Thursday, October 10

Do you live in DC/MD/NoVa area? How are you coping? I think at this point, I'd be mail ordering my groceries and homeschooling my kids. I just can't imagine...
There is no freedom of religion in Saudi Arabia. So why isn't the State Department concerned?

After all, this is the same country where, during the first Gulf War, President Bush Sr. was forced to go offshore to a Thanksgiving prayer service with U.S. troops there, lest Saudi sensibilities be offended. Nor is it just Christians and Jews: The country's Shiite Muslim minority also suffers discrimination, harassment and imprisonment. For all these reasons, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (set up by the same law that requires the State Department to produce its religious-freedom index) has now, for the third straight year, asked the State Department to put Saudi Arabia on the official blacklist.

Why hasn't it been? When the question was put this week to John Hanford, the U.S. Ambassador at Large for Religious Freedom, he said that it was "a tough call," admitted that Saudi Arabia is a problem but suggested that "you don't find the brutality on a regular basis" in Saudi Arabia that you do in other countries on the list. Must have been a great comfort to those Christians in Saudi jails who, according to a documentary earlier this year by Britain's Channel 4, were lashed by prison guards who urged them to confess to being priests and to convert to Islam.

Good words on the liturgy from the new bishop of Regensburg

The members of the clergy often try to attract the interest of a bored generation with entertaining initiatives, for example, inviting the children to come to Mass wearing their carnival clothes or attracting people who have little to do with faith and with the Church through rock and pop concerts, for which the liturgy is only the exterior setting.

A profound discrepancy can be found between the official liturgy and the lack of reception of its deeper meaning. In [Middle] European countries participation in the Sunday eucharistic celebrations is drastically reduced. Many appear unaware that this is an encounter with Jesus Christ, who has offered us the gift of the Eucharist so that we may reach God in communion with the crucified and resurrected Lord, who is the reason for our lives and makes sense of them.

Many forms of devotion have also been lost to the extent that the liturgy is no longer based on a profound life of faith and hence cannot provide results. The "table of the Word of God" ("Sacrosanctum Concilium," No. 51; "Dei Verbum," No. 21) has never been so richly laid out for the faithful as it is today. But knowledge of the Bible, not to speak of a lively knowledge of the Scriptures, has reached a terrifyingly low level even in Protestant circles.

It is with reason that there are complaints concerning increased uncontrolled liturgy. The judgment of so-called spontaneous liturgy, altered and with a reduced meaning, even denies a number of truths of the faith, this due to a lack of understanding of the essence of the ecclesial liturgy.

Omissions and mistakes in the doctrine of God, in Christology and in ecclesiology cause both a crisis and the defeat of the liturgy, from the moment that interior law is no longer decisive, but the criteria of entertainment are instead applied.

The liturgy in the Christian sense should not provoke romantic feelings, setting off social and political actions nor should it involve people in a pseudo-religious sense, but rather strengthen the faithful. The point of the liturgy is not to make us feel good, causing us to feel happy and allowing us to forget daily matters for a moment.

St. Maximilian Kolbe's last letter made available to the public

For the 20th anniversary of the canonization of Maximilian Kolbe, the Conventual Friars Minor of Poland opened the archives at Niepokalanow, the "City of the Immaculate," built by the priest himself. Among the saint's manuscripts is the last letter he wrote to his mother. The letter expresses a tenderness not manifested in other writings. Its contents indicates that his sacrifice -- he voluntarily offered his life in place of a father of a family sentenced to death in Auschwitz -- was something that matured over a lifetime. "Dear Mother," he wrote. "Toward the end of May I arrived by railway convoy at the Auschwitz concentration camp. All is well with me, dear Mother. You can be at peace about me and my health, because the good God is everywhere and he thinks with great love about everyone and everything. It would be better if you did not write me until I send you another letter, because I don't know how long I will be here. With kind greetings and kisses, Raymond Kolbe."

Very, very funny.

18 months, by the way.

Diocese of Manchester, NH settles 16 abuse cases.
Since you asked....This is the occasion of my Pittsburgh talk...scroll down to the second session.

By the way, Michael's new book is out, and it's great. You should get your pastor to buy a copy for everyone in the catechumenate. You should have one for yourself. You should leave copies on the bus.

It's been a few days since we've had a post stuffed with seventy comments or more.

Maybe this will get you going

From the UK: Why I left Opus Dei

I don’t claim that my experience left me damaged, but I do know others for whom membership has left scars. I only ever dipped one toe into the water, but several contemporaries of mine were in up to their cojones, and some spent many years there before they got out. When we joined what was on the face of it a youth club (though one in which a female shadow was never cast) we failed to see that we had entered a pre-planned vocational training programme — until, for some, it was too late. A make-or-break moment of choice was engineered for the chosen ones; existing members worked towards it behind our backs. Our progress towards that point was plotted secretly; we were nudged towards it without ever knowing what was up. In my case, it was my cussedness that saved me; when told by the member whose role it had been to befriend me (needless to say, I have not seen him since) that God was asking me to join Opus Dei as a celibate numerary, I replied that if that had been the case, God would have told me first, not him. I asked to be accepted as a non-celibate supernumerary. The coldness of their response led me to quit.

A one-woman play based on the life of 19th century nun Mother Joseph....

...the Sister of Providence who built 16 hospitals and clinics, 12 schools and two orphanages out of the Northwest wilderness during the second half of the 1800s. ...Tucker is not alone in touting the nun's accomplishments. In 1980, a bronze statue of Mother Joseph was placed among the U.S. Capitol's Statuary Hall collection, and in 1999 Vancouver schoolchildren successfully lobbied the Legislature to designate April 16 -- her birthday -- as Mother Joseph Day.

Miss America can talk about chastity all she wants now.
Canon Lawyers make a decision:

The Canon Law Society of America, meeting in Cincinnati this week, voted Wednesday to form a task force to study ways that the group can help the Roman Catholic Church resolve its crisis caused by priests abusing young people. That may not sound exciting to most people, but to canon lawyers, it's just short of earthshaking. "Because we're an academic society, we tend to talk," said the Rev. Patrick Lagges, who today steps down as the society's secretary. "When we get really excited, we commission a task force. When we get moderately excited, we commission a study."

Good stuff Catholics used to do:

Long Island Catholic Charities ceases funding of program that serves hundreds of mentally disabled.

The program cost 1.1 million. The diocese is spending 800,000 to renovate a residence for the bishop.

Yeah.

Case managers in the program, who make $27,000 to $35,000 a year, were told Friday of the pending layoffs. They questioned why services they say serve so many needy people are being terminated in a county that has seen two of its three psychiatric hospitals shuttered in the past decade. Some workers wondered why the diocese couldn't find the money elsewhere to fund the program. Some even cited the $800,000 the church is spending to renovate a residence in Rockville Centre for Bishop William Murphy. "It's interesting that our deficit is about the same amount as what the church is spending on the kitchen appliances and Oriental rugs in the residence," said Kate Bishop, the program's coordinator. "It's paradoxical, isn't it? Our mission is to serve people who are marginalized and disenfranchised. For them to turn around, with no notice, and end the program, is horrible."

Yeah, I know. Separate accounts, separate sources of funding, and in the Catholic Charities case, a decline in state funding for the program is cited as a problem. But still...the juxtaposition is distressing, nonetheless.

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