Saturday, October 31, 2009

All Hallow's Eve

My Friend S sent this to me, I think it appeared in their church bulletin.

I hope the authors don't mind me borrowing it. I thought it was very good.

(In this weekly column, Tom and April Hoopes share family-friendly ways of
observing the liturgical year and celebrating the Sunday readings.)

Halloween and All Souls

Last year, we attended our Connecticut parish’s “Holyween” party,
where the kids dressed as saints and Dominican Father Bernard Confer guessed
with astonishing accuracy who each was. This year we’re in Atchison, Kan.,
a town that has a cottage industry of promoting haunted houses.

Catholic parents often debate the merits of Halloween as it’s celebrated
in America today. Is it too macabre? What message does it send?

We will remind the kids that “All Hallows Eve” — the vigil of All
Saints’ Day — dates back to the time the Church took over the Pantheon
in Rome in the 600s. The “gods” were removed from altars which were
reconsecrated to the martyrs. So, on the first “All Hallows Eve,” the
streets of Rome were literally lined with carts of bones — martyrs’
relics. Yes, other pagan practices have been mixed in, but we will focus on
that first mix of skeletons and saints.

We’ll pray to the folks in heaven and celebrate their victory with fun and
candy. And on All Souls’ Day, Nov. 2, we will round out the experience by
visiting a cemetery to start the month of prayer for the dead.


Revelation 7:2-4, 9-14; Psalm 24:1-6; 1 John 3:1-3; Matthew 5:1-12

Our Take

The beatitudes — today’s Gospel — are more relevant than ever. Let us
count the ways.

1. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of

Those who aren’t poor in spirit — those whose hopes are in wealth,
health or material pleasures — have had a tough year. But those who look
to spiritual realities for fulfillment needn’t be fundamentally disturbed
by market crashes or tough times. Their investments are in good hands.

2. “Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.”

In order to mourn, you have to be sensitive to the value of life. In a world
with 42 million elective abortions each year, this beatitude is as needed as
ever — and as powerful as ever. The most effective new voices in the
pro-life movement are the mothers of aborted children.

3. “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.”

To be meek means to allow God’s will to dominate your own will. The meek
don’t abuse the earth; and the meek don’t see mankind as a blight on the
earth, either. The meek take God’s creation on God’s terms, and truly
inherit the earth by appreciating the beauty of nature and the dignity of
human life.

4. “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they
will be satisfied.”

“Be nice” is a fine philosophy of life, as far as it goes, but it
doesn’t go far enough. To “hunger and thirst for righteousness” means
to refuse to tolerate the destruction of social values. Such a hunger
won’t stand for the destruction of marriage and the family, pornography,
embryo-killing research, or other intrinsic evils. However …

5. “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”

“Not tolerating evil” can’t mean “rejecting those we disagree
with.” Christ said, “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.” We
can have that same merciful attitude toward sinners — especially since
we’re sinners, too — and seek to better them, not just denounce them.

6. “Blessed are the pure of heart, for they will see God.”

Pope John Paul II said to be “pure of heart” is to see the true value of
other people, and not make them objects. People describe how a glance from a
John Paul or Mother Teresa made them feel like they were in the presence of
something great. If we are pure of heart, we’ll see Christ in those we
meet — and that will help them see God, too.

7. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.”

Ours is an age where escalating violence is seen as an answer to problems.
Though self-defense is sometimes necessary, Pope Benedict XVI and Pope John
Paul II both pointed out that even that necessary and noble war, World War
II, left Europe on a path to secularization and the culture of death.
Solidarity, not war, is the path to peace.

8. “Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for
theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.”

There are today more persecuted Christians than ever before — Christians
are being harassed and killed in India, Africa, the Philippines, China,
Myanmar, Iraq, the Middle East, and on and on. We can pray for the
persecuted — and pray to the martyrs of our time for the building of the
Kingdom of heaven on earth.

—This article originally appeared in our sister publication, the National
Catholic Register.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Natural Family Planning Misunderstanding?

Hi Folks

Pondering again.

The issue came up in one of Danielle Bean's blog the comments at least. More recently it has come up in an email group to which I belong.

Are 'poor' (as in financially challenged) people being irresponsible if they do not actively use NFP to limit their family's size, as opposed to leaving the whole thing up to God?

First, I will define a couple of terms:

Natural Family Planning is a method of fertility awareness by which a couple may choose to space, or to avoid, a pregnancy, by avoiding sexual relations during the woman's fertile period. This method is approved by the Roman Catholic Church for married couples who for serious reasons (ie not to be able to afford a bigger boat) wish to space children. The method properly used is sort of like saying to God "We'd rather not have a child (right now) but we're open to your will."

Another licit option for Catholics in family planning is to simply let God decide when and whether babies arrive. By inference, I call this 'hands off' family planning. Which is not to be confused with complete abstainance.

Complete abstainance can also be practiced by a couple who feel they must not have any children.

What I have read is what I previously stated: if a family is materially poor, they are being irresponsible if they do not actively avoid pregnancy, and just allow God to decide if and when they become pregnant.

I do not understand this line of thinking. If the proper mindset for the use of NFP is to be open to life, even if it should begin when we would rather it did not, we are leaving it, ultimately, up to God.

If a couple chooses to leave it entirely up to God, who knows everything, how is this being less responsible than if they signalled God that be co-creators at this time is not desireable, but ultimately agreed to follow his will?

I think that the irresponsibility argument is removing credit from God to be able to decide when and where he wishes to begin a life. God has been known to work around contraception when he's forced to. There was even a case of a Virgin becoming pregnant...but God asked permission of her to do this!

A life begun is always a blessed event, regardless of the circumstances of conception.

I do not disagree with the use of NFP. I wonder though that those who demand its use from certain sectors of the population are not really wanting to demand abstainance? This seems to me to be one step away from demanding sterilization.

No one has been able to explain the irresponsibility argument to me in a way that does not end up sounding like "I don't wish to care for the children of poor people". Okay, but what if God decides that these poor people should have children? Is it not possible that we are being called to assist these people?

So, explain it to me, please!

God Bless

Monday, October 19, 2009

St. Teresa, Pray for Us

Hello again

I've had one of those weeks where I feel God is trying to send a message.

Early in the week, I picked up a copy of St. Teresa of Avila's "Vida", her autobiography. I am not so sure about the translation, as it seems to have some 'new age' potential...but I've paid for it, so I'll read it.

I neglected to remember that her feast day was October 15, which coincides quite well with my starting the book!

I have read some of this Doctor of the Church's work before. I think I may have an affinity with Carmelite spirituality.

This Sunday's homily brought a mention of St. Teresa, which I think is the first time I've heard her mentioned at Mass. Apparently Father is a fan of hers as well. I was pleased to find this out.

During Mass, I noticed the presence of a friend whom I have not seen in several years, as she moved away. Four years back, she borrowed a book from me, St. Teresa's "Interior Castle". When I went to give her a hug after Mass, she said "I have something for you!" It was my book!

So I've come to the conclusion that it is time for me to do some more reading of Saint Teresa. I don't think it could be more obvious.

God Bless