Thursday, June 28, 2012

Bishops' response to Supreme Court decision

June 28, 2012

Supreme Court decision does not address fundamental flaws in the law 
Legislation still needed to fix conscience, abortion funding, immigration problems

WASHINGTON— Today the United States Supreme Court issued a decision upholding as a tax the provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that requires individuals to purchase a health plan—the so-called "individual mandate." For nearly a century, the Catholic bishops of the United States have been and continue to be consistent advocates for comprehensive health care reform to ensure access to life-affirming health care for all, especially the poorest and the most vulnerable.Although the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) did not participate in these cases and took no position on the specific questions presented to the Court, USCCB's position on health care reform generally and on ACA particularly is a matter of public record.The bishops ultimately opposed final passage of ACA for several reasons.

First, ACA allows use of federal funds to pay for elective abortions and for plans that cover such abortions, contradicting longstanding federal policy.The risk we identified in this area has already materialized, particularly in the initial approval by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) of "high risk" insurance pools that would have covered abortion.

Second, the Act fails to include necessary language to provide essential conscience protection, both within and beyond the abortion context.We have provided extensive analyses of ACA's defects with respect to both abortion and conscience.The lack of statutory conscience protections applicable to ACA's new mandates has been illustrated in dramatic fashion by HHS's "preventive services" mandate, which forces religious and other employers to cover sterilization and contraception, including abortifacient drugs.

Third, ACA fails to treat immigrant workers and their families fairly.ACA leaves them worse off by not allowing them to purchase health coverage in the new exchanges created under the law, even if they use their own money.This undermines the Act's stated goal of promoting access to basic life-affirming health care for everyone, especially for those most in need.

Following enactment of ACA, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has not joined in efforts to repeal the law in its entirety, and we do not do so today. The decision of the Supreme Court neither diminishes the moral imperative to ensure decent health care for all, nor eliminates the need to correct the fundamental flaws described above.We therefore continue to urge Congress to pass, and the Administration to sign, legislation to fix those flaws.

 --- Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Affordable Care Act, ACA, bishops, Supreme Court, conscience # # # # #

MEDIA CONTACT ONLY: Sr. Mary Ann Walsh O: 202-541-3200 M: 301-325-7935 Email

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

"Fortnight for Freedom"

"Fortnight for Freedom" is being celebrated through July 4.  To learn more about it and see more videos like the one below, click here to go into the Archdiocese of Washington's Fortnight for Freedom site.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

"Bishops Greet Supreme Court Decision on Immigration with Hope, Caution"

June 25, 2012

See decision as step toward humane immigration reform
Seek federal government’s strong role in immigration
Wary that part of decision might lead toward racial profiling

WASHINGTON—  The U.S. bishops greeted with hope and caution the June 25 Supreme Court decision to strike down provisions of an Arizona immigration law that would have allowed warrantless arrests of people suspected of an offense that is deportable, that would have made it a crime to seek work in the state and that would have made undocumented presence a state crime.

The bishops found hope in the decision in Arizona vs. United States and said it reflects the bishops' call for humane and just immigration laws and concern for laws that could tear families apart. Their caution lay in the lifting of an injunction against immigrants having to show papers in some circumstances.

The bishops had filed a friend of the court brief in the case.

Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Migration, expressed concern regarding the one part of the 5-3 decision that narrowly upheld a provision that permits state law enforcement personnel to determine the immigration status of any person stopped, detained, or arrested if there is a reasonable suspicion that the person is not lawfully in the United States, and to verify the immigration status of any person arrested before releasing that person.

In the opinion, the justices left the door open that the provision that was upheld — known as 2(B) of SB 1070 — could later be found unconstitutional.

"While we are concerned with the Court's decision to lift the injunction on section 2 (B) of the law, we are encouraged that the Court did not rule it constitutional," Archbishop Gomez said. "As we articulated in our amicus brief, the implementation of this provision could lead to the separation of families and undermine the Church's ability to minister to the immigrant population."

A copy of the brief can be found at

"We stand in solidarity with our brother bishops in Arizona, as they prepare to respond to the implementation of this provision and its potential human consequences," Archbishop Gomez said.

Opponents of the law have expressed concern that the decision would lead to the racial profiling of immigrants and the violation of civil rights laws.

Archbishop Gomez highlighted the Court's other provisions.

"The Court's decision to strike down the other provisions of the Arizona law reaffirms the strong role of the federal government in regulating immigration," said Archbishop Gomez.

Archbishop Gomez urged state governments not to rush to pass laws similar to SB 1070 and called upon Congress to assume its responsibility and enact comprehensive immigration reform.He vowed that the Catholic Church in the United States would continue to fight for humane and just reform of the nation's immigration system.

"The U.S. Catholic bishops across the nation will urge their state governments to not pursue laws such as in Arizona, but rather to pursue humane reform on the federal level," Archbishop Gomez said."Humane enforcement of our nation's laws are part of any solution, but enforcement by itself, unjustly administered, only leads to abuses and family breakdown."

"The Church will continue to stand by immigrants and their families and seek justice on their behalf," stated Archbishop Gomez.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Birth of St. John the Baptist - homily

Last year at our Opening BBQ, we had almost 1000 GW students attend our kick-off event in University Yard. Free Chipotle will do that! We had tons of free food and drink, live music, and lots of cool give-aways. One of the students who came was a junior who was hungry and couldn’t find food anywhere else on campus. He stumbled upon our event and saw that it was sponsored by “GW Catholics”. He ran into a teammate from one of the GW sports’ teams and was pleasantly surprised that she, too, was Catholic. She is one of our most passionate Catholic students here, so after a little small talk, she talked up all of our programs and encouraged him to get involved. He got involved…way involved. He had one of the biggest years of any GW Catholic last year in terms of conversion of heart. Like his teammate, he is now fired up for Christ and leading others to Him!

As we celebrate the birthday of St. John the Baptist today, she was his John the Baptist. She was the prophet who announced Christ to him in simple ways at the BBQ and then in more complex and substantial ways throughout the year. She led him to salvation and now that is the focus of his life. She has been living out the calling to be God’s servant. It’s a calling we all have, as we hear in today’s first reading, from our mother’s womb. A good friend of mine texted me this morning that his wife gave birth to a son whom they have named John. What a birthday to share! I think of John the Baptist in the womb…little John Walsh in the womb…each one of us in the womb…it was then we were given the calling to be God’s servant for life. And, then, in Baptism, the call goes higher. God says that it is “too little for you to be my servant” when it comes to salvation…when it comes to Christ. We are called in Baptism to be a “light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth”.

Book end that with what will happen when we die and go before the judgment seat of Christ. He will most likely ask us “how many people did you bring to me? To how many people did you announce me?” For St. John the Baptist, that number is huge and still growing. His prophesies continue! St. Paul repeats his prophetic words in the second reading. The Gospel writers repeated John’s prophecies. So many people have come to Christ through the preaching and teaching of St. John the Baptist! The same is true with our students at GW. The young woman announced Christ to the junior and he is now announcing Christ to his friends, family, and fraternity brothers. All the people he brings to Christ have come about through her prophecies!

It might intimidate us to be a prophet like John the Baptist. We do need to know the teachings of Christ and His Church so that we can speak the Truth to others. So, know the teachings and proclaim them! But, in the meantime, announce Christ through your actions. Specifically, be a “light to the nations” through your joy. Bring the light of Christ to the ends of the earth…the ends of your family…your friends…your co-workers…your teammates. I am convinced that the joy of Christians is the best way to show Christ to others. Our joy is our light. I just spent a week with a family in the Midwest; they showed their light all week…they showed their joy all week. The week culminated in a huge family party celebrating a graduation the last night I was there; boy, were they indulging in joy (maybe over-indulging, for some)!

Finally, St. John the Baptist’s greatest prophecy, in my opinion, is “Behold the Lamb of God”. This prophecy continues at every Mass! The most fruitful way for us to announce Christ is in the Eucharist. As so many of our students are doing, if we simply invite people to Mass, then we are living out our calling to bring salvation to the ends of the earth. Invite people to Sunday Mass, to daily Mass, and to Adoration. Tell people that is the source of our joy. May the joy that the Eucharist brings help us to be like St. John the Baptist in bringing salvation to the ends of the earth.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

"Why go to Mass?"

Anonymous wrote, "I've been considering studying abroad in Japan and O don't know how accessible mass will be for me there. I want to stay close to God and celebrate mass with him. But what if I can't find a catholic church? Or simply it's too far to commute? If I read the missal and try to pretend I'm there is that better?.."

Great question, Anon!   Thanks for your commitment to Sunday Mass; God is very pleased with you.  Do as much research as you can before you go.  I just googled "Catholic Church in Japan" and found a great site for you -  It lists all the cities in Japan with Churches.  Clicking on each city then takes you to a listing of the Churches with their addresses.  You can also try which locates Masses for Catholics around the world.  You should be able to find Sunday Mass!  If you do all that you can and find that there is no Church anywhere near you, you can ask your priest for a dispensation from the Sunday obligation  (which can be granted for a just reason).  He might give you suggestions on how you can be with the Church liturgically if you are physically uunable to attend Mass- reading the missal, praying over the Sunday readings (via the Magnificat, e.g.), and maybe even watching Mass on TV/internet (via EWTN). But, I believe that God will provide a place for you to attend Mass, receive the Bread of Life, and have a deep experience of the universality of the Church.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Contraceptives and the Environment

Contraceptives and the Environment

What the Pill Is Doing to Our Water Supply

By Rebecca Oas, PhD

WASHINGTON, D.C., MAY 16, 2012 ( In 1960, the combined oral contraceptive pill was first approved for use in the United States. Seven years later, “the Pill” was featured on the cover of Time Magazine, illustrating its enormous societal impact[1]. Roughly two generations later, statistics from the United Nations show that, within more developed nations worldwide, just under 16% of “partnered” women use contraceptive pills, a number which does not include usage among single women[2].

However, even as the popularity of oral contraceptives remains high, the drugs themselves have been evolving in response to further discoveries about the human reproductive system, as well as efforts to reduce the Pill’s negative side effects. As with any major technological or medical development, particularly one embraced very quickly by a large sector of the population, it can take years, and even decades, for the full range of effects to become evident. And as demonstrated by several recent studies, many questions remain unanswered regarding the long-term and environmental effects of the hormones used in oral contraceptives, as well as other medical treatments.

When a new synthetic substance is created, or a naturally occurring substance is generated at greatly increased levels, the effects can be far longer-lasting and wider-reaching than its manufacturers predict or intend. Some well-known examples of this include asbestos, a popular insulation and flame retardant in the late 19th century, which was later discovered to be carcinogenic; and polystyrene foams like Styrofoam, which is frequently used in disposable packaging, yet takes hundreds of years to break down once discarded. In the case of oral contraceptives, the key ingredients are synthetic hormones known as progestins, which mimic progesterone, either alone or combined with estrogen. When used therapeutically in contraceptive pills or in hormone replacement treatments for menopause, these synthetic hormones make their way into the water supply after being excreted in the patients’ urine. As environmental contaminants, these are referred to as endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs), due to the fact that they interfere with the endocrine systems of humans and animals alike following exposure.

While its impact is still being widely studied, there is no doubt that the exposure is occurring: multiple international studies have documented elevated levels of natural and synthetic hormones in drinking water, and one such study conducted in France noted that progestins in particular were more resistant to removal by water treatment methods, compared with other types of pharmaceuticals (3).

Due to the accumulation of synthetic steroids in water, much of the research conducted on its impact has been done using water-dwelling vertebrates such as fish and frogs. An ever-increasing collection of studies report harmful effects of these hormones on aquatic vertebrates, particularly with regard to their reproduction, as would be predicted given the nature of the contaminants (4). One study focused on the effects of exposure to the progestin Levonorgestrel (LNG) on the frog Xenopus tropicalis. While the male reproductive system did not appear to be impaired, female tadpoles exhibited severe defects in the development of their ovaries and oviducts, rendering them sterile (5).

While studies such as these cannot be taken as a direct assessment of the impact of environmental EDCs on humans, they do have certain advantages: the capability of controlling for the duration and concentration of exposure, and the fact that these animals’ life cycles are much shorter than those of humans, thus enabling multigenerational studies in far less time. Like the proverbial “canary in the coal mine,” animal studies can serve as early indicators of environmental conditions that may prove harmful to humans and direct our attention toward seemingly innocuous substances we encounter in the air we breathe, the food we eat, and, as in this case, our water supply. However, the effects of EDCs are not limited to water-dwelling frogs: female sterility resulting from early exposure to progestins has been reported in studies involving rats and mice, whose mammalian reproductive systems more closely resemble those of humans (6). The female reproductive system undergoes many key developmental changes in the early stages of life, and these changes are dependent on endocrine signaling events that are sensitive to contaminating environmental hormone exposure. A series of studies by a group at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have demonstrated that mice exposed to phytoestrogens – plant estrogens such as those found in soy products – at key developmental time points exhibited impaired fertility (7). In contrast to mice, in which the critical period of time is during the neonatal period, the human female reproductive tract is undergoing development from prior to birth through adolescence. Therefore, it is necessary to evaluate the risk of exposure to EDCs across a broader window of time, beginning in the womb.

The use of hormonal contraceptives by pregnant women is discouraged for the obvious reason that they are not ovulating, in addition to the potential for harm to the unborn child. However, postpartum contraception guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control in 2011 state that the use of progestin-only contraceptives “can be initiated immediately postpartum,” and discourage the use of estrogen-containing combined contraceptives in breastfeeding women primarily because the estrogen can reduce the mother’s milk supply (8). The presence of progestins in the breast milk of women taking oral contraceptives has not been demonstrated to adversely affect their babies’ health, although such assessments tend to focus on the short-term outcomes rather than those that might not manifest until adulthood. Nevertheless, the most recent report from the NIH group studying the effects of phytoestrogens highlights the notion that limiting early exposure to plant estrogens, such as those found in soy-based infant formulas, may prove to be beneficial to female reproductive health in the long term. Furthermore, the potential harms of prevalent EDC pollution in the environment are not restricted to women: in November of last year, the British Medical Journal published a report indicating that levels of prostate cancer in men are highest in geographic areas with the greatest use of oral contraceptives (9). While the authors stress that their findings are correlative rather than causative, their work provides a sobering hypothesis for further important research.

Ultimately, the Catholic opposition to contraception is grounded in a fundamental understanding of the meaning of human life and the purpose of procreation as a part of God’s plan, not a pragmatic conclusion reached by painstaking scientific research. While it makes intuitive sense that humans both individually and as societies benefit by living in accordance with the wishes of their Creator, in a fallen world there are practical things that can be done to alleviate some of our suffering, including the use of medical technology and pharmacology. It should be noted that synthetic hormones are not exclusively used in contraceptives, nor are the chemical compounds marketed as contraceptives intrinsically immoral – for instance, an unmarried and abstinent woman using hormonal treatments to treat endometriosis in the hopes of safeguarding her future fertility is doing nothing sinful, regardless of the efficacy or side effects of her decision. However, in a world in which influential groups and individuals are increasingly advocating for population control, often in a manner that recalls the eugenics movement of decades past, it is necessary to insist that research be done to uncover truths regarding the long-term and unintended side effects of widespread contraceptive pill usage.

* * *

Rebecca Oas, Ph.D., is a Fellow of HLI America, an educational initiative of Human Life International. Dr. Oas is a postdoctoral fellow in genetics and molecular biology at Emory University. She writes for HLI America's Truth and Charity Forum.

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Monday, June 11, 2012

Solemn Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ - homily

Last month I went to the doctor for a long-overdue physical. One of the first things they asked me when I arrived was if I had been fasting (in order for them to take my blood). I said no because I didn't know I was supposed to (and it had been so long since my last physical that I had forgotten to) fast. So, a week later I went back to get my blood work done. It's kind of an amazing experience. I made a special trip for one little prick of a needle in my arm and they filled one small vial of my blood. That was it...I could go home. Then, the doctor called me last week with the results. He left a long message going into great detail about everything from my kidneys to liver to cholesterol levels. All of this from a small amount of blood! It was from my blood that he could tell me so much about my physical life. Oh, and the results were good, thanks be to God!

Life is in the blood! Life is blood. Blood is life. This was the Jewish approach to blood; life and blood were synonymous terms. The principle of life resided in blood. Without blood there is no life. This is played out in our first reading as Moses leads the Jewish people into life with God...into covenant with God. The covenant was centered on blood, the symbol of life. Moses sprinkled half of the blood on the altar which symbolized God; he sprinkled the other half on the people. Can you imagine if we did this at Mass - the priest sprinkling you with blood?

We might be repulsed by that thought but it's not far off from what happens at Mass. In fact, the Jewish ritual has led to the Mass and is fulfilled by it. Both rituals are centered on blood...on the sacrificial offering of blood that was necessary for purification...necessary for life with God. In the Old Covenant, the blood of animals was sacrificed. In the New Covenant, the blood of Christ is sacrificed. In the Old Covenant, purification was external only; the sprinkling of blood purified bodies only. In the New Covenant, the purification is internal; the sprinkling of Christ's Body and Blood in Holy Communion purifies our souls. As the second reading explains, the blood of Christ cleanses our consciences! How sweet is it to live with a clean conscience.

Today we celebrate the awesome feast of Corpus Christi - the Body and Blood of Christ. It is a celebration at the heart of the the heart of what it means to be Catholic. The Eucharist is the center of the Church's life! When Christ taught about the Eucharist, he based it on the Jewish principle that life resides in blood. In fact, he says in John 6:53, "unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you have no life within you". This has always struck me as an incredibly strong and important statement. "Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you have no life within you".

The life to which the Lord is referring is eternal life. He promises in verse 54 that "whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life". So, if we want to have eternal life - if we want to go to Heaven - we need to receive the Eucharist. I have said this many times as a priest to many people of all ages. Most Catholics don't know John 6, so when they hear it, they get it. I have seen 10 year old kids get it! When they have asked me why they need to go to Mass every Sunday, I respond by asking them if they want to go to Heaven. They say yes! I then quote John 6:53 and tell them they need to be at Mass to receive the Eucharist. They get it. And, then they tell their parents to take them to Mass because they need to receive the Eucharist...and then the parents come to Mass!

Brothers and sisters, the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist are as real as the blood of the animals from the Old Covenant. A priest once told me that the Eucharist is as real as the nose on your face. We believe that it is really Christ because of the four words that Christ says about it: “This is my body”. The Eucharist is really Christ's Body and Blood and it is really necessary for us to have life. The Eucharist is not just our ticket to Heaven; it is our ticket to happiness in this life. When we receive the Eucharist, we receive a taste of Heaven. "Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life".

Friday, June 08, 2012

National rallies for religious freedom today

There are many more rallies for religious freedom today at noon all around the country as the following article from describes.  The one in DC is on Capitol Hill is at 12 noon by the Russell Senate Office Building.  Even if you aren't able to go, please say a prayer for the cause!

Chicago, Ill., Jun 5, 2012 / 02:26 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On June 8, Stand Up For Religious Freedom will hold its second round of national protests against the contraception mandate, continuing the movement that drew tens of thousands of protesters in March.

“We're up to 154 rallies across the country now, which is about 10 more than we had last time on the rally day,” said Stand Up For Religious Freedom's communications director Matt Yonke. The group is “expecting a few more (cities) to trickle in before Friday,” when the events begin at noon local time.

Organized in response to the Obama administration's denial of conscience rights to religious institutions, the first set of rallies included 28 Catholic bishops as well as other Christian and Jewish leaders. This time around, Yonke said, publicity and group endorsements have “only been bigger.”

“We had 64,000 (people) last time,” he recalled, noting the attendance tally from the first round of coast-to-coast demonstrations that took place March 23. “I definitely think we're going to top that.”

Under the leadership of national co-directors Eric Scheidler and Monica Miller, Stand Up For Religious Freedom has built a coalition that includes 96 Catholic and non-Catholic religious and civil rights organizations.

Stand Up For Religions Freedom's first nationwide rally took place on the anniversary of Patrick Henry's “Give Me Liberty of Give Me Death” speech. Its upcoming event coincides with the 223rd anniversary of James Madison's introduction of the Bill of Rights to the first U.S. Congress.

The new wave of protests comes as the Supreme Court prepares to rule on the 2010 health care law, under which the contraception mandate was drafted and finalized. The mandate requires employers to purchase plans that include coverage for contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs, even if doing so goes against their beliefs.

Soon after the June 8 protests, U.S. Catholics will join with their bishops in a “Fortnight for Freedom” dedicated to religious liberty.

The forthcoming Supreme Court decision, Yonke explained, is “one of the reasons we wanted to do the rally when we're doing it.”

That way, he said, “(whichever) way the ruling goes, we've got people who are engaged, and active, and ready to move on to the next step of the fight” for the free exercise of religion.

No matter what the future of U.S. health care brings, Yonke said Catholics and other religious believers “need to have a significant place at the table.”

The Church has “been doing health care for thousands of years now. And we have something to say about it.”

Yonke said the dispute over conscience rights had intensified in recent months, as the Obama administration “dug in its heels” and refused to reach a mutually-acceptable agreement with critics of the contraception mandate.

Meanwhile, Stand Up For Religious Freedom's message has “spread farther and wider,” building popular momentum against the federal rule.

“There are new people getting informed all the time. And the more they get informed about it, the more they're getting upset about it,” Yonke noted. “So the opposition is only growing.”

Some activist groups have accused opponents of the mandate of fighting a “war on women,” or using the cover of religious freedom to advance a partisan agenda. But Yonke disagreed, citing well-known allies of the president who have broken ranks over their disagreement with the contraception rule.

Prominent commentators and thinkers, including National Catholic Reporter columnist Michael Sean Winters and former U.S. ambassador to Malta Doug Kmiec, have found the mandate to be “a bridge too far,” he pointed out.

“This is far from a partisan effort,” said Yonke. Rather, it is simply an attempt to stop “the government imposing itself on our faith.”

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Pope's advice when "God is far off" in prayer

Benedict XVI Gives Advice for Those Struggling to Pray

Emphasizes Role of Holy Spirit

VATICAN CITY, MAY 16, 2012 ( Taking up the theme of prayer in the letters of St. Paul, Benedict XVI today reflected on the essential role of the Holy Spirit for those who wish to communicate with God.

The Pope spoke of prayer not primarily as a fruit of human effort, but as a gift, "the fruit of the living, vivifying presence of the Father of Jesus Christ in us."

Speaking extemporaneously, the Holy Father reflected on the human desire for prayer: "We want to pray, but God is far off, we do not have the words, the language, to speak with God, nor even the thought to do so. We can only open ourselves, place our time at God’s disposition, wait for Him to help us to enter into true dialogue. The Apostle says: this very lack of words, this absence of words, yet this desire to enter into contact with God, is prayer that the Holy Spirit not only understands, but brings and interprets before God. This very weakness of ours becomes -- through the Holy Spirit -- true prayer, true contact with God. The Holy Spirit is, as it were, the interpreter who makes us, and God, understand what it is we wish to say."

The Pontiff suggested that prayer brings us to understand more than in other aspects of life that we are weak, poor creatures. "And the more we advance in listening and in dialogue with God, so that prayer becomes the daily breath of our souls, the more we also perceive the measure of our limitations, not only in the face of the concrete situations of everyday life, but also in our relationship with the Lord," he said.

But again, "it is the Holy Spirit who helps our inability, who enlightens our minds and warms our hearts, guiding us as we turn to God. For St. Paul, prayer is above all the work of the Holy Spirit in our humanity, to take our weakness and to transform us from men bound to material realities into spiritual men."

3 consequences

Benedict XVI drew from Paul's teaching three consequences for our Christian lives "when we allow the Spirit of Christ, and not the spirit of the world, to work in us as the interior principle of all our actions."

First, he said, prayer animated by the Spirit "enables us to abandon and to overcome every form of fear and slavery, and so to experience the true freedom of the children of God."

"A second consequence that comes about in our lives when we allow the Spirit of Christ to work in us is that our relationship with God becomes so deep that it cannot be affected by any circumstance or situation," the Holy Father continued. "We then come to understand that, through prayer, we are not delivered from trials or sufferings, but we are able to live them in union with Christ, with His sufferings, with a view to participating also in His glory."

Finally, the Pontiff reflected, "the prayer of the believer opens out to the dimensions of humanity and of the whole creation. [...] This means that prayer, sustained by the Spirit of Christ who speaks in our interior depths, never remains closed in upon itself, it is never only prayer for me; rather, it opens out to a sharing in the suffering of our time, of others. It becomes intercession for others, and thus freedom for me; a channel of hope for all creation and the expression of that love of God, which has been poured into our hearts through the Spirit who has been given to us. And this is a sign of true prayer, that it does not end in ourselves, but opens out to others and so liberates me, and so helps in the redemption of the world."

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Survey to "get them thinking" about the Eucharist

A friend sent me the following email from a priest whose parish is conducting a survey on people’s attitudes toward the Eucharist. The introduction explains that it is not like the typical survey which does the thinking for people; this one gets people thinking. While it doesn’t ask directly if people believe in the doctrine of the Real Presence, it probes into some of the foundational elements for belief. It’s a good exercise!

I appreciate it because it helps us to get ready for our big feast this Sunday: Corpus Christi. Also, it mentions another survey (’95 Gallop) that I have been alluding to in homilies, posts, and discussions for over six years.

The link for the survey is below, but you can click here to go right to it.  As the priest says, share this with your friends and hopefully this will help to get folks thinking!

Dear Friend,

A 1995 Gallup poll on Catholic attitudes toward Communion was reported to show that only 30% believed that Communion is the actual Body and Blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ under the appearance of bread and wine. Our parish survey is designed to get people thinking, to discern what people really believe. The results will be given at the Corpus Christi homily, June 10, 2012, and will be posted on the parish web site:

All are welcome to go to:

and take the survey. Then share it with your friends: perhaps it can get them thinking!

Monday, June 04, 2012

Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity - homily

How often do we think to ourselves or say, "someone else"? "Someone else will do it" or "that's for someone else". I've realized how prevalent this is in the past three years as a college chaplain. Students help themselves to our food and drink at the Newman Center which we encourage. But, sometimes, they make a fine little mess, and just leave it. "Someone else" will clean up behind them, I guess they are thinking. And then there's the trash! The trash in the kitchen will be overflowing, begging to be taken out. But, people will walk by time and again, probably thinking to themselves, "that's for someone else".

I realized when I first became chaplain that there was not someone else. There wasn't someone else to fix the leaky roof or pay the huge heating bills or deal with water damage in the basement. It was just me. We all think "someone else will do it" regularly. It happens a lot on the street- driving past someone with a flat tire, thinking "someone else will help them", or thinking the same when encountering a beggar asking for food.

We do this very often when it comes to evangelization - spreading the Gospel. We hear the "Great Commission" of the Lord in today's Gospel to go out and teach all nations about Christ, and we think, "someone else will do that" or "that's for priests and teachers and the Pope to do". But, the Great Commission is for all of us to do!

I have a bad feeling that when we die and go before the Judgment Seat of Christ, the Lord will show us all the situations where WE were supposed to help, not someone else. On the list will undoubtedly be situations involving evangelization. One of the questions the Lord will certainly ask us is, "how many people did you bring to me?” So, it's good to ask ourselves, how many people have I talked to about God? How many people have I told who God is? How many have I taught that God is Father, Son, and Spirit?

Now, I know that the Trinity can be difficult to explain especially if you don't have a degree in theology. Sometimes, you need to ask priests or teachers to help answer questions. My brother and his wife did this when their son, my nephew Ryan, asked them who the Holy Spirit is. Yeah, he was five years old at the time. "Uh", they said, "call Uncle Greg"! He did and I explained that the Holy Spirit is like the wind- we can't see that He is there. But, we can look at a tree and see the leaves of the tree blowing and know the wind is there. So, too, with the Spirit. We can look at the leaves of our lives (the fruits of the Spirit)- love, joy, peace, kindness, etc - and know the Spirit is there. I think Ryan got it!

You may not have theology degrees, but you have a Catechism, I hope. The Catechism teaches us about each divine person of the Trinity. We can learn about who God is and teach others! And teach like the author of the book of Deuteronomy in the first reading - teach how awesome God is and how much He has done for us. Teach personally that God is our Father who created us. God is Son who saved us. God is Spirit who sanctifies us.

You can also learn more about each Person through your reading. Scott Hahn has written an excellent book on the Father, "A Father who keeps his promises". One of the best-selling books of all time is on the Son, "Imitation of Christ" by Thomas A Kempis. And, the greatest book on the Holy Spirit is the Acts of the Apostles; it's commonly referred to as the "Gospel of the Holy Spirit".

The best way, though, to teach people about the Trinity is to bring them to Him. Bring people to God's House. Bring them to experience the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Where there is the Son, there is the Father and Spirit. One great, simple way to teach others that the Trinity dwells here is to make a sign of the Cross whenever you pass a Catholic Church. Don't be afraid to make that sign in public – like, for example, when saying grace in restaurants. It is a sign of the lives we live: Trinitarian lives.

Brothers and sisters, live Trinitarian lives! Imitate what we celebrate here in the Eucharist. Make your life an offering to the Father in the Son through the Spirit. Live the life you signify when you make the sign of the Cross: in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Friday, June 01, 2012

White House: unborn child is "full human being"

The following online article from early May comes from It seems that the White House (Visitors Office) views an unborn baby as a human being, at least when it comes to its tours. As one of our med students pointed out, the most interesting line comes at the end from NRLC: “Obama White House recognizes [a] ‘baby that has not been born’ for White House security purposes, but tolerates legal abortion to [the] moment of birth in District of Columbia.” A new layer was added to the contradiction after the White House voiced support for yesterday’s vote in the House: it doesn’t deny tours for unborn babies based on gender or race, but tolerates discrimination in the choice for abortion.

The White House Visitors Office requires that an unborn child—still residing in utero—must be counted as a full human being when its parents register for a White House tour, according to documents obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

White House Visitors Office director Ellie Schafer sent an email to a Capitol Hill staffer Tuesday morning explaining the process for registering an unborn fetus for a White House tour:

Click here to see the article which includes the actual email.

We have received a number of calls regarding how to enter security information for a baby that has not yet been born.

Crazy as it may sound, you MUST include the baby in the overall count of guests in the tour. It’s an easy process.

LAST NAME: The family’s last name

• FIRST NAME: “Baby” as a first name

• MIDDLE NAME: NMN as in No Middle Name

• DOB: Use the date you are submitting the request to us as their birthday

• GENDER: if the parents know put that gender down if not, you can enter either M or F as we’ll ask you to update it at the time of birth

• SOCIAL: As they will not have a SSN and are under 18, you will not need to enter this field. Again if the spreadsheet asked for a social enter 9 zero’s (not the word nine zeros but 000000000 and yes it happens!)

• CITIZEN/CITY/STATE: The citizen, city and state should be entered the same as the parents

Update: The National Right to Life Committee released a statement on Tuesday afternoon about Shafer’s email, highlighting the fact that the “Obama White House recognizes [a] ‘baby that has not been born’ for White House security purposes, but tolerates legal abortion to [the] moment 
of birth in District of Columbia.”