Monday, December 31, 2007

Farewell Uncle Angelo

Today we buried my uncle at the age of 87 in New Jersey. He was the husband of my aunt – my father’s sister.

During World War 2 he was a gunner on B-17’s flying over Europe. At the wake, there was a photo of him holding a .50 cal. Machine gun. The photo was taken in Utah during his basic training. A great photo of him.

After his discharge, he married my aunt and had two children – one is a lawyer and the other an accountant. He was a member of the local Knights of Columbus council – 4th Degree.

The funeral home did a very professional job. The priest and the deacon did a wonderful job. At the cemetery, the Air Force provided a Burial Detail/Honor Guard – a Senior Airman and an Airman Basic – to fold and present the colors to my aunt.

For me, that is when it became the saddest – when the Senior Airman presented the colors to my aunt “On behalf of the President of the United States, the Secretary of Defense, and a grateful nation as a token of appreciation for the honorable and faithful service rendered by your loved one.”

As we were walking back to the cars, my father (a World War 2 veteran himself) asked about the Burial Detail. I informed him that all veterans are eligible for this ceremony, including him when the time comes (and I hope that is not for many years).

It is my understanding that over 1500 World War 2 veterans die each day in the US.

As we close the year, let us take a moment to thank God for those who have served and to ask Him to watch over those who currently serve.

Armed Services Prayer

O God, almighty and most gracious, we acknowledge your dominion on earth and in the heavens, and the infinite love manifest in your relationship with all people. As the Creator you have made the world and invited us to share in its development; as the Redeemer, you saved the world and invited us to participate in its salvation.

Give to the men and women of the Armed Services the wisdom and courage to so live and sacrifice that, with justice maintained and true liberty safeguarded, all people everywhere may be possessed of that peace which you alone can give. As they are called to engage in dangerous missions, be with them, their constant support and their ultimate goal. May they know your continuous care and protection as they give of themselves that others may know security and peace. Amen.

Our Lady, Queen of Peace, pray for us!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

I proclaim to you good news of great joy...

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole world should be enrolled. This was the first enrollment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria. So all went to be enrolled, each to his own town. And Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth to Judea, to the city of David that is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. While they were there,the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to her firstborn son.She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields and keeping the night watch over their flock. The angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were struck with great fear. The angel said to them,“Do not be afraid;for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Christ and Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel,praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highestand on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

Luke 2:1-14

Editors Note: I am going to take a couple of days off. You will see me back just before the New Year.

Monday, December 24, 2007

The President visits the Jeanne Jugan Residence (Little Sisters of the Poor)

Although this story has not received any press other than the Catholic Standard, it is important to recognize when the President of the US (and the First Lady) visit a Catholic institution. In this case, it was the Jeanne Jugan Residence for the poor and elderly run by the Little Sisters of the Poor.

Among his messages was the one of helping others – sometimes it is just looking out for the person next door, other times is volunteering. If you can, do both. Find an organization in which you can not only put your skills to work but that you enjoy working with. And make certain that it fits in with our faith.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Christmas Stamps

Each year, in early December, I head over to the US Post Office (USPS) to pick up Christmas stamps. Mind you, I do not pick up the regular Christmas stamps, I pick up the religous ones -- the Madonna and Child. Now, I don't just pick up 50 or 60, just enough for the Christmas cards, I pick up about 300 or so.

Yes, I did say 300 or so.

I do so for two reasons. First, the USPS is a business (okay, maybe most of us do not think of it in that manner). The more of a particular type of product they sell, it may help to guarantee it will continue to be produced.

Second, it sends two messages. The first message is that Christ is the reason for the season. The second is that Christ is the reason all year round. When you put a Christmas stamp on a letter in May or June, it is just another reminder of that second message.

So, the next time you go to the Post Office, pick up a couple of extra Christmas (Madonna and Child ones) stamps.

Now, for a little Christmas stamp humor (again, one of those emails that I have received about 4 times already):

A blonde went into the post office to buy stamps for her Christmas cards.

She asked the clerk, "May I have 50 Christmas stamps?"

The clerk said, "What denomination?"

The blonde says, "God help us. Has it come to this? Give me six Catholic, twelve Presbyterian, ten Lutheran and twenty-two Baptist!"

Thursday, December 20, 2007

A Little Humor - Part II

A while back, I had posted some humorous stuff floating on the web entitled: Secret Catholic Stuff. I posted half of it and then lost the original email. So, having gotten the email again, here is the rest.

Remember, a good laugh is healthy.



INCENSE: Holy Smoke!

JESUITS: An order of priests known for their ability to find colleges with good basketball teams.

JONAH: The original "Jaws" story.

JUSTICE: When kids have kids of their own.

KYRIE ELE ISON: The only Greek words that most Catholics can recognize besides gyros and baklava. (For you non-Catholics it means "Lord have mercy".)

MAGI: The most famous trio to attend a baby shower.

MANGER: Where Mary gave birth to Jesus because Joseph wasn't covered by an HMO. (The Bible's way of showing us that holiday travel has always been rough.)

PEW: A medieval torture device still found in Catholic churches.

PROCESSION: The ceremonial formation at the beginning of Mass consisting of altar servers, the celebrant, and late parishioners looking for seats.

RECESSIONAL: The ceremonial procession at the conclusion of Mass led by parishioners trying to beat the crowd to the parking lot.

RELICS: People who have been going to Mass for so long, they actually know hen to sit, kneel, and stand.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

MCC Legislative Activity for Non-Public Schools - Part IV

In the last three parts, I outlined what the Maryland Catholic Conference (MCC) intends to do and my view of our State Senator and Delegates.

So, I guess some of you are saying: What do you think we should do? So, here are my thoughts...

1. If you really think that lobbying them will make a difference, feel free to do so but you are wasting your time. However, I do think that meeting with those who have supported us in the past is a very good thing. It shows them that we remember who are friends are.

2. The MCC needs to make the it clear to every parent, every brother/sister (of voting age) and every grandparent of a child enrolled in Catholic school (elementary and high school): Madaleno, Sol Guiterrez and Waldreicher are not friends of Catholic schools. Voting for them means you are voting against any sort of tax relief for you or funding of any aspect of education in Catholic schools.

3. The MCC must remind all parishioners of all parishes, and especially those with a Catholic school, that many Catholic schools are not self-supporting. Tuition cannot cover all of the expenses. They cannot make it on their own without support from the local parish. Therefore, if you decide to vote to any of these politicians, you are voting against any relief of your Catholic school.

4. The MCC must remind these representatives that if they want our support on any issues, they need to start showing some support for our Catholic schools. And that does not mean throwing us some crumbs - a $500 tax credit here or there. That means supporting our agenda -- at least 75% of what we want. Without it, we will do everything we can to remind Catholics, in every single parish, that you are no friends of the Catholic faith and that they should think twice about voting for you.

5. Catholics need to start to vote against these guys and not just blindly flip the switch. To be quite honest, the Democratic Party of today is not the party of my father. It is a pro-abortion, pro-homosexual and an anti-Catholic party. (Actually, anti-conservative Christian.)

If that does not work, then I think that the MCC should begin to organize groups to protest them (legally -- no illegal activities) at ribbon cutting ceremonies, town hall meetings, etc.

I think it would be wonderful to have photos plastered in the Washington Post, NBC, etc. showing a couple of hundred uniformed Catholic school children with signs saying that politician X is no friend of children, that they don't care about us, etc.

I think it is time to start to take the gloves off as they say.

What do you think?

Monday, December 17, 2007

MCC Legislative Activity for Non-Public Schools - Part III

As in the last two postings, I have been discussing my take on the MCC Legislative Activity for Non-Public Schools. So, let me continue my take on our Delegates.

Rep. Ana Sol Gutierrez has never attended one of the Non-Public School Meetings. To me, she seems to care more about illegal aliens (not "undocumented immigrants" which is the PC version used by the Maryland Catholic Conference) than about citizens. She is looking for that illegal alien vote in Mont. County and that is not too difficult to get with the ways the election laws are structured and their enforcement. If I am correct, has never supported any of these pieces of legislation. (However, if I am wrong, please let me know and I will set the record straight.) Do you really think she is going to start now?

Rep. Jeff Waldreicher is new to the delegation. During the primaries, I received a piece of campaign literature from him at the local metro stop. (For those who don't know, Metro is like the NYC Subway, only on a much smaller but more expensive scale.) It stated that he intended to keep abortion safe for all women and called all of those on the Pro-Life side, "radical extremists". In addition, he is the Chair of NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland. Do you really think he is going to give tax breaks to Catholic schools in Maryland?

More in Part IV

Saturday, December 15, 2007

MCC Legislative Activity for Non-Public Schools Announcement - Part II

As mentioned in my last posting, the Maryland Catholic Conference (MCC) issued a statement on lobbying our legislators for a number of items in the upcoming session.

My take on it is that this is nice but really ineffective. Let's look at the "cast of characters" as they say.

Sen. Madaleno is living in a homosexual relationship. He may not advertise it like Ellen DeGeneris or Elton John, but he does not hide it. He is a member of the LGBT group in the Maryland Assembly. So, do you really think he is going to support funding for Catholic schools.

More importantly, about two or three years ago, I attended one of these town hall style meetings in which the MCC invites legislators to meet with parents of non-public school children. (Note that anyone can attend, this is not restricted.) The sessions usually leads off with a PowerPoint slide presentation reviewing how much money private schools save the state and what other states are doing to support private schools. At this particular session, Madaleno attended. At the time, he was a delegate.

That night, he was asked about using tobacco money (the settlement money from lawsuits against the cigarette manufactures) for non-public schools. He stated that the did not like to use money that would be spent on reducing tobacco deaths and health care for this issue. When pressed further, he was asked if tobacco money was not involved, would he still feel the same way. Realizing that he had been caught, he admitted that he was against the entire idea of giving back money to private school parents. Since we have the option to send our children to public schools, and we did not, then that is our decision and the public schools should not suffer because of that.

In addition, he was asked if he knew that parents who home schooled their children received a textbook credit, so why couldn't Catholic schools get the same? Since he did not know this, he wanted to check more into it. I wrote to him on three separate occasions about this. No reply.

More in Part III

Thursday, December 13, 2007

MCC Legislative Activity for Non-Public Schools Announcement - Part I

Recently, I received a notice from the Maryland Catholic Conference (MCC). It is abbreviated below:

Maryland Legislative Activity for
Non-Public Schools - November 2007

The Maryland general assembly will meet for the 2008 legislative session in January. With current state budget problems, funding programs for Catholic schools will be as difficult as ever to secure. We need your support to keep the following issues, identified by the Maryland Catholic Conference, in the forefront for our legislators to consider:

Textbook/Technology funding: currently funded at $4 million (approx. $22/student for St. John’s school) for fiscal year 2007-08. Ask legislators to restore a previous allocation of $6 million (approx. $30/student) or, at least, to maintain the current allocation for the 2008-09 school year.

Quality Teacher Incentive Tax Credit: This is a $1,500 state income tax credit currently available to public school teachers to offset cost of coursework needed to maintain or advance certification. Ask legislators to extend this benefit to non-public school teachers as a straightforward matter of equity.

BOAST Maryland Tax Credit (Building Opportunities for All Students and Teachers in Maryland): This program would provide state income tax credit to businesses that donate to programs that benefit all of Maryland’s students and teachers – public and private. A similar program in Pennsylvania has been very successful in providing funds for Catholic schools.

Senator: Richard S. Madaleno, Jr.

Delegates: Ana Sol Gutierrez and Jeff Waldreicher. One delegate position is open due to the death of Jane Lawton.

Now, it is great that they want to lobby these folks, but let's be real about these legislators: They are no friends of Catholic schools.

More about this in Part II

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Rot from Within (continues...)

A few days ago, I posted about the reasons why I believe that the Catholic Church in the Washington DC area has not fought or even mentioned the Transgender Bill in the People's Republic of Montgomery County.

Part of my call on the Archbishop to get rid of the rot within the Church is due to the story that has made the news over the last two weeks. This is from The Navy Times:

An HIV-positive Catholic Navy chaplain was sentenced Thursday to no more than two years in the brig for sexual misconduct with several men including an enlisted Marine, an Air Force officer and two Naval Academy midshipmen.

In the end, Lee pleaded guilty to two counts of sodomy, one count of aggravated assault, three counts of conduct unbecoming an officer, two counts of failure to obey a lawful order, and three lesser charges.

I really do not want to get into all of the disgusting details, but this not something that just happened when he entered the military as a chaplain. This guy is a repeat offender! He has been involved in this type of activity for many years.

I hate to say this, and am ashamed to, but he was without a doubt involved in this sort of activity in the seminary. Where were the Seminary Rector and Spiritual Director on this? You mean no one had heard anything about this type of behavior? Or maybe they heard about it and looked the other way? Maybe worse.

The Archdiocese for the Military Services and the Archdiocese of Washington may get away with saying that the first they heard about this only a few weeks ago, when he (Fr. Lee) informed them that he was under investigation for sexual misconduct. They may get away legally with saying that they had received no prior allegations about this behavior, but I doubt very highly that they knew nothing about his behavior. As I said earlier, this is not something that just happened overnight. There were probably rumors and talk going on for years, but no one said a word or did anything.

As terrible and horrible those who have abused children, this one - actively homosexual priests - is rotting the Church from within.

It is time for our prelates to clean house and to get rid of the rot within. If they can't, then they know what the honorable thing to do is.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

The Rot Within.

A few weeks ago, I posted a blog about the Montgomery County Transgender Bill. For a couple of days I kept asking, "Where was the Church? Why haven't they opposed this?"

Nothing was publicized by the Maryland Catholic Conference.

There was nothing in the Catholic Standard (the "official" newspaper of the Archdiocese of Washington).

There was no statement by the Archbishop.

There was no statement in my parish bulletin.

Nothing, Nada, Zip.

When I asked a good friend of mine about this, he said, "The reason they are saying nothing is because they are hiding them." I thought about this, but said nothing.

A few days later, I was talking to another friend, someone who would know about such things. When I asked him about this he said: "They (the bishops, the Catholic press, etc.) have not said anything because they are scared that if they come out against this, there will be priests who are outed because they either do it or have relations with those who do."

When will Archbishop Wuerl come clean on this matter? When will Bishop Laverde (Arlington) come clean? When will Cardinals Egan (NY) and Mahoney (LA) come clean? When will they all come clean?

This, my friends, is the rot from within. There are a number of priests who are active homosexuals.

When will they get rid of the rot within?

Friday, December 7, 2007

Remember Pearl Harbor

On this day in 1941, Pearl Harbor was attacked and marked entry of the US into World War 2. (Yes, I know the formal declaration would come later.)

In 1994, I had the opportunity to visit the Battleship Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor. What I remember so vividly is that oil still rises from the tomb of all those who died when it capsized. A reminder to all those who visit that we should never forget.

On this day, let's once again take a moment to remember those who died on that day and all those who have died since protecting our freedoms.

PS: Remember, December 8th is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. It is a Holy Day of Obligation and since it falls on a Saturday, no excuses.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Philly Boy Scouts Update...

Did you know that the Boy Scouts of Philly built the building they are currently in and gave it to the City of Philly? Did you know that they have an agreement with the city that they only pay $1 per year in perpetuity?

I just found this information out. Isn't that interesting.

Maybe the Boy Scouts should ask for the building back.

Maybe a good old fashioned lawsuit is in order here.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Stand Firm Philly Boy Scouts, Stand Firm!

The Cradle of Liberty Council of the Boy Scouts of America have decided to ignore the City of Philadelphia call to renounce their policy on homosexuals. Because of that, they will be required to pay the City of Philly $200,000 per year in rent on the property they are using as their offices. This will take effect on June 1, 2008.

As you know, the Boy Scouts, as a private organization, may exclude those who do not abide by their rules/beliefs, such as gays, atheists and agnostics from employment or volunteer positions. This decision was upheld by the Supreme Court in 2000.

Since that time, many local (esp. liberal) governments have done whatever they can to remove the Boy Scouts from their property or exclude them -- including use of various facilities. For example, right here in our own People's Republic of Montgomery County, the MoCo school administration banned fliers from being distributed to student about Scouting. This was fought by the National Capital Area Council - BSA and they won! Now, the MoCo Public Schools must distribute Scouting fliers along with ever other group.

How did they do it? It was because the Republicans in the Congress helped to pass the Support Our Scouts Act to protect Scouting groups from being denied access to public facilities in response to their stance on homosexuality. After some letters (and maybe the threat of a lawsuit?), the MoCo Public Schools sent out a note to all principals about this. It took a while to get this word out but the word is out.

Now, let me get back to the Philly situation for a moment. I wonder if the Philly government has thought about all of the money that the Boy Scouts save them by providing service projects, such as litter pick-up, building bird boxes, etc. I bet it is much more than the $200,000 they wish to charge. Maybe the Scouts in Philly should direct their service projects to organizations that support their beliefs and ideals and not the local government. Let's see who really benefits in the end.

Now for those of you who say, who cares, recently, the some members (two adults and four boys) of the Cub Scout Pack sponsored by my parish participated in a litter clean up. Each spent apx. 2 hours at this task. Even if it is calculated at 6 hours of labor, how much money did they save our local government? If you figure $20 per hour (wages and benefits), that equals $120. Multiply that hundreds of times over the year and it is a "pretty penny."

The Boy Scouts are one of the last groups to stand firm on these issues. I congratulate them and am proud to be among those who can call themselves a Boy Scout.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

As we move more and more closer to the primaries for US president, the issue of the denial of communion by a priest has once again come into question.

In the Archdiocese of Washington, Cardinal McCarrick 9the former archbishop) was adamant regarding the administering of the Eurcharist to politicians who support abortion. My understanding that is it is up to the communicant to be in a state of grace for him or her to decide to receive communion. It is not up to the priest.

Unfortunately, Archbishop Wuerl has decided to keep this policy in place. This I disagree with him wholeheartedly.

Now, why do I bring up this subject? because I came across a reference (and I am not certain where) to the following article published in the PERIODICA DE RE CANONICA vol. 96 (2007) pag. 3-58 entitled: The Discipline Regarding the Denial of Holy Communion to Those Obstinately Persevering in Manifest Grave Sin by R. L. BURKE.

Who is R.L Burke? Why he is the Archbishop of St. Louis who stated that he would not give communion to John Kerry in the 2004 election.

(Now there are many more people out there who are more knowledgable about this subject than I am, so if you feel that I am in error, please feel free to write to me and we can discuss the issue.)

After reading though the article, I think that the conclusions presented speak the most to the average catholic.

What conclusions can be drawn from the study of the history of the canonical discipline of denying Holy Communion to those who obstinately persist in public grave sin?

First of all, the consistent canonical discipline permits the administering of the Sacrament of Holy Communion only to those who are properly disposed externally, and forbids it to those who are not so disposed, prescinding from the question of their internal disposition, which cannot be known with certainty."

Secondly, the discipline is required by the invisible bond of communion which unites us to God and to one another. The person who obstinately remains in public and grievous sin is appropriately presumed by the Church to lack the interior bond of communion, the state of grace, required to approach worthily the reception of the Holy Eucharist.

Thirdly, the discipline is not penal but has to do with the safeguarding of the objective and supreme sanctity of the Holy Eucharist and with caring for the faithful who would sin gravely against the Body and Blood of Christ, and for the faithful who would be led into error by such sinful reception of Holy Communion.

Fourthly, the discipline applies to any public conduct which is gravely sinful, that is, which violates the law of God in a serious matter. Certainly, the public support of policies and laws which, in the teaching of the Magisterium, are in grave violation of the natural moral law falls under the discipline.

Fifthly, the discipline requires the minister of Holy Communion to forbid the Sacrament to those who are publicly unworthy. Such action must not be precipitous. The person who sins gravely and publicly must, first, be cautioned not to approach to receive Holy Communion. The memorandum, "Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion", of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, in its fifth principle, gives the perennial pastoral instruction in the matter. This, in fact, is done effectively in a pastoral conversation with the person, so that the person knows that he is not to approach to receive Holy Communion and, therefore, the distribution of Holy Communion does not become an occasion of conflict. It must also be recalled that "no ecclesiastical authority may dispense the minister of Holy Communion from this obligation in any case, nor may he emanate directives that contradict it."

Finally, the discipline must be applied in order to avoid serious scandal, for example, the erroneous acceptance of procured abortion against the constant teaching of the moral law. No matter how often a Bishop or priest repeats the teaching of the Church regarding procured abortion, if he stands by and does nothing to discipline a Catholic who publicly supports legislation permitting the gravest of injustices and, at the same time, presents himself to receive Holy Communion, then his teaching rings hollow. To remain silent is to permit serious confusion regarding a fundamental truth of the moral law. Confusion, of course, is one of the most insidious fruits of scandalous behavior.

But what I think is just as important...

Catholics in public office bear an especially heavy burden of responsibility to uphold the moral law in the exercise of their office which is exercised for the common good, especially the good of the innocent and defenseless. When they fail, they lead others, Catholics and non-Catholics alike, to be deceived regarding the evils of procured abortion and other attacks on innocent and defenseless human life, on the integrity of human procreation, and on the family.