31 July 2008

'Sometimes I feel like a fatherless child'

I'm the kind of person who often reacts to stereotypes, including positive ones. I've seen many, many photos and paintings of mothers holding their babies. It's a cliche, though a positive, wholesome one. When we were planning the cover of Misyon for November-December 2007 my assistant editor, Anne, took photos of friends of hers here in Bacolod, Renante and Cristina Uy with their first child, Keifer Thomas. We discussed which photo to use and eventually opted for this one - with Renante rather than Cristina holding Keefer.

Years ago in Mindanao I heard a young father, a lawyer, say that he never held his children. That was his wife's job. I thought of how much both he and his children, whom he loved, were missing. Some of my own happiest memories from my childhood are of my father's affectionate love. He was a carpenter and made a little saddle for me on the crossbar of his bicycle. I have one clear memory of being on the bike with him. It was before we moved house three months or so after my third birthday.

I've known persons who lost their father's through death when they were very young and who have felt a deep sense of loss throughout their lives. But in some parts of the world today fatherhood is seen almost as something abhorrent and certainly not needed. This report is from the July-August issue of Personal Update published by Family and Life in Ireland.

Father’s Day Removed from School and Family

A primary school in Scotland told its teachers to omit any classwork relating to Father’s Day lest those children without fathers would be made to feel inferior. This comes at a time when the British parliament has voted to recognise in law that a child no longer needs a father. This trend to dismiss the role of fathers takes place when clear evidence is accumulating that fatherless families have definite negative consequences for the socialisation of young children. The decay of family life in the United States is well documented, and its negative consequences quantified. Nearly two of every five children there do not live with their fathers, and…

* 63% of suicides of youths are from fatherless homes. [Census Bureau]
* 90% of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes.
* 85% of all children that exhibit behavioural disorders come from fatherless homes. [Centers for Disease Control]
* 80% of rapists motivated by displaced anger come from fatherless homes. [Criminal Justice and Behavior, Vol. 14 pp. 403-26]
* 71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes. [National Principals Association Report on the State of High Schools]
* 85% of all youths in prison grew up in a fatherless home. [Fulton County Georgia Jail Populations and Texas Department of Corrections, 1992]

As they say in the USA, 'Go figure'.

'Dementia: the past makes sense of the present' 2

The Daily Telegraph published the second part of Dementia: the past makes sense of the present under the title Dementia part two: unlocking memories through love on Tuesday. This is an extract from a book on dementia by Oliver James. See my earlier post here.

My friend Frances Molloy, founder of Pastoral Care Project in the Archdiocese of Birmingham, England, asked me in an email if there was any reference to the spiritual needs of those with different forms of dementia. There doesn't seem to be a specific reference but I haven't read the whole book. But for us Christians, for whom our relationship with God is supposed to be the most central in our lives, the spiritual and faith dimension of our lives cannot be bypassed.


Just after I posted the above I came across an article by Rosie Boycott in today's Daily Telegraph on the same subject, 'I wish the new Alzheimer's drug had come in time for Daddy'.
It has links to the two extracts from the book of Oliver James on dementia, part one and part two.

28 July 2008

'A Trip to Rome'

I got this story from Jackie Parkes who got it from Aussie Coffee shop who got it from Abbey at Abbey’s Road . . . I decided to add a few pictures.

This is something to think about when negative people are doing their best to rain on your parade. So remember this story the next time someone who knows nothing, and cares less, tries to make your life miserable.

A woman was at her hairdresser's getting her hair styled for a trip to Rome with her husband.

She mentioned the trip to the hairdresser, who responded:

"Rome ? Why would anyone want to go there? It's crowded and dirty. You're crazy to go to Rome .

So, how are you getting there?"

"We're taking Air France," was the reply. "We got a great rate!"

"Air France?" exclaimed the hairdresser. "That's a terrible airline. Their planes are old, their flight attendants are ugly, and they're always late.

So, where are you staying in Rome ?"
"We'll be at this exclusive little place over on Rome's Tiber River called Teste."

"Don't go any further. I know that place. Everybody thinks its gonna be something special and exclusive, but it's really a dump, the worst hotel in the city! The rooms are small, the service is surly, and they're overpriced.
So, whatcha' doing when you get there?"

"We're going to go to see the Vatican and we hope to see the Pope."

"That's rich," laughed the hairdresser. "You and a million other people trying to see him. He'll look the size of an ant.

Boy, good luck on this lousy trip of yours. You're going to need it."

A month later, the woman again came in for a hairdo. The hairdresser asked her about her trip to Rome

"It was wonderful," explained the woman, "not only were we on time in one of Air France's brand new planes, but it was overbooked, and they bumped us up to first class. The food and wine were wonderful, and I had a handsome 28-year-old steward who waited on me hand and foot.

And the hotel was great! They'd just finished a $5 million remodeling job, and now it's a jewel, the finest hotel in the city. They, too, were overbooked, so they apologized and gave us their owner's suite at no extra charge!"

"Well," muttered the hairdresser, "that's all well and good, but I know you didn't get to see the Pope."

"Actually, we were quite lucky, because as we toured the Vatican, a Swiss Guard tapped me on the shoulder, and explained that the Pope likes to meet some of the visitors, and if I'd be so kind as to step into his private room and wait, the Pope would personally greet me.

Sure enough, five minutes later, the Pope walked through the door and shook my hand! I knelt down and he spoke a few words to me."

"Oh, really! What'd he say ?"

He said: "Where'd you get the terrible hairdo?

'Dementia: the past makes sense of the present'

Today’s Daily Telegraph has a very interesting article, Dementia: the past makes sense of the present.

In his groundbreaking new book, psychologist Oliver James explains a revolutionary way to care for dementia patients, developed by his mother-in-law. Here, in the first of a two part-series, Cassandra Jardine talks to them both. Read the full article here.

I got to know a little about the different forms of dementia through Frances Molloy, the founder of the Pastoral Care Project when I met her at a Mass I celebrated nearly eight years ago in a nursing home in Birmingham, England, where many of the residents had different forms of dementia. Frances is originally from Rathlin Island, off the north coast of County Antrim, Northern Ireland. I was involved with the Project for the rest of my two-year stint in Britain.

The Mission Statement of the Project reads:

The Pastoral Care Project is inspired by the Christian tradition and is committed to promoting and providing, pastoral, spiritual and religious support for patients, residents, their family, carers and staff within residential and nursing homes or in the individual’s private residence. This ensures a holistic approach to all frail elderly people including those with dementia-related illness.

Frances has a passion for the spiritual needs of patients and has often come across an utter lack of comprehension or awareness of this among those taking care of older people. However, when this basic need is pointed out Frances meets with cooperation.

I have found it distressing at times to meet friends with dementia whom I knew when they were in full vigour. I remember meeting a Christian Brother who had taught me in my last two years in O’Connell’s Schools in Dublin, An Bráthair (Brother) Mícheál S. Ó Flaitile, whom I revered and with whom I had kept in touch over the years. But the last time I went to see him I nearly cried. He had been very active intellectually up to his 80s but then declined fairly rapidly. He didn’t even know me.

But on the occasions when I have celebrated Mass with groups where many had a form of dementia, or where many were mentally ill, or had mental disabilities - three different categories - I have always been very conscious of the presence of the Risen Lord who can touch the hearts of each of us. We don’t lose our dignity, we don’t cease to be an image of God through dementia, through a learning disability, through mental illness, whether temporary or permanent.

Rathlin Island

24 July 2008

WYD videos: Testimony of young Deaf Australian woman

You can find videos of all the WYD events, including those that took place in other parts of Australia before WYD proper, here.

Since I work with Deaf people to some extent here in the Philippines and celebrate Mass in Sign Language from time to time, I found the testimony of a young Deaf Australian woman very encouraging. It's about 8:50 minutes into EVENING VIGIL PART 2.

Profoundly Deaf people often describe themselves as the Deaf, with a capital 'D', to identify themselves as a group. They do not describe themselves as 'hard of hearing'. My understanding of that term is what happens to many of us as we get older - our hearing is not as good as it used to be. If we wear glasses we don't describe ourselves as 'blind'. A person who cannot see is blind, not 'hard of seeing'. A person who cannot hear, or has very little hearing, is deaf.

That's the flag of the Philippines on the right.

Photos are copyright WYD 2008 but are among those that may be used by people like me.

21 July 2008

God's 'Marriage Proposal'

On God's Marriage Proposal

I wasn't able to follow the last three days of World Youth Day as I was at the national board meeting of Worldwide Marriage Encounter - Philippines, in Dumaguete City. I was more than happy when I read that yesterday after the midday Angelus in Sydney Pope Benedict spoke of the Annunciation in terms of a marriage proposal from God to us.

The sacrament of matrimony is meant to be a reflection of the love of Jesus Christ, as the bridegroom, for the Church, his bride. This is a totally unconditional love. Pope Benedict too reminds us that the Christian life, including marriage, is not a matter of 'living happily ever after' - at least in this life.

Here is the text of Pope Benedict's talk.

The Annunciation, El Greco, 1569-70

* * *
Dear Young Friends,

In the beautiful prayer that we are about to recite, we reflect on Mary as a young woman, receiving the Lord's summons to dedicate her life to him in a very particular way, a way that would involve the generous gift of herself, her womanhood, her motherhood. Imagine how she must have felt. She was filled with apprehension, utterly overwhelmed at the prospect that lay before her.

The angel understood her anxiety and immediately sought to reassure her. "Do not be afraid, Mary .... The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you" (Lk 1:30, 35). It was the Spirit who gave her the strength and courage to respond to the Lord's call. It was the Spirit who helped her to understand the great mystery that was to be accomplished through her. It was the Spirit who enfolded her with his love and enabled her to conceive the Son of God in her womb.

This scene is perhaps the pivotal moment in the history of God's relationship with his people. During the Old Testament, God revealed himself partially, gradually, as we all do in our personal relationships. It took time for the chosen people to develop their relationship with God. The Covenant with Israel was like a period of courtship, a long engagement. Then came the definitive moment, the moment of marriage, the establishment of a new and everlasting covenant. As Mary stood before the Lord, she represented the whole of humanity. In the angel's message, it was as if God made a marriage proposal to the human race. And in our name, Mary said yes.

In fairy tales, the story ends there, and all "live happily ever after". In real life it is not so simple. For Mary there were many struggles ahead, as she lived out the consequences of the "yes" that she had given to the Lord. Simeon prophesied that a sword would pierce her heart. When Jesus was twelve years old, she experienced every parent's worst nightmare when, for three days, the child went missing. And after his public ministry, she suffered the agony of witnessing his crucifixion and death. Throughout her trials she remained faithful to her promise, sustained by the Spirit of fortitude. And she was gloriously rewarded.

Dear young people, we too must remain faithful to the "yes" that we have given to the Lord's offer of friendship. We know that he will never abandon us. We know that he will always sustain us through the gifts of the Spirit. Mary accepted the Lord's "proposal" in our name. So let us turn to her and ask her to guide us as we struggle to remain faithful to the life-giving relationship that God has established with each one of us. She is our example and our inspiration, she intercedes for us with her Son, and with a mother's love she shields us from harm.
© Copyright 2008 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana
Photos of the wedding of Junby Saguisag and Mitzi Ramos, 15 December 2007, with myself as officiating priest, through Mitzi's Little World from here. Mitzi is my editorial assistant at Misyon.

No watered-down beer here - nor watered-down Catholicism

The word of God is light to the mind and fire to the will
St Laurence of Brindisi OFMCap (1559-1619), priest and doctor of the Church spoke those words in one of his sermons. For the word of God is a light to the mind and fire to the will, enabling man to know and love God.

In the same sermon he writes, This is why Christ says: “A sower went out to sow his seed”. Because of this, the parable of the sower is chosen as the gospel for the feast of St Laurence: Mk 4:1-10, 13-20. I celebrated Mass this evening with Capuchin Tertiary Sisters of the Holy Family. As I began reading the gospel I was struck by the fact that while Jesus preached in synagogues, he often preached in other places. In this case: Again he began to teach beside the sea. And a very large crowd gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat in it on the sea; and the whole crowd was beside the sea on the land (Mk 4:1).

One place where people gather is in pubs or taverns. Theology on Tap began in Chicago in 1981 and has spread to a number of countries including, according to some websites, the Philippines (though I haven’t been able to find out online any confirmation of this). Someone is invited to give a talk on a theological/pastoral matter, not for entertainment only but because people are searching for the truth. During World Youth Day in Sydney Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver, Colorado, a Capuchin friar like St Laurence of Brindisi, gave a talk in PJ Gallagher’s Irish Pub.

I don’t drink alcohol but I know that my friends who do wouldn’t accept watered-down beer. Archbishop Chaput didn’t give his listeners a watered-down gospel. Here’s the text, with some parts highlighted.

World Youth Day 2008: Theology on Tap
"Mission Possible: This double-life will self-destruct"

You hear a lot of stories when you're in a pub having a pint. So I thought I'd start our time together tonight with a story. Now, some of the tales you hear when you're sitting with friends over a beer might stretch the truth a little. But I promise: the one I'm about to tell you is true.

It's about a young man named Franz who lived about 60 years ago in a small village in Austria. Franz was the illegitimate son of a farmer who later died in World War I. He was a wild kid. Everyone recalls he was the first one in the village to drive a motorcycle. And I don't think that's because he drove safely or kept to the posted speed limits. Franz was the leader of a gang that used to fight rival gangs in neighboring villages with knives and chains. He was something of a cad, too, and a womanizer. He got a girl pregnant and was forced to leave town. People said he went to work for a while in an iron mine.

For reasons nobody knows, Franz came back a changed man. He had always gone to church, even during his wildest days. But when he returned, he was a serious Catholic, not just a Sunday-Catholic. He started making payments to support the child he had fathered out of wedlock. He married a good Catholic woman and settled down to become a good farmer, husband and father, raising three children and serving as a lay leader in his local parish.

I'll tell you the rest of the story later. But I want to quote something Franz wrote in a letter to his godson. He wrote: "I can say from my own experience how painful life often is when one lives as a halfway Christian. It is more like vegetating than living."

I remembered Franz and those words when I started thinking about tonight's topic: "Mission Possible: This Double-Life Will Self-Destruct." Most of you aren't Americans, and you're all too young to remember the original "Mission Impossible" TV series that aired in the States in the '60s and '70s. But I suppose the organizers of my talk figured you'd all seen the Tom Cruise movies that came out a few years back.

In any event, it's a clever image. Believers today are relentlessly tempted to lead a "double life" – to be one person when we're in church or at prayer and somebody different when we're with our friends or family, or at work, or when we talk about politics.

Part of this temptation comes from normal peer pressure. We don't want to stand out. We don't want to appear different, so we keep our religious beliefs to ourselves. It's as if we've internalized the old adage: "Never talk about religion or politics in polite company." I've never bought that line of thinking, myself. Religion, politics, social justice - these are precisely the things we should be talking about.

Nothing else really matters. What could be more important than religious faith, which deals with the ultimate meaning of life, and politics, which deals with how we should organize our lives together for the common good?

So those are the things we want to talk about tonight. I think it's important, though, that we start with a kind of "diagnosis" of the culture we're living in. The reason is simple. We're living in the first age in human history where entire societies are organized according to this principle of "the double life."

Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor calls our period the "secular age." How we got to this moment is far too big a subject for us tonight. The point is that in just a few centuries we've gone from living in a world where it was virtually impossible not to believe in God, to living in a world where belief in God doesn't seem to be necessary or to make any difference.

Most men and women today can live their whole lives as if God didn't exist. Of course in the West – and by "the West" I mean developed, Western-style democracies like Australia -- we're allowed to believe in God, and even to pray and worship together. But we're constantly lectured by the mass media to never "impose" our religious viewpoints on our neighbors. This curious idea is always framed as a very reasonable and enlightened way to live. You're free to believe what you want to believe; I'm free to believe what I want to believe; and the government agrees not to tell either of us what to believe or not to believe.

But things aren't as reasonable and enlightened as they seem. For example, the last time I was in Australia, your parliament was considering legislation to allow the cloning of embryonic stem-cells. This cloning would translate into an attack on the fundamental dignity of human life. And Cardinal Pell and your bishops had the courage to stand up and say so. What astounded me was the backlash their statements provoked. There was talk of charging Church leaders with intimidating MPs and tampering with the legislative process. All because they had the audacity to voice a political opinion that was based on their religious convictions.

Cases like this are cropping up more and more in the developed world. Just last month a court in Belgium dismissed charges filed against a Catholic bishop. The allegation was that this bishop was fomenting hatred of homosexuals. Of course he did nothing of the sort. All he did was articulate the Church's ancient teaching that homosexual activity is a sin and that it's detrimental to an individual's spiritual health and well-being.

In a secular age, however, this kind of opinion becomes grounds for prosecution. And these cases have a very calculated "chilling effect." They reinforce, with the threat of jail and fines, the pressures that we Catholics already feel to keep our mouths shut. To obey the "double life" rule. To define our faith as simply private prayer and personal piety.

But we know we can't do that. We can't live a half-way Christianity. The organizers of tonight's event were right. Every double life will inevitably self-destruct. The question then becomes: How are we going to live in this world? How can we lead a Christian life in a secular age?

We can't really answer that question until we get some things straight about what it means to be a Christian. And that means first getting some things straight about Jesus Christ. This is another one of the by-products of our secular age: we don't really quite know what to think about Jesus anymore.

A few years before he became Pope Benedict XVI, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger wrote something that is unfortunately very true. He wrote: "Today in broad circles, even among believers, an image has prevailed of a Jesus who demands nothing, never scolds, who accepts everyone and everything, who no longer does anything but affirm us. . . . The figure is transformed from the 'Lord' (a word that is avoided) into a man who is nothing more than the advocate of all men."

We all know people -- friends or family members or both -- who think about Jesus in these terms. It's hard to avoid. Our culture has given Jesus a make-over. We've remade him in the image and likeness of secular compassion. Today he's not the Lord, the Son of God, but more like an enlightened humanist nice guy.

The problem is this: If Jesus isn't Lord, if he isn't the Son of God, then he can't do anything for us. Then the Gospel is just one more or less interesting philosophy of life. And that's my first point about how we need to live in a secular age: We have to trust the Gospels and we have to trust the Church that gives us the Gospels. We have to truly believe that Jesus is the Son of God and the son of Mary. True God and true man. The One who holds the words of eternal life. If we aren't committed to that truth, then nothing else I say tonight can make any sense.

Second point: Jesus didn't come down from heaven to tell us to go to church on Sunday. He didn't die on the cross and rise from the dead so that we would pray more at home and be a little nicer to our next-door neighbors. The fact that you smile when I say these things means we know intuitively how absurd it is to imagine a privatized, part-time Christianity.
The one thing even non-believers can see is that the Gospels aren't compromise documents. Jesus wants all of us. And not just on Sundays. He wants us to love God with all our heart, all our soul, all our strength, and all our mind. He wants us to love our neighbor as ourselves. That is, with a love that's total.

We need to take Christ at his word. We need to love him like our lives depend on it. Right now. And without excuses. Remember that man who told Jesus: I'm ready to be your disciple, but first I need to plan my father's funeral? The way Jesus responds is so blunt, so disturbing: "Leave the dead to bury their own dead. Follow me and proclaim the kingdom of God." Of course, he's not commanding disrespect for our parents. What he's saying is that there can be no more urgent priority in our lives than following him and proclaiming his kingdom.
My third point flows from the first two: Being a follower of Christ is not just one among many aspects of your daily life. Being a Christian is who you are. Period. And being a Christian means your life has a mission. It means striving every day to be a better follower, to become more like Jesus in your thoughts and actions.
Blessed Charles de Foucauld once said that, "God calls all the souls he has created to love him with their whole being. . . . But he does not ask all souls to show their love by the same works, to climb to heaven by the same ladder, to achieve goodness in the same way. What sort of work, then must I do? Which is my road to heaven?"

God expects big things from each of you. That's why he made us. To love him and to serve one another, and to play our personal part in bringing about the kingdom of love. So you have to ask yourselves the same questions that Blessed Charles asked himself. What does God want you to be doing? How does he want you to follow Christ?

Now, how do you go about finding the answers to these questions? By talking to God, humbly and honestly, in prayer. By getting to know Christ better through daily reading and praying over the Gospels. By opening yourself up to the graces he gives us in the sacraments. "Ask and it will be given you; seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you." It's not about you choosing what you want to do with your life. It's about discovering how God wants to use your life to spread the good news of his love and his kingdom.

Blessed Charles, by the way, is one of the great stories of the 20th century. He was a Frenchman who lived most of his life like the prodigal son, squandering his inheritance on alcohol, women, and dead-end pleasures. But when he came to know Jesus Christ, his life changed forever. He felt called to follow Christ literally, setting off on foot to Nazareth to devote himself to a humble life of manual labor, prayer, and charity. Some years later, his imitation of Christ led him to the Sahara Desert, where he lived as a hermit and eventually died a martyr's death.

I want to suggest tonight that most of you will find your road to heaven starting a little closer to home. To illustrate that point, let's recall a story about another holy person of the 20th century, Blessed Mother Teresa. Maybe you've heard of Celestial Seasonings, the herbal tea company. The company was founded by a man named "Mo" Siegel in the 1960s. "Mo" was very much a child of his age -- idealistic, with a generous heart. "Mo" made millions with his brand of herbal teas. And he gave a lot of his money to worthy causes. Yet he still wasn't satisfied. So he went to India to volunteer with Mother Teresa among the poor and dying. But when she met him, she told him to go home. The little nun poked this multi-millionaire entrepreneur in the chest and told him: "Grow where you're planted."

That's my advice to you, too. Grow where you're planted. Preach the gospel with your lives no matter where you are or whatever you find yourself doing -- going to school, working, making a home. St. John of the Cross said: "Where there is no love, put love and you will draw out love." Those are good words to live by. Put real love into everything you do. Not a vague, sentimental warm feeling. That kind of love doesn't mean anything because it doesn't cost you anything. No. Jesus wants a love that comes from the heart, a love that sacrifices for others as he sacrificed for us.

One final point before we begin our questions and discussion tonight. And it's this: Love the Church; love her as your mother and teacher. Help to build her up, to purify her life and work. We all get angry when we see human weakness and sin in the Church. But we have to remember always that the Church is much, much more than the sum of her human parts.

The Church is the Bride of Christ. The Spirit that worked in Jesus Christ and in his apostles is still at work in the Church. Jesus promised his apostles that when they teach, it will be he who is teaching.

That when they forgive sins, it will be he who forgives. That when they say his words, "This is my body," the bread and wine will become his body and blood. Jesus doesn't forget his promises. Where the Church is, Jesus Christ is. Until the end of the age. And we always want to be where Christ is, because there is no way home to God except through him.

So love the Church. And this is crucial: Know what the Church teaches. What the Church teaches is what Christ wants you and everyone else to know -- for our own good and for our salvation. Know what the Church teaches so you can live those teachings and share those teachings with others.

The leaders of today's secularized societies like to fancy themselves as true humanists and humanitarians. But these same societies justify killing millions of babies in the womb and dismembering embryos in the laboratory. We dispatch the handicapped and the elderly and call it "death with dignity." Our very language has become distorted. The family is no longer the covenant communion of man and woman that leads to new life and hence the future of society. In fact, there are so few babies being born now in developed, Western-style countries that we have to wonder whether our civilization has lost its will to survive.

Only the Church stands up against these inhuman trends in our societies. It's your mission, as lay men and lay women, to ensure that Christ's teaching is preached and explained and defended at every level of our society -- in politics, in the workplace, in the culture. This takes real courage. There are all sorts of pressures, subtle and not so subtle, to sell out Jesus. To water down or diminish his Gospel. To pick and choose among his teachings. But we can't do that. Make a promise to Jesus Christ never to contradict the Church's teachings by your words or actions.
The Gospel is not just rules and "thou-shalt nots." It's the path to leading a heavenly life on earth. The way of life that alone brings true happiness and lasting joy. This age encourages us to seek a fool's paradise. To imagine that happiness is found in doing whatever we want to do. That's a snare. And many of our brothers and sisters are caught in that trap.

Only the truth can set people free. That truth is Jesus Christ. So if we truly love our neighbors we will want them to know the truth. The whole truth. Not just the parts of it that make them feel good, the parts that don't challenge them to change.

It's not possible for real Christians to lead a double life. We'll self-destruct. Or worse still, we'll just waste away. It will be like what Franz said. Being a half-way Christian is like being a vegetable. It's not a life. It's barely an existence.

I guess it's time for me to tell you the rest of the story about Franz.

The Nazis invaded Austria in 1938. Unlike most of his neighbors, Franz refused to cooperate in any way with the regime because he considered Hitler to be an enemy of Christ and the Church. For five years he waged a lonely campaign of resistance. Finally, he was arrested for refusing an order to enlist in the Nazi army.

While awaiting his sentence, many people, including his family and his local priest, urged him to pay lip-service to the regime and thereby spare his life. Franz wouldn't do it.

So 65 years ago, on August 9, 1943, Franz died on a Nazi guillotine. Today we remember him as Blessed Franz Jägerstätter -- a martyr for the truth that a Catholic can never lead a double-life. That there can be no such thing as a half-way Christian.

Blessed Franz wrote beautiful letters to his wife from prison. In one of them he talked about the great martyrs of the Church. He wrote: "If we hope to reach our goal some day, then we, too, must become heroes of the faith. For as long as we fear men more than God, we will never make the grade." Another time he wrote: "The important thing is that we do not let a single day go by in vain without putting it to good use for eternity."

Let me leave you with those thoughts. May you all strive to be heroes of the faith. And may you put every day to good use for eternity. Thank you.

Sydney bus driver praises WYD pilgrims

I AM a bus driver with the State Transit Authority of NSW and want to commend all the pilgrims who are in our state for World Youth Day celebrations.

So begins an article by Andrew Soulis in today's edition of The Daily Telegraph (Sydney).

People like bus drivers are among the many who make up the fabric of our daily lives. During my school and seminary days I got to know bus drivers and bus conductors, conductors to chat with and drivers who'd give me a friendly wave.

When I go home to Dublin I use the bus constantly and have seen many acts of kindness by drivers to passengers, young and old. We don't have conductors any more.

Andrew ends his article by sharing how touched he was by the gifts that pilgrims he had helped gave him:

They give the shirt off their back by giving their food voucher away as a gift to a bus driver who was concerned for them.

What a wonderful group of people these pilgrims are. These sentiments are shared with every other driver I have spoken to over the past couple of days.
Each and every one of us have said consistently, what a ray of sunshine, love and warmth descended into Sydney.

I wish they could all return soon. We would love to accommodate them again. We really love them. God bless the pilgrims in Sydney

Very few of the pilgrims at WYD Sydney met Pope Benedict. I'm pretty certain that none of the bus drivers did. But this article illustrates that many people met Jesus, the Risen Lord, the One at the center of WYD.

17 July 2008

Sacrifice of Polish sports star and her husband that their child might be born

There have been a number of examples in recent years of mothers sacrificing their lives by refusing to take treatment dangerous to the life of their unborn child. Pope John Paul II beatified and canonized one such mother, St Gianna Beretta Molla.

Something that can be overlooked is the sacrifice that the husband makes in such circumstances. He makes the sacrifice of giv ing up the person he most loves, who is, in a very real sense, part of himself, since the sacrament of matrimony, in God's, makes the two into one, the only such human relationship.

On 13 July LifeSite.com carried the story of a young Polish volleyball star, Agata Mróz-Olszewska, who sacrificed her life so that her child, the child of her husband, could be safely born.

Two things struck me in the story. One was that she consulted with her husband before making the decision to delay a marrow-transplant so that she could give birth safely to their daughter Liliana.

The other thing that struck me was that the report did not give the name of the man who was Agata's husband and the father of Liliana. I googled and found that it is Jacek Olszewski. Jacek and Agata were married on 10 June 2007 and Liliana was born on 4 May this year. Agata's life spanned the days from 7 April 1982 till 4 June this year, six days short of her first wedding anniversary. She carried Liliana for nine months and held her for only one month.

I passionately believe that the basic vocation of a married couple is to be spouses. The vocation to be parents is a consequence of that. The St Gianna website highlights that:

The canonization of Saint Gianna is the first of its kind. Many mothers have been beatified for their heroic virtues but they entered religious life after becoming widowed. In St Gianna’s case, the very condition of her being a spouse and mother is being exalted and highlighted. St Gianna is the first canonized woman physician and professional who was also a “working mom”.

Together, as husband and wife, Jacek and Agata made a decision comparable with that of Abraham, who was ready to sacrifice his only son Isaac. Agata knew that she might lose her life. Jacek knew that he might lose his wife. Together, they decided that, no matter what, their daughter would live.

Please pray for the soul of Agata and for Jacek and their daughter Liliana.

The report:

Friday June 13, 2005

2005 Polish Volleyball Champion Sacrificed Her Life for Unborn Child

TANROW, June 13, 2008 (CWNews.com/LifeSiteNews.com) - A Polish volleyball star who was buried on June 9 is being compared by local Catholics to Blessed Gianna Beretta Molla because of her heroic sacrifice for her unborn child. Agata Mroz, who was originally known for her athletic prowess, was buried in her hometown of Tarnow. Mroz was pregnant with her first child when doctors discovered she had a fatal case of leukemia. After consulting with her husband, Mroz delayed a bone-marrow transplant until after she gave birth to her daughter Liliana on April 4, 2008. Polish fans dubbed the national team which Mroz led the "Golden Girls," due to their looks and their successes in international competitions. The national team won the European women's volleyball championship in 2003 and 2005.

Auxiliary Bishop Marian Florczyk of Kielce, Poland has said that Mroz's testimony is an example of "love of life, motherhood, the desire to give life, the heroic love of an unborn child." On June 4, a few hours after Mroz's death, Polish President Lech Kaczynski announced that she will be posthumously awarded the Polonia Restituta, one of Poland's highest awards for extraordinary and distinguished service.

Prayer of St Gianna Beretta Molla

Jesus, I promise You to submit myself to all that You permit to befall me,
make me only know Your will. My most sweet Jesus, infinitely merciful God, most tender Father of souls,
and in a particular way of the most weak, most miserable, most infirm
which You carry with special tenderness between Your divine arms,
I come to You to ask You, through the love and merits of Your Sacred Heart,
the grace to comprehend and to do always Your holy will,
the grace to confide in You,
the grace to rest securely through time and eternity in Your loving divine arms.

'No Sex Before Marriage'

Ruth Russell is a 20-year-old Australian who speaks with conviction and clarity about her choice to remain a virgin until marriage, and to be chaste for her whole life. She was interviewed the other day on Australian TV, in the context of World Youth Day.

I came across this video on Dawn Patrol, the blog of Dawn Eden, a journalist and writer from New York who found her way from Judaism to Catholicism and from non-chastity to chastity. She is speaking at various functions being held in Sydney during WYD. She's also blogging from there at the moment.

Ruth has a firm grasp of the Church's teaching on sexuality, of its centrality to marriage and of the importance of a married couple being open to life.

15 July 2008

Canada's highest Order returned by Madonna House

The quote on the left from the Servant of God Catherine Doherty, on the right, founder of Madonna House, is very much in harmony with today’s gospel:

At that time Jesus declared, "I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes; yea, Father, for such was thy gracious will. All things have been delivered to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him (Mt 11:25-27).

Catherine received the Order of Canada (and here) in 1976. On Tuesday 6 July representatives of Madonna House returned the Order to Governor General Michaëlle Jean after she had awarded the honour to a notorious abortionist. The press release below explains the Madonna House decision. It is followed by the letter of the Madonna House leadership to Her Excellency.

Both Catherine Doherty and Michaëlle Jean fled from their homelands, Catherine from Russia and Madam Jean from Haiti. However, the Governor General’s award of the Order of Canada to a man who has devoted his life to the ultimate from of child abuse, abortion, suggests that she has a different set of values from those that Catherine Doherty lived by.


Order of Canada to be Returned Publicly Tuesday
Peaceful Visit to Rideau Hall for Group Representing Madonna House Founder, Catherine Doherty

OTTAWA (July 7, 2008) – Representatives from Madonna House, a Catholic community based in Combermere, Ontario, will make the journey to Ottawa Tuesday morning to return the Order of Canada medal awarded to founder, Catherine Doherty.
The move is in response to the awarding of one of Canada’s highest honours to Dr. Henry Morgentaler, as announced by the Governor General’s Office on July 1, 2008.

Catherine Doherty (August 15, 1896 – December 14, 1985) was a pioneer of social justice and an internationally acclaimed speaker. In addition to founding the community of Madonna House, she was a prolific writer and best-selling author of dozens of books. She was awarded the Order of Canada in 1976 in recognition of “a lifetime of devoted services to the underprivileged of many nationalities, both in Canada and abroad.” Her cause for canonization as a saint was opened by Bishop Brendan O’Brien, then bishop of the diocese of Pembroke, Ontario, in 2000.

Fr. David May, one of the three directors of Madonna House, commented on the decision to return the medal to the Governor General:

“Catherine Doherty was honoured to receive this award in 1976. She exemplified what the Order of Canada should be about: an individual committed to strengthening the nation by her contribution to the vulnerable and the marginalized. It is only after much prayer and consultation with our community, as well as with heavy hearts, that we are undertaking this action. The Order has been devalued in recent days, and we are confident that Catherine is spiritually present with us, affirming this gesture of love for our country and for the values which alone can sustain it. Without absolute respect for the gift of life, no society can survive.”

Members of the Madonna House community will gather at the entrance to Rideau Hall (the officail residence of the Governor General) to present in a symbolic gesture a letter to the Governor General, and will return the Order of Canada pin on Tuesday, July 8, 2008, at 11 a.m. Media are invited to attend, and representatives of the community will be available for interviews following the return of the medal.

Madonna House, founded in 1947 by Catherine Doherty and her husband, Eddie, is a community of more than 200 laymen, women, and priests dedicated to loving and serving Christ through promises of poverty, chastity and obedience. Each of the community’s missions has a distinct mandate, from offering soup kitchens to places of retreat. All operate in a spirit of prayer, openness, and fellowship. In addition to the original community in Combermere, Ontario, there are 18 field houses (missions) in seven countries around the world.

Additional resources on the life of Catherine Doherty and the Madonna House Apostolate can be found by visiting: www.madonnahouse.org or www.catherinedoherty.org
MEDIA CONTACT: Susanne Stubbs or Larry Klein—Madonna House (613) 756-3713


July 8, 2008
Her Excellency the Governor General

The Rt. Honourable Michaelle Jean
Government House, Ottawa

Your Excellency,

Before all else we want to thank you for the work you do for us as Head of State of this country. Today we address you also as Chancellor and Principal Companion of the Order of Canada. The argument we present is primarily with those who advised you to award the Order of Canada to Dr. Henry Morgentaler.

A word of explanation is due. “We” are the Madonna House Apostolate. We are an ecclesial community, within the Catholic Church, headquartered in Combermere, Ontario. There are 220 members of the community. We want to return the Order of Canada medal awarded to the community’s founder, Catherine de Hueck Doherty. The return is to protest the very recent award of the same honour to Dr. Henry Morgentaler, a militant abortionist cited for his upstanding contribution to the life of the nation. This is insupportable in our view. The circumstances prompt the unusual act of returning the award of a person no longer living. Catherine died in 1985.

Catherine de Hueck Doherty, was a Russian refugee of the October Revolution. Her life in Canada became a call to a gospel life in Christ lived in the world as a lay person. This call was expressed in social and spiritual works which sought to guard the dignity of the human person and to find justice for the most vulnerable. Her unique vision, affirmed by the Church, of a community — a spiritual family— of celibate laymen, lay women and priests, began in Toronto in 1930 with the work of serving the poor. It took her to New York and the struggle for racial justice, then to rural Ontario and neighbourly service. The vision of the Apostolate grew. Men, women and priests joined. Social service and prayer houses were opened around the world. In 1976 Catherine received the Order of Canada for, “a lifetime of devoted services to the underprivileged of many nationalities, both in Canada and abroad.” For her it was her greatest decoration, surpassing the Medal of St. George she once received from the Czar. The Order of Canada was an immeasurable gift to her. It meant: “Canada accepted me.”

How can we be so presumptuous as to ask the Governor General to take back this medal which meant so much to Catherine? This deserves an explanation. I quote Catherine, writing to the staff of Madonna House April 12, 1976, five days after receiving the Order of Canada from Governor General Jules Leger; “they read out what I had done before I approached the Governor General and received the medal. But as I said, beloved family, I haven’t received a medal. As far as the medal is concerned you are all in it, for there would be no Madonna House without you and perhaps none without me, but it is a joint venture as far as I am concerned.” Catherine Doherty’s treasure is a community treasure, something we were proud of.

Madonna House Apostolate is today a small community, of no great account, wealthy only in the abundance of nature which surrounds our main house in Combermere, Ontario. We live by begging and the work of our hands. Yet now, the awarding of the Order of Canada to Dr. Morgentaler compels us to protest in the most forceful, peaceful way available to us. Not only do we find his medical practice the dark side of the medical profession but his inclusion in the awards diminishes them. And an award that was meant to be a sign of unity is bringing division. Something is not right. That is the start of why we are returning the medal. “We” means the whole community. We are of one mind in this.

Dr. Morgentaler’s work, so enthusiastically listed in his citation, more likely represents the reverse side of an otherwise bright medal. In our view, through his crusade, the dignity of the person is violently transgressed, justice for the most vulnerable is trampled on, the healing arts are compromised, and little faith is shown for the future. Is this really what we want as a nation?
Catherine Doherty would not have judged Henry Morgentaler, nor should we. Like all of us, he is a poor person. Has he not been surrounded by death all his life? Yet we have to protest … simply, peacefully, unremittingly and with the tools we have at hand … the serious misdirection our country and many of its leaders, in our view, appear to be taking, as exemplified by the award and glowing citation given him for his misguided work. Catherine Doherty would shout, “Wait. Don’t you see where we are going? There is another way. I’ll show it to you.” With this act of returning the Order of Canada we are choosing to place truth before honours. It is the truth pointed to in the very motto of the Order of Canada, taken from the Bible, Hebrews 11:16— desiderantes meliorem patriam … “they desire a better homeland…”. In truth, does this verse fragment not find its full meaning in the words that rightly complete the line? They are, “they desire a better homeland, their heavenly homeland.” The verse concludes; “That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, since he has founded the city for them.”

In the end, by returning the Order of Canada, we simply wish to bring, to the consideration of the people, what was and, arguably still is, a founding vision for Canada. Catherine Doherty would do the same.

Respectfully Yours,

Fr. David May, Susanne Stubbs, Mark Schlingerman
Directors General of Madonna House for all Madonna House Apostolate

A Catholic family grieves

A needless death: Margaret Mizen at home in south-east London; her son [inset], Jimmy, who was killed minutes away from the family home last May (The Sunday Telegraph).

On 13 May I had a post,'We've got such lovely memories of Jimmy and they will have such sorrow about their son' in which Mrs Margaret Mizen spoke about her son, murdered the day after his 16th birthday. Last Sunday The Sunday Telegraph (London) published an article by Olga Craig based on an interview with Jimmy's parents, Barry and Margaret.

It's a long article but one well worth sharing with adult and teenage sons and daughters. Not only did the strong Catholic faith of the family come across but the little things special to each family that make them family.

Below are some of these 'little things' that remind me of similar happenings in my own family.

'You worry all the time when they're out of the house, of course you do,'' says Barry, his father, as he gazes out onto the garden of the family home where Jimmy played football and tended the lawn. ''You fret until you get a call to say they are on their way home. Or you hear their key turn in the door. Every parent knows that feeling.'

Barry again: 'You are never going to hug him again. Never sit in the car and sing the Sailors' Hornpipe with him. Those little standing jokes between father and son. You're never going to hear them again. And that hurts. That hurts so badly.'

In his home, too, the walls are crowded with pictures of Jimmy: as a boy sitting astride a football; in red sunglasses singing along at his sister's 21st birthday party; in a giggling, hugging huddle with his eight brothers and sisters.

Margaret Mizen, Jimmy's mother: 'Of course it's right to launch all these measures to combat knife crime,' she says, 'but it is more important that we teach our children how to show respect. We all need to think harder about the example we set. We need to instill in our youngsters respect for the law, for the rights of others… We don't want to preach, but life today is all about aspirations, material things. We live in a culture where we all, not just children, have too much. Love gets left behind in the modern world.'

What greeted Mrs Mizen when she ran to the bakery was a scene from hell. 'Jimmy was lying on the floor, covered in blood. He had been with his brother Harry, and he telephoned Tommy, their other brother. Tommy had my baby in his arms. He shouted: ''Don't come in, Mum, he's going to be all right.'" Frozen with fear, Mrs Mizen fainted. Moments later, Mr Mizen arrived. 'I saw the paramedics pull off their gloves. I knew in that instant that Jimmy was dead,' he says. 'It was as though the whole world had stood still for a moment. Everything went quiet, went still. There was this eerie calm. There was my boy, lying on the pavement, his life slipping away. Gone, like that. It was unbelievable, like a horrible dream.'

The night before was the last time both parents had been with their son. 'He came down to say goodbye before going out with his pals to celebrate his birthday,'' says Mrs Mizen. ''He was wearing a new striped shirt I had bought for him. He looked so smart. A fine young man. We hugged him and told him we were proud of him. Jimmy just laughed.

He always worked for his dad at his store on a Saturday, but he asked for the next day off, because he was celebrating his birthday. When his dad said yes, he said he still wanted to be paid. That was Jimmy: always larking. Always joking.'

'There are moments when it all overwhelms you,' Mr Mizen says. 'I paid Jimmy for his Saturday work by standing order. I bank online, so I had to cancel it using the computer. I held my finger over the delete button for a long time. I just couldn't bear to press it. To press delete somehow was to acknowledge he was gone and he was never coming back. To admit that I was never going to hear his laugh. Never hand him a tenner on a Saturday and tell him to buy lunch. Every week it was the same: he would ask what I wanted, and I would say, surprise me. Then I'd get the same sandwich and he would stock up on Coke and chocolate.

'Never hear him yelling: ''Where's my school shirt, mam?'' the way he did every morning. Never hear Margaret laugh and tell him: ''Jimmy, it's where I leave it out every morning.''
All those little things that make a family a unit, that make it a whole. And now there is a big, glaring gap. People say that somehow it must be easier, having so many other children. It isn't at all like that. Each one of them is unique.'

'We are a deeply committed Christian family,' Mrs Mizen explains. 'Our faith has supported us enormously. Of course, we feel the normal anger that our child has been killed, but we also have to think with compassion for the family of the person who has done this. At least we can hold our heads high over Jimmy's name. They can't do that. They are also in a very miserable place.

'As a family, we are proud of our faith. When we buried Jimmy, I told the congregation of youngsters that they, too, should be proud of their faith. Having Christian faith doesn't mean you are some boring stick-in-the-mud. Jimmy had faith. Some mornings he would join in our family Bible reading. He wasn't embarrassed. It was just part of his life.'

The Mizens' youngest son, George, nine, shared a bedroom with Jimmy and has been deeply affected by his death. No one who saw the teenager's funeral on television could fail to have been moved by the pale-faced boy carrying a portrait of his late, much-loved brother. 'We have explained it as best we can to George,' says his mother, 'and he believes Jimmy is in Heaven with his grandparents. But it's tough when he sees Jimmy's friends. They are all shattered. It is difficult for them, at that age, to understand the concept of being here one day and then, with one senseless act of violence, gone, for ever.'

In the family kitchen, a stack of envelopes sits on the sideboard. The Mizens launched an appeal to buy a minibus (which they will name the
'Jimmybus'), which will be used by the local Scout troop to which Jimmy once belonged and by their parish, Our Lady of Lourdes, in Lee, south London, where Jimmy was an altar boy.

To contribute to the Jimmybus fund, please send a cheque to: The Jimmy Mizen Minibus, Our Lady of Lourdes Church, 45b Burnt Ash Hill, Lee, London SE12 0AE,
England, United Kingdom.

12 July 2008

Missal for World Youth Day

The Vatican has issued the Missal that will be used during the celebration of Mass and other liturgical ceremonies during World Youth Day.

Our Lady of the Southern Cross, Help of Christians

Patroness: OLSC unveiled at St Mary's

Written by Bridget Spinks
Friday, 11 July 2008

Now at St Mary's Cathedral: WYD08 Patron to officially initiate the WYD programme a stunning commissioned painting of a WYD08 Patron was unveiled this morning at St Mary's Cathedral.

Cardinal Pell and WYD08 coordinator, Bishop Fisher OP, were present with artist, Paul Newton, when the painting of 'Our Lady of the Southern Cross, Help of Christians' was revealed.

Newton explained to those present the Australian aspects of the painting, noting the Southern Cross and Two Pointer stars, as well as the dry Australian landscape at the bottom.

Mary is depicted wearing a wattle garland and looking at the infant Jesus that she holds.

Newton detailed the way in which Mary is holding Jesus - not keeping Him to herself and in a way handing the child to the viewer or inviting the viewer to come to him.

One pilgrim present at the unveiling, Elise Nally, 19, says she was incredibly impressed with the piece.

"Once the veil was completely removed everyone was quiet and watched in awe," she says describing the momentous occasion.

"The painting is an amazing piece of art and I'm very excited for pilgrims to see it."

The painting will remain in St Mary's Cathedral for the rest of the WYD festivities in conjunction with the relics of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati and is definately something to visit.

Image is (c) and from http://www.wyd2008.org/

Our Lady, Help of Christians, is the Patroness of Australia. The Southern Cross features on the national flag of Australia.

YSEX with Francine Pirola

http://www.ebenedict.org/ is a website connected with World Youth Day, Sydney. You can sign up for its daily email at the top right of the page here. It describes itself thus:

What is eBENEDICT?

Written by Administrator
Wednesday, 07 May 2008


WYD EVENTS & NEWS direct from Sydney!

Benedict is coming – and if you hadn’t heard already – he’s coming for World Youth Day 2008 to be held in Sydney from 15-20 July.eBENEDICT.org is an events and news website to help the pilgrims of the world prepare for World Youth Day 2008.

Hosted by TOWARDS 2008 with the support of Catholic Youth Services (Sydney) and the Catholic Weekly, eBENEDICT.org will provide daily updates specifically focused on the: i) Main WYD EVENTS in Sydney;ii) WYD Youth Festival EVENTS across Sydney; andiii) the Days in the Dioceses EVENTS across Australia.eBENEDICT.org is the second and final stage of the yBENEDICT project.

Cardinal George Pell launched the yBENEDICT news website to mark the 50 day countdown to WYD and eBENEDICT was launched 25 days prior to the event with a specific focus on WYD events and news.To get the best of eBENEDICT be sure to subscribe to eDAILY and see you in Sydney for WYD2008.

This article came in today. I'm sure they won't mind my printing it in full.

YSEX with Francine Pirola

Francine and Byron Pirola have been married for 20 years and have five children.

They are Directors of Celebrate Love, co-founders of Antioch, international speakers on the spirituality of sex and are members of the Australian Catholic Marriage and Family Council, they have a long history of working with youth and couples in the area of sexuality and intimacy.

What does the Catholic Church have to say about sex? In a word ‘WOW’. In fact the whole teaching of the Church on sex both before and after marriage only makes sense when you understand the ‘WOW’.

In our reductionist culture the biggest mistake people make when it comes to sex is that they think of it as primarily a recreational activity, and in doing so they miss its true essence - Sex is not so much something you do as something you say.

Sex is not just an activity; it’s a communication, a body language. It’s a language that speaks of total commitment; a willingness to become ‘one flesh’.

Every touch between people has meaning. When a couple makes love, something wonderful, something tremendously profound is being expressed … that’s why we still call it ‘making love’. By its very nature, making love is a body language - it says physically what a married couple say verbally on their wedding day “I freely give myself to you completely, totally… I hold nothing back”.

The Church in her wisdom understands this and holds out this vision of love to all who care to listen. The Church’s ‘problem’ with sex outside of marriage is not just that one might get pregnant or get a disease (though these are serious risks that can have life-long consequences). The real problem with sex outside marriage is what it does to a person’s ability to freely give of him/her-self through sex in marriage.

Whether we know it or not (or want to admit it or not), sex is always full of meaning; and that meaning is inherent in the very act itself. Sex is a total gift of self. If you are saying something with your body you don’t mean in your heart then there is an inherent conflict, and in that conflict everyone gets hurt. In contrast, when there is alignment with our bodies and our heart then we are genuinely making love.

Our God is love and our Church calls us to live with integrity in all aspects of our life, including our sexual expression. Sex is to simply too important to treat as just an activity; it’s a sacred body language - WOW!

At a more personal, level I still remember the day my Byron explained why he wouldn’t try to sleep with me before we married. “If I slept with you now but have not yet committed my life to you… then what do I have left to give to you when I want to say “I am yours forever?”... the same thing can’t mean two different things… WOW!

To hear more about the Church's view on Sex, and the Theology of the Body during WYD:
Francine and Byron Pirola can be found at WYD at the Love & Life Site (PMRC table), the Vocations Expo (Sex, Love & Marriage Booth) or helping out their friend, Christopher West who is regarded as one of the foremost speakers on making the Theology of the Body accessible to all

They are also speaking at Magis 08 (Milson’s Point) on Thursday July 17, at 7pm (Sexy – Saint or Sinner?), and at 8:30pm (Mission to Love).

11 July 2008

Columban Lay Missionaries: Come and See

Dear friends,

Mabuhay from the Lay Mission community of the Philippines!

We have heard of the many amazing stories of how God has called people sometimes in dramatic, unexpected and even funny ways. And we have also heard how our family, friends, maybe even boyfriends and girlfriends, classmates, and work mates, have played their part in God’s scheme of things. That is why we are writing you to request, enlist, solicit, ask, and plead for your help.

The Columban Lay Missionaries will hold Come and See DaysSaturday, 19th July and on Saturday, 23rd August at the Columban Lay Mission House, 34 Rosario Drive, Cubao, Quezon City. It will be an opportunity for us to get to know each other and hopefully help people discern their vocation in life.

Dear friends, we believe that you too can play a part in a vocation story that might unfold! So please share this with your friends, relatives, and workmates – let the word go forth! Or who knows that it is your own vocation story that is unfolding right at this very moment!
We are counting on you.

May the God who calls each of us by name be our guide and inspiration.

Take care.

Sincerely yours,

Rowena D. Cuanico


Phone: 02-722 5732 / 401 9722. Cell phone: 0927 8085120

Email: clmssc_phil@yahoo.com


Read Rowena 'Weng' Cuanico's article about one of her many experiences in Fiji as a Columban Lay Missionary, Everyday Life With Muslims, in the current issue of Misyon here.

Above: Weng Cuanico is fourth from the right.

Elma Guia recently returned to the Philippines after three years in Taiwan as Columban Lay Missionary. She writes about here experiences in the November-December 2007 issue of Misyon.

10 July 2008

Mass and Burial of the Unborn

From the blog of Diane from Te Deum laudamus. H/T to Fr Tim Finigan.

The photos are all from Diana's blog.

Jun 28, 2008

An Act of Mercy: Mass and Burial of the Unborn with Fr Frank Pavone and Bishop John M. Quinn at Assumption Grotto, Detroit, Michigan.

Father Frank Pavone of Priests for Life.

Message from website of Priests for Life.

Dear Friends,

I am delighted to welcome you to the Priests for Life website.

As one of 35,000 people who visit this site every day, you will soon discover that Priests for Life provides assistance not only to priests, but to everyone who is interested in advancing the cause of the protection of human life.

We focus on abortion as our specific practical concern, but you will also find information on euthanasia, the other key area of our focus, and on related topics such as capital punishment and contraception. We hold to the Consistent Ethic of Life of life. As the late Cardinal Bernardin clearly taught, the consistent ethic means that when we make progress on one front in the defense of human life, all the others benefit as well. It does not mean, however, that everyone has to (or can) do everything.

Thanks to the ease of the latest web-authoring software, I am able to make it a personal task each day to update this website. I do so with your needs in mind, and therefore appreciate hearing from you. You will find my daily additions listed in one place.

The website is very large and is being constantly expanded and improved. We therefore invite you to return frequently and to refer your colleagues and friends to it. If something you need today is not available, it may well be there tomorrow!

We also maintain a website for deacons at http://www.deaconsforlife.org/, as well as one for youth and those who minister to them, at http://www.abortionaborted.org/.

Be assured of my daily prayers for all who visit us, whether they agree with us on abortion or not.

Father Don LaCuesta

Father Don graduated from Sacred Heart Major Seminary in April 2006 and was ordainedfor the Archdiocese of Detroit on June 3 rd of the same year. He obtained his B.A. degree inPhilosophy in the Philippines where he grew up and did his theological studies in Brazil.He began his first parish assignment at St. Lawrence on July 1 st, 2006. The Associate Pastorexercises a level of responsibility as designated by the Pastor for the spiritual, liturgical, social,formative, educational and administrative aspects of parish life.