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News from Around the World PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Sunday, 16 November 2008 05:29
On the road again.

Taking off for Omaha and Making Disciples and then Canton, Ohio. My last extended trip of 2008. Fr. Mike graciously did the 4:30 am airport run and then follows in a couple hours. Barbara Elliott will be joining us in Omaha.

I'm going to be perusing 63 pages of the lives of Orthodox saints, provided so helpfully by Fr. Gregory Jensen of St. Blog's at whose parish we'll be doing a Called & Gifted workshop next weekend. I am already somewhat familiar with some of them but have ever heard of others. So It will be a pleasant education.

I had meant to blog this weekend about the Called & Gifted news we are hearing from around the world.
From Lydia Lim in Singapore:

" It's Sunday November 9th and the eight brave souls in my Called and Gifted small group and I have just had our fourth meeting. They never fail to surprise me. Today, after we listened to the first CD track, one of them said: I think of all the tracks we've listened to, that was the best. And when someone else in the group asked her: Why do you say that was the best? She replied: Because I'm awake.

Yes a few have found it tough to stay awake during the sessions. Despite that, all of them have come back faithfully week after week, except when work or travel kept them away. Each week, our discussions get more interesting.

Today, two of them related a moving conversion story of someone who is very close to them. They shared that what they had learned about the charism of Evangelisation helped them understand how the Holy Spirit continues to use this convert, who loves Christ but has some major issues with the Catholic Church as an institution and refuses to step into a church for mass.
I have also heard wonderful stories of how God has used each of them in turn to touch the lives of other people.

We are learning lots from the CDs, the small group study material and from each other. There's also a lot of interest in sharing the Called & Gifted programme with members of the other Catholic communities and ministries they belong to."

That's ok. I've spent most of the past 15 years curing insomnia with the sound of my voice . . .

Another of our prospective Asian teacher, Fr. David writes that he expects to be assigned to Hong Kong soon. He will likely serve as chaplain to the charismatic renewal in that city (60 prayer groups in Hong Kong).

Meanwhile, we received a proposal from some of our new friends in Slovakia (who I met at the Renewal Ministries training that I did back in September) to translate the Called & Gifted into Slovakian and establish a fully trained team in that country.

Meanwhile, Clara, who heads up our Australian C & G team, has lots going on. A teaching team for Brisbane will go through training later this month and a diocesan team will be established in Canberra early next year. Meanwhile, workshops are planned in Melbourne in 2009 and several other interesting developments are afoot.

They are calling my plane so must go. Will pop in as I have access. Home again next Monday.
Making Disciples in LA PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Thursday, 13 November 2008 20:05
The Los Angeles Archdiocesan paper, the Tidings, featured some familiar themes in the November 7 issue. All courtesy of Bobby Vidal, who is a praying and evangelizing movement all by himself but has the wonderful ability to draw others in.

"Intentional discipleship

Focusing on evangelization and discipleship is the key to transforming people's lives, according to Bobby Vidal, director of evangelization and lay formation at Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha Church in Santa Clarita.

Two years ago, Vidal, then working as Blessed Kateri's religious education director, attended a workshop called, "Making Disciples," held at the Catherine of Siena Institute in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Based on the premise that awakening faith and "intentional discipleship" is a crucial step before catechesis, the workshop taught participants skills for building a culture of discipleship, including carrying on an "evangelical conversation."

"The primary thing to foster in conversation [with the pre-evangelized] is a foundation of trust," said Vidal. In a world where people are all over the spiritual map as far as belief and practice --- some "believe" but don't "practice"; some "practice" but don't "believe"; some "practice and believe" but aren't intentional disciples --- it's important to convey the understanding that "wherever you are, you are," explained Vidal.

"We tend to want to catechize people before they have encountered Christ as a real person," he emphasized. Intentional discipleship, wherein a person is inspired and mentored by members of a faith community to make a deliberate decision to follow Jesus Christ as Lord, "is the golden thread that flows through all ministry," said Vidal.

Results from employing a "discipleship" approach at Blessed Kateri have included more catechumens entering the church, a greater awareness among parishioners of God's presence in church activities, and a more welcoming atmosphere overall, said Vidal.

"It's mission rather than maintenance driven," explains Vidal, who adds that taking a discipleship approach "will definitely make a tremendous change in how we catechize --- not so focused primarily on content, but on introducing the person of Christ rather than the idea of Christ."

Members of the Catherine of Siena Institute presented their intentional discipleship vision at a three-day Mission at Blessed Kateri earlier this week as well as at a Nov. 6 focus group hosted by the San Fernando Region's evangelization committee."

P.S. If you are interested in learning more about what Bobby is talking about, there's still room in the Omaha Making Disciples seminar that begins Monday and runs through Thursday at noon.
Requiescat in Pace PDF Print E-mail
Written by Michael Fones   
Thursday, 13 November 2008 17:06

Sr. Renilde Cade, OP, former Prioress General of the Mission San Jose Dominican sisters and more recently a member of the Tucson Dominican community, passed away a few minutes ago. A week ago today she fell in a hall at the Newman Center at the University of Arizona where she was on the staff, and suffered a fractured skull with internal bleeding in her brain. Although the bleeding had stopped and the swelling had been reduced significantly, her brain function steadily decreased and she entered the arms of her Lord peacefully, surrounded by members of the Dominican community and friends from the Newman community.

Renilde was a lovely person. She was always kind, patient, gentle, loving and hard-working. She was incredibly charitable towards people who didn't seem to deserve such charity - and who didn't necessarily reciprocate.

She loved Jesus.

I loved teasing her, because she would smile and say things like, "Michael, you're terrible!" When she was Prioress General - for ten years, no less - she said that whenever things were tough she'd clean the bathrooms of the motherhouse. Then Sr. Diane, the other MSJ sister in our community, and Renilde's dear friend, would say, "and boy, were they spotless!"

Some people age gracefully; and by that, I mean God's grace becomes all the more obvious in their lives. That was Renilde. Her sudden death is a shock to her many, many friends, and especially to her Mission San Jose sisters who love her dearly.

Our lives are so short, really, and so incredibly fragile - much more so than we suspect. We almost never know when the dawn brings our final day on earth. The last time I saw Renilde, we hugged and wished each other well and said, "See you at Thanksgiving."

Little did I know that the thanksgiving we'd be joining with each other would be the Eucharist. Tomorrow when I preside at Mass, I'll remember dear, dear Renilde, and trust that she will be among the cloud of witnesses surrounding the altar who have gone before us in faith and through the door of death into the fullness of life.

Therefore, "let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us
while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith. For the sake of the joy that lay before him he endured the cross, despising its shame, and has taken his seat at the right of the throne of God." Heb 12:1b-2

Please pray for Sr. Renilde.
Tales of the Orthodox World and St. Thomas PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Thursday, 13 November 2008 15:45
Stories from the Orthodox world (much on my mind since we will be doing our first Orthodox/Byzantine Catholic Called & Gifted weekend after next):

First of all, this stunning tale from the Catholic News Agency which just tickles my OP bones:

"Stojan Adasevic, who performed 48,000 abortions, sometimes up to 35 per day, is now the most important pro-life leader in Serbia, after 26 years as the most renowned abortion doctor in the country.

“The medical textbooks of the Communist regime said abortion was simply the removal of a blob of tissue,” the newspaper reported. “Ultrasounds allowing the fetus to be seen did not arrive until the 80s, but they did not change his opinion. Nevertheless, he began to have nightmares.”

In describing his conversion, Adasevic “dreamed about a beautiful field full of children and young people who were playing and laughing, from 4 to 24 years of age, but who ran away from him in fear. A man dressed in a black and white habit stared at him in silence. The dream was repeated each night and he would wake up in a cold sweat. One night he asked the man in black and white who he was. ‘My name is Thomas Aquinas,’ the man in his dream responded. Adasevic, educated in communist schools, had never heard of the Dominican genius saint. He didn’t recognize the name”

“Why don’t you ask me who these children are?” St. Thomas asked Adasevic in his dream.

“They are the ones you killed with your abortions,’ St. Thomas told him.

“Adasevic awoke in amazement and decided not to perform any more abortions,” the article stated.

“That same day a cousin came to the hospital with his four months-pregnant girlfriend, who wanted to get her ninth abortion—something quite frequent in the countries of the Soviet bloc. The doctor agreed. Instead of removing the fetus piece by piece, he decided to chop it up and remove it as a mass. However, the baby’s heart came out still beating. Adasevic realized then that he had killed a human being,”

After this experience, Adasevic “told the hospital he would no longer perform abortions. Never before had a doctor in Communist Yugoslavia refused to do so. They cut his salary in half, fired his daughter from her job, and did not allow his son to enter the university.”

After years of pressure and on the verge of giving up, he had another dream about St. Thomas.

“You are my good friend, keep going,’ the man in black and white told him. Adasevic became involved in the pro-life movement and was able to get Yugoslav television to air the film ‘The Silent Scream,’ by Doctor Bernard Nathanson, two times.”

Adasevic has told his story in magazines and newspapers throughout Eastern Europe. He has returned to the Orthodox faith of his childhood and has studied the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas."

I'll bet.

And this news from the Orthodox Church in America's All American Council:

"On Wednesday, November 12, 2008, His Grace, Bishop JONAH of Fort Worth was elected Archbishop of Washington and New York and Metropolitan of All America and Canada."

His Beatitude is young and, a convert from Episcopalianism and his election is being hailed with considerable joy about the blogosphere. Congratulations to our Orthodox brothers and sisters. Follow the story over at Fr. Gregory Jensen's Koinonia blog. Fr. Gregory served with the now Archbishop JONAH as missionary priests in California for several years.

(Apologies to my Orthodox readers if I've gotten the title or style of address wrong).
Thunderbolt PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Thursday, 13 November 2008 11:38
Came across this blog accidently but Michelle describes well the impact that discerning charisms can have for one who is ready (and any major transition in life - such as facing retirement - tends to make you ready).

"Driving home from Petoskey, we were listening to a Catholic radio station when I heard a program that hit me like a thunderbolt. Sherry Weddell of the Catherine of Sienna Institute was talking about spiritual gifts, also known as charisms. She spoke of the joy and fulfillment that Christians experience when they use these gifts to carry out God’s will. I don’t remember her exact words, but I’m sure they echoed the essentials I found at the organization’s website,, which I quote here: "Every lay man and woman has been called by Christ (in his or her baptism) to a unique mission, and every lay man and woman has been gifted by the Holy Spirit in order to be able to answer that call. These gifts of the Holy Spirit are both clues as to the nature of the mission for which God is preparing us and tools with which to successfully carry out our mission."

There was that word ‘mission’ again! I hadn't stopped pondering whether there was still something more the Lord wanted me to do throughout my busy spring and summer. Perhaps hearing this radio program was not just a coincidence! I was excited to learn that the Sienna Institute sponsors a ‘Called and Gifted’ workshop, which helps participants to discern their charisms. I couldn’t wait to get home to see if there was a Called and Gifted program in our area.

I devoured every word on the Siena website, feeling even more certain that the Lord did have a mission for me, and that once I discerned my charisms, I would be able use them in support of that mission. Unfortunately, I saw that that there were no Called and Gifted workshops being offered nearby. I decided that I would follow the program on my own by using the discernment materials suggested on the website. I put in my order, and was thrilled when my package arrived a few days later.

My first step in the discernment process was to complete the Spiritual Gifts Inventory. This involved ranking 120 statements on a scale from 0 – 3, where 0 indicates that the statement never applies to me, and 3 means that it often applies. The instructions stated that one should not rank the statements based on what we want to be true or think should be true, but by what has actually happened in our lives thus far. High scores on a particular charism don’t necessarily mean that the gift is present, but that it is a possibility for further exploration.

After completing the inventory, I identified the charisms that had the highest ratings for me. They were: Writing, Service, Music, Encouragement, Faith, and Administration. I was not at all surprised that Writing scored so high, since it has long been one of my favorite pastimes. I have kept a journal for years, and even consider it a form of prayer. It also fit perfectly with my latest idea for volunteer work, helping the unemployed create resumes and cover letters at a local non-profit organization. I had already contacted the agency about doing this, and I was set to attend training in September. Things were definitely falling into place!

The next step was to conduct some experiments to test whether my love of writing was simply a talent and interest of mine, or if it was a spiritual gift. The Discerning Charisms workbook makes a big distinction between the two. Natural talents can be inherited and are independent of God’s grace; they can be used for our own personal good, or even for evil. On the other hand, charisms are supernaturally endowed; they are directly connected to our relationship with God, are dependent upon His grace, and can only be used to serve God’s purpose; they are meant to be ‘given away’ for the benefit of others, not to meet our own needs.

Now I set about listing the steps I would take to discern whether or not I had the Writing charism. I needed to look for the following signs to confirm that this was the case: 1) I would experience an unmistakable sense of joy, peace and energy when using my gift of writing; 2) The results of my writing would be unusually effective and successful in what I was trying to accomplish; 3) I would receive direct or indirect recognition of the gift’s presence from others.

But what experiment would I use to test this out? I wasn’t going to start helping others with their resumes for another month, and I was eager to confirm that the Lord was calling me to use my writing skills to touch the lives of others. I needed something immediate to assess whether the charism of Writing had been bestowed upon me. After much thought, I came up with an idea. And that is how this blog began."

You can help Michelle with her discernment by dropping by her blog and encouraging her to write (and discern) more!
St. Frances Cabrini and the Charism of Faith PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Thursday, 13 November 2008 06:08
I just finished a brief interview with Brian Patrick on Cincinnati's Son Rise Morning Show about Stewardship in a time of economic hardship and the whole talk of faith reminded me irresistibly of the saint of the day.

St. Francis Xavier Cabrini.

Many Catholic Seattlites have a sense of connection with her since she was very active in the Puget Sound area in the early 20th century. (A popular parking place prayer in Seattle went "St. Francis Cabrini, please park my machini.") As do Coloradans who cherish her shrine in Golden.

In fact, one of her canonization miracles occurred in imposing house on a hill in Seattle overlooking Magnuson Park where I used to take my early morning prayer-walks. (Here's a great picture of the view of Mt Rainier from the park that I cherished.)

St. Frances had a wonderful charism of Faith - that extraordinary confidence in the love, power, and provision of God and the remarkable freedom to act on this confidence. She purchased the mansion that now houses the Villa Academy in exchange for a "cup of cold water".

The story is that she and her sisters were tramping about Seattle looking for a location for a new house and saw this house on a hill overlooking Lake Washington and Frances felt strongly that this was the house that God intended them to have. They walked down the hill and were waiting for the streetcar when up drove the limousine of a wealthy woman. She offered a ride to the sisters who accepted. During the ride to their convent, Frances talked about the house they had just seen and discovered that the woman was the owner. This woman made it very clear that she was not interested in selling the house to the sisters. When the car reached the convent, the woman asked for a drink of water which Mother Cabrini readily provided. A few days later, Mother Cabrini received word that the owner had changed mind and would give the house to the sisters.

Years later, one of her sisters living in the house was spontaneously healed from a terminal illness through Cabrini's intercession and that miracle opened the door for her canonization. Villa Academy contains a glorious chapel dating from the 1920's.

These sorts of thing happened to Frances Cabrini often. In Golden, Colorado, I have drunk from the spring that she found (on land long thought to be waterless) by knocking her cane against a stone and asking that workers dig at that spot. I have also spent the night in the Stone House that she built on that property.

Cabrini founded 67 institutions during her lifetime without knowing where the necessary financial resources would come from.

"Mother simply went forward with the means at hand confident that God would supply what was lacking. “Don’t worry,” she would say with a smile, “if I were to think too much about procuring the means, the Lord would withhold his graces. We have nothing, yet we spend millions.” No obstacle could stop her. She wrote, “Difficulties! What are they, Daughters? They are the mere playthings of children enlarged by our imagination, not yet accustomed to focus itself on the Omnipotent. Who is not weak? But with God’s help you can do everything. He never fails the humble and faithful.” (Catholic Exchange, Dan Lynch, November 13, 2008)

As i have noted here before: In my small way, I try to emulate the practice of St. Frances Cabrini when in a jam.

St. Frances crossed the Atlantic 30 times on her missionary travels although she had a life-long fear of the sea. She had developed a wonderful perspective on the inevitable snafus involved. She always said that when things got really difficult, God was about to do something especially wonderful.

There is one hair-raising story about Cabrini that I have little hope of emulating. She was riding on a train in the wild west when her train was held up by robbers. One robber fired a pistol at her pointblank through the window but the bullet dropped harmlessly to the floor beside her. Frances was unfazed and unsurprised.

After all, St. Frances noted calmly, hadn't she commended herself to the protection of the Sacred Heart?
Update on Pat PDF Print E-mail
Written by Michael Fones   
Thursday, 13 November 2008 03:47



I learned via e-mail from one of her sons that Pat is in a coma and is not responding to medication. Please keep, her husband, and their three sons and their families in your prayers. Thanks, again.

Here's a sample of her poetry. Proceeds from her book, "Daring to Dance, Refusing to Die," as well as other publications of hers - and entrepreneurial ventures of her husband, Rich - go to support breast cancer research.

©1997 Patricia Mees Armstrong
(from DARING TO DANCE, REFUSING TO DIE, Small Poetry Press)

Sleeping and waking ... we talk in the night
he moves at my stirring as if I am
the spoon in his bowl of pudding ... he is
hungry ... I pad to the kitchen under
his remote control from our bed ... he wants
2 a.m. cocoa and graham crackers
the sandy crumbs outlast his hunger (we
learn that in the morning) ... as he slurps
and chews, I touch his chest and follow the pink
surgical maps zig-zagging directions
We have defined our closeness for forty
years ... he says we should prepare for what-the-
gone...he will be the first to go, he says,
and cites the mounting evidence in fat
medical records (hand-carried when we
travel or move or both ... those chest maps come
in handy) SO, he asks again, what will
I do when he's gone ... he expects me to
joke ... it's my way of handling pain at first
(it's all I really have in common with
Reagan, I tell him) ... to humor us
both, I say, oh, I'll go back to Crete and
walk my numbed feet on the beach stones and eat
souflaki at Anna's and pretend not
to be a tourist, euxapisto, and
wave at the goatboys who stole our apples
before they ripened.....I'll fend off Stavros'
(the landlord) ... passes when I pay my rent
My master listens with low-lidded eyes
I say, dear, I have great ailments myself
remember, Milord, you play doctor with me
every day it's needles and swabs
and the King with the axe and a neat pair
of dead feet takes it all ... SO it's MY turn
if I should die before you wake, what will
YOU do ... he smiles ... he would desert the cold
winter of his loss ... fly to Oahu
on wings and play golf until he dropped dead
aloha ... seriously, I ask him
really, what would you do if I go first
He turns his head on the propped pillows and
says ... I don't know ... I don't know ... we are too
close ... I move to taste the salt on his face
strange ... he's on a low-sodium diet
We hold each other and wait for someone
to speak first ... he does ... he could swear we're near
the ocean...there is sand in this bed and
he smells salt ... crumbs and tears make me think hard
I say, do you know what? ... I've decided
not to die for now ... yeah, me, too, he says

Prayers Requested PDF Print E-mail
Written by Michael Fones   
Thursday, 13 November 2008 02:56
Please pray for two wonderful women in my life: Sr. Renilde Cade, OP, and Mrs. Patricia Mees Armstrong. Sr. Renilde is a member of the Tucson Dominican community of which I am a member. A week ago she fell and fractured her skull. Her brain is badly bruised and she has been in what's called a "stuporous state" for the past week. She floats in and out of consciousness, and initially when she was conscious, she would speak, although incoherently. She has stopped speaking when she's conscious, and the doctors are concerned that she is not improving.

Pat is a dear friend and parishioner at St. Thomas More University Parish in Eugene, OR, where I served as pastor for six years. She has had cancer for as long as I've known her, and has fought incredibly hard to stay alive - I think mainly to help her husband, who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's. She fell yesterday and is suffering from a brain hemorrhage. If she recovers, she will be placed in assisted living.

Thank you very much. We must not underestimate the power of prayer - even for strangers.
Dorothy Day: What Can One Person Do? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Monday, 10 November 2008 14:23
November 8 was Dorothy Day's one hundred and eleventieth birthday.

And she, a woman of many wise words, has something to say that we need to hear:

"People say, What good can one person do? What is the sense of our small effort? They cannot see that we must lay one brick at a time. We can be responsible only for the one action of the present moment. But we can beg for an increase of love in our hearts that will vitalize and transform all our individual actions, and know that God will take them and multiply them, as Jesus multiplied the loaves and the fishes.”
Home Again PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Monday, 10 November 2008 14:18
I'm back home. Got in at midnight last night on the last milk run from Minneapolis. Much good and encouraging stuff happened last week. Fr. Mike is flying back to CS as I write and we'll both be here the rest of the week.

Then off for our last trip before Thanksgiving:

Making Disciples in Omaha and our first Orthodox/Byzantine/Catholic Called &
Gifted workshop in Ohio. And my last work related trip of 2008.

So blogging will re-commence soon.
See How They Love One Another PDF Print E-mail
Written by Michael Fones   
Sunday, 09 November 2008 15:15

This article on relates a brawl that broke out between Armenian and Greek Orthodox monks in Jerusalem. The reason has to do with tension over a site that is maintained by several different Christian denominations, including Roman Catholicism."We were keeping resistance so that the procession could not pass through ... and establish a right that they don't have," a young Greek Orthodox monk with a cut next to his left eye told the AP.

I am sure many Orthodox and Armenian Christians are saddened over Christians fighting one another. Others may feel the resistance was justifiable. The site in question is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the location of Jesus' tomb.

When we Christians behave this way, it is as though Jesus was never raised. He might as well have died and remained in the tomb. How on earth will others be brought to Jesus, the Prince of Peace, the Savior of all humanity, if His followers can't see Him in each other? How can I claim to be a disciple having the mind of Christ if a place, no matter how holy, is more important than another Christian who is a living temple of the Holy Spirit? I do not intend to embarrass my Orthodox brothers and sisters; God knows Roman Catholics do more than our share of harm as we vilify one another over liturgical preferences, architecture, prudential judgments carefully weighed, etc.

On this day when we Roman Catholics remember a building, the Lateran Basilica in Rome - the Pope's Cathedral - let us not fail to remember St. Paul's words:
Do you not know that you are the temple of God,
and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
If anyone destroys God’s temple,
God will destroy that person;
for the temple of God, which you are, is holy
What will God do to the person who punches out a temple of the Holy Spirit - and gives the body of Christ a black eye?
Some good news PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 03 November 2008 16:53

Written by the other Sherry

The case of Owen is being investigated as a possible miracle toward the canonization of Blessed Giacomo Alberione, founder of the Society of Saint Paul.

There may be two miracles here: Owen's, and that of a well-done, thoughtful news story about him.

Here's a taste, but read the whole thing:

Owen was born with brain injuries so severe that the family was advised to take him to The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, one of the nation's top neonatal hospitals.
After an MRI showed significant damage to several portions of the brain, doctors there felt they could do little for Owen. They released him on hospice status -- which means he was expected to die within days or weeks -- to his parents on March 13.
"We were very sad and uncertain but ready to accept whatever came," Danyo says.
Owen's grandmother, Rae Stabosz of Newark, is a believer in Alberione. She asked people to pray to Alberione to ask God to heal Owen.
Within two weeks, Owen was nursing vigorously, crying when hungry and breathing well. Today, his parents say, he is a normal boy with only a tiny delay in his speech development.
"He's doing so well, it's easy to forget how bad off he was," Danyo says.

More about Owen at his grandmother's blog, here.

Oxford: Always Winter and Never Christmas PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Monday, 03 November 2008 09:03
C. S. Lewis would be rolling in his grave if he hadn't foreseen this sort of thing.

Oxford - dreaming spires and all - has banned Christmas. Even the local Muslims are furious.

"Oxford city council confirmed the events in the city would be renamed 'Winter Light Festival' to make them more inclusive, provoking outrage among shoppers in the city who called for a return to tradition.

The idea has come from the charity Oxford Inspires, the cultural development agency for the county, which runs the celebrations.

Sabir Hussain Mirza, chairman of the Muslim Council of Oxford, said: "I am really upset about this. Christians, Muslims and other religions all look forward to Christmas."

Fr Brian Van-Dungey, a priest in Garsington, Oxon, said: "I am a Christian and pleased to see my Muslim brothers joining in the condemnation of this stupid and dangerous idea; this sort of thinking creates racial problems and should be stopped in its tracks."

Rabbi Eli Bracknell, who teaches at the Jewish Educational Centre in the city, said: "It is important to maintain a traditional British Christmas. Anything that waters down traditional culture and Christianity in the UK is not positive for the British identity."

Oxford Inspires spokesman Tei Williams said: "In Oxfordshire we have Winter Light which is a whole festival spanning two months. Within that festival will be Christmas Carol services."

Liz Gresham of Oxford Inspires added: "We changed the name to be more inclusive." Ed Turner, deputy leader of the council, said the renaming of the festival was "unfortunate and sends out a problematic message."

He added: "It is the charity's festival. Among councillors there is certainly no desire to downgrade the importance or the prominence given to Christmas.

"There is going to be a Christmas tree and even if the lights are called something else to me they will be Christmas lights."

Want a Culture of Life? Make Disciples. PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Monday, 03 November 2008 06:09
For all the sound and fury about abortion in the Catholic media, it is sobering to realize that Catholics aren't the real champions of life in the US.

The real champions are the evangelicals that many Catholic bloggers disparage so readily. To be specific, younger evangelicals. Especially those under 25. From an article by Ed Gilgore entitled "Evangelicals and Abortion"

. . . white evangelical Protestants (particularly younger ones) are consistently, and by sizable margins, more likely to favor abortion restrictions than Catholics.

There are variable measurements of this phenomenon, but no real doubt about the basics. A September 2007 Pew survey showed white evangelical Protestants agreeing that abortion should be illegal in all or most cases by a 65-31 magin; Catholics favored keeping abortion legal in all or most cases by a 51-44 margin (with no appreciable difference between Hispanic and non-Hispanic Catholics). On a related issue that helps measure the intensity of anti-abortion views, the same poll showed white evangelicals opposing embryonic stem cell research by 57-31, while white non-Hispanic Catholics favored it by 59-32.

Moreover, the evangelical-Catholic gap on abortion looks likely to increase in the future. An April 2004 Pew survey providing generational breakdowns showed that white evangelicals under 35 favored abortion restrictions by more than a two-to-one margin (71% among those under 25), while those over 65 actually (if narrowly) opposed more restrictions. The generational trend lines among white Catholics moved in exactly the opposite direction."

Gilgore points out the obvious ironies:

"therein lies a great mystery.

Catholic anti-abortion views, after all, are undergirded by a long series of increasingly emphatic papal encyclicals; a natural law and bioethics tradition stretching back all the way to Aristotle; an overall theological position making church teachings on matters of faith and morals binding on believers; a relatively low level of tolerance for individual dissent; and a teaching and disciplinary system that can be (and in some parts of the country, is being) deployed to influence the views and behavior--personal and political--of the laity.

Not one of these is a significant factor for Sola Scriptura Protestants. And unlike other moral issues ranging from gay and lesbian rights to divorce to adultery, the belief in scriptural inerrancy common among evangelicals doesn't really explain the vast gap between evangelicals and their mainline brethren on abortion. I've yet to read or hear a purely scriptural justification for banning abortions that doesn't ultimately come down to circular reasoning based on the condemnations of homicide from the Decalogue onward.

Evangelical hard-line views on abortion are not a matter of an unbroken tradition. In 1971, before Roe v. Wade, when nearly all states maintained abortion bans, the Southern Baptist Convention passed a resolution calling for abortion laws that would recognize exceptions not only in cases of rape and incest, but where the "emotional, mental and physical health of the mother" might be endangered. Needless to say, that would be considered a radically liberal position among evangelicals today.

So whence cometh today's white evangelical anti-abortion ferver? One theory is that these folk are radically alienated from contemporary American culture, and view legalized abortion (along with premarital sex, open gay/lesbian lifestyles, and TV/Hollywood "trash culture") as a symbol of a depraved society. This is undoubtedly the view of some well-known evangelical leaders like James Dobson, who often indulges himself in Nazi analogies for the "Holocaust" of abortion. But objective measurements of evangelical cultural alienation are generally ambivalent, and they are famously enthusiastic about adopting contemporary culture in their own liturgical and missionary practices.

Another theory, for which I can offer little other than plausible conjecture, is that the "framing" of the abortion issue--particular its treament as fundamentally a matter of the reproductive rights of women, or of personal privacy--that underlies the pro-choice argument is simply uncompelling to many white evangelicals. Aside from the strongly anti-feminist bias of much of contemporary evangelical teaching, American evangelicals have become strongly averse to the libertarian traditions of church-state separation and protection of individual conscience that once was a central feature of their own belief system. And perhaps an inability to even hear the pro-choice case has reinforced the impact of such secular phenomena as widely available sonogram images of fetal development."

We are the ones with the rock solid case for the life and dignity of every person but we are the ones who are failing to "get" it.. Because the majority of our people don't care what the Church teaches. The majority of our people rarely or never cross the threshold of our parishes in any case. When that is the case, it is no surprise that only 22% of Catholics look to the Church's teaching when making moral decisions.

Want to build a culture of life? Evangelize. Intentional disciples care very much what the Church thinks because they seek to follow Jesus, Lord and Head of the Church. First of all, they will be there. Secondly, they will be eagerly paying attention.

If we don't evangelize our own, other people - non-Catholic people, people all around the world - pay in innumerable ways. Not just the unborn but the poor and the marginalized of all kinds.

Catholic Social Teaching isn't our best kept secret because we aren't teaching it. It is our best kept secret because a majority of the baptized are not yet intentional disciples.

Seek Peace? Work for Justice. Want Justice? Make Disciples.
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