Archive for October, 2003

All things Catholic

October 31, 2003

I saw this article linked on Amy Welborn’s blog. I personally think we do in fact need to be clear about what can and can’t be called Catholic. I see a time coming where many will use the word in an attempt to water down its meaning like they are doing with family. We can rederfine what Family means so lets redefine what Catholic means. Most will think I am making much ado about nothing but I have learned to trust my instincts on these things and I am pretty sure we will see more and more claims to the title Catholic and Roman Catholic in the future. When it happens, remember where you heard it and that I am not as crazy as you thought I was.

America loves to try to change the meanings of words. If you do then you can rewrite history big time. For example the whole inclusive language agenda. If we say that men and mankind are exclusive and we need to say men and women instead then after a generation or two we can go back and show how sexist and women hating the Church was. In fact the exclusive language is separting the two and redefining man and mankind etc to say that it doesn’t include women.

It does. But modern sensitivities will allow the redefining of the words and we will reap what we sow in the future.

Saints

October 30, 2003

Interesting article on Saints, especially the last paragraph.

Confirmation

October 29, 2003

I just had a lot of fun at one of our confirmation dinners. We invite all the kids over to the rectory in groups of 8 for dinner and to ask them how things are going. This group was particularly lively and it was enjoyable. Much better than when they sit and say nothing because they have to be there.

October 26, 2003

(Note) – all of my homilies are written for the audience to which they are delivered. That might make some references ambiugous or not clearly understood. Please bear that in mind.

Homily Ė 30th Sunday (Year B)

We hear in today’s Gospel the story of a people who in many ways have forgotten where they came from. The blind man Bartimaeus is calling out to Jesus to have pity on him and many people rebuked him to be silent. I find it very sad that a call for pity needs to be silenced. But the blind and the lame were often considered lesser people by the Israelites. Their infirmities were considered to be the result of sin: that of their sin or that of their parents. Today we hear a man calling out for pity who is told to be quiet but refuses and calls out even louder. He knows he is a man in need of a savior. Many around him forgot they are too. After all they were the chosen people and they had arrived.

We are reminded in the first reading that this wasn’t always the case. Israel was once a people lost and wandering. A people far away from their homes and in a land where they were strangers. In Egypt they were a people in captivity. A people persecuted because they did not belong and they had begun to prosper. When the Egyptians saw their prosperity the became frightened that they would take over and they began to persecute the Israelites with ferocity. The Israelites had no desire to take over the Egyptians. They simply wanted to live their lives, worship their God and take care of their families. Who can fault someone for trying to do any of those things. The Egyptians could, because the Israelites were Hebrews, a lesser people, a slave people. They were not Egyptians. And the torture and persecution began. Then God, faithful to his promises, delivered his people from bondage. Our first reading tells us he gathered them from the ends of the world with the blind and the lame in their midst. The blind and the lame are part of God’s people as well. They have value because God created them not because of what they can or can’t do. This is an important point in our world today as we see ever increasing attacks on the value and dignity of those who aren’t perfect.

The Israelites in the Gospel forgot this. They wanted to prevent a man from asking for pity because in their eyes he was lesser than themselves because of his disability. They forgot they were the ones calling out for pity because they were different. The blind man simply wanted to be happy, he wanted mercy, he wanted a better life for himself and his family and he called out for a savior.

One might ask who was truly blind in the story. The ones who thought they were the chosen people or the one who knew he needed a savior. I think the blind man could see quite clearly and his example can teach us much.

Catholics in the United States and here in South Dakota have much in common with the Israelites. Many of our parents and grandparents were strangers in a foreign land

Many of them came to the United States looking for a better life for their families. They weren’t very welcome. They were confined to Ghetto’s and when they began to prosper many in the majority began to persecute them. To this day 47/50 states have a constitutional amendment, called the Blaine amendment, that was created to limit Catholic Freedoms. It was to prevent them from prospering. You had the anti catholic riots in the earlier part of the last century and times where they tried to burn church’s and schools. Being catholic meant you were a foreigner and you weren’t welcome. The majority that was here didn’t want us taking over.

Eventually though we worked hard and became more and more a part of American Society. Very few of us have experienced active discrimination against us because we are Catholic. This is again on the rise though and in our lifetime I think you will see open persecution of Catholics for their faith but that is another story. Most of us don’t feel like foreigners anymore. We feel like weíre here and we belong and this is our home. We also have arrived.

We share something in common with those in the Gospel today then as well. Some of us have forgotten where we came from. Some of us have forgotten that we too once cried for pity and some of us are moving against those who do now. We too have become blind and we think it is others who are.

I am of course speaking of the situation that has been in the papers regarding Roosevelt High school and the “racial tensions”. I am told members of our parish are involved although I would like to believe that wasn’t true. I have seen enough lately and heard enough to hear that is isn’t beyond Catholics.
South Dakota is experiencing the influx of a lot of people who are from other places. We too must not forget we are not natives here either. Many people, like the blind man in the Gospel, are in search of mercy, happiness and a better life. We have growing populations of Hispanics, Vietnamese and Sudanese people. All are refugees from one thing or another be it the economy or religious persecutions. I want to speak specifically of the Sudanese since that seems to be the current challenge although the principal applies to all peoples.

The Sudanese are arriving because of a horrific civil war in their country in which the Muslim majority is persecuting Christians viciously. They are torturing and killing them if they don’t convert. I had friends in the seminary who where tied up and tortured with electric shocks for days because they were Christian. One friend was trying to escape the country when he was caught. Instead of simply letting him go they decided to torture him. Some members of his family, brothers and sisters had been killed. He hadn’t seen his mother in 10 years and didn’t even know if she was alive. Yet when you met this man at our school you would never know those things unless you asked him. He was a man of joy and friendliness. I never saw him without a smile on is face and he was always overjoyed to meet new people. This has been my experience with all the Sudanese I have met and especially here in Sioux Falls.

They are a people who never desired to leave their homes but were forced to by the Muslims in their country. They are a people who want happiness, a better life for their family, a chance to worship God and mercy. They are just like the Israelites in Egypt or the Catholics in America. A people far from home but trying to make a better life for themselves.

Are we so blind we can’t see that? Will we persecute them and try to kick them out because there are more of them arriving and they are starting to prosper?

Most of them are fellow Catholics. Because they have a different color of skin do we see them as lesser people. Are they our blind and lame, and not worthy of a chance at the Lord’s mercy? Are we such a chosen people that we forget where we came from and the fact that it is God’s grace that got us here.

We, my friends, are the ones in need of a savior. We are the ones in need of mercy. We are the ones who are blind but we refuse to see.

Now I know I have a reputation of not making my points very clear in my homilies but let me try in this one to remedy that here.

You cannot be catholic and a racist. You cannot be Christian and a racist. God is the father of all people. He created every single one of us and that includes the choice of color of our skin. God didn’t make some people he loves more and some people he loves less. The color of your skin does not say how much God loves you or how worthy you are.

God loves everyone. He created them. If you think he made a mistake with the color of their skin then you think you know better than God.

Everything we have is given to us by God. All of creation is for all of God’s children. Our land is not ours alone but it is to be shared with others. If someone wants to come here to make a better life for themselves who can blame them? If they do it legally then who are we to stop them?

We, as a community, need to stand up to these injustices. We need to go out of our way to welcome these refugees and foreigners. If we do not then we are no better than the people who rejected us and persecuted us because we are Catholic.

The blind and the lame, downtrodden people are still people. Sometimes they can see more clearly than us and we should not try to shut them up or cut them off. Like Jesus we should ask them “What do you want me to do for you?”

Granted we are not saviors, we are people in need of a savior but we are called to be Christ like and his example is clear.

He welcomes all to him and we must too.

As a community we need to cry out to Christ: Jesus, Son of David have pity on us For we are blind and we want to see.

Marriage is what brings us twogetherrr…today

October 23, 2003

My mom is getting married this weekend. That is weird. I will be concelebrating the wedding which will be even more weird but at least I am not having to receive the vows would would take up my weird quota for the rest of the year.

It should be fun to see my brothers and sister. My sister has been married since I have seen her last so that will be weird as well.

A weekend of weirdness and hopefully some work as well.

Praise be to Jesus Christ

October 21, 2003

Today is my day off but I have come over to the office every few hours to keep track of the Terri Schiavo story. You can read the good news here.

Keep praying folks

October 20, 2003

Wow Mark Shea is reporting that Jeb Bush has called a special session of the legislature to introduce a bill to suspend all dehydration and starvation in Florida. Pray, Pray, Pray.

Homily – 29th Sunday (Year B)

October 19, 2003

Homily – 29th Sunday (Year B)

I, Michael, take you, Terri, to be my wife. I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love you and honor you all the days of my life.

These are the vows that every Catholic who is married in the Church must make before God. At the heart of them is the Gospel message we hear today. A life of service to someone other than ourselves, that is sacrificial even to the point of laying down ones life for them.

That is the reality of what marriage is. It can’t be changed by anyone. You can either choose to live a life divorced from reality or you can live according to reality. Up until this present age we called people who didn’t live according to reality insane. Today some are trying to call those people who live according to reality insane.

Do you think I am being dramatic? Let me tell you the way the vast majority of modern, enlightened people view marriage:

… In good times until they get bad, in health until you get really sick, and until I get bored with you or I stop feeling like I love you.

Some spouses go so far as to kill their spouses to be free of them. Sound radical? Surely these are the exception to the rule, surely the government will lock these people up. No, in fact they won’t. In some cases the government will order the spouse killed themselves and have the nerve to call it an act of love or a right to die.

It’s happening right now in the state of Florida. The state has ordered the execution of Terri Schiavo at the request of her husband.

Do you want to know her crime? She had the gall to collapse and suffer brain damage that disabled her for the rest of her life. She isn’t on a respirator or a machine to keep her heart or other organs functioning. Her crime is that she can’t feed herself and has to be fed through a tube by other people. Because of this she must die. The doctors call it a persistent vegetative state. It doesn’t matter that her eyes are open, that she can occasionally say words, that she recognizes her parents and expresses joy when she sees them. Because she can’t feed herself she is a vegetable. I guess that makes all babies, many people in nursing homes, and many Alzheimer patients vegetables. Isn’t that good news. Now we don’t have to wait for them to die we can call it an act of love and get the courts to order them killed. That’s something for you to look forward to as you get older. I hope you are nice to your children.

Her husband says it is because he loves her and she wouldn’t want to live that way. Letís examine his love for her:

(from terrisfight.org) In a malpractice lawsuit, Terriís husband personally received over $300,000 for his loss of consortium. Terri was awarded $750,000 from this suit and an additional $250,000 from a separate malpractice lawsuit. The money was awarded to Terri for her care and rehabilitation and to be placed in a Medical Trust Fund. Terriís husband received his personal award money and Terriís medical fund money in early 1993. From the date he received the award money in 1993, Michael Schiavo has denied Terri any rehabilitation treatment. Michael Schiavo has confined Terri to a nursing home (currently, Terri is in a Hospice facility) where she is ‘maintained.’
Her husband has directed that Terri only be sustained in a nursing home which is contrary to the intent of the award money. Michael Schiavo has on two occasions unsuccessfully attempted to end Terriís life by instructing her caretakers not to medicate Terri for potentially fatal infections. The first occasion occurred less than nine months after her husband received the malpractice award money.

∑ Terri has no will. Should she die, her husband will inherit what is left of Terriís $750,000 medical fund.
∑ Terriís husband lives in a house with Jodi Centonze. He openly admits that he has been engaged to this women for over seven years, have recently given birth to a baby girl, and has announced plans to marry her when Terri is no longer alive. He canít divorce her because then he wouldnít get the money. Custody and money would go to her parents.
∑ Since receiving the award money in 1993, her husband has ceased and prohibited any new or aggressive treatment for Terri. He has only maintained Terri at a nursing home (currently, Terri is in a Hospice facility). He has totally ignored or denied rehabilitation therapy that could possibly assist Terriís recovery.

In good times and bad, I suppose those are only his good times and not hers. All the days of my life,.. I guess he will kill his spouse to get out of that one.

We shouldn’t be surprised. We have been killing those who can’t defend themselves for over 30 years through abortion. But that is a woman’s right to choose right? How dare the woman be inconvenienced for 9 months of her life because she made a choice to have sex. Who cares if her choice results in murder? Who cares if Mr. Schiavo’s does? Why should he be forced to be inconvenienced because his wife collapsed and suffered brain damage that got her paralyzed? How come he should have to suffer for that? The sad part is he doesn’t. Her parents are begging the courts for the right to take care of their child and feed her. Mr. Schiavo isn’t willing to let them. Terri must die because he loves her. We have seen how selfless that love is. This is what our courts tell us.

The courts, in Roe vs. Wade, ordered abortion based on something that didn’t exist in the constitution and now they call it a constitutional right. It’s ridiculous. It doesn’t exist in the constitution. Now the court is ordering the death of Terri Schiavo based on a hypothetical constitutional right that doesn’t exist.

When I grew up people who saw something that didn’t exist were considered insane. Now it is the people who refuse to see something that doesn’t exist that are considered insane.

So who is responsible for these judges that make these rulings that kill the innocent? We are. We are the ones that elect the politicians that appoint them. Our votes as a nation are votes for murder and death.

Wait a minute we say. We are not voting for abortion when we vote for pro choice candidates. We are voting for them because they are good for our state and for us and our family. Yes we are voting for what is good for us, And we are exactly like Mr. Schiavo. We vote for what is good for us no matter what the cost to others. We vote to allow murder so that we can line our pocket books and for our convenience. If someone has to die because of our choice the so be it because our freedom to choose is more important than someone elseís life. Our pocket books and what is good for #1 is more important than the fact that our vote might cause someone to be starved to death or ripped from their mothers womb and thrown in the garbage because she chooses not to be inconvenienced.

Are the words I am speaking too strong? After all, our scripture today speaks about the throne of mercy. It also says we will be shown the mercy we show others. Maybe we can change that part of Godís word like we changed the constitution. Maybe we can pretend the Gospel says things it doesn’t and doesn’t say things it does just like the constitution. Maybe we can vote on it and choose what God’s word says and what the truth is.

The Catholic Church doesn’t vote on what is true. We obey what is true. If you want to vote you need to find another church.

I don’t want to be the kind of person that serves myself no matter what it costs others and I don’t think most of you do either. But we must admit what we have done. We have elected leaders that have appointed judges that said a parent has no rights to care for their child and that child must be starved to death because her husband does not believe in sickness and in health for all the days of his life. We are responsible and we are responsible for the deaths of the 4000 children killed in our country every day because we vote for our choices at the expense of their lives.

We must repent of our actions. We must approach the throne of mercy and we can only do that on our knees. We must drink from the cup that Christ drank. We must serve others and not glorify ourselves.

To do that I propose the following to you. I propose that we suffer for, and with Terri Schiavo and her family. If she is to be starved to death then we will fast and pray. If she is denied food we will deny ourselves full bellies and we will offer that suffering for the conversion of our own hearts and those her murderers and the intervention of Governor Bush to stop this homicide.

I propose that we follow the rules of the Good Friday fast until Terri dies or until she is allowed to be fed again. That is: no meat, one full meal a day and two smaller meals that don’t equal a full one.

If you are physically or medically unable to fast then I propose you pray a rosary a day for these intentions.

If that is too much to ask can you at least do it on Monday.

These are not requirements. They are proposals. I intend to follow them myself beginning today.

The Gospel tells us we can serve ourselves or we can serve others. We can choose to live our lives for ourselves or we can offer them for others. We can vote whatís best for ourselves or what protects all people. We can choose to be great in the world’s eyes or we can choose to be Great in Christís.

We Americanís love our choices. The Gospel places a clear choice in front of us today. I Choose life. I Choose to let others live even if it inconveniences me. I choose to vote for people who will protect the rights of others especially those who canít defend themselves. I choose to pray and suffer with the Schiavo family. You too have to choose where you stand and what you stand for. The choice is yours. Choose well.

Even more unbelievable

October 19, 2003

PINELLAS PARK, Florida, OCT. 19, 2003 (Zenit.org).- Police guarding the entrance to a hospice barred a priest from giving Communion to a brain-damaged woman whose feeding tube was removed last week, the Associated Press reported.

Monsignor Thaddeus Malinowski wanted to give Terri Schiavo viaticum on Saturday but was refused entry to the hospice. He was accompanied by her parents, Bob and Mary Schindler.

Police officers told the family the Communion would violate a doctor’s order that nothing be placed in her mouth, to prevent choking and aspiration.

A last-ditch effort to replace Schiavo’s feeding tube failed Friday when a Leon County Circuit Court judge refused to issue a court order allowing Governor Jeb Bush to intervene under his constitutional authority to protect life, Tampa Bay Online reported.

Supporters who oppose orders by Schiavo’s husband to cut off her nourishment held a vigil outside the hospice.

The Press and “group think”

October 17, 2003

I find it amusing that the press, with all their reasearch abilities and reputation for research, keeps on saying that JPII might be the 3rd pope designated as “the Great”. I promise you he will not ever be the 3rd pope designated “the Great”.

He might in fact be the 4th pope designated “the great”. I think so, and hope so but I can’t promise you. There were three in history already: Leo, Gregory, and Nicholas.

I doubt they will read my blog and correct their mistakes, but one can hope.

I also find it amusing they label him an ultra-conservative. How do they know what moderate or progressive catholicism is? There is orthodox and heterodox and JPII is certainly orthodox.

They don’t get to name which popes are great. We do. They don’t get to say what our beliefs are. God does. They can report what they are all day but they seem to forget they are reporters of what happens and not dictators of what should happen.

Let us pray for them.