Sunday, January 31, 2010

Satan is as real as You and I are

But, He doesn't Want You to Believe It

Sancte Pater blog has a great posting on a presentation by Archibishop Charles Chaput of Denver, CO to the Emmanuel Community's annual symposium in Rom.  It is too good to just provide a link, so here is what that blog posting said:
.- On Wednesday, the Emmanuel Community's annual symposium in Rome was addressed by Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver, who spoke on the task of evangelizing the modern culture and what he called religious leaders' embarrassment to discuss the existence of Satan.
The American archbishop spoke for half an hour at the Pontifical Lateran University to an audience ranging from college students to people in their 70s. His speech, entitled, “The Prince of this World and the Evangelization of Culture,” was part of a symposium that lasted from Jan. 25-27 and was dedicated to looking at "Priests and Laity in the Mission."
Archbishop Chaput began his talk by reflecting on the human desire for beauty and transcendence.
“We are creatures made for heaven; but we are born of this earth. We love the beauty of this world; but we sense there is something more behind that beauty. Our longing for that 'something' pulls us outside of ourselves,” he said.
Examining what God enabled man to do when He created him, the Denver archbishop observed that “God licenses us to know, love and ennoble the world through the work of human genius. Our creativity as creatures is an echo of God's own creative glory.”
But “we live in a time when, despite all of our achievements, the brutality and indifference of the world have never been greater,” the archbishop underscored as he surveyed the modern culture that Christians are called to evangelize.
In his estimation, “God has never been more absent from the Western mind than he is today. We live in an age when almost every scientific advance seems to be matched by some increase of cruelty in our entertainment, cynicism in our politics, ignorance of the past, consumer greed, little genocides posing as 'rights' like the cult of abortion, and a basic confusion about what – if anything at all – it means to be 'human.'”
Archbishop Chaput then warned of the dangers of creative genius, saying that our human accomplishments can lure us into a “will to power” within politics and science and an “impulse to pride” within art and high culture.
“Genius breeds vanity. And vanity breeds suffering and conflict.”
The roots of this vanity, explained the archbishop, can be traced back to the very first “non serviam” that Satan uttered.
Reflecting on the hesitancy of religious leaders to speak about Satan, Archbishop Chaput said, “It is very odd that in the wake of the bloodiest century in history – a century when tens of millions of human beings were shot, starved, gassed and incinerated with superhuman ingenuity – even many religious leaders are embarrassed to talk about the devil.”
“In fact,” he observed, “it is more than odd. It is revealing.”
“Mass murder and exquisitely organized cruelty are not just really big 'mental health' problems,” he continued. “They are sins that cry out to heaven for justice, and they carry the fingerprints of an Intelligence who is personal, gifted, calculating and powerful.”
The archbishop recalled that in the late 1920s, as “the great totalitarian murder-regimes began to rise up in Europe,” Raissa Maritain wrote an essay, “The Prince of This World,” in which she described Satan's works: “
“Lucifer has cast the strong though invisible net of illusion upon us. He makes one love the passing moment above eternity, uncertainty above truth. He persuades us that we can only love creatures by making Gods of them. He lulls us to sleep (and he interprets our dreams); he makes us work. Then does the spirit of man brood over stagnant waters. Not the least of the devil's victories is to have convinced artists and poets that he is their necessary, inevitable collaborator and the guardian of their greatness. Grant him that, and soon you will grant him that Christianity is unpracticable. Thus does he reign in this world.”
The archbishop added: “If we do not believe in the devil, sooner or later we will not believe in God.” The devil is “the first author of pride and rebellion, and the great seducer of man. Without him the Incarnation and Redemption do not make sense, and the cross is meaningless.”
“Satan is real. There is no way around this simple truth.”
Archbishop Chaput then praised Pope Benedict XVI for his commitment throughout the years to speak often and forcefully against the “culture of relativism” and called on the Catholic faithful to fulfill what he believes is their primary vocation.
“We have an obligation as Catholics to study and understand the world around us,” the archbishop said. “We have a duty not just to penetrate and engage it, but to convert it to Jesus Christ. That work belongs to all of us equally: clergy, laity and religious.”
“We are missionaries,” he continued. “That is our primary vocation; it is hardwired into our identity as Christians. God calls each of us to different forms of service in his Church. But we are all equal in baptism. And we all share the same mission of bringing the Gospel to the world, and bringing the world to the Gospel.”
Archbishop Chaput concluded his address by encouraging the faithful to have no fear in approaching what some may view as a daunting task.“We should not be afraid to believe and to love; it took even a great saint like Augustine half a lifetime to be able to admit, that 'late have I loved thee, Beauty so old and so new; late have I loved thee.'”
“God calls us to leave here today and make disciples of all nations,” exhorted the prelate. “But he calls us first to love him. If we do that, and do it zealously, with all our hearts – the rest will follow.”
Click here to read about the archbishop's Q & A session following the address.
If you can prove that Satan is not real, go ahead and give it your best shot.  I have seen him in person, and it is a time I will never forget.  He appeared in my bedroom three times on one particular night, and I have never known such a horrible feeling as that night.  Let me tell you, he's not your friend.

People of the Year - #6

From Inside the Vatican

Each year for the past 10 years, Inside the Vatican has chosen 10 "People of the Year" -- men and women of courage, vision, learning and faith.

I find myself unable to write currently, and so in my desire to bring Freedom Through Truth, will be bringing to you things that I have seen and admire for their veracity.

Here is the sixth member of that illustrious group.

Mother Tek­la Famiglietti
Even if only for the salvation of just one soul, who otherwise might never have been able to meet Christ, the opening of a new house would be thoroughly worthwhile.”—Mother Tek­la Famiglietti, General Abbess of the Bridgettine Order

As 2010 begins, important anniversaries have recently marked or will soon mark the life of the Order of the Most Holy Saviour of St. Bridget (in Latin Ordo Sanctissimi Salvatoris Sanctae Brigittae, O.SS.S.), popularly known as the Bridgettine or Birgittine Order, after the name of its foundress, St. Bridget (or Birgitta) of Sweden (1303-1373).

The anniversaries began almost three years ago, on April 24, 2007, with the 50th anniversary of the “pious transit” (passing away) of Blessed Mother Maria Elisabeth Hesselblad in Rome in 1957.
More recently, Oc­tober 1, 2009, marked the 10th an­niversary of the proclamation in 1999 of St. Bridget as Copatroness of Europe.
Coming up, April 24, 2010, will mark the 10th anniversary of the beatification of Blessed Mother Hesselblad.
Finally, September 8, 2011, will mark the 100th anniversary of Blessed Mother Hesselblad’s re-establishment in 1911 of the Swedish branch of the Bridgettine Order after a gap of several centuries.
Many good and propitious developments in the Church go unreported. The phenomenal expansion of the Bridgettine Order, especially in the Third World, under the guidance of the present General Abbess, Mother Tekla Famiglietti, is one such story.

Under the direction of Mother Tekla Famiglietti, head of the Order for almost 30 years now, since 1979, no less than 16 new houses have been opened around the world, most recently in Cuba, the Philippines and Indonesia. The Order is presently active in Europe, and more exactly in Italy (Rome, Farfa Sabina, Assisi, Naples-Camaldoli), Sweden (Djursholm, Falun), Norway (Heimdal), Finland (Turku, Stella Maris), Denmark (Maribo), Estonia (Tallinn), Poland (Czestochowa, Gdansk), Germany (Bremen), the Netherlands (Weert), England (Iver Heath, Birmingham and Holywell in Wales), and Switzerland (Lugano). The Order is also present in the Middle East, both in Palestine (Bethlehem) and in Israel (Jerusalem), and in Asia, especially in India (Marikunnu, Bangalore, Kalamassery, Pallavaram, Mysore, Nantoor, Trivandrum, Puttur, Sipcot, Goa, Chikmagalur, Kurnool, Belgaum, Mumbai, Kannur, Amachal), and in the Philippines (Tagaytay, Montevista), in Indonesia (Bali, Maumere). The Order is also present in the United States (Darien, Connecticut, Tel. (203) 655-1068. E-Mail: and in two countries of Central America, Mexico (Tacambaro, Mexico City, La Paz, Colima, Guadalajara) and Cuba (Havana).
Today some 700 Bridgettine sisters are scattered in 50 religious houses, with an average of 30 new vocations every year, about 4% growth per year.

As a sign of the increasing importance of Asia for the Order’s apostolate, Mother Tekla told us when we met that she was about to leave for India for several weeks to visit her numerous houses.

This presence in India began in the 1930s. On April 10, 1937, 12 sisters (there is a significant precedent for this number in the history of the Church!) left from Brindisi to go to Malabar.
Interestingly, Mother Hesselblad, who would have led the group herself had her health not already been compromised, on that occasion reminded her nuns that the eastern vocation was deeply rooted in the Order, dating as far back as its first foundation under St. Bridget. In fact the first Indian sister, Maria Caterina from the East (familiarly called Maria Caterina the Black in the Order), joined St. Bridget and her daughter Caterina first in Naples and then in Rome. After the former’s death, the Indian sister decided to accompany the daughter on her way back to Sweden to bury Bridget’s mortal remains and finally entered as nun the newly-built convent in Vadstena, where she conducted a holy life which ended with a holy death.

But how was this expansion achieved? Certainly it cannot but be the result of a sound accomplishment of their charisma and vocation.
On the Order’s web site, such charisma is described as “the happy synthesis of active and contemplative life, based on the meditation of the Word of God, on the apostolate and religious formation, and on a profound Christ-centric spirit, having Christ as the fulcrum of ecclesial life with the consequent emphasis on the importance of the Eucharist.”
Asked about whether the Asian territories were difficult locations for new houses, Mother Tekla agreed in principle, although pointing out that they were “not impossible,” because “everywhere the people are eager for the presence of religious sisters and for words coming out from the mouth of religious sisters.” 
Each person is today in search of values “and with a religious sister they open their heart to dialogue and start asking questions,” thus revealing what Mother Tekla calls “their hidden treasure.” As a matter of fact, she points out, “they start dealing with God, yes, exactly with God, and want to know, to figure out, to see how much you know, and this is wonderful.”
Because in so doing, she concludes, “they may even say things that are private to a certain extent, but end up opening their heart to God. And this a real grace of God.” —Alberto Carosa

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Sunny Side of the Street

Willie Nelson

Don't be afraid.  Just direct your feet to the sunny side of the street.

People of the Year - #5

From Inside the Vatican

Each year for the past 10 years, Inside the Vatican has chosen 10 "People of the Year" -- men and women of courage, vision, learning and faith.

I find myself unable to write currently, and so in my desire to bring Freedom Through Truth, will be bringing to you things that I have seen and admire for their veracity.

Here is the fifth member of that illustrious group.

Sister Giovanna Gentili
With her efficiency and cordiality, Sister Giovanna was the image of the Vatican press room for 25 years. The presence of this Pauline nun, discreet and reserved, but at the same time reliable, reassured with her kind smile those entering the Vatican press room for the first time.

Sister Giovanna, in fact, while helping a newcomer to fill in the application form for admittance to the press room, found a way to start a pleasant conversation with the newcomer, thereby putting him or her at ease immediately.

Actually, I can confirm all this, since, when I first entered the press room, it was Sister Giovanna who directed me to her desk to give me all the information I needed. I remember that she also showed me round the press room, telling me where to find the various bulletins and pointing me to the little buffet.

It was customary, I dare say even ritual, for everyone entering the main door of the press office to turn toward the right and catch Sister Giovanna’s eye for a simple hello.

“God’s post woman,” as she was affectionately called in an interview published by the diocesan weekly Vita Trentina (Life of Trent), was also entrusted with the task of getting admission tickets to Vatican events for journalists, sometimes a heavy duty when a groups of foreign journalists arrived in Rome for a ceremony, e.g., a consistory, and to be organized and directed in a few brief minutes.

In the same interview, Sister Giovanna remembered with affection the directors she had worked for: Dr. Joaquin Navarro-Valls, for whom she worked for more than 20 years, and Father Federico Lombardi, S.J., for whom she had been working since 2006.
This is what she said of Dr. Navarro-Valls: “He enjoyed the Pope’s complete confidence like no other, he was extraordinarily faithful to the Pope and had an extraordinary sense of duty: a reserved man, he cultivated a deep attitude of prayer: He read all that the Pope wrote to the point of identifying with him and being able to interpret his thoughts.” 

Of Father Lombardi, who coordinates the press room, the TV station and Vatican Radio, she said: “I am deeply impressed by his memory and intellectual faculties, as well his helpfulness with journalists.”

On July 1, 2009, Sister Giovanna left her job at the Press Office. After holding an important post for many years, she resigned amidst colleagues and journalists saying good-bye to her.
During the meeting organized to say good-bye to Sister Giovanna and thank her for her job which on  a daily basis brought her in touch with journalists accredited to the Holy See, she was awarded the Croce pro Ecclesia et Pontifice (Cross for the Church and the Pope), an honor conferred on clergy and laymen who have distinguished themselves for their service to the Church. Sister Giovanna received the cross from Archbishop Claudio Celli, President of the Pontifical Council for the media, who handed it to her on behalf of the Pope.

Celli remembered Sister Giovanna’s dedication, which won her the esteem of the Pope and the Holy See. “We must be thankful to Sister Giovanna,” said Father Lombardi, “who defined the Vatican press room as her home and community, for her long service, commitment, faithfulness, along with the attention and patience that she dedicated to the journalists accredited to the press room, resulting from her scrupulous work and extraordinary dedication, especially during the transition from one pontificate to the other.”
At the end of the ceremony Sister Giovanna, visibly moved as she had never been, thanked everybody.

We know that we will still meet her on occasion, just the period it will take her to hand over to a good successor, who, by the way, already works at the Accreditation Office. Yet we feel a bit like orphans now that she is gone. Thank you, Sister Giovanna, for guiding, protecting, and sometimes for reproaching us, not without good reason. If we have grown, it is thanks to you. —Micaela Biferali

Special note: Sister Giovanna, for more than 25 years, handled the requests, pressures and complaints of the members of the world’s media, nearly 1,000 journalists from around the world at any one time, more in moments of great historic importance. She was a “gatekeeper.” Sometimes had to keep the gates closed, and sometimes was able to open them a little bit. On all occasions, she fulfilled her duties with a dignity appropriate to her task, which was to make sure the news about the Holy Father and the Holy See was reported with as much truthfulness and clarity as possible for the sake of the Gospel. I would like  to take this opportunity to thank her personally for all she did to help Inside the Vatican over the years. Godspeed, Suor Giovanna. —Robert Moynihan 

Friday, January 29, 2010

People of the Year - #4

From Inside the Vatican

Each year for the past 10 years, Inside the Vatican has chosen 10 "People of the Year" -- men and women of courage, vision, learning and faith.

I find myself unable to write currently, and so in my desire to bring Freedom Through Truth, will be bringing to you things that I have seen and admire for their veracity.

Here is the fourth member of that illustrious group.

Don Luigi Maria Epicoco
Many of us saw him next to the Pope on that April 28th in L’Aquila, close to his young friends in front of the ruins of the “Home of the Student.”
Luigi Maria Epicoco is the young parish priest of San Giuseppe Artigiano, the university parish in this town in the region Abruzzo, which on April 6th was hit by a violent earthquake.
Dozens of building collapsed. Hundreds were trapped in the rubble. Dozens died. Many of the victims were young people, students. And they had to be buried.
Don Gino, as everybody calls him, never lost his courage. And our selection of him as one of out “Top Ten” of 2009 is really in part a selection of all those who confront a great tragedy and retain their courage and hope, and keep going.

“Communication is important,” he wrote on his blog, “not only because it keeps the attention focused on the problems, but because communication is the first way we have of sharing what we are and what we experience.”

That was the easiest and most direct way he could find of continuing his conversations with “his” young friends (55 among them are not here any more).

But there are so many others to take care of. The university parish of L’Aquila has 30.000 members, the entire pastoral activity must be reorganized. Also through the web site of the parish and through the social network Facebook with photo and posts of the students and the priests.

“We are trying to reorganize the pastoral activity in the light of what has happened. We don’t even have a pastoral geography any more. We are reconsidering the limits of the parish, because the population has moved and now lives in places which we never reached before, but which now are full of people.”

Don Luigi always uses the present tense talking about his parish and its activities and catechesis. It is a quite particular parish, a personal parish for the pastoral care of the university students. It has no defined territory. “In the entire diocese, wherever there is a university student, professor or technician, there is the parish.” And in the summer, thanks to the Erasmus program, there are the European students, so the activity never stops.

He has had to deal with the problem that his parish was scattered, but soon the activities could start again although slowly. Don Luigi tells his young parishioners that they can learn something from the earthquake.
“The earthquake taught us something that we used to preach but that we now know is true, that the Church is not made of stones but of people. The earthquake has almost forced our conversion. It has also taught us that people don’t have to come to us, but that we have to go to them. We are shepherds who must run after these lambs wherever they have been scattered.”

For Don Gino, the parish is wherever his young parishioners are. In the faculties, in the tents, in the few remaining student houses.
“Almost nobody has managed to return to the house where they lived before. The most lucky have managed to bring with them some of their things. All the free homes have been requisitioned by their owners who lived in other houses which have been damaged, or as potential homes for families which have lost everything. The university students will get their lodging after the others, and that is a pity, because the students are an entire people in L’Aquila. The ancient city centre as a matter of fact was dominated by the university. And that night it was almost empty, because the students were on their spring holidays. Otherwise it would have been a massacre.”

One particular day marked the watershed between before and after the earthquake: the Pope’s visit. On the web site of the parish, Don Luigi wrote: “The Home of the Student is now not only the macabre theater of those who have seen their future betrayed and were buried beneath those walls. But it is a reminder for those who will reconstruct, that engineering must not consist only in correct calculations but also in the awareness that life is more important than any other interest. This is what Peter’s successor did. He turned horror into an opportunity, ‘our mourning into dancing’ (PS 30:12).

“I think that the stress has helped people to deepen and mature, but also to learn to deal with this sorrow, because if you don’t, you remain in an immense frustration. So it really is an opportunity. Either this experience makes us better, or it makes us frustrated… and this is what the pastoral work is about: how to stand up in front of this sorrow.”

I asked the young pastor what his plans are now.

“Simply to allow reality to guide us instead of our pastoral programs,” he told me. “We are playing it by ear, but we are not lost. I continue to think that the Word of God and the Holy Spirit are not only beatiful words that we preach from the pulpit. They are a compass which helps us in dark moments, in the mist and in the struggle.
"I notice this now when I celebrate and when I read the Gospel, that these words are not only true, they are real, concrete, much more than beautiful. The temptation of the fear of being left alone is always there outside our door. But if Christ says that he will not leave us alone until the end of the world, he will find a way of staying with us, especially in the hour of the Cross.” —Angela Ambrogetti

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Pro-life civil disobedience in Corpus Christi, Texas

Father James Farfaglia

A baby's life was saved, and something bigger might be going on here, by way of a challenge to Roe v. Wade.

Dateline: January 20, 2010 Corpus Christi, Texas By Thomas K. Concert
Investigative reporter, South Side Sun, Corpus Christi, TX

Catholic priest mediates at abortion clinic while “medical waste” truck loads dead babies

Father James Farfaglia, pro-life priest from Corpus Christi, Texas and board member of Human Life International, found himself this morning as a mediator between an 81 year old anti-abortion protester and arresting police officers.

While Father Farfaglia was leading prayers at the Coastal Birth Control Center owned and operated by abortionist Dr. Eduardo Aquino, one of the priest’s supporters attempted to deliver a message to the center’s owner. The individual’s name is Cliff Zarsky, a veteran in the pro-life movement who was born during the Calvin Coolidge administration. Zarsky is a well known local attorney and former president of the Corpus Christi City Council. This morning the 81 year old attorney was taken to jail by police officers for “criminal trespassing.” After many years of personal legal research Zarsky now believes he has found a chink in the Supreme Court armor regarding the controversial Roe v. Wade decision.

“The Supreme Court has its own cases that upheld the protection of the unborn,” Zarsky said. Because the Supreme Court failed to refer to its own cases which reflect protecting the unborn as human persons, Zarsky believes he has a strong argument to appeal the landmark decision.

Shortly after 9:30 AM in the morning Zarsky entered the abortion clinic property knowing that it would be considered trespassing. Two police cars quickly arrived and officers confronted Zarsky asking why he was on private property. While this was happening a “medical waste” truck with a sign on the truck reading, “Stericycle, Lake Forest, IL.” pulled into the abortionist’s parking lot. In his haste to enter the parking lot the truck driver almost backed into a plum-colored van with a woman and children inside. The driver then got out of his truck, went into the clinic and came out with two large boxes. He walked over to his truck and opened the overhead door to reveal a cargo of specially made cardboard boxes with handles on the top neatly stacked from floor to ceiling. Since the boxes were not flat and were stacked neatly, an observer would assume that “medical waste” was inside them. Certainly “medical waste” from the Aquino clinic was inside the two bread box-sized cardboard boxes the driver was carrying. The driver then placed the boxes into the open truck as people on the sidewalk gasped. Amidst prayers and holy water sprinkling from the near-by group of about 50 onlookers, the driver left.

Meanwhile, the two police officers were in a quandary over the Zarsky situation. Both identified themselves to a local reporter as “Christian police officers.” They had given a stern warning to the 81 year old lawyer, and then planned to release him on the spot if he would just go away. Zarksy declined the lenient gesture. Then, Father Farfaglia intervened and mediated for almost a half hour until an agreeable resolution was arrived at.

One of the arresting police officers, J.G. Harrison, was clearly conflicted about arresting the frail octogenarian and the officer said that in addition to being a police officer, he was also a pastor of the Cathedral of Palms Church. Father James Farfaglia, also a pastor, assured the well-intentioned policeman that he had to do his duty and Zarsky surely knew what the consequences of trespassing were. Still troubled, the police officers drove Zarsky off to the city jail and triumphantly Zarsky went along with them as he prepares his case behind bars to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Finally, Cliff Zarsky flashed a million-dollar smile across his face when he heard that a pretty blond woman in a white pick-up truck decided then and there not to have an abortion after hearing Zarsky’s testimony in the parking lot.

Contact information:  South Side Sun  (361) 937-6060
Attention: Thomas K. Concert/reporter
 Mr. Zarsky is 81 years young, and is an Ordinary Hero of the Faith.  Ordinary Heroes are not professional athletes, actors, musicians, or well known names.  They don't win football games (even in Texas), Academy or Grammy awards.  They just seek every day to see Jesus in all they encounter, and to be Jesus for them as well.  Sometimes it is uncomfortable, as it is at this moment for Mr.Zarsky.

We are all called to be Ordinary Heroes of the Faith, to follow the lead of people like Mr. Z.  Ordinary Heroes point us to the author of our faith in what they do and say.  My we all seek to be Ordinary Heroes of the Faith in our everyday lives.

People of the Year - #3

From Inside the Vatican

Each year for the past 10 years, Inside the Vatican has chosen 10 "People of the Year" -- men and women of courage, vision, learning and faith.

I find myself unable to write currently, and so in my desire to bring Freedom Through Truth, will be bringing to you things that I have seen and admire for their veracity.

Here is the third member of that illustrious group.

3. Leonid Sevastianov
We have chosen as our #3 “Person of the Year” a remarkable young Russian whose father was a leader of the “Old Believer” community in Russia and who is close to the new Russian Orthodox Patriarch, Kirill, and to the new “Foreign Minister” of the Russian Orthodox Church, Archbishop Hilarion Alfeyev.
Kirill and Alfeyev have asked this young layman, Leonid Sevastianov, 31, to promote traditional Christian values in Europe by means of a new foundation called The St. Gregory Nazianzus Foundation, set up in mid-2009.
We think Sevastianov’s appointment may signal the return of the Old Believer community to a more prominent position in the life of the Russian Orthodox Church, and that this is a development worth watching. Given Sevastianov’s friendships, his fast rise, and his young age, he could be in a very prominent place in Russia in the years ahead.
Sevastianov was born in 1978 in Rostov-on-Don, a Cossack region, into a family of Russian Old Believers. His grandfather was a Cossack who served as a bodyguard of the last Czar, Nicholas II, and after the 1917 revolution fought in the White Army during the civil war.

His father “never accepted the Bolshevik regime,” Sevastianov told me. “He never was a member of Communist Party. During his life, he combined his job of antique dealer with serving as a leader in Rostov’s Old Believer community. From the time I was a boy, I understood the truth from my father that a man can be a Christian, a free, moral person, no matter what political regime he lives under.  From my father I also understood that prosperity, freedom and final happiness come from traditional Christian values. The whole history of the Old Believers’ movement demonstrated this.”

After his graduation from high school at the age 17, Sevastianov entered  the Moscow seminary where he got to know then-Metropolitan Kirill and then-Father Hilarion Alfeyev. After graduating from the seminary, he was sent by Kirill and Hilarion to to the Gregorian University in Rome to study political philosophy from 1999 to 2002 (he speaks Italian fluently). He was then sent to Georgetown University in Washington DC from 2002 to 2004 to complete an MA in international relations (he also speaks English fluently).

When he returned to Russia, he decided not to become a priest because he wanted to strengthen the lay component in Russian Orthodoxy in order to have a greater impact on society.

What are his plans for the new Foundation? “We want to attract the attention of religious believers, in Russia and abroad, who believe in traditional Christian values,” Sevastianov told me. “We want to promote the idea of the unity between the West and Russia on the basis of common Christian roots. We believe in this alliance among traditional Christian countries, and we believe we need to talk with one voice in the face of secularism and a false ‘liberalism.’

“We believe traditional Christian values are the basis for a more just, prosperous, open and free society, and we can find an example of this at the beginning of the 20th century, when leading Russian Old Believers, the most traditional wing of Russian Orthodoxy, like Pavel Ryabushinsky and Savva Timofeyevich Morozov, attempted to reform Russian society.”

At the begining of 2009, Sevastianov introduced an initiative that was seen as revolutionary not only by Russians but also worldwide. After the death of Patriarch Alexi II and before the election of the new Church leader, he opened a website where all Russian Orthodox believers could express their opinion about who should be the next Patriarch. On that website, 702,000 voters expressed their preference, with 72% supporting Kirill. The site was so popular that the delegates of the Council could not help but take it into consideration when they voted, Sevastianov says.

Sevastianov is now working very closely with Archbishop Hilarion, 43, as his financial and economic advisor, after helping him to organize concerts in Rome and the US in 2007. They now plan to found a theological academy similar to the ?Vatican’s pontifical diplomatic academy.

“We were on Mt. Athos (in Greece) on the 11th of August this year, and we went to the monastery where are kept the holy remains of St. Gregory Naz­i­anzus the Theologian,” Sevastianov told me. “The archbishop called me to his side, and together we venerated the relics. Just at that precise moment, my cellphone rang. It was Moscow calling. A government official informed me that the St. Gregory Foundation had been registered that morning. Just at that moment! We took it as a sign.”

Sevastianov told me the Russian Orthodox have decided to engage with Catholics, and others, in a collaboration which can be compared to an actual alliance against the great social evils of our day, not only in Russia, but also throughout Europe and the world.

Therefore, with the spiritual blessing of Kirill, Archbishop Hilarion decided to set up the St. Gregory Nazianzus Foundation in order to work together with Catholics and others in the West, to support traditional spiritual values in Russia, but also throughout the world. (St. Gregory was a theologian in the 300s, well before the division of the Church into East and West, and so is venerated both by the Catholics and by the Orthodox. He is a Father of the Church for all Christians.)
Hilarion chose Sevastianov to head up the foundation and direct its activity. We will see what he does. —Robert Moynihan

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Lookin' Out My Backdoor

Credence Clearwater Revival

CCR was a cool rock band of the late 60's and early 70's.  A few of their top hits are memorable numbers like Lookin' Out My Backdoor.  John Fogerty, lead singer guitarist and songwriter for the band says that the song is for his 3 year old son Josh, and that the parade reference was to the Dr. Seuss book "And to Think I Saw it on Mulberry Street."

Here is the song, without further ado.

God and the Scientist

Here is an Old Joke Revisited

This little bit of common sense and humour came via Fr. Tim Moyle's blog, Where the Rubber Hits the Road, and he had received it from another fine priest, Fr. Mike Smith, a former teacher at St. Peter's Seminary, now a parish priest in Quebec.  Fr. Mike is an albino and also has weak eyesight, but to the best of my knowledge it never slowed  him down as a priest, teacher, and now as a pastor.

God and the Scientist

God is sitting in heaven when a scientist says to him,"Lord, we don't need you anymore. Science has finally figured out a way to create life out of nothing. In other words, we can now do what you did in the beginning."

"Oh, is that so? Tell me," replies God.

"Well," says the scientist, "we can take dirt and form it into your likeness and breathe life into it, thus creating man."

"Well, that's interesting. Show me."

So the scientist bends down to the earth and starts to mold the soil.

"Oh no, no, no," interrupts God. "Get your own dirt."

People of the Year - #2

From Inside the Vatican

Each year for the past 10 years, Inside the Vatican has chosen 10 "People of the Year" -- men and women of courage, vision, learning and faith.

I find myself unable to write currently, and so in my desire to bring Freedom Through Truth, will be bringing to you things that I have seen and admire for their veracity.

Here is the second member of that illustrious group.

Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson
Some think he could be the next Pope.
He himself doesn’t waste a thought on the idea — he is focused on doing what he can now to help bring the Gospel to Africa, and in so doing, to bring a better life to the people of his troubled continent.
And now Pope Benedict has called him to Rome to become the highest-ranking African in the Roman Curia, following the retirement of Cardinal Francis Arinze of Nigeria. He will head the Vatican’s Justice and Peace Council, which deals with the great social issues of our time.
Our selection of Cardinal Turkson as one of our “Top Ten” of 2009 is in part the selection of all those in Africa, and around the world, who labor to bring justice and pecae in their countries.

Africa is always present in the mind and heart of Peter Kodwo (Monday) Appiah Turkson. He was born on a Monday, and according to his country’s tradition, his first name, Kodwo, is that of the day he was born.

This cardinal from Ghana, 61 years on October 11 during the bishops synod on Africa in the Vatican, is a man who knows media well. And that is not small news. Especially in a time when the communication of the Church is in deep crisis.

He is also a man with a profound insight into the great global problems of our time, including the emerging conflict between the West and Islam. Turkson told the Synod on Africa,m which met in Rome this October, that in his native Ghana, but also in many other countries, religious diversity has never been a problem, that in the same family there may be Catholic, Methodist and even Islamic brothers and sisters.

What does this mean? For Turkson, the intrusive and dangerous Is­lam now emerging is not the “classical” Islam but a new, politicized Islam which spreads and sneak into the souls of simple people. This is a concern for everybody, not only for Christians.

Among the internal problems of the Church, on the other hand, Turkson believes one of the most serious problems in Africa is the education of priestsand faithful alike. The catechists often only have a superficial education, and old beliefs often continue to live in the hearts of the converts. If some of them choose to become priests, the danger is doubled.

What should be done? The cardinal believes that the future priests should study in Africa, and not be sent to study in Europe before their ordination. Local seminaries must be strengthened and African anthropology and philosophy must be studied deeply in order to shape a formative and informed theology, he says. As bishop of Cape Coast in Ghana, Turkson invited deacons to live with him some months before their ordination, in order to know each other better and to learn to work together.
What else should be done? This cardinal from Ghana believes that the most important thing of all is to stimulate the Africans’ capacity, their positivity, their richness, their "Africanness."
At the Synod, the cardinal shook his fellow bishops and told them not to feel sorry for themselves but to act and react. And they, the African bishops gathered in the Vatican, celebrated him three times in 21 days: October 11th because it was his 61st birthday; October 17th because his country, Ghana, defeated Brazil in the Under-20 soccer World Cup; and on October 24th, the day before the end of the Synod, for his appointment as President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.
As relator of the Synod he spent many nights correcting propositions and summarizing emendments, but also talking and getting to know people.

His curriculum of studies starts in Ghana, continues in New York and at the Gregoriana University in Rome with a Doctorate at the Biblical Institute in 1992, and with the unexpected appointment to bishop of Cape Coast, after the sudden death of his predecessor. He is at ease with languages: English, French, Italian and German, not to mention Greek, Hebrew and Latin.

As new President of Justice and Peace he talks about justice in Africa in the family, in the relationship between man and woman, with their children, and says: “When I talk about family I also think about the tribe, which in Africa is a broader family. We don’t even have a word for cousins and nephews: in our country, my cousin is my brother.”

In the text of the propositions of the Synod there is also a piece of advice for Iustitia et pax. The Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace is asked “to promote an African Peace and Solidarity Initiative.” In Ghana, Turkson presided over the National Peace Council, composed of five religious leaders and of six cultural, economic and social leaders. “I have discussed it with the bishops of Togo, where there will be elections in February. We must not leave the politicians to their own devices, they must feel that someone is controlling their actions.”

On October 24, 2009, Cardinal Turkson was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI as president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, replacing Cardinal Renato Martino, who had reached the retirement age. Cardinal Turkson will work with the secretary, Bishop Mario Toso, appointed two days previously, on behalf of peace and justice around the world.
And in future?
“If God would wish to see a black man also as Pope, thanks be to God,” Turkson once said. —Angela Ambrogetti

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

People of the Year - #1

From Inside the Vatican

Each year for the past 10 years, Inside the Vatican has chosen 10 "People of the Year" -- men and women of courage, vision, learning and faith.

I find myself unable to write currently, and so in my desire to bring Freedom Through Truth, will be bringing to you things that I have seen and admire for their veracity.

Here is the first member of that illustrious group.

Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos

Former Prefect of the Congregation for Clergy, he is the former President of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei.

The life of Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos took a dramatic turn with the release of the motu proprioSummorum Pontificum,” the papal document which “rehabilitated” the pre-Vatican II liturgy, on July 7, 2007.

Since then, for two and a half years, the Church has been entering into a new phase in which the pre-conciliar tradition is once again appreciated and integrated into Catholic life. And no one has done more to implement this integration than Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos.

Our choice of him as the first of our “People of the Year” is in part a choice of all those in the Church who have labored over the decades to preserve the treasures of the Catholic tradition, especially her liturgy, in a time of much confusion and forgetfulness of ancient things.

Beginning in July 2007, even the Ecclesia Dei Commission had to reposition itself, from the role of a defender of the old rite from oblivion to that of an agent for its spreading and promotion, as noted by Msgr. Fernando Areas Rifan, the first traditional bishop consecrated by Rome since Vatican II.

As the head of Ecclesia Dei, Cardinal Castrillon Hoy­os was called to play a pivotal role in the strategy of Benedict XVI to restore the sacred in the Church.

But what he did to accomplish the will of the Holy Father, in full loyalty and obedience, went well beyond his mandate, since he did not limit himself to preaching, but actually practiced what he preached. And what better way to preach than by example?

It started well before the release of Summorum Pontificum, on May 24, 2003, when for the first time in decades a senior prelate of the Curia still fully in office, like Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos, celebrated a pontifical Mass in the old Latin rite in one of the major four basilicas in Rome, St. Mary Major.

“I had not celebrated anymore according to the missal of 1962, after the post-conciliar liturgical reform,” Castrillon Hoyos was quoted as saying in an interview in the Osservatore Romano on March 27, 2008. “Today in resuming sometimes the extraordinary rite, I myself have rediscovered the richness of the old liturgy that the Pope wants to keep alive, preserving that age-old form of Roman tradition.”

An old Italian proverb says that “appetite grows by eating”: since the pontifical in St. Mary Major, and especially after the motu proprio, Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos has celebrated the old rite on an increasing number of occasions: in Rome, outside of Rome and even in other countries, and it would not be possible to keep record of all of them in our limited space.

But most of all, his tireless zeal has by no means dwindled after he had to retire on July 8, 2009 following his 80th birthday (he was born on July 4, 1929) -- on the very day when Benedict XVI attached the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith with the motu proprio “Ecclesiae Unitatem.”

“I was prefect of the Ecclesia Dei, my concern is for the Church, and I’ll do all I can for her full unity, my interest will be devoted to her sanctification as well as the wonderful wealth of her traditional rites,” he was quoted as saying in an interview by Süddeutsche Zeitung on September 25, 2009.

But more than that, Castrillon Hoyos is also living up to his words “traditional rites” in the plural: for example, he administered the Sacrament of Confirmation according to the old rite on December 12, 2009, to a number of youth in the personal parish of Santissima Trinità dei Pellegrini.

On Immaculate Conception day, December 8, 2009, he led a traditionalist public procession of almost a thousand people in the very heart of Rome promoted by the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest from the Church of Gesù e Maria al Corso, where they are headquartered, to the Cathedral of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva.

Interestingly, in the morning of the same day, a pontifical in the extraordinary or Gregorian rite was being celebrated by Cardinal Franc Rodé, Prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, in the church of Santissima Trinità dei Pellegrini.

It would really seem that in the footsteps of Castrillon Hoyos, an increasing number of cardinals are starting to celebrate the old rite, as was also the case with Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, who celebrated a traditional pontifical in Santissima Trinità dei Pellegrini on All Saints Day November 1, 2009, after having previously done so in the stately basilica of St John Lateran.

In a press conference on the sidelines of the pontifical he celebrated on June 14, 2008, in the cathedral of Westminster in London, the first time after some three decades, with more than 1,500 people in attendance, Cardinal Castrillon-Hoyos revealed that the Pope’s intention was for the extraordinary rite to be made available at every parish.

Should this ever materialize, Castrillon Hoyos should be also credited for it.

And last but not least, should talks with the Lefebvre-founded Society of St. Pius X be successful, ample merit must also be attributed to his contribution in terms of charity, patience and diplomatic skills that enabled him to begin the talks in 2000 after they were discontinued in 1988. —Alberto Carosa

If You Leave Me Now

Peter Cetera of Chicago

Peter Cetera wrote this song for the Chicago X album.  It was released as a single in July 1976.

Monday, January 25, 2010

You're the Inspiration

Written By DAVID FOSTER and Peter Cetera

This song was written for Chicago 17, the album, and featured Peter Cetera singing lead in the original.  David Foster was working on a song for Kenny Rogers and called up Peter Cetera to see if he could help him.  Cetera was on his way to Italy that evening, and Foster rushed over to him and they spent 3 hours putting together the basics of this song.  Cetera fleshed it out while in Italy, and when he returned Kenny Rogers was no longer interested.  Hence. Cetera modified it to fit Chicago, his own band, and it became famous on "17."

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Saturday in the Park


Robert Lamm, one of the band founders and still with them wrote this song while in New York, after a trip to Central Park on July 4, 1971.  Here is a live rendition of it.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Haiti Proves God's Soveriegnty

Unless You Are Blind

Haiti is the poorest country in the Americas.  This is not a new development.  It's population is about 10 million, and its Gross Domestic Product is about $2 per person, per day.  Because of national poverty, the land has been about 98% denuded of foliage, so that people could feed themselves and keep warm.  Much of the pillaging of the land has been due to corrupt government, such as the government of "Papa Doc" Duvalier and his equally corrupt son "Baby Doc". 

All of the poverty and economic challenges, along with the spiritual challenges of this land predate the earthquake of January 12, 2010.  That the earthquake and its aftershocks has destroyed significant parts of the country, while killing 200,000 people or more, is indisputable.

In my opinion, God has finally allowed something to occur in that nation, with this earthquake that has brought the attention of the world to the plight of the people there.  The world ignored mostly, that the poverty and corruption that existed in Haiti was there, and even though there are nearly 1,000,000 Haitian immigrants in the US and Canada, we have all been blind to the conditions of a nation that is just off our shores.  Missionaries went there to help out, as best they could.  In fact, the United Nations has also been present in the country since 1993, and before the earthquake had approximately 9,000 peace keepers and police from many countries around the globe on site.  In fact, without those resources on the ground already, the effects of the disaster would have been magnified.

Now, as a result of the earthquake, and the release of news of this disaster, there is a giant bandwagon forming that will provide much needed relief to the people of Haiti.  Last night, there was a major telethon, which will add hundreds of millions of dollars to the relief efforts that have been going on already.  The turning of our hearts to the plight of our brothers and sisters in their hour of need is an important one, particularly while many in our own nations are hurting economically, due to the recession.

The addition of American and Canadian and other nation's troops to assist the people, along with specialists from Mexico in earthquake rescue has already impacted the situation, and will continue. 

The people of Haiti need us to turn out hearts to them, but they needed us to do it 50 years ago, and instead we turned our backs on them.

Many Haitians gave their lives in the last 10 days or so, so that we would see the need.  They are martyrs to the cause of fighting poverty in our world, and God will reward them for it.

May God Bless the people of Haiti, and bring renewal to their country, through the aid of their sisters and brothers throughout the world.  We are all One Body.

25 or 6 to 4


One of the most famous songs by the great rock and roll band Chicago is one called "25 or 6 to 4."  It was written by band member Robert Lamm, and is actually about having writer's block while trying to write a song, and that the writer's block occurred at about 3:34 or 3:35 am, or in other words 25 minutes or 26 minutes to 4 am.  Hmmm.  Who knew!!

Now it makes sense to me.

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Ant and The Grasshopper

A New Take on an Old Tale

I am curious as to what my readers think of the following.  Here it is with no additional comment from me.


ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building his house and laying up supplies for the winter.

grasshopper thinks the ant is a fool and laughs and dances and plays the summer away..

Come winter, the
ant is warm and well fed.

grasshopper has no food or shelter, so he dies out in the cold.
MORAL OF THE STORY: Be responsible for yourself!


ant works hard in the withering heat and the rain all summer long, building his house and laying up supplies for the winter.

grasshopper thinks the ant is a fool and laughs and dances and plays the summer away.

Come winter, the shivering
grasshopper calls a press conference and demands to know why the ant should be allowed to be warm and well fed while he is cold and starving.

and ABC show up to provide pictures of the shivering grasshopper next to a video of the ant in his comfortable home with a table filled with food.

America is stunned by the sharp contrast.

How can this be, that in a country of such wealth, this poor
grasshopper is allowed to suffer so?

Kermit the Frog
appears on Oprah with the grasshopper and everybody cries when they sing, 'It's Not Easy Being Green.'

stages a demonstration in front of the ant's house where the news stations film the group singing, “We shall overcome.” Then Rev. Jeremiah Wright has the group kneel down to pray to God for the grasshopper's  sake.  

President Obama
condemns the ant and blames President Bush, President Reagan, Christopher Columbus, and the Pope for the grasshopper's plight.

Nancy Pelosi & Harry Reid
exclaim in an interview with Larry King that the ant has gotten rich off the back of the grasshopper, and both call for an immediate tax hike on the ant to make him pay his fair share.

Finally, the
EEOC drafts the Economic Equity & Anti-Grasshopper Act retroactive to the beginning of the summer.

ant is fined for failing to hire a proportionate number of green bugs and, having nothing left to pay his retroactive taxes, his home is confiscated by the Government Green Czar and given to the grasshopper.

The story ends as we see the
grasshopper and his free-loading friends finishing up the last bits of the ant’s food while the government house he is in, which, as you recall, just happens to be the ant's old house, crumbles around them because the grasshopper doesn't maintain it.

ant has disappeared in the snow, never to be seen again.

grasshopper is found dead in a drug related incident, and the house, now abandoned, is taken over by a gang of spiders who terrorize the ramshackle, once prosperous and once peaceful, neighborhood..

The entire
Nation collapses bringing the rest of the free world with it.
MORAL OF THE STORY:  Be careful how you vote in 2010.

Thank You For The Cross

From Hosanna Integrity Music

This is a worship song from Hosanna Integrity. I have listened to and enjoyed many of their inspiring albums and songs over the years. This one is about the essence of Christianity, the death of Jesus on the Cross, which set us free of sin and death.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Observations on Growing Older

From A Friend of My Dear Wife (H/t)

~Your kids are becoming you...and you don't like them
...but your grandchildren are perfect!
~Going out is good.
Coming home is better!
~When people say you look "Great"...
they add "for your age!"
~When you needed the discount you paid full price.
Now you get discounts on everything ...
movies, hotels, flights, but you're too tired to use them.
~You forget names ... but it's OK
because other people forgot
they even knew you!!!
~The 5 pounds you wanted to lose
is now 15 and you have a better chance
of losing your keys than the 15 pounds.
~You realize you're never going
to be really good at anything .... especially golf.
~Your husband is counting on you
to remember things you don't remember.
~The things you used to care to do,
you no longer care to do,
but you really do care that you
don't care to do them anymore..
~Your husband sleeps better on a lounge chair
with the TV blaring than he does in bed.
It's called his "pre-sleep".
~Remember when your mother said
"Wear clean underwear in case you GET in an accident"?
Now you bring clean underwear in case you HAVE an accident!
~You used to say,
"I hope my kids GET married ...
Now, "I hope they STAY married!"
~You miss the days when everything worked
with just an "ON" and "OFF" switch..
~When GOOGLE, ipod, email, modem ...
were unheard of, and a mouse was something
that made you climb on a table.
~Now that you can afford
expensive jewelry, it's not safe to wear it anywhere.
~Your husband has a night out with the guys
but he's home by 9:00 P.M. week it will be 8:30 P.M.
~You read 100 pages into a book before you realize you've read it.
~Notice everything they sell in stores is "sleeveless"?!!!
~What used to be freckles are now liver spots.
~Everybody whispers.

~Now that your husband has retired ...
you'd give anything if he'd find a job!
~You have 3 sizes of clothes in your closet ....
2 of which you will never wear.
~~~~But old is good in some things:
old songs
old movies
And best of all OLD FRIENDS!!

Old friends are good, but friends are good period.