Friday, December 05, 2008

A Catholic Leader Votes His Conscience; How Novel


Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg will veto a bill legalizing euthanasia which will inevitably result in a Constitutional crisis as Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker promises to strip the monarch of his already limited authority.  The last surviving sovereign Grand Duchy, Luxembourg is one of several remaining constitutional monarchies in the world.

Thanks to Father Tim Finigan (Hermeneutic of Continuity) who broke this story in the blogosphere, we are now aware of an actual Catholic leader who votes according to his properly formed conscience despite the personal and/or professional consequences.  We should all applaud, commend, support and pray for His Royal Highness Grand Duke Henri for standing up and being counted (unlike many of his Catholic compatriots in Parliament who chose to vote for this bill that chooses death over life.)  Unlike Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi or Vice President Elect Joe Biden, this Catholic made a conscious choice to DEFEND LIFE.  The same cannot be said of his uncle, King Baudouin I of Belgium, who enacted euthanasia and same-sex marriage laws in his nation.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008


Jdimytai Damour, was 6 feet 5 and 270 pounds and died horribly on November when 2,000 shoppers literally trampled him to death. This mob was motivated by one purpose: GREED. While judges and juries can ascertain what legal negligence Walmart may incur, morally speaking, the primary culprits are the actual people who stormed the doors and WALKED ON A HUMAN BEING who died of asphyxiation. What were these crazed consumers seeking? Not food for the starving or clothes for the naked or shelter for the homeless, rather these folks wanted BARGAINS such as a Samsung 50" Plasma HDTV for $798; a Bissel Compact Upright Vacuum for $28; a Samsung 10.2 megapixel digital camera for $69 and DVDs such as "The Incredible Hulk" for $9.

Since the ends never justifies the means, it is never morally permissable to hurt let alone kill someone even if it is done by a starving or homeless person desperate for relief. Worse yet is the fact that these people were not an unruly mob as sometimes is depicted in the news when showing disaster victims trying to get very limited and scarce necessities (such as food, water and clothing). No, this was a purely CONSUMER driven incident where getting the best deal overrided common decency and even the Natural Moral Law. While no one deliberately or premeditatively killed this innocent man, unless they were sleepwalking, I find it incredulous that none of the 2,000 shoppers NOTICED they were walking on top of another human being? When police arrived with emergency techs, some of the crowd boohed as the store needed to be closed.

This pathetic behavior is of course the worst case scenario for abusing the real meaning of Christmas. A Savior is born in abject poverty, having His mother give birth in a manger (stable) rather than at home. Our Blessed Lord entered this world with nothing and He left this world with nothing (in terms of earthly possessions). Yet, our modern society has perverted the birthday of the Savior into an annual SHOPPING event. I heard recently from several Christians that they prefer Thanksgiving to Christmas and Easter because the former is more 'spiritual' whereas the latter two are much more commercialized. We Christians are the ones who allowed our holydays to degenerate into consumer holidays.

Jdimytai Damour need not die in vain. In addition to praying for his soul and for his surviving family and relatives, I suggest we VOLUNTARILY boycott all further Christmas shopping. Cook something instead of buying something. Give the gift of time instead of money. If necessary, purchase online or just essentials at local stores where you normally frequent. Avoid these crazy sales events. Most of all, if we Christians spent as much if not more time PRAYING and DOING VIRTUOUS DEEDS (like the corporal and spiritual works of mercy) as we did SHOPPING (including the time wasted getting to the stores, finding parking spaces, waiting in lines, then wrapping the gifts we purchased), Christmas might be restored as a RELIGIOUS holiday.

I know there are jobs dependent on what people buy at this time of year, but we cannot allow imprudent decisions to dictate morality. Salaries should be based on ANNUAL work not just a seasonal activity. Stores do not HAVE to have cut-throat sales at bizarre times of the day. If consumers avoided these insane events, merchants would stop having them. Merchants can be successful on their regular customers when they behave prudently and fairly. When I was growing up, my father took me and three brothers to the Boston Store every year a week or two before Christmas and we bought something for Mom (and while alive, our grandparents). Back then, Pennsylvania had Blue Laws, so ALL STORES WERE CLOSED ON SUNDAYS. There were crowds but they behaved civilly. Good manners were not absent, they were accentuated during the Christmas holidays. Everyone, from clerk to customer said MERRY CHRISTMAS. People were not pushing each other nor were they shoving others. People acted like human beings and not like cattle or a herd of animals.

Speaking with my colleagues, we noticed a continuing decline in church donations during the holidays. While many say the economy is forcing them to cut back, it is their parish where they cut first and most. If it were just a matter of my own salary, I would not be bothered. The reality is that the electric and heat bills, the salaries and benefits of our staff, and the mainenance and upkeep of the church building are totally dependent on the weekly offering made by our parishioners. The gas, electric and water bills come month after month regardless of how many people come to church or how much they donate. People get upset when their parish is threatened with closing but sometimes you wonder where are these same people when the collection plate does not increase in proportion to inflation and the cost of living as everything else does? When people plop in spare pocket change, that is not fulfillng the precept of the church to support your parish. The local waitresses and waiters at the dinor often get more in tips than the average weekly offering at Mass. Catholics have been reported to be the lowest givers (1% of income) yet when some of them become disgruntled and leave the Church, they will often join an independent, non-denominational Protestant church and give 10% or more each week. With that kind of financing, full time youth ministers and several assistant pastors can be hired. Many programs and facilities can be realized when there is consistent and generous giving. Former Catholics tend to give more in their new non-Catholic congregation. Sadly, they have turned their back, however, on the Real Presence as there is no valid Holy Eucharist and no valid Holy Orders in their new religion. Music might be nicer or livelier and the sermons might be more enthusiastic, but the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is not about US it is about GOD. It is the supreme act of WORSHIP where you and I GIVE back to the Lord the ADORATION He justly DESERVES. We do not go to Mass to GET anything. We go to show our love FOR SOMEONE, i.e., for God. We RECEIVE more than we deserve insofar as someone in the state of grace is allowed to receive Holy Communion.

The consumer mentality which spawned a mob to crush a man to death just to get a bargain at a ridiculous pre-Christmas post-Thanksgiving sale has also infected many people's spirituality. People want spiritual bargains, from God and from His Church. Couples demand to be allowed to get married OUTSIDE instead of the House of God where it belongs. Parents don't like the regulations that require a PRACTICING CATHOLIC IN GOOD STANDING to be a godparent of their child at baptism. Ironically, these same parents are more picky and circumspect on who is their son or daughter's coach or pre-school teacher. Catholics can be tempted to reduce their weekly offering if they dislike the new pastor or have problems with the local bishop. If there is a family quarrell, does the father or mother stop paying the proprty taxes? Do they stop paying the phone, electric and other utlities? Entitlement is not just a sense that someone OWES me, it also produces a sense of CONTROL, as if the donor is now a stockholder or investor. Transparency is essential, by all means, to prevent abuse, but I have seen a few select BIG donors taking advantage of their generosity and pressuring the pastor or bishop to see things their way. Is that not a type of lobbying? No strings attached is what real giving is about. And giving (generosity) is the best remedy for GREED and AVARICE. If a local parish is not teaching and preaching orthodoxy and/or if the sacred liturgy is not reverent, licit and valid, then I urge people to ask their pastor to fulfill their legitimate needs and if they are not met, find a parish where these essentials are provided. The mediocre and bad parishes cannot survive if good Catholics stop doing and saying nothing. Parishes and dioceses which are faithful to the Magisterium and have a demonstrable love and reverence for the Blessed Sacrament and for the Mass and a deep filial devotion to Our Lady, then these places FLOURISH. Cafeteria Catholicism is not Catholicism and it is not even Christian. It is religious consumerism and like moral relativism, it is bankrupt.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Novena in Honor of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception

Immaculate Virgin Mary, you were pleasing in the sight of God from the first moment of your conception in the womb of your mother St. Anne. You were chosen to be the Mother of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. We believe the teaching of Holy Mother Church, that in the first instant of your conception, by the singular grace and privilege of Almighty God, in virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race and your beloved Son, you were preserved from all stain of original sin. We thank God for this wonderful privilege and grace He bestowed upon you as we honor your Immaculate Conception.

Look graciously upon us as we implore this special favor:

(Mention your request here)

Virgin Immaculate, Mother of God and our Mother, from your throne in Heaven turn your eyes of pity upon us. Filled with confidence in your goodness and power, we beg you to help us in this journey of life, which is so full of dangers for our souls. We entrust ourselves entirely to you, that we may never be slaves of the devil through sin, but may always live a humble and pure life. We consecrate ourselves to you forever, for our only desire is to love your Divine Son Jesus. Amen

I had the distinct honor and privilege of concelebrating Mass today, the First Sunday of Advent, at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC.  At the end of Mass, Msgr. Walter Rossi, rector, led the congregation in a novena prayer to Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, Patroness of the USA

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