Friday, March 23, 2012

Listening to Women

I encourage all women to visit Helen Alvare's website and sign the letter stating that:

  1. The opposition to the HHS is not a war on women
  2. No one - including the HHS - can claim to speak for all women, especially to insist that all women want contraceptives.

Hundreds turn out for religious freedom rally in Charlotte, Marion and Winston- Salem

Your author speaking with Most. Rev. Peter J. Jugis!
CHARLOTTE — Hundreds of people gathered outside federal courthouses in Charlotte, Marion and Winston-Salem March 23 peaceably to protest a new federal mandate that will force nearly all employers to provide free contraception in their health insurance plans, despite religious objections.

Continue reading on the Catholic News Herald website...

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Feminist speaks at Belmont Abbey, explains original group message

"Voices of our feminist foremothers"

BELMONT — "There are women who died from illegal abortion, but no one has bothered to ask what drove her to abort."

Questioning abortion, Serrin Foster, president of Feminists for Life of America, explained the pro-life stance of "original feminists" from the late 19th and early 20th centuries during a public talk she gave at Belmont Abbey College on March 14. She hailed these women as true feminist pioneers and described the true feminist ideal they inspired.

Continue reading on the Catholic News Herald site...

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Divine... Liturgy... of the Hours

I was recently asked the difference between the Missal and the Liturgy of the Hours books.  When my response got to be a page long, I decided I had to share it with more than just one friend!  I hope this is a good primer for anyone curious about Catholic liturgical life.

Liturgy of the Hours: The Divine Office
In Psalm 119, King David said that seven times a day, I praise the Lord. With that tradition ever fresh in Her mind, the Church has since the time of Christ gathered for prayer several times a day. This has been normalized and organized into the Liturgy of the Hours. Deacons, priests and nuns are bound to say 3-7 of these prayers per day depending on their schedule and the discipline of their order; they take 10-20 minutes each. The Poor Clares, for example, say all seven hours daily. They combine them so the first two are prayed together (Matins and Lauds) and the middle three are prayed together (Terce, Sext, and Non). The last two are prayed separate Vespers and Compline.

The time of the day for saying the hours is flexible, always according to one's own time zone, schedule and judgement, but religious communities do (and really should) have a set schedule.

Matins - The Office of Readings. Psalm 95, a hymn, 3 psalms, a Biblical reading, then a non-Biblical spiritual reading, closing prayer
Lauds - Morning Prayer. Hymn, two psalms, a canticle, a reading, a responsory, The Canticle of Zachary in the Gospel of Luke "Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel...", petitions, Our Father, closing prayer. 
Terce Sext and Non - Mid-day Prayer. Said mid day at once or in three short spurts. Hymn, Three sets of three psalms each, readings, responsory, closing prayer. Quick and easy.
Vespers - Evening Prayer. Hymn, two psalms, a canticle, a reading, a responsory, The Canticle of Mary in the Gospel of Luke aka the Magnificat "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord...", petitions, Our Father, closing prayer.
Compline- Night Prayer. Hymn, one or two pslams, reading, Canticle of Simeon "Now You let your servant go in peace..." responsory, closing prayer, hymn to Mary. Also quick and easy... so you can head straight to bed!

Each hour begins with "O God come to my assistance; O Lord make haste to help me" except the first hour of the day when you say "O, Lord open my lips; and my mouth will proclaim your praise." Each hour ends with "May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil, and bring us to ever lasting life" except the last hour, "May the Lord grant us a restful sleep and a peaceful death."

The Church encourages all to participate in the Liturgy of the Hours-- also called the Divine Office -- in order to unite our hearts with God at many points throughout the day as well as to unite ourselves with the entire Church throughout the world. The Liturgy of the Hours is the four-volume book that has all of the psalms and readings in it.

The Divine Liturgy: Holy Mass
Holy Mass is likewise a daily prayer of the Church, but it is unique in that only the Priest (or bishop, pope) may say it. As laity (even if a nun or deacon), we only "assist" at the Mass by hearing and praying along with the priest. It is never possible to have the Mass without a priest.

 The Missal includes all of the prayers of the Mass. In the Latin Mass, it is a bit easier to understand because just one book is always used by the priest. In the English Mass, the missal is split into the Sacramentary and the Lectionary. The Sacramentary has all of the prayers of the Mass besides the readings, and the Lectionary contains just the readings.
This is St. Philip Neri saying the Holy Mass.

Holy Mass is a re-presentation of the very sacrifice that happened upon the Altar of the Cross by Jesus Christ, and given to us as an "everlasting memorial" in most Blessed Sacrament. In the Old Covenant, the Jewish temple rituals were performed just once a day, so a priest may serve a few times in his lifetime. In the Church today, the Mass can take place anywhere at any time because the priest is "in persona Christi" therefore any priest can say his own Mass anywhere and daily. Personally, I find it easiest to recognize the dignity and sublimity of the Holy Mass when I refer to it as the "Holy" Mass, and refer to the priest as "saying" the Mass rather than celebrating. It is a sorrowful yet mysterious gift that Christ has given us: that He would die in order to pour many graces on our souls.

When we assist at Holy Mass, the graces of that sacrifice can fall on our souls. We receive the Most Blessed Sacrament in Holy Communion because that's the way that God set up sacrifices. The sacrifice is complete when the people sacrificing partake of the matter given to God (recall the sacrifice of the lambs at the Jewish passover). So, when we come to Mass and we have so many intentions on our hearts, we are able to place those (spiritually) on the host that the priest offers up to become the Body of Christ.

The Mass has two different types of prayers in it: the changeable parts called the Propers and the unchangeable parts called the Ordinary. Once a priest has said the Mass for the day, he has fulfilled the demands of that prayer. It is not more reverent to say more than one Mass (or for the laity: to attend more than one Mass) in one day, and it is only due to a shortage of priests that they are permitted to say more than one Mass per day (called bination).

Often, the Propers of the Mass are on-theme with what is prayed in the Divine Office that day. We can follow along in the Mass by using the Missal in the pew or getting a Missal that has all of the Masses for any day or Saint's feast. One reason I like to attend the Latin Mass is that I have the Missal; most of the time, you can't hear the priest anyhow, and you must read along! The laity were expected to have their Missals and follow along silently as the priest said Mass. I enjoy doing this in the English Mass even though usually, I can both hear and understand the words the priest says. For me, it sinks in better when I can read along.

Pillars of our Faith
A good priest I know said that attending Mass and saying the Divine Office are essential and I should do them as often as possible too. The Church only requires that a Catholic attend Mass once a week, however we are richly blessed in our country to be able to attend Mass so much more often and to have the freedom and ability to pray more often.

These two pillars of our Faith, but, a stool can't have just two legs: it will fall over. So, the third leg is the Holy Rosary, perhaps the most difficult prayer to pray for it involves intense mental discipline to meditate on the Mysteries.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Turning March Madness into Moral Madness

Free pizza as an incentive to get a vasectomy? That's exactly what some New York City doctors are doing to capitalize on March madness and get more men to destroy their fertility to make few bucks for some greedy doctors.

TIME Magazine reported Friday that doctors are trying to "raise awareness of the procedure" which is the immoral and permanent means of ensuring a man he will have no further progeny.

I take great offense to the term "awareness."  Typically, "awareness" is a term used to educate on issues that are important by that many people are ignorant of. No where will these doctors mention to men that sometimes people regret the decision to get sterilized precisely because it is permanent.

Vote Yes in NC on May 8

Primary elections get largely ignored, however the May 8 primary for NC is important not only for voting for Rick Santorum and Jon Gauthier, but also to reaffirm marriage in NC.  Please view this message from our Bishops.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A not-so-impressive response from Kay Hagan

Here is an excerpt from the response I received from Kay Hagan after I encouraged her to protect Conscience rights... interspersed with my comments.

I believe one of the best ways to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies is through increased planning and prevention.
According to Helen Alvaré's talk last night on the Students for Life videocast, instance of abortion rises with instance of contraception use.
Moreover, I believe we need to empower women by providing them with the health care and education they need to make positive life choices.
Abortion isn't empowering for women. Ask a woman who has had an abortion, but many women are not very public about such a sorrowful and shameful experience.  So, read testimonies from some brave women at the Silent No More Awareness website.
I also have reservations about this bill because it could have far reaching impacts beyond reproductive health.
Of course!  That's the point here.  It is about Religious Freedom, not just about contraception. But the whistle needed to be blown on Catholic's disregard for the he Church's teachings on sexuality.
For example, an employer could choose under this bill not to cover childhood vaccines.
With these concerns in mind, on March 1, 2012, I joined my colleagues in the Senate in defeating the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act by a vote of 51 to 48.
That's too bad!  Too bad our representatives aren't actually representing our conservative values or our Constitution!  Time to vote them out!!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Where's The Freedom?

Listen to the recent videocast from Students for Life... everything you needed to know to defend Freedom and our Constitution.  Today, attacks on religious freedoms under the guise of forced contraception. Tomorrow, who knows? I wonder if it may be attacks on our life through forced suicide for the sick and elderly who, under Obamacare, won't receive services due to lack of "quality of life." 

More encouraging news from Rome!

More good news coming from the Holy Father's ad limina visit with the US Bishops from North and South Dakota and Minnesota.

The Holy Father used the visit as an opportunity to continue to encourage right sexual ethics, which must be seen as a bit of encouragement as the Bishops have so bravely stood up to defend the Church's teachings on Contraception.
"It is in fact increasingly evident that a weakened appreciation of the indissolubility of the marriage covenant, and the widespread rejection of a responsible, mature sexual ethic grounded in the practice of chastity, have led to grave societal problems bearing an immense human and economic cost," the pope said March 9....
The pope said the church's key concern is "the good of children, who have a fundamental right to grow up with a healthy understanding of sexuality and its proper place in human relationships."
And finally, the Holy Father blames no one except the Church herself for the problems with Catholics not living up to what the Church teaches, not practicing what we preach:

The church itself "must acknowledge deficiencies in the catechesis of recent decades, which failed at times to communicate the rich heritage of Catholic teaching on marriage as a natural institution elevated by Christ to the dignity of a sacrament, the vocation of Christian spouses in society and in the church, and the practice of marital chastity," he said.

Monday, March 12, 2012

First comes Love, then comes Marriage

In our Sacramental life in the Church, the Sacraments of Initiation have gotten a little mixed up. Infants are baptized; children confess and receive the Blessed Sacrament; and tweens receive Confirmation-- in that order. But not any longer in the Diocese of Fargo.
When the sacraments are conferred in this order, he said, it becomes more obvious that “both baptism and confirmation lead to the Eucharist.” This sacramental assistance helps Catholics live “that intimate relationship of being the beloved sons and daughters of the Father in our daily lives,” he added.
Thanks to Father Z for explaining and encouraging this on his blog.

In the Sacramental life, just as in the human ordering of Marriage, the union is sealed first between the soul and Christ in the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation before the "Wedding Feast of the Lamb" in which the soul receives Him "Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity," which is the consummation of our hearts' love with Christ.

It only makes sense... first comes Love, then comes Marriage.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Fast = Alms

Ever think that fasting could be translated immediately into almsgiving?

Fasting from soda, tea, energy drinks and coffee for just two weeks this lent and save the dollars to provide clean, fresh drinking water in poorer countries.


H20 Project / 10 Days from Living Water International on Vimeo.