Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Pope's New Years Wishes

This was the message delivered at today's Papal Audience in Rome. I suspect that my friends Msgr. Tom Gervasio, Msgr. Sam Sirianni, and Fr. Ian Trammel were at that audience today. All are priests of the diocese of Trenton, who went to Rome on Monday. It's a great message, and I like the image of "the friendship" with Jesus.

To all of my friends, and the friends of St. Anselm, a Happy, Peaceful, Joyful, and Hopeful New Year!

Dear friends, we have reached the end of this year and stand at the threshold of the New Year. My wish is that the friendship of Our Lord, Jesus Christ, will accompany you each day of this new year. May friendship with Christ be our light and guide, helping us to to be people of peace, of his peace. Happy New Year to all!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Good News about Brother Andre, C.S.C.

Recently, we got news that the Vatican has approved the Canonization of Blessed Brother Andre Bessette, C.S.C.

Brother Andre, the founder of St. Joseph's Oratory in Montreal, Canada, was a Brother of Holy Cross (C.S.C.). He had a great devotion to St. Joseph, at a time when it was not all that popular. He worked throughout his life, despite much opposition, to promote the popularity of St. Joseph.

Brother Andre died in 1937, and it is said that more than 1 million people came to his wake and funeral.

When he was a young man, Andre was orphaned, and sought work with relatives in Connecticut and Rhode Island. So, if he is Canonized, he will truly be another North American Saint.

Let's pray that Andre will bless us with a greater love for the Lord.

Pilgrimage to Rome

Today, I got an invitation in the mail to join a very interesting pilgrimage to Rome at the end of February.

I can't do this, due to previous commitments and appointments.

So, I thought I'd make it available to our parishioners and my friends.

It's a tour run by THECATHOLICTOUR.COM company. It begins with a departure from JFK Airport on Feb. 24. It includes roundtrip airfare from JFK to Rome, 8 days/6 nights at four star hotels...5 breakfasts and 5 dinners, sightseeing, daily Mass, Airport-hotel transfers, hotel tips and taxes, baggage, handling, Touring by Private Air-Conditioned Motorcoach, Services of a Professional Tour Escort.

Return is to JFK NYC on March 2, 2010.

Cost is $999.00 with signup deadline by Jan 15, 2010.

Let me know if you want more information on this great pilgrimage!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Holy Family

I recently came across a young artist, Tim Schmaltz, who is a sculptor doing some very creative religious works. Here's his interpretation of the "Holy Family."

I enjoy images like this that get me thinking about what was it REALLY like for Mary and Joseph and the newborn baby Jesus.

A stunning image.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Purple Rain, Purple Rain

"I bring you tidings of great joy...."

Today, our good friend, the Director of the Office of Worship for the Diocese of Trenton, was notified by Bishop Smith that the Holy Father, Pope Benedict 16 has named Fr. Sam Sirianni a Monsignor!!!!!!

O Happy Day!

All of us who work with Sam are rejoicing that the Church is finally recognizing his numerous contributions to the life of our diocese and the Church in the United States. Needless to say, we're planning a grand celebration for the Conferral of Papal Honors, probably within the context of an Evening Vespers Service.

I'll publicize the date of the Conferral as soon as I know it. I've already been put on notice that I'm the MC for the event! I'll handle the liturgical part of the celebration, and I'm looking forward to the real party after Vespers. We'll all have a chance to celebrate with Sam, his Mom, and his brothers and family for a huge party!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Fourth Sunday of Advent, 2009

So much for celebrating the Fourth Sunday of Advent!

The surprising amount of snow, and the scarcity of plows really surprised us all!

Our plowing company didn't get here until afternoon, and then they were only able to stay a short while, so the majority of our parking lot is still under snow. I hope that will change very quickly tomorrow. The families from the Family Promise program have arrived here at St. Anselm, and are getting settled into their digs. I'm sure the hosts and chefs will take good care of them. Thanks to Sue Bove and her "team" that do such a great job of hosting the families.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

A Snow Day to slow down

With all of the snow today, I feel the Lord is trying to send us a message: SLOW DOWN, RELAX AT HOME!

New Jersey hasn't seen this kind of snowfall at this time of year in a long time.

FYI: the 9:00 a.m. Mass tomorrow (Dec. 20) is CANCELLED.

This will give our plowing company a chance to plow our parking lot in time for the 11:00 a.m. Mass. So please, get the word out: No 9 tomorrow. We'll all gather at the 11:00 and there's even coffee and donuts after mass, as well as decorating the church, and getting ready to host 5 families coming to stay with us this week.

A few weeks ago, some people heard that I made a killer cheescake for Thanksgiving. Well, here's the recipe. Consider it an early Christmas gift. Please share it with your family and friends:

Pumpkin Cheesecake

1 3/4 cups Graham Cracker crumbs
1/4 cup finely ground pecans
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
Three 8-ounce packages cream cheese, at room temperature.
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
One 15-ounce can solid-pack pumpkin
1/4 cup heavy cream

1. PREHEAT oven to 350 degrees.

2. COMBINE the cracker crumbs, pecans, brown sugar, and the cinnamon in a bowl. Mix in the melted butter. Press the mixture firmly and evenly into the bottom and about 2 inches up the sides of an ungreased 9-inch springform pan.

3. BEAT the cream cheese, sugar, cornstarch, vanilla, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, and nutmeg in the bowl of an electric mixer on low speed until smooth and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the eggs and yolks and beat just until blended. Mix in the pumpkin and cream. Spread the batter in the pan, and place it on a baking sheet.

4. BAKE until center is nearly set, about 60-70 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes.

5. CAREFULLY run a sharp knife between the cake and the sides of the pan. Remove the sides of the pan. Cool completely on the rack before coveing tightly with foil or plastic wrap. Refrigerate until well-chilled before serving, at least 4 hours or up to 2 days.


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Immaculate Conception

Today the Church throughout the world celebrates the incarnation of our Blessed Mother!

She, the mother of Jesus, was born free from sin from the moment of her conception!

That's the essence of our faith in today's feast.

Mary, the mother of Jesus, was predestined from all eternity, to be the vessel to hold and cherish and nurture, our eternal Savior, Jesus.

That's a lot for a teenage girl to handle to contemplate, to even imagine!

But today we celebrarte!
Today's feast happens to be a national feast for our country, as we, the United States of America, are dedicated to the title of Mary, the Immaculate Conception.
Let's take a break from our regular routine today, to celebrate Mary, the Mother of God, and the Mother of the Church. Let's remember that we are not orphans, but we have a loving mother in heaven, and a savior in her Son, Jesus, and that we are all sons and daughters.

Here are some images of Mary, the Immaculate Conception, to help us reflect!:

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Second Sunday of Advent, 2009

This weekend we celebrate the 2nd Sunday of Advent. We continue our Advent journey to the celebration of Christmas. Today's scriptures invite us to reflect upon the valleys, the hills, the winding roads in our lives that prevent us from fully encountering the Lord Jesus. Advent is a call to conversion, to renewal, and to reconciliation that will help us to more fully live the Gospel.

This weekend's Scriptures

This weekend, we hear the call of Jesus, echoing Isaiah, to "make straight the paths of the Lord."

What is it in our lives that we need to "straighten out" to allow the Lord to enter into our lives, our hearts, and our souls?

This coming weekend, St. Anselm will host Msgr. Stan Deptula of the Diocese of Peoria, IL. Monsignor is the man in charge of the "Cause" for canonization of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen. He is also the nephew of our own Parish Spiritual Director, Marge Gryta.

It looks like the cause of Archbishop Sheen is proceeding at a good pace. I won't be surprised to see him named "saint" within my lifetime.

Below is the text of a blog entry from Rocco over at "Whispers in the Loggia" on the subject of Archbishop Sheen. Enjoy!

Next Wednesday sees the 30th anniversary of the death of the prelate who, quite possibly, became American Catholicism's most consequential product of all: Fulton Sheen, the Illinois farmboy who famously trumped "Mr Television" in the ratings and, in the process, delivered the death blow to the long history of societal suspicion directed at the church's own on these shores.

With the evidence of his heroic virtue -- the first step toward a possible beatification -- soon to face investigation in Rome, the archbishop's New York-based cause has sparked a worldwide roster of Masses to crop up to commemorate the anniversary, the largest of which will be held in St Patrick's Cathedral at 5.30 Wednesday night, to be celebrated and preached by a well-known devotee of Sheen's ministry in media: the Big Apple's Archbishop Tim Dolan.

In the history of the Stateside church, Dolan recently mused in an EWTN interview that "there’s never been anybody who’s been able to communicate the timeless truths of the Catholic religion to a very timely culture" as Sheen did, "without diluting any of the essentials."

The Elegant One "was able to present [the faith] in an eminently attractive way," Dolan said, "and that has always inspired me."

For those unable to make it, the evening liturgy will be streamed live by both EWTN and CatholicTV. Prior to it, though, a rare opportunity will present itself as the St Pat's Crypt -- where Sheen's buried alongside Gotham's archbishops -- will be opened to the public for prayer from 3 to 5pm.

An auxiliary of New York from 1951 until his appointment as bishop of Rochester in 1966, Sheen rests next to his arch-rival in the hierarchy, Cardinal Francis Spellman.

And, well, as no post on "Bishop Sheen" would ever be complete without a cameo from the man himself, here he is:

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Advent Resolutions

At the beginning of another Advent, after 17 years of ordained ministry in the Diocese of Trenton, I've come to a point where I want to make some resolutions at the start of this new year of grace.

I really don't care if people call me a "Scrooge" or worse...

I really take Advent seriously.

I LOVE Advent.

I BELIEVE in Advent, and its power to help us convert.

Conversion and growth is, and should always be, a part of contemporary Christians. I know that I can be a better person and believer. I know that I need conversion every day and every moment of my life.

And so I here announce:

I am not going to any "Christmas" parties held during the season of Advent.

I don't want to hear any "Christmas" songs before December 24th.

I don't want to hear anybody say: "Merry Christmas" before December 24th, and I will not respond to such greetings, especially in the church setting, until December 24th after the first Mass of Christmas Eve.

Yeah, I know I sound like a "liturgical hard-ass" but I'm getting old. I love the true traditions of the church. I can't stand the fact that the "world" around us says Christmas has already begun.

The Church calls us to celebrate Advent as a season, and Christmas as a season, against the timing of the world.

I think this is the most Counter-Cultural time for Christians. We're called to stand up for our belief that Jesus of Nazareth, born in a poor stable in the backwater town of Bethlehem, is the SAVIOR OF THE WORLD. And so, I don't care about "Santa" or "Holiday" parties and shopping and decorating.

I think Advent is about becoming more like Jesus...

Welcome to another Advent, and the beginning of a new year of Grace.

As promised, here's the Opening Prayer for the Mass of the First Sunday of Advent:

Father in heaven,
our hearts desire the warmth of your love
and our minds are searching
for the light of your Word.
Increase our longing for Christ our Savior
and give us the strength to grow in love,
that the dawn of his coming
may find us rejoicing in his presence
and welcoming the light of his truth.
We ask this in the name of Jesus the Lord.

Let's use this prayer to keep us centered on the true meaning of Advent, while the world around us challenges us to forget Advent, and to begin the celebration of Christmas

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A fun day with the Seniors: "Young At Heart"

Today, went with Dad and our parish "Young At Heart" group up to Hunterdon Hill Playhouse for the "Christmas Show."

Yeah, I know, I'm the professional liturgist. I know what day it is. I know it's not even Thanksgiving. Bring it on.....

Bring it all on....

I've been diagnosed with a new disorder after today's experience:

Post-Liturgical disaster-Trauma Syndrome!

Imagine how hard it was for me to keep smiling and clapping after all of these "Christmas" numbers, when liturgically we haven't even begun Advent.

Good thing my car's in for service overnight, and I can't drive....I'm twitching too much.

I think that I'm going to have to resort to a tried and true antidote to such silliness: A great pizza at Pete and Elda's on Friday night, and a couple of beers to wash it down with friends. I'm looking at hittin P and E's at 10:00 p.m. when the crowds have thinned.....anybody interested in pizza therapy?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A little Mass humor

Just saw this on YOUTUBE. Not sure if it's real or just a lighthearted spoof. You decide!

Could this be the latest in effective catechesis? Oy veh!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A friend's 25th Anniversary of Ordination

Today, we celebrated the 25rh anniversary of ordination of one of the most well-known priests of our diocese, Fr. Sam Sirianni. Fr. Sam serves as the Director of the Office of Worship as well as Pastor of St. Robert Bellarmine, Freehold. We celebrated Mass, and then joined for a dinner of over 350 people. We heard some great stories ( and a lot of good-natured ribbing) from both of his brothers as welll as our entertianing MC, Mr. Joe Sirianni.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

International Dinner Tonight

Tonight we had another very successful and fun International Dinner. Many thanks to the Parish Life Committee (the main cooks) and to everybody who brought a dish or a dessert. Plans have already begun for next year's International Dinner. We want to invite every member of the parish to bring a traditional ethnic dish to the dinner.

Looking to the future, we're getting ready to have our Thanksgiving Food and Turkey Drive. Please drop off your donations at the church by the 15th of November so that we can get the food to the needy in time for Thanksgivinng.

During the weeks of Advent, we'll have our traditional "Giving Trees" for Christmas gifts. Please be sure to take home a tag, and return your gift to the church as soon as possible. If you can help assemble the gifts, or help deliver them, we can use some volunteers for those tasks. Consider asking a young person to come help you with these projects.

Our Young at Heart group is getting ready for a trip on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving to Hunterdon Hill Playhouse. Consider joining us for this nice day-trip.

(I'm even bringing my dad on the trip!)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

All Souls Day

On Monday, November 2, we'll celebrate our annual Mass of Remembrance on the Feast of All Souls Day. We'll remember all of our parishioners and loved ones who have gone home over this past year. Mass will be celebrated at 7:00 p.m.

During the month of November, we will have the Book of the Names of the Dead displayed prominently in the church, and all are invited to inscribe the names of their deceased loved ones in this book.

Just a reminder, we have an active bereavement ministry here at St. Anselm. If you or a member of your family is struggling with a loss, you might consider coming to one or two of the sessions. I'm sure that you'll find some support and encouragement.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Welcoming Party for New Parishioners

This Friday evening, at 7:00 p.m. we will have an Open House at the Parish House to Welcome any and all new parishioners to St. Anselm.

I'm aware that this Friday is "Mischief Night", the night before Halloween.

Please join me and some of the members of the Parish Council for some light refreshments and a glass of wine, and let's get to know each other. If you have young children, please know that they are welcome to join us. It's only for about an hour and a half, so you can have the little ones in bed at their regular time.

Please share this invitation with other new parishioners!

Fr. Gene

We've got a "NJ Turnpike" Series!

Let's go Yanks! Now let's put away the Phillies to take another Series!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A weekend at Notre Dame

Just so you know, besides going to a football game at Notre Dame this past weekend, I also concelebrated Mass with Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart at Notre Dame.

Check out this video from, with the latest video of Sunday Mass from Notre Dame. Check out how the Bishop needs me to "spell" him in distributing Holy Communion!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Back to the Seminary.....and some Notre Dame Football

Tomorrow, I'm off for the 6:30 a.m. flight to South Bend, Indiana. I have a luncheon date on campus with some old seminary friends, and then we'll be taking part in all of the "Football weekend" events of the coming days. While on the campus of Notre Dame, I'll be living at Moreau Seminary, across the lake from the main campus. The seminary is named for Blessed Basil Moreau, CSC, the founder of the Congregation of Holy Cross, and the Superior General who sent 6 missionary priests and brothers to Indiana, where they founded a "school" which would later become a "university" and then recently, the premier Catholic University in the Western Hemisphere.

If some of these images look familiar, that may be because you may have seen them in the movie, "RUDY." Above are two images of the Administration Building of the University, the center of most business of the University.

This is an image of Moreau Seminary, the main residence of seminarians for the Congregation of Holy Cross studying at Notre Dame. It was built to house almost 200 seminarians in the 1950's, but now houses less than 100 people.

Below is a very good photo of the magnificent chapel at Moreau Seminary. The wall behind the main altar is a wonderful work of art in stained glass. When viewed from inside the chapel, the main altar appears to be surrounded by 5 great blue archangels surrounding the altar, with incense, playing instruments to accompany the divine liturgy, singing the liturgy, and lifting the liturgy of the altar to the heavens. It's a tremendous piece of art designed by the late Fr. Anthony Lauck, CSC, who was a beloved resident in the seminary until his death. I had some wonderful discussions when I was a pup seminarian with "Fr. Tony" and he taught me many invaluable lessons in good art, architecture, and the arts for worship.

The picture above shows how we typically surround the altar for the Eucharistic Prayer...a powerful sign of how all of us, the Church, make Eucharist, and sing the Eucharist, and are called to live the Eucharist.

I look forward to being at Notre Dame for 11 days....I look forward even more, to coming back to Saint Anselm!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

October Parish Council Meeting

This past Monday evening, we had the October meeting of our Parish Council.

We discussed lots of topics: from Religious Education programs for the very busy families of our parish, to our two Youth Groups, to our need to upgrade our Learning Center with wireless Internet access so that we can host regional meetings for diocesan workshope (and make some $$$ from the organization who use our facilities.

We want to nurture the growth of our parish. We need to expand our efforts in educating all parish members about our identity as a Stewardship Parish. We want to stay financially solvent in these tough economic times, and our Finance Committee is looking after that. We want to continue to reach out to our Family Promise program, even though the economic times are tough. We discussed lots of things at the meeting.

Let's pray that we can continue the wonderful inclusive ministry that has marked our community for over 35 years!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Film on Pope John XXIII

Tonight, we had a Movie Night, showing the CD of the life of Pope John XXIII, the "Pope of Peace." Great movie.

It was a long movie, beginning at 6:30, and ending at about 9:30. (Too late for me!)
But the movie was so good, nobody wanted to leave!

I've picked up a few images of the real Angelo Roncalli (John XXII) from the internet, and included them here.

While I was doing a Google search of Roncalli, I found a significant number of strange sites that claim that Roncalli was an "Anti-Pope." Totally weird to me!

Apparently, these sites are run by ultra-conservative individuals or groups opposing the papacy of Good Pope John and the calling of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, and the Council's reforms.

I can't understand why people of faith would oppose Pope John, and his initiatives, and his calls for dialogue, for openess, and especially, for his calls for peace, in the light of the the dawning of the nuclear age. When you think of his life-span, and the ways in which the Church changed from 1881 till 1963, and all the ways the world had changed in that time....I have a hard time with those folks who can't get with the "Signs of the Times."

Let's pray for each other, and ask "Good Pope John" to put in a good word for us too, as we all seek to make the Church's message more relavent and efficient in today's world.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Last night, we had a great evening in Princeton at the 2009 Guardian Angel Dinner Dance, the major fundraiser event for Catholic Charities of Trenton.

There were lots of great people there, many old friends from around the diocese, who are all committed to the mission of Catholic Charities. Special congratulations to all of the honorees this year, especially Bishop John Mortimer Smith, Deacon Jim Knipper, and Ginny LaMorte, from our own Monmouth County.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The new Roman Missal

Next week, the Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions will be meeting near Detroit, Michigan. I won't be attending this year's meeting, due to responsibilities in the parish. However, I know that the main topic of discussion will be the new translation of the Roman Missal....formerly known as the Sacramentary. You may have heard that there's a new English translation coming out, and that there will be some changes in the Mass that we pray on Sundays and weekdays.

The Bishops have set up a website to help us all with the new Roman Missal Project:

Saturday, September 26, 2009

An NPM gathering of musicians and clergy

Tonight, we had a great gathering of pastoral musicians and clergy from all over the diocese of Trenton in Freehold, at the parish of St. Robert Bellarmine. I was privileged to be asked to preside at a simple Evening Prayer to begin our session. Our guest speaker was excellent in her presentation on body-mapping, and helping us all realize some of the physiological components of posture, breathing mechanics, and our bodies in motion which affect our ministry as singers, psalmists, cantors, and, even presiders! It was one of the most informative sessions that I've ever attended....and I've been a member of NPM since 1980!

Even an old priest like me, can learn new things!

I pray that young people, and younger clergy, will come to realize what a treasure NPM is for our Church, for our people, and for the world.

God bless NPM.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

We need your help!

We all know that these economic times are getting tougher and tougher. Expenses are rising here at the parish, and weekly donations are shrinking.

So many of our church activities depend on your weekly donations.

If we don't increase our weekly donations, then we'll have to cut out treasured activities like: The Inter-Faith Hospitality Network (Family Promise),COR (Community Out-Reach), our Youth Ministries, our Religious Education Programs, and even our monthly fun activities sponsored by our Parish Life Committee.

It seems like a good time to ask every family of the parish, and there are almost 2,000 of us registered here at St. Anselm, to reconsider how we will each contribute our treasure to help support the ministries of the community of St. Anselm. I would like to ask each family to consider giving through the PARISHPAY electronic giving program that helps families to budget a regular weekely or monthly donation to the parish.

Perhaps you could think of this formula for your family's weekly donation: Think of how much it costs to take your family (or your lover) out for a dinner at a nice restaurant. We all like to go out for a nice dinner once in a while!

Can each family set aside the cost of a "dinner out" to donate to the parish?

That might be a great start to helping our parish stewardship get a kick-start!

Check out PARISHPAY! Sign up to make an automatic donation each month.

Also, consider including St. Anselm Parish in your WILL!

Many people make a "Final" gift to their parish through their Will.

If you value the activities that are happening at St. Anselm, then let's work together to keep them going and growing!


Fr. Gene

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Bonfire Mass and Campout

Get the word out to your friends....The Parish Campout will be held this Saturday evening. We'll start with a Mass near the bonfire at 8:00 p.m. Be sure to bring a lawnchair to sit around the fire.

Let's show our appreciation to the Tinton Falls Police and Fire Departments who will be here to control the fire, and help keep us safe on Saturday evening. We'll have a collection at the Mass to give to the Fire Department.

Also, let's bring some snacks to share around the campfire. Don't be afraid to get creative with snacks and drinks to share!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Infant Baptism

Tonight we had a great session of welcoming 3 families who will be presenting their new children for baptism in the next few weeks. I really enjoy these sessions mostly because I get to learn the names of the families who are becoming more active in our faith community, as well as the chance to play with some of the cutest babies on the face of the planet!

Recently, at our Priests' Convocation I was telling some of the other priests about our process of preparation for infant baptism, of how we've divided up the 4 major parts of the ritual. Interestingly, the older priests (older than me) were fascinated and very interested in the whole idea, especially with the potential for building community. Then, there was a very newly-ordained young priest, who was absolutely amazed, who said "You're not supposed to break up the ritual!" I kindly said, "Where, in any of the church laws for infant baptisms is it explicitly forbidden?" The newly-ordained priest was unable to answer that particular question. But he started sputtering, at my apparent disregard for church law and practices, until I shut him up with some other ancient wisdom for dealing with church law: "If it is not explicitly forbidden, it may be allowed." The older priests all backed me up on this, and the newly ordained still looked at me as if I'm the champion of heresy. Oh well, some things never change!

Anyway, I prefer to play with babies and their proud parents.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Prayer for September 11, 2009

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may never seek
so much to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved as to love with all my soul.
For it is in pardoning that we are pardoned.
It is in giving that we receive,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

For all who died;
for the loved ones they left behind;
for those who serve and protect us;
for those in harm's way;
for an end to war;
and for our enemies:
let us pray to the Lord...

Lord, hear our prayer

H/T to Fr. Austin Fleming in Concord.

Led by the our county!

This past evening, we had a great meeting up at St. John Vianney High School for parish leaders from all over Monmouth County. Mrs. Terry Ginther, Director of the Office of Pastoral Planning for the diocese, hosted the meeting of clergy and lay leaders of parishes from throughout the county. After a beautiful presentation and overview of the diocesan pastoral plan, "Led by the Spirit" we broke out into "interest groups" to sample the process we will take back to our parishes, to help each parish develop a pastoral plan for the future.

I went to the breakout group for youth and young adult ministries. Matt, our diocesan director for the office of youth and young adults, ably led us through the process of reflecting on the meaning of the goal from the Pastoral Plan which focuses on youth and young adult ministry. For me, it was a very good exercise in visioning, collaboration, and cooperation between the diocesan offices, and the parish leadership, and the clergy!

Hats off to Terry Ginther and the rest of the diocsean staffers who helped to present at this evening's first "workshop" on the new Pastoral Plan. I hope all parishes in the diocese attend one of these workshops, so that we can all move into the future to build up the Church in our Diocese and beyond!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Notre Dame Commencement....Fallout continues

I found two wonderful articles in AMERICA magazine on the Commencement at Notre Dame in the spring. Excellent reading. Check them out:

The Public Duty Of Bishops
Lessons from the storm in South Bend
John R. Quinn | AUGUST 31, 2009
E ditors’ note: Archbishop Quinn originally prepared these observations for consideration at the June meeting of the American bishops. Circumstances did not make that possible at the time. He has submitted them to America as a contribution to the debate on the role of bishops in dealing with public issues.

The right to life is a paramount and pre-eminent moral issue of our time. The Catholic bishops have borne a consistent and prophetic witness to the truth that all other rights are anchored in the right to life. When Roe v. Wade was handed down in 1973, this conference was nearly alone among institutional voices pointing out the defects and dangers of this decision and calling for its reversal.

Our witness to the sanctity of human life cannot diminish and our effort cannot cease. We must continue to enlist new vehicles of communication to highlight the grave moral evil inherent in abortion. We have to design effective and imaginative strategies to help people see that the choice for life is the most compassionate choice. And we have to speak with courtesy and clarity about why the protection of the unborn is a requirement of human rights and not their diminishment.

There is no disagreement within this conference about the moral evil of abortion, its assault upon the dignity of the human person, or the moral imperative of enacting laws that prohibit abortion in American society.

But there is deep and troubled disagreement among us on the issue of how we as bishops should witness concerning this most searing and volatile issue in American public life. And this disagreement has now become a serious and increasing impediment to our ability to teach effectively in our own community and in the wider American society.

The bishops’ voice has been most credible in the cause of life when we have addressed this issue as witnesses and teachers of a great moral tradition, and not as actors in the political arena. Coming out of the Catholic moral tradition, this conference has defended human life in the context of the pursuit of justice, covering the whole continuum of life from its beginning in the mother’s womb to its natural end. The Second Vatican Council rightly described abortion and infanticide as “unspeakable crimes.” But the council did not stop there. In a coherent moral logic, the council exhorted bishops to be faithful to their duty of teaching and witnessing concerning “the most serious questions concerning the ownership, increase, and just distribution of material goods, peace and war, and brotherly relations among all countries” (“Decree on the Pastoral Office of Bishops in the Church,” No. 12). The more recent “Doctrinal Note on Some Questions Regarding the Participation of Catholics in Political Life” proposes an equally broad spectrum of concerns. This consistent focus over nearly 50 years, as well as the teaching of the popes, including Pope Benedict XVI, underline that neither the bishop nor the Catholic Church can confine itself to one single issue of concern in human society. If we proclaim that the right to life is necessary for the exercise of all other rights, then we must also address and defend those other rights as well.

Consequently, the Catholic Church brings to the defense of life and the pursuit of justice in this world the vision of faith and a living hope that transcends the limitations of what can be accomplished in this world. This comprehensive and transcendent vision must provide the benchmark in weighing proposed pathways through the thicket of public policy choices that confront us. This traditional benchmark provides a challenge to us bishops today in evaluating our future approach to those who disagree with us on issues of fundamental importance.

The dilemma that confronts us today is whether the church’s vision is best realized on the issue of abortion by focusing our witness on the clear moral teaching about abortion and public law, or whether it is preferable or obligatory to add to that teaching role the additional role of directly sanctioning public officials through sustained, personally focused criticism, the denial of honors or even excommunication.

This dilemma has troubled us for many years now, but it has been crystallized in the controversy over the decision of the University of Notre Dame to award an honorary degree in May of this year to the president of the United States. This is the first time in the history of this conference that a large number of bishops of the United States have publicly condemned honoring a sitting president, and this condemnation has further ramifications due to the fact that this president is the first African-American to hold that high office.

False Messages
The case for sanctioning President Obama by declaring him ineligible to receive a Catholic university degree is rooted in a powerful truth: The president has supported virtually every proposed legal right to abortion in his public career, and abortion constitutes the pre-eminent moral issue in American government today.

Notwithstanding this fact, the case against a strategy of such sanctions and personal condemnations is rooted in a more fundamental truth: Such a strategy of condemnation undermines the church’s transcendent role in the American political order. For the Obama controversy, in concert with a series of candidate-related condemnations during the 2008 election, has communicated several false and unintended messages to much of American society. There are four such messages that call for our serious consideration today.

1. The message that the Catholic bishops of the United States function as partisan political actors in American life. The great tragedy of American politics from a Catholic perspective is that party structures in the United States bisect the social teachings of the church, thus making it impossible for most citizens to identify and vote for a candidate who adequately embraces the spectrum of Catholic teaching on the common good. For instance, Republican candidates are, in general, more supportive of the church’s position on abortion and euthanasia, while Democratic candidates are generally stronger advocates for the Catholic vision on issues of poverty and world peace.

For most of our history, the American bishops have assiduously sought to avoid being identified with either political party and have made a conscious effort to be seen as transcending party considerations in the formulation of their teachings. The condemnation of President Obama and the wider policy shift that represents signal to many thoughtful persons that the bishops have now come down firmly on the Republican side in American politics. The bishops are believed to communicate that for all the promise the Obama administration has on issues of health care, immigration reform, global poverty and war and peace, the leadership of the church in the United States has strategically tilted in favor of an ongoing alliance with the Republican Party. A sign of this stance is seen to be the adoption of a policy of confrontation rather than a policy of engagement with the Obama administration.

Such a message is alienating to many in the Catholic community, especially those among the poor and the marginalized who feel that they do not have supportive representation within the Republican Party. The perception of partisanship on the part of the church is disturbing to many Catholics given the charge of Gaudium et Spes that the church must transcend every political structure and cannot sacrifice that transcendence, and the perception of transcendence, no matter how important the cause.

2. The message that the bishops are ratifying the “culture war mentality,” which corrodes debate both in American politics and in the internal life of the church. Both poles of the American political spectrum see our society as enmeshed in a culture war over the issues of abortion, marriage, immigration rights and the death penalty. In such a war, they argue, the demonization of alternative viewpoints and of opposing leaders is not merely acceptable, but required. More intense tactics and language are automatically seen as more effective, as necessary and more in keeping with the importance of the issues being debated. The “culture war mentality” has also seeped into the life of the church, distorting the debate on vital issues and leading to campaigns against bishops for their efforts to proclaim the Gospel with charity rather than with antagonism.

The movement toward sanctions against public officials will be seen as ratifying this trajectory in our political, cultural and ecclesial life. Whatever our intention may be, the acceptance and employment of a strategy that deliberately moves beyond teaching and pointing up the moral dimensions of public issues to labeling those with whom we disagree, will inevitably embolden those who de-Christianize our public debate both within and outside the church.

3. The message that the bishops are effectively indifferent to all grave evils other than abortion. Perhaps the most difficult task we face, as teachers on the moral dimensions of public policy in the United States today, is emphasizing the pre-eminence of abortion as a moral issue while defending a holistic view of the rights intrinsic to the defense of the dignity of the human person. This task of balancing arises not only in the formulation of our policy statements, but also in the steps we as bishops take to achieve justice in the political order. The pathway of sanctions and personal condemnation will open every bishop to the charge that if we do not use the tactic of sanctions and condemnations on issues such as war and peace or global poverty, we are tacitly relegating those issues to a level of unimportance. And it would indeed be difficult to explain how it is appropriate for a Catholic university to honor those who authorize torture or initiate an unjust war or cut assistance to the world’s poor. To assert on the one hand that the tactics of sanction and personal condemnation are legitimate tools for episcopal action in the public order, while on the other hand refusing to employ those tactics for any issue other than abortion will only deepen the suspicions of those in American society who believe that we bishops of the church in the United States are myopic in our approach to Catholic social teaching.

4. The message that the bishops are insensitive to the heritage and the continuing existence of racism in America. The election of Senator Barack Obama as President of the United States in November 2008 was a unique and signal moment in the history of racial solidarity in the United States. L‘Osservatore Romano compared it to the fall of the Berlin Wall. All over the world the election was hailed as ushering in a new chapter in the rejection of racial stereotypes and the enhancement of international relations.

Yet here in the United States, there has been the perception that we bishops did not grasp the immense significance of the moment. African-American priests, religious and lay persons have related that they felt they had to mute their jubilation at the election of an African-American president, and that we bishops did not share their jubilation. Some have expressed deep hurt over this, precisely because they respect the bishops and they love the church.

Added to this, the spirited condemnation of the president’s visit and degree at Notre Dame last May have reinforced for many African-American Catholics those feelings of hurt and alienation. It is not that African-American Catholics do not understand that the church must oppose abortion, or that they themselves personally believe that the bishops are acting out of racist motivations. It is rather that when the church embraces a new level of confrontation when an African-American is involved, this readily raises widespread questions about our racial sensitivity. And these questions will only continue to be raised more forcefully if we continue to walk down the path of confrontation with this administration.

A Policy of Cordiality
As we confront the admittedly difficult task of balancing the need to uphold the sanctity of human life while avoiding the enormously destructive consequences of the strategy of sanction and condemnation, we bishops could profitably look to the example of the Holy See, which wrestles with these same complex issues of integrity of witness, fidelity to truth, civility in discourse, and political, national and racial sensitivities every day.

The approach of the Holy See might justly be characterized as a policy of cordiality. It proceeds from the conviction that the integrity of Catholic teaching can never be sacrificed. It reflects a deep desire to enshrine comity at the center of public discourse and relations with public officials. It is willing to speak the truth directly to earthly power.

Yet the Holy See shows great reluctance to publicly personalize disagreements with public officials on elements of church teaching. And the approach of the Holy See consistently favors engagement over confrontation. As Pope John Paul II put it, “The goal of the Church is to make of the adversary a brother.”

These principles of cordiality will not make our task as bishops in the public square an easy one. But they do provide the best anchor for insuring that our actions and statements remain faithful to the comprehensive and transcendent mission of the church, our ultimate mandate. Much of this is summed up in the council’s decree on bishops, Christus Dominus (No. 13):

The Church has to be on speaking terms with the human society in which it lives. It is therefore the duty of bishops especially to make an approach to people, seeking and promoting dialog with them. If truth is constantly to be accompanied by charity and understanding by love, in such salutary discussions they should present their positions in clear language, unagressively and diplomatically. Likewise they should show prudence combined with confidence, for this is what brings about union of minds by encouraging friendship.
For more on President Obama's appearance at Notre Dame see America's archive on the controversy.

Most Rev. John R. Quinn is archbishop emeritus of San Francisco. He served as president of the U.S. Catholic Conference and National Conference of Catholic Bishops from 1977 to 1980.

And from the local Ordinary, Bishop John D'Arcy, Bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend, IN:

The Church and the University
A pastoral reflection on the controversy at Notre Dame
John M. D'Arcy | AUGUST 31, 2009
A s summer plays itself out on the beautiful campus by the lake where the young Holy Cross priest, Edward Sorin, C.S.C., pitched his camp 177 years ago and began his great adventure, we must clarify the situation that so sundered the church last spring: What it is all about and what it is not about.

It is not about President Obama. He will do some good things as president and other things with which, as Catholics, we will strongly disagree. It is ever so among presidents, and most political leaders.

It is not about Democrats versus Republicans, nor was it a replay of the recent general election.

It is not about whether it is appropriate for the president of the United States to speak at Notre Dame or any great Catholic university on the pressing issues of the day. This is what universities do. No bishop should try to prevent that.

The response, so intense and widespread, is not about what this journal called “sectarian Catholicism.” Rather, the response of the faithful derives directly from the Gospel. In Matthew’s words, “Your light must shine before others, that they may see your good works, and glorify your heavenly Father” (5:13).

Public Witness
Does a Catholic university have the responsibility to give witness to the Catholic faith and to the consequences of that faith by its actions and decisions—especially by a decision to confer its highest honor? If not, what is the meaning of a life of faith? And how can a Catholic institution expect its students to live by faith in the difficult decisions that will confront them in a culture often opposed to the Gospel?

Pope Benedict XVI, himself a former university professor, made his position clear when he spoke to Catholic educators in Washington, D.C., on April 17, 2008:

Teachers and administrators, whether in universities or schools, have the duty and privilege to ensure that students receive instruction in Catholic doctrine and practice. This requires that public witness to the way of Christ, as found in the Gospel and upheld by the Church’s magisterium, shapes all aspects of an institution’s life, both inside and outside the classroom.

In its decision to give its highest honor to a president who has repeatedly opposed even the smallest legal protection of the child in the womb, did Notre Dame surrender the responsibility that Pope Benedict believes Catholic universities have to give public witness to the truths revealed by God and taught by the church?

Another serious question of witness and moral responsibility before the Notre Dame administration concerns its sponsorship over several years of a sad and immoral play, offensive to the dignity of women, which many call pornographic, and which an increasing number of Catholic universities have cancelled, “The Vagina Monologues,” by Eve Ensler.

Although he spoke eloquently about the importance of dialogue with the president of the United States, the president of Notre Dame chose not to dialogue with his bishop on these two matters, both pastoral and both with serious ramifications for the care of souls, which is the core responsibility of the local bishop. Both decisions were shared with me after they were made and, in the case of the honorary degree, after President Obama had accepted. For the past 24 years, it has been my privilege to serve as the bishop of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend. During this time, I have never interfered in the internal governance of Notre Dame or any other institution of higher learning within the diocese. However, as the teacher and shepherd in this diocese, it is my responsibility to encourage all institutions, including our beloved University of Notre Dame, to give public witness to the fullness of Catholic faith. The diocesan bishop must ask whether a Catholic institution compromises its obligation to give public witness by placing prestige over truth. The bishop must be concerned that Catholic institutions do not succumb to the secular culture, making decisions that appear to many, including ordinary Catholics, as a surrender to a culture opposed to the truth about life and love.

The Local Bishop
The failure to dialogue with the bishop brings a second series of questions. What is the relationship of the Catholic university to the local bishop? No relationship? Someone who occasionally offers Mass on campus? Someone who sits on the platform at graduation? Or is the bishop the teacher in the diocese, responsible for souls, including the souls of students—in this case, the students at Notre Dame? Does the responsibility of the bishop to teach, to govern and to sanctify end at the gate of the university? In the spirit of Ex Corde Ecclesiae, which places the primary responsibility on the institution, I am proposing these questions for the university.

Prof. John Cavadini has addressed the questions about the relationship of the university and the bishop in an especially insightful manner. He is chair of the theology department and an expert on the early church, with a special interest in St. Augustine. His remarks were a response to Father Jenkins’s rationale for presenting the play mentioned above.

The statement of our President [Father Jenkins] barely mentions the Church. It is as though the mere mention of a relationship with the Church has become so alien to our ways of thinking and so offensive to our quest for a disembodied “excellence” that it has become impolite to mention it at all. There is no Catholic identity apart from the affiliation with the Church. And again, I do not mean an imaginary Church we sometimes might wish existed, but the concrete, visible communion of “hierarchic and charismatic gifts,” “at once holy and always in need of purification,” in which “each bishop represents his own church and all of [the bishops] together with the Pope represent the whole Church...” (Lumen Gentium, Nos. 4, 8, 23).

The ancient Gnostic heresy developed an elitist intellectual tradition which eschewed connection to the “fleshly” church of the bishop and devalued or spiritualized the sacraments. Are we in danger of developing a gnosticized version of the “Catholic intellectual tradition,” one which floats free of any norming connection and so free of any concrete claim to Catholic identity?

The full letter can be found on the Web site of the Notre Dame student newspaper, The Observer:

It has been a great privilege and a source of joy to be associated with Notre Dame in the past 24 years as bishop. In so many ways, it is a splendid place. Part of this is because of the exemplary young men and women who come there from throughout the country. It is also because of its great spiritual traditions. The lines of young people preparing to receive the sacrament of reconciliation at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, the Masses in the residence halls, the prayerful liturgy at the basilica and the service of so many young people before and after graduation in Catholic education and catechetics, and in service to the poor in this country and overseas, is a credit to the university and a source of great hope. The theology department has grown in academic excellence over the years, strengthened by the successful recruiting of professors outstanding in scholarship, in their knowledge of the tradition and in their own living of the Catholic faith. This growth is well known to Pope Benedict XVI. It is notable that a vast majority has been willing to seek and accept the mandatum from the local bishop.

Developments on Campus
Yet the questions about the relationship of the university as a whole to the church still stand, and what happened on campus leading up to and during the graduation is significant for the present debate about Catholic higher education. I released a statement on Good Friday, asking the Catholic people and others of good will not to attend demonstrations by those who had come avowedly to “create a circus.” I referred to appropriate and acceptable responses within the Notre Dame community led by students. Titled “ND Response,” and drawing a significant number of professors, these responses were marked by prayer and church teaching, and they were orderly.

This journal and others in the media, Catholic and secular, reporting from afar, failed to make a distinction between the extremists on the one hand, and students and those who joined them in the last 48 hours before graduation. This latter group responded with prayer and substantive disagreement. They cooperated with university authorities.

In this time of crisis at the university, these students and professors, with the instinct of faith, turned to the bishop for guidance, encouragement and prayer. This had nothing to do with John Michael D’Arcy. It was related to their understanding of the episcopal office—a place you should be able to count on for the truth, as Irenaeus contended in the second century when he encountered the Gnostics.

I attended the Baccalaureate Mass the day before graduation, for the 25th time, speaking after holy Communion, as I always do. Then I led an evening rosary at the Grotto with students, adults and a number of professors. We then went to a chapel on campus. It was packed for a whole night of prayer and eucharistic adoration.

It was my intention not to be on campus during graduation day. I had so informed Father Jenkins and the student leadership, with whom I was in touch nearly every day. This is the kind of deference and respect I have shown to the Notre Dame administration, to three Notre Dame presidents, over the years. I found it an increasingly sad time, and I was convinced that there were no winners, but I was wrong.

As graduation drew near, I knew I should be with the students. It was only right that the bishop be with them, for they were on the side of truth, and their demonstration was disciplined, rooted in prayer and substantive. I told the pro-life rally, several thousand people on a lovely May day, that they were the true heroes. Despite the personal costs to themselves and their families, they chose to give public witness to the Catholic faith contrary to the example of a powerful, international university, against which they were respectfully but firmly in disagreement. Among those in attendance were many who work daily at crisis pregnancy centers on behalf of life.

The Silent Board
In the midst of the crisis at Notre Dame, the board of trustees came to campus in April for their long-scheduled spring meeting. They said nothing. When the meeting was completed, they made no statement and gave no advice. In an age when transparency is urged as a way of life on and off campus, they chose not to enter the conversation going on all around them and shaking the university to its roots. We learned nothing about their discussions.

I firmly believe that the board of trustees must take up its responsibility afresh, with appropriate study and prayer. They also must understand the seriousness of the present moment. This requires spiritual and intellectual formation on the part of the men and women of industry, business and technology who make up the majority of the board. Financial generosity is no longer sufficient for membership on the boards of great universities, if indeed it ever was. The responsibility of university boards is great, and decisions must not be made by a few. Like bishops, they are asked to leave politics and ambition at the door, and make serious decisions before God. In the case of Notre Dame, they owe it to the Congregation of Holy Cross, which has turned this magnificent place over to a predominately lay board; they owe it to the students who have not yet come; they owe it to the intrepid missionary priest, Edward Sorin, C.S.C., and the Holy Cross religious who built this magnificent place out of the wilderness. They owe it to Mary, the Mother of God, who has always been honored here. Let us pray that they will take this responsibility with greater seriousness and in a truly Catholic spirit.

Critical Questions
As bishops, we must be teachers and pastors. In that spirit, I would respectfully put these questions to the Catholic universities in the diocese I serve and to other Catholic universities.

Do you consider it a responsibility in your public statements, in your life as a university and in your actions, including your public awards, to give witness to the Catholic faith in all its fullness?

What is your relationship to the church and, specifically, to the local bishop and his pastoral authority as defined by the Second Vatican Council?

Finally, a more fundamental question: Where will the great Catholic universities search for a guiding light in the years ahead? Will it be the Land O’Lakes Statement or Ex Corde Ecclesiae? The first comes from a frantic time, with finances as the driving force. Its understanding of freedom is defensive, absolutist and narrow. It never mentions Christ and barely mentions the truth. The second text, Ex Corde Ecclesiae, speaks constantly of truth and the pursuit of truth. It speaks of freedom in the broader, Catholic philosophical and theological tradition, as linked to the common good, to the rights of others and always subject to truth. Unlike Land O’Lakes, it is communal, reflective of the developments since Vatican II, and it speaks with a language enlightened by the Holy Spirit.

On these three questions, I respectfully submit, rests the future of Catholic higher education in this country and so much else.

For more on President Obama's appearance at Notre Dame see America's archive on the controversy.

Most Rev. John M. D’Arcy is the bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Ind., in which the University of Notre Dame is located.

Monday, August 24, 2009

An article about Saint Anselm

Thanks to Bill Sirnack for passing on this interesting article about our patron saint, Anselm. The article highlights the most interesting aspects of St. Anselm's fame.

Check it out:

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Yesterday was a perfect day here at the Jersey Shore. I've got a young cousin from Pennsylvania visiting, with his buddy, and it's been great hosting them for a few days here at the shore. We visited the beaches in Long Branch today, and we joined the thousands of people enjoying the beach and the warm ocean. Then tonight I took them to a Jersey Shore classic: Pete 'N Elda's for the best thin-crust pizza on the shore. Yes, we all got new t-shirts!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Bread of Life

Once again this coming Sunday, we'll hear passages from the Bread of Life discourses. Check out the readings for this weekend's liturgy.

This video is a good reminder of our deepest beliefs about the Eucharist.

Together we feast on the greatest gift, and we become what we celebrate!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Challenging tasks for priests

Many people have been mentioning their trepidations about the new translation of the "Missale Romanum" or Roman Missal that is due to arrive in about 3 years. You can see some of the new translations of the Eucharistic Prayers at the U.S. Bishops' website, under "Roman Missal." The new translations will be chalenging most of all for priests, as presiders of the Eucharistic prayers.
I recently came upon a great blog from Dr. Jerry Galipeau, of Chicago, an editor at World Library Publications. Dr. Jerry's blog is entitled "Gotta Sing, Gotta Pray." Check it out here:

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Straight, No Chaser -- New album out

Many of you know that I'm a big fan of a-cappella singing. A few years ago, I came upon this group from Indiana....Straight, No Chaser. Last year they released a great Christmas (oh excuse me, Holiday...) album.

Now they've released their first album of "regular" songs. Check out their site:

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Summer Religious Education program

Tomorrow at 11:15, we'll close our Summer Religious Education program with Mass. I'd like to invite all parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters to join us for Mass.

The Trip to the BlueClaws game

Last Friday evening, we had a bus trip to Lakewood to enjoy an evening BlueClaws game. It was a lovely evening, with just about 1 minute of light rain, and everybody had a great time. The night was capped off with a great fireworks display, and everybody had a great time, even though the BlueClaws lost the baseball game. Let's do it again next summer!