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No, I haven’t fallen off the face of the earth. I am just in the midst of finals, since the Summer term is wrapping up this week.

Between right now, and Thursday night I have a paper to edit and proofread, three tests. The paper in for Sacramental Theology and the tests are Algebra and New Testament. Yes, I am just a little stressed out.

I am brimming with things to write about. I will be back soon, probably on Wednesday.

Via National Catholic Register

The Roman Catholic Bishop of Middlesbrough, (England) John Crowley, is setting out to walk the length of his diocese, which stretches as far south as Hull, in a week.
The walk is intended to focus on Vocations to Priesthood. Every parish has been asked to pray for more priests and the walk will raise the profile of the priesthood as a way of life. All the walks will be about 10 miles, starting in Hull on Sunday and moving through Hornsea, Bridlington, Scarborough, Whitby, Egton Bridge, Staithes, Saltburn and finishing on Saturday, August 12, at St Mary’s Cathedral, Middlesbrough. The bishop and a core group of walkers will be joined by people from different parishes each day. They will begin walking at 11am after registering and taking part in morning prayers. Each day’s walk will end in the late afternoon. The walkers will join one of the coastal parishes for Mass at 7pm. Each Mass will focus on one of the seven sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, Reconciliation, Mass, Marriage, Ordination and the Sacrament of the Sick. Bishop John, who became the sixth Bishop of Middlesbrough in 1993, is a keen walker. He hopes that in addition to the core group of people who will join him all week, that parishioners from across the diocese will join in for one or more of the daily sections. The diocese covers most of North Yorkshire, the whole of East Yorkshire, some parts of County Durham south of the River Tees, York, Hull and Middlesbrough. The walk is one of the initiatives being undertaken in the diocese following the publication in July of the Pastoral Plan for its future development. Details of the walk are available on the website www.called.org.uk

Once again, Fr. Goldrick has written another excellent post. This time on church construction. Here are a few excerpts.

Here I stand in the mother house of stuff-it-yourself projects. Cabbage
Patch Dolls and Beanie Babies are your mother’s toys. Welcome to the
“interactive shopping experience” of Build a Bear Workshop!

This flag-ship store is a merchandising frenzy. There are eight stations,
each offering a gazillion bear essentials. Besides legions of pint-sized
individual shoppers and their families, there are invitation-only parties
happening as well. Party-goers build bears.

The process is similar to an all-you-can-eat buffet. Begin with the “Pick
Me” station. Plush coverings are available for $10. The kids, of course, all
want the high-end $30 shells. End at the “Take Me Home” station. In between you
will find colored stuffing, clothes, fashion accessories, food, furniture,
eyeglasses, and even camping equipment. At the “Hear Me” station, decide what
you want your bear to say – forever. At the “Name Me” station, enter information
in a computer

Build a Bear is child’s play compared to Build a Church. Church builders
have far more options.

What is the church exterior or shell to look like? Is there a favored style
of architecture? No, there’s not. What about the interior space? The directives
are minimal. Does the Assembly have to sit in straight rows? No. Does the altar
have to be opposite the front door? It has to be visibly central, but not
necessarily at one end or even on axis. Where do you put the Presider’s chair?
Whatever works. What about the Tabernacle? This is a hot-button issue. It must
be visible and well-sited for its purpose. That’s about all the directive says.
How about the baptismal font? That’s wide open. It doesn’t even have to be in
the church building per se. Where to put the pulpit? Be creative. Newport
liturgical designer Aide Berthume had a private audience with Pope John XXIII
during the Second Vatican Council. She asked what he thought a post-Vatican II
church should look like. His Holiness supposedly answered: “I’m the Pope. My job
is to issue the decrees. You’re the church designer. Your job is to create the
concrete expression.”

There are thousands of other options: the art work, the sacred vessels, the
vestments, the sound system, special-purpose areas, shrines, chapels, ambry for
the Holy Oils, sacristies, etc. You end up with a vast array of choices. Build a
Bear, you’ve been trumped.

There are, thankfully, some guidelines: the General Instruction of
the Roman Missal on an international level, “Built on Living Stones” on the
national level, and lots of opinions offered by experts.

Pray for those who build, not bears, but churches.

Read the complete post here.

I find it amusing that this occured today. I have a theology test this evening on justification. Basically the Roman Catholics, Methodists, and Lutherans have gotten together and agreed to what they have always agreed to. That we are saved though Christ’s suffering, death and resurrection.

However, the Catholic Church places emphasis the necessity of a person’s deeds being reflective of their faith. If one has faith, but doesn’t attempt to be Christ-like, does that person really have faith? As Christians, we are called to follow Christ, in word, and deed and action. As is says in the Epistle of James, “faith without works is dead”.

Let us not forget that while our deeds do not justify us, but they can certainly condemn us.

While I am glad to see unity between these Christian denominations, I hope this agreement is just another step toward watering-down the Catholic faith.

From Catholic News Service:

Methodist, Roman Catholic and Lutheran leaders said their communities will
be able to work more closely in proclaiming the Gospel message of salvation
after the World Methodist Conference adopted the Catholic-Lutheran joint
declaration on justification.

“This is a historic day. This is a gift of God. We can be grateful for it,”
Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting
Christian Unity, said at the July 23 signing ceremony in Seoul, South
Korea.

The agreement on justification — how people are made just in the eyes of
God and saved by Jesus Christ — “provides a basis for a more profound common
witness before the world,” said the cardinal.

Delegates to the World Methodist Conference voted unanimously July 18 to
adopt the declaration, which was approved in 1999 by the Vatican and the
Lutheran World Federation.

Cardinal Kasper’s office at the Vatican released his statement and other
texts from the signing ceremony.

The Methodists’ resolution said the 1999 agreement “expresses a
far-reaching consensus in regard to the theological controversy which was a
major cause of the split in Western churches in the 16th century” over salvation
by grace alone or by grace and good works.

The 1999 declaration said, “By grace alone, in faith in Christ’s saving
work and not because of any merit on our part, we are accepted by God and
receive the Holy Spirit, who renews our hearts while equipping us and calling us
to good works.”

The Methodists said the declaration “corresponds to Methodist doctrine,”
especially its explanation of how each person of the Trinity is involved in
salvation.”

The Methodist Movement,” which grew out of the Anglican Church, “has always
understood itself as deeply indebted to the biblical teaching on justification
as it was understood by (Martin) Luther and the other reformers,” the resolution
said. “But it has also always embraced elements of the doctrine of justification
which belong to the Catholic tradition of the early church.”

In the Methodist understanding, it said, human beings cannot cure the
effects of original sin and corruption. It said the fact “that people are able
to respond to God’s call is due only to God’s prior work” of grace that helps
people accept salvation in Jesus.

Accepting salvation leads to healing and love, the Methodist statement
said.”

‘Faith working through love’ is seen as the root of all good which results
from the lives of those who believe in Jesus Christ. Works of piety and works of
mercy are fruits of the Spirit in the lives of those who follow Jesus,” it
said.

The Rev. Ishmael Noko, general secretary of the Lutheran World Federation,
also participated in the signing ceremony in Seoul.He called the Methodist
resolution “a new ecumenical landmark for which we must thank and praise God
together.”

The 1999 agreement, he said, “was an event which lifted up our shared
biblical faith in God’s justifying grace, a faith which paradoxically became an
area of division in the Western church.”

By joining together in expressing a common faith, Rev. Noko said,
Lutherans, Catholics and Methodists “should not see justification merely as a
piece of theological doctrine, but as an expression of the living Gospel
itself.”

A shared witness to how God saves people, he said, “transforms us into a
community of hope in a world where hope is in short supply.”

At the signing ceremony, Cardinal Kasper expressed his hope that the joint
agreement would be translated into “a joint commitment to deepen our common
prayer; may it encourage us to continue our theological dialogue, and building
on our common foundations, may it lead to an increase in joint witness to the
Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

I am so proud to say that I know this guy! Yes, he is Fr. Tad Pacholczyk and he is the Director of Education at The National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia. He is brilliant and if anyone gets the opportunity to hear him speak, don’t let it pass you by!

Fr. Tad has spoken before Congress and the legislatures of numerous states on pro-life issues and here is a short excerpt from one of his newspaper articles where he writes about one of his testimonies:

A lot of hot-button topics are being debated in our state legislatures
these days, topics of great ethical and bioethical importance, ranging from
emergency contraception to gay marriage. These debates address important issues
for the future of our society. Lawmakers face the daunting task of making
decisions about what should or should not be permitted by law within a
reasonable society. Recently I was asked to speak in Virginia at legislative
hearings about embryonic stem cell research. After I gave my testimony, one of
the senators asked a pointed question. “Father Tad, by arguing against embryonic
stem cell research, don’t you see how you are trying to impose your beliefs on
others, and shouldn’t we as elected lawmakers avoid imposing a narrow religious
view on the rest of society?” The senator’s question was an example of the fuzzy
thinking that has become commonplace in recent years within many state
legislatures and among many lawmakers.

Two major errors were incorporated into the senator’s question. First, the
senator failed to recognize the fact that law is fundamentally about imposing
somebody’s views on somebody else. Imposition is the name of the game. It is the
very nature of law to impose particular views on people who don’t want to have
those views imposed on them. Car thieves don’t want laws imposed on them which
prohibit stealing. Drug dealers don’t want laws imposed on them which make it
illegal to sell drugs. Yet our lawmakers are elected precisely to craft and
impose such laws all the time. So the question is not whether we will impose
something on somebody. The question is instead whether whatever is going to be
imposed by the force of law is reasonable, just, and good for society and its
members.

The second logical mistake the senator made was to suppose that because
religion happens to hold a particular viewpoint, that implies that such a
viewpoint should never be considered by lawmakers or enacted into law. Religion
teaches very clearly that stealing is immoral. Would it follow that if I support
laws against stealing, I am imposing my narrow religious viewpoint on society?
Clearly not. Rather, the subject of stealing is so important to the order of
society that religion also feels compelled to speak about it. Religion teaches
many things that can be understood as true by people who aren’t religious at
all. Atheists can understand just as well as Catholics how stealing is wrong,
and most atheists are just as angry as their Catholic neighbors when their house
is broken into and robbed. What is important is not whether a proposed law
happens to be taught by religion, but whether that proposal is just, right, and
good for society and its members.

During my testimony, I pointed out how in the United States we have
stringent federal laws that protect not only the national bird, the bald eagle,
but also that eagle’s eggs. If you were to chance upon some of them in a nest
out in the wilderness, it would be illegal for you to destroy those eggs. By the
force of law, we recognize how the egg of the bald eagle, that is to say, the
embryonic eagle inside that egg, is the same creature as the glorious bird that
we witness flying high overhead. Therefore we pass laws to safeguard not only
the adult but also the very youngest member of that species. Even atheists can
see how a bald eagle’s eggs should be protected; it’s really not a religious
question at all. What’s so troublesome is how we are able to understand the
importance of protecting the earliest stages of animal life but when it comes to
our own human life, a kind of mental disconnect takes place. Our moral judgement
quickly becomes murky and obtuse when we desire to do certain things that are
not good, like having abortions, or destroying embryonic humans for their stem
cells.

Read the complete article here.

Yesterday afternoon, Benedict XVI travelled to the small church of Rhemes Saint Georges, a few kilometers from Les Combes, the Italian alpine resort where he is spending a brief holiday. There he participated in the day of prayer and penance for peace between Lebanon and Israel.

The Pope arrived at the church in the company of Bishop Giuseppe Anfossi of Aosta, and greeted the faithful gathered there. Following the liturgy of the Word, the Holy Father referred to “the dramatic situation in the Middle East … where war persists between Christians, Muslims and Jews.” He exclaimed: “Lord, free us from all evil and grant us peace; not tomorrow or the day after, grant us peace today!”

Benedict XVI highlighted the importance of the Christian perspective as a way “to end violence and overcome evil. … At this time, in which there is great abuse of the name of God,” he added, “we must affirm that the cross wins by love, affirming [also] the countenance of God which triumphs and brings light and reconciliation to the world. … We need the testimony of God’s victory though non-violence.”

“Violence must be answered with love like that of Christ, that reaches unto death,” he concluded. “This is God’s humble way of winning, not with a stronger empire but with love that endures to the very end. … Jesus’ reconciliation and sacrifice are not in vain. … There is a network of Eucharistic communion that overcomes cultural differences. … This is the force for peace in the world.”

At midday yesterday, before praying the Angelus with thousands of pilgrims and local residents at Les Combes in the Italian region of Valle d’Aosta where he is spending a brief vacation, the Pope renewed the appeal he launched last Thursday for a cease-fire in the Middle East.

After recalling how, following the worsening of the situation in the Middle East, he had proclaimed this Sunday as a special day of prayer and penance, inviting pastors, faithful and all believers to implore from God the gift of peace, the Holy Father said: “I forcibly renew my appeal to the conflicting parties to begin an immediate cease-fire, to allow the passage of humanitarian aid and, with the support of the international community, to seek ways to begin negotiations.

“I take this opportunity,” he added, “to reiterate the right of the Lebanese to the integrity and sovereignty of their country, of the Israelis to live in peace in their State, and of the Palestinians to have their own free and sovereign homeland.”

The Holy Father expressed his particular closeness to the “defenseless civilian population, unjustly involved in a conflict of which they are only victims: both those in Galilee who are forced to live in shelters, and the great multitudes of Lebanese who, once again, are seeing their country destroyed and have been forced to abandon everything to seek refuge elsewhere.

“I raise a sorrowful prayer to God that the vast majority of people’s aspiration to peace may be realized as soon as possible, through the harmonious commitment of leaders. I also renew my appeal to all charitable organizations to bring those people the concrete expression of shared solidarity.”

Benedict XVI then recalled that Saturday marked the liturgical memory of St. Mary Magdalene, “the Lord’s disciple who occupies a leading role in the Gospels,” and that today is the day of St. Bridget of Sweden, “one of the patrons of Europe who lived in Rome and made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.” Let us, he added, “ask her to help humanity today to create great spaces for peace, and especially to obtain from the Lord peace in that Holy Land towards which she had such profound affection and veneration.”

“I entrust humanity entire to the power of divine love,” the Pope concluded. “And I invite everyone to pray that the beloved people of the Middle East may be capable of abandoning the path of armed conflict and of building, through the courage of dialogue, a just and lasting peace. Mary, Queen of Peace, pray for us!”

H/T to Rocco for this story.

Are you ready for the 2nd wave of assault on Christ and his Church. Apparently some people were so enthralled with the DaVinci Code that they think they are characters in the story.
There is a 43 year old American woman who is not only claiming to be a descendent of Jesus, she wants to see it printed in a book.

Even though it seems her claim comes straight from the world of fictional make-believe, Kathleen McGowan, a married mother of three, is about to tell her story in a “partly autobiographical” novel that hopes to trade directly on the vast worldwide audience captured by Dan Brown. It promises to light almost as many fires of controversy as Brown’s novel itself.
For, however outlandish Ms McGowan’s claims, they are being taken seriously by one of the world’s most respected publishing houses. Simon & Schuster is publishing her book and ploughing a marketing budget of more than a quarter of a million dollars into promoting it. It has already invested a seven-figure sum in the rights to her book, The Expected One. “I certainly expect there will be a backlash,” said Ms McGowan. “But I have the support of my family and friends and that’s what I draw from.”
Claims to such a genetic lineage might normally draw scepticism from a world where an author’s credibility can make or break a book. But rights to Ms McGowan’s story of religious intrigue have been sold in more than 20 languages and the first print run in the US alone is 250,000. Her novel – which was first self-published last year and sold just 2,500 copies – goes on sale in Britain next month. It is the first part of a trilogy.

On Saturday, the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum” published the following communique:

“Given the persistence of the conflict in the Middle East and of the terrible plight of the peoples involved, the Pontifical Council ‘Cor Unum’ wishes, in the name of the Holy Father, to demonstrate its closeness to those who are suffering, sending preliminary aid to help shelter the thousands of displaced people.

“This aid is directed towards a project being promoted by Caritas Lebanon, the Custody of the Holy Land, the AVSI Foundation and other organizations present on the ground, in order to supply materials for welcome centers (mattresses, blankets and sheets), drinking water, food and hygiene kits, and medicines.”

The communique also indicates where to send donations for this special collection of funds:

Italian Post Office current account number 603035, made out to Pontifical Council Cor Unum, stating the reason: for Lebanon.

Banca di Roma current account number 101010 – ABI 3002, CAB 5008 (from abroad: SWIFT code: BROMIT) – made out to Pontifical Council Cor Unum, stating the reason: for Lebanon.

Don’t get me wrong by my last post, I completely understand the restricted life of the Pope.
Being Pope means never being able to have dinner at your favorite restaurant, or doing your own shopping. Everywhere he goes he is followed by crowds. His days are filled with meetings and audiences. The Pope must be guarded in friendships. Pope John XXIII once wrote to his sister telling her to beware of people who seemed to want to be friends with her and those who showered her with gifts and trips.

It is a life I cannot imagine enduring. To endure being the Servant of the Servants of God requires true vocation.

I would like to remind everyone of Pope Benedict’s comments regarding his feelings upon realizing he had been elected,

“As the trend in the ballots slowly made me realize that – in a manner of speaking the guillotine would fall on me – I started to feel quite dizzy. I thought that I had done my life’s work and could now hope to live out my days in peace.”I told the Lord with deep conviction, ‘Don’t do this to me. You have younger and better [candidates] who could take up this great task with a totally different energy and with different strength.'”

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