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The Political St. Catherine of Siena PDF Print E-mail
Written by Michael Fones   
Thursday, 26 April 2007 10:35

St. Catherine of Siena's feastday is April 29. Because if falls on a Sunday this year, we won't be celebrating her in the normal way, but it is good to reflect on her life just a bit, especially as an example of someone who responded to her vocation! Catherine was a lay woman. She's often called a nun, and is pictured in a Dominican habit because she was a Dominican tertiary, but make no mistake, she was lay. She was also a woman of deep, contemplative prayer who was also immersed in the travails of her age, which included religious schism, incredible political machinations, devastating plagues, incessant wars between nations and among Italian city-states. The clergy of her day were ill-formed and often corrupt, and the moral state of most of her contemporaries was, well, a matter of constant prayer for Catherine.

What I find fascinating about Catherine is how her powerful contemplative life compelled her into the major frays of her day. She was a prolific letter-writer, and also traveled extensively during her life - most unusual for men, unheard of for women who weren't royalty. She fearlessly addressed the corruption of her day, whether it was within the Church, or in the secular realm. Here's just a sample, from a letter to Charles V, king of France, who was supporting an anti-pope at the time.

"Be, ah! be a lover of virtue, founded in true and holy justice, and despise vice. I beg you, by love of Christ crucified, to do in your state three especial things. The first is, to despise the world and yourself and all its joys, possessing your kingdom as a thing lent to you, and not your own. ...I beg you that, as The Wise, you should act like a good steward, made His steward by God; possessing all things as merely lent to you.

The other matter is, that you maintain holy and true justice; let it not be ruined, either for self-love or for flatteries, or for any pleasing of men. And do not connive at your officials doing injustice for money, and denying right to the poor: but be to the poor a father, a distributer of what God has given you. And seek to have the faults that are found in your kingdom punished and virtue exalted. For all this appertains to the divine justice to do.

The third matter is, to observe the doctrine which that Master upon the Cross gives you; which is the thing that my soul most desires to see in you: that is, love and affection with your neighbour, with whom you have for so long a time been at war. For you know well that without this root of love, the tree of your soul would not bear fruit, but would dry up, abiding in hate and unable to draw up into itself the moisture of grace. Alas, dearest father, the Sweet Primal Truth teaches it to you, and leaves you for a commandment, to love God above everything, and one's neighbour as one's self."

Sometimes Catherine's words and presence had an effect, sometimes not. She grieved for the division within the Church, lamented the corruption in the politics of her day, and, in spite of these realities, always encouraged her followers to look for the best in others.

We need Catherines today. We need women and men who are imbued with the message and values of the Gospel. Where is the outcry over Abu Ghraib in our country? Over the perhaps lawful, yet unjust detaining of prisoners in Guantanamo? Can we have loving concern, like St. Catherine, for the souls of politicians who promote profit over justice and stewardship; private concerns over common good; personal choice (with respect to abortion) and revenge (with respect to capital punishment) over life?

Some of us have vocations that may lead us to pursue a life in politics. Others may be called to pray for changes in our country. Still others may be called by Christ to dive in to problems that we find compelling, without waiting for the government, business, or non-profits to address the issue.

All of us are called in some way, like Catherine, to apply our faith to the problems and opportunities that surround us.
Vocation Sunday PDF Print E-mail
Written by Michael Fones   
Thursday, 26 April 2007 10:05
Sunday's Gospel shows us Christ, the Good Shepherd who calls his sheep by name. For this reason, it's celebrated as a World Day of Prayer for Vocations. Many of us will hear homilies about answering the call to priesthood and religious life, and certainly there is a need for generous responses to those vocations.

I will preach about the unique call or vocation given to each one of us. It is more than just a call to a particular state of life, like marriage, priesthood, religious life, single life. Every call from God is an invitation to service, and to love. Most of us receive a multi-faceted call. Having discerned a call to priesthood and religious life (which did not end when I received the Dominican habit, but continued throughout my formation) did not mean that I was finished discerning my call!

The call is continuous, throughout our life. The Lord calls us to lead us ever deeper into Life, into relationship with Him, and into new adventures of service of our brothers and sisters. As you may have read on an earlier post, people in business have a call to operate not in accord with the world, which often uses devious practices, but to be transparent and honest, and work towards goals that benefit as many as possible without doing injustice to anyone. A physician may have a call to bring healing not only through his or her skill, but also through the love and heartfelt compassion offered to the patient, along with prayers to God for their healing.

Sometimes we hear of a seemingly hopeless situation in our own city, and wonder what we can do to respond. Barbara Elliott, one of our splendid Called & Gifted teachers, is the president of the Center for Renewal (, a resource center she founded in 1997 for faith-based organizations working to renew the inner cities of America. She is the author of Street Saints: Renewing America’s Cities (Templeton Foundation Press, 2004) based on more than three hundred interviews across the country of people. These are often ordinary folks who saw unremitting poverty, high rates of felon rescidivism, drug and alcohol addiction and said, "Jesus does not want this," and did something about it.

The people highlighted in Street Saints are ordinary folks who responded to a call that came to them in the form of a sense that *something* needed to be done about a certain situation, and no one else seemed to be doing anything, so...
They use their experience, their savvy, their education, but most of all their prayer and the Lord's guidance to achieve what many thought would be impossible. They gather collaborators, often one by one, who bring their own competence and experience to the table. And in the answering of their call, they come to be who God has intended from all eternity they should be. They experience the "fullness of life" promised by Jesus.

Because that is part of what is implied in being called "by name." In Jesus' society, a name was more than a moniker designating you from someone else. It said something about who you were to be. So Jesus, we are told, means, "Yahweh saves," and indeed He does through Jesus. The Lord calls each of us by name. Responding to our vocations means that we have the opportunity to fulfill the Lord's dream for us, which often is a dream beyond our feeble imagination.
Hispanics Changing the Style of the Church PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 26 April 2007 09:34

Written by Keith Strohm

There is an interesting article here on how the presence of Hispanics is changing the style of the Catholic Church. Here are a few tidbits:

Hispanics are changing the nation's religious landscape, particularly in the Roman Catholic Church, according to the study released Wednesday by the Pew Hispanic Center and the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.

Spirit-filled or renewalist movements, including divine healing and direct revelations from God, are a style of worship favored more by Hispanics than by their non-Hispanic counterparts in the national survey.

Also, many of the Hispanics joining evangelical churches are Catholic converts who say they want a more direct, personal experience with God, said the survey, titled "Changing Faiths: Latinos and the Transformation of American Religion."

Hispanics make up about 32 percent of Pima County's population and about 28.5 percent of Arizona's population, U.S. Census data show. Pinpointing Hispanic percentages in the local Catholic Church is difficult because of the number of illegal immigrants who live here, said Ruben Davalos, director of evangelization and Hispanic ministry for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson.

But it's clear that the Hispanic presence is growing among local Catholic churches. Five years ago, 30 percent to 40 percent of the diocese's 74 parishes had Spanish services. Now it's closer to 90 percent, Davalos said.

"There are parishes that used to have four or five Masses in English and one in Spanish, and now those parishes have four Masses in Spanish and one in English," he said.

About 22 million of the nation's 66 million Catholics are Hispanic. They have accounted for 71 percent of the U.S. Catholic Church's growth since 1960. The study projects that the Hispanic share will continue climbing for decades. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops says that if current growth continues, Hispanics will make up a majority of American Catholics by 2020.

But one of the study's most significant findings is that more than half of Hispanic Catholics identify themselves as charismatics, compared with only one-eighth of non-Hispanic Catholics. Charismatic typically means showing an emotional response to the Holy Spirit.

"Spirit-filled religiosity does pose a contrast to what have been the dominant characteristics of the Catholic Church in the United States at least for the last generation," said Suro, of the Pew Hispanic Center. "There will be a process of change."

While I do quibble with the reporters characterization of charismatic spirituality (which I'm sure will confirm the worst fears of those Catholics with a phobia for all things emotional) as an "emotional response to the Holy Spirit (it is far more than that--a yielding of the whole person to the Spirit of God, not just emotions), it is an interesting article.

I'm most troubled by the sheer number of Hispanics who are leaving the Church for evangelical and pentecostal communities. This, again, is something that we need to address in the life of the Church.

In any event, take a peek at the whole article!

Proclamation and the Church PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Thursday, 26 April 2007 09:12

One of the issues that has arisen during the kafuffle over “Evangelical Catholicism” here at ID and over at Standing on My Head and several other blogs during the past week is exactly what is the content of initial proclamation of the gospel . If we proclaim Christ to the unchurched and unbelievers without simultaneously proclaiming the Church, are we somehow proclaiming a Protestant gospel of “me and Jesus” Christianity?

In the course of working on previous incarnations of Making Disciples, I set out to closely read and take meticulous notes on every significant mention of proclamation and evangelization in Church teaching in the Second Vatican Council and since. It took me ten - 12 hour days but I did it. I ended up with 59 pages of nothing but magisterial quotes on the topic, organized by subject. This I used to produce a one hour presentation on the subject for Making Disciples. (For those who are wondering, this is typically how we go about preparing our presentations. We are not at all casual about trying to teach with the Church.)

So this morning, I returned to this hard won document and simply bolded every mention of “proclamation”, “Christ”, and “Church” to highlight exactly how the magisterial teaching understands the content of the kerygma and its relationship to the Church.

First of all, we need to grasp that in the Church’s understanding, initial proclamation of the gospel is not catechesis. There are two critical stages that occur before “initiatory catechesis” but which Catholics hardly ever address in our pastoral practice: “pre-evangelization” and “initial announcement of the Gospel.”

We leap right into catechesis which is why we 1) tend to confuse catechesis and kerygma; 2) are not very successful in fostering intentional discipleship.

As Catechesis in Our Time, 19 puts it, many Catholics are “still without any explicit personal attachment to Jesus Christ; they only have the capacity to believe placed within them by Baptism and the presence of the Holy Spirit.”

According to the National Directory for Catechesis, p. 49, the stages are:

1. Pre-evangelization: Preparation for first proclamation of the Gospel - “non-believers, the indifferent”
2. Initial announcement of the Gospel

– “Non-believers, those who have chosen not to believe, those who follow other religions, children of Christians. those who may have been baptized but have little or no awareness of their Baptism and . . . live on the margins of Christian life.”

3. Initiatory Catechesis: introduce the life of faith, the Liturgy, and the charity

– “Catechumens, those who are coming to the Catholic faith from another Christian tradition, Catholics who needs to complete their initiation, children and the young.”

The question before us right now is not “What is the fullness of the teaching of the Church” but “what is the content of #2: “Initial announcement of the Gospel” which is directed to both the unbaptized and the baptized who are unchurched, unbelieving, lapsed, or weak and marginalized in the practice of the faith.

The short answer: Initial proclamation is always about Christ, not the Church.

Proclamation of Christ is the
*Permanent priority

of evangelization. (Mission of the Redeemer, 44)

Proclamation of Christ is the primary mission of the Church
Proclamation of Christ births the Church
Proclamation of Christ is the doorway into the Church
(Mission of the Redeemer, 44, Evangelization in Our Time, 27)

The Church does not proclaim herself, she proclaims her Lord which naturally leads the new believer to baptism and membership in the Church.

The universal catechism puts it this way: Salvation comes from God alone: but because we receive the life of faith through the Church, she is our mother; “We believe the Church as the mother of our new birth and not in the Church as if she were the author of our salvation.(Faustus of Riez, De Spiritu Sancto, 1,2: PL 62,11.)

To whom do we proclaim Christ?

*Catholics with weak faith or who are badly catechized (including the “practicing”).
*Catholics who “need to know Jesus Christ in a light different from the instruction they received as children.
*The baptized but non-practicing

. . .there is a very large number of baptized people who for the most part have not formally renounced their Baptism but who are entirely indifferent to it . . . The resistance . . . takes the form of inertia and the slightly hostile attitude of the person who feels that he is one of the family, who claims to know it all and to have tried it all and who no longer believes it.

Evangelization in the Modern World 56

*All humanity (not just Catholics)

“invite all people in the United States . . .to hear the message of salvation in Jesus Christ so they may come to join us in the fullness of the Catholic faith.”
US Bishops, Go and Make Disciples:

We have got to stop confusing our internal culture wars with the mission of evangelization. Our situation is that many, many baptized adult Catholics, practicing or not, have never heard and personally embraced the proclamation of the kerygma about Christ. They were baptized as infants and that baptism was never followed up by the necessary, clear, initial proclamation of the gospel (which is different from catechesis, remember) when they reached the age of reason and responsibility.

Baptism without the response of personal faith in Christ is salvific for an infant because personal response is impossible at that age; it is not salvific for an adult.

Proclaiming Christ is not about "me and Jesus". It is taking seriously the Church's teaching that the preaching of the kerygma awakens initial faith and that without the response of personal faith and hope in Christ, of incipient love, and repentance for sin, adult membership in the Church alone does not save. Even a merely intellectual faith in the Church’s teaching alone does not save. (The Council of Trent called mere intellectual or dogmatic faith “fides informis” and clearly taught that it does not save.)

Business as a Means of Evangelization PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 26 April 2007 08:56

Written by Keith Strohm

There is an interesting article in this month's issue of Christianity Today that features an interview wit Ram Gidoomal, a businessman and convert to Christianity to Hinduism. One of the things that struck me about the article is not only how working as a Christian businessman internationally helps build a more just world (Ram, for example, chairs two investment groups that seek to invest in socially responsible and sustainable businesses), but also how business offers opportunities for direct evangelization:

Business gives you access , geographic access as well as access to relational networks . . .the goal is to do business in a way that is not conforming to the world's patterns. In global business, there is often corruption. There's no accountability, no transparency. As a Christian, if you're willing to be transparent and accountable, then you're demonstrating a different way of doing things . . . .

If we do the work of discerning what transformational business looks like, that is worship . . .Business is a uniquely global endeavor . . .There is no other field that so closely matches the global nature of God's mission.

I thought that was a wonderful way of viewing business--as a medium for building the kingdom and as a direct, hands-on way of evangelizing. When I work as a manager in business--whether it is of a team or a whole Strategic Business Unit, God has given me a responsibility to serve both the company as a whole and all of the individuals whom I manage. We need to be Christians not just at Church, but in every facet of our lives.

Letter From Jesus PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 26 April 2007 08:06

Written by Keith Strohm

I posted this over at my other blog, but thought I'd share it here with the folks at ID.

One year, when I was the Director of the Retreat Team for my last parish's Life Teen youth ministry program, we did a retreat that focused on the Bible as a Love Letter from God. We often used affirmation notes, which we wrote to our small group members and placed in decorated bags with their names on it so they could read them after the retreat. That year, we decided to put up an affirmation bag for God so that the teens could write God a note of affirmation.

Well, God's bag was full of the most powerful and beautiful prayers and affirmations to God. So much so, that when we had our retreat debrief, we passed God's affirmations among the adults and we were all moved to tears. Don't let anyone tell you that teens do not have an appreciation for, or an ability to pay attention to, the spiritual life.

Anyway, that's not even the point of this post (though it's a good point). We also decided to include a Letter from Jesus and place it in each teen's affirmation bag. While cleaning out some old files, I stumbled upon that letter and thought it would be interesting to post it here. So, without further ado, here's a letter from Jesus:

My Precious Friend,
I know that sometimes life can be difficult and depressing. There is still much darkness in the world because My people have not come to Me as I have asked—yet I love them (and you) with a love that is without end. Every stinging bite of the soldiers’ whips, every jagged cut from my crown of thorns, each terrible kiss of the nails driven hard into My body—all of it was for you. I endured every second upon the Cross for your sake, because I love you.

Do you think, then, that I don’t hear you when you cry out to Me in your time of need? Truly, I do hear you. If I hear the final cry of every sparrow that falls in death, would I not hear you?
Do you wonder if I listen when you pray to Me for an answer to the troubles that weigh you down? Indeed, I listen. If I listen intently for the very heartbeat of every baby conceived in the womb, would I not listen when that child prays? I listen, and I remember precisely the instant that your heart took its first beat; the moment that you took your first gasping breath upon leaving the security of your mother's womb; the contented sigh of relief at your first belly full of warm milk. And, though you've grown up, I still listen with My whole Heart for every word you whisper to me.

I am with you always, through whatever storms and struggles that you face. Trust in me, and I will guide you through the darkness. If you take one faltering step toward me, I shall run ten thousand steps toward you. My love for you is so deep, that I once traveled the distance between Heaven and Earth to find you. I will not abandon you now.

My friend, I know that you are discovering yourself—your own gifts and talents—and the world that I created for you. I know that you are beginning to make plans for your life. Will you not let Me help you? The Father and I have a very special plan for you, one that we created before you were even born. Let us discover this plan together, you and I. For there are others in the world who do not know Me, who hurt and cry out, but who have no one to help them. I want to send you in My place, to go to them and do the work I have created you for.

My love, I desire nothing more than that you would come to Me, not just when you are sorrowful or struggling, but also when you are satisfied and happy. I would have you share your life with Me, as I share My life with you. I especially desire that you come to Me in the Eucharist—you dwelling with Me and Me dwelling with you—for that is My greatest gift to you.

This day, and every day, I stand at your heart's door, knocking and asking entrance. Will you not let me in?

You are my Beloved, always.


Russell Shaw on Evangelizing PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Thursday, 26 April 2007 06:57
Carl Olsen over at Ignatius Insight has a really interesting interview with Russell Shaw about his new book (with Fr. C. John McCloskey, III) Good New, Bad News: Evangelization, Conversion, and the Crisis of Faith.

In light of the continual hubbub around here over things "evangelical," I appreciate Shaw's comments: It's fair to say, I think, that most people do not usually put the words "Catholics" and "evangelization" together. Why is that so?

Russell Shaw: The conventional answer is that it's a problem of language. Protestants talk about evangelization. Some Protestants are evangelicals. Until recently, these have been Protestant words. They didn't seem to have much to do with Catholics.

That explanation is correct, I think, but the problem also goes deeper than that. It's clericalism at work. By that, I mean the assumption--on the part of lay people, mind you--that if any evangelizing was going to be done by Catholics, it was the job of priests and religious. It wasn't something that the Catholic laity needed to be concerned about. You're written much about the role of the laity over the years. Where do you think evangelizing ranks, so to speak, in the work that laity are called to do in the greater context of the Church?

Russell Shaw: It ranks right up at the top. It's often been said--for example, by recent popes like Paul VI and John Paul II--that the mission of the Church is synonymous with evangelization. In other words, announcing the Good News, telling the world about Jesus Christ and how he has redeemed us, and encouraging people to have a living relationship with him.

Now, as a result of baptism and confirmation, all members of the Church--including the laity--have roles to play in the Church's mission. All of us--including us laity--are called to participate in the work of evangelization. It isn't optional. It's a central part of the Christian vocation."

Russell Shaw is one of the best popular writers on the whole subject of the theology of the laity and the lay apostolate around. We strongly recommend reading Catholic Laity in the Mission of the Church. if you'd like to understand the Church 's teaching on that subject.
President Candidates Reaction to Supreme Court Ruling on Partial Birth Abortion PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Tuesday, 24 April 2007 12:03
Peter Nixon, who occasionally graces ID with his comments, has gathered a thought-provoking collection of reactions by major candidates in the 2008 Presidential election to the recent ruling of the Supremes on partial birth abortion:

From the Commonweal blog:


This decision marks a dramatic departure from four decades of Supreme Court rulings that upheld a woman's right to choose and recognized the importance of women's health. Today's decision blatantly defies the Court's recent decision in 2000 striking down a state partial-birth abortion law because of its failure to provide an exception for the health of the mother. As the Supreme Court recognized in Roe v. Wade in 1973, this issue is complex and highly personal; the rights and lives of women must be taken into account. It is precisely this erosion of our constitutional rights that I warned against when I opposed the nominations of Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito.


I could not disagree more strongly with today's Supreme Court decision. The ban upheld by the Court is an ill-considered and sweeping prohibition that does not even take account for serious threats to the health of individual women. This hard right turn is a stark reminder of why Democrats cannot afford to lose the 2008 election. Too much is at stake - starting with, as the Court made all too clear today, a woman's right to choose.


The Supreme Court reached the correct conclusion in upholding the congressional ban on partial birth abortion. I agree with it.


Today's Supreme Court ruling is a victory for those who cherish the sanctity of life and integrity of the judiciary. The ruling ensures that an unacceptable and unjustifiable practice will not be carried out on our innocent children. It also clearly speaks to the importance of nominating and confirming strict constructionist judges who interpret the law as it is written, and do not usurp the authority of Congress and state legislatures. As we move forward, it is critically important that our party continues to stand on the side of life.


I strongly disagree with today's Supreme Court ruling, which dramatically departs from previous precedents safeguarding the health of pregnant women. As Justice Ginsburg emphasized in her dissenting opinion, this ruling signals an alarming willingness on the part of the conservative majority to disregard its prior rulings respecting a woman's medical concerns and the very personal decisions between a doctor and patient. I am extremely concerned that this ruling will embolden state legislatures to enact further measures to restrict a woman's right to choose, and that the conservative Supreme Court justices will look for other opportunities to erode Roe v. Wade, which is established federal law and a matter of equal rights for women.


Today, our nation's highest court reaffirmed the value of life in America by upholding a ban on a practice that offends basic human decency. This decision represents a step forward in protecting the weakest and most innocent among us.

A "Post-Evangelical"s view of Catholicism PDF Print E-mail
Written by Michael Fones   
Tuesday, 24 April 2007 11:24
A fascinating look at issues of discipleship and formation from the other side: Internet Monk (a "post-evangelical" Christian) looking at the resources of the Catholic faith:

"Every time I feel like I have lost my way in the Christian life, I find myself back looking at monasticism, and the lessons I learned in two decades of reading Thomas Merton.
I’m not attracted to Catholicism, but I am very much attracted to the tradition of self-conscious, disciplined spiritual formation into a disciple of Jesus Christ. This is a great failing of our side of the church.

As much as we Protestants talk about being shaped by the Bible alone, most evangelicals are thoroughly formed and shaped by the communities where the Bible is handled, taught and practiced according to a “rule” or accepted authority, and by the media that supports and communicates the values of that community.

It is, without a doubt, one of the most appealing and positive aspects of Catholicism that it is self-conscious about its “rules” and authorities for spiritual formation. (Rule as in “way,” as in The Rule of Benedict.) It surely must be humorous to knowledgeable catholics to look at the various sects, denominations and varieties of evangelicalism and fundamentalism, all claiming to “just read the Bible.”

"It’s amazing how many Christians conceive of almost the entirety of discipleship in terms of argumentation. This is seen in the pastoral models they choose, the books/blogs they write and the spiritual activities they value most (debate and classroom lecture.)

These largely unarticulated forms of spiritual formation can be seen in what is not important. I note with interest that one simply cannot say enough bad about most kinds of contemplative prayer, and any sort of silence among many of the reformed particularly. Any kind of intentional approach to spiritual formation, and any kind of intentional approach to discipleship (Dallas Willard, for example) is undertaken amidst a barrage of criticism. If the imagination is mentioned, all fire alarms are pulled and a search for Oprah Winfrey ensues."

Your thoughts?
Never Attend Church? It Isn't All Tending in One Direction PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Tuesday, 24 April 2007 09:49
I came across these interesting statistics embedded in a 2005 USA Today article on the dramatic drop of Church attendance in Europe. There were the usual gloomy stats:

Europeans who "never" or "practically never" attend Church in 2000 as compared to 1981:

France 60%
Britian 55%
down to Ireland (8%)

But I also noticed this:

While 22% of Italians in 1981 claimed never to go to church, that number had dropped to 17% by 2000. And the US total had also dropped from 18% in 1981 to 16% in 2000.

So again, some indication that it isn't all going one way and that rumors of some kind of Christian renewal in some parts of Europe have some basis.
What is a Social Entrepeneur? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Tuesday, 24 April 2007 08:52

from the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepeneurship:

Just cause it tickled me.


What is a Social Entrepreneur?

  • A pragmatic visionary who achieves large scale, systemic and sustainable social change through a new invention, a different approach, a more rigorous application of known technologies or strategies, or a combination of these.
  • Combines the characteristics represented by Richard Branson and Mother Teresa.


I'm fascinated by the whole emergence of the "social entrepenuer" scene because it seems so applicable to the mission of lay apostles called to transform the structures and cultures of the world. So I hope to blog more on the subject later.

I Just Gotta Point Out PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Tuesday, 24 April 2007 08:25

It's snowing outside. . .

Happy-getting-close-to-the Feast of St. Catherine of Siena!

I don't think it snows in Tuscany in April.

The view from a Siena courtyard - looking up!
Death Penalty Methods Re-examined? PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 24 April 2007 08:23

Written by Keith Strohm

A new scientific study has determined that the combination of drugs used to kill prisoners under a sentence of death has not always worked correctly:

The drugs used to execute prisoners in the United States sometimes fail to work as planned, causing slow and painful deaths that probably violate constitutional bans on cruel and unusual punishment, a new medical review of dozens of executions concludes.

Even when administered properly, the three-drug lethal injection method appears to have caused some inmates to suffocate while they were conscious and unable to move, instead of having their hearts stopped while they were sedated, scientists said in a report published Monday by the online journal PLoS Medicine.

You can read more about the study here.

As I understand it, the Church has declared that capital punishment may be a legitimate means of protecting and securing the common good if no other practical means exists to do so. She recognizes therefore the right of legitimate governing authority to render prudential judgement in the matter, while upholding the foundational principal of respect for each and every human life. However, John Paul II has said that the current realities of society make the necessity of capital punishment exceedingly rare. Here is the section from the CCC:

2266 The State's effort to contain the spread of behaviors injurious to human rights and the fundamental rules of civil coexistence corresponds to the requirement of watching over the common good. Legitimate public authority has the right and duty to inflict penalties commensurate with the gravity of the crime. the primary scope of the penalty is to redress the disorder caused by the offense. When his punishment is voluntarily accepted by the offender, it takes on the value of expiation. Moreover, punishment, in addition to preserving public order and the safety of persons, has a medicinal scope: as far as possible it should contribute to the correction of the offender.

2267 The traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude, presupposing full ascertainment of the identity and responsibility of the offender, recourse to the death penalty, when this is the only practicable way to defend the lives of human beings effectively against the aggressor. If, instead, bloodless means are sufficient to defend against the aggressor and to protect the safety of persons, public authority should limit itself to such means, because they better correspond to the concrete conditions of the common good and are more in conformity to the dignity of the human person. Today, in fact, given the means at the State's disposal to effectively repress crime by rendering inoffensive the one who has committed it, without depriving him definitively of the possibility of redeeming himself, cases of absolute necessity for suppression of the offender 'today ... are very rare, if not practically non-existent.'[John Paul II, Evangelium vitae 56.]

Given the results of this study--and the fact that 11 states have suspended the use of lethal injection as a more humane method of capital punishment--what can Catholics bring to the further discussion of capital punishment that will inevitably result in the wake of this discovery? How can the riches of the Church's Teaching best be applied to this situation?
It's Not Mass - and It is "Seeker-Friendly" PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Tuesday, 24 April 2007 08:02
Apparently Xavier University is offering a class on evangelization and they are experimenting with a "seeker-friendly" service that is clearly not Mass (then why not drop the term "service" as it will just confuse people?) and is called "Road Trip".

"Road Trip will feature contemporary Catholic music by several local artists and the Rev. Eric Knapp, a Jesuit priest in his 30s. It's aimed not only at the college campus but young adults throughout Greater Cincinnati."

It sounds a bit like Catholic Underground sponsored by the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal which combines high level contemporary music and art with prayer and is spreading around New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

So much depends upon how this is done. It requires top flight music and serious prayer - but I wish them well. Catholic Underground seems to be packing em in.

May Christ be revealed and glorified in all things.

PS. The Storm Theatre in New York is sponsoring THE KAROL WOJTYLA
THEATRE FESTIVAL starting May 16th. They will be performing three of the plays of Pope John Paul II.

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