Current Affairs

Summer Heat and Electric Power

0037-0505-3017-2458Well, so far one brief power outage this morning already at around 11:30 AM. Power is back on and we already have the air conditioning cranked for an afternoon wedding Saturday and our 5 PM Vigil Mass. Our church is very well insulated, but the large square surface of windows conduct heat from outside (don't touch them in sunshine!) so the air conditioning works a bit harder to compensate. On the other hand, we enjoy the warming effects of sunshine during the winter, so heating bills are lower.

Please be careful during the heat. Stay home if you have a medical condition making you susceptible to heat exhaustion. Should the power go out again and our air conditioning goes down, we'll do the best we can, but we may have to cancel mass. Holding it outdoors isn't even a reasonable alternative!

Hopefully, see you later today!

P.S. There isn't even a lot of beach traffic on Ward Avenue!

 


No Change for the English Version of the "Our Father" For Now

Bloch-SermonOnTheMountThe secular news media has given a lot of recent attention to the pope's approval of changes to the wording of the "Our Father" and the "Gloria." The verse the pope and others found problematic was "and lead us not into temptation" changed in the Italian to "do not abandon us to temptation."

Trenton's Diocesan Office of Worship points out that the changes are approved for the Italian missal texts and that although the same changes had  been approved for the translation of the New American Bible (2002), the texts used at Mass in English speaking countries remain unchanged for now.

The entire text of the Our Father requires catechesis for proper understanding, so personally I have a bit of trouble understanding what all the fuss is about. Does God either abandon us or tempt us?

 


Scammer Alert for Parishioners

DevilHornsThe Diocese of Trenton and the Atlantic Highlands Police Department have issued cautions about scammer(s) who are targeting church parishioners using the name of the parish pastor.

The email seems to come from the pastor and will ask the recipient to purchase gift cards for a worthy purpose. In Atlantic Highlands, the scammer then told the victim to send him  the gift card numbers, as the pastor was away from the parish for a while. 

Over the weekend, a member of Holy Cross staff received an email purporting to be from me saying that I wanted to reward some children who have been especially good at mass and asking if she could purchase some gift cards. Luckily, she contacted me rather than the "reply to" email and we avoided a problem. The scammer used the staff members correct first name, even though this was not obvious from the parish email address. 

The scam has nothing to do with any of the legitimate sources of online donation the parish uses. If there is any question about an email received from Holy Cross or one of the staff members, please call us to verify its authenticity, or call the local police if you have been victimized.

Several parishes around the diocese have been targeted, as have parishes in Philadelphia. Here is a link to the Atlantic Highlands article from the Monmouth Journal.

I am sure the children who attend mass will be rewarded, but not with Amazon Gift Cards!

Jesus warned us the children of darkness are crafty and persistent. Help us shine some light on this scam!


Bishop of Albany Cautions Governor Cuomo on Reproductive Health Act and Magisterial Language

Bishop-scharfenberger-albanyGovernor Andrew Cuomo often cites his Catholic faith and called us to stand with Pope Francis against the death penalty, but not six weeks later signed and applauded the Reproductive Health Act in New York State.

Albany Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger penned an open letter to Governor Cuomo, which about says it all:

 

Dear Governor Cuomo,

Although in your recent State of the State address you cited your Catholic faith and said we should “stand with Pope Francis,” your advocacy of extreme abortion legislation is completely contrary to the teachings of our pope and our Church. Once truth is separated from fiction and people come to realize the impact of the bill, they will be shocked to their core. By that time, however, it may be too late to save the countless lives that will be lost or spare countless women lifelong regret.

The so-called Reproductive Health Act (RHA) will expand abortion under the pretenses of choice and progress, which, in fact, it will do little to enhance. At the same time, this legislation threatens to rupture the communion between the Catholic faith and those who support the RHA even while professing to follow the Church, something that troubles me greatly as a pastor.

Contrary to what its proponents say, the RHA goes far beyond Roe vs. Wade in its aggressive extremism. Granting non-doctors permission to perform abortions does nothing to advance the security and health of women. Condoning coerced or involuntary abortions by repealing criminal sanctions even in cases where a perpetrator seeks to make his partner “un-pregnant” through an act of physical violence does not represent any kind of progress in the choice, safety or health of women. Removing protection for an infant accidentally born alive during an abortion is abject cruelty, something most people of conscience would deem inhumane for even a dog or cat. Finally, allowing late-term abortions is nothing less than a license to kill a pre-born child at will.

It is very difficult to understand how you can align yourself with Pope Francis and so vehemently advocate such profoundly destructive legislation.

I find myself wondering how it can be viewed as “progress” to have gone from a society working to make abortion “rare” to one that urges women to “shout your abortion” as some advocates of this bill boldly announce.

How is it progress to ignore the harm that this will do, not only to innocent infants, born and unborn, but to their mothers? Does the heartache of so many New York women who have been pained by their abortion decisions matter? Is anyone listening to them? How is it really “pro-choice” when a law, which claims to guarantee choice, moves to expand only one option for women?

If abortion is deemed a fundamental right in New York State, will the State then still be able to issue licenses to pro-life nurses or physicians? Will health facilities which do not provide abortions be certified? Will the law allow that even one dollar be given to maternity services without offering women the “choice” of abortion? These are unanswered questions, but I shudder to think of the consequences this law will wreak. You have already uttered harsh threats about the welcome you think pro-lifers are not entitled to in our state. Now you are demonstrating that you mean to write your warning into law. Will being pro-life one day be a hate crime in the State of New York?

Our young people especially, who have seen their sonograms and who follow the discoveries the sciences have made, know the lies and the despair that proponents of such dangerous and death-dealing legislation are promulgating, even if blindly or unwittingly.

Giving up on life is no excuse for us as a responsible and compassionate people. In so doing, we evade the challenge of accompanying women and the families they are trying to nurture on the long journey. They deserve our courageous and ongoing support in creating conditions under which they will be free to bear and provide for their children.

As a society, we can and must do better. The teaching and intuition of our common faith readies us to help. It is an essential part of our mission to support the lives of all, especially the voiceless, the most vulnerable and marginalized, as Pope Francis always reminds us to do.

Let’s not bequeath to our children a culture of death, but together build a more humane society for the lives of all of our fellow citizens.

Mr. Cuomo, do not build this Death Star.

Sincerely yours,

Most Rev. Edward B. Scharfenberger
Bishop of Albany

 

Bishop Scharfenberger is to be commended for his clear and concise letter, a repetition of church teaching on the matter of grave moral evil and abortion. The bishop's letter makes clear the governor does not teach Catholic doctrine and had better curb his language when embracing his Catholic faith and immoral legislation under the pope's name.


Politics, Faith and Abortion: A Bad Mix

Cuomo_RHA2New York governor Andrew Cuomo signs The Reproductive Health Bill , codifying the decisions of Roe v. Wade into New York law. Its provisions allow unrestricted access to abortion until 24 weeks of age and after that in cases of non-viability of the fetus, or to protect the life/health of the mother. Partial birth abortions would seem allowed under the provisions of the law, since the "life/health" of the mother has been broadly interpreted to include psychological distress over carrying even a healthy baby. 

The bill was passed by a newly controlling Democratic majority in the state senate and fueled by fears that a conservative leaning Supreme Court bench could reverse provisions of Roe v. Wade. Happily, many states are restricting access to abortion, permitting abortion only in the early stages of pregnancy. Polls show that most Americans support such restrictive measures, regardless of religious affiliation. 

Given the devastating impact abortion has had on racial minorities, especially in New York City, the photo taken at the bill signing is ironic. 

 


March For Life 2019

An intrepid contingent of pilgrims left by bus from Holy Cross to participate in the March for Life in Washington, D.C. today. The weather always presents a challenge, especially these days when forecasters seem so prone to maximize the potential of every flake of snow into a major blizzard.

The experience of being part of so many people who are pro-life is one not to be missed! We should have some photos later in the day.

Marchforlifeuniquefromdayone


Bayley Seton Hospital Staten Island, NY

Photo of the former Bayley Seton Hospital on Staten Island, re-named by the Sisters of Charity when they took control of the hospital from the US Public Health Service in 1980 to honor their foundress Mother Elizabeth Ann Seton and her father Dr. Richard Bayley.

The campus has been sold and resold since then but the cross still remains on the front of the main building. An urban explorer website of abandoned buildings photographed the prayer plaque on a wall of one of the abandoned buildings.

 

BayleySetonCross on the Building from the Bayley Seton Days

https://expo.silive.com/erry-2018/04/9eaafbc0fa/abandoned_bayley_seton_hospita.html


President of U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Renews Commitment for Greater Effectiveness and Transparency in Disciplining Bishops

The President of the USCCB has reiterated his commitment to work with Pope Francis in establishing mechanisms to improve the effectiveness of child protection procedures and oversight of adults working in the church including seminarians. Read the full text of the Cardinal's letter which should give us all encouragement in this time of testing for the church.

 

" The more she is buffeted by storms, the more I am reminded that the Church's firm foundation is Jesus Christ. "

Full Text of Cardinal DiNardo's Letter

 

One of my favorite themes in art is Christ on the Sea of Galilee. Eugene Delacroix painted three versions and one of the stolen Rembrandt's depicted it as well.

Missing Rembrandt
Rembrandt's Missing Painting


Missing Rembrandt
Missing Rembrandt

Missing Rembrandt
The Delacroix Version In My Office

Common Sense with Communion and Communicable Illness

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Since the flu season is upon us, it is important that we take simple precautions to minimize the chance of spreading it during our Masses. 

Some common sense guidelines are worth repeating: 1) If you are experiencing the effects of any potentially contagious illness, refrain from taking communion from the common chalice. 2) If you are coughing repeatedly and not feeling well, it is sensible to stay home and not attend Mass until you are well. 3) If you have a cough and runny nose (not allergies) it would be prudent to refrain from shaking hands.

Here is a recent guideline from the bishop's office:

With the guidance of the bishop it is the role of the pastor to judge whatever measures are needed to ensure the well-being of his parish community and to take every opportunity to remind the faithful that they should refrain from receiving Communion from the chalice if they are ill.  The sick are not obliged to attend Mass and should use prudence and good judgment before coming into contact with others.

 


Nine Days for Life

This morning we began praying the Novena for Life after morning mass. Please join us or participate online by clicking the link below to reach the website of the USCCB (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops) for the materials.

This year, for the first time ever, our president will address marchers at the March for Life in Washington, DC via satellite hookup from the Oval Office. There are still seats on the bus Holy Cross has chartered for the day trip tomorrow (Friday). Call our office to reserve and pay for your seat now.

Joining together to pray for the protection of human life at all its stages is a crucial contemporary mission. 

Usccb-9-days-round-logo-org-crcle

Nine Days for Life


Pope Francis Offers Prayers For Healing and Consolation

The Vatican released a copy of the telegram sent to the Archbishop of San Antonio regarding the church shootings in Texas.

 

The Most Reverend Gustavo Garcia-Siller
Archbishop of San Antonio

Deeply grieved by news of the loss of life and grave injuries caused by the act of senseless violence perpetrated at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, the Holy Father asks you kindly to convey his heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims and the wounded, to the members of the congregation, and to the entire local community. He asks our Lord Jesus Christ to console all who mourn and to grant them the spiritual strength that triumphs over violence and hatred by the power of forgiveness, hope and reconciling love.

Cardinal Pietro Parolin
Secretary of State


Mary, First Among All Saints

Mary
Adaptation of A Classic Painting, Mary Mother of Mercy, Showing Crowd From A Modern World Youth Day


On this holy day, let us implore Mary for her intercession for God's help to keep us safe, especially those who are entrusted with the public safety and the common good. Let us give thanksgiving for those who protect us and ask God's protection on caregivers and protectors.

 


Trump Administration Reverses Obama's Contraceptive Pill and Procedure Mandate

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The US Bishops hailed the Trump administrations new regulations which restore more broad exemptions from the contraceptive mandate of the Affordable Care Act to religious groups and organizations.

This should finally allow the Little Sisters of the Poor and other groups who have been challenging the regulations to come to reconciliation.

The USCCB's statement regarding the broadening of the exemption read in part:

 "Such an exemption is no innovation, but instead a return to common sense, long-standing federal practice, and peaceful coexistence between church and state. It corrects an anomalous failure by federal regulators that should never have occurred and should never be repeated.

"These regulations are good news for the Little Sisters of the Poor and others who are challenging the HHS mandate in court.  We urge the government to take the next logical step and promptly resolve the litigation that the Supreme Court has urged the parties to settle.

"The regulations are also good news for all Americans. A government mandate that coerces people to make an impossible choice between obeying their consciences and obeying the call to serve the poor is harmful not only to Catholics but to the common good. Religious freedom is a fundamental right for all, so when it is threatened for some, it is threatened for all. We welcome the news that this particular threat to religious freedom has been lifted...."


The Dogma Lives Loudly Within You

 

 

Letter from Notre Dame President to Sen. Feinstein

Honorable Dianne Feinstein

United States Senate

331 Hart Senate Office Building

Washington, D.C. 20510

September 9, 2017

Dear Senator Feinstein:

Considering your questioning of my colleague Amy Coney Barrett during the judicial confirmation hearing of September 6, I write to express my confidence in her competence and character, and deep concern at your line of questioning.

Professor Barrett has been a member of our faculty since 2002, and is a graduate of our law school. Her experience as a clerk for Judge Laurence Silberman of the U.S. Court of Appeals and Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is of the highest order. So, too, is her scholarship in the areas of federal courts, constitutional law and statutory interpretation. I am not a legal scholar, but I have heard no one seriously challenge her impeccable legal credentials.

Your concern, as you expressed it, is that “dogma lives loudly in [Professor Barrett], and that is a concern when you come to big issues that large numbers of people have fought for years in this country.” I am one in whose heart “dogma lives loudly," as it has for centuries in the lives of many Americans, some of whom have given their lives in service to this nation. Indeed, it lived loudly in the hearts of those who founded our nation as one where citizens could practice their faith freely and without apology.

Professor Barrett has made it clear that she would “follow unflinchingly” all legal precedent and, in rare cases in which her conscience would not allow her to do so, she would recuse herself. I can assure you that she is a person of integrity who acts in accord with the principles she articulates.

It is chilling to hear from a United States Senator that this might now disqualify someone from service as a federal judge. I ask you and your colleagues to respect those in whom “dogma lives loudly”—which is a condition we call faith. For the attempt to live such faith while one upholds the law should command respect, not evoke concern.

Respectfully,

Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.

President

 

Statement from United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

WASHINGTON—Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty has issued the following statement in response to the line of questioning directed at a federal judicial nominee earlier this week.    

Archbishop Lori's full statement follows: 

"America has a strong and venerable tradition of pluralism that respects all religious views. In this context, this week's hearing before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee is deeply disappointing. Rather than simply consider the professional achievements of a nominee for the federal judiciary, multiple senators challenged her fitness to serve due to her Catholic faith. 

Such questions are not just contrary to our Constitution and our best national traditions, which protect the free exercise of one's faith and reject religious tests for public office, they are offensive to basic human rights. They also, sadly, harken back to a time in our country when anti-Catholic bigotry did distort our laws and civil order. These comments are a reminder that we must remain vigilant against latent bigotries that may still infect our national soul.

Were the comments of the Senators meant as a warning shot to future law students and attorneys, that they should never discuss their faith in a public forum, if they have aspirations to serve in the federal judiciary? In truth, we should be encouraging faithful, ethical attorneys to serve in public office, not discouraging them by subjecting them to inappropriate, unnecessary interrogation based on their religious beliefs.

People of faith—whatever faith they may hold—should not be disqualified because of that faith from serving the public good. Rather than hold people of faith in suspicion, our laws and lawmakers should tolerate, if not celebrate, the role faith has in society and in the lives of individuals. To do otherwise is contrary to the ideals of a healthy, pluralistic society."


Hurricane Harvey Relief Collection At Today's Masses

Thank you for your generosity to the Hurricane Harvey Relief Collection the bishop has asked us to take up this weekend. If the emergency collection caught you unawares, feel free to bring or send your envelope to the Parish Office over the next week and we will forward the funds to Bishop O'Connell who has promised to forward the funds directly to Cardinal Archbishop DiNardo of Galveston-Houston.

 


New High Resolution Security Cameras

SecurityHoly Cross recently completed the installation of high resolution security cameras in and around the church. The school, of course has had such cameras for some time now and the old church had security cameras, but the new church has been without them until now.

Technology advances quickly and the quality of the images from modern security cameras far surpass those of even a few years ago. But electronic security cannot substitute for watchful eyes and the importance of reporting suspicious activity in and around the church to parish staff or the police.

There have been a few episodes of robbery from churches recently in our diocese. Keep watch on God's House!

 


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

Potamos_nea_zilandia

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.

Et

Happily Yes, so far. 



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.  

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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.