Check out our website:

Monday, December 17, 2012

Concerning the Newtown, CT Shootings

Dear Friends, We are all shocked and deeply saddened by the tragic shootings in Newtown, CT last Friday. It is so difficult to try and comprehend such violence, especially towards children and especially during this time of year when our thoughts are on peace, joy and goodwill towards all. It is difficult to be joyful and perhaps we feel guilty if we do. The tragedy reminds us never to take this gift of life for granted, never miss an opportunity to let our family and friends know that we love them. It also reminds us that we have much work to do. The sentiments of joy, peace and goodwill to all are not just sentimental greetings we express in December. They are meant to be a way of life and our goal for the world. Many are feeling defenseless, wanting to do something to ease the pain of those who suffer. First and foremost, we need to offer prayers for the victims, their families and all those who are hurting. This is not just a “cute, make you feel like you are doing something” expression. Prayer connects us to the divine, and is the most important act we can do for anyone. I will be contacting Msgr. Weiss, the pastor of St. Rose of Lima parish in Newtown. 8 of the children killed are from that parish, as well as the gunman and his mother. On your behalf, I will be expressing to him our prayers and support to them and to the entire community of Newtown. In addition, a special email account has been set up on our website. Messages to the people of Newtown may be sent to At the end of the month, I will print them all and send them to the Town of Newtown. As President Obama stated at last night’s service, the people of Newtown have inspired us by their example of coming together. Let us continue to support them with our prayers. Peace, Fr. David

Friday, December 14, 2012

Thoughts on Newtown, CT

The tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut is one that makes all of us pause in shock and disbelief. How could this happen? How could someone just randomly shoot others, particularly children? As I have been reading the updates on the internet, the words from Tuesday’s first reading from Isaiah are echoing in my head: “Comfort, give comfort to my people, says your God.” (Isaiah 40:1) Like those before us awaiting the birth of Jesus, we are in need of healing, peace and joy as we await the Lord’s return. The darkness seems to once again be the victor of the day, hope has taken a hit. Our reaction is the same as it would have been 2,000 years ago: disbelief, despair, anger, resigned to a belief that evil trumps goodness. Yet, even this tragic event can’t hide God. I’m reminded of a quote I heard someone say in the aftermath of the Columbine shootings: “Even in the midst of evil, the face of Christ shines through!” Where is Jesus? Doing what Isaiah said: giving comfort. He was the teachers and staff who tried to stop the tragedy as it unfolded. He was the police officers and rescue personnel running into the school. He was the parent, teacher, staff person, neighbor, sibling consoling a young child. He is posting messages of condolence on Facebook and Twitter. One of the effects of baptism is it makes us other Christs in our world. We are his hands, his eyes, his voice and his heart in the midst of this unspeakable tragedy. In order to be sure that we are authentic to this identity, we need to be sure we remain connected to Him. We can’t handle all of this on our own. We need the support and love of others. We need to spend time with Him to unload the burden we carry. We need to hear his words of comfort and hope, his message and promise of love. We need to let his light overtake the darkness in our hearts, that we may bring that light to overtake the darkness that exists in our world. May the Lord bless the families who are suffering this day. May the souls of the departed rest in peace. St. John of the Cross, pray for us!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Live Advent!

When I was in college I had a philosophy professor who would give us a quiz at the start of each class. The question s would range from topics from class reading to something he may have seen on his drive that morning. His purpose was twofold: 1. To take attendance, and 2. To begin the lecture and class discussion from the perspective of everyday life. At the end of the quiz everyone would pass their answers to the front of the row and he would collect them. One day I was sitting at the head of the row. When he came to collect the papers, I said “Merry Christmas!” It was the spring semester, so it was a bit of humor on my part to an ordinary classroom activity. He actually stopped, called the attention of the rest of the class and told them what I had said. He turned to me and said “Thank you very much.” He then said to all of us that Christmas isn’t just a once a year be nice to everyone season. It is a 365 day a year way of life. If you are serious about Christmas, live it. The same could be said about Advent. Yes, liturgically the Church marks Advent for four weeks out of the year. In reality, it is lived everyday by the Christian. Advent isn’t about getting ready for the birth of a newborn. It is about anticipating and preparing for Christ’s return. Advent reminds us that God is beyond ouir comprehension, as is His vision and His plan. When he offers us his love, he is not just thinking what we will need for this earthly life, he is thinking of our perfect union with Him that is only possible in the heavenly kingdom. Our lives on earth are spent preparing for that. Learning more about this God and uniting ourselves more and more to Him. The sentiments of hope, joy, peace and goodwill to all are characteristics of this preparation. We come to realize-and experience-that the darkness that exists in our world does not have power over God. Our lives are spent opening our minds and hearts to the light of Christ. The more we nurture our relationship with Christ, the less we fear, the more we love. Let us take advantage of this season of Advent, but let us seek to live Advent 365 days a year.

Monday, November 19, 2012

To be Thankful...

This week we will celebrate the the holiday of Thanksgiving here in the United States, an occasion that for many involves football, family and lots of food. Whenever human beings celebrate, it tends to involve at least two of those: family and food. Even our family of faith utilizes these, including our celebration of the Eucharist. Eucharist, a word that means thanksgiving. We are a Eucharistic people, that is, a people of thanksgiving. This means that everything that we are about, that we do is in thanksgiving to God. Have you read President Lincoln’s proclamation establishing Thanksgiving? Let’s reflect on that for a moment. The nation was in the midst of the Civil War, a war that killed 2% of the nation’s population. To put that into a current day perspective, do you know someone who is a student at a 4 year private college or university? That group makes up 2% of the current American population. A bit overwhelming, isn’t it? Yet, in the midst of this national tragedy, at a point when the outcome of the War was not known, Lincoln calls upon the country to set aside a day to give thanks to God: “The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union… …I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens…” (Presidential Proclamation of Thanksgiving, October 3, 1863) In the midst of such a crisis, the President was able to list the things that the country should be thankful. The challenge of this civic holiday for us who are a people of thanksgiving is simple: do we take the time the thank God for all we have, for all God has gifted to us including his love and faith, even in our times of crisis?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Faith GPS Live! Tonight at 7PM (Monday Oct. 22)

Friday, October 19, 2012

Coming Together

Have you ever heard of Al Smith? He was the nominee for President by the Democrats in the 1928 election. He was also the first Roman Catholic to be a nominee by a major party. John F. Kennedy was the first (and to date only) Roman Catholic to be elected President.
Al Smith lost in 1928, but his name lives on. There is a charitable foundation that bears his name that raises money for many Catholic charities. Since 1960 candidates for President from both parties have been invited to be keynote speakers at the annual event. The event is hosted by the Cardinal Archbishop of New York. The candidates are not allowed to give political speeches, it is meant to be lighthearted evening to raise money. There have been some very humorous moments over the years as the candidates have poked fun at themselves and their opponent. Both President Obama and Governor Romney noted that it is a great thing about America when the two candidates can come together for such an evening, to laugh at and with each other, to recognize that there is more to life than politics. Here are videos of Gov. Romney, Pres. Obama and Cardinal Dolan:

Thursday, October 11, 2012

A Year of Faith!

Fifty years ago the Second Vatican Council began. The evening of that first day, thousands of young people gathered in St. Peter's Square in a candle light procession and were addressed by Pope John XXIII. This evening thousands gathered in a candlelight procession and were greeted by Pope Benedict XVI. His comments (taken from Rocco Palmo's Whispers in the Loggia blog) follow:
In these fifty years, we have learned and experienced that original sin exists, and that it translates itself into personal sins which can become structures of sin, having seen that even in the Lord's field there is discord, that even in the net of Peter there are bad fish, that human weakness is present even in the church, that the ship of the church is steering in the face of an opposing wind, amid differing threats. And sometimes we have thought that 'the Lord is sleeping and has forgotten us.' But we've also been made to experience the presence of the Lord, from his goodness the gift of his presence. The fire of Christ is never a devouring or a destructive one; it's a quiet fire, a small flame of goodness. The Lord doesn't forget us, his way is humble, the Lord is present, he gives warmth to our hearts, creates charisms of goodness and charity that illuminate the world, which are for us the guarantee of the goodness of God. Yes, Christ lives with us and, even today, we can be happy. And finally, I dare to make my own the unforgettable words of Pope John: 'When you go home, give your children a hug and kiss and tell them that it's a hug and kiss from the Pope.'
The Holy Father was a young theologian at that great Council and is using the 50th anniversary as an opportunity to challenge us to recommit ourselves to faith in the New Evangelization. Think of what the first apostles and disciples were able to accomplish in the first great evangelization. Now think what each of us has available to us in terms of communication. We should have an even greater success in sharing the Word and the message of God's love with the world. The early Christians were driven by their joy and knowledge in the Resurrection. That should be our source of enthusiasm and joy as well, the motivation to share this faith. However, we need to be convinced of the Resurrection ourselves. We aren't talking about a neat trick, or some guy named Jesus who had some cool ideas. We are talking about the fact that the Word became flesh, lived on the earth, suffered real pain, experienced real death and was risen from the dead! We who seek to live in relationship with him have the opportunity to share the fruits of that victory! The worst the world can do to us is not match for what God has in store for us! That is the source of our joy and enthusiasm. If you can't feel it: go to Mass. Pray. Read Scripture. Talk to others about it. Read the Catechism. Participate in one of the activities offered by Catholic Campus Ministry or your home parish. If you can feel it, are alive in faith: go to Mass. Pray. Read Scripture. Talk to others about it. Read the Catechism. Participate in one of the activities offered by Catholic Campus Ministry or your home parish. This faith is a 24/7 commitment. That's a big commitment, but no bigger than God's commitment to us!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Hookup Culture

Sorry it's been a while folks.  September was much busier than I anticipated!  I sure hope that everything is going well.

A couple of weeks ago I was in a conversation with some students who were expressing concerns with the "hookup" mentality that they found on campus, particularly towards first year female students.  They found it demeaning and potentially traumatic to all those involved.  As frustrating they found the situation, they found it even more frustrating that there didn't seem to be anything they could do to change it.  Since that conversation I cam across a video by Fr. Robert Barron from Word on Fire addressing the very same issue.  Instead of trying to recreate a wheel, I'll just post it below and allow you to hear from him directly.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Challenge of 9/11

 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid (John 14:27)

Today is an important day in our nation, 9/11.  We take some time to commemorate in some way the tragic events that unfolded on that sunny September day.  Watching the events that day seemed to be like a movie.  The problem was, it wasn't a movie.  It was real, it was ugly and it hurt.

A great challenge soon arose for me and others, particularly Catholics, in the days following the attacks.  The readings at mass that week and the following Sunday--readings that follow a cycle that was set 30 years before--were focused on forgiveness.

Forgiveness!  None of us wanted to talk about that.  We were angry, we were shocked, we wanted justice or even better, revenge.  While working for justice in the aftermath of the attacks, we have come to realize that what we long for is something even deeper: peace.  While justice is a noble pursuit, and certainly an appropriate response following an act of injustice, the desire for revenge and anger prevent us from experiencing the peace we truly desire.  That message of forgiveness was difficult to be faced with then, and now.  Even official communications to priests in the days following the attacks cautioned us to tread carefully with the topic.  However, it was and is the message we needed to hear.  It doesn't prevent us from working for justice, it does keep us from being consumed by hate.

Further reflection reveals to us that the peace we seek is a greater task than we may think.  It requires more than terrorists no longer terrorizing and destroying life, and even more than nations not going to war against other nations.  A world at peace is only possible when we eliminate all violence: in our communities, in our families, and in our hearts as well.

Remember the song "Let There Be Peace on Earth"? A very significant line in that song is "...and let it begin with me." Peace cannot exist in the world unless it first exists within me. This isn't some peace-nik, 70's style, utopian desire.  This is a fundamental truth about the human person, one understood not only among the ancient philosophers, but one that can be found in the Scriptures and the writings of the saints and theologians throughout the centuries.  When we accept the fact that we are made in God's image and likeness and that this God desires nothing else than to dwell in our hearts, we have taken the first crucial step towards peace in our world.

If everyone in the world lived according to whose image and likeness we are made, there wouldn't be war, violence and destruction.  We would resolve disagreements in a way that was respectful, even life giving. We would be able to accomplish what the world declares to be naive and unrealistic.  To achieve a peaceful world remains unrealistic if we refuse to mend our hearts, fail to respect others or continually seek to feed our selfish desires.

We as Christians are called to something higher and we need each other and God's grace to attain it. It may at times be difficult, but we have often been told in the Scriptures that it would be worth it.

Let us take time today to pray for the victims of 9/11 and their families.  Let us pray for our country. Let us also pray for all victims of violence and commit ourselves to peace.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Some Thoughts on the Start of School

(This is from column I submitted to The Anchor for next week. The Anchor is the weekly newspaper for the Diocese of Fall River) The beginning of school this month provides students with a new beginning. Human beings tend to enjoy those things that we can define as "new beginnings". They are opportunities for us to grow, to change, and to better ourselves. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out why Jesus was always preaching repentance: we like second chances, in fact we need them! This is a chance to improve your study skills, to get rid of some of your bad habits that you have picked up. Any positive habits you can build now will help you in the future, particularly when you transition to college and then to career. The start of a new school year is also a chance to grow and mature in faith. If you reflect on where you are now, you will see that your experiences have contributed to how you view the world and approach life. Have you challenged yourself to grow in faith, not just to know about God, but to know him in a deeper way? I like to remind people that God doesn't ask to be a Facebook friend, he wants a real friendship. That involves spending time with each other, communicating, sharing your dreams and frustrations, learning about the other. Do you do that with God? If not, why not? In school you will learn things that will challenge your view of the world, your understanding of how the world works and your concept of yourself and God. These moments can be stressful and at the same time exciting. Don't simply accept something because someone else said it was so. Reflect upon it, study it and come up with an understanding of it. Above all, do not do this alone! We need others in life. Aristotle said that we are social beings. We need others to not only survive, but to flourish. This is true socially, academically, emotionally and spiritually. The Church isn't an institution that employs men and women to tell us how to live. It is a community, a family of faith that seeks to help us grow in friendship with God. Sometimes this community will challenge, at other times it will be there to console and to lift you up when you can't continue on. Do you take time for this family? When you think of your parish, do you list off complaints about it, or do you take some time to reflect about the good things about it? What are there ways that you can contribute to a stronger parish community? How about your family? Does this new beginning provide you (and them) with an opportunity to deepen those relationships? The family is the domestic church, it is where we first learn about God, and how to love and pray. At weddings I remind the couple and those gathered that our parish families are only as strong as the weakest of our domestic churches. Families are powerful ways that God makes himself known to us, and yet they can be pretty tough to belong to as well. Often this occurs when a member or members become focused on themselves and not on others. How can you better contribute to your family? In the growing responsibilities and commitments that you have, how can you be sure to still take time for them? How can you make God and his love present to your parents and siblings? This is a chance to begin new friendships, perhaps mend some fences with others. You will need others to be successful in life, whether it is for the moral and spiritual support you will need in the good and bad times, or to be challenged, the proverbial kick in the butt that we sometimes need to be motivated. True friendships are life-giving. They are conduits through which God continues to reach out us. If you are in a friendship that makes you feel bad about yourself, that leads you to hate in anyway shape or form, it isn't a friendship. That's a lot for a new beginning! Don't forget you don't go about all this on your own. You have your teachers, coaches, school staff, friends and family to help you. You also have your family of faith and above all God to give you the strength and encouragement you need. Good luck!

Monday, August 27, 2012

What do you advertise?

Reflection on the Readings for Monday August 27, 2012: 1Thess. 1:1-5,11-12 Mt. 23:13-22 I was traveling this past weekend and at one point stopped by a small restaurant for breakfast. There were a few families with young children present and at one point four elderly women came in. Since it was a small restaurant, I was able to overhear parts of their conversations and discovered that they had just gone to Mass. Sadly, that was the last positive thing I can report about their time at that restaurant. They were rude, cranky and seemingly angry. They were condescending and demeaning to the wait staff as soon as they walked in the door. They also weren't to thrilled with the fact that there were small children around them. The tragedy in this scene is that they were advertising us, Catholics, to others. Not the kind of advertising that we want or that actually describes us. Now I am not naive enough to think that if they were the most outgoing, friendly group ever that people would be so impressed that they would flock to the Catholic Church. But you better believe that others in that restaurant linked them to Catholicism and came up with a negative impression of them and us. In fairness, there have been times that I haven't been a good advertisement for Christ. That is why the Scriptures at times really challenge us, even the best Catholic out there. We can always do better. It is not just a coincidence that Paul notes that as the Thessalonians faith grew, so didn't their love for others. Not only that, but they were able to persevere in faith and love even in times of persecution and other afflictions Our baptism makes us advertisements for Christ. To be a positive advertisement, our faith needs to be authentic. Our worship of God can't be something that we attend once a week, but rather something we live. We need to open our hearts and minds to God and allow his light to shine into the dark corners of our lives so that nothing blocks his light from shining through us to others.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Journey of Faith and Wisdom

About a year ago I came across a flyer from a campus ministry program at another university (I don’t recall what school it was). It began with a statement that read, “You came to an institution of higher learning to grow intellectually. Why are you ok with an eighth grade knowledge of your faith?” The statement addresses an important aspect of your college experience. Here you will be challenged in many ways. You will learn more things about life, the world and new approaches to thinking. You will learn to think critically. It can be an exciting time, but at the same time a frightening time as you begin to “reassess” what you have always held to be true. Sadly, for some reason many people do not apply the same effort and critical thinking to faith. When this occurs we can come up with such erroneous ideas as “science as disproven religion”, “religion is silly, archaic, controlling, out of touch, etc…” or “human reason will provide you with all you need to know”. A recent survey of millennials (those between the ages of 17 and 30) and religion show that most millennials find Christians to be hypocritical, judgmental and antigay (Ironically, 76% feel Christianity has good values, and 63% feel Christianity “shows love for other people”). (A Generation in Transition: Religion, Values and Politics among College Age Millennials. Public Research Institute, 2012. P. 31) certainly, we can find examples of Christians and others not living as the Gospel has called us to and with the internet, their numbers may seem to be much larger than they are. The tragedy is when in our “enlightened” state, we turn from faith. When this happens, we assume what the Church teaches without actually knowing what the teaching is. When we apply our intellectual approach to our assumptions, it is no wonder that we reach a conclusion about Christianity that is different than what Christianity is actually about. This is tragic because the intellect has told us since the ancient Greeks that the human person is a unity of body, mind and spirit. Our drive as human beings is to feed our desire for joy, love and fulfillment. This occurs when we take time to learn more about ourselves, our gifts and talents, who we are and what our purpose for being here is. This includes study of such things as philosophy, science and religion, taking time for beauty and goodness and time for spiritual nourishment and growth. If you remove religion from the mix, you enter the journey incomplete. You may experience moments of spiritual awakening (after all, truth, goodness and beauty have their source in God), but these will still be incomplete over time. We owe it to ourselves, to others and to God to include faith in our development as healthy human beings. An important foundation for understanding Catholic theology (after the Scriptures) is philosophy, the”love of wisdom”. In the Old Testament, Solomon is praised not for seeking power or wealth, but for seeking an “understanding heart”. (1Kings 3:9) Wisdom fuels us in our journey for completeness. Justice, peace and happiness are only possible when we understand who we are and live accordingly. This does not mean that growing in faith is a walk in the park. We will struggle at times to understand God and His teaching. This journey is at times challenging and time consuming, as is any type of meaningful growth we experience (Exhibit A: the teenage years!). Faith and religion do not take away the problems and stresses you will face in life, but it will provide you with the stability to persevere through those trials, a perseverance that leads to something better. Growing in faith, like growing in knowledge in science, philosophy, etc., involves asking questions, sometimes tough questions. But in order for us to grow, it also involves listening for the answer and engaging in discussion about that answer. It involves being open to the possibility that I may be wrong. It involves the realization that I am not alone in this life long process. The family of faith, the Church is there to support me, to help me in my journey of understanding, at times to challenge me and at all times to love me and keep me connected to God’s love.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Reason we need Reason

On July 31, the Church celebrated the Feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the Founder of the Jesuits. In the Office of Readings for the day (from the Church’s Liturgy of the Hours), the second reading was a selection from “The Life of Saint Ignatius from his own words by Luis Gonzalez”. The selection speaks of Ignatius' recovery from wounds sustained in battle. The last paragraph in the Office states: When Ignatius reflected on worldly thoughts, he felt intense pleasure; but when he gave them up out of weariness, he felt dry and depressed. Yet, when he thought of living the rigorous sort of life he knew the saints had lived, he not only experienced pleasure when he actually thought about it, but even after he dismissed these thoughts, he still experienced great joy. Yet he did not pay attention to this, nor did he appreciate it until one day, in a moment of insight, he began to marvel at the difference. Then he understood his experience: thoughts of one kind left him sad, the others full of joy. And this was the first time he applied a process of reasoning to his religious experience. When Ignatius used reason with his religious experience, it opened his eyes to a whole new world. Religion wasn’t about superstitions, it wasn’t something to keep the elderly occupied. He realized that it was indeed relevant in his life, needed if he hoped to live the happiness he sought. He discovered that religion required use of one’s reason. Perhaps the biggest problem facing Catholicism (and other religions, as well as other aspects of life) is that reason isn’t utilized in many discussions about life, daily living and faith. Catholicism isn’t “well, I’m Catholic and this is what I think”. It is more like “Catholic reasoning leads me to believe”. Foundational to understanding Catholic theology and intellectual history is Greek philosophy. The Greeks were concerned with absolute truth, with the foundations of our existence and our world and how we lived. Isn’t it interesting that Greek philosophy is also important to science. Think of the purpose of physics: what is everything made of? The idea that theology and science are opposed is untrue. Each actually encourages the other. I’m not a scientist. I studied history in college and then theology in the seminary. However, I find myself energized and seeking to learn more about things like String Theory, Quantum Mechanics and the Theory of Relativity. Now, my learning will be quite elementary, I do not have the aptitude for mathematics and formulas that would allow a complex understanding to form. However, when I am reading about these things or watching a documentary, I find myself thinking in the background how this science relates to and deepens my understanding of such things as the Trinity, God creating in eternity, etc. I can understand why it shouldn't be surprising that the Big Bang Theory was discovered by a Catholic priest. The science is helping me to better understand the theology and the theology is helping me to better understand the science. All of this puts me in a state of awe. From a faith perspective, this awe is in God’s creation and in God Himself. This reminds me that to grow in faith, I need to take time not only for prayer, scripture reading,studying about God and the Gospel, but I need to take time to learn about beauty (I didn’t even get into how art and music can also play a role), goodness and truth as it is found in other disciplines. All of these lead me to the source, God. When you think about it, it is no wonder that the Christianity created the university system.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A Fortnight? What's that all about?

Fortnight for Religious Freedom, what’s that all about?  It sounds pretty old fashioned, doesn’t it?
Well, to a certain extent it is. “Fortnight” comes from old English and means 14 days or 2 weeks.  I think someone with the US Bishop’s Conference thought it was a clever use of the word.  What these two weeks are about though are very modern and very important to us.  

The two weeks begin with the feasts of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More.  (St. John was an English bishop and Thomas was a lawyer and had served as Chancellor under King Henry VIII.  To make a long story very short: Henry wanted to marry Anne, but could not get an annulment, so he did it anyway declaring authority over the Church and forcing everyone to sign a pledge to affirm his decision.  John Fisher and Thomas More both refused to do so and were beheaded for their troubles.) The closing is July 4, the day of our nation’s independence.

There have been some attempts in the United States to encroach on this freedom.  This is of concern because religious liberty is one of the great hallmarks of our country from the very beginning.  The Supreme Court has upheld this liberty, as recently as this past January when they ruled 9-0 against the administration’s attempts to dictate the hiring practices of a religious school.  

This is not a time of prayer for the Catholic Church takeover of the US government.  That is not the role or desire of the Church.  It is a time to celebrate this very special right and to ask God’s protection of it. The US Bishops have put together some resources for these two weeks, including a daily study on the Church’s teaching of religious liberty.  You can find them here:

Also, there is a prayer that we are encouraged to pray each day.  Here is a copy of that: 

Prayer for the Protection of Religious Liberty

O God our Creator,
Through the power and working of your Holy Spirit,
you call us to live out our faith in the midst of the world,
bringing the light and the saving truth of the Gospel
to every corner of society.
We ask you to bless us
in our vigilance for the gift of religious liberty.
Give us the strength of mind and heart
to readily defend our freedoms when they are threatened;
give us courage in making our voices heard
on behalf of the rights of your Church
and the freedom of conscience of all people of faith.
Grant, we pray, O heavenly Father,
a clear and united voice to all your sons and daughters
gathered in your Church
in this decisive hour in the history of our nation,
so that, with every trial withstood
and every danger overcome—
for the sake of our children, our grandchildren,
and all who come after us—
this great land will always be "one nation, under God,
indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."
We ask this through Christ our Lord.

For over 200 years, religious groups have had the ability to preach the gospel, to practice their religion and to participate in the democratic process freely.  Let us pray that that tradition continues.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Do You Believe God Exists?

I read yesterday that the Pew Forum found in a recent survey that 68% of Millenials state that they have never doubted the existence of God.  Well, it is good news that close to 2/3 of the age group can say this.  It is troubling though that this is a 15% drop in five years. (  Why the drop?

Well, I suppose one could say that the Millenials are now living on their own or in college. Perhaps their thinking has “matured” or they have struggled with real issues that they had been shielded from as children and youth.  The problem with that is that this hasn’t happened with previous generations.
I tend to think that it is the result of an extreme individualism that is prevalent.  The thought is that religion is something that you keep to yourself.  This creates a problem, religion that is not shared or celebrated isn’t religion and is not life sustaining. It quickly dies.

I recall hearing Cardinal Timothy Dolan in a conversation with a Jewish Rabbi, state that throughout history God has always dealt with us as a people, not individuals.  Jesus’ own words come to mind from Matthew’s Gospel: “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Mt 18:20)  The ancient Greek philosophers also held that the human person is a social being, we need others to survive and to flourish.

This is why everything the Catholic Church does is somehow connected to the community.  It isn’t to sustain an institution, it is to sustain life and help us in growing in our awareness as children of God and our friendship with God.  There is an individual component, we need to take time to be alone with God and ourselves.  There are even some benefits to the American concern about privacy.  The concern is without others, our focus can become me, and I can replace God as my ultimate destiny.  The only possible outcome is, well, death.  What God offers us goes beyond the limits of humanity.

 Here is a video from Fr. Robert Barron about the larger question, why believe in God?