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This last weekend was certainly a momentous one!  A British royal wedding, the beatification of Blessed Pope John Paul II, and the death of the United States’ top public enemy.  I had quite a bit going on personally, so I wasn’t able to tune in to as much of the news and events as I would have liked.  And by now, so much has been written in the blogosphere that I almost feel like this little post of mine will be totally redundant and insignificant.  But it’s my blog, and I’m trying to start posting much more frequently, so here are just some quick little reactions.

The royal wedding:  From what I saw it was a very beautiful ceremony and very rooted in Christian tradition.  I came across the prayer that Prince William and his bride composed and offered up:

God our Father, we thank you for our families; for the love that we share and for the joy of our marriage.

In the busyness of each day keep our eyes fixed on what is real and important in life and help us to be generous with our time and love and energy.

Strengthened by our union help us to serve and comfort those who suffer. We ask this in the Spirit of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Beautiful.  It sounds like this young couple will not only have invited God to the wedding, but will also keep Him a part of their marriage–something all too rare these days.  I pray for them that it may be so and that many young people around the world will follow their example.  I was also very impressed with Catherine’s dress–very classic, and very modest as wedding dresses go these days.  It reminded me of Princess Grace’s wedding dress.

Beatification of Bl. Pope John Paul II:  What an experience to see somebody who lived in your own lifetime be beatified!  And how blessed the world was to have this incredible man at its service during such turbulent times.  He was truly a universal man, who had so much personal experience with human suffering and yet vigorously, tirelessly preached “Be not afraid!” and the worth and dignity of every human life, no matter how poor, how small, or how difficult it might be.  In the Church and on the world stage, he was a lion-hearted man, and also an extremely gentle man.  In his old age and illness, when many were shaming him for not retiring and letting somebody younger, healthier, and supposedly more capable take over as pope, he persevered quietly, and taught us all that people don’t lose their dignity and worth when they become old and sick.  That perseverance is one of the things that inspired me to come back to the Church, and has uplifted me many times since.

Death of Osama Bin Laden:  When I saw the news, I had two thoughts almost simultaneously.  One was, “Thank God, he’s finally gone!”  The other was, “Dear Lord, he must be in desperate need of Your mercy!”  I rejoiced in the success of our soldiers and the defeat of such a dreadful enemy who had killed so many innocent people.  I also feared for the state of his soul and how terrible his judgment before God must have been.  I hate and despise his sins.  I pity the man.  I wish he had repented.  Maybe he did in his final moment.

I was also glad to see some joy and celebration in the streets of New York and Washington.  I know some people have found it tasteless, even going so far as comparing those people to the people in the Middle East who celebrated in the streets on 9/11.  I didn’t see that at all.  For one thing, I didn’t see any burning effigies or burning flags or guns.  I saw people celebrating not a man’s death in itself, but rather celebrating the ending of at least one chapter of a dark and haunting story, a nightmare of agony.  I think that the New Yorkers and Washingtonians deserved to celebrate.  I don’t think that we in other parts of the nation fully understand what they have gone through.  9/11 may have occurred almost 10 years ago, but the shadow of grief is very long and dark, as I know from personal experience.

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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 (LifeSiteNews.com) – 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 LifeSiteNews.com 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.”

Developing…

Today we remember the tragic, sudden, and violent loss of 2,996 innocent Americans on 11 September 2001.

This year, I have the special honor and privilege, thanks to Project 2,996, to pay tribute to Paul “Paulie” Ortiz, Jr., aged 21, from Brooklyn, NY.

Paul Ortiz, Jr.

Paul was preparing a conference at the Windows on the World restaurant atop the north tower of the World Trade Center when the tower was struck by a jet liner.

Although he lost his life at the very young age of 21, Paul had created a happy and successful life for himself and his loved ones. He was clearly a hard-working and passionate young man who knew what was most important in life.

Paul was devoted to his wife, Star, and their infant daughter, Rebecca. He worked as a computer technician at Bloomberg, a job and a company he loved. He was also dedicated to and active in his Jehovah’s Witness faith and community. He was a very joyful and caring man, always putting himself at the service of others. Many who knew him remark upon his radiant, unforgettable smile.

This excellent young man will live on in the wonderful legacy of love he has left in his wife and daughter and in everybody who carries his memory in their hearts.

I pray that he has found peaceful rest in God’s eternal light and eternal life, and that God will also grant peace and comfort to his family and friends, especially to Star and Rebecca. May the Lord’s face shine upon them all!

Let us never forget Paul Ortiz, Jr. or any of our brothers and sisters who lost their lives eight years ago. No matter how many years go by, let us never forget!

Related links:

See other tributes at the Project 2,996 blog

Paul’s memorial page at Legacy.com

Paul’s memorial page at 9-11 Heroes

Another blogger’s tribute to Paul from 2006

My tribute to another 9/11 victim, Thomas E. Sabella, from 2006

I just saw that George Tiller, the Kansas late-term abortionist, was shot and killed this morning at his church.

May God have mercy on his soul and console his family.

He was responsible for horrible actions.  But he didn’t deserve to be murdered.  An evil deed against him can’t undo the evil deeds he committed.

It will cause suffering to the pro-life movement, despite the fact that pro-life leaders are publicly decrying the shooting.

I am just now starting to get caught up on what all happened at Notre Dame on Sunday.  I missed everything while I was at the priory.

It’s just as well.  What I’ve read and heard so far is not one bit surprising.  President Obama told everybody to be civil and open-minded and to find common ground.  That includes pro-lifers and pro-choicers, even though–blinding news flash–our positions have irreconcilable differences!

You know, my family taught me the importance of being good to others despite our differences; they taught me that so no civil leader would have to.  But they also taught me that there are lines we should not cross, and we must each have lines we are not willing to cross–we have to stand for something.  This is true of even the most tolerant, open-minded person.  When it comes to respecting and protecting human life, the only reasonable places to draw lines are at conception and natural death.  I haven’t yet heard a single good, compelling reason to think otherwise.  And so I won’t think otherwise.

And what’s this Pres. Obama said about honoring the consciences of those who oppose abortion?  Did he mean it?  Did he undergo a genuine change of heart and mind?  Or was he lying?  And does he really think lying will win our hearts and minds?  Or is there some nuanced in-between region between truth and lies that my feeble, unenlightened mind fails to grasp?

Who knows?  What the president says and does and means is more or less beyond our control.

The important question is: What are we, the Church, going to do now, in the aftermath of Debacle Day?  What are we going to do with ourselves?  With our universities and other institutions?  With those who have so greatly scandalized us by their actions or inactions?  What are our bishops and priests going to do?  Where are they going to draw the lines?  What are they going to do to win hearts and minds?

We already have our common ground–our God, His Church, and her teachings.  How many of us are going to stand that ground, and how many will continue to reject it?  How many are going to return home to it, and how many will defect?

To some extent, we each have to determine that for ourselves.  On Debacle Day, I received my scapular, and I truly feel its power.  It is my new and improved holy armor!  And I am ready to do my part and stand my ground.

But we also have to stand as one, in solidarity, just as our Lord Jesus desired.

We must each pray for that solidarity.  For unity.  For firm leadership.  And that God’s will be done.

Tomorrow, Sunday 17 May, I will be making my temporary profession to the Order of Preachers.  Having come through training as an inquirer and then a novice, I will be making a firmer pledge and commitment to live according to the rule of the Dominican Laity.  I will receive a small white scapular.  I will receive the privilege of including the “OP” designation after my name.

But I will be thinking much more about what I can give and what I can do as a Lay Dominican.  This blog will stay around.  In fact, this blog will likely take on a greater significance as I embark on the apostolic mission of the Order to preach to all the ends of the earth.

I can tell you that I have some other projects brewing in my head, including at least one additional blog.  It will be devoted to issues of creation, stewardship, the welfare of animals and other creatures, and man’s proper role in it all.  My aim is to provide an authentic Catholic alternative to the secular environmentalism and related movements that are sweeping our nation and our world and that are so wound up in paganism and liberalist agendas.  I want to show a better, higher, truer way.  At the moment, I have much to learn on the issues myself.  If anybody can help me out, if anybody can recommend resources, or if anybody can point me to good Catholic blogs with the same or similar aims… it would be much appreciated.  I don’t want to re-create the wheel, after all!  Although there’s no content there yet, you can see what the new blog will look like.

I’m still planning to create a work about and dedicated to St. Dominic, my beloved spiritual father.  I want to help everybody to know him as I do, to know him as he is.  That too is in its very early, preparatory stages.  I’m not even sure what form it will take.

Of course, tomorrow is also the big day for Pres. Obama and Notre Dame.  I will always remember that this debacle coincided with my profession day.  I wonder if that means something…  I don’t believe in coincidences.

I just saw a report on a local news program about it, and it made me want to bang my head on my desk repeatedly.  They were talking about the pro-lifers protesting the president’s coming to give a speech.  They aired an incredibly disingenuous, very innocuous-sounding statement from some ND spokesman about how the university and Catholic values are not threatened by the president coming to give a speech, and that the university is open to all kinds of thinking, including the president’s.  GAH!  Among the protesters they showed were Dr. Alan Keyes, two cassock-clad priests, and various other men and women, all of them quietly and calmly praying the Rosary.  But of course they just had to include a police officer remarking on how some of the protesters have gotten out of hand.  GAAAHH!

I’ll tell you what’s gotten out of hand–Catholic universities honoring pro-abortion public figures, then publicly lying about it, making it sound like they’re only providing an open forum for ideas and that any protesters are just censorship-loving meanies and/or crazy fringe elements.  The report also mentioned that none of the protestors shown were students.  They made no mention at all of the pro-life, faithful Catholic students who are holding their own protests and even boycotting their own commencement ceremony!

Oh…  Lord, please just bring a great deal of good from this situation!  And please help me to do my part, whatever it may be!

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 (CWNews.com)

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.

From The Catholic Key Blog, via the NCRegister, we get this statement from Pres. Obama:

“It is the grimmest of ironies that one of the most savage, barbaric acts of evil in history began in one of the most modernized societies of its time, where so many markers of human progress became tools of human depravity: science that can heal, used to kill; education that can enlighten, used to rationalize away basic moral impulses; the bureaucracy that sustains modern life, used as the machinery of mass death, a ruthless, chillingly efficient system where many were responsible for the killing, but few got actual blood on their hands.”

O irony, thou art astounding.

I really don’t know what else to say.

Actually, yes I do:  Lord, open his eyes!

Reading the news is starting to feel more and more like reading a dark, twisted farce.  Only you can’t laugh because you know it’s real.  It’s real and so matter-of-fact that it makes sane people like you feel like you’re going mad.

The Associated Press (AP) has an exclusive interview with Archbishop Timothy Dolan, who will be installed as Archbishop of New York this week.  Here is an excerpt, with my emphases:

NEW YORK (AP) — New York Archbishop-designate Timothy Dolan said Monday, on the eve of his installation, that he will challenge the idea that the Roman Catholic Church is unenlightened because it opposes gay marriage and abortion.

In an exclusive interview with The Associated Press, Dolan said he wants to restore pride in being Catholic, especially given the damage the church endured in the clergy sex abuse scandal, which he called a continuing source of shame.

“One would hope that through education and through the joy that we give by our lives that people will begin to see that these fears and this skepticism we have about the church are unwarranted,” Dolan said.

He said Catholics also must defend themselves against bias, which he said was still deeply ingrained in American culture.

Periodically, we Catholics have to stand up and say, `Enough,’” he said. “The church as a whole still calls out to what is noble in us.”

Sounds very promising to me!  I hope Archbp. Dolan can light a nice fire under Catholic Americans.  It’s way overdue!

I like how he encourages us to give witness to the truth and goodness of our Church by “the joy that we give by our lives.”  I think that in this world, joy is one of the most powerful evangelization tools.  We live among so much sadness, despair, and discouragement.  Joy gets people’s attention.

I may not always succeed, but I do try to share with others the joy that my faith gives me.  People tell me that my face lights up when I talk about my faith.  It doesn’t matter what else may be going on in my life.  And heaven knows there’s been a lot.  But I still find joy in my faith.  And I hope that it comes across and inspires people.

Sadly, they are joined in scandalizing the Catholic faithful and making a public disgrace of Catholic teaching and Catholic education.

Thanks to reader Lexington for alerting me to this.  (With my emphases and comments):

Pro-Abortion Journalist Chris Matthews to Offer Commencement Address at Catholic St. Joseph’s University

[As you may recall, Chris Matthews is the MSNBC anchor/host who said that an Obama speech sent a thrill up his leg.  He has also said that part of his job as a journalist is to make sure that the Obama presidency succeeds.  Can somebody tell me when that became part of a journalist’s job?  Anyway, that’s the person this is about.  Oh, but it gets much “better”…]

By Kathleen Gilbert

PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania, April 3, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Undeterred by the Notre Dame scandal, another Catholic University has invited a pro-abortion celebrity to address the school and receive an honorary degree at this year’s graduation ceremony. [I wonder what the exact timing was.  Surely, they didn’t issue this invitation after seeing the reaction to the Notre Dame scandal?  If they did, then that makes it doubly scandalous in a way.  It’s like they’re trying to provoke a reaction.  That’s not cool.  But maybe it didn’t happen that way.  Of course, the invitation itself is scandalous and disgraceful no matter what.]

St Joseph’s University of Philadelphia announced in March that political commentator Chris Matthews, a vocal proponent of abortion, is due to offer the commencement address and receive an honorary doctorate in communications at the 2009 Commencement ceremonies on Saturday, May 16. [As at Notre Dame, it’s not just a really nice speaking engagment.  Matthews is being made an honorary member of that Catholic university “family.”]

Despite his avowed identity as a Roman Catholic, Matthews is known for his strong support of legalized abortion. [OK, this is even more scandalous and offensive to Catholic teaching than Obama’s pro-abortion stance.  Obama isn’t Catholic, nor does he claim to be.  He should still know better, but it’s not the same as if he held that stance as a professed Catholic.]

Matthews recently sparked criticism on the March 2 edition of his program, MSNBC’s “Hardball with Chris Matthews,” for a statement comparing pro-life advocates to terrorists. [More and more outrageous still!  He’s comparing many of his fellow Catholics (you know, the ones who actually practice the faith) to terrorists!  And still he has the nerve to identify himself as one of us.  How can someone be Catholic and anti-Catholic at the same time?  How can he possibly be in communion with the Catholic Church when he not only defies Church teaching but is also so hostile to the faithful?  And so needlessly so?  It doesn’t matter if he says he’s Catholic.  He’s not.  By his words and deeds, he has betrayed our faith.  To be Catholic in truth, he will need to seek reconciliation.  And I sincerely pray, for his own sake, that he does.]

Referring to the Senate confirmation of Kathleen Sebelius, President Obama’s radically pro-abortion pick to head the Dept. of Health and Human Services, Matthews asked Lois Romano of the Washington Post, “Is she gonna get through the terrorism of the anti-abortion people?” [Seriously, Mr. Matthews?  You’ve uncovered some diabolical plot on the part of us anti-abortion people to terrorize Sibelius?  I’d like to see some proof.]

Matthews went on to complain about the possibility that Sebelius’ connections to notorious late-term abortionist George Tiller could slow up the Senate proceedings. [Slow up?  In a good and just society, Sibelius never would have been nominated to head the HHS.  But I guess that’s not the kind of society we live in.]

In 2003, when Matthews was honored at commencement ceremonies at both Holy Cross College of Massachusetts and the University of Scranton, the bishops of both Catholic schools – Worcester Bishop Daniel P. Reilly and Scranton Bishop James Timlin – boycotted the ceremonies. [Oh.  So St. Joseph’s University is only the latest Catholic university to honor Matthews.  The bishops clearly thought it was preposterous those other two times.  So why is it happening again?! What is going on?  Somebody do something!  Make it stop!]

The office of Philadelphia’s Cardinal Rigali, who heads the pro-life arm of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, did not have immediate comment. [I hope His Eminence says something soon, and very strongly.  He ought to be our primary pro-life champion among the U.S. bishops.]

St. Joseph’s University did not immediately return calls from LifeSiteNews.com seeking comment.

To contact St. Joseph’s University:
Timothy R. Lannon, S.J.
Office of the President
Saint Joseph’s University
5600 City Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19131-1395
tlannon@sju.edu
University operator: 610-660-1000

Am I the only person who is finding all of this a bit bewildering? I know I’m still (somewhat) new to the wide, wonderful world of being Catholic in America.  But this is all hitting me like a ton of bricks.

It’s so disappointing that any Catholic school should honor any supporter of abortion… especially a professed Catholic… who is clearly biased in favor of Pres. Obama. Actually, I think “biased” might be an understatement in Matthews’ case. I think he’s literally crazy about Obama. Why, why, why is he being honored at any Catholic school? Much less at more than one? Matthews was also honored in 2007 by Villanova University, and in that year there were 11 other Catholic schools with pro-abortion speakers and (usually) honorary degree recipients, according to this list.

The only good thing about the Notre Dame debacle is that it is opening my eyes. Unfortunately, it’s opening my eyes to a shameful and hideous spectacle.

And now I feel pretty sure that Notre Dame and St. Joseph’s are not the only two.

St. Thomas Aquinas, Patron of Catholic Education, pray for us!  And Our Lady and St. Joseph too!  Gosh, it’s like people are slinging mud at the Holy Family!  These aren’t just names of schools!  :(

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