Thursday, April 28, 2011

Reason #1 Why I Like Country Music

I've been a country music fan for as far back as I can remember.  When my brothers and sisters and I were young, my dad would play songs by Jim Reeves, Patsy Cline, Roy Acuff, Eddy Arnold and other country greats on our record player in the living room.  Those songs always seemed to tell a fascinating story and I'd listen to the words while conjuring up images of lost love or cowboy campfires in my mind.  To this day my sense of fair play is bothered by some cad cutting in on a couple during the Tennessee Waltz and stealing the guy's "sweetheart" from him. 

But more than the great melodies and the intriguing stories, I love country music because it is just about the only musical genre in which the musicians proudly proclaim their Christian faith.  Watch any country music awards show and you'll find artists thanking the Lord, praising Jesus and honoring God.  Christianity is writ large within the soul of country music and that soul is what made this country great.  Although we may be hanging on by a thread these days, country music (along with my faith) gives me hope.

And here's a great example.  On Easter Sunday, my sister asked if I had seen Carrie Underwood on the Women of Country Music show.  She said her version of "How Great Thou Art" was a show stopper.  Although I hadn't seen the show, thanks to a tip from the guys at Creative Minority Report I found the Youtube video.  Grab a tissue and watch this!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Huge Picture of JPII Hung In St. Peter's Square for Beatification

An enormous banner bearing the likeness of Pope John Paul II has been hung on the colonnade of St. Peter's.  It is so good to see his face beaming out from that square again!

Don't Be Blinded By The Gloom

On Easter morning, Mary Magdalene was in the depth of sadness. 
The Lord Jesus had become the center of her life, and now... He was dead.
Mary could not know how mistaken she was in going to His tomb to look for the Master among the dead. 

The great truth of His Resurrection had not as yet become part of her faith to dispel her sadness. 
And so, with her vision still darkened by gloom, she failed to recognize her Master, Jesus, standing before her in His Risen, Glorified Body. 
She needed to hear only a word from Him, and her mind was flooded with the light of faith. Then she realized that she was in the presence of the Risen Lord.

What happened to Mary Magdalene happens to each of us -- or it should be happening.  
The meaning of life for all Baptized persons is to search for and to find the Risen Lord Jesus, because He is the source of all of our life and happiness. 

At times, we make the mistake of looking for happiness among sinful pleasures -- which can only bring us death in all its forms.  
Or perhaps we make the mistake of thinking that life can come from temporary values, such as financial success or social status.  

Jesus, the Risen Lord, alone is the source of lasting life and eternal happiness.
That is why faithful Catholics must continually seek Him and find Him.
In a special way, you and I find our Risen Lord Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. 
We hear His words, "This is My Body ... This is My Blood" in every Mass we participate in.  
Those words are intended to flood our minds with the light of faith, so that we can believe that -- by means of the Holy  Eucharist --  we are in the presence of the Risen Lord. 

The Holy Eucharist is the very heart of our faith. 
Our Risen Lord Jesus in the Eucharist does much more than merely stand before us.
And He doesn't say, "Noli me tangere!" -- "Don't touch me!" as He instructed Mary Magdalene.
Rather, He invites us to take Him into our being, so that He can give us the gift of everlasting life and eternal happiness.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Christ's Resurection, Our Second Genesis

Christ With The Four Evangelists (1516) by Fra Bartolomeo
Scientists and scholars the world over have used ultra-sophisticated technology and their razor-sharp minds to journey to the last frontiers of thought, to explain how the universe began. It’s pretty much agreed among scientists and scholars, that the universe began with a Big Bang!  Matter exploding out from a central point, and expanding out into what we know as the universe -- and it is still expanding to this day.  
No human being saw it, or heard it.  But the point is moot: it began!  Ya  think ?  Obviously!  We’re here, right?
And after hundreds of years of brainiacs arguing about it, it turns out that the explanation for how the universe began was right inside the Bible, starting at the very first verse, of the very first book: The Book Of Genesis: “In the beginning... when there was a dark and empty void ... God said, ‘Let there be light'" -- let there be life -- and bang! there was!
So, in the midst of nothingness, God caused life to exist: The Genesis!Then God gave us human beings the Earth and all of its wonderful, amazing creations.  
And we ruined it!
We ruined it by our sin, our betrayal of God, our refusal to be dependent on God.   
The results: chaos, violence, lies, fear, injustice, betrayal, suffering, death -- all of these  splattered into the universe of life God gave to us. 
God didn’t do this to us: WE did it -- we did it to ourselves, to each other.  
We human beings, trying to be God, caused the fall, the ruination, the corruption of the Genesis.
And you know what God did to us traitorous and ungrateful human beings?  
He swore to us that He would repair what WE had destroyed -- that He would bring about a Second Genesis!  Why?  Because He loves us, even though we don’t do such a good job of loving Him back! The repair God promised -- the Second Genesis --  exploded with deafening silence 2,000 years ago, in a dark and empty void called a tomb: a place of death!
In the midst of nothingness, God’s Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, rose from the nothingness and emptiness of death to everlasting, glorified life!  
And nobody heard a thing. And nobody saw the Lord Jesus at the moment He rose.  Nobody saw how the new, divine life transformed His battered, crucified, dead Body.  
But, the first few days after the Second Genesis, scores of people saw the empty tomb!  
The religious authorities and scholars of that time instantly devised hostile theories to explain away the empty tomb.  Some said that the Apostles -- to justify some kind of political agenda against the leaders of Israel -- stole His Body.   Huh? A crew of uneducated, terrified fishermen and peasants were able to perpetuate a hoax like that over their entire lifetime and right up to now, deceiving millions of people?   Don't think so, Caiaphas.
Then, some others said, "Maybe Jesus didn't die on the Cross – maybe He swooned, looked dead, but actually survived and dragged His maimed Body out of the tomb three days later."  As if! Duh!  Get real!  Anyone seeing that mangled, decimated, crippled Jesus would be sufficiently convinced that this resurrection story was a scam!  Friends, re-play the events of Good Friday. There was no doubt about it.  Jesus was absolutely, positively, 100% dead -- certified dead by some of Rome’s finest executioners!So, the religious authorities and scholars of that time argued the whys and hows, but they could not escape the reality.  The tomb was empty.  And, the wrappings were left behind -- not torn off, but remaining in place, as if His Body evaporated right through the shroud it was wrapped in! Then to make their smug dismissal turn back to slap their own faces, for fifty days after His tomb was found empty, all kinds of eyewitnesses began telling others their accounts of the Resurrected Jesus appearing to them: Mary Magdalene, Peter, two disciples journeying on the road to Emmaus, to all eleven Apostles, and then to 500 Disciples simultaneously!
Today, Easter Sunday,  is the anniversary of the day of victory for our God!  The day when Jesus The Christ broke the chains of death and rose triumphant from the grave!  
He accomplished the Second Genesis, the Second Creation, the re-creation of the universe.JESUS IS RISEN, AS HE PROMISED!  His Resurrection is the Second Genesis!  And from now on, even though our lives will have their share of sins, failures, doubts, and uncertainties,  all of us can return over and over to the Second Genesis!   Regardless of our sins and failures, we can begin again -- and again!  All because Our Lord Jesus died, and rose, and is Lord forever!Everything in our lives must be built on that cornerstone.On this early Spring day, we celebrate God's new creation.  Suffering and death are no longer the ultimate finality, but the ultimate beginning.Jesus, God’s Only Son – Who taught forgiveness, Who pleaded for us to be reconciled,  Who handed Himself over to be crucified for our sins to give us new life, and mercy, and justice -- JESUS HAS BEEN RAISED FROM THE DEAD  BY GOD, HIS FATHER!In His empty tomb, Our Risen Lord Jesus asks us to bury our sinfulness, our darkness, our selfishness,  our pettiness -- and all the evil that disfigured God's first creation.
Today, we must join our re-created hearts and renewed voices in the Alleluia of the New Creation!  Let us live the vows of our Baptism -- the vows that make it possible to share the victory of Christ over sin, selfishness, and death!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Holy Week Reflections

Holy Week - The Ultimate Sacrifice

Four days after Jesus entered Jerusalem (Palm Sunday) Christ celebrated the Last Supper with His disciples. Judas would betray Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane hours later, leading to Christ's Crucifixion on Good Friday.

Holy Thursday is the day that Catholics commemorate the institution of three pillars of the Catholic Faith: the Sacrament of Holy Communion (During the Last Supper, Christ blessed the bread and wine with the very words that Catholic and Orthodox priests use today to consecrate the Body and Blood of Christ during the Mass and the Divine Liturgy), the Mass and the priesthood. (In telling His disciples to "Do this in remembrance of Me," He instituted the Mass and made them the first priests.)

Christ gave His disciples a new commandment: “That you love one another, as I have loved you, that you also love one another." The Latin word for "commandment," mandatum became the source for another name for Holy Thursday: Maundy Thursday.

At the Last Supper, on the night he was betrayed, our Savior instituted the Eucharistic Sacrifice of his Body and Blood. He did this in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of the cross through the centuries until he should come again and in this way to entrust to his beloved Bride, the Church, a memorial of his death and resurrection.

Jesus was God's ultimate plan for redemption. Jesus was God's perfect plan: "But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed" (Isaiah 53:5). He took on the sin of all mankind - that is an ultimate sacrifice!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Spy Wednesday Station Church: St. Mary Major

Today we are back at St. Mary Major for the second time. The first time was during the first week of Lent and, now again, during Holy Week.

Side Chapel with Image of Our Lady of Rome - Said to be painted by St. Luke

Pope Benedict's Advice For Participating In Holy Week 2011


VATICAN CITY, 20 APR 2011 (VIS) - In this morning's general audience, celebrated in St. Peter's Square, the Pope spoke on the Easter Triduum, "the three holy days in which the Church commemorates the mystery of Jesus' passion, death, and resurrection".

 Benedict XVI explained that "Holy Thursday is the day that commemorates the institution of the Eucharist and ministerial priesthood. In the morning, each diocesan community, with their bishop, meets at their cathedral church to celebrate the Chrism Mass. ... Priestly vows are also renewed."

 "In the afternoon of Holy Thursday", he continued, "the Easter Triduum truly begins, with the remembrance of the Last Supper at which Jesus instituted the commemoration of his Passion, fulfilling the Jewish paschal ritual. ... Jesus washes the feet of his apostles, inviting them to love one another as He loved them, giving His life for them. Repeating this gesture in the liturgy, we are also called to actively bear witness to our Redeemer's love".

 The Holy Father recalled that Holy Thursday "ends with Eucharistic adoration, in memory of the Lord's agony in the Garden of Gethsemane. ... Aware of his imminent death on the cross, he felt a great sorrow".

 Referring to the somnolence of the apostles who accompanied Jesus to the Mount of Olives, the Pope noted that "it was the insensibility for God that makes us insensitive to evil". With his death(the chalice that he had to drink from)., the Lord "felt all the suffering of humanity". His will was subordinated to the will of the Father, his natural will transformed into a 'yes' to God's will".

 Entering into the will of God, he added, "is not slavery but an entering into truth, love, and the good. It is directing our will toward God". The act at Gethsemane is that "Jesus, with his anguish, charged with the drama of humanity, with our suffering and our poverty, transforms it into the will of God and thus opens the gate of heaven".

 Later, referring to Good Friday, the Pope said that this day commemorates "the Lord's passion and death. We adore the crucified Christ, participating in his suffering with our penitence and fasting".

 "Finally, on the night of Holy Saturday, we celebrate the solemn Easter Vigil at which is announced Christ's resurrection, his definitive victory over death, which challenges us to be new persons in Him".

 The Holy Father highlighted that "the standard that guided each of Jesus' decisions during his entire life was his firm desire to love the Father and be faithful to Him. ... On reliving the Holy Triduum", he concluded, "we make ourselves available to welcome God's will into our lives, aware that our true good, the path of our lives, is found in His will. May the Virgin Mother guide us along this path and grant us her divine Son's grace to be able to dedicate our lives, in the love of Jesus, to the service of others".

AG/                                                                                                   VIS 20110420 (590)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

April 19, 2005: "Habemus Papam" (Tedesco Version)

I remember exactly where I was this day in April 2005. I was in New York City at a real estate closing. We were locked into a conference room for most of the day and I hadn't heard any news about the papal election.

After the closing a colleague and I headed over to Penn Station to catch a train home. We had a half hour to kill and went into a pizzeria to get a slice and bide our time. In the corner was a television station that was tuned into the news, and as we sat down the broadcast turned to the day's events in Rome. On the screen appeared Cardinal Medina from the balcony of St. Peter's. I waited with bated breath to hear what he had to say, trying to understand the Latin correctly. When he said that the new pope was Cardinal Ratzinger, I remember throwing my hands in the air and shouting. I couldn't believe it. I had hoped for it, but still wasn't sure that Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger would truly be chosen as the successor to St. Peter. In typical New York fashion, most of the others in the pizzeria remained nonplussed. To me it was a sign of the continued revitalization of the Church and a continuation of the great legacy of our beloved John Paul II.

What a wonderful day.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Forgiveness And Suffering: The Conjoined Twins

Ecce Homo (detail) 1526 Oil on wood, by Quentin Massys in the Palazzo Ducale, Venice.

Forgiveness is the offering of unconditional mercy to someone who deserves it the least!

It may be, that the toughest task confronting a human being is the obligation to forgive.
Each of us is obligated to forgive:  Even in the face of cruelty and betrayal.

Our Lord Jesus commands us to forgive – forgive 70 times 7 times, if necessary.
  • Forgiveness is the indispensable obligation of a Christian.  
  • Forgiveness must be the fundamental attitude of a Christian.  
  • Forgiveness is the offering of unconditional mercy to someone who deserves it the least!
Our Crucified Lord Jesus taught us that our being forgiven by God Our Father
hinges upon our willingness to forgive others.

Our Crucified Lord Jesus taught us to pray,
  “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”  
To re-phrase this:
  Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive: meaning, in the same manner as we forgive,
  and with the same attitude we hold about forgiving those who trespass against us.

The heart of forgiveness is sacrifice – the sacrifice that our Lord Jesus offered at the Last Supper, and still offers every day during the celebration of Holy Mass and the Holy Eucharist:
“This is the cup of my Blood ... 
It will be shed for YOU so that SINS may be FORGIVEN.  DO THIS in memory of me.”

We should not be surprised then, that forgiveness causes us suffering.
By God’s plan of Redemption, all authentic forgiveness participates in the Passion of Christ.
To forgive us, God’s Son had to suffer and sacrifice Himself.

For this reason, the first sacrifice that Christ-like forgiveness asks us to make is to renounce all the resentments and grudges that dominate our lives.  Because, to forgive in the way Christ does requires us to offer unconditional mercy to someone who deserves it the least!  Our Lord Jesus did this -- even from His Cross of suffering and humiliation: “Father, forgive them; they know not what they do.”
It is precisely through the suffering of Our Lord Jesus that we are forgiven.

Therefore, you and I will cherish forgiveness only by embracing the Cross of Christ -- by embracing His sufferings and our own sufferings caused by others.

Crown of Thorns Galaxy (from Hubble space telescope)

I have always found this photo taken by the Hubble space telescope to be profoundly moving:

Crown of Thorns Galaxy :  NASA Photo

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Palm Sunday Station Church - St. John Lateran

The Lateran basilica is the cathedral of the bishop of Rome (a/k/a the pope).  A beautiful site from which to begin Holy Week. 

Basilica of the Holy Savior - The Lateran
(sorry about the tilt)

The Reliquary of the Table of the Last Supper

Cathedra of the Bishop of Rome

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Sitting Bull May Not Have Been Catholic, But There Are Plenty of Lakota (Sioux) Who Are and They Could Use Some Support!

There's been a flurry of posts on the blogs this week about whether or not Sitting Bull was Catholic.  The interest seems to have been sparked by a picture of the Lakota chief wearing a crucifix around his neck.

Well, it's not clear whether Sitting Bull was or was not Catholic, but what is certain is that the Lakota (Sioux Indian) people are still living on the Rosebud reservation in South Dakota and are still ministered to by the "black robes" (a/k/a Jesuits).

St. Francis Mission was established to provide spiritual and material sustenance to the native people and has been doing so for over 100 years.  In fact, as I mentioned in a previous post, it was the chiefs Sinte Gleska and Red Cloud who petitioned President Rutherford B. Hayes to send the Jesuits to the Sioux people because of their reputation for trustworthiness, holiness and the ability to teach.  Since that time the Society of Jesus, along with the Lakota people,  have established several parish churches, erected a radio station, constructed schools and initiated and maintained social outreach programs.

According to Father John Hatcher, S.J., the president of the Mission, the goal is to increase native leadership on the reservation and in the Church.  With that in mind, during the month of April,
St. Francis Mission is undertaking a fund raising drive online.  I'm glad to give them another plug and encourage others to support their much needed work for the Lakota people.

Often when one thinks of contemporary Native Americans, one thinks of casinos and thriving economies.  For the Lakota people, this is far from the truth.  Poverty, addiction, and mental illness often are the scourges of modern reservation life.  On the Rosebud reservation, especially, the need for programs and funds to address these problems is great. 

Please, if you're able, take some time to go over to the St. Francis Mission website: and see what they've been accomplishing.  Or take a look at Father Hatcher's Youtube video where he talks about their great work.   The native people have had a hard life.  And, while Sitting Bull may not have been Catholic, these folks are.  Thank God for those who are willing to reach out and lend a hand.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Pro Life TV Ads in Chile

Here's a video of two television ads showing in Chile.  Chile's constitution protects unborn human life.  Good for them!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Today's Station Church - S. Pietro in Vaticano

As we enter the final week of Lent before Palm Sunday, we are back again at St. Peter's in the Vatican for today's station church.  When you walk through the portals of St. Peter's basilica, you catch your breath.  The beauty is overwhelming.  The sanctity of the place is palpable and the relics of the popes and saints that lie within only add to the transcendent peace of this holy church.

Marker of Nero's Circus - Site of the Execution of St. Peter and the First Martyrs of Rome

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Cristiada - The Film of the Cristeros

Here's a glimpse of a movie that is to be released later this year.  It is the story of the Mexican government's persecution of the faith in the 1920's and how the "Cristeros" were formed to defend the Church.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Vatican Blogger Meeting - Oh Please, Can I Go?

Fr. Tim Finigan of the Hermeneutic of Continuity, has posted the announcement that a meeting of bloggers is to be held in the Vatican on May 2nd, the day after the beatification of Pope John Paul II. 
Wouldn't that be fun?  Too bad that time and funds do not permit.  Even if they did, you have to apply and be selected.  If Jeff Miller of the Curt Jester isn't sure that he would be selected, what chance do we have here at the Catholic Jedi Academy?  Oh well, a blogger can dream, can't she?

Here's part of the announcement:
Information on the meeting in the Vatican for Bloggers
St Pius X Auditorium, 2 May 2011

A meeting of bloggers will take place on the afternoon of 2 May. The event, organized by the Pontifical Councils for Culture and Communications, aims to enable a dialogue between bloggers and representatives of the Church, to share the experiences of those working in this field and to better understand the needs of that community. The meeting will also present some of the initiatives that the Church is putting in place in the world of new media, whether in Rome or at the local level.

In the two planned sessions, various speakers will present some key points to open a discussion open to all the participants. In the first, five bloggers, representing the different language areas, will address specific issues of general importance. In the second, there will be accounts from people involved in the communication strategies of the Church, who will present their experiences of working with new media, as well as initiatives for an effective meeting between the Church and the world of bloggers.

Planned Parenthood and the World Turned Upside Down

The pro-abortion faction in Congress seems to be screaming from the rooftops today.  They are blaming the stalled budget agreement on the false premise that "women will lose their health care."    But after reading Abby Johnson's book, "Unplanned", it is pretty evident that health care is not necessarily at the top of the priority list for Planned Barrenhood.  They've also been bringing out the demonstrators and stomping their feet in rage at the terribly unfair treatment of their noble cause.

One of the blatant untruths that is being spouted by Planned Parenthood is that they provide mammograms to women.  Even though this statement has been demonstrated to be false, they cling to it as a talking point.  Hopefully, the full out p.r. assault from their side means that the pro-life platform is gaining more and more traction in Congress and in our culture.

Update: For more details on the fact that Planned Parenthood doesn't provide mammograms please take a look at Jill Stanek's blog:  She has a good post that goes step by step through the misinformation that is being passed around.  What Planned Parenthood does is "refer" people to other centers or clinics for mammograms.

Here's a photo from the demonstration (via are getting confusing.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Santa Croce in Gerusalemme - From Window Washer to Titular Cardinal

Today's station church was once a room in the palace of St. Helen, the mother of the emperor Constantine.  In the year 325, St. Helen, accompanied by her retinue, traveled to the holy land to retrieve relics of the Passion of the Lord.  Upon return, St. Helen erected a chapel to house the relics which include, pieces of the true cross, thorns from the crown of thorns, the INRI placard from the cross, a piece of a nail and pieces of the scourging pillar.  There is also a relic of a finger which is said to be the finger of St. Thomas that was placed into the side of the Lord after his resurrection.

One of the best books about St. Helen is "Helena" by Evelyn Waugh.  It is a beautiful piece of historical fiction that traces the life of St. Helen from being the daughter of a Celtic chieftain to the wife of a Roman soldier and then to becoming the mother of the emperor who was the first to allow the open practice of the faith. 

St. Helen originally covered the chapel floor with dirt from the holy land and Calvary, so that the church is truly Santa Croce "in" Jerusalem.

The facade of S. Croce in Gerusalemme:

Chapel of the relics:

Sanctuary of main altar

The titular cardinal of S. Croce in Gerusalemme is the cardinal archbishop emeritus of Prague, Miloslav Vlk.  Cardinal Vlk was ordained a priest during the "Prague Spring" in 1968 and was soon thereafter persecuted by the communists.  His state authorization to exercise his priestly ministry was suspended by the communist government in 1978.  Cardinal Vlk then had to work as a window cleaner in Prague while secretly ministering to the faithful.  In 1989 he was permitted to exercise his priestly ministry for a trial year.  He continued in his ministry and was ultimately installed as the archbishop of Prague by Pope John Paul II in 1991 and became a cardinal in 1994 when he was given the church of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme as his titular parish.

When we were in Rome last November, the Czech bishops were making a pilgrimage of thanksgiving to Rome to thank the Holy Father for visiting the Czech republic.  It was very moving to see these priests, bishops and cardinals who had endured such persecution for so many years and who had undergone their own passion to preserve the faith in their country.

                               Czech clergy celebrating Mass in St. Peter's, November 2010:

You See?

"Blind" (Image by Ondřej Lipár) (Colorized)

There are many kinds of blindness which have nothing to do with the quality or function of our optic nerves and eye lenses.  Most of us have probably never thought of ourselves as blind.  Our optic nerves and lenses work fine! But, many of us are blind!
All kinds of attitudes about ourselves or others can distort our perspective on reality and our understanding  -- almost as if we are blind! 

As Jesus passed by he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his 
parents, that he was born blind?”
Jesus answered, “Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him.
We have to do the works of the one who sent me while it is day. Night is coming when no one can work.
While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva, and smeared the clay on his eyes,
and said to him,  “Go wash in the Pool of Siloam” —which means Sent—. So he went and washed, and came back able to see. His neighbors and those who had seen him earlier as a beggar said, “Isn’t this the one who used to sit and 
beg?” Some said, “It is, “but others said, “No, he just looks like him.” He said, “I am.” So they said to him, “How were your eyes opened?” He replied, “The man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes and told me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ So I went there and washed and was able to see.” And they said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I don’t know.”
They brought the one who was once blind to the Pharisees. Now Jesus had made clay and opened his eyes on a sabbath. So then the Pharisees also asked him how he was able to see. He said to them, “He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and now I can see.” So some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, because he does not keep the 
sabbath.” But others said, “How can a sinful man do such signs?” And there was a division among them.
So they said to the blind man again, “What do you have to say about him, since he opened your eyes?”
He said, “He is a prophet.”
Now the Jews did not believe that he had been blind and gained his sight until they summoned the parents of the one who had gained his sight. They asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How does he now see?”
His parents answered and said, “We know that this is our son and that he was born blind. We do not know how he 
sees now, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him, he is of age; he can speak for himself.” His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone acknowledged him as the Christ, he would be expelled from the synagogue. For this reason his parents said, “He is of age; question him.”
So a second time they called the man who had been blind and said to him, “Give God the praise! We know that this 
man is a sinner.” He replied, “If he is a sinner, I do not know. One thing I do know is that I was blind and now I see.”
So they said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” He answered them, “I told you already 
and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples, too?”
They ridiculed him and said, “You are that man’s disciple; we are disciples of Moses! We know that God spoke to 
Moses, but we do not know where this one is from.”
The man answered and said to them, “This is what is so amazing, that you do not know where he is from, yet he 
opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners,  but if one is devout and does his will, he listens to him. It is unheard of that anyone ever opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, he would 
not be able to do anything.” They answered and said to him, “You were born totally in sin, and are you trying to 
teach us?” Then they threw him out.
When Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, he found him and said, "Do you believe in the Son of Man?"
He answered and said, “Who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, the one 
speaking with you is he.” He said, “I do believe, Lord,” and he worshiped him.
Then Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgment, so that those who do not see might see, and those who do see 
might become blind.”
Some of the Pharisees who were with him heard this and said to him, “Surely we are not also blind, are we?”
Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you are saying, ‘We see,’ so your sin remains.

There were many blind people in this incident of the Lord Jesus' healing of the man born blind, but only one was cured: and he was the one born without eyesight.  The others had 20/20 eyesight, and were able to physically see perfectly well.  Yet, it's the blind man who has better vision than they do -- because, his blindness only came from eye disease.  Their blindness came from something more deadly: Their sins!  Their blindness affected their minds and souls, not their optic nerves!
In this incident, Saint John reports the different sins and attitudes which caused the blindness of the various people involved.  This incident also shows us the different types of blindness we can have.
For instance, the disciples showed their spiritual blindness.  Instead of asking Our Lord Jesus how could they help the blind man, they asked Our Lord whose fault it was that the man was born blind.  

  • You and I share the disciples' blindness every time we overlook people in need and concern ourselves only with rhetoric and abstract blather about evil in the world: "Why do people suffer?  Why does God let this happen?  Why doesn't God do something about it?"   
  • Why? Because, God put us here to do something about it!  
  • Do you and I deliberately permit our own selfishness or laziness to blind us, so that we can avoid seeing and helping people in need?

Or do we have one of the various forms of spiritual blindness pointed out in the Gospel passage above?  Perhaps the blindness of the parents of the man born blind?   
They were blinded by fear.  They would not lend support to their son cured from blindness. They would not verify his statement that the Lord Jesus had cured him. They knew it was true!  But they were afraid that if they acknowledged Jesus, they’d be expelled from the synagogue.

  • Do you and I permit our fears to close our eyes to, and turn our backs on, unjust, inhuman, immoral situations we know about?

If this isn't our form of spiritual blindness, perhaps it's another type pointed out in the  Gospel passage above: The blindness of the pharisees!  
They permitted their arrogant pride, envy and jealousy to create thick cataracts to obscure their vision, and help them to achieve their goal: To label the Lord Jesus as an impostor and discredit Him.  And so, they deliberately rejected the truth -- chose to be blind to the truth -- to convince themselves that the Lord Jesus could not have worked a miracle of curing a man who was blind since birth. They refused to see the Presence of God in their midst.   

  • Does your pride keep you from admitting when you are wrong?  
  • Do pride and jealousy drive you to ridicule others, lash out at others, hold grudges, and make you blind to your own evil?

How divinely ironic –- that the man born without eyesight was the one who possessed the  clearest spiritual vision about Whom Jesus truly was.  This blind man was not afraid to declare his faith in Our Lord Jesus.

Most of us have probably never think of ourselves as blind. But, we are!

  • Can we respect other people's points of view, even though we don't agree with them?
  • Are we blind to our own faults and sins?  
  • In order not to face our faults, do we always try to blame others?
  • Are we blind to our own goodness and worth?  
  • Do we destroy our faith in ourselves, who are made in the Image of God?  
  • Do we habitually deny the beauty and grace that God has given us, telling ourselves that we are failures, no good, worthless, inferior?
  • Are we constantly negative and cynical, or constantly angry, or constantly depressed?  
  • Is our faith too weak from not praying and not doing good deeds, that we have blinded ourselves from seeing hope coming from our faith in God and from seeing good coming after our present sorrows or sufferings have ended?  

Today’s Gospel Reading is a warning: There are many kinds of blindness which have nothing to do with our optic nerves and eye anatomy.  

During the remaining time this Lent, the Church hopes that this Gospel passage will inspire us to look within ourselves and pray for light.  

  • We must ask Our Lord Jesus to force us to see, however unpleasant or embarassing it may be.
  • And, then, we must admit the truth, and speak the truth, and publicly live by our Faith in Christ and His Holy Catholic Church --  even if spiritually blind people oppose us or ridicule us.  

Because, you see, if we live by the vision of our faith in Our Lord Jesus Christ, then perhaps many of those spiritually blind people will see.  

You see?

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Biotech Company Using Aborted Fetal Cells to Test Flavor Enhancers

This sounds like a sick joke out of a Jonathan Swift  story, but it's not.  Children of God for Life reports that an American company named Senomyx uses cells from aborted fetuses to test their products.

Senomyx website states that “The company's key flavor programs focus on the discovery and development of savory, sweet and salt flavor ingredients that are intended to allow for the reduction of MSG, sugar and salt in food and beverage products....Using isolated human taste receptors, we created proprietary taste receptor-based assay systems that provide a biochemical or electronic readout when a flavor ingredient interacts with the receptor.”
Senomyx notes their collaborators provide them research and development funding plus royalties on sales of products using their flavor ingredients.
“What they do not tell the public is that they are using HEK 293 – human embryonic kidney cells taken from an electively aborted baby to produce those receptors”, stated Debi Vinnedge, Executive Director for Children of God for Life, a pro-life watch dog group that has been monitoring the use of aborted fetal material in medical products and cosmetics for years.
 The group has contacted various food companies that do business with Senomyx, calling on them to sever their ties with the company.  Only one so far, Campbell soup, has responded that they no longer do business with Senomyx.  While Pepsico, Nestle, Kraft and Solae continue to fund Senomyx according to the Children of God website.

It's almost unbelievable that we tolerate this type of horrifying practice in our country.  An aborted child is now being sold to bio research companies for parts. 

Please contact these companies to insist they sever their relationship with Senomyx now:

Paul Bulcke, CEO
Nestlé USA
800 North Brand Boulevard
Jamie Caulfield, Sr.VP
PepsiCo, Inc.
700 Anderson Hill Road
Purchase, NY 10577
(914) 253-2000
Irene Rosenfeld, CEO
Kraft Foods/Cadbury Chocolate
Three Lakes Drive
Northfield, IL 60093
Mr. Torkel Rhenman Chief Executive Officer
4300 Duncan Avenue
St. Louis, Missouri 63110
Kraft Food:
Email form:

Men of The Catholic Jedi Academy are also Men Of Saint Joseph!

Men of The Catholic Jedi Academy are also Men Of Saint Joseph!
Take a moment and visit the MOSJ website.