New “Catholics for Trump” Coalition Includes Anti-LGBTQ Activists at Odds with U.S. Faithful — New Ways Ministry

The newly-launched Catholics for Trump coalition in support of the president’s re-election is replete with anti-LGBTQ figures at odds with the views of U.S. Catholics overall. Some of the members of Catholics for Trump’s advisory board who have made negative statements about LGBTQ people include Newt Gingrich, Tim Huelskamp, Marjorie Dannenfelser, and Sean Fieler, reported…

via New “Catholics for Trump” Coalition Includes Anti-LGBTQ Activists at Odds with U.S. Faithful — New Ways Ministry

God Has Not Erred in Calling Us to Life — MIRACLES EACH DAY

“God has not erred in calling you to life. He was not mistaken when from eternity He thought up the kind of life that you would have on the physical plane, the experience of human life.” Choose Only Love: Let Yourself Be Loved (COL bk.2, 8:I) God is here with us, living through us. There […]

via God Has Not Erred in Calling Us to Life — MIRACLES EACH DAY

New Survey Showcases Widespread Catholic Support for LGBTQ Equality in the U.S. — New Ways Ministry

From Public Religion Research Institute New data shows that a majority of U.S. Catholics continue to support the LGBTQ community broadly, demonstrated in three main areas: religious refusal laws, non-discrimination protections, and same-gender marriage. On the question of religious refusal laws, a recent survey conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) found that 60%…

via New Survey Showcases Widespread Catholic Support for LGBTQ Equality in the U.S. — New Ways Ministry

Crying at Mass – Moments of Grace

I’m going to share something with you that I’ve only shared with one other person.  I cry at Mass, a grown man in his mid-50’s.  I find myself kneeling after the consecration, trying to discreetly wipe away tears.  This hasn’t always been the case and it isn’t every single Mass.  It also happens when I go to Confession.  I find myself balling, sometimes a little too loudly while telling the priest my sins. I can only imagine what those waiting outside the confessional must think!!  It started sometime in the past two years.  When it happens it’s not because I’m sad, far from it. It’s because I am overcome with waves of Gratitude.  They are like waves washing over me of all God has done, continues to do and will do for me.  This isn’t an intellectual experience its a sense of just knowing like when you see the Sun, you just know its the Sun.  It isn’t anything you process.  A better analogy is perhaps that sense you have about family.  You feel differently about your brothers, sisters, mother, and father just being near them without thinking, Oh, these are my family, you kind of just know.

At first, I didn’t know really how to respond to what was happening.  I prayed about it and asked God for answers.  I didn’t immediately get any answers.  So then I started looking online to see if other people experience the same thing.  I wanted to know what it meant to them, was it some sort of  Grace, was it my Ego finding yet another inventive way of getting between myself and God.  From what I’ve read my experience is not all that uncommon.  It’s perhaps not spoken of too loudly by the people experiencing it which is why it would seem odd.  Reading other people’s experiences brought me some comfort.  Another thought was that perhaps I was severely depressed and this was a manifestation of my internal hopelessness.  So I continued to pray, asking for an answer.  This past Sunday while at Mass after the consecration, once again I started crying.  I went up and received Communion, went back to my pew.  Already overwhelmed by this sense of Love and Grace I asked the Lord for an answer.  This time I heard a tiny voice, clear as day ” This is a Grace I have given you because of my Love for you.  I knew I was experiencing this because in the past I’ve tried to “understand”  God Intellectually.  God had to reach me in a way that I couldn’t analyze or process with my intellect.  I’m sharing this because i want to know if others have similar experiences, random ways God reaches into your life and lets you know He IS there.  Let’s start a conversation about how the Grace of God touches you on a daily basis.

The Blessings of Middle Age

I’ve been noticing more and more the things that used to upset, bother, rile me up or even piss me off no longer have a draconian and sin inducing effect on me anymore. I’m getting old.  It’s not an accomplishment that I’ve earned its one that comes with breathing.  In my 20’s and 30’s other drivers gave me deep insight into the mindset of mass murders.  My lack of patience and frequent cursing was an almost weekly conversation at Confession with my Priest.  At some point venial sins commited over and over begin to resemble family members more than behavior to be restrained.  Now that I am well into my 50’s I’m Blessed in so many more ways than I was as a youth.  It’s interesting to see how frequently the Bible talks about the folly of youth and how with age comes wisdom and understanding.  Grace is a gift we are given almost continuously it is strength unmerited and freedom unearned.

When I first noticed this I began to become concerned that I was not being compassionate, empathetic anti-social.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  I care more deeply as I get older but not in the way I did when I was younger.  I look to the longer term.  if you’re making choices that aren’t healthy I’m less inclined at this point to correct you directly and more inclined to suggest, pray and trust.  My Will imposed on you is of no use to the lesson God is trying to teach you. I have learned God knows better how, when and where.  He doesn’t need my help getting you to a closer relationship with Him.

These are just some of the thoughts playing around in my head tonight. I wanted to get them online to see what You (dear reader) have noticed in your lives and walks with God about getting older.   Please comment and share, lets have a conversation.

Editorial: Bishop’s blackmailing of immigrant deserves special dose of outrage

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The interior of St. Joseph Cathedral in the Diocese of Buffalo, New York (Wikimedia Commons/Jfvoll)

An immigrant is sexually assaulted by a work supervisor. He goes to a higher authority to complain, but is told to shut up or he can expect to be deported.

A tale from a sleazy slaughterhouse? The underbelly of existence for undocumented restaurant workers in any big American city?

No, it happened in the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, New York, if Fr. Ryszard Biernat’s story is to be believed.

Considering the cascade of tales that are bewildering and disgusting Catholics from the Niagara Falls region, Biernat’s story retains at least some credibility, considering the woeful succession of reports of coverups, including incomplete lists of clerical wrongdoers issued by Bishop Richard Malone.

In the ugliness coming out of Buffalo, Biernat’s story calls for a special dose of outrage, unless Catholics have become so numb that this will be just another story in an ugly catalogue.

“If you don’t stop talking about this, you will not become a priest,” Biernat said he was told by Buffalo Auxiliary Bishop Edward Grosz in 2004, after he told the bishop he was assaulted by Fr. Arthur Smith in a parish rectory. The quote is from the Buffalo News, part of a local media that has been all over this story. Grosz has denied any blackmail threat. Biernat said the threat of forbidding ordination was also a threat to deport him.

Questions remain: Much of the anger has focused on Malone, but Biernat’s account points to a deeper rot in the diocese that precedes Malone, the current bishop who was appointed to Buffalo in 2012.

Church law mandates that such blatant corruption should be investigated by the metropolitan of the region, in this case Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York. At their last national meeting, bishops agreed that that they should be the ones ultimately placed in charge of disciplining their fellow church leaders who go astray.

We lack confidence in the model. First, the right questions need to be asked. Can they be asked by investigators beholden to church authority (that would include priests and lay employees)? Is Biernat’s charge evidence of a criminal matter? Is there something corrupt in the current system of bringing seminarians from overseas, spiking enrollment numbers for institutions in desperate need of students? Is Buffalo part of a wider pattern, or is there something peculiar about it that brings forth this sordid tale?

Questions need to be raised about the circumstances of seminarians from overseas. The Buffalo case suggests the worst — vulnerable new arrivals subjected to threats and intimidation. But it also raises concerns about numbers: How many are there? Where do they come from? Why are they planning to minister here instead of in their home countries? Do they expect to be incardinated into a diocese or are their stays temporary? What do bishops in their home countries have to say?

Biernat’s case argues that at least some bishops have abdicated their authority by looking the other way and engaging in aggressive coverups. This Buffalo case cries out for an independent authority to investigate alleged crimes of sexual assault against adults, particularly the vulnerable. Seminarians, so dependent upon the good will of their bishop leaders, are particularly endangered by clerical corruption, even more so if their very existence in the country is dependent on maintaining their vocation status.

Biernat, who served as priest secretary to Malone, said he felt finally free to talk about his ordeal after becoming a U.S. citizen in July. “I feel so liberated. Now I can speak,” he told the Buffalo News. American Catholics are not so encumbered. May their outrage be heard, as we watch if the processes the bishops have embraced are up to the realities of dealing with this continuing crisis.

Editorial: Bishop’s alleged blackmailing of immigrant deserves special dose of outrage

St._Joseph_Cathedral_Interior_-_Buffalo,_NY crop.jpg

The interior of St. Joseph Cathedral in the Diocese of Buffalo, New York (Wikimedia Commons/Jfvoll)

An immigrant is sexually assaulted by a work supervisor. He goes to a higher authority to complain, but is told to shut up or he can expect to be deported.

A tale from a sleazy slaughterhouse? The underbelly of existence for undocumented restaurant workers in any big American city?

No, it happened in the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, New York, if Fr. Ryszard Biernat’s story is to be believed.

Considering the cascade of tales that are bewildering and disgusting Catholics from the Niagara Falls region, Biernat’s story retains at least some credibility, considering the woeful succession of reports of coverups, including incomplete lists of clerical wrongdoers issued by Bishop Richard Malone.

In the ugliness coming out of Buffalo, Biernat’s story calls for a special dose of outrage, unless Catholics have become so numb that this will be just another story in an ugly catalogue.

“If you don’t stop talking about this, you will not become a priest,” Biernat said he was told by Buffalo Auxiliary Bishop Edward Grosz in 2004, after he told the bishop he was assaulted by Fr. Arthur Smith in a parish rectory. The quote is from the Buffalo News, part of a local media that has been all over this story. Grosz has denied any blackmail threat. Biernat said the threat of forbidding ordination was also a threat to deport him.

Questions remain: Much of the anger has focused on Malone, but Biernat’s account points to a deeper rot in the diocese that precedes Malone, the current bishop who was appointed to Buffalo in 2012.

Church law mandates that such blatant corruption should be investigated by the metropolitan of the region, in this case Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York. At their last national meeting, bishops agreed that that they should be the ones ultimately placed in charge of disciplining their fellow church leaders who go astray.

We lack confidence in the model. First, the right questions need to be asked. Can they be asked by investigators beholden to church authority (that would include priests and lay employees)? Is Biernat’s charge evidence of a criminal matter? Is there something corrupt in the current system of bringing seminarians from overseas, spiking enrollment numbers for institutions in desperate need of students? Is Buffalo part of a wider pattern, or is there something peculiar about it that brings forth this sordid tale?

Questions need to be raised about the circumstances of seminarians from overseas. The Buffalo case suggests the worst — vulnerable new arrivals subjected to threats and intimidation. But it also raises concerns about numbers: How many are there? Where do they come from? Why are they planning to minister here instead of in their home countries? Do they expect to be incardinated into a diocese or are their stays temporary? What do bishops in their home countries have to say?

Biernat’s case argues that at least some bishops have abdicated their authority by looking the other way and engaging in aggressive coverups. This Buffalo case cries out for an independent authority to investigate alleged crimes of sexual assault against adults, particularly the vulnerable. Seminarians, so dependent upon the good will of their bishop leaders, are particularly endangered by clerical corruption, even more so if their very existence in the country is dependent on maintaining their vocation status.

Biernat, who served as priest secretary to Malone, said he felt finally free to talk about his ordeal after becoming a U.S. citizen in July. “I feel so liberated. Now I can speak,” he told the Buffalo News. American Catholics are not so encumbered. May their outrage be heard, as we watch if the processes the bishops have embraced are up to the realities of dealing with this continuing crisis.

Editorial: Don’t ignore prophets who call out against nuclear weapons

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Demonstrators pray outside the federal courthouse in Tacoma, Wash., March 29, 2011, during the sentencing of five anti-war activists found guilty on charges related to cutting through fences at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor to protest submarine nuclear weapons. The five include 82-year-old Jesuit Fr. Bill Bichsel of Tacoma, another Jesuit priest, a woman religious, a retired teacher and a social worker. (CNS/Mike Penney)

Jesuit Fr. Daniel Berrigan, one of the originators of the Plowshares movement, was once asked by NCR if “all of the courtroom-as-social-theater” had not become outdated and ineffective.

“Well, we hear that all the time about this repetition, let’s say, of the Plowshares actions all over the place — and I don’t know,” replied Berrigan, who died in 2016. “The only answer I can muster is, ‘You know, if you have a better way, I wish you’d tell us and I wish you’d help us find that better way.’ But, of course, no one does. So there we are, generally speaking. But I think behind a lot of it is the fear of that thing. It inspires a lot of dread of consequences and shakes people where they would like not to be shaken.”

The name Plowshares refers, of course, to the lines in Isaiah where the prophet speaks of a world in which swords are turned into plowshares. The first Plowshares action targeting nuclear weapons was a celebrated protest at a General Electric facility in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, in 1980.

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A mourner carries signs as she participates in a peace march May 6, 2016, prior to the funeral Mass of Jesuit Fr. Daniel Berrigan at the Church of St. Francis Xavier in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York City. (CNS/Gregory A. Shemitz)

The latest action, of more than 100 in the intervening four decades, occurred in April 2018. It involved seven Catholic peace activists who broke into a nuclear submarine base in Kings Bay, Georgia, where six Trident submarines, each designed to carry nearly 200 nuclear warheads, are based.

The group of seven, mostly middle-aged or elderly, will stand trial Oct. 21, each on charges of three felonies and one misdemeanor. One of them, Elizabeth McAlister, wife of the late Philip Berrigan, brother of Daniel, embodies the legacy of the movement seen by some as a quixotic and absurd tilting at a gargantuan windmill and by others as an authentically prophetic witness in the nuclear era.

The Plowshares movement — spilled blood, spray painted slogans and banging on implements of war with carpenters’ hammers — is a non-violent movement of both symbol and personal jeopardy. No act is going to stop the development and production of nuclear weapons, but the fact of them indeed shakes us where we would like not to be shaken. McAlister and others have been disturbing the peace and questioning the presumptions of the nuclear-armed state for decades.

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Kings Bay Plowshares, April 4, 2018, from left: Clare Grady, Patrick O’Neill, Elizabeth McAlister, Jesuit Fr. Steve Kelly, Martha Hennessy, Mark Colville and Carmen Trotta (CNS /Kings Bay Plowshares)

Courts often don’t know what to do with such witness. Federal Judge Lisa Godbey Wood of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia, considered the defendants’ novel approach — they tried to use the 1993 Religion Freedom Restoration Act, arguing that they had been led by deeply held religious beliefs that were, in turn, unduly burdened by the government’s action in arresting them. The judge was convinced of the sincerity of their faith and that the government had burdened that faith, but also that the arrests were justified because of the state’s compelling interests in the security of nuclear weapons and protection of federal property.

Certainly compelling questions arise for the government and the military in how a ragtag band of middle aged and older protesters managed to cut through several layers of perimeter of a nuclear installation before waiting to be apprehended.

If the law can’t bend in certain circumstances, judges certainly can exercise discretion in applying consequences. In this case, it appears an act of unnecessary cruelty that the judge refuses to change conditions of bond — $50,000 and an ankle monitor — that would allow the 79-year-old McAlister to leave prison.

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Society of the Sacred Heart Sr. Anne Montgomery, left, who participated in six Plowshares actions to protest nuclear weapons 1980-2009, is pictured with Society of the Holy Child Jesus Sr. Megan Rice, who has been arrested about 40 times for nuclear activism, in a 2010 photo (CNS/Courtesy of Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action)

She is, demonstrably, a threat to no one except those whose consciences take in the truth of her witness; nor is she a threat to disappear. She’s been at this with other members of the broad Catholic Worker community for a long time. NCR agrees with McAlister’s fellow activist Patrick O’Neill when he points out: “Despite her legacy as a Catholic leader of the peace movement for almost 60 years, Ms. McAlister has now spent more than 500 days and nights in jail in relative obscurity; her sacrifice for nuclear disarmament unknown to most Americans.” It is an amount of time that those who have seen such actions and their legal consequences over the years say is longer than time spent in prison by most who are convicted of such charges.

The church has long condemned nuclear weapons and the annihilative threat they pose. Pope Francis, in a Nov. 10, 2017, talk, said: “International relations cannot be held captive to military force, mutual intimidation, and the parading of stockpiles of arms. Weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear weapons, create nothing but a false sense of security. They cannot constitute the basis for peaceful coexistence between members of the human family.”

In her most recent book, The Time Is Now: A Call to Uncommon Courage, Benedictine Sr. Joan Chittister says prophecy “has ragged edges. It sets out to deconstruct the present situation. It critiques social structures to which many have given their lives or in which they have status. … the ring of real prophecy lies in its uncommon courage.”

This is, indeed, prophecy — real, ragged, discomfiting, and not to be ignored.