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February 2010

January 2010

Tim Tebow is Preaching at the Superbowl

"This ad is frankly offensive, " said Erin Matson, the Action Vice President of the National Organization for Women, speaking of the Tebow commercial. "It is hate masquerading as love. It sends a message that abortion is always a mistake." (I don't think anyone has actually seen the ad yet. Fr M.)

 And who exactly is Gregg Doyel of CBS sports? He has unilaterally proclaimed the day of the Superbowl "the holiest day of the year" and off limits for serious and potentially controversial discussion. I presume he means only divisive discussions about religion --- surely all the discussions about football that day end in agreement and harmony! "It's not a day to discuss abortion. For it, or against it, I don't care what you are. On Super Bowl Sunday, I don't care what I am. Feb. 7 is simply not the day to have that discussion," writes Doyel. 

Here's the kind of conversation the National Organization of Women and others are vehemently opposing during Superbowl commercials. Something tells me Tim Tebow wouldn't call SuperBowl Sunday the "holiest day of the year."

The word of the LORD came to me, saying:
Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
before you were born I dedicated you,
a prophet to the nations I appointed you.

But do you gird your loins;

stand up and tell them

all that I command you.

Be not crushed on their account,

as though I would leave you crushed before them;

for it is I this day

who have made you a fortified city,

a pillar of iron, a wall of brass,

against the whole land:

against Judah’s kings and princes,

against its priests and people.

They will fight against you but not prevail over you,

for I am with you to deliver you, says the LORD.

Those Controversial Pro-Life Superbowl Ads???


Tim Tebow and His Parents

You're probably aware by now of Focus on Family's sponsorship of an ad scheduled to air during the Superbowl featuring Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow and his mother speaking for the cause of life.

Tim's mother experienced a life-threatening parasitic infection while pregnant and serving as a Christian missionary in the Philippines with her husband. Against medical advice, she refused an abortion and both she and her unborn son Tim survived the treatment for the infection. (22 year old Tim is now 6' 3" and 240 lbs.)

Controversy swirls around CBS for their decision to accept the ad(s), which have not yet been seen, but reportedly do not explicitly mention the word "abortion." 

Last year, prepared pro-life ads to be aired during the Superbowl which were refused by NBC on the grounds they were too controversial. One pro-life ad featured an image of President Obama - nearly 2 million people have viewed the rejected ad on You Tube.

All kinds of pressure is being brought to bear on CBS to reject the ad. Stay tuned.

Catholic News Agency article on Tebow

Two Strike Outs and a Home Run

Untitled Those were Grant Desme's at bats in his last game as a hot minor league prospect for the Oakland Athletics. The 23 year old outfielder told reporters on a conference call that he truly felt called to the priesthood and will enter a Catholic seminary, St. Michael's Abbey in Orange County California next year. St. Michael's Abbey is home to a monastery of Nobertine monks.

Desme had been seriously considering a call to the priesthood for 18 months and played this last season almost to test his resolve to leave baseball. Despite his success this year in being named the Arizona Fall League MVP, he became more convinced than ever that God was calling him to be a priest. "I love the game, but I'm going to aspire to higher things," Desme said.

His family, teammates and many fans have been supportive of his decision which will involve at least ten years of study and formation before ordination.

Grant's decision was carried in the San Franciso Chronicle, which has an online blog open for comments. The eighty-one comments recorded so far are a commentary, a sad one, on the public's perception of the priesthood today. Read the article and comments here.

Pray for Grant and other young men and women to gather the courage to answer God's call and enter priesthood and religious life, especially during this Year of the Priest.

Communion Under Both Species

Celebrate_christian_187930 The Liturgy Committee discussed the precautions we have been taking for some time to prevent the spread of H1N1 in our school and our parish. We agreed that it appears prudent to resume communion under both species.

We will resume communion under both species at daily masses beginning Ash Wednesday and at Sunday masses beginning at the Easter Vigil.

Prudent precautions still should be taken, i.e. refraining from taking communion from the cup if you are ill.

St. Thomas Aquinas and Love

Vision_of_st_thomas Perhaps you have been seduced by the view that because Thomas Aquinas' medieval philosophy can be a bit dry and appear overly legalistic to modern minds steeped in moral relativism, so was his spirituality. Even if we know very little about his life or writings, we probably know that near the end of his life, he had a mystical experience of Jesus himself, stopped writing and for once at a loss for words, explained that this experience was as if everything he had written was all straw. Good enough excuse for not reading him or taking him seriously, right? Wrong!

It's wrong spirited (and heretical) to think Aquinas earned his way to heaven by clever, scholastic debates. Here's an Aquinas quote from his deathbed which I will commit to memory alongside his comments of straw. After asking to be laid on the floor on top of scattered ashes, he prayed aloud to Christ:

I receive Thee, ransom of my soul. For love of Thee have I studied and kept vigil, toiled, preached and taught.

It's well if we can get past the modern fashion of mocking Aquinas for too much concern about the hieararchy of heavenly hosts. Let's learn more about the lover Aquinas, the poet Aquinas. The faithful disciple who at the end of his life prays to Jesus, I have done everything for you.

The updated Butler's Lives is a great resource, but the original version is out of copyright and excerpted here.

Archbishop Chaput, The Devil and the Love of Christ

Archbishop_Chaput  OK, it's no secret that I'm a huge fan of Archbishop Chaput of Denver both for his pro-life stance and his eloquent preaching and writing (and that he answers his own email!!), so you need to decide for yourself whether the speech he delivered today in Rome at a meeting of priests and laity was a 10 on a scale of 1 to 10 as I think.

The title of the speech is "The Prince of This World and the Evangelization of Culture." The archbishop begins his speech with a poem by Rainer Maria Rilke, ends it with Augustine and Dante and seasons the middle with Marissa Maritain, Aquinas, Neitzsche, Feuerbach, the Marxist philosopher Leszek Kolakowski and others. (In those not so unusual coincidences of coming upon a rarity twice in one day, I had a letter from a parishioner this very morning mentioning Kolakowski and then read his name in this speech tonight.) He includes the customary episcopal citations of John Paul II and Benedict XVI but with true affection and respect.

The best parts of the speech, however, are not the literary allusions or the quotes of others, but the hard-hitting words of Chaput himself:

God has never been more absent from the Western mind than he is today. Additionally, we live in an age when almost every scientific advance seems to be matched by some increase of cruelty in our entertainment, cynicism in our politics, ignorance of the past, consumer greed, little genocides posing as “rights” like the cult of abortion, and a basic confusion about what – if anything at all – it means to be “human.”
The Archbishop blames not only our neglect of God, but our disbelief in the Devil as a central problem of the modern age. Satan has disappeared from our speech, our belief and our modern preaching and the devil's invisibility prevents us from confronting and naming evil. Sins become "mental health problems."

We shouldn't become cynical or feel impotent, we should become afire with the love of Christ! The central question for the church is not management, it's discipleship. We name and create new ministries in the church and define and distribute credentials for them, but let us remember that some of those with the most academic and pastoral degrees and some of those most engaged with social justice issues have left the Church. Let's listen to the Archbishop:

But when we talk about a theme like today's topic – “Priests and laity together, changing and challenging the culture” – we need to remember that what we do, proceeds from who we are. Nothing is more dead than faith without works (Jas 2:17); except maybe one thing: works without faith. I do not think Paul had management issues in his head when he preached at the Areopagus. Management and resources are important – but the really essential questions, the questions that determine everything else in our life as Christians, are these: Do I really know God? Do I really love him? Do I seek him out? Do I study his word? Do I listen for his voice? Do I give my heart to him? Do I really believe he's there?…The fundamental crisis of our time, and the special crisis of today’s Christians, has nothing to do with technology, or numbers, or organization, or resources. It is a crisis of faith. Do we believe in God or not? Are we on fire with a love for Jesus Christ, or not? Because if we are not, nothing else matters. If we are, then everything we need in order to do God's work will follow, because he never abandons his people.

With due apologies to Archbishop Chaput, can I summarize? --- Burn up or burn out!

The speech is 3,200 words, but you don't have to read it sitting stiffly in an uncomfortable wooden pew. It's reading for adults, but it encourages and exhorts and it inspires. Put aside a few moments and read it here.

Make Plans for Lent

Cathedrals_dwellings_203684 Don't wait for Ash Wednesday (February 17) to plan a spiritual renewal for Lent. Our parish will host many opportunities for prayer and reflection and the Diocese will be announcing others. Watch our bulletin and this blog for specifics.

Of course the primary focus of our prayer should be Sunday worship, and if you are not consistent with faithful attendance at mass, no doubt about it, that should be a priority during Lent.

Wednesdays at Holy Cross offer another rich opportunity for communal worship. Morning mass with chanted morning prayer is followed by Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament until noon at which time the Blessed Sacrament is reposed and mass in the Extraordinary form is prayed. After mass, the Blessed Sacrament is again exposed for veneration until Evening Prayer at 5 PM. During Lent, there will be Adult Faith Formation sessions at 7 PM, this year using the Pope's reflections on the Church Fathers as a focal point for discussing theology, prayer and church history.

Remember that our church is open for prayer and visitation 24 hours / 7 days. Stopping for prayer on the way to work or on the way home, even for a few minutes or a quick visit during the day is a simple, but concrete way to enhance our prayerfulness during Lent. So many of us drive by the Church one or more times a day, if a brief stop is not possible, it is surely feasible to pray a short prayer or nod our head in reverence each time we pass the church.

Bequest of Father John Higgins to Holy Cross

Grail_goblet_113558 Holy Cross Church receives with gratitude the chalice and paten of Fr. John Higgins, given in bequest by his will and his brother, Paul Higgins. Fr. Higgins was a faithful priest who helped our parish for many years, and some of you know his brother Paul who attends daily mass when he's visiting Sea Bright.

A few formalities need to be dealt with before we receive the chalice, but once we do, you'll start seeing it used once again.

Please pray for Father Higgins and all diocesan priests, especially during this year of the priest.


St. Angela Merici and the Ursulines

In 1535 Angela Merici founded the Ursulines, a group of religious women dedicated to education, especially the education of young women in the religious virtues. At the time she began her ministry, the church did not have uncloistered nuns in active apostolates, so she organized her women within the local community, where they gathered for prayer and then dispersed to engage in their apostolates. Eventually the group evolved to communal living, some in cloisters and some in less formal communal living.

Angela chose to name her group after St. Ursula, a virgin martyr in the early days of the church, who was deemed perhaps more legendary than historical and removed from the Church’s calendar in the reforms of 1969.

The Ursuline community has roots in the US that go back to the beginnings of Catholicism in this country. They still serve and their ministry in education is still their primary focus.

The destruction of an Ursuline Convent in Charlestown, Massachusetts in 1834 by an angry anti-Catholic mob which even attempted attacks on the cathedral itself is a fascinating and eye-opening incident; it highlights the suspicions and hatred against Catholics by many US citizens of the day. Rumors had spread that the nuns kidnapped young women to become members of the community and kept them against their will, that there were torture chambers in the convent basement, etc.  Local officials did little to extinguish the fire the mob had started or police their rampage and even though the legislature of Massachusetts eventually passed an apology of sorts, all leaders of the riot but one were found “innocent” by jury trial despite overwhelming evidence of their guilt, and a civil lawsuit filed by the Bishop and the Ursulines was never successful in obtaining adequate financial restitution to rebuild the convent.

Undaunted by this episode, the Ursulines grew and now serve in educational apostolates around the world.

There is a fascinating archive of documents, correspondence and newspaper articles of the day archived at Catholic University Libraries here.











Archival drawings of the convent before (left) and after (right) the riots.

Haitian Relief Medical Supplies and Monetary Aid


Religious Education Families – can you help?





CCD Sunday, January 31st and CCD Tuesday, February 2nd 


There is a great need for personal hygiene items as well as monetary donations for the people of Haiti.   We are asking families to assemble at home one or more COMPLETED “Kits” of personal hygiene items that will be delivered to the people of Haiti through the Catholic Medical Mission Board (CMMB).


A COMPLETED “Kit” contains ALL of the following NEW & UNUSED items packaged in a plastic zip lock type bag:

1 hand towel

1 face cloth

1 regular size bar of soap or small bottle of hand sanitizer

1 toothbrush

1 tube of toothpaste

1 comb

1 small flashlight & batteries

1 small stuffed toy


MONETARY DONATIONS are also greatly needed.  Please make checks out to Holy Cross Church and note on the bottom of the check “for Haiti Relief.” Donations will be transferred to either the Catholic Medical Mission Board.


Students deliver your families donations to CCD

Sunday, January 31st and Tuesday February 2nd


Project Coordinator: Mrs. Margot O’Connor, assisted by Peter O’Connor


Give a Helping Hand for Haiti – Make a Difference!


Haiti Earthquake Relief Fund

Holy Cross parish has taken up two collections for Haiti Earthquake relief, one from the school ($19,000) and one from a second collection during Sunday masses ($15,00). Both these amounts will be transferred through the Diocese of Trenton to Catholic Relief Services, the official international arm of Catholic charitable aid.

Our religious education students will be offered the opportunity to help the medical efforts specifically through Catholic Medical Mission Board, an organization with which we already have an affiliation through our support of their missions in Kenya, and which has had an effective presence in Haiti for decades. Both monetary and material donations will be accepted and children will be given an opportunity for hands-on involvement in sorting and packing the materials and delivering them to CMMB’s warehouse for shipment to Haiti.

CMMB’s efforts in Haiti will be featured on Larry King Live tonight (1/25).

Lenten Reflections on the Church Fathers with Pope Benedict XVI

Join in a weekly discussion of the Church fathers as presented by Benedict XVI in a series of weekly audiences during 2008-2009.  Readings and a study guide will be available at a cost of $20 for the five week sessions during Lent. We will meet on Wednesdays at 7:00 PM from February 24th  to March 24th. This excludes Ash Wednesday and Wednesday during Holy Week. (Date corrected)

Please let us know your interest in one or all of the sessions by calling or emailing the Parish Office. We need to know an approximate number of books to order.

49085736 Study guide

Conversion of St. Paul, Apostle

Today's Lectionary Readings

The phrase "blinding insight" coveys something of what happened to Paul in his conversion experience. Paul was privileged in the degree of his theophany or perhaps even the kind, but if we're receptive to divine insight, we experience them as well.

An "oh no" accompanied with an "ah ha" experience: Oh no, I've been persecuting Christians, Ah ha, Christ is the Light of the World. Such a revelation is disorienting - it takes a while to discern and regroup. This experience, not personal acquaintance with Jesus, changed the entire direction of Paul's life.

Unless we carefully protect ourselves with spiritual RayBans, we too will be gifted with Divine insight from time to time, perhaps like Paul, even at a moment when we least expect it.

Let us pray this day for the humility and courage to change directions in our lives, anything to follow the Light of the World more closely.

300px-CaravaggioConversionPaul01 The-Conversion-of-St-Paul-large

Caravaggio, an artist who explored the contrast between darkness and light in almost all his works,  painted two version of St. Paul's conversion, the painting on the left emphasizes the blinding, pehaps even painful nature of Divine insight, while the painting on the right depicts Paul's ultimately receptive posture to God's revelation. 

March for Life in Washington, D.C.

Capture2  Screencap from this year's March for Life in Washington, D.C.

Our busload of intrepid and faithful marchers left from the Church parking lot early this morning. I'm sure we'll have lots of pictures to share when they return. Congratulations to them for their courageous and generous witness for life.

I doubt the marchers will receive a phone call from President Obama as was President Bush's custom on this day!

Let us all pray that a true respect for human life prospers in our nation and around the world.

St. Agnes, virgin and teenage martyr


St. Agnes' faithful purity earned her a martyr's crown. The details of her life and death are shrouded in history, but her death and veneration as a martyr date from the earliest days of the church. Her name is included in the oldest Eucharistic Prayer (Roman Canon, I).

She has been associated in icongraphy with a lamb, both for its innocence and purity, and perhaps because her name sounds like the Latin for lamb (agnus). A wonderful custom, which I had read about but imagined quite differently from how it is actually accomplished is enacted this day.

Two living lambs are brought into the church (I imagined they were lead, instead they are each in  a basket), one decorated with white roses (purity) and the other with red roses (martyrdom). The pope blesses them and they are raised by a cloister of nuns until they are shorn and their wool used to make pallia. A pallium is a stole-like yoke bestowed on each new archbishop by the pope as a sign of the archbishop's unity with the pope and the universal church.

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The pope blesses the "red" lamb

A pallium

St. Sebastian, martyr

As Sister Wendy says in her Grand Tour video of art, St. Sebastian was an extremely popular subject for Renaissance painters, because he alone (beside Jesus), could be shown nude, giving artists an opportunity to demonstrate their mastery of the human male form.

The result is that there are many painings of St. Sebastian ranging from the inspiring to kitsch. One depiction which stands out from the others in style and point of view is that of Jacques Callot, which shows the saint all alone, surrounded by the emperor's power arrayed against him. The poet Rainer Maria Rilke became intrigued with the lone figure gathering up the arrows which had missed their mark.

Courage in the face of power, even the power of Satan does not ultimately prevail. We are not alone, Christ is with us.

Whatever You Do For the Least of These, You Do For Me


Catholic Relief Services  

Thank you to our school children and their families for their prayers and generosity for the people of Haiti. They organized a "dress down" day to call attention to the plight of that country and raised a substantial sum for donation to Catholic Relief Services, which organization is coordinating the relief efforts of Catholics in the United States and has been asked by the Vatican to head the effort for the universal Church. 

Holy Cross parishioners will have an opportunity to contribute to the disaster relief efforts through our parish by contributing to the special collection to be held at all the masses this coming weekend. The proceeds of this collection will also be turned over to Catholic Relief Services.

Given the difficult logistics of delivering the aid, and the threats of disease and lawlessness, our prayers are urgently needed as well.