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October 2009

September 2009

Press Bias When It Comes to Abortion Violence?

Preemie As you probably wouldn’t know from mainstream media, James Pouillon, a man whom his pastor describes as a “good Christian and a faithful Catholic” was shot to death outside a high school in Owosso, Michigan, where he was protesting for the rights of the unborn using graphic images of an aborted fetus alongside a healthy infant urging “Life.”  He was a bit of a local celebrity, more like a thorn in people’s side, dubbed “the sign guy,” protesting with his signs around schools and day care centers, the public library, even football games and a local car dealership. On 9/11 while Pouillon was stationed across the street from the public school, a man in a pickup truck stopped and shot him four times with a shotgun, speeding off to commit another murder across town, this second murder apparently not directed against a pro-lifer. The shooter apparently resented Pouillon for his signs and public protests for life.

Media outlets and pro-choice advocacy groups, who had vociferously and swiftly condemned the gunning down of late-term abortion provider Dr. George Tiller in his church some weeks before, were conspicuously silent the day of Pouillon’s slaying.

Forty eight hours after Pouillon's slaying, President Obama issued a statement about Pouillon’s cold-blooded slaying in response to questions from Pro-Life groups: “The shooting last week in Michigan was deplorable. Whichever side of a public debate you’re on, violence is not the answer.” 

Contrast this with the government’s response with the response to Dr. George Tiller's killing. Before nightfall on the day of Tiller’s killing, President Obama said, “I am shocked and outraged by the murder of Dr. George Tiller as he attended church services this morning. However  profound our differences as Americans over difficult issues such as abortion, they cannot be resolved by heinous acts of violence." The Justice Department followed suit declaring that  “The Department of Justice will work tirelessly to determine the full involvement of any and all actors in this horrible crime, and to ensure that anyone who played a role in the offense is prosecuted to the full extent of federal law,” with the President even ordering the U.S. Marshall’s Service to offer federal protection to abortion providers. A litany of Pro-Abortion activist groups condemned the violence, and bloggers were quick to suggest that anti-abortion activism by its very nature breeds violence.

Now, which pro-choice groups have condemned Pouillon’s killing?: Not NARAL. Not NOW. Not Planned Parenthood. Not Catholics for Choice.

Aren’t all acts of political violence equally deplorable?

Image of premature infant holding adults finger from Neonatolgist Dr. Jay Milstein's page at UC Davis visit here.

School's Opening Year Liturgy on Feast of the Holy Cross

Gospel_church_144155 We celebrated a joy-filled mass in the gymatorium with our faculty, students 1st through 8th grades and many school parents this morning to praise God and ask for God's blessing on us during the 2009-2010 School year.

This year, we hope the three small signs of the cross we mark on our foreheads, lips and hearts each time before we hear the proclamation of the gospel at mass, signify the kinds of students and disciples of Christ we are at Holy Cross.

The gospel must live in our minds, whatever our age and whether or not we are in school. Luckly in Catholic school, you will learn about your faith in Religion Class. Other children learn about our faith in Religious Education classes. But our learning shouldn't stop when we graduate from school, it must be life long. Our curiosity about our faith should inspire us to keep reading and learning about the church, the Gospel and the life of Jesus and his teachings no matter what age we are.

But it's not just book knowledge of God we need, the gospel must live in our hearts. Our love for the Word of God should inspire us not only to love God and neighbor, but to express our love in the most specifically holy act we can do for God, attending the Holy Mass on Sundays. As part of God's worshipping family, we at Holy Cross, attend weekly mass, rain or shine, winter or summer.

The gospel and God's name must live with love on our lips and in our speech. This is a challenge for us since so many people around us, on the radio and TV, in internet email and chats use God's name in vain. "Oh, my God," should only be said with love and as a prayer. Let's really work on making sure that on our playground, during our soccer and basketball games and practices, we refrain from saying God's name in disaapointment, surprise or anger.

Three ways to live the gospel, three ways we can remember every time we sign ourselves at the gospel at mass: the gospel alive in our minds, on our lips, in our hearts.

Gospel Proclaimed In English

Tonight we tried something different at our traditional Latin Mass. According to Summorum PontificumLatinMissal  and its interpretation by the Ecclesia Dei Commission, it is permitted to proclaim the gospel in English only, as long as translations approved by the bishops are used.

In the past we tried reading the Scripture in Latin, and then English, and recently have been reading the Gospel in Latin only, since we are distributing English translations. Each option is permitted; which do you prefer?

Comments are open...

Poems for Parents, Teachers, Educators

Baby During mass last Tuesday at which our teachers began their school year with a retreat, I preached about hope and the teaching profession, indeed the hope of every parish which nurtures a school and its children. I used excerpts from two poems and in response to requests for the citations, I repeat them here:

Tomorrow's Child by Rubin Alves is a complex and beautiful poem. The last stanza reminds us that operating a school is not a business, but a vocation, and those who teach in them, administer them or send children to the best schools, do so at a high cost. As one educator has said, we need to focus not only on "test taking" but "meaning making" for our students.

...Let us plant dates

even though those who plant them will never eat them.

We must live by the love of what we will never see.

This is the secret discipline…

It is a struggled commitment to the future of our grandchildren.

Such disciplined love is what has given prophets, revolutionaries and saints

the courage to die for the future they envisaged.

They make their own bodies the seed of their highest hope.

Dreamy Goat by the Persian mystic poet Rumi, reminds us that even as we improve the academic and spiritual standards of our school, we must be sure to protect the "dreamy goats" in our midst.

You've seen a herd of goats
going down to the water.

The lame and dreamy goat
brings up the rear.

There are worried faces about that one,
but now they're laughing,

because look, as they return,
that goat is leading!

There are many different kinds of knowing.
The lame goat's kind is a branch
that traces back to the roots of presence.

Learn from the lame goat,
and lead the herd home.

Exultation of the Holy Cross

St_-Helena-Window Blessed Feast Day to Everyone!

Today at Holy Cross we celbrate our parish feastday, which since 1962, has combined three feasts previously observed individually:

1. The Feast of the Discovery of the True Cross

2. The Dedication of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

3. The Recovery of the True Cross after its captivity by the Persians

When we make the Sign of the Cross we honor the Triune God - Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Think of how many times we make the Sign of the Cross at Mass, including the three small crosses we just signed on our foreheads, lips and hearts as we began the proclamation of the Gospel, reminding ourselves that the Spirit of the Gospel needs to live in our minds, be on our lips and be loved in our hearts. 

We will soon have a church shaped like a cross - a fitting embodiment of the community as the Body of Christ and the place we worship as a community being shaped like the Body of Christ. 

So, our church will be shaped like a cross, our parish is named for the cross, we sign ourselves with the cross over and over again, what role does the cross play in our daily prayer lives?

We don't necessarily like to think about our sadnesses, disappointments and sufferings - our daily crosses - but it's important to do so in the context of today's celebration. Some of our sufferings are small, almost simply annoyances, some are nearly crushing, some are avoidable and some are not. 

Our sufferings should be united with Christ's and our sufferings should be shared when we gather in worship. Not that everyone else needs to know our business, some of our crosses show and some don't, but that we all realize we lighten each other's burdens by gathering a parish of people who have a context for not only for the joys and blessings in our lives, but also our sufferings. 

Solemn Evening Prayer to Pray for Peace, Remember the Dead


Approximately a dozen parishioners attended evening prayer this evening to pray for peace and for those who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington eight years ago.

Thank you to the members of our adult choir who attended and whose voices added immeasurably to chanted evening prayer service. Our altar server reverently carried a processional cross fashioned in part from some of the steel recovered from the wreckage of the Twin Towers in New York.

Requiescant in pace.

Terrorism Is Never Justified and Never a Solution

Today's Lectionary Readings

598px-Peace_dove_noredblobs_svg We must guard against the human tendency to blame the victim for their unmerited surffering. We have seen this mentality when it comes to sexual violence against women, for example.

We have seen this tendency too, in some political rhetoric about the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C. On this doleful day in our nation's history, it is well to remember our dead, and to pray for an end to war and violence as a means to political or religious ends, especially the cowardly and unjust kind of violence against the innocent called terrorism.

Today's gospel reminds us that no person or group of persons is perfect, but we are redeemed by Christ's sacrifice on Calvary and His glorious resurrection. Every person is entitled to the right to life and to be respected as a child of God. No one can justify commiting the grave sin of terrorism by citing another's sinfulness. Nor will terrorism disappear because we change it's name.

Please invite friends and neighbors to Solemn Evening Prayer this evening at 7 PM in order that we may me console one another with assurances of faith and pray for peace, and for our deceased brothers and sisters.

Faith Seeking Understanding Resumes October 7th



Bible Join Fr. Manning for a sneak  peek at the new translations which priest and people will soon be using at mass. We’ll discuss the overall rationale for the changes and the significance of some of the particular changes themselves. We’ll gather in the St Michael Media Room at 7:00 PM. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has a helpful page of information on their webpage.


New Translations of the Roman Missal




Even Stephen

Today's Lectionary Readings

I suppose this expression isn't too popular anymore, and there were no classes at mass this morning to test out my theory, but most adults of a certain vintage will know the expression "even stephen." It became commonly used in the United States around the time of the Civil war, when it signified an even trade for Union and Confederate currency.

Both readings today remind us that our personal rate of exchange shouldn't always be "even stephen" or better. Today, at least, let's try to live our Chrsitian responsibilities without counting the cost.



Passport to Heaven

Today's Lectionary Readings

Passportheaven Both readings this morning remind us that we are made for heaven, not for earth. At our Baptisms we put off our old selves and put on Christ, symbolized by our white baptismal garments. Our parents and godparents are given a lighted candle from the Easter candle, our sharing in the "Light of Christ," and enjoined to keep this flame of faith alive in our hearts. Most infants stare at the flame intently, and its easy to imagine the light of Christ flooding their minds and setting their sight on a new destination. 

Trouble is, we forget. Jesus in the Blessings and Woes of Luke's gospel, warns us that those who seek complete fulfillment in this life, have lost sight of their heavenly destination. 

Let us remember today that because we are Christians, we should be more than a little bit "out of this world."  Let us ask Jesus for the perseverance and faith to keep our eyes set on a heavenly goal we cannot see.

A Lively Church...


A lively church has parking problems;

                A dead church doesn’t.

A lively church has lots of “noisy” children and young people;

                A dead church is fairly quiet.

A lively church often changes the way things are done;

                A dead church doesn’t.

A lively church sees challenges and opportunities;

                A dead church plays it safe and never takes risks.

A lively church is filled with committed givers;

                A dead church is filled with tippers.

A lively church dares to dream great dreams for God’s kingdom;

                A dead church has nightmares.

from The Story File, by Steve May, editor; Hendrickson Publishers, 2000.

What Can Be Lacking in the Sufferings of Christ?

Today's Lectionary Readings

ChristCrucified14 "I am filling up
what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ
on behalf of his Body, which is the Church
" Col. 1:24

What can be lacking in the sufferings of Christ? I remember being taught that whatever sins Christ did not suffer (atone) for cannot be forgiven.

A beautiful modern theological interpretation of this question is John Paul II's Encyclical Salvifici Doloris. In it the pope affirms the perfection of Christ's suffering on Calvary, but calls them accomplished, not completed.

While we must avoid any Pelagian tendencies to think our sufferings earn our salvation, we can nevertheless actively join our own sufferings to Christ's and become not simply spectators at Calvary, but true participants. Linear time does not matter here: Just as Christ suffered to atone for sins we have not yet committed, so can we join our sufferings to his even though His crucifixion on Calvary is history. The sufferings of Christ on Calvary are both outside human history and yet intimately enfolded within it.

The good Sisters used to tell their pupils, "Offer it up." The pope even mentions this practice in his encyclical and embraces both the spirit and truth of the admonition, if not its simplicity. I return to this encyclical over and over because its truths are so important in accepting the blessings and meeting the challenges of Christian discipleship.

The painting is the part of the Isenheim Altarpiece (c. 1512) by Matthias Grunewald. It was remarkable then and now for the intense depictions of the Christ's sufferings. It was painted for a monastic chapel whose monks cared for the sick and suffering.

Papal Encyclical of John Paul II, "On The Christian Nature of Human Suffering."

You Know More Latin Than You Think

From tonight's gospel in the Extraordinary Form 

in the "Latin You Already Know Department"

Quaerite ergo primum regnum Dei.

Ergo: we sometimes use "ergo" to conclude logical arguments to mean "therefore." Primum: prime meats, prime mover, prime time, choice, best, first. Regnum: reign, regnant, regal, region, kingdom. Dei: deity, divine, God. Quaerite: inquire, seek, ask. 

    "Therefore seek first the kingdom of God."

Nemo potest duobus dominis servire.

Nemo: we probably know at least two, a captain and a fish, strangely it means "no one" or "nobody." Potest: potent, power, potential, able. Duobus:duo, dual, two. Dominis: dominion, kingdom. Servire: serve.

    "No one can serve two masters."

Enthusiasm and Commitment are Contagious

Dough I celebrated the 9:00 AM mass this Sunday and though the church had been full the last two weekends, the singing seemed more spirited and there was an unmistakably resounding "And Also with You" at the opening greeting. The uplifting responses continued throughout the mass. I was happy to note the difference and wondered if it was because of the envigorating weather.

I learned later that there were nearly a dozen newly-vowed Jesuits in training at our parish mass while they stay at their community's beach house in Sea Bright / Monmouth Beach. They are or will be studying at Fordham. I greeted them after mass and we will surely be mindful of them during our prayers for vocations and for priests. 

What a difference the enthusiasm and commitment of even a few can make to a community's prayer and worship of God. 

Say to Those Whose Hearts Are Frightened, Be Strong, Fear Not!

Sunday's Lectionary Readings

Desertstream Be strong, fear not! is good advice for Isaiah as many of us begin a new school year and prepare to make new friends, be assigned new teachers, and tackle a whole new set of subjects. Doing something new can be stimulating fun, but also frightening. Not at all fun are the new ways many people are having to try at earning a living, or to get by on under or unemployment.

The courage that Isaiah urges us to find does not rely on human endeavors or likely possibilities. True hope is pinned not to our own efforts, but to God's divine initiative. The modern preoccupation with depending entirely on ourselves with a little positive thinking mixed in applied to the right social programs has blinded us to divine possibilities in our lives.

We need our speech freed up and our eyes opened. Hope is more than a campaign slogan, it is a theological virtue - hope not in the government, but in God.

Even as we busy ourselves with prudent provision for our earthly needs, let turn to the Lord in worship and praise and ask for an infusion of Divine hope. Our courage then, will not be bravado, but true courage springing from our ultimate hope in God.

Swine Flu, Holy Communion, Shaking Hands and Prudence

Mon098115 As a few more parishioners take our swine flu survey, the results are curious and, as in most surveys, not altogether consistent.

As of this writing, a strong majority favor discontinuing the communion cups for now, but the community is  evenly divided about whether "hand to hand contact" should be encouraged at the Sign of Peace. A mass-goer visiting from another parish told me last week that in his parish, they all flash the Peace Sign instead of shaking hands. (Growing up in the sixties as I did, I would personally prefer we REALLY NOT adopt this gesture at worship!) A wave, a nod of the head, even a smile might be accepted without offense by someone who proffers their hand, especially if we mention these gestures as polite acceptable alternatives.

Understandably, but illogically, more people are comfortable shaking hands with the priest after mass, even though he presumably will have shaken hands with nearly everyone in the congregation by dismissals' end.

We should all keep alert to official recommendations of government and medical organizations with expertise in this area, but several points of agreement need emphasis: 1) If you are sick, stay home from Mass. No one sins by remaining confined at home due to illness. 2) Wash your hands - more than you think you need to. As soon as I can after greeting everyone after mass, I make it a practice to wash my hands, especially before I eat or snack at parish hospitality, for example. It seems to me that I have cut down on the number of sore throats and colds I catch each year by this simple habit.

We have (or will have) hand sanitizers for the Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion to use before and after distributing Eucharist.

If you haven't taken the survey yet, click here to take Swine Flu and Communion Survey.

The up to the minute results can be checked by clicking this link: Survey Results