Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Completely Random Movie Quotes!-#1

"If my boy says he can eat fifty eggs, he can eat fifty eggs!"

Today begins a new series on the Exultet blog. Completely Random Movie Quotes! reflects the fact that I watched much too much TV and movies growing up and I have a knack for remembering most of the lines ad nauseum. So I like to throw them out at'cha and see what sticks. If you can name the movie it came from, I'll think you are cool. But, sorry, prizes are only sent out on days ending in the letter Q.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Pro-life Youth Conference was a success

Well, the Pro-life youth conference I spoke at this past weekend was a success. About 20 speakers presented their organizations, suggestions, tips, and visions for being pro-life in America, and in CT in particular. Among the groups represented were the CT Right to Life, Birthright, CareNet, Missionaries for Life (Truth Squad), Silent No More, diocesan Family Life Office, CT Catholic Conference, as well as videos from Priests for Life and one on Theology of the Body for Teens.

The girls of the Teens of Pro Life Club at the Academy of the Holy Family are to be commended for doing such an immense amount of work in such a short time. Any time an event like this is started from scratch, it is a daunting task. Of course there are improvements for next time, but I believe that it was an overall success.

I hear from Leticia that 500 people watched from the feed at AirMaria.com. If you were one of them, let me know your thoughts; I'll be sure to pass them along.

Thanks and God bless.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Running the risk of feeding the troll...

...I didn't consider him my Messiah either.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Pro-life Youth Conference this Saturday

Alright, the Pro-Life Youth Conference that Sister Marie Andre roped me into is this Saturday! Barring any technical difficulties, you can actually watch it 3-8 pm streaming live at AirMaria. If there are trolls chewing through the wires and you can't catch all the great action, you can at least read the text of my talk about the dignity of the human person below.

God bless and please pray for a successful conference!

The Dignity of the Human Person

I find it astounding that our entire legal system is designed for the freedom and welfare of the human person, and yet the human person is not defined! Laws are written to account for fair trade between people, regulating what one can and cannot do in civil society. They help us to keep order and we make laws in order to shape the world in which we want to live. And yet, out from underneath us, the sand is eroding away very quickly. The structure that governs us all will collapse without the foundation that is the human person.

There’s a book that’s been out for some time now called Dehumanizing the Vulnerable: When Word Games Take Lives, by William Brennan. His study was simple: throughout modern history, language (and consequently, the law) have been used to dehumanize certain groups of people. He studied the plight of the Native Americans, blacks in the South, Jews in Nazi Europe, women, and more recently, the unborn and the elderly and handicapped. True to form, Brennan found that every single group was described by the same categories of words: non-human, animals, parasites, diseases. And when the meaning of these words took hold in the public consciousness, all sorts of heinous actions could be justified against these vulnerable and outcast people.

The pro-life community is not just against abortion, or euthanasia, or capital punishment, or embryonic stem cell research, though being pro-life encompasses all that. The pro-life community is and must be for building a culture of life, a culture that upholds and defends the dignity of the human person.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines the human person as the human individual, made in the image of God; not some thing but some one, a unity of spirit and matter, soul and body, capable of knowledge, self-possession, and freedom, who can enter into communion with other persons—and with God.

Anyone who has studied the development of the human body and is honest about the facts that he or she has observed has to admit that the only point at which we can say with certainty that there now exists a distinct human person where a moment ago there was none is conception. At the moment when the sperm cell fertilizes the egg, all the DNA the human body will ever need to grow is already present. Cells begin to split, develop and differentiate almost immediately. In fact, the fastest rate that a human being’s body will ever grow is within the first few months of development in his mother’s womb. Human life begins at conception and ends, of course, in death. If we are to defend and uphold the dignity and rights of the human person, we must recognize, in language, culture, and in law that human life begins at the moment of conception and must be protected until natural death.

We fight against a culture of death, which attacks the premise of the definition of the human person, leaving disastrous consequences. It says that in order for a human to be a person, it must meet some qualifying criteria.
1. The stage of development
The culture of death says:
• Babies in early gestation are not human, but merely a blob of tissue, a human-like animal.
• Babies in middle gestation are not yet viable and so therefore are expendable.
• Babies in late gestation may be a threat, a disease, a parasite on the health of its mother.
2. Level of intelligence/ awareness
The culture of death says:
• Those who are senile or in a persistent vegetative state are no longer human and shouldn’t take up valuable resources.
• Such is a life not worth living.
• They are a burden, a drain, sucking the life out of family members (parasite)
3. Level of independence
The culture of death says:
• Mentally or physically handicapped patients are not productive members of society.
• Also take up too much valuable resources. (The Naxis called them “useless eaters” and killed them systematically)
4. Quality of Life (real or perceived)
The culture of death says:
• ¬¬¬A terminal illness should not be endured—and recommends physician assisted suicide.
• The elderly in long-term care are taking up too much of our time and money. It would be quicker, easier, and less expensive to kill them mercifully than to care for them. (Especially ominous with the prospect of universal health care and medical rationing)
• A baby shouldn’t be born into poverty or other bad circumstances; (every child a wanted child) for those unwanted, it would be better if we prevent her from ever being born.

These are the threats to a culture of life. Many of these threats already have the force of law in this country. Some of these threats are looming on the horizon. What can we do?

First, do not be fooled by the lies that qualify a person’s existence by other factors. A human person is inviolable as a child of God. Speak out and defend the dignity of all people, no matter their age, stage, or walk in life.

Challenge your friends, family, teachers when they have been duped by the lies of the culture of death. Show them that life must be guarded from the moment of conception until natural death. Explain why people are not commodities to be created in a laboratory and discarded.

Some of you here today will be going off to college soon, deciding what direction you’d like to take in life. Some of you may become writers, journalists, doctors or lawyers. Use your work to proclaim our need to respect life in our culture, our medical practice, our legal structure. Do not let the authorities of this age define some people as non-human, for if they have the power to dehumanize some of us, they have the power to dehumanize all of us.

Let me leave you with these two passages from the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Paragraph 2273:

The inalienable rights of the person must be recognized and respected by civil society and the political authority. These human rights depend neither on single individuals nor on parents; nor do they represent a concession made by society and the state; they belong to human nature and are inherent in the person by virtue of the creative act from which the person took his origin. Among such fundamental rights one should mention in this regard every human being’s right to life and physical integrity from the moment of conception until death.

The moment a positive law deprives a category of human beings of the protection which civil legislation ought to accord them, the state is denying the equality of all before the law. When the state does not place its power at the service of the rights of each citizen, and in particular of the more vulnerable, the very foundations of a state based on law are undermined….

Paragraph 1929:

Social justice can be obtained only in respecting the transcendent dignity of man. The person represents the ultimate end of society; which is ordered to him:

What is at stake is the dignity of the human person, whose defense and promotion have been entrusted to us by the Creator, and to whom the men and women at every moment of history are strictly and responsibly in debt.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Some photographers...

...just can't help themselves.

(Then again, neither can some bloggers.)

Thanks, but I already have a Messiah.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Ora pro nobis

Hail Mary

We speak to this woman of flesh and blood. We recognize her presence and know that she hears our greeting.

Full of Grace

Not burdened by the weight of original sin, she is completely fulfilled in God and she seeks always to do His will.

The Lord is with Thee

God is present with her, within her, around her. Her path is blessed indeed, prepared by our Heavenly Father for His glory. She can call upon His aid at any moment and be assured of God’s help.

Blessed art thou among women

Whereas Eve, the first woman, failed to trust in God’s infinite goodness, Mary is fully woman, as God intended for all humanity before the Fall. She is prepared thus so that she can become the Ark of the New Covenant, Jesus the Christ.

And blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.

The co-eternal Son of God, united with the Father in substance, lays aside His heavenly throne to come in flesh, dependent on the care of His finite creatures, being born into the world after remaining in the womb of Mary.

Holy Mary, Mother of God

The unique relationship Mary has with Jesus reminds us that He also was fully human, and through Mary’s body came the wedding, the knitting together, of God and man.

Pray for us, sinners

Not through disdain or condescension, but with the love that God intends for us to share through His grace, Mary pleads to God for us; we who suffer temptation, trial, and the effects of sin.

Now and at the hour of our death

…for death is the destiny of all, but with God’s mercy, death is birth to everlasting life. God grant that we may have the grace to repent of our sins before our last moment, and seek His kingdom in this world and the next.


Yet another Planned Parenthood coverup of a felony

Live Action films released this video of two Planned Parenthood clinics in Arizona covering up felony statutory rape.

UPDATE: use this link instead. The Youtube link is no longer any good.

Should I be worried?

I had to share this one just for fun.

So my oldest has been drawing a lot of pictures lately.

This is one he drew of a truck a couple of days ago. Note the four boxes on the left part of the drawing. He explained to me what these are.

"This one's (1) the compass box. This one's (2) the gun box. This one's (3) the toy box. And this one's (4) the daggar box."

I couldn't help but think of this video clip as I patted him on the head and said, "Good job!"

Sunday, March 15, 2009

"A Modest Proposal" letter to editor, The Day sub. 3-15-09

Let's see if this one gets published...

In 1729 Jonathan Swift satirically wrote “A Modest Proposal,” suggesting that the plight of the Irish could be improved if they sold off their infants as food, for “a young healthy child well nursed is at a year old a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled.”

In 2009, Professor Sir Richard Gardner, an Oxford University stem cell expert, suggested that aborted babies should be used to increase the availability of organs for adult transplant. “The use of aborted foetuses ‘is something that could be done but it’s not something that’s talked about much’, Sir Richard said. He added: ‘It is at least a temporary solution.’” (Daily Mail, March 11)

Well I guess I’ll breath a sigh of relief that he’s not yet talking about it as the Final Solution.

Even though this is not satire, we Americans are not yet harvesting babies for their organs. We’re just harvesting them for their stem cells.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Pro-life Youth Conference

So you know those sisters who are so sweet yet incredibly persistent and always seem to get you to volunteer for things you might not do?

Well Sister Marie Andre, SCMC, has asked me to do a talk at the Pro-Life Youth Conference on March 28, 2009 at the Academy of the Holy Family in Baltic, CT. This conference, co-sponsored by the AHF Pro-Life Club and the CT Right to Life, goes from 3-8 pm and will give teens an opportunity to discuss ways they can get involved in this most important witness.

Covering essential prayer, the Mona Lisa Project, post-abortion trauma, medical fact about abortion, crisis pregnancy centers, 40 Days for Life, Missionaries for Life, personal witness, pro-life web and TV media, political action, chaste single and married life, this conference is FREE to attend and will include dinner and entertainment.

As I said, it is FREE, but registration is necessary, so that enough food, etc., can be arranged.

If you are in the CT area and would like to attend, please contact Sister Marie Andre (prolifeSpanish@ahfbaltic.org, 860-822-9272, 860-822-8241) or Sister M. Gabriela (srmgabriela@yahoo.com).

If you cannot attend, please offer up your prayers for a good turnout and a successful conference for the sake of our youngest brothers and sisters.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

SB 1098 is tabled for now, but stay awake, people!

So even though this bill has been delayed due to its "blatant unconstitutionality," as Governor Rell described SB 1098, Catholics need to stay vigilant. The bill has not been killed and will come back again, and I am concerned about the fact that "lawmakers have asked Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, who expressed doubt about the constitutionality of the existing legal framework on Monday, for a formal opinion about whether the laws violate the constitution's required separation of church and state," according to The Day.

Doubt about the constitutionality of the existing legal framework...

So now the pro-abortion, pro-embryonic stem cell research, pro-gay marriage, anti-conscience clause Attorney General is going to be looking into how constitutional the current legal organization of the governance of the Catholic Church in Connecticut is.

My pastor brought up a very interesting point last night. CT has distinct statutes for five different denominations in CT, as the article above points out. Lawlor and McDonald in their statement said "That doesn't seem right."

This will come back very soon. After all, when the CT legislature passed a bill for civil unions in the state, the CT Supreme Court ruled that the "separate but equal" nature of that law was unconstitutional and struck it down, allowing gay marriage in the state.

Oh, yeah, and Lawlor was behind that one, too.

Marriage is not just for religious. It is for all of society.

Ryan Anderson explains why the Proposition 8 debate is not really between civil liberties and religion in this article.

Live feed from Hartford about bills

So the hearing about bill 1098 was cancelled (for now), but bill 899 officially codifying Same-Sex "marriage" is still going on in Hartford. Air Maria is live-streaming the coverage of that bill's discussion today. Watch it here.

UPDATE: Starting at 1:30 is live coverage of the CT Republican Caucus having a discussion with rally attendees about the unconstitutional bill 1098.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Judicial Committee hearing on bill 1098 CANCELLED!

The Day just reported that the hearing on the CT Judicial Committee bill 1098 has been canceled.

Below is the text from the press release forwarded to me by my state representative:

Statement of Judiciary Committee Co-Chairmen Senator Andrew J. McDonald (D-Stamford) and Representative Mike Lawlor (D-East Haven) regarding the request by proponents to cancel Wednesday’s public hearing:

“For reasons that are unclear, Connecticut has had generations-old laws on the books singling out particular religions and treating them differently from other religions in our statutes. That doesn't seem right. In fact, many of our existing corporate laws dealing with particular religious groups appear to us to be unconstitutional under the rights guaranteed by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. If that is correct, any changes to that law would likely also be unconstitutional.

“With that in mind, it would serve no useful purpose to have a conversation about changing the laws that govern existing Roman Catholic corporations until we know if any of these existing laws are constitutional. At the request of the proponents who are advocating this legislation, we have decided to cancel the public hearing for tomorrow, table any further consideration of this bill for the duration of this session, and ask the Attorney General his opinion regarding the constitutionality of the existing law that sets different rules for five named separate religions.

“We think it would be more appropriate to invite representatives from all religious denominations around the state together with legal scholars on this topic to participate in a forum regarding the current law. Such a conversation would be more appropriate to have when the legislature is not in session and other more important issues, such as the current fiscal crisis, are resolved. We intend to do that once we
have the benefit of the Attorney General's opinion.

“In the meantime, we think it would be most beneficial if the proponents who requested these changes and church officials meet together privately to see if they can come to a resolution on their own. Open and honest communication between these two groups could only help. For our part, we intend to reach out to representatives of the Catholic Conference and continue the discussion that began in 2008 on this issue. We hope they will agree to meet with us.”

Frankly, this is far from over. Not realizing the immediate backlash they would get, they tried to sneak this through. Now that the spotlight is on this bill, with thousands of Catholics from all over the state ready to flood the capitol for this hearing, the cowards have decided to come back to the matter after the Attorney General has had a chance to review the constitutionality of the existing framework. (Mind you, this is the pro-abortion, pro- gay marriage, pro- Plan B contraception, pro-embryonic stem cell research, anti- conscience clause for pro-life health care providers Attorney General Richard Blumenthal.)

I wonder if it wasn't the intention all along to play up the "unfair" uniqueness of the structure of the Catholic Church? I'll keep you posted.

CT news articles about bill 1098

I don't have time to comment on them right now, but you can read the local coverage of bill 1098 in

The Day of New London

The Stamford Advocate

The Hartford Courant

Monday, March 9, 2009

UPDATE: Letter to Sen. Andrew McDonald and Rep. Michael Lawlor

Dear Senator McDonald and Representative Lawlor,

We write to you today very upset about Bill #1098 raised in the CT Judiciary Committee this past Thursday. This bill represents an unconstitutional attack that targets the Roman Catholic Church alone and threatens religious freedom for all. This bill was specifically written with one organization in mind and interferes with the internal governance of an autonomous religious body. Not only is it irresponsible that such a consequential bill was thrust upon the public with such short notice, but it seems that this legislation is one move in a hidden agenda that seeks to silence the voice of opposition to the immoral direction that our Legislative branch has taken in recent years. This bill, as you well know, if it passes, will create a confrontational relationship between the bishops, the pastors, and the lay faithful in the Catholic Church in Connecticut. While heralded as an attempt to afford more transparency in financial matters due to a small number of misappropriation cases, this bill goes far beyond any such apparent need and interferes with the very structure of authority and guidance for Catholic parishes. The state has no vested interest in this. There is no reason why the legislature of the State of CT should be interfering in this arena. Please be aware that this bill is not only an affront to all Catholics, but poses a frightening precedent for the freedom of other religious institutions. While the Catholic Church does not have elected officials, the State of CT does and we will oppose any representative who supports this unconstitutional bill.

cc: Rep. Kevin Ryan, Sen. Edith Prague, Gov. M. Jodi Rell

UPDATE: Rep. Ryan responded very cordially and then forwarded the press release of the cancellation of the hearing.

Below is the response I received from Gov. Rell's office. I have yet to get a response from Sen. McDonald or Rep. Lawlor.

Thank you for your correspondence to Governor Rell regarding Senate Bill 1098. The Governor appreciates the time you took to send your correspondence to her office. Please accept this response on her behalf.

Governor Rell believes that it is extremely important for citizens to voice their opinions to their elected officials. The Governor was pleased to hear the bill was pulled and stated the following: “The co-chairs absolutely made the right decision by canceling the public hearing on the bill. This proposal was blatantly unconstitutional, insensitive and inappropriate.”

Thank you again for sharing your comments and concerns with Governor Rell. Please do not hesitate to contact our office in the future, should the need arise.

Kelley Jacobson
Staff Assistant
Office of Governor M. Jodi Rell

Jesus Christ is victorious

With all that is going on in these days leading up to our persecution, let us all remember that Jesus Christ has won the victory. We must persevere; we must have faith in Him; we must fight with all our strength and take up our Cross and follow Christ to Calvary. But we must always remember that the victory is not ours. It is His. And the world is only redeemed through Him. And we must show Him to the world. Someone from the CatholicVote posted this video from the Archdiocese of New York. Jesus Christ is our true hope.

Philip Lacovara criticizes bill 1098 as unconstitutional. Update: Sen. McLachlan's blog post

Please read the letter on the Diocese of Bridgeport's website by Philip A. Lacovara,
Senior Counsel, Mayer Brown LLP, to members of the Judiciary Committee about the bogus bill attacking the internal governance and financial authority of the Catholic Church in CT.

Please also see the blog post by State Senator Michael McLachlan on his views:

I suspect this public hearing will be more like a zoo with the tone of an inquisition. Chances are the topics for discussion on Wednesday will go far beyond the bill proposed. I fear that we'll be hearing all kinds of attacks on the bishops, pastors and priests of the Catholic Church.

I pray fervently that we can dispense with this brutal attack on the Roman Catholic Church very quickly. Catholics don't deserve this attack and the proponents of this bill will hopefully hear this message loud and clear.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

A stumbling block removed

Earlier I posted about my reading of Heaven's Song by Christopher West. While this week's craziness has prevented me from making much headway, I'd like to add something else to which God opened my eyes while reading it during adoration.

Looking back on my spiritual life, I was effectively brought up as a Protestant with a Rosary, as one commentator on one of the blogs I follow recently put it. I find that God has been drawing me closer to Him throughout my life and a major part of that journey has been to draw closer to my Catholic faith. My own discernment of the priesthood and the two years I spent at St. John's Seminary in college opened my eyes and heart to the riches of the Catholic faith, culture, history, theology and spirituality in a new way for me. (I went to public school.)

Even now that I am married with 4 children--in 5 years,special thanks to JPII-- God is dragging me along a path that intertwines more and more with the Eucharist, the Magisterium and the Communion of Saints, despite my kicking and screaming (hey, nobody said crucifixion is fun). Yet one prayer of mine has continued to be to have a better relationship with the Blessed Mother. It's not that I've been against Mary, in fact I've always honored and respected her. I've prayed the Rosary since childhood and as far as my limited understanding allows, completely accepted the theology surrounding the Mother of God.

And yet there has always been a stumbling block. For some reason in a way I could never put my finger on, I never felt quite at ease with Mary. My prayers to her always felt impersonal and disconnected, while my prayers to God (all three Persons) were completely natural and relational. And while the Protestant or Liberal Catholic voices in my head (no, I don't actually hear voices in my head) would chime in to tell me that I didn't actually need a relationship with Mary, I knew that if Christ chose to honor his mother by making her our Queen and mother to all of us, then I could not only trust that He wanted me to have a relationship with her, but that I should have one. So I have continued to pray my version of "Lord, I believe, help my unbelief:" "Mary, I love you, help me to know and love you."

In God's good time, and when I was still and listening (there's a BIG lesson there) he opened the way. Chapter 4 of Heaven's Song, called "A Garden Closed, A Fountain Sealed" discusses briefly a woman's difficulty in relating to Mary. Kathy (not her real name) was caught having an affair and when she, repentant, was advised to look to Mary, she viewed Mary as "unreachable." "I got the impression from several of Kathy's comments that she, like many, thought Mary's immaculate purity made her a prudish or evan an 'a-sexual' being without any hint of erotic feelings of desires. She said, 'Well, what else am I supposed to think. That's certainly the impression I got from the nuns who taught me growing up."

Christopher's response was eye-opening to say the least:
...I got a lot of wrong impressions about the faith growing up in Catholic schools. Only much later in life did I begin to realize that purity doesn't annihilate erotic desire, it perfects it.

Far from being "a-sexual," Mary is the only woman who ever experienced the fullness of God's original plan for sexuality. God made us male and female and called the two to become "one flesh" in order to point us to our ultimate destiny of union with God in Christ. This is the original and fundamental meaning of human sexuality and this is how Mary must have experienced her womanhood, her sexuality-- as a burning desire for union with God.

Through the gift of redemption, we can begin to reclaim this original truth, but even for the holiest among us it remails muddled to some degree by our fallen condition. To recognize Mary as the "Immaculate One" is to recognize that her sexuality was never muddled my our fallen condition. For she experienced the fullness of redemption right from the first moment of her conception. This would mean that mary's purity allowed her to experience her sexuality in its fullness-- as a deep yearning for total communion with God in Christ. This is why she didn't have sexual relations with Joseph: not because marital union is "unholy," but because she was already living the union beyond sexual union -- union with God. This is not to knock Joseph, but earthly, sexual union with him would have been for Mary a step backwards. Instead, Mary took Joseph forward with her into the fulfillment of all desire.

This was the key I've been looking for. I've had trouble with Mary because she didn't seem real to me, or at least human. While I knew she was human with flesh and blood, and therefore not like the angels, ever present with God, my imagination was limited to the Heavenly Queen, Immaculate, resplendent. She is the woman of the apparitions, the Miraculous Medal, the Scapular, the Rosary. In my mind, Mary was only like the plaster statue in the CCD classroom. But not flesh and blood, burning with desire, like we all are.

But of course she burned with desire. She remained a virgin not because she was stoic or disinterested. She was fulfilled. Her desire was always for full union with God. That doesn't make her less human; it makes her fully human. But she lived and breathed; she got cold and hot; she was uncomfortable at times, joyous and laughing at other times. She got hungry, thirsty, and yes, even had to "powder her nose."

I guess what I'm trying to say is that my disconnect with Mary has been that I saw Mary in her glorification, the end of the story, but missed her earthly life and being, the beginning of the story, and that which is truly our model for life.

The question really shouldn't be "What Would Jesus Do?" The question should be "What Would Mary Do?" And the answer is simple: say to God, "Let it be done to me according to Thy word."

Mary, I love you, help me to know you and love you more.

American Papist posts internal memo by Bishop Cote re: Anti-Catholic CT Bill

American Papist: Not Your Average Catholic!: Update: internal memo by Bishop Cote re: Anti-Catholic CT Bill

Just so you know, I was not the reader that sent Thomas Peters the memo from Bishop Cote, but you can follow his coverage of the story as well.

Trusteeism bill in CT

Subvet brought this very troubling piece of news to my attention...

Apparently, the judicial committee has proposed a bill (1098) in the General Assembly here in CT that is aimed directly at the Roman Catholic Church in this state.

I have quite a bit to say on the matter, so bear with me if I'm a little around and about in this post. Disclaimer: I am not a legal scholar and nothing here constitutes a legitimate legal opinion. What follows are my own commonsense assessments of this situation.

It seems to me that Michael Lawlor, one of the reps who introduced the bill, has done his research into the history of the Catholic Church in the United States, because this bill aims to revise the confrontations surrounding trusteeism that were ended in the late eighteenth/ early nineteenth centuries, with the intention of undermining the authority of the Bishops. When the U.S. was still a mission territory (officially) many parishes were owned by the lay people who started them. This led to disagreements between the parish and the local bishop regarding the appointments of pastors and the assets of the church. For instance, the parishioners could fire the pastor or refuse the appointment of the priest sent by the bishop. If I understand it correctly, dioceses are now considered "corporations sole," meaning that ultimately, all ownership rests with the person of the local bishop.

Bill 1098 as proposed would essentially cut the bishop and the pastor off from financial authority within the parish, placing the ownership and stewardship of parish assets in the hands of a 7-13 lay member financial committee.

The biggest question that comes to my mind is "Why?" Why is this bill being proposed here in CT? Why is it being proposed now?

Purportedly, one reason the bill was written was to address a recent case of financial malfeasance/ misappropriation of funds in a Catholic parish in CT. The new law would provide a framework for proper investigation of such deeds. However, the bill goes far beyond that need and focuses strongly on re-organizing the total corporate legal structure of all Roman Catholic parishes in the state. There is no state interest in such a change.

There must be other motivations at work here. Michael Lawlor has already shown himself to be opposed to the Church's teaching on some moral matters, gay marriage specifically.

I don't intend to vilify Mr. Lawlor, but it seems to me that the intention behind this bill is to undermine the authority and strength of the Catholic bishops. Directly, this will essentially cut the bishop and the pastor out of much of the decision making within the Church, relegating them to chaplain status.

Some commentators have suggested that this bill is unconstitutional, which I believe as well, and let us suppose for a moment that the bill doesn't even pass. This is yet another instance of the bishops asking the laity to vocalize their opposition to the state or Federal legislature on consequential issues. With all that has already passed in Connecticut despite the opposition of the Church (gay marriage, embryonic stem cell research funding, the death penalty, Plan B contraception) this may symbolize to some a lesser moral issue, not worth getting energized about. Or this could just lead to people becoming indifferent, as in, "What is it this week?"

But if it does pass, is this just laying the groundwork for more ill to come? As Brian Brown of the CT Family Institute points out in the hearing featured in the video link above, if the state views the Church as an organization of bigots, then it will treat the Church as an organization of bigots. The Church will become a target of reparations. And if the authority of the bishops in mobilizing the faithful is weakened, the state may then be able to accomplish more of its immoral agenda (think FoCA, forced abortions, euthanasia).

Jack Smith of the Catholic Key posts about this development here and raises the possibility that this is suggested by the Voices of the Faithful. While I won't speculate whether VotF is directly involved, it does play into their agenda of taking control of the Church away from the bishops. Opportunistically, VotF was persistent in declaring that the sex abuse crisis was a consequence of the hierarchical structure of Church governance, implying that it is necessary to have more lay control of parish life and teaching of the Church. Failing to achieve revision of Church authority by internal means, this current bill would succeed in their intended power grab by recourse to state intervention. Interestingly, such a seizure of Church assets would lessen the bishops' authority while not decreasing their liability in cases such as abuse by priests.

So what happens now? First, let me point to the commentary on the Catholic Key post above. Cassandra gives insightful clues as to how this will likely play out legally. Her assessment of the USCCB and the response of the laity is frighteningly convincing. Given that the state legislature here in CT has successfully rammed gay marriage, embryonic stem cell research and most recently Plan B contraception down the throats of Catholic opposition (though I think Plan B was an instance of the CT Catholic Conference caving unnecessarily) I'm afraid this will pass, despite our vocal disagreement. The legislators who support this measure may feel secure in their seats, as CT continues to become more liberal and hostile to the moral authority of the Church and I wonder where we might go from here?

I will reserve such reflections until, God forbid, they are needed. It is necessary now to oppose this legislation and I pray that we will succeed.

Please contact Senator Andrew McDonald of Stamford and Rep. Michael Lawlor of East Haven who chair the committee that introduced this bill.

Sen. McDonald: 1-800-842-1420 McDonald@senatedems.ct.gov

Rep. Lawlor: 1-800-842-8267 MLawlor99@juno.com

If you are in the area and can attend, please come to the public hearing in Hartford this Wednesday, March 11 at Noon, Room 2C of the Executive Office Building.

This is not a precedent that should be set for other states to follow.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Whispers of coincidence

In my experience, when we don't hear what God is trying to say to us, He often repeats Himself.

Fr. Longenecker has a recurring blog item called "What I love about the Catholic Church." His opening piece points to the universality of the faith both in the content of what we believe and in the universality of we who believe.

And today the pope reminds the priests of his diocese that the most sublime theology of the Catholic faith needs to be made understandable to everyone so that the simplicity of the Word of God is attainable to all.

The Holy Spirit is great.

Keep a close eye...

... on this case.

With all due respect to victims of sexual abuse by priests, I fear that this case is being driven less by a desire for justice and more by a desire to break open the Vatican piggy bank and discredit the moral authority of the Church.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Heaven's Song (in progress)

On this week's snow day, I was able to go to the Holy Hour at my church and spend some time with our Lord. I brought with me the borrowed copy of Heaven's Song, by Christopher West. I'm not now going to review the book, as I plan to do that in another post when I'm finished. However, I do want to share one thing that struck me.

John Paul II, inspired by St. Louis de Montfort recognizes Mary as the bride in the Song of Songs, further seeing her as the New Eve. Check out this comparison:

"So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate" (Gen 3:6). Interestingly, the woman of the Song also speaks of a tree that was "good for food," or taking delight in it, and of eating its sweet fruit: "As an apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among young men. With great delight I sat in his shadow and his fruit was sweet to my taste" (2:3). Eve sins and the woman of the Song doesn't. What's the difference? It is that of grasping at the fruit versus receiving it as a gift....It seems the precise sin, then, was not the eating of the fruit of this particular tree....Rather, the sin seems to be the doubting of God's benevolence, the doubting and denial of his love, the doubting of his gift. We want the knowledge of good and evil ("the tree was good for food...a delight to the eyes...to be desired to make one wise," Gen 3:6), but we don't believe God will give us such knowledge, so we grasp....If the bride in the Song is a type of Mary, then this New Eve has redeemed the first Eve's sin -- not by refusing to eat the fruit, but by refusing to grasp at it. Eve doubed the gift, yet still yearning for it, she reached out to take it for herself; the New Eve believed in the gift, and "waited on the Lord" in her yearning. What Eve took to herself, the New Eve received as a gift from God.

This ties in quite well with the (Augustinian?) notion that we never seek evil when we sin, but rather, we are always seeking after something good through perverted means or in degraded or impartial form. We steal out of need or desire for goods; we cheat to gain prosperity or freedom from constraint; we abort babies to avoid discomfort or pain. It is rarely out of pure malice that we choose evil; even then we are seeking the pleasure of the rush that such actions might bring. Good things are not in themselves the ends that justify any means. Like virtues, they must be in the proper context: the right way, in the right amount, at the right time with the right attitude.

An encounter with the Son of God

Every day during Lent our parish is offering a Holy Hour including exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and ending with Benediction.

What a treasure the Eucharist is! Not leaving us to wander the desert aimlessly, our Lord leaves us his very self under the guise of bread and wine to be present to us until He comes again in glory. He gives us himself, the Bread from Heaven, the Lamb of God, the Spring of Living Water so that we might receive Him who is true food.

And wordless moments may pass in humble adoration of He who set us free. Please go to Him. Spend time with Jesus Christ in a local adoration chapel or in your own parish. You don't need to work; you don't even need to talk. Just go to Him. Bring spiritual reading, if you like. Listen. He will speak.

Monday, March 2, 2009

I have no idea who this lady is talking about...

...but that's pretty much the definition of a straw man argument.

So pro-lifers stick to the 200 words-or-less rule for letters to the editor, conduct themselves with decorum and respect, and speak of their adversaries as charitably as possible; pro-choicers can be not only misogynist, misanthropic, sophomoric and crass, they can spout off for as long as they choose and will have their rants published as a full editorial in The Day.

Frankly, I should be surprised, but I'm not.

Cathy Cubilla's article is full of sexist and demeaning comments that show no respect for men or for women.

To retort, though, all the pro-life men I know would never even think of calling a woman a vessel for their emissions. Rather, they respect women as unique individuals worthy of care and compassion. And they all have something else in common: they think that we should work towards a culture of life, in which sex is so greatly regarded that we only engage in it responsibly-- namely, in a faithful, committed, loving marriage.