July 22, 2014

Positivity: Openness to beauty leads soul to God, says Catholic thinker

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Philadelphia:

Jul 22, 2014 / 04:03 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The senses are the “road to God”, who speaks to us through beauty, said Bill Donaghy, who holds a master’s in systematic theology, at the recent Theology of the Body Congress held in Philadelphia.

God “is trying to break into our minds and hearts through beauty,” said Donaghy who, using the image of a leaf open to sunlight, said, “we need to be as receptive to God’s beauty as this leaf.”

Donaghy was addressing an audience on the role of beauty in the new evangelization at a conference about the more than 100 catecheses delivered by St. John Paul II on “Theology of the Body” early in his pontificate.

Part of John Paul II’s thought is his sacramental vision of creation, through which we can see God, Donaghy explained. The senses “are a road to God,” he said, imploring the audience, “don’t shrink from the gift of the senses.”

Quoting Fr. Robert Barron, Donaghy called beauty the “arrowhead of the new evangelization” because, although it is not an end in itself, it catches the heart and points it towards the true and the good, adding that it is “the point with which the evangelist pierces the minds and hearts of those he evangelizes.”

When asked what Catholics should do to bring beauty into everyday life, Donaghy called for “’lectio divina’ in the visual realm.”

“It means that you get good books. That your coffee table books are rich sacred art. That you give yourself opportunities to wander in the woods, that you read the book of creation more deliberately and you spend time before the 2,000 years of history of sacred art.” …

Go here for the rest of the story.

July 21, 2014

Positivity: Bishop: Hobby Lobby case shows need to fight secularism

Filed under: Positivity,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Lincoln, Nebraska:

Jul 15, 2014 / 12:02 pm

Despite the recent Hobby Lobby court victory, Bishop James D. Conley of Lincoln, Neb. stressed the need for Catholics to continue to evangelize and fight against the prevailing culture of secularism.

“The victory is not unqualified and the fight for our religious liberty is not complete. Churches, hospitals, and universities are still threatened by the HHS contraceptive mandate,” Bishop Conley said in his July 11 archdiocesan column.

On June 30, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Hobby Lobby and similar employers cannot be forced to comply with the federal contraception mandate against their religious beliefs.

Craft giant Hobby Lobby and its owners, the Green family, had challenged a federal mandate issued under the 2010 Affordable Care Act, which requires employers to offer health insurance covering contraception, sterilization and some drugs that can cause early abortions.

The Greens said that mandate would require them to violate their deeply-held Christian beliefs against facilitating abortion.

In his column, Bishop Conley said the repercussions of the Hobby Lobby decision have indeed established that “believers have a place in the public square – that all of us should be free to conduct our business without compromising our basic moral beliefs.”

However, the Supreme Court decision also relayed the overwhelming assertions of secularists, “whose loyalties lie more closely with unfettered sexual libertinism than with respect for fundamental rights of conscience, of religion, or of personal dignity,” the bishop said.

Although the fight for religious freedom in litigation is important, Bishop Conley suggested that the root issue is secularism.

“Religious liberty will be threatened in our nation as long as secularism is the prevailing cultural leitmotif.” …

Go here for the rest of the story.

July 20, 2014

Positivity: Knights of Columbus pledge $1.4 million for Special Olympics

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Los Angeles:

Jul 15, 2014 / 02:10 am

The Knights of Columbus have pledged $1.4 million for next year’s Special Olympics World Games, helping to cover participating athletes’ expenses for the Los Angeles event.

“Our support exemplifies our commitment to the dignity of every person, our dedication to assisting with our neighbors’ needs whatever they may be, and our deep appreciation for the great work done by Special Olympics,” Supreme Knight Carl Anderson said in Los Angeles July 14.

The Special Olympics World Games will bring together over 7,000 athletes with intellectual disabilities from 171 countries. It will feature 21 Olympic-type sports.

The pledged funds will support food, transportation and entertainment costs for every athlete from the U.S. and Canada. Anderson has asked Knights of Columbus leaders in each U.S. state and Canadian province to help increase volunteer activity on behalf of the Special Olympics.

The pledge announcement came at a news conference at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Other speakers included Special Olympics CEO and president Patrick McClenahan and Los Angeles Archbishop José H. Gomez.

Archbishop Gomez said that Los Angeles Catholics are “happy and proud” to welcome the event.

“The Special Olympics is a celebration of human dignity and a beautiful sign that our world is truly one family drawn from peoples of every race and language,” he said. “We look forward to working with the Knights of Columbus, and we pray that this competition will promote solidarity and make all of us more aware of our common humanity.”

McClenahan said that the Knights of Columbus have shown “long and generous support” for the event. …

Go here for the rest of the story.

July 19, 2014

Positivity: CatholicFest mixes camping, encounter with truth, beauty

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Green Bay, Wisconsin:

Jul 14, 2014 / 04:56 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- For the past three years now, Catholic families in the Diocese of Green Bay and beyond have been marking their calendars for July 4th, and not just because it’s Independence Day.

Since 2012, families have camped out by Kangaroo Lake near Bailey’s Harbor, Wisc., for CatholicFest, an event over the holiday weekend that offers a chance to pray, meet other Catholic families, and experience truth, beauty and goodness in the arts.

“Our society is attacking the family, it’s under attack,” CatholicFest director Jen Lowery told CNA.

“But I think CatholicFest seeks to really minister to families….it’s just to come up and experience the good, the true and the beautiful through those mediums and to be together.”

Families register online for a camping spot on the grounds of the St. Joseph formation center. Once they arrive, their schedule includes prayer and Mass, as well as presentations by Catholic artists on film, art or literature. In the evening, up-and-coming Catholic artists give concerts on the back lawn.

Lowery, 31, helped direct the first CatholicFest as well as the most recent one. The event is an outreach of Catholic Youth Expeditions (CYE), founded in 2002 as a part-summer camp, part-retreat ministry that brings young adult staff members together to live in community and host various high school and young adult expeditions of prayer, community life, camping and outdoor activities.

Simplicity and prayer are the bread and butter of CYE and all its apostolates, including CatholicFest.

“You’re up here, you’re away from the world, and the three constants are morning and evening prayer, Eucharistic adoration and Mass,” Lowery said. “Everything else is icing on the cake.”

CatholicFest was started as a way to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the CYE ministry. Instead of high schoolers or young adults, Fr. Quinn wanted to serve the families of the Green Bay Diocese while promoting Catholic culture through the arts. …

Go here for the rest of the story.

July 18, 2014

Positivity: Thai bishop sows seeds of evangelization in mission diocese

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Chiang Mai, Thailand:

Jul 15, 2014 / 04:02 am

The bishop of Thailand’s northernmost diocese, which is largely rural and dominated by hill tribes, has begun himself working in the fields alongside his flock, noting the importance of agriculture there.

“I try to understand the farmers, and to promote Catholic social teaching so that they can contribute to a holistic human development, can work for the common good of their family and for the entire nation,” Bishop Francis Xavier Vira Arpondratana of Chiang Mai told CNA July 10.

The diocesan economy is largely agricultural, and the mountainous region lacks many amenities such as electricity and modern communications and highway infrastructure.

Relating how he began to work in the rice fields with his tribal flock, he said that “in fact, I did not want to work in the field, but I would like to support them; and one of the local nuns encouraged me, asking, ‘bishop why don’t you work with us?’”

And so Bishop Arpondratana took to the rice paddies with gusto.

“When someone asks, I would like to open my heart and mind and be with them,” he explained.

His work with farmers has inspired both them and catechists in the Chiang Mai diocese. He has organized a Lenten rice campaign in the diocese centered on prayer, penance, and alms giving.

The bishop is concerned for the local people, and is helping develop a strong sense of solidarity among the local ethnic groups: “I am aware of the economic situation of Europe, so we cannot ask help from there. We have to make the local people understand they must help each other locally, and not only receive help from afar.”

Bishop Arpondratana,58, was ordained a priest of the Bangkok archdiocese, 430 miles south of Chiang Mai, in 1981, and served there until his appointment as bishop in 2009. …

Go here for the rest of the story.

July 17, 2014

Positivity: North Carolina lawmakers stand by ‘Choose Life’ plates

Filed under: Positivity,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Washington:

Jul 16, 2014 / 02:02 am

Several lawmakers in North Carolina have petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to review a censorship case related to pro-life specialty license plates in the state.

Alliance Defending Freedom filed the appeal on Friday on behalf of Thom Tillis, speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives, and Phil Berger, president pro tempore of the North Carolina Senate.

“State governments have a right to advance messages consistent with their public policies,” said ADF Senior Counsel Casey Mattox in a recent statement.

“The Supreme Court has already affirmed that right. North Carolinians support protecting life and helping pregnant women in need; the First Amendment does not require the state to bow to demands that it censor the ‘Choose Life’ message.”

The North Carolina General Assembly authorized the specialty license plates featuring the phrase “Choose Life” in 2011. The plates would have been available for an additional $25 fee, $15 of which would support the Carolina Pregnancy Care Fellowship, which serves pregnant women in North Carolina.

The state offers more than 100 other special-interest license plates, ranging from the Knights of Columbus to more than a dozen NASCAR options. All specialty plates fund causes that benefit the state and are consistent with its public policies.

Before the state could begin issuing the plates for hundreds of interested citizens, the American Civil Liberties Union filed suit on First Amendment grounds. The ACLU argued that the “Choose Life” plates must be censored because North Carolina did not also issue a specialty place encouraging abortion.

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina ruled in favor of the ACLU, barring North Carolina from distributing the “Choose Life” plates. In February, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the decision.

“The 4th Circuit’s decision is at odds with other circuits that have upheld the rights of states to issue such plates,” said ADF Senior Counsel David Cortman.

Go here for the rest of the story.

July 16, 2014

Positivity: Forgiveness

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

Got this from a friend in an email, and have to post it, no commentary necessary (one profanity which was made inaudible is present):

July 15, 2014

Positivity: Hobby Lobby ruling aids Michigan woman’s lawsuit

Filed under: Positivity,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Ann Arbor, Michigan:

Jul 11, 2014 / 04:28 pm

Following the Hobby Lobby decision upholding religious freedom, a woman business owner has secured a court injunction against the HHS mandate requiring coverage for contraceptives and abortifacient drugs.

Karen Mersino, who co-owns Mersino Management Company with her husband in Michigan, welcomed the ruling.

“It’s a real win for religious freedom,” she said July 10.

The July 9 injunction from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit concerns the company’s lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The injunction reports that attorneys for the Mersinos’ company conferenced with government attorneys after the Supreme Court’s June 30 Hobby Lobby decision.

In the conference, the government’s attorneys dropped their opposition to the injunction request.

The Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Thomas More Law Center is representing the Mersinos’ company.

Erin Mersino, senior trial counsel with the Thomas More Law Center, said the injunction gives “immediate relief from the illegal aims of the HHS mandate that violates our clients’ sincerely held religious beliefs.”

She said the business owners “truly live out their faith everyday through the integrity with which they treat others, through their numerous charitable works, and through their overwhelmingly selfless devotion to their community and Church.” …

Go here for the rest of the story.

July 14, 2014

Positivity: Pope’s audience with elderly to explore vocation of old age

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 12:05 pm

From Vatican City:

Jul 14, 2014 / 09:04 am

Organizers for the first-ever audience to be held between a pope and the elderly population have revealed that a central reflection will be the active vocation of the aged in the Church and in society.

“We have given 20 years of life to old people now (in Western countries), but 20 years to do what? This is the big question that this meeting wants to share with everyone,” Fr. Andrea Ciucci of the Pontifical Council for the Family told CNA July 11.

“There is a particular vocation of elderly and grandparents in society and in the Church.”

Entitled “The Blessing of a Long Life,” the event will take place Sept. 28 in St. Peter’s Square. The square will open at 7:30 a.m. with the official celebration beginning at 9 a.m. The day will culminate with an audience and Mass at 10:30 presided over by Pope Francis.

The idea to hold an audience with elderly and grandparents “came from the Pope himself,” who has spoken “many times about elderly and grandparent,” Fr. Ciucci observed.

Quoting a recent speech the pontiff made, Fr. Ciucci stated that “the care given to the elderly, like that of children, is an indicator of the quality of a community. When the elderly are tossed outside, when the elderly are isolated and sometimes fade away due to a lack of care, it is an awful sign.”

So this meeting, he said, “is necessary to proclaim to the world that elderly are inside the Church, are inside society,” and to go against the “awful signs” visible in today’s culture that tell us they are burdensome. …

Go here for the rest of the story.

July 13, 2014

Positivity: Vatican official praises Sr. Cristina for going to ‘peripheries’

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Rome:

Jul 9, 2014 / 02:02 am

A priest at the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization has said Sister Cristina Scuccia, who recently won The Voice Italy, is an example of how the Church must go out to the existential peripheries.

“What Sister Cristina has done can be considered going out to the peripheries, because she has gone to a different stage to bear witness to her choice of life, and in this sense I think she has hit the target,” Father Alejandro Diaz, a Colombian, said in a recent interview with CNA.

Like Sister Cristina, he explained, “we have to come out ourselves to speak of God to others, not in the abstract, but about what God has done in our lives.”

At the beginning of June, the 25 year-old religious won The Voice Italy and gained world-wide acclaim for her charisma and ability to bring share the Word of God with the public.

“I have a dream, which is to hold hands and pray together the Our Father,” she told the studio audience when she won. “I want Jesus to enter into here.”

Sister Cristina “sings but she also talks about God and invites people to pray,” the priest noted.

“She said she wanted to transmit a gift, and to me it was not only the gift of her singing ability but also the gift of her vocation, because she is a young religious who went on this stage without fear and said, ‘I am a religious, I believe in God.’”

He said Sister Cristina should not be made into an idol but should be seen as a means of reaching God, because “the Holy Spirit will always be the great evangelizer, and he doesn’t have only one method or stage for bring people close to Christ. There are many ways to evangelize and Sister Cristina has shown us one of them.”

In accord with the synod for the new evangelization in 2012, which recognized that beauty is a means of evangelization, Fr. Diaz said Sister Cristina’s example shows that it is possible to be a witness to the faith in the media and through art. …

Go here for the rest of the story.

July 12, 2014

Postivity: Iraqi Veteran’s Home Remodeled For Him While He Was Away

Filed under: Positivity,US & Allied Military — Tom @ 6:00 am

From SUISUN CITY, California (HT Daryn Kagan):

From mid-June, 2014

There was a homecoming in Suisun City on Tuesday. The family moving in came from the military. They arrived home in a limousine. And having moved so many times before they said this is it, no more, they’re done. But there was a twist to this story.

It was not just a twist, but a surprise. The surprise began with flags adorning the lawn and home. Marine Corps Master Sgt. Jacinto Bernardo wasn’t expecting the flags when he got home, but it was very appropriate considering he spent 21 years in the Marine Corp. Another surprise was the condition of the house when he returned home.

He didn’t want a limo and he never expected the media. After a long trip home from his posting in Okinawa, all that newly retired Sgt. Jacinto Bernardo wanted was an In-N-Out burger.

“We did it for you brother, alright?” said Sgt. Bernardo’s friend, Jeremy Epperson. “We did it for you.”

The newly retired veteran was speechless while looking at a home that was completely upgraded from the one he and his family bought in Januray, and had expected to see.

“We chose it because it was the only thing we can afford, sir,” said his wife, Julie Bernardo.

Sgt. Bernardo added, “I knew it would take a lot of time and a lot of effort and money.”

And it did, but not by him. Instead thank Epperson, his old boot camp and Marine pal, who took one look at the place and deemed that no retiring Marine should return to such a mess.

He rounded up volunteers, money, and put $70,000 worth of work into the house as part of a program he’s calling Homecoming Heroes.

Go here for the rest of othe story.

July 11, 2014

Positivity: Calabrian police take stand against mafia following Pope’s visit

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Vatican City:

Jul 8, 2014 / 08:35 am

Two weeks after Pope Francis’ harsh condemnation of mafia corruption in the Italian region of Calabria, police abandoned a Marian procession which paused to bow in front of the house of a mafia leader.

According to Italian news agency ANSA, anti-mafia activists in southern Calabria have officially opened an investigation regarding a July 2 procession in the town of Oppido Mamertina carrying a statue of the Virgin Mary.

While in the midst of their route the procession paused in front of the home of local ‘Ndrangheta leader Peppe Mazzagatti, 82, who is currently serving a life-sentence and is under house-arrest due to health reasons. Those bearing the Marian statue made a gesture like a bow in front of Mazzagatti’s house.

Following the gesture, ANSA reports that the Italian Carabinieri, a branch of the police, accompanying the statue abandoned the procession and later called anti-mafia prosecutors, who are investigating whether or not the stop was planned, and who is responsible.

Although such acts of reverence are frequent due to the fact that the local mafia, referred to as the “’Ndrangheta” in Calabria, are often prominently involved in the church, the Carabinieri’s abandonment of the procession marks a first for local papers, and signifies a condemnation of the homage paid to the mafia leader.

The act of the Carabinieri also bears significant weight because members of the ‘Ndrangheta can be found among their ranks, even influencing their superiors. Therefore the Carabinieri’s leave signifies a strong visible division among them.

Fr. Ennio Stamile, a parish priest in the Calabrian town of Cetraro who has been targeted by the ‘Ndrangheta numerous times for his commitment against organized crime, spoke with CNA July 8, cautioning against stirring up “too much media attention following the Pope’s words” due to the fact that it gives more attention to mafia bosses.

However, he stated that in general the reaction of Calabria citizens to the Pope’s words “has been positive,” the priest noted, recalling how the pontiff referred to members of the mafia adorers “of evil, like those who live by dishonesty and violence.”

Recounting how the Pope also said that mobsters are “not in communion with God. They are ‘excommunicated,’” Fr. Stamile explained that “They were strong words, pronounced on the plain of Sybaris, and of clear and precise condemnation, even using the word excommunication.”

“The people are very impressed with by this clear and distinct stance on the part of the Holy Father,” he said, and “it has remained materially felt in the minds…the words of hope, the acts of charity…” …

Go here for the rest of the story.