Monday, August 30, 2010
Pope Benedict XVI and about three dozen former students who did their doctoral dissertations under his direction when he was a professor will gather at Castel Gandolfo this week to discuss teachings of the Second Vatican Council and "the balance it tried to strike between reform and maintaining tradition," according to a story on the CNS blog.
Known as the “Ratzinger Schulerkreis” (Ratzinger Student Circle), the group has met annually since the late 1970s.
Two years ago I interviewed Jesuit Father Joseph Fessio, long-time friend and former student of Pope Benedict XVI, who talked about the annual meeting with great fondness and appreciation. He told me that the pope "believes very strongly" in keeping up close friendships with professors and former students.
"In fact, after he was made archbishop in 1977, he was no longer a professor and so his students, present and former, decided to form the Schulerkreis, the circle of students, an alumni group. There were about 50 of us all told. We spoke with him and we agreed that we would meet every year and we’d pick a theme and bring some speakers in and have Mass together and meals and recreation, and we did that. I wasn’t there every time, but we did that every year from around 1977-78 on. When he was elected pope in 2005, we were, of course, very excited, but we figured that’s the end of our Schulerkreis meetings. But he said no, he wanted to continue," Father Fessio told OSV.
He said the former students arrive on Thursday afternoon, have an internal meeting on Friday morning and then meet with the pope on Friday afternoon.
"Then Saturday morning we have Mass with him and another meeting and he has a beautiful lunch for us in the gardens at Castel Gandolfo. Then we have another meeting in the afternoon. Between lunch and the afternoon meeting, he will make time for those of his former students who have a specific issue they want to talk to him about personally or in a small group. On Sunday morning, we celebrate Mass with him again and after Mass he has his audience," he explained.
According to the CNS blog, Archbishop Kurt Koch, the former bishop of Basel, Switzerland, will be this year's speaker, focusing on “The Second Vatican Council Between Tradition and Innovation,” and another lecture on the council’s document on the liturgy and on the liturgical reforms it launched.
Read the CNS post HERE.
Friday, August 27, 2010
By Mary De Turris Poust
A week from now I'll be boarding a plane to Rome for a week-long program called "The Church Up Close: Covering Catholicism in the Age of Benedict XVI," which is sponsored in part by Our Sunday Visitor. (Thanks, OSV, for the partial scholarship.) The program for foreign journalists covering the Catholic Church will include lectures and meetings with high-ranking Vatican officials, as well as visits to the can't-miss sights of any Roman pilgrimage -- St. Peter's, the Sistine Chapel, a papal audience, and even a visit to the Scavi, the difficult-to-get-into excavation site under St. Peter's.
Throughout my trip, I'll be keeping a Rome journal over at my personal blog, Not Strictly Spiritual. You'll find photos and observations there about matters of faith, food and fun, all part of any Roman holiday, as far as I'm concerned. I've already started some preview blogging today with a post on Roman food, which you can find HERE. Up tomorrow on NSS: churches on my "must see" list. Please check in daily. Right after you read OSV Daily Take, of course.
Thursday, August 26, 2010
TIME Announces New Version Of Magazine Aimed At Adults
Here's a video clip featuring Pope Benedict's message to the Missionaries of Charity on the centenary of Blessed Mother Teresa's birth, which is being celebrated around the world today. The clip from RomeReports continues with a nice piece on Mother Teresa's life.
From the story by Christina Capecchi:
The day after graduating from Marquette University, Michelle Scaperlanda packed her vitals into a Toyota Highlander--laundry detergent, Macbook, Nike running shoes--popped the sun roof and embarked on a 500-mile trek from Milwaukee to Omaha.
She was trading one dynamic faith community for another, Marquette for Magis, a two-year Catholic teacher service corps coordinated by Creighton University that allows participants to "live together in intentional Christian community," according to its website-and she was being intentional about it.
Scaperlanda, 21, was keenly aware of what she was leaving: a four-year affirmation of faith by her peers, the wisdom of Ignatian spirituality, "a beautiful experience," she says. It was hard not to look back during her westward roadtrip, to recall evening talks, noon Masses, and the silent retreat that had led her to a semester in Athens and a daily prayer of thanks.
In many ways, she figured, Magis offered an extension of what she had cherished most about undergrad. "I'll be with other first-year teachers who are going through the same pressures and excitements and triumphs that I'll be going through," Scaperlanda says. "I really like the idea of being able to share my experience and my faith, because I don't think the two can be completely divorced from each other. Continuing in another faith community will allow that." Continue reading HERE.
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
“We are awake to the hypocrisy and schemes of that designing, crafty, subtle, far-seeing and far-reaching Power, which is ever-grasping after the whole world, to sway its iron scepter with blood stained hands over the millions of its inhabitants.”
Judging from recent op-ed columns and street demonstrations, one might presume that the “far-reaching Power” is Islam, seeking to enslave and dominate and now ready to build a mosque near ground zero, where suicidal terrorists killed some 2,700 people and traumatized a nation.
But one would be wrong.
That crafty Power, in fact, was the Catholic Church. The words were written in 1852, protesting a gift by Pope Pius IX of a block of marble for the Washington Monument. The outrage felt by true-blue Americans was so great that the marble was reportedly tossed into the Potomac.
Catholics were seen as the suicidal terrorists of that day, willing to do anything to make victorious the papal and Jesuitical plot to subdue America.
Read the entire thing here, and tell me how convincing you find it.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
For example, why do we need a new translation at all? What's different about the translation? What happens between now and Advent 2011? Get the answers to these questions and more by clicking HERE.
Is the founder of National Review, successful talk show host, and prolific author too conservative for your taste? Then for Buckley substitute someone like Flannery O’Connor or Cesar Chavez. My point will still be valid.
Two things lately reminded me of it again.
One was reading Lee Edwards’ splendid new biography "William F. Buckley Jr.: The Maker of a Movement" (ISI Books, $24.95). Edwards makes it clear that, while Buckley didn’t flaunt his Catholicism, it was central in his life. “His faith was his grounding,” a longtime close associate says.
The other was reading a talk by a national Church official responsible for matters pertaining to the laity. Its central message was one all too familiar these days: What lay people do in parishes and other ecclesiastical settings is what’s really important; what they do in the workplace, the community, and secular settings generally ranks a distant second to the churchy stuff.
The talk began with a promising theme—the “priesthood of the faithful” that comes with baptism. This is one of those ancient Christian ideas, ignored for centuries, that the Second Vatican Council rediscovered and rehabilitated. Unfortunately, since Vatican II, it has largely relapsed into obscurity. When was the last time you heard a sermon on baptismal priesthood?
Now, lay ministry is a good thing for the minority of admirable lay people who feel themselves called to it. But this over-emphasis on ministry doesn’t come from Vatican II and it isn’t what John Paul II said in his neglected Magna Carta for the laity, Christifideles Laici. Rather, it’s what the lay ministry lobby in the Church, composed of theologians, religious educators, and ecclesiastical bureaucrats, has been saying and working hard to sell for years.
One harmful result of these efforts has been a disastrous neglect of lay apostolate. Some people still do apostolate, of course, but they get little or no formation and encouragement for it. Such limited resources for these purposes as exist instead go almost exclusively to promoting lay ministry in parishes and other church settings.
To the best of my knowledge, William Buckley wasn’t a lay minister and had no interest in being one. If someone had told him he was a lay apostle, he would probably have told that person he or she was crazy. Yet even in old age and failing health, he drove himself relentlessly to complete…a biography of Barry Goldwater. Laboring to change the world in the service of principles he believed to be true and good, Buckley lived the priesthood of the faithful to the hilt.
Now what was that about canonizing him?
Monday, August 23, 2010
In honor of the centennial of Blessed Mother Teresa's birthday on August 26, the Knights of Columbus will hold a special event at their international headquarters in New Haven, Conn., that will include an exhibit, the unveiling of a U.S. postage stamp bearing Mother Teresa's image, and a book signing and presentation by Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle, author of Mother Teresa and Me: Ten Years of Friendship (Circle Press) and the soon-to-be-released OSV book, A Catholic Woman's Book of Prayers.
The exhibit, "Mother Teresa: Life, Spirituality and Message," runs through October 4. It is a historical presentation that chronicles Mother Teresa's life from childhood to beatification. In addition to artifacts such as her sari and other religious and personal articles, the exhibit includes a full-scale replica of Mother Teresa's cell in her Calcutta convent.
The schedule for the August 26 event is as follows (UPDATED):
10 a.m. - Exhibit opens
11:30 a.m. - Unveiling of Mother Teresa stamp by New Haven postmaster
12:15 p.m. - Birthday celebration
2 p.m. - Meet Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle, author and TV host
4:30 p.m. - Light reception and book signing by Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle
5 p.m. - Presentation on "Discovering Calcutta in our Midst: Mother Teresa's Lessons of Love" by Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle
7 p.m. - Exhibit closes
For more information, visit the K of C Museum website HERE or call (203) 865-0400.
Thursday, August 19, 2010
From the Times story:
The archbishop said that it was his “major prayer” that a compromise could be reached, and that while he had no strong feelings about the project, he might support finding a new location for the center.
Speaking during an impromptu news conference at Covenant House, a Catholic shelter in Manhattan for homeless youth, Archbishop Dolan invoked the example of Pope John Paul II, who in 1993 ordered Catholic nuns to move from their convent at the former Auschwitz death camp after protests from Jewish leaders.
“He’s the one who said, ‘Let’s keep the idea, and maybe move the address,’ ” the archbishop said. “It worked there; might work here.”
Read the full story HERE.
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
People have prayer chains, prayer groups, prayer pals. Why not prayer balloons?
A man living in upstate New York, near the Canadian border, recently found a green balloon with a note attached that read: "We love Zach, we want your prayers to bring him a new heart. Please send a prayer to Zach in Pittsburgh. Pass it on."
So the New York man and his family are praying for the Pittsburgh boy and his family thanks to a balloon that traveled 519 miles and was retrieved, oddly enough, by another little boy named Zach.
From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
A bright green balloon carrying a message from Pittsburgh sailed through a clearing between 90-foot tall pine trees Saturday afternoon before landing softly on Chris Kormanyos' driveway -- in upstate New York.
"It was quite a way for that balloon to drift if it came all the way from Pittsburgh," he said.
Mr. Kormanyos, who is building a home in Messina, near the Canadian border, said the message came as a surprise: first, because it traveled about 519 miles, and second, because it was regarding a boy named Zach and was delivered by a child of the same name...
"One of the workers on our property's son's name is Zach, he's about 15. He's the one who found the balloon," Mr. Kormanyos said.
With no contact information listed to inquire about (Pittsburgh) Zach, Mr. Kormanyos said he and his family were unable to reach out to the balloon senders as they wanted. He said they prayed for Zach during a recent mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York.
Although the request for prayers has been filled, Mr. Kormanyos said he would like to know more about the senders and the boy they've invited into their hearts and prayers. More than that, he hopes balloons made it to many other destinations.
"... If they're looking for prayers for their son, there are a lot of prayers they can get in the Pittsburgh area without sending balloons so far," he said.
So how about we join in and send up prayers for Zach in Pittsburgh.
Monday, August 16, 2010
New York, the last state to require either grounds for divorce or a period of separation in order to terminate a marriage, instituted "no-fault divorce" legislation yesterday, making the easy way out of a marriage a truly nationwide reality. New York has, up until now, had one of the lowest divorce rates in the country.
The New York State Catholic Conference, which has historically been opposed to such legislation along with the National Organization for Women, issued the following statement from its executive director, Richard E. Barnes, back when the state Senate initially passed the bill.
“The Bishops of New York State are disappointed with the Senate action today. Increasingly, society has come to view marriage as disposable and temporary. However, empirical evidence shows that children of divorce tend to suffer many negative consequences throughout their lives, from lower educational achievement rates to higher rates of substance abuse, criminal behavior and imprisonment.
“Clearly, not every marriage can be permanent. But when serious reasons exist, such as abuse, adultery or abandonment, the law provides for quick divorces. In cases where no such grounds are present, so-called “no fault” cases, a couple may divorce following a one-year legal separation. The state has a legitimate interest in such a waiting period, where reconciliation is still a feasible possibility, because of the important place of marriage in society, particularly as it relates to the stable rearing of children.
“New York State has one of the lowest divorce rates in the country. While we see that as a cause for state pride, some sadly may see it as a problem to be corrected. We urge the state Assembly to reject this proposal and, failing that, we call on Gov. Paterson to veto it.”
Paterson signed the bill into law yesterday, saying in a statement: "Finally, New York has brought its divorce laws into the 21st century."
Thursday, August 12, 2010
From a story on CatholicCulture.org:
Vatican webmaster Msgr. Lucio Adrian Ruiz, an Argentine priest who has taught computer science in Bogota and Rome, offered an overview of the Holy See’s web site in an August 11 L’Osservatore Romano interview.
Msgr. Ruiz, who supervises a staff of 21, says that the site will be undergoing a significant redesign-- a task made challenging by the presence of 500,000 pages at vatican.va. The redesigned site will include documents from pre-20th century popes and pages on the Holy See’s diplomatic activity, as well as a page of videos of Pope Benedict’s talks.
More visitors to the web site come from the United States than from any other nation, said Msgr. Ruiz; next in popularity, in order, are Italy, Spain, Germany, Brazil, South Korea, Mexico, Canada, France, and China. Msgr. Ruiz noted that numerous Chinese-language pages are being added to the site.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Catholics worldwide celebrate centennial of Mother Teresa
By Mary DeTurris Poust
Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta was in many ways a study in contrasts. The diminutive founder of the Missionaries of Charity was at once the epitome of humility and yet a towering figure in the world at large. She was the definition of compassion toward others while taking on tremendous sufferings and sacrifices. She struggled with darkness in her own prayer life but remained a beacon of light to others. She promoted a spirituality that was on its surface so simple but at its core so profound.
It would be easy to get caught up in the awesomeness of Mother Teresa and think that what she preached was beyond anything that “regular” people could practice. But the real message of this “saint of the gutter,” whose 100 th birthday will be celebrated with much fanfare and some controversy around the world on Aug. 26, was that we are all called to be saints, and we can begin right where we are at this moment.
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Here's a great story about one man who put the care of others before his own personal gain in dramatic fashion. Dr. Michael Brescia, medical director of Calvary Hospital in the Bronx, NY, was one of the inventors of a procedure in the 1960s that gave patients access to artificial kidneys for the first time. Brescia stood to make a fortune off his invention -- if he would wait one year to publish his findings. Instead he (and his partner, the late Dr. James Cimino) gave the technology away because thousands of people around the world would die if they held out for money.
From the Journal News story on LoHud.com:
"I ran home and I told my father, who was a little Italian man," recalled Brescia, 77. "I said to him in Italian, 'Papa, this thing is wonderful and it's going to work and it's going to save people.' My father said, 'I'm so proud of you.' "
"He said, 'Hurry up, help the people.' And I said, 'Well, we've got to hold it back a year.' My father said, 'A year? How many people will die in that year?' And I said, 'About 50,000 worldwide,' " Brescia said. "He said, 'The faces of the children are going to appear in the mirror, one after the other.' "
He said, 'When you go to dinner leave one chair empty for the mother and father that should be there but are not there because you needed extra boats and houses and great wealth.' He said, 'Give it away.' "
In the end, Brescia did. He said he earned $26.10 — and the comfort of knowing that he and Cimino had helped save thousands of lives.
"I don't know of many people who have done that," said Frank Calamari, president and CEO at Calvary, a hospital dedicated to the care of terminally ill cancer patients. "I'm sure it's happened. I'm sure it's happened in medicine. But it certainly goes into an outlier category. It's not typical."
Read the full story HERE.
Monday, August 9, 2010
According to a CNS story:
"'A child's first Communion is like the beginning of a journey with Jesus, in communion with him: the beginning of a friendship destined to last and to grow for his entire life,' wrote Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera.
"Today, he said, 'children live immersed in a thousand difficulties, surrounded by a difficult environment that does not encourage them to be what God wants them to be.'
"'Let us not deprive them of the gift of God,' the cardinal wrote Aug. 8 in the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano.
"The cardinal's article marked the 100th anniversary of the decree of Pope Pius X, 'Quam Singulari Christus Amore' ('How Special Christ's Love'), which reversed the decades-old practice of delaying first Communion until a child was 10 or 12.Read the full story HERE.
"St. Pius said delaying the reception of Communion until long after the child reaches 'the age of reason,' generally accepted to be about 7 years of age, was the result of the erroneous belief that 'the most holy Eucharist is a reward rather than a remedy for human frailty.'"
What do you think? Should the Church allow children younger than 7 to receive Communion?
By Russell Shaw
If anything good is going to come from the Wikileaks affair—the Internet dump of thousands of purloined classified documents from the war in Afghanistan along with their release to several print media—it will be that the incident provoked serious discussion of a fundamental question: What are we trying to accomplish in Afghanistan?
I say that as someone who has publicly supported this conflict as a war we have to win. Without retracting that judgment yet, I’ve lately begun to wonder whether the judgment—based as it is on the purpose of the war—still holds good. The possibility of achieving military success I leave to people with military expertise. The fundamental goal underlying the struggle is a question in which every concerned citizen has a stake.
People who try to think about such matters in just war terms—that includes me—hold that a morally acceptable war must have, among other things, a purpose which is reasonable, proportionate, and achievable. With the passing of time, it’s become less clear that our purpose in Afghanistan is any of those things.
It wasn’t so at the start, nearly nine years ago, when the reason for military action seemed obvious. America had suffered a grievous terrorist attack by al-Qaeda on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The Taliban regime in Afghanistan gave sanctuary to al-Qaeda and wouldn’t back down. To get at al-Qaeda, something necessary in self-defense, the United States and its allies would have to take on the Taliban, too. Hence the invasion.
The situation was very different from Iraq, where the leaders of the American government offered an ever-changing kaleidoscope of reasons for war and the most persuasive of these—weapons of mass destruction—evaporated when it turned out the weapons didn’t exist. Significantly, by the way, Pope John Paul II supported the military action in Afghanistan, but he vigorously and publicly opposed it in Iraq.
That was then. So why are we in Afghanistan now? A senator says the war is being fought “for the future of Afghanistan.” I wish Afghanistan well, but why is it up to America to fight for its future? Michael Gerson, a commentator whose views I generally respect, says the interests of Afghan women will suffer a setback if we pull out. The advancement of Afghan women is a worthy cause, but it isn’t clear that warfare waged largely by the American military is the best way to promote it.
These days, the catchall term for objectives like these is nation building. But surely, with the lessons of Iraq fresh before us, it ought to be clear by now that using force to create nations with working democratic structures in countries with little or no prior experience of democracy is not an obligation of the United States and, as a practical matter, something that exceeds our capabilities.
If we are to remain in Afghanistan—and I do not argue now for cut and run—it’s essential to re-establish that we are engaged there in fighting the war on terror and not in a war for women’s rights or the creation of a democratic polity in a land unaccustomed to such a thing.
The war on terror, essentially defensive in nature, is a war responsible Americans can support. But Osama bin Laden is hiding out in a remote area of Pakistan, and al-Qaeda is operating in Yemen and Somalia. It’s not self-evident why we’re spending lives and treasure somewhere else. The case for war in Afghanistan needs to be made.
Russell Shaw is an OSV Newsweekly contributing editor.
Sunday, August 8, 2010
From a story in The Pilot:
"I have always felt that it is important for the Church to bring its message to people wherever they get their information," said Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley. "Today, particularly among young people, that is increasingly on mobile devices. As a Kindle user myself, I look forward to having The Pilot delivered there every week."Read the full story HERE.
Though other Catholic commentators and news outlets have blog content available through Kindle, The Pilot is the first Catholic newspaper to publish an "e-edition" on the electronic reader.
"We are trying to enter in all these avenues of distribution, because that is where the people are," said Pilot editor Antonio Enrique.
The Pilot is available on Kindle for $1.49 per month. Single issues can be purchased for $0.75.
The Kindle edition will be a digital version of the weekly newspaper, with content drawn from the printed edition including local, national and international Catholic news as well as the calendar of local Catholic events and opinion pieces. However, like most newspapers available through Kindle it will not include advertisements, special features and some graphics and photos.
Friday, August 6, 2010
By Mary DeTurris Poust
For the past few days I've been looking at the numbers on the calendar, growing more and more introspective as we inched closer to August 6. It was twelve years ago today that I learned that the baby I was carrying, my second baby, had died eleven weeks into my pregnancy.
When we went for the ultrasound to confirm the miscarriage, we saw the perfect form of our baby up on the screen. I remember Dennis looking so happy, thinking everything was OK after all, and me pointing out that the heart was still. No blinking blip. No more life.
With that same mother's intuition, no matter how busy or stressed I am, no matter how many other things I seem to forget as I drive my other three children to and fro, I never forget this anniversary. It is imprinted on my heart. As the date nears, I feel a stillness settling in, a quiet place amid the chaos reserved just for this baby, the one I never to got hold, the one I call Grace.
This post is reprinted from Not Strictly Spiritual.
By Mary DeTurris Poust
In my role as a blogger for OSV Daily Take (and Not Strictly Spiritual), I was tagged in a "meme" that is circulating the Catholic blog world right now by Elizabeth Scalia of The Anchoress and Summa This, Summa That, and by Fran Rossi Szpylczyn at There Will Be Bread.
The question: What are your five favorite Catholic devotions?
If you want to see how I responded, head over to my personal blog, Not Strictly Spiritual. (That's my little sacred space pictured above.) And be sure to visit the other blogs mentioned above to see their take on this question.
What are your favorite Catholic devotions?
Thursday, August 5, 2010
She needs to read this column by Greg Erlandson.
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
In recent years, when there was a steady demand for labor, the federal government allowed millions of immigrants to enter the country illegally for the sake of our economy. It did not protect the sovereignty of our borders, nor did it provide a realistic means for these needed workers to enter the country legally....
These men and women broke the law by entering the country illegally, but they did this with the tacit permission of the federal government, and most have since become part of the fabric of everyday life in America, contributing by their industry and intelligence (as well as by their taxes) to the common good.Bishop Slattery offers five principles to guide immigration reform, including offering legal residency (not citizenship) to illegal immigrants already here. Read the entire piece here.
Has anyone else seen this argument made? Did the federal government effectively give permission for immigrants to enter illegally?
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
George Will, in a Newsweek column this week, shines a spotlight on this 1999 clip of Senators Rick Santorum and Barbara Boxer arguing not over when life begins but when birth occurs. It's almost too outrageous to be real, but, unfortunately, it is. Apparently the senator from California, who is in the fight of her political life this year, argued recently that her words were taken out of context. You can judge for yourself whether that's true or not. Check it out. And HERE is the George Will column that brought this old fight back to the fore.
Monday, August 2, 2010
To follow up on today's earlier post on vacation Bible school, here's a great story about what one parish in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis is doing to help children appreciate the Eucharist -- and it's being done all within the confines of a summer camp program. Holy Family Church in St. Louis Park brought together 250 children for a five-day camp that culminated in Eucharistic adoration for children and their parents.
"This, however, was not adoration in the classic sense. Rather than quiet reflection, the 250 kids engaged in songs and movements practiced all week during their CVBS (Catholic vacation Bible school) curriculum. The idea wasn’t so much to look at Jesus, but to experience him in song and prayer," reported The Catholic Spirit.Jean Prather, director of the program, said she could have taken another 100 children but simply ran out of room. "It’s a good problem to have because it shows the interest and hunger for authentic Catholic curriculum," she told the Catholic Spirit.
Click HERE to read the full story, which includes tips for starting up a Catholic vacation Bible school at your own parish.
In the Archdiocese of New York, a group of local churches in the Highland Mills area took a very different approach. They sponsored an ecumenical vacation Bible school for 200 children from 14 Christian churches, including several Catholic parishes. The program involved 82 adult volunteers and 102 teen volunteers, according to a story in Catholic New York.
"Theresa Weissburg, co-director of the Vacation Bible School, told CNY that the camp-like experience that included sports, arts and crafts, music and learning with children from other churches shows that 'their community is larger than their church.'Read the full story HERE. And be sure to share your vacation Bible school success stories and tips in the comment section.
"'It's important for them to see that there are other (denominations) that have beliefs that are similar,' she said.
"...With various Christian denominations represented, the focus remained on the idea that 'we are all God's children,' Mrs. Weissburg said, as well as 'all the wonderfully good things that Jesus stands for and wants us to accomplish in our lives.'"
Catholics are all for that. What they're against is embryonic stem cell research (which requires the killing of an embryonic human being to harvest stem cells). And, as the article points out, the number of therapies developed from ESCs is precisely... zero.
For all the emotional debate that began about a decade ago on allowing the use of embryonic stem cells, it's adult stem cells that are in human testing today. An extensive review of stem cell projects and interviews with two dozen experts reveal a wide range of potential treatments.Read the full story here.
Adult stem cells are being studied in people who suffer from multiple sclerosis, heart attacks and diabetes. Some early results suggest stem cells can help some patients avoid leg amputation. Recently, researchers reported that they restored vision to patients whose eyes were damaged by chemicals.
Apart from these efforts, transplants of adult stem cells have become a standard lifesaving therapy for perhaps hundreds of thousands of people with leukemia, lymphoma and other blood diseases.
That's up 7 percent from a year ago. Of course there's good reason why the slice of consumed by social networking is on the rise:
The numbers make it clear that people are spending more time on Facebook than any other website, even Google. Even though users may visit Google more times in a given day, the amount of time they spend there is minimal compared to the dozens of minutes, or even hours, spent on one social networking session.Read the full story here.
I'd guess that for me, social networking is only 5 to 10 percent of the time I spend on the Internet.
How about you? Are you closer to Nielsen's "normal" Internet consumer?
My 5-year-old daughter, Chiara, just arrived home from Galactic Blast Vacation Bible School, where she had, well, a blast (as promised in the space-themed promotional materials). In fact, she's upstairs right now dancing and singing God-focused songs with the take-home CD that was provided as part of the week-long, three-hour-per-day program, along with a T-shirt, a daily snack, and individual sessions that focus on the Bible, arts and crafts, science, music and outside play. The grand total cost of this program: $25 per child. It's a parent's dream come true. At least it's this parent's dream come true.
I'd like to be able to report that this innovative, inexpensive, enticing faith-centered camp program was sponsored by my own parish. But, alas, there is no such program there and, up until now at least, no interest in starting one. As is too often the case in many Catholic parishes, programs like Vacation Bible School seem like more trouble than they're worth -- all those little children running around, and loads of volunteers required, and an investment in space and materials and time. But what I saw today confirmed what I've been saying when I speak at conferences around the country and when I write about the Catholic Church's inability to connect with a "lost" generation of adult Catholics. Summer Bible camps and other child- and family-focused programs go a long way toward making people feel welcome and giving them a non-threatening way to return to or explore a church.
We were lucky enough to land a spot in the Vacation Bible School at our local Methodist church, where we greeted by smiling faces and invitations to attend an upcoming children's book sale and an end-of-camp performance on Friday night with a free ice cream social. To top it off, Chiara and her fellow space cadet campers will be helping to bag up 175 lunches for the Capital City Rescue Mission food program, and they're collecting school supplies, clothing and toiletries for the poor. When Chiara came bounding out of the church today, she didn't tell me about the snack or the outside playtime. She told me that she was going to help make lunch for someone who doesn't have any food.
Right about that time I was thinking that if I was new to town and unattached to any particular faith, I would absolutely sign on the dotted line at this Methodist church. And THAT is why programs like Vacation Bible School or the wildly popular and successful thrift store that this same church sponsors each week are so important. No, they don't teach the faith, but they get people in the door and make them want to know about the faith of those who are willing to host such great programs -- and with a happy smile and kind word to boot. This is how we evangelize. This is how we reach those adult Catholics who don't know whether or why they should come back to the Church of their birth or perhaps consider it for the first time.
As I waited to sign Chiara into the camp this morning, I stood among so many of my fellow Catholic parishioners it was a little ridiculous. Obviously there's a need for a faith-based summer program for children, but we had to go outside our own faith to find one. What's wrong with this picture?
So today I want to hear from all those folks out there who run or help at summer Bible camps for their Catholic parishes. Tell us why they work, what they've done for your parish, and how to get started. Or, if you, like me, are not lucky enough to have such a program in your parish, tell us what you've found at churches of other faiths in your area. Are you seeing this kind of thing done effectively elsewhere?
I always hear how our parish is too big and we have too many children. As Mother Teresa said, "How can there be too many children? That is like saying there are too many flowers." Sure, it's a lot of work, but so is faith formation and RCIA and all of the other programs our parishes manage to operate. We can't afford to ignore families -- children AND parents -- any more. We need to welcome, invite, smile, inform. If we're lucky, we'll end up with a whole bunch of new parishioners. Happy ones.