February 17, 2006

Brazil Conference

E-mail Gail for update on the Secular Institutes
Link to Fr. Matthew’s aggregated institutes page if he has it up in time.
Tell Sr. Rose a deadline

September 26, 2005

This blog has moved

This blog has moved to CatholicNewsAndViews.blogspot.com. Bookmark our new site! We hope to see you there!

September 25, 2005

Important Show This Week About "The Choking Game"

If you haven't heard of it, chances are your kids have. We have been very attuned to the growing public discussion around this very dangerous game because one of our sister's nephews died while playing it.

Gabe Mordecai, 13 years old, was found by his twin brother Sam. Gabe had shut off the oxygen to his brain to get a sort of high, Kauffman explains. Other names for "The Choking Game" include "Fainting Game," "Passing-Out Game," even "Space Monkey."

Sam says he and his brother had played it several times: "It's hard to describe how it feels. It's kinda like, just, like, somewhere not on earth, but you're just dreaming, kind of. But then it only lasts for a few seconds and when you wake up … you don't know where you are or what's going on."

Sarah, Gabe's mother, has been working very hard since May to bring this game to the attention of parents and teachers. She has been on CBS The Early Show and has even started her own website to get the information out to other parents and teachers.

She will be on Dr. Phil this coming Tuesday September 27, 2005
CBS - check local listings (4:00pm in Los Angeles)

September 24, 2005

NCC offers free download of 'Love for the Poor' study guide

Washington, D.C., September 19 -- Hurricane Katrina will perhaps forever be remembered for having shined an unflattering spotlight on racial and class disparities in the United States. In an effort to help the nation move forward, the National Council of Churches USA is releasing, “Love for the Poor: God’s Love for the Poor and the Church’s Witness to It,” a 40-page booklet that seeks to help churches engage more fully in prayer, reflection and shared action on behalf of the poor.

“The Church has wisdom about what to do to address poverty, not just what to feel about it,” said Riggs. “Christians are not just to worry about the poor but we must also have some concrete things to do together,” she said.

According to NCC’s President, Bishop Thomas L. Hoyt, Jr., and General Secretary, Rev. Dr. Bob Edgar, “Love for the Poor” is both timely and urgent following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. “The Gospel directs us to show loving care for those among us who are poor, and the member churches of the NCC USA and our partner Christian communities have much work ahead in carrying out this principal Gospel task, and in urging one another and the wider community of persons of goodwill in our nation to respond wisely and generously to the needs of our day,” they noted in the foreword of the booklet.

R. Keelon Downton, a post-doctoral fellow in NCC’s Faith & Order Office said, “This booklet is important because it challenges the individualistic, spiritualized conceptions of love and is a reminder that if as Christians, we ignore the poor during our time, we are in fact breaking with historic Christianity.”

Copies of “Love for the Poor” can be downloaded free of charge at: http://www.ncccusa.org/pdfs/LFP-final.pdf
or by contacting Friendship Press, 7820 Reading Road, Cincinnati, Ohio 45237, 1-800-889-5733 or via email at Rbray@gbgm-umc.org. The booklet will be expanded and printed in book form next year by Paulist Press.

September 23, 2005

How Could God Do This Again?

Americans, believers or no, at this point are holding their breath and whispering a prayer for the people trying to evacuate the Texas and Louisianna coasts.

"How could God do this to us again?" I've heard people ask, even very religious people.

Scientists are explaining to us the cycle of these more violent weather systems, and the factors that come together to make them happen. There seems to be a satisfactory enough explanation on a natural level that is that it doesn't seem necessary to blame God. Rather, we have the promise from God himself that no matter what befalls us from the powers of nature, he will be working through it nevertheless for our salvation. In other words, God's love is reliable because the storm is not stronger than God. Regardless of what category the Hurricane hits land as, God will work simultaneously in each person's life to bring good out of the evil.

And in this case, I believe that God will be working simultaneously in and through each Americans' life to bring about some unexpected good for our country. It may not be more money, pleasure, or success. Those aren't things God considers very important. But it will be something on the lines of a greater awareness of the needs of each other, a more serious commitment to justice for the poor in our cities, a willingness to change our lifestyle because we see and know the people now who are in desperate need. They are in our house. God also will be working miracles that we'll find out about after. I was e-mailed this from a friend who is a Sacred Heart Brother:

Sacred Heart Brothers, students survive hurricane in Mississippi
By Larry Wahl
Catholic News Service
MOBILE, Ala. (CNS) -- One hundred fifty men, women and children faced a dreadful choice, nightmarish in intensity, but all too real if they were to survive. With floodwater rising and 120 mph winds whipping outside the third floor of St. Stanislaus College School in Bay St. Louis, Miss., survival was a moment-by-moment nightmare with diminishing choices for escape.

On Aug. 28, the day prior, the 20 or so Brothers of the Sacred Heart who teach at the school, or live there in retirement, had made provisions for hunkering down with the 45 foreign students who were unable to return to their homes and families outside the United States. Joining them were numerous lay faculty and their families.

In anticipation of high winds and storm surge, the brothers selected what they considered to be the sturdiest of the buildings at the St. Stanislaus complex: a three-story residence used by the brothers.

St. Stanislaus, a boarding and day school for boys in grades 6-12, and the brothers' residence are located just a stone's throw from the Gulf of Mexico and just a few miles from what would be their own ground zero -- Hurricane Katrina's landfall.

Knowing from past experience that flooding from a storm surge could occur, the brothers and students had moved food, mattresses, blankets and other provisions to the second floor of the brothers' residence.

As an uneasy night progressed into the early morning, Katrina taught them all new things about hurricanes.

No one anticipated, by past experience, the menace and power of this hurricane, especially the storm surge's quickly rising water.

By late morning the group had to abandon the second floor for the third floor.

Just a short time later, with angry, gray-green waters continuing to rise rapidly, the group was faced with an escape route that would lead them to higher ground -- but at great risk. A 50-foot-long open-air walkway leading to the school was quickly becoming a last option for safety.

The hurricane-force winds and a brutal 35-foot-deep sea roiling just 10 feet below the walkway had all the makings of a fear-based reality show.

But there was one more thing. During the whole ordeal, the peak of which lasted more than four hours, brothers, students, faculty and families had been praying.
Then, just moments before that first tenuous step was to be taken on that walkway, the waters began to visibly recede, the winds began to calm, and desperation finally turned to thanksgiving and hope.

Still, the group of 150 souls was stranded without food or water. It wasn't over yet. But the power of prayer begets other things, too, like inspiration.
About 100 miles to the east, another Brother of the Sacred Heart, Brother Paul Mulligan, a faculty member at McGill-Toolen Catholic High School in Mobile, asked a local bus charter company to assist in a blind rescue effort.

Without having been able to contact those at St. Stanislaus and no human way of knowing the fate of those at St. Stanislaus, Brother Mulligan made arrangements to pick up the brothers and students as soon as the waters had receded enough to make the roads passable.

The bus, packed with brothers and foreign students, made it safely from Bay St. Louis to the brothers' residence in Mobile. From there the students, accompanied by a smaller cadre of brothers, rode from Mobile to the Sacred Heart Brothers' residence in Baton Rouge, La., to catch flights home.

In Baton Rouge, U.S. officials, realizing the students had lost virtually everything -- including their passports -- in the hurricane, waived passport-carrying requirements for them.

In this days, it is more than true: If we look for God we will find him. If we listen to the inspirations in our heart to help others, we will be the arms and heart of God for them.

September 21, 2005

I just finished a group chat among Catholic journalists and communicators, brainstorming ways that we could help the dioceses of Biloxi and New Orleans. One important thing we all can do right away with just a phone call: Call your senator and ask that federal aid to New Orleans students include money for those who were in private and Catholic schools.

One of the Senate's best known Catholics has worked to reject a proposal by President Bush that would have given families displaced by Hurricane Katrina financial aid to send their children to private or parochial schools. A bipartisan student relief package put forth by Massachusetts Senator Edward Kennedy and Wyoming Senator Michael Enzi did not include a provision that would have given students up to $7,500 because Kennedy opposed the provision, according to a high level Congressional staffer who spoke with Culture & Cosmos.

Culture & Cosmos also learned that a prominent Church prelate said he was furious that aid to private schools had been kept out of the package and he was especially angry that it is being blocked by "four Irish Catholic Senators."

25% of students attended private schools in New Orleans and of them 81% or 50,000 attended Catholic schools. The poor educational system in New Orleans is no secret and Catholic and private schools have long been the main opportunity for an excellent education.

Despite the high percentage of New Orleans students who attend private school, Kennedy said "we need to focus on rebuilding the public school systems which are the cornerstones of the Gulf Coast communities and economies." (Reprinted from Culture and Cosmos)

Catholic schools have taken in thousands of students from New Orleans and are educating them free of charge. After the brainstorming today, if it clear that money is tight for everyone, yet at the same time people are reaching out above and beyond their means. You can help today by calling your senator asking that private and Catholic schools be included in the student relief package.

Last Words of John Paul II

Zenit posted the following regarding the last hours of John Paul II's life:

Pope John Paul II's last words before his death April 2 were, "Let me go to the house of the Father," says a chronicle published by the Holy See.

The chronicle of April 2 begins at 7:30 p.m. with the Mass celebrated in the Holy Father's presence, "who began to experience the beginning of the loss of consciousness." "At the end of the morning he received the cardinal Secretary of State for the last time and then began a sharp increase in temperature," the document said. "

Around 3:30 p.m., with a feeble and hoarse voice, in Polish, the Holy Father pleaded, 'Let me go to the house of the Father,'" the text said. "A little before 7 p.m. he entered a coma.

"According to a Polish tradition, a small candle lit up the darkness of the chamber where the Pope was slowing fading away. "At 8 p.m. began the Mass for the feast of Divine Mercy at the foot of the dying Pontiff's bed.

"Liturgical songs accompanied the celebration and they blended with those of the youth and the multitude of faithful gathered in prayer in St. Peter's Square. At 9:37 p.m. John Paul II fell asleep in the Lord."

"Let me go to the house of the Lord." John Paul convinced many with his life and words that life is about the Lord, being seized by the fascination of Christ, being attuned to God's "tastes," so much so that we no longer find "tasty" what is not of God or what distracts us from him. Focused, oriented, in love, John Paul could indeed with these words sum up his life: "Let me go to the house of the Lord."

September 20, 2005

How Far Does Faith Go?

From a personal essay by Sr. Thomas Halpin, FSP

It is a strange era that we are living in as Christians. We find ourselves in a world of confusion and compromise. There are time when we come face to face with a dilemma that we'd much rather back away from. It's so much easier to look the other way, to pretend it's not happening. Maybe we should just admit the chaos and move on from there.... But it seems that some issue demand a statement, an honest response, a non-negotiable.

Be that as it may, in our current climate it's frequently politically incorrect to advance the "cause" of truth. It's much easier to be mediocre. To not "pronounce ourselves" so often seems the more practice and safe way.

And yet there seems to be a general convergence coming upon us today. The essential question are inescapable: Is there objective truth? Can it be applied to life? Or is truth merely a matter of personal choice or taste? Is SELF the real norm to live by? Which is the way to embrace?

Recently the issue of same-sex marriages has come to the fore. Isn't that going altogether too far? Probably not, it you're only looking at it in light of the cultural climate we live in. "Well, what about same-sex marriage is the real problem, if there is a problem at all?" Is a moral issue like this a matter of opinion on the same plane as "What dress shall I wear?" or "What shall I have for breakfast?" Is there something so fundamentally Christian and Catholic about this issue that it immediately triggers an emphatic response from us? The bottom-line question is: Are there absolute, unchanging moral principles Jesus wants me to base my life and decisions on, and, if so, why? I think that is the question we all want to ask, yet we are immediately confronted with current cliches like "Everyone is free to do whatever they want...."

When we embrace Christianity we embrace the totality of who and what it represents. Faith is the fundamental factor here. Do we or don't we believe in Jesus Christ? That's the first question. The second is: If we believe (as an essent of mind and heart to all he did and taught), do we really intend to follow him without compromise? These are two rather loaded questions, yet they need to be answered personally in the depths of each of our souls.

posted by Sr. Kathryn James, fsp