Is Anybody There?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says Yahweh Sabaoth" Zach 4:6 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Dio di Signore, nella Sua volontà è nostra pace!" . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." Ben Franklin 1759

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Happy Birthday, National Motto

On 30 July 1956 H.R. Res. 396 became law (36 U.S.C. Section 186). What does this law say? "The national motto of the United States is declared to be 'In God We Trust'."
This is when what, up to that time, had been custom became official. Before this, the motto often appeared on coins & paper currency. But the roots of the motto is found in our National Anthem.
Where is that? you ask. I don't ever remember hearing it when we sing it. That is simple, because we usually only sing the 1st of the 4 stanzas of The Star Spangled Banner. The 6th line consists of the phrase "And this be our motto--'In God is our trust' " . & even though the song didn't become our National Anthem until 1931 the idea took root.
Even before the start of our nation some early colonial coins had statements about trusting God. But, there was nothing on any US coins. About 1861, future Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Salmon P. Chase, as Secretary of the Treasury wrote the following to the Director of the Mint: "No nation can be strong except in the strength of God, or safe except in His defense. The trust of our people in God should be declared on our national coins." As an aside from 1918-1946 he appeared on the $10,000 note honoring him for his introduction of paper currency. At that time the motto did not appear on paper currency. In 1862 designs for the half dollar & half eagle were submitted with the phrase "God our Trust". In 1864 a bronze 2 cent coin was issued with the phrase "In God We Trust". In 1865 Congress designated the appearance of the phrase on several other coins.
President Theodore Roosevelt ordered the removal of the phrase from all coins in 1907. No, it wasn't because he thought it violated the 1st Amendment. (I won't go into the myth of seperation of Church & State here. I suggest you read the actual text of the amendment. It merely bans the establishment of an official state religion, not an absolute exclusion of religion from the public domain as some would have & none of our Founding Fathers would have agreed to.) He thought that having the phrase put on the coins was "in effect irreverence which comes dangerously close to sacrilege." & since he saw the 1865 law as merely permitting the phrase, not madating it, he ordered it removed. In 1908 Congress passed a bill mandating the restoration of the phrase to those coins & President Roosevelt signed it into law 0n 18 May 1908.
In 1955 Congress passed a bill mandating the inscription of "In God We Trust" on all coins & paper currency. This was in resonse to a groundswell of support to do so that was instigated by Matthew Rothert of Camden, Arkansas. Its sponsor, House Member Charles Bennett of Florida said the following on the House floor: "In these days when imperialistic and materialistic communism seeks to attack and to destroy freedom, it is proper for us to seek continuously for ways to strengthen the foundation of our freedom. At the base of our freedom is our faith in God and the desire of Americans to live by His will and by His guidance. As long as this country trusts in God, it will prevail. To remind all of us of this self-evident truth, it is proper that our currency should carry these inspiring words, coming down to us through our history: 'In God We Trust.' "
& from the House report on the bill we get a clear view of Congress' thinking when both the House & Senate unanimously approved the bill. "It will be of great spiritual and psychological value to our country to have a clearly designated national motto of inspirational quality in plain, popularly accepted English." On 11 July 1955 President Dwight David Eisenhower signed it into law. It was in 1956 that Rep. Bennett introduced the bill to designate the phrase as our National Motto
Since then, in cases appearing before them, the 5th(1978), 9th(1970), & 10th(1996) Circuit Courts of Appeals have all upheld the constitutionality of the phrase on our coins. The case in 1978 was instituted by Madalyn Murray O"Hair. In upholding the constitutionality of the phrase the court cited a statement found in an opinion issued by Justice William Brennan. It was taken from his concuring opinion in School Dist. of Abington Township v. Schempp (1963) which struck down Bible reading in schools. He said: "It is not that the use of these four words (In God We Trust) can be dismissed as ‘de minimis’… The truth is that we have simply interwoven the motto so deeply into the fabric of our civil policy that its present use may well not present that type of involvement which the First Amendment prohibits." The Supreme Court refused to hear O'Hair's appeal.
At another time Justice Brennan said the following: "[S]uch practices as the designation of "In God We Trust" as our national motto, or the references to God contained in the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag can best be understood ... as a form of "ceremonial deism" protected from Establishment Clause scrutiny chiefly because they have lost through rote repetition any significant religious content. Moreover, those references are uniquely suited to serve such wholly secular purposes as solemnizing public occasions, or inspiring commitment to meet some national challenge in a manner that simply could not be fully served in our culture if government were limited to purely nonreligious phrases. The practices by which the government has long acknowledged religion are therefore probably necessary to serve certain secular functions, and that necessity, coupled with their long history, gives those practices an essentially secular meaning."
In 1962, as a part of its opinion striking down school prayer (Engel v. Vitale) the Supreme Court said; "There is of course nothing in the decision reached here that is inconsistent with the fact that school children and others are officially encouraged to express love for country by reciting historical documents such as the Declaration of Independence which contain references to Deity or by singing officially espoused anthems which contain the composer's professions of faith in a Supreme Being, or with the fact that there are many manifestations in our public life of belief in God. Such patriotic or ceremonial occasions bear no true resemblance to the unquestioned religious exercise that the State of New York has sponsored in this instance."
In her opinion issued for Lynch v. Donnelly (1984), Justice Sandra Day O'Connor said the following about government acknowledgement of religion like a "declaration of thanksgiving as a public holiday," printing 'In God We Trust' on coins, and opening court sessions with 'God Save the United States an this honorable court' ": "Those government acknowledgments of religion serve, in the only ways reasonably possible in our culture, the legitimate secular purposes of solemnizing public occasions, expressing confidence in the future, and encouraging the recognition of what is worthy of appreciation in society. For that reason, and because of their history and ubiquity, those practices are not understood as conveying government approval of particular religious beliefs."
Another case is working its way through the 9th Circuit Court. Hopefully it will honor the principle of "Stare Decisis" & honor the precident that it set in 1970.
Our Founding Fathers believed this country was founded under "Divine Providence". I quote from the last paragraph of the Declaration of Independence: "We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, . . . . And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor." It was clear that they were operating under the idea of "In God We Trust".
If it was good enough for the Founding Fathers, it is good enough for me.

Pope: Keep on Praying

Papa Benedetto again reiterated the importance of prayer for the situation in the Middle East. On 29 July when he was leaving from Les Combes, IT to go to Castel Gandolfo he had the following to say to reporters: The "principal instrument. . . . is prayer, which naturally is not only a cry to God, but also to man."
Last Sun, 23 July 2006, the Pope presided at a prayer service for peace in the Middle East. It was done in the form of a liturgy of the word. The Scripture read was Ephesians 2:13-18. He followed this with a homily, or as he called it, a meditation on the reading. In it he again stated what was the only true source of peace: "Christ is our peace. He has reconciled one another, Jews and pagans, uniting them in his Body. He has overcome the enmity with his Body, on the cross. With his death, he has overcome the enmity and has united us all in his peace. "
He goes on to point out that reality seems at odds with this fact. Then he says why this is so, because of: "the mystery of human freedom that says "no" to the peace of God." He goes on to point out that even though the is still war there have been "islands of peace" who create "oases" of this peace that point to the efficacy of Jesus' sacrifice. It is seen in the great saints of charity as he called them. "The martyrs exist who suffered with Christ; they have given this witness of peace, of love, which puts a limit to violence." "This is God's new way of conquering: He does not oppose violence with a stronger violence. He opposes violence precisely with the contrary: with love to the end, his cross. This is God's humble way of overcoming: With his love -- and only thus is it possible -- he puts a limit to violence. This is a way of conquering that seems very slow to us, but it is the true way of overcoming evil, of overcoming violence, and we must trust this divine way of overcoming."
He goes on to point out that the solution to the discord in the word is not found in a false ecuminism, 1 that downplays what is unique in Christianity: "many are tempted to say: 'For peace in the world, among religions, among cultures, it is better not to speak too much of what is specific to Christianity, that is, of Jesus, of the Church, of the sacraments. Let us be content with what can be more or less common .…' " Papa Benedetto's reply: "But it is not true. Precisely at this time, a time of great abuse of the name of God, we have need of the God who overcomes on the cross, who does not conquer with violence, but with his love. Precisely at this time we have need of the Face of Christ to know the true Face of God and so be able to take reconciliation and light to this world. For this reason, together with love, with the message of love, we must also take the testimony of this God, of God's victory, precisely through the nonviolence of his cross."
So, what are we to do? His final paragraph puts it plainly: "What we can do is to give witness of love, witness of faith and, above all, to raise a cry to God: We can pray! We are certain that our Father hears the cry of his children. In the Mass, as we prepare for holy Communion, to receive the Body of Christ that unites us, we pray with the Church: "Deliver us, Lord, from all evils, and grant us peace in our days." May this be our prayer at this time: "Deliver us from all evils and give us peace," not tomorrow, or the day after: Lord, give us peace today! Amen. "
Yes, Israel has a right to defend itself. Hezbollah & Hamas need to quite using inncocent civilians & children as sheilds to cower behind & then try & blaim Israel. They need to disarm & disavow their desire to wipe out Israel. Palastinians deserve a homeland. Yes, Secretary Rice & others need to bring the parties together to talk. I could go on & on, restating what I have said before. But, as Papa Benedetto said, unless the message of Jesus is proclaimed, unless Jesus is invited in to bring true peace, nothing will come of any of the efforts in the long run. There can be no true reconciliation, no true peace. & this true peace will only come about through prayer that invites Jesus in. Jesus will put an end to all the evil that is being brought about by man's sin, man's rebellion against God's will. I see no other solution.
The full meditation can be read at:

Friday, July 28, 2006

Fr. Tom Euteneuer offers A Solution for the Mid-East Conflict

Fr. Euteneuer sent out his latest e-newsletter. In it he addresses what is going on in the Middle East, the real problem & how to deal with it.
What is the problem to be dealt with? Terrorism.
In the article he points out what the real radical cause of the problem is. He does so in the true meaning of the word radical: root. So, what is the root cause of terrorism? He calls it as it is, terroism is a cancer that is satanic in origin.
Now that the problem has been diagnosed, what is the cure? As he says: "If terrorism is satanic, then the actual solution to it is to conquer Satan and his minions with the Church’s spiritual power. All other human solutions bear fruit as a result of that. " He goes on to point out: "Diplomacy and military action are necessary human means to arrest the advance of evil, but by definition they only seek the cessation of hostilities. We are looking to banish the root cause of the hostilities."
So, what can You & I do to bring about this cure? Going back to the Papa Benedetto's call to prayer, we have the start of bringing about this cure. Prayer & intercession for the situation in the Middle-East is the start. Pray for God to send his Holy Angels, led by St. Michael, to battle Satan.
But there is more that some members of Christ's mystical body will be called to do. Fr. Euteneuer lays out the broad outlines of how the Church battles evil. Some reading it may be called to do some specific actions. But, will it work? Fr. E. answers this question also, YES! it will. He shows how it has in the past when men & women of faith have stepped out in obedience to the leading of the Holy Spirit to battle evil & do good.
If you are interested in what the battle plan is, as well as the examples he uses to back up his claims the entire article can be found at:

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Archbishop Sheen - Possible Miracle

On Monday 24 July 2006 the Peoria Journal Star had an article about the report that is being sent to the Vatican about an apparent miracle that may have been done through the intercession of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen. It may seem like I am using a lot of qualifiers. The reason is simply that until it is officially declared a miracle by the proper authorities at the Vatican I cannot make any claims that it is.
This step is part of the long process used by the Catholic Church to discern whether a person is truly a saint. I will not try to explain the whole process here, only this part of the process. In 1999 a 79 yr old woman was undergoing lung surgery. a tear was found in her main pulmonary artery. Her husband began praying to Achbishop Sheen for her recovery. She survived the surgery. At this point details are not available but will be at a later point. The incident has been investigated & all relevent information has been gathered together. On Sun 23 July, 3 copies of the 500 page report were signed in a special ceremony by the postulator of the cause, Andrea Ambrosi, as well as several officials of the Diocese of Peoria, IL including vicar general Monsignor Paul Showalter and Monsignor Richard Soseman who heads the effort in the Peoria Diocese. 2 copies of the report & supporting documents were put into a box, a letter identifying the contents was glued to the top. The box was tied shut with a red ribbon. Then everything was sealed with wax. This is to insure the integrity of all the documents. The 3rd copy of everything will be kept in the Peoria Diocese. Several members of the Sheen family were present at the ceremony.
The box will be sent to the Vatican where Mr. Ambrosi, a canon lawyer, will argue before a tribunal for the approval of the miracle. At this time the details will come out. The documentation includes interviews with 14 witnessess, including doctors & family members. After careful investigation, the tribunal will give its recomendation to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. If the Congregation accepts it it will pass on a recomendation to the Pope that Archbishop Sheen be beatified. The Pope will then discern & make a decision about declaring him blessed. If he decides in the positive a time & place will be decided upon to make it official using a ritual for that purpose. At that time Bishop Sheen can be called blessed & in (depending on how widely allowed by the Vatican) his feast day will be celebrated in the USA. There will be further investigation as well as a 2nd miracle approved before Archbishop Sheen is declared a saint. (This is a very simplified explanation & leaves out a lot of what needs to be done. More information can be found at the Vatican website as well as at EWTN & other sites.)
May God's will be done & may He be glorified through His servant Archbishop Sheen.


Monday, July 24, 2006

Keeping Children Safe by Fr. Frank Pavone

Today , Mon, 24 July, I recieved e-mails from Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life & Fr. Thomas J. Euteneuer, STL of Human Life International about Sentate 403, the Child Custody Protection Act that will come up for debate & a vote on Tues afternoon, 25 July in the Senate. What you read below is Fr. Pavone's column that was in the e-mail. Fr. Euteneuer's e-mail had a link to the page on Priests for Life's website where this article was also posted. This column sucinctly explains why this bill needs to be passed & without any of the amendments that would water it down. After you read it, please do as I have already done & contact both your senators to tell them you support S 403 but oppose any amendments to the bill. Thank you.
More than half of the states have laws that require a parent of a minor to be notified before that minor can obtain an abortion. Some of these parental involvement laws require the consent of the parent; others only require that a parent be informed. Such commonsense measures enjoy strong public support, and some polls put that support at above 80%.

Most who seek an abortion do not do so because of “freedom of choice,” but because they feel they have no freedom and no choice. In so many instances, the pregnant young girl has loving parents, but is afraid of hurting or disappointing them. As a result, the very people who can best help her are the last ones she wants to tell. Parental involvement laws reconnect that frightened young girl with her own parents, enabling her to discover that the fears she had about parental rejection were unfounded, and enabling those parents to give their daughter the help and guidance she needs.

Predictably, as a result, studies have shown that such laws reduce the numbers of abortions in the places where they are in force.

But abortion is a business, and its practitioners act accordingly. Parental involvement laws make for bad business at the clinics, which is why abortion advocacy groups oppose these laws at every chance they get. Moreover, abortion clinics in states that do not have such laws advertise that fact, and people take minors across state lines to circumvent the law that requires parental involvement. Those most likely to transport a minor in this way, of course, are adult men who have committed statutory rape by having sexual activity with a minor. It has been well established, through undercover investigative activity and evidence now available to the public, that abortion clinics routinely assist sexual predators to cover up this activity by refusing to report them to the authorities.

In order to protect the welfare of minor girls and the rights of parents, Congress has a duty to regulate this interstate activity. The House of Representatives already passed, in April of 2005, a bill called he Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act (CIANA) (H.R. 748), which makes it a crime to transport a minor across state lines to circumvent a parental involvement law.

In the Senate, the Child Custody Protection Act (S. 403) is similar. It would make it a federal offense to transport a minor across state lines for an abortion without fulfilling the requirements of a parental involvement law in effect in the home state.

Pro-abortion legislators have introduced amendments to the bill that would grant exceptions for incest, or if a member of the clergy did the transporting. But one can gain “clergy” status in a few minutes on the internet, and the law should be all the more ready to stop those guilty of incest. Of course, the money the clinics make from abortion goes in part to the political campaigns of the legislators who support it. The bottom line again is business.

Saint Charbel (Sharbel) Makhlouf

Today, Mon 24 July, is the feast of St. Charbel, a Maronite monk from Lebanon. In light of what is going on right now in his homeland, it is right that we take a look at his life.

He was born Youssef Antoun Makhlouf in Bekaa Kafra On 8 May 1828, the youngest of 5 children. His family was poor but very devout. He had 2 uncles who were hermits at St Antonious Kozhaya monastery. His upbringing gave him a great devotion to prayer. At age 2 his father died. In 1851 at the age of 23 he left home to go to the Monastery of Our Lady of Mayfouq where he entered the novitiate. He was later transfered to the Monastery of Saint Maroun at Annaya where in on 1 Nov 1853 he pronounced the monastic vows of poverty, chastity and obedience & took the name Charbel. At the St Kobrianous and Justina monastery in Kfifan, Batroun he finished his theological studies. St. Nimatullah Kassab El-Hardini was 1 of his teachers. He was ordained a priest on 23 July 1859 in Bkerke. He returned to St. Maroun's & stayed there for almost 16 yrs exercising his priestly ministry. On 15 Feb 1875 he was given permission by his surperiors to move to the nearby Hemitage of Ss. Peter & Paul. He spent the next 23 yrs of his life there in prayer, fasting, contemplation, study of Scripture & manual work. The Eucharist was the center of his life & he had a deep devotion to Mary. On 16 Dec 1898, while reciting the "Father of Truth, here is Your Son, Victim of Expiation; here is the Blood which intercedes for me, it is my offering, accept it" during the elevation of the Host at the Holy Liturgy, he suffered a stroke. On Christmas Eve 1898 he died in church having received the sacraments of the Church. Soon, bright lights were seen arround his grave at the St. Maroun cemetary. His body was later found to be exuding a blood-like substance. A cloth used to collect some of this fluid has touched many sick people who either received relief or complete healing. Several times over the yrs his body has been examing & found to be still intact & flexible. In 1925 his cause was opened by Pope Pius XI. On 5 Dec 1965, at the close of Vatican II, he was beatified by Pope Paul VI. On 9 Oct 1977, Pope Paul declared him a saint.

I would recommend some websites with more about him, including information about the miracles God has worked thru St. Charbel's intercession: & The 2nd link is from the Maronite Eparchy of Australia & has a lot of information on the Maronite Church. The Maronite Church is the only Eastern Catholic Church that does not have a coresponding Orthodox equivalent as they never were seperated from Rome. (The only other Eastern Catholic Church that never seperated was the Italo-Greek also known as the Italo-Albanian Church in Southern Italia.)

St. Charbel, confessor, holy hermit, we ask your intercession before the Throne of Him whom you served, Jesus for a peaceful solution to the problems in Southern Lebanon. AMEN!

Note: The sources I used to get information from use various English spellings of the Lebanese names. I have used what I felt was the best variation. I realize that I may not have always opted for the best or most accurate. I apologize for my ignorance.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Maronite Catholic Bishops Issue Statement on S. Lebanon Situation

Cardinal Nasrallah Pierre Sfeir, patriarch of the Maronites called together the Maronite bishops of Southern Lebanon for a meeting about the conflict between Hezbollah & Israel. After the meeting they issued a statement on 22 July that contained 8 points.
1) Condemnation of Israel’s reaction to the kidnapping of two soldiers, indicating that response to the capture should not be a reaction against Lebanon, although the bishops did not subscribe one bit to the theory of kidnapping people; 2) An appeal to people of goodwill to help defenceless citizens who have been forced to abandon their homes and land of origin; 3) An appeal to the United Nations to double its efforts to arrive at a ceasefire, in such a way that will lead to opening the doors to mediation that could spare more innocent victims; 4) Appreciation for the “intelligent” effort of the Lebanese government and its president through diplomatic means and backing for the government of Fouad Siniora; 5) Hope that all Lebanese political leaders, despite their different viewpoints, will overcome divisions and come together to seek a solution, avoiding useless challenges and clashes; 6) An invitation to all citizens to welcome their brothers without distinctions between Christians and Muslims, even opening schools and homes to offer solutions fitting the dignity of each person; 7)An appeal to those responsible for the violence to allow the arrival of food and medical supplies to people kidnapped or forced to remain in their homes subject to shelling. There was also an invitation to the Red Cross to assure aid to the needy. 8) The Maronite bishops hailed the initiative of the Holy Father Benedict XVI to pray tomorrow, 23 July, for peace in Lebanon, inviting all their believers to respect this desire of the pope, because only prayer can save the country. (Source: AsiaNet)
Recently meeting with US Secretary of State Condeleeza Rice, Patriarch Sfeir had the following to say: "The world says the Resolution 1559 will it be applied. But it is not up to the Lebanese Government to apply it. It is so weak to do so. There is another way to apply this, but I do not know how. But our interest is that all the citizens will be equal (inaudible). When some are having arms and the others have not there is no equality and I've said this a long time that -- how to apply this I don't know. [Through a dialogue] perhaps, some other -- some pressure to … "
At his Angelus address today, the Holy Father, Papa Benedetto said the following about the situation: "Your Excellency, you mentioned that last Thursday, given the worsening situation in the Middle East, I convoked a day of prayer and penance for this Sunday, inviting pastors, faithful and all believers to implore from God the gift of peace. I strongly renew the appeal to the parties in conflict to adopt a cease-fire immediately and allow the sending of humanitarian aid, so that, with the support of the international community, ways will be found to begin negotiations. I take advantage of the opportunity to reaffirm the right of the Lebanese to the integrity and sovereignty of their country, the right of Israelis to live in peace in their state, and the right of Palestinians to a free and sovereign homeland. I feel, moreover, especially close to defenseless civilian populations, unjustly stricken in a conflict in which they are no more than victims: both those of Galilee, obliged to live in shelters, as well as the great multitude of Lebanese, who once more, see their country destroyed, and have to leave everything behind to try to save themselves in another place. I raise to God a sorrowful prayer so that the aspiration to peace of the great majority of peoples may soon be realized, thanks to the common commitment of those responsible. I also renew my appeal to all charitable organizations to manifest in a practical manner common solidarity with those populations. "
1 story I recently read on gave me an interesting bit of insight into the problem. It contained an interview with a Lebanese family from S Lebanon now living in Israel. Pierre, the father (the last name was kept out for safety reasons, esp to protect family still living in S. Lebanon) talks about the need to get rid of Hezbollah & sees that as the only way to save the country he dearly loves. Rather than summarize the story here is the link to read it:
for me, these Lebanese in exile are the forgotten victims of Hezbollah.
Some quotes of 3 young Lebanese Christians still in Beruit, Fadi Geagea, 21; George Khouri, 18; & Joseph Muhanni, 21; from an article in the Washington Post add to my conviction about the damage Hezbollah has done: "If I'm supposed to respect [Hezbollah leader Hasan] Nasrallah, he should respect me. If he respects us, I respect him," said Fadi Geagea, a 21-year-old student, smoking a cigarette. "To be honest, he's not respecting us." …

Geagea and his friends say they know what [Lebanon] is now becoming: a Shiite fiefdom of Hezbollah. And to stop Hezbollah, to take away its weapons, to diminish its influence, they were willing to see Israel attack their country.
"In the wake of World War I, as the Ottoman Empire was dismantled, France sought to aid its traditional allies in Lebanon, the Maronite Christians. To make viable their homeland in Mount Lebanon, a rugged region of terraced hillsides, they redrew the borders to encompass the Sunni-dominated port cities of Beirut, Sidon and Tripoli, the fertile Bekaa Valley and the Shiite regions of the south. Identity was always a question: Was Lebanon a Christian homeland, a part of the Sunni Arab world or something in between?"
"Islam is controlling us, and we've known that for a long time," said Khouri, wearing a cross crafted as an emblem of a Christian party. "Lebanon is a Christian country. We're steadfast, and one day we'll be in charge of Lebanon again."

"God will be good to us ahead," Muhanna said. (Barrage Reopens Wounds of a Fractured Beirut, Washington Post Mon 17 July 2006 p A01)
Patriarch Sfier in his talk to Secretary Rice makes a sad but interesting point, how weak the Lebanese government is. & shows a little more clearly why Hezbollah hasn't been cleared out as it should. His statements also point to how the UN & the international community have failed on their part to help Lebanon to do what should be done to get rid of Hezbollah. The international community has a responsiblity now to step in & do what needs to be done to put an end to the fighting. That is the short term, stop gap solution.
In the long term, clearly it is obvious that it is going to take more than human effort to bring about lasting peace. & again the Holy Father is pointing the way. By calling people in prayer in turn to Jesus, the Prince of Peace he is showing the way to the only means to change people's hearts, to remove the hatred & distrust & bring about true peace. The peace that only Jesus can give.
I think Muhanna got it right: "God will be good to us ahead"

Saturday, July 22, 2006

President Bush Promotes Ethical Stem Cell Research

On Wed 19 July 2006 President Bush vetoed a bill for the 1st time since he took office in 2001. What bill was it? A bill that would have expanded research using embryonic stem cells, H.R. 810, the "Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2005. I have to say, Thank God for President Bush's wisdom in this action. OK, I know that this is very contriversial. & it is only because of the plethora of misinformation out there. But, before I deal with the misinformation I want to share a part of the President's veto message. In it he answers those criticisms.
"Like all Americans, I believe our Nation must vigorously pursue the tremendous possibilities that science offers to cure disease and improve the lives of millions. Yet, as science brings us ever closer to unlocking the secrets of human biology, it also offers temptations to manipulate human life and violate human dignity. Our conscience and history as a Nation demand that we resist this temptation. With the right scientific techniques and the right policies, we can achieve scientific progress while living up to our ethical responsibilities.
In 2001, I set forth a new policy on stem cell research that struck a balance between the needs of science and the demands of conscience. When I took office, there was no Federal funding for human embryonic stem cell research. Under the policy I announced 5 years ago, my Administration became the first to make Federal funds available for this research, but only on embryonic stem cell lines derived from embryos that had already been destroyed. My Administration has made available more than $90 million for research of these lines. This policy has allowed important research to go forward and has allowed America to continue to lead the world in embryonic stem cell research without encouraging the further destruction of living human embryos.
H.R. 810 would overturn my Administration's balanced policy on embryonic stem cell research. If this bill were to become law, American taxpayers for the first time in our history would be compelled to fund the deliberate destruction of human embryos. Crossing this line would be a grave mistake and would needlessly encourage a conflict between science and ethics that can only do damage to both and harm our Nation as a whole.

Advances in research show that stem cell science can progress in an ethical way. Since I announced my policy in 2001, my Administration has expanded funding of research into stem cells that can be drawn from children, adults, and the blood in umbilical cords with no harm to the donor, and these stem cells are currently being used in medical treatments. Science also offers the hope that we may one day enjoy the potential benefits of embryonic stem cells without destroying human life. Researchers are investigating new techniques that might allow doctors and scientists to produce stem cells just as versatile as those derived from human embryos without harming life. We must continue to explore these hopeful alternatives, so we can advance the cause of scientific research while staying true to the ideals of a decent and humane society.
I hold to the principle that we can harness the promise of technology without becoming slaves to technology and ensure that science serves the cause of humanity. If we are to find the right ways to advance ethical medical research, we must also be willing when necessary to reject the wrong ways. For that reason, I must veto this bill."
1st myth: There is no stem cell research being done. This is a COMPLETE LIE. There is both embryonic (fetal) & adult stem cell research being done. It is simply that there is no federal funding for embryonic stem cell research other than for those select lines. But, there is plenty of private funding out there that is being used.
2nd myth: That the embryos are just a piece of tissue. the children President Bush surrounded himself with were all born from frozen embryos, proving that they are living human beings, not something disposable. To use an embryo to harvest stem cells you have to take the life of the humab being that is that embryo. That is murder, plain & simple.
3rd myth: Embryonic stem cells hold out the best hope for cures. The facts (& I will go into this more in another blog with the evidence to back me up) are different. The only successful cures have been produced from adult stem cell lines. Nothing has been produced from embryonic stem cells. In fact the test treatments with victims of Parkenson's Disease using fetal stem cells has left them off worse than before the treatment. In fact according to the information on 1 list that I found out there,, there are already 80 some cures using adult stem cells.
As I said, I will go into this more in future blogs. But I do have to add 1 thing. There is a personal side to this. I am a Type II Diabetic. & I do not want a cure at the expense of some innocent unborn child's life. To me that is the same as benifiting from the experiments done by the Nazis in WWII. & is in direct opposition to the principles stated in the Nurmeberg Code as well as The Principle of Practical Doubt. I am disgusted that both the American Diabetic Association & the Juvenille Daiabetes Research Foundation both condone embryonic stem cell research. In fact The Juvenille Diabetes Research Foundation recently turned down a request for funding by a researcher, Dr. Denise Faustman, using adult stem cells that has cured diabetes in mice. She is now ready to start clinic trials to see if it will work for humans. They refuse to explain why they turned down the funding while promoting how near a cure is using embryonic stem cells (clearly a lie). To read more about this sad & puzzling story see the following: .
I am all for ethical research. Embryonic stemm cell research is anything but ethical. Again, MILLE GRAZIE President Bush! For now, the slippery slope is just a little less slippery.


Friday, July 21, 2006

Pope calls for day of prayer & penance for situation in the Middle East.

The Vatican on Thurs issued the following communique' calling for a day of prayer & penance for the ongoing war in the Middle East:
"The Holy Father is following with great concern the destinies of all the peoples involved and has proclaimed this Sunday, July 23, as a special day of prayer and penance, inviting the pastors and faithful of all the particular Churches, and all believers of the world, to implore from God the precious gift of peace.
In particular, the Supreme Pontiff hopes that prayers will be raised to the Lord for an immediate cease-fire between the sides, for humanitarian corridors to be opened in order to bring help to the suffering peoples, and for reasonable and responsible negotiations to begin to put an end to objective situations of injustice that exist in that region, as already indicated by Pope Benedict XVI at the Angelus last Sunday, July 16.
In reality, the Lebanese have the right to see the integrity and sovereignty of their country respected, the Israelis, the right to live in peace in their state, and the Palestinians have the right to have their own free and sovereign homeland.
At this sorrowful moment, His Holiness also makes an appeal to charitable organizations to help all the people struck by this pitiless conflict."
Papa Benedetto has it right, as I have said before, we need to pray to God to bring about true peace in the Middle East. But peace is not the mere absence of war. It is much more. & the Pope pointed it out. Justice must be done. Justice demands that the Israelis be treated with respect & allowed to live safely in their own country. & the same is true for the Lebanese & Palestinians. Lebanon's leaders have a duty to stop Hezbollah from attacking Israel. If they had acted before now, Israel would never have felt the need to strike at them in Lebanon. So, they share in the responsiblity for any harm done to innocent civilians & children. Could Israel found a better way?, I don't know. Part of me wishes they could have, part of me sees Hezbollah as leaving them no other choice. I wish there was a simple answer to all this. Hamas in Palestine needs to renounce its desire to wipe out Israel. Syria & Iran need to quite supporting Hamas & Hezbollah's attacks. Israel needs to treat all its people with fairness, Jew, Arab & Christian.
People on the left who are calling for a cease fire & negotiations without acknowledging what is at the heart of the Pope's call & ignoring the truth about Hezbollah & Hamas' desire to wipe out Israel are calling for a disaster. There will be continued attempts to wipe out Israel. Those on the right who acknowledge the truth about Hezbollah & Hamas but only see the Church's call for a cease fire & take it out of the context of the full call of the Pope are missing it just as much. Yes, they are right about the left's view. But, they ignore the real message found in the call for prayer. The Pope is not niave. He knows that without Jesus at the center, true peace cannot exist. & neither side seems to be seeing the heart of the Pope's message. Turn to Jesus!
War is not pretty. Innocent people always get hurt. A full scale war can still be avoided. We need to pray for the hearts to be changed that need to be changed. I want peace, I want the war to end. We need to pray for God to intervene so that true peace can be allowed to flourish. God alone can change the hearts that hate & turn them to peace. Trusting in God to intervene is not simplistic, it is realistic. The battles have been going on there for over 4000 yrs. Only by letting God's Spirit work in the hearts of all can the changes be brought about to see true peace take root.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

World War III

Sunday, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich appeared on Meet the Press. He was talking about the various hot spots accross the face of the globe. After doing so he said: "We are in the early stages of what I would describe as the third world war, and frankly, our bureaucracies aren’t responding fast enough. We don’t have the right attitude about this . . . And frankly, the Israelis have every right to insist that every single missile leave south Lebanon and that the United States ought to be helping the Lebanese government have the strength to eliminate Hezbollah as a military force, not as a political force in the parliament, but as a military force in south Lebanon.”

Tim Russert, the host, queried: "This is World War III?”

"I believe if you take all the countries I just listed, that you’ve been covering, put them on a map, look at all the different connectivity, you’d have to say to yourself this is, in fact, World War III,” replied Gingrich.
What are some of the things he cited as evidence? "North Korea firing missiles. We say there’ll be consequences, there are none. North Koreans fire seven missiles on our Fourth of July; bombs going off in Mumbai, India; a war in Afghanistan with sanctuaries in Pakistan … the Iran/Syria/Hamas/Hezbollah alliance. There is the war in Iraq funded largely from Saudi Arabia and supplied largely from Syria and Iran.” He also talked about some things occuring in Great Britian, Canada & the USA. & that the roots of the war can be traced back58 yrs to the 1st attempts to destroy Israel.
He appeared Monday on Hannity & Colmbes as well as on Sean Hannity's radio show talking about the same thing.
Is he right?
I'm not sure. Part of me wants to say "No!". But, I have to say that what he says does make sense. People at the start of WWI didn't see til later that the assasination of Archduke Ferdinand marked the start of the war. & many of the causes of WWII can be traced back to the Treaty of Versailles, clause 231. In 1937 Japan invaded China. In 1939 Germany invaded Chechoslovakia. At the time nether was called WWII. As the fighting spread people began to call it what it was in fact already true, a world war. These facts keep me from saying that he is wrong.
My opinion is that it depends on what happens in the days & months ahead. Stopping the fighting in Lebanon won't be enough. Hezbollah & Hamas have to be put out of business. Their avowed goal is to wipe out Israel. & as long as they exist they will continue to try to do so. The following is only a little taken from Hamas' charter to back up what I say: " Israel will rise and will remain erect until Islam eliminates it as it had eliminated its predecessors." (opening) "Hamas has been looking forward to implement Allah’s promise whatever time it might take. The prophet, prayer and peace be upon him, said: The time will not come until Muslims will fight the Jews (and kill them); until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: O Muslim! there is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him!" (Article 7) "The Islamic Resistance Movement believes that the land of Palestine has been an Islamic Waqf throughout the generations and until the Day of Resurrection, no one can renounce it or part of it, or abandon it or part of it." (Article 11) "[Peace] initiatives, the so-called peaceful solutions, and the international conferences to resolve the Palestinian problem, are all contrary to the beliefs of the Islamic Resistance Movement. For renouncing any part of Palestine means renouncing part of the religion." (Article 13)
Everything I read in that charter convinces me that Hamas will not be satisfied with anything less than the entire anihilation of Israel.I would recommend reading the entire charter, which will back up what I said, at:
& remember, Hezbollah feels the same way.
Then there is Iran. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said: "As the Imam said, Israel must be wiped off the map" (The Imam he is refering to is Ayat Allah Khomeini.) Lest you doubt I am quoting him correctly, the quote is taken directly from an article on Al-jazeera's English website. ( On a broadcast made Wed 14 Dec 2005 he said: "They have fabricated a legend under the name Massacre of the Jews, and they hold it higher than God himself, religion itself and the prophets themselves. . . .If somebody in their country questions God, nobody says anything, but if somebody denies the myth of the massacre of Jews, the Zionist loudspeakers and the governments in the pay of Zionism will start to scream." Again from Al-jazerra (
There is no easy way to deal with hatred such as this. & this is only a small sample of the hatred that that portion of Islam holds towards the Jewish people, Christainity, America, Great Britain & the West. This group is not representative of the entirety of the Muslim world. There are many other Muslims who do not feel this way. They are disgusted by the way this group has hijacked their faith. So the entire Muslim world should not be lumped together.
Kim Jong-Il is ranting & raving in N Korea. They are testing missiles & working on nuclear weapons. Mumbai (Bombay) India has its problems with Muslim extremist terrorists, etc, etc, etc.
How do you deal with these groups? Difficult, but not impossible. Again, to go back to what Pope Benedict said Sun, we need to pray: "to implore from God the fundamental gift of concord, bringing political leaders back to the path of reason, and opening new possibilities of dialogue and agreement. In this perspective I invite the local Churches to raise special prayers for peace in the Holy Land and in the whole of the Middle East." God is the only 1 that can change hearts. & without this change no dialogue is possible.
Israel is right to defend itself from the attacks of Hamas. This doesn't mean indiscriminant bombing of Southern Lebanon. They need to use "restraint". Some people may have problem with that word, or the concept. I don't. Restraint doesn't mean setting back & letting Hamas run all over them. retraint means being careful, careful to do all you can to protect civilians & esp children from harm. Sadly, this is difficult to do as Hamas has no qualms about using civilians & children as a sheild to hide behind. Then they rely on public opinion to make Israel as the villian. What puzzles me is that many of the same who criticize Israel, no matter how careful they are, when a civilain gets hurt/killed, are strangely silent about the fact that Hamas had no qualms with putting thoose innocents there in the 1st place. These same critics are even more silent when Hamas intentionally attacks Israeli civilians & children. They use a very hypocritical standard. Hamas can do no wrong, Israel, no right. As I said before, Israel doesn't always do things right. & should be called to account. But, even more so, shouldn't terrorist groups like Hamas be held to as strick a standard?

Monday, July 17, 2006

Papa Benedetto XVI on the Middle East (Angelus 16 July 2006)

Today, after praying the Angelus with the people gathered at Les Combes, Introd, in the Aosta Valley of the Italian Alps, where he is on vacation, Pope Benedict XVI had the following to say about the events in Lebanon & Israel:
"In recent days the news from the Holy Land is a reason for new and grave concern for all, in particular because of the spread of warlike actions also in Lebanon, and because of the numerous victims among the civilian population. At the origin of these cruel oppositions there are, sadly, objective situations of violation of law and justice. But neither terrorist acts nor reprisals, especially when they entail tragic consequences for the civilian population, can be justified. By such paths, as bitter experiences shows, positive results are not achieved.
This day is dedicated to the Virgin of Carmel, Mount of the Holy Land that, a few kilometers from Lebanon, dominates the Israeli city of Haifa, the latter also recently hit. Let us pray to Mary, Queen of Peace, to implore from God the fundamental gift of concord, bringing political leaders back to the path of reason, and opening new possibilities of dialogue and agreement. In this perspective I invite the local Churches to raise special prayers for peace in the Holy Land and in the whole of the Middle East. "
As I said the other day, we need to pray. & the Holy Father is clearly calling for this. & in a lot of ways this clears up some of what was said the other day by the Vatican. In his statement Papa Benedetto is clearly not coming down as hard on Israel as the reports the other day made it sound. Rather he is reminding everyone of what the Church teaches about what is & isn't acceptable in defending your country. If what Israel is doing is merely retribution, then it is wrong. If it is defending itself, then under the just war teaching of the Catholic Church Israel has the responsibility to see that the civilian population is being kept from harm. & so far it seems to me that Israel is doing much more than Hezbollah to protect civilians.
Lebanon has made claims, unproven so far, that Israel is using illegal weapons. If so, then Israel is in the wrong & needs to stop using them. If the claims are untrue, then it seems to me that Lebanon is trying to, sadly, cover up its failure to disarm Hezbollah. Pray that the truth comes out quickly. & pray also, that what former US Congressman Newt Gingrich said Sunday on NBC's Meet the Press is wrong, that World War III has begun. Or if it has, it will end quickly, with no more escalation of hostilities.
Mary, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, Queen of Peace, Pray for us! Theotokis, Mother of the Prince of Peace, Jesus, intercede before His Throne & ask Him to bring about a just conclusion to this conflict. Lord Jesus, bring both sides together & let the true peace that can only come from you reign in that area. Let both Jew & Palestinian live in peace & prosperity in the homeland each has the right to have. Change hearts, O Lord, that where there is hate there will be love for one another instead. Change the hearts of those in leadership, who would wipe out Israel, so that the will let them live in peace. If not, Lord remove them from power & place in power those who will sincerely work toward peace for all. For the Israelis, whose hearts are filled with anger, hatred & bitterness, give them a spirit of forgiveness, heal their hurts & let them be willing to honestly work with those who are sincerely seeking peace for all, Palistinian & Jew. I ask this in Your Name, Lord Jesus, You who lives & reigns with the Father & Holy Spirit forever. Amen!

Sunday, July 16, 2006

More on Priests for Life

A short while ago I finished watching a rerun of EWTN Live. The guests were Fr. Frank Pavone & Janet Morana of Priests for Live. The program had a lot to think about.

1 of the things the focused on was the importance of being informed & involved in this year's elections. What does that mean?
Informed should be obvious. It means to be aware of where the various candidates stand on the abortion issue. But, it also means knowing what you can do to get involved, i.e. inform others, writing letters to the editor, get out the vote, etc. &, of course, the most important action of all, prayer.
To help you with this Priests for Life have set up a special section on their website which can be reached at . The 1st thing in that section is a request to join in their novena for the election. Prayer is the 1st action that a person must take. But, it doesn't stop there. Each person must take concrete actions to ensure that the pro-life message gets out & the right candidates are elected. It also has information on Fr. Pavone's new booklet Voting with a Clear Conscience. This booklet has plenty of useful information to help any Catholic, or anyone who is pro-life, now what to do so he can make the right decisions about the candidates. The website has info on a wide variety of activities that you can do. & it has plenty of info on what church's can & can't do politically.
Pro-life is not the property of any 1 party or political philosophy. Pro-life should cut accross the entire spectrum. Please get involved. Those of you who have looked at my profile know that I am involved in a variety of ways. I have worked for pro-life candidates, I have prayed at abortion mills, I have marched in Walks for Life, wrote letters to the editor, contacted candidates/elected officials & done many other things over the yrs. & I will continue to do so. Please. don't sit on the sidelines. There are over 3500 lives lost each day to abortion. This cannot stand. If it does, we are well on the road to losing our freedom. As Pope John Paul the Great said in his encyclical Evangelium Vitae: “To claim the right to abortion, infanticide and euthanasia, and to recognize that right in law, means to attribute to human freedom a perverse and evil significance: that of an absolute power over others and against others. This is the death of true freedom” When history looks back at our era will it see us as ensuring liberty & justice for all or that we threw away our freedom.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Israel & Hezbollah

I have been following with great concern what is going on right now in the Middle East. Sadly, I see a tense situation that is going to take a miracle to prevent it from growing worse than it is now.

& as a Catholic I am paying attention to the statements issued by the Vatican. & trying to make some sense of why it said some of what it said. In particular to how it said Israel has the right to defend itself, yet the very things it needs to do, the statement seemingly condemns. "As in the past, the Holy See also condemns both the terrorist attacks on the one side and the military reprisals on the other. Indeed, a state's right to self-defense does not exempt it from respecting the norms of international law, especially as regards the protection of civilian populations," Cardinal Sodano said. "Once again," he said, "it appears obvious that the only path worthy of our civilization is that of sincere dialogue between the contending parties."

All the reports I have read show that Israel is doing their best to avoid civilians. Yet Hezbollah has no respect for civilians. It has vowed to wipe out Israel. In order to do it they will wipe out civilians, children, whoever stands in their way. By their actions they have shown that they are unwilling to engage in sincere dialogue with Israel.Israel's ambassador to the UN, Dan Gillerman, pointed out that they are responding to an unprovoked attack from Hezbollah. To do so they have to fire on the places Hezbollah is operating out of. Where?, as is reported on Fox News' website: "Hezbollah operates with near autonomy in south Lebanon" The report goes on to point out:" and the government has resisted international pressure to disarm it — a step that could break the country apart."

"The real occupying power in Lebanon is terror — terror instigated by Hezbollah but funded by Iran and Syria," Gillerman said. Lest you think what he is saying is hyperbole, consider the following. The EU Parliament on 10 March 2005 approved the following resolution:"Parliament considers that clear evidence exists of terrorist activities on the part of Hezbollah and that the EU Council should take all necessary steps to curtail them." Many countries, including the USA consider Hezbollah a terrorist orginization.

On 2 September 2004, the UN Security Council adopted resolution # 2559, co-authored by France & the USA. It called for "all remaining foreign forces to withdraw from Lebanon", & "or the disbanding and disarmament of all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias". Israel puuled out of Lebanon. Lebanon was supposed to disarm Hezbollah. On 28 January 2005 the UN Security Council issued another resolution, # 1583. From the UN Press release about the statement: "Through the unanimous adoption of resolution 1583 (2005), the Council expressed great concern about the serious breaches and the sea, land and continuing air violations of the Blue Line. It urged the parties to put an end to the violations, refrain from any act or provocation that could further escalate the tension, and abide scrupulously by their obligation to respect the safety of the Interim Force and other United Nations personnel. The text was sponsored by Denmark, France, Greece, Romania, United Kingdom and the United States." On 23 January 2006, in response to Lebanon's failure to obey either resolution, the UN Security Council issued the following statement: “The Council calls on the Lebanese Government to sustain its efforts to achieve progress on all these issues in accordance with resolution 1559 (2004) and to pursue a broad national dialogue, and the Council calls on all other parities concerned, in particular the Government of Syria, to cooperate to this end.” As is evidenced by recent events, Lebanon has failed in its responsiblity to do so. & in my mind, by doing so, are as responsible & guilty as Hezbollah.

I agree with Cardinal Soldano that negotiations would be the ideal. But, as I said earlier, Hezbollah's actions have proven that they will not keep their word. I am not claiming that Israel has handled everything perfectly. But, in looking back on everything Israel has done, pulling out, giving up territory, etc, on the promises of the other side, only to be attacked, there reaches a point, sadly, where they are left no choice but to defend itself. Still, as their Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, told UN chief Kofi Annan, they are willing to let the UN mediate a cease-fire. But only if the terms include disarming Hezbollah & the return of the 2 kidnapped Israeli soldiers.

At this point all I can do is pray. Pray that things don't escalate. Pray that Lebanon, rather than condemning Israel because of its actions, will do what it should have done a long time ago & disarm Hezbollah. In doing so, it will show Israel that it is sincere in its desire for peace & give Israel reason to trust their words as more than empty promises.

The Middle East has a history of arround 5000 yrs of war & strife in this area. So, it would seem that my hopes are pie in the sky. But, I also have a deep faith in God, that He can change hearts. That He can bring about a peaceful solution to the problems in the Middle East. Jesus is the Prince of Peace. He can bring that peace about. A peace that sees that both Arab & Jew are treated justly, that both can have a homeland where they can live in safety. Hopeless, if done only by man's power & strength. But, as Scripture reminds us, with God, ALL things are possible.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Akathist to St. Joseph

I shared 2 prayers & a litany to St. Joseph. But, devotion to St. Joseph is not limitted to the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church. The Eastern Churches also hold St. Joseph in as high an honor. In the various Eastern Churches that use the Byzantine Rite (Orthodox & Catholic) 1 of the prayers they have is an Akathist Hymn. This hymn is chanted. The word akathist comes from a Greek word that means "not sitting".

(The following information is taken from several sources. The 2 primary ones that I used were ( & ( I apologize for any errors in advance & ask for corrections clarifications.)

It often begins with the Trisagion prayers. The hymn consists of 13 parts, each having a kontakion & an oikos (ikos). It can include a troparion as well as additional prayers. (A fuller explanation can be found at the OrthoWiki site as well as definitions of the various words used to describe parts of it. The 1st akathist hymn was written in honor of the Theotokos, the Blessed Virgin Mary, full title: The Akathist to the Most Holy Theotokos. It was written in the 7th Century AD. Many more have been written since them. Some honoring Mary & many other saints as well as Jesus, the Holy Cross & events in Jesus' life.

The full title of the Akathist in honor of St Joseph is called The Akathist Hymn In Honor Of The Righteous Joseph, The Betothed Of The Most-Holy Virgin, Mary. It is too long to publish here. A version of it, as used by the Kyivan Church of the Catholic Communion with instructions as well as some other information about it can be found at:
It also includes links to many other akathists, Catholic & Orthodox.


San Guiseppe Pray for Us!!!!!

I'd like to share some prayers to St. Joseph. The 1st is taken from the June 2006 Issue of The Josephite Harvest (Vol. 109, #2) published by St. Joseph's Society of the Sacred Heart (The Josephites).

St. Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church,
look upon the world & the great need of the Church for men & women who are motivated to leadership, capable of spreading the Kingdom of Christ on earth, & able to make known, by example & teaching, the beauty & truths of Christ.
Pray, Blessed Joseph, that those to whom God has given talents & calls to the service of the Church, may not prove slothful & unworthy in their vocations.

The 2nd was written by Pope Blessed John XXIII.

St. Joseph, be our protector. May your interior spirit of peace, silence, good work & prayer for the cause of Holy Church always be our inspiration. May your spirit bring us joy in union with your blessed spouse, our sweet & gentle Immaculate Mother, & in your strong yet tender love of Jesus, the glorious & immortal King of all ages & peoples. Amen

The next is 1 of the five litanies approved by the Holy See for public worship.

Lord have mercy Christ have mercy.
Lord Have Mercy. Christ hear us. Christ graciously hear us.

God, the Father of Heaven, Have mercy on us.

God the Son, Redeemer of the world, Have mercy on us.
God the Holy Ghost, Have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God, Have mercy on us.

Holy Mary, Pray for us.

Holy Joseph, Pray for us.
Renowned offspring of David, Pray for us. (repeat after each petition)
Light of Patriarchs,
Spouse of the Mother of God,
Chaste guardian of the Virgin,
Foster father of the Son of God,
Diligent protector of Christ,
Head of the Holy Family,
Joseph most just,
Joseph most chaste,
Joseph most prudent,
Joseph most strong,
Joseph most obedient,
Joseph most faithful,
Mirror of patience,
Lover of poverty,
Model of artisans,
Glory of home life,
Guardian of virgins,
Pillar of families,
Solace of the wretched,
Hope of the sick,
Patron of the dying,
Terror of demons,
Protector of Holy Church,

Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world, Spare us, O Lord!
Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world,
Graciously hear us, O Lord.

Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world. Have mercy on us.

He made him the lord of his household. And prince over all his possessions.

Let us pray: O God, in your ineffable providence you were pleased to choose Blessed Joseph to be the spouse of your most holy Mother; grant, we beg you, that we may be worthy to have him for our intercessor in heaven whom on earth we venerate as our Protector: You who live and reign forever and ever.

Saint Joseph, pray for us. Amen!


St. Joseph Universal Patron of the Church

There are some Catholics who, when they see this title, will be scratching their heads. I've heard of St. Joseph & St. Joseph the Worker, but never heard him called Patron of the Universal Church. Sadly, most people are not aware that on 8 December 1870 Pope Blessed Pius IX solemnly declared the Holy Patriarch Joseph, patron of the Catholic Church.

The feast was originally celebrated on the 3rd Sunday after Easter. In 1913, revisions of the Missal & Breviary it was moved to the Wed before the 3rd Sunday after Easter. In 1956, after the institution of the feast of St. Joseph the Worker, the feast was dropped & the title of Patron of the Universal Church was added to the 19 Mar feast. In 1969 the title of patron was dropped completely.

So why is St. Joseph considered the Patron of the Universal Church? The answer can be found in the following passage taken from Pope John Paul the Great's Apostolic Exhortation Redemptoris Custos issued on 15 Aug 1989. In it he shares his thoughts as well as those of several of his predecessors. This part is from Section VI.

"28. At a difficult time in the Church's history, Pope Pius IX, wishing to place her under the powerful patronage of the holy patriarch Joseph, declared him "Patron of the Catholic Church."(42) For Pius IX this was no idle gesture, since by virtue of the sublime dignity which God has granted to his most faithful servant Joseph, "the Church, after the Blessed Virgin, his spouse, has always held him in great honor and showered him with praise, having recourse to him amid tribulations."(43)What are the reasons for such great confidence? Leo XIII explained it in this way: "The reasons why St. Joseph must be considered the special patron of the Church, and the Church in turn draws exceeding hope from his care and patronage, chiefly arise from his having been the husband of Mary and the presumed father of Jesus..., Joseph was in his day the lawful and natural guardian, head and defender of the Holy Family.... It is thus fitting and most worthy of Joseph's dignity that, in the same way that he once kept unceasing holy watch over the family of Nazareth, so now does he protect and defend with his heavenly patronage the Church of Christ."(44)29. This patronage must be invoked as ever necessary for the Church, not only as a defense against all dangers, but also, and indeed primarily, as an impetus for her renewed commitment to evangelization in the world and to re-evangelization in those lands and nations where-as I wrote in the Apostolic Exhortation Christideles Laici - "religion and the Christian life were formerly flourishing and...are now put to a hard test."(45) In order to bring the first proclamation of Christ, or to bring it anew wherever it has been neglected or forgotten, the Church has need of special "power from on high" (cf. Lk 24:49; Acts 1:8): a gift of the Spirit of the Lord, a gift which is not unrelated to the intercession and example of his saints.30. Besides trusting in Joseph's sure protection, the Church also trusts in his noble example, which transcends all individual states of life and serves as a model for the entire Christian community, whatever the condition and duties of each of its members may be.As the Constitution on Divine Revelation of the Second Vatican Council has said, the basic attitude of the entire Church must be that of "hearing the word of God with reverence,"(46) an absolute readiness to serve faithfully God's salvific will revealed in Jesus. Already at the beginning of human redemption, after Mary, we find the model of obedience made incarnate in St. Joseph, the man known for having faithfully carried out God's commands.Pope Paul VI invited us to invoke Joseph's patronage "as the Church has been wont to do in these recent times, for herself in the first place, with a spontaneous theological reflection on the marriage of divine and human action in the great economy of the Redemption, in which economy the first-the divine one-is wholly sufficient unto itself, while the second-the human action which is ours-though capable of nothing (cf. Jn 15:5), is never dispensed from a humble but conditional and ennobling collaboration. The Church also calls upon Joseph as her protector because of a profound and ever present desire to reinvigorate her ancient life with true evangelical virtues, such as shine forth in St. Joseph."(47)31. The Church transforms these needs into prayer. Recalling that God wished to entrust the beginnings of our redemption to the faithful care of St. Joseph, she asks God to grant that she may faithfully cooperate in the work of salvation; that she may receive the same faithfulness and purity of heart that inspired Joseph in serving the Incarnate World; and that she may walk before God in the ways of holiness and justice, following Joseph's example and through his intercession.(48)One hundred years ago, Pope Leo XIII had already exhorted the Catholic world to pray for the protection of St. Joseph, Patron of the whole Church. The Encyclical Epistle Quamquam Pluries appealed to Joseph's "fatherly love...for the child Jesus" and commended to him, as "the provident guardian of the divine Family," "the beloved inheritance which Jesus Christ purchased by his blood." Since that time-as I recalled at the beginning of this Exhortation-the Church has implored the protection of St. Joseph on the basis of "that sacred bond of charity which united him to the Immaculate Virgin Mother of God," and the Church has commended to Joseph all of her cares, including those dangers which threaten the human family.Even today we have many reasons to pray in a similar way: "Most beloved father, dispel the evil of falsehood and sin...graciously assist us from heaven in our struggle with the powers of darkness...and just as once you saved the Child Jesus from mortal danger, so now defend God's holy Church from the snares of her enemies and from all adversity."(49) Today we still have good reason to commend everyone to St. Joseph.32. It is my heartfelt wish that these reflections on the person of St. Joseph will renew in us the prayerful devotion which my Predecessor called for a century ago. Our prayers and the very person of Joseph have renewed significance for the Church in our day in light of the Third Christian Millennium.The Second Vatican Council made all of us sensitive once again to the "great things which God has done," and to that "economy of salvation" of which St. Joseph was a special minister. Commending ourselves, then, to the protection of him to whose custody God "entrusted his greatest and most precious treasures,"(50) let us at the same time learn from him how to be servants of the "economy of salvation." May St. Joseph become for all of us an exceptional teacher in the service of Christ's saving mission, a mission which is the responsibility of each and every member of the Church: husbands and wives, parents, those who live by the work of their hands or by any other kind of work, those called to the contemplative life and those called to the apostolate.This just man, who bore within himself the entire heritage of the Old Covenant, was also brought into the "beginning" of the New and Eternal Covenant in Jesus Christ. May he show us the paths of this saving Covenant as we stand at the threshold of the next millennium, in which there must be a continuation and further development of the "fullness of time" that belongs the ineffable mystery of the Incarnation of the Word. "

The entire letter (with footnotes so you can go back & read the other documents) can be found at:


Monday, July 10, 2006

Priests for Life Update

For anyone interested in knowing more about Priests for Life, Fr. Frank Pavone will be on EWTN Live this Wed., 12 July 2006 at 7:00pm CDT.

Mission to Magadan

A few weeks ago on a Sunday night I was watching, as I usually do Sunday Night Live with Fr. Benedict Groeshel on EWTN. That night he had on his program a Fr. Michael Shields as a guest. He was talking about his work in Magadan, Russia.

Magadan is a seaport and industrial city located on Tauisk Bay on the northern shore of the Sea of Okhotsk. It has a population of a little under 130000. Sadly, the city's origins are rooted in the Gulag labor camp system set up by Stalin. The town was founded in the 1930s. It served as a transit point for political prisoners heading to the gold mines. 1n 1991 they found an area polluted with radioactive cesium. They are in the process of cleaning it up. Even with all that is going on there is poverty. Many women are being forced into abortions due to poverty.

Fr. Michael was originally from the Archdiocese of Anchorage, AL. Christmas 1990 saw Fr. Micael accompanied Archbishop Francis Hurley to Magaden where they celebrated Mass. This was the 1st public Mass ever. In January 1991, Archbishop Hurley helped a small group of Russians establish the first Roman Catholic parish there. It was named the Parish of the Nativity of Jesus. 6 months later Archbishop Huley found Eastern rite Father Austin Mohrbacher to be the 1st pastor. In 1994 the Archbishop assigned Fr. Michael there as resident pastor. In 1996 Fr. David Means arrived from the St. Louis Archdiocese to assist him. January 2001 saw the groundbreaking for a new Church building. Christmas 2002 saw the blessing of the new church. On 4 July 2004 the church was formally consecrated. In 2003 the Daughters of Charity set up a convent in Magadan to serve the parish. Also in 2004 they had a facilitator from Rachel's Vineyard put on several retreats for women who had abortions. The parish is a part of the Diocese of St. Joseph in Irkutsk, Russia. To give you some idea of the size of the diocese, it is a 4 hr flight to reach Magadan from Irkutsk. The parish has grown from 12 people to over 200.
The Church is decorated with traditional Russian religious ar, including icons & has a Franciscan Cross. There is also a smaller chapel dedicated to those who died in the slave labor camps, about 2 million people. The church basement houses the Mercy Center to be used as a health center soup kitchen & food distribution center. In a recent letter I received from Fr. Michael he said that because of the prayers & support they are receiving "young women will have the means to support their child & not abort, the poor will be served at the local soup kitchen. and we will preach a gospel to those who are hungry for the message of Jesus Christ and His church." When he talks about preventing abortion, he is talking about more than just stopping women from having them. He is using some of the money he gets to support women so they can keep their children.

The Archdiocesen newspaper, The Catholic Anchor, has on its website several articles that have appeared in the paper. They can give you more information about the work being done there. As well as tell you of the problems they have had. Unfortunately, The Russian Orthodox Church hasn't always been welcoming to the reestablishment of the Roman Catholic Church, Eastern & Western Rites. Part of this was an attempt to expel Fr. Michael.

Even more importantly, what is needed is financial help for the Archdiocese of Anchorage to continue its work. Fr. Groeshel always ends his show asking for the viewers to help support EWTN. This night he didn't merely ask that people send money to support the Mission. It was more like the Holy Spirit speaking through him & saying that the viewers are to send money. Not a suggestion, more like a Divine command. It was something I felt strongly convicted to do. Shortly thereafter, I sent a check. & now I ask readers to do the same. You have read about some of the work they are doing. This work takes money. PLEASE HELP!!! Checks should be made out to Mission to Magadan & sent to the Archdiocese of Anchorage at this address:

Archdiocese of Anchorage
Mission to Magadan
ANCHORAGE AL 95501-2409
If what I have said, as well as what you have read on the Anchorage website, doesn't convince you to help, then hopefully this blog written by someone who has been there might do so:


Friday, July 07, 2006

Priests for Life

Today, I'd like to put in a plug for a group that I feel very strongly about. This group is called Priests for Life. I will state up front that this group is pro-life. As it says on their website: "We are an officially approved association of Catholic Clergy who give special emphasis to the pro-life teachings of the Church. We offer ongoing assistance to the clergy in addressing the topics of abortion and euthanasia, and training and resources to the entire pro-life movement."

Ok, that is the simplified version of what they do. They are involved in a wide variety of activities to accomplish their mission. The orginization is lead by Fr. Frank Pavone. It began in 1991. So, what are some of the things they do.

Their main mission is to train & assist priests to enable them to lead the fight for life. They do so 1st of all by enabling priests who are particularly active in pro-life work. They provide educational materials (literature, tapes, seminars) to enable priests to better address life issues. & they help priests to better relate to the various pro-life groups out there. They have several priests who work full time with the group, travelling arround & often speaking at parishes, either at special events or at Sunday Masses.

Not all their material is aimed towards priests, many of their resources are directly aimed at seminarians, deacons & the laity to eanble them to do their part. 1 of their (in my opinion) more important resources, is their materials to educate people on how to be active in the political process. I say this because, until the laws are changed, abortion will continue. Prayer is important & the keystone of all pro-life activities but we are also called to action. Priests for Life is a powerful prophetic voice for political responsiblity.

They also help those who have been involved in an abortion (both men & women) to find healing & forgivenss for thier actions. Their 2 main ways are through Rachel's Vineyard, which puts on healing retreats, & Silent No More, who's purpose is to inform the public about the emotional & physical pain that abortion causes to men women & families.

Another part of their work is The Missionaries of the Gospel of Life. The best way to explain the group is to let them explain themselves: "The Missionaries of the Gospel of Life will be constituted as a Society of Apostolic Life. This is not a religious congregation, but does have a community life. The focus is on the mission ("apostolic life"), which will take the members nationwide in the defense of the unborn. The Society seeks to give witness before the Church and the world to the priority of the right to life as the foundation of all other rights, and to the absolute claims to respect and protection that this right makes upon every individual and community in the human family." The group will include priests, deacons & lay members.

This is a nutshell description of the orginization. For more info on anything above, check out their website: (The info I have provided is quoted or paraphrased from their website.) In future blogs I will go into more detail about some of their activities as well as those of other pro-life groups.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006


I just got done watching the movie 1776 again. As I've said before it is my favorite movie. No matter how many times I watch it, I never grow tired of it.

It is 4 July 2006. America is now 230 yrs old. & even though a lot has changed, a lot is still the same. We struggle with many of the same concerns. What does it mean to be free? How do we protect our freedoms? What role should our government play?

Perhaps, that is part of the reason why the movie remains so fresh for me. What was begun back then is still unfolding.

I had to laugh at 1 scene. As a part of it the Congressional secretary, Charles Thompson, is reading a list of congressional committees. Some of them sound ridiculous. The fact is, they all were committees set up by the Continental Congress. The same is true of the resolutions mentioned. They were actually introduced & debated on. & things haven't changed. Look at some of the things the US Congress & our state legislatures waste their time on.

The other thing that is at the heart of the movie is the struggle that went on to bring about the birth of our nation. That we even came to be is a miracle. To get 13 colonies to agree wasn't easy. Each colony saw itself as its own country, not a part of a greater whole.

I will admit that the movie isn't totally accurate. When the script was published in book form, the authors answered the question by pointing out 4 things, those added, deleted, changed & surmised. For drama's sake, they did slightly rearrange the time line. Because the only information kept in the minutes were the final votes, the actual debates were based on things written by the participants at various times in the years following.

I've previously mentioned John Adams letter on the 3rd to his wife. Those lines are used as a basis of the song from which I got the title of this blog, Is Aybody There? Another line said by John Adams was actually said by his cousin Sam in a slightly different form. During the debate on the slavery clause John says posterity will never forgive us if we don't deal with the problem. Sam Adams line came close to predicting the actual date of the Civil War. Adams never owned a slave. Even Ben Franklin had owned a couple at 1 point in his life. He did set them free.& went on to found the 1st anti-slavery group in the Colonies. Jefferson, sadly, never followed through on freeing his slaves. & we have paid for the sins of slavery.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."

This is the heart of the Declaration. & the whole document is our country's seminal document. It laid the foundation for our Constitution, our laws, our very nature as a country. As I said, we are still debating the meaning of these words. Part of that is because some people do not want to accept their foundation, natural law, esp as expressed by St. Thomas Aquinas. But, that would mean acknowledging the existance of God, which many people do not want to do. All I will say for now is, to fail to do so is to turn this country from the direction it was meant to go. At that point we may have to do again what Jefferson wrote as the reasons for what they did then: " That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."

I pray that God will turn this country back to it's roots & to Him. May we truly be a land who's laws reflect those unalienable rights for all from conception to natural death.


Monday, July 03, 2006

John Adams

At the end of yesterday's posting I said that I would focus on John Adams today. At the time I had yet to see the latest issue of USA Weekend (30 June-2 July 2006). The cover story titled What So Proudly We Hailed is about a discussion by David McCullough with some of the descendants of John Adams, Thomas Jefferson & Patrick Henry at John Adams home in Quincy, MA. The Adams' home is just 1 part of the Adams National Historical Park ( found there in Quincy. If you would like to read it, the article can be found at:

David McCullough is probably the most well respected & preeminent historians of our time. He has written several excellent books. For 2 of his books he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize. He has received many other awards. I own 2 of his books, 1776 & John Adams. I consider them 2 of the premier books in my collection.

1776 is his latest & tells of the events that occur that year in America. It doesn't focus much on the writing of the Declaration because that subject is covered in much more depth in his bio of John Adams. But, the book is much more than just a collection of information about those events. As a result of his extensive research on both sides of the Atlantic your are able to know, through quotes from letters, the 1st hand experiences of those involved, not just the elite & leaders, but the every day common people who were affected by these events.

John Adams came out in 2001. I have read several biographies & believe this to be the best of the lot. It is also 1 of his 2 Pulitzer Prize winners. Because of how their lives from about 1775 on, this is also, to a lesser extent, a partial biography of Thomas Jefferson. Again, this is much more than a rehashing of facts. Through the use of the various Adams journals & correspondence as well as those of others who came in conntact with the Adams you get to know him as a flesh & blood human being. McCullough doesn't cover up the flaws.

OK, so who was John Adams, 1 of my greatest heroes. The simple answer: delegate to both Contnental Congresses, signer of the Declaration of Independence, signer of the peace treaty between the USA & England, 1st American ambassador to the Court of St. James, 1st Vice-President & 2nd President. The real story is much more complex. My short answer is: "Without John Adams the USA would have never come into existance. He was the man behind the drive to declare independence, the 1 who brought it about, the man who insured the survival of the USA because of what he did as president in preventing war with both England & France.

Like most people growing up I didn't know much about John Adams. It wasn't until I discovered the movie version of the play 1776 that my interest in John Adams began. That movie very quickly became my favorite because of its theme, the start of our country. I will be honest, it isn't perfectly accurate, no play can be. In the paperback edition of the script, the authors talk about the changes they needed to make, the biggest of which is a having the Declaration being debated & edited before the final vote on Independence.

John Adams was born 30 Oct 1735 in Braintree (now Quincy) in Massachusetts Bay Colony. He graduated from Harvard & went on to become a lawyer. In 1764 he married Abigail Smyth (another mostly unsung hero from the early days of our country). As the various tax acts, stamp act etc. were passed & forced on the Colonies he began writing & speaking out against them. In 1770 he was 1 of 2 lawyers defending the English soldiers involved in the Boston Massacre. He saw this as the morally right thing to do because he believed every accused person deserved the right to a lawyer to defend him at trial. His actions resulted in his being elected to Massachusetts House of Representatives. In 1774 he was elected to represent Massachusetts in the 1st Continental Congress & to the 2nd in 1775. There he lead the charge to declare independence. He nominated Washington as Commander-in-Chief of the Army. His work on getting the Navy going has won him the title of father of the navy. He served on the committee to write the Declaration & was the 1 who insisted on Jefferson writing it. He did make a few additions/changes before it was submitted to Congress. I could go on & on about his accomplishments. I would recommend David McCullough's book for the whole story. There you will come to understand how much we actually owe to him.

John Adams became my hero because of who he was. He had strong beliefs in what was right & wrong. He described himself as obnoxious & disliked. He also knew that he would be the forgotten Founding Father. At 1 point in the play Adams says the following to Adams (based on an actual writing of his): "I won't be in the history books anyway, only you. Franklin did this and Franklin did that and Franklin did some other damn thing. Franklin smote the ground and out sprang George Washington, fully grown and on his horse. Franklin then electrified him with his miraculous lightning rod and the three of them- Farnklin, Washington, and the horse- conducted the entire revolution by themselves." He deeply loved Abigail. He called her "his dearest friend".
I won't claim he was perfect, he wasn't. Sadly he signed the Alien & Sedition Acts. He didn't believe Catholics could be good citizens. & as he got older he turned his back on Christianity & became a Unitarian. He denied that Jesus was the Son of God.

I deeply love the United States. I love its values, what it stands for as proclaimed in the Declaration. This is because my maternal grandparents were immigrants from Italia. They came over because of the promises this country held out. As I learned about John Adams I came to love him, flaws & all. I am not to happy about his support of the Sedition Acts. But, in the end, I saw him as just as much the father of our country as George Washington is.

In yesterday's blog I pointed out what he said about celebrating America's independence. He may have gotten the date wrong. But he was very accurate on the how of celebrating the birth of the USA. Interestingly enough, while in France he became 1 of the 1st people to throw parties to celebrate the 4th.

Thank you John Adams.

(Again, I highly recommend reading David McCullough's books 1776 & John Adams as well as viewing the movie 1776.)

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