Faith for the Journey of Life

My Thoughts on Faith, Life, and 2,000+ Years of Catholicism / Christianity

30 October 2006

Trenton Diocese Celebrates 125 Years

My wife Lisa and I had the privilege of participating in the Trenton Diocese's 125th Anniversary Mass held yesterday at the Sovereign Bank Arena in Trenton. Our small part consisted of carrying banners representing three of the diocese's 118 parishes in the opening procession.

On 11 August 1881, Pope Leo XIII created the Diocese of Trenton with his Papal Bull Ad Futuram Rei Memoriam (For the Future Memory of Things). The Trenton Diocese was created from the Diocese of Newark and originally consisted of the fourteen southern counties of New Jersey. Its first bishop was Bishop Michael J. O'Farrell.

Twice in its history, the Diocese of Trenton has been divided to form new dioceses. In 1937, the southern-most counties were split off to form the Diocese of Camden. In 1981, four more counties were split off to form the Diocese of Metuchen. Today, the Diocese of Trenton consists of the counties of Burlington, Mercer, Monmouth and Ocean and includes over 800,000 Catholics.

The 125th Anniversary Mass was truly an inspiring celebration. Bishops representing other dioceses in New Jersey, New York, Delaware and Pennsylvania concelebrated the Mass with Trenton Bishop John M. Smith. Numerous priests also concelebrated the Mass. Also participating were the Knights of Columbus, the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre, and choirs. Bishop Smith celebrated Mass with a chalice formerly used by Pope Leo XIII.

In his Homily, Bishop Smith noted many of the historical events that have occurred during the Diocese's history including two world wars, the Great Depression, the September 11th terrorist attacks, and the war in Iraq. He also highlighted some of the technological advancements such as the Internet, cell phones, airplanes, and automobiles.

On a personal note, I was thankful for the participation of Bishop Edward Kmiec from the Diocese of Buffalo, New York, in the celebration. Many years ago, I received the Sacrament of Confirmation from him when he was serving as Auxiliary Bishop of the Trenton Diocese. I did not get to speak with him though, and he probably would not have remembered me anyway.

Yesterday was a great celebration of history and of faith. Inspired by the Holy Spirit and following in the example of Christ, the bishops, priests, religious and lay people of the Trenton Diocese have been faithful and diligent servants of our Holy God. To be able to join with Bishop Smith to celebrate this faith history was great privilege for which I thank our God in His Son's Name.

[For historical information on the Trenton Diocese, I consulted the diocesan newspaper's 125th Anniversary commemorative issue - 26 October 2006.]

29 October 2006

How I Became A Knight

At the beginning of my senior year of college, I became actively involved in the Newman Club of my college, an organization of Catholic college students. Though I had been a practicing Catholic my whole life, being part of the Newman Club gave me many new opportunities to serve God.

After graduation, I tried to stay active with the Newman Club. I went on retreats and pilgrimages with them. I attended various religious functions that they sponsored. But living over 1 1/2 hours from the college made participation difficult.

In the meantime, I sought out other organizations to serve God. Unfortunately, nothing could quite fit my spiritual needs.

This unfulfilled search lasted for several years after graduation. In late November of 2000, I was reflecting upon this while in prayer before Mass. I was feeling that I was not doing enough for God but was not sure how to correct that. Somehow the thought of the Knights of Columbus popped into my head. I was vaguely familiar with the organization. The Knights were very active in my church. So I said to God "The next time the Knights do a recruitment drive, I'll join."

God didn't waste anytime replying to my pledge. Less than five minutes later, a man strode up to the lectern, introduced himself and announced that the Knights of Columbus were holding a recruitment drive that very weekend. God did His part; now it was my turn. After Mass, I filled out a membership application and several weeks later, I was initiated into the Order.

Joining the Knights of Columbus was one of the best decisions I've ever made. Through the Knights I have been able to serve my God, country and Church in many meaningful ways.

If you are not familiar with the Knights, they are the world's largest Catholic men's service organization. Founded by Father Michael J. McGivney in 1881 in Connecticut, the Knights are dedicated to supporting the Church and building God's kingdom. The Knights are helping to re-build churches and schools devastated by Hurricane Katrina. The Knights raise money for children with special needs, seminarians, retired priests, and a host of other worthy causes. The Knights are fighting for the rights of pre-born babies and to keep the words "One Nation Under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance. For more information visit

28 October 2006

Who is Linus?

With his ubiquitous blue blanket, his adeptness at quoting Scripture and his words of wisdom beyond his youthful age, the Peanuts character Linus is one of the most enduring and lovable icons of American culture. Linus has waited in vain for the Great Pumpkin, waxed poetically about the sacrifices at D-Day and brought the true meaning of Christmas clearly into focus by quoting Luke's Gospel in the midst of commercialism.

There is much that we know about Linus, fictitious as he is though. Yet there is another Linus that we know very little about. That is Pope St. Linus, the successor to St. Peter and 2nd Pope of the Catholic Church.

What little we do know about St. Linus comes to us from several early Church writers, namely St. Irenaeus, Church historian Eusebius, St. Hippolytus and Julius Africanus. St. Irenaeus and Eusebius record him as succeeding St. Peter after his matrydom. At the time, there was no Pope in the modern sense of the word. Nevertheless, St. Linus led the Church in Rome for twelve years. He in turn was succeeded by St. Anencletus.

In his Second Letter to St. Timothy, St. Paul wrote, "Eubulus, Pudens, Linus, Claudia, and all the brothers send greetings (4:21)." St. Irenaeus, Eusebius, and some Western traditions identify this as Linus the successor of St. Peter. Given that St. Paul was writing from Rome at the time, he could have been referring to St. Linus. However, as the Jerome Biblical Commentary noted, Linus was common name at the time.

The details about St. Linus's life are sketchy but we can draw some deductions. In succeeding St. Peter, St. Linus took on a mantle of tremendous responsibility at a time when the early Church was struggling to survive and define itself. Many of its early leaders and evangelists had been killed or imprisoned, most especially St. Peter and St. Paul. Early Christians were struggling against not only the Roman authorities but Jewish religious leaders. Many, if not most, Christians believed that Christ would return within their lifetimes.

Both Linus the comics character and St. Linus the Pope have impacted the world in their own ways. While the blanket-toting Linus's impact may be more readily apparent, St. Linus undoubtedly helped a fledgling Church at a time when it needed leadership, faith and courage to survive.

[Richard P. McBrien's Lives of the Popes and The Jerome Biblical Commentary were consulted for this posting.-BJD]

26 October 2006

Military Chaplains Serving God and Country

For as long as Americans have been going off to war, ministers, priests and other clergy have been accompanying them as chaplains. Military chaplains have been serving the spiritual needs of America’s service men and women since colonial times, through the Revolution, Civil War, and two world wars and now in the global war on terrorism.

The Army, Air Force, and Navy all provide chaplains for their members. In addition, the Navy provides chaplains for the Marine Corps and the Coast Guard.

Military chaplains pre-date the establishment of our nation. In 1775, the Continental Congress adopted legislation providing for chaplains for first the Continental Army and then the Continental Navy.

Military chaplains have honorably served throughout America’s toughest battles and campaigns. At Gettysburg, Father William Corby granted absolution to the soldiers of the famed Irish Brigade before they plunged into the maelstrom of the Wheatfield. Chaplains served in the trenches of France during World War One and Navy chaplains were with the Marines in their epic Battle of Belleau Wood.
During the infamous Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Navy Chaplains Thomas Kirkpatrick of USS Arizona and Father Aloysius Schmitt of USS Oklahoma were among the 2,403 military personnel killed that day. Just before the Battle of the Bulge, Third U.S. Army's Chief Chaplain Msgr. James O'Neil drafted a prayer for good weather for General Patton and several days later, God granted good weather for Third Army to halt the German Army's surprise counter-offensive.
Navy Chaplain Father Joseph O’Callahan was awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroism aboard the carrier USS Franklin when she was nearly sunk by kamikazes off Japan in 1945.

During the Korean War, Army Chaplain Father Emil Kapaun was captured and imprisoned by the Communist forces. Enduring appalling living conditions, Father Kapaun ministered to his fellow prisoners until succumbing to pneumonia. The Catholic Diocese of Wichita, Kansas is promoting his cause for sainthood. Visit for more information.

Army Chaplain Father Charles Watters of 173rd Airborne Brigade and Navy Chaplain Father Vincent Cappodanno of the 3rd Battation / 5th Marines both were awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously for ministering to the wounded in the midst of fierce battles in Vietnam. Father Watters was also a 4th Degree member of the Knights of Columbus.

During my time in the Sandbox, I was impressed by the great efforts that our Armed Forces make to provide religious ministry to service members. At my base - which was one of the larger ones in Iraq - the Army and Navy chaplains pooled their resources to provide religious ministry. On any given Sunday, there were a dozen different worship services - Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist, non-denominational, contemporary Protestant, evangelical, etc. - held in four different locations on the base. During the week, there were Bible studies and prayer groups. Our base did not have Jewish or Mormon chaplains assigned so lay leaders coordinated the worship for their faith groups. A Jewish chaplain was flown in for the Jewish soldiers and Marines to celebrate the High Holy Days. I was able to attend Mass every Sunday and Holy Day that I was there. In addition, the Catholic chaplains flew out to the forward areas regularly to provide worship services for the smaller bases.

Military chaplains have served America’s military members in every conflict and war. They have ministered to the wounded and dying, often while under fire. They have held worship services aboard ships, at established bases and under the most rudimentary field conditions. They have provided counseling and spiritual direction. Back at home they have comforted the families of those who have fallen. They have lived the words "for God and country."

23 October 2006

Pray for Vocations

The author of A Catholic Life blog (see my links section) has created an outstanding website about our Catholic faith. He goes by the name of Moneybags.

Moneybags was kind enough to create a link between our two respective blogs and so I am pleased to return the favor. He is also discerning a vocation to the priesthood.

So in his honor and to spiritually aid him in his most worthy endeavors and to aid all those whom God is calling, I am proud to post up this prayer for vocations by Pope Benedict XVI:

O Father,
raise up among Christians
numerous and holy vocations to the priesthood,
to keep the faith alive
and guard the gracious memory of your Son Jesus
through the preaching of his word
and the administration of the Sacraments,
with which you continually renew your faithful.
Give us holy ministers of your altar,
who are careful and fervent guardians of the Eucharist,
the sacrament of the supreme gift of Christ
for the redemption of the world.
Call ministers of your mercy, who,
through the sacrament of Reconciliation,
spread the joy of your forgiveness.
Grant, O Father,
that the Church may welcome with joy
numerous inspirations of the Spirit of your Son
and, docile to His teachings,
may she care for vocations to the ministerial priesthood
and to the consecrated life.
Sustain the Bishops,
priests and deacons,
consecrated men and women,
and all the baptized in Christ,
so that they may faithfully fulfil their mission at the service of the Gospel.
This we pray You through Christ our Lord.
Mary, Queen of Apostles, pray for us.

Pope Benedict XVI,
(Message of the Holy Father for the 43rd World Day of Prayer for Vocations)
(The Holy Father's Message is posted at

21 October 2006

NBC Deletes Madonna Crucifixion Scene

The American Family Association ( is reporting that NBC has decided to delete the controversial and blasphemous crucifixion scene from its November broadcast of a Madonna concert. AFA reports that NBC received over 750,000 e-mails of opposition to this scene being broadcast.

Madonna has earned quite a reputation for offensive acts towards Christianity. Originally, NBC planned to broadcast a scene in which Madonna appears on stage crucified. This scene was considered highly offensive by a great many Christians who did not hesitate to let their outrage be known.

I am glad that NBC has chosen not to air this blasphemy and I pray that the Holy Spirit may enlighten Madonna as to the errors of her ways which mock Christianity and the great love our Saviour has for us all.

19 October 2006

Pope Innocent III and St. Francis of Assisi

Adorning the walls of the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi are a series of twenty-eight frescoes painted by the famed Florentine Renaissance artist Giotto (1276-1337). They tell the story of a man’s extraordinary journey of faith; it is often said that St. Francis’s life more nearly mirrored Jesus Christ than any other human being. Each of Giotto’s frescoes is powerful in its spiritual representation and magnificent in its use of color, structure and form.

For me personally, one frescoe stands out in particular from this inspiring group: "The Dream of Innocent III." As the title indicates, the frescoe depicts a dream that Pope Innocent III had in 1208. On the viewer's right side of the frescoe, a richly adorned Pope Innocent III sleeps in an ornate bed chamber. On the left side, the Lateran Basilica in Rome leans dangerously. Its collapse is prevented by a humble man dressed in a simple robe who physically uses his shoulders to hold up the Basilica.

At the time of Innocent III's dream, St. Francis had gathered a small group of followers and was making his way to Rome to seek Papal authorization for their fledgling monastic order. The Pope interpreted his dream to mean that St. Francis would been instrumental in reforming and strengthening the Catholic Church. Accordingly, the Pope not only received St. Francis but also approved his order.

"The Dream of Innocent III" depicts two men who in seemingly contradictory ways both made major contributions to the Church established by Jesus Christ. Pope Innocent III represented Church power and authority. "Innocent III was one of the most important and powerful popes in the entire history of the Church, and his pontificate is considered the summit of the medieval papacy," wrote Richard P. McBrien in his Lives of the Popes (208). Innocent III exerted his authority over not just the Church but secular states as well. He combated heresy, reformed the Church and the clergy, and convened the Fourth Lateran Council.

In stark contrast to the powerful Pope Innocent III was the humble St. Francis. The son of a wealthy merchant, St. Francis renounced his life of privilege and embarked upon a faith journey of abject poverty and spiritual wealth. He soon attracted a group of like-minded followers and by example launched a religious order that dramatically improved the Church through piety, poverty and service. Led by his friend St. Clare, a female order developed to complement his efforts. He even was blessed to bear the Holy Wounds of our Savior - the Stigmata. Death did not end his holy mission as evidenced by his many posthumous apparitions and intercessory miracles.

In considering the "Dream of Innocent III," we can symbolically see how selflessly St. Francis devoted himself to the Church Christ established on earth. He uses his body to prevent the Basilica from collapsing. His countenance is one full of faith and determination, and is devoid of fear and ambition. Like his role model Jesus Christ, he is willing to sacrifice himself for the good of the Church and mankind.

[Note on sources: In preparing this reflection, Richard P. McBrien's Lives of the Popes (NY: HarperSanFrancisco, 2000), H.W. Crocker III's Triumph: The Power and Glory of the Catholic Church (NY: Prima Publishing, 2001), and The Illustrated Guide of Assisi were consulted.]

Giotto's masterpiece may be viewed online at

Faith for the Journey of Life Blog provides this link for illustrative purposes only and does not endorse the content of this website.

17 October 2006

Pope Canonizes Bishop / Knight of Columbus

Pope Benedict XVI canonized Bishop Rafael Guizar Valencia (1878-1938) during a Mass held in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday, 15 October 2006. "May the example of St. Raphael Guizar Valencia be a call to brother bishops and priests to consider as a fundamental element of their pastoral projects - alongside the spirit of poverty and evangelization - the formation of priestly and religious vocations and their formation in accordance with Christ’s heart," said the Pope.

Bishop Guizar Valencia was an advocate of the poor, an untiring missionary, an educator, a courageous defender of the Church, strong proponent for priest formation and a member of the Knights of Columbus. He spent much of his life fleeing religious persecutions and living in exile in Cuba and Guatemala.

It was while he was living in Cuba that he was elected Bishop of Vera Cruz, Mexico on 1 August 1919. He returned to Mexico the following January. While Bishop, he founded a clandestine seminary in Mexico City that operated for fifteen years.

"A bishop can do without a mitre, a crosier, and even a cathedral," the future saint once remarked, "but never without a seminary, because the future of his diocese depends on the seminary."

While serving as Bishop, St. Raphael Valencia became a member of Knights of Columbus Council 2311 in Vera Cruz on 16 August 1923.

St. Raphael Guizar Valencia is the seventh Knight of Columbus to be canonized as a saint. The other six Saint / Knights - Fathers Luis Batiz Sainz, Jose Maria Robles Hurtado, Mateo Correa Magallanes, Miguel de la Mora de la Mora, Rodrigo Aguilar Aleman, and Pedro de Jesus Maldonado Lucero - were all martyred in Mexican during the religious persecutions of the 1920s.

Also canonized with Bishop Guizar Valencia were the Italians St. Filippo Smaldone (1848-1923) and St. Rosa Venerini (1656-1728) and a French nun St. Theodore Guerin (1798-1856) who established schools in the United States.

While on a mission in Cordoba in December 1937, the Bishop suffered a heart attack. Despite being bedridden, he continued to manage his diocese and seminary and celebrate daily Mass. The Lord God called him home on 6 June 1938.

[Information for this posting providing by the Knights of Columbus website and the Vatican website ]

09 October 2006

The Sacrament of Reconciliation and a Trip to the Sandbox

As instituted by our Lord Jesus Christ and administered by our Holy Catholic Church, the Sacrament of Reconciliation is a vital way for us sinners to be reconciled with God and renew our friendship with Him. Last year, the importance of this Sacrament took on a whole new significance when I was mobilized and deployed to Iraq.

On the day that I left for Iraq last year, I stood talking with a Navy chaplain in the terminal of the air base that we were leaving from. A young Marine approached us. Like us, he would soon be boarding a plane to fly to Iraq and an uncertain future. With an apparent look of unease, he asked if the chaplain was a Catholic priest and if he could hear a confession.

I could easily relate to the Marine's concerns. We were about to depart for a war zone and no one except God knew for certain what lay in store for us. Iraq is not a place you want to go to with a soul full of unconfessed sin.

Just a month prior I was filled with the same anxieties. I was mobilized for service in Iraq with just six days to prepare. The unit that I was being assigned to had already deployed. I was supposed to catch up with it in Iraq, so time was critical. I had a million things to do and just a few days to get them done. Since I was heading into a war zone, making a good confession and getting right with the Lord was a high priority for me.

I made an appointment with a priest friend of mine - Father Maz - to receive the Sacrament. Unfortunately, in the rush to get ready for mobilization, I was unable to make the appointment and had to call Father to cancel. Over the phone he prayed to our Blessed Mother for my protection.

Needless to say, I was quite anxious about when I would get a chance to confess. I fully expected to be in Iraq in less than a week and I wanted to receive absolution before I got there.

Shortly after talking with Father Maz, I drove past Our Lady of Fatima Church located near my air base in Pennsylvania. Remembering that the church had Perpetual Adoration, I stopped in to talk to Jesus. As I walked into the Adoration Chapel, I saw a priest praying in the front pew.

I am a firm believer that there are no coincidences with God. So I saw that priest's presence in the Adoration Chapel for what it was: God looking out for me. Dressed in my summer white Navy uniform, I walked up to the priest and said, "Excuse me, Father. I am heading to Iraq in a few days. Could you hear my confession?" So in the presence of Our Lord, I made my Confession and received absolution from that priest.

As it turned out, getting me to Iraq took longer than anticipated. A month later, I was in the air base terminal in North Carolina talking with a Navy Chaplain when a young Marine approached us looking for a priest to confess to. Unfortunately, this chaplain was Christian but not a Catholic priest.

But there was another Navy Chaplain traveling with us who was a Catholic priest. After a few minutes of searching, I located the Catholic Chaplain and brought the Marine to him. As best could be done under the circumstances, the Marine confessed his sins and received absolution from the Catholic Chaplain right there in the air terminal.

Just like God took care of me in the Adoration Chapel back in Pennsylvania, God took care of this Marine in that air terminal in North Carolina. We both boarded the plane for Iraq, still uncertain of the future but certain of God's love for us and His boundless mercy. For those who seek God with a repentant heart, God will not keep His mercy for them.

07 October 2006

Columbus's Voyage of Faith

Christopher Columbus was and is to this day, a man of myth and controversy. Others set foot in the New World before him. He is attacked for his worldly ambition and his supposed treatment of the native peoples. He is castigated for having opened the New World up to European colonization and exploitation.

Oftentimes lost in the various controversies and myths surrounding Christopher Columbus is the fact that his 1492 voyage of discovery was also very much a voyage of faith. True, Columbus had worldly intentions. However, his voyage was also both based upon his devout Christian faith and intended to bring that Christian faith to the indigenous peoples of the lands he sailed to.

Columbus faced a great many obstacles in his efforts to prepare and embark upon such a momentous voyage. Contrary to popular myth, however, convincing people that the world was not flat was not one of them. Most educated persons of Columbus's time knew that the world was round based upon the learning of the ancient Greeks. Those who doubted Columbus's enterprise did so because they believed the world was much larger than he had calculated. They were right; Columbus gross over-estimated the circumference of the world.

For a mariner embarking upon such a great voyage during the 15th Century, great faith was also needed. Columbus's ships were miniscule compared with the ships that cross the Atlantic today. The famed Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria are estimated to be less than 80 feet in length, with a draft of 6 to 10 feet and a beam between 20 and 25 feet. His ships were subject to the vicisitudes of wind, weather and waves. He lacked accurate charts and weather information. His navigational equipment was rudimentary compared with today's equipment. Any number of factors could have destroyed him and his ships, rendering him a historical footnote.

To help him overcome these difficulties, Columbus drew upon great faith in God. Columbus was a devout Catholic who regularly attended Mass. On the morning of setting out on his voyage, Columbus attended Mass. As was common among mariners of the day, Columbus and his crew prayed at frequent intervals throughout the day while at sea. Everyday at sunset, they sang the Salve Regina. His writings and his journal of the voyage have frequent references to God. He placed great trust in God for his safety and that of his crew.

"In matters of the Christian religion, without doubt he was a Catholic and of great devotion," wrote the famed Spanish priest and historian Father Bartolome de Las Casas in his Historia de las Indias. Not only did de Las Casas know Columbus personally but both his father and uncle had sailed with him.

For Columbus, this voyage was not just about trusting in God to see him through it. It was very much about bringing God and the Christian faith to the people whom he would meet. As de Las Casas wrote of Columbus and the indigenous peoples, "he desire and was eager for the conversion of these peoples and that in every region the faith of Jesus Christ be planted and enhanced." Columbus strongly believed that God wanted him to bring Christianity to the peoples of the Far East.

On 12 October 1492, Columbus and his party set foot upon an island he named San Salvador after Jesus Christ. On the shore, they knelt in thanks to God for having brought them here. On this and other islands he visited, Columbus erected Crosses to claim these lands for Christ.

It was Columbus's faith and his opening of the New World to Christianity that inspired a young priest in New Haven, Connecticut in October of 1881 to name his new charitable order in his honor. The order is known as the Knights of Columbus and that young priest was named Father Michael J. McGivney.

Altogether, Columbus ultimately made a total of four voyages to the New World. He set up colonies, explored and conducted missionary activities to spread Christianity. To his dying day, he believed that he had reached India, not realizing he had literally bumped into a new continent.

[Hundreds of books have been written on Christopher Columbus. One of the best is Samuel Eliot Morison's Admiral of the Ocean Sea - A Life of Christopher Columbus. (NY: MJF Books, 1942).]

05 October 2006

The Two Madonnas

There are two Madonnas prominent in the world today but the contrasts between them could not be greater.

The first Madonna is the Mother of God, the Theotokos, the Handmaid of the Lord whose "Yes" to God enabled our Savior to embark upon his mission of salvation. Selflessly devoted to God and her son, Mary lived a life of great faith, humility and love. She is Queen of the Universe and our ever faithful advocate and adopted mother. She is a model of faith and love.

Mary the Mother of God's greatest trial occurred during the agonizing Passion of her son. From the time she met him as he carried the instrument of his death until he gave up his life on the Cross, Mary was with him agonizing in a mental and emotional ordeal second only to his own. She held his lifeless body in her arms and helped put her son into the sepulcher. She was the other victim of our sins.

The other Madonna is the trashy pop singer who abandoned her Catholic faith and made an "entertainment" career of licentiousness and religious mockery. Her latest outrage makes a mockery of Jesus's Crucifixion. During a concert to be broadcast on NBC next month, the singer Madonna appears on stage crucified on a disco ball-like cross.

Had this Madonna been at Calvary, her behavior probably would have been far, far different than that of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Her voice would have joined with those of the chief priests and scribes as they mocked Jesus hanging on the cross: "He saved others; he cannot save himself. Let the Messiah, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe. (Mark 15:31-32).

There are two Madonnas prominent in the world today...but there is only one who is worthy of the name. She is the Blessed Mother of Jesus. She agonized with her son at his crucifixion; she did not mock him and his great act of love for mankind.

Madonna's Latest Outrage Targets the Cross of Christ

In all of human history no event has greater eternal significance for us all than Jesus Christ dying on the Cross for our salvation. Yet, next month, Madonna (the trashy pop singer - not the Mother of Our Savior) and the NBC television network will be making a public mockery of the greatest act of love ever performed.

This November, NBC plans to broadcast a concert by pop singer Madonna that includes a scene in which she mocks the Crucifixion of our Savior.

"In the show, Madonna, wearing a fake crown of thorns, descends on a suspended mirrored, disco ball-type cross," reports the American Family Association on its website "When some Christian leaders complained about the mockery, NBC ignored their concerns."

Several Christian groups, including the AFA and the Catholic League, are publicly opposing this outrage and are calling upon us to take action with them. Through its website, the AFA is collecting and forwarding e-mails to NBC calling for them not to broadcast the Madonna crucifixion scene of her concert. I urge you to visit to join in AFA's efforts.

For Christians and for the human race as a whole, there is no more important event than the Cross and Resurrection of Jesus. As the late great Pope John Paul II wrote in Crossing the Threshold of Hope, "Contained within the Cross and the Resurrection is the certainty that God saves man, that He saves him through Christ, through His Cross and His Resurrection" (68).

Throughout her infamous career, Madonna has been notorious for her outrageous statements and acts towards Christianity. Had she been at Calvary she probably would have joined with those mocking him as he hung in agony for our sins.

Madonna's conduct is disturbing enough but equally disturbing is NBC's complicity in her outrageous behavior by broadcasting that offensive crucifixion scene. Does NBC have such little regard for the Christian members of its audience that the network would broadcast such an attack upon the core beliefs of their faith?

There still is time for us to act and act we must. Christ suffered and died on the Cross for us all; we ought not to ignore this offense against him. The Madonna concert is scheduled to be broadcast sometime next month. E-mail, write or call NBC and urge them not to broadcast the crucifixion scene:
Bob Wright,
30 Rockefeller Plaza
New York, NY 10112
Phone: 212-664-4444

Echoing the words of our Savior with the most profound humility and charity, I beseech our merciful God..."Father, forgive NBC and Madonna, for they know not what they do."

03 October 2006

The Power of the Word

As St. John so eloquently tells us in his Gospel, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word Was God…And The Word Became Flesh and Dwelt Among Us…(John 1:1, 14).” And now over 2000 years after that extra-ordinary event, we ought to pause and reflect upon the power of that Word Who Became Flesh for us and for our salvation.

Over 2000 years ago, the Word was just a newborn baby laying in a humble manger whose birth was only known to a few people chosen by God. Today, hundreds of millions annually celebrate his birth.

In the last 2000+ years, the Word has been taught to peoples all across the globe. The Word has been translated into most human languages. Such has been the power of the Word that it has been able to unite peoples of very different cultures and histories. For the Word sees all people not by race or history or ethnicity or any other of those barriers we choose to erect to one another. The Word sees us all as children of the Word’s Father and loves us accordingly.

The Word chose twelve apostles to bring His Word to the far corners of the globe and He founded His Church so that His Word would be taught to future generations.

And the Word has seen much struggle and strife during those past 2000 years. Because the Word was not of this world, this world has time and time again sought to destroy the Word.

But the Word has survived and flourished. Such is the power of the Word that it has survived World Wars, schisms, the Reformation, scandals, and competing religions. It has suffered and triumphed over great persecutions at the hands of the Roman Empire, the French Revolution, barbarians, Nazis, Communists, Muslims, and a long, long line of dictators. The Word has overcome the most vial and base aspects of the human souls whom the Word came into the World to reform and liberate.

The Word even survived and overcame assaults upon himself while he was on earth. The Word flourished on earth despite rejection and doubt, treachery and deceit, and countless other evils. The Word has even survived His own Crucifixion, rising again triumphantly on the third day. Such has been the power of the Word.

But the Word’s Power is not Power in the Sense of this world. In this world, power is attributed to military strength, political influence, and strong economies. Power is seen as the ability to influence others. Too often, power is imposing one’s will upon others against their will. Too often, power is oppression, exploitation, control and repression.

But the Power of the Word is not of this world. His power is forgiveness, compassion and mercy. His power is doing unto others as you would have them do unto you. His power is love your neighbor as yourself and love God above all else.

The Word’s power liberates, not imprisons; it uplifts, not suppresses; it seeks to promote the best in people, not draw out the worst.

The Word is a promise: a promise of salvation and redemption, a promise of a better world than this, a promise of a world without end with the Word in Heaven with the Father.

May the Word be with us always. May we ever be mindful of the love that brought us the Word and sustains us through the Word. May we always be thankful for the Power of the Word. May the Word always animate and inspire our hearts, minds and souls for His greater glory.

01 October 2006

In the Beginning...

With one exception, everything and everyone has a beginning: the universe, the earth, people, civilizations, nations, ideas, movements, and so on. The one exception is He who began everything and His Son and His Spirit.

The universe and the earth began by God simply willing them into being. "In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless wasteland, and darkness covered the abyss, while a mighty wind swept over the waters. Then God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light." (Genesis 1:1-3). "Of old you laid the earth's foundations; the heavens are the work of your hands," the Psalmist declares (Psalm 102:26). God had no material that He crafted into stars and planets and what not. He simply willed it to happen.

Since the creation of the earth and man, civilizations and kingdoms and empires and nations have begun. Ancient Sumeria began in Mesopotamia and ancient Egypt began along the Nile River over 5,000 years ago. The Roman Empire began with the end of the Roman Republic. The Byzantine Empire began with a split from the Roman Empire in the Fourth Century A.D. The colonization of the New World began with Christopher Columbus. The United States began with a Declaration of Independence in July 1776.

Great and small movements, beneficial and infamous ideas, and epochs of history have also had their beginnings: the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, the French Revolution, the Industrial Revolution, democracy, fascism, Communism.

We people have our beginnings. We begin with God and by God for God created each of us. "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you" (Jeremiah 1:5). Despite what the abortionists and the aetheists say, God begins our lives at conception in the wombs of our mothers with the cooperation of our parents.

All things and all people have beginnings. The one exception is God - Thrice Holy, One in Three Beings. God has no beginning because He simply exists in a way that no one outside of the Trinity can understand. God cannot have a beginning because to begin means to be within time and God exists outside of time. He created time so He cannot exist subject to time.

Similarly neither Jesus nor the Holy Spirit have beginnings. God did not create Jesus. Jesus has always been one in being with the Father. As St. John tells us, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God." (John 1:1-2). Emanating from God the Father and God the Son, the Holy Spirit also has no beginning.

Though Jesus has always existed one in being with the Father and has no eternal beginning, Jesus had several beginnings during his earthly life. He began his earthly journey at the Incarnation, conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary (Luke 1:26-38). He entered into his earthly life born of the Virgin Mary in Bethlehem (Luke 2:1-14; Matthew 1:25) . He begins his public ministry by preaching the Good News and by calling ordinary men to be his disciples (Matthew 4:12-17; John 1:35-51). He began his Church on the night before his Crucifixion when he instituted the Holy Eucharist (Luke 22:14-20).

We all begin with God but that does not mean we are with God today. When we enter this world, there a million things and people trying to separate us from God. There are countless distractions in this world: money, fame, sports, careers, entertainment, sin, etc. There are people and evil spiritual beings who purposefully try to wrest us from God. They try to deceive us and lead us astray and too often they are successful. Sometimes, we get separated from God through no fault of our own because there is no one to help us know God. Sometimes we just wander away from God because we take Him for granted or we get pre-occupied with the things of this world. Sometimes we get angry at God and willfully run away from Him.

If anything in the preceding paragraph applies to you, all is not lost. You can begin again with God. If you never knew God, you can begin a relationship with God. If you have turned away from God, you can have a new beginning with God. Open your heart to God and let Him begin to be a part of your life.

If you begin with God and stay with God, you will not have an end with God.