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Archive for September, 2011

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I’ve said pretty much all that needs to be said in four posts and a Novena to Saint John Vianney. There isn’t very much more to say except this:

The Church is not a democracy.

Some years ago I read a commentary by the brilliant Dr. Janet Smith about how the media reports on the Catholic Church. Essentially, Dr Smith observes, the media try to apply the template of the majority party in power (conservative Popes) and the minority opposition (liberal theologians). It doesn’t work with the media, because they fail to grasp the ecclesiastical realities of the Church. Again, it’s not a democracy.

There really is no such thing as liberal and conservative. There is orthodoxy and fidelity vs. heterodox rebellion. They aren’t competing goods.

Many of Father Pavone’s more vocal supporters are non-Catholics who see him in terms of a fellow warrior in the cause for life, and there is a great deal to be said for having been foxhole buddies who have come through major battles together. It is truly a band of brothers in the pro-life movement, and I understand and applaud their fidelity to Father Pavone. However…

If they (and the very vocal Catholics protesting against Bishop Zurek) truly understood what a bishop is and what a priest is, they wouldn’t have taken the course of action that they have. This terse clarification from Bishop Zurek translates: I’m the one who wears the Mitre, and I’ll decide what is best for one of my priests (That’s what was meant by, “At my discretion and solicitude, he has faculties for ministry in the Diocese of Amarillo.”).

It’s time to back off. Flying banners of butchered babies, trucks with similar grisly images circling the Cathedral school, are pretty thuggish tactics from Father’s supporters, as are some of the letters people sent me in hopes of my signature. I have signed no letters. I have made no phone calls to the bishop. I have instead been hosting a novena. I have also written to Father Pavone to convey my support of him, and my prayers that God’s perfect will be done.

The thought that the pro-life movement simply cannot survive without Father Pavone is reflective of a serious spiritual cramp. I love all that Father Pavone has done, but one day he and I and this entire generation will be dead and interceding from Heaven. It will fall to today’s young to assume the mantle of leadership.

The one whom we cannot survive without is the Holy Spirit.

To remove all doubt:

A priest has no priesthood of his own to exercise at will. He is merely an extension of his bishop, who being an Apostolic Successor, has the fullness of priesthood. Having a share in the Apostles’ company, bishops are free to act as they see fit regarding governance of their priests, so long as that governance is in accord with the moral and juridical norms of the Church. This bishop has underscored that he has restricted Father Pavone’s activities in order to provide a space for reflection.

I’ve been urging that all simply give these two men the time and space to work this out. Our getting into a power struggle with Bishop Zurek will only reinforce his belief that Father needs some time away in order to reorient his priestly bearing. The thuggishness and wild accusations against Bishop Zurek have backfired, badly I’m afraid.

Consider the wisdom of Rabon Gamaliel in Acts 5:

29 Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than human beings! 30 The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead—whom you killed by hanging him on a cross. 31 God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might bring Israel to repentance and forgive their sins. 32 We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”

33 When they heard this, they were furious and wanted to put them to death. 34 But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, who was honored by all the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin and ordered that the men be put outside for a little while. 35 Then he addressed the Sanhedrin: “Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do to these men. 36 Some time ago Theudas appeared, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men rallied to him. He was killed, all his followers were dispersed, and it all came to nothing. 37 After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. He too was killed, and all his followers were scattered. 38 Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. 39 But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”

It’s time that those making war on the bishops ask themselves if they are not fighting against God Himself by fighting His will being expressed through His Apostle’s Successors. They are redefining ugly.

I’m praying for God’s perfect will in all of this, and I believe in the power of the Holy Spirit to make that will known with crystal clarity. Again, if we can’t hear the Holy Spirit, perhaps we need to be still. Street activism has failed in this case. Perhaps now we should try faith.

H/T Deacon Greg Kandra<

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Day 8

“Three things are wanted to preserve purity – the presence of God, prayer and the Sacraments.”- St. Jean Vianney

O Holy Priest of Ars, a witness of your life made this magnificent praise of you:
‘We would have taken him for an angel in a mortal body.”

You so edified others: the modesty and the exquisite purity radiated from your body. With such charm and with such enthusiasm you preached to others about these beautiful virtues which you said resembled the perfume of a vineyard in bloom.

Please I beg you to join your entreaties to those of Mary Immaculate and Saint Philomena in order that I guard always, as God asks me, the purity of my heart. You, who have directed so many souls towards the heights of virtue, defend me in temptations and obtain for me the strength to conquer them.

O most holy Saint John Vianney, you were a priest who was outstanding in pastoral zeal. May priests today be filled with that zeal, faithful to their calling, refreshed in their labors by the Holy Spirit, supported by their fellow workers and appreciated by those whose lives they touch. Dear Curé of Ars, pray for us, but especially for all priests!

Holy Priest of Ars, I have confidence in your intercession. Pray during this novena that Father Pavone and Bishop Zurek may join their hearts to our Lord’s Sacred Heart, that bound up in His Holy Priesthood they might come to know and do His will; that the laity in the pro-life movement be ever mindful of the authority and sacred trust Jesus placed in His bishops, that they be trusting of His promise to send His Holy Spirit who will lead them to all truth.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be.

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Day 7

“See, my children, if we really wish to be saved, we must determine, once and for all, to labor in earnest for our salvation; our soul is like a garden in which the weeds are ever ready to choke the good plants and flowers that have been sown in it.”- St. Jean Vianney

O Holy Priest of Ars, the infamous attacks of the devil which you had to suffer and the trials which disheartened you by fatigue would not make you give up the sublime task of converting souls. The devil came to you for many years to disturb your short rest but you won because of mortification and prayers.

Powerful protector, you know the temptor’s desire to harm my baptized and believing soul. He would have me sin, by rejecting the Holy Sacraments and the life of virtue. But good Saint of Ars dispel from me the traces of the enemy

O most holy Saint John Vianney, you were a priest who was outstanding in pastoral zeal. May priests today be filled with that zeal, faithful to their calling, refreshed in their labors by the Holy Spirit, supported by their fellow workers and appreciated by those whose lives they touch. Dear Curé of Ars, pray for us, but especially for all priests!

Holy Priest of Ars, I have confidence in your intercession. During this novena, intercede for us that the Evil One not separate the faithful from their bishops, and that Father Pavone and Bishop Zurek be for us a model of charitable forbearance.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be.

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Day 6

“In Heaven, faith and hope will exist no more for the mist which obscures our reason will be dispelled…But love; oh we shall be inebriated with it! we shall be drowned, lost in that ocen of divine love, annihilated in that immense charity of the Heart of Jesus! so that charity is a foretaste of Heaven.”- St. Jean Vianney

Saint John Marie Baptist Vianney because of your love of God you showed great charity towards your neighbor. You could not preach on the Love of God without burning tears of love. During your last years, it seemed as though you could not talk about any thing else or live for anything else. Thus you sacrificed yourself to your neighbor by consoling, absolving and sanctifying them to the limits of your strength.

Your charity inspires me to greater love of God, a love which is shown more by acts then by words. Help me to love my neighbor generously as Christ loves them.

O most holy Saint John Vianney, you were a priest who was outstanding in pastoral zeal. May priests today be filled with that zeal, faithful to their calling, refreshed in their labors by the Holy Spirit, supported by their fellow workers and appreciated by those whose lives they touch. Dear Curé of Ars, pray for us, but especially for all priests!

Holy Priest of Ars, I have confidence in your intercession. Pray that both bishop and priest may come together imbued with the spirit of your charity in their regard for one another, that within this honest space you may send your Holy Spirit to light their hearts afire with a spirit of mutual submission to whatever your holy will is for them.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be.

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Day 5

When we have just received communion, if we were asked what are we taking away to our homes, we might answer, “I am taking away Heaven!” – St. Jean Vianney

O Holy Priest of Ars, whose only comfort in this world was the real presence of Jesus in the tabernacle, was it not your great joy to distribute the Eucharist to the pilgrims who visited you? You refused Communion to the souls who refused to reform but to souls of goodwill you opened wide the doors of the Eucharistic Feast.

You, who each day at Holy Mass received Holy Communion with great love, give me some of your fervor. With freedom from mortal sin, obtain for me a sincere desire to profit from receiving Holy Communion.

O most holy Saint John Vianney, you were a priest who was outstanding in pastoral zeal. May priests today be filled with that zeal, faithful to their calling, refreshed in their labors by the Holy Spirit, supported by their fellow workers and appreciated by those whose lives they touch. Dear Curé of Ars, pray for us, but especially for all priests!

Holy Priest of Ars, I have confidence in your intercession. Pray during this novena that Eucharistic zeal may possess both bishop and priest in Amarillo and lift them up to a shared vision for Your Holy Will in this dispute.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be

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Jill Stanek carries the following quote from the rabidly proabort website, RH Reality Check, on her blog. Below is the quote and my response left at Jill’s.

Professional obstacles cited by physicians [who perform abortions] included workplaces with an anti-abortion climate; the surprisingly widespread “no-abortion policies” that quietly exist in many private practices, HMOs, and hospitals across the country; the risk of being pigeonholed as just an abortion provider; and the risk of being ostracized by the local medical community and patient population. On a more personal level, some physicians worried that providing abortions would cause their families to suffer discrimination and even danger.

In addition, many providers are stigmatized by the very patients who come to them for abortions. Physicians who staff specialized abortion clinics report disheartening interactions with patients who ask “How do you do this on a regular basis?” or “Isn’t this really hard for you?” Even though these patients are willing to have abortions, they have absorbed society’s beliefs about abortion providers and convey that to their doctors.

Separation is a hallmark of any stigmatized practice, and the fact that 93% of abortions are now performed at specialized clinics is no accident….

While specialized abortion clinics are often able to cultivate a more positive environment for women in need of services, their complete separation from all other health-care facilities only perpetuates the idea that abortion is not a “normal” part of women’s reproductive health care.

~ Jennifer Coletti, RH Reality Check, September 22

Dear Jennifer,

The processes of becoming a board certified physician and a scientist are exactly the same in both time and effort, differing only in the scientist going to the lab and the physician doing rotations and residency with patients. In my case, 70% of the coursework was identical, so here’s some insight.

It begins with four years of tough undergraduate coursework including full-year courses in physics, general chemistry, organic chemistry, physical chemistry, calculus, biostatistics, general biology, anatomy and physiology, biochemistry, genetics, molecular biology, histology, etc…

Assuming the candidate has made it through all of that with good grades, there comes the Medical College Admission Test, which is akin to putting one’s head into a sausage grinder for 8 hours and hoping to do very well. At this point one is competing with the 30% who made it through pre-med alive.

After admission to medical school, there is a brutal two-year course of basic sciences classes. The pace and workload are so intense that most students EITHER go to class, or read the books. Most simply don’t have time for both.

Then comes the first part of their licensing exam, the USMLE, Part I.

Then comes the exhausting 3rd and 4th year rotations through the various hospital services and more endless hours of study.

Then comes part II of the USMLE.

After graduating with their doctorates, the new doctors enter internship and residency, which can last anywhere from three to seven years, depending on the specialty. Most states still permit the 36 hour shifts for resident physicians, which is exhausting. Somewhere early in that process they take Part III of the USMLE and become full-fledged physicians. After their residency training, candidates then sit for their board exams in the chosen specialty, usually a combination of written and oral.

By now, 12-15 years have elapsed since the first day of pre-med in undergrad.

Many will choose to go on for advanced training in a highly specialized area of medicine, requiring a two-year post-doctoral fellowship, with yet another certification exam.

Ph.D.’s go through a very similar process.

In all of that sacrifice of time, effort, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in training (and hundreds of thousands more of lost income while in medical/graduate school and residency), we all have a dream that sustains us. We have a vision of ourselves making some significant contribution to the world so that our time here was well spent. We typically have the dream of helping other human beings by relieving their pain and suffering.

Tearing babies to shreds violates every precept that sustains the overwhelming majority of us through all of that frustration and physical exhaustion for almost 20 years of our adult lives. Yes, we regard such practitioners of the Black Art as common butchers and treat them as lepers in the societies of doctors, whose sacred trust it is to uphold the highest standards of our fields of endeavor.

They are lepers and pariahs for good reason. They murder the innocent, the most fundamental violation of the Hippocratic Oath. They butcher women. They do not follow the standard of care in Obstetrics and Gynecology.

They are despised and loathed by us, and their stigma is as great as the betrayal of our collective sense of dignity and decency in the scientific and medical professions.

Efforts by proaborts to force legislation that would force abortion into hospitals will only stiffen the resistance of the medical community and make the alienation and isolation of the abortionist all the more acute. Until such time as they abandon the Black Art, their stigma and their isolation are well-deserved.

Absent any repentance, they are also a foretaste of their eternal condition.

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Day 4

It is a beautiful thought, my children, that we have a sacrament that heals the wounds of our souls! – St. Jean Vianney

O Holy Priest of Ars, you knew how important was a good confession for the Christian life. It was to procure the happy fruits of millions of souls that you agreed to be in an uncomfortable confessional, which was like a prison, up to 15 to 16 hours on certain days.

I will try to develop the habit of frequent confession, to prepare properly each time and to have always regret for my sins, so that the grace of final perseverance but also the sanctification of my soul will be assured. Ask this grace for me.

O most holy Saint John Vianney, you were a priest who was outstanding in pastoral zeal. May priests today be filled with that zeal, faithful to their calling, refreshed in their labors by the Holy Spirit, supported by their fellow workers and appreciated by those whose lives they touch. Dear Curé of Ars, pray for us, but especially for all priests!

Holy Priest of Ars, I have confidence in your intercession. Pray during this novena for the refreshment of Father Pavone’s soul during this time of trial.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be.

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