saint—and he did. He became a Benedictine at Corbie, France, where he had been educated. Three years later, when the king of Denmark became a convert, Ansgar went to that country for three years of missionary work, without noticeable success. Sweden asked for Christian missionaries, and he went there, suffering capture by pirates and other hardships on the way. Less than two years later he was recalled, to become abbot of New Corbie (Corvey) and bishop of Hamburg. The pope made him legate for the Scandinavian missions. Funds for the northern apostolate stopped with Emperor Louis’s death. After 13 years’ work in Hamburg, Ansgar saw it burned to the ground by invading Northmen; Sweden and Denmark returned to paganism.
He directed new apostolic activities in the North, traveling to Denmark and being instrumental in the conversion of another king. By the strange device of casting lots, the king of Sweden allowed the Christian missionaries to return.
Ansgar’s biographers remark that he was an extraordinary preacher, a humble and ascetical priest. He was devoted to the poor and the sick, imitating the Lord in washing their feet and waiting on them at table. He died peacefully at Bremen, Germany, without achieving his wish to be a martyr.
Sweden became pagan again after his death, and remained so until the coming of missionaries two centuries later

 Today is the Feast Day of our own Fr. Oscar, O. de M., whose patron is St. Ansgar. May his intercession continue to guide Fr. Oscar to holiness and peace.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

World Day for Consecrated Life

Happy Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple!