Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sunday's Gospel

Today's Gospel, Homily and Saint

St. Andrew Dung-Lac, priest and martyr

Nancy 'Freedom!' Pelosi

Eleanor Clift's interview with Nancy Pelosi in the latest issue of Newsweek has been making the rounds, predictably, because of the Speaker's comments on abortion. From the Boston Examiner:

"I have some concerns about the church's position respecting a woman's right to choose. I have some concerns about the church's position on gay rights. I am a practicing Catholic, although they're probably not too happy about that. But it is my faith." Pelosi is quoted as saying.

Senate Health Bill Unacceptable

The current health care reform bill is “deficient” and should not move forward without “essential changes,” the chairmen of three committees of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops said December 22.

The chairs, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities; Bishop William Murphy of Rockville Centre, New York, of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development; and Bishop John Wester of Salt Lake City, of the Committee on Migration, stated their position in a December 22 letter to senators working to pass the Senate version of health reform legislation.


Meaning of Christmas

Modern interpreters often argue about whether a given Scripture passage should be interpreted literally or symbolically. Medieval writers would question the “either/or” approach. They thought a passage could have as many as four “right” interpretations, one literal and three symbolic.

These were: (1) the historical or literal, which is the primary sense on which the others all depend; (2) the prophetic sense when an Old Testament event foreshadows its New Testament fulfillment; (3) the moral or spiritual sense, when events and characters in a story correspond to elements in our own lives; and (4) the eschatological sense, when a scene on earth foreshadows something of heavenly glory.
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Little House in Nazareth

Archaeologists in Israel say they have discovered the remains of the first home in Nazareth that can be dated to the time of Jesus.

The dwelling and older discoveries of nearby tombs in burial caves suggest that Nazareth was an out-of-the-way hamlet of around 50 houses on a patch of about four acres (1.6 hectares). It was evidently populated by Jews of modest means who kept camouflaged grottos to hide from Roman invaders, said archaeologist Yardena Alexandre, excavations director at the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Fake Catholic Groups

It's sad to report, but report we must: The same fake Catholic groups that helped President Barack Obama get elected have rallied to the cause of the health-care bill, abortion funding and all. As reported by, Catholics United (CU) and Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good (CACG) are warning Catholics not to get too hung up on things like federal funding of abortion.

Interviewed by the Christian Science Monitor, CU president Chris Korzen commented, "The wrong thing would be for anyone to be so firmly entrenched in their positions on federal funding of abortion that they're not willing to come to the table and talk about a compromise."

Abortion Hurts Women

Over the last three decades, the abortion debate has been characterized as the clashing of rights: the human rights of the unborn on the one hand and the reproductive rights of women on the other. This decades-long rhetorical deadlock has left a good number of Americans -- the great majority of whom understand that an individual human life is taken in each abortion -- personally opposed, yet unwilling to "impose their beliefs" on anyone else.
The popularity of this so-called pro-choice position is due, in large measure, to the success abortion advocates have had in convincing Americans that abortion is a necessary precondition to women's well-being and equality. If you want to stand for women's progress, the line goes, then you have to stand for abortion. Indeed, in our current cultural milieu, to oppose abortion is to risk being called anti-woman -- and few, regardless of their sense of the moral wrongness of abortion, can withstand that accusation. "Personally opposed, but can't impose" seems to many the only pro-woman option.

Healthcare Bill

In a statement released today by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, President Francis Cardinal George spoke plainly in response to the defeat of the Nelson-Hatch amendment to the health-care bill in the Senate:

Failure to exclude abortion funding will turn allies into adversaries and require us and others to oppose this bill because it abandons both principle and precedent (emphasis added).

Abortion funding is not the only thing wrong with the health care bill, but it is the worst thing, and I admire Cardinal George for his forthright manner in warning Congress. How will all this play out? Will the bishops prevail in getting abortion funding out of the Senate bill, as they did with the House version?
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Devotion to Our Lady

Over the years in speaking on the Blessed Virgin Mary, you naturally fall into certain categories and almost routine ways of speaking about Our Lady. Yet, as with anything we love, repetition is no hindrance to the increase of our affection.

Devotion to the Blessed Virgin is one of the cardinal features of not only professing to be, but being a Catholic. You might say a Catholic is one who is devoted to Mary. What I will suggest for our reflections is that we look at and check our devotion to Mary on six norms. The one who is devoted to Mary thinks of her, reads about her, talks about her, speaks to her, invokes her and tries to imitate her.
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Seeing God

No human being can see God and survive, God explained.

For many years I have fielded questions from students. Most are predictable, some are babyish, but some senior primary questions are worthy of a post-graduate theology seminar.

By a coincidence I had not long read the commentary of an ancient Christian writer which explained that God could only be seen indirectly through the beauty of his creation, in nature and people. The young man was satisfied with this explanation of God's back.

Silent Monks

Immaculate Conception

It is what is called a holy day of obligation, when Catholics are expected to go to mass. The Church teaches that the Virgin Mary was born without sin. This special feast has been celebrated since the 7th century.

This is a huge stumbling block for Protestants, mainly because of the scripture passage in Romans 3:23 that states "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God". The word "all" in Greek, pas, doesn't necessarily "every single one without exception". For example, St. Paul also writes in Romans 11:26 that "all Israel will be saved."One would suspect that not every single Jewish person will be saved.

A Sacred Selection for Today's Feast

Poker-Playing Priest

A South Carolina priest has been making headlines lately for the unusual way he's raising money for his parish -- namely, by playing in a national poker tournament. With the blessing of his bishop, Father Andrew Trapp has already won $100,000 in the " Million Dollar Challenge"; he recently taped an episode that could win him $200,000 and a shot at the million-dollar final round.
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Things at the USCCB

When you see stories like this from the Catholic News Agency you have to ask, "Who's running things at the USCCB?"

Mary Kay Henry serves on the USCCB's Subcommittee on Health Care and on the Subcommittee for Peace, Justice, and Human Development. She has advised the USCCB on matters from health care and labor issues to immigration.

Ms. Henry is employed by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and is its international executive vice president. Her biography on the SEIU website describes Henry as "active in the fight for immigration reform and gay and lesbian rights. She is a founding member of SEIU's gay and lesbian Lavender Caucus."
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USCCB and gay rights activist

Conservative blogs were buzzing on Friday with the discovery that a member of the USCCB's Subcommittee on Catholic Health Care is an active homosexual and gay rights activist. However, though Mary Kay Henry's bio states that she is a labor adviser to the U.S. bishops, the USCCB communications director told CNA “she is not a consultant.”

Henry, the international executive vice president for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) was recently named one of the nation's "Top 25 Women in Healthcare" for 2009 by Modern Healthcare. Her biography at the SEIU website explains that “Her faith and values as a practicing Roman Catholic led her to pursue union organizing as a vocation.”
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