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, September 30, 2007

1 Small Complaint

Believe it or not, I actually have 1 small complaint about American Life League. & I use the word "small" intentionally. The reason I opted to use that word is because I have occasionally been fustrated when I go to ALL's Pro-Life Store to look at getting a new T-shirt. When I get there I find something I like. Then I check out the sizes available &, you guessed it, they don't have my size. I need a 2XL to 3 XL (depending on the shirt) & I have found that the shirt I want is not available in a size any larger than XL.
What set this off is that I received the latest issue of ALL's magazine Celebrate Life Saturday. On the back page was an ad for the T-shirt shown to the left. I really liked it. & I wanted to get 1. Then I saw the sizes listed. (S, M, L, XL) So much for that idea. I know that a lot of what sizes are available depends on variables like the cost of the plain t-shirts (2XL & 3XL often cost more). But I ask ALL to please do its best to maintain the high quality of the T-shirts while trying to get more in a larger size that some of us need to be able to wear the shirt.
Anyhow this will NOT, (I repeat NOT) stop me from supporting ALL & the hard work that Judie Brown, Jim Sedlek (StoP Planned Parenthood) & the rest of those at ALL are doing. In fact with things like the recent events in Aurora, IL where Planned Parenthood is attempting to open a clinic using fraudulent tactics, what ALL & other Pro-Life groups are doing is more important than ever. They need your financial support as well as your prayers & time to get involved in the activities they sponsor when possible.
While I am on the Pro-Life subject, I would remind you that October is Respect Life Month & many Pro-Life Groups (like DBQ Co Right to Life) have events scheduled throughout the month.. The previously mentioned 40 Days for Life prayer campaign that started last week is 1 thing that it is still not to late to get involved in. Next Sunday (7 Oct) is set aside by the USCCB as Respect Life Sunday (2007 Statement by Cardinal Rigali). It is also the day that Pro-Life groups throughout the USA have their Life Chain. & the work that Joe Scheidler & the Pro-Life Action League are doing to keep Planned Parenthood out of Aurora, IL needed your prayers & support.
Maybe I won't always get a T-shirt I want to wear. But, that is only a small part of what I can, should & MUST do in the battle to defend life. If all I am doing is wearing a T-shirt (or precious feet pin) & nothing else, then I am using that as an excuse to not do all that I can. T-shirts & pins are an effective tool to witness to the Pro-Life message. I have gotten questions about both. But, as I said, they are only a part of what every Pro-Life person can & should do. The above events (as well as those listed in the column on the right) need your active support as do the groups listed on the right. No 1 can support them all, but if every Pro-Life person supports a few with time & talent as well as finances then together we will have an effect. Another important thing is to support truly Pro-Life candidates for political office, even a city council or county board of supervisors race has (as Aurora shows) the potential for Pro-Life issues to come up. Blogging is another tool. & no matter what else you do, begin, end & undergird it all with prayer.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Helping Small Minds Understand Big News!

Uncle Jay helps you understand “blogs.” How can you tell the difference between (a) Amateur blogs that are biased and undependable, and (b) Solid, professional JOURNALISM that’s biased and undependable? Uncle Jay shows you!

Sodom & Gomorrah Redux

Over the last few days I have read several posts in various blogs about the events going on in San Francisco with the annual Folsom Street Fair & the boycott on Miller Beer called for by The Catholic League. Many times what goes on there was compared to the events at Sodom & Gomorrah. The Catholic League also had some pictures from past Fairs posted on its site to give people an idea of what occurs there. CAUTION: Folsom Street Fair Pictures is not for the faint of heart or youngsters. (& these are the pictures he could post. I shudder to think of what wasn't publishable.)
As I looked over the pictures I had 2 thoughts about what I saw.
1st of all, at times I saw pure, unadulterated evil straight out of HELL! The pictures were also very sad as they showed people who have totally sold out to that evil. I saw people who have completely turned their backs on obedience to God & to His divinely ordained laws of the proper use of their sexuality by totally destroying their purity & chastity.
But, there was something more. Some of the pictures reminded me of something I had seen somewhere else before. Finally, it dawned on me. They could have been taken directly out of a scene in John Huston's 1966 movie The Bible: In the Beginning. & if you haven't guessed by now, it was the scene that took place when the 3 Angels are in Lot's house & the men of Sodom call for Lot to send them out. Some of the pictures on The Catholic League website looked like they were straight out of Central Casting for this scene in the movie.
OK, I don't quite know if things in San Francisco have reached the same level as that of Sodom & Gomorrah. But if these pictures are any clue, they are well on the way to making Sodom & Gomorrah look like a bunch of amateurs.
Right before destroying the 2 towns God said to Abraham: "The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin is so grave, that I shall go down and see whether or not their actions are at all as the outcry reaching me would suggest. Then I shall know." Genesis 18:20-21 Will God soon have to say the same thing about San Francisco? I hope & pray not, but I am afraid He will.

2 Views on Archbishop Burke & Canon

It is no surprize to see who agrees & who disagrees with the recent article written by Archbishop Burke of St. Louis on Canon 915 (See: Canon 915 & Archbishop Raymond Burke ) Here are a couple of quotes taken from the article Bishop preaches tough Communion rule from the 28 Sept 2007 The Columbus Dispatch.
The 1st is by Fr. Richard Neuhaus who is solidly orthodox & understands fully what the Archbishop was trying to say:
The Rev. Richard John Neuhaus, editor of the influential conservative Catholic journal First Things, called Burke's article "a scholarly tour de force."
"The (archbishop's) concern is not a political concern," Neuhaus said. "The article is about, how does the church preserve the sanctity of the Holy Eucharist?"

The 2nd person quoted is Fr. Thomas Reese SJ. You will remember that Fr. Reese stepped down as editor of America Magazine shortly after Cardinal Ratzinger was elected Pope. Given his past record while editor of disent from Catholic teaching, that he is once more doing so is no surprize. & it is done following his usual modus operendi of twisting the facts, & by making obeying Canon law as well as Church teaching optional when it doesn't fit in with his views.
But the article is ambiguous in some areas, said the Rev. Thomas Reese, a senior fellow at Georgetown University's Woodstock Theological Center in Washington.
If Burke is calling on Communion ministers to disobey their bishops and deny Communion to Catholic politicians, it would be "revolutionary" and "encourage anarchy," Reese said.
"Most bishops do not want ministers of Communion playing policeman at the Communion rail," he added. "This is a significant change in focus. Suddenly, you're going to have a few thousand decisionmakers in parishes across the country."
Like I said, twisting the facts. Canon 915 tells who is "not to be admitted to holy communion." While I am not a canon lawyer, the context of the Canon seems to imply that it is up to the priest to apply it in specific situations where the Bishop has clearly failed to do what he should as chief shepherd of a diocese.
Fr. Reese shows his hypocricy in talking about disobeying a bishop, given his disent from the Magesterial teachings over the years. He is the 1 who has been "revolutionary" by undermining Catholic teaching & encouraging "anarchy".
Come to think of it, maybe Fr. Reese realizes that if Canon law was enforced as it should,the 1st person who he shouldn't give communion to is himself.

How Can Enforcing the Law Be Breaking the Law?

Neil Cavuto gets it right again (No surprize, way to go paisan!)

Only in America can those who shouldn't even be in America sue America.
The very laws that define us as citizens used against us by those who are not citizens.
I'm sorry, all the legal mumbo-jumbo in the world cannot escape the basic fact that a town like Danbury, Connecticut is doing something illegal, trying to do something about illegals.
I've heard the best defense is a good offense, but come on!
So Danbury is breaking the law, trying to apprehend those who are breaking the law?
We're losing it, guys.
We're losing our rights.
We're losing our constitution.
We're losing what makes us, us.
And providing rights to those who have no rights.
And you know what?
It stinks.
It stinks because I think Danbury's going to lose this. Not because it's wrong, it isn't. But because some double-speaking lawyer is going to make her clients seem even more wronged.
I'll tell you what's wrong.
Their being here in the first place.
They have our number, and they have our own lawyers giving them our money.
I see a pattern. Providing licenses to illegals in cars they shouldn't drive to jobs they shouldn't have...demanding health benefits for kids who shouldn't even be here.
We are a kind and compassionate country that welcomes one and all.
A great melting pot.
And now, a great melting crack pot as well.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Shine On Harvest Moon

26 September 2007
4 52 UT (GMT)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Free Speech on Campus For EVERYONE or Only When You Are A Left-Wing Darling Nut Case?

Neil Cavuto raised a good point in his Common Sense segment Monday.

Sometimes we mistake that because we live in a free country, we freely must bend over backwards to hear nuts.
That's fine. Here's what isn't.
Freely choosing who is free to speak.
Tyrants you like, I guess. Not the people trying to keep them in check, I know.
Ahmadinejad OK. Reserve Officer Training Corps not OK.
I commend the president of Columbia University for relaying his apparent disgust over Ahmadinejad's leadership. I just don't remember him relaying the same disgust when he and his university booted the ROTC recruiters from his campus.
Look, it's a free country. And universities are free to choose the nuts they want on campus. Our constitution protects nuts. And their nutty musings.
What's ironic at Columbia is that the men and women who protect that constitution are the nuts, and aren't protected at Columbia. They're not even wanted at Columbia.
So we're free to see those who'd sooner kill us. And not free to see those who might want to save us.
Only in America can we be so stupid to value the rights of a tyrant to speak, over the simple decency of freedom lovers' desire to protect.
One thing I've learned, all the Ivy League education in the world doesn't mean you still can't be an ass. Just a smart ass.

St. Augustine - Not Much Has Changed Since Your Time, Has It?

Over the last few days the 2nd reading in the Office of Readings in the Latin Rite of the Liturgy of the Hours/Divine Office has been taken from the writings of St. Augustine. In particular it has come from a homily where he is talking about the proper behavior of pastors. Monday's reading also talked a bit about an interesting attitude of some of the sheep.
"The straying sheep you have not recalled; the lost sheep you have not sought. In one way or another, we go on living between the hands of robbers and the teeth of raging wolves, and in light of these present dangers we ask your prayers. The sheep moreover are insolent. The shepherd seeks out the straying sheep, but because they have wandered away and are lost they say that they are not ours. “ Why do you want us? Why do you seek us?” they ask, as if their straying and being lost were not the very reason for our wanting them and seeking them out. “If I am straying”, he says, “if I am lost, why do you want me?” You are straying, that is why I wish to recall you. You have been lost, I wish to find you. “But I wish to stray”, he says: “I wish to be lost”. " (emphasis mine)
As I read this I began thinking this sure sounds like the situation in many parts of the Church today. The 1st line is a rehash of the main focus of Sunday's reading. That reading talks about bad shepherds who are more concerned about themselves than preaching the truth. Part of the fruit of their failure to do so is the focus of this section. The sheep no longer want to hear the truth. So when a real shepherd comes along they reject the truth.
Doesn't that sound a lot like the attitude of those cafeteria Catholics out there. When a good shepherd (Pope John Paul the Great or Papa Benedetto, Cardinal Justin Rigali or Bishops Fabian W. Bruskewitz & Robert W. Finn for example) says that being pro-choice is wrong, using birth control is a sin, etc they are faced with the same attitude that St. Augustine talks about. They hear these insolent sheep reject the authentic teachings of the Church these shepherds proclaim.
Yet, does this stop them? No, they don't. Instead, like the good shepherd described here by St. Augustine (based on the teachings of Jesus), the Pope & many bishops, priests & deacons continue to take seriously their call to be a "good shepherd" & continue to seek out the stray sheep. They call them to repentance. They call these people to turn away from sin & turn to Jesus. They call these stray sheep back to the truth. These "good shepherds" react exactly as St. Augustine describes in the next paragraph of his homily.
" So you wish to stray and be lost? How much better that I do not also wish this. Certainly, I dare say, I am unwelcome. But I listen to the Apostle who says: Preach the word; insist upon it, welcome and unwelcome. Welcome to whom? Unwelcome to whom? By all means welcome to those who desire it; unwelcome to those who do not. However unwelcome, I dare to say: “You wish to stray, you wish to be lost; but I do not want this”. For the one whom I fear does not wish this. And should I wish it, consider his words of reproach: The straying sheep you have not recalled; the lost sheep you have not sought. Shall I fear you rather than him? Remember, we must all present ourselves before the judgement seat of Christ."
Thank God for these "good shepherds"! We are truly blessed by their willingness to do what is right, that they proclaim the truth & risk rejection rather than let the sheep continue straying. The words of St. Augustine are truly their words: "I shall recall the straying; I shall seek the lost. Whether they wish it or not, I shall do it. And should the brambles of the forests tear at me when I seek them, I shall force myself through all straits; I shall put down all hedges. So far as the God whom I fear grants me the strength, I shall search everywhere. I shall recall the straying; I shall seek after those on the verge of being lost. If you do not want me to suffer, do not stray, do not become lost. It is enough that I lament your straying and loss. No, I fear that in neglecting you, I shall also kill what is strong. Consider the passage that follows: And what was strong you have destroyed. Should I neglect the straying and lost, the strong one will also take delight in straying and in being lost."
What love these "good shepherds" have! They love God so much that they are willing to lay down their lives to serve Him. They love the strong sheep enough to be sure that they don't stray & they love the stray sheep enough to seek them out & bring them the truth even at the risk of rejection. Some day each of these "good shepherds" will hear the Lord say: "Well done, good & faithful servant. Enter into you Master's joy." as they are welcome into Heaven.
These "good shepherds" need our prayers as well as our support. We need to pray to God to strengthen them with the Holy Spirit so they are empowered to be true shepherds. We need to pray for the "Spirit of Wisdom & Understanding" for them so that they can faithfully proclaim the Gospel of Jesus. & we need to let them know that we are supporting them. We need to encourage them to continue in their faithfulness.
& most important of all, we need to listen to what they say as God speaks through them. But, not only listen, we need to heed & follow these teachings. We MUST live them out fully in our lives.

Monday, September 24, 2007

It's Autumn

OK I know this is a little over a day late as Autumn actually began at 4:51 AM CDT yesterday (23 Sept) but this tune is still timeless, esp when performed by Roger Williams (Iowa Boy). There have been many quality versions, but I think this 1 is the best. The fact that it came out the yr I was born doesn't hurt either.
(PS Happy 83rd Birthday on 1 Oct Roger Williams!)

Irony or Rorschach Test?

From the photograher, Dean Shaddock:
This was captured as I collected my things from airport security (Detroit Metro Concourse A). I think of it as something like a Rorschach test. Is an elderly Catholic nun being frisked by a Muslim security agent the celebration of blind justice? Or is it simply an admission of absurdity?

Robert Spencer weighs in: “Of course there should be random searches, and no one should be exempt — if any group is exempt, its dress will soon be adopted by the terrorists. But there is an absurdity to this photo. And a hint that maybe we would do better devoting our resources to searching those who are more likely to be threats — were that not so politically incorrect.”

EWTN Programing Alert - Sunday Night Live

Fr. Benedict Groeschel announced that next week on his program Sunday Night Live that the guest on his 30 Sept show will be Fr. Michael Shields from Magadan. The show will air on EWTN at 7 pm EDT (6 pm CDT) with repeats at 2 am EDT & 9 am EDT (1am & 8 am CDT) on Monday 1 Oct 2007 & 5pm EDT (4 pm CDT) on 6 October 2007.

Bye-Bye Bip

Marcel Marceau passed away Saturday (22 Sept) in Paris France. More than anyone he showed what an art form mime could truly be.
Born Marcel Mangel in Strasbourg France in 1923, his family changed their last name to Marceau when NAZI Germany invaded France at the start of WW II. His father Charles, a Jewish butcher, was deported to Auschwitz where he was killed in 1944. Marcel & his brother Alain avoided deportation & became involved in the French Underground. They helped many Jewish children escape to Switzerland during the war. (This was something I don't remember ever knowing before. For me it adds all the more poignancy to his performances as Bip.)
Seeing Charlie Chaplin perform inspired him to get into acting. In 1947 he created the character who would become his trademark, Bip. I was fascinated every time I watched him perform.
When Mel Brooks decided to make Silent Movie (a silent movie about making a silent movie) he gave the only spoken line to the 1 person known for his silent perfoming, Marcel Marceau.
Rather than say any more, I'll let Marceau's (& Bip's) work speak for itself:
Here he is with another comedy talent who also did some funny mime Red Skelton:
His talent inspired many others. Michael Jackson credits Marceau's work as the source of inspiration for his moonwalk.
Au revoir mon ami BIP!!!!!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Nothing is Sure But Death & Taxes!*

* Esp taxes!!!!!

During his general audience address last Wed (19 Sept 2007) Papa Benedetto was talking about the life & times of St. John Chrysostom. At 1 point he veered slightly from his prepared comments.
"The year 387 was John's "heroic year," the so-called statue revolt. The people knocked down the imperial statues, as a sign of protest against tax increases."
"You can see that some things never change throughout history."
Well, he is called to proclaim the truth!!!!!

Mission to Magadan - September 2007 Update

If it seems like I just did an update on Magadan a month ago, it is because I did. I do these updates shortly after I get the newsletter from the Archdiocese of Anchorage & it seems like the last 1 came out late while this 1 was more on schedule.
This time the newsletter includes the story of Adele Dirsyte. Adele was born 75 April 1909 in Promislavis, Lithuania. She was the youngest of 6 children. In 1928 she went to Vatautas Magnus College where she majored in philosophy. While there she joined the Catholic Federation. After he graduation she began writing articles & poems. She also became Board Secretary of the Lithuanian Catholic Women's Association Center as well as Director of Caritas.
She was arrested in March of 1946 because she had hid a person who had escaped Soviet Security arrest. Her sentance was 10 years in a concentration camp & 5 yrs restriction of her rights. It was the Summer of 1947 when she was taken from prison in Vilnus & sent to the forced labor camp of Chuma. It was a harsh environment. But the inmates kept up their devotional practices. They made rosary beads from the bread they were given.
In 1949 she was tranfered to the Taishet labor camp. They were used to work on railroad construction. Adele became a spiritual leader to the inmates. The next Winter she was moved to the Ui camp in Kolym. There she had some freedom to orginize religious & literary meetings. In the Summer of 1950 she was sent to Magadan's concentration camp. During this time she wrote Prayer Book for Girls Exiled in Siberia. Over time she rewrote the prayers & added new ones. (Many of these prayers have been translated into English & are available in Mary, Save Us published by Our Sunday Visitor.)
Hard as the labor was at Magadan, she continued to find time to minister to her fellow prisoners. She was able to arrange for the Eucharist to be brought to the camp. It was this activity that eventually brought her to the attention of the Soviet guards. They began to regularly taken to a cold underground cell where she was beaten. When her fellow prisoners became upset at her treatment she told them to pray for the guards instead.
In the Autumn of 1953 she was taken aware to an unknown location for the Winter. The next April she was returned to Magadan. Her hair was cut short. She was disheveled & heavily bruised. The 1 time she talked about it she said: "There were very cruel interrogators in that place, especially one who tore out half of my hair."
At the end of 1954 she was sent to the portion of the camp hospital for the mentally ill. She wasted away rapidly. Her death certificate states that she died 26 Sept 1955 in Khabarovsk, Russia.
The Archdiocese of Kaunas (lithuania) began the work for her beatification/canonization. On 14 January 2000 the Congregation of the Causes of Sants issued the decree nulla osta for her cause.
The Soviet Union declared her a counterrevolutionary for her living out her faith. & she was. She stood up for the truth of the Gospel. & by standing up for Christ she stood for the opposite of what Communism stood for. Communism was & is a horrible evil. She stood for God & good. She trusted in her Savior. She was willing to die for her faith. & like Christ, St. Stephen & many martyrs since she was willing to forgive those who wronged her.
There is an old saying about the blood of the martyrs being a seed of the Church. (Tertullian) Adele's blood was shed & is bearing fruit in the work that the Magadan Mission is doing. What they are doing to preach the Gospel & bring light into an area that has been in darkness for way too long is important. But, it does take money to do so. I can't say it enough as to how important it is for us to support good ministries like this. Follow the links to the Magadan or Archdiocesan websites for info on how to support this ministry. Please help them to help those who are still suffering from the damage done by decades of communism.


Saturday, September 22, 2007

This Day in DBQ History - 22 Sept. 1788

Julien Dubuque, a French trapper from Quebec, was granted permission by a council of Sauk and Fox Indians of the area to work the lead mines. Using the Sauk and Fox as a labor force, Dubuque found the Upper Mississippi Valley to be rich in lead, which was used in the production of firearms. Dubuque had the most success in what is now the area of Dubuque, Iowa.

Friday, September 21, 2007

40 Days for Life

On 26 Sept 2007 a prayer campaign to put an end to abortion will begin. 40 Days for Life is a prayer campaign that has already been successful in reducing the number of abortions occuring in several cities in the USA. Now that same campaign will spread its efforts to 89 other cities. What is 40 Days for Life, how has God worked through it already & what can you do to be a part of it, even if you don't live in 1 of the 89 cities?
What is it? It is "an intensive effort designed to raise awareness, save lives, bring healing, and prepare America for the beginning of the end of abortion." It is made up of 3 components: 1) Prayer & fasting, 2) Peaceful vigils & 3) Community outreach.
From their website:
1. Prayer and Fasting
Want to end abortion? First you pray. Prayer is at the center of 40 Days for Life. During the September 26 - November 4 campaign, we are calling on people of faith across the nation to fall on their knees before the Lord, asking Him to hear our plea and heal our land. Pray at church. Pray outside an abortion facility. Pray at work. Pray in the car. Pray at home with your family. Pray!
People of faith are also invited to fast throughout 40 Days for Life. Christ said there are some demons that can only be driven out by prayer and fasting. A fast is not a Christian diet; it is a powerful means of drawing closer to God by blocking out distractions. Fast from food. Fast from television. Fast from e-mail. Fast from apathy and indifference. Fast from whatever it is that separates you from God.
We believe that when God's people pray and fast with a broken, repentant, and contrite spirit, our heavenly Father will hear from heaven and heal our lives, our churches, our communities, our nation, and our world.
2. Peaceful Vigil
The visible, public centerpiece of 40 Days for Life is a 40-day-long prayer vigil outside a Planned Parenthood center or other abortion facility in each community.
The prayer vigil is a peaceful and educational presence that sends a powerful message to the community about the tragic reality of abortion. It also serves as a call to repentance for those who work at the abortion center and those who patronize the facility.
In many locations, the vigil will be conducted 24 hours a day for each of the 40 days.
3. Community Outreach
During 40 Days for Life, the pro-life message is proactively taken to every possible corner of a community through a focused, grassroots educational effort.
A door-to-door petition and education drive reaches out to households throughout a neighborhood or city. Informational flyers raise awareness about the local crisis of abortion. Citizens are invited to sign a petition of support for the sanctity of human life, and people are given the opportunity to visibly show their support for 40 Days for Life.
Additional outreach activites can include church involvement, media contact, and campus outreach.
Even if you don't live in 1 of the 89 cities listed on the website you can still participate. If you are near 1 of the cities on the list you can still go & join in the prayer vigil. But wherever you are you can join in with prayer & fasting for the success of the efforts on these 89 cities.
So, how successful have they been with past campaigns? The following are taken from their Record of Results:
Bryan/College Station, Texas: The local abortion rate was slashed by 28%
Green Bay, Wisconsin: Saved 2 babies from abortion during the first hour of their campaign
Dallas, Texas: 17 children were spared from death by abortion
Kitsap County, Washington: During their campaign -- and perhaps because of it -- the local Planned Parenthood abortion facility abruptly cut back its hours and is now closed two full business days a week
Houston, Texas: Saw a local abortion facility unexpectedly shut its doors and go out of business after 20 years in operation
Charlotte, North Carolina: A harvest of women -- and men -- began to receive healing from their past through effective post-abortion counseling programs
In addition, a 40 Day campaign is currently going on in Aurora, IL where Planned Parenthood is attempting to open an abortion clinic. (see Q. If Opening a Planned Parenthood Office is Such a Good Thing. . . . ) They were supposed to open on 18 Sept. A judge has denied a motion by PP to force the city to grant them an occupancy permit. Meanwhile an investigation into what really happenned goes on. PP is spinning it, but the reality is they lied on the application forms & may have broken several laws in doing so.
As for the 1 question not yet asked "Why 40 Days?" This video will answer that:
Here is an opportunity to make a MAJOR DIFFERENCE. Untold lives can & will be saved. & the more of us who participate the more we open up doors for God to work powerfully to do so.


& He is Still Providing Girls With Their Best Friend

18 September 1837 - Charles Louis Tiffany & John B. Young established what would eventually become Tiffany & Co. 170 years later it is still just as true that "stiff backed or stiff kneed, you stand tall at Tiffany's". Perhaps best known for their jewelry, in 1885 they were hired to redesign the National Seal that is still seen on the $1 Bill today. & during the Civil War the provided the Union Army with swords, flags & surgical equipment. Charles' son Louis Comfort Tiffany was also known for his stained glass windows, lamps etc that are often imitated but have never been duplicated. It was shortly after they began that they came up with their unique blue packaging. Besides the song made famous by Carol Channing & later Marilyn Monroe, Tiffany's has been featured in several songs as well as providing the title & a locale for the movie Breakfast at Tiffany's. For better or worse Tiffany has become a part of our culture.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

OK Bishop Lynch, Now How Do You Justify Being Silent About Terri Schiavo?

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith recently released a reply to a couple of questions sumbitted By Bishop William S. Skylstad in the name of the USCCB about the nutrition and hydration of patients in the condition commonly called a "vegetative state". The questions were submitted in a letter dated 11 July 2005. The response, dated 1 August 2007, was released last week after being approved by Papa Benedetto. (Why it took so long to reply is a part of the mystery of how the Vatican bureaucracy operates.) They also issued a commentary on the questions expanding on those answers with the reasoning behind them.
As Thomas Peters at American Papist pointed out, the request by Bishop Skylstad is probably as a result of the many "Catholic" hospitals that are still ignoring the directive of Pope John Paul II on this subject. I suspect that the fact that some bishops like Terri Schiavo's didn't speak up for her also played a part in this request.
First question: Is the administration of food and water (whether by natural or artificial means) to a patient in a "vegetative state" morally obligatory except when they cannot be assimilated by the patient’s body or cannot be administered to the patient without causing significant physical discomfort?
Response: Yes. The administration of food and water even by artificial means is, in principle, an ordinary and proportionate means of preserving life. It is therefore obligatory to the extent to which, and for as long as, it is shown to accomplish its proper finality, which is the hydration and nourishment of the patient. In this way suffering and death by starvation and dehydration are prevented.
Second question: When nutrition and hydration are being supplied by artificial means to a patient in a "permanent vegetative state", may they be discontinued when competent physicians judge with moral certainty that the patient will never recover consciousness?
Response: No. A patient in a "permanent vegetative state" is a person with fundamental human dignity and must, therefore, receive ordinary and proportionate care which includes, in principle, the administration of water and food even by artificial means.
* * *
The Supreme Pontiff Benedict XVI, at the Audience granted to the undersigned Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, approved these Responses, adopted in the Ordinary Session of the Congregation, and ordered their publication.

Rome, from the Offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, August 1, 2007.

William Cardinal Levada
Angelo Amato, S.D.B.
Titular Archbishop of Sila
The answers & commentary leave no doubt that what happenned to Terri Schiavo was wrong, no surprize. But it will be interesting to see how those "Catholic" hospitals, Bishops & politicians who don't agree try to squirm out of this 1.

Spirit & Truth Conference 2007

On Sat, 15 Sept 2007 I attended the 3rd Annual Spirit & Truth Conference that was put on by Springtime of Hope. It was held in the Marie Graber Ballroom at Loras College. The speakers were Steve Ray, Teresa Tomeo & Fr. Richard T. Simon (Archdiocese of Chicago). I will admit that even as I write this, I still am processing all I learned at the conference.
Steve Ray gave 3 talks. His 1st talk (The Unintended Journey) told the story of his journey from Baptist to Catholic. He explained how, as he studied Scripture & the writings of the Early Church Fathers he came to see that the Catholic Church WAS the early Church & still is the Church founded by Jesus Christ.
His 2nd talk was Peter, the Rock, the Keys & the Chair. The title pretty much sumarizes the talk. In it he answers the objections to Peter being the 1st Pope by going back to Scripture & showing not only what the New Testament has to say, but also using the Old Testement to show the Scriptural foundations for both the Keys & Chair of Peter.
His 3rd talk was on The Eucharist. He showed the Scriptural foundations for the belief in the Real Presence. He also looked at some of the writings of the Church Fathers to show that the view of the Catholic Church has been the view of the Church from the begining.
Teresa Tomeo's talk was on the media. She talked about the liberal slant in the news media as well as the garbage that the entertainment media spewing out. But she did more than merely talk about the problem. She gave some very practical ideas for dealing with what is found on the internet as well as the broadcast media. Much of this can be found in her new book (which I purchased & look forward to reading) Noise: How Our Media-Saturated Culture Dominates Lives and Dismantles Families. (As an aside, I found out her Italiana roots are from the same part of Southern Italia as mine are.)
Fr. Simon's talk probably had my favorite title: Mommy, They're Using Our Bible. In the talk he shows how it was the Catholic Church who discerned what was in the Bible & how it wasn't until the Reformation that parts were taken out by the Protestants because they undermined their claims.
They also had 2 teen sessions. The speakers at those were Fr. Simon & Teresa Tomeo.
The day concluded with the celebration of the Mass.
These short little blurbs do not fully describe how powerfully the Holy Spirit was working throughout the day to teach, inspire, encourage & strengthen the faith of those in attendance. It was truly a blessing to be able to serve as a part of the staff helping with the weekend as well as to be able to fellowship with those in attendance.
A Little About Springtime of Hope:
The start of Springtime of Hope came about when Ruth Becker & Colleen Pasnik attended a Catholic Conference in Vandalia, IL. On the way to the conference they were talking about the lack of a Women's conference in the Archdiocese of DBQ, never thinking that God was leading them to start 1. On 6 March 2004 the 1st Martha & Mary Women's Conference was held. In the Fall of 2005 they expanded to add the 1st Spirit & Truth Conference as well as Exploring the Faith on 1st Saturdays. In 2006 they took their 1st group of High School students to a Franciscan University of Steubenville High School Youth Conference.
(Picture l-r: Fr. Simon, Colleen Pasnik, Teresa Tomeo, Ruth Becker, and Steve Ray.)

Gov. Huckabee Visits DBQ

On Friday night 14 Sept. Gov. Mike Huckabee made a stop in DBQ. He spoke at 7 pm at the Midway Hotel.
Gov. Huckabee was introduced by by Bob Vander Plaats. After giving a little of his background, the Governor went into his stands on several issues.
He called the Jihadist terrorists religious fanatics. He pointed out how dangerous they are & that we need to realize that they are waging a theological war. Part of their tactics shows how different they are from the average American. They cheer when a 14 yr old son commits suicide in the name of jihad. "We value the intrinsic worth of every life." He went on to say that whether the life is in the womb of the mother or trapped in a coal mine we value it & do everything we can to save it.
He also focused on the importance of our being independent is true only in so far as we are able to rely on ourselves to supply the basic needs, food & energy. He has great confidence in our country's ability to become energy independent, if we truly decide to do something about it.
I was very impressed with how the Governor handled himself. He showed a great sense of humor while being able to be serious at the right moment. & while it is clear that he has said these things many times before, he didn't come off as simply repeating them rotely. He was sincere in what he said.
It will be interesting to see how this "man from Hope" does as the campaign goes on. He is totally different from the last Arkansas Governor born in Hope who ran for president. & no matter how he does in the end, he will restore the luster to Hope that Clinton totally destroyed by his actions in the Governor's Mansion as well as the White House.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Oh Say Can You See?

1814 - Francis Scott Key writes a poem, Defense of Fort McHenry. We now know it as The Star Spangled Banner. It was set to the tune of the popular British drinking song, The Anacreontic Song, sometimes called by its 1st line Anacreon in Heaven. It didn't officially become our National Anthem until 3 March 1931 (46 Stat. 1508, codified at 36 USC §301) While it has 4 stanzas the 1st is usually the only 1 that is sung. I've talked before about Isaac Asimov's campaign to get us to sing a 4 stanzas. & far be it for me to not put in another plug for that campaign. Over the years it has been sung by a wide variety of people. Sometimes it has been memorable by how great a singer performed it. Other times, by how bad (Rosanne's version) the singer was. Then there is probably the most unique version of all, Jimi Hendrix performance in 1969 at Woodstock.

& here is the original song that provided the tune:

(AS an aside, it is interesting that this day produced 3 pieces of music that are all memorable with being so divergent in style.)

It's NOT Handel, But It Is a Classic

On this day in 1955 Little Richard recorded Tutti Fruiti!


OK, not quiet as important as an event on 26 Sept 1955*, but this day in 1955 also produced a classic.

*That event had a couple of shepherds roaming arround as well as the angels singing for joy

& I'll Bet This is Exactly How He Felt!

On this day in 1741 George Frederick Handel finished composingthe greatest oratorio ever:
The Messiah.

More Ugly Truth About Planned Parenthood. . . .

& the lies they tell. This time exposed by Hannity's America on Fox News.

Bowl Washing?

Are the 80s dead or alive? This is the question all at Bishop White Seminary are asking. Will these future priests prevent evil?

Actually, it could just as easily be said "Are the 60s or the 70s alive?" Unfortunately, at times the answer is "Yes!" But, there is hope! These videos give us some clues that today's seminarians are, for the most part up to the task ahead. As for that task, their preventing evil, well, I think so, if they can get past some prejudices about being over 40 & loosing the ability to be "cool".

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Canon 915 & Archbishop Raymond Burke

Archbishop Raymond Burke, Archdiocese of St Louis, is considered "one of America's sharpest canon lawyer bishops" by no less an expert than Edward N. Peters, JD, JCD (IMHO no slouch himself when it comes to canon law.) In a recent post on his blog, Dr. Peters had some high praise for an article written by Archbishop Burke "in perhaps the world's most prestigious canon law journal (Periodica de re Canonica in Rome)". In fact, Dr. Peters is so impressed by the insight shown in the article that he considers it award worthy:"Oh, how I wish someone would give a prize for "Most Important Canonical Article Published in a Peer-Reviewed Journal". I know what I would nominate for 2007."
So what was Archbishop Burke writing about? Probably 1 of the most important Canon law topics of our day: "How is Canon 915 to be properly applied to those politicians who are Catholic & support abortion?"
Canon 915 says: "Those who have been excommunicated or interdicted after the imposition or declaration of the penalty and others obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion." There has been a lot of debate on when, how or even if it should be applied to politicians like John Kerry, Nancy Pelosi etc. In 2004 Archbishop Burke came under a lot of fire for his willingness to enforce it in his diocese. After doing so, he put a lot of other bishops in a position they didn't want to be in. & now, he is at it again.
1 of the bishops he takes on is Cardinal Mahony (Here we go again, Cardinal Mahony not accurately teaching the truths of the Church.). But he also is willing to take on the entire US Conference of Catholic Bishops. In response to Archbishop Burke's 2004 statement, the US Bishops issued "Catholics in Political Life" at their June meeting. Archbishop Burke says the statement "failed to take account of the clear requirement to exclude from Holy Communion those who, after appropriate admonition, obstinately persist in supporting publicly legislation which is contrary to the natural moral law."
Archbishop Burke makes it clear that he wrote this article for 1 purpose only. "In the midst of what must objectively be called confusion, it seems best to study the history of the legislation articulated in can. 915, in order to understand the Church's constant practice and the mind of Pope John Paul II, the legislator of the 1983 Code of Canon Law."
Some parts of the article will be a little to scholarly for those who don't have a canon law background. However, the main points are clearly understandable by all. Thus no 1 has an excuse not to read it. (link below) Archbishop Burke looks at the history of the dicipline of who is & isn't admitted to Communion. He also looks at the Eastern Code of Canons & what it has to say on the subject. In particular he points out Canon 712 : "Those who are publicly unworthy are forbidden from receiving the Divine Eucharist."
Archbishop Burke ends the article with a clarion call to all bishops to do their job & enforce canon 915. "(T)he discipline must be applied in order to avoid serious scandal, for example, the erroneous acceptance of procured abortion against the constant teaching of the moral law. No matter how often a Bishop or priest repeats the teaching of the Church regarding procured abortion, if he stands by and does nothing to discipline a Catholic who publicly supports legislation permitting the gravest of injustices and, at the same time, presents himself to receive Holy Communion, then his teaching rings hollow. To remain silent is to permit serious confusion regarding a fundamental truth of the moral law. Confusion, of course, is one of the most insidious fruits of scandalous behavior.
I am deeply aware of the difficulty which is involved in applying the discipline of can. 915. I am not surprised by it and do not believe that anyone should be surprised. Surely, the discipline has never been easy to apply. But what is at stake for the Church demands the wisdom and courage of shepherds who will apply it.
The United States of America is a thoroughly secularized society which canonizes radical individualism and relativism, even before the natural moral law. The application, therefore, is more necessary than ever, lest the faithful, led astray by the strong cultural trends of relativism, be deceived concerning the supreme good of the Holy Eucharist and the gravity of supporting publicly the commission of intrinsically evil acts. Catholics in public office bear an especially heavy burden of responsibility to uphold the moral law in the exercise of their office which is exercised for the common good, especially the good of the innocent and defenseless. When they fail, they lead others, Catholics and non-Catholics alike, to be deceived regarding the evils of procured abortion and other attacks on innocent and defenseless human life, on the integrity of human procreation, and on the family. "
Mille Grazie Archbishop Burke for being a true shepherd. Thank you for having the courage to do what you need to do in proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

September 11th--Never Forget

At Least I'll Give 'em Pop!

The difference between how the UN is ending poverty in the 3rd World (by killing people off) v how the Church really treats the people there (born & unborn) with respect & dignity:

Thanks to those seminarians at the Institute for Priestly Formation.

Papa Benedetto's Screen Test for the Next Monty Python Movie

NOOBODY expects zee Bavawian inquisition!...
(Photo: Gerald Augustinus, caption: adapted from 1 by MM from Brooklyn)

Fr. Corapi on 9-11









(Video added 12 Sept 2007 - 5:03 pm)

Monday, September 10, 2007

Pro-Life Memorial Day 2007

3 weeks from today (1 Oct) is the 3rd annual American Life League Pro-Life Memorial Day. What is it? & why participate? Here is ALL's explanation:
American Life League will honor the millions of preborn children who have lost their lives to abortion with its third annual Pro-life Memorial Day on October 1. The day is chosen because it is the first Monday in October, the day the U.S. Supreme Court begins its annual session. It was the Supreme Court that decriminalized abortion in a pair of 1973 rulings.
“Annually, Pro-life Memorial Day successfully raises awareness about the war that is being waged on the preborn in this country,” said Judie Brown, president of American Life League. “To date, more than 48 million children have been lost to surgical abortion and millions more to chemical abortion. The slaughter must end now.”
Nationwide participation is expected as individuals are asked to mark the event with local prayer services and community pro-life events. Participants are also invited to wear shirts with pro-life messages to show unity within the pro-life movement across the country.
“American Life League is asking pro-lifers from state to state to join us in honoring the innocent children who have fallen victim to the number one killer in this country – abortion,” said Brown. “Whether in Washington, D.C. or in small towns across the country, we invite pro-lifers to take time on October 1 to pray for an end to the scourge of abortion that has savaged our nation for the past 34 years.”
ALL also has as a goal " to make the first Monday in October a permanent day of remembrance for those killed by abortion. We must keep up that effort to see this day established as an official national commemoration. We're doing this because a day of remembrance for the slaughtered innocent is long overdue. It's also the right thing to do."
To do so they are gathering signatures on a petition to have President Bush declare the 1st Monday in October You can sign the petition on-line, or print out copies & pass them arround.
You can also order the T-Shirt &/or other items to wear on 1 Oct. (I wear my shirts from previous ALL events shirts regularly. The message is equally important every other day of the year.) They also have plenty of other suggestions of things to do on this day on the Memorial Day website.
Being you person you may not see your actions of having an effect. That isn't true. You don't know who you might touch, & in doing so help prevent an abortion & save a life. 1 person can do something. & when combined with the efforts of others the effect is multiplied.
The battle to build a "Culture of Life" needs all of us to do our part. Despite what Planned Parenthood & others claim, abortion is not a human right, LIFE IS! This is a chance to help end this “deep wound in society”.

Ciao, Maestro due

On Saturday (9 Sept) Luiciano Pavarotti was laid to rest after a wake & funeral at the Modena Duomo, The Basilica of Our Lady of the Assumption, (right). He was laid out before the altar in an open white casket lined in opera-house red velvet, wearing a white tie and tails and holding his signature white handkerchief and a rosary. Besides the casket was was a posy of pink roses from Alice, his youngest daughter, as well as a drawing for her father signed in shaky capital letters. It is estimated that about 100,000 people went past the casket to pay their respects.
While not a state funeral it had all the trappings of one with Prime Minister Romano Prodi & former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan in attendance. Others attending the funeral included Bono, Zucchero, film and opera director Franco Zeffirelli, & Andrea Boccelli. The main celebrant & homilist was Archbishop Benito Cocchi, head of the Modena-Nonantola Archdiocese.
Some criticism arose about the appropriateness of giving him a Catholic funeral as he was divorced & remarried. "Pavarotti's parish priest, Father Remo Sartori, said the twice-married singer had been reconciled with the Catholic faith of his childhood and had received the last rites before losing his battle against pancreatic cancer last Thursday, aged 71.", according to a report in The Sunday Herald.
Papa Benedetto (himself a great music lover) sent a telegram signed in the Pope's name by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, secretary of state, that was read at the beginning of the Mass. It said: "Apprised of the sad news of the passing of the tenor Luciano Pavarotti the Pontiff expresses sentiments of grief over the death of the great artist who, with his extraordinary interpretive talent, honored the divine gift of music.
In entrusting his soul to the mercy of God, the Holy Father asks, for his family and those who held him dear, the support of Christian hope which alone can relieve the sorrow for the grave loss and he gives to you and those participating in the funeral rites the comforting apostolic blessing."
Here is the British News coverage of the funeral:
I have to add a comment at the conclusion of this about the criticism of his having a Catholic funeral. Even before I read the news report, I suspected that he had been reconciled to the Church. & in doing so, to God. The Church exists to enable people to reconcile to God. The rules are there to show the consequences of sin & how it seperates you from God. The Church is always willing to welcome a person back to God in His Name if they are truly repentant & desire reconciliation with God. This is clearly what happenned in this case.
As for any criticism about it being a deathbed conversion, I say "SO WHAT?!" My answer to that is found in the Gospel of Luke (23:39-43), where the good thief repents from the Cross. It is never too late to repent as long as a person still is alive. & it not our place to judge the sincerity of the person's heart. We need to leave his soul to the Mercy of God.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Papa Benedetto - "Abortion cannot be a human right!"

On Friday, 7 Sept 2007 Papa Benedetto met at the Hofburg Imperial Palace(right) in Vienna with the Austrian President, Chancellor, Members of the Federal Government, Deputies to the National Council and Members of the Federal Council, Presidents of the Provinces, Members of the Diplomatic Corps, & other guests. At that meeting he gave an address to those gathered there. Part of his address focused on 2 major life issues, abortion & "actively assisted death" (suicide). He made it clear that to allow these things to occur is a betrayal of human rights as well as the history of Europe. He ALSO made it clear that society needs to develop a culture that respects & supports life from conception to natural death.
Here is that portion of the address:

"It was in Europe that the notion of human rights was first formulated. The fundamental human right, the presupposition of every other right, is the right to life itself. This is true of life from the moment of conception until its natural end. Abortion, consequently, cannot be a human right – it is the very opposite. It is “a deep wound in society”, as the late Cardinal Franz König never tired of repeating.

In stating this, I am not expressing a specifically ecclesial concern. Rather, I wish to act as an advocate for a profoundly human need, speaking out on behalf of those unborn children who have no voice. In doing so, I do not close my eyes to the difficulties and the conflicts which many women are experiencing, and I realize that the credibility of what we say also depends on what the Church herself is doing to help women in trouble.
In this context, then, I appeal to political leaders not to allow children to be considered as a form of illness, nor to abolish in practice your legal system’s acknowledgment that abortion is wrong. I say this out of a concern for humanity. But that is only one side of this disturbing problem. The other is the need to do everything possible to make European countries once again open to welcoming children. Encourage young married couple to establish new families and to become mothers and fathers! You will not only assist them, but you will benefit society as a whole. I also decisively support you in your political efforts to favour conditions enabling young couples to raise children. Yet all this will be pointless, unless we can succeed in creating once again in our countries a climate of joy and confidence in life, a climate in which children are not seen as a burden, but rather as a gift for all.

Another great concern of mine is the debate on what has been termed “actively assisted death”. It is to be feared that at some point the gravely ill or elderly will be subjected to tacit or even explicit pressure to request death or to administer it to themselves. The proper response to end-of-life suffering is loving care and accompaniment on the journey towards death – especially with the help of palliative care – and not “actively assisted death”. But if humane accompaniment on the journey towards death is to prevail, structural reforms would be needed in every area of the social and healthcare system, as well as organized structures of palliative care. Concrete steps would also have to be taken: in the psychological and pastoral accompaniment of the seriously ill and dying, their family members, and physicians and healthcare personnel. In this field the hospice movement has done wonders. The totality of these tasks, however, cannot be delegated to it alone. Many other people need to be prepared or encouraged in their willingness to spare neither time nor expense in loving care for the gravely ill and dying. "

Papa Benedetto's Homily at Mariazell - 8 Sept 2007

Saturday, 8 September 2007
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
With our great pilgrimage to Mariazell, we are celebrating the patronal feast of this Shrine, the feast of Our Lady’s Birthday. For 850 years pilgrims have been travelling here from different peoples and nations; they come to pray for the intentions of their hearts and their homelands, bringing their deepest hopes and concerns. In this way Mariazell has become a place of peace and reconciled unity, not only for Austria, but far beyond her borders. Here we experience the consoling kindness of the Madonna. Here we meet Jesus Christ, in whom God is with us, as today’s Gospel reminds us – Jesus, of whom we have just heard in the reading from the prophet Micah: “He himself will be peace” (5:4). Today we join in the great centuries-old pilgrimage. We rest awhile with the Mother of the Lord, and we pray to her: Show us Jesus. Show to us pilgrims the one who is both the way and the destination: the truth and the life.
The Gospel passage we have just heard broadens our view. It presents the history of Israel from Abraham onwards as a pilgrimage, which, with its ups and downs, its paths and detours, leads us finally to Christ. The genealogy with its light and dark figures, its successes and failures, shows us that God can write straight even on the crooked lines of our history. God allows us our freedom, and yet in our failures he can always find new paths for his love. God does not fail. Hence this genealogy is a guarantee of God’s faithfulness; a guarantee that God does not allow us to fall, and an invitation to direct our lives ever anew towards him, to walk ever anew towards Jesus Christ.
Making a pilgrimage means setting out in a particular direction, travelling towards a destination. This gives a beauty of its own even to the journey and to the effort involved. Among the pilgrims of Jesus’s genealogy there were many who forgot the goal and wanted to make themselves the goal. Again and again, though, the Lord called forth people whose longing for the goal drove them forward, people who directed their whole lives towards it. The awakening of the Christian faith, the dawning of the Church of Jesus Christ was made possible, because there were people in Israel whose hearts were searching – people who did not rest content with custom, but who looked further ahead, in search of something greater: Zechariah, Elizabeth, Simeon, Anna, Mary and Joseph, the Twelve and many others. Because their hearts were expectant, they were able to recognize in Jesus the one whom God had sent, and thus they could become the beginning of his worldwide family. The Church of the Gentiles was made possible, because both in the Mediterranean area and in those parts of Asia to which the messengers of Jesus travelled, there were expectant people who were not satisfied by what everyone around them was doing and thinking, but who were seeking the star which could show them the way towards Truth itself, towards the living God.
We too need an open and restless heart like theirs. This is what pilgrimage is all about. Today as in the past, it is not enough to be more or less like everyone else and to think like everyone else. Our lives have a deeper purpose. We need God, the God who has shown us his face and opened his heart to us: Jesus Christ. Saint John rightly says of him that only he is God and rests close to the Father’s heart (cf. Jn 1:18); thus only he, from deep within God himself, could reveal God to us – reveal to us who we are, from where we come and where we are going. Certainly, there are many great figures in history who have had beautiful and moving experiences of God. Yet these are still human experiences, and therefore finite. Only HE is God and therefore only HE is the bridge that truly brings God and man together. So if we Christians call him the one universal Mediator of salvation, valid for everyone and, ultimately, needed by everyone, this does not mean that we despise other religions, nor are we arrogantly absolutizing our own ideas; on the contrary, it means that we are gripped by him who has touched our hearts and lavished gifts upon us, so that we, in turn, can offer gifts to others. In fact, our faith is decisively opposed to the attitude of resignation that considers man incapable of truth – as if this were more than he could cope with. This attitude of resignation with regard to truth, I am convinced, lies at the heart of the crisis of the West, the crisis of Europe. If truth does not exist for man, then neither can he ultimately distinguish between good and evil. And then the great and wonderful discoveries of science become double-edged: they can open up significant possibilities for good, for the benefit of mankind, but also, as we see only too clearly, they can pose a terrible threat, involving the destruction of man and the world. We need truth. Yet admittedly, in the light of our history we are fearful that faith in the truth might entail intolerance. If we are gripped by this fear, which is historically well grounded, then it is time to look towards Jesus as we see him in the shrine at Mariazell. We see him here in two images: as the child in his Mother’s arms, and above the high altar of the Basilica as the Crucified. These two images in the Basilica tell us this: truth prevails not through external force, but it is humble and it yields itself to man only via the inner force of its veracity. Truth proves itself in love. It is never our property, never our product, just as love can never be produced, but only received and handed on as a gift. We need this inner force of truth. As Christians we trust this force of truth. We are its witnesses. We must hand it on as a gift in the same way as we have received it, as it has given itself to us.
“To gaze upon Christ” is the motto of this day. For one who is searching, this summons repeatedly turns into a spontaneous plea, a plea addressed especially to Mary, who has given us Christ as her Son: “Show us Jesus!” Let us make this prayer today with our whole heart; let us make this prayer above and beyond the present moment, as we inwardly seek the Face of the Redeemer. “Show us Jesus!” Mary responds, showing him to us in the first instance as a child. God has made himself small for us. God comes not with external force, but he comes in the powerlessness of his love, which is where his true strength lies. He places himself in our hands. He asks for our love. He invites us to become small ourselves, to come down from our high thrones and to learn to be childlike before God. He speaks to us informally. He asks us to trust him and thus to learn how to live in truth and love. The child Jesus naturally reminds us also of all the children in the world, in whom he wishes to come to us. Children who live in poverty; who are exploited as soldiers; who have never been able to experience the love of parents; sick and suffering children, but also those who are joyful and healthy. Europe has become child-poor: we want everything for ourselves, and place little trust in the future. Yet the earth will be deprived of a future only when the forces of the human heart and of reason illuminated by the heart are extinguished – when the face of God no longer shines upon the earth. Where God is, there is the future.
“To gaze upon Christ”: let us look briefly now at the Crucified One above the high altar. God saved the world not by the sword, but by the Cross. In dying, Jesus extends his arms. This, in the first place, is the posture of the Passion, in which he lets himself be nailed to the Cross for us, in order to give us his life. Yet outstretched arms are also the posture of one who prays, the stance assumed by the priest when he extends his arms in prayer: Jesus transformed the Passion, his suffering and his death, into prayer, and in this way he transformed it into an act of love for God and for humanity. That, finally, is why the outstretched arms of the Crucified One are also a gesture of embracing, by which he draws us to himself, wishing to enfold us in his loving hands. In this way he is an image of the living God, he is God himself, and we may entrust ourselves to him.
“To gaze upon Christ!” If we do this, we realize that Christianity is more than and different from a moral code, from a series of requirements and laws. It is the gift of a friendship that lasts through life and death: “No longer do I call you servants, but friends” (Jn 15:15), the Lord says to his disciples. We entrust ourselves to this friendship. Yet precisely because Christianity is more than a moral system, because it is the gift of friendship, for this reason it also contains within itself great moral strength, which is so urgently needed today on account of the challenges of our time. If with Jesus Christ and his Church we constantly re-read the Ten Commandments of Sinai, entering into their full depth, then a great, valid and lasting teaching unfolds before us. The Ten Commandments are first and foremost a “yes” to God, to a God who loves us and leads us, who carries us and yet allows us our freedom: indeed, it is he who makes our freedom real (the first three commandments). It is a “yes” to the family (fourth commandment), a “yes” to life (fifth commandment), a “yes” to responsible love (sixth commandment), a “yes” to solidarity, to social responsibility and to justice (seventh commandment), a “yes” to truth (eighth commandment) and a “yes” to respect for other people and for what is theirs (ninth and tenth commandments). By the strength of our friendship with the living God we live this manifold “yes” and at the same time we carry it as a signpost into this world of ours today.
“Show us Jesus!” It was with this plea to the Mother of the Lord that we set off on our journey here. This same plea will accompany us as we return to our daily lives. And we know that Mary hears our prayer: yes, whenever we look towards Mary, she shows us Jesus. Thus we can find the right path, we can follow it step by step, filled with joyful confidence that the path leads into the light – into the joy of eternal Love. Amen.

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