Wednesday, February 29, 2012

"Jesus Walks on the Water...Searching for Jesus" (bulletin bloopers)

My uncle sent me the following hilarious bulletin bloopers.  I bet the students here will know which one is my favorite!

They're Back! Those wonderful Church Bulletins! Thanks for church ladies with typewriters. These sentences (with all the BLOOPERS) actually appeared in church bulletins or were announced in church services:

The Fasting & Prayer Conference includes meals.
The sermon this morning: 'Jesus Walks on the Water.'
The sermon tonight: 'Searching for Jesus.'
Ladies, don't forget the rummage sale. It's a chance to get rid of those things not
worth keeping around the house. Bring your husbands.
Remember in prayer the many who are sick of our community. Smile at someone
who is hard to love. Say 'Hell' to someone who doesn't care much about
Don't let worry kill you off - let the Church help.
Miss Charlene Mason sang 'I will not pass this way again,' giving obvious pleasure to the congregation.
For those of you who have children and don't know it, we have a nursery downstairs.
Next Thursday there will be tryouts for the choir. They need all the help they can get.
Irving Benson and Jessie Carter were married on October 24 in the church. So ends a friendship that began in their school days.
A bean supper will be held on Tuesday evening in the church hall. Music will follow.
At the evening service tonight, the sermon topic will be 'What Is Hell?' Come early and listen to our choir
Eight new choir robes are currently needed due to the addition of several new members and to the deterioration of some older ones.
Scouts are saving aluminum cans, bottles and other items to be recycled. Proceeds will be used to cripple children.
Please place your donation in the envelope along with the deceased person you want remembered.
The church will host an evening of fine dining, super entertainment and gracious hostility.
Potluck supper Sunday at 5:00 PM -prayer and medication to follow.
The ladies of the Church have cast off clothing of every kind. They may be seen This evening at 7 PM there will be a hymn singing in the park across from the Church. Bring a blanket and come prepared to sin.
Ladies Bible Study will be held Thursday morning at 10 AM. All ladies are invited to lunch in the Fellowship Hall after the B. S. is done.
The pastor would appreciate it if the ladies of the Congregation would lend him their electric girdles for the
pancake breakfast next Sunday.
Low Self Esteem Support Group will meet Thursday at 7 PM. Please use the back door.
The eighth-graders will be presenting Shakespeare's Hamlet in the Church basement Friday at 7 PM.. The
congregation isinvited to attend this tragedy.
Weight Watchers will meet at 7 PM at the First Presbyterian Church. Please use large double door at the
The Associate Minister unveiled the church's new campaign slogan last Sunday: "I Upped My Pledge - Up Yours".

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Can you give $20 to support our Appalachia service trip?

Host family in Barcelona?  A very good, young woman who is a Catholic student at a midwest university will be studying spanish in Barcelona next year.  She is looking for a host couple or family with whom she can live for the school year so she can be fully immersed in the language and culture.  If you know of a family, please email me at

A group of GW Catholics, Amy (our campus minister), and I will go on a service trip to Appalachia (Charleston, West Virginia) over spring break, March 10-17. It's called "Alternative Spring Break". We will be building and renovating homes for low-income families.

The students have to raise $10,000 in order to go on the trip. This covers their transportation, housing, project fees, tools, food, gas, etc.  Can you help them meet their goal?

You can help send these students on the trip by donating through our website. Click on today's title which will take you to our new site, then go to "Make a Gift". Click on the orange PayPal "donate" button. Your donation will go to the GW Newman Center which will put it toward the Alternative Spring Break trip.

A donation of $20 will pay for a student's housing for a night.

A donation of $50 will pay for a student's tools and equipment for the week.
A donation of $100 will pay for a student's transportation for the week.

On behalf of the students, thank you very much for your generosity!

Monday, February 27, 2012

1st Sunday of Lent - homily

Please click on today's title for Sunday's homily.  Once in the GW Catholics site, you might have to click on the smaller homily title twice

Friday, February 24, 2012

Stations of the Cross tonight, 5:30 pm

I just posted the homily from Ash Wednesday on the GW Catholics site.  To listen to the homily, please click on today's title which will take you into the site.  You may have to click twice on the smaller title in the site.

Tonight at Newman Center as part of our Lenten observance:

Stations of the Cross, 5:30 pm
Eucharistic Adoration from 6-7 pm.

Also, during Lent, Confession will be offered on Tuesdays from 6:30-8 pm in the Newman Center parlor (1st floor) in addition to the usual times.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Ash Wednesday!

Masses today at 12 noon, 6 pm, 8 pm - Marvin Center, 3rd floor, Grand Ballroom

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

"101 Practical Fasting Ideas for Lent"

Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday!! Masses will be offered for GW students, faculty, administration, and guests at 12 noon, 6 pm, and 8 pm. Please note: ALL MASSES will be in the Marvin Center, 3rd floor, Grand Ballroom. Visiting priests will be offering the Sacrament of Reconciliation before, during, and after Masses.
The following is an excellent list of fasting ideas from “Catholic School Chronicle”. To view the site, please click on today’s title.

101 Practical Fasting Ideas for Lent

February 24, 2009
By Nick Senger

[Note: I've updated this list with 10 more ideas at One Catholic Life - February 17, 2010]

Fasting, praying and almsgiving are the three penitential practices that we are asked to engage in during Lent. In addition to fasting and abstaining with the rest of the Church on Ash Wednesday and the Fridays of Lent, we are also challenged to make individual sacrifices appropriate to our own spiritual condition. However, before we choose something to give up for Lent, it’s important to assess our current spiritual state:

• What habits do I engage in that are destructive to my spiritual health?
• To what material things am I too attached?
• What areas in my life are unbalanced?
• To what do I devote too much or not enough time?

Only after asking questions like these are we are ready to decide what to give up or what to add to our lives during Lent. The following list is meant to be an aid in this process. Use it as you need based on your current circumstances.

“Through fasting and praying, we allow Him to come and satisfy the deepest hunger that we experience in the depths of our being: the hunger and thirst for God.”

–Pope Benedict, Lenten message, 2009

1-10: The Usuals:

1. Give up candy/sweets.
2. Give up television time.
3. Give up eating snacks between meals.
4. Give up or limit soda or coffee.
5. Give up or limit video games.
6. Spend more time with family.
7. Give to the poor.
8. Do an extra chore each day.
9. Perform a random act of kindness.
10. Spend more time in prayer.

11-20: Prayer

1. Pray a book of scripture using lectio divina.
2. Attend Mass on a weekday (every day if possible).
3. Pray the rosary each day, alone or with your family.
4. Prayerfully read Abandonment to Divine Providence.
5. Make a special prayer notebook and list all the people in your life who need prayers; pray for them each day. Add someone new every day.
6. Learn to pray the Liturgy of the Hours.
7. Make a commitment to attend Eucharistic Adoration regularly.
8. Commit to examining your conscience each evening.
9. Pray the Jesus Prayer throughout the day.
10. Pray the Angelus each day at noon.

21-30: For Those Addicted to Popular Culture

1. Switch from regular radio to Christian music radio or Catholic talk radio.
2. Avoid shows with gratuitous sex or violence.
3. Give up or limit watching sports on television.
4. Listen to only classical music for the next 40 days.
5. Drive to work in silence each day.
6. Read a work of classic literature.
7. Read a Catholic classic.
8. Read a story to a child.
9. Sit in fifteen minutes of silence each day.
10. Write a letter to God each day.

31-40: For Internet Users/Bloggers

1. Set time limits on overall online time.
2. Limit Facebook time.
3. Limit Myspace time.
4. Resist making or adding to lists that rank people.
5. Share one spiritual video with your online network once a week.
6. Blog about the poor once a week.
7. Add a spiritual blog to your blog reader.
8. Subscribe to a prayer podcast like Pray As You Go or Pray Station Portable.
9. Leave an encouraging or positive comment on a different blog each day.
10. Help a new blogger by sending traffic their way.

41-50: For Those Who Need to Be More Grateful

1. Each week, write a letter of thanks to a different member of the clergy, beginning with your bishop and parish priest.
2. Each week write a thank-you note to your parents.
3. Write a poem of praise for each person in your family.
4. Get a stack of sticky-notes and write one sentence of thanks each day and stick it to the bedroom door of each person in your family so that by Easter they each have 40 sticky-notes.
5. Find the psalms of thanksgiving or praise in the Bible and pray them.
6. Write a list of the ways God has blessed you and add to it each day. This could be done in a notebook or on a big poster hanging on your wall.
7. At dinner each evening ask your family to share one thing for which they are grateful.
8. Make a CD or iPod playlist of praise and worship music and listen to it each day.
9. Make a point of saying “Thank You” a certain number of times per day.
10. Help your children write thank you letters to their teachers.

51-60: For Those With Lives Out of Balance

1. Go for a walk each day with a loved one and talk about life and faith.
2. Take the kids to the park each week for some carefree time.
3. Give up fast food and give the money to charity.
4. Exercise each day.
5. Spend at least half an hour each day in meaningful conversation with your spouse.
6. Go on a Lenten retreat.
7. Pray with Sacred Space each day.
8. Commit to a daily 3 Minute Retreat.
9. Begin the online 34-week Retreat for Everyday Life.
10. Give up your most unhealthy habit.

61-70: For Those Who Need Spiritual Nourishment

1. Read the documents of Vatican II, especially Gaudium et Spes.
2. Read The Cathechism of the Catholic Church or The United States Catholic Catechism for Adults.
3. Sign up for adult formation classes at a local parish.
4. Join a Bible study.
5. Attend Stations of the Cross at a local parish.
6. Find a spiritual director.
7. Read The Imitation of Christ.
8. Listen to a free Catholic audio book from Maria Lectrix.
9. Read Introduction to the Devout Life.
10. Read a spiritual autobiography (i.e., Augustine’s Confessions, Story of a Soul, Journal of a Soul, Witness to Hope)

71-80: For Those Who Need to Increase Their Service to the Needy

1. Volunteer at soup kitchen or other food program.
2. Coordinate a food drive at your parish, school or place of employment.
3. Find out who in your parish is sick and offer to visit them or bring them food.
4. Call your local Catholic Charities office and volunteer.
5. Begin making visits to a nursing home.
6. Help an elderly or disabled person in your neighborhood with yard work or other difficult chores.
7. Become a hospital volunteer.
8. Become part of a prison ministry team.
9. Coordinate a clothing drive.
10. Make rosaries and give them away.

81-90: For Those Who Need to Be More Active in Their Parish

1. Become a lector.
2. Volunteer to become an Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist
3. Volunteer to help with the parish youth group.
4. After each Mass stay awhile and introduce yourself to someone you don’t know.
5. Join the Knights of Columbus.
6. Offer to be a Confirmation sponsor.
7. Volunteer to be an usher.
8. Offer to help with funeral dinners.
9. Help with the RCIA program.
10. Volunteer to do lawn work, cleaning or other needed maintenance for the parish.

90-101: Potpourri

1. Begin to receive the Sacrament of Penance weekly.
2. Give up foul language.
3. Give up gossiping.
4. Read and study Healing the Culture.
5. Study the life of a different saint each day.
6. Cook dinner each night for your family if someone else normally does.
7. Pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.
8. Carry extra food in your car, purse or backpack to give to street corner beggars.
9. Begin practicing socially conscious investing.
10. Spend a week meditating on each of the seven principles of Catholic social teaching.
11. Make breakfast each morning for your family.

Monday, February 20, 2012

7th Sunday - homily

We should be familiar with today’s Gospel of the paralytic and Jesus. It is a scene that elicits much reflection and provides a few images that are good for meditation. Jesus is preaching to a packed house, literally. He is preaching and teaching. Then, four men bring their paralyzed friend to the house but can’t get in because of all the people. So, they open up the roof and lower him down. This took some doing, of course. Jesus sees what great friends this man has! They have a sense of urgency in bringing their friend to Jesus. They have strong faith, of course; it is their faith that prompts the Lord to forgive and heal their friend.

I want to focus on the scribes, though. They question Jesus’ authority to forgive the paralytic’s sins. We might wonder how and why they did that. It is Jesus! He is God, He is the Son of God. But, we know the full story about Jesus which they didn’t at that point. We know of his divine authority, and might look down on those in the gospel who questioned it. And yet, many Catholics do the same thing as the scribes when it comes to the authority of priests to forgive sins. They acknowledge the authority of priests to baptize, consecrate the Eucharist, anoint the sick and dying, but why do they approach the sacrament of Confession differently?

We discussed this last Wednesday at our “Theology on Tap”. I told some stories involving the other sacraments – getting a call two years ago to baptize a student who fell out of a building and died later after receiving the sacrament; being called to immediately perform the Anointing of the Sick on the father of a good friend of mine; being asked to come in on my day off recently to celebrate Mass because our substitute priest backed out at the last minute. In all these examples, people recognized the authority the priest has…an authority they don’t have. You recognize this when you come to Mass. You inherently believe that the bread and wine will become the Body and Blood of Christ through my hands and the words I will say. You will show this when you kneel before the elements, believing that it is the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ. If it’s not – if it’s just bread and wine – then get the heck away from Mass and the Catholic Church. You would be kneeling before and worshiping bread. Talk about blasphemy! But, you rightly believe that a change happens because it does…through the priest.

So, I asked the students the other night why it is different with Confession. Why do people think that they can go directly to God, or like the scribes, only God has authority on Earth to forgive sins. The students said it was because Confession is more of a personal situation which I totally get. But, if we really believed that the power of Christ was in the priest and it was really Christ that we encounter in the confessional, how could we not go? Even if people don’t have mortal sins to confess, they would still go regularly to talk to Jesus and receive His grace through the priest.

He helps our faith as he helped the faith of those at the house. To show that He has authority to forgive sins, he says to the paralytic, “rise, pick up your mat, and walk”. The man rose, picked up his mat…and walked. The people were astonished and glorified God, saying, “we have never seen anything like this”. He performed a miracle for them! He has performed miracles through priests…many, many miracles. The priest who will celebrate the 7:30 Healing Mass has had miracles at his parish. Jesus has worked two miracles through me – a broken foot that healed (the bone healed up within a week!) and a brain tumor that disappeared after I laid my hands on the woman and drenched her head with miraculous water from Lourdes, France. It is the same miraculous power…the power of Christ. He gave the power to work miracles to the first priests….the power to heal…to baptize….to consecrate…to forgive sins…to drive out demons. They passed it to the next priests who passed it to the next priests...all the way down to current priests. We have the power…the power of Christ through our hands.

Let us be open to Christ and that we may experience His healing and forgiveness through His priests.

Friday, February 17, 2012

"I am asking Catholic Women to speak out for your faith"

I find it curious that politicians and pundits who usually are the champions of the separation of Church and state are those who are defending the HHS mandate.  Just yesterday, I heard the DNC chairperson say in an interview that the Church should make contraception freely available to all of its employees.  That's fine if that's her personal opinion; "it's a free country", after all (or at leat it was).  But, she is an active senator.  Who is she as a lawmaker to tell the Church what to do?  This is what the founders of our country tried to avoid with the Constitution. 

And, what those who are in favor are not realizing, among other things, is that the President is setting a dangerous precedent.  As the head of our Pro Life group wrote recently, "If you give the President the power to add whatever they want to coverage, you also give them the power to take away whatever coverage they want. Thus, there could be a socially conservative president down the line who could deny coverage for contraceptives for ALL insurance companies. Or, there could be a president who dictates higher rates for certain people based on their lifestyle. This power extension is not just dangerous to Catholics, it is dangerous for all health professionals and all people. The power doesn't disappear after Obama."

Also, this senator said that 99% of Catholic women have used contraception at one time in their lives.  (This number, amazingly, has shot up dramatically in just a few weeks!  Maybe those Catholic women who hadn't used it thought that they need to get with the program...or, the numbers are inflated...whatever the real number is, it is big). While contraception is not the main issue of the mandate (religious freedom is), a good friend of mine sent me something she wrote in response to that whole line of thinking.  She is so right to call on Catholic women to speak up. The video below is (several pro-life) women speaking up! 

"On Friday February 10, 2012, a group named Catholics For Choice took out a full page ad on Page 11 in the A section of the Washington Post. This group depicted a graph showing 98% of Catholic women for birth control and 2% opposed. The problem is WE are all Catholics For Choice because Our Lord gave us a free will to choose. Anyone who calls themselves Catholic has made a choice to be part of that Faith: no one is forced to become or stay Catholic. The church does not change its teachings to suit the needs of individuals because it has been founded on the teachings of Our Lord. The church realizes that many women have chosen not to follow its teaching on birth control; however that does not mean it will or should change its teaching. We are called to live an informed moral life. If one chooses to not accept a teaching, that is a conscience decision between that person and God. That individual choice does not change the Church’s teaching that it is morally wrong.

I am asking Catholic Women to speak out for your faith. We often sit back and let our church leaders speak on our behalf but this time we are called to speak as Catholic Women for Choice and we choose to be Catholic."

-Mary Tull

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Healing Mass: "so...joyful"

The audio from my homily at the Mass for Life is up on the ADW site. Please click on today’s title which will take you into the site.

To get us ready for this Sunday’s Healing Mass at the 7:30 student Mass at St. Stephen’s, the following is a post I made three years ago about someone’s experience at a Healing Mass. Our set-up won’t be the same as this; we won’t have the same music and nuns…! Fr. Jim Stack will be the celebrant and will expose the Eucharist before the final blessing and invite people to come up for him to lay hands on them and pray over them. Please come with an open mind and spirit. As I said in last Sunday’s homily, the best prep for this is to go to Confession and receive the Eucharist at the Mass. Invite your friends – Catholic and non-Catholic. All are invited to receive the healing power of Christ through Fr. Stack!!

The following is a comment from another blog site by someone who attended a healing Mass (he seemed to indicate in other parts of his post that he used to be skeptical about such Masses). After reading this intriguing reflection, I might be interested in celebrating one some day:

…They call the Mass a "cenacle". The Mass was celebrated by the parish priest, and about 15 nuns of the Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary (Siervas de los Corazones Traspasados de Jesus y Maria) were present. I'm part of the leadership team for an Emmaus retreat which will be held at our parish in March, and I also went with the hope of juicing up my personal spirituality in preparation for the retreat…

I left the wife and kids at home. My wife asked if she should come and bring our youngest son who suffers from some allergies. I said let me check it out first.

I showed up at the church about 10 minutes before the 8pm Mass started. There were lots of people in the church, young and old. The church was eventually packed. I'd say there were 200 people there on a Friday night, lots of people in their 20s too (I'm 44). They were praying the rosary, of course.

This was a serious crowd. Serious in the sense that they were quiet. Better dressed than the Sunday parochial school congregants at my parish. Very little pre-Mass chatter. Very few cell phones ringing. People kept filing in after the Mass started…

The Mass was in Spanish. The lector was really good. The priest gave a great homily about John the Baptist, and about courage to have Christian values.

I was really struck by the music. The nuns would sing really praiseful, hallelujah music. It was not like what you see on tv in evangelical African-American churches, but it was really joyful with a tempered, Catholic twist. The hallelujahs seemed to escalate, building power, until they seemed to knock you over like a wave of water. These were women singing. They sang into microphones, but their voices sounded powerful apart from the electronic boost, and distinctly feminine. They sang at different points during the liturgy of the Eucharist. I felt like crying, it was so beautiful, but held it back.

The priest reminded everyone that they should have been to confession to receive the Eucharist (I went yesterday to get ready for this). Lots of people did NOT go to receive the Eucharist. I'd say maybe 25 or 30% sat it out. In my parish, I would say 95% of the people receive the Eucharist every Sunday. The make-up of the crowd was about the same as in my parish - almost 100% hispanic, with maybe 70 or 80 percent being Cuban/Cuban-American.

The Mass ended about an hour after it started, but there was no dismissal. A monstrance was brought out, and the Eucharist displayed and adored as virtually everyone kneeled. During the adoration those little nuns blasted out their beautiful, strong, hallelujah music. Many people held their hands up in the air as they kneeled. I just kneeled with my hands pressed together tightly. The priest held what seemed to be a very heavy monstrance up in the air for quite a few minutes. Then he walked around the church with it, up and down all the aisles and sides. People held up their hands towards the Eucharist. I just kept my hands together. We all stared at Him in the Eucharist, as the nuns continued to sing. It was so.... Joyful!...

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

"Nothing has changed" with the HHS mandate

"Nothing has changed".  This is the title of the letter sent out by Cardinal Wuerl yesterday in regards to President Obama's "compromise" of the HHS mandate (the full letter is below). 

I said in my homily on Sunday that as a result of the mandate, Catholic schools, universities, and hospitals could go out of business (as a result of not paying the $2,000 per employee per day fines that the Church would incur for not paying for services in their health plan which are morally objectionable).  That hasn't changed.  And, with what Cardinal Wuerl wrote yesterday, the Archdiocese of Washington itself could be run out of business. With 3,600 employees and being self-insured, the Archdiocese would have to pay $7,200,000 per day in fines.   This is still an outrage of incredible proportions.  Nothing has changed.  It is still a mandate for religious institutions to support and pay directly or indirectly for contraception, abortifacients, and sterilization. 

Please read the following letter and see how at least one of our very competent bishops is fighting for religious freedom in the "land of the free" and for the life of his own Archdiocese, schools, hospitals, and universities:

February 13, 2012

Dear Friends,

Last Friday President Obama attempted to respond to the strong objections that have been raised by the Catholic Church and other faith communities to the Department of Health and Human Services’ unprecedented mandate that would force religious institutions, in violation of their religious beliefs, to provide and pay for abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives and sterilization. Unfortunately, the “accommodation” that the President announced still presents grave moral concerns and continues to violate our constitutionally protected religious liberty.

The administration’s proposal continues to involve needless government intrusion in the internal governance of religious institutions, particularly in the definition of who is and who is not a religious employer. Despite last month’s unanimous Supreme Court decision upholding the right of religious institutions to choose whom they appoint to teach their faith and carry out their mission, the administration remains unwavering in its attempt to assert control in matters of religion. Our Catholic schools, social service organizations, hospitals and universities are no less Catholic than our churches, but apparently, these institutions are not considered to be Catholic enough to meet the definition required by the HHS mandate for a religious exemption.

As for the insurance-related provisions themselves, the federal mandate remains essentially unchanged. The only “fix” offered by the President was to propose that insurance companies, instead of religious institutions directly, be required to cover procedures and products they find objectionable at no cost in their insurance policies. Regardless of how it is characterized, shifting the cost of these drugs and procedures to insurance companies does not make their requirement any less objectionable or lessen the infringement on our religious liberty and rights of conscience.

For example, President Obama’s announcement does not provide any accommodation for the Archdiocese of Washington. Like many large organizations, both for-profit and non-profit, this archdiocese does not purchase group health insurance from insurance companies. In order to provide insurance consistent with our religious beliefs, our health benefit plan is a self-insured plan that extends coverage to 3,600 employees. This means that the archdiocese is the insurer and the archdiocese covers all claim costs. There is no insurance company involved. Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the HHS mandate, self-insured organizations like ours are treated the same as regular insurance providers. This means that like Aetna or Blue Cross, the archdiocese and other self-insured religious organizations would be required to both provide and pay for drugs and procedures we consider morally wrong in our employee health plans.

Even for religious institutions who are employers and who purchase group health insurance from insurance companies, the problem created by the mandate remains unresolved. Those institutions will still be compelled to purchase insurance policies that provide free abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives and sterilization. Since these additional drugs and procedures will be automatically provided by the insurer by virtue of the insurance policy (even though not expressly listed in the policy), it is no response to our moral concerns to say that religious employers will not have to pay for them because their insurance companies will. Catholic institutions will be forced to pay for and maintain policies that enable their employees to receive insurance coverage of products and procedures that violate our religious convictions.

At this point, it appears that nothing has really changed. Religious employers are still being compelled to provide insurance plans that offer free abortion-inducing drugs, sterilizations and contraceptives in violation of their religious freedom.

What is at stake here is a question of human freedom. The authors of the Bill of Rights enshrined freedom of religion as our nation’s first and founding principle. We should not be reduced to petitioning the government for rights that the Constitution already guarantees. The only complete solution to the problem that this mandate poses for religious liberty is for Congress to pass legislation to protect our freedom. The Respect for Rights of Conscience Act is one of several bills that have been introduced for this very purpose.

We cannot become complacent or allow ourselves to be distracted by incomplete proposals presented as definitive solutions. The Bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty is working on a formal response and action steps. In the weeks and months ahead, please continue to pray and share this information with others so that we may reverse the effects of this misguided regulation.

In the hope that this information is helpful and with every good wish, I am

Faithfully in Christ,

Donald Cardinal Wuerl
Archbishop of Washington

Monday, February 13, 2012

Homily - 6th Sunday

Please click on today's title for Sunday's homily.  Once in the GW Catholics site, you might have to click on the smaller homily title twice.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

"An act against one church is treated as an act against all." - JFK

Two GW Catholics, junior Michael Russo and freshman Lisa Campbell, have written an excellent op-ed piece in the GW Patriot about the HHS mandate and religious liberty which is below.   

Also, our student leaders have organized a Call to Action night at the Newman Center and have invited many GW groups to participate: "Tonight (2/8) at 8:30 in the basement of Newman we will be making phone calls, sending emails, and recruiting petition signers through social media. This is one of the most important tasks we have been given this year. PLEASE make a goal to bring one or two non-Catholic friends to this if you can!"

An amazing and inspiring response to our bishops' call to action, all of you!!

When the time came to enshrine the basic rights of the American people, the first right, which the Founders enumerated, protected freedom of religion. They recognized that one of the most fundamental rights a person has is to believe whatever they wish in the realm of faith and to be able to freely practice it. The Founders declared this basic freedom of our religion, or lack of religion, in the same Amendment as the freedom of speech and assembly since, unlike other nations, American citizens are entitled to express and exercise their religion in public, not just in the private realm. In 1789, President Washington wrote, "Every man, conducting himself as a good citizen, and being accountable to God alone for his religious opinions, ought to be protected in worshiping the Deity according to the dictates of his own conscience." Washington’s words have long described the stance of the American government towards its citizens of faith; that is until now.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA) gave authority to the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to determine what is considered preventive care and, therefore, what is mandatory for health insurance providers and employers to cover. Using this authority, HHS announced that all insurance plans must cover contraception, abortifacients (abortion-inducing drugs), and sterilizations. The mandate provides only a limited exemption for religious institutions, including charities and hospitals. Its exemption applies only to those who hire persons of their own faith and serve persons of their own faith, a condition that applies to almost no religion with a tenant of helping those in need. HHS has argued that this is not a violation of the Constitution since it provides an exemption clause. However, this limited clause will pose a very serious threat to the basic existence of almost all hospitals, schools, charities, and other faith-run groups that have a stance on contraception, sterilizations, and abortifacients.

The mandate has put faith-based employers in a Catch-22. If they wish to continue their current operations without violating their fundamental beliefs on life issues, they will be left with only 3 options: 1) stop providing their employees with insurance and face the massive fines put in place by the same healthcare act, 2) attempt to comply with the mandate’s narrow exemption but be forced to lay off large numbers of employees and, in the case of charities, hospitals, and churches, turn many of the neediest people away, or 3) select the once unthinkable option of simply closing down to avoid breaching their consciences.

This will be the first time in the history of the United States that the federal government will force the closure of institutions for their religion-based moral beliefs. If the final and most drastic measure of closing is pursued, it would mean, in the case of the Catholic Church alone, the closure of over 6,000 elementary and secondary schools, over 240 universities, and over 600 hospitals spread over all 50 states. That would potentially leave millions of American citizens without services essential to their communities and, in many cases, their lives. Even if most institutions choose not to close and follow another path, they will eventually be forced to do so.

For example, should they choose not to provide their employees with insurance, they will face the massive fines established under the PPACA, which were designed specifically to force employers into providing insurance. The fine stands at $2,000 per employee per day; for an organization like Catholic Charities USA, which has 75,000 employees and is one of the largest charities in the world, such fines would be disastrous.

They would be forced to close or attempt to comply with the exemption. To comply with the exemption, they would need to dismiss large parts of their staffs (many Catholic Organizations employ large amounts of Protestants) and turn away any non-Catholics who come to them for aid. The only other alternative that would allow them to maintain their religion is closing down. Either way, thousands or potentially millions could be affected with loss of jobs, loss of vital services, or even loss of life.

Contraception and other life, reproductive, or sexuality issues are not the focus of the grave concern and outrage regarding the HHS mandate. The issue at hand is the basic natural and Constitutional right of every American Citizen and, subsequently, private institutions to hold and adhere to their religion. The mandate on contraception is a violation of the First Amendment. The government has never before forced religious or non-religious institutions to abandon any key tenant of their beliefs, and that is exactly what HHS and the Administration are expecting countless Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish organizations to do.

Regardless of one’s opinion on contraception, abortion, or any other issue in the life and sexuality debate, a consensus needs to be that the First Amendment gives all religions and citizens the right to hold and practice their beliefs within their own congregations and institutions. If the concern is over employees not having access to contraceptives and other such medical coverage they should not have considered working for an institution that has a long held, even ancient, stance to the contrary. As a spokeswoman for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops said, "When you go to a Jewish deli, you are not expecting pork chops."

The long standing political divide on PPACA, or Obamacare, is only relevant to this uproar by Catholic and other religious organizations since it is what gave HHS the power to issue these mandates. The law gives neither HHS nor the Administration as a whole the power to tear the First Amendment rights of the American people to shreds. This could mark one of the most important moments in the history of religious liberty. The Catholic Church will never violate its own core belief on any issue, and if left with no option, the Catholic Bishops and affected organizations have stated they will close.

This assault on one of the most core tenants of the Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox Jewish faiths must not be allowed to stand. Freedom of religion cannot exist if the government, whether it is the Legislative or Executive branches, can determine on its own when they can dictate beliefs. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently sued a Lutheran Church in an attempt to overturn the long accepted concept of ministerial exemption, whereby churches and religions can determine their own qualifications for their ministers or other religious. The Supreme Court needed to take but one look at this case before striking it down 9-0. The court stated that the government does not have the ability to micro-manage whom religions accept as their ministers since it is an essential part of their faith. To connect this case with the HHS mandate is fair since it shows that the government cannot tell people of religion what to believe or to violate their beliefs. This mandate is an attack on people of religion and, as such, on all Americans who hold their Bill of Rights dear. The mandate needs to be repealed immediately, or the long-term freedom of all Americans of any faith-tradition is at stake, since as President Kennedy said, “an act against one church is treated as an act against all."

Michael Russo, President
Lisa Campbell, Community Service Director
Newman Catholic Student Center

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Top 10 Funny Baby Videos!

Thanks to Mike Adam for finding this priceless video.  WE LOVE BABIES!!

Monday, February 06, 2012

Homily - 5th Sunday

Please click on today's title for Sunday's homily.  Once in the GW Catholics site, you might have to click on the smaller homily title twice.

Friday, February 03, 2012


"This is the time to speak up".  These are the recent words of Cardinal Wuerl about the mandate of the Obama administration for the Catholic Church to provide health services against Her conscience.   The Cardinal is speaking to us, GW Catholics.  The Church is calling us to step up and make our voices heard. Apparently, the President said to a bishop at some point about this debate, "I hear from you, but I don't hear from your people".  Let the President and members of Congress hear from us.

First, click on today's title to learn more about the issues at hand.  There are many excellent explanations by the US bishops, especially a video by Archbishop Timothy Dolan. 

Second, EACH ONE, REACH ONE!   I am asking each GW Catholic to contact Congress and to reach another GW Catholic to do the same.  It's three easy steps: 

1) Click on the link below to send an email to your Congress representatives and Senators, asking them to vote for the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act.  Simply sign the email, provide your information, and your voice is heard!
Support Respect for Rights of Conscience Act

2) Reach out to another GW Catholic with the link, and ask them to support the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act.   EACH ONE, REACH ONE!

3)  Ask them to reach another GW Catholic with the link and support the RRCA, and to keep the EACH ONE, REACH ONE cycle going!

Also, please sign a petition that will be sent to President Obama.  The petition needs 25,000 signatures by the end of February in order for the President to reconsider his decision.  9,000 more signatures are still needed.  Let the President hear from you!   Here's the link:!/petition/rescind-hhs-dept-mandate-requiring-catholic-employers-provide-contraceptivesabortifacients-their/lBxr7SdP