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For the past month or so, I’ve had the pleasure of assisting at the 7:00 am weekday Mass at Madeira’s St. Gertrude parish, long administered and staffed by the Dominicans, whose priory is on campus. The Mass is always celebrated reverently and faithfully, and the preaching is top-notch — this is the Order of Preachers, after all! Fr. André-Joseph LaCasse, O.P., the pastor, is frequently the celebrant, and his homilies are personal favorites. Speaking from notes, he appears to put in as much prep time for a Monday as he does for a Sunday; his preaching is structured, doctrinal, and practical. So it comes as no surprise that he uses his bulletin to similar ends. For the past several years, he has penned “little catechisms” on several topics, e.g., on how to receive Holy Communion, and his latest, from yesterday’s bulletin, concerns “Godparents/Christian Witnesses for the Sacrament of Baptism.” Here’s a snippet:

Often we run into misunderstandings concerning who is permitted to act as a Godparent for the Sacrament of Baptism. So, I believe it is important to explain the Godparent’s role with proper catechesis.

The term “Godparent” only applies to baptized Catholics. Protestants cannot act as Godparents, but as a “Christian Witness” to the baptism. There must be at least one Catholic Godparent for a person to be baptized in the Catholic Faith. In the case of emergency baptism, this is waived. There may be one Godfather, one Godmother, or one of each [Canon Law 873]. In infant baptism, the Godparent(s) together with the parents assist the baptized to lead the Christian life, primarily by example, in raising a child in the Catholic faith [Canon Law 872].

Readers might find interesting a “comment controversy” on the website for the Cincinnati Enquirer  involving an accusation by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the recognized dialogue partner of the USCCB and the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, of “hate crimes” against a Moslem candidate for public office in nearby Butler County.  Here’s a link to the story and here’s the text of my comment:

CAIR, the US front for the Hamas terrorist organization, has zero credibility on “hate crimes”; you can’t so much as cock an eyebrow at a Moslem on a bus without it making their notorious and risible list of such crimes.* Steven Pomerantz, former FBI assistant director and chief of the FBI’s counterterrorism section under President Clinton, once charged that CAIR’s activities “effectively give aid to international terrorist groups.” Learn more about this dangerous organization at the following links:

http://www.anti-cair-net.org/

http://www.meforum.org/916/cair-islamists-fooling-the-establishment

* It’s worth noting that this comment, originally posted on Oct. 17, disappeared from the Enquirer’s website, most likely after CAIR complained to the editors, one of their tactics for silencing critics. I posted a follow-up comment on Oct. 18 noting its removal, and now my original comment is back. It’s also worth noting that the editors have removed from the story the unfounded charges of CAIR representative Karen Dabdoub. In any event, at a time when most major news organizations discount CAIR’s claims due to the group’s track record of deception and their well-documented ties to terrorist organizations, it’s a shame the Enquirer still treats them as a legitimate news source.

Our quote of the week comes from the level-headed Fr. Dwight Longenecker in his boldly charitable essay, “Advice for the Pope in Light of the Synod”:

Compassion without content is mere sentimentality. Mercy without truth is an empty gesture. Kindness without correction is cowardly.

Today is the feast of St. John Leonardi, who you may note shares a surname and possibly a common ancestor with your host. Five years ago, to mark the 400th anniversary of St. John’s death, Pope Benedict XVI gave one of his marvelous catecheses at a general audience in Rome. Somehow I missed it at the time. Here’s a generous snippet:

John Leonardi was born in 1541 in Diecimo, in the province of Lucca. The last of seven siblings, his adolescence was sprinkled with rhythms of faith lived in a healthy and industrious family group, as well as the assiduous frequenting of a shop of herbs and medicines in his native town. At age 17 his father enrolled him in a regular course in pharmacy in Lucca, with the aim of making him a future pharmacist, that is, an apothecary, as they were called then. For close to a decade young John Leonardi was vigilant and diligent in following this, but when, according to the norms established by the former Republic of Lucca, he acquired the official recognition that would have allowed him to open his own shop, he began to think if perhaps the moment had not arrived to fulfill a plan that he had always had in his heart.

After mature reflection he decided to direct himself toward the priesthood. And thus, having left the apothecary’s pharmacy, and acquired an appropriate theological formation, he was ordained a priest and celebrated his first Mass on the feast of Epiphany of 1572. However, he did not abandon his passion for pharmaceutics because he felt that professional mediation as a pharmacist would allow him to realize fully his vocation of transmitting to men, through a holy life, “the medicine of God,” which is Jesus Christ crucified and risen, “measure of all things.”

Animated by the conviction that, more than any other thing, all human beings need such medicine, St. John Leonardi tried to make the personal encounter with Jesus Christ the fundamental reason of his existence. It is necessary to “start anew from Christ,” he liked to repeat very often.

The primacy of Christ over everything became for him the concrete criterion of judgment and action and the generating principle of his priestly activity, which he exercised while a vast and widespread movement of spiritual renewal was under way in the Church, thanks to the flowering of new religious institutes and the luminous witness of saints such as Charles Borromeo, Philip Neri, Ignatius of Loyola, Joseph Calasanzius, Camillus of Lellis and Aloysius Gonzaga.

He dedicated himself with enthusiasm to the apostolate among youth through the Company of Christian Doctrine, gathering around himself a group of young men with whom, on Sept. 1, 1574, he founded the Congregation of Reformed Priests of the Blessed Virgin, subsequently called the Order of Clerks Regular of the Mother of God. He recommended to his disciples to have “before the mind’s eye only the honor, service and glory of Christ Jesus Crucified,” and, like a good pharmacist, accustomed to giving out potions according to careful measurements, he would add: “Raise your hearts to God a bit more and measure things with him.”

Moved by apostolic zeal, in May 1605 he sent newly elected Pope Paul V a report in which he suggested the criteria for a genuine renewal of the Church. Observing how it is “necessary that those who aspire to the reform of men’s practices must seek especially, and firstly, the glory of God,” he added that they should stand out “for their integrity of life and excellence of customs thus, rather than constraining, they gently draw one to reform.” Moreover, he observed that “whoever wishes to carry out a serious moral and religious reform must make first of all, like a good doctor, a careful diagnosis of the evils that beset the Church so as to be able to prescribe for each of them the most appropriate remedy.” And he noted that “the renewal of the Church must be confirmed as much in leaders as in followers, high and low. It must begin from those who command and be extended to the subjects.”

My favorite catechism is the Catechism of St. Pius X, which was originally written for the people of the Diocese of Rome ~ 130 years ago and then became popular throughout Italy and Europe. It is written in a familiar Q&A style and its answers are thorough and precise. (It’s also a favorite of emeritus Pope Benedict XVI, who endorsed it in an interview speaking as Cardinal Ratzinger.) This week the calendar includes two angelic feasts: (1) Saints Michael, Gabriel, and Rafael, Archangels on Sept. 29 and (2) the Holy Guardian Angels on Oct. 2. So we conducted a brief, breakfast-table catechesis on the Angels this morning via St. Pius X’s catechism:

The Angels
13 Q. Which are the noblest of God’s creatures?
A. The noblest creatures created by God are the Angels.

14 Q. Who are the Angels?
A. The Angels are intelligent and purely spiritual creatures.

15 Q. Why did God create the Angels?
A. God created the Angels so as to be honoured and served by them, and to give them eternal happiness.

16 Q. What form and figure have the Angels?
A. The Angels have neither form nor material figure of any kind, because they are pure spirits created by God in such a way as to exist without having to be united to a body.

17 Q. Why then are the angels represented under sensible forms?
A. The Angels are represented under sensible forms: (1) As a help to our imagination; (2) Because they have thus appeared many times to men, as we read in Sacred Scripture.

18 Q. Were all the angels faithful to God?
A. No, the Angels were not all faithful to God, many of them through pride claimed to be His equals and independent of Him — for which sin they were banished for ever from Paradise and condemned to hell.

19 Q. What are the Angels called who were banished for ever from Paradise and condemned to hell?
A. The Angels banished for ever from Paradise and condemned to hell are called demons, and their chief is called Lucifer or Satan.

20 Q. Can the demons do us any harm?
A. Yes, the demons can do us great harm both in soul and body, especially by tempting us to sin, provided God permits them to do so.

21 Q. Why do they tempt us?
A. The demons tempt us because of the envy they bear us, which makes them desire our eternal damnation; and because of their hatred of God. whose image is reflected in us. God on the other hand permits these temptations in order that we may overcome them by His grace, and thus practise virtue and acquire merit for Heaven.

22 Q. How are temptations conquered?
A. Temptations are conquered by watchfulness, prayer and Christian mortification.

23 Q. What are the angels called who remained faithful to God?
A. The Angels who remained faithful to God are called the good Angels, heavenly Spirits, or simply Angels.

24 Q. What became of the Angels who remained faithful to God?
A. The Angels who remained faithful to God were confirmed in grace, for ever enjoy the vision of God, love Him, bless Him, and praise Him eternally.

25 Q. Does God use the Angels as His ministers?
A. Yes, God uses the Angels as His ministers, and especially does He entrust to many of them the office of acting as our guardians and protectors.

26 Q. Should we have a particular devotion to our Guardian Angel?
A. Yes, we should have a particular devotion to our Guardian Angel; we should honour him, invoke his aid, follow his inspirations, and be grateful to him for the continual assistance he affords us.

For the past several weeks, the sign below has appeared on busy Erie Avenue in front of St. Mary of Hyde Park (in Cincinnati) during school hours. I popped in earlier this morning for a brief visit in between calls. It’s a welcome sight — kudos to pastor Fr. Schartz and his parishioners.

photo (1)

In news that’s good for the people of Cincinnati but perhaps not so much for the people of St. Louis, Franciscan Media, f.k.a., St. Anthony Messenger Press, announces the sale of their Catholic Update collection, long popular with the local catechetical establishment, to Liguori Publications:

You can read my 2005 report on Catholic Update for Catholic Exchange here.

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