Saturday, April 26

Via Catholic Nexus: (really your best source for Catholic news)

Vatican backs Keeler's decision to halt prayer meetings led by Gianna Talone-Sullivan

Seven beatifications tomorrow, including Father James Alberione:

This, from Publishers' Weekly Religion Bookline:

How many publishing companies can say their founder is a saint? Two Catholic houses may soon be one step closer to being able to make that claim. Father James Alberione, the founder of two religious orders who run Catholic book publishing houses in the U.S., will be beatified by Pope John Paul II in Rome on April 27. Beatification is the final step before canonization or declaration of sainthood in the Catholic Church.

Alberione founded the Society of St. Paul, an order of priests and brothers that runs Alba House in New York, and the Daughters of St.Paul, the nuns whose Boston-based Pauline Books & Media is both a publisher and retailer, operating 20 bookstores around the country. Born in 1884 in Italy, Alberione began studying for the priesthood at age 16. On the night of December31, 1900, while in prayer, he had a religious experience in which he felt called to serve people of the new century through the emerging means of mass communication. He and his followers went on to publish books, magazines and newspapers and eventually used radio, television, audio and video production, as well as the Internet, to pursue their mission. Alberione died in 1971.

“"He was a little bit ahead of his time,”" said Father Edmund Lane, editor-in-chief at Alba House. “"His beatification authenticates his vision.”" Sister Sean Marie David Mayer of Pauline Books & Media agreed: “"This is significant for the publishing industry because it’'s the first time a person is being put forward as an example by the Catholic Church who really worked with publishing and media.”"

Mayer told BookLine the beautification announcement “"caught us rather by surprise.”" Most of the seven books Alberione wrote are out of print, although two compilations of his writings are due out in fall 2003. Pauline also just released a title about Alberione’'s spirituality, “"Life for the World”" (Mar.) by Sister Marie Paul Curley. The current definitive biography is Alba House’'s English translation of the Italian “"James Alberione: Apostle for Our Times”" by Luigi Rolfo (1987).Given Alberione’'s passion for mass communication, some say he’'s a shoe-in as a potential patron saint for the Internet. He already has his own Web site: Says webmaster Sister Kathryn Hermes, “"If Alberione were alive today, he would be using the Internet.”"

Here's the Italian site if you're interested.

Australian Madonna begins crying again over Easter Weekend.

Gee whiz, you'd think she'd be happy.

An investigation by the Catholic Archdiocese of Perth into the phenomenon last year failed to establish the source of the tears. Announcing the results in February, Archbishop Barry Hickey said he could not conclude safely that the substance was of divine origin.Scientists identified it as olive oil mixed with globules of rose oil.Archbishop Hickey declined to comment further on the phenomenon this week, saying only that it was a "private matter".Although almost 350ml of the liquid was collected from the statue in the fortnight before the investigation began, it did not produce any tears while under observation by the investigating commission.Under Archbishop Hickey's orders, the statue cannot be displayed in church property in the archdiocese.

Pope condemns Cuban executions

Pope John Paul II has added his voice to international condemnations of Cuba's crackdown on dissidents, including the execution of three hijackers. In a letter to Cuban President Fidel Castro, released by the Vatican, the pontiff expressed his "deep pain" at the executions, and appealed for clemency for 75 imprisoned dissidents. ....

...The pope's appeal was dated 13 April, but released only on Saturday by the Vatican, through its secretary of state, Cardinal Angelo Sodano. The message asked President Castro for "a significant gesture of clemency toward those convicted". "I am sure that you share also share with me the conviction that only a sincere and constructive confrontation between the citizens and the civil authorities can guarantee the promotion of a modern and democratic Cuba," the pope said.

The NYTimes on consecrated virgins

As Kathleen Danes prepares to become a June bride, in her bedroom closet hangs her gown, in a shade of sky blue. It is not that Ms. Danes is ineligible for virginal white. Quite the contrary; at her church ceremony, she will formally become a consecrated virgin wedded to Jesus Christ. She chose that hue, she said, because it was the color worn by the Virgin Mary."At this consecration, the greatest, most important celebration of my life, I want to feel close to my spouse's mother," said Ms. Danes, 62, who will participate in an ancient and little-known Roman Catholic rite called the Consecration to a Life of Virginity for Women Living in the World. "There is no better way to reach the heart of Jesus than through his most holy mother."

When Ms. Danes, the sacristan at St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church in Lighthouse Point, Fla., is consecrated in the Archdiocese of Miami, she will join a tiny but growing number of consecrated virgins around the nation. The rite allows women to be publicly recognized as living a life of prayer and devotion while living in society rather than as nuns.

To become a bride of Jesus Christ, a woman must have never married and must demonstrate a life of chastity and devotion to the church. There is no age requirement, although some dioceses prescribe a minimum age like 30. Consecrated virgins have no formal obligations besides daily prayer, but they typically engage in service to the church. There is no equivalent vocation for men.Loretta Matulich, a consecrated virgin from Oregon City, Ore., and president of the United States Association of Consecrated Virgins, said there were at least 100 consecrated virgins in the United States, up from about 20 in 1995. In just the last year, about 15 women around the nation were consecrated, and in the next six months, another 15 will be, Ms. Matulich said.

From Andrew Greeley:Reasons to leave the Catholic Church:

And no, they're not what you think. In fact, it's probably the opposite.

Greeley says that sure, if you don't believe in a loving, merciful personal God, eternal life or sacramentalism, go ahead and leave (although, he notes, it just might be more difficult to do so than you think.)

But, he continues, these aren't the typical reasons he hears for people's departures:

However, most of the reasons I hear advanced these days are not of this sort. They are rather tales of what some priest did or said, of what some nun taught you, of some lunacy propagated by a bishop, of what some RCIA [Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults] director tried to impose upon you, of what some chancery office bureaucrat told you, of some rule that a liturgist said you had to obey, of the moronic failure of the church to deal with the pedophile crisis, of the denial by so many priests that there is a sexual abuse crisis, of the failure of the pope to support our eminently moral president, of the failure of bishops to speak out against the war (which they have, of course, though no one hears them anymore), of the pastor who is spending huge sums of money on a church the parish doesn't need. Etc. Etc. Etc.

These are, in all candor, lousy reasons for decamping--reasons I find it hard to accept, although they often rise from great suffering. They equate the Catholic heritage with the stupidities of its leaders, which have been worse in the past than in the present.

Frank Sheed, the English Catholic writer, put it nicely long ago: ''We are not baptized into the hierarchy; do not receive the Cardinals sacramentally; will not spend an eternity in the beatific vision of the pope. Christ is the point. I myself admire the present pope, but even if I criticized him as harshly as some do, even if his successor proved to be as bad as some of those who have gone before, even if I find the church as I have to live with it, a pain in the neck, I should still say that nothing that a pope (or a priest) could do or say would make me wish to leave the church, although I might well wish that they would leave.''

Now, of course I agree with Greeley, but I think he's being a little too flip here in relation to the real pain people sometimes experience at the hands of those charged with leadership in the Church. It's not simply that people's feelings are hurt. It's that their faith is shaken. If a person who has been entrusted with passing on the Faith lies to you or hurts you or teaches something that is wrong, it is difficult for many to separate that relatively small moment in the present from the weight and breadth of Traditon. And the reason it's hard for people to do this is that over the past forty years, they haven't been taught the distinction. We have been so inundated with a catechesis that emphasizes "we are the Church" in entirely the wrong sense - people have been encouraged to become Catholic, not because of the truth that the Church teaches, but because they find a warm loving community at St. Fuzzy's. The cult of personality has come to dominate how laity see priests, and hardly anyone dissuades them from seeing beyond a priest (or other leader's) "personal gifts" to what he or she is supposed to be standing behind. So yeah, when this is the way that "We are the Church" is presented to Catholic laypeople, when they are encouraged to evaluate the holiness and truth of Catholicism by the "vibrancy" of its liturgies, the "hospitality" of the local parish and the "warmth" of Fr. Laughsalot, when they encounter "boring" liturgies, impersonal parishes and the dauntingly brusqe Fr. Dontbotherme, they're going to be hurt and their faith will be shaken because a subjective, personality and experientially-based "faith" is what they have been taught - through no fault of their own.


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