Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Notre Dame Scandal Update

I posted a few days ago about the petitions concerning the selection of President Obama as commencement speaker for Notre Dame this spring. The petition to encourage Notre Dame President Fr. Jenkins to rectify this problem can be found here.

Currently there are 33,748 signatures supporting Fr. Jenkins and more than 265,702 signers supporting upholding the importance the Church puts on the value of innocent life. Please help send a clear message to Fr. Jenkins by increasing this margin.

Planned Parenthood claims to play a ‘unique role’ in Obama administration

Working to reduce the number of abortions? This is from Catholic News Agency

Washington D.C., Apr 15, 2009 / 03:51 am (CNA).- The Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) has over $1 billion in assets and claims an increase of 15,560 abortions in 2007, its annual report for 2007-2008 reveals. Praising the “new direction” of the United States, the largest abortion provider in the U.S. says it will play a “unique role” in shaping the Obama administration’s health agenda.

The letter introducing the report, signed by Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards and Elena Marks, PPFA chairwoman, professes “enormous optimism” about “the new direction of our country and new opportunities to make lasting change in the lives of women and families, here and around the globe.” “Planned Parenthood is the leading sexual and reproductive health care advocate and provider, with 93 years under our belt,” the letter continues, adding “And in the near future, we will play a unique role in helping to shape the health agenda for the new administration.”

Check out the whole story

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Am I a Terrorist Threat to the US?

I have the following story from Catholic News Agency. I have not read the actual report, but am relying upon this story.

Homeland Security Report equates 'abortion opponents' with white supremacists

Washington D.C., Apr 14, 2009 / 02:28 pm (CNA).- According to a Homeland Security Report distributed to law enforcement organizations, abortion opponents are as great a threat to national security in the immediate future as white supremacists.

The nine-page document was sent to police and sheriff's departments across the country on April 7 under the headline, "Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment." The report is unclassified, but is accompanied by a warning that says it “contains information that may be exempt from public release under the Freedom of Information Act.”

The report was prepared by the Extremism and Radicalization Branch of the Department of Homeland Security and claims it was “coordinated with the FBI.”

“Rightwing extremists,” the document says, “have capitalized on the election of the first African American president, and are focusing their efforts to recruit new members, mobilize existing supporters, and broaden their scope and appeal through propaganda, but they have not yet turned to attack planning.”

Nevertheless, according to the report, the combination of a prolonged economic downturn, the election of the first African American President and the return of many veterans with "combat skills" could create an environment similar to the early 90's, which lead to the Oklahoma City bombing.

The report describes "Rightwing extremism" broadly as “those groups, movements, and adherents that are primarily hate-oriented (based on hatred of particular religious, racial or ethnic groups), and those that are mainly antigovernment, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely. It may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration.”

Under the title “Revisiting the 1990s,” the report claims that “paralleling the current national climate, rightwing extremists during the 1990s exploited a variety of social issues and political themes to increase group visibility and recruit new members.”

“Prominent among these themes were the militia movement’s opposition to gun control efforts, criticism of free trade agreements (particularly those with Mexico), and highlighting perceived government infringement on civil liberties as well as white supremacists’ longstanding exploitation of social issues such as abortion, inter-racial crimes, and same-sex marriage.”

The report “is provided to federal, state, local, and tribal counterterrorism and law enforcement officials so they may effectively deter, prevent, preempt, or respond to terrorist attacks against the United States.”

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Obama at Notre Dame

I'm sure most of those who follow my blog have already seen the news elsewhere that Notre Dame has invited President Obama to give the commencement address next month and to receive an honorary degree. This is a slap in the face to what a "Catholic" college should represent. I encourage you to take a moment to sign the petition at Several US Bishops have also joined the cause of calling Notre Dame to accountability when in comes to working for the well being of the unborn. Inviting President Obama to speak honors a president who has promoted abortion and the spending of our money to pay for abortions around the world. If you have not yet signed the petition, I urge you to do so. In the past few days, another group has put up an online petition to support Notre Dame's decision to invite this particular president. We want to make sure our voice is clearly heard and that the petition supporting the Catholic stand on life is overwhelmingly larger.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

A Retreat Reflection on Priesthood and Religious Life

Just before Lent in 2006 I was on the Catholic Answers Forums when a small group of those with whom I had been chatting challenged me to offer some sort of an online Lenten retreat.

I thought I'd share one of the "talks" that I gave as part of that retreat.

Let us pray,

Loving Father, you call us to serve you in all that we do. You call many of your people to serve your church as priests or religious. We ask that you help your people respond with generosity to this call and that they receive the support and encouragement of their family and friends. We make this prayer through Christ our Lord. Amen.

From the Book of the Prophet Isaiah (61:1-8)
The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me; He has sent me to bring glad tidings to the lowly, to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives and release to the prisoners, To announce a year of favor from the LORD and a day of vindication by our God, to comfort all who mourn; To place on those who mourn in Zion a diadem instead of ashes, To give them oil of gladness in place of mourning, a glorious mantle instead of a listless spirit. They will be called oaks of justice, planted by the LORD to show his glory. They shall rebuild the ancient ruins, the former wastes they shall raise up And restore the ruined cities, desolate now for generations. Strangers shall stand ready to pasture your flocks, foreigners shall be your farmers and vinedressers. You yourselves shall be named priests of the LORD, ministers of our God you shall be called.


My last talk I spoke a little bit about the vocation of marriage, the love that should be exhibited between a husband and wife and the support that single people should give to married couples. I would like to look at God’s call to priesthood and religious life. Just as I said that single people have a role to play in respect to married life, those who are married have a role to play in supporting those who are called to priesthood or religious life.

I’d like to start by telling you a little about myself. May dad is Catholic, and my mom was not a church goer for the most part. Dad had drifted away from the practice of his faith while in the Air Force, before he ever met my mom. While I was growing up, I usually only attended Mass when Grandma was visiting, or we were visiting her. It wasn’t until the family moved to Forsyth, Montana and I got involved with the Boy Scouts that I started attending Mass regularly. A family in the scout troop volunteered to pick us up and drive us to Mass on Saturday nights. I was a sophomore in high school when I received my first communion.

While growing up, there were several times I thought about being a priest. These times may have been an awareness of the calling God had in store for me. I remember once when I was probably in 5th or 6th grade thinking that it would be neat to be a priest, but realizing that I had to be going to church in order for that to be a reality. Later, while in high school, I had the thought about being a priest, but I realized at the time I did not like the idea of getting up and speaking in front of people. I was also concerned about what my classmates would think if they heard I was thinking about priesthood. I pretty much dismissed the idea of priesthood. Perhaps another sign was when I started to apply to college. I had applied to several schools and the first that I heard back from was Regis College in Denver. I told my mom that I had been accepted and that it was a Catholic college. Her first response was that she did not want me going to a Catholic school because she was afraid that I might decide to become a priest or something and that all priests were alcoholics. I ended up going to Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana. March 9th , my first year at MSU my mother died.

That summer, the priest who had been the pastor where I went to high school was substituting for the pastor in Bozeman while he was on vacation. He invited myself and another high school classmate of mine to lunch and asked us if we had ever thought about being priests. I said I’d thought about it but gave the excuses about talking in front of people and concern about what my friends would say. He said to keep thinking about it.

I did keep thinking about it and eventually mentioned the idea to my Grandmother. She supported me in my quest. When I finally called my dad and told him I planned to go to the seminary he responded with, “Well, I guess you know what you are doing.” I did go off to finish my college at Mount Angel Seminary in Oregon and then did my graduate seminary work at Mundelein Seminary, University of Saint Mary of the Lake outside of Chicago.

I tell you the story about my own call to help others reflect upon a call to priesthood or religious life. Our calls are not always like St. Paul’s where we see a flash of light and find ourselves knocked on our butts. God is calling many people to serve him using the little hints in our lives. For those who are still discerning your vocation, what is God calling you to be? Are you ready to be like Mary and say, “Let it be done unto me according to your word?” or are you more like me, looking for excuses to try to do something else? Sometimes we get past those excuses, but sometimes we just keep adding to them, trying to ignore God’s call. We all need to be open to what God wants us to do with our lives, not what we think might be convenient.

I also share my story to talk a little bit about the support that those being called need to receive. How often do we discourage vocations? Neither of my parents said anything real supportive as I was hearing God’s call. Mom had a stereotype of priesthood that was not true, but she did not have a lot of experience to show her otherwise. I’m not sure what Dad’s initial concern was. As I went off to the seminary he thought it was an ok thing, not that he seemed overly excited about it. He does like to show off his priest-son when he gets the chance.

When I gave my reflection on marriage I commented on the need for all of us to find ways to support married couples. We also need to find ways to support those who are being called to serve the Church as priests or religious. Parents need to encourage their children to think about being a priest, brother or sister. Parishes need to offer public prayer for vocations. People need to speak of the positive things that priests do in their lives so young men can get excited about a possible call to priesthood. We need to expose our kids to religious sisters and brothers so they can see the value of their lifestyles, whether they be apostolic or contemplative.

We realize that we are a Eucharistic people and that we need priests to offer the Eucharist. Let’s pray and work to support those called to serve the church, not only as priests, but those called to religious life as well. You might want to listen to this Catholic Answers Live program from Feb 13, 2006, to give you some additional insights.

Let us pray,

Holy God, we ask that you continue to call your people to serve you as priests, brothers and sisters. We ask that you give those you call the courage to follow you. Give their family and friends the generosity to support those you have called. Help us all to be open to the ways we can support these vocations. We ask this through Christ, our High Priest. Amen

I hope you found this retreat session helpful.