Preaching

Genesis 1 AND Genesis 2

ArtLogoCreationIt is a wonderful exercise to read the creation accounts in Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 to pray about the truth of Scripture and what the contradictory details of each creation story reveal to us about the divinely inspired Word of God.

It's important to realize that the creation accounts from cultures and civilizations surrounding the Israelites featured warring gods and the creation of human beings as slaves of from the blood of vanquished gods.

Our God created the world in love and us a reflection of the Divine. Thanks be to our Creator God!

 


World Day of the Sick

LourdesThe World Day of the Sick coincides with the feast of our Lady of Lourdes, emphasizing the importance of prayer for the sick in the gathered communities of the healthy. It is important not to exclude the sick, many of whom may be out of sight, but they should never be out of mind. 

The site of the apparition in Lourdes is one of the most popular pilgrimage destinations in the world and a place of miraculous healings ever since Bernadette reported her visions.


Saint Josephine Bahkita, Patron Saint Against Human-Trafficking

 

JosephineSaint Josephine Bahkita was kidnapped into the Turkish slave markets and eventually brought to Italy where she was freed and entered the convent. As she began to speak about her past life, a story of torture and mistreatment emerged though she never harbored feelings of hatred in her heart toward those who violated her human dignity.

She was canonized by Pope John Paul II as an example of  forgiveness and reconciliation and a modern icon against human trafficking - any activity which commodifies human life.


The Marks of the Church

ArtLogo MarksI was delighted our third graders at morning mass knew the four marks of the church today, since it wasn't a question they would be anticipating based on today's gospel. Jesus sent the Twelve in mission two-by-two to preach and heal. Our church traces its origin back to Jesus' Twelve disciples, hence the 4th mark or characteristic of the church, apostolic.

 


ArtLogo Martyrs

St. Paul Miki and Companions were 26 Christians martyred for the Christian faith in the sixteenth century in a wave of Japanese isolationism and just before expulsion of all Christian missionaries. 

They were a group of all ages, including elderly and children. Their courage in witnessing to the faith and their mutual support of each other on the way to martyrdom are examples for all time.


St. Brigid

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Well

A St. Brigid's Cross Shown With Bridget's Well in Kildare County


St. Bridget wove a cross from some straw on the floor of hut where where she had been summoned by a Pagan chieftain for healing. His curiosity about her crafting led to his conversion to the faith.

May we be equally cunning and inventive in the presence of pagan power. May St. Brigid's intercession help protect us from the power of evil and flames of destruction in the world.

 


St. John Bosco

Bosco

St. John Bosco innovated a respectful and compassionate, but firm way of relating to young people. The overuse of corporal punishment in education and treatment of children as less than persons was eliminated. Instead, a compassionate, understanding method of discipline was embraced.

His emphasis of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament as a means not only of growing closer to the Lord, but as a source of protection from evil and the snares of the devil reminds us that Jesus will come to the aid of those who love him.

He founded the Salesians under the protection of St. Mary Help Of Christians and St. Francis de Sales.

 

 


A Sower Sowed Seed

Shutterstock_688338832Jesus tells the parable of the sower in this morning's gospel. 

We don't have much control over our changing environment and we don't select the time or place we are planted. Yet our task as Christians, especially in the present age, is to sink our roots deep in the Word and Christ's presence in His Church and yield much fruit.

In good times and bad times, Christ is the Way.

 


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. 

 


Conversion of St. Paul, Apostle

ArtLogoStPaulThis is an interesting fresco interpretation of the Conversion of Saul. While it emphasizes his Roman citizenship, it doesn't depict his Jewish origins. It also omits the artistic interpretation that he was stricken from a beast of burden.

Nothing Paul has ever written explains the human origins of his conversion. Unlike Augustine, there were no prodromal symptoms of the sudden metanoia. He hadn't experienced remorse, he hadn't been moved by anything the apostles preached, not even apparently Stephen's heroic death. His conversion came from God.

Such conversions are needed in the world today and our prayers for them profess our belief that they are not only miraculous events in the gospel, but can accompany us in our efforts to evangelize in the modern world. 


St. Anthony, Abbot

ArtLogo AnthonyThe Father of Western monasticism, Anthony chose a life a solitude in the desert, but as so often happens, the holiness and reputation of a holy hermit draws pilgrims and eventually he founded a monastery of like-spirited desert dwellers. Their poverty and solitude embodied their vision of leaving all and following Jesus.

I never paid too much attention to the pig or wild boar which is depicted with St. Anthony in some works of art, but now see that the boar is very frequently at his side. The original association was with a healing Anthony performed on a wild boar but became joined to the medieval use of lard as a soothing skin lotion for certain maladies for which the afflicted prayed to St. Anthony for relief. St. Anthony is joined atop the facade in St. Peter's by a faithful, grateful boar.

 


St. Peter Orseolo

An admiral at age 20, married with child, selected Doge of Venice. Served for two years during which he used substantial funds of his own to help rebuild and restore the Kingdom of Venice from fire and destruction. Built orphanages, hospitals and showed care for the poor while helping rebuild St. Mark's Cathedral. Abdicated his throne and left his wife (with her consent) to become a monk and later a hermit. He became known for his sanctity and miracle working. He certainly led an interesting and varied life.

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St. Adrian of Canterbury

ArtLogo0826_Adrianos_Martyras

St. Adrian of Canterbury, having declined the papal offer to become Archbishop of Canterbury (twice), nevertheless traveled to England and became abbot of the St. Augustine's Abbey, a place which he developed into a center of classical learning and Catholic identity in England. He was noted for his preaching, teaching and sanctity, even among a population that was sometimes inimical to the Catholic faith.

 


St. Raymond of Penafort

Logo RaymondSt. Raymond of Penafort, Dominican preacher and important figure in the history of Canon Law. Patron of lawyers, he is shown with a book of Canon Law and the key of authority in the church on his cincture. He lived to nearly 100 years of age - quite a notable feat in the 12th - 13th centuries.