Sunday, April 27, 2008

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Bay State Miracle Moves Newman Closer to Sainthood

According to the Catholic News Agency the Vatican has approved the beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman, the English convert and theologian. The Church has accepted as miraculous the cure of an American deacon’s crippling spinal disorder. The deacon, Jack Sullivan of Marshfield, Massachusetts, prayed for John Henry Newman’s intercession.

President Proclaims May 1st National Day of Prayer

A Proclamation by the President of the United States of America

America trusts in the abiding power of prayer and asks for the wisdom to discern God's will in times of joy and of trial. As we observe this National Day of Prayer, we recognize our dependence on the Almighty, we thank Him for the many blessings He has bestowed upon us, and we put our country's future in His hands.

From our Nation's humble beginnings, prayer has guided our leaders and played a vital role in the life and history of the United States. Americans of many different faiths share the profound conviction that God listens to the voice of His children and pours His grace upon those who seek Him in prayer. By surrendering our lives to our loving Father, we learn to serve His eternal purposes, and we are strengthened, refreshed, and ready for all that may come.

On this National Day of Prayer, we ask God's continued blessings on our country. This year's theme, "Prayer! America's Strength and Shield," is taken from Psalm 28:7, "The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped." On this day, we pray for the safety of our brave men and women in uniform, for their families, and for the comfort and recovery of those who have been wounded.

The Congress, by Public Law 100-307, as amended, has called on our Nation to reaffirm the role of prayer in our society by recognizing each year a "National Day of Prayer."

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim May 1, 2008, as a National Day of Prayer. I ask the citizens of our Nation to give thanks, each according to his or her own faith, for the freedoms and blessings we have received and for God's continued guidance, comfort, and protection. I invite all Americans to join in observing this day with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Cardinal and the Pope

Much as Jesus himself ministered to prostitutes and tax collectors, the Pope was in Washington, DC, this week. Cardinal O'Malley joined him and has a report.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Monday, April 21st, is Patriots' Day

Listen my children and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.
--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

George W. Bush a Closet Catholic?

Shortly after Pope Benedict XVI's election in 2005, President Bush met with a small circle of advisers in the Oval Office. As some mentioned their own religious backgrounds, the president remarked that he had read one of the new pontiff's books...READ MORE AT The Deacon's Bench.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Peggy Noonan on the Pope

This piece by Peggy Noonan is worth a read. She argues that, as John Paul II was a Pope suited to television, Benedict XVI is suited to the Internet, by which she seems to mean written text, which, to be fair, existed in other forms before it existed on the Internet.

She notes, because Benedict recently did, that John Paul adopted the mantra "be not afraid." This always impressed me particularly coming from someone who spent the first four decades of his adult life living under Nazis and Communists. What Noonan doesn't mention, but what I connect with the context in which John Paul rejected fear, is the effect that Parkinson's disease had on his last few years, and the effect that it didn't have. The charismatic athlete eventually lost his vigor, but never his dignity. And this seems to be Noonan's point, if I'm reading her correctly: that Pope Benedict is valuable for his reason and his words (which he may have intended when he chose his name), while John Paul was more important as a role model and a sub-rational communicator.

I also wanted to note Noonan's description of the Regensburg address:
There he traced and limned some of the development of Christianity, but he turned first to Islam. Faith in God does not justify violence, he said. "The right use of reason" prompts us to understand that violence is incompatible with the nature of God, and the nature, therefore, of the soul. God, he quotes an ancient Byzantine ruler, "is not pleased by blood," and "not acting reasonably is contrary to God's nature." More: "To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm." This is a message for our time, and a courageous one, too. (The speech was followed by riots and by Osama bin Laden's charge that the pope was starting a new "crusade.")
What struck me about that paragraph is that she isn't really distorting anything much, except in implying that Islam was more of a focus of Benedict's address than it actually was. If anything, he hits on the Protestants more than the Muslims. The rioters were really completely insane, but I encourage you to read the speech - it's pretty short, and has food for thought.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Massachusets GOP has reached its lowest ebb since before the Civil War

This column originally appeared in the March 21, 2008 edition of the Post-Gazette of Boston.

by Edward W. Wagner

The atmosphere was cheerful and collegial with no dissent as all offices, from national committeeman to assistant secretary, were filled by acclamation of uncontested elections. Most of these were re-elections of the current office holders. Overall the tone was one of cautious optimism.

In other words it seemed a party meeting for some other state rather that Massachusetts where the GOP has reached its lowest ebb since before the Civil War. There was no sense of crisis. The lack of palpable aura of doom hanging over the proceedings only lent to them a feeling of unreality, like listening to the officers on the deck of the Titanic discuss the next day’s shuffleboard tournament.

Above all there was no perception that the state party had just perhaps been lately ill-served by its leadership. The longest serving officers, National Committeeman, Ron Kaufman and National Committeewomen, Jody Dow proudly noted that they have been at their posts since, respectively, 1988 and 1981. But they did not point out that that means they have presided over one of the most precipitous declines of a major party in any state outside the Democrats in the old confederacy.

I think in large part that members of this committee believe that the Mass GOP has been on receiving end of some hard knocks and poor luck but that they could not have done anything to prevent the current state of affairs. They are now hopefully looking forward to a change in luck. It is true that, since the defeat of Kerry Healy and the ending of Mitt Romney’s presidential hopes, the clutch of multimillionaires who have been riding the party hard to serve their own ambitions seemed to have finally walked away. But what remains is a committee that largely served their interests over any other consideration. If the Healy for Governor Committee no longer shares the same address as the party headquarters it’s only because one of them went out of business; and one wonders how long the other will be able to pay the rent.

What I heard about party finances was not encouraging. Sitting state chairman, Peter Torkildsen, who presided over the meeting, graciously agreed to forego a large part of his six-figure salary until the state party has raised enough money to pay him. He did not note that, until his tenure, no recent chairman had pulled down any salary at all.

The composition of this committee is still in flux. Eighteen seats (out of eighty) were uncontested at the primary election. In the interim three persons have been elected (and were seated at this meeting) by district caucus and there was at least one successful sticker campaign. I don’t know if this could provide the elements of a dissenting or even a conservative caucus in the committee. Nowhere did I see one in action at this meeting.

[Note, Mr. Wagner is Chairman of the Boston Ward 11 (Jamaica Plain) Republican Committee. He joins us a guest columnist this week. (dt)]