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Showing posts from February, 2009

A Humble Beginning

Remember, man, you are dust. And to dust you will return. (Gn 3:19)

Thousands of Catholics will hear these words today. It is a call to humility. I am reading On Conscience by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI). This collection of essays echoes the call to humility. While one is obligated to follow one’s conscience, the proper formation of the conscience does not depend on subjective personal feelings, but rather on objective truth.

So we begin these forty days as an exercise in surrender to God’s will, not our own. Through fasting and sacrifice we will detach ourselves form the worldly and seek that which is eternal. Through prayer and study we will seek the Wisdom of God over the wisdom of men.

Today we make our first steps on the Journey to Easter. Like any journey, there is excitement and anticipation. It is an adventure! Remember these feelings. In a few days or weeks we may very well sound like tired children whining, “Are we there yet?” How do we sustain our focus? How…

Spiritual Combat

This afternoon our parish continued our St. Paul Speaker series with Fr. Jerry Pokorsky speaking on Spiritual Warfare. This was a wonderful presentation with so many take home points that it is amazing Father only spoke for thirty minutes. I easily could have listened to him for twice that length of time. The discussion of spiritual warfare dealt with individual spiritual combat. Each of us is called to be a warrior for Christ. He ended his talk with a recommendation of the book The Spiritual Combat by Lorenzo Scupoli. The few excerpts that he read convinced me this was a book I had to have. Consider this:

Therefore, let everyone examine himself, let him direct all his actions to this most excellent and noble end. If he discovers that he is performing a work of piety in order to avoid punishment, or to gain the rewards of the future life, he should establish as the end of his undertaking the will of God, Who requires that we avoid hell and gain Heaven.

It is not within man's power t…

Does Your Doctor do Abortions? The Answer Might Surprise You.

Yesterday, I mentioned that your local crisis pregnancy center is a great place to offer your alms this Lent. Your diocesan Gabriel Project and Project Rachel also need your donations. Physical help to these groups is a corporal work of mercy. Offering your prayers, especially the Rosary, for an end to abortion and in support of all women in crisis pregnancies is a spiritual work of mercy. We need to do both.

Have you ever prayed in front of an abortion clinic? I have. It is very powerful to offer prayers in such close proximity to the evil of abortion. The visible presence of praying pro-lifers has saved many children from abortion. You might want to get out your Rosary the next time you are in your family physician’s office. With the advent of the medical abortion, the practice of abortion is moving from the surgical clinics to your local doctor’s office. As you can see by this conference being offered by the New Jersey Academy of Family Physicians, there is a push to make medical ab…

Contemplating Divine Mercy

I received the following email from the Apostolate for Family Consecration:

Starting this March 11 (the 2nd week after Ash Wednesday) up to April 19, Divine Mercy Sunday (the Sunday after Easter), we invite you to join the Apostolate for Family Consecration as we pray for the outpouring of Divine Mercy on our families and our country - for the protection of families and the sanctity of marriage and human life, for those struggling with unemployment, for the recovery of our economy, for the safety of our military personnel in the Middle East and for grace and guidance for our civic leaders.
For 40 days, we will reflect on God's greatest attribute using the new Drawing Down Divine Mercy prayer and meditation book. It's a perfect meditation during this Lenten Season.

This new Drawing Down Divine Mercy prayer and meditation book is a complete presentation on the richness of the Divine Mercy devotion. It features 40-day meditations taken from Pope John Paul II's encyclical, "…

I Lent. You Lent. He Lents

But let me say this, because I think it’s really important: get ready for Lent. Call an assembly. Prepare a fast. This year, may we Lent like we have never Lented before.

--The Anchoress

I never before thought of “Lent” as a verb. But I think that is a very accurate concept. We are called to action—to fast, to give alms, and to pray. We have one more week to prepare for Lent. Are we going to be ready for action?

We can enhance our contemplative life with spiritual reading. I offered a few ideas here. Pope Benedict encouraged us to discover power of fasting. Fasting brings us in solidarity with those who do not share our blessings of abundance. This solidarity should then urge us to share our blessings with those around us.

In these difficult economic times, there can be a tendency to withdraw. We become protective and tight-fisted with our possessions. But this hoarding leads to more anxiety and very little peace of mind. Where does our true treasure lie?

"Do not store up for yourse…

They Are Listening

I guess folks are listening after all. The concerns about government intrusion and control of our health care made the news. Senator Max Baucus, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, has released a statement of “Frequently Asked Questions about the Health Provisions in the Uncontrollable Spending Stimulus package. In it he denies there should be any concern about government monitoring of our health records or the government setting treatment guidelines. He makes statements like:
“In fact, the Senate bill specifically prohibits the government from making any coverage
decisions based on this research [Comparative Effectiveness Research], or even from issuing guidelines that would suggest how to interpret the research results. The sole aim is to disseminate the results of the research to the public, so that patients and their doctors can make the best decisions for their specific situations, together.”

It would really be helpful if he would point to the specific statement in the l…

Work of the Holy Spirit

I would greatly appreciate your prayers. Tonight our parish begins a series of six presentations on building the domestic church. Please pray that the Holy Spirit moves those who would benefit to be present. Also pray that the Holy Spirit gives me the words that need to be heard. Thanks.

UPDATE: I would call it a successful evening. I spoke to a full classroom and received many positive comments when it was done. Session 2 will be next Wednesday and I will speak on how keeping kids Catholic begins with keeping parents Catholic. Thank you for your prayers. God is good!

Is Anyone Listening?!

I keep writing about the health care commission authorized by the House stimulus package. Is anyone listening? Betsy McCaughey at Bloomberg .com has more information that is terrifying:

The bill’s health rules will affect “every individual in the United States” (445, 454, 479). Your medical treatments will be tracked electronically by a federal system. Having electronic medical records at your fingertips, easily transferred to a hospital, is beneficial. It will help avoid duplicate tests and errors.

But the bill goes further. One new bureaucracy, the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology, will monitor treatments to make sure your doctor is doing what the federal government deems appropriate and cost effective. The goal is to reduce costs and “guide” your doctor’s decisions (442, 446). These provisions in the stimulus bill are virtually identical to what Daschle prescribed in his 2008 book, “Critical: What We Can Do About the Health-Care Crisis.” According to Daschle, do…

Contraceptive Mentality taken to the Extreme

From the online version of Psychology Today:

So here’s my answer: Personal responsibility. A grassroots movement means we mean it. It means people having children in year six would feel shame and embarrassment at their unbelievable selfishness.And yeah, if you are having children right now you are being selfish. You’re stealing. Stealing from the future. Stealing from the rest of humanity. Stealing from every living thing on the earth right now.The current planetary die off rate—meaning the rate at which species are going extinct—is a 1000 times greater than ever before in history. Why? Because humans—one species among millions—have stolen the food, the water, the space. And every time we bring more life into this world we’re increasing that theft exponentially. He actually sounds like an egalitarian version of Nancy Pelosi. He wants everyone to stop having children. Speaker Pelosi just wants the poor to stop having children.
Pope John Paul II warned against this attitude in 1981 when …

Simply Brilliant!

I mentioned quite a few books that make great Lenten reading, but there is also a treasure trove of spiritual writing by the popes and it is available free of charge at the Vatican web site. May I suggest you read Familiaris Consortio, an Apostolic Exhortation by Pope John Paul II? Just listen to this:

On the other hand, however, signs are not lacking of a disturbing degradation of some fundamental values: a mistaken theoretical and practical concept of the independence of the spouses in relation to each other; serious misconceptions regarding the relationship of authority between parents and children; the concrete difficulties that the family itself experiences in the transmission of values; the growing number of divorces; the scourge of abortion; the ever more frequent recourse to sterilization; the appearance of a truly contraceptive mentality.

At the root of these negative phenomena there frequently lies a corruption of the idea and the experience of freedom, conceived not as a capa…

In God's Own Time

I’ve been teaching religious education classes off and on for close to twenty years now. Throughout these years I’ve come to realize that without a solid foundation in the faith built at home, our little CCD classes are woefully inadequate. In the early 1990’s I discovered the book Keeping Your Kids Catholic by Bert Ghezzi. Here was the book that could guide me through being a Catholic parent. I wanted to share this book in a structured format like a discussion group or class. The book comes with discussion questions at the end of each chapter. But I also was sure I was not the person to lead this. My oldest child was in his early elementary school years. What did I know? I was just a beginner parent.

I had been humbled when I had my first child. I was already a doctor and had been giving parents advice for a couple of years when my oldest was born. I had read my pediatrics textbook. How hard could it be? Within a couple of months I was convinced that the author of my pediatrics textbo…

No Government Money If You Pray

Democrats in Congress have declared war on prayer, say conservative groups who object to a provision in the stimulus bill that was passed by the House of Representatives last week.The provision bans money designated for school renovation from being spent on facilities that allow "religious worship." It has ignited a fury among critics who say it violates the First Amendment and is an attempt to prevent religious practice in schools.According to the bill, which the Democratic-controlled House passed despite unanimous Republican opposition, funds are prohibited from being used for the "modernization, renovation, or repair" of facilities that allow "sectarian instruction, religious worship or a school or department of divinity." Critics say that could include public schools that permit religious groups to meet on campus. The House provided $20 billion for the infrastructure improvements, of which $6 billion would go to higher education fac…

An Interesting Pick for #2 at the Justice Department

President Obama's picks for several appointed positions have left me scratching my head. For example, why did he pick David Ogden for the #2 postion at the Department of Justice?

President Obama has made a major mistake and put America's families at risk by selecting David Ogden to become Deputy Attorney General, says Fidelis, a pro-family organization. "David Ogden is a hired gun from Playboy and ACLU. He can't run from his long record of opposing common sense laws protecting families, women, and children. The United States Senate has a responsibility to the American people to insure that Mr. Ogden's full record is fully reviewed before any vote on his nomination" said Brian Burch, President of Fidelis."Ogden's record is nothing short of obscene. He has represented Playboy Enterprises in multiple cases, Penthouse Magazine, the ACLU, and the largest distributor of hard-core pornography videos. He has opposed filters on library computers protecting c…

Bureaucrats at the Service of Death

After seven years of the United States withholding support for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the Obama administration has restored this funding. What does the UNFPA have to say? It says that divorce and high rates of out-of-wedlock births are good things.

MEXICO CITY, February 3, 2009 ( - A leader in the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has declared that the breakdown of traditional families, far from being a “crisis,” is actually a triumph for human rights.

Speaking at a colloquium held last month at Colegio Mexico in Mexico City, UNFPA representative Arie Hoekman denounced the idea that high rates of divorce and out-of-wedlock births represent a social crisis, claiming that they represent instead the triumph of “human rights” against “patriarchy.”

"In the eyes of conservative forces, these changes mean that the family is in crisis," he said. "In crisis? More than a crisis, we are in the presence of a weakening of the patriarchal stru…

Eternal Rest Grant Unto Him

Prayers for the repose of the soul of Michael Dubruiel, his wife Amy Welborn and their family

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord.
And may perpetual light shine upon him.
May the souls of the faithfully departed through the mercy of God rest in peace.

UPDATE: Amy Welborn has posted this column that her husband,Michael Dubruiel, wrote the night before he died. It is an amazing gift.


Read these two editorials. Then ponder the direction of our national foreign policy.

First this one by Judea Pearl

No. Those around the world who mourned for Danny in 2002 genuinely hoped that Danny's murder would be a turning point in the history of man's inhumanity to man, and that the targeting of innocents to transmit political messages would quickly become, like slavery and human sacrifice, an embarrassing relic of a bygone era.But somehow, barbarism, often cloaked in the language of "resistance," has gained acceptance in the most elite circles of our society. The words "war on terror" cannot be uttered today without fear of offense. Civilized society, so it seems, is so numbed by violence that it has lost its gift to be disgusted by evil.Then read this by Frank Gaffney:

Several observers have noted in recent days that Mr. Obama's outreach to the Muslim world is not only defensive and apologetic. It explicitly embraces a narrative that is factually e…

Pope Benedict XVI on Lenten Fasting

Yesterday’s feast of Candlemas marks the last day of the liturgical year that looks back toward the Nativity. Now we look forward to Easter. Lent begins on February 25. It is time to think about how you will spend your Lent. I wrote here about spiritual growth through reading. Pope Benedict XVI asks to also focus on fasting this Lent. Please read his 2009 Lenten message.

In our own day, fasting seems to have lost something of its spiritual meaning, and has taken on, in a culture characterized by the search for material well-being, a therapeutic value for the care of one’s body. Fasting certainly bring benefits to physical well-being, but for believers, it is, in the first place, a "therapy" to heal all that prevents them from conformity to the will of God. In the Apostolic Constitution Pænitemini of 1966, the Servant of God Paul VI saw the need to present fasting within the call of every Christian to "no longer live for himself, but for Him who loves him and gave himself…

Candlemas: Simeon's Answered Prayer

Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ. And inspired by the Spirit he came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, "Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word; for mine eyes have seen thy salvation which thou hast prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to thy people Israel."

(Luke 2:25-32)

Today is the feast of Candlemas or the Presentation of Our Lord.

There is so much to ponder with this feast. We can think about all the ways Christ is revealed to the world. We can think about Mary’s faithfulness and piety. For me, I …