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March 2017

Artist's First Rendition For Christ Enthroned In Heaven For Holy Cross Reredos

We were so delighted to receive not simply a small painting for our first review from Zu Zheng Yu, but a beautiful work of art. Those who saw the 25% sized panels  in the reredos space itself were enthralled and the comments we received were universally positive.

It is far too beautiful to hide, so for now we have placed it in the exonarthex. 

After discussing some theological and compositional adjustments to the piece, we eagerly await the next work.


Human Rights Quiz

Take a quick quiz on Human Rights. Which of the following has the legal rights of a "person" according to its local jurisdiction? 


 Te Awapa Tupua River, NZ


YES. Granted personhood by the New Zealand Parliament. Read this excerpt from Bioedge:

Riverine personhood is an untested concept in a Western legal system. According to the government, Te Awa Tupua will now have its own legal personality with all the corresponding rights, duties and liabilities of a legal person. Lawyers say that the river cannot vote and cannot be charged with homicide if people drown in it. But it will have to pay taxes, if liable. The gender of the river is unspecified at the moment.

The government has awarded River Awapa (if I can be so bold to use the River's first name)  $80 million in pollution damages for the last 20 years along with $30 million toward improving its environmental, social, cultural and economic health. It will have two court appointed guardians: one by the indigenous people who brought the petition, the other by the crown. 

 Attorneys for the river indicated its gender had not yet been determined: "At this stage the river is referred to as "it" but it could be assigned a gender (and not just that of a man or woman). If the people appointed to act as the human face of the river want to ask people to use another pronoun, they can, just like everyone else."

With this Act of Parliament, I think that New Zealand has officially entered the age of liquid modernity. I am sure the search didn't take long for 2 guardians to administer the river's assets! Imagine the lawsuits When River gets angry and floods home and basements. I wonder if it has legal immunity from that?


Kiko  22308806-mmmain

 No, so far. (But litigating) Kiko is a deaf chimpanzee rescued by his current owners years ago from performing in circuses and movies, he lives on a Wild Life Preserve in upstate New York. A lawyer, Steven Wise is arguing before a court in New York that the chimpanzee's personhood rights are being violated by being kept in his enclosure. He should be freed according to Wise to live in a preserve in Florida.  


 A 35 Week Human In Its Mothers Womb

Bill of rights

 No. See Roe v. Wade for the irrational explanation. 


A 35 week old human in its mother's arms.


Happily Yes, so far. 

The Mainstream Media Get Right To The Heart of Catholicism: To Eat Meat On Saint Patrick's Day Or Not?


It's amazing, really. What bothers the Catholic conscience in America? Abortion, contraception, assisted-suicide, same sex-marriage, cohabitation before marriage, sexual promiscuity, dismal weekly mass attendance, attacks on Religious Liberty?  Nope. As the media would have it, troubled Catholic consciences only seek episcopal counsel for dispensation to eat meat whenever St. Patrick's day falls on a Friday in Lent. 

Corned beef (salted beef) is actually not a national dish of Ireland, but rather of the American Irish. Native Irish could not consume beef because of it high cost. The British confiscation of the best Irish pastureland to produce beef for export to England forced the Irish to turn to potato farming on the less productive land left for their use. This had tragic consequences for the Irish during the potato blight. Whatever beef not consumed by the British themselves was preserved as corned beef to help feed the vast numbers of slaves being captured and transported throughout the world by the colonial powers. On this side of the Atlantic, corned beef was cheap. When the Irish immigrants arrived they took to eating this luxury meat (of slaves)they couldn't afford in Ireland.


It would be a truly praiseworthy practice, for American Catholics to have a meatless St. Patrick's day when it falls on Friday in Lent, rather than appeal to their bishops for dispensations. Think about the courage of St. Patrick, an escaped slave who returned to face his pagan captors with no army or weapon save the power of the Cross of Christ. 

It doesn't look like a Friday Lenten St. Patrick's Day occurs again until 2023, so perhaps there's time to plan for our Meatless St. Patrick Day Celebrations then?





Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito In Madison, NJ Speaks About Religious Liberty and Evangelization

Alito: America's dedication to religious liberty being tested

Associated Press

Wednesday,March 15, 2017  7:10 p.m.

MADISON, N.J. -The entering a period when its commitment to religious liberty is being tested, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito told an audience Wednesday at an event

Samuel Alito
Justice Samuel Alito

sponsored by a Catholic lawyers' organization.

Alito used his own words from his dissent in the Supreme Court's landmark same-sex marriage case, telling the gathering he had predicted opposition to the decision would be used to "vilify those who disagree, and treat them as bigots."

"We are seeing this is coming to pass," he said, then mentioned Bob Dylan's famous song lyric, "You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows."

"A wind is picking up that is hostile to those with traditional moral beliefs," Alito said.

The speech was sponsored by Advocati Christi, a group of Catholic lawyers and judges who seek. to "provide an opportunity for lawyers learn about the Catholic faith and Catholic social teaching and to help them integrate these into their life and practice."

Alito served as U.S. Attorney in New Jersey and was based in Newark while a member of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. He has been a Supreme Court justice since 2006.

In a roughly 45-minute speech that mentioned the Founding Fathers and 19th-century French writer Alexis De Tocqueville as well as Dylan and the 1960's TV sitcom "The Flying Nun," Alito discussed the hostility faced by Catholics in the U.S. over the centuries, and of his own joy as a youth staying up until the wee hours of the

morning to witness John F. Kennedy elected the first Roman Catholic president in 1960. "I felt it bad lifted me up from the status of second-class American," he said.

While religious freedom has been recognized in Congress and in the courts, Alito said, attitudes are slower to change. He recounted a Democratic lawmaker who opposed his nomination in 2005 because Alito would make "too many Catholics on the court."

Alito said reactions to Supreme Court decisions such as the Hobby Lobby case, in which a company balked at being required to cover certain forms of contraception in its employee health plan, should spur action.

"We are likely to see pitched battles in courts and Congress, state legislatures and town halls," he said. "But the most important fight is for the hearts and minds of our fellow Americans. It is up to all of us to evangelize our fellow Americans about the issue of religious freedom."

The (Saint) Benedict Option

Another interesting book for Lenten reading, sobering but spiritual, The Benedict Option by Rod Dreher was published this week. A book in the genre of Archbishop Chaput's book, written from a slightly different perspective but arriving at the same conclusions: we (Christian believers) are in trouble around the world and here in America.

Dreher's thesis is that we have lost the culture war against religion. Just as the barbarians sacked Rome and then St. Augustine's city of Hippo, they have done so again in our age of "liquid modernity, a time when social change occurs so rapidly that no social institutions have time to solidify." Dreher complains we have become a society of strangers, each pursuing our own interests under minimal constraints. Barbarians abandon objective moral standards, refuse to accept any religious or culturally binding narratives except those they choose, repudiate memory of the past and reject history as irrelevant and distance themselves from community and any unchosen or unwanted social obligations.  

Barbarians Enjoying the Culture They Destroy While It Lasts
Capitol One Ad Campaign 2003

Remember the Capital One credit card commercials with hordes of rapacious tribesmen rampaging through cities heedlessly destroying the structures of civilization? "Barbarians are governed only by their will to power, and neither know nor care a thing about what they are annihilating. By that standard, despite our wealth and technological sophistication, we in the modern West are living under barbarism, though we do not recognize it. Our scientists, our judges, our princes, our scholars, and our scribes—they are at work demolishing the faith, the family, gender, even what it means to be human. Our barbarians have exchanged the animal pelts and spears of the past for designer suits and smartphones." The barbarians are not at the gates, they are on the Supreme Court, in our national and state legislatures and our national security agencies in elected and non-elected positions of power. 

Don't think so? Consider how that in less than one generation, "Christian beliefs about the sexual complementarity of marriage are considered to be abominable prejudice—and in a growing number of cases, punishable."

He traces the roots of these losses from the Renaissance, the Protestant Reformation and  two World Wars. The most dramatic post-war losses here in America were the Supreme Court decisions legalizing abortion and then only decades later the right to same-sex marriage. The gleeful, vindictive pursuit by same-sex marriage activists of a few Christian bakers and wedding planners who won't cater same-sex weddings should warn us, that Christian believers are the real targets, not a shortage of bakers and caterers for same-sex weddings.



Supreme Judgement
Lawmakers Unto Ourselves

Dreher laments that the West has "lost the golden thread that binds us to God, Creation, and each other. Unless we find it again, there is no hope of halting our dissolution. Indeed, it is unlikely that the West will see this lifeline for a very long time. It is not looking for it and may no longer have the capability of seeing it. We have been loosed, but we do not know how to bind."

The only thing to do is to become like St. Benedict of old, who preserved ancient wisdom, fostered communities of belief and nurtured the flame of faith until the time was right for the faith to rekindle the world with the love of God.

Guess what? During Lent that looks like pray, fast, give alms. Grandparents and wise elders need to educate their adult children and their grandchildren in the riches of the Faith. Stations of the Cross, Palm Processions, the Veneration of the Cross and the solemn celebrations of the most Holy Days of the Christian year, Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Vigil give us the strength to "keep the flame of faith alive in our hearts until the Lord comes," as our parents and godparents were charged during our baptisms. This is as urgent now as it was in the days of the Roman persecution.



Noontime Mass Cancelled

My dogs are fascinated with today's high winds, but are not venturing out, and prefer to watch from behind the warmth and shelter of a window. There's a wisdom in that today.

Very high winds, near freezing temperatures and mixed precipitation so far around the church. The prospects don't look good for midday improvement, so to keep everyone safe, the Tuesday mass is cancelled. The mass intention will be moved to the next public mass at Holy Cross unless we are told otherwise by the donor of the mass intention.

The church and the parish offices are closed as is the parking lot for eventual snow/slush/ice removal.




Tuesday Morning Mass 3/13 postponed until 12 Noon

I'm watching the Borough prepare the emergency lot across the street from the church office and think it prudent to make some adjustments to tomorrow's mass schedule.

Tomorrow's 9 AM mass is postponed until 12 noon

Later tomorrow morning we will assess whether the roads are passable and the church can be opened.

Stay tuned to the blog, our webpage. Please observe travel advisories and stay warm and safe should the threatened storm materialize.

Fr. Manning


Forgive the Living and the Dead

51x++PCqTkL._SX331_BO1 204 203 200_Nicholas Samaras' beautiful poem on forgiveness I read on Sunday is published in his first book, Hands of the Saddlemaker, Yale Series of Younger Poets. It explores the difficulty and necessity of forgiveness. 


"Forgive the living and the dead."
                                                      Saint Kosmas Aitolos

This is the weight of the unresolved dead.

Deep hours. A wooded house
with one yellow pane of light. 
Words on a page.
Wind in the foothills.
Years I have carried you like a tombstone in my heart.

Tonight, with this book before me
in simple lamplight,
I find the small surprise of perspective,
feel how one found passage may show
the thin, bright plume beneath a closed door.
I know you are alive somewhere --
dreaming I hand you a plate of oranges,
each day waking to forget my name,
dressing and arranging your hair
to meet someone younger than I.

Before a stoked spine of fire
with this volume on my lap,
I sit up in the hushed parlor,
remembering the closed history of us,
my old habit of thinking you buried to me.

Now with this quote from a quiet saint,
I care to be winter, choose
to unclasp like leaves.
Hatred has kept me
tied to you, kept me your servant.
Anger is a hard strength that isn't good enough anymore.
So, to this paragraph, I speak your name.

I tell you it is alright.
I let the past be finally adequate.
I forgive the living and the dead.
Whichever you are is your own choice.
Mine is to move from this.

Samaras, Nicholas. "Forgive the Living and the Dead" Hands of the Saddlemaker. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1992. 49-50.The slim volume of poetry is available online from various sources and is filled with short poems of spiritual depth and reflection. A new volume of poems, American Psalm, World Psalm is a volume of 150 poems, one for each of the biblical Psalms. 


Projects, Programs, Procedures, Oh My!

Projects, Programs, Procedures, Oh My!

Which is why, at this point, readers may have noticed that, in a chapter on “repairing God’s house,” they’ll find no new ideas for projects, programs, studies, procedures for nominating bishops, committees, structures, offices, synods, councils, pastoral plans, changed teaching, new teaching, budget realignments, sweeping reforms, or reshuffled personnel.

None of those things matter. Or rather, none of them is essential. The only thing essential, to borrow a thought from the great Leon Bloy, is to be a saint. And we do that, as a Church and as individuals, by actually living what we claim to believe, and believing the faith that generations of Christians have suffered and died to sustain. If we want to repair God’s house, if we want to renew the Church, we need to start with a reform of our own hearts, with an unflinchingly honest look at ourselves. And we certainly have a motive to do so: We can count on demanding times ahead. However we manage it, we need to be bolder and more loving in our Catholic witness, both personally and as a family of faith. Because anything else, no matter how pious its veneer, is dead weight.

Chaput, Charles J.. Strangers in a Strange Land: Living the Catholic Faith in a Post-Christian World (p. 203-204). Henry Holt and Co.. Kindle Edition.

Thoughtful Reading for Lent - "Silence" by S. Endo and "Strangers in a Strange Land" by Archbishop Charles Chaput

Those interested in some serious reading for Lent can surely find much to read in the Christian Classics and classic Christian literature, even novels with a Christian theme. 

There are two interesting opportunities for spiritual reflection based on contemporary literature:

Silence, an historical novel by Shusaku Endo written in 1966 is the source for a recently released movie of the same name directed by Martin Scorcese. It details the fate of the Catholics in Japan during the severe persecutions of the 17th century through the eyes of two Jesuit missionaries who arrived in Japan to find their Jesuit mentor who had reportedly apostasized. It was first screened at the Vatican for a select group of Jesuit priests after a meeting between Scorcese and Pope Francis.

The film is R rated for violence and gore. At first the Japanese regime tortured the missionary priests who arrived in Japan; later, they tortured the innocent Christians to coerce the missionary priests into abandoning the faith. I'd recommend the novel over the screen adaptation. Critics think the novel better than the movie and the movie surely requires a strong stomach.

A pivotal image is the ritual of e-fumi in which suspected Catholics were required to trample upon an image of Jesus or the Virgin Mary. Those reluctant to do so were labelled Christians and often tortured or executed unless they abandoned the faith. Some of these images survive: 


17th Century Artifact
Recreation of apostasy in the film adaptation


















A recent publication by Archbishop Charles Chaput, Strangers in a Strange Land: Living the Catholic Faith in a Post Christian World is his latest book dealing with American Catholicism. 

The book may serve as a wake-up call to some who might be surprised to hear a Catholic archbishop call the world, including America "post-Christian" but it will hardly be news to many faithful Catholics who have become more and more disheartened by the direction many of our Catholic educated children and grandchildren are trodding. The book gives encouragement to Catholics, not only because Chaput has the courage to describe our current situation truthfully, but calls on us to live the faith more authentically and prophetically.



Lent Begins

Today, Ash Wednesday, is the perfect day to reflect on God's mercy and not only our own need for forgiveness, but that of the church, our nation and the world. 

It's easier for us to come up with a list of others who need to seek forgiveness than it is for us to acknowledge our own sinfulness but we must not neglect this honest soul-searching during Lent. 

The sign of the cross on our foreheads with ashes tells us, among other things, that we are all in this together - fellow disciples of Christ following him to the best of our ability with His help and willing to get up from each fall with renewed zeal. 

Please take a Lenten Magnificat from the parish office or the church to help in daily Lenten prayer. Confessions will be heard after the Saturday morning 9:00 AM mass and after Stations of the Cross on Friday evenings. Stations begin at 7:00 PM and confessions at approximately 7:30 PM.