Wednesday, November 24, 2010

"The pope smiled" - The Deacon's Bench

"The pope smiled" - The Deacon's Bench

The debate over the Popes comments on the use of condoms is causing quite a stir. This stirring the of pot so to speak, like the attached article states, seems to have been the point all along. In this case, the issue (i.e the intent) is not about birth control, it is about the spread of disease. A lesson in classic moral theology (the act - the intent - the circumstances).

Monday, November 22, 2010

Book of Wisdom

Does this passage from Book of Wisdom (Wisdom 2:1-11) not speak of the world in which we live?

They who said among themselves, thinking not aright: "Brief and troublous is our lifetime; neither is there any remedy for man's dying, nor is anyone known to have come back from the nether world. For haphazard were we born, and hereafter we shall be as though we had not been; Because the breath in our nostrils is a smoke and reason is a spark at the beating of our hearts, and when this is quenched, our body will be ashes and our spirit will be poured abroad like unresisting air.

Even our name will be forgotten in time, and no one will recall our deeds. So our life will pass away like the traces of a cloud, and will be dispersed like a mist pursued by the sun's rays and overpowered by its heat. For our lifetime is the passing of a shadow; and our dying cannot be deferred because it is fixed with a seal; and no one returns.

Come, therefore, let us enjoy the good things that are real, and use the freshness of creation avidly. Let us have our fill of costly wine and perfumes, and let no springtime blossom pass us by; let us crown ourselves with rosebuds ere they wither.

Let no meadow be free from our wantonness; everywhere let us leave tokens of our rejoicing, for this our portion is, and this our lot. Let us oppress the needy just man; let us neither spare the widow nor revere the old man for his hair grown white with time. But let our strength be our norm of justice; for weakness proves itself useless.

Even 2,000 years ago it was clear that any social structure or world view that chooses to deny God and the sanctity of life will lead to the destruction of that society and allow injustice to reign over the most venerable of our brothers and sisters.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

End of Another Year

Yesterday was the end of another academic year for my formation class. This again has been both a wonderful and difficult year at the same time. It seems everyone in class struggled with some of the academics but most notably in our personal lives. From the death of parents, the illness of our children and our own personal struggles with health, we have all felt like what Fr Tim called "being in the olive press". There was a real sense of exhaustion. However, I think that there was a consensus that it would have been more difficult year without the support of our formation family and with the strengthening of our faith that the formation process has provided us with.

We also lost another classmate this year. Although he is leaving our class, he will be moving to Missouri and has already been accepted into their current formation program. Alan will be missed but we know he will be with us in spirit. That gets us down to 12 from the original 16 we had in our class.

The most pleasant surprise was that the Deacon in charge of formation came in and spoke to us about next year and preparations for ordination. After four years of study, we can now see the light at the end of the tunnel. It is almost surreal.

So now, after all of the tests, papers, and presentations, we are ready for a break; to rest and recharge for the upcoming year. And for the first time in many years, we will be able to take full advantage of Advent (classes no longer end in mid-December) and all that this season offers (thanks Deacon Steve). I will certainly make the most of it.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Sunrise, Edisto , SC II

As my sister-in-law says: YEAH GOD!!!!
Sunrise at Edisto, SC

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Fr O'Reilly Saves Atlanta Churches on This Day

146 years ago, Fr Thomas O'Reilly, a Catholic priest at Immaculate Conception parish in Atlanta, is credited with saving several churches and residences in Atlanta from destruction by Federal troops that were occupying the city. The orders, from General Sherman, required the destruction of all structures in the city. A report filed by Confederate officials after the event stated.

"The City Hall is damaged but not burned. The Second Baptist, Second (Central) Presbyterian, Trinity and Catholic churches and all the residences adjacent between Mitchell and Peters (Trinity Avenue) streets, running south of east, and Loyd and Washington streets running south of west, are safe, all attributable to Father O'Reilly, who refused to give up his parsonage to Yankee officers, who were looking out for fine houses for quarters, and there being a large number of Catholics in the Yankee army, who volunteered to protect their Church and Parsonage, and would not allow any houses adjacent to be fired that would endanger them. As proof of their attachment to their Church and love for Father O'Reilly, a soldier who attempted to fire Col. Calhoun's house, the burning of which would have endangered the whole block was shot and killed, and his grave is now marked. So to Father O'Reilly the country is indebted for the protection of the City Hall, Churches, etc."
During reconstruction of the city, a new Immaculate Conception parish was planned under the guidance and direction of Fr O'Reilly. It remains one of the most beautiful churches in Atlanta.

Fr O'Reilly is truly one of Atlanta's early heroes.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Happy Guy Fawkes Day

Remember, remember the Fifth of November,
The Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.
Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, 'twas his intent
To blow up the King and Parli'ment.
Three-score barrels of powder below
To prove old England's overthrow;
By God's providence [or By God's mercy] he was catch'd
With a dark lantern and burning match.
Hulloa boys, Hulloa boys, let the bells ring.
Hulloa boys, hulloa boys, God save the King!

Today is the anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot where Guy Fawkes and several conspirators attempted to blow up Parliament, with King James inside. Guy Fawkes is considered by many to be the only person to ever enter Parliament with honest intentions.

On the serious side, this is a time to remember that politics and religion do not tend to mix very well.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Gender and Christian Anthropology

In my Christian Anthropology class, we have been studying what it is to be human from a Christian perspective. Recently in one of our classes, we were discussing the break-down of the nuclear family. I was struck by this quote from Archbishop Robert Sarah at the Synod of African Bishops in October 2009.

The theory of gender is a western socializing ideology in relations between men and women, which attaches itself to the marital identity of the human being to the anthropological complementary between man and woman, to marriage, to motherhood and fatherhood, to the family and to procreation. It is contrary of African culture and to the human truths illuminated by the divine revelations of Jesus Christ. The idea of gender separates the biological sex of masculine and feminine identity in stating that it is not intrinsic to the person, but is a social construct.

In the name of this ideology, which denies God’s plan, it is stated that from the start we are indeterminate; society models the masculine and feminine gender according to changing choices of the individual. The right to choose is the supreme value of this new ethic.

In African culture, man is nothing without woman and woman is nothing without man. Both are nothing if the child isn’t the center of the family created by a man and a woman and the base of society. Ideology of gender unbalances the meaning of marital and family life that Africa has maintained until now.

How did we get here and how do we change course?

As an aside, Archbishop Sarah was named "Cardinal" last month by Pope Benedict.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Martyrdom of Catholic Healthcare in America

The title may sound alarmist but I feel that is exactly what is happening in America. I feel this is due to increased competition and the ever expanding role of hospitals providing services that are contrary to teachings of the Catholic Church. The services are, arguably, required in the new health-care legislation passed by congress this year.

It is truly martyrdom because these institutions are being closed, not because of the quality of the services they provide, but for what they refuse to provide. These hospital have a choice, provide services that are contrary to their moral foundation or die. I think many, if not most, will choose to die rather than provide services mandated by our culture of death .

We have a situation in Atlanta where St Josephs Hospital is, for all intents and purposes, being forced to close its doors as a Catholic institution . This institution was founded by the Sisters of Mercy in 1880 and is the oldest hospital in Atlanta. Attempts at mergers have failed due to issues of "governance and operational disagreements" (in my opinion, code words for St Josephs refusal to provide services contrary to Catholic teaching). This situation at St Josephs is personal because not only have I seen the quality of the medical services provided by this hospital; but more importantly by the compassion of the hospital staff. One month ago, my mother was admitted to this hospital due to complications from ovarian cancer. She died in the intensive care unit. The level of compassion exhibited by the staff during this difficult time cannot be understated. They knew the sacredness of what was happening and treated it as such. To have a Catholic priest, who is on staff at the hospital, anoint my mother at death is not something you get in any hospital. For the rest of my life I will be thankful for the love and tenderness they showed my family during this difficult time. The closing of this great Catholic hospital will be a great loss for the City of Atlanta.

What will become of Catholic health care in America? I pray that there will somehow be a re-birth of these institutions, where the traditions started by people like the Sisters of Mercy at St Josephs will continue.

My Favorite Churches

The Dom: Cologne, Germany