Prayer Must Be Our First Priority

Prayer First Priority Christianity by Fr. James Farfaglia -
Many times we turn to God only we have fallen flat on our face.

We all know that prayer is essential, but for many, prayer is the last thing that we do. At times, prayer is seen as a last resort when all of our own efforts have failed.

This pervasive attitude, so rooted in our can-do American view of self-reliance, reminds me of a charming story about a little boy who began to ride his bicycle for the first time.

As he rode around the neighborhood, his mom watched proudly from the front porch of their house. As the little boy rode past his house he yelled out, “Hey, mom, look no hands!” As he rode by the second time, he yelled out, “Hey, mom, look no hands!” Finally, as he rode by a third time, he yelled out, “Hey mom, look no teeth!” [Read more...]

Christian Resurgence in Russia, Patriarch Kirill Leads Day of Prayer

Russian Orthodox Christian Bishops Patriarch Kirill by Deacon Keith Fournier -
There is a growing recognition that there is more that joins theologically faithful Catholics and theologically faithful Orthodox than that which separates us. The cultural decline compels our collaboration in Christ. It is leading us to a growing mutual respect which may pave the way toward some form of restored communion. Patriarch Kirill sees the Orthodox and Catholic Churches as “sister churches”. That is a welcome sign of the work of the Holy Spirit. We ask our readers around the globe to pray for the Patriarch and for Christians in Russia. …

We welcomed the selection of Patriarch Kirill as the 16th Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia in 2009. It was the first election of a Patriarch since the fall of the atheist Communist regime which governed the former Soviet Union for so many years. We, along with millions the world over, hoped it was a sign of the revitalization of the ancient faith in this critical time in history.

Patriarch Kirill is theologically and doctrinally solid – said to be a man of deep faith and courage. He is a champion of the authentic Orthodox Christian Tradition and a stalwart defender of the doctrine of the ancient Christian Faith of the First Millennium – before the first split in the Church occurred. [Read more...]

Catholic Bishops Take on Obama

US Catholic Bishops USCCB by Vincent Phillip Munoz -
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has taken a bold stand for religious freedom. In a recent statement, titled “Our First, Most Cherished Liberty,” the bishops call for repeal of contraception coverage mandated by the Department of Health and Human Services. The clarified position sets up a dramatic confrontation with the Obama administration—and would, if the bishops prevail, help preserve the religious liberty of all Americans.

The HHS mandate requires employers to provide insurance coverage for contraception and sterilization services. It is, according to the bishops, an “unjust law.” They write: “It cannot be obeyed and therefore one does not seek relief from it, but rather its repeal.” [Read more...]

What Does the Catholic Church Teach Concerning Capital Punishment?

Catholic Church Teach Concerning Capital Punishment by Andrew M. Greenwell, Esq. -
The question of capital punishment within the Catholic Church is a thorny one, and it is difficult within the cacophony of competing voices to sort out the current state of the Church’s teaching. The Church’s teaching that relates to the intentional killing of an innocent human being by either public authority or a private actor is certain.The teaching of the Church on the killing of a malefactor-specifically as found in Pope John Paul II’s Evangelium vitae and the editio typica of the Catechism of the Catholic Church-is not quite as absolute. …

The question of capital punishment within the Catholic Church is a thorny one, and it is difficult within the cacophony of competing voices to sort out the current state of the Church’s teaching. [Read more...]

Lent and the Path to Freedom: Doing Battle with the World, the Flesh and the Devil

Jesus Tempted Desert Satan Battle Lent by Deacon Keith Fournier –
Lent invites us to journey in Jesus, into the Desert. It is there, in that pace of struggle, the field of engagement, where we can learn the root causes of our challenges and be equipped with the weapons of our warfare to fight what the Scriptures and Tradition refer to as the “world, the flesh and the devil.” …

Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days, to be tempted by the devil.” (Luke 4:1) “The truth is that only in the mystery of the incarnate Word does the mystery of man take on light.” (Gaudium et Spes, # 22, Second Vatican Council)

When I was a young man in College I had a priest friend who I now recall every time we begin the Forty Day Observance of Lent. About a week before Ash Wednesday he would say, “I am looking forward to Lent.” The comment would perplex me greatly. In fact, I was dreading Lent, thinking it to be an onerous time with a lot of external practices which I did not really understand. [Read more...]

Pope to US Bishops: Evangelize American Culture, Defend Marriage

Pope Benedict Evangelize American Culture by Catholic Online –
Particular mention must be made of the powerful political and cultural currents seeking to alter the legal definition of marriage. The Church’s conscientious effort to resist this pressure calls for a reasoned defense of marriage as a natural institution consisting of a specific communion of persons, essentially rooted in the complementarity of the sexes and oriented to procreation. Sexual differences cannot be dismissed as irrelevant to the definition of marriage. Defending the institution of marriage as a social reality is ultimately a question of justice, since it entails safeguarding the good of the entire human community and the rights of parents and children alike. …

On Friday morning, March 9, 2012, Pope Benedict XVI addressed another panel of US Catholic Bishops undergoing their ad limina visit. He spoke with clarity and urgency concerning the need for the evangelization of the American culture and their charge concerning what he called the “contemporary crisis of marriage and the family” and presenting a “Christian vision of human sexuality”. We present the full text of the message with appreciation to Rocco Palmo and Whispers in the Loggia: [Read more...]

Catholic Social Doctrine and the Market Economy: Free Persons and Free Markets

Free Markets Catholic Church by Andrew M. Greenwell, Esq.
The free market must operate within certain moral, institutional, and legal norms, or else it becomes something other than a free market. The free market is not an autonomous, free-for-all area exempt from moral law or from the hand of positive law. The market must always be protected and kept free, and it must be safeguarded from those who would seek to use it wrongly, whether by fraud, manipulation, abuse of economic power, or monopolization. It operates within the Rule of Law. …

The social doctrine of the Catholic Church undeniably puts great emphasis on the free market as a valuable, indeed “irreplaceable” economic and social institution. (Compendium, No. 349) Drawing largely from John Paul II’s encyclical Centesimus annus, the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church is bullish on the free market and supports it as the best general means to assure proper allocation of scarce economic resources, of achieving economic efficiency, and of benefiting the common good.

The free market is an institution of social importance because of its capacity to guarantee effective results in the production of goods and services.  Historically, it has shown itself able to initiate and sustain economic development over long periods.  There are good reasons to hold that, in many circumstances, “the free market is the most efficient instrument for utilizing resources and effectively responding to needs.” [Read more...]

Two There Are: The Church, the State and the Dangers of Radical Secularism

Church vs State God vs Secularism by Andrew M. Greenwell, Esq. -
Both Church and State have public voices; both sing a song. The Catholic, both a citizen and a member of Christ’s faithful, hears both songs and both voices, for he or she knows there are two. But like St. Thomas More’s last words as he approached the scaffold and imminent death, the Catholic is “the King’s good servant, but God’s first.” One song, one voice in particular, the voice of God, the vox Domini Iesu Christi, holds him in absolute thrall. …

Duo sunt,” said the 5th century Pope Gelasius I in a famous letter to Emperor Anastasius, “quibus principaliter mundus hic regitur.” “Two there are by which this world is ruled.” Pope Gelasius I merely reformulates what is the teaching of our Lord, and which is part of reality, of what is, in the political world for those who bask in the benefit of Revelation. “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” (Matt. 22:21) Since Christ came into this world, the Christian knows that there are two public songs, and not just one, in the world.

The Catholic accepts the duo sunt as part of social reality. There is therefore in the Catholic mind, both Church and State, and a natural and necessary separation of Church and State. But this separation of Church and State does not imply subordination of Church to State. Quite the contrary, the State and the Church are coordinate powers each with its proper sphere. [Read more...]

What are you going to give up this Lent?

Cardinal Francis George

Cardinal Francis George

by Francis Cardinal George -
The Lenten rules about fasting from food and abstaining from meat have been considerably reduced in the last forty years, but reminders of them remain in the fast days on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday and in the abstinence from meat on all the Fridays of Lent. Beyond these common sacrifices that unite us spiritually to the passion of Christ, Catholics were and are encouraged to “give up” something voluntarily for the sake of others. Often this is money that could have been used for personal purposes and instead is given to help others, especially the poor.

This year, the Catholic Church in the United States is being told she must “give up” her health care institutions, her universities and many of her social service organizations. This is not a voluntary sacrifice. It is the consequence of the already much discussed Department of Health and Human Services regulations now filed and promulgated for implementation beginning Aug. 1 of this year. [Read more...]

Cardinal Dolan: Cannot Rest When Faced with so Grave a Threat to Religious Liberty

Cardinal Timothy Dolan by Deacon Keith Fournier -
“If the government can, for example, tell Catholics that they cannot be in the insurance business today without violating their religious convictions, where does it end? This violates the constitutional limits on our government, and the basic rights upon which our country was founded. Much remains to be done. We cannot rest when faced with so grave a threat to the religious liberty for which our parents and grandparents fought. In this moment in history we must work diligently to preserve religious liberty and to remove all threats to the practice of our faith in the public square.” (Cardinal Timothy Dolan)

NEW YORK, NY (Catholic Online) – Timothy Cardinal Dolan, the Archbishop of New York, recently returned from Rome, is continuing to provide clear and courageous leadership to the Catholic Church in the United States. We are facing one of the greatest struggles in our history.

We offer below the full text of a letter which was sent on Ash Wednesday, from Cardinal Dolan, to his brother Bishops. It is co-signed by another heroic figure in this critical hour, Bishop William Lori, the Chairman of the Bishops Committee for Religious Liberty. [Read more...]

2,500 Religious Leaders, Every Catholic Bishop Oppose Obama Mandate

Orthodox Bishops against Abortion Mandate by Kathleen Gilbert -
The Family Research Council has released a letter signed by over 2,500 pastors and evangelical leaders protesting the Obama administration’s birth control insurance mandate. They join every Catholic bishop that heads a diocese in the United States in opposition to the mandate.

“This is not a Catholic issue,” Family Research Council (FRC) President Tony Perkins said in unveiling the letter at a press conference today. “We will not tolerate any denomination having their religious freedom infringed upon by the government.” [Read more...]

Six Things Everyone Should Know About The HHS Mandate

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops logo by USCCB -
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops offers the following clarifications regarding the Health and Human Services regulations on mandatory coverage of contraceptives, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs.

1. The mandate does not exempt Catholic charities, schools, universities, or hospitals. These institutions are vital to the mission of the Church, but HHS does not deem them “religious employers” worthy of conscience protection, because they do not “serve primarily persons who share the[ir] religious tenets.” HHS denies these organizations religious freedom precisely because their purpose is to serve the common good of society—a purpose that government should encourage, not punish.

2. The mandate forces these institutions and others, against their conscience, to pay for things they consider immoral. Under the mandate, the government forces religious insurers to write policies that violate their beliefs; forces religious employers and schools to sponsor and subsidize coverage that violates their beliefs; and forces religious employees and students to purchase coverage that violates their beliefs. [Read more...]

Catholic Politicians Who Attack Church Should Remember God’s Judgment

Fr. Johannes Jacobse

Fr. Johannes Jacobse

by Fr. Johannes Jacobse –
Roman Catholic Bishop Daniel Jenky of Peoria, Illinois delivered a stern warning to Catholic politicians last Friday warning them that any collaboration with “assaults against the faith” would one day face the judgment of God. Orthodox bishops should take notice.

The report states:

When asked specifically about recent actions of Democratic Health and Human Services Secretary Sebelius Kathleen Sebelius and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Bishop Jenky replied “I am utterly scandalized.”

“The Lord once said ‘if you deny me at the end, I will deny you,’ this from our most merciful, good Savior. And so if it is a choice between Jesus Christ and political power or getting favorable editorials in leftist papers, well, that’s simply not a choice.”

Some leaders in the Catholic Church compromised with secular politicians for many decades, just as Orthodox leaders have done. The difference is that the Catholic Church remained clear about the moral precepts protecting innocent life while in some (fortunately rare) cases Orthodox leadership muddied the tradition to curry favor with the politicians. [Read more...]

True Ecumenism, Christians United Against Obama’s HHS Mandate

The American Catholic True Ecumenism by Donald R. McClarey -
I must confess that I have never been a great fan of Ecumenism, as a drive for greater Christian unity, as it has played out in the Catholic Church since Vatican II.  Too often it has resulted in “dialogues” with non-Catholic faiths that seek to paper over theological chasms that divide us from them.  If the price of Ecumenism is any watering down of the Catholic Faith, please count me out.

However, there is a true Ecumenism which I interpret as the banding together of people of different faiths to accomplish some great good in the name of God.  A striking example of what I am referring to was the action of the four chaplains of the USS Dorchester on January 22, 1943, a Catholic priest, two Protestant ministers, and a Jewish rabbi, who gave up their life jackets so other men could live, and died together, arms linked, praising God to the end.  Go here to read their story. [Read more...]

Obama to Catholics: ‘To Hell With You!’

Bishop David Zubik

Bishop David Zubik

by Kathleen Gilbert -
Saying it’s “really hard to believe that it happened,” the bishop of Pittsburgh has taken aim at the Obama administration’s birth control mandate.

“It comes like a slap in the face. The Obama administration has just told the Catholics of the United States, ‘To Hell with you!’” wrote Bishop David Zubik in a hard-hitting column appearing on the diocese’s website. “There is no other way to put it.”

Catholic bishops have been up in arms ever since the administration indicated it would force virtually all employers to cover all birth control, including drugs that can cause early abortions, like Plan B and ella. Last week, Catholic Church leaders were aghast to hear that, upon further consideration, the administration had refused to back down, instead simply giving outraged faith-based groups another year to comply with the mandate. [Read more...]