Wednesday, November 28, 2012

"Seven Great Qualities of a New Evangelist"


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Friday, November 23, 2012

Homily - "God is always in charge"

Click here to listen to Sunday's homily by Fr. Bill Gurnee, former beloved GW chaplain.

Friday, November 16, 2012

"Eucharist" = Thanksgiving

This Sunday: 

1) Mass at 7:30 with Fr. Bill Gurnee, former GW Chaplain.  Welcome back, Fr Gurnee!

2) NO 10 pm Mass.

I will be away Sunday - Wednesday, so Happy Thanksgiving to all GW Catholics and friends!!

On Wednesday night, we had another excellent "Theology on Tap".  The topic was "giving thanks" which is fitting preparation for Thanksgiving Day next week.  A small group of students and I discussed the different experiences we've had in giving thanks, not just on Thanksgivings but in general.  I mentioned the importance of giving thanks regularly and how those who do are the happiest and healthiest people in the world.  I concluded our enlightening and inspiring session with mention of the best way to give thanks as Catholics: the Mass.  This brief reflection from, while a bit outdated, sums it up well:


The liturgy of the Eucharist refers to the part of the Mass that begins with the collection and the preparation of the altar and the bread and wine. What are we doing in these actions? Much of the answer lies in the word "Eucharist." Derived from the Greek, it means "thanksgiving."

Our thanksgiving is best expressed in the main prayer of the liturgy of the Eucharist, the Eucharist prayer. Some history of this prayer: its roots are in the Jewish tradition of meal blessings. As a devout Jew, Jesus would have prayed such blessings at meals. Early Christians (who were Jews) used them in their celebrations known as "the breaking of the bread," when they obeyed Jesus' command to "Do this in memory of me." Over time, references to Jesus and the meaning of his life, death and resurrection were incorporated into these blessings. Two of the present Eucharistic prayers we now use date from the third and fourth centuries. All follow a similar pattern. In other words, Christians have been praying this way at the Eucharist ever since there were Christians!

The Eucharistic prayer is thanksgiving for the heart of life as Christians understand it: for all of God's creation, and especially for the saving works of Christ. It is proclaimed over bread and wine, symbols of what is most basic, food and drink from the tables of ordinary people. In this context, when we are focused on the foundations of our life, we also petition God for the abundance promised at this table to be shared with the whole world, with the church, with all who seek God, and with the dead.

The prayer is an action that everyone in the church is meant to participate in: it is not "the priest's prayer." From "The Lord be with you" and the dialogue that follows, through the Great Amen, the Eucharistic prayer requires the vigorous participation of all present. We involve ourselves fully when we join our hearts to the words sung or spoken by the priest, when we assume an attentive posture, when we put aside the missalette and listen, when we sing the acclamations with full voice.

In the end, "Eucharist" is what our life as Christians is all about. Whenever we stand, in suffering or joy or confusion or routine, our life is always to be thanksgiving, always to be a sharing of God's abundance with all in need.

[Source: Sunday Bulletin, St. Paul Roman Catholic Cathedral, Saskatoon, SK, Canada; June 15, 2008]

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

"God help us!"

A priest friend of mine sent me the following article with his own preface to it.  What struck me about the article was that there was no mention of the Gospel.  It is all about what the political strategy of the bishops should be.  God help any Catholics who reduce bishops to political figures only, especially those who do it publicly.  The primary role of bishops is to teach the Gospel.  Their strategy should be to teach, defend, and spread the Gospel most effectively!
"If you want to really understand the profound challenges we face in the Church with regards to authentic formation of Catholic conscience and with regards to communicating the authentic teachings of the Catholic Church, you have to read (and study) the article below by Thomas J. Reese, SJ, University Fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University. He is part of the Jesuit intelligentsia that is forming the best and brightest young Catholics and the leaders of tomorrow - God help us! I must warn you, it will not be an easy read. The article should have the disclaimer – 'Abandon hope [and reason] all ye who enter here', you're about to enter into a very dark place!

Here is the Georgetown website that gives more insight into the man who was former editor-in-chief of America magazine which has more than 45,000 readers (imagine the reach of this man's influence): ".


Thomas J. Reese | Nov. 11, 2012
USCCB Fall 2012
As the bishops gather in Baltimore this week for their annual meeting, they, like everyone else in the country, will be talking about last week's election. The U.S. Catholic bishops took a beating at the polls. Not only was President Barack Obama re-elected despite their attacks on him, the bishops also lost on state referendums on same-sex marriage.
Like all Americans, the bishops have a constitutional right to participate in the political process. They can debate the issues, criticize candidates and publicly express their views. They can even endorse candidates as long as they don't do it on church property and don't use church funds in supporting a candidate or party. In fact, they can even run for president, as did the Rev. Pat Robertson and the Rev. Jesse Jackson. The U.S. Constitution does not forbid this; Roman Catholic canon law forbids it.

But what is constitutional is not always effective or prudent. Clearly, the political strategy of the bishops is not working. A majority of Catholics voted for Obama, and gay activists won every referendum. The Missouri and Indiana Republican senatorial candidates, who took the toughest positions on abortion, were also defeated when the Republicans were expected to win these races.

So where do the bishops go from here? Some of the bishops will blame Catholic pro-abortion-rights politicians and urge excluding themfrom Communion. The nuns, priests and theologians who urged voters to consider a wide range of justice issues will also be blamed. These bishops will see no need for a change in political strategy. "The bishops need to be tougher; dissidents need to be punished; full speed ahead!"

Many bishops, who stayed quiet during the election, are tired of the notoriety the political bishops invite. They prefer their parishes be free of partisan politics. But since the media have trouble covering silence, the political bishops get all the ink and airtime. This makes it look like these bishops are speaking for all bishops.

Hopefully, behind closed doors, some bishops will acknowledge that the current strategy is not working and ask, "Is there a better way? Is there a plan B?" Here I am writing as a political scientist, not as a priest or theologian. I am not challenging church teaching; I am questioning political strategy.

The first step in plan B should be listening. The bishops need to listen to those Catholic voters who ignored their advice and find out why. The whole premise behind "No Child Left Behind" is that when students fail, it is not always their fault. Teachers need to examine how they teach so students can learn. Bishops need to listen.

Second, any new strategy needs to be realistic. Granted the current political situation, what is possible? Political strategy cannot ignore data. In the last election, Republicans ignored poll data and truly believed they would win the presidency and the Senate. The great wave of Republican voters never appeared.

What are the data the bishops need to examine?

First, it is clear there is an approaching tsunami of young voters who will eventually make same-sex marriage legal in most states of the union. The likelihood of stopping this tsunami is very low. As the older opponents of gay marriage die, they are replaced by younger voters who havefriends who are gay. This is a new world. If you know you are going to lose a fight, you want to fight in a way that does you the least amount of damage.Tactics that enrage their opponents will make it more difficult for the bishops to get the exemptions they desire under this new reality.

For example, after the bishops spent $1 million fighting gay marriage in Massachusetts, it was not surprising that gay activists fought exempting Catholic foster care and adoption services from serving gay couples. They saw it as political payback. Ultimately, the bishops may be forced to treat same-sex couples the same way they treat divorced and remarried couples whose marriages are not approved by the church. The church does not like these marriages, but they are acknowledged as legal under civil law.

Second, despite all efforts by the bishops and by anti-abortion activists, the country is just as divided on abortion today as it was decades ago. Public opinion polls show people do not like abortion, butthey do not want to make it illegal. No one has come up with a strategy to change the public's mind. Even if Roe vs. Wade were overturned, abortion would still be legal in most of the country. Those living in a state where it is illegal could easily drive to a state where it is legal.

If making abortion illegal is an impossible dream in the current political environment, what is plan B? Plan B has to be working with politicians of any stripe, including pro-abortion-rights politicians, in supporting programs that will reduce the number of abortions.

The bishops must reach out to all politicians and groups who are willing to support programs that help women keep and raise their children. It is possible to agree with politicians on some things and disagree with them on other things. Simply aligning the church with Republican politicians, who promise to do something about abortion but then cut programs that help women, is a failed strategy. Instead of making things better, it makes them worse.Plan B means returning to the consistent ethic of life promoted by the bishops in the past.

Some bishops will reject such a strategy as pragmatic and not prophetic. But we live in an imperfect world. Granted the impossible dream of making abortion illegal, then the moral imperative is to do everything possible to reduce the number of abortions.

The bishops also need to put aside tactics that are counterproductive. Using excessive rhetoric, like comparing the president to Adolf Hitler or Joseph Stalin or accusing the administration of waging war on religion, makes it difficult to form coalitions to reach achievable goals.

Banning pro-abortion-rights Catholic politicians or Catholic voters from Communion is counterproductive. Such banning is not the official position of the church, but enough bishops are doing it (and few bishops are criticizing the practice) that many see it as church policy. Any time you have to use power rather than persuasion in a political debate, you have lost. It also reinforces seeing abortion as a Catholic issue based on faith rather than a human rights issue based on reason.

Banning pro-abortion-rights politicians and gay-marriage supporters from Catholic universities is also counterproductive. It makes the bishops look weak rather than strong. It tells the world that the bishops think their arguments are so weak they cannot allow students to hear their opponents. Any strategy based on censorship rather than persuasion has failed before aword is spoken. The church should be on the side of free and open debate because "Catholic tradition maintains," in the words of Benedict XVI, "that the objective norms governing right action are accessible to reason, prescinding from the content of revelation."

I do not claim to have an infallible strategy for the bishops, but after such a momentous defeat, it is time for the bishops to re-examine their political strategy. The current strategy is not working, and there is no indication it will work any better in the future.

[Jesuit Fr. Thomas J. Reese is a senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University.]

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Homily - "All In: St. Damien, widows"

Click here to listen to Sunday's homily by Fr. Paul from the Diocese of Honolulu who graciously brought the relic of St. Damien to our student Mass this past Sunday night.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Homily - "Faith seeking understanding"

Congratulations to our campus minister, Amy West, who got engaged last night to Dave the Newman Center!  Thanks, Dave, for allowing us to be a part of your huge moment.  We are so happy for both of you!!

Click here to listen to Sunday's homily.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Friday, November 02, 2012

"They can make contributions and, above all, they can pray"

After Sandy, 'people need everything,' says Catholic Charities official

New York

The damage from the wind, rain and flooding brought by Hurricane Sandy "is almost overwhelming," said Msgr. Kevin Sullivan, executive director of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York.
"We're reaching out to parishes and getting them to directly assist those in critical need -- they know their own people and their neighborhoods," he told Catholic News Service on Wednesday.
Several Catholic agencies and religious communities have stepped forward to address the greatest needs of victims of the super storm.

"Reaching out to parishes and other communities and neighborhoods is imperative at this point," Sullivan explained. "The response on the parish level has been tremendous. We're also working very, very closely with several municipal, state and private agencies, including Red Cross, to figure out the best way to respond to this disaster."

When New York state and New York City were preparing for Sandy's unprecedented onslaught, emergency responders had met with Sullivan and Catholic Charities to plan how to best utilize its resources and personnel after the storm.

"We've been in conversation with dozens of governmental agencies and made sure we put our staff in place. We have a lot of social work case managers who are trained to deal with emergencies like this," the priest said.

"They know how to get greater access to available services to those in need," he said. "Many people suffering through disasters fall through the gaps. Our staff is in place to make sure that doesn't happen. We found this is the best way to work with victims in this situation."

Sandy, which made landfall Monday in New Jersey, caused flooding, power outages, downed trees and other calamities over a large swath of the East Coast and into the Midwest. As of Thursday, the U.S. death toll from the storm stood at 74 people and more than 5.6 million homes and businesses were still without power.

Cleanup and repair in New York City were going forward after the storm, but only so much could be done with more than 500,000 New Yorkers living without electricity and without the use of the nation's largest subway system.

"The greatest need is in southern Manhattan, the Long Island shore, Far Rockaway, the Bronx, large parts of Staten Island, and large parts of Brooklyn," Sullivan said. "The power outages and lack of transportation are compounding the already bad situation. These people need everything -- food, shelter, clothing, communications, medical care, legal assistance -- every conceivable need. We're doing our best."

A chief concern for Catholic Charities is making sure that services to the people it already serves on a daily basis continues unabated especially its year-round services to the homeless, children, the poor, the elderly, infirmed and disabled.

"Those who needed it were evacuated to shelters to better care for them. Sometimes there were public facilities and sometimes our own in areas unaffected by Sandy," the priest said. "Those who are most vulnerable need the most care especially those with physical and emotional challenges. Where necessary, they are evacuated to safer situations."

"We are coordinating by parishes, but the Holy Spirit is doing most of the coordinating," Sullivan
said with a chuckle.

In addition to the assistance Catholic Charities is providing, he urged lay Catholics to "reach out to their neighbors on a one-to-one basis. We are grateful for all our parishioners who are reaching out to those in need, driving neighbors to shelters and just checking up on people."

"If they're capable, they should volunteer at shelters. They can make contributions and, above all, they can pray. There's a lot of need. There are a lot of people who are hurting especially because of the power outages."

Sullivan said Catholics "are concerned and those who are capable of lending a hand are doing so." He told of a parishioner at St. Augustine in Ossining in Westchester County, north of New York City, "who is organizing other parishioners in going door-to-door to check up on their neighbors and the elderly in the town making sure they have everything they need."

"Our staff has already visited 17 of Staten Island's 35 parishes," the priest said. "There's tremendous need out there and throughout New York City. In fact, we're working closely with United Jewish Appeal and the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies in making sure those in need are served."

In addition to Catholic Charities, other Catholic organizations are offering disaster relief to storm victims, including the Knights of Malta.

The Knights have "traditionally offered emergency aid, assistance, relief to those in need. We usually assist in Africa and other impoverished areas around the world just like Red Cross does," said police Sgt. Angelo A. Sedacca, 41, a Knight of Malta since 2006. "Now we're needed here in New York City in the aftermath of Sandy."

He expected that by Friday, "we'll have a better idea of what we in the Knight community are doing in response to this disaster.

"A Knight must always be mindful of "making sacrifices to help others, never saying 'no' to those in need," he told CNS.

Sedacca, his wife and their four children are members of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in the New York borough of Queens, in the Brooklyn Diocese.

"This is the secret of life: putting God first, others second and myself last," the sergeant added. "This emergency is exceptional. I've never seen anything like this but with God's grace and love, New Yorkers will get through it."

Want to help?
Catholic Charities USA is accepting cash donations as it develops its response to the victims of Hurricane Sandy.

Donations can be made online at the Catholic Charities USA website at
Donations also can be made by calling toll-free (800) 919-9338 or by mail to P.O. Box 17066, Baltimore, MD 21297-1066.

The Alexandria, Va.-based agency has begun working with state and local government disaster response agencies and charitable groups to meet emergency needs in communities in New Jersey and
New York devastated by the late October storm.

A statement from the agency also said that assessments were under way to determine how the agency can best respond.

Several dioceses across the United States also have initiated collections of cash and emergency supplies for East Coast storm victims. Check with your local diocesan Catholic Charities agency if you desire to provide assistance.

--Catholic News Service