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March Edition of the Siena E-Scribe is Here PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Saturday, 24 March 2007 13:47
The Scribe is posted on our website here. If you would like to receive your very own e-mail version, send an e-mail to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .
The Spanish Civil War and the Discernment of Evil PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Saturday, 24 March 2007 11:58
Today's New York Times has a review of a new exhibit which opened yesterday Facing Fascism: New York and the Spanish Civil War and the tenor of the review might surprise a lot of readers around St. Blogs. The exhibition is a celebration of the heroism of “the 3,000 or so United States citizens (about a third from New York City) who defied the government’s prohibition and secretly went to Spain in 1937 to fight the forces of fascism. Some 800 lost their lives. . . " George Orwell was among those who volunteered and was wounded. The exhibit’s version of the story goes like this: The American volunteers were heroes because they fought fascism in Spain. They were heroes because they recognized that fascism threatened a whole world on the verge of war. And they were heroes because they continued to fight fascism at home. “ In a series of video interviews, one veteran argues (presumably in the 1980s) that what happened in Spain was no different from what was happening in Nicaragua, El Salvador and South Africa; another asserts that the United States in Vietnam was doing just what Hitler and Mussolini did.” The Times review is critical of portraying the civil war as a morality tale with simple heroes (the communists) and villains (Franco's supporters) and points out that this is a trend. In February, for example, in The Guardian of London, the historian Eric Hobsbawm celebrated the ultimate triumph of the war’s losers and suggested that the virtues of their cause transcended Stalin’s machinations. The recent film “Pan’s Labyrinth” portrays populist forest-dwelling partisans confronting a monstrously evil fascist leader. In June, W. W. Norton is going to release the latest edition of Paul Preston’s much-hailed history, “The Spanish Civil War: Reaction, Revolution, and Revenge,” which blames “an unholy alliance of anarchists, Trotskyites and cold warriors” for obscuring the nature of the war against Spanish fascism.” The truth is that both sides were guilty of atrocities. What I find particularly frustrating is that nowhere in the article is the horrific persecution of the Church during the civil war mentioned – a persecution which convinced many Catholics of the day to support Franco.

It is hard for us to see the world as they understood it before World War II and the holocaust and a thousand movies made anything to do with Nazism an unthinkable and abhorrent alternative. What Catholics in the 30’s were wrestling with was this:

12 bishops, 4,184 priests, 2365 monks and 300 nuns were killed by the Communists in Spain. Seven priests and a nun were beatified as martyrs in 2005. (The picture to the right is that of a church destroyed during the civil war)

The remarkable Catholic lay apostle, Catherine Doherty, who later went on to found Madonna House, was a witness of these horrors in Brunette, a town near the French border that had recently been recaptured from the communists. (warning: the next few paragraphs are pretty graphic)

She writes in Fragments of My Life that she and her Irish companion entered a church in which they found a large ciborium on the altar in which consecrated hosts were inserted in feces. Next they came to the cemetery of a Carmelite monastery in which both nuns and priests had been buried. The bodies had been disinterred and some had been arranged naked in positions of intercourse.

Catherine remembers: “My companion sat down on a rock and swore as I’ve never heard a man swear before-deliberately, slowly, monotonously, in every way it is possible to sear. He swore in sheer horror before the blasphemy that met our eyes.”

Catherine’s response? “We are going to kneel down right here in the midst of these bodies and pray for those who have done this. It is the only way to purify the cemetery.”

They moved on to a hospital run by Carmelite nuns. There they found a dying nun of about 20 years old. She had been raped by about 15 soldiers. When they were done, the soldier had cut off her breasts and cut her thighs into small pieces. This time, Catherine fainted.

Most Catholics at the time recognized that it was the choice between two evils and were trying to determine which side was the lesser. For all of Franco’s faults and their distaste for his alliance with Hitler, many Catholics considered anything preferable to the brutal anti-Catholic atheism of his opponents. For poet Roy Campbell, who, with his wife, had converted to Catholicism in Spain and loved the traditional life of the Spanish countryside, the situation seemed very clear. He enlisted to fight for Franco. Ronald Knox, Evelyn Waugh, and Christopher Dawson, among many other well-known Catholics of the day, also came out in support of the Nationalists. Graham Greene couldn’t stomach Franco and his connections with Hitler but couldn’t support the Republicans either. So instead, he tried to support the Catholic Basques who were fighting with the Republicans but not for a communist state. Greene was attacked from both the right and the left for his position. Jacques Maritain and Francois Mauriac also supported the Basques but theirs was a lost cause. The Spanish civil war is a good example of the extraordinary complexity of the world in which lay Catholics have to navigate. That’s why it is possible for equally orthodox and devout Catholics to ultimate disagree with one another about the application of Church teaching to concrete situations in the world. Who among us would dare to say that Ronald Knox was a real Catholic and Jacques Maritain was not – or vice versa? Our best efforts to discern, to avoid the evil and do the good, can be hampered by partial knowledge, propaganda, pressure from those about us, our own history, and situation in life and many other factors. Sometimes all you can do is pray like Catherine Doherty. Around St. Blog’s, we must remember that our oneness in Christ is deeper and fundamental than our oneness with those who agree with us on any given issue. Especially since the secular mindset isn’t going to understand either of us.
What Causes More Damage: Lust or Resentment? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Saturday, 24 March 2007 08:38
Thinking in Ohio has a moving post on the bitterness of the elder brother in the parable of the prodigal son. Here's an excerpt:

"Often we think about lostness in terms of actions that are quite visible, even spectacular. The younger son sinned in a way we can easily identify… (but) the lostness of the elder son, is much harder to identify. After all, he did all the right things. He was obedient, dutiful, law-abiding, and hardworking. People respected him, admired him, praised him, and likely considered him a model son. Outwardly, the elder son was faultless. But when confronted by his father's joy at the return of his younger brother, a dark power erupts in him and boils to the surface. Suddenly there becomes glaringly visible a resentful, proud, unkind, selfish person, one that had remained deeply hidden, even though it had been growing stronger and more powerful over the years.”

Looking deeply into myself and then around me at the lives of other people, I wonder which does more damage, lust or resentment? There is so much judgment, condemnation, and prejudice among the “saints.” There is so much frozen anger among the people who are so concerned about avoiding “sin."

When I listen carefully to the word with which the elder son attacks his father—self-righteous, self-pitying, jealous words—I hear a deeper complaint. It is the complaint that comes from a heart feels it never received what it was due. It is the complaint expressed in countless subtle and not-so-subtle ways, forming a bedrock of human resentment. It is the complaint that cries out: “I tried so hard, worked so long, did so much, and still I have not received what others get so easily. Why do people not thank me, not invite me, not play with me, not honor me, while they pay so much attention to those who take life so easily and so casually?”

There is an enormous, dark drawing power to this inner complaint. Condemnation of others and self-condemnation, self-righteousness and self-rejection keep reinforcing each other in an ever more vicious way."

Strike a cord? It does with me - who have played both parts: prodigal and elder daughter. Comments?

Nature is Never Spent PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Friday, 23 March 2007 20:28
Tis the season when gardeners everywhere begin to plan and delve - except in the Rockies where they insist that we can't plant until mid-May (although I recently had a long time resident insist to me that you don't dare plant any flower until Memorial Day here, Just try and stop me!) But my lilacs are beginning to bud - they know they are in lilac heaven and refuse to acknowledge that they are not allowed to flower before June in the high country.

Which brings us to the subject of the long and rich traditions that Christians have long practiced regarding gardening. The painting below is of St. Thomas More's garden. with his grand-daughter in law and great grand son in front.

More loved his garden and used it as a place for contemplation. The garden was famous in More's day and he entertained King Henry VIII there. Walled gardens had symbolic importance for they represented chastity and distance from worldliness. Lockey may have painted this garden in the background of the picture to symbolise More's moral wisdom as well as his love of gardening.

St. Thomas would have loved this wonderful website: The Catholic Garden. Mary gardens, Rosary gardens, Trinity gardens, Cistercian gardens, - they are all here with wonderful links and pictures.

As the Catholic Garden website points out, gardens can evangelize, feed the hungry, heal the sick, and bring comfort to those in prison and they provide links to resources for all of the above.

Or perhaps guerrilla gardening is your call. Guerrilla gardeners in London are planting illicit gardens in abandoned spots around London, subverting the status quo with beauty, nature, and civility. Check out this map of guerrilla gardens all over the world, including the US!

Another amazing source is the Marygardens homepage.

Into medieval plant symbolism or want to see pictures of the Mary Garden at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception or the Marian shrine at Knock? It's all here along with detailed instructions on how to plant a Mary garden in your yard or on your patio.

The medievalist will love visiting Penn State's medieval garden.

As Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote:

And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs--
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.
I Didn't Know Scots Were Allowed to Get Frenzied PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Friday, 23 March 2007 20:25
Planning to be in Scotland this June? You might want to plan to drop by Frenzy, the largest one day Christian music festival in the UK. Frenzy drew about 7000 last year and they have an interesting website.

Ah, but just what would John Knox think of this ??????
A Rocky Mountain High, Mark Shea, and Christian Community PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Friday, 23 March 2007 09:05
Admit it. You dread those humidity saturated dog days of August ahead of you. You know that you keep dreaming of a vacation in the mountains. This is the year to make it happen. Plan a refreshing late summer/Labor Day vacation in Colorado and begin it by attending two one-of-a-kind events in Colorado Springs. On Thursday, August 30, the Catherine of Siena Institute will be sponsoring An Evening With Mark Shea from 7 - 9pm. This free, informal gathering will feature Mark speaking on "The Care and Feeding of Lay Apostles", a question and answer time, and a reception where you can get to hobnob with Mark. We are firming up the location now and will let you know when we are sure where it will be held. Mark is a wonderful speaker and jolly, gregarious soul who delights to meet and talk about the faith with all comers. Then, on Friday, August 31, (the day before Labor Day Weekend) the Institute is sponsoring a day long gathering on the subject of Building Intentional Christian Community. So many of us long for real fellowship and support with other devoted Catholics, but don't know where to find it. The good news is that we don't have to wait for someone else to provide opportunities for fellowship. We can take the initiative to nurture Catholic community, now, in our communities. We will be drawing upon some of our experiences with the Nameless Lay Group in Seattle as well those of parishes and groups around the country. And there will be plenty of time to hear your ideas and experiences as well.

We will be spending the day (9 am – 4 pm) together at the stunningly beautiful Penrose House at the base of Cheyenne Mountain (lunch will be provided) and then end the day (starting at 6 pm) with an evening barbeque at a nearby city park.

This will be your chance to get to know some of our ID team (Sherry W, Fr. Mike, the other Sherry, Kathie Lundquist, etc.). In addition, Mark Shea and his family will also be joining in the festivities!

To cover the cost of lunch and dinner and the other expenses of putting this day on, we are asking for a donation of $40/per participant for the whole day.

The day gathering at the Penrose House is an adult only event as there are no child care facilities on the grounds. The Institute cannot provide child-care.

The evening barbecue would work well for families. Cost for adults and teenagers to attend the barbecue only is $20 and for children under 12 to attend the barbecue only would be $10.

If you are interested in either or both events, please call Mike Dillon in our office at 888 878 6789 or e-mail him at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . We do need you to pre-register for the day on Building Christian Community by August 1 so we know how many to plan for. Let us know as early as possible since our meeting space, the old Coach house, can only hold a certain number.


Colorado Springs has a small, attractive airport although you can also drive down from Denver international Airport which is about 1 ½ hours away via freeway.

Rental cars at the Colorado Springs airport and local hotels are relatively inexpensive. Mike Dillon in our office can recommend inexpensive local hotels if you need them.

The day gathering at the Penrose House is an adult only event as there are no child care facilities on the grounds. The Institute cannot provide child-care.

There are a number of good day options for those with children. If a spouse or family member would prefer to sight-see with the children, the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, the highest zoo in North America is nearby. You can feed giraffes by hand – it’s smelly but very cool!

Or you could choose to visit Focus on the Family, the amazing Garden of the Gods, Pike’s Peak (America the Beautiful was written about the view from the top of Pike's Peak) , Manitou Springs, the Rock Ledge Ranch Living Museum, go on a day hike, etc. (There is a reason why 5 million tourists visit CS each year).

Labor Weekend in Colorado Springs is the weekend of the Colorado Springs Balloon Classic which is wonderful early morning or evening event for the whole family. Notice the clothing we were wearing last Labor Day! Yes, it starts to cool off here at 6,000 ft plus altitude in late August and we have very low humidity and almost no bugs!
The Becket Fund for Religious LIberty PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Friday, 23 March 2007 06:04
Raphaela Schmid who reported on the situation in the Church in China below, heads up the Roman branch of this organization: The Becket Fund. It is an interesting group that I had never heard of.

Named for St. Thomas Becket, the Fund is a law firm dedicated to protecting the religious freedom of people of all faiths. The Becket Fund advocates for religious freedom internationally and nationally.

Areas of special concern include laws prohibiting religious apparel and other forms of peaceful religious expression; laws that prohibit proselytizing or religious conversion; the persecution of “unregistered” religious groups; and the seizure or destruction of houses of worship. The website makes this clear the Fund does not just concern itself with situations where the Christian faith is restricted but all faiths - including Islam - and in all places - including prisons.

Their Board of Advisors is high powered: Cardinal George, Mary Ann Glendon (prof of international law at Harvard); Eunice and Sargeant Shriver, etc. They have a very extensive web site that lists the various cases they are involved with in the US and elsewhere. Check them out.
Theology on Tap Does China PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Friday, 23 March 2007 05:51
per Zenit:

The Roman version of Theology on Tap met last week to hear Raphaela Schmid on the situation and suffering of the Church in China.

"Schmid opened with an insight into the open Church in China, which is government-recognized. This Church is run, to varying degrees, by the Patriotic Association, a state agency. Startled students learned that the head of the Patriotic Association, Liu Bai Nian, is a layman, who while well versed in party rhetoric, gets stumped when asked the name of his favorite saint or devotional reading.

The underground Church remains loyal to the papacy and has refused to allow any state control, especially in the appointment of bishops. As a result, they are not condoned by the state, and in some regions they are persecuted.

"The people I interviewed always wanted to talk about how God entered their lives, they were eager to express how much it meant to them to be Christian," Schmid told the crowd. "Only afterward, when asking directly, would it come out that they had been to prison because of their faith."

"They consider the suffering for their faith secondary to their experience of faith," remarked Schmid. "They never complained or put forward that they had lost jobs or been arrested."

The lay people aren't the only ones who face difficult conditions. The precious and few priests in the area demonstrate heroic virtue as they cover huge distances to tend to their flocks. One priest, recounted Schmid, when asked where he lived, announced that he had "23 rooms." She later discovered that in fact he had no house of his own. He rode his old motorbike to the 23 villages that make up his parish, staying with Catholic families in the poorest conditions.

These stories became all the more poignant because as Schmid probed what drove these people to be willing to endure hardship, she discovered that they were keen to know how Catholics live in the West. "
Ah, To Be in England Now That Spring is Here PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Thursday, 22 March 2007 21:25

Ah, to be in England now that spring is here. I did jump the pond last spring and spent a week in London.

It is hard to believe it now that the Da Vinci Code has vanished so completely but I was there the week the movie was coming out in theatres and it was everywhere! Giant posters in the tube, on tv - and everyone was reading it or discussing it. Even tourists on the train to Hampton Court were talking about it!

But I had eyes only for Hampton Court which I had longed to visit for years. The gardens were simply stunning as was the architecture and the history. To lounge where Cardinal Wolsey had lounged and Thomas More had walked. Although I must say that the medieval/Tudor section where Henry VIII and his various wives hung out gave me the willies - as such things often do and I tend to forget until I'm there.

I hopped over to Belfast to see my old friend Mark Shea speak on the
Da Vinci code. Mark and I are often in the same place at the same time on our speaking tours (such as the fall of 04 in Australia) but had never been able to get together. When I found out that we were going to be in the British Isles the same week, I determined to do something about it.

His Belfast host very graciously agreed to put me up on very little notice and so I was introduced to a small community of serious lay Catholics in Belfast that reminded me very much of the Nameless Lay Group in Seattle. They were thrilled at the turn-out to Mark's talk, which was standing/sitting room only - very unusual in Belfast!

Afterwards, We all gathered to celebrate in a private home where this little girl was clearly the resident princess.
The Cenacolo Community: A New Life for Addicts PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Thursday, 22 March 2007 21:14
The story of an amazing ministry and community. From an article by Kristina Cooper in Good News newsletter, UK.

"The Cenacolo community was founded by Sr Elvira Petrozzi, an Italian nun in 1983. For many years she had been concerned by the destruction she had seen among young people through drug abuse and she longed to help them. Since she had no formal training to work with addicts and the charism of her order was teaching, it was 8 years before she managed to persuade her superiors that this was a genuine call of God and to release her for the work.

She began with two companions - a fellow religious, Sr Aurelia, and a teacher Nives Grato. They were given an abandoned old house in the city of Saluzzo in Italy, which was leased to her by the city for a dollar a year, and on July 16th, the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the Cenacolo community officially opened. Soon young people began to arrive on her doorstep needing help and the work began.

While secular de-tox programmes will use methodone and other drug substitutes to wean people off hard drugs, Sr Elvira has a completely different method. She believes that the problem of the young people is not so much one of chemical dependence on drugs, but that drugs are the only way that these young people have found to cope with their problems in life. She sees her job as showing them, a better and much more effective option - Christ.

The Cenacolo is not so much a therapeutic community or drug rehab centre, as a school of life with prayer at its heart. The young people are thus put through a kind of intensive spiritual boot camp where they leam to live in a totally new way - to accept a simple lifestyle, and to rediscover the gifts of work, friendship and of faith in the Word of God, instead of relying on the crutch of drugs to escape from everything that is too painful to deal with. In their brochure the Cenacolo members explain their biggest problems are not the chemical withdrawals but re-orienting their lives.

One of the keys to the healing of the drug addicts is the role of their "guardian angels". These are fellow addicts who are further along the spiritual journey, who can offer emotional and spiritual support to new boys. The guardian angels provide 24 hour support for their charges, listening to them, encouraging them, making them cups of tea if they wake up in the night troubled, or even doing their work for them, if they feel too ill to do it.

The programme also teaches the addict to embrace the suffering and pain in their lives and give it to Christ through prayer, particularly in front of the Blessed Sacrament. Thus they learn in a practical way that these things can be carried with the grace of God and the love of community without having to resort to chemical escape mechanisms. Those who successfully complete the programme emerge not just healed of their addiction but strong, vibrant Christians with a heart to give and serve, particularly to help others who are suffering in the way they did in the past.

There are now 47 communities world wide, with 1500 people in them, as well as many prayer groups and support groups for the families of addicts."

The Cenacolo community in the US is in St. Augustine, Florida.
Christus pro nobis immolatus est PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 22 March 2007 20:27

Written by Kathleen Lundquist

Catholic writer David Delaney has posted some of his thoughts here on Pope Benedict XVI’s Apostolic Exhortation on the Eucharist. This paragraph really struck me:

B16 does a very good job in showing how the entire Christian life is formed around, must be structured by, and is made possible through the Eucharist and the liturgy. The Mass is the one and only acceptable offering to God on the part of humanity. As such, Benedict recognizes that the accidents which surround and adorn the liturgy must accord with the liturgy’s nature. We therefore, must adorn the one Sacrifice that reconciles man with God with the very best that humanity has to offer. It is in light of this that he earnestly desires to reshape the way the average Catholic looks at and approaches the liturgy. Clearly he thinks that an important step in do so will come in replacing the mundane adornments with the sacred.

Just over ten years ago, when I first began to consider the claim of the Catholic Church to be The Church that Jesus Himself founded, this concept of “offering” or sacrifice in connection with Communion was a stumbling block to me. I had internalized a Protestant understanding of Hebrews 9-10, that Christ suffered for our sins “once for all”, and that any other religious action done by humans that called itself a sacrifice for sins was beyond the pale. In the midst of my prayer and thought about this, strangely enough, it was the memory of an old Star Trek episode that helped me understand the Eucharistic sacrifice. At that time (1996), I wrote the following in my journal:

If the Eucharist is a sacrifice, who is doing the offering of the sacrifice? Are we/the priests making the offering, or is Christ offering up Himself? If we are simply jumping through hoops in performing the ritual, we’re doing nothing more than offering fruit baskets at the mouth of the cave of Vaal (Star Trek original series, episode #38 – “The Apple”). If, however, Christ Himself does the transforming through the office of the priest and the proclamation of His Word, then He really is offering up Himself, which places us with Him in that “wrinkle in time”, which means it’s the real McCoy. (Sorry for the bad pun.)

In every Mass, Christ (the true celebrant of every Mass, with the priest standing in persona Christi) offers up Himself – a unbloody reiteration of His blood-soaked death by torture on the cross of Calvary. Time and space fold over; matter changes its essence; God gives Himself again into our hands to have His flesh torn and His blood poured out. This is our spiritual food and drink, our sustenance for our real life, the one we live in Him.

In the midst of how busy we all are with seminars, missions, Masses, choir rehearsals, classes, and retreats (and don’t forget the day job!) in preparation for Easter, I think it’s good to remember that God is the one whose will controls things, who directs our steps, who plots our course. Though we’re hard at “working out [our] salvation with fear and trembling”, let’s keep in mind that “it is God who works” in us, both to will and to act according to His design (Phil. 2:12-13). I believe He is pleased to see trust in our eyes when we look to Him, rather than the impatience that often (in my case, at least) meets His gaze.

Parish Life & Evangelization - London Style PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Thursday, 22 March 2007 20:21

Welcome to St Patrick's Parish, Soho Square, London. I've tracked this extraordinary 200 year+ old parish in the heart of Soho for two years and am delighted to see how things are continuing to develop.

Soho is known for sex, seediness, poverty, drug abuse, and homelessness. The church, on the corner of Soho square is vast, in desperate need of repair, and has a congregation of only 150. St. Patrick's is attempting to raise 4 million pounds to renovate the church while keeping all its outreaches afloat. Yet, St. Patrick's has risen to the challenge in a remarkable way. Led by their dynamic pastor, Fr. Alexander, St. Patrick's had undertaken some very creative initiatives.

(The image is that of Hogarth's famous "Gin Lane" painted of Soho Square in the 18th century. It hasn't changed much)

SOS prayerline. Every evening from 7 - 11pm, volunteers answer a prayer line and pray for people's requests in front of the Blessed Sacrament. Since May, 2002, the prayer line has received over 19,000 calls.

Open House: Every Tuesday night, the parish cooks a meal and welcomes the homeless to St. Patrick's

The Central London Fertility Care Clinic is located at the parish. Here they teach the Creighton method of natural family planning and help those struggling with infertility.

Communities: St. Patrick's is the center for the Chinese Catholic community, the Brazilian Catholic community of the West End and the South American Catholic Community. Every Sunday St. Patrick's celebrates Mass in Cantonese, Portuguese, Spanish and English.

Catholicism for the Curious: a weekly meal and lecture series on different aspects of the Catholic faith.

Cenacolo prayer group: Cenacolo is a movement set up by Sister Elvira in Italy to support young men and women who have suffered from addiction. It happens that most are addicted to drugs. We started a prayer group here in St. Patrick’s giving an opportunity for those who support the movement and the addicts we meet on the street and elsewhere to come together in the spirit of prayer, solidarity and togetherness.

Perpetual Adoration

St. Patrick's Evangelization School (SPES) SPES is a 9 month formation in evangelization/discernment of vocation program for young adults.

What an inspiration! Parishes have been center of mission and innovation throughout Catholic history but so often the story of what God has done through them is lost. It is wonderful that the internet makes a place like St. Patrick's accessible to Catholics throughout the world.
Unleashing the Laity (or, how to revive a Catholic parish) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Thursday, 22 March 2007 18:49
In poking about the website of St. Clement Eucharistic Shrine in Boston (at I found this fascinating article on Godspy about how two parishes, one a fairly typical suburban parish, one in the heart of Boston's Back Bay on the verge of being closed, were revived and turned into what I think could be fairly described as houses of formation for lay apostles.

A snippet:

St. Andrew's and St. Clement were renewed by putting worship and catechesis first. Fr. Peter minimized the "happy get-togethers," parish dinners and the like, and took his parish leadership on retreats instead. By giving lay leaders opportunities to talk about their faith, he inspired them to claim that faith as their own and prepared them to lead others in doing the same.
St. Andrews and St. Clement were renewed by putting worship and catechesis first. I asked Fr. Peter how difficult this task was. I have been in so many Catholic groups where, when a theological question was raised, all eyes turned to the priest. The clericalism of the past has created an atmosphere in Catholic culture in which only the priest is expected to address such questions.

He said that asking lay Catholics to talk about their faith can be awkward at first. They don't always have the necessary theological vocabulary, so they found themselves stumbling to explain things, the way most of us do when we take our cars to a mechanic. "That thing there," he says, mimicking such an encounter, "you turn it on and it makes a funny noise." Once people become comfortable, though, "they find themselves speaking the language; they start to talk from the heart and it's a great thing to see."

We talked about why so many pastors seem afraid of entrusting teaching responsibilities—particularly adult catechesis and ongoing spiritual formation—to lay leadership. Fr. Peter didn't want to generalize, but he attributed the problem to a lingering clericalism—"Don't talk about the faith," he said, spoofing these attitudes, "just shut up and listen, and I'll tell you what the faith is."

Then he introduced a truly radical and hopeful notion: he thinks that the religious vocation crisis in the Western European Church today is being used by the Holy Spirit to correct the clericalism of the past. The clergy and the laity must now join in a true evangelistic partnership in which the clergy and religious focus on feeding the people and the people bring the world to Christ. "God's running the Church, hang in there," he told me, gently chiding my pessimism. "God's doing a good job, He's directing the Church to where it's going."

Read the whole thing here:
Conscientious Objection in the Service of Life PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Thursday, 22 March 2007 17:22
Zenit published an thought provoking interview two day ago with Dr. José María Simón Castellví, president of the World Federation of the Catholic Medical Associations. He was interviewed while attending the congress on "The Christian Conscience in Support of the Right to Life," organized by the Pontifical Academy for Life in Rome on Feb. 23-24.

Dr. Castellvi made some pointed observations:

"it was surprising to learn that in the so-called democratic countries in Europe, it is not possible to study to be a gynecologist without having to perform abortions.

Power elicits complicity when it attempts to subdue good people so that they keep quiet and let the powerful act.

Many people, especially the youth, rebel against this situation and do not easily conform to a society that gives us well-being and, to a certain point, anesthetizes us with it, and makes it more difficult for us to defend the weak.

The conscience should be followed. Also, the conscience should be care for, because it can become sick. It should be educated, it should be well informed and it should be polished often as a very precise instrument. We are gambling away a lot if the conscience is not in good shape.

It is the work of the laity to make the world a better place. We shouldn't think that the hierarchy of the Church is going to do everything.

The laity are everywhere, and we should sweep and polish every corner of the world.

The laity should pray, make sacrifices, follow the important guidelines set out by God through the magisterium, and work, work practically without rest."
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