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Pope Francis announces global prayer vigil for peace on Sept. 7

By Kerri Lenartowick
.- Departing from his typical reflections on the Sunday gospel, Pope Francis used his Angelus audience today to call for peace throughout the world, particularly in conflict-ridden Syria.

“I appeal strongly for peace, an appeal which arises from the deep within me,” he said to the crowds in St. Peter’s Square on Sept. 1.

Pope Francis celebrates Palm Sunday Mass on March 24, 2013 in St. Peter's Square.
Credit: Sabrina Fusco/CNA.
“There are so many conflicts in this world which cause me great suffering and worry, but in these days my heart is deeply wounded in particular by what is happening in Syria and anguished by the dramatic developments which are looming,” continued the Pope.

“For this reason, brothers and sisters, I have decided to call for a vigil for the whole Church,” he announced.

It will be “a day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria, in the Middle East, and throughout world.”
The vigil will take place on Sept. 7, the vigil of the birth of Mary, Queen of Peace. Those who can will gather in St. Peter’s Square from 7 p.m. until midnight: other local Churches are requested to join in the fasting and prayer by gathering together.

Pope Francis extended his invitation to “fellow Christians, followers of other religions and all men of good will, to participate, in whatever way they can, in this initiative.”

“Humanity needs to see these gestures of peace and to hear words of hope and peace!” said the Pope.
“All men and women of good will are bound by the task of pursuing peace,” he charged.

Read the rest here: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/pope-francis-announces-global-prayer-vigil-for-peace-sept-7/

Football: More Than Just a Game

Reagan as George Gipp

Football is a deeply offensive sport. It is violent and triumphalist, and teaches young children that however nicely they play the game, winning still matters. More terrible still, a football team is a roiling cauldron of unvarnished masculinity. Hardly anyone even pretends to want women on the field. Football is an affront to everything progressives hold most dear, and every year at the start of the season, I marvel that it still exists.
But it does exist, and even manages to thrive. As culture wars rage all around us, football remains relatively unscathed, which may seem like rather a remarkable achievement. There is an explanation, however. Although the great majority of players, coaches and fans are conservative and Republican, football has powerful liberal friends. Neither the media nor the universities wish to see the demise of America’s most popular (and most profitable) sport. Journalists get excited when the name of a football legend (such as Joe Paterno) is tainted by scandal, and university professors quietly sneer at athletic departments behind closed doors, but their grumbles are muted. In time, lawsuits and parental fears about concussions may destroy the sport, but for now, the almighty dollar keeps it going strong.
Should faithful Catholics be glad or sorry? Certainly, there are moral hazards associated with football, as with every sport. As many wise moralists have observed, athletic prowess, like all human excellences, can breed vainglory and pride. (In light of that consideration, I would advise every gifted athlete to seek a spiritual director at once.) Also, as Romano Amerio grumpily notes in Iota Unum, sports fanhood may contribute to the general cult of body-worship that is already one of the great spiritual evils of our time.

These are heavy charges. It should be said, however, that the love of sport is quite different from the hedonism (including gluttony, promiscuity, and general acquisitiveness) that has poisoned so much of modern life. A moment’s reflection will reveal that sport builds up exactly the sort of discipline that hedonism destroys. But this observation is really just an entry point into a deeper and more significant distinction: hedonism concerns the appetites, while sport is a celebration of the spirit. This is a categorical difference, which may help us to see how sport, although it is not without its hazards, can nonetheless make a very positive contribution to the virtuous life.

At any given time, most Americans could not say which of their compatriots is the fastest, strongest, or most nimble. We pay attention to raw physical abilities once every four years, when they are presented with a flourish in the form of a grand international competition. In general, however, people are not interested in raw statistics. We admire athletes for their ability to employ these skills and capabilities under duress. Sport is a struggle to triumph over adversity, and this, most fundamentally, is what we love about it.

In an athletic competition, the body is used to achieve something decidedly extra-bodily. This thrills us because the athlete in the heat of competition faces a situation analogously similar to our own, as corporeal beings struggling through the battle of life. Watching athletes prevail on the field rekindles our hopes, because we too hope to rise above the challenges and limitations of our natural state to attain a glorious prize.

Most likely we are not reflecting on that eschatological horizon as we watch a sporting match. Many enthusiastic fans will even say that they do not believe in such things. Nevertheless, the thirst for supernatural fulfillment is so deeply engrained in us that we yearn for it whether or not we are able to articulate our desire. We understand intuitively that the human condition is one of struggling to achieve greatness under arduous conditions. This is why the drama of the sporting match resonates with us, regardless of whether we ourselves are athletically inclined.

Football is particularly exemplary in this regard. No other American sport offers such a spectacularly literal display of the struggle to overcome adversity. As every serious fan knows, the battle at the line of scrimmage is the very foundation of American football. Linemen take a kind of pride in their relative anonymity, but their exercise of brute physical force is the center around which all other action turns.

For a quarterback, adversity takes the very definite form of a line of burly men standing mere feet away, who want to pulverize him. For a running back, penetrating that wall of human power is the key to a successful play. For the entire offense, overcoming the looming brigade of fast and fearless enemies will require speed, skill and ingenuity, as well as a significant display of raw strength. Although many sports give us glimpses of the stunning potential of the human body, few present such a thrilling visual juxtaposition of the ardor of competition and the excellence required to emerge victorious.

Read the rest here: http://www.crisismagazine.com/2013/football-more-than-just-a-game?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+CrisisMagazine+%28Crisis+Magazine%29

Today on "Kresta in the Afternoon" – September 4, 2013

Talking about the "things that matter most" on September 4

4:00 – 6:00: Direct to My Desk
Today we open the phone lines and let you set the agenda with your questions and comments. As always, we have topics we will bring up for discussion but the show only works with your input. Be ready to call 877-573-7825.

NC Register Publishes Al’s Commentary on Jody Bottum

Are We on the Right Track in the Fight for Marriage?

COMMENTARY: Joseph Bottum’s Essay Critiquing the Church’s Current Efforts Against Same-Sex ‘Marriage’ Raises Questions Worth Considering.

Joseph Bottum’s Commonweal essay, subtitled “The Things We Share: A Catholic’s Case for Gay Marriage,” has not even raised an “Oh, my” among the average Catholic church attender. Among Catholic bloggers, activists and communicators, however, it has generated a roar.

This Bottum controversy was framed badly from the start. It was never about fidelity or infidelity to Church teaching. The Commonweal article was badly subtitled as “a Catholic’s case for gay marriage.” It clearly was not. The New York Times claimed that Bottum did not think Catholics were bound by natural law to oppose same-sex “marriage.” False. He thinks “thin” versions of natural law have rightly failed to persuade. Authentic natural-law teaching does require us to teach against “gay marriage.”

I had the advantage of interviewing Bottum immediately after the essay’s publication and asked him if he had changed his fundamental theological or moral view on “gay marriage.” He assured me, in no uncertain terms, that he had not. He still agrees with the Church: that marriage is between one man and one woman.

Bottum’s essay was always about assessing the culture’s response to our stalled efforts, legally, ecclesially and socially, to defend traditional marriage.

He admits that his style and expression contributed to the widespread misunderstanding of his essay. But blaming Bottum distracts us from two daunting rhetorical problems about our current situation related to same-sex “marriage” and the defense of traditional marriage.

First, “gay marriage” hasn’t yet been tried or tested. It is fresh and unblemished, and this allows Americans to fantasize about how fine it will be for homosexual persons. Christian marriage or some semblance of it, on the other hand, has been tried and incrementally redefined by heterosexual persons seeking easy divorce and remarriage, contraception, abortion, adoption for unmarried couples, toleration of deadbeat dads and the promiscuity that leads to nearly half of our nation’s children being born out of wedlock.

The Christian community that claims to be the defender of God’s design for marriage has consistently cooperated with, or, at least has been unable to resist, the cultural pull that has defined civil marriage deviance downward. What is it that we are now defending in civil marriage?

How to build a visibly Christian marriage alternative formed by sacramental rather than civil awareness and which better provides for family flourishing: This is the task of the next generation of Catholic activists, pastors and social critics.

Read full commentary here

Today on "Kresta in the Afternoon" – September 3, 2013

Talking about the "things that matter most" on September 3
4:00 – Kresta Comments
4:20 – Where is Billy Ray Cyrus?
When Dr. Meg Meeker watched Miley Cyrus slither on stage at the recent MTV Video Music Awards looking like a cross between a 12-year-old boy and a seasoned pole dancer, she says she felt as though someone had kicked her in the stomach. Clearly Cyrus was coached to act sexually outrageous in order to get attention.  But her handlers forgot to tell her that she would embarrass herself and, hopefully, her family.  Her performance showed how seriously she has been prostituted by adults wanting to gain one thing: a lot of money. And as she moved on stage Meg wondered, Where is Billy Ray?She joins us.

4:40 – A Travel Guide to Heaven for Kids
Soon after his very popular A Travel Guide to Heaven was published, Anthony DeStefano recognized that children also have many questions about heaven. In celebration of the tenth anniversary of that book, Anthony wrote a fun-filled, action story about a little boy named Joey who gets to take a whirlwind tour of heaven with his guardian angel, Gabby. Stunning illustrations bring the story to life, showing heaven to be a place where everyone is happy, the animals all get along, and God's glory is more amazing than anything Joey had ever seen in his whole life. Anthony joins us.

5:00 – Kresta Comments

5:20 – Copts Leaving Egypt Face Challenges of Identity
Coptic Christians must turn to their centuries-long history of overcoming obstacles as they seek to maintain their identity while fleeing violence amid Egyptian upheaval, scholars said at a recent event. "Yes it's a story of decline, but also of survival; yes it's a story of decay, but it's one of endurance as well," said Samuel Tadros, author of the recent book, "Motherland Lost: The Egyptian and Coptic Quest for Modernity."Tadros, a native of Egypt, spoke on the history of Copts in Egypt at an Aug. 22 event in Washington, D.C. and joins us here today.

5:40 – What Are Church Leaders From the Pope to Nuns on the Ground Saying About Possible International Intervention in Syria?
Pope Francis has renewed his call for peace in Syria, urging international leaders to “find a solution to a war that sows destruction and death.” The secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace said that “the conflict in Syria has all the ingredients to explode into a war of global dimensions.” The Patriarch of the Maronite Catholic Church and the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch emphasized in a joint statement that they are “opposed to any foreign armed intervention in Syria.” Also Pope Francis has called upon all the faithful worldwide to join in a day of prayer and fasting of September 7 for peace in the Middle East, and especially in Syria. We talk with Matthew Bunson about what the Universal Church is saying about military intervention in Syria.

Armed Guards Placed at Enfield Schools

Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2013
NBC Connecticut

Armed Guards Placed at Enfield Schools
School begins today in Enfield and armed guards have been assigned to schools in the district.
When students return to school in Enfield today, there will be uniformed guards carrying handguns and not everyone in the school district is happy about it.
The town has hired 18 guards to oversee security within the district. They will be stationed at the front doors and will also monitor school grounds.
The police chief said the main goal is to protect the students and teachers.
The guards are retired officers from local police departments who've all undergone training, drug screenings, psychological evaluations and background checks. They will not carry handcuffs and won’t be authorized to arrest or interrogate students.
However, reaction from some parents is mixed.

"I don't think having an armed guard is going to stop anybody if they want to get in. I think they're going to get in," Debby Miller, mother of an Enfield High School student, said.
"It's going to be a more safer community, for not only students but teachers as well," Kayla Gilbert, a freshman at Enfield High School, said.
There are reports that a petition is circulating to bring the armed security initiative to a vote. It has about 2,500 signatures.

Source: NBC Connecticut

NY police spies have penetrated 12 terrorist-suspect mosques

They monitor sermons, serve on boards, and do what the FBI is not allowed to do

Sep 3, 2013
The Christians
It’s been cancelled. The Tea Party Plus is taking over.
It’s been cancelled. The Tea Party Plus is taking over.

The New York Police Department was disclosed last week to be maintaining an intensive surveillance on the city’s 175 mosques, auditing the sermons preached in some of them, tracking known Muslim radicals, and planting police informants on their various administrative bodies. This intruded upon the jurisdiction of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which said New York lacked the authority to do it. The NYPD replied that its authority lay in its responsibility to protect the city against its greatest danger.

The information came with the release of a book titled, Enemies Within: The NYPD’s Secret Spying Unit  by two Associated Press reporters, Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman. Spying operations had been directed against at least 12 mosques since 9/11 in 2001. In that time, the FBI had focused on only one.
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly: We have a responsibility to protect our city.
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly:
 We have a responsibility to protect our city.

Lawsuits have been launched against the NYPD by the American Civil Liberties Union and two other organizations claiming the spying is unconstitutional because it makes Muslims afraid to practice their faith. The police enter a mosque only when they are following a lead, said Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly. “We have a responsibility to protect New Yorkers from violent crime or another terrorist attack.”

What if Boston had been so vigilant?

If he needed more evidence, he could of course have alluded to the 2,606 corpses buried in the rubble of New York’s World Trade Center, and the fact that there has not been one successful Islamist attack on New York in the 12 years since. In that time 63 other people have died through 43 acts of violence in the U.S., all in the declared service of Allah and the “religion of peace.” It was unarguable that if the Boston police had been as vigilant, three of those lives would be saved and 170 fewer people injured last April 15. Boston, however, left such things up to the Washington-directed FBI.

Read the rest here: http://thechristians.com/?q=node/591&utm_source=The+Christians+Book+Buyers&utm_campaign=fd34246085-TCH-Issue0105-BB&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_e2d8bf6d30-fd34246085-57142977#sthash.Go7qhmJd.dpuf

Pope to consecrate world to Mary’s Immaculate Heart

Pope Francis in St. Peter's Square on Pentecost
Sunday, May 19, 2013.
Credit: Stephen Driscoll/CNA.
.- Pope Francis will consecrate the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary this Oct. 13 as part of the Marian Day celebration that will involve the statue of Our Lady of the Rosary of Fatima.

“The Holy Father strongly desires that the Marian Day may have present, as a special sign, one of the most significant Marian icons for Christians throughout the world and, for that reason, we thought of the beloved original Statue of Our Lady of Fatima,” wrote Archbishop Rino Fisichella.

Archbishop Fisichella, who serves as president of the pontifical council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, made his remarks in a letter to Bishop Antonio Marto of Leiria-Fatima.

According to the Portuguese shrine's website, the statue of Our Lady of Fatima will leave for Rome on the morning of Oct. 12 and return on the afternoon of Oct. 13. The statue normally resides in the shrine’s Little Chapel of Apparitions.

Read the rest at Catholic News Agency.

Beer-brewing monks!

From New Advent:
Beer-brewing monks celebrate their first year of production...

Even before retired Pope Benedict XVI set up a pontifical council for new evangelization and convoked a world Synod of Bishops on the theme, a new group of Benedictine monks was using Latin and liturgy to reach out to those whose faith was weak or nonexistent. (For more information, see http://www.osbnorcia.org.)

Atonement and the Undoable

This is an excerpt from Rebecca's recent article. Read the entire article at: Public Catholic 
Representative Rebecca Hamilton,
18-year member of the Oklahoma House
of Representatives talks about life
as a Public Catholic.
...But the truth is that the first requirement for atonement has to be an action that wounds someone else.
Let me give you an example. Back in my misspent youth, I was the NARAL Director for Oklahoma. I referred women for abortions. I helped organize the first abortion clinic in Oklahoma and got it up and running.
In short, I helped kill people.
Lots of people.
Helpless little people that I denied were people while I was advocating for their deaths.
Now there’s something that needs a little atonement.
But how? How does anyone atone for so heinous a crime?
For those of you who are reading this with baited breath, waiting for me to give you an answer, I’ll cut to the bottom line: You can’t. You can not atone for sins as black as the ones I’ve committed.
Can’t do it.
Nothing you can do, nothing you can say, nothing, but nothing, but nothing will ever make right again what you have done wrong.
But if, for reasons that confound all comprehending, God still loves you, even after what you’ve done; if He welcomes you home to Him with joy that defies your ability to find words to describe it, and if He then puts you back into the same place where you committed some of your worst sins in the past –
– If He does all that, then, just maybe, you get the chance to … not do it over, because nobody ever gets the chance to do anything over … but to do it again, and this time to do it better.
How does an adulterer atone for his or her adultery? By being faithful to their spouse.
How does a wife-beater atone for beating his wife? By loving her the way God intended.
But even this kind of living atonement cannot undo the harm you have done. One of the hardest penalties of committing grave sin is that you can’t un-sin it.
You can’t unadulter, unbeat, unrape, unkill anyone.Without Jesus Christ you are stuck there in the pit of your sin and remorse forever. You will be a murderer/adulterer/liar/beater all your days. This is why I sometimes get so impatient with people who come on this blog and demand that the Catholic Church change the rules to tell them that their sins aren’t sins. They never do this about eating too many cookies or being a volunteer firefighter for the “wrong” motives.

Nope. They’re ok with those things and the Church’s teachings about them.
It’s the biggies that get them on here demanding a hall pass to heaven. They want the Church to tell them that their adulteries, abortions, disordered sex and lying, cheating ways are not a sin. They claim that anyone, anywhere, who says otherwise is “judging” them.
There are days when I want to put my arms around these lost souls and hug them. There are other days I want to ask, Are you kidding? Where do you get the arrogance to do these things and then demand that the Church — the Church — say that they are not sins?
Do you know what saved me?
The knowledge that I had sinned.
Without that, I would still be lost.
As for atonement, that came long afterwards, when I was mature enough in Christ to survive it. Atonement for me was being given an extra measure of forgiveness I most assuredly did not deserve. God put me in the place and almost coerced events so that I would be given the opportunity to pass pro life legislation. Atonement for me was being pilloried by pro abortion people. I was forced (against my will, I have to admit) to suffer public hazing for the babies....
Read the rest at Public Catholic.
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