Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Liturgy Planning for Advent and Christmas

Tonight, we had a great meeting of our Liturgy Committee for the parish. We've sketched out our plans for the Advent/Christmas seasons, with a special eye to hospitality to all of the visitors to St. Anselm during these "Candled Seasons."

I really appreciate the fine eye for details that the committee members show in their deliberations and planning. They know very well that attention to the details of environment, hospitality, and ritual will help us to celebrate well, and will help the entire parish practice good stewardship.

Monday, September 29, 2008

A very historic day....for DOW

Wow! What a day.

The Bailout vote failed.

Wall St. holds its breath.

Main St. fears for its future! Main St. fears for the next payroll!

The Republicans are blaming the Dems for the holdup.

The Democrats blame the last 8 years of the Bush years for the crisis.

Wow! What a day.

Hang in there, gang!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Time and Talent....keep them coming!

Last weekend, we distributed the Time and Talent Surveys at all of the masses, and we made them available on our parish website as well.

We encourage all parishioners, visitors and even one-time visitors to fill out a form. Who knows? Maybe the Lord is calling you to a new volunteer activity to build up the Kingdom of God through this survey!

We seek to raise the number of volunteers involved in the many-faceted life of the Parish of St. Anselm.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Bonfire Mass is OFF .... again!

Sad to say, our parish campout and Bonfire Mass, is postponed AGAIN due to the bad weather.

Check out the announcements at Mass and in the bulletin, and on the website for new info on these events.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Getting Ready for Catholic Charities "Awards Night"

This coming Friday night is the night when our parish will be recognized by Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Trenton with the "Ray of Hope" award.

People throughout the area of Monmouth County have come to recognize the very unique ways that our parishioners and staff have reached out, throughout the years, to those most in need....to the alienated, the oppressed, the forgotten, the suffering in this area. You, the community of St. Anselm, have helped to make a real difference by your generosity!

It will be my honor to represent you this Friday evening at this very formal dinner dance. I'm sure that there will be many pictures taken...so don't be surprised to see me all "gussied-up" in the collar and suit. I'll get dressed up to honor all of the families of our parish who are being recognized for this award. And, I'll pose with the Bishop and the "muckety-mucks" for pics....but my heart will be with you guys wearing blue jeans, and cooking chile for "folks" in Asbury who truly need our help.

I think I'll make a couple of pans of Kielbasa for the International Dinner AND for the clients at The Center in Asbury Park....as a rememberance of this award from Catholic Charities. I think it's cool that we get this award....I also believe it's vital that we share with those most in need...and so I'll cook up some extra food for the folks....

Monday, September 22, 2008

Parish Campout and Bonfire -- coming up!

Remember! Our parish campout is this Saturday evening!

Our Bonfire will be lit, and warming us all at about 7:00 p.m. We'll celebrate Mass at 8:00 p.m.

Please bring folding chairs and sweaters and sweatshirts!

We'll provide hot chocolate, marshmellows, and fixin's for S'MORES!!!!

The collection at the 8:00 Mass will benefit the Tinton Falls Firefighters and our Administration of Properties folks, who have several big projects coming up.

We look forward to seeing everybody at the campout. Let's be safe, happy, and peaceful!

Time and Talent Surveys --- get 'em in!

If you missed Mass at St. Anselm this week, you missed our annual Time and Talent Survey and our Time and Talent Fair...as well as Coffee and Donuts Sunday!

But, not to worry! We still want you to fill out a Time and Talent Survey for the coming year.

You can even do it online! Check out the front-page of our Parish Website!

There will even be a drawing for a prize for those members completing their survey online! We did the same drawing after all of the Masses this weekend, for all who filled out their survey and turned them in right away! We awarded Gift Cards from American Express for $25 to one person after each of the Masses!

We'll have the same prize for all who complete their form online....another chance to win a $25 AX Gift Card!

We ask all parishioners to prayerfully consider how they will practice good stewardship of our time, talent and treasure in the coming year. I ask everybody to be REALISTIC in what you sign up for. If you're too young to drive yourself to Mass, then maybe you can volunteer to do things around the parish that don't require a driver's license. If you're on a fixed income, be realistic about your monthly donations. If you're a busy parent, balancing work, school, and family....be realistic...maybe you can only help with one event this year.

The Lord doesn't ask for the impossible, but rather for a realistic sacrifice to build up the community.

Let's help each other be good and true stewards!

International Dinner and Fish-Fry

Mark your calendars for Saturday evening, Oct. 4! That's when we'll have our annual International Dinner and Fish-Fry.

Come, bring your family's favorite ethnic dish or dessert to the dinner. Be sure to prepare enough to share! If you can print up your recipe, it would be nice to have several copies to share with the rest of the parish.

Also, if there's someone special in your life, in your family, that's really attached to this recipe, share that story!

Encourage your neighbors and friends to join us on the 4th!


Check out the Youth Group tab on the parish website for the Fall calendar of our high school youth group activities and meetings.

Friday, September 19, 2008

I can't make this stuff up.....!

Thanks to Rocco over at Whispers, here's an interesting story about the current Archbishop of Newark, John Myers:

The photo above, however, isn't of an RNA veteran who mistakenly landed at the Star Trek convention... but Archbishop John Myers of Newark, who (as longtimers will recall) penned a sci-fi novel, Space Vulture, alongside his boyhood best-friend Gary Wolf (better known as the scribe behind Who Framed Roger Rabbit?)... and, yep, that's Myers' coat-of-arms on the helmet.

With the book now on the shelves, Jersey's metropolitan -- recently named by B16 to the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts -- got his close-up courtesy of local God-scribe Jeff Diamant of the Star-Ledger:

"You have to admit, I'm being a good sport about this," says the archbishop of Newark.

John J. Myers, the spiritual leader of 1.3 million Catholics, a man who wears well the stateliness of his high church office, who goes through life addressed as "Your Excellency," who is revered in Catholic circles as a canon lawyer and a proud, conservative rock of his church, is, at this moment, speaking through the face hole of a costume space helmet he has donned at the request of his guests. In a few minutes, standing in the grassy yard of his summer residence in Hunterdon County, he will even don pointy Spock ears and a pair of alien antennae.

The bespectacled archbishop is doing this to promote and discuss a fun and uncanonic part of his life -- his love of science fiction and, specifically, Space Vulture, a sci-fi novel he published in March with childhood friend Gary Wolf, who decades ago went off to his own kind of fame as a novelist and creative mind behind long-eared 'toon Roger Rabbit. Their book, a fastpaced 333-page tale of intergalactic fantasy, is colored with invented species (lizardos, bulbos and Bictosian arthropods) and fictional planets (Verlinap and Medusker) that provide the setting for a heroic marshal, Victor Corsaire, to team up with a widow, her two sons and a con man to battle the notorious Space Vulture. "Obviously it's an image-changer," said Myers, who is better known for writing pastoral letters against abortion. "People think of archbishops as always super- serious, and all the burdens-of the- world type stuff. The fact that we could come up with stuff like that just is not what people would expect."

It's hard to argue with John J. Myers. He is being a good sport. Now, the space helmet is off, the Spock ears and antennae are on, the camera is clicking, and the photographer, taking these things seriously as photographers are paid to do, is pondering the scene. "I'm going to try a couple without the ears," he says. "With the antennae." The archbishop obliges, with the same type of aplomb that impressed Wolf six years ago when the pair decided to write the book. "I had a number of conversations with him," Wolf recalled. " 'Are you sure you really want to this?' Because writing a book like this ... for John, this could've been a career-ender. John could have opened himself up for horrendous criticism for doing this, both in the lay Catholic community and certainly in the Catholic hierarchy. 'I asked John, 'What's the pope going to say when this comes out?' John said, 'I don't know. I guess we'll find out.' "...

Unfortunately, at least for readers looking for what might lurk in the inner depths of the archbishop's mind, neither author said he could recall much about who came up with what. Myers said Wolf did most of the writing, and that he pitched in with plot, themes and character development. Wolf remembered that at one point, "John was talking about how neat it would be to have some really horrific kind of space alien. He didn't come up with the flesh-eating monster, but John was the one who got me thinking in that direction.... We both had a really good time with that one."

The book has sold decently, according to the publisher, though its Amazon.com ranking is low. Reader reviews online are almost all positive. Myers said he plans to use his share of money from the book deal, probably tens of thousands of dollars, for college funds for his nieces and nephews.

The publisher, Tor Books, loved the idea of promoting a book written by an archbishop and a 'toon creator. And in what somehow seems fitting for this eclectic project, the editor was a guy named Moshe. That's Moshe Feder, who enjoyed editing a Catholic honcho almost as much as Myers enjoyed writing the book. "There's a slight incongruity: 'Moshe Feder, graduate of yeshiva for 12 years, editing the archbishop,' " Feder joked. "It's like if I went to Notre Dame and was editing a famous rabbi."

Pope Benedict XVI has been predictably silent on "Space Vulture". The closest thing to a response from Rome? A Jesuit astronomer at the Vatican Observatory, quoted on the book jacket, called the book a "rollicking good time with a spice of high camp and a moral underpinning far more sophisticated than the original space operas were ever capable of attaining."

PHOTOS: The Star-Ledger

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Election 2008: Faith and Politics

Today's New York Times had a wonderful article about the role of the "Catholic Vote" in the upcoming elections.

Abortion Issue Again Dividing Catholic Votes

Published: September 16, 2008
SCRANTON, Pa. — Until recently, Matthew Figured, a Sunday school teacher at the Holy Rosary Roman Catholic Church here, could not decide which candidate to vote for in the presidential election.
He had watched progressive Catholics work with the Democratic Party over the last four years to remind the faithful of the party’s support for Catholic teaching on the Iraq war, immigration, health care and even reducing abortion rates.

But then his local bishop plunged into the fray, barring Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware, the Democratic vice-presidential nominee, from receiving communion in the area because of his support for abortion rights.

Finally, bishops around the country scolded another prominent Catholic Democrat, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, for publicly contradicting the church’s teachings on abortion, some discouraging parishioners from voting for politicians who hold such views.

Now Mr. Figured thinks he will vote for the Republican candidate, Senator John McCain of Arizona. “People should straighten out their religious beliefs before they start making political decisions,” Mr. Figured, 22, said on his way into Sunday Mass.

A struggle within the church over how Catholic voters should think about abortion is once again flaring up just as political partisans prepare an all-out battle for the votes of Mass-going Catholics in swing-state towns like Scranton.

The theological dispute is playing out in diocesan newspapers and weekly homilies, while the campaigns scramble to set up phone banks of nuns and private meetings with influential bishops.

Progressive Catholics complain that by wading into the history of church opposition to abortion — Mr. Biden brought up St. Thomas Aquinas, Ms. Pelosi discussed St. Augustine — Democratic officials are starting a distracting debate with the church hierarchy.

“Getting into Augustine and Aquinas — it is just not helpful,” said Chris Korzen, executive director of Catholics United, a progressive Catholic group running television commercials that emphasize the church’s social justice teachings. “It would be wise for them to focus on how policies they are going to implement as leaders are going to move forward the church teachings they say they believe in.”

Catholic conservatives, in turn, until recently had worried about a resurgence of the progressive forces in the American church. Now they are reveling. “The Democrats have actually given back some of the progress they had made,” said Deal Hudson, a Catholic conservative who worked with President Bush’s campaign and is now advising Mr. McCain’s.

Once a reliable Democratic voting bloc, Catholics have emerged as a pivotal swing vote in recent presidential races. Evenly divided in a New York Times-CBS News poll over the summer, Catholics make up about a quarter of the national electorate and about a third in the pivotal battleground states of Michigan, Missouri, Ohio and Pennsylvania. “Whoever wins the Catholic vote will generally win our state and, most of the time, the nation,” said G. Terry Madonna, a political scientist at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa.

And Scranton, a city dominated by the kind of white working-class Catholics who have often defected from the Democrats in presidential elections, is a focus of special attention this year. Senator Barack Obama of Illinois, who generally underperformed with Catholics in the Democratic primary, lost the surrounding Lackawanna County by a margin of three-to-one to Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, who has family in the area. Now, the Obama campaign often highlights Mr. Biden’s local roots — he was baptized and spent his early years in Scranton — in a bid for Pennsylvania voters.

Dozens of interviews with Catholics in Scranton underscored the political tumult in the parish pews. At Holy Rosary’s packed morning Masses on Sunday in working-class North Scranton and the Pennsylvania Polka Festival downtown that afternoon, many Clinton supporters said they were planning to vote for Mr. Obama, some saying they sided with their labor unions instead of the church and others repeating liberal arguments about church doctrine broader than abortion.

“I think that one of the teachings of God is to take care of the less fortunate,” said Susan Tighe, an insurance lawyer who identified herself as “a folk Catholic, from the guitar-strumming social-justice side” of the church.

But more said they now leaned toward Mr. McCain, citing both his experience and his opposition to abortion. Paul MacDonald, a retired social worker mingling over coffee after Mass at Holy Rosary, said he had voted for Mr. Kerry four years ago and Mrs. Clinton in the primary but now planned to vote for Mr. McCain because of “the life issue.”

The choice of Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska as Mr. McCain’s running mate had clinched it for him, Mr. MacDonald said. “She is anti-abortion, anti-gay-marriage, anti-Big Oil, a lifetime member of the N.R.A., she hunts, she fishes — she is the perfect woman!”

One parishioner ruled out voting for Mr. Obama explicitly because he is black. “Are they going to make it the Black House?” Ray McCormick asked, to embarrassed hushing from a half dozen others gathered around the rectory kitchen. (Five of the six, all lifelong Democrats who supported Mrs. Clinton in the primary, said they now lean toward Mr. McCain.)

Mr. Madonna, the political scientist, said of the Catholic vote in white, working-class Scranton, “This is a tough area for Obama and some of it is race.”

Both campaigns have dispatched teams of operatives and high-profile allies to help fire up like-minded Pennsylvania Catholics. The McCain campaign also disclosed last month that the senator was meeting privately with Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia. He met with Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Denver shortly before the Democratic convention. Both were outspoken critics of Ms. Pelosi and Mr. Biden.

Former Gov. Frank Keating of Oklahoma, a director of Catholic outreach for the McCain campaign, said the meetings Mr. McCain has held with bishops around the country were “strictly ceremonial.” But the campaign welcomed the bishops’ comments about the Democrats and abortion, Mr. Keating said, as “statements of affectionate support” for Mr. McCain.

Both sides say that Mr. Obama has a broader grass-roots turnout operation than Mr. McCain. In Pennsylvania, the campaign has trained organizers to talk about Catholic doctrine on abortion and other issues, held about two dozen “brunch for Barack” events after Sunday Mass and organized what the campaign calls “nun banks” to call lists of Catholic voters.

Catholic Democrats outside the campaign have also worked hard to avoid repeating the experience of 2004, when a small group of outspoken bishops dominated news coverage of the church with criticism of Democratic Senator John Kerry focused on the single issue of abortion.

Many parishes distributed a voter guide, produced by an outside conservative Catholic group called Catholic Answers, which identified five “nonnegotiable” issues for faithful voters: abortion, embryonic stem-cell research, human cloning, euthanasia and same-sex marriage.

After the 2004 election, progressive Catholics started to organize and appeared to win some victories. In 2006, the bishops’ conference all but banned outside voter guides from parishes. And last fall, the bishops revised their official statement on voting priorities to explicitly allow Catholics to vote for a candidate who supports abortion rights if they do so for other reasons. And it also allowed for differences of opinion about how to apply church principles. The statement appeared to leave room for Democrats to argue that social programs were an effective way to reduce abortion rates, an idea the party recently incorporated into its platform.

Their revisions set the stage for a clash of voter guides. Catholic Answers is again promoting its “nonnegotiables” voter guide; a new group, Catholics in Alliance for Common Good, has produced a chart comparing the candidates’ views on the war, taxes, the environment and other issues as well as abortion.

The same debate is already playing out almost every day in the letters section of Scranton’s newspaper, said Jean Harris, a political scientist at the Jesuit-run University of Scranton. “It is a running debate between Catholics saying ‘abortion is the only issue’ and others saying ‘you have to look at the whole teaching of the church,’ ” she said.

Also, further South, the Archbishop of Miami has written a wonderfully balanced, and thoughtful, and practical letter to the faithful of his archdiocese. I share that letter with you:

With a GOP-leaning lobby aiming to lead a pre-election charge on the nation's pulpits in defiance of the rules on tax-exemptions for churches (i.e. no endorsements), Archbishop John Favalora of Miami fired back as follows late last week:

My dear friends,

A group called the Alliance Defense Fund is urging pastors across the country to join their Pulpit Freedom Initiative by preaching a sermon “that addresses the candidates for government office in light of the truth of Scripture.”

The group’s goal is to challenge the Internal Revenue Service’s restriction on tax-exempt organizations “by specifically opposing candidates for office that do not align themselves and their positions with the scriptural truth.”

Needless to say, none of our Catholic churches or priests will be participating in this initiative. For one thing, we can do a lot for our communities with the money we save by being tax-exempt. That is why we accept that status and agree to abide by IRS rules that ban religious organizations from becoming involved in partisan politics.

For another, “scriptural truth” is not that easy to attain. Which is more “true” in terms of scripture: The Old Testament passage that says “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” or Jesus’ admonition to “turn the other cheek”?

The problem is that people often quote selectively from Scripture in order to back their own opinions. The other problem is that rarely, if ever, does an individual candidate or political party embody the gamut of “scriptural truth.”

The Catholic Church values Scripture, but we also value 2,000 years of oral and written tradition handed down from the apostles and their disciples, and another 2,000 years of ongoing theological reflection by some of the greatest thinkers and saints.

When we teach on a particular moral issue, we rely on the whole of that tradition rather than on any individual’s opinion or interpretation of Scripture.

That is not to say that we are not involved in politics. Catholics do not give up their right to vote or take political sides when they are baptized.

But the role of the church is not to be like the “party boss” who goes around telling people how to vote. Our responsibility is to remind people to vote wisely; to reveal to them the wisdom of Scripture, the wisdom of the church’s moral tradition, so that they can base their votes on solid moral ground.

Too often, people vote based on their feelings, or on the partial sound-bites of candidates pushing a particular point of view. More often than not, decisions based on feelings or partial information turn out to be wrong.

That is why it is especially important for voters to study all sides of an issue — or candidate — and examine that information in light of their own beliefs and values.

When church leaders speak on issues such as immigration, poverty, health care, abortion, war or embryonic stem cell research, we are not telling people how to vote. We are reminding them of the moral teachings that should inform their lives, and as a result, their votes.

We will not speak on behalf of individual candidates or parties. But we will speak in support of legislation that we consider to be morally sound and beneficial to the whole community — regardless of which party or candidate proposes it — and we will speak against legislation that we consider harmful to individuals and society as a whole.

In the coming weeks, you will be hearing from the bishops of Florida regarding important issues that we believe will impact the future well-being of all the people in our state.

That is our duty as teachers and successors of the apostles.

Your duty as Catholics is to listen to those teachings before making rational, informed, conscientious decisions regarding whom or what to vote for.

+ John C. Favalora,
Archbishop of Miami

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Grotto

This past weekend, while at the campus of the University of Notre Dame, I made my regular visit to the Grotto, the most popular place on the campus. Once again, I was moved by the large numbers of people gathering at that special space to pause, pray, light a candle, and to just sit in that graced place. If you've ever been to the Grotto, you know how, at any hour of the day or night, you can find at least one young person in prayer.
May our Lady of Lourdes continue to shower graces on all who visit that holy place.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Forever "Father Ted"

When I first stepped foot on the campus of the University of Notre Dame back in the fall of 1979 as a "candidate" for the Congregatio Sancte Cruce (CSC), I was, with my other first-year seminarians, introduced to the current President of the University of Notre Dame....Fr. Theodore M. Hesburgh, CSC. I remember quite clearly Fr. Ted wanting to know all of our names, and telling us to call him "Ted", but not a single one of us, ever, dared to call him anything other than "Father Ted."

Today, some 20-something years on, and just having met with him two days ago, I still, and always will call him "Father Ted." Fr. Ted is now 91 years old...God bless him!

Here's a little video with a brief glimpse into the life of this extraordinary man, this priest, this gift from God, this loyal son of Notre Dame:

Hail to the Victors.....NOTRE DAME....yo!

To say that I'm happy with the results of this past weekend's event is....well, um....

...an understatement!

Many of you know that I made my annual pilgrimage out to Notre Dame for the weekend. And what a weekend!

The above clip is only a small portion of the great events I experienced this weekend! (Apologies to all of my "friends" who've been berating Notre Dame for the past few years.....but I have two words for you....NOTRE DAME!)

I got to campus on Thursday, stayed at Moreau Seminary, where I was treated to typical Holy Cross hospitality, and then I had a great weekend of meeting with old friends, teachers, and mentors, and even meeting some new seminarians who were "fascinated" by this Diocesan priest who spoke of the most wonderful parish in New Jersey called St. Anselm!

Friday was a rainy day, but that didn't keep me from meeting with friends old and new. A trip to Holy Cross House had me meeting with my former Dean of Students at King's College, Fr. Al D'Alonzo. Fr. Al wanted to know all about what was going on at "the shore".....(the Jersey Shore, of course). He had recently visited his family in Lavalette, and wanted to know about the "deanery study" for the future of the parish configurations!

Then I popped in on Bro. Rich Kyle, CSC, who's also in residence at Holy Cross House. Br. Rich was the steward at Our Lady of Good Counsel parish in (Bed-Stuy) Brooklyn, when I was a very young seminarian in 1984. Then I went across the hall to visit another mentor, Fr. Ted Hesburgh, CSC. It was a wonderful visit, and I've got a warehouse full of stories to share!

And on top of all of that great stuff of visits to old and new friends....despite the torrential rains in the second half....the Notre Dame football team defied all of the odds, and BEAT Michigan 35-17. GOD IS SO GOOD!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Bishops take on Homeland Security practices

Photo by AP) Bishop Jerome Hanus, of Dubuque, Iowa, directs an immigration rally march, Sunday, July 27, 2008, in Postville, Iowa. Busloads of people from Chicago, Minneapolis-St. Paul and other nearby cities came to protest a federal immigration raid of the local Agriprocessors plant. Nearly 400 people were arrested during the May raid of the plant.

Many voices have complained about the inhumane treatment of illegal residents by the forces of our government in recent years. News outlets have been regularly reporting how government agencies have been running roughshod over basic human rights as well as civil rights guaranteed to us by the U. S. Constitution. Here's a summary of a statement released today by the American Bishops. You can read the complete statement at the USCCB site.

WASHINGTON— Speaking on behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Bishop John C. Wester, chairman of the Bishops’ Committee on Migration, urged the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and President Bush to reexamine the use of worksite enforcement raids as an immigration enforcement tool.

“The humanitarian costs of these raids are immeasurable and unacceptable in a civilized society,” Bishop Wester said. “While we do not question the right and duty of our government to enforce the law, we do question whether worksite enforcement raids are the most effective and humane method for performing this duty, particularly as they are presently being implemented.”

The statement, released September 10, addresses the increase in worksite enforcement raids across the nation over the last year, in which DHS has targeted employers who hire unauthorized workers by using force to enter worksites and arrest immigrant workers. During the process of these raids, U.S. citizen children have been separated from their parents, immigrants arrested have not been afforded the rights of due process, and local communities, especially relatives including legal permanent residents and U.S. citizens, have been left to cope with the aftermath.

“We have witnessed first-hand the suffering of immigrant families and are gravely concerned about the collateral human consequences of immigration enforcement raids on the family unit,” say the bishops in the statement. “Many families never recover; others never reunite.”

In the absence of comprehensive reform, the U.S. Catholic Bishops have sought to work collaboratively with DHS to ensure humanitarian considerations in executing workplace raids. The statement calls for refraining from enforcement activity in certain areas that provide humanitarian relief such as churches, hospitals, community health centers, schools, food banks, and other charitable services. It also calls for the release of caregivers who have dependents offering a variety of release mechanisms available under the law; access to legal representation; respect for basic human dignity; and, mechanisms for families to remain together and locate each other following an enforcement raid. It also states that non-profit and community groups should be engaged in this effort.

“Absent the effective implementation of these safeguards, we believe that these enforcement raids should be abandoned,” the statement reads, adding that “[i]mmigration enforcement raids demonstrate politically the ability of the government to enforce the law. They do little, however, to solve the broader challenge of illegal immigration. They also reveal, sadly, the failure of a seriously flawed immigration system, which, as we have consistently stated, requires comprehensive reform.”

The bishops urged the two presidential candidates “to engage the issue of immigration in a humane, thoughtful, and courageous manner” and to turn away from enforcement-only methods.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Parish Picnic 2008

Today's Parish Picnic was a wonderful experience! We were blessed with perfect weather, and lots of great foods to share, great desserts (with no calories!) and fun games for the kids...and the young at heart!

Thanks to our Parish Life committee and everyone who helped to pull this great day together!

Next big party...International Night in October! Start preparing your favorite "ethnic" dish to share. Let's celebrate our wonderfully rich, diverse backgrounds!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Getting Ready for the Parish Picnic

Tomorrow, Sunday September 7, after the 11:00 a.m. Mass, we'll have our annual Parish Picnic! By noon, we should be dried out enough to have a great day of fun, and sharing wonderful food and friendship.

We ask that you bring stuff like folding chairs, tablecloths for the picnic tables, folding tables, and possibly some kitchen towels to dry up any left-over rain from tonight's storm. We'll provide the burgers and hot dogs, but we invite everybody to bring some "side" dishes like salads, meatballs, and especially your favorite desserts!

Looking forward to a great day tomorrow! Let's all come out and celebrate our community spirit!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Who IS St. Anselm?

Life and Works of Saint Anselm
Feast Day
St. Anselm of Canterbury - 1033-1109
Archbishop and Doctor of the Church

Born in Aosta in Northern Italy, St. Anselm entered the Norman monastery at Bec in 1060.

After being elected abbot, Anselm became the most celebrated theologian and spiritual guide of his age. His theological and philosophical treatises and letters of spiritual friendship all reflect the motto Fides Quaerens Intellectum--Faith Seeking Understanding.

His desire to show the complementarity of reason and faith bore fruit in his Proslogion, a treatise in which he formulated an ontological argument for the existence of God that continues to fascinate philosophers to this day. His letters, written in a graceful literary style that made them a model for generations of writers, reveal a warm and generous personality.

As Archbishop of Canterbury, Anselm was an active pastor and reformer. He defended the English church against royal control and oppression, for which he was twice exiled by the king. In 1102 he presided over the first church council to outlaw the slave trade. During his exiles, St. Anselm continued to write, producing Cur Deus Homo (Why God Became Man), the most famous medieval interpretation of the Incarnation.

His union of holiness of life, divine and human learning, and political and social conscience in the service of God and humanity, make him a fitting patron of the St. Anselm institute.

His feast day is April 21.

More on Nancy and the Bishops

The furor over Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's remarks about abortion continues. Since she resides in San Francisco, her archbishop has isssued a wonderful statement on the Church's teaching. Here it is:

September 5, 2008

Last month, in two televised interviews and a subsequent statement released through her office, Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives and a Catholic residing in the Archdiocese of San Francisco, made remarks that are in serious conflict with the teachings of the Catholic Church about abortion. It is my responsibility as Archbishop of San Francisco to teach clearly what Christ in his Church teaches about faith and morals, and to oppose erroneous, misleading and confusing positions when they are advanced.

In his statement about Speaker Pelosi's remarks, Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C., expressed the response of many bishops when he said, "We respect the right of elected officials such as Speaker Pelosi to address matters of public policy that are before them, but the interpretation of Catholic faith has rightfully been entrusted to the Catholic bishops." In addition to Archbishop Wuerl, several other bishops have already appropriately and helpfully pointed out the errors in the Speaker's remarks. Nevertheless, it is my particular duty to address them as well. Let me acknowledge even as I do so that Speaker Pelosi is a gifted, dedicated and accomplished public servant, and that she has stated often her love for her faith and for the Catholic Church. The Speaker has been supportive of legislation that helped to implement some of the social teachings of the Church. However, her recent remarks are opposed to Church teaching.

In The Catechism of the Catholic Church we find this statement: "Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, willed either as an end or a means, is grossly contrary to the moral law." ( 2270 - 71 ) The Catechism then quotes the Didache ( also referred to as The Teachings of the Twelve Apostles ) , the oldest extant manual of church order, dating from the late first or early second century: "You shall not kill the embryo by abortion and shall not cause the newborn to perish." In 2004 the bishops of the United States, in their statement, "Catholics in Political Life," said: "It is the teaching of the Catholic Church from the very beginning that the killing of an unborn child is always intrinsically evil and can never be justified. This is the constant and received teaching of the Church. It is, as well, the conviction of many other people of good will."

On the television program "Meet the Press," on Sunday, August 24, 2008, Speaker Pelosi spoke of herself and the bishops of her Church in these words: "So there's some areas where we're in agreement and some areas where we're not, and one being a woman's right to choose, and the other being stem cell research." In April of this year, in a teleconference with Catholic News Service and other media she made a similar remark: "I have a sort of serenity about the issue. I come from a family who doesn't share my position on pro - choice. The Church sees it another way, and I respect that."

The bishops at the Second Vatican Council declared that, as Catholics, we believe what the Church authoritatively teaches on matters of faith and morals, for to hear the voice of the Church on those matters is to hear the voice of Christ himself. ( Lumen Gentium, No. 25; Mysterium Ecclesiae, No. 2 ) Catholics believe that the Holy Spirit guides the Church and protects it from error. We believe that the Roman Pontiff, Pope Benedict XVI, is the successor of Peter, the Rock on whom Jesus Christ has built his Church, and is not just another man who is entitled to his opinions on faith. We believe that we are called to trust the Spirit to guide the Church, so we do not pick and choose among her teachings. Mr. Tom Brokaw, the moderator of "Meet the Press," asked Speaker Pelosi, "When does life begin?" She responded: "We don't know. The point is that it shouldn't have an impact on the woman's right to choose." Later: "I don't think anyone can tell you when life begins, when human life begins." Mr. Brokaw: "The Catholic Church at the moment feels very strongly that it begins at the point of conception." Speaker Pelosi: "I understand. And this is maybe fifty years or something like that."

Speaker Pelosi's remarks called forth many responses, from Catholics in the pews as well as from bishops. As a result, on Tuesday, August 26th, two days after "Meet the Press" had aired, the Speaker's office issued a statement on her behalf. It contained this sentence: "While Catholic teaching is clear that life begins at conception, many Catholics do not ascribe[sic] to that view." That statement suggests that morality can be decided by poll, by numbers. If ninety percent of Catholics subscribe to the view that human life begins at conception, does that makes Church teaching truer than if only seventy percent or fifty percent agree?

Authentic moral teaching is based on objective truth, not polling. For instance, in 1861, as the Civil War began, a majority of the residents of Massachusetts opposed slavery, a majority of the residents of South Carolina approved of slavery, and in Missouri people were sharply divided on the issue. Does that mean that, in 1861, slavery was immoral in Massachusetts, moral in South Carolina, and something of a moral "wash" in Missouri? Sound moral teaching demands much more good sense than that.

Since August 24th many Catholics have written me letters and sent me e - mails in which they expressed their dismay and concern about the Speaker's remarks. Very often they moved on to a question that caused much discussion during the 2004 campaign: Is it necessary to deny Holy Communion to some Catholics in public life because of their public support for abortion on demand? I want to address that question in the light of the 2004 statement of the U.S. bishops, "Catholics in Political Life," and their 2006 statement on preparing to receive Christ worthily in the Eucharist, "Happy Are Those Who Are Called to His Supper." Both statements can be found on the bishops' website, usccb.org, and they lead the reader to conclude that this is a sensitive and complicated question, and does not lend itself to sound bites, headlines or slogans.

In their 2006 document, "Happy Are Those Who Are Called to His Supper," the bishops begin by reminding Catholics that "the celebration of the Mass is the center of the life of the Church." The Eucharist joins each of us to the one sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross, unites us with the Risen Christ, and unites us with one another in Christ. Each reception of Holy Communion looks forward to our union with Christ forever in heaven.

The very first generation of Christians saw the need to examine one's conscience regarding one's worthiness to receive the Body and Blood of the Lord. Writing around 57 A.D., St. Paul told the Corinthians, "Whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord. A person should examine himself, and so eat the bread and drink the cup." ( 1Cor. 11;27 - 28 ) Of course we are never fully worthy to eat the bread and drink the cup, as we exclaim at each Mass before we receive Holy Communion: "Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed." However, the unity nourished and expressed in Holy Communion can be broken by serious sin, hence our self - examination enables us to acknowledge whether we have committed such a sin, and to seek out the Sacrament of Reconciliation before eating the bread and drinking the cup.

The practice of the Church is to accept this conscientious self - appraisal of each person ( Canon 912 ). Thus, in this matter the state of the person's awareness of his or her situation is of fundamental importance. As the bishops say most forcefully in the 2006 document, " we should be cautious when making judgments about whether or not someone else should receive Holy Communion."

Nevertheless, the bishops go on to say: "If a Catholic in his or her personal or professional life were knowingly and obstinately to reject the defined doctrines of the Church, or knowingly and obstinately repudiate her definitive teachings on moral issues, however, he or she would seriously diminish his or her communion with the Church. Reception of Holy Communion in such a situation would not accord with the nature of the Eucharistic celebration, so that he or she should refrain." Why is this repudiation of Church teaching such a serious matter? The bishops respond: "To give selective assent to the teachings of the Church deprives us of her life - giving message, but also seriously endangers our communion with her."

This teaching of the bishops does not violate the separation of church and state. That separation does not require a division between faith and public action, between moral principles and political choices. Believers and religious groups may practice their faith and act on their values in public life, and have done so throughout the history of this country. In his or her conscience, properly formed, a Catholic should recognize that making legal an evil action, such as abortion, is itself wrong.

What of Catholics who find themselves questioning the teachings of the Church, or experiencing uncertainties and questions about them? The bishops answer, "Some Catholics may not fully understand the Church's doctrinal and moral teachings on certain issues. They may have certain questions and even uncertainties. In situations of honest doubt and confusion, they are welcome to partake of Holy Communion, as long as they are striving to understand what the Church professes and to resolve confusion and doubt."

Cardinal William Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and my predecessor as Archbishop here in San Francisco, wrote in 2004: "No bishop is eager to forbid members of his flock from receiving the precious Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, who invites us into communion with Himself and his Body, the Church, as grace and salvation." In that same year, the U.S. bishops acknowledged that pastoral sensitivity, and they endorsed the following approach to this question of denying Holy Communion: "Given the wide range of circumstances involved in arriving at a prudential judgment on a matter of this seriousness, we recognize that such decisions rest with the individual bishop in accord with the established canonical and pastoral principles. Bishops can legitimately make different judgments on the most prudent course of pastoral action. Nevertheless, we all share an unequivocal commitment to protect human life and dignity and to preach the Gospel in difficult times." From that statement I conclude that it is my responsibility as Archbishop to discern and decide, prayerfully, how best to approach this question as it may arise in the Archdiocese of San Francisco.

I regret the necessity of addressing these issues in so public a forum, but the widespread consternation among Catholics made it unavoidable. Speaker Pelosi has often said how highly she values her Catholic faith, and how much it is a source of joy for her. Accordingly, as her pastor, I am writing to invite her into a conversation with me about these matters. It is my obligation to teach forthrightly and to shepherd caringly, and that is my intent. Let us pray together that the Holy Spirit will guide us all toward a more profound understanding and appreciation for human life, and toward a resolution of these differences in truth and charity and peace.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Good Friends

A great song, sung by great song-writers and singers. I offer this clip as an end-of-summer homage to friends old and new. Enjoy!

Notre Dame Football Weekend

It's time for college football season! Of course, I've already made my plans to attend my one Notre Dame game in South Bend. I'll be heading out to the "Holy Land" in two weeks. While there, I'll also celebrate the feast of the Triumph of the Holy Cross with my friends in the Congregation of Holy Cross. I'm looking forward to seeing some old friends on campus, and catching up with some current students from the Jersey Shore.
I'm praying for good weather, but more importantly, for the football team to finally come together with Coach Weis.