Saturday, September 05, 2009

Are there bishops in heaven?

"Dad, are there bishops in heaven?"

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"We hope so honey, but we only know for sure that those who have been canonized are there - that is why we have to pray so hard for them."
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"Oh! Oh! Dad! Are there bishops in hell then?"

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"Hon, again, nobody knows for sure, but from the sounds of it, quite a few bishops don't think anyone is there at all."

Stepping back...

Thom of Ad Dominum blog alerted me to Bishop Morlino's take on the Kennedy funeral. The following are excerpts from what the Bishop of Madison wrote for his Bishop's Column in the Diocesan paper.
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I’m afraid that for not a few Catholics, the funeral rites for Senator Kennedy were a source of scandal — that is, quite literally, led them into sin. From not a few corners has come the question, “how on earth could Teddy Kennedy be buried from the Church?” There have also been expressions from some, that “whatever happens in Church, Senator Kennedy will now face justice, which will lead him inside the gates of Hell.”
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The death of Senator Kennedy has called forth at least an apparent rejection of mercy on the part of not a few Catholics. On the cross of Christ, God’s justice came into conflict with God’s mercy. God’s justice was fully satisfied, but mercy triumphed in the conflict, according to the teaching of Pope Benedict. Without denying any misdeeds on the part of Senator Kennedy, the Church, seeking to reflect the face of Christ, proclaimed God’s mercy for the whole world to see in a subdued but unmistakable way. It was more than appropriate.
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It is so important at this time that our Catholic homes and families re-emphasize their role as schools of mercy, not at the expense of justice, and not at the expense of Truth, but recognizing that Jesus Christ gave His body to be broken and His blood to be poured out, so that there might be mercy. This is the reason for our devotion, through the inspiration of Sister Faustina and its confirmation by Pope John Paul II, to the Divine Mercy prayers, which I hope are becoming more prominent and more frequently practiced in our homes and in our parishes. - Read the entire statement here: Bishop's Column

Friday, September 04, 2009

Perseverance


The Little Brothers of St. Francis of Boston
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Last evening I watched a YouTube video on their life which contains an excellent interview with Br. James, the founder of the community, unfortunately embedding has been disabled, so I will link to it here - watch it if you can.
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The brothers gave me shelter as I began my pilgrimage from the Trappists to Europe many years ago. At the time, the community had already been established for a few years and if I remember correctly there were 3 friars in addition to Br. James. Their religious life is virtually unchanged since then. The brothers live a contemplative life within their hermitage in Boston's Roxbury/Mission Hill district. They also minister to the poor and homeless who live on the street or in shelters in Boston. Their ministry is one of prayer and presence. They do not house the poor, they simply live amongst them and befriend them. Their focus is Eucharistic adoration. In this they resemble the followers of Blessed Charles de Foucauld.
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O Lord, my God, who will seek you with simple and pure love, and not find that you are all one can desire, for you show yourself first and go out to meet those who seek you? - John of the Cross
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Yet more expressly, the Brothers communal life is more reminiscent of the earliest companions of St. Francis, and I think this is what Br. James envisioned from the very beginning. It is so simple that the efficacy is often missed by those of us who expect great works and deeds - often in terms of social work - bettering the conditions of the poor, treating the alcoholism and drug addictions of the homeless, establishing listening houses and soup kitchens for the hungry. But there are facilities in Boston for all of that.
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Think not that pleasing God lies so much in doing a great deal as in doing it with good will, without possessiveness and human respect. - John of the Cross
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The Brothers instead go directly to the street. They just show up. Some have called it "house calls to the homeless". A guy might be sleeping under a cardboard box and look up, and in his hangover haze he sees two followers of St. Francis the fool, smiling back saying, "Good morning brother!" And they visit, they listen, they may get him some coffee, offer him a sandwich, if it is winter give him gloves, a hat, and so on. They may even pray with him. But they really are just there. In their simplicity, they acknowledge the sacred humanity before them, hidden beneath the dirt, ofttimes enveloped by a noxious alcohol-tobacco laden stench, incensed with the scent of urine and other foul body odors. They are present to one another in the Divine Presence, sharing an equal identity before the Lord. Deep calling unto deep, in the roar of the city.
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And if only for a few minutes or an hour, the poor man on the street knows what it means to have someone look at him and accept him and love him, just as he is - and the brothers feed him, nurse him with the love of God. What is more, the brothers do not abandon him there, but take him with them spiritually in prayer, placing him before Jesus in the Eucharist.
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God is more pleased by one work, however small, done secretly, without desire that it be known, than a thousand done with the desire that people know of them. Those who work for God with purest love not only care nothing about whether others see their works, but do not even seek that God himself know of them. Such persons would not cease to render God the same services, with the same joy and purity of love, even if God were never to know of these. - John of the Cross
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Br. Jim had an important position with the Boston Opera when he left everything to live the Franciscan call, which led to the establishment of this community. The Community follows the Rule for Hermitages, written by St. Francis. You can read about the community here. The life is so simple and so delightfully Franciscan, I think one must be very, very humble to live it - much like the founder - St. Francis, and of course, Br. Jim.
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O sweetest love of God, so little known, whoever has found this rich mine is at rest! - John of the Cross
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Photo credit: Maureen Cotton

He's baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack!!!!!!


Thursday, September 03, 2009

H1N1 Sweater for Dad

080 Fashion Barcelona.
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080 Barcelona Fashion first came about in July 2007. Its aim is to provide a platform to increase the visibility of independent designers and to become a point of reference for cutting-edge design and fashion on an international level. The driving forces behind 080 Barcelona Fashion are creativity and innovation, without forgetting the importance of the market and the need to provide a commercial outlet for fashion.

Prayerbook for Spouses

For Theology of the Body buffs...
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Catholic Truth Society of London has published a new prayerbook for Catholic spouses, including a prayer before making love - no blessing of the genitals however - Christopher West can supply that, I'm sure.
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The new prayer:
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Father, send your Holy Spirit into our hearts.
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Place within us love that truly gives, tenderness thattruly unites,
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self-offering that tells the truth and does not deceive,
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forgiveness that truly receives, loving physical union that welcomes.
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Open our hearts to you, to each other and to the goodness of your will.
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Cover our poverty in the richness of your mercy and forgiveness.

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Clothe us in our true dignity
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and take to yourself our shared aspirations, for your glory, for ever and ever.
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Mary, our Mother, intercede for us. Amen. - Source
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An older model of spousal prayer:
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Then Tobias exhorted the virgin, and said to her: Sara, arise, and let us pray to God to day, and to morrow, and the next day: because for these three nights we are joined to God: and when the third night is over, we will be in our own wedlock. 5 For we are the children of saints, and we must not be joined together like heathens that know not God.
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6 So they both arose, and prayed earnestly both together that health might be given them, 7 And Tobias said:
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Lord God of our fathers, may the heavens and the earth, and the sea, and the fountains, and the rivers, and all thy creatures that are in them, bless thee.
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8 Thou madest Adam of the slime of the earth, and gavest him Eve for a helper.
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9 And now, Lord, thou knowest, that not for fleshly lust do I take my sister to wife, but only for the love of posterity, in which thy name may be blessed for ever and ever.
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10 Sara also said:
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Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy on us,
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and let us grow old both together in health. - Tobit 8
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I think the biblical version contains better theology.

He warned against “harsh judgments’’ and attributing “the worst motives’’...

"Do not yoke yourselves in a mismatch with unbelievers. After all, what does righteousness and lawlessness have in common, or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What accord is there between Christ and Belial, what common lot between believer and unbeliever? Tell me what agreement there is between the temple of God and idols?" - 2 Corinthians 6: 14-16

"Cardinal, you got some 'splainin' to do..."


And he did.
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Cardinal Sean explained why he was at Kennedy's funeral.
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Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley last night issued a forceful defense of his decision to participate in the funeral of Senator Edward M. Kennedy, an appearance that has drawn sharp criticism from some conservative Catholics because of Kennedy’s ardent support for abortion rights.
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He warned against “harsh judgments’’ and attributing “the worst motives’’ to people with whom Catholics have disagreements, saying “these attitudes and practices do irreparable damage to the communion of the Church.’’
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“If any cause is motivated by judgment, anger or vindictiveness,’’ he added, “it will be doomed to marginalization and failure.’’ And to those who argued that Kennedy did not merit a Catholic funeral because of his support for abortion rights, the cardinal wrote: “In the strongest terms I disagree with that position.’’ - Boston.com
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I knew that.
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I figured that one out myself - why the Cardinal was there and why Kennedy got a public Catholic funeral: Pastoral reasons.
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“As archbishop of Boston, I considered it appropriate to represent the church at this liturgy out of respect for the senator, his family, those who attended the Mass and all those who were praying for the senator and his family at this difficult time. We are people of faith and we believe in a loving and forgiving God from whom we seek mercy.’’ - Cardinal Sean's Blog
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I get that.
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I also see another huge pastoral problem Raymond Arroyo wisely pointed out:
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In his blog, he wrote: “The prayer intercessions at the funeral Mass, the endless eulogies, the image of the cardinal archbishop of Boston reading prayers, and finally Cardinal McCarrick interring the remains sent an uncontested message: One may defy church teaching, publicly lead others astray, deprive innocent lives of their rights, and still be seen a good Catholic, even an exemplary one.’’ - Raymond's blog
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What Raymond Arroyo is doing is pointing out exactly where the scandal lies. You know what scandal is, right? On the other hand, the Cardinal seems to be dismissive of it.
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"O'Malley insists, “We will stop the practice of abortion by changing the law, and we will be successful in changing the law if we change people’s hearts,’’ he wrote. “We will not change hearts by turning away from people in their time of need and when they are experiencing grief and loss."
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“Our ability to change people’s hearts and help them to grasp the dignity of each and every life, from the first moment of conception to the last moment of natural death, is directly related to our ability to increase love and unity in the church, for our proclamation of the truth is hindered when we are divided and fighting with each other,’’ he wrote." - Boston Globe
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Hmmmmmm. As a pro-choice legislator, Kennedy worked - some say fought - tirelessly, for a woman's right to kill her baby, and endorsed, promoted, and campaigned for the most pro-abortion President in history to ensure that remains the law. Hopefully the Senator had a change of heart before he died - but we can't know that for certain - if he did, a public act of repentance would have been helpful. From the sounds of it, the Senator was so convinced of his self-righteousness he felt a need to inform the Pope on how well he did in support of Catholic social teaching. I wonder how he defended his position on abortion?
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All very nice - remember now, no "harsh judgements" or "attributing the worst motives" to our beloved leaders in the culture of death.
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Photo source.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

God is faithful.



God's call is irrevocable.
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Those two thoughts have been running through my head since my last post about Don Marco's new foundation in the diocese of Tulsa. Fr. Mark refers to it as "a call within a call" which reminds me of Mother Teresa's experience on the train which led her to found the Missionaries of Charity. Mother Teresa also explained the new direction of her vocation as a call within a call. It is an awesome thing.
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What I find so edifying and inspiring is that these people have sought God from youth, generously renouncing ordinary life to serve him and live faithfully according to his will in consecrated religious life - only to leave the security of regular religious life to erect something new and beautiful for God. According to his will, his providential call... as if predestined for this particular work to praise His glory.
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I've known several persons who have started new religious communities. The skeptic in me always tempts and says, "It won't last." But it is simply not true. I know priests who have formed hermitages 20, 30 years ago - which are now thriving monasteries. I know Franciscan brothers who began communities of strict observance which continue to this day. I know individuals who live as isolated hermits in austere circumstances - not simply for a few years, but for 20, 30 years or more.
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Their perseverance despite criticism, suspicion, difficulties, poverty, and spiritual struggle is a wonderful witness to the Gospel and the faithfulness of God, as well as the edification of the Church.
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It is an awesome thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
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For information on the new foundation contact:
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Reverend Father Mark Daniel Kirby, O.S.B.
1744 South Xanthus Avenue
Tulsa, Oklahoma 74104-5324
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[Addendum: For what it is worth, I should have mentioned that of all the people who have ever set out to make a monastic foundation, I would have to say Fr. Mark is the most qualified person I have ever known to do so, based upon his experience of religious life, monastic observance, solid spirituality, theology and liturgical formation. In addition, responding to a bishop's call is always a good sign this is the Lord's doing, not man's. Give success to the work of his hands O Lord!]

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Photo of the day

Hindu priests sit inside barrels containing water as they perform special prayers in order to appease Varun, the Hindu rain god, in a temple in Mumbai. - Telegraph.co.uk


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I KNOW!

Priests


What men need.
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Priests do not so much need spiritual mothers, as they all have the perfect Mother in Our Lady Mary, Mother of Christ, Queen of the Clergy. While a devotion consisting of spiritual motherhood for priests may be efficacious, what priests most need are strong, manly fathers and brothers; most especially they need solid, strong, supportive, manly Bishops. (And the prayers of the faithful of course.)
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Normally, one mother is more than enough for a guy - just ask St. Augustine. ;)

Monday, August 31, 2009

Good bye good men redux.


The resignation of Bishop Martino.
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As expected, Scranton Bishop Joseph Martino, 63, announced his resignation today, citing health concerns, specifically fatigue and insomnia due in part to the pressures of his pastoral assignment as the reason. The resignation was accepted by the Holy Father in accord with Canon Law.
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"For some time now, there has not been a clear consensus among the clergy and people of the Diocese of Scranton regarding my pastoral initiatives or my way of governance," Martino said. "This development has caused me great sorrow, resulting in bouts of insomnia and at times a crippling physical fatigue." - Source
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The Bishop's resignation and announcement seems to me to be rather extraordinary. Reports describe him as autocratic and a hardliner, while suggesting he lacked support not only from the more liberal elements within his jurisdiction, but from his fellow bishops as well. At the same time, it appears he may not have always supported the USCCB either - does that mean he was not in line with the bishops or simply refused to toe the party line as far as politically correct policy statements and diplomacy?
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"We don't want to isolate ourselves from the rest of America by our strong views on abortion".
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All of this comes on the heels of Santa Fe's Archbishop Sheehan's sharp criticism of outspoken bishops in civic life while advocating for a more collaborative arrangement with the culture of death.
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"The bishops don't want to have a battle in public with each other, but I think the majority of bishops in the country didn't join in with that, would not be in agreement with that approach. It's well intentioned, but we don't lose our dignity by being strong in the belief that we have but also talking to others that don't have our belief. We don't lose our dignity by that," he said
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Sheehan told NCR that at a meeting of the bishops last June he said that " to make a big scene about Obama -- I think a lot of the enemies of the church are delighted to see all that. And I said that I think we don't want to isolate ourselves from the rest of America by our strong views on abortion and the other things. We need to be building bridges, not burning them. We'd be like the Amish, you know, kind of isolated from society, if we kept pulling back because of a single issue." - Source
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"This development has caused me great sorrow..."
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It will be interesting to see what others have to say about all of this. I think it is obvious that in many cases priests who are chosen to be bishops tend to be the more pastoral type - Vatican II-speak for permissive and tolerant. Evidently, tough guys do not do well.
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During his farewell press conference, Martino was unapologetic. "I did what my mother told me to do," Martino said, "She would always say, 'Well, you do the right thing.' And my conscience is clear." He said he wasn't trying to become a rallying point for the most vociferous foes of abortion, but he then defended them, saying they are often dismissed too readily by the media and even within the church because of their "passion."
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He praised vocal pro-lifers as "very dear to the Lord" because of their outspokenness, and said "bishops should encourage them" as they try to "overturn a profound cancer in our society, this sin, frankly, of murdering 50 million people (referring to the number of abortions since Roe v. Wade in 1973). I think we have become quite blasé about that, and that scares me very much." - Source
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Personally, I don't get it - I should think strong men ought to be made bishops - not collaborators with evil and the effeminate.
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Priests do not need so much spiritual mothers as they do strong father bishops.

Joan Bennett Kennedy

Left out in the rain.
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If you watched the funeral on Saturday, you may have noticed Senator Kennedy's first wife Joan leaning out in the aisle as her son Patrick returned from the pulpit after his eulogy for his father. He seemed not to have noticed Joan as his stepmother Vicki embraced him on his return to his place in the pew. I imagined that Joan wanted to give him a hug as well.
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I felt sorry for the first Mrs. Kennedy. Not only was she divorced from Ted, but the marriage was actually annulled by the Catholic Church. How very odd. Married by Cardinal Spellman, the mother of 3 living Kennedy children, the poor woman was not only exiled from the Kennedy's, as well as her own children, but the Catholic Church declared her marriage invalid. No wonder she became an alcoholic. (She insists she turned to alcohol after the Chappaquiddick incident.)
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Some call it Catholic divorce.
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Ted was married to Joan in 1957, the civil divorce was finalized in 1982. That was a long time to be living with someone in an invalid marriage. The public only learned about the annulment after his 1992 marriage to his second wife, and the death of Kennedy matriarch Rose, at whose 1995 funeral he was seen receiving Holy Communion - which posed a scandal for faithful Catholics.
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"In his eulogy during her (Rose) 1995 funeral, Kennedy called his mother's faith "the greatest gift she gave us."
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A commitment to Catholicism was not always evident in Kennedy's personal life, which was marred by problems with philandering. He divorced his first wife, Joan, in the 1980s; the church does not recognize divorce and requires an annulment if people get remarried and wish to take Communion.
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Kennedy remarried in the 1990s, and the public latter learned that he'd been granted an annulment after he was seen accepting Communion at his mother's funeral. Joan later said that Kennedy requested the annulment, which she did not oppose, on grounds that his marriage vow to be faithful had not been honestly made." - Source
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Joan never remarried.
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"God can neither deceive nor be deceived. In our everyday life we believe many things on the word of human beings even though at times they deceive or are deceived." - Baltimore Catechism
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UPDATED: 12 PM 8/31/09

Scandal


Scandal takes on a particular gravity by reason of the authority of those who cause it...
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2284 Scandal is an attitude or behavior which leads another to do evil. The person who gives scandal becomes his neighbor's tempter. He damages virtue and integrity; he may even draw his brother into spiritual death. Scandal is a grave offense if by deed or omission another is deliberately led into a grave offense.
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2285 Scandal takes on a particular gravity by reason of the authority of those who cause it or the weakness of those who are scandalized. It prompted our Lord to utter this curse: "Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea."86 Scandal is grave when given by those who by nature or office are obliged to teach and educate others. Jesus reproaches the scribes and Pharisees on this account: he likens them to wolves in sheep's clothing.87
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2286 Scandal can be provoked by laws or institutions, by fashion or opinion.
Therefore, they are guilty of scandal who establish laws or social structures leading to the decline of morals and the corruption of religious practice, or to "social conditions that, intentionally or not, make Christian conduct and obedience to the Commandments difficult and practically impossible."88 This is also true of business leaders who make rules encouraging fraud, teachers who provoke their children to anger,89 or manipulators of public opinion who turn it away from moral values.
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2287 Anyone who uses the power at his disposal in such a way that it leads others to do wrong becomes guilty of scandal and responsible for the evil that he has directly or indirectly encouraged. "Temptations to sin are sure to come; but woe to him by whom they come!"90 - Catechism of the Catholic Church
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Photo: Mrs. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis kneeling before Richard Cardinal Cushing of Boston - nothing scandalous there. Photo from Hallowed Ground.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Worth noting.

The following post was sent to me a day or so ago by my very wise friend Paula.
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"Formerly I went frequently to Paris: I saw often many of those who were called ‘the philosophers’. It was particularly at Madame Geoffrin’s, Baron d’Holbaek’s, and d’Alembert’s, where they principally assembled. It was there that they silently planned the destruction of religion, of the clergy, the nobility, and the government. From the year 1766, I said to the Bishops who were connected with them, ‘They detest you’; to the great noblemen who protected them, ‘They cannot bear the splendour of your rank, which dazzles them’; to the Farmers-General who upheld them, ‘They envy your riches’. These continued, however, to admire, to flatter, and to support them.” - The Frenchman Louis Dutens, 1806; on France before the Revolution
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To view one's mortal enemies as harmless and misguided pontificators is one of the many perils of life.
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There is a type of magnanimous patron who seeks out his philosophical opposite. He thinks the iconoclast will remain a fringe character, like a unique exotic pet.
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In many cases, this is excusable. How many coffee shop communists never take action?
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Yet to love one's enemies truly, one must acknowledge the extent of their ill will.
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Then one must recognize that indifference towards their increasing power and influence is no act of love, for them or for one's own. - Philokalia Republic
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Art: Salon de Madame Geoffrin

I just figured out what this is.

o{]:-)

Sunday morning reflections...

The Scribes and Pharisees.
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Somehow in grade school, a few of us rebels got the idea that the nuns were the scribes and pharisees of modern times - they widened their phylacteries (veils and habits), sat up in the front row for Mass, and laid impossible burdens upon 7th and 8th graders. That notion stuck with many Catholics into adulthood to include the hierarchy, traditional priests and religious as the new scribes and pharisees. Therefore it turned out to be the institutional Church who places impossible burdens upon the more enlightened 21st century Catholic; forbidding divorce, contraception, abortion, gay marriage, and all the other emergent civil rights contemporary culture demands.
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But I think that is grossly misleading, a great deception. The scribes and pharisees and teachers of the Law Christ calls out were laymen. Not unlike the college professors and theologians of today. Of course some of these are priests and religious as well, yet in the context of academia, their most valued credentials happen to be based upon the level and number of their academic degrees, publications, tenure and so on.
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Think about it. Think about all the so-called Catholic dissident theologians and professors, along with the politicians and social activists who are influenced by them and rely upon their teachings. Many of these may fit the profile of the ancient scribes and pharisees more accurately than the hierarchy. In our day they happen to be the ones who teach as doctrine human precepts, disregarding God's commandments, clinging to human tradition, based upon exciting new, albeit dubious, research, studies, scientific developments, and novel legislation protecting civil rights.
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Of course any of us can fit that profile, which is why Christ warned his disciples to beware the leaven of the scribes and pharisees.