Lex Cordis Caritas - The law of the heart is Love

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January 10, 2016
Death and funerals are not topics that people tend to talk about very often, unless you happen to be talking to a funeral director and our diocesan director for Property, Buildings and Cemeteries, as I happened to be doing recently. Our conversation centered on the increasingly unusual requests people are making regarding funeral plans. Not too long ago, it was common practice for family members of a deceased Catholic to arrange for a wake at a local funeral home, a funeral Mass in church and burial in a Catholic cemetery. Unfortunately, that is not always the case any longer.
December 27, 2015
This Year of Mercy that just began this past Dec. 8 is an opportunity for us to have a renewed encounter with God’s love for us, an encounter which awakens us to our constant need for conversion, casting off those burdens which slow us down on that journey leading to eternal life. This prospect of undergoing a life-altering change due to our encounter with God’s mercy should stir in our hearts a feeling of excitement and hope. We might ask how we should live this Year of Mercy in order to draw from the rich blessings that flow so abundantly from “God’s merciful heart made accessible through the open side of Christ on the cross” (cf. Jn 19:34).
December 13, 2015
Last summer Pope Francis announced some changes in the processes for handling cases of the nullity of marriage. These changes went into effect this past week on Dec. 8, so I would like to describe them briefly here. Sometimes these cases are popularly referred to as a marriage annulment, but that is technically not accurate, since the church is not declaring an existing marriage to be null, but is examining whether the marriage was null from the outset on one or more grounds that affect the ability of one or both parties to give their valid consent to marry.
November 29, 2015
Our Christian response to terrorism must be to pray to Christ our King, to forgive and love our enemies, and to turn hearts from their narrow self-interest to genuine love of God and neighbor.
November 15, 2015
As our national observance of Thanksgiving approaches, it is good for us to reflect on the importance of giving thanks to God in our prayers. When we pray, very often our focus is on prayers of petition and intercession. Prayers of petition are when we ask God for something for ourselves, such as petitioning for the grace to overcome a bad habit or vice. Prayers expressing repentance and asking forgiveness for sins are also prayers of petition. Prayers of intercession are when we ask God for something for someone else, such as praying for the health and recovery of a sick friend or relative. These forms of prayer tend to predominate because of our natural tendency to be anxious and preoccupied about matters that trouble and concern us. So from time to time we need to be reminded of the other types of prayer as well, including prayers of blessing, prayers of praise and prayers of thanksgiving.
November 01, 2015
The recent decision to make assisted suicide legal in California has been denounced as “a great tragedy for human life,” by Cardinal Seán O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston and Chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. In a statement after the recent legislation in California, Cardinal O’Malley said, “Most people taking the lethal drugs do so not because of pain but because they feel they are helpless and a ‘burden’ on others. The state of California in effect is now confirming this judgment. A government that legalizes assisted suicide sends the terrible message Pope Francis has so eloquently warned us against, that there is such a thing as disposable people.”
October 18, 2015
In the late 1940s and early 1950s, one of the most popular television shows was hosted by the famous Milton Berle, a comedian and actor who became one of America’s first television stars. Toward the end of his career, yet while his show was still very popular, another unlikely figure appeared on television on the same night who would surpass Milton Berle in the ratings. That figure was not a great comedian or an accomplished actor. The host of the new show was a Roman Catholic bishop, Bishop Fulton J. Sheen. The format of the show was really quite simple. It involved Bishop Sheen standing at a blackboard, writing and drawing as he spoke about many of the truths of our Catholic faith. The show was remarkably popular and even won an Emmy Award.
October 11, 2015
St. Francis of Assisi is said to have instructed the friars, “Preach the Gospel always, and if necessary, use words!” It is uncertain whether St. Francis ever really said that, but the sentiment seems consistent with his Franciscan spirituality. One of the pitfalls of this saying is that it can be used as an excuse for not talking about one’s faith, using the rationalization that the Gospel is being sufficiently preached by one’s good example. The problem with this is that often words are indeed necessary. We can do all kinds of good things for purely humanitarian and secular reasons. If we want people to know that our good deeds are motivated by our Catholic faith, we have to say so expressly!
October 04, 2015
The main purpose of the Holy Father's visit to our country was stated by the Holy Father himself at the prayer service with Bishops of the United States at the Cathedral of St. Matthew in Washington, D.C., where he said, "I appreciate the unfailing commitment of the Church in America to the cause of life and that of the family, which is the primary reason for my present visit." The Holy Father underscored this message in his address to Congress, saying, "Let us remember the Golden Rule: 'Do unto others as you would have them do unto you' (Mt 7:12). This Rule points us in a clear direction... . The yardstick we use for others will be the yardstick which time will use for us. The Golden Rule also reminds us of our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development." This message is very timely as we observe Respect Life Month during this month of October.
September 20, 2015
There is much excitement about the upcoming visit of Pope Francis to the United States, as the Holy Father will be coming to our country for the first time in his life. The initial reason for the papal visit was to attend the World Meeting of Families, which will take place in Philadelphia starting on Sept. 22. Taking advantage of the pope’s presence during this time, several other events have been added to his schedule, including a visit to the White House and an address that the Holy Father will deliver to a joint session of Congress. While in Washington, D.C., Pope Francis will canonize St. Junipero Serra at an outdoor Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on Wednesday, Sept. 23. This will be the first time ever that a saint will be canonized on American soil.

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