28 April 2013

Kalakaua meets Leo

On 3 July 1881 His Hawaiian Majesty King David Kalakaua, in his journey as the first monarch to circumnavigate the globe, was received in audience by His Holiness Pope Leo XIII.

In her book, Kalakaua: Renaissance King, which I have recently finished reading, Helene G. Allen provides a description of the meeting the two, as given by a member of the King's entourage (though she does not tell us which member):
A door opened, and his Holiness, Leo XIII, a thin and spare old man with an extremely pale face, entered and slowly moved across the room, while all bowed in reverence, to a chair on a dais raised a few inches from the floor.  In front of him another chair was placed for the King; around the Holy Father the Cardinals were grouped, and we of the suite stood near the King.

The Pope began the conversation at once in Italian, which was interpreted by Cardinal Howard.  He asked many questions about the Hawaiian kingdom.  The Cardinals joined, and soon showed that they were well informed about the condition of the native Catholics in Hawaii, of whom there were almost as many as there were Protestants.  The Holy Father said to the King: "Will you present your companions?"  The King presented us.  The Pope asked: "Are they natives of your country?"  The King replied that we were, and the sons of Protestant missionaries.  Cardinal Howard laughed, and said, "Then they are in the opposition."  The Holy Father smiled.  There was no solemnity in the interview; it was only a pleasant chat.
"Do my people in your kingdom behave well?" asked the Pope.
"Yes," said the King, "they are good subjects."
"If they do not behave," said the Pope, "I must look after them.  Why do you have a white Minister in your government?" he continued.
The King could not make a brief explanation and turned to me.  I answered, for him, that the kings of Hawaii chose educated white men, who were better able to deal with the foreigners, who held most of the wealth of the country.
Cardinal Howard asked, "Are there any Catholics in your government?"
I answered: "No, the American Protestants entered the country before the Catholics did, and have kept control of public affairs; but no efficient Catholic is excluded from high office by reason of his faith."
There was a pleasant twinkle in the Holy Father's eyes, and he smile while he spoke ... 
 After an interview which lasted twenty minutes we kissed the Holy Father's hand and rose.  He said to the King, "Your country is far away.  I shall pray for your safe return" (124-125).

24 April 2013

What do you say when someone thinks you're dead?

Yesterday, one of our seminarians who is on internship in Effingham shared with me a conversation he had recently with a first grader:
Me: "oh wow what a neat picture! and you were baptized by Father Daren!"
Her: "Yeah he was so nice, I was really sad when my Mom told me he died."
Me: "died?"
Her: "yeah a couple years ago, I was really sad."
Me: "Oh! He didn't die, he just moved! Father Daren is alive and well and was just here on Sunday! Maybe you will get to see him soon!"
Her: (with a giant smile) "That makes me so happy!!!!"
I was glad to learn that not all of the first graders think I'm dead. 

23 April 2013

The nameday of my fathers

Today, the memorial of Saint George, is a day that gets me thinking about my name.  You see, my father was George William:

His father was George Arthur:

His father was George:

His father was Ambrose:

Ambrose is seated, with the white beard.
The point I am making is that I should have been named George, in keeping with three generations of tradition.  I should have been George IV.  Instead, I was given the name Daren, the reason for which I have never asked.

18 April 2013

A Call to Prayer, Pledge to Fast

You will, I hope, recall that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops have invited the faithful to fast and abstain from meat on Fridays through the Solemnity of Lord Jesus Christ the King and to pray each Friday for a particular intention for Life, Marriage, and Religious Liberty.

As our intention for tomorrow, the Bishops have proposed the following:
For the approval of laws which will protect health care professionals from being forced to violate their consciences.
As you pray for Boston, Massachusetts and West, Texas, I hope you will remember this important intention, as well.

15 April 2013

A prayer for Boston

O God, author and lover of peace,
to know you is to live, to serve you is to reign;
defend against every attack those who cry to you,
so that we, who trust in your protection,
may not fear the weapons of any foe.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

- Roman Missal
For Civil Needs: In Time of War or Civil Disturbance

08 April 2013

Why the Church doesn't do more to help the poor

I often hear it asked why the Church does not do more to help the poor.  Putting aside for the sake of argument the fact that the Church does more to assist the poor than any other organization in the world, it is certainly a fair question and one that we should not be afraid to answer even as we allow it to challenge our hearts.

To my mind, there are many possible and correct answers, but two stand out the most.

The first answer is that the average Christian has not yet taken to heart the Lord's words that "Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for these least brothers of mine, you did for me" (Matthew 25:40).

There are, however, a good many Christians who have taken these words to heart and meet the poor each day, providing what help for them they can.

Then are other Christians who have a deep desire to help the poor but do not quite know where to begin because the government gets in the way of putting charity into action.

Consider this recent story concerning the Missionaries of Charity in Miami.  Thirty-three years ago Blessed Teresa of Calcutta visited Miami and established a soup kitchen there, which her Sisters have been operating every day since.  More three hundred people are fed there each day.  The Sisters recently "found a notice of violation with a potential property lien from a City of Miami Code Enforcement inspector posted on an electrical pole."

What, you, ask is the problem?  What code have the Sisters violated in their feeding of the hungry?
Apparently the sisters had never obtained a permit for feeding — for free and without using public funds — hundreds of homeless who see in their eyes the universal symbol of compassion and dignity represented by Mother Teresa.
“What kind of violation are we doing?” asked convent superior Lima Marie. “Taking care of the homeless and feeding them is a violation?”
The sisters felt intimidated because the notice ends with a threat: operating “a business without all required licenses is illegal under state and city law and is punishable by criminal arrest and/or closing the business.”
 Situations such as this is why the Church does not do more to help the poor.

I have met several people who, on their own initiative and motivated by love, made sandwiches and went about the sidewalks distributing them to the hungry and the poor.

These same sandwiches, which were made also for their own families, could not be distributed to the poor because, local authorities said, the kitchen in which they were prepared was not up to code.

The Church wants to do more to help the poor but is often obstructed by a government that thinks it knows better.

Pope appoints two Bishops in the U.S.

This morning His Holiness Pope Francis announced two episcopal appointments in the United States of America.

First, he appointed a new Archbishop for the Church in Dubuque, His Excellency the Most Reverend Michael Owen Jackels, until now Bishop of Wichita.

The Archbishop-elect was born in Rapid City in 1954 and ordained a priest of the Diocese of Lincoln in 1981.   He was appointed to the See of Wichita in 2005.

Second, the Holy Father appointed the Reverend Monsignor John Thomas Folda as Bishop of the Church in Fargo.

The Bishop-elect was born in Omaha in 1961 and was a ordained a priest of the ArchDiocese of Omaha Lincoln in 1989.

Update: That's two appointments from the clergy of the Diocese of Lincoln in one day.

07 April 2013

Of Tasers and abortion: A failure of logic

It isn't every day that I agree with the opinion of the State Journal-Register, but today I find myself agreeing  - sort of - with their suggestion that the Springfield Police Department "should re-evaluate use of Tasers on women."

First, a bit of background that prompted the writing of this opinion piece:
On March 30, Springfield police were sent to a parking lot on the city’s west side after a man backed his vehicle into one driven by Lucinda D. White, which was stopped in a parking aisle.
No one was injured, and there was minor damage to the cars. 
White called police, and things escalated. White’s boyfriend began yelling and cursing at the officer writing an accident report. A scuffle broke out between the boyfriend and the officer, and White inserted herself into the fray. 
A second officer applied a Taser “drive stun” — applying the Taser directly to the skin — to the boyfriend’s hip and tried to pull White off. White refused to get on the ground when told to do so by the officer, and she tried to pull away from his grip on her shoulder. The officer then applied a one-second drive stun to her thigh to get her to cooperate.
The incident itself strikes me as rather odd, but I suppose many incidents that land on the police blotter are.

The important aspect of the event is the fact that a Taser was used on a pregnant woman, which led the editorial board to opine:
It’s disconcerting, though, to see any electrical shock applied to a pregnant woman. It also is unclear why it was necessary for White to lie on her stomach during arrest.
I agree, as, I imagine, most people will, though I must disagree with the reasoning behind the opinion:
We do not want to see the city of Springfield caught up in a costly or embarrassing lawsuit. If tweaking the police department’s policy on how best to handle pregnant women could head that off, do it.
The possible risk to the life of the child in the womb seems to be of secondary concern, after the financial risk the department might incur.

One might suppose that the editorial board would call upon the Springfield Police Department to re-examine its policy on the use of Tasers out of concern for the innocent one involved in such cases: the child in the womb.  I daresay, most people would agree that the well-being of the child in the womb should be of primary concern instead of a possible costly financial settlement.

But, I wonder, would these same people carry this logic just a little bit further: If a pregnant woman should not be Tasered because of the possible risk to the child within her, why should it be legal for a pregnant woman to "abort" the child in her womb, the same child that should not suffer adverse effects of a Taser?

We are in great need today of a consistent use of logic.

05 April 2013

What your government thinks of you

According to the Department of Defense, faithful Catholics and Evangelical Christians are "religious extremists" to such an extent that the government now groups us with Al Qaeda, Hamas, and even the Ku Klux Klan.  Apparently the DOD thinks it is a teaching of the Church that Catholics are "superior to others based" on their religious beliefs, which of course is nonsense.

The Archdiocese of Military Services "is astounded that Catholics were listed alongside groups that are, by their very mission and nature, violent and extremist," according to a statement released today.