Saturday, December 08, 2012

What? It's still the first week of Advent and you're putting up the creche?

Oh the humanity! 

First the holiday Christmas trees go up, and now the creche?  It's still the first week of Advent.

Ho! Ho! Ho!

Pope Benedict said it's okay.
Following a beautiful and firmly-rooted tradition, many families set up their Crib immediately after the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, as if to relive with Mary those days full of trepidation that preceded the birth of Jesus. Putting up the Crib at home can be a simple but effective way of presenting faith, to pass it on to one's children.
The Crib helps us contemplate the mystery of God's love that was revealed in the poverty and simplicity of the Bethlehem Grotto. St Francis of Assisi was so taken by the mystery of the Incarnation that he wanted to present it anew at Greccio in the living Nativity scene, thus beginning an old, popular tradition that still retains its value for evangelization today.
Indeed, the Crib can help us understand the secret of the true Christmas because it speaks of the humility and merciful goodness of Christ, who "though he was rich he made himself poor" for us (II Cor 8: 9).
His poverty enriches those who embrace it and Christmas brings joy and peace to those who, like the shepherds in Bethlehem, accept the Angel's words: "Let this be a sign to you: in a manger you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes" (Lk 2: 12). This is still the sign for us too, men and women of the third millennium. There is no other Christmas. - Source
The big, big question remains:  Were there poodles at the Nativity.*

*Last night I drove by a house and noticed one of the lighted reindeer lost its antlers, and it actually resembled a poodle.  I wanted to call someone and report it, but wasn't sure who.

Feel free to dissent
on this one.

Heaven and earth unite...

I'm no theologian or liturgist, I'm just an ordinary Catholic layman.  I attend the Ordinary Form of Mass, and yes, I very much appreciate the new translation of prayers which instruct and lift our hearts into the mysteries we celebrate and participate.  The liturgy actually instructs and guides, forms and enlightens our faith.  It seems to me the liturgy literally unites heaven and earth - what we celebrate here below is what is celebrated in the heavenly court.  Christ promised that what the Church binds on earth is bound in heaven - thus, if the Church proclaims this day as the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception on earth - it is the same in heaven.  United with the heavenly court, as affirmed in the invitation before the Sanctus, 'and so, with all the angels and saints we praise you, as without end we acclaim'... the Immaculate Conception.

So you see the liturgy is more than 'say the black, do the red' - it is an actual participation in the Sacred Mysteries.  It is the prayer of the Church.  Today, we glimpse heaven in the Immaculate Conception... in and through the liturgy "Heaven is opened..." as the Book of Revelation says.  The liturgy for the feast of the Immaculate Conception is sacred and instructive and critical for our salvation.  Those who say, 'the liturgy will save the world' are absolutely correct.  Yet the liturgy is specific.

Which is why it is most important for American Catholics to keep this day holy, and attend Mass for the Immaculate Conception - unless of course, for good reason they are unable to do so.

One Mass for the Immaculata... let her encompass you and lift you up...

Don't go in for the two-for-one deal.

Happy feast day!


O Most Holy and Immaculate Conception!

"I am the Immaculate Conception."

Paradise of the children of Eve, refuge of sinners, consolation of the afflicted, solace in sorrow, light in darkness, enclosure for the homeless, rest for the weary, health of the sick, gate of heaven....

Pray for us who have recourse to thee, and for those who do not have recourse to thee, especially the enemies of the Church and those recommended to thee.

Cause of our joy!  Pray for us!

Hail, city of refuge!
Hail, David's high tower!
With battlements crown'd
And girded with power!

Filled at thy Conception
With love and with light!
The dragon by thee
Was shorn of his might!

O Woman most valiant!
O Judith thrice blest!
As David was nurs'd
On fair Abisag's breast;

As the Saviour of Egypt
Upon Rachel's knee:
So the world's great Redeemer
Was cherish'd by thee:


Friday, December 07, 2012

Catholic Seniors and Cruises.

Who knew?

Catholic Seniors.

You know - those old baby-boomers everyone is waiting to die off in the biological solution.  The ones with the money, the expendable income, getting ready to sign off on their wills to Catholic benefactors.  Well, maybe not.  Yet seniors are a target market for the cruiseline industry.
A popular new trend

According to the website “religious-oriented cruises” are gaining in popularity and run the gamut from small groups participating in faith-related activities on board to Christian-themed half-ship or full-ship charters or religious-pilgrimage cruises.

“Increasingly, Christians are gathering aboard cruises for social and spiritual bonding,” the site added, also noting that some cruise lines give back a percentage of the cruise cost as a donation to the church group.

But, even for those who are simply on a cruise for a vacation can benefit from a priest’s presence on board.

Catholics traveling on a major cruise ship can benefit from priests ministering on board under the Cruise Ship Priest Program.

Overseen in the United States by the Apostleship of the Sea, the program ensures that priests on cruise ships are in good standing and helps place them on cruise liners.

Celebrity Cruises is one of seven cruise lines that use the services of the Apostleship of the Sea’s U.S. offices.

As on-board chaplains, priests celebrate Mass and provide pastoral care and counseling to passengers, as well as crew members and the ship’s entertainers. - Read more here.

Get your resumes in order.


Year of Faith - Year of the Cruise!

Catholic Answers Apologetics Cruise...  November 2 to November 9 2013.

Looks like a trend.

h/t PML

I have to sit down...

"Thurston!  Which one's Gilligan?"
"Egads Lovey!  I just don't know!"

Click to find out:  Which one's Gilligan?

So funny. 

h/t Adrienne, again. 

Disclaimer:  I never read Simcha Fisher before because I just thought it was another Catholic Stepford blog, aligned with the usual subjects at the established Catholic news portals.  She has a new fan.  LOL!

On the virginal integrity of the virgin martyrs.

Found in the combox...

Do you recall a post I did on Dawn Eden's new book, “My Peace I Give You: Healing Sexual Wounds with the Help of the Saints”?  At the time, while Dawn was writing the book she was also researching the question as to whether a victim of rape could still be considered a virgin martyr; the answer is yes, but you should read her book for the details.

Just today, a Jesuit priest commented on that original post, with additional insight into the question at hand.  I reprint it here:

I think it might be important to remember here that most of the early Saints who are honoured as "virgin martyrs" probably suffered rape in prison beforehand almost as a legal requirement. The Romans were afraid of divine retribution if they put a virgin to death. . . We do have later accounts of some individual holy women being protected miraculously from violation. The fact that such accounts exist tells us that such interventions were not the norm. . .
In honouring them as virgin martyrs, the Church does not look to the physical integrity of their bodies as the proof of holiness, but to the spiritual integrity of their will and soul.
In the case of Maria Goretti, we have an extraordinary instance of purity radiating forgiveness -- that is why she was canonized in the 20th century, that was the true nature of her victory.
With regards to Saint Aloysius: it is now conjectured in recent biographies that he himself was probably the victim of sexual abuse on the part of women courtiers when he served as a page while still a little boy at the Spanish Court. This would account for his extreme physical shyness, modesty and almost pathological inability to raise his head when speaking to people.* [During his novitiate, his superiors made him wear a large papier-mâché collar to force him to keep his face up]. - Colombiere, comment on Dawn Eden's New Project

 * "This would account for his extreme physical shyness, modesty and almost pathological inability to raise his head when speaking to people."  Mercury should be happy to know this.

Vigil of the Immaculate Conception

The Immaculate Conception is a solemnity in the United States, a solemnity which is never skipped.

The Immaculate Conception is the Patroness of the United States.  Her feast day is a holy day of obligation.  Most parishes have a vigil Mass on the evening before, as well as the holy day Mass on the day itself.  This year the feast falls on Saturday - so one must attend a Mass for the Immaculate Conception anytime from Friday evening (vespers) through Saturday, the day of the feast.  In most parishes, there is also a vigil Mass for Sunday.  Normally, and according to contemporary custom, the vigil Mass for Sunday does not satisfy for the feast day obligation.  Norms in the U.S. are commonly understood to be that Catholics are obliged to attend one Mass for the Immaculate Conception, and another Mass to fulfill the Sunday obligation when such a juxtaposition occurs.  This often happens for Christmas as well, unless Christmas Day falls on a Sunday.  If you remain confused, ask your chancery or your parish priest.  There may be pastoral provisions in cases of hardship or ignorance. 

You really do not have to consult a canon lawyer or a priest blogger for such simple instructions, much less seek their interpretation or mere opinion as regards norms set up by the bishops conference or local ordinary of your area.  The Bishops make the rules.  In my parish we were instructed the vigil Mass for Sunday does not satisfy for the feast day Mass, the parish priest was instructing us in accord with the teaching of the local ordinary.

Confusing, huh?

Always call your chancery or parish priest for the the rules and regulations which apply in your diocese, or when you are traveling.  Really.  A priest-spokesman for the chancery here told me that is why they are there.


Thursday, December 06, 2012

Pope and German President meet... A joint effort is needed to save Europe....

Benedict XVI received Joachim Gauck in an audience today.

What do you want to bet they spoke German together too.  I know!

Don't mention the war.

The origins of the "War on Christmas"...

Slaughter of the Innocents - Sano di Pietro
Yes poodles, it started way back when - even before the Gospels were written.
Then, as Gospel accounts were in production, the Apostle John had a vision...
Miguel Cabrera, "The Virgin of the Apocalypse"
Yet closer to modern times, rigorous Protestants in England,
consumed by self-opinion and pride,
attempted to do away with Christmas...
You may ask, "But Why?"
Increasingly in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, many people, especially the more Godly, came to frown upon this celebration of Christmas, for two reasons. Firstly, they disliked all the waste, extravagance, disorder, sin and immorality of the Christmas celebrations. Secondly, they saw Christmas (that is, Christ’s mass) as an unwelcome survival of the Roman Catholic faith, as a ceremony particularly encouraged by the Catholic church and by the recusant community in England and Wales, a popish festival with no biblical justification – nowhere had God called upon mankind to celebrate Christ’s nativity in this way, they said. What this group wanted was a much stricter observance of the Lord’s day (Sundays), but the abolition of the popish and often sinful celebration of Christmas, as well as of Easter, Whitsun and assorted other festivals and saints’ days. - The History of Christmas in England.
Therefore, watch out my Godly friends, you who complain that lights and decorations go up much too early, and protest if someone says Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas, lest you shrivel up into sour little prunes in your own dried out Christmas fruitcakes...  
To be continued...
Nota bene:
Just remember, though the Soviets
blew up cathedrals and outlawed
religion, they were never able
to destroy Christmas,
nor the faith of 
 Orthodox Christians.
Don't worry.

St, Nicholas...

Help us.
Help the little ones,
the poor,
the lame,
the orphan,
the blind,
the child slaves,
the sexually abused,
the sinner,
the lost,
the ship-wrecked,
the dead,
the addicted,
Help us!
Wonder Worker of Myra,
show us the wonders
given to you
for the salvation of souls!

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

This just in: Saps at Sea Retreat


So it is true.  The Voris/Fr. Z retreat at sea I mean.

Remember a few years back when Fr. Z was writing about cruise line chaplains and other forms of employment?  Or was it about Celebrity Cruises excluding priests as chaplains?

I'm just saying.


Jimmy Olsen*, Cub Investigative Reporter

Zagano - gimme a call.  Haha!  Just kidding!

* BTW - New feature!  "Guest blogger" will be posting things I can't.

"Well it's really quite simple, I'll say the black
and do the red, and you collect the bread."
"That's swell Ollie!  We should put that on a mug."

"Yoin us for da Jeer of Fete
Reteet!" - Charo

h/t Adrienne

film credit Saps at Sea

Thursday Morning Update:  Looks as if I'm not the only one who thinks the retreat is strange.**  Read it here - Catholic In Brooklyn.  (Excellent blog BTW - never heard of the blog until today.)

**This is what I find strange about the 'Retreat':
  • The "retreat" is on a luxury cruise ship amidst hundreds of vacationers - during Lent.
  • It is promoted as a Year of Faith retreat sponsored by a lay organization of Catholics - it is not even an official Church sponsored retreat as far as I know. 
  • It is such an unwise move for Fr. Z it is not funny - not good for the resume.  I think it safe to say Voris is pretty much a persona non grata with many bishops, dioceses, not to mention the USCCB.   

Thursday Night Update:  Man With the Black Hat commentary.

Friday Morning Update:  Crescat has a post on the retreat as well - bonus feature: Church Militant Video Promo - check it out on "We've Officially Jumped the Shark".

How does Santa do it? Levitation or bilocation?

Santa Nicholas.

The modern Santa is based upon the holy bishop of Myra, St. Nicholas - you knew that of course - or at least, you should have known it if you are a Catholic of European descent.  The only fake Santas out there are the married ones, BTW.  That is a very creepy, Protestant innovation - Protestantism is the mother of secularism, but I digress.

So anyway. 'Tis the Eve o' St. Nicholas and kids should be very excited, because Christmas is coming and they have a Saint - a Santa in heaven to protect them. 

That said, kids - and some parents - always want to know why, or how, Santa flies.  Is it levitation?  Bilocation?  Is it a ghostly apparition?

Kind of.  Modern Santas fly through the air with a sleigh and reindeer - but that image is more closely related to myth, based on legends from the life of Santa Nicholas.  When we study the iconography of Santa Nicholas, we realize that he not only levitated and bilocated, he also miraculously appeared to those he helped.  Modern people who no longer believe in miracles dismiss that stuff and confuse miraculous with magic.  That is a very Protestant idea adopted by secularists and materialists.  Kids know that.

But anyway - that's why modern Santas fly - early on, an artist twisted the iconography of the real Santa to invent a new mythology as well as to deny the supernatural.  When the real Santa Nicholas is shown flying, levitating, biolocating - it is something mystical and supernatural - not to be confused with magical and secular.  It is a mystery as to how and why the saints have levitated, bilocated, or appeared to those who seek their aid in prayer.  Kids know that, they don't have to explain it.  They know God lifts up the saints, they know God works miracles through the intercession of the saints, they know heavenly beings are weightless and not constricted by matter, they know about invisible stuff, and they know that sometimes stuff just appears. 

Kids know a lot.

So.  You may not understand it or be able to explain it, but Santa Nicholas does all of that stuff.  While on earth he levitated and bilocated, and now in heaven he appears, or simply acts invisibly.  Which explains why most modern artists paint Santa the way they do - as I said earlier, they're just imitating the iconography of Santa Nicholas to enchant kids and sell stuff, but the joke is on them, because poor Protestant and secular children will eventually figure it all out and become Catholic when they grow up.


 William Holbrook Beard’s oil painting “Santa Claus” from around 1862.
This is one of the finer examples of a modern interpretation
of the miracles of S. Nicholas.  The giving of the dowries
and the rescue of the sailors may have inspired
this example.  Happy Eve of St. Nicholas!

Why the pope shouldn't be on Twitter.

Because it's ditzie.

Because ditzes are wondering if his followers will exceed Lady Gaga's.  Seriously.

Because people are outraged that he gets mean, viscious tweets. Really?  Oh the humanity!  So?  He's on Twitter you ditz!  Did he just fall off the turnip truck?  What do you expect?  A pope on Twitter.

Because he is setting a bad example for priests - it's like hanging out at a dive bar and drinking and smoking with the riff-raff.


Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Is it a mortal sin to watch The Victoria Secret Fashion Show?

I'm just not sure.

Three things are necessary for mortal sin:  Grievous matter, sufficient reflection, and full consent of the will.

It might be just an occasion of sin for most.

And concrete evidence of really bad taste... that in itself is pretty damnable in my opinion.

FYI:  "Sexual addiction" or "porn addiction" - they are just clinical terms guys... not moral categories.  Really.  We have "free will".  The devil didn't "make you do it".  I already tried that excuse - doesn't work.

Advent and the End Times and...

Holy Belt

Random reflections.

This will seem pretty random, but I was reading some things about the prophecies of Greek Orthodox Elders on the times we are living in.  Like Medjugorje and the sayings of mystics in the Latin Church, it is hard to separate the wheat from the chaff, or rather, fact from fiction. 

Speaking of Medjugorje - which obviously interests me since I write about it from time to time - reports are that the findings of the Vatican Committee studying the apparition will be released by year's end.  Keep in mind that even at Fatima and Lourdes dubious messages were invented alongside the real messages - especially as it concerned the Third Secret - speculation which persist to this day - even after the Secret has been revealed, as well as explained.  Therefore don't be surprised by what happens after the Medjugorje Commission releases its more than likely inconclusive results.  (The Pope will be the one to sign off on the findings, and it is up to him if they are even made public, BTW.)

Patient endurance.

That said, I'm posting about the Holy Elders and what they had to say - not specifically their prophecies - rather, commentary from those who know them, on how to receive such things.  I love the sobriety of Orthodox mysticism.  (Like I said, this is random.)
"A spirit of watchfulness, vigilance and patient endurance. But in order to have this patient endurance regarding end-time events, whether social or political or personal, the exercise of patience is extremely necessary....
The work of the Church is to liberate people, to redeem people. When people lean towards interpreting the signs of the times and the future, this mania about the things to come is often alienating people from the essence of spirituality - from their personal struggle, the purification of the heart, our personal trauma, and our need to become well, to cure our passions. This is the heart of the problem." - Metropolitan Neophytos on prophecies.
"Behold! You have heard all of my foolishness. Quiet down then and be occupied with God; and, ceasing from vain talk, pay attention to your passions, concerning which passions you will be required to give an account in the Day of Judgement. For concerning these things you will not be required: ‘Why did you not know these things or learn these others?'" - St. Barsanuphios

 [Elder Porphyrios] did not like for us to occupy ourselves with dates and eschatology. He said that the best way to prepare ourselves for the hour of Christ is to remove the Antichrist from within ourselves and to occupy ourselves with Christ. Then, even if we are called to martyrdom, we will go.
If Constantinople will be freed or not, this is the concern of the politicians and of the military rulers, and not of the monks nor even the archpriests. If the Antichrist will come, this must be the concern of the archpriests and it is their duty to inform the people. And when that time comes, God will provide us with illumined archpriests who will in turn illumine the people. We the monks, if we are members of the priesthood, we need to liturgize for the salvation of the entire universe. And if we happen to be simple monks, we need to weep over our sins. - Elder Porphyrios

From this I think we Roman Catholics must learn that when the Church speaks, be it on Medjugorje or the Secret of Fatima, we ought to humbly submit and accept what the Church teaches, repenting of our self-opinion and pride.  We can never be holier than the Church, nor disregard the authority of the Pope and the Bishops in communion with him.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Drug use amongst SSA men.

Most gay men I have known use prescription drugs...

It's true.  I'm talking about antidepressants.  That said, I'm sure there are even more heterosexual Americans who use anti-depressants.  And you bet your life, I think they are over-prescribed - much like antibiotics have been. 

I know someone who has been weaning himself off anti-depressants for the past several months.  It is frightening.  Over the years doctors added on new drugs to what he was already taking.  A doctor once told me, "We never take away, we just add to make it work better."  I hope he was kidding, but I'm not so sure.

We go in for a cold and come out with a prescription for antibiotics.

We go in because we've been sad that we are not as good looking as Bradley Cooper, and come out with Zoloft.

We go in because we get really anxious that something bad might happen, or someone is dissing us in their private emails, and we leave with Alprazolam - take 3 times a day as needed.

We can't fall asleep right away so we go in and get a prescription for Trazodone.

We go in because we're worried about - everything, and if you were a vice-president like my friend - you left with Valium.

Damn!  I could never get that one.

Anyway.  Be really careful about your drug-use-dependence.  Anti-depressants can be abused to help people feel good about themselves.

Have a holly-jolly Christmas!  Drink! 

"Every time a bell rings another angel gets his wings."


Loser saints and success...

Blessed Charles de Foucauld

I wanted to post this for the memorial of Charles de Foucauld, but never got around to it.  Most Catholic blog readers know who Blessed Charles is - a French aristocrat/soldier turned monk who founded an order with no followers - until after his death.  So he lived alone in a hermitage and was murdered - he wasn't even martyred.  His conversion and return to the Church, his religious life - hidden like that of Jesus of Nazareth, was most edifying however.  His humble death, falling like the seed to the ground, left us an example of ordinary holiness - faithfulness.  [His biography here.]

I've been thinking of 'success' ever since I read Fr. Longenecker's description of another blogger as a man who is 'the epitome of success'.  It bothered me a bit that he described the man in that way.  The idea of success reminds me of the Prosperity Gospel preachers.  Everything in this country is measured by degrees of success - even bloggers measure one another by these terms.  Gratefully, Fr. Longenecker followed up with an excellent post critiquing the American ideal of success - thus I have nothing to post about.  Read Father's post instead: Deliver Us from Successful Catholics.

Having said that, we know some people can't handle success anyway.  Look at Lindsay Lohan and other celebrities and sports figures.  Many people achieve success, and do well by it.  The real 'bad' about success is vain rejoicing in it.  The saint knows the difference.  Bl. Teresa of Calcutta famously stated:  “God has not called me to be successful; He has called me to be faithful.”  Now that is Christian.

Charles de Foucauld and the other loser saints like Matt Talbot, Benedict Joseph Labre, and others whose names I can't recall at the moment, were faithful, not successful - just faithful.  So remember, if you found an order of monks and you are the only member, remain faithful.  If you blunder through life, yet remain faithful despite everything, you can stand erect - if you remain faithful.

The other day I came across a quote from Jane Frances de Chantal, which reminded me of the parable of the talents - I've always worried about that parable thinking it was about success.  St. Jane's admonition calmed my fears: "We know not the hour when we shall hear the trumpet which will call us to give back our soul to him who has given it to us in keeping."

We desperately need to consider, and understand, and keep before our mind's eye the supreme value of our immortal soul - if we ignore its existence, we are like the servant who hid his talent and was therefore unfaithful. 


Patheos is down!

Every link I click on says Service Not Available.

I blame Larry.

10 minutes later it is back up - false alarm.

Fr. Sirico

Financial and moral truth?  Photo/story

In Rome.

Launches his new book, "Defending the Free Market: the Moral Case for a Free Economy".
"I wrote the book because I was concerned that there's such a false set of assumptions of what a market economy is and that it's completely disconnected from the moral life," he explained.

"I'm also using the book to give a sort of autobiography," said Fr. Sirico, who wrote the book using parables of his life to ''tell a moral.'' - Source

Is it a complete autobiography though?  And why the Rome launch?

Why is this priest so prominent?  How did he get to this point? 

Okay.  I will just come out and say it: He has a history which I find troubling.  (Another link here.)

The immaculata.

"Accordingly, the Fathers have never ceased to call the Mother of God the lily among thorns, the land entirely intact, the Virgin undefiled, immaculate, ever blessed, and free from all contagion of sin, she from whom was formed the new Adam, the flawless, brightest, and most beautiful paradise of innocence, immortality and delights planted by God himself and protected against all the snares of the poisonous serpent, the incorruptible wood that the worm of sin had never corrupted, the fountain ever clear and sealed with the power of the Holy Spirit, the most holy temple, the treasure of immortality, the one and only daughter of life -- not of death -- the plant not of anger but of grace, through the singular providence of God growing ever green contrary to the common law, coming as it does from a corrupted and tainted root." - Ineffabilis Deus

+ + +

I know not how to praise thee, nor what to say, except to repeat the Angel's prayer unceasingly... "Hail Mary, full of grace..."

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Mass Chat: Retirement Fund For Religious

Giving to those who have given a lifetime.

Before Mass began, one of the most beloved nuns ever to serve our parish, Sr. D spoke to us on behalf of retired men and women religious who are in need of our support in their retirement years.  I love Sr. D and she probably doesn't even know who I am.  She is a living icon of charity and kindness, whenever you encounter her, she has a warm, friendly smile and is the epitome of hospitality.  Her talk was as good as any homily.  When finished, she humbly left the sanctuary, and Mass began.  Sr. D is from an order of sisters who no longer wear the habit, and whose congregation has dwindled over the years.  Sister entered in 1960!

As she spoke, I couldn't help but think of 'The Nuns On The Bus' troupe, traveling the country.  I imagine Sr. D knows these women - or at least knows of them and their purpose.  I don't know her position on the issues they champion.  I don't know her spirituality, much less her soul.  I felt sad that people have mocked and condemned the sisters so severely.  I felt worse, thinking that within these congregations of religious women are dedicated, faithful sisters, who sacrificed their lives for Christ and his Church - you and me.  When we condemn these congregations, we condemn the individual religious, some of whom may be saints.

Things have changed, and some orders are dwindling and dying, making way for new congregations to meet the need of our times.  It is like the seed which falls to the ground and dies, only to regenerate.  Let the experts perform the autopsy after they have gone.  In the meantime, it is a work of mercy to care for the aged and infirm.  I hope everyone will forget their politics and remember and support the many elderly nuns, brothers and priests in their retirement years.

As for 'dying' congregations, it remains a work of mercy to bury the dead.  The Church is obliged - you and I - to care for them, by prayer and charitable contributions.

We've got to love one another.

Link:  Retirement Fund for Religious

Syrian Priest-martyr, Fr. Fadi Haddad

Such an awful story...
In an act of courage 43 year old Father Fadi Haddad set off by car to negotiate the release of one of his parishioners, who had been kidnapped. A week later, it became clear that the parish priest from Qatana, some 20 kilometers south-west of Damascus, had paid the highest price. On Oct. 25th, his lifeless and mutilated body was found on the side of a road. Qatana had been terrorized by radical fighters, locals told Catholic Charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN). “‘Extremists went through the streets shouting ‘Alawites to the grave, Christians to Beirut’. They want to kick us out”. A pastor who often provided Haddad with Bibles and who met him a few days before he was kidnapped told us ‘Father Fadi’s superiors had asked him why he kept traveling back and forth between Qatana and Damascus. He responded: ‘I cannot not serve Jesus, I need to help people, that is why I have to move around.’

Christians in Syria say the particularly gruesome death of Father Fadi - his eyes had been gouged out - marks a turning point for them. Before, Christians were caught up in the war in the same way as Kurds, Druze, and all other ethnic groups. Also, a part of the Christian community in Syria has been actively supporting President Assad, thus being an actor in the civil war. - Story

Priests, please be priests like Fr. Fadi.  Don't write books and serve Mammon...  Be priests.  The Church needs full-time priests.