So Much for “Pro-Choice”

November 30, 2009

Forced abortion – violence warning



This should be spread far and wide. From LifeNews, a report of a lawsuit against an abortionist who had a woman forcibly restrained after she withdrew permission for an abortion.


Bookmark for follow up

November 30, 2009

A woman (Mechelle Tallulah Hall) was charged with second degree assault for holding a knife to the throat of a pro-lifer handing out pamphlets.  Hall said she did it “because I’m certified crazy.” Odd occurrence, doesn’t fit with the violence against pro-lifers I’ve read.  This is basically a note to myself to see how this develops.

Be Still in Silence – Advent Vespers

November 28, 2009

EWTN carried the papal first Vespers of Advent today. I recognized in the opening hymn the melody of Creator of the Stars of Night, a personal favorite.

Pope Benedict began his homily on various meanings of  the word Advent: presence, arrival, coming.  One obvious one is waiting for the coming of Jesus.  Another one is presence, which if I remember correctly, he mentioned presence  in the liturgy.  He mentioned that “we are absorbed by ‘doing'” and that “‘doing’ possesses us” (both of which I thought were apt in this busy season. Then Pope Benedict said, ” Be still in silence” and I lost the rest of what he said as the phrase had my full attention.

“Be still in silence.” Pope Benedict very likely went on to contrast the silence of prayer with the external busy-ness of doing, a theme frequently heard in Advent homilies.

“Be still in silence.” Here in upstate New York, in one way that’s easy to do as December is a time of snowfalls. There’s a stillness and a silence the morning after a snowfall when everything is blanketed in glistening snow.  Stillness and silence are particularly notable when we’ve had a few snowfalls and the streetscape has softer edges of snowbanks and mounds of snow on tree branches. There’s a a deepness of stillness and silence with the snow on the ground and the stars above.

“Be still in silence.” The phrase also reminded me of Catherine de Hueck Doherty’s book Poustinia, which is subtitled Encountering God in Silence, Solitude and Prayer Instead of snowfall, poustinia is the Russian word for “desert” and the book is about going into the desert of prayer.  Although most of us can’t spend all day in a poustinia cabin, the Madonna House website book description states “Catherine emphasizes ‘poustinia of the heart,’ an interiorized poustinia, a silent chamber carried always and everywhere in which to contemplate God within.'”

From my time at Madonna House, I know that “poustinia of the heart”  is having internal silence free from the  noise of worries and fears, resentments and angers, jealousies and insecurities.”  All those tend to create noisiness and one must clear them out in order to listen to God.

Advent, being a time of preparation, is a good time to do that.

Advent and the Battle of Liturgical versus Commercial Seasons

November 27, 2009

Tomorrow evening is the first vespers for the season of Advent – and my yearly battle to keep to the liturgical calendar. 

The commercial season of Christmas gets into full swing. You can hardly avoid it given that Christmas commercials air during every program, the local news broadcasts have Christmas related stories, ads for performances of the Nutcracker, classic Christmas movies on television that started last week, and not even able to go grocery shopping without listening to Christmas music.   No wonder people are willing to be done with Christmas by 3pm on December 25.  By that time, they’ve been inundated with Christmas for a solid six to eight weeks. It drives me up a wall.

Finally, I figured out a way to maintain my own sense of the liturgical seasons.  Starting on first vespers of Advent, I listen to the Advent music on a CD by Madonna House: 

“Of the Father’s Love Begotten,” “O Come Divine Messiah,” and “Gabriel’s Message” are wonderful songs to stay in anticipation mode. Other than pulling out a wreath, I don’t even put my tabletop tree up until the 17th at which point I add “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” and the “O Antiphons.” 

On the 24th and for the entire octave, I’ll play the Christmas vespers in the evening.  By then, the rest of the world is done with Christmas, so that’s when I pull out my Christmas music. I turn off my usual classical music station and just listen to Christmas music at least until Epiphany.

If you have other ways of keeping Advent and Christmas in their proper place in the calendar, I’d be interested in hearing about them.

Big Brother FTC disclaimer: No, I don’t get material benefit from mentioning this CD.


November 26, 2009

Much to be thankful for
Today, everyone in the U.S. focuses on the Thanksgiving holiday.  Most of us, surrounded by family around a table filled with abundance, will find it easy to see how much we have to be thankful for.  Some will be eating, or serving, Thanksgiving dinner in one of the many churches or other groups that cook a hot Thanksgiving dinner for those who otherwise would not have one. I know of families with children who, either one time or each year, help to serve those dinners. Shut-ins might have something prepared by a neighbor and those in nursing homes or jail will also have a holiday meal.

Unfortunately, the holiday won’t be the picture perfect happy time for everyone.  For some, it will be the sharp sense of absence of the first Thanksgiving without a loved one who died in the past year.  In too many families, the holiday season is an occasion of conflict, ranging from arguments to violence, or perhaps just plain neglect.

Some people will be working today as they perform services that are needed 24/7: hospital staff, police, firefighters.  Others are on-call during the holiday. And of course, our military troops serving away from home may get a holiday dinner, but that’s not the same as being with family.

My own list of thanksgiving includes being able to practice the fullness of my faith and give thanks to ever providential God, family who are as healthy as can be expected, friends who have been there in good times and not so good times, a local Catholic community providing soil for growth, Pope Benedict XVI who is right on top of shepherding (I puffy heart my German shepherd), fairly healthy, and while several massive challenges still lie ahead, being able to say that I have what I need.

“In all things, give thanks”
The NAB version of 1 Thessalonians 5:18 is “In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.”  It may not be God’s ideal will, but it is at least God’s permissive will and “We know that all things work for good for those who love God,  who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

Although I write mostly on Catholic topics and people, an example of both verses that particularly stands out for me is a non-Catholic Christian named Corrie ten Boom. I’ll have to rely on memory because I don’t have access to the book that tells the story, but general information about her can be found in her Wikipedia entry.

Corrie ten Boom’s family was very religious and hid Jews from the Nazis.  Eventually the family was betrayed and sent to concentration camps. Corrie and her sister Betsie eventually went to Ravensbruck where the conditions were as horrible as Auschwitz/Oswiecim. When herded to where the room for them and numerous other women, they discovered the sleeping mattresses were swarming with fleas. 

Betsie started to give thanks but Corrie (to paraphrase) said, “No way am I going to give thanks for fleas!” Betsie reminded her of the verse to give thanks for all things and Corrie eventually said okay and gave thanks even for the fleas.

 The two sisters  had somehow managed to smuggle a small Bible into the camp, but they could’ve been executed for having “meetings.” They did so anyway, bringing Christ to women in great suffering and likely to die, all the time wondering why the guards let them alone. One day, Betsie excitedly told Corrie she’d learned why the guards left them alone. It was because of the fleas. The guards wouldn’t step into the room because of the fleas. Because of the fleas, Betsie and Corrie brought Christ to women before they died.

And so, I’m learning to be thankful even for the “fleas” in my life, knowing that God can bring good out of everything.

Kingship and Stewardship

November 23, 2009

Yesterday was the solemnity of Christ the King.  I started a post, dropped it, then decided I couldn’t let the day go without mention.

Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings is bursting with Catholic imagery even without a single direct reference to God or religion.  I’ll try to minimize any spoilers as there are still some people who have not read the books.

Before reading LOTR, I had some understanding of kingship, which the story line probably deepened. But stewardship was nothing more than a word until I read of Denethor’s stewardship of the city of Gondor. He ruled in the stead of, in place of, the king until the king’s return.  (Your bonus for today is that you now know the origin of the word “instead”.)  He was responsible for making sure the city was safe, secure, and in good working order so that he could hand it over to the king on the king’s return. 

Possible SPOILER alert: Denethor turned out to be a bad steward, but his son Faramir gave the example of a good steward.

Since we’re called to be stewards until Jesus’ second coming,  the idea of keeping our corner of the world (and sometimes beyond) safe, secure, and in good working order according to spiritual principles has helped formed my idea of stewardship.

Catching up on the news

November 21, 2009

Great news: Fr. Michael Sinnott was freed by his kidnappers – thanks be to God!  Three Moro Islamic Liberation Front members have been charged with his kidnapping. 

Sad news: Fr. Sysoyev, a Russian Orthodox priest, was murdered in his church in Moscow. Fr. Sysoyev was well-known for his work with Muslims for which he had received death threats.

Worrisome news: the hearing for Rifqa Bary, who converted from to Christianity from Islam, has apparently been postponed until Dec. 22.  What is worrisome is the secrecy and that she is basically under house arrest. More at AtlasShrugs.

Good news from the Catholic Bishops’ conference: the bishops approved the English translation of the Roman Missal and  overwhelmingly voted against Bishop Trautman’s attempt at further delay.

Sweet news: during a break at the bishops’ conference, Cardinal Regali gave final closure to the World Series by presenting a case of Tastykakes to Archbishop Dolan. The Tastykakes were undoubtedly fresher than this news round-up.