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I’d never heard this story before, but just happened upon it in the UK’s Catholic Herald The Priests who Survived the Atomic Bomb.  Here’s an excerpt:

August 6 is also an important date in world history: the fateful day on which the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima in Japan. On that day, a Monday, at 8.15 in the morning, an American B-29 bomber, Enola Gay, dropped its bomb “Little Boy”, which fell to a predetermined detonation height of about 1,900 feet above the city. It exploded with a blinding flash, creating a giant fireball, which vaporised practically everything and everyone within a radius of about a mile of the point of impact. It is estimated that up to 80,000 people were directly killed by the blast, and by the end of the year, that figure had climbed considerably higher, due to injuries and the effects of radiation. Over two thirds of the city’s buildings were completely destroyed.

But in the midst of this terrible carnage, something quite remarkable happened: there was a small community of Jesuit Fathers living in a presbytery near the parish church, which was situated less than a mile away from detonation point, well within the radius of total devastation. And all eight members of this community escaped virtually unscathed from the effects of the bomb. Their presbytery remained standing, while the buildings all around, virtually as far as the eye could see, were flattened.

Fr Hubert Schiffer, a German Jesuit, was one of these survivors, aged 30 at the time of the explosion, and who lived to the age of 63 in good health. In later years he travelled to speak of his experience, and this is his testimony as recorded in 1976, when all eight of the Jesuits were still alive. On August 6 1945, after saying Mass, he had just sat down to breakfast when there was a bright flash of light.

Since Hiroshima had military facilities, he assumed there must have been some sort of explosion at the harbour, but almost immediately he recounted: “A terrific explosion filled the air with one bursting thunderstroke. An invisible force lifted me from the chair, hurled me through the air, shook me, battered me [and] whirled me round and round…” He raised himself from the ground and looked around, but could see nothing in any direction. Everything had been devastated.

He had a few quite minor injuries, but nothing serious, and indeed later examinations at the hands of American army doctors and scientists showed that neither he nor his companions had suffered ill-effects from radiation damage or the bomb. Along with his fellow Jesuits, Fr Schiffer believed “that we survived because we were living the message of Fatima. We lived and prayed the rosary daily in that home.”

The Franciscan Friary in Nagasaki also survived the bomb that was dropped on that city on 9 August.  This friary had been founded by St. Maximilian Kolbe, who had died in Auschwitz almost exactly 4 years before the bombing.

The article makes an interesting connection between the atomic bombs and the miracle of the sun at Fatima:

Consider, too, that the poor people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki suffered as man-made “suns” exploded in their midst causing horrific devastation.

I’d never really thought about that before, but nuclear bombs are pretty much “man-made ‘suns'” aren’t they? Perhaps there was a very specific warning in that miracle of the sun.  A warning that became horrific reality in Japan in 1945, and might possibly become reality again elsewhere in the world at most any time.

This story should definitely be better-known, and we should re-dedicate ourselves to living out the message of Fatima.


…lots of people think my dad was a great man!

Here is his obituary in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

To that, I would just add that he was an outstanding father.  I couldn’t hope for, or even conceive of, one better.  He always put his family first, and was always willing to go the extra mile… sometimes literally.

I often drive by the office building in Dallas where he worked when I was very young, and I’m amazed that he drove all that way from our hometown and back every day.  When I was older, he would interrupt his busy day to drive all the way to my school to deliver a forgotten lunch or assignment–always just in time.  When I was at university, he would make a twice-yearly trip from Florida to New Orleans and back to move me to or from school .  Still later, he came from Kentucky to Florida to pluck me from a really thorny situation and bring me back home to him and Mom.

I don’t remember him ever complaining about any of it, or counting the cost, or demanding anything in return.  It was just the kind of dad he was.

I took these things for granted at the time.  But looking back now that I’m older and wiser, I’m struck by how closely my dad imitated the Good Shepherd!  Or the father in the Parable of the Prodigal Son.  During the years when I strayed spiritually, squandering my life away, I’m sure he bore a resemblance to St. Monica, as well.  I have no doubt that I would not be where I am if it were not for Dad, and Mom too.

If I had to sum up Dad in one word, it would be “self-giving.”  Dad gave of himself so much to me and all his family and friends… to his colleagues… and to so many other people, including many who would have otherwise been marginalized, ignored, forgotten, and abandoned: the deaf and/or blind, troubled families, endangered children.

I can’t understand why his life was cut short as it was, but his great legacy will live on forever.  Not only in my heart, but many others.

Rest in peace, my sweet Daddy… you deserve it!

It always delights me when Pope Benedict talks about Dominicans.  This week, he spoke of St. Albert the Great, the Doctor Universalis.  Among other things, he was the professor of St. Thomas Aquinas, and is the Patron Saint of the natural sciences and of scientists… as well as of philosophers and theology students.

This article summarizes the speech: “Albert the Great: No Contrast Between Faith and Science”.  Here is an excerpt:

“Above all, St. Albert shows that there is no opposition between faith and science. … He reminds us that there is friendship between science and faith, and that scientists can, through their vocation to study nature, follow an authentic and absorbing path of sanctity”, said the Holy Father.

“St. Albert the Great opened the door to the complete acceptance of the thought of Aristotle into the philosophy and theology of the Middle Ages, an acceptance that was later definitively elaborated by St. Thomas Aquinas. This acceptance of what we may call pagan or pre-Christian philosophy was an authentic cultural revolution for the time. Yet many Christian thinkers feared Aristotle’s philosophy”, especially as it had been interpreted in such a was as to appear “entire irreconcilable with Christian faith. Thus a dilemma arose: are faith and reason in contrast with one another or not?

“Here lies one of the great merits of St. Albert: he rigorously studied the works of Aristotle, convinced that anything that is truly reasonable is compatible with faith as revealed in Sacred Scripture”, the Pope added.

I wonder how many people realize that we have a Patron Saint of natural sciences and scientists?  Remember this the next time you hear or read somebody claim that the Church is ignorant of and/or hostile toward science.

Don’t have time to comment much… obviously, it’s very sad and sickening.  As I always say, it doesn’t matter how much you dislike or disagree with somebody or their message.  It doesn’t mean they deserve to die or that you get to play executioner.  That’s what it means to live in a democratic society.

May God grant eternal rest to Mr. Pouillon, and to the other un-named person who was shot and killed apparently by the same suspect.

May He grant peace and comfort to their families and loved ones.

May something good come from the tragedy.

Well-Known Local Pro-Life Activist Gunned Down in Michigan

By Kathleen Gilbert

OWOSSO, Michigan, September 11, 2009 ( – A pro-life activist was shot multiple times and killed this morning in front of Owosso High School in Michigan, according to local police cited in the Flint Journal newspaper.

Locals say that the victim, James Pouillon of Owosso, was well-known in the area for his pro-life activities.  Columnist Doug Powers wrote on his blog that Pouillon, called “the abortion sign guy” by Owosso locals, was known for standing on street corners holding up signs with pictures of aborted children.

Pastor Matt Trehella of Missionaries to the Preborn said today that Pouillon had joined his organization for a few stops of a pro-life tour less than a month ago. “Jim was a selfless, soft-spoken, kind-hearted man.  All who knew him, knew this,” he said. “Please pray for Jim’s family.”

Trehella said that Pouillon was an elderly man who needed constant use of an oxygen machine.

Reports indicate that a second individual was shot and killed in a different area of the city shortly afterward, and the two shootings are believed to be related, according to Shiawassee County sheriff George Braidwood. Police confirmed that a suspect was taken into custody at the suspect’s home shortly after the 7:30 a.m. shooting.

A black car was parked near the scene of the shooting, where a portable oxygen tank lay in a front yard next to a large sign with the word “Life” and an image of a baby.

In the wake of the tragedy, Fr. Pavone of Priests for Life told that he hoped to see “a strong expression of indignation from the pro-abortion community, just like there was a strong expression of indignation form the pro-life community at the killing of Dr. Tiller.”

Secondly, Fr. Pavone called for “a renewal of unity within the pro-life community, coming to one another’s assistance supporting one another, and by no means allowing fear or intimidation to have any role in our lives, but rather to move forward in peaceful organized ways to stand against this evil of abortion.”


Archbishop of New York Timothy Dolan recently spoke to the Catholic News Agency about challenges facing the Church in the U.S.

Notice what is the first challenge he mentions:  instability of marriage and family.

“That’s where we have the real vocation crisis,” he remarked, noting that “only 50% of our Catholic young people are getting married.”

“We have a vocation crisis to life-long, life-giving, loving, faithful marriage.  If we take care of that one, we’ll have all the priests and nuns we need for the church,” Dolan said.

I just want to say thank you and amen for shining a spotlight on the crisis of marriage in the Church and noting the relationship between the vocation to marriage and religious vocations.

I’m not sure where that 50% statistic comes from or who it includes.  I’m sure some of that 50% are entirely rejecting the Church’s teachings on sex, marriage, and family in favor of the secular world’s Unholy Trinity of fornication, cohabitation, and artificial contraception.  Some have probably been traumatized by their parents’ divorces and see marriage as something doomed to painful, life-shattering failure.  Some are probably just too immature to think about things like commitment and responsibility.  Some my age have already been married and divorced.

And then a small number of them are probably people like me: faithful Catholics who honor the holy vocation to marriage and indeed desire more than anything to fulfill it–but find it nearly impossible to meet eligible people who would make suitable spouses.  That is, people who actually share our values and beliefs.

In any case, the state of marriage and family within the Catholic Church is pretty much as messed up as in the secular world.  And our bishops and priests don’t talk about it nearly enough.  We need a major wake-up call.  Without strong marriages and families, we’re soon going to be lacking more than religious vocations.  We’re going to be lacking Catholics, period.

On a somewhat related note, I’m very close to signing on with Ave Maria Singles.  It seems to be the best hope for unmarried Catholics who are actually faithful to the Church and actually want to get married and raise faithful Catholic families.  The more I think about it and hear about it, the more I am drawn to it.

Catholic politicians who actually have their heads on straight about abortion?  Now that’s news!  I am not really familiar with Reps. Cao and Melancon, but they certainly are a nice change from the Catholic politicians who say, “I’m personally opposed to abortion BUT…”   (With my emphases and comments):

Congressman: I Would Rather Save My Soul than Support Abortion-Promoting Health Care Bill

By Kathleen Gilbert

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana, August 4, 2009 ( – Like his fellow conservative delegates from Louisiana, one U.S. Representative has vowed not to support Obama’s health care overhaul. But Rep. Anh “Joseph” Cao (R-New Orleans) says that his primary motivation stems from a desire to preserve his own soul from the danger of participating in the destruction of “thousands of innocent lives” [A Catholic politician concerned for his soul–that’s refreshing. Would that all the others would follow his lead.] that are threatened by the vast expansion of abortion embedded in the bill.

“At the end of the day if the health care reform bill does not have strong language prohibiting the use of federal funding for abortion, then the bill is really a no-go for me,” Cao, the first Vietnamese-American Congressman and a Catholic, told the Times-Picayune this weekend.

Cao once studied to become a Jesuit priest before turning to a career in politics.

“Being a Jesuit, I very much adhere to the notion of social justice,” Cao said. “I do fully understand the need of providing everyone with access to health care, but [BUT] to me personally, I cannot be privy to a law that will allow the potential of destroying thousands of innocent lives.”  [This is a dilemma faced by most Catholics today: we want to support all social justice causes, with abortion being the greatest social justice cause of all… but too often, even among Catholics, the two are opposed.  Abortion is left out of social justice.  And we get accused of being ignorant, narrow-minded “single-issue” voters who don’t truly care for social justice.  Rep. Cao makes it clear that he cannot be accused of such ignorance.  In that, he speaks for most of us.]

“I know that voting against the health care bill will probably be the death of my political career,” he continued, “but [BUT] I have to live with myself [he has to follow his conscience], and I always reflect on the phrase of the New Testament, ‘How does it profit a man’s life to gain the world but to lose his soul.'”  [St. Thomas More would be pleased.]

The abortion mandate may not be the only thing preventing Cao’s support for the bill: he also told the newspaper that he is wary of the formation of a public health insurance option, which Cao believes could end up crippling the private insurance market and facilitating a “government takeover” of health insurance.

U.S. Rep. Charlie Melancon [also a Catholic], a Louisiana Blue Dog Democrat on the Energy and Commerce Committee, says he voted against the committee’s version of the bill Friday night due to in part to his concerns over the abortion mandate.

“I am concerned that the public option, as designed, would unfairly undercut anything the private sector could offer,” Melancon said. “As someone who is personally pro-life and represents a deeply pro-life constituency, I am also concerned that this bill does not do enough to ensure taxpayer dollars do not fund abortion.” [No BUT about it.]

Other Catholic politicians should take a lesson from these two men about when and where to use the word BUT.

Beautifully captured in this editorial from the National Catholic Register.

My favorite line:

Thank you, priests, for sacrificing the fulfillment of “making it in the world” in order to give us a chance to make it in the next world.

Indeed, I don’t even know how well I would make it in this world without the care, guidance, and inspiration of our priests… much less the next world!

Deo gratias for all our priests!  Go read the whole article.

HT: one of my favorite blogging priests, Father Z!

[UPDATE]: Reading this also made me realize something important. Namely, that I don’t think I’ve ever properly thanked my own parish priest for all he does!  Duh!

So, I sent him a little letter via email.  I know that’s maybe not the most personal thing… but I’m not very good at speaking, especially when it’s something really important that I want to say.  And anyway, I just felt strongly compelled to say something right now.

I let him know that he helped spark my interest in the Dominican Order.  I heard him speak of it one time, a few years ago, really just in passing.  But it stayed with me and, unexpectedly enough, it opened a door for me that I might not have found otherwise, or at least, not as easily.  Funny how such small things can have such a huge impact!  He really does deserve thanks for helping me find my vocation.

I should probably send something to the priory as well.  How can I so easily overlook those closest to me?  Chalk it up to my being a total scatterbrain. [END UPDATE]

Although Father’s Day is not until next month, I thought I would share some good writings on fatherhood that I’ve come across today.

First, Father Thomas Euteneuer (one of the men who inspired me to become pro-life) provides some reflections on priestly celibacy and priestly fatherhood in his latest Spirit and Life letter:

Celibacy is a gift to the world, not a rule imposed by the Church on a few seemingly-abnormal men. Celibacy initiates men into a life of spiritual fatherhood in a strikingly positive way for others. We are called “father” for a reason: we bring spiritual life to our people through the sacred mysteries which we handle, and they are drawn into a spiritual family thereby. A truly dedicated priest has thousands of spiritual children who sometimes make immense demands on him—I often wish I had only seven children like my father! In an age where men have massively renounced their sacred duty to generate, protect and nurture families, there are myriads of selfless, celibate men sacrificing themselves in a truly manly way for the sake of God’s family and, indeed, even for the sake of many individual families.

The presence in society of men who make this sacrifice is profoundly challenging to a culture that wants to reduce everything in life to the pleasure principle. Such a total renunciation is truly counter cultural: it’s like choosing to live with a permanent wound in the heart that never heals but out of which flow “rivers of living water” (Jn 7:38) that heal countless others. Celibacy is not easy for anyone to live, in fact, it is a constant death to self; but it is enormously life-giving to others, and the Church has not lost sight of that for two thousand years.

I’m not one who needs persuading of the goodness of priestly celibacy, but I do find Father Euteneuer’s reflections very powerful and moving.  I love the connections he draws between celibacy, fatherhood, and manliness.  So often, our society regards celibacy as an awful monstrosity of abnormality and emasculation.

Think about that as you read about the effects of abortion on men (from the Elliot Institute):

According to Dr. Vincent Rue, one of the nation’s most experienced psychologists in the field of post-abortion issues:

Induced abortion reinforces defective problem solving on the part of the male by encouraging detachment, desertion, and irresponsibility…. Abortion rewrites the rules of masculinity. While a male is expected to be strong, abortion makes him feel weak. A male is expected to be responsible, yet abortion encourages him to act without concern for the innocent and to destroy any identifiable and undesirable outcomes of his sexual decision making and/or attachments…. Whether or not the male was involved in the abortion decision, his inability to function in a socially prescribed manner (i.e., to protect and provide) leaves him wounded and confused.

Abortion, of course, is very much a result of that “culture that wants to reduce everything in life to the pleasure principle” mentioned by Father Euteneuer.  Also known as the Culture of Death.  Only that culture could distort and vilify priestly celibacy and pure, authentic manhood in general.  Only that culture could portray both chastity and fatherhood as burdens to be disposed of.

Learn more about how abortion hurts men at the Elliot Institute’s men’s page.

Reading all this makes me more determined than ever to fight for a Culture of Life for all of us!

Mary Ann Glendon, former U.S. ambassador to the Holy See, refuses to be the token good Catholic sharing Obama’s stage at Notre Dame’s 2009 commencement ceremony.

Just in from Catholic World News:

Glendon declines commencement honor from Notre Dame (Subscribe to RSS Feed)

Apr. 27, 2009 (

Mary Ann Glendon has announced that she will not accept the Laetare Medal–the highest honor conferred by the University of Notre Dame–at this year’s commencement exercises.

Glendon–the Harvard Law professor who recently stepped down from her post as US ambassador to the Holy See–has indicated that she decided to decline the Laetare Medal because of her concerns about the commencement address that will be delivered by President Barack Obama. In an April 27 letter to Father John Jenkins, the president of Notre Dame, she wrote that a prospect “that once seemed so delightful has been complicated” by the Obama appearance and by Notre Dame’s response to criticism from the American bishops.

In her letter Glendon expressed dismay that Notre Dame chose to honor the President despite his clear public stand against Catholic principles on key moral issues. She also voiced her discomfort with the university’s suggestion that her own speech at the commencement exercises might counterbalance the Obama appearance. A commencement celebration, she said, “is not the right place, nor is a brief acceptance speech the right vehicle, for engagement with the very serious problems raised” by Notre Dame’s decision to invite Obama in defiance of clear guidance from the US bishops.

The full text of Glendon’s letter follows:

Dear Father Jenkins,

When you informed me in December 2008 that I had been selected to receive Notre Dame’s Laetare Medal, I was profoundly moved. I treasure the memory of receiving an honorary degree from Notre Dame in 1996, and I have always felt honored that the commencement speech I gave that year was included in the anthology of Notre Dame’s most memorable commencement speeches. So I immediately began working on an acceptance speech that I hoped would be worthy of the occasion, of the honor of the medal, and of your students and faculty.

Last month, when you called to tell me that the commencement speech was to be given by President Obama, I mentioned to you that I would have to rewrite my speech. Over the ensuing weeks, the task that once seemed so delightful has been complicated by a number of factors.

First, as a longtime consultant to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, I could not help but be dismayed by the news that Notre Dame also planned to award the president an honorary degree. This, as you must know, was in disregard of the U.S. bishops’ express request of 2004 that Catholic institutions “should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles” and that such persons “should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.” That request, which in no way seeks to control or interfere with an institution’s freedom to invite and engage in serious debate with whomever it wishes, seems to me so reasonable that I am at a loss to understand why a Catholic university should disrespect it.

Then I learned that “talking points” issued by Notre Dame in response to widespread criticism of its decision included two statements implying that my acceptance speech would somehow balance the event:

• “President Obama won’t be doing all the talking. Mary Ann Glendon, the former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, will be speaking as the recipient of the Laetare Medal.”

• “We think having the president come to Notre Dame, see our graduates, meet our leaders, and hear a talk from Mary Ann Glendon is a good thing for the president and for the causes we care about.”

A commencement, however, is supposed to be a joyous day for the graduates and their families. It is not the right place, nor is a brief acceptance speech the right vehicle, for engagement with the very serious problems raised by Notre Dame’s decision—in disregard of the settled position of the U.S. bishops—to honor a prominent and uncompromising opponent of the Church’s position on issues involving fundamental principles of justice.

Finally, with recent news reports that other Catholic schools are similarly choosing to disregard the bishops’ guidelines, I am concerned that Notre Dame’s example could have an unfortunate ripple effect.

It is with great sadness, therefore, that I have concluded that I cannot accept the Laetare Medal or participate in the May 17 graduation ceremony.

In order to avoid the inevitable speculation about the reasons for my decision, I will release this letter to the press, but I do not plan to make any further comment on the matter at this time.

Yours Very Truly,

Mary Ann Glendon

Could this finally get through to Father Jenkins and others who think there’s no problem with honoring pro-abortion people at Catholic schools and who disobey our bishops in the process?

Whatever happens, I am very happy about Mrs. Glendon’s response.  We, and the world, need to see Catholics in public life who act with integrity and faith.  The opposite is becoming too much the rule and the standard… the very low standard.  Thank God for Mrs. Glendon’s good example.  May many be inspired to follow it.

[UPDATE] American Papist has a good compilation of ND news.

I read something about this a while back, but this article provides more details about what Pope Pius XII planned to do in the event that he was kidnapped or arrested by the Nazis.

Pope Pius XII told senior bishops that should he be arrested by the Nazis, his resignation would become effective immediately, paving the way for a successor, according to documents in the Vatican’s Secret Archives.

The bishops would then be expected to flee to a safe country – probably neutral Portugal – where they would re-establish the leadership of the Roman Catholic Church and appoint a new Pontiff.

In the event of his capture, he wanted to be divested of the only thing that gave him any value to the Nazis.  Pretty heroic, if you ask me!

May he be canonized soon.  And may his prayers be with us!

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