28 July, 2010

Key base of ocean food web dropping dramatically - CTV News

Key base of ocean food web dropping dramatically - CTV News

Taking the summer to reflect upon the beauty of the Mass

The Roman Catholic celebration of the Eucharist is at one and the same time the most exalting and humbling of events for believers. It is no less so for those of us who are priests. So often in our regular day to day ministries, we lose sight of the immensity and awesomeness of the mass and it can become routine, in spite of its inherent glory.


This summer, I am taking time during my personal and fraternal celebrations of the Eucharist here alongside the Ottawa River to search out musical power point presentations on YouTube that help me to concentrate on one specific prayer and moment of the liturgy at a time. I searching for these pieces, I have endeavored to choose offerings in a language other than English (although they often have English subtitles) as it helps me to enter into the mystery of each prayer, without getting tangled up in the words. It also helps to remind me of the truth that the Holy Roman Catholic Church is indeed universal and has much to offer from cultures formed differently than mine.


Here is my first offering. It is a presentation of the Kyrie. The Kyrie is actually a greek prayer in which we spiritually acknowledge our sinfulness before God and ask his forgiveness. It is a tenet of Catholic faith that the fulsome and authentic entry into this prayer will result in the forgiveness of most venial (everyday) sins.


Hope you like it.

Is Religion Special? - Opinionator Blog - NYTimes.com

Is Religion Special? - Opinionator Blog - NYTimes.com

The 'Low'-Down on Robert Duvall | Movies & TV | Christianity Today

The 'Low'-Down on Robert Duvall | Movies & TV | Christianity Today

Our Most Primal Fear and the Source of Our Bondage | Archdiocese of Washington

Our Most Primal Fear and the Source of Our Bondage | Archdiocese of Washington

One massive holdout « Divine Life – A Blog by Eric Sammons

One massive holdout « Divine Life – A Blog by Eric Sammons

Cerebral palsy sufferer broke both legs on 'healing pilgrimage' - Telegraph

Cerebral palsy sufferer broke both legs on 'healing pilgrimage' - Telegraph

26 July, 2010

Big Bang investigators want new atom smasher - CTV News

Aaah... they saved the best line for the last! "Why is there something rather than nothing" is the ultimate question that science and theology tries to answer. During my recent fishing trip I was able to take advantage of the absolute peace and quiet to read 4 or 5 books, among the best of which was "The Universe in a Single Atom" by the Dalli Lama. In it he makes a persuasive and cogent argument that science and faith are not competitors or opponents. He posits that each is using its own methodology to answer that simple single question by pointing to points of convergence between Buddhist teachings and the recent discoveries of particle physics (just to name one of the material sciences). It inspired a great deal of thought as I read his book and compared his arguments with the teachings of the R.C. Church. Between the five books I completed I filled up a good sized notebook with thoughts, quotes and arguments on this and other questions. Lots of fodder for future blog posts!


Big Bang investigators want new atom smasher - CTV News

NASA discovers hundreds of new Earth-like planets - CTV News

What if someday alien life did appear on our doorstep. What would that say about the existence and salvific act of God? Just wondering...

NASA discovers hundreds of new Earth-like planets - CTV News

Tembec to invest $300-million in Temiscaming mill: union - The Globe and Mail

This story is certainly an example of how the 'rubber' is 'hitting the road' in my corner of the world. Temiscaming was the town where I initially served as a priest, and it is the neighboring parish to my current assignment in Mattawa, Ontario. 

The timber mills in Mattawa fell silent almost two years ago, the largest operation falling to an earlier cost-trimming exercise by Tembec. The impact of the almost complete collapse of the lumber industry in Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec has had a devastating impact on many good people. Even the one local laminate flooring plant that is (barely) operating in Rutherglen (where neither wages nor benefits would come close to provincial average in most other occupations) finds themselves undercut by similar product produced in China!


I happen also to have been born and raised in an INCO mining town in the Sudbury area, and I stand incredulous at seeing United Steelworkers local 6500 being brought to its knees by the new owners, VALE Metals of Brazil. Those workers had to (unsuccessfully) endure a year long strike, not because the Sudbury operation is not extremely profitable but because the company did not want to permit any 'bleeding through' of previously hard won advances in salaries, pensions and benefits as existed under the previous owners.


All of this is more evidence of the wisdom of the social teachings of JPII and B16, both of whom have spoken out against the trend within global markets of wages and benefits falling to the lowest common denominator. I appreciate both the exigencies of the current globalized economy and the benefits that have been rendered in most countries, including Canada, but it is sad none the less to see men and women that I have come to love and respect throughout my growing years and during my 20+ years of ministry in the Ottawa Valley suffer as a result.


Tembec to invest $300-million in Temiscaming mill: union - The Globe and Mail

After ditching euthanasia, Parliament considers positive alternatives « SoCon Or Bust

AMEN!!!


After ditching euthanasia, Parliament considers positive alternatives « SoCon Or Bust

Anti-Gay Pastor Outed in Meeting of Gay Men ’Overcoming’ Desires: Is That REALLY a 12-step Program? :: EDGE Miami

Anti-Gay Pastor Outed in Meeting of Gay Men ’Overcoming’ Desires: Is That REALLY a 12-step Program? :: EDGE Miami

The end can never really justify the means

Cristina Alarcon, a Vancouver pharmacist (and frequent participant in the comment threads of this blog - thank you Cristina!!) has produced an excellent editorial that was published in THE PROVINCE newspaper in B.C. In it she raises a series of issues related to the conviction of Capt. Robert Semrau of conduct unbecoming an officer when he killed a severely wounded Taliban soldier on the grounds that it was the most 'merciful' action he could offer. Capt. Semrau was found not guilty of the more severe charge of murder.


Given the exigencies of war (where the 'rubber' REALLY hits the road!) it is an article well worth reading for anyone who is concerned about is the issues of war and justice.


There have also been a number of posts on this subject that can be found on the National Post's Religion blog, 'The Holy Post'. Check them out and join the conversation!

The end can never really justify the means

The Limits of the Coded World - Opinionator Blog - NYTimes.com

This is a remarkable article, loaded with lots of interesting stuff to stimulate some thought and discussion.

The Limits of the Coded World - Opinionator Blog - NYTimes.com

23 July, 2010

Editorial: Homosexual Activity, Catholic Teaching and Scandalmongering - U.s. - Catholic Online

Editorial: Homosexual Activity, Catholic Teaching and Scandalmongering - U.s. - Catholic Online

After exposé, Vicariate of Rome asks clergy leading 'double lives' to leave priesthood :: Catholic News Agency (CNA)

After exposé, Vicariate of Rome asks clergy leading 'double lives' to leave priesthood :: Catholic News Agency (CNA)

The Story of Bernard Prince

The first of the sex abuse scandals to erupt within our Pembroke Diocese.

The Story of Bernard Prince

Unexpected Surge of Christian Values in Canada | Register Exclusives | NCRegister.com

Unexpected Surge of Christian Values in Canada | Register Exclusives | NCRegister.com

Obama Moves away from 'Freedom of Religion' toward 'Freedom of Worship'? - U.s. - Catholic Online

Small words make a BIG difference!

Obama Moves away from 'Freedom of Religion' toward 'Freedom of Worship'? - U.s. - Catholic Online

A Vatican literacy quiz | National Catholic Reporter

Here is an interesting article!

A Vatican literacy quiz | National Catholic Reporter

16 July, 2010

"Gone Fishing!"

Well folks, time to take another break from parish work as I leave tomorrow for a five day fishing trip. No phones, internet, TV, radio... nothing but peace and quiet. 


I'll resume posting on Friday July 23rd! You will all be remembered in prayer. Please keep me in yours!


Thanks.


Fr. Tim

Letter From Europe - 2 Men in 2 Different Moral Universes - NYTimes.com

Different standards for non-clerics when it comes to sexually abusing children?

Letter From Europe - 2 Men in 2 Different Moral Universes - NYTimes.com

The Anchoress | A First Things Blog

Here's one major league TICKED OFF woman who wants to slap the Curia out of their stupor!

The Anchoress | A First Things Blog

Minor Changes in Language Could Mean Major Changes in Religious Freedom - U.s. - Catholic Online

Minor Changes in Language Could Mean Major Changes in Religious Freedom - U.s. - Catholic Online

09 July, 2010

Are Lutherans Next? Lutherans Seek Full Communion with Catholic Church - International - Catholic Online

Are Lutherans Next? Lutherans Seek Full Communion with Catholic Church - International - Catholic Online

Pastor Relieved of Legislature Prayer Duties for Using Jesus' Name

Exactly what did they expect?

Pastor Relieved of Legislature Prayer Duties for Using Jesus' Name

Fired for being Faithful: Catholic teacher dismissed over homosexuality discussion « CatholicVoteAction.org

Fired for being Faithful: Catholic teacher dismissed over homosexuality discussion « CatholicVoteAction.org

Cardinal Danneels protests leaks from Belgian police investigation

Catholic Culture : Latest Headlines : Cardinal Danneels protests leaks from Belgian police investigation

Editorial - The Pope’s Duty - NYTimes.com

Editorial - The Pope’s Duty - NYTimes.com

06 July, 2010

Haven't we all been 'here' at least once in our life?

Police: Conn. priest stole $1M for male escorts - Boston.com

Police: Conn. priest stole $1M for male escorts - Boston.com

Cardinal Danneels Questioned Today in Connection with Abuse Cover-ups

Cardinal Danneels Questioned Today in Connection with Abuse Cover-ups

Our Father Abraham | First Things

Our Father Abraham | First Things

Traveling to the 'New Jerusalem'

Fr. Richard John Neuhaus (RJN) often shared his hope that the sign he would see over the gates of heaven would read... “From the Wonderful People who Brought You New York: The New Jerusalem”. As a resident of Manhattan, he was all too aware of the role of expressways and collector lanes to move souls from one destination or another within that earthly city. It is not a great leap of imagination that this traffic imagery could easily indicate how he would expect the inner workings of the New Jerusalem and the unfolding of the coming prolepsis at the end of time. To put this more familiar biblical imagery:  will there be different ‘off ramps’, ‘collector’ and ‘express’ lanes which will carry the ‘sheep’ and ‘goats’ to their different end. (Matthew 25:31)

Meditating upon this imagery can be instructive for us in our daily lives. If we know that death is the fundamental destiny that no man, woman or child can avoid, then it is not advisable (if one believes that life is not extinguished with death’s arrival) to make sure that we are on the correct street, if not in the collector lanes reading in the proper direction? One does not want to be caught in the ‘wrong lane’ as believers and unbelievers drive off in different directions to their eternal judgment.  Just as the barriers and divisions that give direction to expressways, so too will those headed for eternal death be unable to navigate against the traffic and ‘jump the toll’ into heaven. Once that day of judgment comes; when the New Jerusalem reveals the truth of all that is in and about us before God, it will be too late to change lanes.

It is useful also to think of how the heavenly freeway would be organized. What would the name for this transportation system be? As a resident of rural Canada, I think of it as the ‘Redeemed Road‘ which will take one to eternal salvation and the ‘Condemned Causeway‘ for the damned.  Does our current direction in life reveal whether or not we are heading in the wrong direction?

Surely it is beyond dispute among Christians of all stripes that 'holy scripture' and 'creeds' teaches us all that first  there will be some who are saved and others who are not. Some people are virtuous while others are evil. Some are headed for eternal joy, others to perdition and eternal death.

The question becomes: who should be in which lane as we journey through life? Should we be speeding down the 'expressway' of self-fulfillment, or are Christians called to be people to traverse the more tortuous route through streets, neighborhoods and small towns? At the very least, should we be traveling along the collector lanes, able to exit when needed?

Is it not also true that Christians (and those who church documents call 'people of good heart') disagree on which road to travel, each stubbornly sticking to their route, trusting that it will bring them to the 'Pearly Gates' of the New Jerusalem that RJN hoped for?

Irrespective of this disagreement as to the best way to get to our goal are Catholics and Protestants at least heading to the same destination? I suggest that this imagery can be useful in understanding the true nature of ecumenism here and now in ‘Babylon’ (that collective society of earthly realms), a subject that RJN takes up in his last work,  American Babylon: Notes of a Christian Exile, (Basic Books; 2009).

In it, he suggests that the first division of the masses streaming towards  the ‘New Jerusalem’ would be  those who believe that ‘salvation comes from the Jews’ (Jn 4:4-30). He bases this position not merely upon a literalist interpretation of this one part of scripture, but by placing this teaching of Jesus in the context of St. Paul’s teaching in the Letter to the Romans (Rm Ch 9-11). His extra-scriptural references are substantial as well, ranging from the writings of St. Augustine, the ‘Dabru Emet’ of the Jewish community, through to ‘Nostra Aetate’ of Vatican II; all of which points out that to believe that Judaism and Christianity are two separate religions is contrary to orthodox Catholic teaching. Put in the traffic metaphor, if we want to get to 'heaven', we need to follow the Jews. Catholics believe that Christianity is simply the grafting of the gentile world on to the root of the ‘Tree of Jesse’. Therefore, Christians need first travel with the Jews, perhaps to diverge further along the road, but we should be following their lead. We are headed to the same essential direction.

The next exit will surely separate those who are ‘Christian’ from those who are not. To think otherwise would be to deny the divine gift promised the 'faithful'. Thus by leading them along streets and roads heretofore cratered with the potholes that our sinfulness The road that was all but  impassible is now repaired in advance of our approach with Christ and his angels patching and paving our way! This is their promised reward for sacrifices demanded by God's in the present. It is the pay-off for keeping to our map, even when the road became narrower and demanding to navigate. The way that leads to peace in this life (and the next) demands that we ignore the tempting billboards promising 'personal fulfillment' through possessing some product or another. Eventually the claims upon our soul that materialism demands will which will eventually entangle us in the gridlock of full blown commercialism.  We will never reach a happy end on that road.

Possibly there might be an exit further along that will separate those who need some ‘car repair’ before reporting for judgment from those who kept their cars full of gas and in pristine condition. After all, even if the final destination has been determined by the first division of souls (saved/damned), there will still be some whose witness was closer to the ideal than others. Again to borrow from RJN’s life experience: once you’ve crossed a bridge on to Manhattan, you’ve still got some distance to travel before you arrived at his home on 19th Street! Could this intermediate station not be thought of as  ‘Purgatory’ which Catholics believe in? It is a core belief of the Catholic faith which asserts that every soul in purgatory will eventually be saved. Does thinking of purgatory as a ‘repair station’ on the way to God’s presence distort some element of Catholic belief in this teaching? No. Perhaps to be ‘saved’ by Christ means to be able to have your soul brought to a destination where it can be ‘repaired’ and 'detailed' prior to its personal judgment before  God...with Christ’s blood paying for the work. Is it taking the metaphor too far? I think not. If not, it becomes a way of tapping into a shared human experience to bridge the gaps between the Evangelical & Pentecostals by grounding our understanding of these eschatological realities in a common language of everyday life rather than arguing over existing misunderstandings regarding more theological language.

Here’s to praying that our guardian angels (yes, I believe in such a personal spiritual beings) keep us in the 'right lane'; and to traveling through this life with a well founded Christian hope that Christ has indeed paid the price for any needed service or repair, when the body’s lease on our soul ends.

Basics - Nut? What Nut? The Squirrel Outwits to Survive - NYTimes.com

An enjoyable read if your hiding indoors from the heat (east) or rain (west)!

Basics - Nut? What Nut? The Squirrel Outwits to Survive - NYTimes.com

Connections - Two New Books About Anti-Semitism - NYTimes.com

Connections - Two New Books About Anti-Semitism - NYTimes.com

Implications of the Cardinal Ouellet appointment to the Vatican

Folks on the National Post's religion blog, 'The Holy Post' have been discussing the recent appointment of Cardinal Ouellet to head-up the Congregation of Bishops in the Vatican. Some have been accusing the editor of the HP of promoting an agenda by changing the heading of the cross-post to an article written by Fr. Tom Rosica of Salt & Light Media. Fr. Tom's headline read  Au Revoir et Mille Mercis, Cardinal Ouellet! whereas the summary of the HP article was headed Ouellet’s appointment shows desire for reform. 


I try to address this issue in the short post below. 


If you're interested in joining the discussion, click on the link at the end of my post. You can read Fr. Rosica's article by clicking on the title of this post.


The reform is not a question of 'reverting' or rolling back the reforms of Vatican II, nor is it an attempt to drag society back into some modern version of Christendom. It is a desire to change the the direction that the church has been drifting. It is a desire to have the Church actively engage with the societies in which it lives. This means shaking many bishops out of their lethergy to begin to fulfill their mandate to preach, teach and govern. It means changing the orientation of the relationship from one that was bureaucratic and insufficient to meet the challenges of today by replacing career bureaucrats with theologians who will ensure that the faith is explained in terms relevant to 21st century cultures.

The title of the post here on HP accurately reflects the content of the article. I do not therefore think that your complaint has much merit.

02 July, 2010

It s a Good Thing We Won World War II | Blogs | NCRegister.com

It s a Good Thing We Won World War II | Blogs | NCRegister.com

Whispers in the Loggia: The Kingmaker Speaks

Whispers in the Loggia: The Kingmaker Speaks

Seven days that shook the Vatican | National Catholic Reporter

Best analysis of the events shaking the Roman Catholic Church I have read. (I have read a lot of them!!) The insights expressed by the Pope (B16) in the recent curial appointments of three theologians into the most powerful offices of the Church (including Cardinal Ouellet of Quebec to lead the Congregation responsible for choosing Bishops throughout the world) men who are wholly compatible with what B16 has already revealed in his first two encyclicals, the virtues of Love and Hope. It is (FINALLY!) an acknowledgment of the fact that the Church is 'on fire'... and not in the way that devout Catholics would have hoped for... but that at last it is orienting itself to face this deadly challenge to its very existence posed by the modern State. If B16 can steer the Barque of Peter into the wind, we are well equipped to weather the storms that threaten the ship of faith today. History is replete with predictions of the Church's imminent sinking, yet the barque of Peter continues to sail on towards the culmination of its mission.

What's needed today is another G.K. Chesterton or C.S. Lewis, and perhaps the Holy Spirit will bring such souls to the fore. Personally I have found the writings of the late Fr. Richard John Neuhaus and of the very much alive George Weigel, to be among the most eloquent and effective defenders of faith in  these trying times. For example RJN's last book, American Babylon (Basic Books; 2009) presents the knitting together of the various threads of his approach to faith, life and the challenges of post-modern secularism which confronts the Catholic voice in today's society. Rooted in hope, history, reason, charity and faith, he builds a most convincing argument for the place and role of Christians who are called to be faithful and full citizens both of 'Babylon' and the 'New Jerusalem'. It is as if he knew that his days were coming to an end and took the time to write a 'summa theologica' detailing where his core beliefs would bring  anyone who chose to walk in his footsteps. A summary of the convictions that were  key to his (and our) understanding of his obligations to God and neighbor. He demonstrates a maturity and wisdom drawn from years of study, comment, and conversation with the greatest religious and civic minds of the last half of the 20th century and the opening decade of the next. He calls  all people of 'good heart' to do what is needed to make the world more closely resemble that which we hope it is to become, in the great prolepsis of time's end. In his final pages, (pp 243-251) RJN offers the most powerful response to the challenge articulately posed by MARTIN, a sometimes participant in these conversations on my blog. I sincerely hope and pray that he might find his way to reading these few words of RJN. It will give him (as it will anyone who's faith has been broken by the burdens and injustices of life) much to ponder.

George Weigel, in works such as The Cube and the Cathedral (Basic Books; 2005) and The Courage to Be Catholic: Crisis, Reform and the Future of the Church (Basic Books; 2004) addresses many of the same issues that confront the Church today. His brilliant analysis of the life and theology of Pope John Paul the Great provides the key to comprehending the way that God is calling the faithful  today. By making JP2's writings understandable to the average Catholic, he has demonstrated his own gift of offering answers to those that challenge and menace the church today. I eagerly await the arrival of his latest work, The End and the Beginning: Pope John Paul II--the Struggle for Freedom, the Last Years, the Legacy (Doubleday; September 2010) in which he attempts to do for JP2 as RJN does in his last opus; to stand and take in each thread of his pontificate as it relates to the whole of his teaching and apply it to the serious questions facing the Church today. In this, he offers answers to today's challenges formed from his synthesis of JP2's canon - answers which do not involve a retreat behind the safety of Church walls, but rather he invites others to  engage vigorously today's culture in offering the wisdom found in an orthodox and actively lived Christian faith. Weigel has few peers today who can match him in wit and wisdom as he discusses the role of faith in the parlance of the Public Square. I expect this next book to be another triumph, solidifying Weigel as the successor voice to RJN as the intellectual voice of American Roman Catholicism in the 21st Century.

Until voices such as these catch the imagination and minds of those searching for 'a better way' in life, there are many folks such as me (and many of you) who will continue to blog and post articles and opinions that may help others on this journey through to the 'end', be it personal or eschatological. Hopefully there are some who will find solace, wisdom, support and direction from what we share with others in these virtual forums. Even if we walk by different paths, we will all arrive at last at the one universal point of departure from this existence: the hour of our death. May that passing be everything we hope for. May it stand as vindication of our life's hopes and desires and so inspire us to live our lives in mutual respect with all people of good heart and hope of leaving behind a better world than we received from our elders.

01 July, 2010

Amid Church Abuse Scandal, an Office That Failed to Act - NYTimes.com

The prosecution states its case... A summary and culmination of the various news stories and scandals printed in the NYT. As damning as it is of the Vatican, and Pope Benedict XVI in particular, it does make clear one thing that I have been repeating in response to this sad affair: that the Bishops of Canada, USA & Australia (the first english-speaking Churches scorched by the sex abuse scandals) in fact HAVE changed their ways, and that reports of abuse are now being properly handled and reported to the appropriate police authority.


Everyone is aware that such evil as is inflicted by child abusers on innocent victims will always be a scourge to be fought. It was spoken of in the Bible 2000 years ago, it's still here today. No doubt it will be with us until time comes to its end. It is not so much the fact that there are priests who are predators that harmed the people's faith. It's the cover-ups which demonstrated such a callous disregard for the victims, and for the welfare of the subsequent children whose innocence was stolen because these predators were still in ministry... that's what has so grievously struck people's confidence in the Church, leading them to reject its voice in their personal moral or 'spiritual' affairs.


The Church has been here before and emerged renewed and invigorated. It will do so again. I simply mourn, to the depth of my being, the souls lost to the Church and perhaps to God due to the sinfulness of her members. I pray too that the good work and witness of faithful of Catholics, both clergy and laity will win back the confidence of as many as possible. The establishment of a new office of Evangelization is proof that at least B16 is willing to give it a try.


May God guide our steps in defense of the Church, based upon the values of human liberty, faith and charity and evidenced through our prayer, love and good works.


Fr. Tim

Amid Church Abuse Scandal, an Office That Failed to Act - NYTimes.com

The Catholic Church is Finished - Magazine - The Atlantic

The Catholic Church is Finished - Magazine - The Atlantic

World Briefing - Europe - Belgium - National Archives Affected in Raid of Church Offices - NYTimes.com

World Briefing - Europe - Belgium - National Archives Affected in Raid of Church Offices - NYTimes.com

The Realism of Religious Freedom | First Things

The Realism of Religious Freedom | First Things

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