Month: November 2016

A Message from Father Rich on the Feast of Christ the King

THIS IS A MOVEABLE FEAST

Pope Pius XI: The Author of Quas Primus, the Encyclical to which Father Rich is Refering

Pope Pius XI: The Author of Quas Primus, the Encyclical to which Father Rich is Refering

An autographed blessing signed by Pius XI. It is a hand-colored photo of him sitting at his desk. It is in an ornate frame that has cross keys and a tiara as part of the frame itself.

If you are unaware of this avocation of our pastor, I’d invite you to peruse his Collection to study, to browse, to enjoy the Collection to which he has devoted himself for the purpose of education, primarily.  Father Rich believes you cannot love what you do not know.  This Collection might help you to love and know our Church.

Visit Father Rich’s incredible Collection of Papal Artifacts.  Here is a link to his Collection:

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About the Commentary:

89-year-old Encyclical Holds Key Lessons for Us Today

Encyclicals are letters of high importance. Traditionally issued by any bishop, in recent times they have become an exclusive activity of the Bishop of Rome.

They are generally written to the entire church, and often a pope’s first encyclical will give a pretty clear indication where and how he wants to lead the church. As of this writing, Pope Francis has written one encyclical. Pope Benedict XVI wrote three, and Pope St. John Paul II wrote 14, but the pope with the most is Leo XIII (1878-1903), who wrote 85!

Often the letters are beautifully written and really speak to the issues of the day, but sometimes it is worthwhile to go back in history and see what some popes in the past have written and how prophetic these writings can actually be.

One encyclical that is particularly pertinent for today was written 89 years ago by Pope Pius XI (1922-1939). His encyclical Quas Primus (Latin for “In the first”) is pertinent for the month of November because with it, Pius established the liturgical feast day known as Christ the King, which almost always falls in November, because it is celebrated the last Sunday of ordinary time, right before Advent begins.

But Quas Primus is significant to much more than just this month. One would think in reading this encyclical that Pope Francis wrote it just yesterday. It is an amazing read!

The encyclical addressed what Pope Pius saw as a growing secularism in the world. Given that he wrote it in 1925, he probably wouldn’t even know where to start today.

He wrote that Christ needs to be king in every aspect of life: over persons, families, institutions, the state and even the whole universe. In reading this incredible letter, two quotes in particular stand out as extraordinarily appropriate for today.

Pius wrote, “While nations insult the beloved name of our redeemer by suppressing all mention of him in their conferences and parliaments, we must all the more loudly proclaim his kingly dignity.”

Read that a couple times and think about it. We cannot say “Merry Christmas” because it is offensive. We can only have “holiday trees” on public property. The 10 Commandment monuments that once were all over the country are being stripped from any government building. Most public schools in the country are no longer starting their school day with the “Pledge of Allegiance” because the words “one nation under God” are included. And heaven forbid that the government allow prayer in any school activity, whether it be sports or graduation ceremonies. And in recent years there has been a growing call to remove “in God we trust” from our coinage.

A second quote worth addressing from Quas Primus should hit a little closer to home, because Pius gives the reasons we got this way: “This state of things may perhaps be attributed to a certain slowness and timidity in good people, who are reluctant to engage in conflict or oppose but a weak resistance; thus the enemies of the Church become bolder in their attacks.”

I would have to say that, second only to pornography, the most confessed sin I have heard in general terms is the times people are too timid to speak up for the church when she is being mocked or attacked by friends, family and co-workers. People are afraid to get into any conflict in defending the church. They do not want to speak out, choosing to keep silent.

This is certainly not only an issue for laypeople. We priests, I think, are even more timid in preaching on tough subjects what the church holds to be true. So often our own parishioners are at odds with the church on the “hot button” issues like homosexual marriage, abortion and artificial contraception, to name a few, so we priests do not want to preach about these issues. We are so often, as Pope Pius XI said, good people, but timid.

I am not condemning my brother priests, because I am one of them. It takes a great amount of courage to get up in front of everyone and tell them the truth when it is very unpopular, but we need to have courage.

I am not sure that even one percent of the Catholic population reads the pope’s encyclicals when they are published, but we certainly should. And I would even encourage you to go back in time to see some of the past encyclicals. Some of them are as pertinent today as they were the day they were written.

Christ the King, be king over us today and always!

–Father Richard Kunst

Ten Things to Advance the Pro-Life Cause While Waiting for the Law to Change

The logo of Crux

There is a real risk that disillusionment will follow the expectations invested in Donald Trump by pro-lifers: if ever he can deliver — and he has promised little — it will be slow getting there. So here are 10 ways of nurturing a true pro-life culture in the meantime.

 

Commentary

Donald Trump campaigned as the pro-life candidate while Hillary Clinton not only supported Planned Parenthood but was also unapologetic about allowing late-term abortions. While many Catholics considered Trump unqualified and undesirable, they thought Clinton’s pro-abortion position even worse.

Yet while Trump trumpeted his pro-life position, he never said he would try to outlaw abortion.

We should be realistic. It is unlikely that Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that made it illegal for states to prevent abortions, will be overturned any time soon. Abortion is a terrible crime; but the pro-life cause is about more than outlawing abortion.

Of course, those engaged in attempts to overturn abortion laws should not give up the fight. But while the national battle against abortion is going on, there are ten positive things that ordinary people can do to advance the broader pro-life cause.

  1. Education. We must continue to share with the world not just an anti-abortion message, but the whole Catholic pro-life message. This includes positive and pro-active education about the Theology of the Body, the dignity of every human person from womb to tomb, and the deep and beautiful message of fully integrated, chaste and positive human sexuality. This education must be in our homes, our schools, our parishes and our world. Only as we understand the full meaning and dignity of the human person will we understand why abortion is so evil.
  2. Personal Chastity. Abortion ends an unwanted pregnancy and unwanted pregnancies are most often the result of sexual promiscuity.  Each of us has a responsibility to pursue chastity in our own lives. We should be ruthless with ourselves when rooting out every trace of unchaste behavior. We must pray for the grace to embrace chastity in marriage, chastity in families. Chastity for single people. Chastity for married people. This chastity will not be weak and sterile, but full of an integrated and mature masculinity and femininity-abundant in life and combining purity and power. Pornography must not be tolerated. Adultery and co-habitation cannot be tolerated. Not out of negativity and condemnation, but because they are the enemies of the chastity and purity that conquered the world.
  3. Support Women. Pro-abortion people like to say, “You pro-lifers only care about the fetus. You don’t care about poor women in crisis pregnancies.” This is, of course, totally untrue. There is a wide range of women centers that offer help, but we must support them and expand their services. The pro-life movement must be even more visibly pro-women. We must be active in compassionate and positive support, rolling up our sleeves and getting our hands dirty in service of those women who choose life
  4. Supporting Children. The pro-life cause does not end at the gates of the abortion clinic. We need to love children and put our money where our mouth is. We need to support good Catholic schools and day care. We need to fund youth workers and positive activities for children. We need to provide excellent care for children who are needy, sick, abandoned and abused. If we are pro-life, then we love children from the moment of conception through to adulthood. Children are expensive, but there is nothing better in which to invest than our children.
  5. The Adoption Option. I once met a Baptist couple who had just adopted a severely disabled child. They said, “Father, in South Carolina there are about ten thousand children who need adoption or fostering. There are about ten thousand Baptist churches in South Carolina. What if each church adopted or fostered just one child?” If we have courageous families in our parishes who have adopted or fostered we need to support them, helping others to step up and make the choice to adopt. Adoption is often financially prohibitive. We need to pressure politicians to provide funding to take care of the legal fees to make adoption easy, safe and affordable, and extra tax breaks should be offered to families who foster and adopt.
  6. Contraception and Sterilization?If you say you are pro-life, why do you continue to use artificial contraception? If you say you are pro-life, why do you consider sterilization? If you are pro-life be pro-life. Avoid the contraceptive culture of death. Children are a blessing. I know so many couples who, when times were difficult and they could see no way forward, chose sterilization. They regretted it afterward. The most common complaint is “We can’t afford another child.” Really?
  7. Lobby Locally. We may not be able to overturn Roe v. Wade anytime soon, but there are plenty of good efforts at the state and local level that seek to restrict and control abortion. We should lobby our local politicians about this and about legislation that supports women in crisis pregnancies, supports adoption, supports families who choose to adopt. Maybe we are called ourselves to enter the political arena and stand for public office. Why not?
  8. Campaign and Give. March for Life, Forty Days for Life, Life Chain-all these keep the abortion issue alive and in front of people. Make sure you take a stand in the protest movement against abortion, but also in favor of life in all its abundance. The pro-life movement requires funding. Give generously to the pro-life charity of your choice and stay involved, both financially and prayerfully.
  9. Be a Happy Warrior. The pro-life movement must continue to be joyful, confident, young and strong. Do not be discouraged, but continue to support life with joy and confidence. Sour faces, angry protests, gruesome videos and violence are never the way. Think of the Blessed Virgin Mary. She was not angry and violent in the face of evil. She reacted with confident joy and the power of purity.
  10. Have Faith. Sometimes we tend to despair and think the battle will never be won. Do not despair. Fear not. Truth will always triumph. Goodness will always prevail. Life will always win. Remember history. The battle has always been grim and the forces of evil do not sleep. Take heart. Have faith. Work hard. Pray more. Be joyful and be blessed.

Here is a link to the fairly new on-line Catholic magazine of which John Allen is the editor:

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Father Rich Is Leading a Tour to the Holy Land: February 13-23, & An Interview of Fr. James Martin, S. J.

The Holy Land

The Holy Land

As anyone who has ever accompanied Fr. Rich on a tour can tell you, you couldn’t have a better experience than to travel with him.  Here is your opportunity to go on pilgrimage to the sites where our faith began.

Father Rich:

father

Other than Rome, my favorite place to visit is Israel.  Every four to five years I host a tour of the Holy Land, because I think it is an important opportunity for people to visit the places our Savior lived and died.

My love affair with the Holy Land grew out of my time in the seminary when I spent six months in Israel studying the scriptures.  I am embarrassed to say that before that experience my scripture classes were about my least favorite subject to take in seminary.  After the time I spent in Israel the opposite was true.  Studying the Scriptures came to life and I took as many classes as I possibly could.

Once again on February 13-23, I will be bringing a group of people to the Holy Land.  This trip will be open to the public and will be advertised widely, but here in our parishes first.  I am deliberately choosing February, because that is when the prices are lowest. and also because it is right before we enter into the season of Lent, which is a great way to start that sacred season.

The single most misunderstood aspect of visiting the Holy Land is that people think it is dangerous; the opposite is true.  In fact, I would say it is safer to travel to Israel than it is to just about anywhere because the security is over the top.  I would feel much more secure in Israel than I would walking downtown on First Street.  So if security reasons have prevented you in the past from going to the Holy Land, you can honestly put that to rest.  It is as safe as any place you will visit because of the immense security.

If going to the Holy Land has been on your bucket list, contact the office for a brochure.  I would love to have as many parishioners as possible.—Father Rich

Here is a link to more information about the Holy Land from FR James Martin, author of FR Rich’s latest favorite book, Jesus, A Pilgrimage:

Jesus A Pilgrimage

Jesus A Pilgrimage

Father James Martin, S. J.

Father James Martin, S. J.

Full Episode: December 24, 2015