Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI Memoir Published: Last Testament In His Own Words

81eQcFzry1LIf you are interested in a reading a thoughtful book for Advent, Benedict XVI's interview with Peter Seewald compiled as the book, "Last Testament in His Own Words" will reward you well.

A thoughtful, humble and reaslistic assessment by the former pope of his time of service to the Church before, during and after his papacy. It is sad to listen to him report his declining health and energy, but his insight and most especially his love of Jesus Christ remains undimmed.


Prayer After An Election From the USCCB


God of all nations,

Father of the human family,

we give you thanks for the freedom we exercise

and the many blessings of democracy we enjoy

in these United States of America. 

We ask for your protection and guidance

for all who devote themselves to the common good,

working for justice and peace at home and around the world.We lift up all our duly elected leaders and public servants, 

those who will serve us as president, as legislators and judges,

those in the military and law enforcement.

Heal us from our differences and unite us, O Lord,

with a common purpose, dedication, and commitment to achieve liberty and justice

in the years ahead for all people,

and especially those who are most vulnerable in our midst.


Prayer of Bishop John Carroll for the United States of America

Excerpts from the prayer Bishop John Carroll, first American bishop, composed this prayer in 1791.


John Carroll Stained Glass
Bishop Carroll's Seal

We pray Thee O God of might, wisdom, and justice! Through whom authority is rightly administered, laws are enacted, and judgment decreed, assist with Thy Holy Spirit of counsel and fortitude the President of these United States, that his administration may be conducted in righteousness, and be eminently useful to Thy people over whom he presides; by encouraging due respect for virtue and religion; by a faithful execution of the laws in justice and mercy; and by restraining vice and immorality. Let the light of Thy divine wisdom direct the deliberations of Congress, and shine forth in all the proceedings and laws framed for our rule and government, so that they may tend to the preservation of peace, the promotion of national happiness, the increase of industry, sobriety, and useful knowledge; and may perpetuate to us the blessing of equal liberty.

...We recommend likewise, to Thy unbounded mercy, all our brethren and fellow citizens throughout the United States, that they may be blessed in the knowledge and sanctified in the observance of Thy most holy law; that they may be preserved in union, and in that peace which the world cannot give; and after enjoying the blessings of this life, be admitted to those which are eternal.

Praying As Family: Retreat for Parents, Grandparents: Monday December 5th in Holy Cross Auditorium, 7:00 PM



A Short Guide to Praying as a Family,

written by the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecelia

as an aid for families who desire to grow in their lives of prayer.


Two Dominican sisters of St. Cecelia Congregation will visit and speak with us about praying as a family. In simple and engaging language, they will direct families step-by-step in beginning to pray together and in deepening their prayer.

Families who have used this book say that they have found especially helpful the sections on how to begin family bedtime prayers, the monthly family meeting, and praying with one’s spouse. They have commented that this guide is simple, practical, and profound. “Helping children learn the habit of prayer,” writes Archbishop Charles Chaput in the Forward, “becomes one of the most important lessons a family can share.”

Everyone is invited, parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. Babysitting will be provided. Call to reserve a copy of the sisters' book

Join Us At Mass to Pray For The Deceased On All Souls Day November 2nd at 7 PM

"From the beginning the Church has honored the memory of the dead and offered prayers in suffrage for them, above all the Eucharistic Sacrifice, so that, thus purified, they may attain the beatific vision of God...The church also commends almsgiving, indulgences and works of penance undertaken on behalf of the dead." Catechism of the Catholic Church, # 1032.



The Dominicans Are Coming - Save the Date - December 5th, Monday

We're excited to report that two sisters from the Dominican Community in Nashville

will be visiting Holy Cross on December 5th.


It was an amazing coincidence to discover that the sisters would already be in our diocese that week and were able to extend their visit and add us to their itinerary.

The sisters will make a presentation to our Holy Cross students during the day. Monday evening they will discuss the topic of Family Prayer with school parents and parishioners alike based on their publication 

 Praying As A Family

We will be extending an invitation for parishioners in our cohort and surrounding parishes to join us for this prayerful recollection in Advent. 

The US Civil Rights Commission And Religious Liberty

The US Civil Rights Commission released a briefing report to the President entitled "Peaceful Coexistence: Reconciling Nondiscrimination Principles with Civil Liberties." It studied the conflict between the expanding Federal legislation and regulations on sexual identity and marriage vs. freedom of Religious organizations, institutions and individuals to practice their faith.

The Commission's recommendations are troubling, but telling

  1. Overly-broad religious exemptions unduly burden nondiscrimination laws and policies.
    Federal and state courts, lawmakers, and policy-makers at every level must tailor religious exceptions to civil liberties and civil rights protections as narrowly as applicable law requires.
  2.  RFRA (Religious Freedom Restoration Act) protects only religious practitioners’ First Amendment free exercise rights, and it does not limit others’ freedom from government-imposed religious limitations under the Establishment Clause.
  3. In the absence of controlling authority to the contrary such as a state-level, RFRA-type statute, the recognition of religious exemptions to nondiscrimination laws and policies should be made pursuant to the holdings of Employment Division v. Smith, which protect religious beliefs rather than conduct.
  4.  Federal legislation should be considered to clarify that RFRA creates First Amendment Free Exercise clause rights only for individuals and religious institutions and only to the extent that they do not unduly burden civil liberties and civil rights protections against status-based discrimination.
  5. States with RFRA-style laws should amend those statutes to clarify that RFRA creates First Amendment Free Exercise Clause rights only for individuals and religious institutions.
  6. States with laws modeled after RFRA must guarantee that those statutes do not unduly burden civil liberties and civil rights with status-based discrimination.

The full report (over 300 pages) is linked here Peaceful Coexistence.


Comments from Chairperson of the US Civil Rights Commission,  Martin R. Castro, appointed by President Barack Obama in 2011.

“The government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian
religion.” —John Adams


Chairman Martin R. Castro

The phrases “religious liberty” and “religious freedom” will stand for nothing except hypocrisy so long as they remain code words for discrimination, intolerance, racism, sexism, homophobia,
Islamophobia, Christian supremacy or any form of intolerance.

 Religious liberty was never intended to give one religion dominion over other religions, or a veto power over the civil rights and civil liberties of others.

However, today, as in the past, religion is being used as both a weapon and a shield by those seeking to deny others equality. In our nation’s past religion has been used to justify slavery and later, Jim Crow laws. We now see “religious liberty” arguments sneaking their way back into our political and constitutional discourse (just like the concept of “state rights”) in an effort to undermine the rights of some Americans.

This generation of Americans must stand up and speak out to ensure that religion never again be twisted to deny others the full promise of America.


Faith and the Full Promise of America


Archbishop William Lori

A Statement from Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the USCCB's Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty


For the current Chairman of the United States Commission on Civil Rights, religious liberty is reduced to "nothing except hypocrisy," and religion is being used as a "weapon… by those seeking to deny others equality." He makes the shocking suggestion that Catholic, evangelical, orthodox Jewish, Mormon, and Muslim communities are comparable to fringe segregationists from the civil rights era. These statements painting those who support religious freedom with the broad brush of bigotry are reckless and reveal a profound disregard for the religious foundations of his own work.

People of faith have often been the ones to carry the full promise of America to the most forgotten peripheries when other segments of society judged it too costly. Men and women of faith were many in number during the most powerful marches of the civil rights era. Can we imagine the civil rights movement without Rev. Martin Luther King, Fr. Theodore Hesburgh, and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel? In places like St. Louis, Catholic schools were integrated seven years before the Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education. Jesus taught us to serve and not to count the cost.

Our record is not perfect. We could have always done more. Nevertheless, we have long taught that the one God, maker of heaven and earth, calls each and every individual into being, loves every individual, and commands believers to love and show mercy to every individual. The idea of equality, which the Chairman treats as a kind of talisman, is incomprehensible apart from the very faith that he seeks to cut off from mainstream society.

Today, Catholic priests, religious and laity can be found walking the neighborhood streets of our most struggling communities in places abandoned by a "throwaway culture" that has too often determined that quick profits matter more than communities. We are there offering education, health care, social services, and hope, working to serve as the "field hospital" Pope Francis has called us to be. We wish we were there in even greater numbers, but we are there to humbly offer the full promise of America to all. Rest assured, if people of faith continue to be marginalized, it is the poor and vulnerable, not the Chairman and his friends, who will suffer.

Catholic social service workers, volunteers and pastors don't count the cost in financial terms or even in personal safety. But, we must count the cost to our own faith and morality. We do not seek to impose our morality on anyone, but neither can we sacrifice it in our own lives and work. The vast majority of those who speak up for religious liberty are merely asking for the freedom to serve others as our faith asks of us. We ask that the work of our institutions be carried out by people who believe in our mission and respect a Christian witness. This is no different from a tobacco control organization not wishing to hire an advocate for smoking or a civil rights organization not wanting to hire someone with a history of racism or an animal rights group wishing to hire only vegetarians.

In a pluralistic society, there will be institutions with views at odds with popular opinion. The Chairman's statement suggests that the USCCR does not see the United States as a pluralistic society. We respect those who disagree with what we teach. Can they respect us? We advocate for the dignity of all persons, a dignity that includes a life free from violence and persecution and that includes fair access to good jobs and safe housing. People of faith are a source of American strength. An inclusive and religiously diverse society should make room for them.



Attack on Our Catholic Church in Normandy

A Statement from Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville
President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Catholic faithful around the world experienced the shock and sadness of this morning's barbaric attack on Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray in France, as if the loss was in our very own parish. We pray for Father Hamel and his parishioners knowing, as St. Paul stated regarding the Body of Christ, "if one suffers, all the parts suffer with it." (1 Cor 12:26)

The Holy Mass is the most sacred and joyful act we, as Catholics, celebrate. Never are we closer to our Lord Jesus Christ than we are when we receive the Eucharist. No act of desecration – no matter how vile – can obscure the merciful presence of God.

Jesus calls us to be sisters and brothers, to strive to care for one another, and always to reject the evil that seeks to divide us. We give thanks to God for the unforgettable witness of the faithful this morning at Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray.

Pray for Peace During Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament on Wednesday

St. Stephen's Church

"Mindful of all that is going on in the world at the present time, let us pray for those who most need our prayers, for peace, for living together in harmony."

These are the words of Catholic priest Jacques Hamel, martyred today during mass in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray. Pere Hamel wrote them in the most recent parish bulletin. 

Living in the parish in semi-retirement, he was assisting the pastor. Ordained in 1958, the murdered priest was 86 years old. 

For the last 18 months he had served along with the other religious leaders on an interfaith committee, including Mohammed Karabila, imam of the local mosque.

Ironically, the mosque in Sainte-Etienne-du-Rouvray was erected in 2000 on a plot of land donated by the Catholic parish.

His former archbishop remembered Pere Hamel as a man "who radiated kindness."

Father Jacques Hamel

Spend an hour tomorrow at Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament to pray for "peace, for living together in harmony."


May Crowning of Mary

Holy Cross School children sang in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary, recited a decade of the rosary and a litany of some of Mary's many titles and presented flowers brought from their home gardens.

Our first communicants dressed in their communion outfits and presented the flowers along with their 8th grade prayer partners.

It was the first time the statue of Mary on the church shrine was so honored.


Stations of the Cross 7:00 PM Confessions 7:30 PM

Tonight's Stations of the Cross will be led by Holy Cross Men's Group and will use the "Stations of the Cross with the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus" as prayer. It's an interesting resource, more wordy than we are used to, but quite beautiful. If you remember the Stations authored by Pope Benedict, it is on par.

The reflections focus on the self-giving of Christ on the road to Calvary which leads directly to the Eucharistic sacrifice at Mass. "At each of the fourteen stations, readers are encouraged to offer themselves to the Sacred Heart of Jesus by uniting their sufferings with his in the Eucharist."

Please join us beginning at 7:00 PM for Stations followed at 7:30 PM by confessions.


Remembering Bishop John C. Reiss

BishopThis is the anniversary in 2012 of the death of Bishop John C. Reiss of the Trenton diocese, often called "a native son" because of his family roots in the diocese.

The funeral rites for the funeral rites were presided over by both the diocesan bishop John Smith and coadjutor bishop David O'Connell. Even Bishop Reiss' death came at a time of transition for our diocese.

Bishop Reiss' biography is on the diocese's webpage. There are also many interesting pictures of the bishop through the years which can be found with a Google image search.

I was the last priest to be ordained by Bishop Reiss, who had been the bishop during my years in seminary. On the morning of my ordination, I happened to encounter Bishop Reiss on his way into the cathedral in Trenton. I greeted him with a laugh and told him how glad I was to see him; he returned the greeting with a laugh saying he was glad to see me too.

Bishop Reiss' episcopal motto was "Let us Love One Another."


Holy Hour for the Family Wednesday 7:00 PM


Join us in prayer for the family at 7 PM, Wednesday Feb. 24th. The Holy Hour is being sponsored by the Diocese of Trenton as part of a series of pilgrimage Holy Hours at each of the churches in the diocese privileged to have a Holy Door of Mercy.

Media, lobby groups and legislative initiatives assault the traditional family on all sides. Moreover, the frantic pace of overly scheduled lives, the increasing burdens of long-term illness and the changing economic landscape can exacerbate tensions inside the home.

Drawing strength from the Holy Family and with support from like-minded believers, our families can not only survive, but thrive as living witnesses to the power of faith lived in a broken world. Let us join together and pray for God's help.



October 2015 Living Rosary In Church Prayer Garden





The October weather seemed more like spring and the sun was bright and vivid for the Living Rosary on the grounds of the church today. The sunshine helped the multi-colored T shirts shine, a different color for each decade of the rosary.

Our statue of Mary didn't make the celebration, in fact, she is lost somewhere between China and Rumson. We hope she will join us soon!

Thanks to the school children, their teachers and our parish staff who organized and the orchestrated the event with skill and patience. The parents who come each year to pray with their children teach their children the importance of prayer as much as anything the school can do.



Respect Life Sunday 2015

Not a Slippery Slope, No Slope At All

Those who advocate caution before instituting a change to longstanding ethics and morals often warn that a small change or exception to a moral norm will lead to accelerated and uncontrolled change – the “slippery slope” argument.




Such caution is often derided by those favoring social change who consider the use of the slippery slope argument pandering to fear.




Just exactly how many slips must we take before the slippery slope argument gets more traction? Each and every time we find ourselves sliding down the slope at morally dizzying speeds, it is well to remember we had been warned, but of little solace. NoSlope


Respect Life advocates have warned that physician assisted suicide, originally demanded for those in intractable pain with terminally fatal disease, will broaden to include non-life threatening conditions and be used without the patient’s consent. Moreover, the rights of health care providers to abstain from morally objectionable legal practices will come under assault. Recent popes and bishops have warned that permissive attitudes toward abortion will lead to a coarsening of social life and a commodification of the human person.



 Right to Euthanasia?


The Netherlands are a social experiment in end-of-life practice. Let’s take a look at a recent case report. (Bioedge ) A 19 year old woman who suffered from systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) since age 12 had, with her parents’ approval, applied for euthanasia under Dutch law. A date for the killing was set and was proceeding according to plan until the woman’s general health care practitioner withdrew her approval of the killing. The hospital at which the euthanasia was to occur then also withdrew its support. In despair, the young woman fled to her family’s apple orchard where she hung herself.  Her family has filed a complaint against the general practitioner with the medical regulatory board in order that the physician not be able to “get away with” withdrawing consent for the killing.


Right to Life ?


Closer to home, the undercover videos showing top administrators of Planned Parenthood cunningly discussing remuneration for the bodies of aborted embryos with an eerie indifference to the lives of their “material,” have demonstrated that almost any protection or prohibition built into our permissive abortion laws can be artfully dodged. It would be hard to write a script which shows the commodification of human life in the abortion industry more clearly than these business lunch discussions with Planned Parenthood officials show. Many Americans now demand that the flow of federal tax dollars to such a morally repugnant industry be stemmed.




Take some time this weekend to research some of the dangers to our lives on this planet, not just in the ecosystem, but in our attitudes and legislation. Let us pray for a deeper respect for each unique human life and demand that such respect be reflected in the way we care for the unborn and the vulnerable in our society. 


Fr. Rutler's Weekly Column: The Best Things in the Worst Times

I'm so grateful for Fr. George Rutler's weekly homilies, pastor at St. Michael's Church in Manhattan, which always give me something to think and pray about. 

Here's an excerpt from this week's column, which reminded me of our church project at Holy Cross:

In our distressed nation, nothing is more essential than what barbarians consider unessential. I think of the youth who in the days of Oliver Cromwell and his iconoclasts built a church in defiance of a hostile government. He was imprisoned in the Tower of London and died at the age of 27. The tablet in his church in Leicestershire is inscribed:

In the year 1653 when all things sacred were throughout the nation either demolished or profaned, Sir Robert Shirley, Baronet founded this church; whose singular praise it is to have done the best things in the worst times and hoped them in the most calamitous.

Memorial Day

In_remembranceIt is fitting to bring to mind the history of the national holiday we are about to celebrate this Monday, Memorial Day. (see for example, US Department of Veteran Affairs ) Originally celebrated for the dead soldiers in the American Civil War, after World War I the day of observance became a day to remember those who have died in any war in which America fought. Some may remember the day being called "Decoration Day" for the original tradition of placing flowers on the graves of the war dead. 

Since 2000 a national effort has been underway to observe a moment of silence at 3 PM to remember the war dead.

"O God, our Father, endless source of life and peace, welcome into Your merciful embrace the fallen of ...wars that have bloodied the earth. Grant that they may enjoy the light that does not fail, which in the reflection of Your splendor illumines the consciences of all men and women of good will.                                    Pope Benedict XVI

Join In the Palm Sunday Procession


Join us this coming Sunday at 10 AM in the municipal parking lot in Sea Bright for a procession to the 10:30 AM mass at Holy Cross Rumson.

The children's choir will be joining us. This year we have an additional banner of Jesus' Triumphant Entry into Jerusalem which will help passers-by understand the reason for our procession. I guess a bit of drive-by catechesis.

A public prayerful witness to our faith and our church is so important; please join us.

The procession will begin at 10:15 AM in order to arrive in time for the 10:30 mass.